The Dynabook and the iPhone

In America, we generally think of terms of size. If it’s bigger then it’s better mentality. You can see that in many facets of american life. However the one place where that does not ring true is with technology.  When it comes to technology, smaller is better, but only if it’s just as powerful, if not more than it’s larger predecessor. We can effectively attribute this way of thinking to the concept and overall goal of a Dynabook. There are very few people in the world who wouldn’t want a portable device that could do almost everything they could imagine. Technology has grown and evolved in a path very similar to one that would be required to create a Dynabook. From the first telephone, to the invention of mobile phones, from computers the size of a room, to sleek laptops that also double as a tablet. Even looking at the first iPod and comparing it to the latest iPod Touch, the one consistent property is that each improvement made the invention more practical, usually by reducing the size and adding more power and features. The picture below demonstrates the evolution of  storage technology over its relevant life span.

Does anyone remember floppy disks, the way of storage before cloud?

I believe the concept of the Dynabook is a portable, mass producible, flexible, customizable  device with a large amount of features that can be utilized in a casual or professional manner. As technology evolves, what is considered “portable technology” changes as well.. While boomboxes were portable in the 70’s and 80’s, you’d be hard pressed for someone in our current times to consider something portable unless it can fit in a pocket, or a purse. The goal of a Dynabook would then be to be able to augment your problem solving abilities anywhere.  We can see how the portable part is important to the goal from that connection.

Now, the iPhone has done a great job of fulfilling the goals, and following the mold of the Dynabook’s innovative  ideas.  The app store was very important because that’s what truly offers the customizable, flexible components of the product. So if it living up the the idea of a Dynabook in our modern world, what caused the controversy and backlash to the reveal of the new iPhone 6?

Left to right: iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 mockup (smaller of the two sizes), Retina iPad mini

The controversy comes over the rumors that the iPhone 6 will be bigger than any of the others. When the rumored size was released, the consumers were initially split. Some liked the size the way it was, or thought is was too big when the iPhone 5 was made slightly bigger than its predecessors. The others like the bigger screen movement, but only if it was also made more sleek in its design. My major takeaway from this is that very few, if any, wanted the phone to become larger. The two camps were basically, keep it smaller/the same vs. make the screen a larger percentage of the whole phone, but don’t actually make the phone bigger.

Apple later released that they were indeed making the phone more sleek as well. This reduced the controversy a bit, making consumers focus more on the other specifications such as the larger of the two could have 128 gb of storage, an improved camera, and better resolution among other things.

I believe this shows how the consumer has grown to value technology based on the concept of a Dynabook. When they felt like the product was going to become more of a hassle to carry around, backlash was the response. With society only pushing for making things smaller and portable, maybe the day where a Dynabook exist in reality exactly how it is supposed to function in concept.


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