Bill Gates predicted Smartphones astonishingly correct 18 years ago

Veröffentlicht: 23. November 2013 in Forecasting, Technology

„640K ought to be enough for anybody.“ 

This quote is attributed to Bill Gates (probably for no reason) and makes him look like doing bad at estimating future developments. From my point of view this is totally unjustified. When I was a teenager I was reading his book „The road ahead“ he had written in 1995 – in a time when the internet was still in its infancy and DVD players had not even entered the market. Now I read it once again and I was really impressed how accurate most of his predictions were – especially when it comes to smartphones.

In chapter 4 he describes the „wallet-PC“

Wallet-PC

„Today notebooks are the smallest computers. But in future there will be computers with colour display in pocket format.“ Gates predicted that those „wallet-PCs“ could substitute mobile phones, calenders, cameras, compass, street maps, calculators and so on. „You can receive an send electronic mail and faxes with it, it gives you information about the weather and your stocks and when you are bored at a conference you can play games on it or browse through thousands of pictures of your kids. […] Thanks to GPS the wallet-PC will tell you your position whereever you are. […] It will connect you to the data highway when you are on the real highway, inform you about  traffic jams and recommend alternative routes. […] You can ask the device where the next chinese restaurant is and it will tell you the direction.“

Well, we would rather call it smartphone than „wallet-PC“ but anyway it is impressive how accurate Gate’s predictions were back 18 years ago. Gates even predicted the fingerprint sensor right and anticipated that some of the devices would also include thermometer and heart rate monitor – the latest trends smartphone manufacturers bet on.

So what comes next?

One of the features Gates described in his vision was the „wallet-PC“ replacing the real wallet with all the paper money, credit cards and so on. You could make cash transfers from one wallet-PC to another and so on. Right now there are a couple „mobile payment“ projects aiming at making that happen but at least here in Germany the iniciatives are far away from taking over the mass market. However, I’m convinced they will in the future – it’s written in Bill Gate’s book 😉

PS: Bill Gates also published his vision of „smart-TV“. Concerning functionality he did fairly good. The visual, however, looks funny from today’s point of view:

Smart-TV vision 1995

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