There are so many signs that the traditional computer is going the way of the punchcard. We recently wrote why your next computer will be a phone and how Raspberry Pi 3 has enough oomph to work as a real computer. Neither is a computer as we know it now, but both can probably do the job. All they really need is a keyboard and a screen.
That’s where NexDock comes in. After reading our post on HP's phone/computer, founder Emre Kosmaz pointed us to the company's Indiegogo page. Conceptually, it's a Bluetooth keyboard with trackpad, a battery and a not terrifically high-resolution monitor in a neat notebook form. Separately, they are all components that people have been using for years. It's also not an entirely new idea; Motorola tried it five years ago with the Atrix and actually Palm tried it with the Foleo almost a decade ago (remember them?). But times change.
Besides, it’s the thought that counts:
NexDock is only the beginning. In the future, we want to develop docks with variety of sizes and better-integrated mini PCs with a range of processors and operating systems.
By separating processor & operating system from the display, we hope to start a paradigm shift in consumer electronics, where computers can be adapted to match your exact needs, generating less electronic waste for the environment.
This is where it gets interesting. I used to build my own desktop computers and refused to even consider a laptop as my main computer because everything is in one sealed package, whereas my desktop computer had so many parts changed and upgraded that it was like that old Theseus' paradox about “my grandfather’s axe” — he changed the handle a few times and the head twice, but it’s still his grandfather’s axe.
Now that we can get our computing power in such a small package as the phone or the pi, it doesn’t make much sense to stick it together with components that evolve at a slower rate. Now that the phones have so much power and are such a part of our lives, it just makes sense that they become the central hub of our computing experience. That's already the way it is for much of the world and most young people.
This is why I think that my beloved Apple has made such a mistake in not merging its Mac operating system OS X with the phone’s iOS. CEO Tim Cook was asked about this and responded during a conference:
“We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile,” Cook said, according to those in attendance. “We think it subtracts from both, and you don’t get the best experience from either. We’re very much focused on two.”
I adore my Apple babies, my computer and tablet and phone and watch, but there's a serious load of excess processing power on this desk. I've learned my lesson with the very expensive 15-inch Macbook Pro that’s sitting on the left, while I pound out this post on a 9-year-old Das keyboard while looking at a 6-year-old external monitor: Different work environments need different tools for viewing and inputting, and one size does not fit all. The Macbook is too small for my day job and too big for traveling; it's lovely to look at but totally unsuited to my actual life.
Now that the actual computers have shrunk to phone or pi size, and now that we can do everything in the cloud so that the operating system becomes almost irrelevant, the NexDock concept looks very, very interesting. Computers are everywhere (and even in our pants) so what matters is how the computer meets the user, and that is through the keyboard, mouse and monitor, which is exactly what NexDock is doing.
This is not seriously complicated technology and no doubt a Logitech or another big accessory company could do this in days if they thought there was a market. but credit must go to NexDoc for being up to bat early; these guys are on to something.