UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 7 Feb 2008

Mae West asked “Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?” Last night when I went out rapper sword dancing around the pubs in Bath the bulges in my pocket were due to my Casio Ex-Z1080 digital camera, Nokia N95 phone and iPod MP3 player.

My mobile devicesIt struck me that the processing power, storage capacity and functionality that these devices would have been in the realm of science fiction when I was younger (Star Trek comes to mind). I was carrying around in my pocket a iPod which has an 80 hard disk drive, a camera with a  2Gb SD card and a mobile phone with a 512 Mb micro SD card. All three devices play videos,  display photos and play music, the phone and the camera are content capture devices which can be used for taking photos and recording video and sound.  In addition, as Phil Wilson has described recently, the Nokia N95 phone is also has WiFi, GPS support and provides a Podcast client and can be used to watch TV and listen to the radio (if you are prepared to pay the network charges).

When, I wonder, were the processing power, storage and functionality of such devices only available on expensive, state-of-the-art desktop computers?  And what will the bulges in our pockets be capable of providing in 5 years time?  Any suggestions?

13 Responses to “Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?”

  1. IanW said

    Nice video, Tommy. Where was Betty?

  2. James Clay said

    I believe that the key difference will be is that the storage capabilities will become less important, as connectivity improves allowing easy access to information and content whenever and wherever you are.

    I wonder if the devices will get bigger rather than smaller?

    Think about phones, the Nokia N95 is a BIG phone compared to the compact small phones of a few years ago.

    The iPod touch screen is so much bigger than the iPod video screen.

    Bigger and thinner possibly?

    Though for me the downside of all the functionality is battery life and I wonder if there will be minimal improvement in functionality, but a huge leap in the battery life as technology improves the power efficiency of the chips and memory.

    As with all things rather than look five years in the future, look five years in the past.

    In 2003 I had a phone which could play music, video, had an in-built radio, could surf the net (slowly on a GPRS) connection.

    In 2008 I can do all those things but in higher quality and I know where I am (GPS).

    In 2013…



  3. Mike said


    Well, for starters we’ll probably laugh at the number of devices we carry now.

    The interface is going to have to change at some point: the key devices which make markets are the iphone and ipod Touch, and for a very good reason – they’re a joy to use, even if the power is lower and the business interface clumsier.

    Primarily, I see the short term wins as being around connectivity (and hence ubiquity) rather than power. The devices we carry are hugely overpowered but – currently – badly connected. Again, the iPhone deal with The Cloud is a huge winner for users. I’ve just moved to TMobile’s “1 gb / £7.99” plan – the device (a Windows Mobile Vario II) isn’t even vaguely as important to me as always-on, near-unlimited connectivity.

    Let’s also not forget that “real” users aren’t actually engaging with most of the features on many of these devices. The parallel example for me is in desktop computing where all the effort is put into faster, bigger processer machines. In fact, most “normal” users probably scrape along at 5% CPU (if that) – it’d make much more sense for manufacturers to focus on something as simple as start-up time. This single improvement would move desktop computing from being an irritation to being user-focused…



  4. Hi Mike – Ta for the comments, but I wish you hadn’t mentioned the iPhone – judging by Paul Walk’s most recent post he’ll use any opportunity to talk about his new toy (no, not his new child). Paul has already said “I think that the iPhone is going to change the way I work in all kinds of ways, now that I’m connected most of, rather than much of, the time.” And, fo course, Paul Miller has been twittering about his iPhone since he announced it on XMas day.

  5. askbusinesscoach said

    We better come up with something because I’m overloaded. Every trip now means the laptop, ipod, GPS, phone, accessories, carrying cases, bags and all the other business paraphernalia. How about a robot that lives in “cloud computing” who can carry all this gear.

  6. Hi askbusinesscoach – Yes, as well as the number of gadgets, there are also the number of cables and, sadly, a different power socket for each device :-(

  7. Paul Walk said

    I had a long running argument with a previous boss where he argued that we just needed all our gadgets integrated into one device, while I argued for smaller, focussed gadgets which could inter-operate with something like Bluetooth. The other day I bought an iPhone. He was right. I was wrong. I’m happy :-)

  8. […] Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket? […]

  9. […] I left a comment on Brian Kelly’s post, Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?, where I explained how the iPhone had […]

  10. ha ha said

    You may laugh, but in different countries I have had people come over all friendly and show me their guns, and once occasion less friendly threaten to shoot me… Seeing as it was in broad daylight on a crowded street outside a shopping center my response was “Please! Its been an age since I was shot!” Cheeky, or what?

    The prospect of any number of elearningish people pitching at a meeting with their iGun is scary: “Don’t like my social constructivist stance, here, construct this you little git!”

    But on the positive side it could narrow the field down a bit and add some clarity to often diffuse and weak argument. We hope for the paradoxical situation where those on the side of truth and light are the better shots….

  11. Neil Witt said

    It’s the battery power that’s the killer. My all singing all dancing SPV M700 lasts the same as my Nokia Communicator 9000 I had a decade ago.

  12. James Clay said

    Having had two devices run out of me on the train this evening coming back from London I totally agree with Neil.

    I have multiple devices as one device can’t last the day in terms of battery life.

  13. Code Gorilla said

    I think that we may well see a shift in role of the multiple devices we carry around.

    I already have a radio in my car that talks to my mobile phone via bluetooth, and have an ear-bud for when I’m away from the car.

    One can buy Mobile Broadband from a number of vendors, basically getting broadband anywhere there is a suitable 3G signal.

    How difficult will it be to have a bluetooth remote for a laptop, and have all the mobile electronics in the laptop?

    Use a digital camera, tied to the laptop’s hard disk for main storage or use a hand-set, tied to the laptop’s address-book… heck – they could even be the same device!

    Alternative world view (my, my brain is running on today…)
    Maybe we’ll have a split in the same way the HiFi world does:
    The purists will always want separates, but those wanting convenience over reproduction (or just having a “tin ear”) will happily live with an all-in-one….

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