In my first year of college, over 10 years ago now, I got my first cell phone. I’m sure my parent’s thought I was crazy — why would a student need their own cell phone? But I was young and full of credit, and it seemed important to me to have one. I certainly felt important carrying it around… despite the fact that it was a giant brick by today’s standards. At any rate, my cell phone had a feature called “SMS” where by my roommate and I could send each other short text messages. Although we had other friends with cell phones, I never could seem to convince them to use the service. I suspect most of them didn’t even have a clue they had it…
10 years later and texting is all the rage with kids these days, and all I can say is: I told you so.
Here’s another trend that I can’t seem to convince my friends of, but that I’m sure is going to change everything… in just a few years when this generation of kids grows up: digital content delivery.
The other night we wanted to rent a movie. I had in mind to find something from the late 80s or early 90s, so using only my remote control, I browsed Drama flicks from those decades. After finding a few of a theme that seemed interesting, I browsed for similar movies. Then, thinking perhaps I’d like to watch one with Harrison Ford in it, I searched for films starring him. Eventually, we settled on something completely unrelated using the recommendation engine.
The device that makes this possible is an AppleTV — but it doesn’t have to be. An XBox or a PS3 can do similar things. I happen to like the little Apple box myself. From the factory, it lets me browse and listen to my music collection, or buy new songs or albums instantly from the iTunes store; it lets me view my photos, or connect to Flickr and see my parent’s latest snaps from their travels. With a little hacking, it connects to my downloads directory on the computer upstairs so I can watch current TV shows with PVR-like functionality, or any of our library of 200 owned digital movies. And if we happen to miss a show we’re following, we can order up the episode from the iTunes store with the touch of a button.
We don’t have digital cable, we don’t rent a PVR from the cable company, and we never set foot in a Blockbuster, but I’d wager that we have a better TV and movie experience than anyone who pays $60 or more a month to some old-world provider. We have only a cheap Internet connection, and a $160 box from Apple, that give us literally a world of entertainment at our finger tips…
And just like the obscured usefulness of SMS 10 years ago, I can’t wait until the rest of the world catches up with this technology. You’re gonna wonder how you lived without it!