The Phone Changes Everything

Big Fork Ridge TrackRemember when phones were phones?

Nobody thought phones would anything more – just a handset tied to a box with a rotary dial.

Wireless was neat. Remember when it first came out? You could walk around the house, go outside, and continue working on projects while talking…it was amazing.

This weekend was revolutionary for me. Equipped with my iPhone 6 and a $2 app called MotionX, I was able to pin point my elevation and location trekking through the Smoky Mountains over the weekend.  I also had weather and a way for emergency rescue to track me down if the need arose…

Being a late adopter, I could have spent over $300 easily, just a few years ago, and had a 1 x 1 screen with digital readouts of my latitude and longitude. I would have had to turn off my GPS while hiking to conserve my battery.  And when I powered up, it would have been painful to reconnect to a satellite.

This weekend was much different. The iPhone 6  with it’s larger screen had my topo loaded up before we left Charlotte. That was easy. I just searched with the app, found the location online, downloaded it in just a few seconds, and turned off my phone. When I arrived, I had already reviewed the terrain on Google Earth – printed out trailhead directions from AllTrails.Com, and had my starting position marked on the MotionX map. I also had back-country campsites reserved online – a requirement in the Smoky Mountains.  I opened the app at the trailhead – of course we didn’t have service, it’s the Smoky Mountains. But we did have satellite – and I was connected in seconds.

Yes, we really saw Elk on Our Trip!
Yes, we really saw Elk on Our Trip!

The app runs in background, so I shut off the screen, put it in my shirt map pocket, and headed out with my kids. Every 10 minutes Siri updates us on our position – she tells us how fast we walking, what our altitude is, and how far we’ve walked so far.  To check how much further… I can either have preloaded waypoints or just check the map on the screen.  I chose the latter since I was not able to download the waypoints and didn’t want to enter them by hand.

My phone was on the entire time. The next morning, in 15 degree weather, my battery was looking a little weak. So I plugged into my Anker portable recharger!  In minutes my phone was back up and running – which lasted me through Saturday and Sunday.

It’s a little off topic, but not really.  The point here is technology is getting faster, smaller, and cheaper. How much longer will the $300 GPS be a viable solution? I can’t imagine the average hiker buying one – the $2 app does it. What about PCs? How long do we have? Servers? Storage?  I agree, we will continue to need some of this hardware. But the cloud is changing the value of infrastructure. The iPhone is one example of a computer most of us can’t make a living selling. It and the tablet are changing the way we compute.

How long will it take you to retool? Can you continue to live on basic managed support services and infrastructure resale? As we move into 2015, we should all be thinking about the future of technology sales. What will still be worth paying for? Security will. Security Managed Services will. Consulting will – when it relates to the business. Virtual CIOs and CISOs will be in demand. Custom software will…. Networks, storage, computers….not so much.  What are you selling in 2015? What about the year after that?

© 2014, David Stelzl

P.S. I also took all of my pictures with my iPhone – leaving my $350 outdoor point and shoot, and my Canon SLR in my home office collecting dust.  Back in the car I made calls, checked in by phone with those back home, and more…


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