Amazon, Apple, Google. And Porno, porno, porno, porno.

mark is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

WARNING: CONTENT ADVISORY!  IF YOU HAVE CLICKED ON THIS LINK LOOKING FOR DIRTY PICTURES, PLEASE GO SOMEWHERE MORE APPROPRIATE!  THIS ARTICLE HAS NO DIRTY PICTURES IN IT, NOR EVEN SALACIOUS DISCUSSIONS OF DIRTY PICTURES! THIS ARTICLE IS A SPECULATIVE, THEORETICAL, AND MOSTLY DRY PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION!  SORRY!  GO!

While thinking about the growing escalation of the tablet wars between Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), I began to consider the larger view -- that is, the eventual future of mobile computing itself, regardless of the eventual winner(s) among the above three companies.  

It is my belief that the mobile computing market will always be somewhat limited.  Let me admit up front that this is also my hope:  I don't want to live in a dystopia in which the weirdo down at the park can be secretly watching porno on the inside screen of his google glasses, or teenagers out to dinner can all be watching different TV shows on their hand-held tablet computers, rather than talking to each other.  The reason I envision the Futureworld of ubiquitous mobile computing as a dystopia rather than a utopia is that we, as a species, have not evolved our cerebellums in conjunction with our cerebrums -- that is, while we can envision a time in the very near future where we will send a person to Mars, there is always the distinct possibility that that person will scrawl a dirty word on a Martian rock as a way of memorializing mankind's, ah, "ascent from the muck."

Too pessimistic?  Follow me into the living room:  Click, click click.  You can put down that remote, chum.  In fact, you can throw it away.  There's nothing to watch on TV, even with 200 channels.  Your computer won't save you -- there's nothing to do there either, except social media, TV, porno, and shopping.  The pitiful truth is that while we are very inventive, we are just not that imaginative.  

Another way to put it is that we are clever, but not inspired.  Consider for a moment the Harry Potter movies, or Glengarry Glen Ross (language advisory.)  Watch all these great actors sinking their teeth into juicy roles that are actually big enough for them to display their talents.  In my opinion, Alec Baldwin easily deserved three best actor Oscars for his eight minutes in Glengarry, but alas; such roles are few and far between, because while there are many hacks churning out dreck, there are but few writers like David Mamet. 

So, the banality of content will always be the central limiting factor in the growth of mobile computing.  There just isn't any reason to want to carry the internet with you wherever you go.  Moreover, the idea of each of us walking to and fro across the face of the earth while staring at our little screens depicting ourselves is somewhat hellish, is it not?

But Amazon seems to envision the future human as a more effective, more empowered consumer.  According to Head Honcho Jeff Bezos, the goal is to get as many Kindles out there as possible, even if it means selling them at or near cost, because the idea is to sell sell sell downloadable content and consumer goods from the Amazon website:  "We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices."

Apple, for their part, seems to agree with Amazon that the role of tablet owners is to be consumers of TV and movies:  "the new iPad displays colors that are unbelievably richer, deeper and more vivid. Movies are now capable of playing at full 1080p HD-resolution, delivering an incomparable viewing experience on a mobile device," says a recent press release.

In a different vein, Google, at least with their futuristic glasses, seems to envision tomorrow's man as a sort of cyborg, a mobile humanoid interacting more effectively with the world.  Interestingly, Google's desire is to make us more involved with the world, not less:  "[w]e're trying to make mobile systems that help the user pay more attention to the real world as opposed to retreating from it," says Google scientist Thad Starner in the above-linked article (italics in original.)

That is a nice thought, but I myself find it at least partially crazy.  I mean, in theory you could be sitting on a bench in the park, look over at a bird, and have the computer screen inside your glasses pull up an image of the same bird and tell you all about it: "Brin's hump-backed woodpecker was discovered in the suburbs of San Jose in 2016... "  But I don't see it that way.  I find it a lot easier to envision some guy on the subway using his new cyborg glasses to watch re-runs of Lost in Space as he motors along home.

To me, it is a growing, obvious, and increasingly undesirable paradox, that thousands of us can be together in giant rooms, such as sports arenas or convention halls, and yet all be apart, each alone, tweeting and messaging our thoughts to people who aren't even there.  At bottom, it may be merely a mistake of the young to believe that being wholly wired 24/7, mobile computing, is a luxury.  In fact, the opposite may be true: as we grow older, we begin to realize that perhaps true luxury is in throwing your phone away, or at least leaving it in the car, so that you can enjoy the game, the show, the river going by.

And that is why I believe that mobile computing will always be a niche market.  It is, at its most fundamental, a problem of scale -- our sub brains have not scaled up to match our technology, and they never will. Porno may be one of the most-searched topics on the internet, but that is more an indication of our patheticness rather than an indication of porno's aesthetic worth.  The bottom line is that we are still in search of the same Holy Grail we were looking for in the 1990s -- the Killer App.  

And we will never find it, only TV, porno, shopping, and social media.  And that is why mobile computing will always be predominately the realm of teenagers.


boriskabinov is short Amazon via long-dated puts. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommendAmazon.com, Apple, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, clickhere for information.

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