Bill Gates, the CEO Summit, and Innovations for Regular Folks

by Glen Gillmore

Related link: http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/speeches/2002/05-22ceosummit.asp



This morning Bill Gates shared his thoughts (see link above) on some of the innovations knocking at our door. Pervasive computing certainly isn't too far off. XML Web services, integrated information sharing, and new user interfaces are all exciting, but I do wonder if a single killer-app will be the catalyst for pulling all of this together quickly or will it be a slow evolution? How is it driven? By businesses, everyday consumers, or both?

Beyond the technology and those that cling to technology for technology's sake, what about "regular" folks? I wonder if innovation has occurred faster than the average person's ability to dream about how they can make their lives better, faster, cheaper - which isn't just a consideration for business. What frustrations or pain do people have that these innovations might solve - and are they willing to pay for it?

I'm not sure I'd pay for an href="http://www.connectedhomemag.com/">integrated Internet lifestyle in my personal life. My home is in a rural area and neither DSL nor cable is available. I could go with my satellite TV provider for Internet access, though the upfront costs and $60/month would need to solve a lot of pain to justify the expense. In my unusual situation, I live off-grid and rely on solar energy & propane. Something that is going to consume electricity 24/7 is always given an extra level of cost-benefit analysis.

Sure, I'd like to have Outlook's address book synchronize with my cell phone the way it does with my Pocket PC, but for now I can live without it. I'd like to have a wireless href="http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/tabletpc/default.asp">Tablet PC so I can write weblogs in bed (no goofy comments, please) using the pen or speech interfaces. Maybe I'm too cheap, thus dooming me to a life with only partial satisfaction -- with my Windows 98 laptop, a browser, and a copy of Office -- all which seem to satisfy 85% of what I want to do while at home. Is this next wave of innovation as significant and compelling as the Internet & E-mail was in the mid-'90s? Although I'm not convinced, I'm not writing it off. I'll still be a relatively early adopter -- just because that's who I am.



What dreams or pain will motivate you to be an early adopter of an integrated Internet lifestyle in your personal life?