Bill gates explained in detail during this early 2007 interview alongside Steve Jobs, his belief that a device EXACTLY like the iPad would be the device he would depend on the most.
During an earlier portion (Part 3) of the same speech, Bill Gates explained he has no "irresistible urge" to transition his software company towards producing hardware devices. (The XBOX gaming console, has been Microsofts primary attempt to offer a combined solution.)
You can also tell Steve Job's real purpose or intended capabilities for the iPhone (which he had announced weeks earlier,) weren't completely fleshed out yet; and this certainly makes since, given the fact the Apple App Store, which really helped give the iPhone any real meaty purpose and usefulness, wasn't introduced for another year and a half; one year after the official release of the first gen iPhone.
A full transcript can also be viewed from the D5's website. A couple of the highlights I'm referring too are as follows:
Kara: What does that device look like in five years? What would be your principal device? Is there one or…
Walt: I could be wrong, I think you carry a tablet with you, right?
Walt: Which has not necessarily stormed the world yet.
Bill: Yeah. This is like Windows 1992, I think. That is, I’m unrepentant on my belief.
Walt: OK. But to go back to Kara’s point, what would you each imagine that you would carry as your principal, let’s say, thing to do the Web and…
Kara: I mean, Jeff Hawkins showed a very lightweight device.
Walt: Yeah. I don’t know if you guys saw, but Jeff Hawkins showed a Linux-based, very small–I think he called it a companion to a smart phone today.
Kara: A phone companion, which sounded a little naughty.
Walt: It doesn’t matter, you weren’t there, but what would you think you each would be–I assume you carry a tablet PC. I don’t know what brand it is. Maybe you change them up, I don’t know. You obviously carry a MacBook Pro, I would guess, or a MacBook.
Steve: Yeah. Well, and an iPhone.
Walt: And an iPhone?
Kara: You have one?
Steve: I do.
Kara: Right here?
Walt: Well, he has one. He took it out before. Really.
Walt: He flashed his iPhone earlier today.
Kara: Anyway, go ahead. So what is your device? What’s the device that we should be carrying?
Walt: What’s your device in five years that you rely on the most?
Bill: I don’t think you’ll have one device. I think you’ll have a full-screen device that you can carry around and you’ll do dramatically more reading off of that.
Bill: Yeah. I mean, I believe in the tablet form factor. I think you’ll have voice. I think you’ll have ink. You’ll have some way of having a hardware keyboard and some settings for that. And then you’ll have the device that fits in your pocket, which the whole notion of how much function should you combine in there, you know, there’s navigation computers, there’s media, there’s phone. Technology is letting us put more things in there, but then again, you really want to tune it so people know what they expect. So there’s quite a bit of experimentation in that pocket-size device. But I think those are natural form factors and that we’ll have the evolution of the portable machine. And the evolution of the phone will both be extremely high volume, complementary–that is, if you own one, you’re more likely to own the other.
Kara: And then at home, you’d have a setup that they all plug into?
Bill: Well, home, you’ll have your living room, which is your 10-foot experience, and that’s connected up to the Internet and there you’ll have gaming and entertainment and there’s a lot of experimentation in terms of what content looks like in that world. And then in your den, you’ll have something a lot like you have at your desk at work. You know, the view is that every horizontal and vertical surface will have a projector so you can put information, you know, your desk can be a surface that you can sit and manipulate things.
Walt: Can I please have a room in my house that doesn’t have a screen and a projector in it?
Bill: You bet.
Bill: The bathroom.
Kara: That’s the perfect place for it, actually.
Walt: So what’s your five-year outlook at the devices you’ll carry?
Steve: You know, it’s interesting. The PC has proved to be very resilient because, as Bill said earlier, I mean, the death of the PC has been predicted every few years.
Walt: And here when you’re saying PC, you mean personal computer in general, not just Windows PCs?
Steve: I mean, personal computer in general.
Walt: Yeah, OK.
Steve: And, you know, there was the age of productivity, if you will, you know, the spreadsheets and word processors and that kind of got the whole industry moving. And it kind of plateaued for a while and was getting a little stale and then the Internet came along and everybody needed more powerful computers to get on the Internet, browsers came along, and it was this whole Internet age that came along, access to the Internet. And then some number of years ago, you could start to see that the PC that was taken for granted, things had kind of plateaued a little bit, innovation-wise, at least. And then I think this whole notion of the PC–we called it the digital hub, but you can call it anything you want, sort of the multimedia center of the house, started to take off with digital cameras and digital camcorders and sharing things over the Internet and kind of needing a repository for all that stuff and it was reborn again as sort of the hub of your digital life.
And you can sort of see that there’s something starting again. It’s not clear exactly what it is, but it will be the PC maybe used a little more tightly coupled with some back-end Internet services and some things like that. And, of course, PCs are going mobile in an ever greater degree.
So I think the PC is going to continue. This general purpose device is going to continue to be with us and morph with us, whether it’s a tablet or a notebook or, you know, a big curved desktop that you have at your house or whatever it might be. So I think that’ll be something that most people have, at least in this society. In others, maybe not, but certainly in this one.
But then there’s an explosion that’s starting to happen in what you call post-PC devices, right? You can call the iPod one of them. There’s a lot of things that are not…
I think there’s just a category of devices that aren’t as general purpose, that are really more focused on specific functions, whether they’re phones or iPods or Zunes or what have you. And I think that category of devices is going to continue to be very innovative and we’re going to see lots of them.
Kara: Give me an example of what that would be.
Steve: Well, an iPod as a post-PC…
Kara: Well, yeah.
Steve: A phone as a post-PC device.
Walt: Is the iPhone and some of these other smart phones–and I know you believe that the iPhone is much better than these other smart phones at the moment, but are these things–aren’t they really just computers in a different form factor? I mean, when we use the word phone, it sounds like…
Steve: We’re getting to the point where everything’s a computer in a different form factor. So what, right? So what if it’s built with a computer inside it? It doesn’t matter. It’s, what is it? How do you use it? You know, how does the consumer approach it? And so who cares what’s inside it anymore?
Walt: So what are the core functions of the device formerly known as the cellphone, whatever we want to call it? The pocket device. What would you say the core functions, like, five years out, what are the core functions of that pocket device?
Bill: How quickly all these things that have been somewhat specialized, the navigation device, the digital wallet, the phone, the camera, the video camera, how quickly those all come together, it’s hard to chart out. But eventually, you’ll be able to pick something that has the capability to do every one of those things.
And yet, given the small size, you still won’t want to edit your homework or edit a movie on the screen of that size. And so you’ll have something else that lets you do the reading and editing and those things. Now, if we could ever get a screen that would just roll out like a scroll, you know, then you might be able to have the device that did everything.
Walt: You know, in the very first D conference, we had these guys from E Ink here.
Walt: I’m sure you’ve both talked to them. They were talking about that. That was five years ago. It’s always five years out. So do you…
Bill: Yeah. There’s some advances in projection technology that are more likely to be delivered, I think, than the flexible material guys, but it’s not even on the horizon, no matter which of the two approaches are pursued.
Kara: And any kind of quality.
Bill: We have some Microsoft research people who work on [that] and there’s a lot of investment, but it’s at least in the five-year time frame.
Walt: You, five years from now, what’s going to be on that pocket device?
Steve: I don’t know. And the reason I don’t know is because I wouldn’t have thought that there would have been maps on it five years ago, but something comes along, gets really popular, people love it, get used to it, you want it on there.
So people are inventing things constantly and I think the art of it is balancing what’s on there and what’s not on there, is the editing function. And clearly, most things you carry with you are communications devices. You want to do some entertainment with them as well, but they’re primarily communications devices and that’s what they’re going to be.