As technology journalist Walt Mossberg observed earlier this year in his final regular column, the computer is disappearing. It is poised to “fade into the background,” indistinguishable from other devices. The line between regular devices and “computing devices” is now blurred as software has become ubiquitous.
This transition has been underway for some time now. In a 2016 report on embedded software in consumer devices, the U.S. Copyright Office noted that “[i]n the near future, software will be behind even more innovations, like artificial intelligence and advanced robotics… consumers now routinely use software-enabled products for everything from adjusting the thermostats in their homes, to driving to work, to getting a midnight snack from the fridge.” In short, software is everywhere. But the marketplace is going to change even more.
Technology will soon evolve beyond software-enabled devices, as well as network-connected “Internet of Things” devices. Of course, IoT devices will remain important; the smart thermostat isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But connected devices are moving toward becoming an infrastructure layer. They will soon provide environments where consumers can access many different types of software — like digital assistants — from different providers.MORE »