The Next Great Software Delivery Device

Reader Alert: this isn’t another story about Apple’s iPad. However…I was catching up on the current issue of Time magazine last night before hitting the sack, and one bit of it particularly stuck with me. That bit was about how the iPad, as a device, isn’t novel. Tablet computers have been around for a long time.

Instead, among the several things that are innovative about the iPad – and the iPhone before it – was envisioning them as delivery devices for a whole new extension of the software industry. I vividly remember a Walt Mossberg interview with Steve Jobs at the All Things D conference three years ago, where Jobs talked a lot about how important the content and software businesses were to them.

Now let me switch gears for you to a different innovator, Will Wright. Will, as some may recognize, is most notably the creator of the Sims and Spore. For anyone who has followed my writing, you may have picked up on some references I made to him last year in a post on Wikinomics entitled “Robot Mass Collaboration.”

Shortly after that post, Will did an interview for VentureBeat and said this about one of the things that always amazed him about the gaming industry “… if you got a lot of people involved in the experience, how much effort the fans would put into it. You give them tools and they run with them. We want to take that model into other areas.”

At the time of interview, which was last October, he said he was “keeping my fingers” crossed on the first product from his new design company – which is presently trying to stay very under the radar – being commercialized in six months to a year. This month, April, marks six months.

I’ll be keeping my eyes open. Because, while the “nouveau tablet” (i.e., iPad) business will see an intense surge in activity for some time, I tend to agree with what the Yale computer scientist David Gelernter said yesterday, who called the iPad transitional. Just what that next, major device is that becomes the target for a new wave of software and content delivery, remains to be seen.