Ina Fried of c|net writes an article, long overdue, on the history of so-called internet appliances.
We look at them now and find them amusing, like early experimental airplanes. And it’s amazing to think how far we’ve come. Rather than a “computer lite,” we now think of these types of devices as useful add-ons to a well-accepted broadband computer experience. It’s no longer about making a “computer for dummies,” but rather about delivering more internet-based content to us in more ways and more places: the true always-on, at-a-glance internet. With your microwave oven and your coffee maker already telling you the time (the wrong time in my case), why not embed weather, traffic, and tweets as well. Lower-cost electronics and nearly ubiquitous wi-fi, as well as content we actually care about, has made the early internet appliance entrepreneurs’ vision come true.
Someday, perhaps like air travel, ubiquitous internet content will be considered pedestrian rather than esoteric and quirky.