With the great breakthrough innovation of Apple and its iPhone overtakingBlackBerry in the corporate world; the Mobile World Congress 2013 opened in the Mediterranean Barcelona filled with news and presentations. With the Asians having a distinct advantage over other manufacturers (Japanese: Sony, Koreans: Samsung and Chinese: Huawei). Nokia also introduced models for every budget, and even Microsoft Window Phone 8 now claims to have more than 130,000 appsavailable, which is still far from what Apple currently offers: 1 million apps in the AppStore. Google is still the big winner, with eight out of 10 new smartphones using its O/S and 700,000 Android apps. Tablets attempted to make a comeback, with bigger and faster versions.
The mobile, browser-based Firefox OS appeared on several smartphones, a nice try by the world-renowned competitor to Internet Explorer.
However it is not clear to me where we're going to go in this crazy race to prove who the best is. Do you remember your first Mobile Phone? It was probably a Motorola, called ‘the brick’ (I have memories of seeing yuppies in Jaguars, sitting in traffic with them. It looked ridiculous even back then). The first mobile phone network to open in the UK was Vodafone in 1985. Although, the popularity of the mobile was slow to grow, reaching only 7% of the population during the first ten years. That's water under the bridge now, with reports showing that mobile devices will outnumber people by the end of the year.
Everything is moving so fast that it’s almost impossible to keep up-to-date.
As a consumer you cannot be changing devices every three months, and as a business, companies expect their mobile selection will last at least a year before having to change. Manufacturers and the suppliers are feeding into the public’s appetite and desire to have the best phone ever, with increasing ridiculous costs becoming the norm. Once you fall into the contract, you are hooked. Is it absolutely imperative to have the last gadget device? I don’t think so.
People create demand and therefore markets, the economy then adjusts to the demands from the people who consume. However, because we live in a society on the move, mobiles end up becoming a necessity. When mobiles started, transmitting the voice was the only goal, then came the use of email, instant messaging applications and now finally, the all-purpose software: the apps.
The next step should be the transmission of data on a large scale, surfing on your mobile just like on any computer. The tablets have already begun this process. Cloud Computing, or using software as a service, will be a standard characteristic soon for every smartphone. (At the moment, end users can access cloud-based applications through a web browser). This means that developers do not have to deal with whatever operating system is on the market, or decide which to develop (currently normal OS, Android, Blackberry and Windows).
When this happens, the mobility of the processes will be complete. And then, as now they are beginning to do, most companies with complex back-end systems, will out of necessity match them with mobile phones, no matter which model you choose to use. The mobility will be more important than what the system itself does.
We are a mobile society, where only what flows is likely to survive. Until the invention of the steam engine, the speed of information depended on how far and fast a horse could run. The nineteenth century set the tone with the invention of the telegraph and the information is then moved faster than via rail. Then came radio, television and finally the internet. However, until the invention of smartphones, mobile internet was not entirely mobile, dependent of a desktop or even a laptop. Now, a Smartphone is something that can fit in your pocket, be anywhere, and receive information anytime. Again, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
This mobility of society, and its attachment to the mobile, creates what I call a “philosophy of mobility”. A philosophy that tells us the importance to keep moving rather than standing still; which tells us that mobility gives us freedom of action, of thought and interactivity. This philosophy also warns of the risks: move too fast and you start to skip details. As individuals, there are a limited number of followers you can follow on Twitter or Facebook, a limited number of messages or tweets that we can read, and what's more important, a limited number of content that we can assimilate. Information flows faster now than ever, but do we use all this information? Not at all.
But this ‘philosophy of mobility’ can help to accelerate nicely redesigned business processes, to streamline decision-making and especially to use the information wherever the user is. All this technology is based upon this philosophy, whether manufacturers like it or not. As happened before with mainframe computers, hardware will be irrelevant, only networks of content and context will prevail.
It's what is behind this philosophy that matters. Give some thought next time you upgrade your smartphone or decide to integrate your businesses with the mobile world. Ask yourself: is the need for mobility the reason I do this?