State of Mobile

I've been having an side conversation with someone at work and it spurred a number of thoughts. The summary of the conversation was that the mobile space has not reached critical mass yet followed by a summary of where he saw the most talked about platform in the next few years.

When I look at mobile today, I can't help but draw similarities to where the web world was about 5 years ago. A pre-dawn of the "Web 2.0" world if you will. Mobile is on the cusp of being relevant to the masses in my mind largely thanks to Apple's efforts. Most people don't care about the technical aspects of how things work, they care that things work and at an affordable rate. Devices are powerful enough and it is now acceptable (again) to have a phone that is as large as your palm so that you can have visibly acceptable amount of useful information. Combine that with more widely available high speed data access, this allows you access to more information and more computing power to make even more powerful and relevant tools.

Looking at the space of desktop web today, the killer function or app is not eBay, Twitter or even Facebook. It's still Google or more accurately – search. Of all the things we do daily, Google or some sort of search is the one place we are most likely to hit. It makes sense since underneath it all, the internet is just a web of information that is loosely associated and often unconnected information. The question I have is what is the killer function for the mobile platform?

My guess is information aggregation and consolidation. I'd even venture to limit it only to aggregation of very personally relevant information. The attributes of mobile are that it is small, not very powerful but always with me. This makes the mobile device always accessible but with limited input capability. I will want to get access to time-sensitive and probably personally relevant information. For instance, I might look up a friend, see who is nearby or look up for things to do and people to do it with. I'm not likely to research and write a paper on QA strategy. Ok, I personally might but most people won't. LOL. Any tool that can do as much of that in one place will be what I use the most.

I think social networking becomes more interesting with mobile because of the nature of mobile devices. Given that it's always with me, I'm more likely to keep more personal information with me. Having a way to interact and plan on-the-fly with friends will be an attractive feature. In many ways, it will be an extention of SMS.

All in all, there are exciting times ahead of us for mobile. It will be a very interesting shift to see how traditional product companies leverage this tech to bring more services to consumers.

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