In 2012, mobility is no longer a fantasy, rather it's the norm. Yet there are so many areas within the space that are still immature, especially the enterprise.
There are also still major shifts in platform adoption that are keeping the entire mobile realm in a state of flux. And with the rapid growth in tablets thanks to the iPad and developing options from Android manufacturers, we are seeing the rise in form factors that have previously only been the dream of high technologists.
It is interesting then to look at where we may be with regards to mobility in 2015. Where will the next 1000+ days take us? How much will change, how much will stay the same and how much will simply mature from what is available today?
I will explore the following three elements to try to predict where mobile technology will lead us in the next three years. Today's post will look into the first element, while tomorrow's will dive into the latter two:
One of the regular focuses in mobility is which platforms are hot today, which will be hot tomorrow and which are on the way out. I would like to avoid the topic of which platforms for the moment and instead ask you to focus on the experience that these platforms will deliver.
The development of the platforms on which we consume content and interact with will see key improvements that will allow them to be more:
The user is unique -- even today in 2012, we are incredibly connected as a global population -- with 20 percent owning a mobile phone. As the proliferation of smarter devices to even more people occurs there will be further disruptions in what the current norm for a “smart” device is. Siri is but a proof of concept.
Imagine the following…
In the morning when woken up by the alarm on your mobile device, you are delivered some simple, yet crucial information to your day -- traffic on your regular route, weather for the day, critical messages and any other piece of data that is part of you.
You may say that you have this today, but we have only seen the beginning of location-based services, augmented realty, media sharing, and other aspects and interactions with your digital, mobile persona that will constantly shape the content that we are delivered on a regular basis.
Mobile advertising is another key example. Presently, mobile advertising is crude and primitive. The level of adaptive delivery of ad messages that can be achieved once advertisers properly leverage location, search, user behavior, and other predictive analytical data will be mind-blowing.
Even now in 2012, the mobile device has become an extension of us. It is part of our hand. Maybe it resides in our pocket or purse. We feel a certain connection to our digital gateway on the go. People become immersed in the experience when they interact with it: they swipe, pinch, tap and type on a slab of glass or plastic. Some may still opt for the hard keyboard, but either way, the device is now part of their very self.
An area that has yet to mature is mobile video chat. The technology is there on the devices today, but networks are only just beginning to get up to speed (LTE). Organizations will begin to realize huge rewards on investments in unified communications solutions.
Furthermore, video in general will be more prolific and of incredible quality. Super hi-density screens will enable incredibly rich visuals that will draw users into near 3D virtual experiences with ease.
Seamless transitions between content, video, presence, messaging and voice will take communications and knowledge sharing to new heights.
Speed is what has been holding explosive mobile growth back for so long. 3G networks can work to some degree to deliver a rich experience to users, but the next level -- smooth delivery of video content -- is not possible at the moment to a large degree (outside of a relatively small group of true 4G devices and limited carrier deployments of LTE).
We need to see providers stop debating which service is truly “4G” (HSPA+ is very questionably listed as 4G by AT&T) and provide the best possible service to the masses. It is to be assumed that some very rural areas in the United States and other countries will continue to be the last to receive the best cellular network technology, but all major population centers will enjoy lightning fast data speeds coupled with low latency.
Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2012
Surrounding the topic of speed, there is a bit of a caveat not to be ignored:
In order for true success with vast, speedy networks, there will have to be some give from the incumbent cellular networks and their draconian restrictions on bandwidth usage to catch up to the phenomenal speeds that these same networks are able to support. Forcing users to pay hundreds of dollars per month in order to video chat for a few hours per week will not work.
Players such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple have already begun to scale their platform offerings to new heights. Of great note is Amazon. They currently have a solid distribution for goods, music, video, applications and cloud-based computing. These things tend to run in a balance, so it remains unclear who will be the bona fide competitor(s) in the mix.
We should all hope that by 2015, the cellular providers aren’t still trying to win in the content game with their own poorly-executed attempts at horizontal dominance in mobility. Somehow though, I find it hard to believe that they will have stopped. Let us hope that there are not more insidious forces at play that prevent prompt rollout of LTE across the world in the fear that the providers will be simply a dumb pipe (which is what I really want anyways, though that’s an entirely different topic).
In tomorrow's post, I will look into two other crucial elements that will witness change in the mobility sector: people and progress.
Editor's Note: To read more of Dan Lewis's thoughts on mobility: