In most of our interaction with large companies so far we have found that interest in what we are doing, as well as in mobile general, originates from these companies' marketing organizations. It is not surprising that when a new communication medium emerges, marketing is the first organization in a company to take notice and look for novel ways to build brand awareness, interact with consumers, and generally find ways to communicate value to end users of a product or service. What is surprising though is that most companies have yet to take advantage of the full capabilities of mobile. Quite literally your average smart phone can:
The implications of the mobile phone as a communication device are well understood, however the other aspects of it, in particular, it's ability to compute and sense while being mobile, its most distinguishing feature from the PC era, are quite a bit less harnessed by companies.
Compute: In terms of CPU speed, memory, storage, etc., the iPhone 5 is as advanced as most average laptops from even half a dozen years ago. Granted, the screen size does not compare favorably to most laptops or desktops for visually interactive or analytically complex applications, however if this Indiegogo campaign for the Ubuntu Edge (apprx. $7M of $32M has been funded in 5 days) reaches it goal, then even that challenge will be sufficiently mitigated in the not too distant future. Whether the Ubuntu Edge achieves this, or a near future generation of iPhone or Anrdoid device, its only a matter of time before a convergence occurs between your mobile phone and your laptop. There will of course be people that need more computing power and will supplement their mobile device with a laptop, desktop, an EC2 cluster or even a supercomputer, however a majority of people will be able to make do with just one all-purpose computing device.
Sense: The number of sensors being built into mobile phones is increasing with every new release. Add to this, the increasing number of external sensors that you can connect to your smart phone and the possibilities are immense. Consider for example Kinsa's smart thermometer, it plugs into the iPhones headphone jack, tells you your body temperature, provides information on local illnesses, and allows you to quickly secure an appointment with your nearest urgent care facility.
While Mobile: This is the essence of what makes mobile, mobile. The ability to communicate, compute and sense, while on the move and in the midst of every day economic activity, is truly what makes mobile game changing. Once more marketers are the first to the party here with geo-precise targeting of marketing campaigns. Startups like Nomi take it a step further and allow retailers to track in-store behavior of customers and reward loyal customers. Again here, its only a matter time of time before mobile begins to:
- replace every aspect of whats in your wallet - from credit cards to loyalty cards to identification cards
- becomes your personal health monitoring aid, particularly when your on the road, helping you measure body temperature, glucose levels, and blood alcohol content
- almost completely replaces the need for non-core automative computing capacity in vehicles - it has already replaced the need for an external MP3 player, and is threatening to do the same to an external GPS
We truly believe that mobile is a paradigm shift in what computing offers, and the opportunities that it can create are on par with, if not greater than, the opportunities created by personal computing. In some ways its an extension of the personal computing revolution, but in many ways its a new revolution in its own right.