Industry visionaries have been touting this for a few years now and while I agree that mobile will be an important platform, I’m hoping it hurries up and gets here before my eyesight starts to really fade and I can no longer read that small screen. If it does gain critical mass, the Mobilenet will be the second new mass communications medium in twenty years. That will introduce even more profound platform, behavioral and social changes for us to adjust to in a wickedly short period of time.
Stephen Riley, our resident social media power user, monitored the Twitter posts from yesterday’s first day speakers at the Ad Age Digital Conference in New York. Of the long list he forwarded, the ones that really stood out quoted John Stratton, CMO of Verizon. Among other things, he talked about how 13-19 year olds text eight times more often than they call. They also average a four minute reply time to an SMS versus two days for an e-mail. But the most remarkable fact Stratton highlighted was the rate of App Store downloads and how they dwarf the rate of iTune downloads. In many ways, the rapid adoption of this platform demonstrates that the handheld computer is already here.
To purists of course, the iPhone is merely a really good smartphone, not truly the portable computing device they envision as servicing a mobilenet-enabled future. And yet, hackers and bloggers have rated this little beauty roughly akin to a PowerBook, circa 2000, with a CPU clocking at 400MHz, bus speed of 100MHz, and 128 MB of RAM. Mobile gaming advocates even claim it has more power than the Nintendo DS and PSP systems combined. Which means the iPhone has no shortage of app driving power on hand.
And talk about app opportunities. With more than 25,000 to choose from and more coming on line every week, the App Store stands as a testament to the value of free content and open source. The iPhone itself will celebrate its second birthday in June; this past February marked the first birthday for the crucial iPhone development kit.
The social impact of relatively young technologies and platforms like the iPhone and YouTube and Facebook blows historical precedent out of the water. And yet ultimately it reinforces a great truth that many seem resistant to grasp: we are not led into the future on platforms, we are led by ideas. Platforms enable ideas, but without ideas, you simply have the Newton.