The mobile device industry is booming. It's been in the making for a long time. We've seen devices from the past such as Apple Newton, Atari Portfolio, Cassiopeia, and many others arise on the horizon just to go away again. We've seen waves of UMD (Ultra Mobile Devices) systems, we went through a generation of netbooks, added touchscreens, GPS, and internet connectivity in shape of wifi and cell technology. PDAs came and went, and came back, but this time around they were built into cell phones and suddenly they became an attractive gadget proposition for both business and leisure. The blackberry gave business people on the run the ability to communicate through email and messengers, iphone added the aspect of fun, yet delivered a business "machine". Our generation is a generation of mobile communicators. We send TXT messages all day long, both for fun, but also as a mechanism to keep business associates, clients, bosses, etc. updated about our whereabouts, schedules, and other important information requiring instant communication. We live in a world where information is in our pockets; sound, data, and video is only an armlenght away. We update people around us through social networks such as facebook and linkedin. We document our every day lives in an almost diary fashion through sites like twitter, with useful and less userful information. Much more data than ever, is collected, disclosed, and stored, maybe as valuable documentation of our time, who knows. What we see today, is most likely just the beginning of a whole new world connected. Mobile devices are connecting people and creating a grid of information. Information is changing hands, being digested, interpreted, and passed on. Today the pizza, the books, the music, and the movies are only a few clicks away. Whether it is tangible items we are looking for or simply data (books, music, video etc.), we can get it, and we can get it fast, and more importantly, we can get anywhere.
The internet was the first major step in connecting people, products, information, and services in a repository, yet a decentralized mechanism of holding these masses of information. It gave us ways to quickly communicate with friends, business partners, or colleagues across the miles, and in only decades made the world a little bit smaller. It brought us together in many ways, but also changed the way we were taught to communicate and interact with other people. It gave us great insight in foreign cultures, politics, lifestyles etc. at the speed of light. Businesses took this new tool in and used it to grow their markets, expand and improve their services. We now listen to radio stations from all over the world while before we would try and pick up a signal on an AM radio from a far-away land. We meet people with common interests, and no longer is distance of importance. We live in a virtual world where only the speed of transfering data is the limitation of how well we can share and contribute to this world. We can conduct business from a cafe in France or share holiday moments in a snap from a yacht in the carribean. We can keep track of our dear children through GPS, and we can monitor our homes, cars, and other valuables from the board meeting. We have managed to make this virtual world interact well with the "real" physical world, and this has given us many advantages.
The world of doing business is changing. No longer are we only faced with the choice of the yellow pages, local newspapers, magazines, and TV as channels for communicating our messages, sell our products and services, and in whole present our business to the outside world. But even the internet as we know it is becoming "old hat". Today most businesses have a website, with some taking full benefit of the technology while others just using it as an online business card. Most business owners would say "well, we have to be on the internet". Mobile devices is helping the individual disconnecting from their stationary work station and connect through this much smaller and lighter device. Many people see these devices as a liberation from from their computer. Finally they can again come home and have a bite to eat without checking their email first, or watching a full movie on TV without having to go to their desktop computer or laptop to see if there are important messages which needs their attention. Suddenly we have the whole encyclopedia at our fingertips, all our contacts, calendars, maps etc. constantly present and accessible. Whenever human behavior changes business has to change. Businesses can not run on the philosophy that people will want what they offer. No, they have to give people (the consumer), what the consumer wants. Business has to adapt to the way we live our lives and to our behavior as consumers.
Just like when the internet first took off many businesses were skeptical and not sure if that was the right place to spend their hard earned money. Both domain names, development and design services were expensive, and many of the early pioneers felt a little disappointed. They spent an arm and a leg on this new website, but no one came by. No one visited their brand new virtual showroom. Virtual real estate was a new phenomen, that we didn't quite understand, and just like real real estate development it is something that takes time. Basically what the early adapters were faced with was that they were building a store with a beautiful storefront, but in an area where there were no people, and there were yet no real ways of advertising and promoting their services. As time went by we saw businesses like ebay, google, and yahoo manifesting themselves by filling this gap. They gave the virtual business community ways to make their store seen and visited. They created targeted shoppers and essential gave the business owners sales. Sudddenly return of investment was on the horizon and many of the businesses following on the sideline finally deciced to take the jump and go online. Ebay was offering a virtual mall with the focus on the product much more than on a brand and gave everyone (even the ones without a website) the opportunity to buy and sell. Yahoo and google saw a niche in categorizing websites by subject and in a sense offered the users an online version of the yellow pages with the option of advertisers paying for virtual billboards - banners. What we see today is that the people and the businesses who believed in the internet back then are some of the folks who are today sitting on solid online assets and operations. They did not only grow up with the internet, they also helped in creating and shaping the internet to what it is today.
What we see today in the mobile device and communication industry is very similar to what we saw back then in the dotcom days. A booming industry, and exciting proposition, but yet with the skeptical onlookers. No doubt, just like the internet, what we see today in the mobile device market will look very different in 10 years, but no doubt, the most succesful people in 10 years will be the ones who grapped this opportunity, and helped shaping the direction. The internet as a stationary platform as we typically know it today is still a great spot for innovation and opportunity, but the mobile device boom has opened up a new opportunity which is still young and offers the chance for anyone to capture and master. Whether it is an existing business deciding to jump on the wireless bandwagon, or it is a new business idea with mobility and portability in mind, the mobile industry is the place to be for the next 10 years and beyond. Over the next couple of years we will see more and more of our traditional systems such as landline telephones, cable TV, over the air radio, CDs, DVDs, and bluray declining in return of the fast advancing data communication systems and some even become obsolete. It's time for existing businesses to make the right choices for the future and it's time for the entrepreneural minded to think faster and smarter. There is a world of opportunity waiting for us.