Prediction: The last days of mobility
Mobility is part of our everyday life. It is already incredibly powerful, and it seems to becoming even more so every day, with new uses, sleeker gadgets, and new contributions to just anything that we do.
And yet, mobility as a topic of discussion, entrepreneurship, innovation etc. is going to go away. In less than a decade, nobody will be talking about mobile apps. Nobody will be waiting excitedly for the next mobile gadget to come out. To say “mobile app”, “mobile phone” or “mobile enterprise” will be a sure proof you’re way behind the times.
How can I make such a prediction? Simply because when the mobile revolution finally conquers everything, there will be nothing left that is not mobile, and the word “mobile” will lose its meaning as a differentiator between things that are mobile and things that aren’t. When all water is wet, nobody discusses wet water; when everything is mobile, nobody will refer to anything as mobile.
This is the fate of successful technological revolutions: The “horseless carriage” and the “motor car” became the “car”, when just about all vehicles lost their horses and gained motors. Later on, it was electricity’s turn to lose everything by winning everything: “electric washing machines” became “washing machines”; “electric lighting” became “lighting”, so that we have to talk about “gas streetlights”, for instance, to talk about what 19th-century city dwellers simply called streetlights. Then “electronic” came, and then it went: does anybody still speak about “electronic calculators”?
Closer to present day, we saw the web achieve domination of almost all interaction with computers in an incredibly short time: At first, the web interface was a novelty, and makers of enterprise software who adopted this newfangled technology proudly advertised their new and shiny web interfaces. In just a few years, this too has vanished: Though there remain many software programs whose interfaces aren’t built on web technologies, usually for justifiable reasons, those products that are web-based don’t shout it from the rooftops – it has come to be expected and taken in stride.
And this will happen for mobility – possibly even faster than it did for the web. As predictions go, it’s one of the most certain predictions we can make. How many years need to pass before it will be obvious that a workforce management solution must be mobile? How about buying movie tickets, or reading the news, or filing expense accounts etc.? So many mobile solutions for those needs, and many other needs, already exist today. For the word “mobile” to disappear, all that still needs to happen is the fading away of the non-mobile solutions for these needs.
Does that mean that we won’t be using non-mobile devices such as 21″ displays? No: until we have such displays that can be easily folded and carried with us, we will need these displays as well. It just means that they will be using the same apps that the mobile devices use.
All of which means that this blog might need a new name: When “Mobile” is no longer a necessary term, will the “Mobile Fever” blog become the “Fever” blog? Much as I like the name, it could be somewhat misleading as to the contents.