Mobile is the future (or is it?)

One of the many advantages that web applications (SaaS is my favorite kind!) bring is this of mobility. Before web business applications you had to login to some server using several cumbersome technologies like Remote Desktop etc. to gain access to those apps. Then the web came and new robust (and secure I might add) applications came into light. Tapping in your enterprise network and executing several activities was made much easier. Also, you could now utilize a powerful laptop or even work with a device (PC or laptop) that wasn’t yours.

Now, this is the 2010’s, where smart phones (and other devices) gain ground but also users are becoming more and more demanding when it comes to their desk-independence and mobility. They need mobile applications that (like the web before) offer more and more functionality, without serious (or any) compromises in security. Also, a large number of people are becoming more dependent on their favorite devices, so BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is becoming a big issue for CIO’s around the world. They simply *have* to accept BYOD and solve the inevitable device diversity issues that arise (Take, for example, a medical center were patients come in to stay for a “long” (in internet scale) time. They are BYOD-ing and the hospital CIO must simply accept this fact and do what is necessary for the security and functionality of the hospital network!)

It’s not my intention to quote many statistics that can be found everywhere on the web. Just a few facts:

  • Mobile users are quickly increasing in number; faster than PC users on the 80’s and probably 90’s
  • Soon, there will be more mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) than PC’s and laptops.
  • Mobile users in China doubled over the last year against Japanese users.
  • Building mobile apps is easy either by the use of development kits or by HTML and HTML5 based code.
  • There is a large number of mobile apps offered for free that can be upgraded later for a small amount of money. This is not the case with web apps and SaaS.

 Around 2025 we shall see a new kind of device. We don’t yet know how this will look like but it’s surely going to be “mobile” in kind (this is based on the assumption that new devices emerge every 15 years).

The above are showing us that mobile computing (and business applications, which is the focus of this article) is the future. There will be a large number of new players. Many of them will come from emerging markets of Asia. But, in general, Mobile will serve as the nursery of many startups. In my opinion, we are facing a new bubble: the Mobile Bubble. There will be too many players asking for too much money (in investments) to build new ideas (most of which will be repetitions of previous attempts). Some of them will be interesting, some not. Some of them will float on the “enterprise ocean” but most of them will not.

Just like the dot-com bubble in the 90’s, I expect to see a similar “curve” in the evolution of mobile applications. I quote something I read on a relevant blog post: “For every really good dot-com idea there were a thousand really terrible ones” and I add: some really good ideas never made it to the business profit plateau due to problems other than their technical completeness.

It seems like the “curse” of mobile development is exactly its advantages:

  • Requires forward thinking that usually young entrepreneurs have (along with not-so-developed entrepreneurship skills)
  • It is a universal trend, so everybody that is seeking to do something new, inevitably turns their sights to that arena. The current situation is that most of the mobile-focused businesses are start-ups. This means not very-well-thought business plans, poor funding, low visibility etc. (Large players are still in the development or marketing phase of their venture. Some of them are even sitting back and observing “where the ship will turn to”)
  • Modern tools make it easy to develop an average or poor user interfaces in a matter of days. So I would expect that a number of ideas will be condemned to obscurity just because of their poorly developed functionality or interface.

I still believe that mobile computing has a long way to cover. I also believe that the future of computing is mobile, since devices are becoming smaller, smarter, more power independent and – let’s face it – more of a personal gadget that everybody wants to have with them at all times. Also, it is the best form of computing device that can mix business and personal activities. But, we could also expect a “mobile bubble of the 2010’s” and we will probably (hopefully!) be here to discuss it, somewhere in the 2020’s!


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