Mobile is the future



One of the many advantages of web applications (Software as a Service – SaaS applications are the best example here) is their “portability”. Before the rise of business web applications one had to tap in a corporate server using difficult to understand or use technologies like “remote desktop” etc., to gain access to corporate data and functionality. Then the World Wide Web came and new, reliable and safe (although many don’t believe so) applications saw the light of day. Tapping into the corporate environment became so much easier. Also, using a computer other than one’s own became possible (e.g. internet café, a friend’s house, borrowed during vacation etc.)

Now, it’s the 2010’s where tablets and smart phones are gaining ground but also users are becoming more demanding as far as their office independence (or space constraints, if you wish) is concerned. They now need or demand mobile applications that (like web applications before that) offer them more functionality with no compromises in security. Also, more and more people are attached to or dependant on their personal smart devices (since they are no longer used just for telephoning but also for storing and processing of data, such as calendar entries, to-do lists etc. to say the least). And these people wish to bring their devices to the workplace and carry them around, freely. So the “Bring-your-own-device” (or BYOD) issue is coming to the foreground of the CIO headaches. Different devices, many times in large numbers which is difficult to predict or quantify are coming inside the corporate environment, so CIOs must solve the security problems (to say the least) that are created by the diversity of these devices. Many times there is just no option of saying “no” to BYOD. Imagine the example of a hospital where customers/patients are coming in and are likely to stay in for hours or days. They just can’t be denied the use of their personal devices!

We don’t have to duplicate here statistics that can be found easily of the net about the mobile devices penetration and use. Just some facts:

  • The number of smart device users is increasing in high rate. In fact, the rate is faster than the PC users of the 80’s or the 90’s.
  • Soon, the smart mobile devices will be more than the desktop or laptop PCs on the planet.
  • Mobile users in China have doubled last year, compared to the Japanese.
  • Building mobile applications is very easy and there already are several frameworks that assist the development process and making it easier and faster; therefore cheaper.
  • There is a large number of mobile apps that is offered for free (therefore it is easy for these vendors to build fast a “customer base”) and can be upgraded later for a small price (when the user will be convinced that the functionality is good and is there or wants some more). This didn’t happen with traditional web applications (although it is starting to happen with some SaaS products, nowadays).

On the above, add the projection that around 2025 we shall see a new kind of device. This is derived by the recent history of technological evolution. We don’t know yet exactly how they will be but we do know that they’re going to be mobile.

The above are showing us that mobile computing (and the relevant business/commercial applications, which is the main focus of this post) is the future. There will be a large number of players. Many of them will come from the emerging markets of Asia (with the low worker cost). In general, mobile computing will be the nursery for many new start-ups. In my opinion, we shall see a new “bubble”, the Mobile Bubble. There will be so many players that will be asking so much money (in investments) to build new ideas. Some of them will be interesting and some not. Some will float in the “ocean of entrepreneurship” and some not.

Like to dot-com bubble of the 90’s, I foresee a similar “curve” in the evolution of mobile applications. I quote a phrase which I recently came across: “For every good dot-com idea there were a thousand bad ones” and I add: Some very good ideas never made it to produce actual profit because of problems not pertinent to their technical completeness or quality.

It seems that the “curse” of mobile development is exactly the inherent advantages:

  • It takes evolutionary and original thinking that usually young entrepreneurs have, who often do not have the qualifications or abilities of entrepreneurship, itself, so that they can build a viable business model.
  • It’s a world trend, so all those technology people seeking to do something new inevitably turn their sights to this space. This results in a large number of start-ups which in many cases do not have clear business goals (or plans!), have limited resources etc. (Large players are still in development or marketing phase. Some of them haven’t yet come down in this arena as they are waiting to see where the “ship” is going to turn to).
  • Modern tools make development easy but hasty decisions often result to poor user interface or user experience, in general. The average mobile or smart phone user is hasty and demanding enough, so a relatively good application which offers poor user experience is doomed to failure.

 I believe that mobile computing has still a lot of ground to cover. However, definitely the future of computing is mobile (!) as devices are becoming smaller, smarter, faster, more autonomous and – let’s face it – a personal gadget that everybody wants to carry all the time, as they can combine business and personal activities with the best way. Finally, I believe that we are bound to see a “mobile bubble” in the current decade, which is going to clear the scene and, as always, prepare the world for the next technological leap. Let’s hope that we shall be here around 2020 to re discuss these issues once more!

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