The world is going mobile. So what?
This guest post was written by Bob Schukai, global head of Mobile at Thomson Reuters.
So what you say? So what? Are you kidding me?
In all seriousness, we are living through one of the most amazing times humankind has known. It may not seem overly obvious to anyone, but in 2007, the world changed in a huge and significant way. Two things happened: first, Apple introduced the iPhone. Second, AT&T enabled users to buy an iPhone with an unlimited data tariff. This second, never-mentioned fact is in my opinion the single biggest thing leading to the mobile boom we see today. This year, general consensus forecasts predict that the industry will sell around 1.7-1.8 billion smart devices (phones and tablets).
Until that day in 2007, the mobile industry was plodding along. There were already smartphones on the market. You could download apps and do your email. The problem with the world at that time was that the cost of data was so prohibitively high that we actually had “data counters” on the phone that would track your usage so that you wouldn’t blow through your subscription cost. Smartphones were in the realm of the business user only. AT&T changed all that. Suddenly, anyone could use a smartphone without concern over data cost. Apple created an experience that could exploit that free-reign mobile data usage. These two events combined to shake up the mobile industry in a way that no one had previously foreseen.
Fast forward to 2013. Smartphones are permeating everything we do and in every part of the world. Here’s a great example: in Kenya, the biggest operator, Safaricom, recently announced that they will no longer sell anything but smartphones, since the price point is now reaching mass market. In places like Africa, India, and China, people will only know the mobile device as their way of connecting to the world via the internet. They’re skipping the whole PC evolution that we in the USA saw, and instead live in a world where the $35 Android tablet is a reality.
Closer to home, mobile technology has redefined work-life balance as the work-life blur – a phrase that our former head of Research & Development, Dr. Peter Jackson, coined over two years ago. Our phones are the first thing we look at when we wake up in the morning and often the last thing we put down at the end of the day. They allow us to stay connected, leave our laptops at home, and work in an environment that is also home to games, entertainment, and other fun applications. I’m actually writing this blog post at 39,000 feet while connected to the gogo Inflight Wifi system. Think about this. I can message, email, blog, and stay connected pretty much all the time while staring down at the Grand Canyon on my way back from San Francisco.
What else am I doing? I pay for my Starbucks hot chocolate on my phone and deposit checks to my bank account wirelessly. My mobile devices enable me to be productive and connected pretty much all the time.
The mobile device is probably the single most important invention, and it’s radically transforming lives worldwide – largely for the better I would say. But sometimes you just need to put it down and communicate on a more personal level with people around you. Being hyper-connected comes with these productivity strengths but also with a danger that we spend too much of our lives staring into 10-inch and 5-inch displays!
Lately, I’ve been really enjoying a couple of great apps; we relaunched our own Reuters news product on iOS (with Android coming soon). The design is simple and content loads quickly. I really like this product and recommend it – especially if you’re looking for news without bias.
Ever need to sign a document while away from the office? My assistant found a great product called SignEasy that I use all the time on my iPad. You can open a document on your iPad with this app, add signatures, dates, initials, or free form text; produce a final version of the document; and then email it back out. I probably use this app at least a couple times each month.
And just for fun, I recently came back from a few days in Las Vegas doing Rock Fantasy Camp (http://www.rockcamp.com/), and one of the apps that is awesome is Apple’s Garage Band which works superbly with your guitar and a device from Apogee Electronics called Jam (http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/jam.php). You plug your guitar into the Jam device which then connects into your iPhone or iPad and can record your playing, use different amplifier modes, and other cool Garage Band features.