Years ago companies like Palm, Microsoft, Nokia and others were trying to develop a smartphone that would take the phone from being purely a device on which to talk to becoming the traveling desktop. Billions of dollars were thrown at building, marketing and selling these gadgets to the mobile workforce and to a lesser extent the average consumer. There was no crossover into the consumer market became a much larger barrier to success for each of these vendors than I think they originally imagined. The problem was that the mobile phone at the time was a very simple device that let you connect with someone via a call, it did not require a degree in computer science to operate and it just worked. While these companies tried to merge the desktop experience onto a phone it never really got to the point where it just worked.
What if you reversed the question and asked what is it that a mobile phone consumer was using their phone for that the phone may not have originally been designed to do? Or are there things that the mobile phone consumer was doing in their daily life to connect with one another that they were not using their phone for? One of the biggest shifts in the use of the mobile phone is the for the use of texting. While it is a very simple use of the phone, it meets the two principles of the phone. #1 it just works and #2 it is a way to stay connected. Let’s look at other uses of the phone through the filter of these two principles of developing a mobile device or uses for the device.
Blackberry quickly became the king of mobile e-mail for businesses. Their push technology left all other vendors in the dust. Their phones were very basic, for the longest time going without the bells and whistles of cameras, music and video players. They were able to prove out a very important point, though which was if you can deliver e-mail on the phone, makes it seamless and easy-to-use, then people will buy it. And in some cases people will switch to their blackberry as their primary method to connect back to office e-mail. This goes right back to the two principles above. It just works and it keeps them connected.
Apple made another large jump in the evolution of the phone through their iPhone. They made it easy to use and their app store provided another way for people to connect or share with each other.
Now if you follow along with the progress of social media as the next evolution of staying connected, is a logical progression of social media on the mobile phone. The question is who can deliver a product that just works. Furthermore, which vendor or application can make the mobile phone the preferred interface for social media?
While I am writing this blog on my laptop today, I can also write it from my G1 using the wordpress app I recently installed. But I will wait until they work out the kinks and get it to just work. What does this portend for the computer that had been the place where everyone went to get connected to the Internet and each other?