What Does Mobile Longevity Look Like?

After writing this post about how I’ve been getting along with my N97, and reading some more thoughts from folks at Brighthand who’ve had their devices for years and don’t see themselves getting smartphones unless the same kind of investment can happen, I’m starting to think on the lines of mobile longevity. Or, if you will, what if your mobile device could last for years, instead of being obsolete in 18 months (or longer, depending on who’s talking)?

Much like that initial Jetsons post, I am starting to think about the lack of resources that we will have towards making more mobiles (without paying some kind of tax towards their eventual environmental impact). I think about the hardware, and what really constitutes something that will actually live for a few generations of software. And in the same wise about the software, and what will I be willing to learn in order for the device to mature with my computing needs.

And so what do we do? I mean, really, what are our options?

We could start to see something come of patents like this recently talked about one, where our mobiles start to be so power-conscious that they can actually charge with our movements (ironically enough, will the by product of that patent mean that we actually get out and walk/exercise more to get work done).

Or, do we get start to pay some more attention to the software that drives our devices, and start to pick and choose platforms not just because they connect us to the content and people we want, but also enable us to learn in ways that we had not considered before? If you think about it, do kids really need to learn Windows? Or, do they know it already because its in the fabric of their worlds, and what they really need is software that challenges them like Sugar?

What about the economic impact? I mean, we’ve seen that people are starting to pay down their debts on credit cards. Soon enough, people will notice that post-pay costs more than pre-pay and will want to change things there as well.

So were do we start thinking about building materials, political ramifications, religion, etc. At some point, mobile cannot be just about upgrading to the latest anything anymore, its got to be about something that lasts – and the implications of life if it doesn’t.

Thinking about mobile and these implications, we’ve got to have some kind of approach and answers. And really, its not going to be about throwing the same answer at it: smaller, faster, cheaper (eh, no). I mean, somehow, we are going to have to become more strategic in our thinking and acting with mobile if we’d like to see this tech last another 25 years. Personally, I’d like my N97 to last a good long time. I’d like the next version of the operating system to be quite usable on it (I’d pay for that). I’d like to see software and services like the mobile web server come (back) up so that I could further extend my personal cloud and the ability to connect to the people, entertainment, and work that matters. And overall, I’d like to finally have a piece of tech that not just markets that I care about the implications of this tech, but demonstrates that I care and am working towards solving issues.

When mobile can get to that point, then we’ve got something really great in our hands.

Posted this on Twitter, Brighthand, and Talk.Maemo as well.