The Present is Mobile, The Future Is Up For Grabs

I’ve had a bit of a ball reading and thinking about the various articles that I’ve read in the past weeks. For one reason or another, mobile’s impact has finally been acknowledged by mainstream/popular/USAmerican/etc. media and its kind of funny and all together sad. There’s this prevailing state of mind that mobile is still something to behold for the future and that we aren’t yet there. I disagree. Mobile is the present, and its the future of computing and those things computational that we are on the cusp on now.

How can I say such a thing? Speaking as a person who is still somewhat new to mobile (I’ve been living via PDA or mobile phone since Aug 2000), there are some certainities that I’ve noticed and have myself moved towards. For example, when I was in college, I used a PDA (usually a Palm model) for all of my work. I did everything from class notes to class distractions on a non-connected, color calculator. And today, such actions are considered normal. I’m typing this on my N97 with a wireless keyboard. Give it a few more years and the action of blogging first on a mobile will be mainstream enough to take news companies off their chairs towards doing better reporting.

In other words, there’s nothing really new happening right now other than the realization that mobile living is possible. Yes, there are compromises, long tails, network effects, environmental, political, and social effects to consider. But that’s what you deal with when a paradigm has come and changed things, not before.

As I read Engadget’s perspectives on the recently announced Microsoft Kin devices, I kept noticing how these people who are supposed to be at the front of understanding the disruption and paradigm shift of mobile were confused. It was as if they were senior editors at the Times/Post looking at Engadget when it first came online, wondering how this fit within their mindset of news dissemenation. Of course, we don’t have that question about Engadget now, and I’m sure that the Kin will soon do the same for mobiles. That’s not to say that they don’t have a point – there are things (apparently) missing from the Kin that just don’t seem right. They are missing, and it is right. The paradigm shift is connection, not information management, as the bread and butter.

Just wait, you’ll get it too…

Which leads me back to the title of this piece – mobile is the present and the future is up for grabs. If you needed it said another way, Google (nearly) said it nicely: if you aren’t thinking mobile first, then you are missing where your employees and customers want to bring business to you. There shouldn’t be questions in 2010 about “how do I do this on my mobile,” or “where is this SMS/mobile web-enabled service?” These things should be taken care of. We – especially those of us who sit with some modicum of mobile insight – need to be pointing to what’s next.

What that means is mobile should be as natural to your thinking and execution as email, websites, and stamps. How you connect all of those in a value-enhancing wrapper for the world to come is something that lies at the next intersection of life and innovation.

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