Better, Worse, or Just Different

Over the past months, I’ve waxed all kinds of poetic about my mobile perspective. On one end, there’s the ease at which those things I consume on mobile become mine, versus staying in a silo waiting for me to figure the methods to remove and archive them. I’ve had my server, my extensions, my business card/landing page, and a slew of device-led experiences that have lent me to want mobile of a specific kind – one that doesn’t lend itself well to some of the primary players in the market. I could take on a perspective similar to Ewan, that mobile today isn’t better than what it was 10(ish) years ago… and I’d be both right and wrong.

Is It Better…

At least that’s what I sometimes would like to believe. I’ve got an amazing device in my hands these days with my Nokia N8. The camera – a feature that I never thought that I wanted on a mobile until getting that Palm Zire71 so many years ago because it was able to play music, be an organizer, and at the end of things be an ok camera for a cruise. I’m doing a lot of the same things that I used to do – read, collect, post, but with an ease of connectivity that I didn’t have before (no more aligning IR ports with my SE T616 to get a slower than 16.6 connection, whoohoo). Heck, I’ve even moved to another carrier, who licences a slightly different set of cellular technologies, but have had very few meaningful hiccups in doing so. I don’t hunt for apps like I used to… but then again, I’m also not trying to look better than the next person either. The tech is mature enough that I can be confident that I’ve made a solid choice for my lifestyle. There’s enough choice for everyone.

Or, Its Worse…

Then again, I’ve got that bar – you know that bar, never purchase a side-grade, its always got to be an upgrade. S0 little about what’s in mobile today is an upgrade. This is kind of what Ewan was getting to – the actions that we are doing on our mobiles are in some ways better because of the scale of tech, but not better in terms of actual ability. A lot of this is still touching pictures on glass – and that’s no more advanced now that when it was when we were touch pictures on plastic using plastic sticks. Battery life isn’t better (that Zire71 was at least a 3 day beast when I wasn’t taking VGA resolution pics). There is an argument that being tied to one company’s vertical (Apple, RIM, Android, etc.) is a lot less flexible than the methods we had in the past. And if you’ve seen the way in which some of my iPad apps have crashed, we can’t be getting better developers into the fray – I mean really, should the official Twitter app be so heavy that it crashes on a 1st gen iPad?

Or, Is Mobile Just Different?

Could we be just into that different stream of mobile where things aren’t really best categorized as better or worse? Does the Apple tagline of some years back (think different) come into play here? As I stated in the comments on that Mobile Industry Review post:

Apple couldn’t have had the experience they’ve given without the control they’ve weilded. At the same time, there are some of us who have been around mobile long enough to know that fly-by-iOS/Android developers should know better and push harder. They can’t or won’t. And that’s probably the bigger handicap the iOS fun in mobile has caused. Developers are being led instead of doing the leading… nothing to great to experience with that other than whatever the mobile/digi retailer allows (much like Walmart).

Control, at least the control that we see in governing and managing the experiences of life in mobile devices and services is a different beast than those years back with a PalmOS PDA or early Nokia Communicator. It is a lot less driven by passion of making mobile happen, but more about making sure mobile works profitably for a longer term. Now, I don’t subscribe to the dogma that everything is better in mobile because more people feel as if they can get in and play – the same kind of thinking is what has made crappy websites over the years. But, I do think that the curve of what makes mobile unique or relevant has changed. It starts with that word control,  and then ends with the word experience.

Developers, and to some degree passionate fans, aren’t anymore looked at as leaders in mobile. They are needed to validate the message and approaches, but I don’t see companies wanting them (or at least that character and behavior) as being the leader to how the world perceives them and their value. Now, its about what can marketers curate, what can business development derive value (er, lock-in) from, and how does the message travel. Those aren’t bad… just different. And because its different, mobile (the device, services, and overall experiences) has had to change. I don’t know if its for the better or worse, but it is different. And that’s just something those of us who have been around long enough to live through several mobile leaders will just have to get used to.