Its one thing to write about events on hindsight and a completely different thing to predict the future. This article tries to do the latter powered by the knowledge of the former. The key question before I start is “Why is it even worth predicting future of mobile phones?” or put it differently “Why is this article worth 10 minutes of your time when you have hundreds of worthy alternatives to spend your time?”.
The answer to both of the above questions can be found in the happenings of recent past when a non-mobile company launched a device which is better and smarter than all other phones in the market. Never has such an event happened before in such a fiercely competitive market. Yes, I am talking about the now familiar iPhone from Apple. The launch of iPhone has changed the mobile phone world completely – it has redefined the idea of a mobile phone. What do we normally do with a mobile phone? Call right… iPhone has just changed the definition and other smart phones are catching up. The mobile phone is not just a device used for calling but is a gaming device for some, a productivity improvement tool for others, a music player for a different segment and a internet gateway for many many more. So why is it worth predicting the future of mobile phones? – because this affects over 70% of the population in one way or the other, because there are opportunities, lessons for too many players who are involved in this revolution – public, mobile service providers, mobile manufacturers and businesses in general. This is one all encompassing silent revolution that has started and only kept quiet by the surrounding economic environment of the times but its not going to be silent for too long – the world will change for ever. Thats why its important to understand whats coming so that we plan for the future today
Here are my predictions:
1) The name “Smart Phone” will lose its relevance. Tomorrow’s Smart Phone is a music player, gaming device, internet gateway, Social networking tool, business & personal productivity tool. I am suggesting a segment called “Smart Mobiles” and I am going to use this term from now on in the rest of the article.
2) Business disruption: “Smart Mobiles” are going to disrupt many a business model – couple of examples are Gaming , these devices are going to give a serious fight to Nintendo DS and other portable gaming players. Another industry that will spring up is the infrastructure that will need to support these billions of devices downloading zillions of bytes . 3G is already 19th century. so 4G is definitely the next short term solution but it should not be a surprise if we see an 8G service within the next decade. BIG thing is people will pay for this power.
3) Social networking on the go – I really dont know how to even describe the next gen kid. Gone are the days of generation gap between parents and kids. The future is a generation gap between brothers and sisters.
4) Newspaper & publishing industry – I think, the industry is wasting time complaining about google instead they should start redefining their business models to suit this new wave and irrespective of how small or how big they are, a “Smart mobile” strategy can mark the difference between success and failure. The key to this argument is the prediction that things wont be free on the mobile unlike the Internet. Guys – find your sweet spot NOW.
5) Financial: Yup this industry has been a key contributor to the economic mess we are in but dont forget one thing – a thriving financial industry is the key to economic growth and thats why we need to bail them out inspite of their greed and excesses. In the future, we will see a lot of internet banking move to the smart mobiles. In fact “Smart Mobile” payments will become common place addressing the needs of not only the banked but also the underbanked
6) Mobile commerce: This will take off especially for low priced high volume items like music, movie tickets and hundreds of other products. The movie and music industry’s boom time has arrived. All the billions of devices are going to download so much music that the traditional CD sales might look like change. Yes I am predicting that this industr is going to benefit a lot from this revolution and then TV – this is the world of truly charging the customer for what they are viewing, eliminate the cable guy ( though not completly) but the capability is there…..
7) Enterprise Mobility: each business shall use “Smart Mobiles” in some capacity or the other as a productivity improvement tool for their sales folks or as a business enhancement tool for their customers ( eg: Newspapers – news on the go)
8) Consumers in general: the “Smart Mobile” has given the power to perform things on the go. You can do your banking, read your newspaper / magazine , shop, Watch videos, book movie tickets, play games , listen to your music, reply to email, network , Keep an eye on your home, control devices at home and much more – all this on the go.. wow- wish I was a gen x kid.. We bought our first TV when I was 10 years old
There are hundreds and hundreds of ways mobiles are going to redefine our lives.. Some of them I have captured above. a lot is still unanswered. I will keep this blog alive with new things.