Mobile Academy: mobile landscape

Posted on September 21, 2012


[ed’s note, trying to keep this text only, and so it is less than ideal]

OK so here we go with the first of the sessions proper in the mobile academy.
Described in the course programme thus:

The future of mobile is the future of everything. All the tech­no­lo­gies to connect the world already exist and will become more per­vasive and engrained in everyday society in just a few short years. Under­stand the quandries such as Apps vs HTML5, native vs web and see whats going up and what’s going down.

Jo Rabin has a 12 year history in mobile, with many roles, including standard bodies, agencies and the like, he is the CTO of Sponge. I know Jo of old and he has a clear understanding of “mobile” and not afraid of being controversial when he wants, which is a good thing, ohhh and he is a fellow hat wearer even though he has hair and I, sadly, don’t.

Jo initially set out to show that mobile is at the end of a series of changes in computing firstly he
laid out a history of computing from 60s to now, each decade showing a ten fold increase in units

  • 60s Mainframe 1M
  • 70s mini. 10M
  • 80s personal desktop 100m
  • 90s Desktop Internet Computing 1B
  • 00s Mobile Internet computing. 10B
  • [steve’s note: This kind of graph has been around for a while, the only way to justify the 100B for mobile Internet computing is to consider the M2M case or Internet of things where we are seeing more and more devices being used that are not personal mobile phones / tablets. these of include things like sensors (eg location sensors on containers), sat navs, alarms, and soon smart energy meters.]

    Mobile has unleashed a radical shift ithe way that we live, from baden Powell’s “be prepared” to the antithesis of this.
    [steve’s note: this is particularly true for the so called “mobile natives”, those for whom there has always been a mobile phone in their life, and I can only see this dependency increasing because as a society we will begin to forget how to “be prepared”]

    Disruption: leaders in one phase rarely make it through to the next phase, exceptions are
    apple, IBM.

    So the question you have to ask is how will this affect your company or your customers ?

    Jo explained that all is not equal in the world of mobile phones, and in particular that the range of screen sizes, aspect ratios and pixel counts varies greatly, which leads to many difficulties when it comes to producing an app or a web site that will work elegantly on all the devices you’d like it to.
    [here at IBM we tend to quote a figure of about 7000 different Android variants]

    Jo went on to talk a little about Tomi Ahonen [google him] and the fact that he is a prolific communicator and has a wide range of interesting stats that he provides, based, he says from all the work he is involved with.

    Tomi states that mobile is the 7th mass medium he orders them something like this with their approx age below

  • Printing 500 years
  • audio 100 years
  • movies 90 years
  • radio 80 years
  • tv 50 years
  • web 20 years
  • mobile 15 years
  • [which is slightly at odds with my view as I would not add in books, audio or radio, because the are not exactly screen based, but hey I’m being picky here]

    The pint being that mobile is inherently superior for the following reasons, a mobile device is

  • Its personal, and
  • always on, and
  • always carried.
  • Has built in payment
  • generates precise audience measurement
  • captures social context
  • enables Augmented reality,
  • interface from analogue to digital,
  • “at the point of creative impulse”
  • Devices are now becoming good enough to be a mobile Internet computer, and not just phones with extras

    Jo went on to show a lot of stats, you can see this in the presentation.
    In short more phones than people, more phones than toothbrushes in the world.
    [Something I heard the other day there are more phones in subsaharan africa than in western europe]

    and Jo points out that the ITU have lots of stats at

    Traffic growth is exponential, e/// traffic-market-report
    this is a worrying ttat if you are a mobile network, however it also shows how these devices are being used more and more. There is a real ground swell of usage. Often by people who have no other access to the internet.

    some oother stats from Jo:

  • More phones than lightbulbs in Uganda
  • More phones than toothbrushes
  • More than twice the number of phones than radios
  • a great quote from Jo: “Rate of growth of tablets and smartphones will make using laptops a minority sport”

    Jo goes to great pains to point out that it is the rate of change and velocity are the key indicators that there is a lot more to come.
    So it is not the fact that there is a lot of data being shipped over the Internet, but rather that there will be far more in the near future. The amount of data shiipped to mobile phones over the mobile networks has doubled in the last 12 months. [and with millions of new Samsung and Apple iPhones hitting the market this autumn (or fall if you prefer) then this will increase further, because the phones they are replacing will be handed down and continue to be used.]

    Presented some other stats that make the case that mobile is gaining a solid ground for being an Internet access and app usage platform of choice for many, and for much of the time, including the fact that more than 1/3 of emails are now read on a mobile, and for example
    8% of view time is on mobile but only 0.5% of ad spend is on mobile, he is of course alluding to the fact that there are still many market opportunities out there for mobile businesses.

    Jo makes the point that if you buy a device and a SIM only deal over 2 years you’re likely to save c. 10% and he thus sees the phone subsidies that we have in the UK as a bad thing.

    In his “What is Mobile” section Jo expands that

    Context is everything, a mobile has great context and the apps and services you use on it should all take account of the context in which they are used in.
    [There are many many sensors on a phone, and these can help provide a lot of the context, so a later lecture for more]

    he points out that [I summarize here]

  • Diversity of form captors is increasing
  • The context of use can be determined
  • Input factors are changing touch, voice, other modalities
  • Capabilities of Devices is still growing and changing
    Other constraints mean you maust design solutions that do not create problems in the areas of:

  • Bandwidth
  • costs (of data, SMS etc),
  • battery
  • and as a passing shot talked about the works of Morris lessmore.

    well that’s a lot for an hour !

    Posted in: education, mobile