The Promise of Mobile Technology

It’s 2016. Have we figured out mobile yet?

Mobile has been all the rage as far as I can remember. I’m an avid mobile user, getting my first phone as a 12-year-old living in Asia. Back then, it was a convenient tool for communication, but the mobile industry has since exploded with the invention of the iPhone, creating an unprecedented number of people around the world who are now connected via mobile connectivity.

When I started working in agency land, I began to grasp how much of a game changer it has become. It is now an avenue to consume content, effectively becoming a media vehicle, and an impactful one at that – it has the ability to connect directly and personally with the consumer. The way we treat our phones is an extension of our body, and with this deeply personal relationship with a device, it opens a new wave of opportunities for content creators, brands, marketers, people to connect with each other.

As previously unconnected people adopt mobile rapidly, and as mobile users deepen their knowledge and interaction with their device– constantly updating apps and upgrading to new phones– mobile is here to stay. We’ve established that it has changed the way we communicate. But now it is also changing the way we interact with the world: it helps us locate where things, places and people are; it helps us participate with a wide network of connected users through the web; and it is changing the way we make purchases as consumers.

Mobile technology has brought about new industries and companies that didn’t exist before: mobile app startups, fintech, mobile media buying, to name a few.

What new applications of mobile phones can be discovered? What other uses of mobile phones can be uncovered?

When we think about innovation, we tend to begin our forward outlook from the most technologically advanced application to what the future could potentially bring. But we also need to be reminded of how technology looks in a different environment.

It looks very different in other contexts. For example, in emerging countries, mobile phone usage is high, but most of those who own mobile phones have feature phones and not smart phones. Smartphones are still cost-prohibitive, but this is changing as less expensive models are introduced. Not to mention the even bigger issue: there’s still a lot of people who are unconnected.

So, as professionals in highly advanced industries who think about technology innovation, we should also think about the impact of mobile technology on society as a whole–across different places and socioeconomic backgrounds– and perhaps it is not only in the most advanced places nor among the most sophisticated users can we innovate. But also nurture hope in surfacing a niche right under our noses that could potentially change lives.

 

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