Pandora’s Neocracy #3, The future of mobile communication
Originally published at www.crossmedialab.nl on 18 February 2010.
Communicating, interacting and participating by means of mobile apparatus is booming; social networking, banking, navigating, watching (delayed) television. The mobile communication trend seamlessly fits in the development in which more than one media is available and used (crossmedia) to provide in the (information) needs of civilians and consumers. It also has an impact on the social and commercial development.
The figures make thing clear, a string growth is visible, say not just the statistics but also observations. Have a look around. How many times do you see someone walking in the street with a cell phone glued to his ear? How many times do you see somebody looking at a mini screen in the train, headset plugged in? Are we on our way to the ultimate individualization in which personal services are offered, used and found normal? What is this with mobile? More and more advertisers add mobile as a media extension, a new channel, to their strategies – mobile as in mobile internet – while SMS is still the most popular service we use (apart from the good old making a phone call and using our cell phone as an alarm set). So what will be the effect of innovations like Layar, QR, and what’s next? In other words, where are we heading for? How mobile will we be? And, side line because I’d like to make up my mind from a crossmedia perspective, what will be the crossover effect of mobile communication on different media.
Big questions. And that’s why we organized a full afternoon to discuss these issues with some experts and an audience of, happy to say, students, colleagues and representatives from the field. I’ll report on that event separately.
So, what is mobile? What do we want with our mobile phones? What should a device like that do, now and in the future? What does mobile mean to us? I’d say there are roughly two perspectives. The one starts off from an offerer’s perspective of mobile apparatus and services and the other from a user’s perspective. The hustle about offer and demand is as old as the human race; do we create a market or do people want new stuff? Are iPhone apps to enrich our lives or that of Mr. Jobs?
Anyway, mobile communication seems to be a phenomenon that has embedded in our society; it’s here to stay. The Almere police department sends her burghers text messages if something bad happens. People get notification when an amount was paid to their bank account. Hip dudes watch Tiesto on their mini screens and lord knows how many people stare at their screens while waiting for the bus. Big deal?
We see the rise of a global mobile communication industry, expanding the traditional industry’s quittances of selling devices, networks and data streaming. Over a million iPhone app’s have been downloaded so far. Nokia’s Ovi is booming. People buy their paperbacks at Bol.mobi, check their account at Rabo.mob. People ‘ping’ each other as the flat fee operator subscription doesn’t charge them extra and show their Blackberry as if they show their engagement ring to good friends, their peers, their tribe.
Marketers have a hard time, these days. Should they focus on young people? Baby boomers? Or rather tap into the mainstream classes with all their limitations, bigots and mediocrity? Who are they (we?) doing this all for, we the digital and mobile elite? What life-enrichment do we offer? Which value do we create for whom?
Questions, questions and questions. One thing I believe is that our society will change gradually because of the implications of incorporating mobile communication in our lives. In fact, mobile communication is one of the enforcers of creating neocracies. I guess.