Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Changing Face Of Mobile

One of the truisms of our modern age is that just as soon as you think you have a handle on something, you can bet that things have changed and moved on. So it's true with the mobile space, as pointed out recently by Mike Walsh, a leading authority on consumer innovation and our digital future, at a METaL breakfast that I recently attended. He's written a great book called Futurtainment that looks deep into our present to see the comes next.

Among the many things Walsh talks about in the book is the generation known as "the naturals," who have never known anything other than the internet. It turns out that kids age 16 and younger use their phones differently from the rest of us. They communicate in short bursts, and are perfectly at home with text messaging and social networks, which they prefer to use rather than old fashioned talking or even email. In fact, social networking is such a huge part of their lives that internet addiction clinics are beginning to pop up world-wide as demand outstrips the supply. Yes, there can be too much of a good thing.

A great example of how mobil technology has changed some cultures comes from Turkey, according to Walsh. There's an old Turkish proverb called “At, Avrat Silah,” that translates into "Horse, Woman, Gun." Once upon a time, to be a real man in Turkey you had to have a horse, a woman and a gun, which Turkish men were willing to flaunt to show their manhood. The bigger the horse, the more beautiful the woman, or the bigger the gun, the more powerful and respected the man. Today the horse is now the car. Getting the woman requires you to be adept at Facebook (Turkey is one of the largest social network users in the world), and the gun is now the smartphone. The better the phone, the bigger the gun. According to Walsh, “When Turkish men meet, the first thing they do is put their phone on the table.”

The phone has already began to change the culture in a new way in the rest of the world (and it will change here soon as well) as it also becomes your wallet. With the addition of NFC (Near Field Communication), it's now possible in some parts of the world to swipe your phone near a reader to purchase purchase everyday items like subway and bus fares, food items, and nearly everything you can think of. You'll see more of this in the US in the next year.

While many of the tech savvy are still tied to their laptops, the rest of the world is moving on as their phones become their computer. As the mobile world changes, will you be left behind?

Be sure to check out Mike Walsh's website and book site for a real treat.
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