And that's why I decided to put together an overview of some of the key trends in the mobile industry that are already influencing the way we study, work and socialize, and will probably be an increasingly important part of our day to day life. You can find the slides and the video of my lecture, as well as a text recap, in this post.
Lecture slides with additional resources
Because choosing just a few trends, just a few technologies wasn't easy, I decided to prepare slides that students could also use to explore parts of the lecture they found most interesting in more details. That is why I added a lot of links to current articles with cases studies, stats, analysis and what not. You can view all of the slides embedded below.
Don't like flipping through slides? Here's a recap.
To sum it all up in a more coherent form, here are the 5 key mobile trends I decided to highlight:
1. Mobile devices are making learning (and other activities) more magical
|The magic of touch (source: Apple)|
And while today apps like Our Choice are often seen as fun gimmicks that you can use to impress an audience, I believe that in a few years we'll wonder how we've ever settled for learning with content we couldn't touch directly. Ok, make that a couple of more years; we all know most edu folks aren't exactly early adopters. But I believe that someday the shift will happen, because touch just feels so natural to all of us.
2. Apps and app stores are rocking the world
|The App Store has over 400,000 apps (source: Apple)|
But another very important lesson (one that Apple already learned with the iTunes Store) is that we don't mind paying for digital content if it's easy and convenient to do so and if the content provides us with enough value. And, on the other side of the fence, we are eager to develop good content if we get the chance to earn a few bucks and be the coolest kid in town aka the app store of our choice.
The application stores are also making business models that rely on selling virtual content (in-app purchases) more popular and widely acceptable. I don't think I'm stretching it too far if I predict that in a few year we'll be spending 99 cents on fancy templates for Microsoft Office. Right within the software, or app, as we'll all be calling it by then. One click, ka-ching! Of course, Apple will probably the first one to offer in-app purchases in Pages ;) Which all leads us to the next trend...
3. Website and desktops are changing because of mobile devices
|Apps in Mac OS X - looks familiar, doesn't it? (source: Apple)|
And don't think this is just an Apple fad - Windows 8 will also look like Windows Phone 7's big brother. It seem like we've got no choice but to adapt to seeing our desktops becoming some sort of clumsier mobile device with a big screen.
Not to mention websites also all want to look like apps. And HTML5, CSS3 & co. will make that all possible. Expect to see more websites that look and behave like apps or at least websites that will be smart enough to have the decency to self adjust to your screen size and even device type. I sure do hope to see more responsive design on the web in the coming years.
4. Location data makes mobile better
|Even Facebook is crazy about Places (source: Facebook)|
There is A LOT going on, so I really suggest you take a look at some of those additional links provided in the slide deck above. There's no doubt that relying on location data to enhance services is a big trend that is just starting to evolve. As a side note, it is of course also worth noting that we have a lot of open questions about privacy and trust to figure out yet, especially when it comes to sensitive location data.
5. The cloud will make everything easier
|Don't worry, the cloud will take care of everything (source: Wikipedia)|
And while most people, who today know very well computers just aren't to be trusted, are still skeptical of all these promises (it does look a bit like science fiction, doesn't it?), I think in a few years we'll all get adjusted to things just working seamlessly through the cloud.
And that is probably the master trend to rule them all - the technology is slowly getting out of the way, fading in the background, while allowing us to be the forgetful, spontaneous, touch fixated human beings that we all are. In this world, experience is the killer app.
Prefer video to text? No problem, look over here!
If you prefer to listen to me go through these key points and watch me passionately gesticulate as an added bonus, you can also take a look at the video recording from the lecture (I do apologize for a few minor technical glitches; an hour long HD video is apparently quite a big bite for my good old iMac to swallow).