Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Now that hardware doesn't matter ...

Remember the big moments in mobile technology?

My first cell phone - actually it was a car phone - could hold 99 speed dial numbers, and I occasionally would have trouble in traffic when the cord got caught up in the gear shift of my 1988 Ford Ranger. We've come a long way.

The smart phone changed a lot for us. Its introduction was an inflection point in the way we used mobile technology. It was no longer just a phone, but it became a means for managing communications across multiple fronts. We could handle email, as well as voice. We could manage our calendars and contact lists. However, all of those functions were still tied ... one might even say held prisoner to ... the device itself.

But that has changed. The features and functionality of a device are no longer controlled by the manufacturer. Even though Apple tightly regulates what you can put the iPhone, it remains a highly customizable tool. I can buy that applications of my choosing for a Droid, making it do things that another Droid won't.

This is why we are starting to hear rumblings about speed. And I'm not referring to network speed. LG claims to have the Fastest phone at CES 2011 in the Optimus 2X. Samsung and Google are touting the processing power of the soon-to-be-released Nexus S. Manufacturers are talking about processor speed in the same way that we talked about it 10 years ago.

The mobile market is moving away from hardware differentiation at a high rate of speed. It no longer matters that I have a Motorola Droid and my wife has an LG Ally. And I won't care who makes my next phone. I'll care about chip speed and memory.

The great news in all of this is that it opens up avenues for businesses to set themselves apart with mobile technology. Five years ago, it was cost-prohibitive to write a mobile application, because the hardware changed before you got it finished. Now, you can write an Android-based app and be confident that it will bring value for at least a few years. If you haven't started thinking about how your customers can interact with your company using mobile technology, start now.

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