There is more than one mobile context

December 27, 2008

Go read this article, “There is more than one mobile context“.

For some time now I’ve been becoming gradually uncomfortable with the notion that mobile content is purely about snacking on small chunks of content or limited to snatched moments of time – though I’ll hold my hand up and admit this is a view I’ve held, and frequently espoused, for years.

A few observations have drawn me away from this view:

  1. Watching Trutap become a primary means of connecting to web services for a couple of hundred thousand folks in Asia, and learning that there’s a huge middle class who are leap-frogging ADSL in favour of 3G;
  2. Noticing that peak times for a casual gaming service we run are after 11pm, when I’ll bet most folks are at home near their PCs or games consoles, not on the bus; and
  3. Slowly finding that around the home, my iPhone is replacing my laptop as my means of quick web access. It’s not as fast, as large, or as flexible, but it’s always there. Walking 10 feet and opening a zip-bag and case may only take 10 seconds, but as the Googlers know, when reduce the time between wanting X and getting X, you sell more X;

I think that, in the UK at least, this is still unusual behaviour. But when you see this happening in a tiny corner of one territory and already starting to play out in others, there’s not much conceptual hopscotch to be played: it’s not if this happens, but when.

A quarter of iPhone users say it’s displacing a notebook computer. 28% of iPhone users surveyed said strongly that they often carry their iPhone instead of a notebook computer.

My gut instinct is that this isn’t purely an iPhone phenomenon, and that there’s something more happening here – an acceptance that availability trumps screen size? An across-the-board improvement in access speeds and UI?

There is more than one mobile context. Decide which you’re interested in.

I think this article is lovely, but the author has left out one context: the mobile as your primary means of getting online, not because you’re away from home, but because it’s yours, it’s nearby, and it’s how you choose to be online in general.

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