The date was January 9, 2007, Steve Jobs had just made (arguably) one of Apple’s most important keynotes in its history and at the same time laid the ground work for what would develop into one of the biggest computing revolutions for years to come. It was that day that Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone.
We all know the iPhone changed the way phones looked. But it also changed the way people started using their phones — it lit the spark for the mobile computing revolution. It’s safe to say, at this point, the future of computing is clearly moving towards mobile. As our phones become faster and more versatile, especially with the abundance of different apps to help us perform all sorts of daily tasks, it begs the question:
How much longer are we going to cannibalize the mobile experience?
The main problems we are currently facing with regard to pushing forward with mobile computing stem from bandwidth bottlenecks, poor cellular coverage, data limits, and slow mobile adoption from many companies.
When it comes to bandwidth bottlenecks, it is a very tricky situation. Obviously wireless networks are looking to provide the best possible service to their customers but as more people switch to smartphones such as an iPhone or Android-based device, their data usage will typically increase putting more strain on the network and therefore potentially affecting the service for others. As we move to toward using 4G/LTE networks, it should help with bandwidth problems but the roll out thus far has been slow and anything but widespread to say the least.
To make matters worse, unfortunately, adding new cell towers and upgrading infrastructure to provide better coverage and more bandwidth isn’t that easy. In fact, in many major cities, it can take wireless network providers years to get government approval to add additional cell towers — something that clearly needs to change in order to make significant progress with the mobile computing revolution.
Following increased data usage by customers, many wireless network providers have eliminated the notion of “unlimited” data in favor of a tiered system. Needless to say, this decision has not necessarily been popular amongst consumers but perhaps could be an opportunity for local governments to partner with wireless providers (or technology companies) to provide WiFi hotspots in their town similarly to how NYC partnered with AT&T to provide free WiFi in several parks across the city. And let’s not forget that using WiFi does not count towards your data usage which is even better!
While iOS and Android have led to the development of new businesses and mobile-specific applications that didn’t exist some five years ago, we are still seeing slow adoption of mobile with some companies. There are companies which have focused a lot of their resources on building a great website, but that same website is inoperable or watered-down on a mobile device. Other times, companies will roll out features to the desktop version of their application or website and completely ignore the mobile version for weeks or months, leaving users with a fragmented and inconsistent experience.
As mobile devices are increasingly becoming our go-to device for information and entertainment, it is apparent that we cannot ignore these issues for much longer in order to push forward with mobile computing.
What do you think? How much longer are we going to have “make do” with a subpar mobile user experience?