Since the Internet became popular in 1994 due to increased access and computing capabilities, the initial thoughts on its long-term contribution to society were vast and distinctly different. As computing power increased, data storage costs decreased, and high-speed access reached a cost point where it became available to the public at large; the Internet’s potential meaningful use increased. The original premise of the Internet was to have the capability to post and consume content but innovations occurred opening new doors and expansion of its relevance.
Advancements in web browser and database technologies allowed for a whole new category of online services to be developed that changed the landscape and users expectations of what could be done and how. Microsoft is the poster child for selling software in a box as a physical product. Despite creating the market for software products, a migration began from software products to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivered through the Internet, which removed the painful necessity and hassle of distribution and attribution of physical software. This software service included security.
This new method of software delivery expanded well past business and productivity applications by computational machines but advanced into every facet of our lives. Professional and personal persona’s are now being attended to by service oriented software systems and architectures through the Internet, making it difficult for users to imagine life without them now. Another phenomenon that has occurred since the late 1990’s is advancements in handheld computing devices such as the original Palm Pilot. While the primary and only meaningful use for these devices was for contact, calendar, and for receiving cryptic notes they opened the door to a world very few of us suspected would ever come this quick. As people became tired of carrying multiple devices on their person, device manufacturers and cellular carriers wisely began serving the needs of those early customers; expanding the Personal Data Assistant (PDA) to become your cellular telephone (Smart Phone and Tablet).
Smart Phones & Tablet Computers
In 2003 there were approximately fifteen million Smartphones globally in a total pool of devices well over two billion.(2) It was expected that by 2010 there would be roughly two hundred and fifty million smart phones in the global arena, predominantly being used by professional business users.(3) According to Gartner Group in 2013 almost 1 billion smartphones were sold or 250 million smartphone every quarter.(4) As the cost of devices decreased, operating systems matured, wireless data speeds increased, and carrier data pricing lowered; the absorption of smart phone technology increased dramatically. However, the market still had not reached critical mass until one event occurred.
The June 2007 release of the first version of the iPhone on ATT came with another paradigm shift in mobile computing. The innovation of the iPhone changed the world’s expectations of what could be done from a mobile device. Almost immediately, the sales of comparable smart phones provided by Nokia, Blackberry, HTC, Palm, HP, Samsung, LG, and many others increased. Additionally, industrial engineering designs for phones began to homogenize into two primary form factors: the touch screen or the smaller phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard.
Unlike desktop computing where Microsoft is the primary winner, a unique attribute of the mobile computing environment is there are at minimum seven operating systems with multiple versions simultaneously in market, although even the mobile OS ecosystem is now starting to see some narrowing of OS vendors. With the average lifespan of a mobile device being approximately twelve to fifteen months, the pace of innovation and consumption of new handset computing technology gained momentum. An interesting early phenomenon to note in mobile computing is that user experiences from one operating system to another were vastly different which created high barriers to change and high emotional affinity to specific handsets and operating systems.
As of January 2011 the distinction between one operating system to another is becoming irrelevant because the nature of how people are using the systems has homogenized. The application environments on the devices enabled homogenization, but more importantly the browser technologies on the devices have improved from their earlier versions. Additionally, the advent of open source code called WebKit enabled unique mobile browsing experiences and capabilities across all operating systems and browser types that adopted it.
HTML the standard language for creating web pages has released a new standard version dubbed HTML5, which will enable a tighter technical integration between a browser and the hardware it is installed on. The reason this is significant is that it will enable service oriented web based applications to run and act as if they were a resident installed application on the hardware. This innovation will further expand the technical capabilities and power of tablets computers and smart phones for the data will hydrate the browser with information just as if it were pulling it from resident computer memory. These types of innovations opened market opportunities for social media platforms to comport to mobile almost seamlessly. Lets now briefly discuss Social Media in my next post.