Mobile Evolution & Revolution

When the first iPhone came out last year I stayed away mostly because of price, and because I was warned by numerous people, websites and blogs that a) any first generation device from Apple is for die-hards and early-adopters and b) it wouldn’t be enterprise friendly (e.g., no push email, no syncing, no Exchange support, etc. etc.) and c) AT&T stinks. These first two points seem to coincide with Steve Jobs’ analysis of iPhone barriers to entry at yesterday’s WWDC keynote. Aside from those technical details, I didn’t see the iPhone as something that was going to revolutionize the mobile landscape, not yet anyway. In fact, I was quite the skeptic about user adoption, beyond my own, and I think I was right. I was also in love with my Blackberry Pearl, which totally seemed like a mini-revolution all on its own. I am, today, in love with my MacBook Pro, after being an extremely loyal Windows guy since MS-DOS (OK, MS-DOS isn’t Windows, but you get my point) and here and now I find myself ready to make another jump across the street and sell my Pearl (with it’s SureType), then stand in line on July 11th to get my paws on the new 3G iPhone.

Lots of people have asked us (CitySquares) to build a mobile app. One of our board members asked Bob and I this last week actually, at the TieCon East conference, after a panel on mobile. He turned to us and said, “So, when is CitySquares going to build a mobile app?” Bob and I looked at each other, and almost in sync we answered, “when we can free up some resources and when the mobile interface problem is solved.” Here and now I find myself ready to find an iPhone app developer to build one for CitySquares.

It’s my opinion that what we’re finally seeing is a real convergence, for real now. I remember back in the 90’s the buzz and hype (and the underlying cause of the bubble) was the convergence and voice and data. Everyone and their grandmother seemed to be dropping cable in the Earth’s crust, or talking about running voice over the same line you run data over, like a T-1. Wow! Imagine that. Data and voice, on the same pipe? Do you remember that? People were talking about digital voice lines, VoIP, video over ISDN. The Internet, on every computer! Some places were doing it, and they were nuts for it too, cuz it cost so much money. I remember very well!. Anyway, we’d been talking about it for so long that it seemed over-hyped. Then, the bubble burst, the shakeout occurred, and here we are today with Comcast (or insert cable co) digital voice, bundled with HDTV services, bundled with DVRs. Analog? What’s that?! I digress, as usual.

We’re totally there again, here and now. OK, maybe not to that degree, but this is just as exciting to me! We find our ideas of media being challenged every day. Be it YouTube, Last.fm, or the iPhone, it’s converging man! Mobile has clearly already converged with data, that’s nothing new, but now that resulting product is converging with the Internet. This is nothing new to those who’ve thought about it, but if you haven’t – think about it. And I don’t mean that Treo running PalmOS, or Windows Mobile with some WAP browser. I mean, the iPhone + Internet + 3G + social media (to grow your account visit The Marketing Heaven) + local and the revolution that combination is about to ignite. iPhone 1.0 was cool, but it was barely the tip of iceberg. In fact, it was just a glimpse. With the iPhone SDK, the new firmware, the new hardware, 3G capability, that sweet interface, the Internet, plus social media, plus local, we are at the dawn of a new era.

Afterall, social is dynamic, it’s transient, not static. Local is relative and it’s medium is mobile (it’s just not there yet). These concepts are often discussed at the conferences I attend, but the 3G iPhone makes this reality. With the price drop, and with Apple introducing this into 70 countries, I don’t think it will be an explosion however, but a slow and steady trickle that carves a wide canyon. I know, I know, mobile in other parts of the world is way more advanced than it is here in the US, I get it, but I think the convergence that we’re about to see hasn’t even begun, the revolution is just beginning, and it will be global. That’s for another blog entry.

I will be getting a new iPhone on July 11th. I will be switching to AT&T. I will be browsing web pages on my mobile device like never before. I will be watching video on it, and interacting socially through apps I install, among other apps, and geotagging my location and sending geotagged pics to the web. My wife will be joining me too. She’s finally upgrading from her ancient LG VX8100. She’ll be playing MonkeyBall on it, and she’ll be using Facebook to chomp zombies and update her friends, and she’ll be taking pictures and emailing them to her family. Afterall, if my wife wants an iPhone, it’s gotta be cool.

Check out what Walt Mossberg says about the 3G iPhone, already.

Check out what Engadget has to say, they got their hands on it.