Mobile computing takes shape for 2010

John Stokdyk ponders a few pointers towards the future of mobile computing.

A couple of interesting bits of information collided in my head last week to illuminate how mobile systems will influence our working lives in the next year or so.

First up was a Twitter post presenting some economic statistics from Morgan Stanley technology research Mary Meeker. In among the macroeconomic trends, she pointed out that mobile internet use (see iPhone adoption trend chart above) had grown quicker than expected and would continue to do so. This trend will accelerate the proliferation of devices in our lives, with people using a collection of smartphones, media players and tablets in the home, on the move and at work.

Another factor driving this surge is the migration of social networking to mobile platforms, which is stimulating “unprecedented change in communications and commerce”, according to Meeker (see slides 29 and after in her online presentation)

Over lunch in London last week, Xero’s Gary Turner pinned the new mobile commerce concept down with a couple of concrete examples from his experiences. Gary was excited by the way the microsyntax of Twitter was being adopted by different business and lifestyle applications. The example he cited in a recent blog “Twitter and business” was Remember The Milk, an online reminder service where you send direct Twitter messages to the service, which posts them on your preferred calendar and then sends out a reminder at the specified time.

The form the instruction would take would be along the lines of:

    d @rtm pay gas bill next tuesday £84.21

Taking the concept a step further is MinuteDock a web-based project management application service that is integrating Twitter integration into its online time recording system. Using a similar adaptation of the text-based Twitter syntax, the application will be able to log time and expenses against projects that could then be picked up by the underlying accounting system to present a truly up-to-date picture of the project’s financial status.

I may have been a little cynical about Twitter and “mcommerce” in the past, but micropayments are already here and growing rapidly in value - estimated by Juniper Research to be worth $60bn a year by 2013. The evolution of text-based and smartphone business apps fits snugly in with that trend to support and accelerate uptake.

Meeker concluded: “Mobile devices will evolve as remote controls for ever expanding types of real-time, cloud-based services including emerging category of location-based services, creating opportunities and dislocations, empowering consumers in unprecedented and transformative ways.”

Bankers don’t have the best of reputaions just now, and you can argue with her syntax, but I’m beginning to think that in this instance, she might just be right.

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