Mobile Internet ⍧ The Internet
Ben Evans makes a reasoned case for inverting our concept of what the Internet is – with Mobile becoming the universal internet device, and desktop becoming the more limited version. In this fascinating blog-post, he quotes several facts to support his case, including:
1. People use their mobile devices constantly (not just when they are waiting in line or commuting). Mobile devices are used, and sometimes preferred, even when people have access to PCs.
2. Mobile is the first universal tech device – cutting across income, geography and job functions.
3. Smartphones are getting super powerful.
I haven’t been able to get this blogpost out of my mind, since I first read it. Some terminology is in order. When Ben talks about Mobile Internet, he is referring to the entire user experience: Apps + mobile browsing. So this isn’t a direct comparison between web and mobile browsers. Further, by mobile, I mean both smart-phones and tablets.
Historically, companies have always viewed mobile web as a special use case of the main website. They even began with an m., in order to set user expectations of limited functionality. I recall participating in several strategy sessions, where we would debate (and decide for the end user), which activities they would perform on their phone.
As phones got more powerful, apps began incorporating greater functionality, and we began building responsive websites. These sites, can be fully functional and not create a lesser experience – especially ones optimized for mobile.
An argument for PC usage is that while mobile is fine for content browsing and specific functions, the smaller form factor doesn’t encourage content creation. Case in point, I chose to write this blogpost on my laptop and not my phone.
I believe that as phones become more powerful and ubiquitous, they will end up becoming universal devices. We will just connect to peripherals (large screens, keyboards and trackpads) when we need additional screen space and the familiarity of using keyboards for task heavy functions. Very soon, “m.” will be a quaint relic of the early mobile era.