It is hardly an overstatement to say that the mobile revolution is reshaping everything we do. Smartphones and tablets have changed how we read, converse, shop and bank.
In the developed world, the smartphone is making so many aspects of life more convenient, from booking hotels and cars to sharing pictures, paying for goods and so much more. These days we do most of what we used to do on our computers on our phones—plus a whole bunch of things we never thought possible. In the developing world the changes are even more profound. Mobile phones are not just making life more convenient, they are making possible the impossible. For millions of people a mobile phone is not just their first connection to the Internet, which it is, their first bank as well as a tool to access previously unavailable information on health care, weather and crops.
But the benefits of this revolution come with challenges and its rewards are not evenly divided.
The cellular carriers that are creating mobile networks are spending billions on their networks even as they struggle to figure out how to remain profitable as upstarts look to replicate many of the services that have traditionally been the domain of the service providers. And even as hundreds of millions of smartphones are sold each year, only a couple of large companies are making significant profits, While Apple, Samsung and Google have flourished, past mobile leaders such as Nokia and BlackBerry have struggled.
Ina Fried (All Things Digital) interviewed René Schuster (Telefonica) at DLDw12.
There’s also the question of all of the data generated by these devices. While a PC contains some important information, to be sure, the modern smartphone contains all of our contact information, has a ready connection to billing and payment information and knows our location at practically any moment. From the risk of theft to the issue of privacy even when the phone is in our hands, these powerful tools raises powerful questions that we as a society have yet to answer in terms of who owns this data, who can access it and how it should be protected.
The mobile revolution has begun but its impacts are just starting to be felt. Retail stores are struggling to avoid becoming warehouses for online shoppers. Education and health care have thus far seen only surface impacts from a technology that will ultimately reshape how their industries operate. Devices, already more powerful than the computers of a few years ago, will grow more powerful on their own, and more powerful still as they tap into a variety of new sensors both onboard and nearby.
Ina Fried will speak at the upcoming DLDwomen conference, taking place in Munich July 15 - 16, 2013. Apply for a ticket to this exclusive conference, tune in on the beat of our community on the DLDpulse and find regular updates on the DLDw13 programme and speakers here.