The Era Of Inter-Connectivity Arrives
(This post follows on from The Rise Of Mobility – Part 1)
In 2012 we’re firmly in the era of Digital Inter-Connectivity. With devices now interconnecting with each other, either locally (e.g. bluetooth speakers streaming spotify from a phone or apple TV interacting with an iPad) or synchronised through the cloud (e.g. the wordpress apps that I use for this blog synchronising in real-time across two mobiles, an iPad and my desktop).
In addition, much digital functionality that was previously purchased stand-alone, in separate devices, is converging in a single mobile device (note: at least for now, see my next post). Where many people would once carry around a plethora of devices (a phone, a camera, a Satellite Navigation system, a Walkman music player, a portable games console, a PDA etc) most of us now carry just one. Our Smartphone.
The original 1999 chart is below and blogged about here:
An updated chart for 2012, including the rise of the mobile device, now looks something like this ( the original 1999 powerpoint updated):
Compared to the 1999 map,connected functionality in 2012 has gravitated towards the (mobile) center.
This convergence and inter-connectivity, has roughly coincided with the rise of web 2.0 and social media. As connectivity has become always on and always with us, so our digital personas have become always available and always present, turbo charging the social aspects of the web. I’m looking forward to covering this more in future posts.
As I’ve noted previously, connectivity is generally proliferating. Going forward, yet more devices will become internet connected as our lives continue the shift to the digitally connected. For example, the latest pocket cameras incorporate mobile Operating Systems and WiFi connectivity. Games consoles are becoming internet connected content terminals.
As miniturisation continues, more diverse functions will become mobile connected. For example, in what was once a highly specialist sector, the healthcare industry is seeing functionality such as medical scanning and monitoring become internet connected and enabled for the masses. Many of these functions are starting to become mHealth attributes of consumer mobile devices encouraging a cultural trend toward “DIY health”. Not surprisingly, companies focusing on solutions with the “m” prefix, such as mHealth, mGovernment, mCommerce and mEducation are in hot technology start-up areas – especially given the huge numbers of people worldwide who are about to be connected for the first time – which leads us to the next item.
Next? Smart Mobility for the Global Masses
This phase of inter-connectivity will finally bring ubiquitous availability of affordable internet enabled mobile devices to pretty much everyone. By the end of this decade, 80%-90% of the worlds adult population will become connected to the internet via mobile devices.
In 2008 & 2009 the first Google Android OS handsets appeared, hailing the start of the mass global adoption of these converged mobile devices. The Android OS has been specifically developed to drive mass adoption. As it’s an Open Source and free-license Operating System, manufacturers can drive down prices to deliver truly affordable Smart Mobile Devices for US$20 or less.
Update: The chart below from Business Intelligence shows how rapidly smartphone adoption is accelerating between 2011 and 2012 alone. Look at Brazil and China, both going from almost zero smart Phones in 2011 to 14% and 33% respectively in 2012.
With “dumb” Mobile Phones already in the hands of six Billion people (as at the end of 2011) – and with cheap smart phones on the way – it’s easy to see that by the end of this decade the vast majority of the worlds population will become mobile internet connected.
Unlike the people who first became connected back in the 1990’s, the “newly connected” will start their digital lives mobile (in the center of the map). Mobile connectivity will then be augmented by additional connectivity as they gradually acquire and/or interact with other connected devices.
This the polar opposite of the PC centric adoption pattern for the “initially connected” in more developed countries – and is likely to exacerbate misconceptions that many internet companies have regarding the rise of mobile.
For me, an issue of our time is that this global digital connection of the masses can have a profoundly positive impact on our development as individuals and as a global society. Hopefully we can realise this potential.
Global access to knowledge will certainly radically change access to opportunities for billions of people. There are also many challenges, not least the fact that there are innate incentives for elements of the internet to start to commoditise and commercialise the identities of all of its users (that includes you and me). This is a concept that governments, internet governance bodies and human rights groups are only now starting to grapple with.
I’ll cover some of these issues in more detail in upcoming posts.
Next up: intra-connectivity and the coming disappearance of the mobile phone (yes seriously!).