Growth in Mobile “Apps” Forebodes PC’s Demise
Growth in Mobile "Apps" Forebodes PC's Demise
Where the Web is heading and where you need to be
Not all of the more than 25,000 mobile applications (apps) currently available for the iPhone and other smart phone devices were intentionally designed to kill the PC; however, virtually all of them are training us for that eventuality. Point of consumption content opportunities and risks are booming and organizations that are not positioning themselves now for the related shifts will find themselves at significant disadvantages.
The demise of the PC will not surprise anyone who has studied the history of the ever-shrinking computer or my fellow boomers who still remember when the IBM Selectric™ dominated desktops over ThinkPads™. It may be harder for the X and Y generations to envision a completely PC-free world; however, they will be leading the way with their rapid adoption of mobile and other point of consumption interactive tools.
The key question for those seeking consumer and other key stakeholder influence is, "Where and when are their points of decision and consumption, and how do I effectively participate at those places and at those times?" For many, that transaction point will be via some mobile application interfacing with a smart phone, car GPS system or other Web enabled appliance or device. So, if you are still fiddling with finally launching that killer Web site or edgy corporate blog today, you can stop reading now - it's unlikely you'll be around to worry about this.
Apple recently announced the billionth app download, and a Pew Internet & American Life report predicts that by 2020, more content will be consumed by mobile devices than all other platforms - the PC included. While apps like the Whoopee Cushion or the iBeer (see image) may not seem threatening to major brands or organization promoters, they are training and moving us away from bulkier interface devices for our entertainment, news, product research and purchases at an amazing pace. For example, food shoppers in Japan are already using mobile phone cameras enabled with bar code readers to check on the quality of individual cuts of meat and compare products with mobile shopping assistants that draw content from consumer generated sources.
At this year's Annual Webby Awards, there will be five new categories in the mobile space lauding best uses in mobile apps, video and integration of GPS or Location Technology. These tactics are moving us more and more to point of consumption content exchanges linked to decision-making opportunities for sales or related actions. Phones will likely be the most influential, but they will be only one of many "point of consumption" devices such as smart appliances - basically anything you currently interact with today can and will be connected to the Web where potential sales facilitations can occur.
The "home of the future" as promoted by Microsoft (not to be confused with the equally prescient Monsanto"House of the Future") does not have a single PC or laptop on site but enables us to envision seamless interactions with smart appliances like refrigerators and medicine cabinets, which can (will) track and manage our food and healthcare uses and needs. Big box retailers are experimenting with "smart carts" that can integrate RFID, near field and other technologies to facilitate purchases and check-out matched against shoppers' past purchases and profiles. All of these devices will likely be linked from home to office to car and beyond in a personal private social network collecting, managing and communicating our behaviors with potential vendors to facilitate all our various consumption activities.
Our research and monitoring has evaluated an array of emerging apps across food, nutrition, health and energy industries that range from mobile "best gas price" finders that draw from consumer-provided price comparisons linked to your location while driving to pharmaceutical "pill phones" to remind you to take and/or order your prescriptions. Those with the most successful profiles integrate social participation by end-users over suppliers.
Other apps, such as the My Diabetes Guide tool for iPhone developed by health insurance and benefits management company Humana, seek to facilitate patient-doctor interactions. The company's CEO noted to Medical Marketing News, "Lifestyle change isn't what happens while sitting in front of your PC." Now, managed care companies' fiscal interests in lifestyle change are arguably based on a prevention and cost-over-care model; therefore, their programs' users may benefit from prevention support but also guide patients to cost-cutting alternatives over other personal physician prescribe treatment options. Treatment providers, such as Johnson & Johnson's Care Connector iPhone app - one of the more than 800 health-related apps currently available for the iPhone seeking influence on issues ranging from cholesterol to pregnancy care, are also jumping into the app space. With an estimated 10 million mobile health consumers in North America already, these companies and interest groups are positioning for early mover advantages in what is likely to be a defining space for the future of consumer healthcare.
All said, it's not yet time to abandon your social media strategies for an all-mobile focus. As with all aspects of the Web from blogs and beyond, a layered approach building on a foundation that includes a strategic, integrated and best practice-based Web 1.0 presence that extends effectively into 2.0 spaces and the mobile arena will most likely win over flashy forays in the end. Today's social networks, wikis and other channels are already merging into mobile pipelines (á la Twitter) with "apps" that integrate QR and bar code readers with GPS and other mobile mash ups to give us consumer (versus supplier) ratings and purchasing options. Brands and organizations with effective and validated presences in the places where people are learning to get trusted information will better transition to a quickly growing world of point of consumption interactions.
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