Has the mobile device run out of steam? (Part 2)

by Andrew Bell

Business People Working Technology Devices Cocnept

So what’s the future? Amazon is beginning to deliver products to homes at a dizzying speed – Prime can deliver your item within hours – drone technology is becoming cheaper, and 2016 is promised to be the year virtual reality finally has its moment. Commercially available driverless vehicles also appear to be a very realistic possibility within the next few years, particularly with Google diligently carrying out private trials and other major technology firms looking to enter the market in the next five years. This technology largely seems to be a way of enhancing either convenience or customer experience however, and while virtual reality poses some interesting possibilities, none of these prospects hold the same promise as the popularisation of the internet or the widespread adoption of smart mobile devices.

At this point whether or not we will be able to develop any major new physical iterations of the personal computer seems a moot point. Where the real interest lies moving forward will be in the further extrapolation of how we are able to use our mobile devices however, and particularly in the prospect of connecting more devices than ever before. Indeed, perhaps we will never see another exciting new platform like the tablet, but we what we will see is the further spread of connected devices, and herein lies the revolution.

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and reaching 20.8 billion by just 2020. This doesn’t mean that everyone will be carrying three phones or tablets at all times, but rather the feature of connectivity will continue to be built into objects that hadn’t been eligible for access to the internet before.

The proliferation of M2M technology will hold a variety of benefits for both the individual consumer and society as a whole, extending the power of their smart devices and discreetly improving the quality of modern life. Mark Weiser once famously dubbed M2M devices “technologies that disappear”, being machines that either improve life subliminally or extend our capabilities through their usage. Examples include clothes that know how many times you’ve washed them or lamp-posts that switch on as you walk past or soap dispensers that have embedded sensors monitoring supply levels and reordering automatically, saving the company warehouse space and logistics costs as deliveries can be more efficiently planned.

Indeed, these connected technologies are greater than the sum of their parts, combining to create a modern experience that is more autonomous, simple and convenient. Moreover, this approach makes sense for businesses and consumers alike, with the former always looking for ways to streamline operations and the latter seeking ever greater levels of convenience. When we finally look back on the oncoming decade, maybe the legacy of the mobile device will be more about how it drove M2M connectivity than whatever physical form it was able to take. For this reason, perhaps the best is yet to come.

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