The Importance of Mobile
Mobile Traffic increased this year over last, by over 100%, from 5.6% to 14.3% of total online traffic. That’s the kind of growth that the internet itself saw in its early days. That kind of momentum portends a future where mobile will be even more culturally important than it already is–where smartphones will be even more essential to an even broader class of people.
Contemplating the profundity of this trend leaves us search backwards in time for leaps of innovation that were equally culturally impactful (before the advent of the personal computer).
Hans Rosling gave an interesting TED Talk about how the washing machines freed women from slavery to the back-breaking task of family laundry, and created a space in early 20th century society that gave mothers time to spend with their children, teaching them to read and taking them to museums.
“Throughout [my grandmother’s] life she had been heating water with firewood and she had hand washed laundry for seven children, and now she was going to watch electricity do that work. My mother carefully opened the door, and she loaded the laundry into the machine. And when she closed the door, grandma says ‘No no no, let me push the button.’”
“To my grandmother the washing machine was a miracle.”
The introduction of the washing machine to these women helped create a positive feedback loop for positive change, the effects of which were felt for generations; Rosling was four years old when his mother’s time was freed up to spend with him, and has since risen to become one of the world’s leading scholars in global health.
We are currently moving through a technological revolution that will make our current state feel like hand washing clothes for seven children. The name of that revolution is mobile.
In a separate TED talk, Roger McNamee makes a case for the death of Microsoft by mobile. Provocative to be sure, but the numbers are there:
Internet use on Windows is down to 50% from 96% since 2000.
25% percent of web users are mobile only.
19% of all phones are smartphones.
Android OS is growing 886% year on year.
Smartphones represent a significant chunk of the use of mobile web, but tablets – specifically the iPad, which is on track to control about 70%-80% of the tablet market – are a growing force and slowly edging Windows desktops out of the picture.
Smartphones, tablets and other web enabled mobile devices are liberating us from the chains that bind us to a stationary media hub. We no longer contort our bodies and lives to bend to the will of computers, we have molded the computer “in our own image” as it were and rather than sit hunched over a keyboard and mouse, we flick, and pinch and poke our way through information and we do it at gas stations, in the Havasu Canyon, on airplanes and in bed.
If you don’t believe mobile is the future, you are in for a very disappointing few decades. For those of us who have been through the hand washing of the Internet thus far, the mobile washing machine will be like a miracle.
Thomas Stone writes on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands. In his free time he likes to keep up with the latest news in the tech industry.