It’s been almost nine years since the late Apple CEO stood on a stage at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco and claimed that, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” What he did not realize was, that on that day, he was essentially re-inventing human existence. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s hard to deny the subsequent importance humans have placed on mobile technology.
The development and deployment of the Internet on mobile certainly poses some very poignant questions. After all, the Internet as we know it has only been around for just over two decades. So understanding how far the two inventions have come on their own, and how, less than 10 years after iPhone was released, they have become one inside the palm of billions of people’s hands. Whether it is driven by the number of people that use social media regularly (est. 1.8 billion), or the number that use smartphones to conduct transactions (est. 1.6 billion, and many of the same people), mobile has become the predominant way users access (and send) information. In many ways, the smartphone’s ubiquity is now its most glaring characteristic.
Today, the technology we traditionally think of when people mention “technology” is all being replaced by mobile devices. Tomorrow’s technology will work to connect every physical object to the Internet. This kind of global connectivity will undoubtedly change the world in new and confusing ways. The more we depend on technology to do things that people of the past could not, we see just how important this technological shift is to humankind.
In fact, consumer mobile technology is becoming so prevalent nowadays that it is now viewed as a need by much of the world’s working population. Without access to the Internet, much of our lives: the purchasing and the messaging and the tweeting and the pinning, would not be possible. Whether this whole shift can be considered positive is for another article, but make no mistake, there is no denying that we are hooked; especially on mobile.
Knowing this, and understanding just how many people use the Internet, makes you wonder just how important technology has become to the average user? The fact suggest that it is extremely important. There have been several studies conducted on the matter. One study suggests that mobile is one of the fastest-growing technologies in history. Apple is the most valuable company on earth. Software applications can reach millions of users in virtually no time, and have turned several 20-somethings into captains of industry seemingly overnight.
Another study conducted by MIT suggests that smartphones will reach the level of market saturation in about 12 years, a feat that took the landline phone 100. They currently outsell PCs four to one; half of the adult human population has a smartphone. In five years, that number could be closer to 80%.
Yet another, conducted by british mobile phone provider O2 suggested that citizens in the UK spend more time staring at their mobile devices than they do with their significant others. Many users find their device, and its Internet-connectability, more important than hygiene, exercise, and sometimes, even food. Users neglect breakfast to spend time on their phone, and more amazingly, the survey suggested that more time is spent staring at a screen than is spent sleeping; over a third of every day.
All this information suggests that mobile technology has become the new normal. Good or bad, right or wrong, smartphones are as much a part of human culture as fire. We just need to come up with better solutions that address the detrimental characteristics of mobile technology, such as the dangers of texting and driving. Regardless, it will be interesting to see the world in another 20 years, and by the looks of it, we may all be plugged in!