Appendix A. Afterword

When Mobile Is No Longer the Exception

Initially, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and netbooks all represented new yet complementary options to the traditional desktop computer. Today’s reality, however, is that mobile devices are increasingly becoming the primary means of accessing and interacting with information. In fact, Morgan Stanley’s prescient Internet analyst, Mary Meeker, predicts that in the next five years, “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.”[10] The stationary desktop and its counterparts, the physical keyboard and mouse, are being replaced by portable, touch-enabled interfaces that have always-on connectivity. With this trend, you absolutely must understand that advancements such as Multi-Touch on the iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad will not be isolated to those devices alone. Apple knows this, and it’s why the company already renamed its operating system from “iPhone OS” to “iOS” as part of the announcement of the iPhone 4.

Beyond Apple, every major technology innovator is trying to make sense of and be a leader in the mobile touch era. Microsoft Surface became popularized in the 2008 elections by facilitating advanced manipulation of large electoral maps through gesture recognition. Cisco has a business tablet focused on mobile video conferencing called Cius, powered by Google’s mobile operating system, Android. Android has also flooded the smartphone market, with estimates of more than 150,000 Android handsets being activated per day.

The coming paradigm shift is also supported by considerable anecdotal evidence. One major observation is that iPhones and iPads have become the babysitter du jour for many parents, providing distraction, er...entertainment for their children through games and videos. Somehow, these young minds require no training or formal education on touch devices; they just touch and go. Touch is such a natural means of interaction that friends have shared stories of their children trying to interact with other screens, such as televisions, in the same way, swiping left or right to change the channel.

Although not quite yet the way the Class of 2024 would prefer, television itself is again being reinvented due to more robust data networks. Time-shifted programming was powered with the introduction of TiVo in the late 1990s, which allowed people to watch recordings of their favorite shows. Now, always-on connectivity for mobile devices is providing location-independent viewing of live events over high-speed networks. Even though soccer fans couldn’t be home on their couch or at the bar with their friends, they were still able to watch games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup while on subways and in similar obscure locations using their smartphones. Unfortunately, that offered the opportunity to once again watch the United States lose to Ghana like they did in 2006; the smaller iPhone screen did not make it less painful.

All signs point to these new, more portable, more interactive, and more connected devices becoming the next major computing paradigm. It’s not quite here yet, but soon enough, mobile, touch-enabled, always-on devices won’t be the exception; they’ll be the standard.