The mobile web and app market is going to explode over the next couple years. The growth of smartphones and tablet devices are what will fuel this growth. What many don’t know is that Canadians are quite prevalent in the mobile development space; Toronto alone has over 200 mobile development companies and our country ranks in the top ten for mobile innovation. Closer to home, recent Saskatoon start-up, CollegeMobile, has received national media attention for the iPhone application they built for the University of Saskatchewan (iUsask on iTunes App Store) and they now have schools from around the world calling them to build apps.
There’s an App for That
Everybody and their dog seems to be interested in mobile applications and for good reason – The burgeoning area of mobile will have significant implications on how people access the web. Having access to the web at home and at work is not good enough anymore, people want to take it with them wherever they go. For example, I recently took my iPhone on a trip to Europe and, international roaming charges aside, my iPhone was a blessing to have – I posted blog entries, took pictures, made free international calls using an app, coordinated accommodation using text messages, accessed boarding passes for flights, researched points of interest, and kept abreast of emails. I barely used the guidebook we brought. The iPhone worked great but I would have preferred to bring an iPad since it would have been even better.
The Tablets are Coming!
I must admit, when the iPad first came out I didn’t see the point. It’s just a bigger iPhone but without a camera, right? Then I got to use one. Like many people, most of my time spent on a computer is comprised of surfing the web, checking email, consuming media (music, photos, video), and checking my social networks. You don’t need a $1000+ computer do this. An iPad is perfect for 75% of the tasks I carry out, it’s user experience is much more fun than using a regular computer, and it’s highly portable. I’ll still always need my laptop since I use a number of office productivity tools and applications to run my business, but for most people I bet an iPad would cover 95% of your computing needs. In the next 12 – 24 months there are going to be a number of tablet style computers hitting the market and they will likely cannibalize a lot of the existing market for personal computers.
Marketers Must Mobilize
So, what does this mean for communications, marketing and your organization’s web presence? Well, first off websites will need to be optimized to display better on mobile devices since smartphones and tablet computers have smaller screens than the typical computer. In addition, most new devices will utilize touch screens and surface interactivity, so websites and applications will need to be designed for fingers rather than mouse clicks and keystrokes. Integrating geo-location features will become increasingly important so that you can deliver messages to people at the right time AND place. If you’re a publisher, the implications will be even greater since paper back books and publications are already experiencing a decline and the migration to digital readers has barely started. Overall, those in charge of their organization’s digital presence will need to start thinking about how they will be able to best service an audience that is growing increasingly mobile. It’s time to mobilize; the future is wireless. We need to start putting mobile first.