A couple of weeks ago, someone, somewhere noted the interesting phenomenon of schools finally catching on to the 1-1 laptop initiative just when cell phones are starting to come into their own as the heir apparent in computing devices. I wish I could remember the link, because a couple of stories have really made me start thinking hard about where things are going to go from here. Predicting is a waste of time, I know, but consider these couple of outtakes…
First, the amount of content that’s going to be created for phones is going to explode:
According to new research released this week by UK-based Juniper Research, a boom in mobile content is expected to take place over the next five years, with estimations that the global mobile entertainment market, currently valued at $17.3 billion, will reach $76.9 billion by that time.
This large upswing in content will come along with a shift in the types of mobile entertainment people are consuming over the next five years, their report estimates. While, for now, the majority of mobile content focuses on music, and principally on ringtones (More than 80 percent of mobile music revenues are for ringtones, according to Ben Macklin with eMarketer.), the shift will come with revenue from mobile television and mobile games, which they estimate will exceed the money generated by mobile music by that time…
…”The mobile phone has quickly moved beyond being just a convenient communication device. For many people, carrying a mobile phone means being connected to a wider community, and the device has become the very linchpin of one’s social life. The entanglement of humans and electronic devices will only become deeper in the years ahead, and the mobile phone will be at the forefront of that process.”
The second article goes more into the phone as a true computing device:
One thing that is clear is that phones will pack a lot more computing power in future, and will be able to do more and more of the things that PCs are used for todayâ€”and more besides. Mats Lindoff, the chief technology officer at Sony Ericsson, a leading handset-maker, points out that the processing power of mobile phones lags behind that of laptop computers by around five years. Furthermore, studies show that people read around ten megabytes (MB) worth of material a day; hear 400MB a day, and see one MB of information every second. In a decade’s time a typical phone will have enough storage capacity to be able to video its user’s entire life, says Mr Lindoff. Tom MacTavish, a researcher at Motorola Labs, predicts that such â€œlife recordersâ€ will be used for everything from security to settling accident claims with insurance firms.
And on a more personal note, a couple of weeks ago a gentleman came up to me after one of my presentations and told me that he’s been doing everything he can to get poor, inner city students the computers they need to learn. He’s got corporations to donate them, give them away, yet they hardly ever get used. I asked him two questions: Do the kids have access at home? He shook his head no. Do the kids have cell phones? He said “Of course.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with 1-1 laptop initiatives, but I’m wondering if they are money well spent at this point. Many of us, myself included, look at laptops and wonder what we would ever do without them, kind of how kids feel about their phones. And the important piece to this is that it’s about culture, not about technology. It’s being mobile, being fast, being connected.
Now I can hear the pushback. How can they be taught to read and write with a phone? What about all those applications that we use? The Web content that won’t fit on a phone? I don’t have those answers, and who knows how phones will evolve based on what the users demand. (Cameras on phones are a perfect example…) All I’m saying is there may be a different way of looking at this. We’re not teaching our kids to leverage their phones right now, in large measure, no doubt, because we don’t really know how to leverage them ourselves. And what we don’t know, we are scared of, hence we outlaw them from our buildings.