Go Mobile! Apple’s iPhone Defining the Mobile Computing Experience

Apple iPhoneI recently spent a week working part time from Vancouver, BC. Between trips to the aquarium and casino (and a William Gibson sighting at Fuel!), I managed to get a few things done.

I use a Blackberry Pearl and a variety of applications (primarily Google’s Mobile Suite and IM) for navigation and communication. While the interface is still limited it’s easy enough to communicate with a dispersed team or clients while in the field.

We have all been subjected to the onslaught of media surrounding the iPhone. It is, without a doubt, a beautiful and capable device, that is changing the cellular carrier and handset industries. With it, Apple is taking a leadership role in an era of mobile computing that is in it’s infancy. Their tactics in the media are worth mentioning, as they will come to affect us all eventually. There are are a few interesting aspects of this new era in computing that are rarely mentioned in articles or blog posts that I feel are some of the most important of these changes.

Teaching A Lesson
First and foremost, with the accompanying media campaign, Apple is teaching us how to use, and why we should want, a smartphone. Not just an iPhone, but access in general is what they are advertising. Anyone who does a side by side comparison will recognize the ease of use and what I’ll call the fluidity of the iPhone, but with a little effort there are several devices that can achieve the same level of access. Several of the iPhone commercials show off the capabilities of the iPhone by simply demonstrating this access, and that’s good for the industry as a whole, as widespread understanding of these capabilities is something that is missing among the general public. People know how to text, but the mobile web is something else entirely. Of course, this will all change over the course of the next 2-10 years as the interface evolves, which brings me to my next point.

With this device, Apple has taken the lead in defining the general interface for the next iteration of the mobile web. Eventually our devices will be capable enough to handle anything the web throws at it, but in the mean time there are a few design paradigms that are evolving based on this single device. The general layout and functionality of pages is being rethought, not just for screen size, but for viewing and entry as well. The great thing about all of this is the intense analysis of human interactions with technology that’s going on around it. We are getting to a point where the technology is adapting to us more than we’re adapting to the technology.

This is a critical point in how we develop touch controls for devices. There are currently only a few gestures in the Apple touch lexicon, but as the devices evolve along with their capabilities this will change. Apple is literally defining how we will interface with our devices across the board. Frankly, that doesn’t worry me, because I think they are on the right track and are listening to feedback. But will other companies adopt the same conventions that Apple uses? Will they be able to without licensing or getting sued? These are important questions that will play out over time, as more and more touch based devices come to market, and more users become familiar with the controls/interfaces. Using a chubby finger to navigate is now a consideration most web designers will need to address at one time or another.

With the next version of the device presumably ready to be released there’s an entirely new crop of customers who (myself included) that are about to get on board. Some of us have been waiting for the kinks to be worked out before diving in. With the further development of Android and Symbian, the future looks bright for the mobile market. I’m excited about the direction and look forward to the coming “endless summer” where technology allows me to work whenever, and from wherever, I want.

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Aaron Smith on software technology for small businesses About: Aaron Smith is the owner of Mixotic LLC. Aaron started his own business after seeing so many of the businesses he had worked for struggling with their technology, trying to figure out what tools to use, how to use them, and how to train staff. He believes that companies that don’t explore new technology solutions give up a competitive advantage.


16 Reactions
  1. I don’t have an iPhone but I have been curious about them and have also seen one in action and it’s quite impressive. I have to agree with you that the marketing for this device is savvy. Showing the phone in use and it’s various capabilities makes it look so easy to use and also makes you curious for more – to see everything it can do – and get your hands on one. And maybe someday soon, I will. But I’m waiting a bit longer for cost to come down and a more refined version of the device. It really is an asset for those who work on the go.

  2. “…an era of mobile computing that is in it’s infancy.” should read “…an era of mobile computing that is in its infancy.”

  3. I just purchased the iPhone about 2 weeks ago and I love it! Its without questions the best phone I’ve ever had. The only downside, which I managed to overcome was the text messaging. The keypad was a bit of an issue at first, but once you’ve figured it out, you’re off and running.

  4. Martin Lindeskog

    I have had a Qtek smartphone with a real keyboard for about two years. I am glad to see the development of phones getting “smarter”. How much is an iPhone in America? Is it “locked” to a specific phone operator?

    We have seen three stages of “screens”: First the TV screen, then the computer monitor and now the mobile touch screen.

  5. I have to agree with Chris. The iPhone does look like a handy device but I too am waiting for prices to come down. For people who travel a lot for business, I’m sure a phone like this really makes life easier.

  6. I got the iPhone soon after it came out and, although my old BlackBerry was great at keeping me efficient (waiting in line at the bank? Get caught up on email!), my iPhone took it to another level.

    I’ve bought stuff on Ebay at the vet, troubleshot my site at the park, and saved myself from getting lost countless times.

    Here’s hoping iPhone 2.0 is as good as I hope.

  7. @ Martin

    I think I paid $400 for mine and currently you have to be an AT&T customer to purchase the phone.

  8. I’ve been an iPhone owner since Jan 1, and love it. The keyboard interface took me about a day to get use to and for that day it was my #1 complaint.

    My current complaint is the speed at which pages load over AT&Ts Edge network, but with the announcement today of the new iPhone 3G, I believe I’ll stop complaining about that when I upgrade to one of those.

    One point I wanted to mention is that Apple is defining the interface and controls for access to information that Aaron speaks of. Access to information that we once needed phones, newspapers, a foldout map, a walk-man and computers to achieve some of our responsibilities. As adoption increases and more people and companies embrace the technology (controls, interface & all) we’ll find that we may not need larger computers to accomplish what we once needed them to.

  9. Martin Lindeskog


    Thanks for the information. I am thinking of getting an iPhone sometime in the future. But I will keep my Qtek for now.

  10. Unfortunately I do not have the iPhone!!! But after reading this post I start thinking of its obtaining!!! The information given is of great interest and usage. I appreciate your work!

  11. I just wrote a post recently about the iPhone changing the way small/micro business owners function away from their office. I think in order to truly benefit from the phone one of the first steps is to start moving your business data to the “cloud” (meaning cloud computing) through GoogleDocs, Backpack, Freshbooks and many more. Making the transition from your data residing in a place accessible from anywhere instead of on your home or office computer gives your iPhone a whole new level of connectivity.

  12. Dating between people looking for a significant other can now be achieved so many different ways than before. People no longer have to go out and meet in person. They will can now, turn on their cellular phones such as the iphone, ipod touch, ipad, blackberry, android, etc. and unite with their social circle. Right from their mobile device they can email, chat, set up dates, etc. Mobile dating sites will have to start catering to this tech hungry group eventually.

  13. People no more want to use his or her devices when generating messages or calls. May be utilize their cellular devices for txt dating in addition. It truly is so simple now to send a phone message to everyone friends letting them know where to meet, what you are doing, what you would be doing or something that is simply in your thoughts. Although it will not stop there. Individuals are eager to be able to socialize and date through their phone, lucky on their behalf it is possible.

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