Liveblogging: FOSE 2012, The Future of Mobile

Today I attended FOSE 2012. The first session I attended, What the Research Shows: The Future of Mobile, featured panelists David Metcalf from the University of Central Florida and Aaron Smith from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Both had interesting ideas on where mobile is – and where it’s headed.

According to the panelists, smartphone owners currently comprise roughly half of all cell-phone owners, with the rest of the mobile population owning “dumb” or feature phones. There has been a huge rise in the adoption of smartphones in all demographics with the exception of those 65 and older. Minority and disadvantaged youth groups not only have a high adoption rate, but mobile is also their main access point to the Internet. It’s clear that in some ways smartphones are helping bridge the digital divide, whereas tablets are now seen as the luxury smartphones once were.

One trend the panelists saw was that tablets and smartphones are really made more for consumption of information, not production. Typing on a tablet is 30% slower than on a traditional keyboard and a on a smartphone 100% slower. Device makers are aiming for them to be more useful for productivity, with an example being the Samsung Note, which seeks to increase productivity by allowing users to draw with a pen on its large interface.

The panelists also saw an opportunity for something to transcend apps. Aaron Smith noted that apps aren’t efficient due to their seemingly endless updates and confusing taxonomy. Most mobile users don’t use more than 5 apps, and they are unnecessary if something doesn’t need to be checked often. With the rise of HTML5, mobile websites have more access to the features of a phone, such as its camera, allowing them for a potential comeback Vs. apps.

With any luck, the panelists are correct about future increased productivity in mobile.

Where do you think the future of mobile is headed?

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