Pankaj poses the question and gives a few options:
1) Merging mobile phones with PDAs, creating e-mail on the go.
2) Mobile web browsing
3) Integrating cameras and video into devices
4) The convergence of social media and mobile
5) The rise of the app store
Out of those options, Ewan sees a clear winner: Mobile e-mail (or, as he calls it, instant e-mail). He is probably right in that mobile e-mail was the first ‘break-through’ application that made many of us addicted to our handsets, initially, our BlackBerries. I also agree when he states: “The legions of corporate types all addicted to instant email conditioned the marketplace for next generation ‘connected’ services like Facebook, Facebook Chat, Gmail, Google Chat, Android, BlackBerry Messenger and so on.”
Having said that, and now speaking purely from personal experience, I would say that mobile e-mail made me – and many of my colleagues – addicted to the BlackBerry because it allowed us to get work done away from our desks. Whenever you saw me on my BB, I would, invariably, be working. It was extremely useful but it did not change ‘my life’, it changed ‘an aspect of my life’.
Now, mobile web browsing – proper mobile web browsing of the type the iPhone and iPad provide – has changed my life. I use my iPhone/iPad for everything, at home and on the go. I may be working (although I still do that mostly with my ‘work BB’) but, most likely, I am just checking news, listening to a podcast, watching a YouTube video or thinking about what to wear tonight after checking the weather app (I would rather check the app than raising my head during my commute to take a look around!). That is, living my life. I just cannot imagine how I would live without it!
In fact, there is another option that, together with web browsing, makes an even bigger difference for users that could be added to Pankaj’s list – the merging of GPS with on-line services. This includes anything from simple Google maps with local services search (often a life-saver!) to locating your friends in real time.
So, all in all, from what I see around me, although mobile e-mail was, arguably, the first key mobile application, it was good mobile web browsing (enhanced with GPS) that, I believe, changed the lives of many, in more than one way!