How the iPhone has changed everything

I visited a creative agency yesterday that one of our clients is already using. It was an informal, introductory chat more than anything, and the topic turned to mobile phones.

Before working at IMG/Endava, I worked for SmartTrust, part of Sonera – the previously state owned telco in Finland. That was back in 1999, and we spent a lot of time trying to educate the masses on the power of a mobile phone as an identity device, a payment device, all in one productivity device, and so on.

Finland was by far the most advanced mobile-friendly country in the World, and I remember that even at that time you could buy a can on Coke at Helsinki airport via text message (the payment would appear on your phone bill at the end of the month).

At the meeting yesterday, the agency had been asked to think about our client’s future business – next year, 5 years time and even further than that. On the subject of customer interaction, everyone (the client, the creative guys and obviously us as well), were sold on the idea of mobile technology as a key part of the future… especially using iPad & iPhone applications.

We have pretty much stopped having to educate our clients on the benefit of mobile versions of their websites, because they now have iPhones, and even if they don’t, they still want iPhone apps. All of this is thanks to Apple for making the iPhone such a success via an excellent user experience.

What our clients, and yesterday’s agency were surprised to hear, is that when you develop an app for one platform, it’s not as portable as say, a website, across platforms. They find it amazing that to develop an app for an iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and so on, requires several parallel streams of development. And then there are the differences between iPhone apps and iPhone web apps.

To further confuse the landscape for our customers and end users, the mobile operators are releasing their own app platforms, such as Vodafone’s JIL platform as a way of trying to get some app revenue back from Apple and the other vendors.

So just when our customers feel content with a new technology, they become confused again with the array of options, platforms and complexities that they don’t want to think about.

In some ways I thank Apple for managing to educate the masses on the advantages of the mobile device (beyond making phone calls, text messages and emails!), but in some ways they have opened a Pandora’s box of multiple standards and platforms which is only going to become more confusing for the foreseeable future.

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