Inside the Mobile Application Revolution

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Inside the Mobile Application Revolution

The mobile digital technology wave began in the late '80s, and it has been advancing at an accelerating pace ever since.  Today, the basic mobile phone has saturated not just the industrialized world, but the developing world as well. 

The recent convergence of computing power, miniaturization, touchscreen technologies, and high bandwidth have finally reached the critical mass required to enable the emergence of powerful, low-cost platforms, such as the iPhone and iPad, that can go anywhere.  Significantly, the dramatic growth in demand for mobile computing has been driven by more than simply the need for "better phones." Today's demand for devices, applications, and bandwidth would not have been possible without the development of sophisticated multi-media "infotainment resources," like YouTube, iTunes, and Hulu. 

These services and platforms have become so appealing only because of the enormous range of applications that turn an iPhone or other smartphone into a versatile tool, enabling information and transaction handling in nearly every business imaginable, from restaurants to supermarkets to sporting events. 

This proliferation of technology has been encouraged by a combination of venture capital and low barriers to entry that make it possible for almost anyone wishing to develop these creative applications to enter the market.

Already, smart phones and tablet computers are changing the way people live.  Just consider all the applications that exploit the GPS capabilities of these platforms.  For example, an app for the iPhone called AroundMe allows you to find the nearest gas station, bank, bar, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, or taxi.  You can see the destination on a map, and the phone will give you exact directions to it. 

Consider also how mobile applications that make payments, scan merchandise, and transfer information are bringing us ever closer to exploiting the full potential of technologies like RFID tags.  Or, how personal mobile devices are making it possible to integrate social networking into the physical world.  BusinessWeek1 highlighted some of the potential for this new economy based on mobile applications that is creating fortunes and changing the way we do business.  The range of possibilities is truly staggering.

And this has all happened very quickly.  The entire sector is still less than three years old.  Apple launched its App Store less than two years ago, but customers have already downloaded more than 4 billion apps from it.  Not surprisingly, the App Store has spawned more than a dozen competing services...

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