Contact Lenses

A printed circuit board inside a mobile phone

Back this morning with a quick thought I had while reading about eMarketer‘s new study on trends in mobile. As an aside, it seems as if there isn’t anything disruptive (like the introduction of the iPhone was) in near future but that current trends will continue and accelerate.
But that’s not what struck me. One thing I noticed was the term “smart phone“. That’s part of what, in my opinion, has caused the acceptance and use by markets of this channel to have been delayed until recently: thinking about these things as phones.
The new generation of portable devices (that was an intentional avoidance of the word “mobile”) are really small computers that have voice capability. Sometimes they use WiFi for connectivity; sometimes they use cellular networks. To you, the user, that should be immaterial (which it often isn’t due to network issues). And that is my point.

I think the goal ought to be to get rid of devices completely.  What I mean is that in a perfect world, we’d think “I want to tell Susan something” and that message would go out to her in whatever form would get it to her immediately.  Maybe that’s voice; maybe a text, maybe email, maybe an instant message of some sort.  The channel is only a function of two things – what your available device is capable of sending and what she is able to receive.  Even the latter thing is blurry – you can send an SMS text to an IM client and vice-versa, for example.  I’m thinking of an experience like contact lenses – you put them in to start the day and you just see.  Unless there’s a problem, you’re not aware of the devices that are making your vision perfect.

People don’t care about devices – they care about accomplishing tasks.  The iPhone has been successful, as have Android phones, because they’re focused on tasks and voice is only one of them (one which, based on the “Antenna-gate” controversy with the new iPhones can’t be ignored).

As I said above, a telepathy-like experience is the goal.  Think it (how do I get to Joe’s house) and get the answer.  I’m not going to have a chip put in my head so some device is going to be required but wouldn’t it be great if, like contact lenses, you didn’t know it was there and it just worked?

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