Optionality in the mobile paradigm

I have lived through the golden age and maturity (and decline?) of the PC paradigm. But I am too young to have witness its irruption.

This contrasts with the mobile paradigm in which I have observed most of its phases.

Right after the iPhone was created we had a frenzy of entrepreneurs and mobile apps that claimed that mobile was a transformational platform capable of changing everything. At the time these claims sounded like bullshit, or rather I say, naive optimism of somebody trying to sell you a product.

Fast forward ten years, second and third order effects are coming in and it is incredible to see how much has been affected by the mobile paradigm. Probably not in the way that those early pundits predicted (who knows what the future holds?), but a change nonetheless.

Let’s take an anecdote as an example. When I was in Japan a few weeks back my phone was my “friend in the know”. If I needed to get from point A to B,I could use Google Maps to see how to get there, how much it would cost, all the alternative means of transportation. If I needed to eat at a legit restaurant I could always plug into Foursquare, browse through ratings, reviews and pictures to find the perfect place for the occasion. The language was occasionally a barrier in Japan, no problem, Google Translate had my back. I traveled in a group where shared expenses were frequent – Splitwise ensured that everyone got paid back. Reading a book on the go – Kindle, Audible. In fact there aren’t many things that weren’t done without a mobile device since I didn’t take my laptop.

As I do more trips, the phone gets a more important role in them. The end result of that is that I can plan less before the trip, since at any time during it, I have all information/tools I need to make any decision at the tip of my fingertips.

Smartphones are about optionality.