The numbers are clear: the future is mobile. You probably already knew this, but there is a further change coming. Desktops won’t exist as we know them, not just for consumers but for business users too. Phones will double as desktops. To explain, let’s recap an announcement from Microsoft.
This is a smart move from Microsoft, and it’s telling to look at the facts:
Engagement – By 2020, 80% of the adults on earth will have a smartphone. Today, more time is spent using mobile apps than the web.
Sensors – Your phone knows more about you than your desktop. Like the ‘multimedia’ revolution in the nineties, mobile devices now bring a sensor revolution. Because most mobile devices are stuffed with sensors, they know more about the context they are being used in. They know more about where you are, and can make decisions based on that information. Mobile brings context into the logic of its apps.
Capability – The 1993 Pentium had 3.1 million transistors. The iPhone 6 has 2 billion transistors: that’s 645 times more transistors, and it fits in your pocket.
Network Access – These changes don’t mean as much without improvements in the way devices access the internet. Increases in bandwidth are rapidly occurring and devices now switch seamlessly between WiFi and mobile data. Because of this, mobile apps don’t have to store and compute the entire experience, they don’t have to have massive computational power. Speech recognition (Siri, Cortana, Google Now) is a real example of this change.
As the numbers above demonstrate, the market is migrating from desktop to mobile. This is happening first in the consumer market. You can get as much done using a mobile as by using a desktop in most consumer cases. The only drawback is the screen size, and that’s possibly the reason why Phablets are becoming more popular – why buy a desktop when you can get a mobile that will do everything you need?
With Microsoft debuting Continuum the future is becoming clear. No longer will people need to switch between desktop computer and mobile. Their mobiles will be their desktop computer. Rather than having a separate desktop, you won’t need that bulky PC. Instead you will place your phone down next to your screen and keyboard, and your phone will use that larger display and keyboard seamlessly. This will put the nail in the coffin for most of the business desktops.
What does this all mean?
The web and apps are diverging: the web will be used for information, apps to get things done. Building out great app experiences fast will be more and more important. Apps will need to complement the web experience by enabling you to get things done — the web isn’t going away, but it has lost its crown.
In my next article, I will look at the different options you have for building out mobile apps.
Author: Richard Bundock
If you are thinking of building out an app for consumer or enterprise, we can help. As newly anointed Xamarin Premier Consulting Partners, we can help your agency with the UX and the build.