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Chapter 3. Why Mobile?

It is hard to think about mobile development apart from the buzz it generates. I wish I could tell you that the majority of mobile strategies start with a well-thought-out plan of how to use the medium to meet the needs of users or further the goals of the business. The people at the majority of companies I visit, those I meet at conferences, those writing articles online, and even a few mobile experts claim that mobile is the next big thing, but few can explain why. This is something I have struggled with myself over the years.

We know that mobile devices are proliferating around the world like mad. We know we can perform a lot of different tasks with them. But what makes them the killer device of the next year, decade, or generation? If you’ve been in the business as long as I have, you know that mobile has been the “next big thing” for at least the last 10 years. We’ve gone through crazy ups and downs and seen periods of massive innovation, followed by depression, then innovation, then depression; the sad cycle repeats itself.

To date, the majority of the mobile industry outside of the operator has been unable to sustain a true long-term growing business. Instead, it has jumped from one bubble to the next, trying to time the leap so as not to be the one left to pop it. This is the perfect example of an investment-funded industry. Being unable to create a long-term sustainable business model on its own, innovation relies on selling the “next big thing” to ...

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