Thursday, December 06, 2012

Software is eating the world, but the smartphone is pretty hungry too

Last August, Marc Andreessen wrote a great essay titled "Why software is eating the world". In his article, which got a lot of attention in the tech world, Marc explains why and how a variety of industries have been and continue to be disrupted by software. Read it if you haven't read it yet, it's a well-written and inspiring post by one of the most successful and knowledgable people in the Internet industry.

Recently I read about the concept of "dematerialization" (in the book "Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think" by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler). The book quotes Bill Joy saying "We're seeing the tip of the dematerialization wave, like when a phone dematerializes a camera. It just disappears." and goes on to list a number of other goods and services that are now available with the average smartphone.

Software is eating the world, but the smartphone is pretty hungry too.

There's no real contradiction here though, since a large part of the smartphone's appetite for disruption is driven by software as well (although innovations in the hardware used by smartphones play an important role too). Either way, I think it's a fascinating observation. When I look at myself, my iPhone has already replaced my wristwatch, a pocket translator, a GPS running watch, a travel alarm clock, an address book, a calendar and an MP3 player. Most of the time it also replaces my camera, camcorder and calculator.

For other people the smartphone has replaced radios, TVs, GPS navigators, flashlights, mobile game consoles, pocket mirrors and, in case you forgot that you can also use these thingies to make calls, landline phones. Soon the smartphone will dematerialize credit cards, loyalty cards, keys, and this is just what I came up with thinking about it while writing this blog post. I'm sure there are dozens or maybe hundreds of other products or services that are being eaten by the smartphone already or will be in the near future, and I'd love to hear your experiences or predictions in the comments below.

In his now legendary launch presentation of the first iPhone, Steve Jobs said:
Today we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device.

So, three things. A widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod. A phone. And an internet communicator. An iPod. A phone. Are you getting it?

These are not three separate devices. This is one device.
It probably took most of us some time to really get it. But now we're getting it. And it's not just three separate devices which the iPhone is replacing, it's dozens of devices.

Bon app├ętit.


4 comments:

Miki Szikszai said...

Smartphones are eating plenty of devices - payment is another one. We've implemented a true contactless payment system for everyday things (transit, taxis, convenience retail). This has now moved to a secure app that we can implement on Android - check out www.snapper.co.nz/mobile to see how the smartphone ate the Snapper card :)

Miki Szikszai said...

Smartphones are eating plenty of devices - payment is another one. We've implemented a true contactless payment system for everyday things (transit, taxis, convenience retail). This has now moved to a secure app that we can implement on Android - check out www.snapper.co.nz/mobile to see how the smartphone ate the Snapper card :)

Danvers Baillieu said...

Surely the first thing mobile phones "ate" was the public phonebox. Cannot wait until i can ditch my two part train season ticket in favour of a combination of an app and NFC - my BA boarding card is already a thing of the past.

Christoph Janz said...

Miki, thanks for pointing out Snapper! And good point about boarding passes etc., Danvers. I think the entire wallet will soon be a thing of the past.