Wait...Did Someone Just Say 'Mobile'?


Here at DrupalCon Denver 2012, all three keynotes have probably mentioned the word "mobile" almost as much as "the" and "and". At the current rate of adoption, the word "mobile" is on track to receive 1,000 new uses per second – in the DrupalCon community alone. In fact, up to half of new users of the word "mobile" are found in China, India, and the rest of the so-called developing world.


In all seriousness, people at DrupalCon, in the software community at large, and everywhere else aren't likely to stop talking about mobile technology anytime soon – primarily because people aren't likely to stop using mobile technology.


On Tuesday, Dries Buytaert made a visually dramatic case for the opportunity ahead of the Drupal community, as its current stock of approximately 1.5 million websites compares to the rest of CMS-driven websites, the global demand for websites overall, and the coming demand for mobile-focused websites and applications.


On Wednesday, Mitchell Baker explored the future of Open Source principles (as envisioned by Mozilla), not just for mobile devices but also for mobility itself. She highlighted that the current model of hardware/software integration in mobile devices, most obviously and elegantly achieved by Apple, runs counter to the trend of general flexibility and openness in technology and may have a limited lifespan.


Today, Luke Wroblewski unfolded a series of well-researched and thought-provoking points, culminating (in my mind) with a single, elegant pronouncement that really reframes the whole "mobile" revolution: the unified, ubiquitous, always-connected mobile device that we carry with us literally everywhere we go is finally delivering on the two-decades-old promise of a "personal computer". The highlight, to me, was an example of real-life innovation from Seoul, where a grocery store is using mural-sized photographs and QR codes to convert subway walls to real-time virtual catalogs for delivery purchases. One of his most dramatic (and already often repeated) statistics was the comparison between these two numbers:


APPROXIMATELY 370,000 HUMANS ENTER THE WORLD EACH DAY.


APPROXIMATELY 1,400,000 MOBILE DEVICES ENTER THE WORLD EACH DAY.


On the one hand, it's tempting to point out that the average lifespan of a human is approximately 67 years, while most mobile phones are scheduled for replacement approximately every 2 years (based on cell providers' standard marketing and pricing models). On the other hand, Wroblewski reiterated another important mantra of mobile: we're going to see more screens, not fewer, and more internet-connected devices, not fewer.


That is, a "mobile device" is not necessarily a phone...or a tablet...or a netbook, or anything else that we typically think of as a "device". 


In fact, internet connectivity itself isn't even a prerequisite for a "device" being passively connected. In one of Wroblewski's examples, a small toy with an RFID chip can be a catalyst for mobile content delivery.


The implications, as everyone has been saying all week, are virtually endless.

DrupalCon Denver 2012, however, is not. We're about to head up for the closing session. It's been an exciting and jam-packed conference, and we're excited to go home and start thinking about and playing with all the modules, principles, and ideas that we've learned about over the past few days.


See you next year Drupalistas!

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