Two things to know before reading further:
1. This entry is more observation than prediction.
2. By Mobile, what I really mean is the opposite of "immobile" or simply put—stuff you can take with you (think portable).
The way we interact with technology is changing. Computers used to be about work. Then they quickly became about play. Then work and play began to blur all together. Laptops and wireless set us free, but then laptops started feeling like work again. Social media, though it has real business applications feels like play—it's fun and quite addictive. 2007 was a big year for social media. 2008 may be the year mobile media really begins to take off. Here's a few thoughts to consider:
The iPhone Effect
Whether or not Apple corners the mobile market is irrelevant. Apple has proven that the mobile experience doesn't have to suck and in fact can be delightful. It's kicked the mobile industry in the ass and is forcing them to innovate. This means that the mobile experience is going to get better for all of us, whether we choose to buy an iPhone, a Verizon Voyager or something else. The iPhone effect is making people feel like they need a "smart phone" the same way the RAZR made people feel like they needed a thin phone that did less but looked really cool. Better mobile experiences will eventually lead to more mobile behavior.
Mobile Content, Functionality and Engagement
Widgets such as PayPal's latest entry into the market offer us a glimpse into the future. The hub and spoke model of the Web where all roads lead to Rome.com is becoming obsolete. Now we can even buy stuff through widgets which can be found virtually anywhere on the net. Fragmentation continues, proving it can stand the test of time by rearing it's head in not only traditional media—but on the Web and in even on the cutting edge of social media. Users will engage with content and features where it makes sense for them—on their terms and they can take it with them.
The Mobile Web
The Web isn't just on our computers and laptops anymore. It's on lots of devices and the experience we have with it keeps getting better. I actually prefer accessing Facebook on my iPhone because it's easy to use, less cluttered and fun. I can play around with it with the TV on in the background, or when I'm on the road. The upcoming open source model supported by Google's Android platform has the potential to eventually make the mobile Web ubiquitous. Amazon's Kindle may not be the e-book solution we've all been waiting for, but it certainly offers hints of disruption, especially as it pertains to students/education. The mobile Web offers the promise of freedom in the sense that it makes the Web fun again. We'll eventually be able to buy stuff when on the go and some banks even support mobile interactions. Being away from our desktops and laptops which now feel like work will make the mobile Web a welcome escape.
A Mobile Network
Just recently I had lunch at a Corner Bakery which now offers free Wi-Fi similar to Panera. As more businesses offer free Wi-Fi, we can enjoy all the benefits of a better mobile experience + speedy connection to the internet. Social experiences will become mobile as we keep up with our networks not only though Websites. but through widgets and multiple devices.
2008 is a good year to think beyond Websites and start thinking about lifestyles—how we live and why we do what we do. The Web isn't going away—but the way we interact with it, might just turn into a moving target. Actually, it already is.