Random Thoughts

'10 the year of the mobile web

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View from our condo looking south at Mt. Rainer. Can't wait to get back there this summer!
View from our condo looking south at Mt. Rainer. Can't wait to get back there this summer!

Have you ever seen a cat do one of those really long wonderful stretches after a good nap? Well that’s how I’m feeling now after having the last three weeks virtually off the computer as we worked on our condo in Seattle over the holidays. Of course being in the US nobody wants to give you Internet access just for three weeks, it’s all about signing the contract…everyone wants to lock you in to long term deals….very frustrating!

That and the fact that now wireless router companies sell their routers defaulted to be secure rather than unsecured leaves very few open networks to leach off of for a couple weeks. 🙂 So we checked e-mail only when we needed a coffee.

What frustrated us the most though was how much we were use to using my iPhone or cell phones in general to get around, to find things, to get directions, basically to live. Only being in the US for three weeks I didn’t want to have to pay $70 plus a $30 activation fee for my iPhone…that’s just a lot of money. So I decided I could do without it for three weeks…….well….not sure that was the right move either (Just for comparison…in Thailand that same connection for three weeks would have cost me about $50 total depending how much I used the web).

My favorite story came when I went to drop my wife off at Pike’s Place Market to do a little shopping. The plan was simple, I would drop her off, find a place to park and then call her and we’d meet up. Simple except for the fact that I didn’t have a cell phone. Of course this hit us only as she’s getting out of the car. So there we sat in the middle of the road, two highly educated people trying to figure out how to meet up without both of us having a cell phone.

I ended up dropping her off, not parking but rather driving around for 15 minutes and then picking her up again in the same spot.

Of course we could have planned this but sitting in the middle of 1st Ave on a Saturday near Pike’s Place is…well…pressure. 🙂

Then of course there were the countless times we needed directions somewhere and had no way of finding out the best route our even which direction we should head. We both know downtown Seattle OK due to our time there over the last couple of summers, but anywhere out of downtown and we’re lost.

So we ended up writing down addresses, going to the coffee shop pulling up google maps on my laptop finding the directions to the places we needed to go, and then saving those tabs. We would then read the directions to each other as the other one was driving.

The past three years I’ve made a prediction about what I think the new year will bring in the education/technology world and before I started my holiday I was thinking that this year was going to be the year of the mobile web, but afterwards, I’m now convinced it is.

There are three things that make me believe we’re going to see an explosion in the mobile web this year.

1. AT&T and Verizon commercials
2. Google, Apple, Cell Phones Manufactures
3. Media

AT&T and Verizon Commercials
I have a couple of advantages only being in the states about 3 months a year. All those commercials that Americans see over and over again….are fresh and new to me…and we actually like watching them.

But here’s the change. Last summer AT&T commercials were focused on the iPhone, Verizon was focused on their coverage area. This winter all I ever saw were commercials about 3G coverage. The conversation has changed, what they are selling people has changed. No longer is it we have better coverage than those guys or we have a better, newer phone. No, today it’s about the fastest mobile web browsing you can do from your phone. 3G has nothing to do with dropped calls, or the quality of your call, it has nothing to do with SMS (text messaging) and it has everything to do with mobile web access. They are putting all there advertising dollars into selling you the consumer the mobile web.

Google, Apple, Cell Phones Manufactures
Of course you need a new phone that will use that mobile web, and that’s where Google, Apple, and the rest of the cell phone manufactures come in. Google is do to launch it’s own cell phone here in January and already has it’s own mobile operating system that competes head to head with Apple’s iPhone. Apple continues to improve on the iPhone and I can’t wait to see what they roll out this year. You then have Nokia and their N series mobile web phones and Motorola gets in the mix with the Droid.

And this is only the beginning. Again what the consumer is going to get hit over the head with is not how great the call reception is, it’s going to be about how cool it looks and how fast it loads mobile web pages.

Of course all of this is being and will continue to be driven by the media. Whether through advertisements like AT&T and Verizon, or through TV shows were more and more shows feature web enabled phones, or through every TV News, Show, Reality TV, etc ending with Twitter, Facebook, Websites, or some other mobile way you can interact with their product or show.

It’s all about connecting, and this year it will be about connecting via the mobile web.

Of course this is my prediction, which means absolutely nothing, making it all the more fun to predict what I think this year will bring. 🙂 (But I don’t think I was to far off in ’07, ’08 or ’09)

What does all this mean for education? It means were probably about two or three years out before every one of our students is coming to school with the entire web in their pockets. They’ll all be upgrading over the next two to three years as their contracts run out and the service providers allow them to upgrade. With new mobile web phones at the $99 price now in two or three years we’ll see them even lower and they just will be what we expect.

In the mean time lets work on getting every student in every school a laptop which I still believe should be our ultimate goal. Giving every student the power to access information as they learn is what learning is all about!

Bring on 2010!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


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  3. Jeff,

    As you correctly (I think) pointed out the initial cost of ownership for web-enabled phones is sure to drop throughout the year. The problem for folks such as myself in rural areas is that the 3G infrastructure is not in place to support reliable web browsing. Furthermore, cell phone providers don’t seem terribly interested in improving the 3G experience for those of us rural areas. The cost of ownership for a 3G enabled phone is substantially higher than a standard voice plan (in my case it would be $2000 more annually).

    Poor coverage combined with high costs of ownership makes a product like the iPod Touch or the Android powered tablets unveiled at CES a much better choice for people in my situation. The question then is do should schools provide highly mobile tablet devices (iPod Touch) or netbooks? Either way, without proper professional development schools will not leverage the devices for learning. How do we get schools to leverage mobile web access for enhanced learning experiences for our students?


    • Great point Richard,

      I was thinking about this as I watched the AT&T commercial that talks about “We cover 240 million people” or some number like that. That’s still 60 million or so people that they don’t cover and probably don’t plan too. The rural areas of the states I think will continue to struggle as in a capitalistic society there is not enough money in it for the companies to connect those that are rural. Until the US like other nations like South Korea make Internet access a utility instead of a privilege the rural communities will continue, I’m afraid, to suffer.

      That being said, all these new mobile devices do connect via WiFi and I could see that being the way rural communities go to help people connect on their mobile devices? When everyone has one and everyone wants to use it, and expects to be able to connect I also thing that will put pressure on companies to get more people connected some how.

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