In just 2 years, mobile web enabled devices have taken off. This article examines three trends impacting mobile web enabled devices: applications, devices, and networks.
Applications – When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone would support applications authored for the web as well as applications authored for Apple’s operating system. Apple provided an application authoring environment, established an application testing and release process, and created the App Store to distribute applications and provide revenue to application authors. There are currently over 213,000 applications available for download, with over 41,000 unique publishers. The number of available applications is growing by over 1,000 per day. The primary competitor to the iPhone application environment is Android, an operating system created by Google. Android already has 80,000 applications and is growing by approximately 600 applications per day. The Android operating system can run on devices from many different manufacturers, and is currently outselling the iPhone, though iPhone has a head start and is holding a 46% market share as compared to Android’s 25% market share. The Palm and BlackBerry application environments feature a much lower number of applications, but are still important due to the large number of deployed devices.
Networks – 2G (digital) service was introduced in 1992. 3G service was introduced in 2002, increasing the speed to 200 Kbps, which was barely fast enough for text and email. Since then, LTE and Mobile WiMAX increased the downstream speed to 100 Mbps and 128 Mbps respectively. Now 4G is here, with speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps depending on how much the mobile device is moving, and with smooth handoff among network connections to ensure quality of service.
Devices - In the early days of mobile computing (phones, PDAs, laptops), mobile and connected were distinct concepts that could not be reconciled due to the lack of a high speed mobile network. When WiFi (IEEE 802.11) was introduced, network connectivity was possible when in the range of a WiFi hotspot, so network access cards were added to laptops to enable limited mobility. It was not long until WiFi access was integrated into all new laptops. Mobile carriers provide network access cards for laptops as well, using the 3G network to obtain decent connection speeds. Mobile phones have changed significantly in the past three years, with various forms of touch screens on the market today. As the network speed has increased, the usefulness of mobile phones for purposes other than making phone calls has become more and more apparent. The newest trend is towards smaller laptops and tablet devices. In May 2010, Apple released the iPad, which features a nearly full size touch screen keyboard that facilitates much faster data entry than the small keyboard of mobile phones. Motorola is expected to release an Android tablet in late 2010 as well.
The trends in applications, networks, and devices all point to a common theme. Mobile computing has arrived. As a pastor, staff member, or volunteer at a church, you may have already embraced mobile computing for simple functions such as calendar, task list, banking, etc. Now is the time to embrace mobile computing for managing the data your church needs to effectively reach people and minister to them as they grow in the faith. With Shining Light Technologies software, you can take attendance on your mobile device, track visitation results on your mobile device, look up a person in the church directory, and much more. Why stay tethered to a computer at the church when you can access and modify your data from anywhere?