Friday, December 26, 2014

Mobile Apps and the Future of Digital Clutter

There was a time eons ago when we made life-long decisions about the services we purchased.  I know, I'm an antique, but they provide an apt comparison for the thousands of services that have come available for mobile device owners.

We'd call the dairy and they would provide delivery service right to our door in the early hours of the morning so that our fresh milk was available just in time for breakfast.  It was the same for ice in many communities as well back then.

Today most of us pick up milk at the grocery or convenience store and, fortunately for most, we have electricity to power our refrigerators so there's no need for ice to chill the icebox.  These services have become obsolete, but it took decades.

Hang on, I'm going somewhere with this.

A practical example of mobile services is the activity monitoring bracelets that are now available.  Placed on your wrist, they collect data about your activities, movement, heart rate, etc. , collect it and then summarize it on your smartphone, tablet, or computer so that you can plan and potentially modify your activity to suit a wellness goal or an order from your health care provider.

The important fact is that most, if not all of these services are part of an array of free or inexpensive apps that reside on your mobile device.  When you upgrade, change carriers, change device types, or stop paying for the service - heaven forbid but it happens a lot - your access to the service changes or ceases completely.  But soon you are back on track with a new one, from a different vendor offering "better" analysis, faster response, or a cheaper price.  And, the former data you collected is now gone - somewhere - and is no longer available to you.

Unlike the milk or ice, there are now hundreds of suppliers, most of whom start-up, provide services for a year or two  and then disappear with the arrival of each new generation of mobile device.

What we're looking for is an image of the future.  Will these services - that seem so unique and valuable today - continue or will a few remain to become mainstays of our health or happiness.  Or will they become obsolete in a matter of months or a couple of years.  By then we'll be left with tons of digital clutter or mobile devices with pages of little app icons that we no longer use or need.

See:  Smartphone As Screwdriver

Frankly, I would like to be able to have a select few that I can depend upon for years to come, regardless of the device, carrier, or supplier.

Thanks to the folks at Transition IT
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