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In a story everyone could enjoy, Heineken announced the creation of special beer bottles that are connected devices. That story raises a great point…why should humans ‘carry’ a single mobile device when everything we come into contact with can be the point of interaction? If we think about it, the idea that our desktop, tablet, laptop or phone are our only views to the connected world is highly inefficient and maybe silly…each person has to own and carry a device whether they’re using in a given moment or not.
While this is great for Best Buy and Apple, it concentrates enormous power (distribution, design and more) in the hands of what should be simply an interface. If we break that paradigm, we can disintermediate the limited number of manufacturers and allow the consumer and the brand to talk with each other directly through any and all devices.
Take a clothing retailer like Nordstrom, where the ‘virtual mannequin’ is an excellent way to build past purchases into a visual display that can be updated with consumer choices and suggested ‘add ons’ like scarves, shoes, or just about anything. It doesn’t work well on an iPhone but if the store offered the right-sized devices that allowed for social conversation, search, display and purchase in one place, the need to use the wrong form factor disappears. The clienteling possibilities are enormous.
Everything is a device
If this sounds far off, consider that GM today announced 4G LTE connectivity in all of its US vehicles starting next year…it’s here and it will accelerate.
AT&T will provide an in-vehicle connection for GM subsidiary OnStar’s safety and security services and provide services such as streaming audio, Internet, application downloads, streaming video for back-seat passengers and enabling the in-vehicle Wi-Fi hot spot and voice calling. Customers won’t need a smartphone or table to use the Internet services.
You can argue that cars are a unique opportunity, but are they? How many ‘things’ in your life do you use for periods at a time that would benefit from being a mobile device? Your purse? Absolutely. Your toolbox? Why not? Your backpack? Easy one. Your sunglasses? Google is almost there with that one, needing just some polarized lenses to add to Google Glass.
Era of convenience
The biggest question will be where it makes sense for a ‘thing’ to be a mobile device. The answer has to be in part, “Wherever the ‘thing’ is more conveniently used, hands-free, than the traditional devices.” I can see that being many, many things. As the price of the components of mobile come down and this surges forward, I’d rather be Foxconn than Apple.