So much has happened within the industry during the last 12 months, but as 2011 draws to a close, what has the mobile business really changed for its end users?
Those who relish visual clarity were rewarded by Samsung, whose 1280 x 720 pixel screen on the Nexus Prime astounded users.
Parents realised they could outsource significant parts of their child’s upbringing to the iPad and iPhone from an early age. Manufacturers responded by providing fluffy toy cases to ensure the dream didn’t end in cracked screens.
It became easier than ever to connect the world to the web and the web to the world. Concepts like Twine are exciting and will cause significant change.
Users lost their first digital hero. RIP Steve Jobs.
Customers sensibly ignored glassless 3D screens, realising what manufacturers should have seen for themselves: without a corresponding 3D input method, 3D output is a poor experience.
Industry insiders tired of hearing about Angry Birds, arguably the first blockbuster brand to emerge from mobile content, but end users continued to show enthusiasm not seen since the nice folks in Espoo made a line move around the screen and called it ‘Snake‘.
E-books finally struck a chord with users, such that by May 2011 Amazon was selling 105 e-books for every 100 physical books.
Apple’s Siri reminded everyone its good to talk. At least, it is if you live in the US and have network coverage. The rest of the world will continue to be misunderstood for a while longer.
HP spent many billions of dollars to buy and kill Palm, resurrect it as WebOS, launch only the TouchPad as half of its integrated tablet and phone offering, discontinue the product after 8 weeks, sell out the remaining stock in a 2 day ‘bargain of the year’ 99 dollar promotion and finally release the code to wander the web as a lonely open source project. Oh, and then continue to quietly issue WebOS software updates when no one is looking. Fact is stranger than fiction.
Square did what years of industry consortia and hefty corporate marketing budgets could not: improved the payment experience. A combination of location sensing and face-to-face customer relations made it possible to buy a coffee without taking out your wallet or your phone. The darling of the buzz words – NFC – meanwhile made it possible for users to touch their phones to a speaker and hear music. Nokia’s Play 360 was particularly elegant.
That would be the same Nokia which, after years of trying, finally finessed the Symbian OS into usable form: Belle, only to tell customers to forget her in favour of its new Windows Phone products. A similar tease was enacted with the Meego-powered N9, which showed glimpses of design genius and commercial madness in equal measure.
Meanwhile, customers continued to vote with their feet: Apple’s 2.5 year old iPhone 3GS outsold Nokia’s new Lumia 800 Windows Phone 18 to 1 in the UK during the month of November.
Merry Christmas, see you next year!