The World’s Going Mobile. How About You?

Over here in ITD, we love to give workshops. One of them is on tablets and e-readers. In case, some thought that the subject wasn’t that big of a deal, they might not have noticed what has been going on this fall. No worries though. We’ve got it summarized for you in this handy post.

September has produced some significant changes in mobile technology both for apps and devices, but especially in the device market where it seems the number of consumers may potentially increase and vary. At the very beginning of October, comScore Data Mine reported that our use of mobile technology has doubled this past year alone. What will it be next year? As Amazon expanded its market into the high end devices and it is projected that later this fall, Apple will expand with lower tablet prices with the much-anticipated iPad mini. In the meantime, students in India are being introduced to a new $35 tablet that could help push the entire world into being technologically mobile.

CNET’s Jay Greene pointed out that the Kindle Fire finally put Amazon in the position of competition with Apple’s iPad and has done so with the expectation that the market can accommodate another high end device. It is unfair to compare the two devices because Amazon and Apple’s goals are very different, at least at this point. Nevertheless, CNET and Tech Crunch both could not resist the temptation. Eric Franklin, also from CNET, summarized that the main difference between the two is that, “[t]he iPad is a “does everything” tablet, while the Fire HD remains focused on media consumption.” As one can see from his series of casual experiments, the Fire is superior to the iPad when it comes to streaming videos and music. At least, it is for now. The Kindle Fire still has a some way to go until it becomes actually comparable to the iPad.

As far as consumers are concerned though Tech Crunch’s Romain Dillet explains, “People won’t buy Amazon devices because they like the operating system or the hardware. They will buy an Amazon device because they find it so much easier to watch movies or read books using Amazon’s content platform.” There are still some issues  Dillet points out that Amazon will have to watch. The company needs to continue keeping the hardware on the same level as similar tablets and e-readers while preserving its lower prices. Adding the consideration that Dillet mentions that consumers have expressed some complaints in the past about ads on Kindle, Amazon has a complex formula to work with to be successful.  It depends a lot on the user whether this update was particularly significant. It was enough though to distract the Internet media for a while until Apple came out with the iPhone 5 and new rumors of the iPad mini came up. In any case, there is now more competition in the high-end tablet/e-reader world that Apple and others will have to respond to and it will have to be seen if that will happen anytime soon.

This fall it seems that there are others who are conversely reaching to lower tablet prices as Amazon works its way up. Even Apple is potentially exploring that route. The upcoming iPad 4 may or may not introduce anything notable, but the iPad mini will expand Apple’s consumer pool with an expected price of about $299, which will make it competitive with the lower end tablet world as CNET’s Scott Stein predicts. Part of the reasoning he gives for why the iPad mini will be so cheap is that it would place it directly in competition with Nexus and Kindle, it will have similar features than the larger iPad such as a 1,024×768-pixel resolution as seen in the iPad 2, and it will likely offer less storage. Again, though this is all speculation and the actual outcome will be hopefully be seen later this fall.

There are other developers who, it is certain, are working to bring mobile tablet technology to the greater masses. Gregory Ferenstein from Tech Crunch introduced the new Aakash UbiSlate 7Ci from Datawind, a device that will hopefully bridge the financial divide in India’s education system to bridge technology resources to all students regardless of regional and economic status. The WiFi-equipped device costs $35 in India with an optional cellular Internet package of $2 a month for 2GB of data. It comes in the middle of a current struggle to makes technology more available to the global student population. Though studies prove that students perform better when technological resources are available to them, many of the South American populations that MIT’s One Laptop Per Child program served were unprepared for the local knowledge and maintenance needed to help students use their technology effectively and the program has suffered for it. Datawind is hoping to avoid any failure like that especially because they themselves experienced it with the first Aakash model because it had a poorly designed structure for the rough rural conditions and a low battery life. It will be a matter of execution of good devices and good deployment to make Datawind successful. The development of devices to suit almost every user’s needs is making it apparent that the abilities of mobile technology are being perceived as increasingly necessary for human development and living.

September and the rest of the fall season is showing that the world is becoming a technologically mobile one, with an emphasis on the entire world. Companies are diversifying their consumer base by diversifying what they can offer. It may be reasonable to say that the way the world population textually communicates will become more mobile in the near future and this will affect professions that deal with information organization and access. Already, the Champaign Public Library and the Urbana Public Library have collections of digital materials that a parton can access using their tablet, e-reader, or smart phone. With those same devices a patron can also check out physical materials right as they take the book off of the shelf. In what exact way this will happen is hard to predict. We can look to current mobile technology services in updated libraries like these and expect expansion. Much of what will be offered will depend on what kind of device becomes the standard and knowing that will likely become apparent in the near future.

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