Mobile technology that has impacted our lives


Jk_100pixWhen we write about mobile technology on jkOnTheRun we usually focus on the hardware or software gadgets that help us make the most of our time away from the desk.  Nothing wrong with that as it’s the fun side of mobile tech that most everyone appreciates.  Fred Wilson of the great blog "A VC" recently penned an article that takes a look at technology that has made him more productive while mobile and it is an eye opening account of technology that we normally don’t think of as "mobile tech" but he makes a good case to show it certainly is.

Fred points out that the technologies that have made the most impact on his mobile life are ATMs, EZPass, cellphone, and subscription music.  I couldn’t agree with Fred more, there is no doubt that the prevalence of ATM tellers that interoperate no matter which bank you use has impacted us all in a very positive way.  It no longer matters where we are or where our money is since we can walk up to any ATM machine and conduct our business.  We are all more mobile with this technology.  His look at the EZPass toll road system in New York is another excellent example of technology that makes us more mobile.  Here in Texas the system is called EZ-Tag but the technology is the same.  The ability to skip long lines at the toll plazas to drop coins in a cone by simply placing a small tag on the windshield of my car is a huge boon to me personally and certainly qualifies as effective mobile technology.

No one can argue with Fred about the impact cell phones have on our ability to be mobile, and the technology just keeps getting better as advances are made in this area.  If you did much business traveling in the not too distant era before mobile phones appeared you know how big an impact it has been to carry your own phone with you to stay in touch.  It no longer matters where we are to the person calling us on our cell phones.  Huge impact, no doubt.

Fred’s last technology he mentions is the most interesting one, subscription music.  I must admit this would not have occurred to me had I not read Fred’s post but I do believe he is right.  Say what you will about subscription music but the ability to experience new music and artists no matter where you are is pretty darn liberating.  Right now I am watching one of the weekend morning news shows and they have an artist performing as a guest who I have never heard before.  It was a simple matter to jump onto the Zune Marketplace and search for this artist, find the albums she has recorded and download the music onto my PC for syncing to my Zune player.  Pretty darn liberating and totally mobile because my physical location doesn’t matter as long as I have internet connectivity.  This is very insightful of Fred to pick this particular technology and I couldn’t agree more with his choice.

Fred’s musings aside, this look at mobile technology that has made a big impact on me personally has me thinking about other technologies that fit this bill.  There is no doubt to me that RIM’s BlackBerry created a very liberating technology with push email that has impacted more people globally than most any other technology.  It has a tremendous benefit to both businesses and individuals alike and I couldn’t imagine what my work life would be without push email.  It definitely deserves to be up there on the JK list.

Another technology that has provided a tremendous boon to my ability to be more mobile will come as no surprise.  For me, the ultra-portable computer has revolutionized my work and lifestyle over the past 3 years and has to be included in any list I make about effective mobile technology.  As an information worker, there is nothing more productive than the ability to access, manipulate, and share my information with others no matter where I am and with little concern about where the recipient might be.

The last piece of mobile technology that I would put on my list will certainly be the most controversial.  I believe that battery technology coupled with microprocessor technology has yielded  a huge benefit to my ability to be productive while mobile.  This is controversial as battery life is usually the biggest complaint that analysts have about mobile PCs and other gadgets but to me we have come a long way from just a few years ago.  While 3 hours of battery life might not be enough for some I remember what it was like before Lithium-ion batteries (or Lithium-polymer) started appearing in mobile devices, I remember all too well my first laptop computers that could barely eke out an hour without an electrical outlet.  I’ll take the 3+ hours of battery life any day of the week.  I include ultra-low voltage processors with battery technology because the two technologies combined are what brought us to where we are today.  We all hope to see some advancement in this area to get even better battery life but we’ve come a long way, baby.

Taking a look at technology that has impacted my ability to be more mobile has been a lot of fun and I thank Fred for jogging that process with his post.  What about it, what technology has provided a big impact on your ability to be mobile?



Figures that a venture capitalist would praise four technologies that make it easier for consumers to pay for services (read his originating post). Am I alone in not enjoying ATM fees, tolls, and roaming charges? And subscription music is just a legal, pay alternative to illegal, free file sharing. Not dismissing their convenience, but these technologies do more to improve the bottom line of businesses than our personal lives.

G. Scott

“Say what you will about subscription music but the ability to experience new music and artists no matter where you are is pretty darn liberating.”

Sounds like Radio to me. Paying a subscription isn’t new. It simply replaces the need for those subscriptions where they send you three new discs every month. I used to be on a new music subscription service where they sent you mix CDs of new music from various artists. It was the same service smaller radio stations would use to find new music to play; back when you could still survive as a small radio station.

I’m not discounting the niche it fills, but it isn’t really something new, just an electronic means for filling the same niche.

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