I remember my first internet-capable cell phone like it was yesterday -- the sheer WAPpiness of it, the text-based pages, the minutes it would take to load on my teeny weeny display. No wonder there's so much buzz around smartphones these days. As connection speeds and networks improve and more devices debut with full HTML browsers, the demand for a robust, mobile online-cruising experience is at an all-time high.
But if you think this trend is nearing its peak, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project just released "Future of the Internet III," a report that asserts mobile devices will be the main way people will access the Internet in 12 years. The study, which surveyed close to 600 Internet experts, explained that portability and affordability will put cell phones ahead of desktops and even laptops by the year 2020.
In the report, market database Wireless Intelligence said there are about 4 billion cell phones circulating worldwide, which is enough for about two thirds of the human population. Of those, Web-capable handsets only make up 15 percent. Why so low? Thank high costs, competing standards, and insufficient infrastructure for keeping these numbers at bay. (Who doesn't recognize that smartphones are often expensive, come in a baffling array of choices, and doesn't always provide stable performance?)
But the experts surveyed said that there will be universal standards in place that allow consistent connection to the Internet. Convergence will also be key, as mobile phones will look and act even more like computers. By 2020, cell phones and laptops will be virtually indistinguishable.
By then, someone will HAVE to have figured out how to cram a big touchscreen, a user-friendly QWERTY keyboard and powerful OS and apps into a sleek little compact gadget (without having to resort to this).
To read more about the Pew report, check out MediaPost's coverage here.