Some would say that it's already been - during the heady days of GSM Data and WAP, some would say it stalled when European clients pulled all funding from mobile internet apps in the post-dot-com-crash GPRS days, some would say that with the advent of the iPhone we're there in all it's shiny-coverflow-enabled-finger-waggling-goodness.
It seems like every second person is now weilding some kind of internet enabled device and in Europe and the US the penetration is even higher than Oz although we are racing for a frontline position showing that reasonable access is more important than either coverage or cost.
Half way through 2009 it's interesting to look at some of the predictions for this year - particularly where mobile is concerned and take a quick stock.
The big 3 (Apple, MS, RIM) of last year are now well and truly the big 6 with highly competitive offerings from Android who we all knew had aspirations, the re-emergence of Palm with a life-recharging elixr known as Pre and of course Nokia firmly touting its Maemo platform that's been in development for many years and is arguably the most stable and feature rich of all.
Costs for data access across the globe are plummeting with Vodafone in the UK offering the first truly unlimited data packages on phones, showing we live in a commodity market that is almost free. EU laws limiting the charges for call and data roaming will see uptake rise as people start using their phones across countries as well.
Applications obviously make up a huge part of what our mobile experiences are like and I think if anything 2009 will go down in history as the year of the widget or micro app. Whilst iPhone still only supports Objective-C and Cocoa and their iron control is starting to hinder their progress on this front there are enough people keen to try and make a buck that the ecosystem around applications is phenomenal with over 50,000 available at last count.
Nokia, MS, RIM and Palm all have app stores however these are fledgling compared to Apple's and of all the other players Android is the only one that can be considered a contender with approaching 20,000 apps available, the vast majority of which are free. Android has a very hands off approach to this so its interesting to see what makes it through compared to Apple's more militant approach. Being Java based is also helping Android be the largest growing development community too as it's super quick to get up and running.
So where will we be in another 6 months? Will we look back and think 2009 is where it all started?
I think it's a little premature. We are really at the start right now. Much of what we are doing on phones right now isn't much more than we were doing 5-6 years ago just with a bigger screen and prettier graphics.
My money's on 2010 when we see a real rise of Augmented reality applications hit the phones. This is the area that will truly show what carrying the entire Internet around in your pocket can do and has been the spur for this part of computer science this year where it had languished for over a decade.
When my phone can alert me when my friends are nearby, interact with environmental sensors, buzz me when a store within 500m is having a sale on an item I'd previously shown interest in, automatically adjust its settings dependent on where I am and the privacy level I want to adopt and filter all of the information on the Internet into a 3 inch screen in a way that is contextual and meaningful then I think we'll consider the Golden Age has started.
Source for citation: ajfisher.me/2009/07/21/the-golden-age-of-mobile-soon-maybe.