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Importance of Mobile Phones in the 21st Century


September 06, 2018 | 4 min read |

Matthew Sherlock, Ex Libris


Why is mobile important? This might be a strange question coming from someone responsible for strategy for a  library mobile app platform, but it is something I ask myself all the time.


I think this is a fundamental question to ask when looking at ways to enhance and expand campusM, because it helps us understand exactly what people use their smartphones for and how they are using them. Recently Ofcom produced their Communications Market Report, which analyzes different aspects of communications including telecoms, TV, radio, and even the postal service. This report highlighted that for the first time, people are using their phones less for actually making calls than for other functions. SMS messaging is also in fast decline.


Do you remember when that was all you could do on a mobile phone? If you were lucky you might also be able to play Snake, but for the most part you were making calls and sending texts. Now SMS has been superseded by widespread instant messaging apps, with WhatsApp alone reporting 60 billion messages sent per day in Q4 of 2017.


But even as these “traditional” phone uses have declined, the importance people associate with their device has increased. 4 out of 5 consumers have a smartphone, and 6 in 10 say that they couldn’t live without it. In 25-34 year-olds, this figure rises to 78%. We now spend 24 hours a week online, and 62% of that time is via a smartphone. A Deloitte study shows that in the US, consumers are checking their phone almost 50 times a day.


So we return to the question – why are these mobile devices important?


The reality is that there is no one answer. Due to the personal nature of mobile devices, a smartphone means different things to different people. Here are some of the overarching features and benefits that led Deloitte to state that “no other device has had the same commercial and societal impact as the smartphone”:


Connectivity – By connectivity, I don’t just mean making it easy to keep in touch with friends, family and society as a whole, but rather a deeper level of connection. Systems and services that interact and interoperate with each other are available at any time, with the mobile phone acting as the interface and bringing these myriad services together to make daily life easier.


User-Centric – For many people, their phone is an extension of who they are. It is personalized to their specific needs: the apps they use and the preferences they have set up reflect what they need to do. No two phones are alike, and for the user a mobile device offers a level of individual personalization that has never been seen before.


Always on, always there – In a society where we are expected to be available at any time, the smartphone enables us to do almost anything from almost anywhere. The proliferation of apps, increased data bundles, and enhanced 4G networks (with 5G just around the corner) means we can work and play on the go.


Looking towards the future, it is probable that our love affair with smartphones will continue. But I also expect it to evolve. As interactive bots, machine learning, and augmented and virtual reality develop, the lines between the real and digital worlds may blur, and I can see that we will become even more reliant on our phones. They will act increasingly as a gateway not just to services and information, but into the wider world around us.


At campusM we are constantly looking at how mobile technology can help our customers deliver transformative experiences for their users, how it can evolve services, and and how it can open up new interactions and new ways of doing business.


The future is bright, the future is mobile!


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