There have been plenty of milestones in the astonishing roll-out of mobile connectivity around the world – but today marks a new one: the first laser surgery performed entirely with a mobile phone, fitted with a clip-on laser and specialist software.
It’s hardly appropriate to call them “phones” any more. Mobile devices have become an absolutely integral part of the way we live, work and play – integral to the extent that commercial implants of mobile devices into our bodies are now commonplace; it’s 10 years ago that the first prototype ‘cell phone in a tooth’ was developed, and five years since the first Japanese teenager had a phone implanted in her brain!
Some people say this is the start of a new human species – ‘Homo Mobilis’.
The first wave of connectivity was simply connecting billions of people – rolling out mobile devices to every corner of the world. We’re now sitting at around 95% penetration. That’s more than 6.6 billion people using a mobile phone.
The ‘app economy’ was the second wave; the idea that anyone, anywhere could develop an application to run on the mobile platform. And millions of people did just that; transforming the software business back into a cottage industry of stand-alone developers able to sell, or offer free of charge, their brilliant ideas over a common platform, to a market-space of billions.
Indeed, the ‘free-to-fee’ market – in which players build a market by giving away commodity applications free, and then identify value-adds for which they can charge – has become an established business model, disrupting dozens of traditional industries who cling hopelessly to the past and simply fail to understand the realities of a globally networked world.
Mobile connectivity now drives virtually every market in the world – from agriculture and food to retail to entertainment to high-end financial services.
It has even transformed the way societies operate; politicians in every corner of the globe are slowly, and often painfully, realizing that transparency rules the day, and that connectivity has shifted power into the hands of globally connected individuals.