The Year of Mobile is upon us – 2008

The Year of Mobile is upon us  – 2009

The Year of Mobile is upon us – 2010


You get the picture.

The Year of Mobile has been upon us every year for what feels like a decade. It always feel like a headline without a story whenever anyone talks about the year of anything. The Year of stories about mobile phones have been tedious.

My first mobile phone was my dad’s, lost promptly at a School sports day. The first phone I owned was the Nokia 3210. Less of a brick, but it had the wonderful game “Snakes” on it, in which you had to guide a snake around the screen without banging into itself. It’s about as advanced as it sounds, but strangely compelling at the time. It also had Mission Impossible as the ringtone, in an age where a ringtone was a strange metallic sounding noise, that “advanced” phones allowed you to create yourself (or buy at an exorbitant rate).

My first smartphone was the G1, given as a Xmas present to Google employees. It resembled the current phones, just clunkier and slower. It slid out to reveal a Qwery keyboard. It was good for the time.

Since the iPhone and its Android predecessors, phones have become increasingly important to the world. It is definitively important to the developing world, where it is enabling payment systems and communication in the absence of underground cabling. In the developed world it is making our lives easier.

However, I’m not sure there was ever the clamour for the year of TV for a decade, or the year of radio. Perhaps, in the age of 24 hour news and the internet, writers just feel the need to fill their time, so churn out the same stories each year in the same way that poor teachers do.

Particularly grandiose statements were claimed for mobile phones about how everyone was going to be making all their purchases on them as desktop computers were replaced. It was always hard to credit those claims too much. After all a small screen can only show so much, and browsing multiple websites on a screen that small is never going to be totally pleasant. Instead it has become an addition to the ways people can purchase, especially for impulse items, or for browsing when on the move.

Many writers have tried to sneak tablets into the definition of mobile, therefore validating their previous claims of mobile dominance. Tablets are closer to desktops in behaviour than smartphones. All the data released by Google backs this up and it is important not to lose sight of this distinction when planning website and marketing strategies. When I refer to mobile, I never include tablets within the definition.

There will never be a year of mobile. It is an increasingly useful addition to our lives, and our marketing strategies, and will continue to be so. However, I will leave that phrase to those with too little or too much to say.