[Myth] The Mobile Killer App Is ‘Killing Time’


The first significant mobile devices grew out of portable music and have evolved rapidly ever since, eventually converging with phones and computers in the smartphones we see today.

Just because people can consume media on smartphones does not mean that it is a key task. People expect media consumption to drive new technologies. It has been a key driver of technologies from portable cassette players and the Sony Walkman in 1979, through portable CD players, then MP3 players, then portable video players. After all, that’s where the big media companies make their money. More recently, these media capabilities merged with mobile phones and – even more recently, general-purpose computing capability.

A number of things have led to the myth that the ‘killer app’ for mobile is ‘killing time’. Media consumption is easy to observe. The smartphone application market is still immature, and is still dominated by media consumption applications and functionality. The myths about a single mobile context and about mobile users’ short attention spans have probably also contributed to this myth.

‘Killing time’ is at best a temporary ‘killer app’ for mobile, but is probably already a myth.

At best, the domination of small time-intervals by media consumption behaviour is a temporary phase, while our behaviour and expectations go through changes, supported by changes in technology. Eventually, mobile devices will be integrated into our ecology of devices, at work, at play, and everything in-between. We will discover that desktop applications are big, clunky monoliths, and that what we want to do can quite successfully be spread out over time, over places and over devices.

For example, we might dictate notes on a mobile device, arrange the structure of a presentation on a tablet, and format the final document on a desktop computer. And not sequentially, but intermingled.

As mobile devices become more and more integrated and more and more useful, ‘killing time’ will no longer be the mobile ‘killer app’.

Source: Neo Insight