What’s had the biggest impact on mobile? All you can eat data!

I know it’s been a while but, after reading Ewan’s post about mobile impact, I decided to write in…

Dear Ewan,

I too read the network impact blog post from Pankaj Schroff and I too wondered at what mine would be. My response was instantaneous, however I was utterly stunned to discover that both your [great] post – as well as that of Trish Burgess-Curran – had missed it!

Admittedly, the Tellabs blog post does make one wonder how quickly technology moves and indeed ‘How did we get here?’ The 1985 science fiction classic ‘Eonby Greg Bear, is set in 2005 and the main protagonists are depicted as using ‘slates’ that – funnily enough – appear to be iPads in all but name. Amazing really that the author was only five years out with his prediction.

But, in my opinion, it is not the iPad that has the biggest impact on the mobile industry, nor is ‘instant email’.

Back in May, Marek Pawlowski invited me along to speak at the eternally interesting MEX conference. My subject? Inspiring new forms of creative expression through mobile devices. I have a further blog post to write about this on its own (and you can read the full presentation over on slideshare) however, one of the points that I had to make absolutely crystal clear when discussing the iPhone’s prevalence amongst the Flickr device elite is the advent of the ALL YOU CAN EAT* DATA PLAN.

As much as I am loathe to admit it, Apple’s insistence on the mandatory data plan shipping policy for the iPhone signalled a HUGE sea-change in the way that we all consume data.

You can merge as much technology as you like, you can suck down as many emails as you want and you can spurt location-based services from every possible application – but none of this would be possible without the now universally accepted (and expected) mobile data plan.

That, without doubt, is what has had the most impact on our industry to date and I would be hard-pressed to find an argument stronger.

App this. Mobile web that. We couldn’t do any of it without affordable data.


* Clearly ‘all you can eat’ doesn’t quite cover it, but you get my point. Ben Smith has the latest on that.

[Editor’s note: James is Marketing Director of the social media expert agency, 1000heads. Nice to see you back James! – Ewan]

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