The mobile wave is coming.
The Mobile Wave
By Michael Saylor
If you're not ready to ride it, you'll be swept away by a tsunami of change that will fundamentally alter the world.
That's the theme of The Mobile Wave by software entrepreneur Michael Saylor. The book explores how mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads will change jobs, health care, banking, politics, law enforcement and much more.
Mobile computing, Saylor says, is a "tipping point technology" for the information revolution -- a revolution that began with writing on clay tablets, and continued through the invention of the printing press and computers.
Mobile will be "the catalyst that brings society the most dramatic changes of the Information Revolution," he writes.
Readers may take issue with some of Saylor's views on the benefits of mobile technology, but the visionary picture he paints of the future is captivating, informative and thought-provoking.
Consider what a trip to the doctor could mean. If you're feeling ill, Saylor says, you might be able to connect with a doctor in India via your mobile device. He or she could diagnose and treat you for a fraction of the cost of visiting a doctor in the U.S. -- maybe only $5 to $10.
Public school systems could be revitalized, he suggests. Municipalities could cut costs by laying off ineffective teachers. Poor performers could be replaced with online instructors from anywhere in the world for free or at low cost.
Downward pressure on prices would increase competition and be good for consumers, he argues. But, if you're a doctor who loses a practice or a teacher who loses a job, the benefits may be harder to appreciate.
That fact is not lost on Saylor. He predicts that as many as 10% of U.S. service sector workers -- roughly 12 million people -- could be laid off the next five years as a result of mobile efficiencies.
That could be "politically poisonous," he concedes. But he cites studies showing 2.6 jobs were created for every job eliminated by Internet efficiencies. If mobile follows the same pattern, he reasons, "mobile computing will be far more of a benefit, than a problem."
One obvious benefit is the shift in distribution of recorded music from physical CDs sold in stores to downloading music in digital form.
Turning physical goods into software "vapor" and distributing them on-demand to mobile devices is a good thing, he says, but again "good" is in the eye of the beholder.
Digital downloading has been great for Apple, which makes a fortune through its popular iTunes store. It's been great for consumers, who can buy only the songs they want.
But for the traditional music industry, the consequences have included losses in the billions and layoffs in the thousands. The same process is affecting other industries. Saylor devotes chapters to book publishing, movies, board games, photography and financial services.
Saylor explains how mobile technology is benefiting developing countries. In Kenya, a mobile payment system called M-Pesa enables commerce in remote areas that lack banks, ATMs, landline phones and Internet connections.
Saylor is no disinterested observer. His company, Microstrategy, provides data analysis and management for business and government, including data gathered via mobile applications.
The MIT-educated Saylor exhibits a deep knowledge of the mobile world, and gives readers a peek free of boring geek-speak.
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