Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who's Really Shaping Mobile Habitus

For those of you interested in what seems to be an immanent and very real emergence of mobile ubiquitous computing via handheld devices there is interesting news out this week on three fronts. Google announced that its much anticipated Android OS has been pushed back to a late 2008 release; my bet, expect it late rather than early fourth quarter. I was fired up after reading the recent Wired article on Android and slightly disappointed to hear of the push back. It represents the spirit of the mobile web that speaks to me most. Also, Research In Motion —maker of Blackberry handheld devices—announced earnings Wednesday and (possibly surprisingly) lowered guidance for next quarter and intimated a slower remainder of the year compared to recent analyst expectations. This summer Research In Motion will start selling its first major new BlackBerry model in more than a year—the Bold. Lastly, Apple’s 3G iPhone continues to impress me on features and price (a mere $199) AND by all accounts (though delayed) iPhone 2.0 appears to be on track to actually be released by the end of the second week in July. The mobile web apps have sparked a ton of interests and seem to have heft. Additionally, Apple's sales forecasts look strong across the board.

What all of this means, at least to me, is that Apple's hegemony grew a lot this week and its users will continue to define the future spaces of mobile computing. While not perfect in its current manifestation or ideology, there is actually a product out there which means there are real users right now. The information-related and literacy behaviors we see (and will see) around the iPhone will drive the preferences and expectations of users in the coming months and years. The iPhone has already severely impacted RIM’s product offerings, competitiveness, and user base. We’ve all got utopian visions as far as the mobile web is concerned and my take is that if one wants to figure out how to pursue such visions, take a critical look at the socialization and habitus being fostered by Apple right now. It’s a materiality/virtuality dialectic that will prove useful when sorting out hype and fast capitalist rhetoric of/for products that haven’t materialized as of yet. With technology, hype will cloud observations of what's "really" going down...Apple seems to matter more, especially in light of this week's events.

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