How to think about mobile

Edited excerpt from Forget about the mobile internet by Benedict Evans:

For as long as the idea of the ‘mobile internet’ has been around, we’ve thought of it as a cut-down subset of the ‘real’ Internet. First, the phones themselves could only do a little bit of the internet. Second, and partly as a result of these limitations, our mental model of how and where you used ‘mobile’ was that it fitted into specific, occasional places and times where you were walking or waiting or needed a single piece of information and didn’t have a PC. That in turn shaped how people thought about their ‘mobile’ site – that you needed to think of ‘mobile use cases’ and provide only a little slice of your proposition.

I’d suggest it’s time to invert that. Mobile today does not mean ‘when you’re mobile’. It means ubiquity — universal access to the internet for anyone at any time. People use their smartphones all the time, very often when there’s a PC in the same building as them or the same room, or on the sofa next to them.

Mobile is a universal product in a way that the PC never was. Smartphones themselves are much richer, more sophisticated and powerful internet platforms than the PC web browser. What happens when almost everyone on earth has a pocket supercomputer connected to the internet? It’s not a subset of the internet – it IS the internet.

This is why thinking about ‘mobile’ as another bullet point next to ‘SEO’ misses the point: mobile becomes the platform, and it’s a much richer and more powerful one.

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