The mobile gap – between promise and reality

“When the promise was broken I cashed in a few of my dreams”
– The Promise, Bruce Springsteen

It’s hard to not be enthusiastic about the promise of mobile. On one hand it has the power to bring unsuspecting and mighty companies to their knees and on the other it gives hope to the poorest of the poor. What other technology has the potential to touch so many people in so many locales and do so much good?

I may be blinded by this industry but when I sat through GigaOm’s Mobilize I saw the potential that others see in this industry and it is astounding. This was the closest event I could think of to a full on, kumbaya singing love in about the beauty of mobile. Big thinkers thinking big thoughts about what the impact these little devices are and will be having on how we shop, pay, bank and dry our hair. It was so energizing.

So energizing but so confounding.

There is such a difference between what we in the industry talk about and what is actually going on in practice. If you were at Mobilize you would have thought the vast majority of the population were already paying for everything through our phones, that companies were making great use of location to drive customers into their stores or that every app was successful and has had millions of downloads.

This simply isn’t true. Yet.

The same week I sat mesmerized at Mobilize I had the great pleasure of speaking at MRecruiting Camp – exactly what it sounds like – a conference focused on using mobile in recruiting efforts. This is where reality set in. Mobile is a relative unknown to most and using it to help a business is something that is very early in its lifeline.

This is the great mobile gap – the difference between its potential and what is actually being done today. The promise vs the reality. And nowhere was it more prominent than the difference between the two events.

I love thinking about what we can do when there is truly no tether – things we haven’t even scraped the surface of. I’m often guilty of looking at poor QR code implementations with the same scorn as a bad bordeaux might offend a sophisticated palette. This is my plight. I love the initiative that these companies are undertaking but it is very clear we have a long way to go before the mobile gap closes.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

  • I’m in total agreement, Rob. The big brands are the ones that have been experimenting the last few years and now implementing solutions that impact their business. 

    For everyone else, they are jumping into the stream of mobile and see all the tablet and app headlines. They believe THAT is where they must start which for many businesses, its the wrong place. 

    Any business that doesn’t fully understand their customer and their mobile usage is going to start down the wrong path, period. 

    Recruiting companies are just hopping on this train (I have a client in this space) but like you mention most are JUST getting started considering mobile which means tons of opportunity still. 

    It’s up to us (and agencies) to make sure execute on the reality while educating the clients on the future promise and potential. 

    Great post and something I’ve definitely been thinking about a lot. 

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