REFLECTIONS OF THE MOBILE WORLD IN COLOMBIA 4.0

Manual from Columbia

On Tuesday, September 5th, 2017, I got an invitation from Alejandro Delgado to participate in Colombia 4.0, an event organized by Colombia’s Ministry of Technology MinTIC that gathers talent from all around the globe to share their knowledge on what’s new or trendy in the IT | Creative | Digital industry.

The event offers various interesting tracks: Entrepreneurship, Video Games, Animation, Media, Web, Mobile, and others. Alejandro was looking for a keynote speaker for the Mobile track. Apparently, a quick search for top talent in the mobile world in Colombia shows my portfolio as a result. The fun part was that I could choose any subject I want to share with the attendees. Tough choice.

Most of my career has been in software engineering and entrepreneurship. I have experienced every single role in the software development cycle, from manager to architect to developer to QA analyst. I have also experienced many software development methodologies from Rational to Waterfall to Lean to Agile to XP (even KISS which is one of my favorites). I knew that most of the attendees would be college students. I also check the profiles of the other speakers for the mobile track. All of them had technical backgrounds and their keynotes where not going to be developer centric. In my career I have noticed that most of the industries don’t get mobile at all; maybe this was an opportunity to give some insights to young and fresh minds.

My keynote was scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd, 2017 at 3 PM just before the final keynote and closure of the event. Attendees would be tired (it’s a 4-day event). My message would need to be simple and clear. I decided that I was going to share my journey through mobile; a causal nontechnical chat of what has happened so far.

I would like to thank my good friend Juan Alvarez for sharing this with me: David Phillips TED Talk How to avoid death by PowerPoint. I went to all of the mobile track keynotes and men… those slides were packed with information 🤯. I really wanted to go to the animation and videogame keynotes but I also wanted to avoid being repetitive to the attendees of the mobile track.

Most of the keynotes were in English. Colombia claims its citizens are bilingual which is entirely not true. Most of the attendees needed a translator. Maybe my keynote being in Spanish could be refreshing which was my intention all along.

To my surprise, that Saturday at 3 PM the room was almost empty. I would say less than 30 people showed up, but the show must go on. This is what I told them:


Visions and Reflections of the Mobile World

Living in Florida I got to experience hurricanes. A hurricane is born somewhere at sea, starts growing as it moves, destroys everything that crosses its path, and the final result is that has changed the lives of those who were affected by it. Tech trends behave like hurricanes; most of them start in a lab, they kept growing and moving around the world destroying anything that it can be replaced by it, and then they changed the lives of those who adopt such trend.

TECH TRENDS BEHAVE LIKE HURRICANES

We have seen such phenomenon with any major invention and its evolution through time. If we take the music industry as an example, we have seen trends such as vinyl, cassette tapes, cd’s, portable media players, and finally our phones. Allow me to offer another example using my own experience:

I started my B.S. in Computer Science in the year 2000. For the next 4 years, I was trained to code desktop applications using languages such as C or C++. One of the main challenges in coding was memory management.

When my internship in Almacenes Exito started in 2004; the first thing I notice was a transition from desktop applications to web applications. This time the challenge was not memory, it was bandwidth.

👨‍💻 for the next 4 years, Web applications were my new normal despite my training in desktop applications. I adjusted to a new technology that was trendy in software development. Then, a new trend was born.

The iPhone launched in 2007. Sometime later it introduced the AppStore where developers were able to code programs (now called apps) just like desktop applications. I began my training as an app developer and once again memory management was a challenge.

I was contacted by a company in 2011 to lead its mobile Web division. The company made lots of ads for mobile browsers of recognizable brands. I shift from app development to responsive web development with a focus on mobile first design. Mobile web offered new challenges.

🤳 from this point, my career has been helping companies to achieve great mobile experiences no matter if it’s a native app or a web app. I adjusted to a new trend and now I’m waiting for a new one to be born (spoilers ahead: AI).

Until now, native apps are not being buried by web apps, but there’s some theory about an upcoming APPOCALYPSE.

I DON’T THINK NATIVE APPS ARE GOING AWAY SOON

The Appocalypse is a term that has been around since 2012 where people tired of apps embrace the mobile Web since it is believed that web apps are as capable as native apps (remember the Facebook app?). But we should not forget about the 2 key players that can make such thing a reality: Apple and Google. It is true that some companies are ditching their apps and go Web-only (especially on the retail side) but they are a minority. As long as the BIG 2 control how their mobile OS work and set the limitations for their own browsers, then we are stuck with apps. An alternative would be something like this:

Apple and Google launch a new way to join their developer program, which is how you can get access to publish content on each store so people can find your product/service. This new program enables companies and developers to put their Website into the store, just like an app. Apple and Google will provide the wrapper which is controlled by each OS and offers the same utilities only native apps can use with no memory restrictions. Please keep in mind this is not the same as adding a shortcut to your home screen. Consumers will keep downloading apps as they normally do.

Responsive websites are the best option out there to target multiple interfaces with just one source, but they are limited by the OS browser. I don’t think native apps are going away soon, not until the gap between native and web is close, and there is no sign that this happening.

SPIDERMAN HAS A SMARTPHONE

There is no doubt that tech trends change us, and we need to consider who is going to use the products and services now and in the future. The grandfathers of tomorrow will know how to play video games and use their smartphones. The fathers of tomorrow will be tech-savvy; they will know how to use their phone in a way we don’t see right now.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981).
Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018).

I grew up watching a Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, a show where Spiderman without the use of any technology (besides his web slingers) was able to defeat his enemy with the help of his friends. But now, on Marvel’s Spider-Man airing on Disney XD, Spiderman has a smartphone; and is not the new iPhone X (with the notch), it is something so advance (probably made by Stark Industries) that the phones of today are completely rubbish. Mobility is running through the DNA of today’s kids. Laptops are obsolete, they have laptop/tablet hybrids. Credit cards are obsolete, they have Venmo. I will leave here this article from The Verge. The fact that a phone is getting near to how much a laptop cost is a sign that we need to pay attention to who’s the user of the future. Remember Samsung’s DEX?

Now I’m wondering about the new hurricane that is coming. Could it be AI, AR, or VR? My bet is on Machine Learning which is a step into AI. I’m keeping an eye on this one and you should too. I wouldn’t be surprised we are going to look at this dope in the upcoming years.

Johnny Mnemonic browse the internet in VR!

Takeaways

  • EVERYTHING IS A SPOILER
    Nowadays, we do not watch Apple or Google keynotes to get surprised. We watch them to confirm the leaks.
  • CONSUMER FIRST
    Research, analyze, test your users. Expect the unexpected. embrace what you might encounter
  • BE CAREFUL WITH THE WEB
    Every firmware update is making the mobile browser powerful. It is wise to un-dust your javascript book.
  • YOU DECIDE WHERE TO BE
    Whenever in the past, present or future technologies, you are the one who decides where you want to play.
  • NOT EVERYTHING IS MOBILE
    If the problem you want to solve does not use the unique capabilities of the phone, why bother building it as an app?
  • PLEASE, PROVE ME WRONG.
    The only way you are going to jump into this discussion is by staying up to date with tech trends. Learn, Adapt, Repeat.

Join the discussion!
Let’s talk about the future 😎

Manual from Columbia

Written by

I’m a computer science guy who felt in love with design currently living in Los Angeles, California.

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