Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Personal Disruption

At the risk of restating the obvious to some, I was sitting in an airport recently with my iPhone thinking about how it (and the original iPod Touch) have impacted my life, made it more interesting and positive and disrupted so many of my previous habits & processes.

I think back to late 2007 when I bought my first iPod Touch (I did not buy the original iPhone which debuted late June of that year).  Immediately I had the Internet in my pocket (whenever I had a wifi connection- which besides home & work, I sought out).  That was a huge deal as I now had mobility to access everything the Internet provides without a laptop, netbook, or tethered desktop.  The portability was huge!

I would read my email, news sites, blogs, listen to my music, podcasts, and recorded audio presentations.  My daily routine of walking our dogs now became a much more productive 20 minutes as I hopped from unprotected wifi connection to another accessed my neighbors' homes (interestingly, now they are all secured).    

I remember right after buying the device, being at the Virgin Megastore in Orlando looking at music and books and checking on Amazon if it had the same products at a lower price (it did!).  I read a couple of reviews of a book I was considering buying and ordered a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law from Amazon while in the store using their wifi connection.  

Isn't that absurd!?

That might have been my first realization of the disruption this device had the potential to create.  Today there are apps such as ShopSavvy which help me comparison shop by scanning the bar code of an item, in-store, with the built-in camera on the iPhone.  This either verifies I'm getting a good price or suggests I look elsewhere (both at a local bricks & mortar stores or online).

I waited until the iPhone 3GS came out to switch from a combination of my Blackberry & iPod Touch to one device that had what the two offered and more.  The phone & email capabilities of the Blackberry are legendary, but the AT&T 3G mobile broadband connectivity & the iPhone's features were another game changer for me.  Always-on broadband changed the PC and always-on mobility is probably several factors more powerful to me.

The disruption of this device makes what I thought the iPod Touch created look puny in comparison.  Here's a list of what the iPhone and its apps allow me to do that formerly I used another way, service or tool:

Service Formerly Now
RadioTerrestrial & SatellitePandora, Stitcher, Slacker, AOL Radio
TrafficRadio or TVReal time traffic on Google Maps &
PhotosMy small Canon cameraBuilt-in still camera
VideoFlip camera or larger JVCBuilt-in video camera
News InformationNewspaper, Radio, TV, OnlineBlogs, Twitter, Google Reader, Apps
WeatherTV, RadioLive local radar feed apps
TVBe in front of TV at the appointed time or remember to set DVRRemote scheduling of my TIVO
LocalLook it up in a directory (Yellow Pages)Yelp, Google, myriad of apps with maps, reviews, coupons
My timeStanding in lineRemote ordering such as Chipotle's app
TravelCall airline to get flight arrival informationAirline push notifications and FlightAware flight tracking app
ExerciseGuess at calories burned & progressApps such as Runkeeper keep track
MoviesReviews & showtimes in newspaper, online, MoviephoneApps such as RunPee (even tells you when you can leave the movie & what you missed if nature calls)
InvestingPhone, Desktop or LaptopVarious Investing apps & personal finance such as Mint

These are just a few of mine, but there are a myriad of other disruptive applications that each of us have found.  What are yours?

Some more important uses of the iPhone for me:

It has given me the capability to go to a trade show, take photos for the company e-newsletter and website that get published later in the day, record audio testimonials from customers, and demonstrate our web/mobile apps.

I was a late adopter to the iPhone Kindle app but have found myself unable to consider going on a trip without using it as my book reading app. Besides my music library, I have my bookshelf in my pocket available at a moment's notice.  

Speaking of moment's notice, I find myself accessing Google from my iPhone whenever a question comes up that we are looking for an answer. This has ranged from trivia questions sitting at a baseball game to using the Shazam app to get the name of a song playing in a restaurant.

Twitter use on the iPhone has been the subject of hundreds of thousands of blog posts, but suffice to say the real time nature of the service allows me to get news & information long before even radio, TV, or the traditional web can provide. Case in point is this past Saturday's Major League Baseball trading deadline.   Here in Tampa Bay, we were very interested in whether the Rays would trade for a player(s) that would help us make a run to the World Series.  By following the St. Petersburg Times baseball beat writer, I knew what had happened (or not) as soon as he shared it, which was pretty close to real time. By following the hashtag #Rays, I read other updated information on our trade progress.   Didn't need to watch the news or read the paper to get this information.

Did I need to know this in real time?   Well, the group I was with was interested and it was the subject of the conversation.  Why wonder?

I'll close this post with my favorite distruptive activity I use my iPhone for.  It disrupts the tradition of taking notes on a legal pad or notebook and more importantly, the human nature of forgetting things you want to remember or misplacing items you want to find later.   This disruption is called "Evernote".   
I keep all my notes in Evernote.  What was formerly scribbled on a legal pad that eventually got stored away in my credenza, rarely to see the light of day again, is no more. Even more amazing is the ability to capture visuals and text with the iPhone camera and have the Evernote technology pull out the text that is then completely searchable.   My thoughts and ideas also end up in Evernote through the iPhone microphone.  

And, all of these notes & recordings sync to the Evernote servers, which I can then access from any Internet connected device.  

My important thoughts, notes, photos, & information are always in my pocket.  

Truly amazing.  Truly disruptive.

The icing on this cake is the new 4G multi-tasking, subject of plenty of blog posts.  This newest game changer takes just about everything described above to a new non-linear level.  For me, the simple ability to listen to streaming audio while reading (email, news, Kindle  books etc) or using any other app, may be the most disruptive application yet.

What do you think?


Ken August 31, 2010 at 3:26 PM  

Todd - great post. My iPhone is completely integrated into my personal and workaday life. I honestly don't know how I could get along without it.

Email, chat/SMS, driving directions, local information, baseball scores, comparison shopping, couponing and on and on - even beyond a phone ostensible primary purpose of phone conversation.

Long live the smartphone, the feature phone is dead.


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