The 2010s was the decade where mobiles truly became a part of us. Operating from a core of basic person-to-person communication, these devices would evolve far further than anyone saw coming. They could help us stay healthy, provide efficiency in work, offer benefits in romance, and much, much more.
What we want to focus on today, as perhaps the most transformative aspect of modern mobiles, is their effect on entertainment. Already a significant form of connection technology, the growing realities of unlimited bandwidth and near-global wifi access could completely reshape how we engage with many forms of entertainment. The implications are enormous, and we’re only just getting started.
Bandwidth and Coverage
Even in the consumer and business world, mobile bandwidth before the advent of 4G was somewhat of a non-starter. According to Speedcheck, 3G could theoretically reach around 7.2 Mbps. In real-life circumstances, these speeds would rarely reach as high as 3 Mbps. While not unworkably slow in some instances, for most modern uses, this level of performance, combined with the lesser coverage of the time, could not keep up.
It was only in the 2010s when 4G’s much greater 14-100 Mbps speed and greatly enhanced coverage appeared that mobiles started to reach their potential. Combined with the growing processing power of mobile devices, this was around the time when PCs and home networks finally found a competitor.
Implications on Entertainment
For years, we thought of mobile as less than alternatives to traditional forms of entertainment. Whether it was because of their early processing limitations, their smaller screens, or some sort of greater social component, the result was the same. Mobiles could act as an accessory, but they could never replace entirely for most uses – at least, that was how the thinking went.
Today, for many more casual uses, mobiles are already usurping titles formerly held by more established platforms. General browsing was among one of the first here, as something that used to be confined to desktop PCs. Today, however, more people are turning to mobiles as their primary internet browsing device. In fact, a 2019 report by the World Advertising Research Centre predicted that almost three-quarters of internet users will rely solely on their smartphone by 2025.
Similar trends are also taking place in smaller interactive entertainment experiences. Browser and mobile games have been a strong illustration of this, with the likes of Candy Crush Saga and Flappy Bird going on to be multinational hits. Outside of purely-mobile games, online casinos have seen similar success. Here, sites like Betway that offer live titles have all seen enormous boosts to popularity on the mobile front, with sites often advertising both Apple and Android apps on-site, as well as being playable in-browser.
As a newer form of interactive entertainment on mobiles, game-streaming for video game platforms like Boosteroid and Project xCloud show compatible immense potential. When performing well, these systems allow users to essentially sidestep the need for a console or PC. This gives players the ability to enjoy the graphics of expensive systems anywhere without bringing or even owning the otherwise necessary device.
Complications for Hardware and Services
Running a home network can be expensive and complicated for some users, but this is also an area where better connectivity and increased bandwidth might prove a game-changer. For this example, consider people who only use their home network for laptop internet and smart-tv systems.
In both of these cases, it could be possible to drop a traditional home internet plan altogether and instead rely on a mobile hotspot for all data needs. Users taking this route, even if they were on cheap cabled internet plans, could easily cut their costs in half. This isn’t just some future pipe-dream either, this method is entirely possible for 4G and even other technologies available for mobile such as 5G.
Given that many of us are already moving towards mobile systems, this might have some major implications for the future price plans of cabled internet. Will the future see a great reliance on shared cabled/mobile data to mitigate threats to home plans, or will this be an occasion where the cabled market slips away from some former customers? Only time will tell.
With mobiles making such rapid pace, the only remaining question is one of maximum possible penetration. As we’ve explored above, there are occasions when mobile can act as alternatives and replacements, but there are times when they could always come up short. Watching movies directly is one major illustration of this, where the smaller screens could act as dead ends. On the other hand, folding screen devices have already solved this problem to some degree.
Looking at the big picture, we can’t help but get the impression that, as far as mobiles have come, they’ve still a lot of influence left to exert. Whether looking at casual browsing, entertainment, gaming, work use, or even transforming home networks, the ‘20s should at least give some indication of what’s yet to come. Whatever form they adopt in the next decade, if the last ten years is anything to go by, we wouldn’t bet against them.