The rapid adoption of smartphones is proving to be a disruptive force that is changing the way people around the world manage their personal and professional lives. That's the word from Deon Liebenberg, Regional Director for Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution.
He says that smartphones are changing the way people work and play by giving them mobile access to the Internet, social networking, email and other Internet applications wherever they are.
According to the Mobility 2009 research survey by World Wide Worx (October 2009), South Africa already has about four million mobile internet users and three million mobile email users, numbers that are growing sharply as prices of smartphones continue to drop.
The result is that a growing segment of the population depends on smartphones for productivity apps, social networking, email, online shopping, banking, media playback and many other apps on the road.
"The mobile phone is no longer a device simply for phone calls and text messaging. It converges a range of media, communications and productivity tools onto a single device you can take with you wherever you go," says Liebenberg.
According to Liebenberg the smartphone revolution started with the ability to manage your email and calendar on your cellphone. Subsequently, a host of powerful new enterprise and personal applications have been unleashed onto the market. Business users can access customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and other back-end systems from any place where there is a cellular signal.
Consumers can enjoy a wide range of applications from social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook, through to games, calorie counters, weather applications, media tools, and so much more. Applications are more accessible and diverse than ever, thanks to the easy-to-use application stores like BlackBerry App World.
The choice of applications for popular smartphones runs into the thousands.
"However, it is important to note that what is important is quality applications, not quantity. Research indicates that 99% of downloaded applications are discarded or ignored after just four weeks. As such, the focus needs to be on Super Apps - those applications that, once you start using them, you will wonder how you ever lived without them," states Liebenberg.
Super Apps are integrated with other apps, giving you a seamless experience across the device. These apps are contextual and aware of things like your location and status. The most compelling Super Apps are often always connected, but are connected in a very efficient way by leveraging push and always on capabilities - designed to deliver the data you want, when you want it.
"Super Apps create experiences that are so seamless to use, and are so well-integrated with the core applications that they become a natural part of your daily interactions," says Liebenberg.
A good example of a Super App is Twitter for BlackBerry smartphones. Users can see from the Twitter icon on their smartphone that there are new tweets available to view but they don't actually have to launch the application, they can view and send tweets right from their inbox. The last thing anyone wants to do is to have to check a dozen different applications separately to see what's new, so Twitter on BlackBerry becomes a Super App thanks to the seamless and efficient integration made possible by the BlackBerry platform.
"The beauty of these Super Apps lies in the fact that they allow you to customise your smartphone to your own needs as a consumer and a businessperson, making your connection to the device even more personal," says Liebenberg. "The smartphone of the future is about having the tools to power a new level of communication, collaboration and integration that will transform the way we work and live. It will empower us by making us more connected and engaged in every aspect of what we do."
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)
A peer-to-peer messaging app that enables BlackBerry users to stay in touch with real-time messaging and social collaboration.
• Always-on, listening for messages from your friends. No need to check to see if someone sent you a message.
• Integrated with the contact list: Add people to your social groups from your current contact list
• Integrated with the camera: Take a picture or record video, send via BBM
• Integrated with music player: Share what you're listening to
• Integrated with inbox: BBM messages show up in your main inbox, seamlessly send BBM messages from your inbox by selecting "Instant Message" from the menu.
• Integrated with Maps: Share your location and enable other person to view on map
• Notification driven: Alert on your home screen as well as vibrate/tone
• Connected: Always connected to the back-end service to ensure data is delivered and share in real-time independent of manual user interaction
• Designed for the power user: Leverages push technology to minimize impact on battery life
• Designed for the power user: Immediate contact filtering as you start typing a name
• Designed for the power user: Immediately jump to contact from BBM, immediately jump to BBM from inbox
• Transformative: Changes the way you communicate and share because it is always-on, notification-driven, and integrated with the other apps and services on the device.
An information portal providing users seamless access to news, weather, sports, travel info and more.
• Always-on, checking the server for relevant news articles or weather updates that you may be interested in
• Notification-driven: Enables users to set up keywords to watch for, proactive notification if content matching that keyword is made available
• Integrated with email and SMS plus address book: Send a link to an interesting news article from your email app, choose destination seamlessly from contact list
• Integrated with inbox: Priority news, weather, sports info, etc. arrives in your inbox with a custom image beside it to indicate this is data from Viigo. Access details immediately from the message in the inbox
• Connected: Always connected to back-end service to ensure priority content is downloaded in the background and immediately available when the user opens the app
• Contextual: Enables users to set up preferences and keywords, notifications based on their information
• Designed for the power-user: Downloads data in the background so you never have to wait to read the content you're interested in
• Designed for the power-user: Integration with inbox enables one-click to view priority news and information from your main inbox
• Transformative: Changes how and when you consume news, weather, sports, etc. information because it can be done so quickly and seamlessly with a high degree of customization and contextualization
A travel companion service that enables travelers to manage their itinerary and relevant information while traveling.
• Always-on: Enables users to access online weather reports, currency conversion, world maps, etc. whenever they need to.
• Designed for the power user: Enables users to easily synchronize their travel itinerary to their BlackBerry. In many cases, this can be done by simply forwarding a standard itinerary document to their service without the need to manually enter the details
• Designed for the power user: Purchase hotel reservations right from the application, pre-populates dates and location based on travel itinerary
• Notification-driven: Proactive alerts are generated if flights are delayed, a gate changes, etc.
• Notification-driven: "Welcomes" you upon arrival of a flight and proactively presents local weather and time zone information
• Notification-driven: Proactively alerts you with a reminder 3 hours prior to your flight (configurable by user)
• Integrated with the Calendar: Offers ability to update your calendar with flight and hotel information based on itinerary travel data
• Integrated with Email: Forward a travel itinerary that arrives in your email inbox to their service to have it automatically parsed and the details sent to the app on the device. Immediate updating of your full itinerary and calendar based on an email receipt of a flight/hotel/car booking
• Integrated with Maps: Enables you to immediately display a map from a hotel address or airport location
• Contextual: Provides alerts based on your personal flight information, recognizes when you have arrived from your flight and presents local information.
• Transformative: Changes the travel experience by simplifying the process for updating your itinerary and calendar, seamlessly booking hotels based on destination and itinerary, providing alerts on flight delays, etc.
Sub-Sahara Africa Research In Motion