February 12th, 2008
Guest editorial: Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?
[Editor's Note: In a brief flash of humility, I came to the realization that there were any number of experts here at our disposal in the Silicon Forest. Experts who have important things to say. Experts who can help us place the Rose City and the Silicon Forest within the context of a larger picture. Experts who are---quite frankly---more interesting than just little ol' me.
And with that, I decided that some other viewpoints would be valuable. So welcome to a new feature on Silicon Florist: guest editorials.
Knowing full well that one of Jason's areas of expertise was mobile, I asked him "What's up with mobile? And how is it going to play in Portland?" And he has graciously replied.
If you find his take interesting (and I know you will) make sure to peruse the mobile series he's writing for his company's blog. Or, you might seriously consider attending his presentation at Portland Web Innovators on Wednesday, February 13.
Ack. Looks like my intro is rivaling the length of the content. So, with that, I'll hand you off to the honorable Mr. Grigsby. Grigs?]
Is Portland behind when it comes to mobile?
People keep asking me whether Portland is behind when it comes to mobile?
I would have never thought to ask this question. If we were behind, what would we do with this information?
Better yet, who would we be behind? San Francisco? Austin? Poughkeepsie?
We might be behind Chicago if Katherine Gray’s out-of-town guests are correct. She wrote to me on Twitter to tell me that her friends wondered why they hadn’t seen many Blackberries in Portland.
Apparently, we specialize in the kind of blackberries that grow on the side of roads and not the ones you carry in your pocket. (Actually, this isn’t true. Oregon’s largest employer, Intel, provides Blackberries as standard issue, and I’ve seen many other business people with them as well.)
If we are behind, what would be the proper measure? The percentage of mobile phone users per capita? The number of smart phone users?
Perhaps these metrics would tell the story. Unfortunately, city-specific data isn’t available.
In the absence of data, I have to fall back to my original, knee-jerk reaction: Of course Portland is behind. The whole country is behind.
In Europe and Asia, both consumers and businesses are more savvy when it comes to utilizing their phones.
- In Japan, South Korea and China, more people access the web via mobile phones than via PCs.
- Finland-based Nokia claims 40% of the worldwide market for phones—by far the leading phone manufacturer.
Portland is no more behind than the rest of America. This is one technology surge that we’re late to the game on. And with 3.3 billion mobile devices and growing, it represents the most widespread technology in the world—far surpassing PC, credit cards, and televisions.
Fortunately, there’s still time to catch up before things really take off. Things are lining up for 2008 and 2009 to be big years for mobile. Portland has the perfect combination of technical and creative communities to explore what is possible in this new medium.
I’m excited to see what Portland produces for the Mobile Web.
Jason Grigsby is a founder, Vice President, and Web Strategist at Cloud Four, a Portland-based Web consulting firm focused on Web, Mobile and emerging technology. For more information on Grigsby and Cloud Four, visit Cloud Four. To RSVP for his Portland Web Innovators talk, visit Upcoming.