Lowering the Barrier to Entry

I had a discussion with a customer today that got me thinking. Despite the pervasiveness of computers - desktops, notebooks, and now even netbooks - a number of people are still not comfortable with computer technology. However, these same people are often quite comfortable with cell or mobile phones. If these people had so-called smart phones to date, they likely haven't used many of the features of the phone that are considered "smart". Those aspects of the user interface have often simply been too complicated on the smart phones that have been available, until recently.

Full screen and multitouch user interfaces were first introduced with Apple's iPhone and now also available on the Google Android G1 phones and the new RIM Blackberry Storm. The far superior user interface on these phones, the intuitiveness of the interaction style, and the simplicity of operation (turning them on and off, installing apps, etc.) may well have the effect of lowering the barrier to entry for the very people who haven't felt completely comfortable with computer technology to date. When these devices can be fully untethered from computers completely, they may well become the sole computer devices used by these types of users. When you couple this potential trend with the observation that so-called emerging markets already use cell phones as the primary way to access the internet, we may be witnessing the emergence of the most important and pervasive computer device yet.