The Power Of Making People More Mobile

from the roam-if-you-want-to dept

Fred Wilson has an interesting blog post, looking at some of what he considers the “greatest inventions” of his lifetime, and notes that three of the four (ATMs, EZPass and cellphones) are really all about making him more mobile. It’s an interesting, but important recognition. The power of mobility has had a tremendous impact on many people’s lives — and yet people often don’t even recognize how much it’s changed their lives. The ability to be able to travel freely has opened up so many new possibilities for both business and entertainment — allowing people to do things that simply weren’t possible before. One of the things that screws up companies looking for new business models is that they focus just one what they can sell directly, and forget that they may be enabling people to do many more things — and that enabling of mobility can be one of the most powerful selling point they have.

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Comments on “The Power Of Making People More Mobile”

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Jeff says:

The guy's all spleen, no brain

Did you read the article? Re-read it again.

This Wilson dude’s talking about how he can’t roam from the Rhapsody network to the Napster network, or vice-versa.

So let’s take a look at the examples he’s using.

ATMs: “When I first used an ATM in the late 70s, you had to find an ATM for your bank. But soon there were networks like Cirrus that allowed you to “roam” to any ATM and pay a small charge. That made life so much easier.”

Greaaaaat. That’s still not roaming network to network, like Rhapsody to Napster. That’s “roaming” from one Cirrus location to another. That’s not roaming. That’s USING ONE NETWORK — CIRRUS.

EZPass: “EZpass, the prepaid toll system we use here in New York, is an amazing thing. I never wait in line at the toll booth anymore. And when I drive in New Jersey, their automated toll system recognizes my EZPass and lets my through in the fast lane.”

Again, this is just if you’re on the “EZpass network”. If my toll road “doesn’t support” EZpass, guess what, I’m still chucking quarters at those little white baskets. If someone else makes a non-EZpass network, EZpass does nothing for me there either. There is no feature that is comparable to moving from Rhapsody to Napster — two different services.

Cellular phones: “The same thing happened with cellular phones. When I landed in Venice last month, my blackberry immediately connected to some italian wireless phone company and I was in business.”

Again, the maroon is talking about apples and oranges. So what the blackberry’s service provider has agreements to keep it working in other countries? That’s merely international supplementation to its own network, it does nothing to allow a user to “roam” to another network within the same geopolitical area. For that analogy to work, Napster would have to be the US company, for example, and Rhapsody would have to be the Italian company. Instead, he’s talking about interuse of Napster and Rhapsody in the same company. So for him to come up with an equitable domestic example in cell phones, it would have to be something like, well, Bob’s got 100 unused minutes from his Sprint plan, can he give them to Dave to use on his Verizon plan?

Maybe the guy’s NOT an idiot, and he DOES have some interesting ideas. However, he makes very little *logical* sense and instead is just putting together an *emotional* argument. Repeating it here on Techdirt as though this is some revolution in thought is not useful.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mobile? No way ...

The beauty of these inventions isn’t that they “keep me mobile”. They help reduce the amount of time I have to spend standing in lines and thereby give me prescious moments of my life back.
Just because car makers have advertised “Freedom as Mobility” does not make mobility the new word for freedom…
It isn’t about mobility. Its about not having to do things I don’t enjoy doing – like standing in lines. The difference is subtle, but if this article is supposed to inspire companies to persue the market then it is an important difference. I’d hate to see some idiot try to sell me rocket skates so I would be more mobile.

Anonymous Coward says:


Okay it’s nice to be able to use my cell phone when I am on vacation or business anywhere in the country. However, I don’t go on vacation or business travel more than I used to. In fact business travel is simply getting to be stupid unless your in sales/marketing.

It’s also nice to be able to retrieve cash, our use my debit/credit card anywhere in the world, but I don’t go anywhere in the world anymore than I would otherwise.

It’s nice to have internet access wherever I am in the country/world but, again, it doesn’t incent me to travel more (though I do take my computer with me everywhere now).

And VPN access to the corporate network just incents me to stay home when it snows, or rains, or I’ve a cold coming on.

I do my CHRISTmas shopping online, at home. I spent less then 20 minutes at any mall this year. And that is 20 minutes more than a whole gaggle of folks.

Less and less people will be traveling. The world is not getting smaller it’s getting bigger. Man it’s a long five miles to the mall when I can just shop online, and wow I don’t want to travel a huge 30 miles in the snow to work when I can connect via the VPN. And a bank branch…what is that…do they still have those?

another says:

I don’t drive more because I have EZPass, I just don’t have to roll down my window as much.

Technology actually could be making things worse for us, we are always connected, so our vacations are interrupted. Co-Workers call my cell phone while I am at home, they would never do so something as rude as calling my home phone number for the same issue. ATM’s are hard to argue with though.

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