The Internet of Things is so yesterday… As Steve Case, former CEO of AOL, a company that formed our perception of the Internet like few others, writes in his book The Third Wave, the future will be about the Internet of Everything. The access to information, access to friends and families, but also access to businesses and things, will become engrained in our lives.
As a result, we need to rethink what our mobile devices are for us. We already know they are more than phones. We already know they are more than Internet-connected devices. And when we look to China, we can learn what they can be and will be, for us in the Western world soon as well: devices that not only help us organize our lives, but almost live our lives. Over 930M Chinese use WeChat as just that, a new form of Operating System (disguised as an app running on top of the usual mobile OS’s) that is founded on the principles of conversation and messaging as a UI (enriched with many traditional GUI elements), and being a one-stop-shop for what we need to interact with the physical world – whether it’s about eCommerce and customer service, i.e. interacting with businesses, or communicating with friends & family. As The Economist wrote last year:
“[People] pay for goods at physical stores, settle utility bills and split dinner tabs with friends, just with a few taps. [they] book and pay for taxis, dumpling deliveries, theatre tickets, hospital appointments and foreign holidays, all without ever leaving the WeChat universe. […] As one American venture capitalist puts it, WeChat is there “at every point of your daily contact with the world, from morning until night.”
Apple’s 2017 WWDC (watch the keynote here) introduced us to the HomePod, but that is not what I want to talk about here. They also, without much fanfare, showed a path towards turning MacOS and iOS into an operating system for our lives.
From a preliminary page on Apple’s website, with details being promised for June 9th, we learn:
“Business Chat is a powerful new way for your customers to get answers to their questions, learn about and purchase your products, and engage with your existing support channels. Integrated into Messages and discoverable through Maps, Siri, Search, as well as your own app and website, Business Chat helps you build persistent, long-lasting relationships with your customers. See how to leverage built-in features like Apple Pay or calendar integration, as well as your own iMessage app in the conversation.”
As Brian Roemmele, a proponent of the #VoiceFirst principle noticed, Apple even promises to make Spotlight one of the ways to kick off a business transaction – the very place millions of us go many times a day to quickly find things (words, files, places, businesses, emails, apps, etc.) on our iPhones and MacBooks:
Apple is not alone in the quest to become the one-stop-shop for all the things that matter to us in the virtual and physical world. Facebook is pursuing a similar path with Messenger. But Apple has one of the world’s dominant mobile OS’s. If they manage to turn that from code that runs our devices, to code that runs our lives, they will have a safe spot at the very top of how companies are valued, and for a long time to come. Let’s see what we learn on June 9th about how they’re tackling this vision!