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Mobility: The Chicken or the Egg

This is the fifth post in this series where I have been writing about the drive for new technology. Is need driving innovation or is innovation driving demand? In other words, what came first: the chicken or the egg? In this post, I explore an area of innovation focused on mobility. The road to mobility is an interesting one.

The Road to Mobility

IBM introduced the 3270 computer terminal in 1971. It was a big improvement over the teletype-like input/output printers that handled character-by-character inputs and outputs. Also, it performed well in   environments where remote terminals had slow line speeds using performance and efficiency features including set buffer address, repeat to address and the erase unprotected to address orders. 

Twelve years later, IBM made available a PC with 3270 emulation capabilities, the IBM 3270 PC. On this device, you could interact with CICS and IMS transactions in one window and run VisiCalc in another. Of course you could do more but you get the idea. Then came the web. Tom Berners-Lee of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created the first web browser. It was called WorldWideWeb and was later renamed to Nexus. The first smartphone came out in 1994. It was the IBM Simon Personal Communicator called IBM Simon. IBM Simon was able to send and receive faxes, emails and cellular pages and featured many applications, including an address book, calendar, appointment scheduler, calculator, world time clock, electronic notepad, handwritten annotations and others. In 2007, Apple came out with the first generation iPhone. It was a big success that suddenly created a need for applications that could take advantaged of this powerful computer with a built-in communications ability including high-speed wireless internetworking (Wi-Fi 802.11 was supported). Fast forward to 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, Apple sold a record 78.29 million iPhones. That's a lot of Apple smartphones, and Apple isn’t the only source of high function smartphones available today.

Then and Now are Linked

Over the 40 plus years from 3270 computer terminal to smartphone, there is a behind-the-scenes continuity in that data originally intended for 3270s is displayed on smartphones. There are ways to do this that require no reprogramming recognizing that the existing CICS green-screen application using basic mapping support is “web-unaware.” This is done through the magic of middleware.
Employees in companies are benefitting. Instead of being bound to a desk, customer support people can go into the warehouse and double check the shelves for inventory with the customer inventory query on the phone or tablet in their hands. This may not happen every day but when it needs to be done, mobile devices make a big different in time and accuracy. Being mobile just opens up the doors to doing things in new ways.
Mobile Computing Has an Awesome Ability to Assimilate

This wave of innovation around mobile computing is moving at a vary rapid rate. Mobility has an awesome ability to assimilate the past while it forms the future. The future reinvents the past in away that can fill you with wonder. Who has not benefitted from using a smartphone to connect with someone when you meet up in a unfamiliar city, or, when you need driving or walking directions? These are two simply examples of why smartphones are useful. Statista reports that as of March 2017, Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps. Apple's App Store remained the second-largest app store with 2.2 million available apps. That is a lot of ways to get things done in new ways. Smartphones are the chicken and the egg of mobility that was part of a continuum that was injected with great innovation that created enormous need that is showing no s