The historians of the future will see the invention and popularisation of the internet as a “catapult” moment for the human race. From the moment the internet became accessible, everything began to change for the human race in terms of both business and pleasure. We’re more connected to people than we’ve ever been at any point in history. We can work from home. We can even do our shopping from home and book medical appointments from home. That isn’t all down to the internet itself, though – some of it is down to mobile phones and mobile apps.
A few years after the internet and smartphone revolutions happened, the two tech phenomenons joined together to put the full power of the internet into the palm of our hands and allowed it to take it with us wherever we went. That’s not always a great thing, as anyone who’s received a work email on their phone outside working hours will know – but it’s completely transformed several different industries. The way they work now is poles apart from the way they worked as recently as five years ago. Change has happened so fast that it’s almost occurred in the blink of an eye, and yet we’ve all accepted those changes without pausing to think about them.
As a way of illustrating what we mean by this, we’ve picked out five industries that have changed beyond all recognition because of mobile phones and phone apps, with a reminder of how they used to go about their business before apps became commonplace!
The Dating Industry
It might sound cynical to say it, but dating is most definitely an industry rather than a pastime or a social habit. If you’re in any doubt about that, take a moment to reflect on the fact that Tinder made $1.2bn in 2019. That’s an astonishing number for a business that didn’t even exist until 2012 and wasn’t available in most parts of the world until mid-2013. Before Tinder (and other dating apps inspired by its success) came along, people who used digital avenues to look for dates did so through websites like Match and OkCupid. We’d barely even got used to using websites for dating when Tinder came along and destroyed their business model by switching the focus from laptops to phones. Twenty years ago, you either approached someone directly or wrote a classified advert for your local newspaper. The dating industry has been through not one but two revolutions in the past two decades, and now it’s impossible to run a successful dating business without a mobile app.
The most recent figures available to us tell us that “free to play” mobile games made more than thirteen billion dollars in the USA alone during 2020. That makes a mockery of the idea of them being “free to play,” but it also tells us how much people are spending on playing games on their phones and how absurd that idea would have been ten years ago. Gaming was getting bigger, not smaller. Handheld gaming hardware like the Game Boy and the Nintendo DS had reached the end of its useful life because everyone wanted the newer, shinier, more powerful games that were only available through the Xbox or PlayStation. There’s still a market for PlayStation and Xbox games – a huge one – but mobile gaming becomes a bigger deal every year. As screens get bigger and resolutions get sharper, there’s no reason to think this trend won’t continue. Almost every big new game release is accompanied by a companion game for mobile phones these days, and that’s not a coincidence. Innovations like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna will push this connection even further in the future.
Gambling is an industry that’s come a very long way in a very short space of time. Prior to the turn of the century, it was something that old men did in dingy bars and sleazy casinos, with a few notable exceptions in places like Monaco and Las Vegas. Now it’s everywhere, and that’s all down to the internet. The internet made online slots websites possible, and they’ve since taken over the world. We’ve reached the point where in some places – England in particular – online slots websites sponsor the shirts of Premier League football teams. Already, though, they’re giving way to the next era. Online slots are rapidly becoming mobile slots, and more players use their phones to play gambling games than their computers. New websites like Rose Slots NZ take advantage of this by optimising their layouts for mobile screens, thus giving themselves the best of both worlds. Mobile phones have given the companies that make casino games and apps the ability to put a full casino service in the pocket of a bettor. That’s why they’re making more money than ever before.
You don’t see many banks on the high street anymore, and you’ll see even less in future. That’s problematic for some people – especially older customers – who haven’t embraced the latest technology. For the majority, though, physical banks no longer have a purpose. Nobody needs to visit a bank to apply for an account, a credit card, or a loan. You don’t have to go there to make a bank transfer or to set up a Direct Debit or regular payment. You can do all of that through the banking app on your phone. Millions of young people hold bank accounts with companies they’ve never visited in the flesh and probably never will. There’s still a need for physical interaction when it comes to things like making deposits, but even that’s becoming a thing of the past. Checks are almost obsolete, and many ATM machines can handle deposits as well as withdrawals. Banks are fond of saving money where they can, so expect even more closures in the years to come. The idea of a bank being a place you could do to speak to a person in a suit about your money is something you’ll one day tell your grandchildren about – and they’ll laugh at you.
If you pay attention to the news, you’ll often read that the existence of physical newspapers is at risk. That seems ironic, given the fact that you’re reading news about the death of the news, but it’s your chosen format that’s the problem. Newspapers are out of date the moment they’re published because we live in a world of 24/7 rolling news. News websites don’t have that problem, but people don’t like taking time out of their day to load a news website and find out what’s been happening. They prefer to do so through their phones, and if they’re especially interested in a topic, they’ll set up push notifications. It’s now possible to decide what type of news you’d like to hear and how you’d like to receive it while simultaneously filtering out everything you’re not interested in. No wonder people appear to have such violently different opinions these days – we’re all picking our own facts, and it’s mobile-based news that’s allowing us to do it!
Like we said at the start of this article, these changes have happened so fast that we’ve barely even acknowledged them. Nobody asked us if we’d like to do away with our bank and arrange our finances through our phones instead – we just downloaded the apps and started doing it. At some point in the past few years, swiping through your phone until you find a picture of someone you’re attracted to has become a perfectly normal way of going about arranging a date. The future is coming at us fast, and it’s mobile-led industries that are leading the way.