As we launch our Xfluential Private Beta today on Android, I’m reminded to explore a statement I made to some friends during lunch a few weeks ago, “Mobile is the new cigarette!” It gave my 3 lunch partners pause and some reflection. Mind you, these are mental giants, and 2 of them are incredible entrepreneurs. One is an incredibly successful “super-angel”, and the other is the owner and founder of a successful high-tech incubator. The third is one of the most accomplished attorneys in the area.
Having made such a statement in front of people I highly respect, I feel the need to back up, or at least explore, the validity of my rhetoric.
Is mobile the new “cigarette”?
These days, when we stand in line at Subway, when we wait for a lunch appointment to arrive, or whenever we fidget for something to do, our hand automatically gravitates toward our smart phone. Its effect is calming and restorative. We feel once again secured, that we are connected back to the world, albeit a virtual world, which, for many of us, is one on which we spend more time than the real world. When we feel embarrassingly empty-handed, unoccupied, we reached for the smart phone to focus our attention, giving us an out from the awkwardness of not having anything to do.
What does this mean to the future of our social interactions, the future of high-tech immersion in our real world? If smart phones are the new cigarette, are they addictive? Are they bad for your health? Should they be banned in certain places? Is there dangerous “second-hand smoke” from the smart phone?
The analogy breaks down when it comes to the matter of degrees. Whereas cigarette is always bad for our health, moderate and appropriate use of the smart phone is good for you. Duhh!
But yes, smart phones are banned, or at least frowned upon, in the theatre, in hospitals, while driving, and, of course, who can forget, when our plane is taking off or landing. Maybe mobile is the new “red wine,” recommended in small doses, but never in over-consumption. No matter, the line to be drawn between suitability and over-consumption is one that will be debated, and in individual cases, comes down to a matter of personal needs, preferences, and values. I need to know how much usage of my smart phone is appropriate in social situations. I also need to know when to keep away from the device so I can have some personal tech-free space.
Perhaps the mobile apps of tomorrow will allow you to customize your appropriate levels of usage and access. Perhaps usage and access will also be automatically cut off as soon as it is sensed that we are in certain environments, e.g., cars, churches.
For us at Xfluential, we are still optimizing the utility of our app for influence building, and mobile allows us the best access and the closest experience to our customers. Influence is built everywhere, not just when an influencer is sitting at a desk or in front of a laptop. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes built when one is not even connected at all to any device.
I guess you can say that, by deciding to put our product on Android first, I am backing up my statement to my lunch buddies that the smart phone is the new “cigarette”.