My good online friend Andy Brice posed this question today over at Joel on the Software Business of Software forum, and as much as my iPhone has become the Devil’s plaything of late, I see a strong, legitimate case for microISVs and bootstrapping startups to drink the mobile Kool-Aid.
Here’s my experience:

  1. Continuous customer support – I can scan and if necessary respond to email on my iPad about 30% faster than I can on my iMac. Main reason is interface – and using an Apple bluetooth keyboard.
  2. Demos – It’s extremely simple to walk through an online app, screen shot it on your iPad and create a demo deck you can use whereever you are, regardless of WiFi/3G connectivity. Did this at a couple of tech events a few months back, and at two after-event parties with really good results.
  3. Information. For example, this morning I bought from SitePoint two of their excellent jQuery/javascript books – for $10 instead of $60. I loaded them though iTunes into iBooks in a couple of clicks (See this and especially this if you’re interested in how to do this.). I only buy Kindle versions of books at Amazon nowadays unless they are not offered (increasingly the exception). Why? I save serious money, get the book immediately, can read it on my iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, etc., and no longer abuse my back hauling a bunch of paper books.
  4. Mobile is to desktop what desktop was to mainframe/mini computers. I may be wrong here, but if I were an event planner, I would cheerfully kill for Andy’s product on my iPad. Why would I not want that product mobile? There’s an increasingly diverse, sophisticated set of functionalities being liberated from the desktop/laptop – and a huge number of developers, microISVs and bootstrapping startups making money hand over fist. (Those who argue “real work” doesn’t happen on mobile platforms would – did – argue much the same about pc’s 20+ years ago.)
  5. The rise of social. Facebook and Twitter and something like 900 other social networks don’t care whether you think they are “good”:  when 500 million+ people do something, that something isn’t going away. For example, this morning while I was still in bed I exchanged tweets with someone who is very, very busy to firm up a meeting – and he was stuck at an airport catching up with his social network. Sure, 3 years ago I did that with a laptop and email. But not as well, or as fast. (You can also use a wooden spoon to clean your ears, but there are better suited tools.)

Finally, I think the very best reason for embracing iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets and all of the rest of the Mobile Platform is this: it’s easy to buy into all the “Yes, but!” counter-arguments, nay-saying, FUD, carping and complaining. It’s easy, for some, satisfying, to shoot holes through starry-eyed fan boys and girls enamored by the new and shiny Mobile.
But catering to and participating in that negative attitude is pure poison for someone trying in life to make something new and sell it. Maybe you don’t see a legitimate reason to go Mobile in your case: fine. But gloating over it is not going to make you a better creator. After all, why does the world need your product or service, hmmm?

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