…Well, at least the PC as we know it. 2010 will mark a dramatic shift in the way your audience wants to consume your content. Although the writing has been on the wall for the last two years, I think we’ll all look back at 2010 as the year that folks quit thinking about your content in terms of a web browser. Here’s why:
Your Data is Watching You
It has finally come to the point where I simply cannot get away from the internet without leaving the country. WiFi is everywhere these days… At a hotel? Free WiFi. McDonalds? Free WiFi. At the airport? Free WiFi. In a plane thousands of feet in the air? WiFi. At my grandmother’s house out in the country? Free WiFi (well, borrowed from the neighbors at least). It’s nearly impossible to escape the reach of your data.
While this can be a thorn in your side (work emails on vacation), the amazing speed at which information travels nowadays is absolutely astounding. 20 years ago we mailed letters every week. 10 years ago we received emails every day. 10 minutes ago I received 3 emails on my drive to work. We’re more connected now than ever before.
Smart Phones are the New Black
None of that information would be any good if we didn’t have a useful way to receive it; enter the rise of the smart phone over the past five years. With every passing day, it seems like I have fewer reasons to own a traditional computer, and I’m not alone. A steadily growing portion of your audience now lists a handheld device as the primary way they consume internet content. Why hop on the desktop at home to catch up when you’ve already received your latest emails and read the most recent news throughout the day? The PC is practically old-fashioned.
Tablets, eBooks and iPods… Oh My!
If smart phones don’t make your PC nervous, then the coming onslaught of internet devices should do the trick. Never mind the impending release of the quasi-mythical Apple Tablet, new market segments for communication devices are popping up daily. My cousins spend a good chunk of their days on an iPod Touch, chatting on Facebook and playing games with friends in another state. My buddy spent his time at Starbucks last week checking scores through his Amazon Kindle. I have no less than three non-PC devices in my house right now that I can use to update my Twitter account. A whole generation is being introduced to the power of the internet, but without the confines of a web browser.
It’s the Service, Not the Site.
Facebook and Twitter didn’t really explode until all of the sudden you could view and update your content from anywhere. Think about it: How many of your friends update their statuses and tweets from the website itself? I’m willing to wager that a good portion of your news feed has the same little phone icon I see plastered all over mine.
Years ago, super geeks would ask one simple question of a new device… “Can it play Doom?” These days, the question is “Can it update Facebook?” As users begin to care more about the service or utility being delivered to them, classical “websites” are becoming less important every day.
So what does all of this mean for your online communication strategy? It means you better start thinking outside the confines of a web browser. Find creative ways to take some steps out into this brave new world and forge a new trail with your content. Your audience won’t wait for you.