The Traveler-Centric Future – Part One – Mobile

Last month, I had the great pleasure of delivering the guest keynote at The Beat Live conference in Austin. As promised, here is the first in a series of posts that more deeply explores how the convergence of mobile connectivity, social networking and the evolution of the Internet is driving the “The Traveler-Centric Future.”

Trend #1: The Mobile Phenomena

 It’s not exactly news that mobile technology is experiencing staggering growth. Currently, 80% of business travelers use smartphones, and it’s projected that there will be 2 billion smartphones by 2012. Smartphone sales are growing at an incredible twenty times faster than personal computers. We’re in a perfect storm of better devices, faster mobile connections, and heavy investment in services that make mobile devices more useful to us. 

Intel-Surfer-SurfboardThe mobile phenomena isn’t just about smartphones. Mobile really refers to any portable device that has wireless access to the internet and multi-media capabilities. The form factors are evolving and mobile is taking on all sorts of new shapes and sizes. Wireless netbook sales may soon get a big boost, with more devices coming to market, like the rumored Apple Netbook. My favorite mobile device is Intel’s now famous wireless surfboard. That’s the kind of day at the office I dream about!

Mobile is a powerful trend not just because it’s big, but because it’s changing how people behave. Everywhere, we’re spending more and more time on our phones, and not just for talking. Mobile technology helps us manage our daily lives in a variety of ways. The iPhone app store is a great glimpse of this concept in action, with over 85,000 apps and more than two billion downloads in a little more than a year.

Mobile technology is particularly useful for travelers, which makes it a cornerstone of the Traveler-Centric Future. The mobile traveler can get apps like Google Earth for maps, Yelp for activities, Lonely Planet for pocket guides, and TripIt’s iPhone app for managing travel itineraries.

TripIt is making a big investment in mobile technology. Our mobile site, m.tripit.com, is accessible from any mobile device. Our free iPhone app is available now, and other platforms like BlackBerry will be supported soon. Perhaps most significantly, our open API makes it possible for any developer to integrate their travel app with TripIt core service.

Of course, mobile technology is only one piece of a much bigger, traveler-centric world. There will be more to come on the rest of that soon.

Read more about the Traveler-Centric Future:

Part Two – Social Networking

Part Three- The Interoperable Web

Part Four – Convergence