During the 2008 presidential election it was noted that then candidate Senator Barack Obama was hardly ever seen without his trusty BlackBerry or, as other hardcore users call it, his “CrackBerry.” I can relate, as can many other small business owners. The mobile phone, and now more importantly the mobile smartphone, has made the world a much smaller place. Losing service, even for a while, is a disaster for many smartphone owners.
So important was it for the president-elect to keep his BlackBerry following the 2008 election that the Secret Service had to provide him with a special ultra-high-tech model that features the latest and greatest in encryption technology. While we’re not sure if President Obama uses this to issue executive orders or just to tell Michelle that he’ll be late for dinner, photos show that the POTUS does still use his spiffy BlackBerry. Whether it is a BlackBerry, an iPhone, or some other mobile device, the POTUS is not alone with his mobile phone addiction.
According to numbers from the CTIA conference in Las Vegas, more than 285 million Americans are now mobile subscribers, and that accounts for about 91 percent of the total population. That’s also up by about 15 million from the previous year. More important, there are now 257 million “data-capable” devices that are active from the American mobile carriers. Of these, about 50 million are now smartphones, and another 12 million are 3G-enabled laptops. What all this means is that like the president, many more people have access to the Web, or at least the mobile Web, from portable devices.
And while many small business users probably aren’t sending messages as important as a world leader, there are a lot of messages being sent. According to the CTIA some 822 billion text messages (5 million per day) were sent in the second half of 2009, totalling 1.5 trillion for that year. Imagine the dropoff if Obama hadn’t been allowed to keep his BlackBerry. That number might have been slightly smaller!
So while it appears that the president couldn’t survive without his mobile — and, for the record, former President George W. Bush had been a self-professed e-mail addict and gave it up cold turkey for his eight years in office — the truth today is that one-fifth of small business owners say they couldn’t survive without mobile devices. Those were the findings of the “Small Business Technology Poll” from AT&T. According to the study, about 43 percent of respondents said business would be a major challenge without mobile, and more than one-fifth said they couldn’t do business at all without wireless. Seventy-four percent of respondents claimed to use mobile more in the past year, while 37 percent said they use it much more!
Whether it is running a small business or just running the country, mobile seems to be changing the way business is conducted.