This is the seventh post of The Next 15 blog series, which commemorates Weber Shandwick’s 15th year in Seattle. Follow this series to read about our leadership team’s thoughts and predictions on seven of Seattle’s key practice areas.

In 1996, your cell phone was more of a status symbol than a tool of everyday life. If you were like many people, you had a device tucked away in your car for emergencies, as voice plans were expensive. Unfortunately, if you were like me, when you were in an emergency situation where a pay phone wasn’t close by, you were probably also in a place where wireless signals were limited.

(Classic Ericcson advertisement from 1996.)

As time marched on, cell phone innovation progressed by leaps and bounds, and network coverage ensured we could make calls almost everywhere. We all loved our Nokia 8260s (at last, no antenna!), and rejoiced when the Motorola RAZR slipped into our pockets and taught us the art of text messaging. By the mid-2000s we were dabbling with the mobile web, experiencing the joys of picture messaging, and starting to demand email on our devices. By 2008, we all fell in love with smartphones and the touchscreen, and couldn’t imagine our lives without a device in our hands at all times. The cell phone was no longer a status symbol, but instead the Swiss Army knife of daily life.

Today – we are a society powered by mobile technology. Smartphones are now superphones. Tablets allow us to leave our computers behind. Mobile hotspots let us take the internet everywhere. We’re an emailing, tweeting, texting, Facebooking, video watching, document editing tribe of road warriors. And we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

So what’s next?

Now it’s time for all of the devices in our lives to converge.

Soon we will take our content everywhere, thanks to the cloud and a growing focus on sharing content across all devices. You want to watch live TV on your tablet? Why not. You need to edit that PowerPoint that’s saved on your desktop from your smartphone? Sure thing. You want your doctor to be able to share your X-Rays with a physician across the country in an instant? It’s coming straight to her tablet. As networks get faster, chipsets get more powerful, and the web is designed with the small screen in mind, the mobile device will become the technology center of our lives.

… As if you could live without your smartphone now.

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