Could You Handle the Mobile-Only Challenge?

The Mobile ChallengeCould you handle being all-mobile all the time? I’m talking about throwing away your PC, Ultrabook, tablet, home phone, desk phone and all other tech devices to be nothing less than completely and utterly mobile.

Impossible you say? Well Benjamin Robins, the co-founder of Palador Inc., took this challenge several months ago. Bob Egan of Forbes had an opportunity to interview Ben on his mobile-only personal and professional life. Here’s a look at his interview:

 “For one year, you will work mobile-only. What does that mean?

Mobility is perceived to have many limitations when it comes to getting the job done. My mobile-only initiative offers a counterpoint to debunk the myth that mobile devices are merely for content consumption and not for creation. Mobile-only is about breaking free of the PC paradigm. For the next year, I am working solely from a smartphone as my only compute device.

The idea wasn’t just to replace all the PC equipment with mobile equipment, but to really consolidate the compute experience to a single device. The hypothesis is, do I really need to carry all this stuff around with me or can I accomplish computing, communication and creation from a single device?

While many people talk about the idea of mobile-only, you’re making it a reality.

That’s right. Beyond dispelling the fallacy of mobile limitations, the point of the project is to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. I believe we are at a tipping point in this industry where the mobile ecosystem can support this type of endeavor. I certainly aim to find out. During the course of the year, I am taking stock of my user experience, device performance, information security attributes and the application capabilities.  From a practical sense, these attributes create the divide between the fiction and the realities of people cutting the cord and going mobile only.

For a lot of consumers and business people, their mobile phone is now their only phone. But very few are willing to ditch their desktop or laptop, too. What motivated you to go to that next level?

The genesis for this project had its roots in that I was tired of lugging around so many devices and equipment. Who wants to carry laptops, tablets, and cellphones as we go from place to place? Not me. On top of that, many of us have a desktop in the office and at another one at home. It’s equipment overload. It has become important to me to greatly simplify the physical and emotional weight of technology in my life.  To do that it is important to streamline, yet assemble a posture where I had access to the applications and data that I need with the same level of computing power anytime, anywhere.

…What have been the biggest surprises so far?

The biggest surprise was how difficult it was to get out of my PC mindset. I just figured since I was going all-in with mobile that I should be able to toss off my “PCness” like a bad holiday sweater. In truth, the first month was really tough. I was so conditioned to respond to certain tasks in a PC way that I had to actually think about getting things done. It was a little like acquiring a new language. I found I was really slow and had to think about every task I wanted to do. But after a few weeks, it became natural and my response times became faster and faster until the mobile aspect of working melted into the background and it just became work.

I also found that there are certain ergonomic limitations that you can’t engineer your way around. Screen real estate is still important. A keyboard is still the fastest way to enter information. When I’m in the office. I have a Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and a monitor that I sync with my Galaxy Note II.

Would you do this again?

Absolutely. The rate of change in technology is such that one can’t sit still very long. The future of wearable computing and the Internet of things threaten the way we think today about mobile’s dominance like a seagull on a beach of hatching turtles; mobile as we know it might not even make it to the water line before it is gobbled up. To stay relevant and understand the possibility of things to come you have to be willing to reimagine how you work, connect, and play. You have to be willing to ask, how am I challenging myself in my current role? How can I look at it anew? What is core and what is open to an improved process? How can I be part of the future?”

The best way to test and learn about something is to use it in-the-wild, but mobile-only 24-7? That’s a real challenge. Could you handle the shift? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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