On weekend shopping trips when I was a kid, I used to love to while away time reading magazines for free in WHSmith whilst my Mum and Dad did the town-centre shopping chores. I could have stood there for hours, reading magazines that I couldn’t afford to buy, just like a lot of other people: standing there facing the magazine shelves with magazine in hands. Completely and utterly absorbed. To me, it was state-of-the-art, real-world, knowledge fix. The best you could get at the time.
(Taken with a cameraphone at Edgware shopping mall in North London.)
Of course, now we have the Internet. And Google. So not as many people can be observed standing reading magazines at WHSmith these days – well, not as many as I seem to recall when I was a kid. Which brings me onto the “mobile Internet”. In my view, just one of potentially many tests of the mobile Internet becoming an essential utility will be when many people start to get their arbritrary knowledge-fix using their mobile phones, as opposed to standing at the magazine shelf in WHSmith, or browsing from Google-searches on their PCs during workday lunchbreaks. Sure, I see a lot of people fiddling with their mobiles in shopping malls, seemingly killing time. But I doubt that many of them are immersing themselves in online magazines, browsing websites or clicking through Google results on their mobiles. Not yet anyway. There are many reasons why, but unfortunately the margin of this page is too small for me able to write all the reasons down …