A Mobile Digital Arms Race

Within a few weeks of writing this article, Google announced its NEXUS One smartphone. A smartphone is a smart cell phone because of its desktop computer functionality on a mobile, hand-held device. The Google announcement got a mixed reception in the telecommunication industry. Typically, a user chooses a smartphone design based on its features and accessories and then seeks out a telephone service provider or carrier that offers that device with an affordable plan, local accessibility, and bandwidth.

With the many dynamic combinations, users are frequently trading in phones and changing carriers. In recent years, providers — including Apple with its iPhone, RIM with its Blackberry, Nokia with its Symbian, Palm with its Pre, and soon Microsoft — have offered a more integrated solution with their hardware, operating system (OS), and third-party applications.

What caught the interest of industry pundits about Google’s announcement was the company’s move toward an integrated smartphone service, especially with the addition of its own hardware. Like other integrated smartphone vendors, Google now had its own device — NEXUS One, coupled with its own OS, Android. The entrance of Google has added a new level of intrigue to what could be called a mobile digital arms (applications, resources, markets, and sales) race. Google’s smartphone integration extends its infrastructure that includes an online search engine with advertisements, maps, and voice over the Internet. With its extended infrastructure, Google can now tailor information, including advertisements, to end users. The company could literally provide real-time feedback from the surrounding environment to a user based on personal buying habits and social preferences. The evolving infrastructure could provide the long-sought customer relationship management in a geospatial context.

A Fundamental Shift

The shift in advertisement dollars to the Internet coincides with the rapid decline of newspaper readership and television network viewership. As advertisers seek out the Internet, a company offering a fully-integrated solution would be particularly attractive. Furthermore, by opening its Android OS to third-party developers, Google is ensuring a proliferation of applications for its smartphone.

Until very recently, smartphones were limited by accessibility and bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the rate of information transfer to and from a device. With the expansion of telephone carriers’ wired and wireless infrastructure, such as 3G and 4G networks, and improvements in computer technology, limitations to accessibility and bandwidth are quickly becoming a thing of the past for desktop or mobile units. In fact, it is somewhat humorous watching competing companies promoting the advantages of accessibility vs. bandwidth when both factors are required for good service.

Accepting that accessibility and bandwidth will be ubiquitous in the marketplace, and that single-company integrated solutions will happen in the near future, what does all this have to do with precision agriculture? Well, first, the long-awaited information “highways” will finally be a reality. Having only a single, hand-held, smartphone with broadband Internet access, users can communicate with the entire precision agricultural world. Add GPS capability to the same mobile unit, the same users can view field operations through a geospatial lens. Toss in some custom applications, and the same unit can help users in their precision agricultural decision-making. Finally, combining all these features with online, point-of-sale advertising tailored to locations and buying habits, users end up with quite an attractive package.

This recent convergence of hardware, software, communication, and information technologies is unprecedented. A precision agricultural user will truly be linked to a world of possibilities. It is not hard to imagine a grower as a user transmitting critical data from the field or an image about a crop to a consultant. The consultant, in turn, would analyze the data or image and transmit back management recommendations to the grower. One could also imagine the same crop data and image being shared over a secure, social network in an effort to solicit help from neighboring growers or a trusted segment of the agricultural community.

The real-time exchange of data, facts, and knowledge over the information highways and between social networks will provide a grower the ultimate connectivity to the precision agricultural world. It is important to note that while exchanges between growers and agricultural stakeholders have existed for some time, the potential speed and amount of information in an electronic transaction is new.

Convergent Realities

The discussed convergence of technologies will be inherently disruptive to existing decision-making practices. Consequently, while the mechanics of sharing all forms of information over the Internet via a smartphone will be realized in the near future, determining the proper value and use of that information will take some time. Just like new technologies introduced in the past, there will inevitability be a “Wild West” mentality among early participants. Without any governing principles accompanying the exchanged information from multiple sources, contributed data may be suspect and management recommendations may be questioned by a significant segment of the online precision agricultural community. This interplay of contributors and critics of information will continue for some time until governing principles are in place and facts supporting positions are transparently accessible by the entire community.

After this early phase of time-consuming, risky experimentation, order will begin to be self-imposed on the entire enterprise. Contributed information — be it data, facts, or knowledge — will undergo validity checking before being accepted by the online community. Furthermore, each new contribution will be compared to previous entries or positions for consistency and applicability. In some sense, contributors will undergo a peer review much like scientific journals. With a collective stamp of approval by the online community, users will have a high comfort level with online information.

It is important to note that while there are billions of cell phones, the vast majority of users engage in social networking and not business activities. Smartphones today are just beginning to evolve into an integral tool of business. The vision presented in this article of a mobile solution for integrated data, images, recommendations, and ads will only be realized with the cooperation of a large majority of the stakeholders making up the precision agricultural community. Without their participation, there would be mechanics but no content or direction.

The emphasis on content with future smartphone users only reinforces that importance of the “technology tune-up” theme of this issue. Whether communicated through print or delivered electronically over the Internet, innovations in precision agriculture will be one of the motivating factors in a mobile world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business Stories
Buhler Versatile HQ cab
BusinessThe State Of Precision Ag In 2016
December 7, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Elsewhere on this site, you will find Read More
BusinessFarmobile Details New AGCO Distribution Deal
December 6, 2016
Farmobile today announced a strategic partnership with AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment. The agreement will allow Read More
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota High Tech Association
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
Fall corn
BusinessInsecticide of the Future? Robotic Tanks With Lasers to Kill Pests
November 22, 2016
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Trending Articles
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secrets
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Farmers
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
BusinessTrimble Launches New FMIS Platform
November 7, 2016
Trimble announced today that it is consolidating three of its agriculture software products — Connected Farm, Farm Works Software and Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower Groups Encourage Implementation Of AgGateway’s ADAPT For Precision Ag
November 2, 2016
A dozen leading U.S. grower organizations are hailing the collaborative efforts that led to the new AgGateway ADAPT framework for Read More
Latest News
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
Business ManagementForecasting Precision Ag: 4 Challenges, Opportunities F…
December 7, 2016
Opportunities and challenges. They are the yin and yang of the business world. It could easily be argued that, out Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Buhler Versatile HQ cab
BusinessThe State Of Precision Ag In 2016
December 7, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Elsewhere on this site, you will find Read More
BusinessFarmobile Details New AGCO Distribution Deal
December 6, 2016
Farmobile today announced a strategic partnership with AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment. The agreement will allow Read More
Hort TechSol Chip Launches Autonomous, Wireless Solar Tag for Sm…
December 6, 2016
Sol Chip, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) systems and energy harvesting solutions, today announced the introduction of its Read More
TechnologyAgGateway Announces 2017 Board Of Directors And Leaders…
December 2, 2016
AgGateway has announced its leadership for the coming year, including the directors of its new Strategic Board and Operational Board, Read More
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota…
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
AGCO AgControl
TechnologyPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
December 1, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To En…
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Fall corn
BusinessInsecticide of the Future? Robotic Tanks With Lasers to…
November 22, 2016
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
Sensors/IoTIoT The Focus Of New Topcon Partnership
November 22, 2016
Topcon Agriculture and SDF plan to enter into a non-exclusive long-term partnership agreement. This latest arrangement of Topcon with a Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secr…
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
BusinessFarmobile Releases Mobile Data Visualization Dashboard
November 17, 2016
Farmobile today announced an EFR Dashboard, a real-time dashboard that helps farmers visualize their field data and derive insights to Read More
Southern States
Best PracticesSouthern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Succe…
November 15, 2016
Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can. One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Far…
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
THRIVE
BusinessCall For Ag Tech Startups: Apply To THRIVE’s Open…
November 10, 2016
THRIVE is looking for high growth ag tech companies with an in-market solution that are positioned to scale. The top 50 Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere Launching New Operations Center Apps, Mappin…
November 10, 2016
In an effort to enhance the functionality, ease-of-use and overall value of John Deere Operations Center to producers, John Deere Read More