Did you know that smartphones now outsell personal computers? Apparently, the clever mobile devices (which have an operating system that can run a range of programmes such as taking photos, videos or handling emails, and have a computer-style keyboard) overtook the traditional computer at the end of last year.


This happened far faster than even smartphones’ biggest fans had predicted. And now tablets (such as the iPad) are also selling at a phenomenal rate of knots.


The way we communicate and the way we gather and consume information – newspapers, magazines, even TV – has changed beyond all recognition in less than a handful of years. We can see that even the way people visit our Practical Motorhome website is changing, with growing numbers of mobile users every day.


I’m a recent smartphone convert: I now have an iPhone. It’s brilliant for things like high-speed web access. But best of all are the ‘apps’ I can now access – downloadable programmes that are free or cost very little, and are very, very exciting.


For a start, I’ve got a torch, OS and Google mapping, an app that translates language by text with an audio output, one that reads the stars in the night sky, and a brilliant interactive version of Old MacDonald that keeps my toddler happy for great stretches of time.


I’ve also downloaded a number of the apps we looked at in our feature ‘Tech to make touring easy’ (December 2010 issue) such as the AA Caravan & Camping Guide, the iHandy spirit level for better pitching, and I’m a regular on the ACSI mobile-optimised website. They’ve all proved really useful on tour.


Which is why I was delighted to see French motorhome maker Rapido, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, become the first big player in our industry to launch a dedicated app. Many manufacturers have offered downloadable PDFs of their product catalogues for a few years now, and they’re very popular, but Rapido’s free app takes things to a whole new level.


First, it’s available in a number of languages, including English. It carries Rapido’s entire product range, with dimensions, specifications, floorplans and images. You can find a Rapido dealership near you, whether home or abroad, by simply entering your country and your city. In a similar fashion, you can find the nearest campsite, service area or aire de service (depending on which country you’re in). The app can be downloaded free of charge here.


Well done Rapido! I would be very surprised if all motorhome manufacturers don’t follow suit in the coming years or even months.


Before long we’ll all be going to motorhome shows and dealers with our smartphones fully pre-loaded with several years’ worth of manufacturers’ entire product ranges, listing their motorhomes’ data, layouts, prices and specs, along with images and virtual tours. Now wouldn’t that cut out a lot of the hard work involved in drawing up a sensible shortlist of suitable motorhomes?


Rob Ganley

Editor, Practical Motorhome