2009 Predictions for Mobile and Wireless Developers

How can you tell the holiday is over? Conferences have started again ala CES, and the phone and emails are on full throttle.  Do any of you use the current thinking about only taking calls/emails at 2 designated times during the day?  Does it really work?  
January is traditionally a time for annual predictions.  I have been on the fence whether to weigh in this year as there are many good predications around such as Rudy’s or from Carlo and Russell’s Mob Happy, and I didn’t want to repeat anything, but if there is something that needs to be emphasized, then that’s just the way it is!  So here they are:
1.  Tough times ahead.
I reported in my June newsletter that VC’s weren’t funding, especially carrier related deals.  Rutberg’s newsletter just came out and declared that the second half of 2008 was the lowest level of VC funding since 2003.  I agree with Rudy that I too am going to see at least 10 companies that I know well go under.  It started with Trutap, that I had the absolute pleasure of being on the board for the last year, and may end with the Motorola device group, which we all know has been struggling.  Assume no one is immune.

NY’s Resolution for Developers:  Those with low overhead will likely end up the winners when we come out of this economic wind tunnel.  And absolutely those who are best connected get the furthest ahead (Hint: ask Arv  about the WIP Connector Quiz to see how you fare).
2.  ‘Access’ will be the new ‘Open’.  (as Twitter is the new black)
The industry is tired of hearing about Open - it has caused confusion to what open source really is and what open is really not. There is no honour in claiming open any more.   I think the industry finally understands that, so will talk about ‘access’; to more operator APIs, access to more customers through beta sandboxes, and app stores to make it easier for developers to innovate and sell. 

NY’s Resolution for Developers: Follow the money.  Make careful choices about working with new platforms with the end goal of being profitable, not just cool. But hey, if you can make $1M making a bodily function application - go for it!
3.  Less US Centric
Perhaps it’s due to where I’m based, but my industry news and the focus of most developers I know is solidly the US as #1, with Europe slowly following behind and anything else a place only for exotic vacations.  With the US reeling from the economic distress, Europe reaching mobile handset saturation, China and India finally turning on the 3G engines, eyes will turn to emerging markets for business. I sure saw a lot of great developes in Brazil last month. Of course, we all are in love with Obama, but it sounds like he too has a much broader perspective than previous administrations.

NY’s Resolution for Developers: Be smart about planning for and entering new markets.  Plan ahead for obvious things like usability and language differences, but do your homework on market needs (enterprise is bigger in many of these markets) and distribution is different too.
4.  Fragmentation by any other name is still…..
I’ve been commenting on fragmentation every year, and I only see signs of its increase.  In addition to the major OS platforms, we now have more development platforms, more browsers, more app stores, and more devices (40+ Adroid devices alone coming this year, and the new Palm Pre just announced). Porting and backfilling is still wasting 40-50% of a developer’s time.  Another 20-30% is going to be wasted in gaining access to app stores, which still have discovery issues.  What’s left for innovation and development?

NY’s Resolution for Developers:  Find positive ways to be vocal about how fragmentation is affecting your ability to be innovative such as contributing to OMTP’s BONDI initiative that is identifying standards for the mobile web.  And don’t forget about marketing, more app stores does not mean you don’t have to do any work, in fact you should be honing up on your marketing.

Your comments or addition are always welcome!
Interested in 2008 predictions - find them here. I did pretty well, except predicting that someone will finally get local search right… perhaps this year. And 2007 which was really good, especially prediciting the rise in developers can be found here.

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3 Responses to “2009 Predictions for Mobile and Wireless Developers”

  1. 1 Jeroen Vuister

    ad3) Less US Centric.
    Going outside of your familiar territory?
    What works in North America doesn’t always work in other parts of the world.
    Best discover the grounds with someone local. Locals can point out regional particularities and opportunities, and will hook you up with the right business tools networks quickly.
    Just ask people from the region to help with language issues, and the discovery of different needs and habits.
    Let specialists place your business right on the mark!
    Emplace is one of them, … at your service.


  2. 2 Watch Year One Online Free

    If you want to read a reader’s feedback :) , I rate this article for 4/5. Decent info, but I just have to go to that damn google to find the missed pieces. Thanks, anyway!
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