The Future of the Mobile Development Industry; perspective from Sony Ericsson

We are pleased to bring you an interview with Erik Starck, Community Manager, Developer World, Sony Ericsson. Sony Ericsson is a Developer’s Choice sponsor at WIPJam @ CTIA taking place on October 8th in San Diego.

1. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry as a whole?
Definitely the move over to open source platforms. That changes the logic behind innovation creation. As it drives the cost of the platforms down it moves the resources of the entire industry over to applications and services.

2. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in mobile development specifically?
Well, as a consequence of the above application developers are in a better spot than ever. The playing field has been leveled between developers, carriers and device manufacturers. It’s a better time than ever to be a mobile developer.

3. It’s pretty tough for small mobile development companies to survive on just one device and/or one market. What’s your advice to our mobile developers for growing a successful company?
It’s no different than for any other business. Know your customer and your markets, don’t focus on technology but on the value you can create for your customers. As always, user experience is key. If your coming from a web paradigm there are some things you need to rethink. A person should be able to use your application with one hand while riding a bike. If that’s possible you have a simple enough UI. :)

4. What do you think are the top 2 - 3 mistakes mobile development companies tend to make?
- Don’t be afraid to charge for your product. Free only gets you that far.
- “Distribution, distribution, distribution.” How easy is it to find your app, recommend it to someone, spread it?
- There are lots of “me too”-applications out there. Be innovative, try something new, test the limits!

5. In the global marketplace – what are you seeing that are hot geographic markets?
There’s lots of interesting stuff happening in Africa. In many ways they are ahead of the rest of the world especially when it comes to mobile payments. There are many emerging markets all over the world where the phones on the street are still quite basic, but they will be moving over to more advanced platforms in just a few years. These are markets where the mobile phone will play a key part in peoples’ lives in ways we haven’t fully realized yet.

6. How do you think our mobile developers can take advantage of these hot/growing areas?
The mobile phone is actually the personal phone. Since it such a personal device you really have to understand the cultural context in which you’re trying to sell your application. Maybe you should leave your keyboard and start traveling for a while to get some new ideas.

7. What’s your current role at Sony Ericsson? And how do you think you can support our mobile dev? I’m the community manager at Developer World. We run a developer forum, blogs and have a Twitter account. Join us there!

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