Archive for the 'mobile web' Category

Qualcomm’s Tips on How to Engage the Mobile Consumer

Mitch Oliver Qualcomm

Leading up to our WIPJam, Day for Developers, on February 18th at MWC, we have asked a number of our WIPJam sponsors to write articles for our readers. This week, Qualcomm’s submission is provided by Mitch Oliver, Vice President of Ecosystem Development, Qualcomm Incorporated.

Five Ways to Engage the Mobile Consumer

Consumers have an expectation of control over their content. This paradigm is well established from their desktop experience, and will undoubtedly extend into mobile. Fueled by the prospect of ubiquitous connectivity and increasingly powerful networks, the always connected consumer has the opportunity to be in command of their own experience.

To a consumer, network and device barriers should be irrelevant. To engage them you must consider their content experience holistically, including but not limited to your mobile offering. Your best strategy for differentiation is to integrate your content into their overall experience – only then can you establish loyalty and build an ongoing relationship.

Here are five ways you can make that happen:

1. Create companion content to reinforce loyalty that has already been established. It isn’t always practical to simply replicate an experience for a mobile device. You must serve form to function, allowing users to engage appropriately depending on their current touch point. For example: Watching a reality show on TV, voting online and then keeping up with the participants via a mobile fan application.

2. Make the experience available across multiple screens. Mobility should be truly liberating for the consumer, and this is only possible when their content is available anytime, anywhere. For example: If someone rents a movie on their TV, they shouldn’t have to wait until they get home to finish watching it. That experience should be ready to pick-up where they left off on any connected device.

3. Partner with operators to take advantage of their assets. Operators have a pivotal role in the value chain. Operators spend billions of dollars a year to ensure the quality of their networks – they have value to add to the consumer experience. Operators know their networks and their subscribers — information that can be leveraged to make the experience both contextually relevant and personal.

4. Get your content in front of the right consumers. So many companies are racing to increase the number of applications they offer, but what good is it if consumers are just lost in a sea of content? By uniting their respective expertise operators and developers have the opportunity to deliver exactly what each consumer demands. They can work together to tailor each consumer’s experience, making it meaningful and worthwhile for the individual.

5. Maintain an ongoing relationship, not just a one-time sale. Because content is what really matters to the consumer, developers and brands are in the best position to own the consumer relationship. Use the approaches above as a means to establish a continuing dialog with your key customers.

To learn more about how you can create a better experience for consumers, visit Qualcomm’s ‘Presentation Patio’ within App Planet at Mobile World Congress – Hall 7, Booth C37

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Carnival of Mobilists #210

This week it is Martin Wilson from Indigo102’s turn to provide his take on a week in mobile. Here are some of the week’s highlights: “Location” is the topic for Ajit Jaokar of Open Gardens, who praises Nokia for going back to grass roots and believes Nokia is setting the agenda as an industry leader once again. Praise continues for Nokia as Dennis Bournique, at Wap Review, gives his views on the N900 and describes how he believes it represents the next generation of mobile browsing.
Our own Caroline Lewko interviewed industry veteran Francisco Kattan, from Alcatel Lucent, about the changing shape of mobile development. Kattan gives his views and demonstrates how Alcatel Lucent is firmly focused on supporting developers. This support is evident by their sponsorship of the WIPJam taking place February 18th at MWC App Planet.

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Webify my apps?

As a preparation for our discussion group for WIPJam at Mobile World Congress on Getting Cool content from the Cloud, and to follow up on the various discussions on the mobile web we have invited Malik Saadi from Informa to share some of his views and thoughts based on his report Mobile Web Application Developement. In this article Malik explains how the emergence of a fragmented smartphonosphere will make native development incredibly more difficult to scale and thus less and less economically viable and why mobile web development might be the savior for developers and brands alike looking to target larger audiences.

Malik Saadi Informa

Malik Saadi Principal Analyst Informa

Mobile cloud computing will shift applications development to the Web

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and efforts of promoting native development and runtime platforms, Web-based services are emerging as cost-effective challengers that could take application runtime to the Web environment. Not only will this allow the development of cheaper and advanced applications, but it could also shift computing resources and their management from the device to the cloud, which could in turn lower the barriers for enabling advanced applications over non-smartphone terminals.

Smartphones are limiting the appetite for applications development

In recent years, the mobile industry has moved from proprietary to open, allowing for continued improvements in device hardware and more innovation at the application level through the creation of developer communities and application distribution mechanisms. This trend has attracted the majority of device vendors and operating system (OS) developers as well as the mobile operators, which are now eager to offer their own branded app store and subsequently an immersive user experience and advanced mobile applications to their customers. As a result, there has been a strong increase in smartphone OS handset shipments, estimated by Informa Telecoms & Media at 216.3 million units in 2009, up 34% on the previous year. By 2014, sales of smartphones will reach 572.5 million units, representing 40% of total handset sales.

This trend is actually encouraging developers to create applications that are targeted at different OSs and native runtime environments. There are many advantages in developing mobile applications natively, including better integration with the device functionality, high-performance, always-available capabilities, and access to greater support from device vendors through the availability of advanced tools and developer programs.

However, there are also many challenges facing native application developers, which include: code complexity, which could affect the cost of the application development and time to market; application portability across a wide range of devices to achieve economies of scale; and restricted application distribution to operators and OEMs’ channels. Moreover, in the case of Apple, application approval has been a contested topic that has alienated several high-profile app developers from Apple’s App Store.

The fragmentation of OSs, user interfaces (UIs) and runtimes and associated developer programs are also likely to hamper any advantage gained from open mobile applications development. Open OS platforms are often differentiated by their level of support to multimedia and graphical capabilities, network connectivity options, input methods and hardware performance. Chipset manufacturers will find it increasingly difficult to maintain a high-performance and enhanced user experience over different platforms and their associated versions because each platform requires a deep integration with the device hardware and a number of optimization cycles are needed to ensure overall system stability and improved performance. Porting an application to several OS platforms is can be a good reason for failure among independent software vendors (ISVs), but is necessary to achieve economies of scale and reach a wide audience.

Palm Ares, mobile web made easy, Yes! universal?

Palm Ares, mobile web made easy, Yes! universal?

In addition, development tools associated with different OSs often lack the cross-platform approach that could enable the developer to write the application once and distribute it across various devices powered by different OSs. Mobile native application developers are stymied by the extreme difficulty of writing mobile apps for multiple OSs, UIs and runtime environments, especially when there is no clear winner and diversity is just increasing with the mushrooming number of app stores. Then there is the challenge of finding the right placement for this content so that it can be discovered easily by the end user.

Native applications developers also need to bear the cost of testing, certification and distribution of their applications. The majority of OEMs, operators and mobile app store (MAS) owners are imposing their own test and certification programs on developers. Testing fees are based on the complexity of the application submitted and are between US$250 and US$4,000 per submission. If the application is meant to run over variety of devices and terminal platforms, the third-party developer pays the full test fee for one device and gets a rebate for testing the same application on a second device. Additional fees might also be required for network-based applications. In addition, different OEMs and operators have different criteria for application testing in their certification programs. Native applications developers need to comply with these additional programs if they want their applications to reach different MASs and operator portals, which translates into additional cost burdens.

Also, an obvious difference between desktop and mobile native applications is mobile connectivity. Compelling applications should make maximum use of the customer’s mobility, from mobile location services through to interactive games. Simply replicating the desktop experience will not be enough to sustain long-term growth; users will not pay for mobile versions of applications that are available either free or nearly-free on their desktop computers.

Widget vs Native appsFor these reasons, generating native applications that address the long tail of consumer requirements and different consumer groups using various OSs and UIs could be cumbersome, costly and time consuming.

The shift to Web runtime and cloud-based services

The mobile Web applications development environment is an emerging alternative to native applications. This shift is best illustrated by the rush of operators and handset vendors to provide their own widget ecosystems which use Web technologies to facilitate mobile applications development and lower the overall development cost. It could also enable mobile operators and vendors to tap into the wealth of the Internet and address their customers with contextual applications that are more relevant to them.

Until recently, a number of barriers prevented Web-based applications and cloud services from gaining ground in the mobile market, including: the cost of connecting to Web services; the low-bandwidth and latency provided by current mobile access technologies; the bad quality and performance of mobile browsers and related Web technologies; and security issues.

Despite their current shortcomings in terms of performance, power consumption, integration and always-on capabilities compared with native applications, Web applications have many advantages including: faster development, time-to-market and monetization; wider distribution channels; and adaptability for cross-platformization.

There are many changes in the mobile market that are likely to shift applications development to the Web including:

  • The accelerating migration towards mobile broadband services.

  • The dramatic improvement in mobile browser solutions and UIs.

  • The advances of Internet transcoding and multimedia transformation.

  • The emergence of widgets and widget runtimes as efficient solutions for easy content discovery.

  • Deep integration of Web services with the device capabilities and features to enable the creation of contextual applications.

In the past year, several trends have crystallized around mobile Web runtime technology which promise to transform mobile Web applications development, distribution, installation, execution and management. A number of new OSs, including Google’s Android and Palm’s webOS, and a number of mobile platforms, including Microsoft’s Silverlight, Nokia Web Runtime, Qualcomm’s Plaza Mobile Internet, Adobe’s AIR, Access Netfront Widget platform and Opera Widgets, are designed with Web connectivity and functionality in mind. The whole idea is to enable the easy transition of applications development from a native environment to the Web environment.

Widget framework comparisonA number of operators, including Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, O2, Verizon, AT&T, KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Softbank and China Mobile, have already developed – or are in the process of developing – widget stores and Web developer programs that will make the development and distribution of Web applications easier and content discovery and management simpler on the mobile screen. For example, the aim of the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL) initiative – founded by Vodafone, China Mobile, Softbank and Verizon – is to stimulate a new generation of mobile Internet applications around which they can build their service plans and value-added services. JIL’s first project is to develop a widget ecosystem with a single point of access to enable developers to tap into the combined customer base of the four JIL operators – estimated at 1.1 billion subscribers.

The trend towards the adoption of the Web as a mobile applications development environment is likely to intensify thanks to both the emergence of mobile cloud computing and the low latency of the next-generation access networks, which include LTE, HSPA+ and WiMAX.

Informa expects the Web to become the new ubiquitous platform for application development as more and more applications move to the cloud and allow users to access their personal information anytime from any device and over any access network. This trend is likely to remove “smartness” from the device to the cloud, which could potentially reduce the burdens of fragmentation that the native development environment suffers from and spur innovation through the involvement of the much wider Web developer community in creating contextual mobile applications. In addition, this trend will help to shift processing and storage resources to the cloud, which means advanced applications could be accessed by more resource-constrained devices. This could in turn widen the addressable market for the cloud applications beyond the smartphone market.

By increasing the reliance of end users on the Web and cloud applications, new business models will emerge and revenues will be diversified from multiple sources that include advertising, network API charges to third-party service providers and the creation of premium services for the enterprise market. In addition, the migration to a Web development environment could increase traffic around hosted services such as e-mail, VoIP, online office, calendar, online gaming and social networking.

Several device vendors have been pre-installing key widgets in their devices but the trend now is to reorient their software platform strategies towards the creation of widget ecosystems for the development, distribution, lifecycle management, discoverability and monetization of widgets and Web applications in general. These applications are generally easy to create, fast to distribute and serve a plethora of niche markets on the Internet.

Tier-1 operators are also realizing the potential of partnering with Web application developers to enable innovation over their networks, reduce costs related to building data services and build service plans around long tail of consumer applications that target different user groups.

The aim of major operators is to move away from pipe services based on flat rates towards the creation of content-based service plans that will enable them to address different consumer groups with relevant real-time contextual applications and services.

Operators that are not experts in mobile data services, notably Mobile 2.0, have now openly admitted that they will not be able to create these services on their own and expect to employ third parties in the value chain to create best-of-breed services with sustainable business models.

In this context, vendors of mobile widget solutions could facilitate the work of operators by enabling them to bridge the gap between the Web and mobile applications development. These vendors already propose a suite of applications that could include a widget player, idle screen replacement, ODP and a white-label application store. These products could be deployed either individually or as part of an end-to-end widget development, distribution, presentation and monetization ecosystem.

Informa’s report Mobile Web Applications Development looks at various solutions for developing Web applications and widgets, their respective deployment scenarios and the different features that could be requested by operators or OEMs that wish to add mobile Internet and branded services through widgets. Obviously, operators and OEMs have different requirements when choosing a mobile widget solution depending on which market segments and regions they want to address and which services they aim to deploy. The report also looks at the role of mobile widgets in providing a rich mobile Internet experience to help operators and OEMs create new service opportunities, increase customer loyalty and extend the value of their brand to new market segments. It includes a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the revenue opportunities and key trends in widget ecosystems, enabling technologies and the challenges facing operators and OEMs in implementing them.

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2010 Predictions for Mobile Developers

This year you are in for a double dose of Predictions for Mobile Developers, as Thibaut and Caroline team up with their views.

Swami Thibaut Rouffinuea weighs in on 2010Thibaut Rouffineau, based in London,UK is up first:

Predictions tend to be of this Nostradamus type that are not measurable and quantifiable… So let’s try to give actual measures and verifiable facts. Even if it means that each of them can be influenced … but isn’t it the goal too :D
So here we go for our 2010 predictions:

  • Android saves Google in Europe in the face of increasing legal & regulatory pressures.

Google will start the year with even more trouble on their hands in Europe with an increasing number of issues raised by European governments and regulatory bodies. Android will be at the forefront of their defense, as a proof that they are encouraging competition rather than stifling it. This can only and should  be accompanied with a relaxed approach to the way Google and the OHA manage Android throughout 2010.

  • Android becomes the de facto standard for enterprise application and devices

Android is cheap to own, cheap to port, easy to develop for, available in all sorts of form factors, and has an increasingly large workforce available… For these reasons lagging enterprise mobile IT sees a revival through Android as it ticks for the consumer needs (Unlike Windows) and the enterprise needs (Unlike Apple).

  • The mobile developer / marketing scene reorganizes

With mobile marketing taking front stage in 2010 the whole developer / agency / operator ecosystem will feel the need to reorganise to provide more transparency and proof points concerning its efficiency, increase the visibility and management of  data driven activities, to address the shortage of developer skills. The reorganization is likely to see the growth of operator and OEM based mobile marketing agency services.

  • Increasing importance of security and identity providers

I was really impressed to hear a number of regulators at the latest ITU World Conference comment that cybersecurity was their number one concern at present. This concern is matched by an increasing need for cross platform identity requirements such as mobile banking, social media, enterprise and e/m-commerce. This somewhat “unsexy” field is therefore bound to grow in importance in 2010 with mobile operator, social network providers, e/m-commerce players, cloud computing providers all fighting head-on to offer the service.

  • The first mobile application developed on a mobile device or netbook is published

With the increasing computing power of palmable devices (handheld and MID), the universalisation of development tools, we’re bound to see our first mobile apps developed exclusively on these devices. The origin is more likely to be from Asia or Africa but no doubt others will jump to the challenge.

Sage Caroline channels mobile developer predictionsCaroline Lewko’s (Vancouver, Canada) turn on 2010 Predictions:

2009 was a tough and tumultuous year in mobile development.  The economic downturn saw lots of layoffs, a tough environment to raise funds, and lower turnout out at the big tradeshows.  But despite these negatives, the mobile industry continued to grow, we saw new devices like the Palm Pre and the Motorola Droid; new platforms like Samsung’s Bada; lots of new Appstores (see Thibaut’s blog  below); and a growing love of mobile by consumers and developers.

So what’s ahead for 2010????

1.  More Android - here an Android, there an Android, everywhere an Android….

Google has done such a cracker jack job of cozying up to all the major mobile operators around the world; and with most device OEMs signed up as well, expect to see more Android phones released.   Android is going to be everywhere.

2.  More BlackBerryleading the party

I don’t agree with Thibaut’s prediction on Android becoming the de facto enterprise development standard.  BlackBerry still has a strong foothold in the enterprise space and there are many of us still holding tightly onto our crackberries.  Watch BlackBerry this year – I think you’ll see them everywhere too.  RIM is stepping up to the plate and becoming less Canadian, spending lots of money on a full-on promotional campaigns and sponsorships to both developers and consumers.  Expect big showings at CES and MWC.

3.  Less iPhoneconsumers get ‘smarter’ about Kleenex

So, last November in San Francisco I grabbed a cab to take me to  the Marriott, here was our conversation:

CLL:  Please take me to the Marriott on Fourth Ave
Cabbie:  Oh, you must be going to the BlackBerry conference
CLL:  I am, you really know what’s going on!
Cabbie:  Of course – that’s where they are talking about making cool stuff for the iPhones.
CLL:  ah, no….. and then I went into an explanation on how the iPhone is just a brand name and doesn’t represent all smart phones and cool applications

iPhone has become a genericized trademark. Given the increase in marketing for Android, BlackBerry and other handsets; and the striated distribution of the iPhone away from exclusivity; I think consumers are going to gain better understanding of the variety of smart phones with ‘cool stuff’ that is available with other really great trademarks!

4.  More Application Innovation just say Aaaaa PIs

Applications sure proliferated last year, and certainly there were lots of creative and useful applications.  However, the only truly interesting innovation was in Augmented Reality. Expect to see more AR applications this year – see Lester Madden’s Augmented Planet for the best information on AR platforms and applications.

WOW - more innovative mobile apps are coming! I believe 2010 will be a year where we get back to innovation again, the stuff that makes us go WOW. Here’s why:  investment is starting to flow again; a lot of new developers have tested themselves on the iPhone and are ready for something more to test their skills; access to operator APIs are getting easier thanks to the work of companies like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson; other platform APIs are going prime time; there are lots of great cross platform development resources out now; and other platforms like Java in the form of MIDP3 is gaining new capabilities.  It means lots of opportunities to be creative; and more resources to streamline development.  I can’t wait to see what developers come up with!

Thanks to Teresa Ostman our resident expert on events, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention 4G as another technology to watch in 2010.  She is seeing a steady increase in LTE and WiMAX event worldwide.  With implementation of LTE and WiMax on the rise,  these will likely lead to additional innovation in app development too.

New Year’s Resolutions for Mobile Developers:

As last year  - continue to follow the money.  All these great new opportunities also continue to add to fragmentation, so smart decisions still need to be made in order to find success.  Check out the WIP Wiki Resources for some companies and tools that may be able to speed up your development.

Interested to see how we did with our previous predictions (not to bad actually!), check these out:  2009 2008 and 2007.

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Carnival of Mobilists #199

iguanaThis week the Carnival stops at the new-look Mobileslate, where host Eric Chan takes the helm. The eclectic collection of posts includes a closer look at app stores (facts, figures and payment mechanisms) and a welcome deep-dive into key mobile market figures from Chetan Sharma.

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What future for the mobile phone in a multi-platform world?

Customer journeys, such as finding new music or communicating with friends, no longer take place within the confines of a single device or service. Users may combine several devices or applications to achieve their objectives, creating a new set of challenges when designing user experiences which excel in this multi-platform environment. This essay brings together 5 of the leading thinkers in digital industry to explore the concept of multi-platform mobile user experience ahead of a major new MEX conference (2nd/3rd December 2009, London) on this same theme.

By Marek Pawlowski (PMN), Thibaut Rouffineau (Wireless Industry Partnership), Lisa Whelan (, Andreas Constantinou (VisionMobile) and Matt Lewis (ARCChart).

Marek Pawlowski, Editorial Director at PMN and founder of the MEX ConferenceMarek Pawlowski, Editorial Director at PMN and founder of the MEX Conference, begins by examining the role of the mobile phone in a future of multi-platform experiences:

There is an old cliche rolled out time and again at mobile industry conferences: “You never leave your house without your wallet, keys…and mobile phone.” It is, of course, meant to remind us how indispensable handsets have become to our daily lives (and, perhaps, by extension, reassure all those in the mobile industry that, not only are their jobs secure, but they are meaningfully engaged in providing a significant service to humanity!).

A recent BBC documentary about the lifecycle of mobiles (’The Life and Death of a Mobile Phone‘, BBC4, 5th October 2009) provided an insight into just how attached users have become to their phones, with many of the people interviewed confessing to never turning off their handset - even when they were asleep - and never letting it leave their sight. The level of attachment exhibited by the interview subjects was quite remarkable.

This places the mobile phone in an interesting position. By virtue of its ubiquity, it is the digital device we spend the most time with every day and the one we are most likely to trust and respond to. What then will be the role of the mobile phone in tying together the myriad digital platforms which fill our lives?

The number of digital assets and devices owned by the average human is growing daily. The volume of emails, texts, videos, photos and music files to which each individual can lay claim is exploding. So too is the number of places we store this information. If we look just at one type of data - say, photos - we find that an average individual may have a collection of photos on their camera phone, as well as several albums downloaded to their PC from their digital camera. If they’re truly at the cutting edge, they may even have some images stored on a network-attached storage (NAS) device and beamed wirelessly to digital photo frames around their house. The same scenario of multiple storage locations and multiple access devices is also true of other data types, from email messages to videos.

This model is both unsustainable and undesirable for the human mind. The complexity of keeping track of where we have stored what and how best we can access it will lead to an apathy induced by our natural fear of cognitive effort. We are already starting to see the first signs of this as digital pioneers, those who have led the charge into a world of multiple social networking accounts, PCs, MP3 players, consoles and phones, start to kick-back against the information overload they have brought upon themselves. When we undertook research with more than 700 people in digital industry during the planning stages for our next MEX Conference (2nd/3rd December 2009), it was eye-opening to hear how many people working in the technology business feel overwhelmed by the very devices they have themselves created.

As an industry which has developed the phone - the most widespread computing and communications device in this multi-platform future - the mobile business has a responsibility to sit in the driving seat of delivering great user experience across all of the digital platforms in our lives. Crucially, the industry faces the challenge of combining the diverse range of devices in users’ lives - from PC to phone to interactive TV - into an experience genuinely greater than the sum of its parts.

Thibaut Rouffineau of the Wireless Industry Partnership (WIP)Thibaut Rouffineau of the Wireless Industry Partnership (WIP), picks up the story and suggests possible strategies the mobile industry may adopt for delivering multi-platform services:

The rush of the mobile industry towards ’services’ rather than devices is a clear indicator of the solution most feel will become the glue between the devices, hoping for a good old style horizontal integration to solve the fragmentation.

Based on previous examples, the type of services to be offered are pretty obvious: single identity and single sign-on valid across all devices, universal storage to synch-up all devices and storage media, billing platform for universal one click payment, universal recommendation and preference engine.

Unfortunately the mobile industry has rather poor track records when it comes to reducing fragmentation, whether horizontally or vertically.

It basically knows 2 models: ‘king making’ and the operator association

King making is quite simple, the number one player in the space acquires or adopts a technology and sways the balance in the ‘right’ direction; for example, cameras, GPS and navigation. Simple but more and more difficult as the industry becomes more and more competitive, furthermore there is no killer technology to be adopted today that would solve the problem.

The operator association approach (e.g. UMTS Forum or GSMA) is pretty good at getting all to walk in the ‘correct and unified direction’, but the time involved, the size of the issue, the number of solutions to explore and the club approach would make such an association impossible.

And thus it’s no surprise to any observer of things mobile that most disruptions (or chasm crossings) in the past few years have come from outside the mobile world: Apple for touchscreen and application purchase, Google for open source & mobile cloud services. It thus appears, based on past analysis, that the only credible way forward is the arrival of a new player in the market to solve this issue.

So what kind of new player could this be…

  1. A vertical player moving out its niche… The name Apple obviously jumps to mind as a company which will solve this fragmentation challenge for you if you can pay the price to buy the entire Jobsfolio of ‘i-catching’ products. Can Apple now go mainstream with more than the iPod and the iPhone? Let’s not doubt it.
  2. A horizontal web service player extending into mobile… This sounds like a familiar reality called Google. In an industry known for its ability to constantly fragment and micro-segment, doubts are possible but isn’t Google too big to fail?
  3. A new universal remote control provider using a phone-type device… Previous attempts in TV / VCR / PDAs have shown the limits of this model relying on massive testing by the supplier, long set-up by the user and the general failure to encompass the variety of environment one interacts with.
  4. A neuro-controlled headset controlling standard interfaces on various devices… Hardware is now available from Emotiv for those willing to try…definitely promising.
  5. An identity service provider able to aggregate little by little all individual preferences, behaviors and automate activities such as payment, authentication etc in a secure way. An option sought after by many.
  6. A new digital ad agency specializing in multi-screen media buy. Once again, a sought after option…

However the past is not always a good adviser for the future…another famous saying at conferences!.

In a time of personalisation and increased multi-tasking, vertical or horizontal integration might not be the best way to deal with fragmentation anymore. Rather we could look to a world of standards, where defragmentation or user experience creation is a personal matter rather than an industry matter; where each individual is both in charge and empowered to make their own choices around what matters and what doesn’t; what they want to explore in its complexity and what they only want to deal with at a superficial level. From this perspective the industry winners will be those who can embed in their products standards, co-creation, a notion of variable complexity and the necessary need for multi-platform.

Lisa Whelan, founder of SocializeMobilize.comLisa Whelan, founder of and a business development, strategy and marketing consultant, delves deeper into what multi-channel services mean for user psychology and the desire for simplicity:

At the crux of this challenge for the mobile industry is finding a way to proactively address consumers’ needs, without overwhelming consumers with choice. Different people have different needs. And, yet presenting users with too much choice isn’t necessarily a good thing, nor is it even particularly advantageous to mobile companies.

From a user’s perspective, choice often means complication, and in the eyes of the consumer, simple often wins out over complex - even when it means fewer features.

As humans, we like the ‘idea’ of choice, but we often find it difficult to make decisions when were offered too much choice (a state known as ‘analysis paralysis’). In theory, more choice should be a good thing for consumers, but when it comes to mobile technology, I believe users buy a phone to reduce the complication in their life - not add to it.

When it comes to mobile phones, as long as our basic needs are addressed, most of us are happy - even if we aren’t offered a huge amount of choice about how that happens. By ‘basic’, I mean being able to communicate and share, be it through voice calls, emails, or social networks, organize (calendar), and to a lesser extent, be entertained, on the go, for an adequate period of time (i.e. long battery life). The rest is gravy.

Take for example the Palm, Inc. (at the time, PalmOne) vs. RIM battle of the early to mid 2000s. The Palm Treo could run thousands of applications - including a handful of 3rd party push email clients (Good, Seven, Visto and more). In contrast, RIM offered fewer mobile applications for the Blackberry and one push email client - it’s own, pre-loaded client. Which company ultimately saw better uptake of push email and remains one of the leading OEMs? RIM. In retrospect, it seems that Palm may have offered its users too many choices, rather than recommending a single push email app that executed well. The result was consumer ‘analysis paralysis’ and increased market fragmentation.

Take as another example the iPhone. Unconfirmed reports estimate the total number of applications on the Apple App Store at 100,000, but how many of those 100,000 applications are being downloaded more than 6 weeks after their initial release? Most of the developers I know are saying that the average app life cycle is just 4 to 6 weeks without a product refresh. Only a few apps continue to be popular after their initial launch, leading me to believe there are only a few apps that people consistently find they ‘need’.

According to research conducted by mobile analytics vendor Flurry, over a 90 day period, the apps used most frequently and for the longest period of time immediately after download fell into one of four categories - from lowest to highest - health and fitness, weather, reference and news. In contrast, entertainment, social networking, travel and sports apps were used the least frequently and were rarely used past 45 days.

So, what then will be the role of the mobile phone in tying together the myriad digital platforms that fill our lives? It all depends on which digital platforms become the most essential to consumers over time. If a large enough group of consumers decide that they need access to a specific group of digital mediums from their mobile phone, the growing eco-system of software developers will respond organically. As app store owners continue to improve merchandising, discovery, and behavioral targeting, more and more, consumers will be shown the apps and services that most effectively address their specific needs, rather than being burdened with too many choices.

Matt Lewis, Managing Director at mobile industry analysis firm ARCChartMatt Lewis, Managing Director at mobile industry analysis firm ARCChart, discusses what the architecture might look like for multi-platform services and expands on the role of the next generation address book in tying it all together:

At the heart of any strategy to improve the user experience in a multi-device paradigm sits the mobile cloud. While the term ‘cloud’ is a relatively new addition to the industry vernacular, it’s easy to understand the concept it references.

The range of devices and services with which users now engage often store information remotely, off-device. In essence, the cloud simply refers to the off-device storage of this information on a remotely located server, which can be tapped into with a variety of front-end applications - a browser, widget, dedicated app, picture frame or any client providing a window into the information and allowing data to be added, edited and removed.

Photos provide a simple example of the mobile cloud. Several digital cameras on the market now have the capability to automatically upload photographs directly to photo sharing sites like Flickr, using the camera’s embedded Wi-Fi capability. The user may then access these photos on their PC through a browser; or on their phone through a dedicated application (which may offer rich photo editing features); or their laptop screensaver maybe be configured to run a slideshow of the images held in their photo sharing account. All these devices and applications are accessing content by simply tapping into the cloud.

The cloud has grown organically and the approach to storing and accessing the data is more or less specific to each content/service provider. However, it is conceivable that as cloud services become more engrained, and consumers demand the ability to export and share files and media between different providers, the industry will move towards a more structured approach, defining specific storage, access and synchronisation standards. SyncML is one standard which already exists and which may evolve to address the entire cloud.

SyncML is commonly viewed as a method to synchronise contact and calendar information and the migration of the phonebook off the phone and into the cloud will perhaps be one of the most important user experience boosts in the multi-platform world - this is the advent of the Phonebook 2.0.

User are gradually becoming overwhelmed by the number of disparate lists of contacts, or phonebooks, they are now managing. A quick count of my own phonebooks shows the tally is eight:

  1. Mobile phone (on-device)
  2. Corporate phonebook
  3. Email address book
  4. Facebook
  5. LinkedIn
  6. Windows Messenger
  7. Skype
  8. Twitter

Throw in a couple more social networks or IM communities and it’s easy to see how some users are juggling in excess of ten separate phonebooks, and the number is expected to grow as more services promote the sharing of content within and across communities. Often, individual contacts are repeated across several phonebooks - for example, a close friend is likely to appear in the contact list on the phone, Facebook, LinkedIn, Messenger, Skype and Twitter. The same person is repeated in all phonebooks as if each instance is a unique contact.

All these services already exist in the cloud, in that they are accessible remotely from different devices and applications and can be updated and edited from each. The problem is that each phonebook exist as a separate silo.

The objective of the phonebook 2.0 is to aggregate all these disparate contact lists within the cloud, providing a single window into a user’s entire phonebook portfolio. The phonebook 2.0 identifies repeated individuals and amalgamates their credentials from each service into a single phonebook entry, providing a one-stop view.

It is easy to see how such an approach not only enriches the user experience by greatly simplifying contact management, but the aggregated information is of far greater value than in its disparate format

Take, for example, presence. Many social and IM networks provide an indication of presence, showing the real-time status of an individual in terms of their usage of the service (online, offline, away etc.). Aggregated in phonebook 2.0, presence supplies more granular information, identifying the services on which someone can, or cannot, be reached. Add to that a location facility, and the value of phonebook 2.0 ratchets up another notch. As social networks roll-out location tracking features to their users, the aggregated phonebook will become a vital tool for engaging with professional and social communities based on geography.

The question now becomes: who will become the phonebook gatekeeper, provisioning the aggregated phonebook service to end users? Will it be carriers, the handset makers or OS providers; or will it be the social networks or portal players like Google and Yahoo? Or will an independent third-party spot the opportunity?

Andreas Constantinou, Research Director and founder of VisionMobileAndreas Constantinou, Research Director and founder of VisionMobile, explains how multi-platform services will need a deep understanding of users’ total context and behaviour:

Information overload will necessitate more than filtering or search; intelligent, contextually relevant recommendations that take into account our long term habits and our short term topics of interest, to suggest information, music, events or activities which are relevant. Beyond recommendation, new forms of communication will allow us to interact with many more people in the same space of time - forms of communication that are today unimaginable, in the same way that Twitter and Google Wave were unimaginable 5 years ago.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your views on this essay and you can help to advance the debate on multi-platform user experience by contributing a comment to the blog.

For further reading…

  1. The MEX Manifesto & Conference for Enhancing Mobile User Experience in a Multi-platform World
  2. Mobile User Experience blog
  3. Wireless Industry Partnership blog
  4. blog
  5. ARCChart’s Rethink newsletter
  6. VisionMobile Blog

Twitter links for the authors…

  1. @marekpawlowski (Marek Pawlowski)
  2. @campbieil (Thibaut Rouffineau)
  3. @lisawhelan (Lisa Whelan)
  4. @andreascon (Andreas Constantinou)

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In case you missed WIPJam at Awsome (OSIM)

At this stage if you have missed OSIM / WIPJam… there is no consolation other than reading the #osim tweets or consulting some of the great summaries written on the subject, and to quote just a few see the links at the bottom of this post, with hopefully more links from you soon…

A lot of OSIM summaries but no WIPJam summary so far which this post sets to correct… with a quick overview of the 2 unpanels.

This should be followed by a short series of posting summarizing the various discussion groups…

Open services architectures

Open services architectures

Open Source is all about community and developers… and sometimes developer communities (*)… And thus they should be a key part  of Open Source in Mobile ! That’s why we partnered with Informa to bring WIPJam to OSIM, invite developers to participate for free, and have a bit of collaborative thinking and exchange during the day!

Our  first unpanel focussed on openness and all its variants… The session covered a lot…

  • Operators struggling to be as opened as they would like to because of  local regulations told Chris Fromm of E-plus
  • Claudia Backus (Motorola) and Lars Kurth (Symbian Foundation) started a series of questions exploring the motivations behind targeting a platform whether Android or Symbian. To find out that developers thought that the interesting part in Android was more the buzz and the opportunity promise rather than the fact that it is open source (even though all agreed to say that open source should not only be seeing the code but also getting bug fixed…  and one of our developers had managed the feat!!!! which left Lefty (Access) voiceless for a good 5 minutes)
  • Choosing the right niche to open source in, with Dave Axmark reminding people of the surprised looks he got when he launched MySQL
  • Governance models and the best approach to take when setting open source communities, from completely open to a mix of community source and open source, sparkled a good discussion led by Ralph Mueller from Eclipse Foundation

A lot covered, but also a lot of subjects to be explored in more depth… Anyone wants to continue the conversation?

Choosing the right niche (and carpet) is sometimes baffling

Choosing the right niche (and carpet) is sometimes baffling

Discussion groups brought their usual brouhaha and debates… with results sometimes esoteric, but discussion group leaders have promised to post out more details on the subject soon.

Stay tuned for more summaries from our various discussion group!

Our second unpanel for the day was about mobile web development… trying to shed some lights on the complex world of widgets, mobile web, application or not application… or as represented on our panel, JIL (Vodafone) , BONDI (OMTP), html5 (W3C), transcoding (Siruna) or offering a pure web service REST (Layar).
A bit of clarification was needed first of all to define what widgets are after the debate earlier on this year (still on?)… Which Francois Daoust (W3C)  gave explaining what a widget was as per W3C standard which sounded very similar to “an application written by a web developer !!!” ; followed by an unanimous consensus that:

  1. Widget are applicationsThe end of a long day
  2. It is possible to make money from mobile widgets (someone actually pointed out that iPhone was a brilliant example of that)
  3. Whatever fragmentation exists is not specific to mobile but reflective on what’s happening on the web (hopefully this could mean banning the term fragmentation from any mobile conversation from now)
  4. Web development is much easier than traditional mobile development (earlier on in the day Tom Deryckere from Siruna had indulged the WIPJam with a live coding session showing how one could mobilize a website in 1 hour… )
  5. Web development is popular and there are many web developers out there! In a few months of existence Layar already has 111 layers developed for their site internationally with a large contingent from Japan! (Dirk Groten CTO of Layar was exhausting after being asked to give demos all day but managed to give us the figures )

Does it sound too easy, too simplistic?  Waiting for opinions…

Big thanks to all who joined us! With a special WIPThank  to the unpanel, the discussion group leaders, and all of you who had to face their fears of microphones! We look forward to seeing you all  the future! CTIA maybe??

Gate crashing at the Nokia T-Mobile party

Gracious party thrown by Nokia and Tmobile

As promised here are a few summaries of OSIM, feel free to post more!

- Peter Vescuso : Observations from the 2009 Open Source in Mobile (OSiM) Conference: Open Source…Perfect and Free?

- Philipp Deprez  : Review: OSiM World, Open Source in Mobile, Amsterdam

- Roberto Gallopini : Effective Commercial Open Source Strategies Reloaded

- David Wood : Five reasons open source won’t work in mobile(?)

And a final special thanks for Nokia and T-Mobile for organizing a great party on the last day of OSIM… or was it gate crashing?
(*) Thanks to Tony from Mobile Sorcery  for the inspiration with his famous “Symbian is open source as in open and source!”

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Counting the days

With only 10 days to go before the WIPJam at OSIM I’m all too busy polishing my best trainers for the event to think about anything else… but making sure that the event will be as interesting and entertaining as possible to all! Call it the stress of the organizer… So in need for reassurance I gathered a few of the hot topics of mobile development today that should spice up our conversation.

Open is the new closed writes Andreas Constantinou  from VisionMobile hi-lighting the fact that nowadays everyone claims to be open if not open source. But then adds that we’d better become informed shopper when it comes to openness and stop believing the “Wash whiter than snow” blanket statements coming from various open source and open projects in mobile.  This is just what our first unpanel will set-out to do! With 4 representatives from various  projects, Symbian Foundation, Access for Limo, Eclipse Foundation, and Motorola for OHA, joined by an operator (Eplus) and a long time open sourcer David Axmark (Founder of MySQL) we should be able to cover the entire spectrum of governance…

Why care you might ask? Governance is boring, administrative stuff and in the end they ‘re all the same… Or almost… (vote here for the best open source license for example)

My answer to this would be rather simple… governance will impact everything you can or can’t do in and around a platform… from annihilating your business model to blocking your product’s route to market (thinking a bit negative here)… ever tried to become a member of OHA or submit a code fix to Android to set-up an Android distro? Still waiting for the outcome of a JCP for APIs you need to launch your app across multiple phones? Still battling to get your apps through the Appstore or through an operator?  Looking forward to put your hands on the Limo or Symbian code? All points that we can take with our panel of experts…

24% of mobile developers have started to write apps for netbooks according to EDC and will definitely check this with our participants. Thanks to Intel we will have a truckload (or so) of netbooks in demonstration at the device bar… and a great discussion group on the subject of netbooks and new devices… what could we make of them?  What do they change to development patterns?

And if these 24% are correct, what I’m even more excited to find out are the motivations behind this move? Are these Windows Mobile developers scaling up to larger screens and hopefully larger volumes or Linux mobile developers doing … well roughly the same thing, or whether there’s just no logic at all…

Developing for smartphone is like entering the Babel tower writes Paul Krill for Computer World stating that the large number of native runtime is a limitation to developers and stating that html 5 could hopefully be our saviour soon!

Fragmentation has been a statement of fact in the mobile development world for as long as one can remember, and the situation has only become worst with the rise of iPhone and Android. The resulting dilemma was all fairly well summed up by Mobile Sorcery in Total Telecom or as I heard at a recent mobile marketing seminar , “All big brand want an iPhone app as the key to their mobile marketing strategy until we tell them this is only 2% of the market, then starts the real discussion”. Which makes Caroline’s platform choice panel part of OSIM and discussion group on platform  choices particularly timely, or if you’d rather talk to the protagonist of the article directly anyone from Eclipse, Motorola, Limo will be present.

Seeing html5 as the new saviour of mobile fragmentation though is pretty new. Anyone looking at the vast numbers of browsers, widget frameworks, web API initiatives could certainly ask whether we’re not heading towards yet more fragmentation. The usual explanation by those involved telling me html5 is a standard and we need to wait for it to be ratified to see  unity. I’ll be waiting then… but only until we hear what our unpanel has to say on the subject with W3C, Bondi, Vodafone, Siruna giving us their thoughts on the all-web future of mobile development.

If this has tickled your curiosity,  you can now register or start posting questions you would like to debate! The comments on this page are made for this!

See you in Amsterdam! and remember it’s free to attend for developers!



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Carnival of Mobilists #189

From her base in Siegburg, Germany, Peggy Anne Salz of brings us the week’s worldwide Best & Brightest blogging in Carnival of the Mobilists #189. Lots of great reading material here. A comprehensive list of mobile industry facts and figures has been posted and explained by Andy Favell and the team at Did you know that there are 4.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide; growing to 5.8 billion in 2013? Check out the article for more great information.

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Carnival of Mobilists #186

Carnival #186 at is a speed write from host Matt Radford that deftly touches important bases so you can jump to the week’s best mobile blogging. Check out Chetan Sharma’s latest US Wireless Data Market Update - Q2 2009. It’s crammed full of interesting analysis including the following: The App vs. Mobile Web discussion reached a surprisingly new crescendo. The evolution is pretty clear - for the applications that don’t require significant UI resources, it will be better to develop in for the browser, for intensive games, the native platform will be ahead of the browser advances. The location API access on the iPhone browser is breakthrough to have developers start thinking about the webapps.

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