Monthly Archives: January 2008
Jan 14 By mobileman
The big news announced by Google – at least to us mobile types – is the extraordinary number of impressions the Google application in iPhone is generating. It is time to declare the beginning of the end of the existing Web application paradigm on wireless devices. The distinctions between the regular everyday Internet and its wealth of Web 2.0 applications and mobile Internet have started to blur.
It now appears that an important impact of the iPhone has been to bring the smartphone category into the mainstream consumer consciousness.
The wireless application developer has long been challenged by the myriad of device types, interfaces, carrier preferences, and version of Java and Brew. Indeed, industries have been created to port and mediate applications between these various client specifications.
Once the interface of all mobile devices standardizes – at least to the extent it has in the Web – with a couple of browser and capability types, the efficiency, economic viability and speed of innovation for wireless Web applications should dramatically increase. In essence, an entire mediation industry will be removed from the equation, leaving more profit opportunity for the creators of content, applications and, yes, even the carriers.
The key enablers for moving the wireless Web into a modern era are in place. High-speed networks can now enable rich media, Web 2.0 applications and enhanced interactivity. The cost of larger LCD screens, processors and memory have become economical for lower-priced smartphones.
Consumers are beginning to the cross the chasm of these devices being just for business to using them as a primary consumer device. A quick survey of recent smartphones shows a large selection available at $99, a significant decrease from just 6 months ago. The era of large screen, high-speed martphone being part of the “free” entry phone collection is not too far removed. At that point the interoperable browsing capability on a large screen will be a must have feature.
The future is big, bright, shiny and fast, has lots of memory – and less middlemen.
I spent the last week at our corporate headquarters in Italy. It is always interesting to compare and contrast the mobile market environment in markets outside of the U.S. For many years, the U.S. suffered a deserved mobile service inferiority complex. It had been stated that all the really cool stuff was happening in Europe or Japan. That has changed.
To quote one of my favorite writers, Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times, “The world is flat!” Here are a couple of examples:
The vast majority of my colleagues have BlackBerrys. The BlackBerry device itself and the service were created in Canada but were first introduced in a serious manner in the U.S.
While flipping through the multi-national channels on the TV in my hotel room, it was hard the miss the influx of German iPhone commercials for T-Mobile (as well as some other German commercials that I will discuss later!). Many other advertisements for mobile phones are iPhone-esque. They feature large touchscreens and virtual keyboards, they play Mp3s and have Wi-Fi.
With the U.S. market providing innovative, global-leading devices, and with premium VAS skyrocketing, I hereby declare the official end of the U.S. inferiority complex. I am not raising the stars and stripes in a jingoistic manner, but rather to point out some rough parity in creating leading service models.
As Friedman proclaims in his bestseller, the global economy for goods and services is permeating all aspects of our economy, and this includes mobile value-added services. Mobile devices and value-added services can be sourced from any land with data center and Internet connectivity.
There are still obvious differentiations and cultural norms that create service differences across markets and continents. The service and device differences are now dominated by local norms and market conditions, not technology or market maturity.
One very obvious difference is the use of late-night (after midnight), continuous commercials on German stations. As best I could, either there is a severe clothing shortage for well-endowed women, or there is a market for mobile VAS in text sex chat, mobile adult videos and adult wallpapers. Have you picked out the common theme to these services? I cannot imagine a similar all-night commercial on American television.
All in all, the mobile world may be flat, but local market differences certainly make it very diverse!