Monday, December 14, 2009

“Beast”

The future of search is mobile, and the actions of Google demonstrate this point. Personally, actions are the key measurement where behaviors speak louder than words or press releases. According to the article, Google saw their search requests rise 30% over 6 months on mobile. The actions of consumers are equivalently important to understanding the not too distant future. Consumers are finding value, perhaps more quickly than they did with the web.

The University of California, San Diego last week released some metrics describing our current information diet. The implications for mobility are enormous. The implications for various industries is already being witnessed. The successful companies in the future will control both the services and the device profiles in a more refined manner. My guess is that we are going to experience a tidal shift so quickly that most of the current players won’t even understand until it’s too late. Very simply, Apple and Google are set to dominate.

Google and Apple compete in other areas, like online distribution of music and video, Web browsers, and soon, computer operating systems. But it is in mobile phones that the two companies appear to be battling most aggressively. In recent weeks, Google has unveiled a string of cutting-edge services for smartphones that run Android. They included an application that gives turn-by-turn driving directions, which Google is giving away free. A comparable application from the satellite navigation company TomTom for the iPhone costs $99.


Apple does have a strategy between the mid-level and the high-end, but a true shift is possible with an assault on the low end. A web-capable device for the third-world that was essentially free and could access services via cell networks or Wi-Fi would be nothing short of earth shattering. In the US, such free devices would be incredibly popular, and with sales of Android devices still lagging the iPhone, priming the pump could promote a shift in developer thinking. Such an action could push Android to the top of the market almost overnight. It would also affect the future of the telecom market.

Attaining the market share necessary to make services useful is difficult at best, and nearly impossible even with capital. Google is in a unique position to change the landscape. A device like the Peek that ran Android and had a decent touch screen would be a game changer if it very simply accessed Google services. It would be revolutionary if it accessed the cell networks for free. As the article notes, Google is experiencing what Apple did with Motorola — a company that can make great products but is mired in a market where group think dominates.

Google’s actions speak very much to Apple’s choice of moving on without such a partner. They are much more of a threat to AT&T and the telecoms in general ensuring that their reception would be chilly. The market interpreted Apple’s move as revolutionary where it was simply evolutionary. I would bet money on Google having plans that could undermine the mobile industry from the core. Timing is the issue. We will see a free device from Google; it is only a matter of time. Competition for the high end is not the ball to watch.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Voice

Nuance Communication has released Dragon Dictation for the iPhone. Utilizing Dragon NaturallySpeaking technology the app allows you to quickly transcribe voice to text on the fly. I will be trying this out! It will be interesting to see if I continue to use such products.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

UI

Nokia is betting heavily on a revamped Symbian UI to provide the necessary momentum to beat Apple and Android. I have been a fan of Symbian, but my major concern is a streamlined development process as well. Cleaning up the UI will ultimately make code easier to complete.

My primary question is one of future needs. If the phone in my pocket becomes my personal computer can Symbian compete? In a world of cloud computing, and perhaps resource sharing, perhaps yes. Can it provide the horsepower necessary to become say equivalent to an XBox? I’m not sold. The thing in your pocket is going to become incredibly powerful in the future. It will require multiple data connections to facilitate sensors and personal area networking. It will need to become both a router and a personal computer.

As noted, the UI is currently the greatest bottle neck. This will continue because we haven’t hit the point where new methodologies are required to facilitate thought in motion. But, consider speech recognition. Consider gestural interaction. Consider image recognition. Much of the power will have to reside locally. My push for a mobile OS X, and the appeal of mobile Linux, is based on the idea that these operating systems can scale. Between Maemo and Symbian, I bet on Maemo. Maturity is the issue, but maturation is the base requirement.

Jewel

Jaeger LeCoultre has seen 100K downloads according to Mobile Marketer. I imagine that the annual production of the company is less than that, but aspirational brands need to inspire! One year into this experiment, it is interesting to see applications evolve into such experiences.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Served

iPhone App Store icon100M applications are downloaded per month at the current clip. Some additional numbers are provided in the report, including click-through rates in games as compared with Android. Shouldn’t they be playing games? Millennial Media/Mobclix are the publishers.

Versus

Peter-Paul Kock backs off the iPhone development rants and looks at the technologies in this blog posting. The assessment is accurate and some of the comments highlight the problems with current mobile web technologies. Designing for the mobile web makes me think of planned-obsolescence in that most of this stuff will have to be rebuilt as the standards improve.
As I said in the original article, device APIs that give access to device functionality like the camera, the file system, the address book, and so on, are coming. There are some security considerations, and the user will have to give permission for most forms of access, but those problems will be solved.

“Will be solved” is the operable phrase. As some have noted, please click on Safari in airplane mode. Such apps do not work. Web technologies will improve, in 5 years. Seriously, until then the objective should be to push the boundary of mobile and force the evolution of technologies that will facilitate great interaction models. Mobile web will rule, and Flash is not the answer, but it is going to take very real effort.

The mobile web is not for losers, it is however for most of the established players who avoided innovating. If I were behind, pushing mobile web would be the most viable path, and as a plus it would extend the mobile web to the rest of the world where very real growth is happening. The slick apps can be deceiving. Strategy can clear the necessary path.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Growth

In all of the hubbub about the iPhone and Android, we forget that other devices want to browse too, and with increasing amounts of content it is feasible. A fan of Opera Mini, I have often recommended and used it on Blackberry for example. If I am correct, it was the browser for UIQ when I used an Sony Ericsson P800.

Opera is reporting a solid 16% gain in browsing for September. Sadly, this is also a primary browser for the Blackberry, and such devices could be skewing the numbers. I would love to see them broken down!

Opera, with the exception of the absence of WebKit, is really a prime takeover candidate for somebody like Nokia. That would require them to remain in the Symbian stable, which I find untenable at the moment. Focussing on mobile web is truly critical, and Opera has a solid ecosystem. The caching system is truly innovative and could provide media capabilities with the proper backing.

Tracking Number

Fedex has developed a device to track packages as they travel across the globe. Senseaware contains “a GPS receiver, accelerometer, cellular transmitter and a light sensor to provide a range of package statistics. This is sort of crazy, but something like this by UPS might be humorous.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Commerce

Ebay is on track to sell $500M in goods this year. Given the complexities of locating goods that is quite interesting. I wonder what the percentage of finding goods to buy versus tracking auctions is. I have used it to track auctions. I am looking forward to seeing how our jewelry app does.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mergers & Acquisitions

Google admits that Android and Chrome will eventually merge into a developer defined soup. I suggested that this will happen, because there is too much overlap, and the search beast will find that a common core is beneficial. Additionally, Chrome will require additional capabilities. My bets are on Chrome becoming the true mobile monster.