A Big Week For The Mobile Web
When I use the word "mobile web", I am not referring to the web running in mobile browsers, although I understand that is what the words have come to mean. I believe that mobile devices are bringing web services into our pockets and purses, onto restaurant tables and bars, and into schools and stadiums.
I am not particularly concerned about whether these web services are deployed in a browser or in an app running on a mobile device. I realize that these are big issues for developers and that the mobile web suffers from too many browsers, too many operating systems, and too many device configurations and screen sizes.
But the power of the web in your pocket is so large that none of this really matters at the end of the day. The "mobile web" is where "it" is at right now. And it is also where it is all going.
And this past week was a big one for the mobile web. We got three big things we've needed badly:
1) A real competitor to the iPhone – the Droid
2) A scalable business model for mobile apps – in app transactions in free apps
3) A standard for broadcasting video (and audio) to mobile devices
Here's why I think these are all big deals.
First and foremost, we need competition in the mobile web market. If Apple were to own the mobile web opportunity that would be very bad for developers, for consumers, and for innovation broadly. Nothing against Apple, it would be true with any company. Android is the best hope for a strong competitor to Apple. In fact, as I've written here before, Android is a lot like Microsoft's Windows OS. It was a copy of Apple's operating system in many ways, but it was open and it could run on many devices. And it became the standard with Apple retaining a small but important share. I believe the same thing will happen with Android and the Motorola/Verizon Droid looks to be the first really great Android phone to come to market. And I love this ad for it.
In addition to competition in the mobile web market, we need a scalable business model for mobile web apps. Display advertising is not likely to be that answer. In app transactions seems like a good one. It has worked very well in social gaming and is starting to show up in other web apps. But it is even more powerful on mobile devices where the user already has a transactional relationship with one or more providers of the device. Apple has decided to allow in app transactions on free iPhone apps, something they have been reluctant to do until now. This is a big deal. I think this could be an "order of magnitude" kind of inflection point for monetizing mobile apps.
We also need a way to offload bandwidth sucking applications from the carrier's networks. The AT&T network has suffered as iPhone users have adopted rich media on their devices. The same could happen to Verizon if the Droid is as popular as I think it can be. But there are ways to offload much of the high bandwidth services. Instead of watching the Yankees game via the AT&T or Verizon network, you can watch it over the digital TV broadcast spectrum using the ATSC standard that will ultimately find its way onto mobile devices. We've already seen this happen with the digital audio broadcast standard, HD Radio, that is now on Microsoft's Zune and will soon be on all kinds of mobile devices. Last week, I started listening to last.fm radio on the Zune via the the 102.7 hd2 channel here in NYC. There is a lot of one way spectrum out there that is now digital and can be used to push high bandwidth content onto mobile devices. I expect we'll see mobile device manufacturers and carriers work to leverage that spectrum to free up their networks for more interactive uses.
As important as these three developments are, I suspect we'll see like weeks like this past week a lot in the coming years. The mobile web sector is developing quickly and innovation is happening all over the place. It is very exciting to see.
Fred, you re pointing to one of the main issues of the mobile web: standards. I think this was and still is one of the issue in that industry. Things are starting to get better but as you said there are too many platforms for developers and enough good standards in the mobile ads space, specially for promoting and merchandising apps. The App store(s) so far have done a poor job in that direction except for top sellers. Hopefully this will change over time
The standards issues is actually a really big issue that no one is ready to really full tough on. It extends down to the hardware. Name some really ergonomically correct hardware for next generation phones. I’m trying to write up what this all should look like. Then try implementing all this stuff on the “correct” looking phone.It’s complicated because we want our phones to do so much. We’re actually hitting our strides right now, but the Google v Att&T case might hold us back…yuck.
..we need a scalable business model for mobile web apps.Not just for mobile apps, for all web apps.
i would be we are approaching 100bn flowing through web apps worldwide peryear
Any ideas on the market cap for web applications? I’d guess 100billion is too low.
google alone is worth $133bn
Oh right Apple just jumped past them both around 150billion. I was thinking more about total $$ that can flow through web apps. That ceiling must be BIG.
as much as that Droid commercial made my morning, it almost feels like a conspiracy that we had to wait this long to finally get some competiton for iPhone. whatever, it’s just exciting to have an open spectrum and an open os that i believe will become as familiar to us as Windows is over the next several years.
yup. i think i may finally move off blackberry if the droid is as good as ithink it will be
It’ll need to be a clear upgrade for me to swap (and I want to, but there hasn’t been an alternative yet).The high bandwidth push model has great potential, but do we need separate channels with the up and coming 4G wifi/mobile backbone?I’d love a dynamic service provider mobile device, that uses whatever bandwidth is cheapest in my area at that moment (as opposed to lock in plans). The more fluid the information/content charge model, the greater the consumer value. Let’s drive the cost of open spectrum down as far as we can go, as fast as we can get it with good ole market pressure.
i love the idea of a device that is smart enough to determine thecheapest/best form of bandwidth to use to get a specific piece ofcontent/data
That’s sorta how the Internet works after all. Those packets each find dynamic paths to the destination address. I need to write this up in a post about restricted versus dynamic networks, hopefully I can tie in Shannon’s information theory (maximum entropy is maximum information).
Here’s the overly long post: Optimal Dynamic Network Paths, why current wireless Internet frameworks fail. I’ll probably need to iterate on that one some more but it goes well with my gripes on At&t & Apple, as well as our collective need for better bandwidth utilization (open spectrum).I just read that At&t is going to allow skype over it’s network now (to placate the FCC).
Is there a permanlink for that post?
iPhones not letting me cut and paste at the moment. Google search, AT&T allows skype over wireless network, top link should be a wsj blog post
Though #1 and #2 are generating the most discussion, I think #3 is extremely important as the carriers wake up to the fact that they’ll need to offload bandwidth to manage the explosion of mobile data. Multi-radio technologies and network selection decision making will become crucial as these decisions will strongly impact carrier economics and user perceptions of quality. Much of the plumbing of handover is there, but more work needs to be done to facilitate network discovery, evaluation and negotiation, i.e. the intelligence needed to make good network selections from both the user and network perspective. Standards like IEEE 802.21 Media Independent Handover with their Information Service and the recently formed 802.21b to look at handover with DVB and DMB are addressing some of these issues and are steps in the right direction towards an intelligent contract-less world.
Great comment. I’m really fascinated by this idea of a smart device that selects the right network for the right content
I suspect it will be, but not in this iteration. That and I suspect that they still are going to get in trouble for the Google Voice Stuff, if it ever goes native into OS, which seems logical, but really legalistically problematic.
the institutions that trade mobile stocks are alreay making the bet. look at $aapl and $goog price action versus $rimm
I am way behind the market as usual howard!
It’s sweet: the way we think about “the web” is going to completely change in just a few years, and this is a huge part of it. The devices allow us to have the web (using the term as shorthand) in places and situations where that was impossible just a few years ago.With that moving into place, there’s then more and more reason to develop applications for those devices that take advantage of that time and place context (and the data that comes with it); the stuff being developed for this new iteration of the web is less site and more service.This is going to be a seriously fun decade.
I’ll be first in line at my Verizon store on the 30th to get my Droid. Love the iPhone but have avoided getting one because we are so tied to the Verizon “network.” And love the Droid commercial.
don’t forget thhe WiFi direct stuff
Yup. That will be helpful for offloading traffic too. But broadast spectrum is totally off net and more efficient for one way stuff
that’s true …for us big , it’s more importantly, for the “home hub wifi” to get these…our stuff is disproportionally effected by it because convergence/interoperability between devices at home center/living room/kitchen etc. browser sync (ie weave etc) in real time is crucial for us
Great ads for disruptive consumer products are a rarity. This one speaks to me and I’m an Apple centric iPhone user.
The keyboard and battery slides are all I needed
For me it was “open”. Spent some time building an Open Source community awhile back and the power when it works is thunderous and unstoppable.
Check out this concept video I did a year ago :)http://www.youtube.com/user…
great post boss. particularly in app transactions is what i am particularly excited about — i view it as another key portal to the virtual currency revolution. however i think the problems you noted are very big, the relevant economic/governmental problems are even bigger, and so that has waned my bullishness a good bit. but in any event i think every consumer-oriented web entrepreneur needs to have a mobile strategy in mind. in particular, i look forward to seeing more businesses spring up that enable other businesses to easily tap into the mobile market. stuff like swebapps.com is an example of what i am referring to.
I too am looking forward to droid. I have a G2 on T-mo I have been using for the last few months. It lacks in the processor department.I drove cross country last week and the commercials are right, VZW is the only one out there with a serious nationwide 3G network. I had 3 phones with me, an iPhone 3G on ATT, a G2 on T-mo, and my moto krzr on VZW. I did not see ATT 3G between Reno NV and Rochester MN (with the exception of the town of Jackson WY). T-mo was better but they’ve got some wacky roaming agreements. VZW had pretty solid 3G coverge most of the way across the country. There were gaps, but they were small and few.I’ve been saying for the last few months that 2010 is going to be the year of Android, I’m sticking by that prognostication.
spot on [as always]. liking the opportunities around Squarehttp://news.cnet.com/8301-1…
That commercial is a piece of junk (obviously there is no right answer about whether this is commercial is good or not).How can you crown the Droid as a great phone when you haven’t tried it yet. Remember the hype around the original Android phone (G1), the Palm Pre, the Blackberry Storm, etc. Each one of those was going to be as good or better than the iPhone. None of them have.What’s the hurry to crown this new phone? Don’t be a sucker and believe the hype.
the specs of the device are the perfect fit for me (and others i suspect)i already like the android OS but the G1 device was a non starter
For me the G1 was porly designed, big, and clunky. The G2 is pretty solid, it’s a bit slow and I don’t love the virtual keyboard (but it’s no worse than the iPhones). But android 1.5 is a better OS than iPhone.My question for the droid will be will be thickness of the device and build quality.
All I am saying is that there is a BIG difference between spec sheets, controlled demonstrations and breathless reviews and the reality of owning a smartphone.What’s the hurry to crown the Droid? Can’t we let it come out and be used and wait for the reaction before deciding that it is the real deal?It sounds like you have made up your mind about this phone (as many others have done with many other phones (including the iPhone)) only to have reality crashing down on their head.I figured a non-tech blog would take a more measured, reasoned approach to a new phone.
maybe it is my desire to see Apple get a worthy competitormy gut says this will be it
So, how do we keep score?Is it enough to get really great reviews (like the Pre), customer satisfaction survey results or is this about sales numbers?How should the success of the Droid (or any modern Smartphone) be measured?
Right now iPhone has about 4% market share and about 3% reach in the US. Android will better that by the end of 2010. The only way Apple can keep up is to expand beyond AT&T and that’s not going to happen soon. Apple loves the big checks from AT&T.You will see Android on AT&T years before you see an iPhone on VZW.
it’s not droidit’s the android OS because that is what app developers build forso we count all android powered devices vs the iPhone i think
I don’t think there is much question that total Android market share will eventually be higher than total iPhone market share.This is not a all or nothing contest. There will be several smartphone platforms that divvy up the pie.I see Android and iPhone as both winning big. In fact, Android is a much bigger threat to Windows Mobile and Symbian than it is to iPhone. Handset manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony-Ericsson, Motorla, etc. need a 3rd party OS (because they aren’t going to create their own) and Android is looking better than Windows Mobile and Symbian. iPhone and Blackberry and (hopefully Palm OS) aren’t going anywhere soon. There will be multiple horses winning the race.What I don’t see is a single handset that ‘kills’ the iPhone.
i totally agree with youif i implied otherwise in my post, i messed up
1. You live by open, you die by open.2. I hope you didn’t mean to say Windows was “open”.3. The only thing Verizon is in a position to leverage is its network. I’d love to see how their non-GSM network will perform when/if they are unbelievably lucky to be able to sell 50-75MM Droids within 18 months or so.4. Are you taking bets on this?
No bets. Just ‘I told you sos’ in a few months. And I am always prepared to be on the receiving end of them
I agree, but the G2 is way better than the first. But I think they could still make it look better.
I can’t speak on the merits of the tech, because I am one of the minority of folks out there who just has a basic cell phone and doesn’t have much interest in using it for anything other than speaking on the phone, but I liked the commercial. Actually saw it during the Giants game (speaking of which, where was the Giants pass rush? And how bad was that b.s. holding call on what would have been a spectacular second half touchdown?).
Actually you’re in the majority.Most people don’t have smartphones yet. All smartphones combined have about 15% market penetration in the US.
Whatever… Every third week another “legitimate threat to the i-Phone” comes out and within 6-months they are in the trash heap. Game over on that topic or dare I mention the Pre? My i-Phone 3G just died today, going to get the 3Gs.
i think whatever is wrong in this caseandroid is good software and with all the carriers and device manufacturerson board, it will be a major compeitor to the iPhone
Bet you lunch on it next time I’m in NYC… Let’s put some parameters to it – what do you deem to be “a major competitor”? x% of market share in y months? Let me know because I just don’t see it happening – I’ve been excited before be it the Storm the Pre or whatever…I love competition because that forces technology to advance as much as anything else but this game is already over in my mind…
the game is never over
Just ask Alta Vista, IBM minicomputer group, Palm, etc. As companies get larger, the very challenges associated with being larger create new opportunities for competitors.
Obviously over time companies who own markets lose those very markets either from competitive reasons, performance/value reasons or a fickle consumer base however my point is that now is not that time, the Apple i-Phone run is far from over. Apple & i-Phone’s will be on top for many more years and this particular i-Phone killer is going to have the same fate as the Storm or the Pre. This phone is not going to hurt, impact or challenge the i-Phone…
I tend to agree. Apple has a great product that continues to get better. Everyone else is playing catch up. And I think that Apple’s control of both hardware and software is a major advantage relative to the more “open” folks. Openness is a form of religion in the world of computing yet the best phones on the market – Blackberry and Apple – are very closed indeed.
it has miles to go – i did the G1 – gave it away to a friend in Indonesia – the software was OK – the device was rubbish – what makes the iphone is the combination of the 2. i am looking at it now and it still looks cool 3 months later. Its not just software – unlike the laptop – this is an extension of our own appearance – almost a fashion statement. Admit it iphone owners – out you come.if android solves the device problem – and marries the ergonomics to the software op – then it will begin to compete – until then – every soccer mum and wanna be cool guy like me will take form over factor.
So were the early PCs. IBM opened up the platform and it exploded
I think, in way back then it was the technically oriented people that could lead the way in adoption and therefore is what happened.I think this time around it’s average consumer that are not tech savvy who are leading the way in volumes and their purchase reasoning is way different than tech people (like in other consumer products based on brand). It would be very interesting to see how the game would end today if PC & Apple would start from zero.Me too would like to have plenty of competition for apple, so they that they must keep pushing and bring on new features, but that’s about the only reason I care.Another comment on the point number three. Broadcast TV on mobile is struggling in those countries that already have it (Europe). The reason is that LIVE TV in general is becoming niche, most of us prefer TIVO and other DVR’s & web video. The reasoning is that people enjoy the freedom in their time schedule on their free time and if it’s something you want to watch live, you most likely want to see it with your friends on a bigger screen. Those situations that fit live & mobile are niche.
No certainty that history repeats itself. There have been open OS options for a while in the mobile space – granted not very good ones – and yet iPhone and Blackberry, both closed, dominate. It took Microsoft a decade to come out with an OS + hardware combination that was in the same ballpark of quality as the 1984 Mac. Maybe Google will succeed where Microsoft and others have failed but I’m skeptical that it will happen any time soon. Either way, it’s great that Apple set a high bar – and gave others an spec to copy.
totally agree about the high bar. i am still in that phase where i find myself saying – what the **** were all the device manufacturers (save BB) doing for the past decade that they did not see this coming. Its 2 or 3 generations ahead of others.
Agreed, it could be a good alternative to the iPhone. But Apple doesn’t need competition, they are busy enough competing with themselves. The Droid is more about giving the consumer a choice.Said another way, the iPhone is a Star Trek-level device: it has a full operating system underneath, WiFi and cellular connectivity, and a blank slate for an interface…it can literally do anything someone dreams up (with appropriate hardware of course, like Square or Nike+). The real product challenge is making it easy to use, which Apple has succeeded and other (Windows Mobile) have failed.So will Droid be as good? It has potential, but it faces a big challenger in the iPhone to get enough consumers to believe it and buy in big enough to gain significant marketshare. So bottom line the ecosystem can rally around it an let me be #2 compared to Apple #1 for quite some time.Plus, both companies have their work cut out for them to get Blackberry out of the picture. BBs are just too entrenched in enterprise to disappear quickly.
Actually, if you really want to do cutting edge mixing of software and hardware, android is much more friendly to work with as they give you much more control over the device. Apple’s sdk limits how low level you can actually get with the device (without actually jailbreaking it) and the more you dig in, the more apt you are to get blocked in the apple approval process. One example I’ve dealt with personally around this issue is control over wifi on the devices. One foreseeable issue with Android though is how performance may differ across different flavors of the devices (e.g. motorola, htc, etc).
Maybe I’ve been in mobile for too long, but I have doubts about the biz model of In App transactions on free apps. Yes, it’s a great move, but whether this makes more mobile companies suddenly able to pay the bills (I believe < 1% are making enough money to do so), let alone grow a venture-backed business, is questionable.I have two reasons for this: 1) so far, consumers who peruse free are different than those that look in paid. I’m not convinced that this changes that or that that mentality. 2) In app purchases for free are just one of the problems. The second half of this untamed beast is ratings/reviews. Free apps are rated significantly lower than paid. (Our paid version was 4-4.5 stars, the free one was 2 stars even though the functionality difference wasn’t substantial.) How will Apple account for those who downloaded for free and rated? How about those that keep the app v. those who delete it (Apple prompts for a rating on deletion but not on retention, biasing the results)? And how will Apple handle ratings for the in app purchases v. just the free usage? Until Apple handles this second category, I think it will be hard for the rating process to help the buying situation and will bias developers to stay in the paid category.I believe the big winners in the App Store so far are: 1) big brand names and 2) those distributing a mobile app that supports a web one. I hope In App purchases on free apps helps, but I’m not convinced enough to take the plunge with my own software yet, even though ours would be perfect for this model.
What lubricates commerce with this model is the ability of a free app to turn on more functionality with the in-app transaction, without returning to the app store to buy another app.Whether it generates enough revenue is an open question, but it’s certainly low-cost revenue at that stage of the game.
It will take developers a while to figure out the model but it will be huge when done right
Great post, Fred. Whoda thought you could have this much fun in your pocket and actually post about it in public? Meanwhile, over on NYTimes, Ballmer…oh, nevermind. Let’s just stay here in the world of agile imaginations.
The other big question I have is will VZW badly hobble Android. They have a history of doing that to handsets and if they do it will be DOA.
could you clarify “badly hobble”? what does their history suggest they will they do with the OS that will make the handset DOA?
I imagine that by “badly hobble”, he means that Verizon has a tendency to turn off device features that are built into the device. This could be for a variety of reasons some of which are that they have a competing “paid for” service or that they want to ensure platform and network stability. An example of this is the Blackberry Curve from Verizon, which I have. The model comes standard with GPS built in but Verizon disables it until you pay for their $15/month VZ navigator service. Its really quite annoying when trying to follow directions with Google Maps and only being able to see where I am within 10 blocks. I also know that they’ve disabled some bluetooth features on many of their phones.I am very much looking forward to the Droid and greatly hope VZW doesn’t cripple it. I might even switch from my Blackberry! 🙂
The GPS/VZ Navigator example is a good one, thanks for clarifying!
VZW is notorious for hobbling bluetooth functionality on a wide variety of handsets.
Fred – Do you perceive Symbian to be in the game at all? I’d invite you to tune in next week to the Symbian Exchange and Exposition in London where the future of mobile as Symbian sees it will be on display from the 150 member companies that contribute to the Symbian Foundation. I’d also be happy to send you the current Symbian platform roadmap – 2010 is going to be an amazing year for mobile.
i think they are very much in the game outside the US
Symbian and partners have definitely refocused on the US market — Qualcomm’s commitment to Symbian will make a big difference and you are starting to see a wave of new Symbian devices through AT&T. The big news will come as symmetric multi-processing comes in Symbian^3 early next year and then a major refresh in UI with Symbian^4 later in the year. Don’t count out Symbian in the US.
that’s good to know thanks
Also – worth examining why operators and OEMs might chose to align with Symbian — a completely open and independent not for profit foundation — instead of Android which is still controlled by Google. Both operators and OEMs have concerns about Google…
i am sure developers will like the governance of symbianbut it is also about number of handsets in use
Well if it is actually about the number of handsets, its hard to beat Symbian globally (300 million). In Japan alone, 40 million. US has been behind, but as Apple has shown this can change quickly in a market which turns over handsets in an average 18 months. So if you think that Apple is open to attack by Android, you must also consider the possibility that the Symbian phones shipping in the next year will also provide a bigger challenge to Apple…
you’ve opened my eyes to that possibilitythank you
tshelton, as a dev/investor in asia we’re surrounded by symbian handsets.. nokia marketplace just opened up but truth of the matter is a lot of developers still have a hard time monetizing on it or even getting installs – users aren’t use to downloading and installing apps the way they are on iphone and android at the moment. one of my teams – buuuk – was in the process of porting their iphone app to symbian but found the process a bit more difficult as well (porting to android was relatively painless). in addition to fixing the the web browsing experience, these two factors need to be addressed before the mobile web can really take off on symbian
Developers don’t like symbian, users don’t “really” like symbian. Those that are now using had no choice at the time or don’t have budget at the moment (and then there are those that have learned to routines of symbian and those that must use symbian).Check our this developer presentation, how to choose right mobile platform. Teemu is Jaiku developer (was twitter competitor in early days that was sold to Google) from Nokia country.http://www.slideshare.net/t…
Also I think “we all know” that Nokia also is moving towards linux (mameo), they just can say that out loud, or they have big problem with their symbian developers from that day forward…
True- but is not only a numbers game. We have yet to see a real and vibrant appstore in the Symbian world- Ovi has been an embarrassment. “regular” none techie people cannot get close to downloading and installing an app on a Symbian phone. As a long time Nokia user/researcer- I’ll be happy to see that change- soon I hope! In the meantime I’ll do iphone for lunch and Android for university research.
“When I use the word “mobile web”, I am not referring to the web running in mobile browsers, “Please don’t do that. You’re presuming to redefine a space that’s been under contention for the better part of the past decade.Just say “Mobile Internet Services” – as that’s what you mean anyways, it’s more accurate (none of your examples have anything specifically to do with http or html, i.e. “web”), and not filled with literally years of baggage from warring factions that even Sir TBL himself has taken part (One Web vs. Mobile XHTML vs. accessing the web via smartphone browsers).-Russ
i am not trying to redefine anythingi am writing on my personal weblog and i am using words in use in my everyday lifeand because some people could take them to mean something else, i wanted tobe clear about that
Well then, in your personal weblog you’re using the wrong terminology, and you might want to correct that to be more technically accurate. Just a suggestion of course… I completely support your freedom to write whatever nonsense you’d like, disregarding completely the thousands of readers who might be influenced by your words.:-)-Russ
i think the wording i used was pretty clear about the fact that i was usingthe words incorrectly”When I use the word “mobile web”, I am not referring to the web running inmobile browsers, although I understand that is what the words have come tomean.”
I’ve had a demo HTC Hero since week before launch (couple weeks now). It’s certainly the best Android so far (OS 1.5 i think). Not ready to replace my iphone just yet, mostly because the app ecosystem isn’t there– but you can bet it will be.Also, I DEMAND a physical keyboard– if the Droid does just that alone, it gets my love.Google has executed ahead of schedule and faster than any player i’ve ever seen in mobile. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Google in 2015 looks more like a mobile company than web.
Those on the Blackberry should check out the Bolt Browser. I installed it yesterday and it’s much better than the browser that the Blackberry ships with. Still not as good as using an iPod touch on WiFi (iPhone on AT&T is way too slow these days) but an improvement: http://boltbrowser.com/home…
Another quick comment. FWIW, I’m a bit pessimistic about how well the mobile web will monetize. I was at a conference last week and I heard a CEO of a company – also former CMO of a major cell phone company – respond to the question “will you advertise on mobile devices” with a “we have not and will not”. His main issue was that because the screen real estate is so limited, it’s very hard to communicate any form of message. He also commented that because the mobile user is doing something specific like checking the weather, sports scores, stock quote, or searching for an address, it’s very hard to interrupt them with a message for something else and have it be effective. He specifically said that he feels that the short term experimentation by advertisers with the mobile medium is exactly that – short term experimentation and that when the experiments are done, the marketers will find that short of mobile search engine marketing, the ROI on ads won’t be there, particularly if the product being marketed is not a mobile product that is fulfilled in the same medium as it’s marketed. (e.g. a music download, a ringtone, etc). As an early adopter of the Blackberry (2000), my personal experience has been that I’ve reduced my mobile device usage more and more. Ever since I got a Verizon EVDO card in late 2005, I’ve coupled it with an ultralight laptop (a Lenovo X301 now – a Panasonic toughbook in 2005) and if I need to do anything more than a very basic search, I’d prefer to open up the laptop. When I land after a flight with no Internet access, I don’t bother with my blackberry for email – i just wait 5 minutes until I can pop open the laptop. A big screen and full keyboard are interaction models that work pretty darn well for me. Granted, that’s a 2000 dollar expense versus the $200 or so expense that an iPhone costs so it’s definitely a use case of a very particular user. But I do think that one source of competition that phones will face are inexpensive laptops equipped with mobile data access. My brother has an iPhone but because the AT&T network is so slow and the device battery life so bad, I almost never see him use it.
IMO mobile advertising is where we really start to see the beginning of the end of interruption-based advertising in the digital economy. in app transactions will help do away with interruption-based ads, and help further progress the merger between content and advertising.
I like it in concept. It’s not mobile but we are trying to have as little “general” advertising as possible on our site (oyster.com). Instead, we want to have ads that are actually, in effect, a form of content because they are marketing things to the user that the user might actually want to buy. I think that advertising will migrate away from impressions based thinking to thinking only about efficacy of impressions. If I can’t put something valuable in front of you – that is likely to have a high CTR – in most cases I should not want to put it in front of you at all because it takes away from your engagement with the product. This can take the form of a very small text based ad that offers a truly unique deal on something that is incredibly relevant to what you are already doing or a display ad that is clever and creative enough – and relevant enough to you – that it is also a form of content, in a sense.
“…screen real estate…”??? That CEO must still be living in a banner land.
🙂 in that land he spends $200M/yr on advertising (a lot of TV in the mix). And he’s not a dumb guy.
Mobile advertising is not about replicating the “eyeballs” mentality… Like they did with display ads on the Internet.FourSquare provides a much better example of things to come: proximity marketing done right with a real value for both the end-users and advertisers. Mobile ads in the forms of simple micro-banners are def. a legacy from the past.
If I follow his brand on twitter and get a relevant message with a link in my mobile twitter client, I’ll click on itBanners aren’t going to work on mobileBut permissioned messaging done right will
i don’t know why people still think that its in someone’s DNA to want to receive a marketing message period. I dont.
I played with the droid a few weeks back.it’s very nice and by far the android powered by phone by far.it’s a bit thicker than the iphone but that’s expected because of the slide out keyboardbut it’s very slick and I liked the feel a lot.and the best part is that we are going to see a lot more choices in the Android market on multiple carrier networks.
how did you get your hands on it Bijan?
a friend of mine from google showed it to me.-bijan
you lucky dog!
Maybe this will be the comeback of Motorola. They owned the “cool phone” market with the Razor, then totally fell off. This is their second chance, similar to Apple’s story in a funny way. Sanjay Jha is placing a big bet on Google Android and I think it’s the right one. The sweet thing is that no matter what happens, consumers are winning in a huge way. Long live competition, open platforms, and mobile access to the web. If it has a solid keyboard and great integration with Gmail and Google Voice, I’d love to switch out my BlackBerry for the Droid. I won’t pay a huge price for it though. I’ll probably wait for my chance to upgrade.
I am seriously thinking of moving from bberry to droid. I wonder if they are aiming at the wrong user base with that ad
That’s an interesting thought. Maybe a bunch of Blackberry users willswitch to Droid instead of iPhone users. Taking stabs at the iPhonemight ironically be a perfect way to lure Blackberry folks (whofrequently like the iPhone but find it flawed or overrated).
I’ll start out by saying – I’m a BlackBerry diehard now. Bought the iPhone when it came out in 2007, and a year later, I gave it to my wife and returned to the BlackBerry.Here’s my thing: the Droid sounds great with real multitasking and a real keyboard. But there’s one final piece that drove me back to the BlackBerry: will it have enterprise-grade e-mail?I know that for many of you who live solely in the Web 2.0 / startup space, e-mail is sort of passe and you twitter each other or something.I spend a lot of my time still in the corporate world, where the advanced tool of choice is Yahoo Messenger, and on top of that, you get 300 e-mails a day (200 of those are being a part of ridiculous threaded e-mail discussions you never should have been CCed on in the first place).I guess my point is that I think the broader market is still VERY e-mail centric, and the iPhone is quite simply a HORRIBLE phone for e-mail, both from a keyboard and software perspective. Perhaps it has improved in the 3.0 world, but I used it through 2.1 and it was awful. Lost messages, messages that wouldn’t download from the server, no way to see if a sent message had gone through.My stats said I had sent 7,000 e-mails on the BlackBerry in the 12 months prior to the iPhone, and sent only 500 e-mails on the iPhone in that 12 months I had it. That should tell you something.So that will be a big piece for Droid or any other competitor. If you want to play in the business world, you need enterprise-grade e-mail. We want INSTANT push delivery, no-wait open and read, and we have to KNOW that outbound messages went out, even in areas with flaky coverage.If Droid solves multitasking, keyboard AND enterprise-grade e-mail, it could also be a big player in the enterprise and heavy-email-consumer spaces, where iPhone is not playing well. BlackBerry’s strengths are clear…their big vulnerability is the need for a major overhaul and cleanup of its OS UI, which is still looking dated at the 5.0 level.(PS: Some people criticize the BlackBerry on apps. Not sure why, since they are an open platform and I can go on the web to any software vendor’s site and download-and-install apps over the air without BlackBerry or AT&T even knowing. I’m not a huge app user, but I have about 10 or so installed that I use regularly.)
I could not agree more. There have been previous discussions here about new solutions to email. IMO, those are all very odd solutions to a problem that has already been very well solved. The blackberry’s integration with Exchange/Outlook is unparalleled. And anyway, email is not dead – not anything of the sort and it’s not just a bigco thing. How do I interact with everyone that I know in any business of any size? email or the rare phone call/voicemail. Yahoo IM on occasion. If they FB email me, I ask them to email me on my regular email so that I have full email functionality instead of the 2nd rate functionality of FB messages.I can easily tell the people in our company who have an iPhone instead of a Blackberry. How? Because they don’t respond to email promptly. Instead, they wait until they are back on a real computer. The iPhone is a great web content consumption device but it’s still a lousy email device.
I’m on an Iphone running exchange, I don’t see the issues you are talking about. It may have been the case with Iphone 1.0 but certainly not with Iphone 2.0.I have push email, calendar integration, and contact integration. I’ll give you that the fact there is no tasks integration is a pain and I still do not understand why Apple have not implemented it.Personally I’ll take a touch screen over a physical keyboard any day of the week to have an elegant, less bulky device in my pocket.I’m glad to see that there is real competition for the iphone coming that can only be healthy. The Blackberry is not that competition at the moment, if mobile email is the most important thing to you, I can see the attraction of it. The iphone is the first successful device that has achieved where many smart phones have failed, the push toward one single device in your pocket that has many uses.The UI on the iphone is still yet to be beaten.The mobile device market needs competition badly and it is happening, everybody is still playing catch up at the moment but they are getting there. I don’t think Apple will be able to improve on the iphone much now as a physical device, it may get a faster chip or a better camera or be slightly thinner, smaller or lighter and they may be able to tinker with the software to give users things like multi tasking but apart from that I don’t see any major step changes. Which is another positive for the competition.What I want to know is who is going to give me the mobile web with a screen that is transmitted onto a contact lens or directly onto my iris, the UI is thought controlled and let’s me make a call via an implant in my ear. I’m betting it will happen in my lifetime !
i am currently an Iphone user after spending 6 months in self imposed mobile exile. There is not a BB user on the planet – myself included – that would put hand on heart and take the i phone email approach over the BB. I have the new exchange integration on my i phone – its crap.
But native gmail on droid? That could the thing as I’ve come to love the gmail ui
I’ll have to take your word for it Mark, I’m not interested in trying a Blackberry, yet, all I know is I can read and send email easily enough with the iphone – a colleague in my office has a Blackberry, it looks butt ugly! Yep I’m coming out!
Hi Richard,iPhone and BlackBerry are on two fundamentally different models when it comes to e-mail. iPhone is the equivalent of running Outlook over a slow internet connection. Yes, it has push on exchange, but it’s not true push – it’s just notification. When I tapped on a message, it would take at least 5-6 seconds to display (at least in my service area). When I sent a message, it disappeared and all I had was a little progress bar saying “sending”…on critical messages, I’d hold the phone and watch it, in flaky areas for 1 or 2 full minutes, hoping upon hope for the send to go through. Try going into iPhone mail on a plane while offline – warns every 3 minutes it can’t find the server, you can’t file your messages, etc.BlackBerry is on the NOC model. You have this direct, always-on, integrated connection with their NOC at all times. Push actually sends the first 32K of a message to your phone, so it’s instant click and you’re reading. And BlackBerry messaging fundamentally assumes you could be in offline mode at any point in time. So every mail transaction is saved locally and then transmits to the NOC for sync with your mail server: deletes, filing messages, sending, etc. I have a message-by-message record with a check-box if it went through and a red X if it didn’t.I’m not enthralled by the one device concept. I NEVER used the integrated iPod on an airplane flight because it meant a dead battery when I landed in the next city and needed to make calls. Of course, that would tend to make me rant about Apple’s stubbornness with a sealed battery, but I’ll stop there.Now — all of that being said, you’re dead right on iPhone UI, it’s great. And I hope you’re right about the other ways of human input – that would be cool if it works well.
Hey AaronThanks very much for putting me straight on the difference between Blackberry and iphone with Exchange. I’m a pretty light mobile email user and probably do not need the features that hard core BB users require.At the end of the day it’s what suits you, which is why competition is so necessary as Fred has already asserted.I love the concept of one device and for sure battery life is a big issue but that is something I’m sure will be solved in the near futureI think the reason why I am such a fan of the iphone is that it does try hard to be that one device, with it I can:Take a photo of my family when we are out and instantly email it to our family blog, which I have to say has been a fantastic way of creating a history of our son growing from a baby to a toddler.Get directions to the nearest pub !Find out the name of a music track that I like playing in a bar via ShazamSet my Sky+ (It’s like a Tivo here in the UK) if I’ve forgotten to record a rugby match.Stream music or video from my server at home to my iphone using Orb or direct from Spotify or the BBC iplayerSpeak to my brother-in-law for free who lives in Texas whilst I’m in Starbucks using Skype.Follow Fred on TwitterSend the odd email!I’ve been pretty flippant with most of the examples above and I know you can do most if not all of the above with the iphone competitors but for me the iphone has been the game changer in the start of bringing the single device to the consumer.My iphone doesn’t replace my Sat Nav, DSLR, mp3 player, laptop yet but it does mean when I’m out I have the functionality of all of those things in one device should I need it and I’m finding I’m using all of that functionality more and more these days and way more than when I carried a bulky HTC windows phone around 18 months ago.cheersRichard
Richard, all good points, and I can definitely agree that the iPhone’s incredibly good user interface has made all of this accessible to a type of user that can’t quite figure out the BlackBerry (my wife is a proud example of that).
Great comment aaron and that is why I’m still on blackberry. I’ve tried to move to iPhone twice myself and failed both timesBut after finally moving completely off of outlook/entourage/exchange onto gmail earlier this year, I find myself wanting gmail native on my phoneThose 200 email convos you should never have been copied on get collapsed into one in gmail.It is simply a better way to do email at scale which is what enterprise email is all aboutAs for bberry apps, I agree that the delivery paradigm is better. But talk to app developers and you’ll find out that developing for bberry is a nightmare compared to android and iPhone
Fred, I couldn’t agree more. I run my own personal domain on gmail and love it. And in the mean time, before you get to use the Droid, BlackBerry just shipped an enhanced gmail plug-in that seamlessly integrates all of the gmail features into BlackBerry e-mail. http://blackberry.com/gmailI have heard that about app development on BlackBerry as well. It’s too bad, because they tried to adopt Java as an open standard. I dislike it when companies try to do the right thing and get down the wrong path, but such is life.
Finally settled on Palm Pre. It’s awesome. Love the “exchange” style integration with all things google (email, cal, contacts, etc).
I am hoping the ‘exchange style integration with all things google’ will be even better on android phones. It should be
Droid Does. http://technbiz.blogspot.co…
and you fail to mention the powerful role an app using the SMS platform can have? its the most native form of mobile use worldwide – and will remain so for many years to come. SMS is a command line interface to a world of opportunities socially and for the small business. Building a command line interface in to a web app is a very powerful opportunity.
I agree and have posted about that on several occasions
I’ll be back, I’ve been working on a post about this for about a week, and doing hw.
http://www.shanacarp.com/es…Short answer: Stop thinking of them as smartphones, they’re tiny computers that are being hampered by the thought of them as smartphones. Think about what you do on them. Really.(I’m re-editing for grammar and seo in the morning/afternoon- and writing part 2 later, this is nearing 2000 words)
glad to see the continued strong interest in mobile…..agree that mobile will have the biggest impact on internet services over the next decade…..but also think patience will be required……it won’t have the velocity like the internet over the last 15 years……fragmentation and complexity of the chain (OS, carriers, device manufacturers, standards, etc) will keep the pace much more measured….
That’s not a bad thing if we keep our investments sized appropriately
for sure….it helps make it more manageable and predictable in many ways. the opportunities are there….just been to some mobile events lately where it was a bit ‘frenzied’ ….. ‘the world has changed’ mindset. iphone was an amazing shot in the arm….but i think the industry will maintain a certain pace due to constraints that are still present….
I agree with your frothy point. Yesterday reminded me of oct 1999. So much stuff happening so fast in our portfolio. My head is spinning
deleted…..should have been posted as a reply
I am sure you are right
Hey Fred am I being thick ?(which is quite possible!) Is the only way to delete a Disqus comment I have made here to go to the Disqus website and delete it from there ?
i can delete it if you’d likewhich one was it?
My personal planned dual gadget setup: wifi/mifi enabled *droid phone + iPod Touch. Here in Europe most carriers think they can rip off iPhone customers with more expensive data plans. No one enjoys being held captive to bigco mercy thus I choose relative freedom that *droid phone gives me and at the same time having ability to pick the best from AppStore.One more thing: European mobile users face very high roaming charges in the US. Are there any reasonably priced wifi/mifi gadget/phone rental company? I would definitely use that rental service.
Having recently picked up an Android phone (HTC Hero), I really think this platform will finally present a challenge to the iPhans. But it still could use a better processor (Samsung Moment, also by Sprint?), and the limiting factor for all these smart phones is the battery. When you start running satellite GPS, Wi-Fi, YouTube, Web browsing, you’d better stay close to an electrical outlet. Not very “mobile.”New battery tech should be our moonshot.
I don’t have any empathy for the carriers – here in Canada, they offer 6Gb/month plans, hoping that people will not use it all up. Now that apps and content are available to potentially use more than, say, 500Mb/month – the carriers are in trouble. Sell what you can deliver?
While Google has alleviated one major competitive issue versus Apple’s iPhone (choosing to work with Verizon, which offers a better network), the biggest fear/risk for Android is that it ends up like OpenSocial- sounded great but was too time consuming to build multiple iterations of for each member site and Facebook was already easy to build/maintain and allowed for its own ecosystem. With different handsets using different versions of Android, developers could get frustrated, especially if sales don’t take off initially. Apple’s timing of in-app monetization for free apps might not be a coincidence- let developers start seeing success, so they continue to focus on the iPhone platform.
Mobile devices are a far more personal decision (and one made by consumers) than the social glue between web services. That’s why I think there will not be one mobile device that runs the market
it will be a social commerce app ( and when i say app i i don’t mean device app – i mean CLI and device app). It will match a need or impulse with a service in real-time. it will be pull based, and it will accrue highly valuable social currency that can then be gamed and traded within networks. Its a mobile social assistant. Its flattens the marketing landscape for small businesses as they are now able to prospect for custom in real-time.
i went to Mobile World Congress this past year for the first time which is the largest mobile conference in the world. What you noticed as your cruised around the conf floor is (a) there are lots of phones (over 100) that are being released running Windows OS; (b) the Windows OS is nowhere near as usable as the iPhone or AndroidEveryone wants to take on the iPhone the carriers and handset manufacturers did not have the tools (OS) to do so. They were stuck and it was painfully obvious that a new OS had to step up. Android had done that and i’m excited to see these new phones enter the market.On the flip side, Windows Mobile has been the market for years and spent a lot of money and is almost useless. It’ll be interesting to see what MS does to stay relevant
They need to buy RIM
Are we all being too iPhone-centric??Yes, it is dominating the smartphone fight. But as another user in this thread mentioned, there is an even greater amount of the population that does not use smartphones. With that in mind, take another look at the advertisement for Droid; it’s framing the fight in terms of “anything you can do I can do better.” Fake Steve Job has a point about this same Droid ad: “[…] if the only way you can market your product is to compare it to some other product, you’ve already lost.”So, if we are asking for competition against the iPhone, why are we so bent on making a *better iPhone*??? Because isn’t that what Droid is positioning itself as? Why not real innovation? If Verizon “has a map for that” (i.e., more nationwide 3G coverage), why not exploit that network with something else that is new, unique, and inspiring…something that will get a greater portion of Americans past the “all I want to do is talk on the phone” syndrome. Why not let Apple be Apple and let the lesson be that you can create growth in a field once dominated by RIMM and Windows Mobile (in the US, that is) if you come up with something innovative and easy to use?Look, I’m young, naive, and mobile isn’t my field (meaning, I don’t have personal experience making an app nor do I own a business trying to make it in the mobile arena), so I’ll let everyone else here set me straight. But I am a consumer, and I love my Motorola Q because the keyboard is easy to use, because it’s two years old but is relatively thin and fits in a back pocket, and it has taken a BEATING but keeps on going, etc. Why not tell me why Droid will run better software, meaning it doesn’t take 19 clicks to get to anything I want like it does on Microsoft Mobile, why it will do the things I want it to do while I’m on the go, and how I won’t have to pay a premium for a freaking Apple logo on the back of it…In other words, stop repeating others’ mistakes (BB Storm, Palm Pre): if people want an iPhone, they don’t want the imitation “better” iPhone; sell me something unique that’s really badass…
With my move from Blackberry to iPhone, I’ve been amazed by how much more I use the mobile web – both via the browser and via web connected apps.However, I wonder if your (Fred’s) location (NYC) warps your sense of how big the mobile market really is. For people who don’t live in a city and take public transportation, the ‘internet in your pocket’ just isn’t quite as important.
How about their kids?
im not sure if this has been mentioned already but Google also launched a mobile help portal here | http://google.com/support/m… and a mobile blog here | http://googlemobile.blogspo…
Fred, I think you’re right that Android has huge OEM/carrier momentum, and that it’s in many ways more a threat to RIM and WinMo than the iPhone or Symbian. The iPhone is dramatic and inspiring but still small–only 8% of world smartphones. And Nokia Symbian outside the US retains over 40% share and a lot of cache.I also agree that banners are not going to generate the CPMs to create sustainable returns; CPMs are abysmal. Yet in-app purchases and mobile search and new kinds of relevant, personalized text ads hold a lot of promise.The bandwidth congestion issues you cite are only going to get worse. I don’t think people realize how far away LTE/4G are from being nationwide… years… and remember it’s a moving target. Http streaming data grew 60% globally QoQ in Q2 per Allot. Digital broadcast and wifi offloading will help. But I think users prefer on-demand video over a broadcast solution now that they’ve had the taste of being in control. Except for mass events like an Obama inauguration.Since a few have cited the comment (Walt Mossberg started it) that we should think of these as tiny computers rather than ‘smartphones,’ I have to cite that the only browser that allows mobile users to access the full web, real fast, just as on their PC is Skyfire. Yes, I work there. But even the iPhone, Android, and others do not support Flash, Real, Silverlight, and other plug-ins where the long tail of rich media is played. If you have a WinMo or Symbian phone, test it at http://www.skyfire.com.Lastly, yes, RIMM is frustrating developers with a development platform that is very difficult… constantly changing APIs between firmware updates, let alone OS versions. They have hired people who know they need to change the culture to have an SDK now. Android is a dream to develop on, by contrast.
Couple of points. There is only one Internet – good old HTTP/HTML. Segmenting it into the desktop web and the mobile web is only going to cause confusion. Customers want one platform, (the web) one interface (the browser) and multiple data sets (the context). The reason the browser will be the winner in all of this is simple – it’s platform agnostic. Try building cross platform mobile applications. It’s time consuming and expensive. Using the browser and one set of business logic for everything is far more efficient and less risky. The problem on mobile is detecting what the exact capabilities of the device. The good news is that there is already software out there that allows you (the web server/web app) to know in real exactly what the Mobile phone is capable of doing, right down to the machine level. Once you have this “context” you can personalize the web page on the fly for the customer – and that’s where the real revenue generation comes from.As for optimization – for goodness sake, compress the data. Use Mod_Gzip (it’s free) and save upwards of 90% of your bandwidth. Cut out all the flash and crap and deliver crisp, clear, concise, compelling results to your customers. Mobile is about finding not about searching. The more context you have when the browser/user makes a request the more compelling the response can become. If you want to learn more there’s a white paper called… delivering increased relevance with mobile meta data – you can find it here: http://bit.ly/TE3PF and for the marketing types there’s another white paper: How to mobilize vs. miniaturize your existing Web service which you can find here: http://bit.ly/12vwwkCheers,Peter
Peter – we’ve had this discussion before and I agree with you but there is a gap we have to cross and apps are a good solution during the gap years
In-app purchases in free apps could potentially have a positive impact, but I wouldn’t go as far as agreeing with you that “This is a big deal. I think this could be an “order of magnitude” kind of inflection point for monetizing mobile apps.”For one, it was always possible for developers to promote their paid apps from within their free apps (the downside was that tapping the “purchase” link would make the user exit their free app to make the purchase.)The new policy makes the upsell path a bit easier. However unless Apple changes their current rating system and (more importantly) their ranking system, many developers may be reluctant to go the freemium route. I’ve discussed these (and other) potential downsides in greater detail in my latest blog post (on App Store freemium).Ultimately, I’m slightly leaning towards the thought that the new policy will have a neutral or slightly positive impact, but I don’t expect this to be an ‘”order of magnitude” kind of inflection point for monetizing mobile apps’. In contrast, I think that the original introduction of in-app purchases in paid apps (with OS 3.0) was a huge deal.
I thought the Droid ad was excellent, but I think the HTC Hero will be a better experience. HTC have really stepped it up while Motorola were sleeping.
Thanks for that tip. I’ll check it out
Fred, I should have remembered that you prefer a real keyboard, so the Hero may not be for you. It is an iPhone competitor however (I am still in Apple’s grip and frustrated by it). Anyway, I’m sure an HTC Sense UI device will come along with a physical keyboard for those that like one.
Anything a person engages directly with via the web or mobile web is an app in my mind