Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So Just what are you developing for the App Store?

Terence Eden's presentation at MoMo London was interesting for the fact that he highlighted that the biggest selling handset in Europe last year was a Nokia 6300 and Globally it was also a Nokia 1100. Neither of the handsets are Smartphones however they are purchased by Networks to give to subscribers these handsets when compared to a Smartphone are positively basic.

Given that fact what should you be developing? Perhaps we need to look at using the assets of the Mobile Network to overcome the lack of power in the handset? Alternatively we could look at services rather than applications and look at partnering with Transit Systems and Banks to introduce ticketing and payment solutions?

What is going to stop you is the fact that success requires those within the Mobile industry to understand that it is an ecosystem. When we have an ecosystem then we can operate as a federation with a Thought Leader shaping requirements then Networks and Service Providers publishing Application Profile Interfaces that will open platforms to as many as possible. Whilst for those of us in the Mobile Industry this might seem a utopian dream and to Regulators sound lie a classic cartel, it has been done in the US with Mobile Banking.

A review of Mobile Banking in America will show that the Banks have invested millions in advertising the service in mainstream media, three of the four Networks have opened up there platforms. The result is that one in five phone owners have done some form of mobile banking in the last year. Over 200 companies have developed solutions for Banks. Wells Fargo has 28 different Mobile Banking solutions that range from simple text to complex java for Blackberry and iPhone. The usage of Mobile Banking is feed back to help understand the progression from simple transactions to peer-to-peer payments.

Having seen the Sandboxes set up by European Mobile Networks and Handset Vendors I fear that what is on offer is a range of islands rather than walled gardens. The problem is that the water between each island could be cold and have strong currents and the maps to navigate between them look like some from the dark ages rather than GPS satellite renderings.

Should I want to be a developer I would seek access to the HLR, I would want detailed APIs and microsegmention of the customer base with trends recorded over the last four to six quarters. I would want to be able to offer firmware updates to customers so that the handset is capable of operating at its optimum.

This is where the problem of any App Store makes them likely to fail. The Mobile Networks thanks to fragmentation in the legacy systems do not have the information I need and so any application launched is little more than a live experiment. If you own a Mobile Network and you want to use the intellect of others to service your Customers needs can you please invest in a Service Delivery Platform that covers the whole of your base and publish all of your Interfaces?

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