Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So where in the centre of the mobile universe?

Spent an enjoyable couple of hours today putting the world to rights with some guys I respect in the mobile ecosystem. After joking about now nothing can work unless it's invented by Steve Jobs and comes via an App we turned to trends developing now. Both said that they are considering relocating to San Francisco as at this moment it seems to be the centre of influence as to where Mobile is going. They say that at this moment it is where the money and brains are.

But wait is that true?

I fear that they may be drinking the wrong type of Kool-aid. Whilst at this moment in time everyone feels that the mobile industry rotates around planets Apple and Google these are bubbles similar to the property and internet hype. The risk is that the centring of focus in the Valley will limit the view of demand.

When it comes to adoption has the rise of the App been as successful as SMS, Voice Mail or Ring Back? Will history judge the iPhone and Android as nothing more than a ringtone?

If I were to start a new venture then my investment would be in machine-to-machine and/or mobile healthcare. Given that I would want to develop relationships that enable me to build and exit a business is the Valley the best hub? Should I chose to relocate could I cope with Americans claiming that they rule the mobile industry when they have no understanding of the global standards, have yet to come to terms with the pre paid market because of the idiosyncratic payment system in the US of receiver pays and coverage of mobile networks is patchwork?

But where would I set up?

Europe is fragmented with many small sites offering expertise when it comes to hardware/software/services but does not have the access to finance needed to develop start-ups.

India has lots of Engineers but does not seem to have the ethnographers needed to offer a usable interface. It would be like returning to a Motorola Razr, wonderful to look at but a disappointment to use on a daily basis.

Japan offers money, wonderful networks and engineers looking to develop things people will use. However very few make call on a phone and so what we see is pocket computers as we head towards the cloud.

Where would you set up to have the best chance of success?

Monday, October 11, 2010

What would I rather pick up my phone or my keys as I leave my house?

Today Nokia launch their first NFC enabled handset.

With one of these phones can I replace my Oyster card? How about my NFC car fob? What about the Garage Door? An my Bank Card has NFC so can I replace that?

The answer to all these questions is at this moment in time is NO. Therein lies the problem with standalone development and the current fixation that the App Store is the answer.

Nokia has over the last four years been working with a number of stakeholders in the NFC ecosystems. Trials that I know of include a trial of season tickets at Manchester City Football Club, replacement of Oyster Cards in London, cash replacement trials in France. They have worked hard on the development of a technology standard that will replace card readers over time, they have studied hard the ethnology around the change in behaviour.

Why then is the launch of the new handset inhibited? Because the other stakeholders in the NFC space fear that they will become locked into a walled garden controlled by Nokia perhaps? How about the fact that the innovation required for such a service now faces a lag because too much resource is directed to the needs of Apple and Android development?

If the mobile is no more than hardware and as a User I have an expectation that just like an MP3 player I should be able to fill it with the content that I want. The launch of new technology such as NFC into the mass market needs to be Federated more. That is when Nokia launch such a phone it needs to be reported by my Bank, Carmaker and Transportation provider who all tell me that I can now use it to access their services. Lets face it no Call Centre Assistant you talk to so far would be able of facilitating the firmware upgrades needed to install new services.