Some thoughts on mobile

November 30, 2009
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200911231046.jpg It’s the time of year when we at IDC start working on our Top Ten Predictions documents and get some time to actually think about the future (well, at least the future for the next year or so). As I’ve started brainstorming for next year, there are a few things that jump out as obvious shifts in technology use.

I posted a while ago on the next-gen web, and one of the trends I included there — mobile — seems to be even more obviously gaining momentum. Some of that momentum comes from the easy availability of true mobile computing platforms and some comes from an increasingly mobile work force. The iPhone deserves credit for setting a new standard for mobile computing platforms and IMHO was the first “real” mobile device to make mobile computing more than just quick checks for bits of information. Browsing the Web on pre-iPhone smartphones was more of a nuisance than a help really. If you don’t believe me, try a Blackberry side-by-side to the iPhone for Web browsing and I think you will quickly realize the difference.

So with the iPhone and now with the addition of android-based platforms, mobile applications are taking off and they are very useful. Enterprise software vendors ..


200911231046.jpg It’s the time of year when we at IDC start working on our Top Ten Predictions documents and get some time to actually think about the future (well, at least the future for the next year or so). As I’ve started brainstorming for next year, there are a few things that jump out as obvious shifts in technology use.

I posted a while ago on the next-gen web, and one of the trends I included there — mobile — seems to be even more obviously gaining momentum. Some of that momentum comes from the easy availability of true mobile computing platforms and some comes from an increasingly mobile work force. The iPhone deserves credit for setting a new standard for mobile computing platforms and IMHO was the first “real” mobile device to make mobile computing more than just quick checks for bits of information. Browsing the Web on pre-iPhone smartphones was more of a nuisance than a help really. If you don’t believe me, try a Blackberry side-by-side to the iPhone for Web browsing and I think you will quickly realize the difference.

So with the iPhone and now with the addition of android-based platforms, mobile applications are taking off and they are very useful. Enterprise software vendors jumped on the trend over the last year and have released several iPhone / smartphone apps like Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant,Salesforce.com CRM Mobile for iPhone and Netsuite for iPhone. We’re starting to see the 2nd generation of many of these tools and they are proving useful and popular.

 

My mobile prediction then is that mobile devices become the new enterprise desktop. That’s not all, though, because there are a few other trends that seem to be converging around mobile. The first is context-aware mobile applications (actually context-aware apps in general, but we’re talking about them in a mobile context for now). This is most specifically about location aware apps for now but I think context aware apps will expand into more than location over time. Location-aware apps are mostly targeted at consumers at this point but they do provide an interesting business proposition.

Take FourSquare for example. FourSquare is set up like a game and you check in to different places and share that check-in with your network of friends. You get points for each check-in and unlock badges but the part that’s really interesting is the suggestions. When you check-in somewhere if there’s a special offer nearby you are alerted to that offer and can use the app like a coupon for a discount. FourSquare just recently announced an open API and third-party developers are starting to offer add-ons. SocialGreat for example takes the FourSquare feed of where people are checking in, combines that data with brightkite, Twitter and graffitiGeo to provide near real-time information on what’s “hot.” The power of stitching these various apps together greatly expands their usefulness.

CitySense is another location-aware app that provides a “hot” spot map or in their words “real-time nightlife” based on Microsense data analysis of historical geo data + real-time geo data from mobile phones and taxi cabs to find where people are congregating (integrated with Yelp data on the locations). In their next release they plan to add pattern data from where you go regularly to suggest places that you might find interesting with people of similar interests. So far CitySense is only available in San Francisco.

The next trend that is converging with mobile is related to location awareness as well. Several augmented reality apps have popped up lately. Augmented reality takes location data, camera feeds and layers information onto the “picture” about the locations that are around you. Cyclopedia is an example:

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I’ve focused most of this around the iPhone but Google’s Android software is also making some nice inroads and some of the 2nd generation devices like Motorola’s Droid are quite good. I’m not really a fan of the other phone OS’s at present, mostly due to the current devices but there is certainly room for one or more of them, Symbian, MS Windows Phone, RIM and Palm to catch up with a better device in the future. And to be fair, I use both a Blackberry and an iPhone but I almost never use the Blackberry browser functions; they’re just not as good an experience. Alright, my last prediction for this blog post, I believe that Android is the “next big thing” for Google and will quickly grow into a strong revenue source second only to their adwords / ad business.