Friday, March 07, 2008

Mobile News

Many believe as we do that the mobile platform will dominate the digital world along with the ‘heavier’ Laptop and that everything else, including the clunky Kindle and Sony readers are just transient noise.

We bring you some more interesting news this week from the world of mobile.
The one thing any technology aspires to is universal mass adoption. Can you imagine one country adding 2.05 million new mobile subscribers in January and in doing so taking the total number of users to 36.4 million? The country is one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets, but is one often viewed as impoverished country of over 140 million people. They also predict that the number of mobile phone users will be around 50 million at the end of 2009. The country is Bangladesh.

Convergence continues at a pace with devices and functionality morphing to offer the user everything in a single device. Sony has just announced that it would add a Skype Web phone function to its PlayStation Portable later this month in Japan. This move is not only an attempt to gain back market share in the games market, but a recognition that technology convergence is inevitable. Many believed that the game market would be one of the last to cede to the mobile phone platform, but Sony’s plans to start selling the microphone to enable Skype over their Playstation clearly shows that convergence is key. How long before the single dimension and transient ebook readers get the message?

The next key battleground is the mobile browser. We now see an explosion of wireless mobile broadband modems which start to question the broadband landline and importantly open up the full potential of ‘always connected’. Yahoo have now have unveiled ‘ OnePlace’, a mobile phone tool to bookmark links, news feeds or search results on the move. This gives them access to the latest information and feeds on travel, sports and even social network postings. Users will be able to mark their favourite websites on their PC and then synchronize these with their cell phone, or directly on the mobile phone itself. What this tells us is that we are at the start of a battle for mobile search, advertising and the browser world. Apple are actively encouraging developers to create applications for the iPhone and Google are hovering in the wings. Adobe obviously recognise the weakness of imaged based text on the small screen and the need for reflowable text and are actively shifting ground.
Email has long been available via mobiles but it took the Blackberry to bring this home and create a tool that is now used by millions of business people today. Now Apple have regonised that they need to present an alternative to the Blackberry keyboard and eyestrain and have taken the step of announcing that the next update to its iPhone software will support Microsoft’s Exchange email software. Will this fatally wound Blackberry? Probably not but as RIM scramble to wider the use of the Blackberry the vultures are starting to circle.

Finally, we have long argued that Content is content and is not locked into one format. The book trade publishers ‘books’ that are sold by booksellers as ‘books’ and loved by bookreaders as ‘books’. But are book publishers restricted to books or are the content publishers and owners or as an old friend once said ‘rights managers’? If we think of books then its hard to see the content lending itself to the mobile platform. But if we see content then it may do so tomorrow. The Japanese are already seeing significant changes in this direction through their Keitai novels and although these may not work today in other markets, it is certain that they will in some form in the future.