Monday, August 04, 2008

Smartphones Look a Smartbet

The New York Times today reported that in the first 10 days after the new iPhone after launched owners downloaded more than 25 million applications. This new feature has certainly caught the imagination of both consumers and application providers.

This opening up of the airways is not just about iPhones. Carriers are increasingly opening up their services to can create a mobile phone compatible with their networks. Nokia has agreed to share the Symbian operating software with other phone makers and a similar move has been announced by the LiMo Foundation.

Smartphones are fast becoming ubiquitous and the computer in the hand and analysts are already enthusing over the potential for cellphone applications and their drive to get consumers onto higher-priced wireless data plans. So we are seeing the next device step change. First there was the dumb screen, then the desktop PC, then the laptop, then the PDA now the smartphone! Simple shrinking of the computer into the hand and doing this in parallel to the access going from hard wire to wireless.

Just like in the days before there has to be a fall out and some losers. Remember the OS2 versus Windows days? Remember the desktop, browser, and search application wars? We have yet to see the entrance of Google and its Open Handset Alliance and operating system and it’s already mighty crowded.
You have carrier, device, operating system and application and establishing true interoperability may be tricky to start. But we also have to put this against a life expectancy of 12 to 18 months of a smartphone and see that the consumer market is not as constrained and can quickly shift.

We envisage a situation where many of the applications we have today will run on the smartphone and there will be new ones specifically written for the platform. Given this is clearly where the action is what does this mean re publishing and content? Well it is rather an easy and obvious step to conclude that this will be a significant medium for publishers.

Will we read books on smart phones? Probably fragments or short works but today’s 250page tomes – we don’t think so. But the opportunity to develop different content, sell fragments, use smart phones to promote titles and market titles is pretty obvious. The one other obvious thing is that people will not want the umbilical cord to the laptop in order to download stuff so some should question some of ebook models currently being deployed and think consumer and smartread.

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