Rudy definitely appears to have a finger on the pulse of what's going on in the rapidly changing landscape of mobile technology?
Understanding Mobile 2.0
On the eve of Le Web 3 in Paris - and one month after the Web 2.0 Summit concluded - it seems like an appropriate time to explore the world of the mobile Web, a.k.a. mobile 2.0. There has been a lot of discussion lately on this topic, a good deal of it inspired by the mobile 2.0 event - a one-day event held on 6 November 2006, organized by Daniel Appelquist and Mike Rowehl.
Carriers and Mobile Operators are taking notice...
In the closing session about carriers and operators at the Under The Radar: Mobility Conference on 16 November 2006, I heard an Executive Director from Verizon Wireless using the term "Mobile 2.0". Also Orange (France Telecom) is sponsoring one of the biggest web 2.0 related conferences in Europe, Le Web 3 in Paris. The fact that carriers/operators are now linking their brand name to web 2.0/mobile 2.0 related content and conferences, shows that progress is being made. Web 2.0 inspired projects going mobile and/or mobile 2.0 projects have been considered as things to avoid for carriers/operators up till now, since they are disruptive to their current business models.
So does this mean, with the carriers/operators entering the space now, that mobile 2.0 is finally taking off?
What is Mobile 2.0?
It's absolutely necessary that more connections are made between the players in the web 2.0 sphere (a.k.a. next generation web apps & services) and what some Mobilists are calling mobile 2.0. What we mean by 'mobile 2.0' is another (r)evolution, already started, that will dramatically change the web and the mobility landscape that we currently know. The idea is that the mobile web will become the dominant access method in many countries of the world, with devices that become more hybrid and networks that become more powerful - everywhere in the next decade to come.
Well Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, put it very well in a Financial Times article in May this year (subscription only):
"Mobile phones are cheaper than PCs, there are three times more of them, growing at twice the speed, and they increasingly have Internet access. What is more, the World Bank estimates that more than two-thirds of the world's population lives within range of a mobile phone network. Mobile is going to be the next big Internet phenomenon. It holds the key to greater access for everyone - with all the benefits that entails."
Mobilist blogger Enrique C. Ortiz sees another hindrance (and I think he's right): the lack of open standards and tools to build your own mobile 2.0 applications. He says:
"Web 2.0 is based on user intelligence instead of technologies, i.e. by giving users smart tools that enable them to apply human semantics to information provided, you get a more intelligent web. This can only be done in a massive (thus useful) way with open standards and protocols that are inclusive and inviting to everyone. Now, as I see it, this 'open-source' story is an aspect seriously lacking from mobile platforms."
Carriers/operators need to cover their investments and so they want to be compensated by any 3rd party using their network. This is fair enough, but the fact is that operators are losing more and more control over mobile devices - because these devices can communicate with other devices over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wimax, NFC, etc. That is, more options are becoming available for mobile users to access the web over networks other than the closed networks of the operators.
There's definitely a lot of movement around on the mobile start-up front. Besides Yahoo with Flickr and Google with YouTube going mobile, there are some very interesting start-up companies resolutely going mobile. Many of them are building easy-to-use mobile web apps and services. Here's a starter for ten to check out (too many to link to, but just google them!):
- ... and many others.
In fact please add your name/project to the list here in the comments, so someone can start categorizing them ;-)
To conclude, check this nice mobile 2.0 definition from Daniel Appelquist:
"Mobile 2.0 is not "the Future." it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry."
It took the internet a couple of years after 1994 to reach its maturity on the technology side, not to forget the business side of things. I believe the time has come for another exciting period, the Mobile Web. Some carriers/operators are finally starting to act - how about you?
Written for Read/WriteWeb by Rudy De Waele of m-trends.org.