On Monday, I was in San Francisco for the Mobile 2.0 event.? A differentiating aspect of this event is that it is basically self-organized and produced by folks who care about the content.? It isn’t put on by a conferencing company, a publisher, or as a customer event by some big wireless conglomerate.? It has been pulled together by a handful of folks who care deeply about where mobility is headed.? Thanks guys for making this happen!
Despite (or perhaps because of!) that lack of corporate organizational structure, the event drew?both a great array of speakers/panelists and a very full ballroom of passionate participants.?Unfortunately, I was at another event in the morning, so I missed the keynote by Tomi Ahonen.? There also were a number of demos of mobile technology being developed by innovative startups.
I participated in the “fireside chat” moderated by Tony Fish author of the book Mobile Web 2.0.? My fellow participants included Russ Daniels, a VP at HP, and one of?the company’s 8?CTOs, Pat McVeigh, CEO of SoonR and former CEO of PalmSource, and Jean Marc Frangos, SVP in BT’s CTO organization.
Kelly Goto live-blogged the chat.? I think she did a decent job of capturing the key points of the discussion.? She did, however, mis-attribute some of the comments.? (see if you can figure out which ones of mine were attributed to others)
But for me the biggest frustration was the focus on simply extending the Internet into the mobile realm.? Pat McVeigh kept repeating the same thing “the browser is the key.”? I’m guessing this is very disciplined SoonR messaging on his part.? Jean Marc and Russ Daniels also seemed focused on extending the Internet to mobile devices, rather than leveraging what comes new with mobility.? Again, this may be well aligned with BT’s (who sold off their mobile assets) and HP’s (Russ’s title is all about web services) positions in the industry, and I’m sure that my frustration reflect’s Sprint’s focus on mobility.
My comment during the live discussion was that what I was hearing was equivalent to saying that the value of the Internet was that it made spreadsheets work across a network.? (I said “spreadsheets” because Pat had just brought up VisiCalc as the killer app for PCs and the browser is the killer app for mobility.? More accurate would have been to say the Internet made “word processing” or maybe “desktop publishing” work across networks – which it did as web pages – but which would miss all the dynamic content, e-commerce, and community possibilities that really drove value in the Internet economy!)
In a pre-event note to the other participants, I’d laid out my views on Mobile 2.0:
Here are my thoughts on Mobile 2.0?
For starters, let me acknowledge that everyone else here probably has a greater appreciation for ?Web 2.0? than I do, so give me some grace as you smirk at my na?ve observations. ?When I hear ?mobile 2.0? I think of ?web 2.0? and look for the parallels.
Having started a web business in 1995 and then having started another web business in 2000 and then having started a web-centric ?hobby? in 2005, I?ve certainly seen dramatic changes. ?The most dramatic have been the assumptions about bandwidth (everyone on dialup in 1995, everyone on broadband in 2005) and the cost of starting (e.g. a T1 IP connection in 1995 cost my startup $1200 per month, we bought a used Sun server for $20k and thought we were getting a bargain, etc.).
In my mind, the fundamental driver of change that the Internet (web) introduced into the economy was standards-based cross-domain networking.? Without that, dynamic content, e-commerce, and community were nearly impossible. ?Web 1.0 certainly was about content, commerce, and community, but it was constrained by bandwidth and by how hard (expensive and time consuming) it was to do anything.
So, in my mind, Web 2.0 is the result of learning from Web 1.0 and taking down the barriers (bandwidth, cost, and time) that constrained innovation and experimentation.
With that context, in thinking about Mobile 2.0, I start with what about mobile is a fundamental driver of change into the economy? ?I think there are three pieces that come together to answer that question. ?The first is the truly ?always on, wherever you go? nature of mobility. ?The second is that mobility is the first truly personal information technology with mass adoption. ?The third is that the mobile device can have greater visibility into the context in which it?s being used than previous technologies ? obviously starting with location and presence, but with potential for so much more.
Tony responded to my note saying “This is what I term ‘Mobile Web 2.0’ the uniqueness. It is what mobile can offer that other platforms cannot – these uniquenessess provide data and the ability to gain metadata about the user and the community. Mobile Web is not Mobile Internet (ie access). It is about the device providing the data not the user!”
In my mind – this is THE debate.? If mobility is simply taking the Internet to new places, then I’ve just wasted a couple of years of my life writing a useless book.? If, however, mobility enables things that were impossible before, then mobility can change the rules of competition across industries and I hope lots of business people read my book and take critical lessons from it.
What do you think?