Business Observations: July 16, 2008 Edition

I was chatting with Om Malik last week and he commented about this blog: “You don’t use many words.”  He phrased it as a positive observation, but it made me realize how little I’ve actually been writing lately and how much I’ve just been providing lists of links.

So… Here’s an attempt to provide a little more commentary/perspective around the list of links.  It’s still not as time consuming as starting from scratch, but let me know if my added comments are really adding any value.


Standard disclaimer: don’t take from my selections, ordering, headlines, etc. any indications of the interests or plans of my employer (if you do, you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed when they don’t play out.)

Of course the big news of the past week or so was the release of the 3G iPhone.  This sparked tremendous commentary, most of it not particularly insightful for folks like us looking to make money in mobility, but there were some ponies in there.

Michael Mace always has interesting things to say.  Here’s the heart of his recommendations to those trying to market their products in a post-iPhone world: “If anyone from RIM is reading this, please listen to me closely. I beg of you, don’t be chumps. You’re Canadian, for God’s sake. You don’t do sexy. You do humble and inoffensive. … If you try to imitate him [Steve Jobs], you’re going to look like mom and dad pogo-dancing when Rock Lobster comes on at a wedding reception. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.”  He then goes on to extend the advice to Microsoft.  Good stuff. 

Om himself naturally weighed in on the impact Apple’s new device is having on how mobility factors into life.  I think his observations are good news for the industry and provide pointers to all of us planning to participate in mobile broadband growth: “The 3G speed is quite addictive and it doesn’t take long to slowly start switching your daily compute tasks to this device instead of reaching for your computer.  A lot of that is because the iPhone has a generous screen and is very easy to use, but more importantly it has a more than adequate browser, making it an ideal candidate for being a ‘cloud client.’ All that was missing was a fast-enough connection that helped ‘off-source’ some (or, in the case of others, many) tasks from their computers.”

Paul Golding focused on the App Store within iTunes and the impact that the iPhone SDK was having on mobile applications.  He made two key observations that I believe are meaningful to market opportunities within the mobile ecosystem.  “1. Many of the iPhone apps are photo and location enabled, even for services that didn’t previously have an overt location or photo attribute. Why? Just because it’s there and it’s easy to do. This is fantastic and is exactly how the mobile ecosystem should work. … 2. Many of the Web 2.0 browser-only services out there have opted to develop a native iPhone app.”  His first observation really points to the things that make Mobility unique and what new things are enabled by mobility that previously were really hard or impossible.  I plan to write more on this soon.  His second point certainly adds fuel to the “native app” vs. “web-based app” debate.  Any application developers would do well to ponder the implications of Paul’s observations on emerging market opportunities…

Of course, not everyone was buying all the Apple hype. 

Carlo Longino commented on Apple’s hype around selling 1 million iPhones over a weekend: “Just to let reality back in for a second… Nokia Q1 sales: 115.5 million (from Nokia PR), or roughly 1.28 million per day.”

David Cushman used Apple’s challenges with the new phone launch to teach all of us in the industry a lesson: “The myth of Apple = everything working beautifully, was soundly debunked on 3G Iphone Friday. … I’m picking on Apple for a reason. They are among the very best at delivering delightful user experiences.  … And yet Apple still gives us iphone Friday.  There is headroom for better. Much better.  And it’s worth going after. There is a large and cash-rich segment of the world’s population who are not geeks, not prepared to fiddle, not prepared to kill two-three hours of their lives upgrading with new software, not prepared to learn their way around…”  We have to make mobility simple, instant, and compelling for techno-geeks and non-techno-geeks alike!

Barbara Ballard similarly used the iPhone user interface to encourage all of us to strive for even greater simplicity and usability.  “I strongly support simplicity in mobile design, but done intelligently. … When is simplicity not good? When it blocks significant numbers of users from achieving regular goals.”  Barbara gives specific examples of the good and bad.  Her insights here and elsewhere are well worth reading for anyone designing products for mobile devices.

But not all comments this past week were tied directly to the iPhone. 

Dean Bubley commented on the hype surrounding mobile broadband (probably a byproduct of iPhone hype).  Dean holds firmly to a handful of beliefs about the industry, and this is one of them, so he couldn’t leave the topic alone.  Agree or not with him, but read him and consider how his comments may impact your business model.  “In other words, there is what Boris Johnson might refer to as an ‘inverted pyramid of piffle‘ when it comes to discussion about mobile broadband. A few % of the users generate a huge % of the traffic, while a large chunk of supposed users (ie people with suitable phones & networks) generate none at all. This will change only slowly, as PC-based mobile broadband is still early in its growth cycle, while 3G is being pushed into handsets of people who still don’t care about anything more than voice & SMS.”

I’m sure Dean also has opinions on the EU-funded SPICE initiative.  Someday maybe he’ll share them with me.  In the meantime, we have this report on the “universal architecture for advanced communications services” that researchers are developing.  Of course, similar goals have been pursued in the past – the efforts certainly help us envision different futures, even if we never fully realize them…

On a more positive note, two U.S. Senators have proposed the Mobile Wireless Tax Fairness Act of 2008.  This bill recognizes the Big Bell Dogma efforts to slow mobile adoption through burdensome taxation.  Internet tax moratoriums have been successful in enabling continued Internet growth, I’m hopeful that we can similarly see continued mobility growth and see an end to unfair taxation and regulatory burdens on the industry.

One Response to “Business Observations: July 16, 2008 Edition”

  1. Great compilation. Have you ever got involved with the carnival of the mobilists? This is as good an example as any I’ve seen. Congrats

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