Russ and I are going to be presenting at 106Miles in April. The topic is “Every Business Needs a Mobile Strategy”, and as much as possible I would like to encourage discussion on this one. So lets start out beforehand and figure out what topics we want to hit when we get together at the meeting. Russ and I have been running Mobile Monday meetings here in the Bay Area, and the response has been simply fantastic. One of the most well respected conferences that I know of, DEMO, merged the mobile and main tracks of their conference because it seems like the two are now inseparable:

Over the six years of DEMOmobile, wireless technology has advanced the digital lifestyle and become an integral part of most every aspect of computing. That is why, starting this year, DEMOmobile becomes DEMOfall. Join industry leaders during 2 days of ground-breaking presentations, where we’ll explore wireless innovations in the context of broader technology markets.

But still there are voices shouting caution just as loudly, even from within the industry:

The myth of mobile maturity: T-Mobile denounced the notion of maturity, even in voice services. Global mobile users are forecast to double from 1 billion at Cannes last year to 2 billion by end 2005. US customer growth was around 14% last year. (T-Mobile USA customers increased 32%). In European countries, penetration is moving beyond 100%. More important, uses and usage of mobile are immature everywhere, and mobile is just now entering the broadband revolution.

At a startup company, risk and uncertainly are constant companions. Conflicting reports of what needs to be done are certainly nothing new, but how can a startup company use this particular situation to best advantage?

As has been learned painfully and repeatedly over the past few years, having a mobile strategy does not mean just figuring out how to slap a WAP or XHTML front end onto whatever your application is. The mobile experience is a fundamentally different experience than the desktop. One example of the difference is that most people use their mobiles in short bursts during the day, to fill up small chunks of time standing in line or waiting for a train or bus. It’s a much less immersive experience than sitting down in front of a desktop system for a long stretch of work. Another is that their mobile device is an intensely personal device for many. Their PC might be provided by their employer at the office, or shared by the family at home, but in general their mobile handset is their own. The opportunity to personalize is of much greater interest than many expected, just take a look at the thriving ringtone market. I’m quite the mobile booster normally, but I wouldn’t have pegged that market as a winner until I saw it happen.

The rules in the area are still being learned, and startup companies are in the position to grow their services in a way that meshes with the new interaction modes instead of simply allowing for them. I would like to know the particular questions that people have about mobility, and where should Russ and I start? Do you want an overview of the technologies (Symbian vs. Palm vs. Brew vs. J2ME)? Delivering an application via WAP/XHTML compared to delivering a native application? Or more of the general overall issues like I described above? The intrinsic differences between mobile and online usage? Different application architectures enabled by mobility (use of asyncronous notifications, location based applications)?

Tags: 106miles mobility 20050413