Friday, December 29, 2006

What? No 2007 Predictions?

We've been lazy in blog terms this month (otherwise known as busy in meatspace) so it's probably an idea to copy every single other blog out there and do some 2007 predictions. But because we'd far rather be rude about other people than create something ourselves, we'll start by summarising other people's predictions, in no particular order:

Dean Bubley - I agree manufacturers will sell "diverged" devices to users, for two reasons - because I think it's what consumers want (which is ultimately more important than what CFOs want), and because they're already doing that (eg. SE Walkman, Cybershot; all sorts of Nokias, etc). UMA won't change the world, nor will VoIP over 3G. His predictions on IMS hedge so much that they don't amount to much. I disagree with the idea that browsing will become the killer app - flat rate data would definitely help if it came along, but it's too much of a shift for the average user to start doing it within 12 months. The catch-all in 10 is probably fairly accurate too, IM will not make an impact (wrong kind of interaction for phone keypads), etc etc so we'll give him OK marks all in all.

Mobile Gazette - an interesting round-up, they concentrate on operators and handset trends broken down by manufacturer, and they do it pretty well. Oeprators: well I'd downplay the significance of MVNOs a bit thoguh they note markets are getting saturated, but the rest sounds reasonable particularly the 3 assessment. Long-time readers know my feelings on Moto which they seem to agree with; ditto SE. Spot-on with LG as well (Chocolate sold well, but no follow-up), BenQ has already come to pass (three cheers), Sagem/Sharp/Tosh all also seem accurate. I have to agree with them on Apple too - I've been cynical repeatedly about the iPhone rumours and I'll happily stick to my guns now and say it won't come out, hedging by saying if it does it'll be a 'Phantom Menace' (incapable of living up to the hype). So I'm pretty much exactly with these guys.

Industry execs at Mobile Games Blog (via QB) - 2007 will have fewer games, and fewer games companies making them. No disagreement there - too much rubbish is being produced at the moment, and a shakeout is inevitable. I disagree that Apple will make some huge difference by opening up iTunes as a channel for lots of games - there just aren't enough iPods out there, whatever people think (compare iPod sales to phones, blah blah). Steve Wilcox is probably right that the ringtone market will decline as people realise how stupid they have been to pay £3 for a portion of a song. Generally, some good opinions and some bad, but interesting if you are inclined towards games.

MocoNews - 2007 will be a breakout year for social media services on mobiles? Sorry, no it won't.

Open Gardens - no explicit predictions post that I spotted, but you just know what Ajit's going to say - 2007 will be the year Mobile Web 2.0 breaks through, blah blah AJAX blah blah. Again, sorry, but no it won't. AJAX is exactly not the technology that mobile phones and mobile networks need (regardless of what cool and funky betas you can create with it) and Mobile Web 2.0 is still a badly defined fantasy for California Web 2.0ers.

Pondering Primate - where to begin. To paraphrase: 1. Shortcodes will be big in advertising. Spot on there, well done, he's a visionary I tell you. 2. Google or Yahoo will introduce a 2D bar code and monetise it. Surprise surprise, here he goes again despite all the evidence. These companies are web companies, they are not the right end of the industry to popularise barcodes. I'm not going to say it again. 3. Apple phone, leading to Apple mobile marketing powerhouse. Sense the shift of his fantasies from Google ownign the world to Apple owning the world. At least he's putting a personal twist on the Apple rumours though. 5. He adds someone to his list. Well he can make that come true whenever he wants, but the world will continue to not change. 8. VCs target stupid idea. Well, there is a huge track record of VCs putting money into stupid ideas, so this one is very likely. (2D barcodes are not a silly idea - but trying to do them without manufacturer-level integration is). Basically, he's still in his fantasy (sorry, visionary) world - 2D barcodes may take off and he'll declare himself vindicated, but if it happens it won't happen the way he keeps saying it will, it'll do it the right way.

Can't find any of the other prediction pages, so here are a few of my own:

  1. SE will rise (a bit). Moto will fall (a bit). Nokia will stay where they are.
  2. Apple won't make a phone (or if they do, it'll not be very good but people will buy it anyway).
  3. Ajit will continue to not post my comments on Open Gardens (three censored and counting, and I was actually trying hard to be excessively polite in the last two ;)
  4. Mobile AJAX won't be feasible in any mainstream way by the end of the year. The browsers that do support it will be as fragmented as J2ME implementations. VCs will still pump lots of money into new startups basing their entire business on Mobile AJAX being big, which will all use the term 'beta'.
  5. Flash Lite will still not be a mainstream platform by the end of the year, and implementations will be as buggy and fragmented as J2ME implementations are. It'll be more feasible than AJAX though.
  6. Techype will be rude about some clueless startups.
That'll do for now, unless I have some flash of inspiration over the weekend...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shoot The Email App

App developer blamed for network setting woes - just one example out of hundreds, where the incompetence of the operators and the poor designs of the handset manufacturers are blamed on the developers; and people wonder why the Java content industry is not growing as fast as the analysts said it would...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

(Mobile) Web 2.0 has Ajax, Web 3.0 Needs Toilet Duck

(anyone interested in the pseudo-satirical Ajax/Toilet Duck bit - starts halfway down)
I've just read two posts in response to Assembly Java, an interesting list of tips for writing compact code. I think the Assembly Java post takes things maybe a little too far, but basically I'm with almost everything in it because if you write tight code to a good design, you can produce maintainable JavaME (still sounds wrong...) that actually works across the market.

First up we have John Flinchbaugh, who has apparently been reading about JavaEE and JavaME and decided that all this tight coding stuff is rubbish, he's going to just splurge out on objects , I'm sure because most of the handsets his friends have are all top of the line high-spec things, and so everyone must have the same. If you're coding a service entirely for gadget geeks then go for it, absolutely sensible, if not can you risk alienating 40-70% of the owners of phones (depending on how restrictive you want to be)? If you do create a service they can't access, be sure to put that factor into your business plan when you talk of the number of billion phones in the world and how big that makes the potential market.

Secondly we have a post from Thomas Landspurg which basically tempers the one class ascetism of Assembly Java and suggests three or four might be much more friendly (I'd go for anything less than 6-10 as long as each one can be justified by the design goals). Hits it right on the head. I also liked this post for one comment:

"It’s a really strange industry, where on one hand people are talking of “MobileAjax” as the killer app, where the cost of one Ajax line is probably equivalent to the cost (in terms of CPU, memory used,battery) of a full Midp1.0 application"

Which sums up Mobile Ajax nicely, except that it forgets to mention the bandwidth cost and time penalty of downloading an entire app to your browser whenever you want it and then being in constant XML communication with the server, on the flaky 2.5-3G pay per byte connections we use these days. I'll let him off because it would have been less pithy ;)

However, as an aside, maybe it's time we look past yesterday's Web 1.92 beta RC 324 (or even today's more hip-and-with-it Web 1.92 beta RC325) and see what Web 3.0 will look like. To do that we have to consider Ajax. Sure, Ajax is disruptive - I can think of nothing better to drop into a soiled toilet, but that's quite a localised disruption. For real market disruption you want ToiletDuck, with the bendy neck that gets right up under the rim. I confidently predict that when the Web 3.0 bubble begins to expand on the dregs of the burst Web 2.0 bubble, it will be ToiletDuck technology that carries our browsers on to an asymptotic future of tagged user-generated goodness.