The Revolution Will Be Mobile: Competition for the Handheld Web

I spent a few days this week at the Rhode Island School of Design discussing mobile design.  Naturally, when I picked up the news, it  seemed to be bursting with stories about mobile.

Marketing VOX is reporting on AT&T research showing that 49 percent of men like watching live sports on mobile devices. As web video develops with services such as Hulu and Netflix, the logical next step is mobile entertainment.

Competitors Gather
It’s still early in the game, and handset makers, software firms, and carriers are competing for a piece of this growing medium. Google, Apple, Verizon, Nokia, Microsoft, and Adobe are all staking out positions and alliances.

Who is Big in Mobile?
While iPhone has a 60 precent share, Android, which is still new, is already approaching 10 percent, and Palm Pre (which is barely weeks old) is at 2-3 percent. Browser-use statistics show that the browsers in Sony’s PSP games are nearly as popular those found in RIM’s BlackBerry. So add in makers of video game systems as another group of competitors.

Palm Pre Web OS Platform :: Gizmodo called it perhaps the most important handset introduction in the past two years. It’s out to challenge iPhone. The parts of the device (phone, browser, camera) are more integrated, and Palm will provide a development platform that will be far less locked down than the iPhone, which can only accept applications approved by and sold through Apple’s App Store.

Today, Reuters reported that Cisco has received the FTC’s antitrust approval to buy Flip Video digital camcorder maker Pure Digital Technologies.  I expect Cisco will play in the mobile space both as an easy way for users to make video content, and to accommodate the increasing need for open access to wi-fi and 3G bandwidth.

Location-Based Apps (and Ads) Will Emerge in Mobile World. Along with the usual content publishers and advertisers, mobile will drive business for new location-aware services.  Since mobile users tend to move around, their location can be the foundation for services that help them find others, themselves, and useful resources.

Examples of possible location-based services from Wikipedia:

  • Resource tracking with dynamic distribution. Taxis, service people, rental equipment, doctors, fleet scheduling.
  • Resource tracking. Objects without privacy controls, using passive sensors or RF tags, such as packages and train boxcars.
  • Finding someone or something. Person by skill (doctor), business directory, navigation, weather, traffic, room schedules, stolen phone, emergency calls.
  • Proximity-based notification (push or pull). Targeted advertising, buddy list, common profile matching (dating), automatic airport check-in.
  • Proximity-based actuation (push or pull). Payment based upon proximity (EZ pass, toll watch).

Useful Links
Common Mobile Resolution + Color Depth | Web Smart Color Palette (4,096) | Validate Mobile Site | Mobile Emulators | Mobile Development Community | Mobile Browser Statistics | Custom Profile (Device Central CS3) | Flash + Facebook Platform | Microbrowsers (Wikipedia) | Mobile Design Wiki | iPhone Dev Center (Apps) | Yahoo! (YUI) Design Stencils | W3C Mobile Web Best Practices

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