07 May

On Ambient and (Mobile) Context

Recently I have been seeing the word “ambient” used a lot to describe “context”; a good example is Alohar Mobile and its Mobile Ambient Analytics Platform. Alohar Mobile are also the makers of Placeme.

Is Ambient the new Context?

It is not. Context is more than just ambient information; ambient information is a subset of Context:

  • ambient: “of the surrounding area or environment”
  • context: “the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.”

The following illustrates the elements of the mobile context:

The Mobile Context, May 2012

Read more about the mobile context — see the original The Mobile Context blog.

Ambient information is about sensory information while context is much more complex. Context is about the (set of) information related to a given user-event-in-time. It is the intersection or overlap of the different sets/elements above, at any given point in time, as it relates to a given event (search, browse, gift, purchase) for a given user.

Those who are able to truly capture, analyze and understand Context, are the ones who will be able to bring true meaning to (and reap the benefit$ from) Mobile.


03 May

Retail Stores vs. Amazon (2012)

Something subtle but very important occurred yesterday. I am talking about Target’s decision to stop selling Amazon’s Kindle e-readers (hyperlink: USA Today).

In the above article you can find one sentence that summarizes the struggle that Retailers have been facing:

Target’s decision to phase out the Kindle is also occurring as the retailer, along with other major merchants, is trying to fight a growing practice called “show rooming.”

Consumers visit a physical-local merchant/retail-store to see, try and feel a product, then compares prices online via their smartphone in real-time, then leaves the store. Many will go ahead an buy from Amazon, way cheaper, as Amazon has mastered the art of inventory, moving inventory and adjusting prices (in real-time). In addition, Amazon, to complement such sale, will show you something that pretty much is guaranteed that you will like and potentially buy.

There is such a huge opportunity for whomever solves this problem; of keeping the customer within the store and helping close the deal, right there — by bringing the right information to the floor, including adjusted prices, in real-time. As the article reads, retailers are trying to combat this via “exclusive merchandise” but that is not the right answer — the answer is “inventory-demand-data/intelligence + consumer lifetime value index + price adaptation, all in real-time”. Easy to say, hard to do. Amazon not only knows this but it has the advantage.

(Disclaimer: back in 2008 while at eZee, we saw this problem coming and we tried to build the above. Not only we were too early, but it is a very hard thing to build – we had to pivot the company. Merchants were not seeing what was coming their way. Today, merchants are not only recognizing this problem, but are living it; Best Buy, a company we tried to get into, is a good example of what I am talking about).


05 Apr

Mobile Trends 2020 | Project Glass – Google’s Augmented Reality Glasses

Source: Project Glass G+ page

Back in January of 2010, Mobilist Rudy de Waele asked a number of us to predict the Mobile Trends for the decade of 2010-2020. The result of this was a great compendium of views on things to come in this decade; see Mobile Trends 2020 – A look into the future of mobile.

A few days ago Google announced the Project Glass (G+):

Pretty cool it is that this awesome announcement/project is in line (and ahead of schedule) with my prediction/contribution to Mobile Trends 2020 on AR visors that I made back in 2010 (slide 40):

“AR becomes standardized and absorbed into the web browser as a View, similar to today’s “street vs. map view. We (will) start to see the initial phase of the 5th screen, “visors” that work together with the mobile handset extending digital augmentation from the handset screen (the 4th screen) onto “eye-glasses” (the 5th screen). The handset is the personal gateway, between personal sensors and services and the applications on the Internet.”

I’m very excited about this announcement. The “glasses” approach is closer to reality and will appeal to the masses much more than “AR contact lenses” (which we are still many years away from; much more challenging to implement).

Project Glass is an exploratory project or experiment, and today we have all the technology pieces needed to make this happen today, but it will take the rest of the decade+ to understand and perfect this super cool technology and the new types of interactions and related information flows that this brings/introduces, and bring this to the masses.

I am looking forward to getting my hands on a pair of these Google AR glasses.


24 Jul

Are we still talking about WORA?

A friend of mine who works at Phunware recently pointed me to their blog to read about a recent acquisition they have made; very cool, congrats.

Then a recent blog post of theirs caught my eye (as it is a topic close to my heart): The Delusion of “Write Once Run Anywhere” Mobile App, where Phunware’s CEO writes:

“…I turn my attention to another popular myth about the development and publication of mobile applications: the delusion of “write once, run everywhere” mobile applications and the fallacy of their existence.”

WORA? We still taking about WORA?


Today, talking about WORA is similar to the debate on mobile apps vs. webapps — seems it will never end. But I guess since for many mobile is still a new space, it is good someone writes about it.

True WORA will never happen. Not back in 2004 during my J2ME days when I wrote True WORA will never happen, and not today.

For certain classes of mobile applications though, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, as “close to WORA” can be achieved — for native apps with the help of cross-platform development tools, and for webapps thanks to toolkits such as WebKit, jQuery Mobile, Sencha, and so on.

But today (still) once you go media-rich, highly-sensor and context-based, it starts to break-down.

Even popular tools like Titanium and PhoneGap have limitations when trying to maximize the experience/goals, or maybe the problem is with the folks using such tools, but nevertheless, a number of companies that I have talked to recently and which have advised on the benefits of native app vs. webapp, have given up entirely and instead have explicitly asked for target-specific (Android vs. iPhone vs. mobile web) development only vs. trying to go cross-platform with the hope of reducing development costs.

At the same time, some of companies do realize that while mobile webapps won’t able to deliver (today) the level of functionality and user-experience that is as rich as native apps do, they do understand the trade-offs where the functionality and experience of mobile webapps is sufficient-enough for their goals, their customers, across mobile platforms, with respect to their development budget and expectations.

So yes, for certain application classes WORA is possible today, while true WORA across all classes of applications is not.

Related to this see: Mobility in 2011: Mobile Apps, Webapps and Tipping Points


19 May

Austin Mobile Scene | May 2011

This month of May 2011 has been a great month with respect to the Austin mobile scene. Below is a summary of just the events that I help organize or contribute to somehow: Mobile Monday Austin, Android Dev Austin, Google IO Extended Austin, IEEE Austin Chapter. And there are other mobile-related events as well that are organized by others. And look for a cool story about the mobile scene in Austin that is coming out this Sunday May 22nd on the Austin American Statesman.

On May 19th (today!) Andrew Donoho and I will be debating native vs. web apps at the IEEE ComSoc/SP Austin Chapter.

The IEEE ComSoc/SP Chapter invites you for a talk on “Future of Mobile Debate”.

Talk Abstract:
The speakers have had plenty of discussions with colleagues and friends about native apps, written to run directly on the operating system, versus mobile web app, written to run in a mobile browser. There is no right answer — only questions and positions. This debate, in public and on stage, will refine your view of the choice. There will be many breaks in the debate for you, the judges, to ask refining questions of the participants. This will be fun.

RSVP: http://modeb.eventbrite.com/

AT&T Labs
9505 Arboretum Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

On May 23rd is our next Mobile Monday Austin social; no registration is required. See you on Monday!

Mobile Monday Austin will be holding an informal social this coming Monday, May 23, at 6pm at the Clive Bar downtown. This is an opportunity to mingle with your colleagues in the local mobile community to make connections and share experiences.

Please join the Mobile Monday team for a couple of drinks from 6pm on the outside patio at:

Start: 05/23/2011 – 6:00pm
End: 05/23/2011 – 9:00pm

The Clive Bar
609 Davis Street, 78701

On May 10-11 we had Google IO Extended Austin at the Google offices. It was a good event. I presented on Android 3.0 Honeycomb APIs for the Action Bar, Fragments and Drag-and-drop. I am planning on presenting this same presentation at an upcoming Android Dev Austin event.

Earlier this month on May 4th we had a great Android Dev Austin event. We had a great lineup of local Android developers talk about their applications and experiences. Many thanks to Ringtail Design for sponsoring the event. A summary of the event was posted by Ben Dyer at his blog.

In Summary awesome month for the Austin mobile scene


08 Mar

Mobility in 2011: Mobile Apps, Webapps and Tipping Points

(This is part of a series of blog posts on Mobility in 2011)

The debate of mobile (native) app vs. webapp is not new. This is a decade-old topic that has been debated since the days of WML.

Today the debate is pretty much the same debate.

The debate’s topics and considerations typically center around “design, experience & capabilities”, “marketing & monetization”, and “code-building-effort”.


  • The “design, experience & capabilities” part of the debate is about the application design, features & technical capabilities and its effect on the user experience; today this favors native apps;
  • the “marketing & monetization” is about awareness, visibility and discoverability, for example, creating a popular app will give you lots of visibility and direct and indirect monetization methods, and today it currently favors apps thanks to the app markets and stores, and;
  • the “code-building-effort” part of the debate is about ROI. This is mostly debated by those responsible for creating and delivering great applications and solutions as efficient as possible: fast development cycles with minimal resources, minimizing code duplication & maximizing code re-usability, better and cheaper ways for distribution and deployment. Topics like fragmentation, browser capabilities and centralized distribution come to light. This part of the debate favors webapps, unless you focus on a single native app platform such as the iPhone. Android is fragmented but this should improve over time as the platform matures (in theory). The webapps centralized model is a winner, but so is the centralized model of app stores. At the end, due to the previous two debate points, native apps are leading the way with iPhone and Android as the platforms of choice. But this is changing as well, thanks to toolkits such as jQuery Mobile which helps bring consistent webapp development and user experience across browsers. While apps are a clear winner today, an increasing number of customers are asking for mobile web versions of their apps before they commit to native apps; these typically are customers who want to go mobile now and who understand the ROI benefits of webapps across mobile platforms, yet are doing this as a starting point before introducing the app version of their applications (since they too understand the user and business benefits of native apps). It is important to note that hybrid app approaches that brings together the benefits of webapps into native apps (containers) is something to consider in the meantime.

Two Important Tipping Points

Below I cover two thoughts on the matter of app vs. webapp, and two tipping-points that most occur before the debate of apps vs. webapps become a moot point .

While the browser of today is a number of magnitude more advanced than its predecessors from the days of WML (and CHTML, etc), the relationship between apps and webapps have persisted over time; that is, from the application perspective the native app has always been ahead when it comes to features, user experience & capabilities. This answers the “design, experience & capabilities” part of the debate and the top reason why still today mobile apps are more popular than webapps.

But it is just a matter of time before webapps will be very close or equal to apps. If you were to picture this in a chart, based on experience, it would look something like the following:

…where: while the native platform and apps have had more features & capabilities than the webapp, as the browser becomes more capable (including performance) and the markup language becomes more “expressive”, the two lines will meet (but will they cross?); this is the first tipping point. And recall that “…after the tipping point has been passed, a transition to a new state occurs.”

In the chart above I also attempt to capture the impact the iPhone, Android and the Webkit, as well as sensors such as touch & location all have had in the progression of apps and webapps, and how they have contributed to awesomeness for both app and webapps.

But there is a second tipping point to be crossed. The second tipping point is related to user experience & perception. If we were to visualize this as well, it would look similar to the chart above, but with additional/different triggers. Apps have been very successful in creating analogous experiences to the physical world and its attributes, in ways webapps haven’t being able to achieve yet. Apps you can find, buy and own, see, listen to and touch in ways webapps don’t offer at this point. The way apps are owned is unique too. And people even socialize about apps in ways we don’t see yet about webapps. Before this tipping is crossed though, tipping point #1 explained above must be crossed first.

Will these tipping points occur in 2011? I don’t believe so. In the meantime, this has major implications on marketing and monetization which favors native apps.

So the debate of mobile webapps vs. native apps is not new. The debate of app and webapps is really relative as dictated by specific needs. We can debate the technical merits for each, the business merits or both. Today, the the user experience and perception favors apps which translates to business benefits ($) and thus outweigh the benefits of webapps. But there are business reasons why go webapp such as going mobile faster across platforms. The app is still ahead of webapps when it comes to the combination of design, experience & capabilities + marketing & monetization + development ROI, but the gap continuous to close; it is a matter of time. From the capabilities perspective such as a graphical and transforms, performance, sensors, connectivity, storage and offline behavior, the mobile web browser is rapidly advancing, and when combined with better webapp discoverability, marketing and revenue models, then we will be closer to the “features & capabilities” and “experience & perception” tipping points at which time the distinction between mobile apps and webapps will become a moot point.

Related to this, see: Is 2011 the year of the Mobile Web apps? (Open Gardens)

Related posts from About Mobility:


23 Feb

Mobile Future 15 at SXSW Interactive

We are less than a month away from SXSW Interactive; exciting!

If you are attending the Festival, don’t forget to stop by the Mobile Future 15 session; more info below…

When? Monday, March 14, 3:30-6pm.

Topics & Speakers:

  1. Mobile Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in 2011 (Raj Singh, Stanford Research Institute)
  2. Future of Mobile Gaming/Entertainment (Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio/Angry Birds)
  3. Designing for Mobile Web (James Pearce, Sencha)
  4. What Overseas Innovations Still Haven’t Hit the US Market Yet? (Debi Jones, Telefonica)
  5. Designing for Android (Amanda McGlothlin, Mutual Mobile)
  6. Tips for Getting Your App Approved (Michael Yuan, Ringful Health)
  7. Interactive Patterns in the Mobile Space (Barbara Ballard, Linchpin Mobility)
  8. User Experience and Cross Platform App Development (Carlo Longino, Wireless Industry Partnership)
  9. The Intersection Between Mobile and TV (Craig Negoescu, NAKA Media)
  10. Designing for iPhone (Chaotic Moon)
  11. Emcee: Yours truly, C. Enrique Ortiz

I am very excited about the the speakers and the topics for this year.

If you are attending SXSWi 2011, make sure you stop by our Mobile Future15 panel session! It is going to be awesome.

See the other Future 15 sessions: Future15 Lineup for 2011: Shorter is Better (SXSW blog).


20 Feb

Mobility 2011: The Year of NFC?

(This is part of a series of blog posts on Mobility in 2011)

Near-field Communications (NFC), the very short-range secure communications channel that will enable for a new breed of application interactions, is making a comeback. The year 2011 is, finally, the year of NFC. Today NFC is the new buzzword. NFC is the “next big thing”.

What makes NFC so attractive? From a user’s perspective, convenience. From a developer perspective, imagine application activation by swiping the handset.

NFC is so hot now, that the NFC Forum, the non-profit industry association that promotes the use of NFC short-range wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs and leads the standardization of NFC, recently redesigned its logo and marketing efforts.

Introduced around the year 2006, for some of us, it has been an eternity to get here. For example, back in 2007-2009 I co-founded a company called eZee, with the goal of bringing NFC-based applications and mobile payment into the marketplace; see eZee inc Mobile Coupon and Payment Vision. If you ask me, right on the spot, but 3 years too early. 😉

And as with mobile apps, NFC suffered from the same preclusion by the Operator. The pain was so heavy that many investors avoided NFC-related startups altogether. Those were the days just pre-iPhone and pre-Android. Nokia was the leader on NFC; it pushed the NFC API into J2ME (JSR-257), was doing its best to expand NFC. In the USA it was next to impossible to get your hands on a NFC handset; Operators were not ordering them, not yet, until the issue of the Secure Element was resolved. With trials and more trials, operators basically brought to a halt all related innovation and ecosystem. Note that near-field communications already had been proven in other regions such as Japan. Convenience the obvious benefit – fast, quick interactions.

Now with Google introducing NFC on its Android software stack and device manufacturers embracing Android/NFC, and (rumors that) Apple will be introducing support for NFC, and organizations such as ISIS (a joint venture by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon), and in Europe with projects such as the “Six Pack” with operators and financial institutions involved, the right mix of players and events are happening. The NFC ecosystem is evolving!

2011 will be a definite year on the battle between operator control and the ecosystem. This should look familiar to you as it is similar to how apps moved from the Operator controlled deck and into the ecosystem, 3rd party developers and app stores and markets. Operators have a true challenge ahead of them. It actually is an amazing transformation across the board.

While many equate NFC with mobile payments, payments is just one application. Other types of applications for NFC include check-ins, digital-to-physical world interactions, sharing device-to-device (such as contacts), authentication/authorization, transportation and ticketing, discovering information about a place or object, coupons and marketing, and so on. In fact, perhaps over time, most of the NFC-based interactions won’t be payment related.

Next I will expand on NFC, the players and the year 2011.

The NFC Ecosystem

The NFC ecosystem is a complex one. And when involving mobile payments it is not only complex, but it is extremely (greedy) political. Below I attempt to illustrate some of its players:

Past experiences alone tell me that the control of the NFC ecosystem, led by mobile payments, will shift from the Operator (and the SIM card) and into the ecosystem via non-operator and external secure elements and Trusted Service Managers (TSM).

The NFC Specifications and Standards

The NFC specifications focus on link-level protocols and message payloads to enable NFC-application proliferation. The specifications describe NFC at the low-level such as Logical Link Control (LLC) protocol and connection handover, data exchange formats, support for various popular Tags such as FeliCa, and communication protocol formats for various interaction types such as support for Texting, URI and Smart Poster payloads. All the required protocols are there. The NFC software stacks are there. But the SIM-card centered mobile payment debate continues.

The SIM-Card vs. External Secure Elements Debate (or Debacle)

While NFC has uses beyond payments, the debate of who controls that Secure Element (SE), a mobile payment artifact, is the top reason why NFC adoption has taken forever. For those not familiar with SEs, a SE is a secure location in the device, typically a Smartcard, where things such as secure keys are stored and which must be very difficult to compromise.

Many believe the SIM card, which already plays a key role on handsets by identifying the subscriber and related account, should be the SE of choice for mobile payment. At first, this makes sense as from the technical perspective, the SIM card is very secure, it has a secure channel between the SIM card and the NFC chip over Single Wire Protocol (SWP), and the Over-the-Air (OTA) management aspects are in place. But from the business perspective, there is a huge drawback — it gives way too much control to a single stakeholder, the operator.

The truth is that SEs can be implemented in various ways: 1) the SIM card, as explained above, 2) secure internal memory, and 3) external SEs such as in a microSD. The latter is becoming a strong contender for NFC.

The debate of SIM-cards vs. external SEs will have a major implication on who will benefit the most. If it turns out that the SIM card is in fact the top choice for SE, then a new/different kind of battle for SIM control will commence.

While the above takes place, two technologies are filling the gap: 1) 2D barcodes and 2) RFID stickers:

  • 2D barcodes have great potential and uses; I love them. But are not as convenient as NFC, as it requires multiple clicks from the user to start the app and read the barcode itself;
  • RFID stickers I see as a temporary solution. RFID stickers can be provisioned with info such as account information, and may require multiple stickers for multiple purposes. RFID stickers are “standalone”; with no application interface on the handset itself, the sticker is very static. This is opposed to NFC-based apps, which have an application component, a component on the SE, and the application can interface with the NFC channel and the SE, allowing you to create any UI experience (differentiation) on top.

Apple & Google and Financial Institutions Take the Lead

Enough trials. Enough debates on SEs. Time to move on. And this “move on” means for the ecosystem to take lead. Enter Apple and Google, and financial institutions. The Operators should be very concerned. The whole app scenario is repeating, that is, control shifting from the operator and into the ecosystem.

And it gets better.

Not only Apple and Google have/will be introducing devices (and sofware) that supports NFC, but expect them to become major players on NFC-based payments. Providing NFC hardware and software support is just part of the story. Expect Apple and Google to position themselves right in the middle of this; in the middle of each mobile payment transaction. But how? There are different ways, with different levels of control and influence:

  • One way is to position their own “Checkout” application and back-end system at the center of each payment transaction and getting a percentage for each;
  • Another way is to position themselves as a financial institution;
  • And the third way, is to become a Trusted Service Manager (TSM).

I suspect that Apple will supply their own mobile payment app (#1 above), but also become a TSM (#3). Google probably will use a different angle, one focus on their Search, Places and Recommendations, Ads and Hotpot, combined with their own Checkout payment app; we will see, but they should also consider the TSM route.

Similar to Google and Apple, financial institutions will take lead on NFC and mobile payments by providing mobile payment apps and potentially also taking the TSM route. Most likely financial institutions will go the microSD route:

Source: Nearfield Communication World

This is similar to how Visa Europe last year used a microSD-based NFC solution for mobile payments based on DeviceFidelity‘s In2Pay. Expect more of this happening.

What is a TSM?

A Trusted Service Manager or TSM is the entity that manages the process of provisioning a device (Secure Element) for mobile payment. Gemalto defines a TSM as follows:

“In mobile payment, the Trusted Service Manager (TSM) works behind the scenes to make the entire process of downloading your payment account onto your cell phone efficient and secure. Mobile commerce and payment necessitates a new level of cooperation between wireless operators and financial institutions. A TSM knows both banking and mobile phone security and systems, bridging multiple banks and operators while ensuring that consumer credit card information is completely secure. ” – source Gemalto.

The diagram below provides a simplified view of a TSM; as you can see, TSM are at the center to the whole mobile payment process.

TSMs are basically right in the middle; provisioning payment applets (on the SE and/or SIM card), payment apps, and the secure keys. TSMs can mainly focus on the provisioning aspects, or can offer additional services such as communicating with financial institutions over secure channels for payment processing related tasks, with the device, and with the network.

For Apple and Google, and perhaps the financial institutions, this could mean “TSM on-demand” with user-initiated provisioning via their respective app store/markets and tools; imagine using iTunes to securely setup your iPhone for payment, downloading the secure keys, apps and applets, all integrated into one experience.

Note that becoming a TSM doesn’t preclude others’ apps (and related secure keys) on the same SE, meaning that if Apple or Google, or the operator for that matter, decided to become a TSM, they can be ecosystem-friendly.

You might recall in 2010 a deal between Apple and Gemalto. This rumor was centered on Gemalto-provided SIM cards to enable iPhones to be activated on any operator via an App Store download. While this might be true, this deal felt to me like something else; I will not be surprised if perhaps Apple is planning on using Gemalto’s Trusted Service Manager (TSM) technology to help Apple become a TSM for mobile payments on iPhone.

Will companies like Apple, Google and financial institutions collaborate with ISIS and the like?


It is not the first time we have seen a conglomeration of operators that gets together to address NFC and mobile payments. Just a few years ago at Mobile World Congress, a number of operators joined forces on mobile payment. Nothing came out of this.

In 2010, ISIS, a mCommerce joint venture by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the USA was formed. This is a natural response to the threat by 3rd party companies such as Apple and Google trying to take over mobile payments. I do expect for ISIS to succeed somehow, but to be determined how this in fact will play out.

Note that ISIS is an all operator venture, and the “Six Pack” project in Europe does consist of operators and financial institutions together. Operators have the upper hand, but we live in a new world of mobile ecosystems; it is imperative they work with the ecosystem.

In Conclusion

The year 2011 will (should) be the year of NFC. But it is just the beginning. It really is about preparing for the decade of mobile payments and contactless interactions. Imagine using your handsets to learn about items on the store or places via NFC, exchange your contact info with others, check-in into places, redeem your coupon, and/or make payments, just by swiping your mobile handset.

NFC brings a new kind of interaction — it is about convenience. For me, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time and it is very exciting due to the new kind of apps that will come out of this.

You can read more about NFC, including the JSR-257 Contacless APIs for JavaME, in the NFC section on my blog About Mobility.

Related previous blog posts:



03 Feb

Mobile Future15 @ SXSW Interactive 2011

For the last number of months I’ve been curating the SXSWi Mobile Future 15 panel. This is a special kind of short-form panel content, fast-paced sessions, each title reflecting one 12-minute solo speaking slot, which is followed by a short, three-minute break before the next speaker begins his or her presentation. These proved to be very popular with attendees during 2010.

So I am very happy to announce the SXSWi 2011 Mobile Future15

When? Monday, March 14, 3:30-6pm.

Great topics and speakers:

  1. Mobile Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in 2011 (Raj Singh, Stanford Research Institute)
  2. Future of Mobile Gaming/Entertainment (Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio/Angry Birds)
  3. Designing for Mobile Web (James Pearce, Sencha)
  4. What Overseas Innovations Still Haven’t Hit the US Market Yet? (Debi Jones, Telefonica)
  5. Designing for Android (Amanda McGlothlin, Mutual Mobile)
  6. Tips for Getting Your App Approved (Michael Yuan, Ringful Health)
  7. Interactive Patterns in the Mobile Space (Barbara Ballard, Linchpin Mobility)
  8. User Experience and Cross Platform App Development (Carlo Longino, Wireless Industry Partnership)
  9. The Intersection Between Mobile and TV (Craig Negoescu, NAKA Media)
  10. Designing for iPhone (Chaotic Moon)

I am very excited about the quality of the speakers and the topics for this year’s Mobile Future15. If you are attending SXSWi 2011, make sure you stop by our Mobile Future15 panel session! It is going to be awesome…


03 Feb

Article: Introduction to jQuery Mobile

My first article for 2011, meet the jQuery Mobile framework.

This article provides an introduction to the jQuery Mobile framework. Learn the basics of the framework and how to write a functional mobile web application user interface with minimal or no JavaScript code at all.

See the article Introduction to jQuery Mobile (IBM developerWorks) which introduces the jQuery Mobile framework.


02 Feb

Mobility in 2011

This is my first post of 2011. I’ve been wanting to make this post since early January, but 2011 already has proven to a very busy year.

A great year for mobility, 2011 should be.

As the year 2011 begins, it is good to understand where we are and what to expect in the new year. This is important for those who are planning their 2011 plan of attack, be it gaming, social, mobile commerce, or enterprise software/apps, services, just to mention a few.

I pay particular attention to the intersection between the state of the 1) handsets, 2) the networks, 3) the mobile lifestyle and 4) the business models that helps monetize the mobile opportunity. And I pay special attention to the intersections between mobility and context-based mobile computing and what I call augmented real-time interactions. And I am spending considerable amount of time on the Android platform, both native and web.

As these four aspects of mobility, mentioned above, continue to mature, they also continue to converge; the greater the convergence, the greater the commoditization, which translates into greater opportunities across mobile verticals.

2011 will see changes and improvements on the networks, the devices we interact with, and the connected lifestyle and how we interact with or through our mobile devices. This in turn results in new ways to monetize the mobile opportunity: mobile commerce, games, social, education, media-focused, operator-focused, or other types of apps, across mobile platforms, device sizes from smartphones to tablets and the connected TV, native vs. mobile web-based apps. The current state of the handsets and networks, and the role of tablets, NFC, app and content distribution, and new development tools for native and mobile web apps, will help unleash a wave of mobile activity like never before; even traditional non-mobile designers and developers, are now paying attention to mobile. Mobile startups are sprawling!

In the next couple of blog posts, I will expand on this:

Happy new year…


07 Sep

September Must be 2010’s Mobile & Wireless Month

There are so many mobile-related events in September alone that with (at least) 28 days of mobile events, September should be designated as 2010’s Mobile Month; see below:

  • Mobile Future Forward, Sept 8, Seattle
  • Over the Air, Sept 10, London
  • APP Nation Conference, September 13 San Francisco
  • DigiDay Mobile, September 13 in New York City
  • Nokia Developer Summit, September 14, London
  • DEMO, September 14, San Francisco
  • Mobile Innovation Week, September 15-17, Toronto
  • BlackBerry Developer Conference, Sept 27-30, San Francisco
  • Mobile 2.0 Event, September 20-21, Mountain View, CA
  • JavaOne and Oracle Develop, September 19 – 23, San Francisco
  • MobiTechFest Americas West, September 21, San Francisco
  • Verizon Developer Conference, September 21 & 22, Las Vegas
  • Design for Mobile, 20-24 September, Chicago, Illinois
  • iPhone/iPad Developers Conference, September 27 – 29, San Diego, CA
  • MobileMonday Summit 2010, September 28, Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Mobilize, September 30, San Francisco, CA.

October 2010 comes very close though with many cool mobile events as well…

For more information about these events and other developer events see the WIP Events Wiki


14 Aug

SXSW 2011 PanelPicker | Vote now; voting ends Aug 27, 2010

A reminder that the 2011 SXSW Interactive PanelPicker community voting is open and that voting ends Aug 27, 2010. SXSW Interactive is on March 11-15, 2011.

For SXSW Interactive alone there are 2344 sessions! Wow. And for mobile/wireless and mobile apps there are 96 sessions.

Please remember that SXSW is a community-driven event and that your vote literally accounts for about 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot.

So go ahead, find the proposals (and mobile proposals!) that most interest you and vote!

Voting ends 11:59 CDT on Friday, August 27.

See you March 11-15, 2011…


01 Aug

What is next and a continuation on the theme of convergence and reasons for a mobile boom

On my previous post, Looking back — Local faster, fresher, better…, a flashback, I wrote about after how in the last 3-4 years Mobility has reached a state of adoption and commoditization that many of us have been preaching for years now.

I ended that blog/piece with a question “what is next?”

A couple of things come to mind, but these really are a continuation on the theme on convergence and the Reasons Why The Mobile/Wireless Usage Boom is Underway; the convergence between the mobile lifestyle, advanced smartphones, the advanced networks and business models:

…where if we look at what is next:

  • The mobile lifestyle continues the “Logarithmic phase” of adoption growth, for which I don’t see any slowdown for years to come;
  • On advanced handsets do we have a new handset category? Super-smartphones like the latest iPhones and Androids with increasing computing power and multitude of sensors and awesome screens with touch and snappy UIs;
  • With increased global support for advanced networks such as HSPA+ and 4G/LTE with mobile broadband network speeds that matches home/office broadband network;
  • And on the business models the continued growth of the ecosystem. On one hand, the ease of application development. On the other the App Stores and the new front-ends to these apps stores that offer improvements when compared to the native app store discovery experience. Then we have the increase in the number of developer-friendly operator services (and/or APIs) or as I like to refer the Operator Infrastructure as a Service; see On (Mobile) Cloud Computing – Multiple Perspectives to its Benefits, Drivers and Economics.

…the adoption, ecosystem and overall experience continues to get better and better and commoditization is on the way.

The focus on applications (native or web) will continue but greater focus on the data generated by the mobile handset and the applications themselves will be the next phase of innovation in mobility, all for the purpose of improving the overall contextual user experience and monetization opportunities.


01 Jul

So what is or should be Microsoft’s strategy for mobile?

So it has begun, Microsoft announced that slowing (killing) the KIN product:

“We have made the decision to focus exclusively on Windows Phone 7 and we will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally, we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team, incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in the U.S. to sell current KIN phones.”

This whole KIN thing feels to me as a “pet project” from some Microsoft high-executive who saw “social apps on the web” as the killer app and couldn’t decide how to deliver it and took forever and now realizes it is not going to work (due to timing or other). The hardest thing when creating a product is to know when to kill it. But because Microsoft waited to make this decision 1) Microsoft looks silly, 2) looks as a product failure, 3) costs millions of dollars in development and marketing and the cost of inventory for the devices that will not sell. A costly operation. The good thing about this is less distractions for the company allowing them to focus on the next generation core OS Windows Phone 7. But as a technology/product person I do see unseen benefits to this failed product: 1) product/roadmap unification, and 2) the exercise of transferring R&D/IP to the Product group. Both are important and that can be very hard to accomplish.

That said, while there still space/opportunity for the Windows mobile OS, Microsoft won’t be the leader of the space; playing catch-up is not leading.

So what is or should be Microsoft’s strategy for mobile?

For a while it has been very clear to me that Microsoft has been ignoring what probably is their most important strategy when it comes to mobile…

Obviously they are committed to the (Windows Phone 7) mobile OS, which is fine, but what about apps?

Microsoft has failed to leverage their own strength and expertise with apps. By now they could have been the leader on a number of mobile app categories, for example, productivity apps such as mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint, access to Exchange, and gaming, across *all* mobile platforms, with versions of the apps that makes the best out of the specific mobile platforms. But to accomplish this they must breakaway from the “Windows only” mentality for mobile…

I’m not sure why such a “simple” decision to rule their own app space has taken so long; no decision is a decision. If can’t decide how to make this happen just go acquire DataViz; I’m sure it is not the first time Microsoft has approached them, except this time DataBiz is going to cost more…

Microsoft, don’t ignore the apps space, your own app space…

…and from the developers perspective, don’t forget that to succeed make sure your Windows mobile environment does provide good developer support, ecosystem, app store and developer incentives.


10 May

The mobile handset as a platform for solving complex computational problems

Today I saw a short video that shows how powerful the mobile handset continues to become, in this case solving a Rubik’s Cube in seconds by using image capture, advanced algorithms and a powerful mobile platform, a Motorola Droid. The Droid is based on the TI OMAP 3430 application processor which is based on the ARM Cortex A8 processor.

Update Jun/7: Video is back! Update 05/12: Wired Gadget Lab reported that the video has been temporarily removed by ARM to make some changes and that it is expected to be back online by 05/14

This video triggered some thoughts about the future of the mobile handset as a platform to solve complex computational problems…

Imagine a future where battery consumption and/or network coverage were not an issue as today, and where sets of mobile handsets can be federated in real-time; hundreds, thousands or millions of handsets, as they become available or not (on the network), all working “together” to solve specific complex computational problems, in a similar fashion to how SETI @ Home uses millions and millions of idle CPU cycles from thousands (millions?) of PCs from around the world.

Let’s look at a relevant scenario. While there are millions of Facebook users there are billions of mobile handsets/users; now imagine a time in the future where most of the handsets are powerful-enough to solve the relevant parts of “their” social graph; millions of individual handsets solving their owner’s social graphs in real-time as it changes, then all stitched together somehow on the edge (the handset) or centrally on the network.

“Availability” is what precludes this vision of mobile-based distributed computing from happening; either because the handsets are not powerful-enough today or because of lack of connectivity due to issues related to battery, network coverage or IP visibility; but these limiting factors will go away, in the future.

The mobile handset is becoming so powerful that what I described above might be closer to reality than what we think.

The OMAP 3430

Source: Texas Instrument | Click to Enlarge


(Via FoneArena)

09 May

On Reasons Why The Mobile/Wireless Usage Boom is Underway | Part 2

Back in April 2008, around a year after the introduction of the iPhone and Android, I wrote a piece on my blog on the Reasons Why The Mobile/Wireless Usage Boom was Underway, where I introduced the diagram below that highlights the convergence between the mobile lifestyle, advanced handsets and the state of the networks:

Here I argue that such convergence is the basis for the adoption we see today…

But why is that? For years I have focused on “application richness” as a key reason; software that extends and enhances the hardware by providing services and useful utilities, and the richer user experience and functionality the wider the adoption. And for years the topic of native vs. web mobile apps have had continued and while the promise and vision of rich web applications continues to move forward, albeit slowly, native applications have lead the way.

The answer is that (regardless of technology) it is about “monetization” and business models, and mobile is no exception. And that technology is *the* great facilitator to deliver this. After reading Mike Rowehl piece on Opening Up Mobile Monetization, which he wrote in response to John Arne Sæterås’ blog Mobile Web vs. Native Apps. Revisited, I agree that technology and application richness and user experience all by itself are not sufficient, and again, that technology all by itself is just a facilitator, and that business models play a key role.

I’ve to say though, that we have come a long way since I wrote Open ecosystems, closed ecosystems, and the reality of things back in 2006; a post that also refers to another related blog by Mike Rowehl; as you can see, we have been arguing the issue of ecosystems and openness for many years now.

So my diagram above on converge and adoption needs an tweak/update, to include the missing piece that glues it all together — the business models which is the main driver that powers it all.

As I write on My Vision page:

But what has been happening is that three related areas of mobile have been converging over the last decade: 1) the mobile lifestyle where the mobile handset is such a personal social gadget part of our daily lives, 2) the advanced smartphones that provide applications both web and native as never before and 3) the advanced, faster, more reliable and accessible networks that allows for always-on connectivity — all converging closer with business models at the center that promotes a healthy ecosystem.

In this ecosystem we have consumers and we have businesses, some that focuses on creating handsets, others on networks, while others in software services (platforms) and applications. All benefiting — the consumers via improved experiences and businesses via the ecosystem business models. It is this convergence that have enabled the momentum and ecosystem that we are currently seen.

The business models are driven by the ecosystem. And by ecosystem I mean real ecosystems that allows different entities to participate in ways that simplifies trade, the ability to easily author, publish and sell software/applications, on top on other software and infrastructure, benefiting all — the consumer and the “providers”.

The application store showed that the original carrier-based deck was an issue. Even though a business model existed back then, it was flawed. Not a true ecosystem it shows why it was so easy for application stores to lead and show the way. Today the success of application stores is starting to show their weaknesses; thousands and thousands of applications mean finding one is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But discovery today is leaps and bounds better than before; and I am sure better ways to discover will be created.

Back to my convergence diagram vs. adoption above, let’s look at some support data:

On Handset Data Traffic (and Advanced Networks)

Source the Silicon Ally Insider — The above chart shows the consumption of handset data traffic, which correlates to the mobile lifestyle and its relationship to advanced networks behind.

On Advanced Handsets

Source the Silicon Ally Insider — The above chart shows the growth in the adoption of advanced mobile handsets which correlates to the relationship between mobile lifestyle as driver (and relationship) to advanced handsets (and decline of feature-phones).

On Applications (and Business Models)

Source the Silicon Ally Insider — The above chart is about the business model and it shows the growth in the adoption of native applications; see the increase in just one year. This chart shows how the creation of native (rich) applications have increased, in my opinion, thanks to the true ecosystems as allowed by app stores which have facilitated the creation and publishing of applications and the resulting revenues from such software applications economy (business models). Would we see a similar growth once such economy is available for mobile web applications? Or is “application richness” a factor as well? While business models that benefits all in the ecosystem must exist for all this to work, application richness is a secondary factor that certainly drives excitement and adoption.

So It Is Happening

It is great to finally see “the vision” being realized, in large part thanks to Apple and Google who helped shift control and focus into the ecosystem, open systems, the developers and applications. The result has been a tremendous amount of innovation in a relatively short amount of time


25 Apr

Three Cool Mobile Events on 1st week of May 2010 | The Mobile Web & Widgets, The Business of Location, ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit 2010

There will be three cool mobile events on the first week of May:

  1. May 3rd – MobileMonday Austin | Topic: Mobile Web & Widgets
  2. May 5th – Rice Alliance – Austin Chapter | Topic: The Business of Location: Making Money with Geo-Aware Services
  3. May 7th – ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit 2010 (Mountain View, CA)

May 3rd | MobileMonday Austin | Mobile Web and Widgets

The topic is Mobile Web & Widgets with Kirk Ballou of Flash Widgets and Dan Podwall of the Nokia Web Runtime Team presenting on the hot topic of mobile and web and the role of widgets.

  • Date: May 3rd. Please arrive by 5:45pm. We will start at 6pm-7:30pm.
  • Cost: Free. Open bar and appetizers will be served.
  • Where: MAX Underground at 207 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin TX 78701.
  • Seating is limited: Please RSVP at the MobileMonday Austin website http://www.mobilemondayaustin.com

For event information see http://www.mobilemondayaustin.com.

May 5th | Rice Alliance – Austin Chapter | The Business of Location: Making Money with Geo-Aware Services

Over the past year, location-based services that take advantage of the capabilities of the iPhone and other smartphones have exploded onto the scene. Many analysts claim that over the next five years, we’ll see location-based services become household names the way Facebook and Twitter have become synonymous with the social web. In order to get there, location companies need to develop clear business models and innovative strategies to monetize geo-aware services. What monetization strategies will work? How profitable will these location services be? How can other businesses benefit from the advertising/market intelligence opportunities that location-aware companies can provide?

Come hear from panelists representing the many different facets of location — from application development to mobile payments to hyper-local advertising to mobile analytics and more.

* Josh Williams, CEO and Co-founder of Gowalla
* Blair Garrou, Managing Director of DFJ Mercury
* Rick Orr, CEO of ATX Technologies (Tabbed Out)
* Chris Treadaway, CEO of Notice Technologies

  • Event Date: 5/5/2010
  • Event Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Location: AT&T Conference Center

See The Business of Location: Making Money with Geo-Aware Services.

May 7, 2010 | ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit 2010 (Mountain View, CA)

Get ready to explore, think and create the future of Mobile! As in our last event, The Real-Time Web Summit, it will be you – the attendees – who ultimately set the agenda.

People from companies such as Google, UrbanAirship and SimpleGeo are coming to explore the future of mobile in this unconference format. We’d love for you to come and share your thoughts about the future of mobile.

See the events page: ReadWriteWeb Mobile Summit 2010.


14 Apr

MobileMonday Austin | Mobile Web Runtimes, Flash and Widgets | May 3rd 2010

We are set. Next MobileMonday Austin event is on May 3rd, 2010.

Seating is limited! Please register at the MobileMonday Austin website.

Topic: Mobile Web Runtimes, Widgets and Flash with speakers:

  • Kirk Ballou of Flash Widgets
  • Dan Podwall of Nokia Web Runtime Tools

Cost: Free. Open bar and appetizers will be served.

Time: Please arrive by 5:45pm. We will start at 6pm-7:30pm or so. With cash bar as well.

Where: MAX Underground | Downtown at 207 San Jacinto Boulevard, Austin TX 78701; see Google map.

Thanks to our sponsor:

See you there!


03 Mar

Calling All Developers | Mobile Developer Survey

Our friends at VisionMobile are conducting a mobile developer survey, sponsored by O2 Litmus. The survey close date has been extended to March 26 and the results will be published in Q2 2010.

And there are prizes! All participants will be included in a draw for 24 great prizes:

  • 2 participants win a Nexus One phone and €500 in Amazon vouchers (applies to 30 min interviews)
  • 2 participants win a HTC Touch 2 phone and €250 in Amazon vouchers (applies to online survey)
  • 20 participants win a glossy A1 wallchart of the Mobile Industry Atlas, the definitive who’s who of the mobile ecosystem.

For more information see Calling all developers (VisionMobile website).


25 Feb

We had an awesome MobileMonday Austin Feb 2010 | Thanks to our sponsor Skyhook Wireless

MoMo Austin Logo

Wow, what a great MobileMonday Austin event we had last Monday Feb 22. With around 120 people attending, a great agenda and speakers, and a good time, it is safe to call the event a success. The opening by David, the demos by the various companies and the panel on Monetizing Mobile Apps moderated by Stacey was all great, diverse and well balanced.

A big thank you to our AWESOME sponsor Skyhook Wireless and special thanks to Kate and Ronda and Ted. And a big thank you to our speakers:

  • Ted Morgan, Skyhook Wireless
  • David Gill, The Nielsen Company
  • Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOM
  • Frank Hanzlik, Dell
  • Lance Obermeyer, Digby
  • Alan S. Knitowski, Phunware, Inc.
  • Michael Agustin, Gendai Games
  • Josh Williams, Gowalla
  • Larry Upton, Edioma

And thanks to Dell for the notebook-mini giveaway and to the Austin Wireless Alliance/ATI Wireless, RCR Wireless News and the Austin American Statesmen for helping spread out the word about the event. And of course thanks to all the attendees.


Next is SXSW Interactive on March 12-16; hope to see you all there. On Saturday March 13 I will be running the Wireless Future15, don’t miss it!

And the next MobileMonday event is on March 15, 2010; the registration form is already up at http://www.mobilemondayaustin.com. Stay tuned by visiting the MoMo Austin website and this mailing list for further details.


16 Feb

If you are at MWC, stop by the ALU/Motive booth to see my products

While I am not attending Mobile World Congress this year (2010), my products are! If you want to see what I’ve been working on for the last year or so, stop by the Alcatel-Lucent booth where you will see a number of presentations and demos on these new products:

…will highlight the use ALU technologies such as Mobile Device Management, which streamlines and guides consumers through the offer, purchase and activation cycle. It will also highlight how mobile network operators can use ALU technologies like Mobile Broadband ServiceView and the 9900 Wireless Network Guardian to both better inform their CSRs about the conditions facing the subscriber (reducing Average Handle Times, reducing cost and increasing customer satisfaction), and work to improve the performance of the application itself.

Motive logo

The products you will see include:

  • Mobile ServiceView, our advanced solution for call-centers that provides end-to-end visibility into the subscriber, the device, the network, and the (back-end) services/systems, as well as automated troubleshooting and remediation for mobile handsets and mobile broadband;
    • With intuitive help desk UI which quickly guides help desk through problem triage, diagnosis and resolution;
    • Auto-discovery of subscribers on the network and the paths their packets take through the network – down to the base-station level;
    • Determination of subscribers’ quality of experience (QoE) and the factors that affect that experience;
    • Integrates with the Wireless Network Guardian to bring network intelligence into the call-center;
  • Our next generation mobile device manager (MDM) that together with WDSGlobal have co-developed with automatic device detection, identification and configuration of any phone implementing OMA-CP/DM and wireline devices implementing TR-69;
  • Demonstrations on our smart-phone service activation and troubleshooting including self and assisted-service for Android, etc;
  • Our guided activation workflows that steps customers through complex, multi-step service activation tasks.

…and more such as our home and wirelene solutions.

So enjoy MWC and stop by the Alcatel-Lucent/Motive booth and check out my products, and let me know what you think…