Photo - Daniel Appelquist
I spent yesterday at the Mobile 2.0 Event here in San Francisco. It was nice to meet so many of my readers and fellow mobile bloggers. This is a world class event and a real bargain. I don't think there's any other conference were you will find so many of the movers and shakers of the mobile world gathered in such a relatively intimate setting. It was fast paced and went very smoothly, hat tip to the organizers Gregory Gorman, Daniel Appelquist, Mike Rowehl, Rudy de Waele and Peter Vesterbacka who did a great job of lining up speakers and panelists and keeping things rolling on topic and on schedule.
Here are my impressions. I'm sure I missed a lot. There are quite a few other accounts on the web to help you fill in the details. I hope I got everyone's name and ideas right. Please jump in with corrections if I didn't.
- Richard MacManus's has a four part series of live blogged posts at Read/Write Web. Richard covered Tomi Ahonen's inspiring and optimistic Keynote, and the two Lauch Pad sessions where startups had 5 minutes each to show their stuff; Launch Pad 1, Launch Pad 2 and one highlighting Taptu's presentation.
- Oliver Starr at Blognation also live blogged covering the Keynote, the User Experience panel and the Venture Capitalists panel.
- Mike Rowehl, wrapped up his experiences as an organizer, panelist and observer at This Is Mobility.
- Rudy de Waele has his slides here
- Rudy, Daniel and others created a huge Flickr photo pool
The day began with mTrends' Rudy de Waele's Opening Remarks defining Mobile 2.0. It's not Web 2.0 gone mobile. Instead Mobile 2.0 is about exploiting the mobile device's ubiquitous nature and unique ability to use context including location, the user's social networks, address book, calendar and synchronization.
Tomi Ahonen followed with a Keynote centered on the concept that mobile is the seventh mass media. The first six being print, recorded music, movies, radio, TV and the internet. Mobile can do everything the previous 6 can plus it adds unique elements. Mobile is:
- Always on
- Always carried
- Has a built in payment system
- Provides the most accurate audience info
- Is always present to indulge creative impulses
Tomi then highlighted some application areas exploiting mobiles unique capabilities, most of which are also making significant amounts of money:
- An English/Japanese cameraphone OCR translator.
- UK carrier 3's See Me TV - which offers user created videos that cost 50 pence each to download. The creator receives 1p per download. 3's three million subsribers downloaded 14.2 million See Me videos last year.
- In Korea when applying for a credit card, the default is for the payment system to be on your mobile only, plastic is an optional extra.
- Mobile Social Networks; Habbo Hotel has $35 million in annual revenue even though the average user spends only $5/year. 43% of all Koreans participate in CyWorld. 30,000 businesses advertise and/or sell on CyWorld. Dating site Flirtomatic has 60,000 web users and 20,000 mobile users. Flirtomatic is doing so well selling items of endearment like 3.5 million virtual red roses per year that they have done away with all subscription fees.
Next up was the User Experience Panel moderated by Brian Fling from Blue Flavor. My takeaways:
- Carlos Domingo (Telefonica) - The iPhone has raised the UX bar. It also emphases the browser as THE platform for mobile apps.
- Carlos - A consistent UI is more important than who (carrier, phone vendor or 3rd party) "owns" it.
- Kelly Goto (Gotomobile) - Mobile apps are too complicated, users don't understand them, designers need to simplify. Kelly liked Helio's GPS applications though.
- Christian Linholm (ex Nokia -"father" of the Navi-Key and S60, author, consultant) - Web apps need to have a local cache so that they are faster and can function where there is no or poor connectivity.
- Christian - Emerging markets have special usability needs like voice enabled apps for illiterate users, simple solutions like SMS based or mobile web also work well. Even in the developing world, nobody want's a "poor mans phone", users will buy a used smartphone over a new entry level model.
On particular interest to me were the two mobile Launch Pad segments where startups were given five minutes to show their stuff. Look for in depth reviews of some of these here in the future.
- Heysan - Mobile web based cross platform IM. It's superior to SMS because it's free, can go to desktop or the phone and is aware of presence. Heysan features a single buddy list across platforms (AIM, ICQ, MS Messenger), has a threaded conversation view and auto refresh. It's optimized to minimize clicks. m.heysan.com.
- Taptu - see my review. I can add that Taptu, like Heysan, seemed to be very well received by the audience.
- Mippin is a mobile content aggregator that delivers the freshest content live from 2000 sources including the New York Times and the BBC. It features voting, history, search, twitter integration and pagination. The developers welcome feedback online. mippin.com
- Mobile Research - Seems to be a combination of a commercial WURFL clone and a mobile web analytics tool offering metrics like market reach and share by device, location. Has solved the issues around accurately measuring unique and returning visitors. It's launching in January and is actively seeking beta testers.
The next presentation, a panel on Emerging Technologies was one of my favorites. Mowser's Russell Beattie was a dynamic moderator who challenged the panel members with questions and keep the discusion lively.
Russ asked the panelists for their pet peeves. Answers included the FCC (Mike Rowehl), high cost of data (Marc Davis - Yahoo) and fragmented development platforms (Enrique Ortiz - eZee).
The next question was what was needed to enable innovation and the panel came up with:
- New input technologies like QR codes, browser access to APIs especially the phone book and location, more applications targeting mass market handsets to achieve critical mass (Enrique)
- Open platforms, we need Linux phones. Developers can't innovate very well when phones are closed. (Mike)
- Make distribution and installation seamless and scalable (Marc)
- Improved tools for mobile web development, comomodization of mobile device characteristics data. (James Pearce - dotMobi)
Russ then asked the panel what technologies they see as emerging?
- Marc - Massive social apps, collective intelligence
- Enrique - back to basis - users have to be able to actually use your app. The idle screen.
- James - The end of mobile's inferiority complex.
- Mike - User self servicing in content creation,
- Russ - The millions who aren't on PC's using the mobile to do what office serfs do today on PCs.
- Marc - disruptive technologies will lower the cost of data and enable superior monetization.
The last question was, What is the killer mobile app? The panel agreed that there isn't any - yet.
After lunch, Shozu presented. Main points were:
- Shozu is a mobile social enabler that's not an end destination.
- It's "one click simple" You take a picture and background processing does the rest. Publishing is seamless.
- A new feature, cc lets you publish simultaneously to multiple sites.
- Shozu handles loss of connection with auto-resume.
- Comments on your Flickr photos, etc. are auto downloaded in the background.
- ZuCasts are another new feature that lets you subscribe to podcasts, Flickr or any other RSS feed. Your subscriptions are downloaded automatically and are available offline.
Next, another panel -The Venture Capitalist Perspective. Panelists were moderator Gegory Gorman (Open Group), Greg Franklin (Intellect Partners), Voytek Siewierski (Mitsui & Co), Rich Wong (Accel Partners ) andNagraj Kashyap (Qualcomm Ventures)
Highlights from the panel.
- All the VCs said they now prefer to invest in off deck companies as opposed to those dependent on carrier deals.
- Voytek - The current carrier business model will have no winners and needs to change.
- Nagraj - The US is catching up in mobile data based on the ratio of messaging to non-messaging data revenue which has gone from mostly messaging to 50/50. By comparison it's 30/70 in Asia but only 70/30 in Europe. Greg pointed out that most US data is laptop cards, Sprint's sold 1 million of them.
- Nagraj - Startups should grow their technologies incrementally from the simple to the complex; SMS -> WAP -> App
- Global markets are not homogeneous. In China and India, users 1st web experience is with mobile. In Africa whole villages share one phone. You need to develop for the markets you understand and have a local presence in all your major markets.
Questions from the floor:
- Whats the future of mobile advertising? It is a great opportunity but there is a need for better subscriber metrics and targeting.
- Dan Appelquist asked how UK and European startups can get funding as only US VCs seem to be willing to fund mobile ventures? The answer was that this is changing as more and more Valley VCs are opening European offices. Relocating your startup to the US is an alternative too.
- What about fixed - mobile convergence? It's seen as a not very viable solution to non-nonexistent problem. Cheap voice plans and better mobile coverage have killed it.
- What are some success factors of successful startups:
- Know what you market is.
- Have a single minded focus.
- Be able to change direction when things aren't working.
- Be the first to recognize what will have potential and get it to market before competitors.
- Focus on a specific need.
- Keep it simple.
Next came the "Fireside Chat"on The State of Mobile Industry with Jean Marc Frangos - British Telecom, Russ Maguire - Sprint, Patrick McVeigh - Soonr and Russ Daniels - HP
- Jean Marc - BT is an MVNO, after selling O2 in 2001 we are being very aggressive in WiFi.
- Patrick - enable the knowledge worker to use mobile data effectively, the gray collar worker (think FedEx or US) has done so for years. Mobilize Enterprise web apps.
- Russ Daniels - mobility is not a market it's a capability.
- Russ Maguire - remove barriers; speed, cost, the fact that innovators can't make any money.
- Patrick - better browsers with persistence will finally make it possible to "fail quickly and cheaply" which will enable innovation.
- Jean Marc - response time is the difference between a good and a bad mobile application. Response is helped by thicker clients using cached web data .
- Jean Marc - It's not just the browser, personal audio content like radio is an under developed area, Patrick agrees.
Regarding Google and the gPhone.
- Patrick - Google's success is not assured, mobile is hard, it takes 3.5 years to develop a new mobile OS, the browser is easier target.
- Russ Daniels - Google recognizes an opportunity and aims to disrupt.
- Jean Marc - Google wants to control all aspects of the mobile to reduce their integration costs.
The second Launchpad:
WebWag Java bases widget platform with a good looking API and a Web based widget builder that lets you clip a piece of web page (even one containing an interactive form) and turn it into an active mobile widget - and the web form still works on the mobile!
Rulespace - A 12 year old Portland OR based content categorization company that is now active in mobile. Rulespace can tell you what your users are looking for and can categorize content. It can be used to drive parental control systems, spam, malware and porn blocking or search optimization and can find sites that reflect badly on your brand's image.
Kyte.TV - live voice, text, chat, image streaming. An integrated web and mobile experience. They set up a live stream of the conference which many participated in by adding messages and pictures. Mobile site is m.Kyte.tv
exmachina - An Amsterdam based online multiplayer game platform developer with a new mobile product called PopKids. You, together with a partner, raise a virtual child from birth to 18 years (which takes 18 days in real tiime). The goal is for your child to become the next pop idol. It's location aware but safe because there is no open chat. Your popkid is influenced by where you go, the music you listen to, the movies you watch and who you call. The PopKid messages you using Jaiku.
Disruptive or New Business Models - panel
Daniel Appelquist moderator, HeGe Haggman -Widsets, Peter Stark- Sony Ericsson, Daniel Graf - Kyte TV, Atakan Cetinsoy - MyStrands. The panel came up with lots of ideas in answers to the question: What's disruptive?
- Daniel Appelquist - ZoneTag is disruptive tech because it does LBS with no help from the operators, flat data and flat data roaming are also disruptive.
- Daniel Graf - iPhone, flat rate 3G, social networks.
- Peter - integrated web apps in the phone idle screen like an RSS feed reader or a blogging tool.
- HeGe - startups within companies like Widsets.
- Atakan - truly smart phones that learn our preferences and behavior patterns, data should live on the network so it can't be lost, everything as a free ad-supported service.
- Mobile advertising that moves beyond banner ads.
- New mobile technology getting enterprise adoption. Examples Ning, Katie Couric using a camera phone to report from Iraq, businesses using Skype, Facebook as collaborative business tool.
- Keep it simple, make it fast for mass adoption accross all age levels.
- Browsers API's for aceess to phone book and calendar.
From the floor, Oliver Star of Blognation raised the big brother question, warning that sharing user data with distributed services must be strictly by opt-in and transparent. Otherwise governments and businesses will misuse it. The panelists agreed.
That's it other than the open bar after the event where much networking and heated discussion followed.