Extending the definition of Mobile Web 2.0 ..

I have always been exploring ways to extend the basic definition of Mobile Web 2.0.

In it’s original incarnation, Mobile Web 2.0 extends the ideas of Web 2.0 to mobile devices by considering the core principle of harnessing collective intelligence.

In this scenario, the Mobile Device becomes the key element to harnessing collective intelligence since it is always available at the point of inspiration. The problem is – if the mobile device does not add something special – then we end up feeding the Flickrs and the YouTubes of the world i.e. chucking all the content to the ‘Deep blue sea’ of the Web where it merges with the vast oceans of already existing content.

The paradoxical challenge is to provide something unique from a mobile angle but at the same time, maintain the ethos of the Web(open standards, no walled gardens, customer choice etc).

In overcoming this problem, different strategies could be used and we discuss some here. Ultimately, I see these techniques as extensions to the core definition of Mobile Web 2.0(beyond the idea of harnessing collective intelligence)

a) Unique client side features and One click uploads: One way is to provide unique client side features. This is where the concept of ODP is relevant(both from an Operator and from a device manufacturer standpoint). This has been covered in my previous blog. One click upload is also a part of the same strategy.

b) Upload gateways: The second way is to provide some kind of ‘upload gateway’ for the lack of a better word. This is an ‘interim area’ between the device and the Web and provides the context based on a number of rules/content feeds etc. Obviously, this is a key value add for the end user. I have seen at least two operators develop/propose this concept. In addition, Shozu also works on similar principles. I like this concept because it is ‘open’ (in the sense that it does not confine the user to a specific social network) and at the same time the mobile ecosystem(operator, device manufacturer, application provider) can add value ..

A block diagram from TIM(Telecom Italia Mobile) is as below. Many thanks to Dr Massimo Valla for his kind permission to include this from his presentation.


The basic idea is: The operator adds some kind of processing in this gateway. The gateway then connects to any social network or web site (such as flickr/youtube etc). Depending on what is being added, it adds value to the user i.e. the user must want to use this gateway. For instance by adding machinetags . Other functions that could be included as part of the gateway include

- Add context to content

-  Support deferred / interrupted uploads

- Synchronize content on the mobile terminal

- Publish content on multiple sites

Orange is doing the same through pikeo (still in beta)

c) Device manufacturers/Ovi: The interim gateway, one click and other strategies are not necessarily confined to the Operator. The same could also be used by device manufacturers. Especially Nokia, with Ovi

and it’s acquisitions like Navteq have critical advantage to provide a ‘One stop shop’. The Ovi solution could be hosted at an Operator or could be independent – but in either case, it is a powerful mechanism from the end user perspective.

d) Network abstraction: Network abstraction(In essence abstracting telecoms APIs and providing the facility to mashup between telecoms and non telecoms services). Is another way. I have covered mobile telecoms network abstraction before, hence I am not covering this again.

e) Identity: This is a key telecoms industry advantage and operators like T-mobile are doing some interesting work in this space. For instance, Dr Jörg Heuer’s team working on papers like: A role-based architecture for seamless identity management and effective task separation

All of the above is a much more sophisticated proposition than simple deals like the Vodafone – Myspace partnership. It gets good press but nevertheless a good starting point.

The trouble with single partnerships is : how many such partnerships can be done? The number of social networks are increasing and the number of social networks a person belongs to is increasing as well. So, individual partnerships between Operators and social networks will never work. Hence, the need of an open architecture but with something to leverage the unique potential of mobile devices.

I am exploring this whole area in detail and any comments/feedback welcome. I will also add more blogs later this week about extending the core definition of Mobile Web 2.0 along the mobile differentiation problem.


  1. collet kudze says:

    Upload gateways.
    I certainly believe we are moving towards some new dimension altogether ( mobile- fixed- web 2.0 ) due to FMC. In cush an environment the Upload gateways strategy as it allows access from different kind of devices.
    While the gateways can solve the “upload” path, the consistent desire of the operator to control the device demand that the gateways also act as “download gateways”. This way i think the operator can achieve some control and develop revenue models.

  2. Interesting post Ajit.
    The secret sauce that you are looking for, and that is under the covers when you mention ODP, and in other posts on IMS, etc. is “richer experience”: from eye-candy to functionality.
    I agree with what you have written here.
    But note that this is a world less about Mobile Web, and more about Mobile Internet. And less about Mobile Web 2.0, and more about Mobile 2.0.