This article explores the implementation of Mobile Web 2.0. It is based on my keynote talk at the Mobile Web 2.0 summit this week. Starting from first principles, I discuss the practicalities of Mobile Web 2.0 and how it can be implemented at various points within the Mobile stack
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MOBILE WEB 2.0
Why should you be concerned about Mobile Web 2.0?
Let us consider three key developments ..
1) When asked about the Web’s biggest growth areas – Eric Schmidt said the answer was Mobile Mobile Mobile.
2) Apple iPhone shares 70% of its revenue with developers – a development that flies in the face of the many excuses that so many Operators have been putting forward for so many years.
3) Nokia chairman Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo says that Nokia is going to be an Internet company
All these factors point to a critical trend
The Internet companies are finally driving the mobile agenda (and the savvy Mobile Companies like Nokia are now embracing the Internet and dominating it). These companies are looking at the Web and the Mobile Web together and see a seamless vision of the Internet spanning both the fixed and the wireless domains
It is no longer possible to ignore the impact of Web/Internet on mobile applications. This means applications that span the Web and the Mobile Web are becoming increasingly important. Traditional mobile applications like Ringtones are becoming saturated. The younger demographic is increasingly also looking at Web based social networking like MySpace and not just the mobile devices.
(Note: Strictly the Internet denotes any device connected to an IP network. The Mobile Internet denotes connecting to the Internet via a mobile device. The Web denotes an application level framework based on HTTP and HTML. And the mobile web denotes the usage of the Web on mobile devices. We use these terms here interchangeably depending on the context)
MOBILE WEB 2.0 – CANNOT IGNORE WEB 2.0
So, what is Mobile Web 2.0?
We cannot discuss Mobile Web 2.0 in vacuum. In discussing Mobile Web 2.0, let us not forget the intellectual debt owed to Tim O Reilly in defining Web 2.0.
Whichever way you look at it, Web 2.0 (as postulated by Tim O Reilly) has the following characteristics
a) The use of the Web as a backbone
b) Harnessing collective intelligence and
c) Creating a database/body of data that becomes richer as more users contribute to the system .
MOBILE WEB 2.0
Hence, if we extend the above paradigm of Web 2.0 to Mobile devices (i.e. Mobile Web 20) – there are two implications :
a) The Web does not necessarily extend to mobile devices
b) Even though the Web does not extend to mobile devices, intelligence can still be captured from mobile devices since the Mobile device is always available at the point of inspiration and many elements can be captured uniquely through mobile devices(for instance Location)
This can be depicted as follows.
The iPod/iTunes service is a preliminary example of Mobile Web 2.0. The ipod uses the web as a back end and the PC as a local cache. In this sense, the service is ‘driven by the web and configured at the PC’ but it is not strictly a ‘Web’ application because it is not driven by web protocols end to end (iPod protocols are proprietary to Apple). However, it uses the Web as a backbone and this makes it a Mobile Web 2.0 service if we extend the definition of Web 2.0 to mobile devices.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA PROBLEM
The problem with the above diagram is: Once the content goes on the ‘deep blue sea’ of the Web (for instance on Flickr, YouTube etc) – the mobile industry lost its leverage i.e. unique advantage.
So, the fundamental question regarding the implementation of Mobile Web 2.0 is: How does the mobile industry adopt the ethos of the Web (openness, no walled gardens etc) and yet maintain some unique advantages? I.e. bridge the world of the Mobile and the Internet?
IMPLEMENTING MOBILE WEB 2.0
There are at least eleven ways if we extend the idea of Mobile Web 2.0 across the stack
1) The Operator implementation – This will be likely based on IMS/SDP.
2) The handset implantation – This approach is best indicated by Nokia’s Ovi strategy and the iPhone.
3) The Enterprise network strategy – Best epitomised by Cisco’s foray into Web 2.0 based on recent acquisitions such as Tribes and Five Across
4) The Web players coming to mobile .. Best example of this approach is Android.
5) Mobile Web 2.0 and Devices –Amazon Kindle
6) SCWS(Smart card web server) – A relatively new approach with the SIM cards being increasingly powerful and with the deployment of a web server on SIM cards with companies like Gemalto deploying SCWS services.
7) Identity and Security – Identity and Security can complement almost any service and a telecoms network has an advantage there.
8) Browser APIs/DOM extensions – OMTP, OpenAjax alliance and others are doing some great work here
9) Voice Call detail records to create social graphs
10) Make it quicker / easier – users will always pay extra for the small improvements which make their life easier even when other(more cumbersome) ways exist which may be cheaper. 11) And finally, there is the concept of Umbrella social networks Beyond Web 2.0
11) Umbrella social networks – i.e. a social network that spans the Web and the Mobile Web. Twitter being one such example http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2007/10/umbrella_social.html
As developments like the Android start becoming mainstream and the iPhone continues to make a big impact on the Mobile ecosystem – the full impact of Mobile Web 2.0 is only now starting to be felt. As more services span the Web and the Mobile Web, we will see greater uptake of Mobile Web 2.0
These ideas are explored in the forthcoming book Implementing Mobile Web 2.0 by Ajit Jaokar. Please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com if you wish to know more.