Is 2011 the year of the Mobile Web apps?

By Ajit Jaokar – futuretext and Nick Allott of nquiring minds

With January almost over now and conferences like Mobile World Congress and CTIA upon us, here is a thought.

In the age of Mobile applications, will 2011 will the year of the Mobile Web apps?

In this document, we outline the reasons why and welcome your comments.

Some initial terminology,

  • We refer to apps on specific technologies like iPhone, Android, Blackberry as native apps and we call apps using web technologies as ‘Web apps’ (more on this below)
  • By Mobile Web, we also include widgets – not just browsing.
  • By Web technologies, we mean w3c technologies but more importantly for our discussion, there are a set of emerging web technologies on the horizon such as – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads (source Mozilla)

Native apps vs Web apps

Native apps have four key advantages:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue model (appstores)
  • Device APIs and
  • User experience

In contrast, for the purposes of our analysis we consider a web based application environment as:

A development environment using well understood, standardised web based technologies for creation of fully fledged applications.

We shall use the following working definition for web based applications:

•          Applications that can run when not connected to the web

•          Applications that can be packaged and distributed, again without assumed connection to the web

•          Application which can make full use of the device capabilities and APIs available on the device

•          Applications that can take full control of the devices UI – and are not rendered with the pre-configured chrome of another application.

•          Applications which can effectively run background processes and present a good user experience to the end user.

•          Applications which insulate the inherent risks of API access with robust security model

Many companies are already developing these models and indeed existing web technologies like HTML4 can also be used to create useful apps

Web technologies have some key advantages for applications:

IPR unencumbered: First and foremost, the specifications on which the web is based are designed to be unencumbered by IPR. This has two immediate positive commercial knock on effects. Firstly, it removes the immediate and absolute requirement to pay licensing fees to proprietary technology owners. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it does not bestow any core strategic advantage onto any single company.

Synergies between Open Source and the Web: A partial consequence of the lack of essential IPR on the core technology is that it is easier to create open source assets for. Or, perhaps, it is easier to state the inverse for the Web: it is very difficult to create an viable open source project for technologies on which there is known IPR that may be asserted (simply because there is then an implied liability). It is no accident then that the web ecosystem have been influenced, if not entirely dominated by open source projects such as Mozilla, Webkit and Apache

The Web as a platform: The existence of this public, usable assets, proves a boon to commerce, in that they may be picked up and used by people interested in using the technology, thereby reducing development costs, reducing maintenance costs, and freeing up technical and commercial resource to focus on more differentiation areas, with respect to their competitors. The Web then becomes a platform fulfilling the vision of Web 2.0

Public roadmap: Unlike a proprietary product, the web technology space, whether it is innovating within the W3C forum itself, or within one of the co-dependent open source projects, is fully transparent. This meant the roadmaps, over a reasonable time frame, are fully product. When dealing with device companies (whether mobile, pc, automotive, or home media), their commercial planning horizons are a considerable way out. A public transparent roadmap is clearly a positive thing from this perspective.

Low technical barriers to entry: It is a fact that web programming is easier to get into than more typical native application programming (that typically requires C, C++ or Java skills). Learning basic declarative HTML tag representation, upon which you can slowly build with easily experimental Javacript programming, gives a much softer entry into the programming world. Further, HTML and Javascript as interpreted languages, mean that for a new developer to get started all they need is a working web browser and a text editor. Contrast this with the complex compiler tool chains required to get native development environments up and running.

Although, you could debate that beyond a particular level of sophistication (when you start using complex Javascript libraries, object-orientated techniques and asynchronous programming)whether these differences still exist,  web based technologies mean that instead of being “thrown in the deep end”, you can paddle around in the shallows and immerse yourself slowly, and at you own pace, to the more esoteric programming depths.

Large skills base: The corollary of the above point is that there is a larger skills base for web programmers than native developers. It is hard to find definitive figures to back this statement up, but it would be conservative to estimate that HTML/javascript programmers outnumber Objective C programmers by at least a factor of 10

Large asset base: The near ubiquity of the web, the fact that almost every corporation and organisation has a website, and increasingly now, even individuals means there is massive amounts of content “out there”. To support this content, and strong ecosystem of tools and development applications has emerged (both proprietary tools and open source). The net effect of this, is that any developer looking to create web application content is well supported

Quick to develop for – and faster time to market: Another implication of the simpler technology, and tools base, is that typically web based content can be developed quicker than native content. This has important, valuable time to market implications for application developers and device manufacturers

Easy to deploy: Finally, to complement the development issue, web content typically needs only hosting on a website and is generally instantly downloadable and executable. Although, this process does not obviate the need to do testing on the web application content, it does typically mean that both initial deployment cycle, and subsequent maintenance updates can be issued more efficiently and fluidly than their native application counterparts.

Against these advantages, we have some drawbacks for web application development frameworks

Slow progress on roadmap and new features: One of the inevitable disadvantages of taking technical innovation and feature development out of the hands of a few people in a single company, is that decision making slows down. Consensus is a powerful force, in terms of garnering full industry support around a direction, but can be painfully slow to arrive at.

Remnants of fragmentation: Web technology is infinitely less fragmented than the disparate native development technologies, however, this does not mean that things are perfect. From and application developers perspective, the idiosyncrasies of the browser or runtime base they are using can unleash a myriad of minute problems that need addressing on a case by case basis. The four principle rendering technologies, (Webikit, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft), whilst all ostensably supporting HTML, have minor difference in the detail of the implementation. These discrepancies fall into two main types

Bugs/lack of consistency in the support of older, legacy technologies such as HTML4

Differences in timing of implementation of the newer and more innovative features

Slow performance: Finally, it is important to understand that Web technology, to date is an interpreted technology. That means the code is expressed in human readable text and that the browser engine, must process this real-time whilst it is executing. (Contrast this with compiled technologies which pre-process the code from the human readable form into a machine efficient representation, optimised for performance.) This means that, web technologies are almost always slower than native development technologies.

Moore’s law, has meant that for a majority of applications, the difference in performance is irrelevant. There are subclass of application, however, those typically requiring high performance and good graphics, such as games, that are currently outside of the web application performance threshold.

But things are changing. The increased use of Just in time JavaScript compilation technologies and the new webgl technologies will make even this distinction narrow in the medium term.

Two resources for tracking these implementation inconsistencies are: quirksmode and Acid3 tests

Evolution of the Web and it’s implications for mobile devices

What does this mean going forward?

When I (Ajit) first spoke about the principles of Mobile Web 2.0, I used to jokingly say that it should be ‘Web Mobile 2.0’ i.e. the web dominates since it often evolves faster than mobile and has a wider reach than mobile

So, if we take a holistic view, then we can see that the evolution of the Web will also impact Mobile and that’s why the idea of web apps is relevant

Here is how these ideas could evolve:

1)  HTML5 is gaining critical mass. There are still some gaps – and development is ahead of the standard but there is industry alignment around HTML5. HTML5 provides both the user experience and the APIs

2)  Chrome labsMozilla labsEricsson labs and Webinos are now driving the evolution of the Web

3)  Since froyo onwards, it has been possible to create a bridge between Chrome and Android to transfer content. Mozilla has similar initiatives through firefox sync. Thus, content could span the Web and Mobile

4) A set of technologies(source Mozilla) are on the horizon – CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG Filters, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, Native JSON, MathML, Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG), Cross-Site XMLHttpRequest, Microformats, Web Worker Threads

5)  Serverside Javasript engines like node.jsJaxer and jquery also help spread javascript to the server. This helps the Web since Javascript is a core component of the Web

6)  The apache foundation is also bridging the gaps with initiatives like apache extras

8 )  Initiatives like webinos will fulfil key gaps in Web technologies

9) We are seeing many players some unlikely ones like Skype make a push for the Web next year Skype make a push for the Web next year

Hybrid solutions

Currently, we are seeing the deployment of Hybrid solutions i.e. solutions that use Web technologies for development and can deploy to more than one native platforms for instance Phonegap, worklight and Rhomobile are examples of this trend. Also, we are seeing  encapsulated widgets i.e. apps that are wrapped around web technologies and also companies like Alibro which enable deployment using web technologies even to legacy devices. Thus, the boundaries gaps continue to blur between Web apps and Native apps

Emerging domains

There are many areas in which the Web is evolving: Here are some

1)      hardware acceleration for javascript optimization

2)      Identity and session management are missing on the web. Webinos and other initiatives could provide this

3)      The continued evolution of HTML5 even when it is imperfect Microsoft Offers Unfinished HTML5 Features in Internet Explorer 9 for Developers Only

4)      Social gaming especially facebook games which are based on web technologies

5)      Video and the limitations of video content – for instance YouTube still uses Flash as opposed to HTML5

6)      Connected TV is an important domain ex at CES Opera announced initiatives for connected TVs Opera for connected TVs and so did Access CES – ACCESS Connected TV solutions

7)      Features like two factor authentication Google two factor authentication for the web(and for mobile web)

8 )      Finger friendly web sites(touch based input) and Augmented reality for the web

9)       Mobile javascript libraries like  jQuery, The Dojo Toolkit although many are not yet optimised to mobile and many more The top 10 JavaScript libraries that compete against jQuery

The silent revolution – Vision of web apps

The vision of Web apps will be a silent revolution.Web apps will coexist with native apps.

From the development and design side, developers will write apps that run on many platforms including web apps. From a user perspective, users will see native apps and web apps together. Nokia has done this for a long time including in current versions of Ovi by mixing web run time widgets with regular apps on the home screen of the ovi store and we could view it as below


So, to conclude:

1) The Web is not governed by any entity and that makes it both ubiquitous but slower than proprietary technologies but Web apps are catching up very fast as we discuss above and there will be interim steps with companies like Phonegap and others that use web technologies but deploy on multiple app platforms

2) Both web and apps will coexist

3) Web and open source will provide mutual synergies(chrome, apache, webinos etc)

4) Note that outside of the Web, IPR will still be important in the Telecoms industry – ex in Devices and networks. Standardization is also a complex, multi-faceted process, so our discussion on Standards and Open source is relevant to Web standards

Any comments welcome


We would like to acknowledge contributions from forumoxford members especially Robin Jewsbury, C Enrique Ortiz,  Zigurd MednieksMartin WilsonAlex KerrWilliam VolkHenry Sinn

Ajit is speaking at the following conferences

CTIA Mobile web and mobile apps – Orlando

CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando

M-days – at Messe Frankfurt

ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

Mobile World Congress – BarcelonaWAC apps at Mobile World Congress 2011

What prevents a Telecom Operator from being a full fledged Identity Provider?

Hello all

I am seeking feedback/ looking to interview someone for an ongoing blog/ paper article
This is a new class of blogs where I will start to work with key industry issues and seek feedback / interviews from experts as they evolve. Here is the first of these blogs ..

If you want to give me your views anonymously, please email me on ajit.jaokar at
Any comments welcome and also any more QUESTIONS welcome! I think the framework itself needs to be defined

Why cannot the Telecom Operator be an Identity Provider? i.e. What prevents a Telecom Operator from being a full fledged Identity Provider

Here are some more top level questions and thoughts

1) What is an Identity provider? and for that matter what is Identity?

2) How do you decide who becomes an identity provider? (using basics of trust levels

In principle, Anyone can become an OpenID provider. That is why OIX exists. A service provider can use the OIX framework to determine the level of trust you can put in an IdP. So, why would an Operator not become an Identity provider?

3) What is lacking for Telcos to be full Identity providers(what are the limitations?)

4) Who governs regulations in Europe, UK and USA?

5) What is the role of the client for end to end Identity provision?

6) When it comes to Telco, what elements are relevant to be a true Identity provider? (end to end)

7) Relationship between Identity and authentication Is Identity the thing as authentication?

Authentication is the provision of a set of credentials issue an identity token. if so are there general requirements regardin the strength and of the authenication presumed when an identiity token is issued are there requirements about how it can be used.

What is an identity token – is it a virtual representation of yourself – which can then be provided to other services – and those services can use that token as a proxy of yourself – (meaning you do not need to be re-authenticated)

Are there standard implied “things” that can be inferred/implied by a token

Is a token unique over time. – and if not unique, for it to have any use between independent peer entities – then there must he a common convention understanding of what the qualities of the token are – or each token just sees a random number…..

8 ) Can telcos provide tools for others to be Identity providers? (to be a platform)

9 ) Standing on the shoulders of giants .. How can a stack be built from existing technology?
What is already existing and how can that be leveraged?

In the OpenID sense, identity is just a URL, which someone makes a claim about.

The role of an identity provider (IdP) is quite well defined. Looking at OpenID, anyone can be an IdP, but in order for resource providers to know the level of trust they can put in an IdP, the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) was created, which can certify IdPs claim to different trust levels. Thus OIX provide the trust framework, not only for OpenID IdPs, but for any identity provider.

10 ) PDS – Personal data stores – What roles do they have to play? I have covered Private planet and Mydex on this blog before

11) What are the gaps? – in the stack, the telco and the legal framework

12) Understand the evolution of internet privacy and federated social networks.

13) Software signing and authentication of web servers are well known and deployed technologies. If by certification mean an audit process of apps, similar to what Apple and Brew does, this is object level authentication and could tie to a person level authentication

14) Identity of an individual vs Identity of an object

15) OIX From the OIX FAQ:

What Open Identity Trust Frameworks are OIX now servicing?

The US General Services Administration (GSA) and the Identity, Credential, and Access Management Committee (ICAM) has approved OIX as the first trust framework provider to the US government. This permits OIX to issue certifications for the US ICAM LOA 1 trust framework to identity providers who are assessed to meet its identity, security, and privacy requirements. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the first US federal agency to move into production status to accept OpenID and Information Card credential issued by OIX-certified identity providers.

Are there any identity providers certified for US ICAM? what is the telco role in this space?

16) Are other governments adopting the trust framework model?

17) What about Minimum disclosure as an Identity Solution

So, any comments welcome and also any more QUESTIONS welcome!

Happy to reference you if you want
kind rgds

Image source:

Is Groupon the missing revenue model for Smart Grids


Groupon is in the news on account of the 6B USD offer Google made which they declined

A few weeks ago, while it was still not in the news, I referred to the Groupon model in another context – As a revenue model for Smart Grids. The idea was proposed by Elizabeth Hartman at a Talkstandards event in Boulder Colorado which I attended and spoke at in a discussion. I am elaborating it in more detail here.

Firstly, here is some background about my view on the Basics/fundamentals of Smart Grids.

I elaborate more on Smart Grids in the conversation with Dr George Arnold who is the National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability. The full transcript of the conversation is HERE

The problem with Smart Grid acceptance by end users

Coming from a mobile/telecoms background, the uptake of Smart Grids is a very familiar problem. If you build it, will they come? Well, not necessarily. At least, not immediately. When 3G networks were built initially after spending billions of dollars, it was not very clear as to what the applications were likely to be. In hindsight, the money spent on 3G auctions was indeed well spent and today, in many parts of Europe, even that 3G bandwidth is not enough.

There are parallels with Smart Grids. The pioneering city of Boulder(the first Smart Grid city) has some faced some faced some interesting Smart grid challenges

Part of the problem is not the technology, or the various positioning within the industry – it is simply that customers don’t know what they are getting. They cannot ‘see’ the product. They cannot see the value. But the benefit of hindsight brings some ideas ..

Customers understand a game .. and many network services, including Smart Grids (and in this case, I treat Smart Grids as a network) can be packaged as a game.

Take the case of location based services,

When created as a game (foursquare), customers do not seem to mind sharing their location. Foursquare is a location-based service where users “check-in” at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application. They are then awarded points and sometimes “badges.”. You could extend this idea in many ways for example ‘objects’ could have four square locations. In a Jimmy Choo shoes foursquare promotion, One pair of Jimmy Choo trainers will check in at various locations and those who follow the campaign and are lucky enough to arrive at a venue before the trainers leave will get to pick a pair in the style and size of their choosing.

So, location could be a game and is more acceptable by customers in that form.

And that’s where groupon comes in

The Groupon model for smart grids

So, what is Groupon?

The basic idea behind Groupon is very simple – if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. This reduces risk for retailers, who can treat the coupons as quantity discounts as well as sales promotion tools. Groupon makes money by getting a cut of the deal from the retailers.

So, if ‘energy’ were a commodity, then would customers ‘group’ to ‘buy’ it?

This suits the providers to create ‘spot deals’. The idea of energy markets is also not new. Energy markets already exist but on a much more grander/corporate scale, like PJM Interconnection

We are speaking here of involving the customers more directly in energy markets much like the Groupon model. I also see a greater role for Telecoms and mobile in this space since the mechanism lends itself very well to mobile devices. It will also benefit the energy providers and thus the whole value chain.

Image source: consumerenergyreport

With the warp speeds of android, can Klingons win or do we need faster features?

PS: I could not resist the title :) Androids, Warp speeds and Klingons in one sentence!

In this post, I am trying to discuss the changing positions in the mobile ecosystem especially due to the impact of Android but also on emerging markets. The question is: How can handset vendors differentiate? I don’t think we have all the answers but some trends are becoming clearer as I discuss below

Gartner’s third quarter smartphone data is out and Android is now the second best selling smartphone OS worldwide at 25.5 percent behind Symbian, which still holds the top spot with 36.6 percent of sales share.

This is great news for Android but I think the figures do not explain the underlying trends and the disruption we are seeing in the mobile ecosystem.

Firstly, lets consider that there do not appear to be any specific best selling Android devices globally. So, growth is across the board. In this post, I analyse two trends, first the implications for Android success but also the growth in dumb phones (voice and SMS) and what it means for industry competitive positions

The question, in Star Trek parlance is: Is it possible to just ‘Klingon’ to the Android bandwagon? And what are the underlying trends in the handset ecosystem?

What happens when the handset industry becomes like the PC industry?

Back in 2008, I said about Long tail devices way before Android became popular (which I then called the ASUS effect) and that if the handset industry mirrored the PC industry, we would have a larger white label component. Also, Android is like ‘water’ another post some time ago – Sun Tzu, Android and water: Android is winning because it can evolve in many directions

Why did so many in telecoms missed this and some still continue to deny it? The answer is people often see telecoms and mobile in isolation and not as a part of a system. That can be a disaster as leading handset vendors have found out and many others will soon too .. Mobile was somehow ‘special’. It was supposed to always have a premium(people will always pay for content, people will pay a premium for devices etc etc) have all been proved wrong

The question is: What happens next?

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor (like Water as I said before), and even today, the success factors for Android remain ‘under water’ and nebulous – to adopt a starry analogy. For example, we dont see top 5 best selling Android devices.

One thing we CAN say: The rate of change with Android is the real killer

Customers buy features. Customers want new features fast. Pre Android, the device cycle was 18 months. Gone are those days. We are now in 4.5 month cycles (post an Android release)

The average cycle time for handsets first sold in 2008 based on Qualcomm’s QSD8250 chipset and Android’s Donut 1.6 release was a brief 8 months. By late 2009, the average cycle time for handsets based on Qualcomm’s MSM7227 chipset and Android’s Eclair 2.1 release had nearly halved, down to 4.5 months. This is “warp speed” for complex smartphones.”

This actually decrements the BRANDS of the android makers since people are buying specific features which they are getting fast. They don’t care from whom they get them. The warp speed for smartphones is the real differntiator for Android. And Nokia/Symbian or even WinMo will need different strategies for it since in my view, it is not possible to copy Android strategy by these players.

The WARP speed of Android means customers seem to be buying ‘faster features’ if I may coin that phrase ..

The diversity and rich feature set of Android can be seen from the following four links

There is of course a wider battle going on between integrated (ex RIM) vs modularized(ex WinMO and Android) but the RATE of change from Android cannot be ignored even if you adopt the integrated strategy(ex RIM). Integration(vs modularization) is a great strategy provided you can execute it. Today Apple(and possibly RIM) can execute on it. In future, I suspect INQ may if the rumours of the facebook phone are true, Facebook And INQ: Married, In A Relationship, Or It’s Complicated? but it is unclear how many will be able to do this successfully

So, the Kligon question. If we accept the dominance of the Android strategy, how do you differentiate?


Amongst the analysis of Android gainers, HTC stands out

The giant winner among handset makers? HTC, which grew the numbers sold by 144%. If there’s anyone benefiting from Android’s growth, it’s probably HTC – and the carriers selling them – more even than Google. Those 20.5m Android handsets are worth at least £100 each to someone: that’s an extra £2bn in the smartphone market that wasn’t there a year ago.

Why HTC?

How do we explain HTC success on Android?

Is it just because they were working with Google earliest? Which they were. But that does not explain everything. ex what specific features of HTC devices are users adopting?

Is it device integration? If so, again, we dont know specific features

Is it just HTC sense?

Firstly, HTC are innovating.

They had experience from re-skinning Windows Mobile, which they used with Android

Handset design and industrial design are great

Unlike motoblur, HTC sense has got much better reception even if there are instances of people posting videos to switch off HTC sense

All this alone does not explain the underlying trend trend of Android.

The answer appears to be HTC is executing well but at the same time also keeping the volume of devices launched high (which ties to the rate of change of Android and to the introduction of new features which benefits customers)

We can see this from an analysis of Android devices launched in 2010

HTC 13
motorola 18
samsung 10
LG 5
Sony ericsson 3
huawei 3
Dell 3
acer 3
Garmin- Asus Garmin- Asus 2
And one each for Kyocera,Lenovo, Inbrics, T-mobile, Geeksphone, Archos

Also, HTC, through HTC sense , is now launching new services like backups, security features, remotely lock, and wipe of all sensitive info. Apps ofcourse are rendered through the Android marketplace

The OTHER category of devices

There is a separate unrelated trend – that of OTHER category of devices in emerging markets. I think emerging markets is by no means a secure place for any handset vendor ..

It seems that Those extra 77m mobile phones sold last quarter were attributed to the ‘OTHER’ category

The company is called ‘OTHER’ by analysts, but its worth 77m devices. Note this is not ‘Smart phones’ this is DUMB phones(voice + SMS). Qs is – Why OTHER? why not Huawei? i.e. low cost Chinese manuacturer

Some thoughts on this:

Handset success have always been about optimal supply chain and not low cost devices. That’s why Huawei never made an impact on Nokia since Nokia’s supply chain was one of the best in the world. However, local manufactuers possibly have lowest cost and best supply chain. So Indian and Chinese manufacturers are making an impact at their respective LOCAL levels in the dumb phone category. Huawei is possibly smart enough to ignore that segment of the market and go for lower cost handsets based on Android in the West. This is a wiser move

Having said that, just like I have always discounted Japan in handsets OUTSIDE of Japan, I also think that Chinese manufacturers could end up making the same mistake as Japan i.e. excellent hardware but no excellence in software and closed systems(which is the real differentiator now)

The OTHER category of vendors includes in India includes spice mobilility micromax and Olive telecom and the impact of Android in India is still to be felt

Google seems to be working with Indian manufacturers like Micromax Informatics Ltd., Spice Mobility Ltd., and Olive Telecom to create an Android device in the $150 to sub $100 range. This will test the brand loyalty of Nokia which is already strained at the lowest end of the Indian handset market by the local Indian manufacturers. Already a price point of $150 has been reached by the Huawei Ascend in the US.

Conclusions – Klingons vs faster features

So, the market is becoming clearer now .. and the dominant players are:

1) Integrated strategy – Apple

2) Modularised – Android with whoever can execute fastest and – currently HTC

3) Dumb phones – dominate by the OTHER

There is scope for innovation in Android as future Android UIs show

However, if we accept the rate of change argument, then the winners will be those who innovate at a much faster rate (faster features). Innovation in itself is not enough, the rate of innovation is the key differentiator.

Thoughts welcome
I may explore this question more in subsequent blogs – ex What about the Operators? i.e. if we see the market evolving in three areas: Services(apps), Integrated(Apple), Network? Is there any evidence of any pure network elements that can be deployed competitively at a service level? Operative word being ‘competitively’ i.e. the network should have a unique advantage from the customer perspective

Thanks to insights from: @Kevin Mc Donagh, Sena Gbeckor Kove and Andreas

Image source: Real science

My top 20 mobile trends for the next decade for Africa ..

Our friend @Rudy De Waele asked me to give 5 mobile trends for Africa over the next decade for his talk at Mobile Web Africas. I have long supported mobile web in Africa(long before this blog became famous) see The mobile Internet will do more for Africa than live 8! and also the Mobile Web Africas conference created by @Matthew Dawes. So, I want to be particularly radical.

Here are my top five trends for Africa over the next decade – you can add some more below or send them to Rudy

1) Mobile commerce creates efficient economies

2) The Mobile phone enables knowledge so repressive regimes are changed to democracy

3) wildlife is protected more(less poaching due to sensors)

4) Companies emerge FROM Africa to EXPORT mobile expertise to the west!

5) An augmented reality application is developed that maps Genes to regions. Thus, visitors to Africa are able to see where their ancestors lived by a probability of gene pool as they travel. This is based on the Out of Africa theory on study of mitochondrial DNA

Good news: Operators like Machine to Machine applications. Bad news: Operators like Machine to Machine applications ..

I believe that M2M (Machine to Machine) applications are an important part of the future of Telecoms. I spoke to a Telco exec who said that Operators are excited about M2M apps.

This was interesting for me .. Until I asked him for the reason why ..

He said something along these lines:

Machines consume less data. They don’t call the helpdesk. They pay their bills on time. Machines are ‘one to many’ connections (one person may have more than one connection). The end customer devices are simple (like Smart meters). This is all more revenue to Operators and less pain to manage it

But this is sad .. And in my view, very limited thinking ..

Should new applications and innovation be tied to limited date usage? If that’s the only criteria (as it appears to be), it will stifle innovation

I said before that: Now that the Data tsunami wars are over, the Operators will face more regulatory and customer pressure to deliver and there is no fallback(to the bandwidth hogs).

After all, spectrum is a national resource and the entire discussion of new services like Machine to Machine applications should not come down to limited data usage.

Connections to Operator are good but they are only the beginning and not an end in itself.


Google vs. Times of India: Google has no advertising ..

Recently, I heard someone say(forget the person), that their mother likes Google because Google has no advertising!

In other words, she did not feel that the discreet text based advertising from Google was ‘advertising’ as she was used to (in your face, old style aggressive broadcast media type advertising)

Contrast that with this one .. India’s largest newspaper Times Of India (Wikipedia link intentional so that I avoid linking to them) set up in 1838.

THIS is an advertisement from their site .. AFTER another initial ‘welcome screen’(also a different advertisement) and also additional popups.

Basically it takes over the whole screen ..

The Web would be overwhelmed with this extraordinary foot in the door stupidity of old media had it not been for Google!

So, Thank God for Google which shows us relevant and discreet advertising which some people consider is ‘not advertising’

thank god for google.jpg

Innovation: Practical innovation, Radical innovation and Incremental innovation at the Mobile World Congress


There has been a lot of coverage of mobile world congress. I have said before that the event was a success and also that we, as an industry are adding value when there is so much economic chaos around us. GSMA also validates this trend by their statistics and attendee numbers GSMA Releases Congress Visitor Stats

If there was an underlying theme for the event, then I think it was ‘practical innovation’ i.e. innovation designed to solve problems. This is a more interesting trend which I genuinely like. However, there is also space for radical innovation and also incremental innovation. Hence, I will discuss innovation in these themes below. By ‘incremental innovation’, I mean changes that take a few years to manifest but are significant. Most changes in the devices, networks and infrastructure will be in this space. The challenge for incremental innovation is: Customers may be overtaken by more nimble/sometimes imperfect services. And then, there is radical innovation which may be a game changer

I will provide a series of links to announcements that caught my eye in the show (and afterwards). But first, a note of caution: Let’s not forget what happened to Palm AFTER the MWC. Last year, Palm was an ‘innovator’ with much talk of its ‘comeback’. Today, there is an overall doom and gloom around Palm. . Palm’s products may be good .. But does it matter when the industry is moving so fast and customers have so much choice? Will developers continue to support a waning platform? Today, we see excellent new devices from Samsung, Microsoft, HTC and others which were not present a year ago. All this means that the rate of change has increased. This is a matter for optimism but also caution as the woes of Palm demonstrate.

Firstly, before we discuss further, some of the big announcements. Again, I provide links so that I don’t duplicate much of what we have seen before.

Major announcements

Carriers Connect to Rival Apple’s App Store

Moblin + Maemo + Linux Foundation = MeeGo

VOIP and Skype. See the white paper written by me and Chetan on the tipping point for VOIP

Wholesale Applications Community

Vodafone calls for tiered mobile-bandwidth pricing

Windows Phone 7 Series

Also see my talk as well: Is Twittter the glue for the Internet of things?

Practical innovation

Orange Healthcare joins the mHealth Alliance to develop mobilehealth solutions in west africa

Telefónica Internacional selects NEC as strategic partner to promote Cloud Computing solutions in Latin America

GSMA Announces Winners of the 15th Annual Global Mobile Awards

RIM to offer free BlackBerry Enterprise Server

mHealth potential: More questions than answers

Radical innovation

Access SIM-Based Services Just by Tapping or Shaking the Mobile Phone

An Accelerometer 1,000x More Sensitive Than the iPhone’s

Elsemobile Potentially the israeli iPhone

Growvc launches with an innovative model for mobile startups

Incremental innovation which could be pointers to bigger trends


Huawei and Acer add high-end phones to Android mix

Microsoft to let you install apps on memory card sticks

Huawei unveils first HSPA+ Android phone

Samsung Wave review

Adobe joins LiMo Foundation, adds Flash support to LiMo platform

10 things the iPhone can learn from Mobile World Congress

Qualcomm’s Dual-Core 1.5GHz Snapdragon: Smartphones Are About to Go Hyperspeed

The best phones, stunts, and demos of Mobile World Congress

Motorola milestone

LG Licenses Push Email from Good

Layar Looks to Create the App Store of Mobile Augmented Reality

Nokia chief: we want to be all things to all consumers again

The Android Who Cried Wolf

Vodafone To Sell Sub-$15 Phone in Developing Countries

RIM shows off the new WebKit-powered BlackBerry browser

Gallery: Biggest Smartphone News From Barcelona

LG: No plans for a proprietary OS

The Puma phone

Samsung’s Wave Is Bada-Full

Samsung’s About to Own More of the TV Market Than Any Company in 60 Years


Alcatel-Lucent beefs up carrier apps strategy

Movial Selected as LG-Nortel Partner to Provide Rich Multimedia Communications Application and Touch Screen Optimized Mobile Browser

Gemalto Innovation: Gemalto Launches “Device Service Link” to Facilitate Access to Mobile Broadband

OneAPI Gains Momentum as GSMA Announces Commercial Pilot with Leading Mobile Operators in Canada

LTE-Advanced specs to be published in 2011

Huawei show first triple-mode LTE modem

GSMA Outlines Progress with RCS Initiative

40 Companies Back GSMA’s Voice Over LTE Fix

OneAPI Standardizes Carrier Billing APIs Across Networks

Image: Gyro Gearloose – the archetypal mad scientist/innovator in Disney comics

My keynote at M-days 2010 in Munich at BMW-Welt


I am speaking at M-days 2010 in Munich at BMW-Welt .. this is one of the largest Mobile events in the German speaking world and its the first time it includes English speaking speakers as well. More details below. My keynote is with Intel, Deutsche Telekom AG, Qualcomm and others as below

M-Days 2010 – European Media and Mobile Experts Meet at the BMW Welt in Munich

Well-known International Speakers and English-Speaking Panels Focus on the Future of the Mobile Industry as well as on Application and Smartphone Trends

On 28th and 29th January 1,400 representatives of the mobile industry start the mobile year 2010 at the BMW Welt in Munich with one of Europe’s biggest mobile events: The international congress and trade fair M-Days – the home of MOBILE – offers deep insights into current and future trends in mobile technologies and marketing. International speakers from enterprises such as Qualcomm (UK), Rubberduck Media Lab (Norway), Intel Corporation, Futuretext, Southend United Football Club (UK), BBC worldwide (UK), Out There Media (US), Fjordnet Ltd (UK/F), Screen Digest (UK), Keynote Systems (Silicon Valley, USA) and SiMobil from Slovenia provide a comprehensive overview of upcoming developments. The M-Days are the ideal platform for the exchange of ideas between German and international partners.

Erding, 11th January 2010: The mobile industry will be at home in Munich when the international congress and trade fair M-Days – the Home of MOBILE takes place for the fifth time at the BMW Welt on 28th and 29th January.

Due to their enormous success in the last few years, the M-Days attract speakers, exhibitors and visitors from all over the world – the congress and trade fair has become a well-established platform for the international mobile industry. The fifth M-Days offer three simultaneous series of presentations, one of them especially for English-speaking audiences.

The first highlight of the congress will be the keynote of an authority in digital measurement, Gian Fulgoni from Chicago, co-founder of comScore Inc., dealing with “The Mobile Media Ecosystem – How Mobile is Changing the Game” on 28th January. Fulgoni says: “2009 was undoubtedly a big year for mobile, and 2010 will no doubt be an even bigger, more exciting one. Increased mobile usage patterns and the rapid evolution of the way consumers interface with their mobile devices are currently changing the world.”

M-Days: First Day

On 28th January there will be three English-speaking panels:

11.30 am – 01.00 pm

Mobile Trends 2020, Mobile Research and App-Commerce: What Comes Next in Europe?

Google activities send out a clear signal to the market: mobile is different and mobile is hot. The advance of touchscreen devices, app stores and new advertising approaches/formats are all coming together in a new kind of interactive mobile internet, a brave new place, where new content, new experiences and even new mobile search services will set the bar e. g. for mobile commerce, mobile video and TV.

In this session trend scout Monty C. M. Metzger, Ahead of Time, gives an overview of mobile communication trends 2020. Peter Broekroelofs, Service2Media, provides insights into the changing rules of mobile commerce. Ola Svartberg, Rubberduck Media Lab, shows how the “iPhone puts Mobile-TV in the Picture”. The panel is moderated by analyst Peggy Anne Salz, Founder of MSearchGroove

02.00 pm – 03.30 pm

Mobile Advertising & Media Trends in Europe and Around the World

This session explores what different markets can learn from each other about mobile advertising and what is working in the market. It shows in which countries mobile advertising has been applied successfully for the past two years and how the rapidly-growing markets of Central and Eastern Europe and those of Asia-Pacific implement their mobile advertising strategies and make profit, even amidst the global financial crisis.

The panel opens with the key speech of Tom Bohmann, Vice President BCC UK. Industry representatives such as Kerstin Trikalitis, managing director, Out There Media, Mark Davies, marketing manager, Southend United Football Club, Michael Schade, managing director, Fishlab Entertainment, and a representative of Ogilvy UK will share their experience and expertise with the audience. The panel is moderated by Mark Wächter, managing director of and MMA Global Board of Directors & chairman BVDW Section Mobile.

04.00 pm – 05.30 pm

Needs and Problems in the East-European Market

For most German and European companies Eastern European countries are an interesting growth market. This session focuses on the needs and problems, working business models and also the chances in this region. Learn from experts and their experiences in the Alps and Eastern regions.

Mirko Nedeljkovic, managing director, mineus )( s.r.o., Prague, Thomas Kicker, marketing manager of tele.ring, and Peter Pavic, managing director of Croatian SiMobil and Styria Media, will contribute to this panel. The south-east expert Harald Winkelhofer, IQ Mobile GmbH, Austria, will moderate this session.

Mobile Media Night, 8.00 pm: During the Mobile Media Night visitors have the opportunity to meet mobile experts to exchange ideas and initiate cooperations.

M-Days: Second Day

Mobile Fragmentation: Yet another OS, Browser and App Store on the Mobile Market?

The key-session provides an overview of the rapid changes in information technology and mobile communication. The vision for the future of mobile communication is a fully interconnected world in which every citizen will access, create and use content. Mobile offers a myriad of functions. Every day thousands of features are added to ease the consumer’s life. Yet mobile as a platform and channel is becoming increasingly complex. Fragmentation absorbs developing resources and causes confusion amongst consumers. What effects will mobile have on the micro- and macro-economy and the society in general? What is the best way to limit fragmentation and complexity?

Ajit Jaokar, founder of the London research institute and publishing house Futuretext, opens the keynote session. Jaokar is a highly respected commentator and author of the book “Open Mobile: Understanding the Impact of Open Mobile”. Also contributing to the panel is Wolfgang Petersen, director developer relations division Europe, Middle East and Africa, Intel Corporation. He is responsible for developing and managing Intel’s DRD strategy and programs across EMEA mature and emerging markets. Colm Healy, vice president of Qualcomm (UK), speaks on the topic “Mobile Applications – Beyond the First Wave” and Anuj Khanna, founder & CEO of Wireless Expertise Ltd (UK), presents the study “The Future of Mobile Application Storefronts”. Dr Rainer Deutschmann, senior vice president mobile products, Deutsche Telekom AG, provides input on mobile communication around the world. The panel is moderated by Mark Wächter, managing director of and MMA Global Board of Directors & chairman

BVDW Section Mobile.

There will be two English-speaking panels on 29th January:

11.30 am – 01.00 pm

Session: M-Social/Content/App

Customers: Mobile Performance, Perspectives of Applications and Successful Content Networks

One of the biggest challenges in the mobile market today is to ensure a satisfying end user experience for mobile applications on hundreds of different mobile handsets operating over different networks. The trend towards social media and mobile communication makes consumers more demanding. What makes an app perfect? What functionalities are crucial for the success of a network-community? How can be ensured that mobile content consistently works on different devices in Europe, Asia and America? What is “good performance” with regard to applications?

Mobile communication designer Christian Lindholm, managing partner of Fjordnet Ltd., presents the keynote: “2010 Mobile Trends: How to design a perfect app”. Tony Perez, solution consultant, Keynote Systems (Silicon Valley), informs about his experiences in mobile application testing. Ulrik Jensen, European director of Gedda-Headz A/S from Denmark, presents the success story of his company´s mobile gaming community. Dr Torsten Wingenter, global coordination social media marketing at Lufthansa, talks about experiences with the Miles & More user app.

11.30 am – 01.00 pm

Session: International Topics

Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst and head of mobile media, Screen Digest (UK), opens the session with a study on “Current Analytics of the Mobile Market”. Alexander Zudin, CEO Paragon Software (SHDD), presents the latest mobile trends in app commerce and provides examples of mobile productivity applications for handheld devices. Stephane Gantchev, business development director Central and Eastern Europe and co-founder of Mobile Monday, Sofia, shows how to build advertising inventories through customer loyalty programs. Andrew Bud, executive chairman of mBlox (UK), explains future business models of mobile services such as mobile payment, ticketing, sender-pays and smart pipe enablers. Representatives of Nokia and 12snap demonstrate aspects of mobile marketing from tactical to strategic marketing.

Development Session

The session focuses on “Developing on Android and Symbian” and is moderated by Simon Tennant, CEO, Buddycloud. It shows where Android fits into the mobile ecosystem and how network operators, developers and users respond to the operating systems Android and Symbian. The session provides some hints on how to develop successful android products from design and screenshot mockups to coding and release. It also deals with aspects like designing for user-generated content and location awareness.

If you would like to attend and register for the fifth M-Days in Munich or need further information on the congress and trade fair, please visit

M-Days Organizer – 11 Prozent Communication

11 Prozent Communication, located in Erding, Germany, has established itself as a neutral communication platform for brands, media and the mobile and digital entertainment worlds. The consulting agency provides companies with detailed and extensive information on the e-game and mobile markets. In addition, 11 Prozent organizes events (,,, does PR work and is the publisher of GfM Nachrichten (, a periodical dealing with mobile, eGames, IPTV and social media.

Press contact

Of Twitter, Quentin Tarantino, Le Big Mac, pointless babble and advertising ..

Last week, when I chaired two sessions at CTIA in San Diego , I had the pleasure of meeting many interesting people.

I always make it a point to meet start-ups where possible and one such start-up talked of their product to me …

It was well funded and thought it had a great product ..

My feedback was .. it needed a ‘social change’ for viral uptake .. i.e. a behavioural change which people may not make .. and I said Twitter is so successful because it mirrors our behaviour ..

At which point ..they quickly pointed out the oft repeated statistic .. that Twitter is 40% babble ..

Although I was tired and jetlagged .. this was my response ..

I asked them if they had seen the movie Pulp Fiction ?

The question caught them by surprise .. but they said yes .. they had ..

Ok .. then I asked them did they remember the Mc Donald’s scene? (‘Royale with Cheese’ or ‘Le Big Mac’) i.e. the scene when John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson are driving at the beginning of the movie ..

Yes .. they said .. still not sure where this was going or how it was relevant to their start-up ..

My point it: That conversation has nothing at all to do with the REST of the movie .. but it is exactly the way REAL LIFE works i.e. small talk … (aka ‘Babble’). Babble it may be .. but that succeeds exactly because it mirrors existing social behaviour

And Quentin Tarantino is a genius to recognise this .. and I see almost no OTHER instance of such small talk in movies ..

So, this has everything to do with their social media service .. their product will be successful if it mirrors real life .. else .. its going to need a lot of money or a lot of luck and it is not likely to be ‘viral’ since that’s not the way people live ..

And that by the way is why Twitter is successful but some don’t get it and never will in my view because they are so focussed on a specific niche they understand but miss the big picture ..

Also, when people say .. something is babble .. they mean from a commercial/advertising perspective .. and I have a HUGE problem with advertisers having an inflated sense of their own importance ..

And .. how much of advertising is really relevant??(Babble?)

And here is the scene I refer to below ..

By the way, it has some strong language (After all this is Pulp Fiction – not the Sound of Music! Ha ha!) ..

But seriously, this advice is unorthodox but probably accurate .. there is a lot you can learn from it ..