Apple Shifts the Mobile Industry

September 23, 2008

I was reviewing my notes from last week’s Mobilize conference & I found myself asking where was Apple? This 1-day conference featured eight panel discussions with talent from the major mobile network providers, the mobile device manufactures, the mobile operating systems, & a variety of companies that specialized in mobile application development & marketing. The panel discussions consisted of topics ranging from the development of mobile applications with Location Based Services (LBS), to the hurdles associated with mobile carriers, to investment strategies in the mobile market space. Regardless of panel topic, I noted a recurring theme throughout. Not one panel discussion could avoid bringing up Apple & what they had done with the iPhone. It felt at times like the entire conference consisted of people asking how do we keep up with Apple, or is Apple’s approach the right approach to take, or what will Apple do next?

I scanned the list of conference attendees that was handed out at the beginning of the conference & there wasn’t a single person in attendance from Apple; nor was anyone from Apple participating in any of the panel discussions or keynote presentations given that day.

So here I sat in a room full of very talented people from some very reputable & large companies who could not help but analyze Apple & what Apple has done to the mobile market.

I find myself asking why Apple would have been there. Apple has set the standard. They’ve raised the bar with mobile devices & mobile application development & distribution. As a result, we find ourselves trying to catch up to Apple. While we sit here discussing how Apple approached the mobile market, they continue to innovate. I’m sure from time to time that they find themselves at conferences looking for answers to questions & to get a feel for a market. Of course they appear to do their own research in many other ways. Apple doesn’t wait for an industry to shift, they shift an industry.

Can other mobile device manufactures & mobile operating systems surpass Apple? Is today’s release of Google’s Android operating system on HTC’s G1 an example of this or will Apple continue to shape the mobile industry?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

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The Economics of Mobile Application Development

September 22, 2008

At last Thursday’s Mobilize conference the discussion started off with a round table focusing on “The Economics of (Mobile Application) Development.” At the end of this panel discussion which included talent from BlackBerry, the LiMo Foundation, Qualcomm, Adobe, & Windows Mobile the group concluded the following:

“That mobile applications will run primarily over the web versus being installed native to the device, applications will be available in a centralized area (like Apple’s App Store) versus a distributed model of distribution, most applications will be downloaded versus bundled with the device, mobile applications will be developed through businesses rather than through a consortium, & finally that applications will continue to be geared towards the consumer versus businesses.”

These predictions point to a couple of hurdles that in my opinion will continue to plague the mobile industry for many years to come.

The first hurdle is that there are far too many mobile operating systems & too few standards in this space. When a company or an application developer decides to develop a mobile application they are forced in most cases to pick a single operating system to use to develop their application because trying to keep up with the support & life-cycle of that application on 5+ mobile operating systems requires resources that many businesses & application developers simply don’t have to invest. As a result, businesses & application developers loose entire audiences because their application won’t be supported on a large majority of mobile devices running other mobile operating systems. Even with 5+ mobile operating systems; why can’t each mobile operating system adhere to some set of standards that would allow applications to seamlessly work across operating systems?

It is evident that device manufactures realize the control they’ll have when choosing a particular operating systems to run on their device. That is why there is such a race to gain market share now before the mobile market becomes even more saturated with additional mobile operating systems (note that Android from Google is being released this week). If these companies can’t work together on a set of standards for businesses & application developers to adhere to my hope is that we’ll see some device manufactures & mobile operating systems simply go away.

Secondly, mobile carriers still control too much of the equation. The mobile carriers have control of which devices they’ll allow on their network. They determine how the mobile applications will be distributed to the consumer; installed on the device prior to sale or forcing the consumer to download. The mobile carriers also control the costs associated with the network time (voice or data) that the application will require to use. All of these control factors make it very difficult for businesses & application developers to develop an application that is simple & affordable for the consumer to use.

While the mobile market is obviously exploding & “open” for growth, don’t be fooled to believe that there aren’t some significant hurdles for us to overcome in order to deliver a valuable solution to enterprises & consumers.

What is your opinion on these questions pertaining to the mobile market?

Applications will run: Native or Web?
Applications will be distributed: Centralized or Distributed?
Applications will be installed: Downloaded or Bundled?
Applications will be developed by: Businesses or Consortium?
Applications will be geared towards: Consumers or Businesses?

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


NetworkIP & Jaduka Attending Mobilize 2008

September 18, 2008

Early this morning Trevor Baca, VP of Software Engineering, Karthik Srinivasan, Director of Systems Engineering, & I jumped on planes headed for San Francisco to attend tomorrow’s Mobilize conference. This is the inaugural year for the Mobilize conference & with GigaOM behind this one it is sure to be a success & last for many years to come. This is an exciting time to be in the mobile space & we expect tomorrow’s conference will be just as stimulating & productive as it promotes to be.

The conference has pulled together thought leaders from Google, Nortel, Cisco, Motorolla, Sprint & many others involved in the mobile industry to cover topics that we’ve all been asking & that will enable us all to make informed decisions in this new market. The Mobilize conference also includes a launch pad session so companies like Cumulux, Fonemesh, Fonolo, Fusion Garage, Heysan, LuckyCal, MotionDSP, Pinch Media, placethings, Skyfire Labs, TuneWiki & Zecter can present their new mobile products.

Over the past few months we’ve been talking about how faster mobile data speeds (3G, 4G, & LTE) & open mobile operating systems (Apple, Symbian, & Google’s Android) are making this an exciting & opportunistic market for businesses & application engineers to develop new & innovative applications for the mobile space. As more companies & application engineers enter this space & find themselves supporting mobile consumers & mobile products they are realizing the need for faster, more robust, & more reliable transaction processing services. These companies & application engineers obviously understand the value of transaction processing services; however, they haven’t the time, the money, or the resources to develop them on their own. Their focus is where it should be; on their mobile products & services. So they rely on us & our proven experience in the transaction processing space to ensure their accounts & products are properly managed.

Our transaction processing services allow companies to manage all of their mobile consumer accounts & mobile products via simple API interfaces without having to invest any costs or resources to build a network, deploy hardware, ensure security standards, & manage complex databases. We do the heavy lifting so these companies & application engineers can focus on their existing mobile products, new mobile products, & most importantly their customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka


Summer Conference Schedule

July 18, 2008

My summer conference schedule so far includes the Prepaid Press Expo in Las Vegas in August & Mobilize in September in San Francisco.

NetworkIP is a regular at the Prepaid Press Expo. We’ve supported this event for many years now & it’s a great opportunity for us to get out & share with our clients what we are up to, what trends we see occurring in the prepaid industry, & what we plan to do to ensure our clients can take advantage of those new trends.

This will be our first year attending Mobilize, in fact I believe this will be the first year this show is held. We have the highest respects for the folks at GigaOm & believe they have pulled some of the brightest people together for this conference. We’ve been following the mobile space & working more closely with partners in this space this year. This event is sure to shed some light on where things are heading, or at least where we think this space is heading. With more mobile devices becoming open & network speeds increasing this is an exciting space for us to be involved in.

About the Prepaid Press Expo:

The prepaid industry has grown in three distinct branches – calling cards, wireless, and gift cards/alternative payments. These three diverse sectors converge at the retail level, but are still approached as different industries. No trade event today features the convergence…until now!

About Mobilize:

Mobilize is a conference developed by award-winning technology writer Om Malik to inform the entrepreneurial community about the opportunities present in the next phase of the mobile web. Working with Om on the program is GigaOM‘s resident technologist Surj Patel.

Industry-leading speakers will share their unique perspectives with Mobilize participants to guide them through the emerging opportunities in the next phase of the mobile web. We will feature the best technologies, the best thought leaders and the most innovative and inspiring startups.