Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Open Mobile Summit London 2010 Day 1 - May 26

By Andrew Till

Today the Open Mobile Summit returned to London to serve as a platform for the Great and Good to come together to debate, evangelise and predict what will happen in the coming years in this wonderful industry we live in.

So let’s get down to details and look at the key themes that emerged from day 1

Everyone is obsessed with Apple. Despite no one from Apple being at the event the major of first half of the day was spent talking about Apple and its impact on the market. While some like to paint Apple as a villain of the peace some key data points emerged such as “the best apps live for 2-3 months in the top 25 list and sell 400-500k copies a month”. As this author pointed out in his questioning of the first panel session why not focus on learning how to replicate this as I am sure there are a lot of developers that would love to suffer this type of ill treatment! For sure all is not perfect with iTunes but Apple seems to have a strong, and from a quality perspective, self regulating model that proves you can make money in mobile apps.

There was also a discussion around the business case of the mobile Internet for network operators. With overloaded networks and the cost of deploying new high speed infrastructure has the Internet become a curse for network operators? Thankfully the conclusion was now with new air interfaces such as HSxPA+, LTE and LTE Advanced (side note to industry; please hire some better naming people!) viewed as delivering more cost effective solutions that previous platforms and hence the economics will stack up to support broad market deployments. We also, thankfully, appear to be moving beyond the concept of the “mobile internet” being some-how separate from the "Internet”. Hopefully this time next year we will only talk about the “Internet” as it becomes clear to all that for most consumers this is how they view the world.

Consumer adoption of mobile services continues apace. Orange shared an interesting data point that underlines this with 25% of their user base now regularly accessing the internet from their mobile device – up from 10% only a year ago. T-Mobile spoke about their research findings that users of Facebook on their handset use the service 2X the level of people who only access it from their PC. This is perhaps the most insight comment of the day showing that people not only use the services but it has a broader impact on their overall behaviour and interaction levels.

Interesting Qualcomm also highlight that there is still a lot of life left in voice. Something that I believe is very true indeed. This also stimulated some interesting feedback for the operators in the room from some of their higher spending customer about the quality of service currently being delivered. Another talking point was around the statement that the next 1B mobile subscribers will come from Africa, China and India. This has significant implications for developers as these consumers will bring different experiences to mobile with many have their first taste of the Internet via their mobile device. It also suggests that price points will also need to be different and so will the way that applications are purchased with many of these consumers not having traditional bank accounts. So while it will be a challenge it will also lead to many new innovations for the industry.

Richard Windsor of Nomura delivered perhaps the most challenging presentation of the day showing how the new market dynamics are playing out and cutting through much of the hype to deliver a few key home truths such as:

  • Today the closed systems are the ones making the real money.
  • Developers typically go where the money is and right now they are going to Apple and-Android.
  • Apple is successful because it focuses on selling the hardware and is not too worried about making money directly from iTunes and the Apps store.
  • Simple experiences well executed sell – poor ones executed badly do not.

Finally there was also a great discussion around content with a host of the leading publishers in mobile on a panel session. While the industry frets about fragmentation and multiple platforms it seems that if publishers can make money then, at least for now, they are not too worried about mobile being overly complex.

So key takeaway’s from day one

- Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) applies as much in mobile as it does anywhere else.

- Expect to see 3G+ / 4Grolling out in the near future as operators make the economics work.

- Still too much time spent talking about Apple rather than bring equally compelling experiences to market.

- Developers and publishers can and are making money in mobile – even if it is a little too complex in some areas.

Overall a great day – already looking forward to day 2. !!

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