Monday, September 27, 2010

Will the iPad be a toy or tool? September 26th

By Andrew Till

Will the iPad be the Blackberry of Enterprise Apps or just an executive play thing?

While at a conference of global CIOs this week I had what I like to call a “blinding glimpse of the obvious”. While as expected every other person walking through the door was proudly showing of their shiny new iPads (well not so shiny as they were all lovingly carried in a case) once the conversation started it soon became obvious that iPads are having an unexpected impact. Despite all the concerns around enterprise security and lack of true multitasking the iPad is being widely embraced in corporate board rooms and the expectations about how they can be used are high. Time and again it was commented that application development was focused on the iPad due to demand from executives to be able to have access to traditional enterprise applications.

So this set me thinking. 10 years ago I used to hear all the time that executives were bring blackberries in to organisations and expecting the CIOs to “just support it”. While many said it would die due to lack of support from IT departments the opposite happened and RIM became the defacto owner of the mobile market.

So will the iPad force the enterprise mobile application agenda. Will corporate executives force a change in behaviour and the much anticipated wide spread adoption of enterprise mobility ? Will such applications filter down to a broader uptake of enterprise applications for smartphones in general ? Only time will tell but for now I am off to polish my shiny new toy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nokia World 2010 experience -September 16th

By Markku Hollström

I've been in numerous Nokia World's and it was good to see that Nokia is back and fighting. Nokia strategy has been always making sense, the execution has not always been as good as it could have been. Therefore it was so good to see that the new product launches and OVI application store are looking very good indeed. We can take part of accomplishment with us as well.

The star of the show was Anssi vanjoki and N8. The amazing image quality was lifted as the key selling point in Anssi's energetic and passionate key note speech, that was streamed in to Internet as well. I wish all of Telecan's had seen it. Surely Anssi will be missed by our community should he choose to retire from this business altogether.

If I would be selecting a device for my business use, the E7 would be my choice amongst all devices I know of. Large qwerty keyboard with a good feel, large display with a very high quality resolution and polarizer for helping to keep away reflections all combined with excellent support for office tools, including office communicator, are to me the most important factors. The overall User Experience was also convincing. New C models were very competitive with any Android devices in their price points and let’s face it, the C6 & C7 will launch in to a segment that Nokia still dominates and around which there is a very loyal following.

In numerous discussions I got the feeling that Nokia is now very much supported by operators. iPhone and Android are seen by operator a bit of a threat as they are potentially marginalizing operators own service offering and as they are not integrated to Operator app stores in a way Nokia is. Nokia has already agreement with 91 operators for operator billing while no other store can offer this option to developers. Why is this important? In practice download rates with payment are 13 times higher with operator billing compared to credit card/pay pal. This alone is very strong motivator for developers to put their apps in to OVI store. I heard from developers that Nokia has by far the best support for them what comes to revenue sharing and technical help.

Another realization from the show is that while industry debate tends to focus on Western Markets the emerging markets are also key. Here Nokia is clearly planning big things be it with already announcement initiatives such as Nokia Life Tools and Nokia Money or with new strategies they are planning. And again bring applications and services to these markets combined with extensive operator billing looks to be a winning combination.

While we focus a lot on Symbian and MeeGo let’s not forget Series 40 and there were a 1M reasons every day not to forget S40. As Nokia shared it currently ships 1M S40 handsets per day globally which is more than any other single SW platform in any type of device. As part of Nokia’s turn around it is also clearly focusing on bringing innovation to S40 as well. At the Show the C3 was announced a S40 handset combining a traditional keypad with touch screen support and 3G. Overall the C3 looks to be a compelling proposition especially when combined with the new S40 Touch and Type SDK which was announced at the show and will give developers a wide range of new APIs to leverage.

How can they not win in this situation?

50 Million Reasons to Develop OVI Store apps -September 16th

By Jari Saarhelo

Just came back from Nokia World… It seems to me that OVI Store is gaining momentum big time:

- OVI store is the only high profile app store offering operator billing which is key to opening up apps to many new consumer groups and markets
- Symbian^3 devices offer potentially a huge installed base with limited competition
- Many new enhancements around payment options (such as in app) are being launched

I had a chat with a mobile games developer I know very well from the past. They’ve written quite a few successful high-end titles for iPhone, however it is becoming more and more difficult to get publicity in Apple’s App Store. There are 150 new iPhone games launched every day – do you want to invest significant money in a title that might go unnoticed?

OVI Store is the only high profile application store supporting operator billing. So what? Based on Nokia’s usage data, customers select operator billing 13 times more often than credit card billing, if both options are presented. This is pretty logical considering that there are a lot of customers having no access or difficult access (Read: teenager needing to get parent’s credit card) to credit card payment. Offering the preferred purchase option on a high volume mobile platform is bound to increase the user base dramatically. Add the new try and buy feature to that and you have a pretty compelling purchase experience.

Nokia announced a big push on Symbian^3 with the launch of N8, E7, C6 and C7. They are expecting the devices to sell 50 million copies world-wide. This is a large installed base of compatible devices to deploy the mobile applications especially considering that OVI Store has currently a much smaller application portfolio than iPhone App Store or Android Marketplace has – there is a lot of room for great apps selling great numbers!

There are 50 million reasons to write apps for Symbian^3 right now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Search for the Killer Mobile Convergence App -September 8th

By Craig Turner
We’ve heard all about Mobile Convergence. It’s actually happening right in front of our eyes – netbooks and tablet PCs with SIM cards, mobile phones with more processing power than a mainframe from the 90s and devices that aren’t really either one or the other, but excite us with the endless possibilities of convergent functionality. However, while everybody is eager to cash in on the hype and seem all certain that this is not just a trend, but the way of the future, the number of truly successful convergent applications remain limited.

Location Based Services is a good example of a convergent area that has seen some success.

In particular, navigation has proven quite lucrative an application for several suppliers – as a stand-alone application. As navigation moves from a specialized device solution to a convergent application available on various devices, we see turn-by-turn navigation becoming a free service, with Google Maps and Ovi Maps leading the way. Premium services based on turn-by-turn hold the promise of further revenues. Beyond navigation, there are plenty of free LBS applications out there to identify the nearest ATM or fast-food joint. There is certainly an argument to be made for the value of such services in retaining customers, but they aren’t going to be the next big revenue drivers.
As with navigation and LBS applications, it seems likely that other applications dependent on convergent technologies, if successful, will rapidly pass through a brief existence as premium services to becoming commodity services expected from any smartphone platform worth its salt.

Maybe it’s mobile TV. Google TV and AppleTV might enable mobile TV, but they’re clearly looking to move successes with Android and iOS. Even then I suspect it’s not happening as a mainstream feature until we have widespread 4G access. And a killer app? I’ve seen travelers of all ages in airports or on the plane watching movies on their laptops and portable DVD players, but not very many squinting at their iPhone for 2 hours.

Other possibilities are Mobile Banking or Mobile Payment. Several authors have extolled the virtues of mobile banking lately and that it is the application of the future. However, before we get there, banks are going to have to rapidly embrace a new technology and the public as a whole is going to have to build their confidence in mobile technology as a safe medium for banking. It’ll be interesting to see if the traditional banks are able to keep up with the speed of development in the mobile industry or if they are passed by newcomers, similar to Egg (Citigroup´s online bank) showing up the British banks with their online banking offering.

Mobile Payment is a more competitive market, as the service can be provided by anybody with customer access, including examples such as Nokia Money or the well-cited M-PESA project. In fact, pre-paid cards can even be seen as small bank accounts supporting micro-savings. To reach the masses, technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communications radio protocol for very short distance and ultra fast set up time) will need to be rolled out en masse and consumers will need to be guided down a gradual transition path from inserting their credit or debit card into a machine to waving their mobile device in front of a reader. They’ll also have to grow to trust that the person behind them in the checkout line can’t scan their back pocket while they are waiting.

However, you can’t rule out that all of these apps will develop moderately, but never really take off. Instead, a social trend might drive a surprising growth of an otherwise unlikely application will suddenly find itself installed on every second smartphone as the world’s next Facebook.

Who will win? -I don’t know. But whoever it is, they will first have to understand all the wide-reaching implications of Mobile Convergence and listen very carefully to what their customers really want – no easy task and certainly not something everybody in our industry is very good at!