Thursday, October 14, 2010

CTIA, tablets and app stores for whom? -October 14th

By Scott Yoneyama

So now that I’m back from CTIA and I’ve sent out my follow-up e-mails, entered my new contacts into Outlook, “Linked-In” with several of them and dug out of the hole created by being out of the office for a week, it’s time to reflect on what I saw and learned. What I learned was that what I saw generated more questions than ever.

As a dedicated owner of a Droid X, I was impressed by Nokia’s presentation. They make a very compelling case to developers to build for Ovi. The new QT platform is impressive and the N8 is a nice device. However, Nokia faces an uphill, “chicken and egg” struggle. They can offer worldwide distribution, but US developers want US customers and glory. To “help” them along, not only did Nokia lock the doors and give everyone in the room a brand new N8, but they also announced $10M in contest money for developers. Will it work? Stay tuned for that.

Everyone has an App store. Even I saw some I didn’t know about before. Carriers, device manufacturers….heck, is launching an Android store. Where will all of the applications come from? How will the customers find the stores? Do the costs of supporting an App store really make sense (for say, Samsung) when that device is going to be distributed by Verizon and shipped with the Android OS, both of whom have their own App stores??

The iPad is changing the game for publishers and we saw some impressive statistics and revenue numbers. In response, there are no less than 22 “tablets” coming to market before Christmas and they are all 7” varieties. This is a brand new, unproven and undefined market. Who’s going to use these devices? I played with one and I found it clunky and hard to manage. As a user, I struggle with the value proposition for a device that’s bigger than my already large smartphone and smaller than my iPad. Moreover, who’s going to build apps for these devices? The 7” screen requires a brand new UI vs. the 10” and smartphone UI’s. Without any users, will publishers take a chance on these un-proven devices?

What I found noticeably absent from the conference was any discussion about HTML5 and the mobile web. Aside from a brief, poorly attended presentation from a member of W3C there was almost no mention of this protocol and its potential to revolutionize the online and mobile web. Are we all simply so drunk on application Kool-Aid that we’re forgetting the foundation of it all and what can be done with these new upgrades to the protocol? Hmmm…..

iPhone, Droid, N8; Ovi, iTunes, Shop4Apps,; iPad, 7” Galaxy, 10” Stingray; Lions and Tigers and Bears….Oh MY!!! Where does one place their bets?

I flew home from the conference thinking about the movie, City Slickers. Jack Palance says to Billy Crystal, “You city folk, you fill your head with a lot of useless nonsense. The secret to life is this… thing” (I paraphrase a bit) Great applications do one thing very well. One can’t be all things to all people and those that try, fail. All of these devices, OS’s, stores…..they enable us to do one thing. They allow us to find something, buy something, communicate or be entertained. The “cloud” allows the information to be accessible anytime, anywhere on any device. So don’t get lost in the tidal wave. Just pick one and in the immoral words of M.A.S.H.’s Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, “Do one thing, do it VERY well and THEN move on!”

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