Mobile

How many times do I hear people say things like “the internet on the phone sucks” or “who would ever want to watch an entire 30 minute TV show on a phone”.

If you have any interest in the mobile platform, you should really read this post over on Communities Dominate Brands blog.

This paragraph got me hooked:


Some TV experts will marvel at the ability to show TV content on the mobile phone screen. They then think with a legacy TV mindset, and assume the phone is the dumb little screen, worth only for “snacking” and that “classic” TV content (programmes) should be chumped into tiny bits of football highlights and news soundbytes and little “mobisodes” and this will bring TV to mobile. No. That is like taking a radio play, and bringing the actors and their microphones, and showing it when they read a radio play on TV. No, TV had power in allowing celebrity, to see the acting, not only to hear it. We need to understand what makes the mobile phone SUPERIOR to TV.

I love the analogy about having radio celebrities reading on television.  I’m not going to quote the whole article.  Go read it.

Although there’s one thing I found fascinating about the article.  As apropos as I think it is, try searching the post for the word “communicate” or “communication”.  Even though mobile was a phone first, I think we (everyone) really underestimates its communication potential.  I think we’re going to start seeing amazingly innovative ways to communicate, with each other, with groups, and with servers, using this medium.

As an example, consider the contest entry I submitted last week to a Mobile Mashup competition:

You enter something that you want to buy on Craigslist but is currently not available.  The service will continually search for you and when the item becomes available, sent you a text message with a photograph of the item.  You can then text reply “c” and be automatically AND ANONYMOUSLY connected via voice to the seller.

First off, I didn’t win 😦  That’s ok with me.  This was an amazing application in my mind and actually opened my eyes a little to the potential of mobile.  Not because it’s that useful or that practical.  I don’t see selling this to Craig anytime soon.  It was amazing because I built it in 24 hours.  And it enables an unbelievably rich interaction with the service.  It’s something that really just wasn’t doable a couple years ago.  And it’s an experience you could never get without the phone.  From the article: “The phone is with us literally, within arm’s reach, at all times. Seven out of ten people sleep with the phone within arm’s reach even at night – and the vast majority of those have the phone in bed, yes thats true – that is how close is our relationship to our phone.”  The application integrates web services, sms & mms messaging, voicexml, and IVR routing.  How sweet is that?

Oh, and it works on my sister’s phone – the free phone that Verizon gave away 18 months ago.  Let me repeat that.  It works on the proverbial (and actual) free phone from Verizon circa 2005.  THAT is my target platform.  I develop for that phone.

Also, developing for mobile is still hard, and I’m not sure why.  As quickly as I could build that app, I do have a graduate degree in engineering and work 80 hours a week building mobile applications 🙂

In order to build it, I had to learn 3 different APIs plus VoiceXML.  Not a completely trivial task.  Plus, had to get it working with all the different carriers and their regulation.  I’m really looking forward to the day when all the pain
of developing for this media is abstracted away.  We’ll be there soon.

Oops – small tangent.  My original point was that my Craigslist application is good because of communication more than anything else.  Mobile enables that.  I love that!

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