I have had an interesting debate with my mobile web friends over the recent Michael Mace post for which he finally wrote a follow up that I believe clarified his real aim was criticizing the top-down distribution!
I am a huge fan of Mace, but my take on it is… there are THREE blatant things that make me believe RIP is considerably overstated and a bit further off.
1. Exposure – Average people (not just us “dot com” and mobile junkies) have to be able to discover the functionality and be willing to evangelize it over the stupid simple way of being on deck and thinking “ooh what does THIS do?”.
Also note that carriers are savvy enough to find ways to make more money. Verizon has already capped their “unlimited” plans so that people have to watch their usage again. More than likely, they will try to use this influence to make specialized/highlighted services (driven by ad dollars) that seem to help users save money again. Wireless providers won’t go down easy into “dumb pipe” land.
2. Experience of Functionality – Some things like games that don’t involve syncing or remembering important information and require instant gratification or unique to leveraging the usability of the unique device (like Golden Tee or centipede on a blackberry pearl) don’t make sense via an undependable web connection.
That has nothing to do with the method of distribution though and in many cases why not go to centipede.com or something similar to download it over-the-air (instead of allowing all the networks to slice off the developer’s profits). Going direct is a Win-Win for Developers and End users! … but what business model makes sense for 3rd parties like Nokia, Handango, and wireless providers?
3. Big Business needs some controls and will continue to negotiate special devices, tools, and services to support their closed networks. That’s how BlackBerry and millions of other custom B2B development shops got to the success they have today.
… All that said, Yes! there is a huge opportunity to cut out the middleman and creating kick-butt, stupid simple apps (web where it makes sense and mobile specific where it makes sense) that people love and are worth telling people about. The ability to circumvent the networks and their greedy pocketbooks is getting the attention of distributors.
Content and services that are in good terms with the Customer are King! On that note, check out Google Gears going mobile… Google Gears in Your Pocket
“…the ultimate goal of Google Gears is to create a standard, web-based mobile platform …” – Fierce Mobile Content
“Mobile browsers simply cannot do much of what you want applications to do,” writes Google software engineer Chris Prince on the web services giant’s official blog. “The mission of Gears is to extend the capabilities of web browsers. It is clear to us that mobile browsers can benefit just as much as desktop ones. By adding features to mobile browsers, it becomes
possible to deploy an increasing number of mobile applications as web apps.”
Yes, I irrationally heart all mobile apps! 🙂
What do YOU think? Will killer mobile web browsers and Google-like services along with improved coverage, like wimax prove Mace right?
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