Written by Rudy De Waele of m-trends.org and edited by Richard MacManus. This kicks off a mini-series of posts on the topic of Mobile 2.0, which we will explore on R/WW this week.
Le Web 3 in Paris - and one month after the Web 2.0 Summit concluded - it seems like an appropriate time to explore the world of the mobile Web, a.k.a. mobile 2.0. There has been a lot of discussion lately on this topic, a good deal of it inspired by the mobile 2.0 event - a one-day event held on 6 November 2006, organized by Daniel Appelquist and Mike Rowehl.On the eve of
Carriers and Mobile Operators are taking notice...
Under The Radar: Mobility Conference on 16 November 2006, I heard an Executive Director from Verizon Wireless using the term "Mobile 2.0". Also Orange (France Telecom) is sponsoring one of the biggest web 2.0 related conferences in Europe, Le Web 3 in Paris. The fact that carriers/operators are now linking their brand name to web 2.0/mobile 2.0 related content and conferences, shows that progress is being made. Web 2.0 inspired projects going mobile and/or mobile 2.0 projects have been considered as things to avoid for carriers/operators up till now, since they are disruptive to their current business models.In the closing session about carriers and operators at the
So does this mean, with the carriers/operators entering the space now, that mobile 2.0 is finally taking off?
Definitely in Europe. What the Web 2.0 Summit completely ignored is being picked up by Le Web 3 conference organizer Loïc Le Meur, who is including a panel on Mobility 2.0. It's being run by Charlie Schick from Nokia and Marko Ahtisaari from Blyk (the 1st pan-European free mobile operator). Another panel features Jyri Engeström from Jaiku.com and Felix Petersen from Plazes.
What is Mobile 2.0?
It's absolutely necessary that more connections are made between the players in the web 2.0 sphere (a.k.a. next generation web apps & services) and what some Mobilists are calling mobile 2.0. What we mean by 'mobile 2.0' is another (r)evolution, already started, that will dramatically change the web and the mobility landscape that we currently know. The idea is that the mobile web will become the dominant access method in many countries of the world, with devices that become more hybrid and networks that become more powerful - everywhere in the next decade to come.
The rapid penetration of Wireless Broadband Access (WBA) technologies such as 3G/UMTS, the migration of traditional telecom networks to internet technology, the availability of affordable and functional Wi-Fi and dual mode Wi-Fi/mobile phones... will all boost VoIP over broadband internet and ultimately blur the distinction between fixed and mobile services, since both become wireless and IP based.
I often ask myself the question of whether it'll be easier for web 2.0 apps to go mobile, or easier to create a mobile-specific web app or a service that can be easily connected with a web service? The answer is of course that both have a good chance to become even more important aspects of tomorrow's Web than they are now. Why? Well Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, put it very well in a Financial Times article in May this year (subscription only):
"Mobile phones are cheaper than PCs, there are three times more of them, growing at twice the speed, and they increasingly have Internet access. What is more, the World Bank estimates that more than two-thirds of the world's population lives within range of a mobile phone network. Mobile is going to be the next big Internet phenomenon. It holds the key to greater access for everyone - with all the benefits that entails."
Obstacles to overcome
Increasingly we assume that our PC is always connected, however the mobile device cannot yet guarantee such 'always on' connectivity - because the mobile network doesn't work the same way. This might be one of the few hurdles left to overcome for mobile 2.0 apps and services going mass market.
Non-carrier projects like Google Wi-Fi and FON aim to make cities completely Wi-Fi accessible. From personal experience I can tell you that people are going to use these alternative options to connect to the internet, once it's available on their mobile devices.
Mobilist blogger Enrique C. Ortiz sees another hindrance (and I think he's right): the lack of open standards and tools to build your own mobile 2.0 applications. He says:
"Web 2.0 is based on user intelligence instead of technologies, i.e. by giving users smart tools that enable them to apply human semantics to information provided, you get a more intelligent web. This can only be done in a massive (thus useful) way with open standards and protocols that are inclusive and inviting to everyone. Now, as I see it, this 'open-source' story is an aspect seriously lacking from mobile platforms."
Carriers/operators need to cover their investments and so they want to be compensated by any 3rd party using their network. This is fair enough, but the fact is that operators are losing more and more control over mobile devices - because these devices can communicate with other devices over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wimax, NFC, etc. That is, more options are becoming available for mobile users to access the web over networks other than the closed networks of the operators.
Internet players entering the market
If you have had the opportunity to experience the latest Nokia NSeries phones, you have gotten close to understanding what mobile 2.0 is all about. It's about connecting your phone through Wi-Fi networks to browse the latest innovative, mobile accessible web 2.0 services. For example downloading your favourite podcasts, reading your RSS feeds, doing a one-click image upload to Flickr (nicely tagged with ShoZu), consulting the location map while on the road, tagging your streamed video's, etc.
There's definitely a lot of movement around on the mobile start-up front. Besides Yahoo with Flickr and Google with YouTube going mobile, there are some very interesting start-up companies resolutely going mobile. Many of them are building easy-to-use mobile web apps and services. Here's a starter for ten to check out (too many to link to, but just google them!):
- ... and many others.
In fact please add your name/project to the list here in the comments, so someone can start categorizing them ;-)
Relationship between Mobile 2.0 and Web 2.0
I'm not sure who coined the term 'mobile 2.0' first, but loads of discussions and conversations have been going on for a while now (see links below). To me, the shift happened at a Mobile Music event in London in November 2005. I presented a couple of slides trying to explain what I thought was happening at that point: a Fixed Internet Mobile and Network Convergence, combined with the coming of Hybrid Phones (Nokia no longer calls them phones!), combined with ability to access web 2.0 services.
defining web 2.0 and Ajit Jaokar was about to write his first definitions on mobile 2.0, which later resulted in his book Mobile Web 2.0 - which explored the more in-depth relations between web 2.0 and mobile 2.0 related apps and services. His blog and book are both recommended reading for anyone interested in this topic. [Ed: later this week we'll feature an extract from Ajit's book here on Read/WriteWeb]At that point Tim O'Reilly had just released his article
Here are some essential components of what mobile 2.0 is about:
1) Openness: open standards, open-source development and open access - creating more options for the user, not enclosing them in the walled gardens currently (still) used by operators.
2) The context of accessing the network and associated web services needs to be a positive user experience. For example for mobile search, the context includes: browser type, different device functionalities, security issues, display on a small screen, how to insert ads, etc. Associated with this is the usability experience of the devices, applications and services - and other components. For a more detailed analysis of context and the mobile web, see this article I wrote for gotomobile.
3) Affordable pricing to use the network to access content and services.
4) More user choice in the ways to communicate and share experiences with others (social interaction)
5) Intelligent 'aware' applications and devices that know where you are; location 'aware' applications seamlessly integrated.
6) New business opportunities coming to market, which may or may not connect to operators networks; think RSS feeds, alerts to SMS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Entertainment download zones and access spots, Podcasting to your mobile, Streaming Videocall to TV, Moblogging, Video blogging and media sharing applications, Click to Call (a phone number tagged into a mobile web or WAP page), Mobile Search, and last but not least VoIP tools & services.
Also worth noting that one-click access to the (mobile) web is essential to deploy easy-to-access online services. In this area there has been a lot of movement, with companies proposing solutions using QR codes, image recognition and augmented reality applications in mobile.
To conclude, check this nice mobile 2.0 definition from Daniel Appelquist:
"Mobile 2.0 is not "the Future." it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry."
It took the internet a couple of years after 1994 to reach its maturity on the technology side, not to forget the business side of things. I believe the time has come for another exciting period, the Mobile Web. Some carriers/operators are finally starting to act - how about you?
Written for Read/WriteWeb by Rudy De Waele of m-trends.org.
Recommended mobile 2.0 reading
Google's Big Idea by Russell Buckley
Mobile web 2.0: Web 2.0 and its impact on the mobility and digital convergence by Ajit Jaokar
Mobile 2.0 IS NOT Web 2.0 by Oliver Starr at MobHappy
About context and the mobile web by Rudy De Waele at gotomobile.com
What is "Mobile 2.0" (Beta) by Dan Appelquist
Daniel Appelquist on Mobile 2.0, and views on a different kind of Mobile 2.0 by C. Enrique Ortiz
the mobile designer by Kelly Goto
My Mobile 2.0 Manifesto by Fabrizio Capobianco
10 Things I Learned at Mobile 2.0 by Brian Fling
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