Wednesday, May 09, 2007

After SMS what is the next killer application for Mobile industry?

I don't believe that there can be a single answer to this question, because it depends on how different cultures use their mobile devices. For example, in Japan, the norm is that people do not work until they get to work and thus the mobile device is a personal entertainment device. In the US it is seen as a work productivity device as the primary need. Still I have put together the thoughts on what might be the next big thing in the mobility space and as I see that each one has it’s own merits.

Content Sharing & GPS Services
The next and most popular application will be one which allows users to collaborate in the development and distribution of user generated content between users. At present there are pieces of this puzzle that have been formed, but in the final analysis, I believe that a service which allows people to create media through their mobile, then share it between other users - especially with location based services baked in - will be a popular one. This could be the Key to growth to VAS revenues

Voice Control
Spoken commands and responses in voice for things like text messages (first) and browsing the web are expected to become prevalent. Voice tags already allow you to dial without touching the keypad (though we all know how well THAT works), but voice control on PCs is still pretty poor. In the long term, it is expected that the cell phone and ear-bud morphing into the central processor for the wearable computer.

Connecting mobile with home appliances / home computer
Mobile can act as a clutter reducer. People would want to replace the wallet, the keys, as well as the office functions such as email, contacts, calender and entertainment functions such as music and video. But at the same time they would want to be able to access my content from anywhere.

Micro-payments using Mobile Phones
Once the problem of user authentication is addressed then could be the next big thing. Wallet phones can serve as mobile credit cards, room keys, ATM cards and more. Wallet phones create a totally new eco-system, and give mobile operates new business models in the payments and the consumer credit industry. For this the mobile phones will have to be made independent of hardware and mobile operators. Things like biometrics authentication, knowledge based authentication are also on the card.

Mobile Advertising Space
A system that will allow sales people to have sophisticated triggers with Videos, images, documents and other digital assets as a part of the company's story readily available via pda and dispensed intelligently in a matter of seconds. There are five main areas of mobile advertising focus at the moment:
1. SMS to win/SMS to register interest: Allows brands to solicit interest from potential customers and typically complemented by print media, packaging, etc. This is now very common and has a well established business model
2. Mobile Portal banner ads: Very similar to the banner ad model on the internet today but constrained by device capability and consumer use of mobile devices for browsing the internet. Both of these are improving which will speed industry growth. All operators now have a mobile portal that can be monetised in this way and there are other mobile portal providers going this way. Check out the Toyota ad on below (works in a normal browser).
3. Mobile Search: Similar to the internet model and will increase rapidly as consumers use mobile search engines from Google and Yahoo to navigate off-net content. It will be typical pay to get to the top of the list stuff and even more important when there is only a small screen.
4. Branded Content: Most operators are offering mobile services such as news alerts, video streaming, etc. These are now being sponsored by brands so you will increasingly see pre- and post-roll adverts.
5. Viral Marketing: This is the technology that allows operators to track mobile content as it is shared/forwarded P2P. The key application is to allow branded content (viral video or animated gif) to be seeded to a small target group and then leverage their social network to distribute it further.

SOA (Service Oriented Architecture)
Service-orientation describes an architecture that uses loosely coupled services to support the requirements of business processes and users.
Just as we've seen on the wired web, we are going to see an explosion of SOA services. Applications that query and post to web services will be the next big thing. E.g.
1. Google Maps for Mobile is a perfect example. (This is the mobile equivalent of Web 2.0.): Building on the mention of Google Maps, the real killer app for mobile phones is geographically-related information. If you think about it, the mobile phone is with you wherever you are. In conjunction with that, the phone KNOWS where it is. If you think about how huge an impact the search industry has had on our lives when we're seated in front of our computer, it's obvious that enhanced knowledge of where we are and what's near us is a major area for growth. How many times and ways do we seek information as we travel around? We need directions to get from place to place. We run into traffic jams because we don't know where the construction is. We look for stores or restaurants. We go to these places only to find out that they are too crowded or don't have the objects we are looking for. We wistfully wish we knew about a good live music event and it may exist right around the corner from us! When the mobile phone has access to both your present location and the right blend of information services about these types of things, it will give us a sixth sense that will make our lives more efficient and enjoyable. It will be like walking down the street with a genie in your pocket who can tell you everything about your world.
2. Blogger mobile client is another.

There are other big things which people are talking in the mobile industry, such as, software-defined radio, a new phone generation will be accessible to any cell carrier customer in a software update instead of a waiting for a new phone and network infrastructure.


Infact after thinking over all this and reading a lot over the net, I personally feel that we are a long way off in achieving this level of integration, so I think it might be too premature to talk about the next killer app.

We still have not achieved even half of the last one - and guess what - I still want it to be a phone and even that one has not been licked yet. Too many places in the world I get no signal either because of the wrong standard or rural areas.