I got the Mobile Web 2.0 book a little while ago, but I hadn’t really cracked it open and dug in until this weekend. I’ve been trying to understand web publishing for mobile devices because I think it’ll help me do my job at AdMob better. Now there’s the extra bump of doing the Mobile 2.0 event driving me to make sure I understand the area. It’s hard to find the time to sit down and read something lengthy (and not programming language or library documentation related), but this one is well worth it. I’m still working on it, so these are just some initial impressions.
A lot of the points they raise around user generated content and the evolution of mobile echo what I’ve been hearing from people currently working on mobile apps. Paul Smith from wapTAGS in particular has said a lot of the same things. And the trends of usage he’s seen would seem to indicate that the ideas are sound. And on AdMob the biggest channel in the network is Communities. People providing applications that let users communicate and share seem to be doing very well. I would definitely say that particular trend on the web translates perfectly to mobile as well.
So how do we overcome the barriers to making compelling user content focused applications? There are difficulties all up and down the spectrum, from the base capabilities of handsets, the application platforms used to deliver the apps, underlying standards, closed networks and APIs, and hostile entrenched players. There’s a tremendous amount of potential, and a ton of landmines in the way.
The answer I’m leaning toward, the answer I lean toward for just about anything, is open source. There are bits of open source spread through the environment now, WURFL and WALL I think being the most popular on the mobile web side. And I think they’ve really greased the wheels as far as mobile content goes. Many of the people I speak to are using WURFL and/or WALL for some critical function already, and they probably wouldn’t be able to bear the cost of a commercial package in the place of the open source option. That’s definitely an enabling bit of technology, there are services out now that simply would not exist if it weren’t for those projects. I think we need the same kinds of open base infrastructure projects for messaging and for something like payment processing. Those are two of the real hot button issues that I’ve run across frequently when talking to mobile publishers.
I’m really looking forward to meeting Tony at Mobile 2.0, Dan managed to snag him as a speaker. Go Dan, great job! Want the book? Get it from Amazon, use this link and I make a little money from it: Mobile Web 2.0: The Innovator’s Guide to Developing and Marketing Next Generation Wireless/Mobile Applications