I moderated the Beyond Mobile 2.0 panel at the >Play conference yesterday and just wanted to get down some of the thoughts from the day. The conference sold out this year, great job by the organizers! The discussions were fantastic, the panels worked out really well.
Some of the points that came out of the Beyond Mobile 2.0 panel:
- Rick from Xohm clarified that the service is currently focused at other devices, PCs and PMPs and handheld game systems, not phones yet. I didn’t know that.
- The cost for mobile data services is still really one of the major limiting factors. Sure, we have flat rate data in the US, but it’s not available all over the world. And even in the US, the perceived value of data services is below the cost. It’s a kinda catch-22, where people don’t develop apps cause the data rates keep users away, it’s not worth figuring out how to lower data rates cause the users don’t have apps to use. The iPhone is helping to change that, not just the bundling of the service with the hardware, but that the browser opens up the services accessible so that the data rate doesn’t seem crazy.
- Everyone on the panel was into location based services in some way. Very much into them. No real answer to the common problems though, cost of getting user location on most networks, exposure of the info is very non-standard. But everyone sees the potential now.
- There was a general consensus that building more situated apps, apps that pull information about their context and the user’s intention and use it correctly, is the way forward in terms of evolving mobile applications. It was in that spirit that there was so much interest in location. But of course there’s other stuff like learning user behavior and habits, and lots of domain specific behavior based on the application. Jeff from CBS in particular was enthusiastic about using additional user info to build better services. He gave some examples from their sports properties, where the info the user is interested in is probably different depending on the day of week it is, if a game is currently going on or not, what they typically look for, etc.
- In terms of location it only really makes sense when location is always just there and available. Otherwise you can’t really base an applications behavior on it. And the way the location infrastructure and cost structure lays out, that doesn’t seem too realistic yet. Evan from Loopt says that they really need to concentrate on carrier by carrier rollout of their service because it really requires close ties to carrier infrastructure. While that’s the case I don’t really see mobile apps being able to evolve in the organic “remix” style that we need to a revolution in mobile the way we’ve seen on the web.
- Rick from Xohm raised a point about privacy vs personal information available for apps to build on. In general folks in the audience said they were willing to share some additional info with service providers so that they could provide better mobile apps. However there were also quite a few that said they were already somewhat uncomfortable with the info being shared out and didn’t want to release any more.
- The killer component of mobile has been and probably always will be communication. Data services that give you access to info are great, but the ones that are really going to change user behavior and affect people’s lives are the ones that connect people with each other.
There are a bunch of posts over at the DMEC blog as well: