Thursday, April 06, 2006
Mobile trends 2006 - My predictions
Mobile trends 2006 In the past years the mobile phone business has worked so that all the cards get laid on the table during Cebit, now it is really spread out over 3 key shows, 3GSM, Cebit and CTIA. This week is CTIA, so I thought it would be interesting to make a small analysis of what I have seen at those tradeshow and then predict some key trend driving 2006. For reason of doubt these are really my own opinion, not those of my employer Yahoo!
1. Mobile e-mail will be the key theme in mobility for 2006
All the key manufacturers now have launched a ‘berry’ and it is fair to say that the ‘berry’, meaning a wide monoblock with qwerty below the screen. Of the berries I still think the Blackberry is the best. The others just have as innovative e-mail clients on them. I am utterly amazed that Nokia did not redesign the Messages app for this device. The UI is still the same as on all other Series 60 devices. I am also sure we see lots of activity on mobile consumer e-mail from the likes of Yahoo, Google and MSN. The bottomline is e-mail in most cases is text based and hence the cellular networks work very well for delivering it and the devices ar great tools for deleting, filing and sending short text messages back.
2. The cameraphone is being perfected during 2006
The new Ericsson “Cybershot” with 3.2M pixel, autofocus and Xenon flash and dedicated shutterbutton and landscape photography is in my mind a dominant design and really good enough to replace the digital camera. I cannot see any reason why one would buy a consumer camera. There are only three arguments left for the separate camera: 1. 3x optical zoom, More megapixels and faster take photo speed. Having the camera always with you grossly outweights these benefist. I am also of the opinion that the Cybershot style monoblock will become a dominant design. The design language of the landscape camera front is such a strong visual cue to the consumer that it just makes sense. I am really surprised if others are not following.
3. I think mobile search will be a big topic in 2006
Mobile search is one of the services which seems to have least contention in the value chain and it provides very good value for end users. I suspect we will see lots of innovation both from start ups and incumbents in this area. Having looked into the topic it is a facinating topic and there is simply so much room for innovation. What makes it so cool is that mobility really creates a need to innovate.
4. Mobile Music is going to be a huge topic in 2006
This is a great topic where we will learn a lot. With the launch of Apple’s Nano I really feel the bar went up massively for the integrated solution. I cannot make up my mind whether music is a product, a physical feature (primarely a SW feature, but with control buttons and headset jack) or just a feature, an app in the device. Nokia claims that they are the biggest producer of MP3 players, but what does that mean. On the topic of music I am a divergence guy. I think music is a product not a feature. The Nokia 3250 which just started shipping, priced agressively will be the product to watch, the benchmark is the Nano. I have played with the music player in S60 and the fact that they made the first screen in the app the music controls rather navigating playlists is a big mistake. I would have designed it to scroll playlist, search tracks with numberkeys and then broke the S60 style guide to put a 3rd SK to be Play/Stop and used up and down for scrolling the tracks in the list being played, highlighting the currently playing song visually with some cool graphics. That way one could do the key use cases of music with one keypress: Navigate list of songs, play/stop, control volume, get to fancy options and get to playlist and get to search. But that would mean that one would have to trash the UI guidelines of S60 and that was not something my former collagues did not have the guts to do, and hence I do not think Nokia can be successful at beating Apple at the game, with their ‘Music as Feauture strategy’
5. Waiting for killer transformers
Those of you who know me knows I love the Nokia N90 Transformer. Several times a week I get that look from people I meet, Christian, you have no style. Why do you insist on carrying that big clonker. I have to admit I also get another look when in video mode, gee what a tiny video camera. But to those have have clonker thoughts I think for myself; this is the future of mobility, you don’t get it. The only way to create usable convergence is throug device transformation. I want to use the most uncompromised mobile convergence device and that is what a Transformer is. It is compact when in the pocket and powerful and usable when in action. I also see that a transformer is the only good way to get to a device which works well for carrying, using with one hand, visual recording and visual watching. So until I see a new cool Transformer I will stick to my N90.
6. Mobile VOIP is still hype in 2006
The debates and discussions around mobile VOIP in 2006 is still hype. What I think people miss in the VOIP discussion is: The important think is not free calls the important thing is the social transformation of communication moving into multi-modal communication. This is a total revolution and 10 years from now we will look back at VOIP, IM and Video call fusion and see gee that really changed everything and I cannot imaginge a time when I was stuck in one mode of comminication. Free will just help to accelerate uptake, the convenience and utility is what drives the revolution. The fact that we now live in London awayfrom our family has made video a crucial part of the way we stay in touch with our family in Finland. My 4 year old daugther is completely proficient in video communication and the 1.5 year old also get it! They call my brother and grandpa on a daily basis. Any time there is technology which brings generations together my alarmbells goes of and I see a killer app. Video+voice+text fusion is just that.
I like the N90 too. Yeah, listened to a lot of "how bulky" - comments. Listened to a lot of uh, ah, comments, too after showing how neat video it captures.
Posted by: Tuija at Apr 9, 2006 10:20:10 PM
In my opinion N90 is way too big and heavy. I just can't carry with me in any pocket.
Video capture quality of N90 is great, but I'm sure that with new phones... or "multimedia computers", we'll experience even better video quality in smaller form factor.
For example N70 is close enough to prove it's possible. I believe already the new MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video codec will make a big difference in new S60 models.
I just wish there would be an easy enough tool for video blogging for consumers and reasonable data fees, especially when roaming abroad. 12 euros per megabyte fees don't motivate to share your videos or even images online.
Posted by: Tero Lehto at Apr 9, 2006 11:51:32 PM
i have themes mobile nokia 6600
Posted by: yasin at Apr 12, 2006 6:30:35 PM
In short: the mobile arena won't see anything really new in 2006! I guess I'll stay in bed then. Thanks for letting me know. :-)
Posted by: Antti Muka at Apr 18, 2006 7:13:18 PM
LOL, antti.. excelent :)
Posted by: mariano at Apr 20, 2006 9:29:38 AM
I've just been to CeBit in Sydney and I totally agree with your tips for the year - I would perhaps add another: real world interaction.
I think the mobile device will become a way to interact with the world - mobile search will be an element, but visual search, or barcode / shotcode technology will be part too. Or games using real world elements integrated through the mobile.
Things like www.mobot.com and www.geovector.com begin to explore how powerful point and click can be in the real world.
Posted by: Faris at May 11, 2006 6:06:07 AM
You hit the mobile music on the head. For some reason people are crazy about this "feature" the phone. I don't really have a need for it. (since I have an ipodmini--that I don't use. haha)
Transformers/N90 I don't know much about them, but with the way technology is going soon your phone will not be clunky. It seems we keep trying to downsize and make things slimmer and more compact. Everyone wants to have things they can put in the pocket. That's why I'm kinda weary about getting a sidekick.
Also I highly doubt cameras are going to go away mainly because everyone can't afford the 3.2M camera phone (added I've never seen it in the US.). A lot of people I know usually don't want a camera phone because they just see it as fluff and stuff rather than functional.
I'm planning to link your blog on mine. I enjoy reading about electronics!
Posted by: Brandy at Jun 19, 2006 12:20:00 AM
I've tried VoIP on mobile over 3G and WiFi and it works fine, it is just that applications allowing it are not integrated with the phone.
For symbian/ms_mob tried www.sillyant.com
And there are E series from nokia that have VoIP built in the phone, though I've crashed my E60 http://www.symbian.com/phones/nokia_e60.html a few times.
In general you are right, not ready yet.
Posted by: Matsui at Jul 16, 2006 7:04:21 AM
Can you predict the future screen size for the mobile devices?
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I think it would be better if it was three cubes, one that took the ipod and two other cubes that the speakers were in, that would have been sweet…someone should do that.
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