Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Predictions for smartphone industry in 2008

I've read the recent blog of my fellow Forum Nokia Champion, Paul Coulton, with great interest. Similarly to Paul, I'm not an experienced fortuneteller, but after reading his article I thought I would give it a try, too. You know, what can I lose other than being not right? :)

Let me comment some of his findings, first. Although I can't foretell how ad-driven content will work out in mobile space (since it's simply not trivial how to advertise on mobile devices), I can say the biggest supporter of this model (their name starts with G if somebody didn't know) largely depends on operators' support. If operators (aka carriers) do not make it cheaper for customers to download data from the Internet than it is today, then the success of this model is very questionable. And actually this mostly applies to widgets as well: although they can work with local data, too, the most popular use case of widgets will still involve transferring data over the net.

As to NFC (short for Near Field Communication), although I strongly believe in the future of this technology, it's still in its infancy and I don't think 2008 would bring the break-through in this area. NFC-enabled mobile devices might appear in people's hands in 2008, however, it would only be one part of a larger ecosystem: the wide-spread use of RFID tags in various places (movie posters, business cards, etc.) + the introduction of accompanying services (such as a bus ticketing service) will still be the question of later years. I think.

Paul's list could be completed by the following things in my opinion:

  • Touch UI: it's a MUST HAVE feature for every serious phone manufacturer in 2008. We have seen lots of patents from various manufacturers that had something to do with screens, how they will look like and we can guess how they will work. There's already lots of effort put into working out the ultimate touch-based user interface and the success of iPhone has already shown us that it's not something in vain.
  • Java: the language and its development environment will be more and more popular again thanks to the introduction of Google-phones. As we all know, the programming language and libraries used in Google's public SDK is not Java (neither ME, nor SE), but something else that allows Java developer to re-use their existing knowledge in a slightly different environment. Anyway, I believe Java will only profit from this thing.
  • Awakening of (North-)America to the world of smartphones thanks to iPhone + gPhone. It seems that American companies can convince American people more easily that they need smartphones. And you know the reason why Nokia is happy seeing the huge success of iPhone? That's why.
  • Most innovative players in mobile phone industry (Nokia, Apple, Google, others?) will introduce their internet services designed for (their) mobile phones. Google is an internet company and just about to enter the mobile market (700 MHz frequency auction, gPhone, etc.). Apple has had very popular internet services (e.g. iTunes) for years by now and they now feel the taste of success on mobile area as well. Nokia has always been a mobile company, but they've decided to open to internet services and have already introduced a few popular services (MOSH, Ovi, etc.). Why do they do this? Because pulling money out of customers' pocket once (i.e. when they purchase mobile phones) is not enough - why not getting more money from them? Who will suck from this? Of course, the operators. I would even call it "double-suck", since not only will they suck thanks to people using e.g. VoIP over WiFi (in other words, not using operators' network), but they will suck because people will turn to internet services provided by others (e.g. Nokia, Apple), not their operators.
I'm sure that I've missed a few things that could have been added to the list. Could you help me?


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