Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mobile platform war

I was presenting the following stuff on Hungarian Free Software Conference that took place in Szeged last Friday. The pre-defined 20-25 minutes presentation time was a serious constraint that didn't allow presenters to make lengthy presentations.

You know, I believe in a presentation style where the presenter doesn't simply read out his/her presentation in front of the audience, but completes it with meaningful and useful information. I'm sorry for not being able to do the latter this time, yet hope that the material alone will be readable and useful.



Monday, March 1, 2010

Forum Nokia Champion - Elected for the fifth time

I've just been informed by Nokia that I had got re-elected for the fourth time as a Forum Nokia Champion for 2010, thus it's my 5th year in succession from the launch of this program. It's definitely worth looking back what has happened in the past 4 years.

I started as a keen contributor to NewLC Symbian forum back in 2004. I had been programming for Symbian for 4 years by then when I "opened my eyes" to see that there were quite many independent developers eagerly looking for help on Symbian programming. I was fortunate enough to be "close to the fire" as I had been contributing to S60 platform development and as such had good resources to learn from. With the wish of helping others, I was an active contributor of the afore-mentioned forum.

Then came 2006 when Nokia kicked-off Forum Nokia Champion program to reward those people who had voluntarily helped the community and spread the word. People who were not only developers: one of the best examples is Anina, "an international model with a passion for technology". The word? Yeah, mobile development in general and those technologies in particular that had to do with Nokia. Like Symbian, Java, Flash, etc.

The good things offered to FNCs (our short name), among others, are:
  • Welcome device (one per year), I just voted for an N900 this year
  • Semiannual Forum Nokia Champion Day held at various places
  • Market yourself as a FNC backed by Nokia's brand, which is not only valuable when you're an individual, but your company is also authorized to use the FNC logo
  • Early access to new hardware, documentation.
Thanks to this program I met such people that I would never have done and learned about the use of mobile in medicine, developing countries in Africa, heard how people at universities get in touch with mobile, how an RC car can be controlled with a mobile, etc. I made friendships, took part in writing a book, got to know fellow Hungarians whom I would have never met otherwise. Met friendly Indians, heard about inventive people from the Orient and was proud when one of my workmates got also nominated as an FNC.

We created our informal e-mail group that is an inexhaustible source of mobile development knowledge, are available on LinkedIn (closed group, sorry), share ideas, job ads, etc among ourselves, and ultimately form a loose network of trustworthy people that we can always turn to with our problems.

I've also been rewarded by numerous small and not so small gifts during the years of my membership, being the biggest is the opportunity that I could travel around the world for the sake of meeting my fellow champions: I've been in Singapore, Las Vegas where I didn't lose a dime, London where I was one of the presenters and Budapest my home town at the time.

And even though my main focus has turned from being a "plain" Symbian developer long ago to sharing opinion on blogs and other forums as well as actively helping Nokia do their business, the point is still the same: it IS worth being a Forum Nokia Champion.

Who else has remained from the original founding members?


Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Google's move in navigation

It's been announced a couple of days ago that turn-by-turn GPS navigation would be supported soon on devices based on Android 2.0 platform. Free of charge. The new Google Maps Navigation offers free turn-by-turn navigation garnished with Google's core business (search by voice and in plain English, search along route) and existing services (traffic, satellite and street views) for Android devices.

I was shocked to hear this news. The two biggest map data providers, Tele Atlas and Navteq, have been acquired a few years ago, former for $2.9bn by TomTom latter for $8.1bn by Nokia. Their main revenue sources were licensed map data and value added services e.g. turn-by-turn navigation. Since Google uses either its own map data or one that is freely available, I think I told everything: they do whatever they want. It is still unknown how Google will monetize on the new service - other than ruining competitors -, but advertisement seems to be a very likely option.

On a related note, I found Bill Gurley's article on Less than free business model quite interesting. Briefly, Google offers Android to OEMs free of royalty, even more, they pay ad split to them. In other words, it's not only that OEMs don't have to pay, but on the contrary, they will get paid. One of the commenters of this article gave a hint on another business model that Google may try to follow: don't bother with ads, but offer a package to navigation device makers, news agencies, automakers, roadside advertisers, etc. A package that is based on continuously updated traffic data that can be used to provide always optimal routing information.

How can competitors react on Google's move? Without own map data it's very difficult to compete with someone who's giving away the same service that we are selling.
  • Stefan from IntoMobile suggested that Nokia should make map data free and wait for the flood of new mapping services - let's see what innovation will result in. Not a bad idea, but would leave Nokia in a bit of passive role, wouldn't it?
  • The other option could be to do the same as Google may do in the future: sell a package instead of showing ads (see above). Why Nokia? Because it has maps data. Which platform? It's rather Maemo than Symbian - we're talking not only about mobile phones, but other embedded devices, too.
  • Finally, the third option is advertising and provide free service. Who? Microsoft doesn't have own map data, but has Bing and Yahoo! search, which is a good basis for advertising. Whereas Nokia doesn't have search, but has maps data (I told you that Nokia should have bought Yahoo!). Perhaps these companies should form an alliance?

Looking forward to your comments,