Staying on top of the latest mobile trends
Monday, February 27, 2012
The tag at Mobile World Congress 2012 is “Redefining Mobile”. Since we’re in that exact same business, it makes sense to pay close attention. For this reason, we’ll be publishing a daily report from a Fluid Trends perspective.
In general, trade shows are more glitz and glam than substance. Exhibitors are in it for one reason alone: Buzz. The media that covers the event is there to generate more buzz. The consumer? The consumer simply drinks the kool-aid. We’re hoping to see if there’s something that’s really worth buzzing about. Is it all style no substance, like the “iPad killers” that were presented last year, or is there a potential for far-reaching implications in the keynote speeches?
It’s interesting to note that at the forefront of all this buzz is a statistic (claim) that the GSMA (the event hosts) holds up high to make sure nobody forgets what it’s really all about: “Connected Devices: the $1.2 trillion opportunity“. This is a dollar figure that should make everyone in the ecosystem, from users to developers, to mobile network operators (MNOs), pay very close attention. In the next ten years, we can assume that we will all be playing a role in this trillion dollar economy. We can further assume that mobile app development will start taking a leading role in this cross-industry, having arguably become the fastest growing segment in the history of commerce.
Today I want to focus on the speech made by Bret Taylor, the CTO of Facebook. In the speech Bret brought up a number of topics, notably the move to operator billing and the drive to cross platform mobile development as a means of combating device fragmentation. To keep this review quick and painless, I’ll say that the billing move makes perfect sense given how integrated to mobile Facebook has become. Indisputably a win-win for both Facebook and the MNOs who’ve signed on to the deal.
In the case of mobile web development on the other hand, it has far more to do with laziness on the part of Facebook than a desire to bring people together by means of mobile. Granted, fragmentation IS an issue in mobile, but to a corporation like Facebook it’s no excuse for the sub-standard app we’ve all had to swallow. Regardless of the problem they have developing for the tens of thousands of feature phones, one has to question how truly passionate they are about mobile as a medium with an Android and iPhone app that even a rookie dev could churn out in a few weeks.
Listening to that speech, I also realized Bret was saying a couple of things that he wasn’t actually saying:
1. Facebook is a mega-corporation – don’t think of it in any other way.
2. Facebook’s interest in mobile is not in the experience, but in the reach (which explains the smartphone apps).
The undertone was clear. Whatever happens in mobile, Facebook will be setting policy every step of the way.
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