Universal Mobile Interface

GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – Anything new?

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on February 18, 2010

So what can we then conclude from this years big European mobile event? The most striking is probably that there was not any big news or underlying trends. It seems like the main movements already spotted, are just even more pronounced.

The app mania is continuing. However, there are now a number of companies addressing the issues with the approach, offering tools for cost efficient development of apps and somewhat trying to overcome the problem with development for each individual OS. The next phase that may be seen, if you look carefully, is that the apps will decrease in importance replaced by better mobile browsers in combination with better services in the cloud.

The developing countries stand for the majority of the growth of the overall mobile penetration. According to ITU we will pass 5 billion mobile phoneusers worldwide during 2010. Even if this is a European event a strong interest and targeted products for developing countries could be seen. With the majority of the world’s mobile phone users in emerging markets this will certainly influence the industry focus and hopefully also drive innovation globally.

And then we have the Microsoft launch of Windows Phone 7 Series which seems to have been recognised more in the media compared to at the congress itself in Barcelona, where few did seem to care so much. Microsoft certainly knows how run the PR. It’s a bit early to judge Windows Phone 7 Series but it looks like we get just another OS, further fragmenting the market. It looks nice but may follow the general rule: the nicer the UI the more of a closed environment.  

The number of phones running on Android is growing but to announce Andriod as a clear winner that will solve the OS enigma is not only premature but will probably not happen. We have for instance the announcement of the Nokia and Intel cooperation regarding MeeGo. The operating system war will continue and those that hoped for common standards etc. will just have to wait a bit longer, quite a bit longer. The operating system jungle is here to stay.

There’s a lot of tension in the market and it is clear that there’s not room for all. It will be quite interesting to follow the development in a market where all are so dependant on each other and cooperate at the same time as all are competing. This time we had announcements like the one from the Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao warning about Google and other companies dominating parts of the mobile value chain and even suggesting that the regulator should interfere. When did Vodafone all of a sudden become so pro regulation?

In conclusion, there was not a lot of news or surprises this time. It’s however clear that the industry has gained some momentum compared to last year. There will be a lot happening in the market but presently the established players seem to think that everything will continue more or less as today not recognizing that the mobile is just another Internet access point.

The Mobile Internet is dead – long live the Internet!

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on December 10, 2009

I think it’s time to stop using the term “mobile Internet”. In the early days of mobile Internet services, these were in WAP or similar formats, and usually within a separate universe compared to ordinary online Internet services. With increased bandwidth and capacity of the mobile devices the mobile and online versions have gradually converged. Today most content accessed through the mobile is technically integrated with the online web platforms, but often adjusted to the limitation of the mobile.

The mobile has become an additional access point to more or less any Internet service. We are referring to services “in the cloud” independent of access point and ordinary web services are increasingly viewed directly on more advanced phones such as the iPhone, parsed into a more mobile friendly format or through an app. What is then the difference between the “mobile Internet” and Internet? Well, there’s actually no difference as it is all one and the same Internet accessed and viewed through the computer, the mobile or, soon also to a high extent, the TV. However, there is still a need to adjust the content depending on context and device where the computer probably will be the exception compared to other devices, as it’s the only one with a full size key board.

Cloud computing – a key enabler for mobile service development

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on October 18, 2009

New Picture (14)I remember the early hype regarding cloud computing within the computer and operator industries, this was the way to go and all the benefits were piled on top of each other in endless power point presentations. All wanted to become Application Service Providers etc. A lot of the thinking was of course right as it usually is, but the timing was wrong. Once again we have experienced that the take up comes later but then it’s in many aspects more pronounced and with a broader impact compared to what was expected. The impact of cloud computing is now widely recognised, as for instance this week’s cover of The Economist illustrates.

Cloud computing is today a given and it does dramatically change the business logic and balance within the software/computer/Internet industry. The triggers and drivers for the take off are not always the expected. The increased network capacity and low cost storage are for sure key enablers for services in the cloud. Initially the limited need for local computing capacity was seen as a major benefit opening up for cheaper computers, but as prices anyhow rapidly went down this has not really been a driver. I would say that the key drivers from a user perspective are good, convenient and easy to use services giving end user value in relation to the cost. The end user does not care about the technology and if the service is within the cloud or not, as long as it delivers.

We now see mobile services moving into the cloud. How will this change the game and will it experience that same development phases as was seen for the computer services? There are similarities for sure, but some quite important differences. Most services that now show significant increase in the mobile environment have been used since long on the computer. The mobile is not a totally new media in that respect but rather a new access point to existing services. The mobile environment is unfortunately quite complex with many different operating systems etc. Mobile phone capacity when it comes to computing and storage will be a limiting factor for mass market devices for quite some time. In this aspect cloud computing may be even more relevant in the mobile context compared to what it has ever been for the computers. We may now see a development where low end devices can make use of all types of Internet services.

Services and storage of data in the cloud will further drive the presently strong growth for mobile development and penetration. This is not anymore an expansion of what we so far have called “mobile Internet”, this is an expansion and an extension of the Internet. The mobile Internet as a separate parallel universe will now die and Internet will with its mobile access become ubiquitous – at last. This development will change how we access and relate to Internet, also when still using the computer.

The first ever true UMI is born!

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on June 25, 2009

I just want to inform you that the new version of Squace went live a few days ago. We now have the first service to illustrate the strength of the Universal Mobile Interface, UMI, concept. Hopefully more services will follow, but presently this is to my knowledge the only service that can be regarded as an UMI. The new version of the client already runs on about 1000 different phone models. For further information about the service and to down load please visit the Squace site.

New Picture (12)

What is it then that makes Squace a UMI and why will this release the potential of the mobile Internet? The new version of Squace has the capability to act as the mobile desk top comprising most key services, such as messaging, calling, web links and applications. It does so independently of operator and device and is fully controlled and customised by the user. In addition, it is also very easy to integrate existing web services or create mobile services enabling long tail content going mobile. Compared to the previous version of the Squace service, launched in the spring of 2008, the whole Internet is now available and there is also direct access to applications. The user interface has become even more intuitive. The number of clicks to whatever content or applications, the individual may prefer, are fewer than ever. The viral potential of Squace, being a fully operator and device independent service connecting all users, will be really interesting to follow. We are now in a similar position compared to the early days of the Internet with the position to experience massive peer to peer distribution of content, but this time in the mobile space and now including more or less the whole population on this globe, not just those having a PC. Exiting!

The new version of Squace certainly holds a huge potential and with more integrated content and applications this may be a key mile stone within the development of the mobile Internet. However, what this type of UMI service does is to fully integrate the mobile and the fixed Internet. This is making the mobile what it should have become a long time ago, just another window or access point to the Internet and its services. Well done!

Here are some examples:

GigaOMOliver StarrTechCrunchGoogle SearchYahoo mobile