Christian Lindholm and his team at Fjord (whom the BBC have worked with on a number of occasions) has released a set of predictions for the mobile world in 2009 – and if they’re right, it sure looks like an exciting year ahead. In fact, taking an optimistic view of the trends, you might even say this could be THE year where mobile really comes centre stage. In the spirit of these being ‘Fjord Thoughts’ I wanted to share some of my own thoughts, which I’ve gathered under the headlines from the report. Make sure you read the full report and not just my comments – it’s really good stuff!
App Stores are digital Innovation Bazaars
The app stores are clearly going to be a crucial access point between consumers and content/services for their devices – there’s no doubting that. However, what I thought was really interesting here was the prediction that “The long tail of the App Store will allow the iPhone to attract great content and emerge as a true mobile gaming platform that puts pressure on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.”
Sure, you’ve been able to download and play games on a range of devices before and sure, many portable games consoles can connect to the internet, but I think this blurring will be particularly interesting. First, interesting to see which devices become prefered/dominant with which types of users but, moreso, from my perspective because its potentially where content and gaming can come much closer. Anyone fancy an alternate reality game that gives you clues in news stories based on where you are and the proximity of other players?
The Cloud puts digital life at your fingertips
“The PC is displaced as the hub and takes its place as a powerful but non-mobile client.” When I first read this, all I could think was, “Wow!” and then “But REALLY?” Much as I’d love to believe this and it would be great with relation to what I do for a living, it seemed a little implausible – reading on into the report, this is refined a bit to talk about teens and people in developing countries, and I think this is more likely. We see this happening for a small wedge of UK users – a growing minority – but I don’t see a full reversal of hub/client devices this year for mainstream audiences. Watching the behaviour of those audiences who DO make this switch will be interesting though. My youngest brother and a teenager I work with already can’t see the point of having a laptop (nevermind a desktop) when they can have a Blackberry.
I think the other interesting thing about how ‘the cloud’ will affect our experiences that will emerge will be around how entertainment and media cross between equally connected clients. With over-the-air downloads from the iTunes store, does the music ‘live’ on your PC or your iPhone? And will this be the year that delivers on the dream of being able to ‘take’ a programme you were watching on TV away on your phone when you leave the house?
TV finally goes mobile
I can’t write about this report without being grateful for the praise that Fjord has given the BBC in this section naming us as one of the players who will help drive this trend. Nice. We’re already seeing “mobile couch potato” behaviour growing – peak time for the use of BBC iPlayer on mobile is between 8.00pm and midnight – times when people are relaxing at home (possibly in bed) and using their reliable, fast wifi connections. This is different to what’s seen on the desktop version of BBC iPlayer and later than peak time for traditional TV viewing so very interesting to keep an eye on.
I recently saw another presentation (by another company) looking at mobile in 2009 that predicted that Mobile TV was dead. At first these seemed contradictory – but actually, they were in agreement. What the other presentation meant was that TV on operator portals was dead; and that its time for other TV/video services to emerge – perhaps like BBC iPlayer on mobile and the others that Fjord are suggesting. Wouldn’t it be cool if we stopped watching video on our mobile screens this year and that its when “video goggles” (aka virtual retinal display) takes off?
Location becomes the new service bedrock Sure, I buy this. BUT… the editor in me would modify this prediction slightly. I think there’s going to be a proliferation of applications that use location – but I’m not convinced they’ll all be very useful or as easy to develop as some people think. I talk to a lot of people who make the assumption that if something’s near you, it’s automatically relevant – this isn’t always the case, and even if it is, it might not be what you want.
If I’m searching on my geo-aware device for information about an upcoming business trip or holiday, I definitely DON’T want information about what’s currently nearest to me. I’d probably like to know what hotels people who LIVE near me stayed in when they went to my destination – but I suspect working out these types of subtleties and the user experiences that make them excellent will be a little bit of a way off and that we might see a lot of gimmicks in the meantime (excluding maps, of course). And worse, the top 10 headlines near me, might actually do me a dis-service if it turns out that the raging fire a few towns over is the 11th story, meaning I never get to find out that my home is in danger.