April 16, 2012

Mobile – Reframing My Model

As you know, I attended Mobile World Congress 2012 back in February. While there I was fortunate to be able to sit in on a few keynotes. One of them was about mobile platforms and mobile apps. We were treated to a talk by three great guys - Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, Peter Chou, CEO of HTC and Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia. The talk forced a reflection for me as after listening I realized I now understood the landscape better. The epiphany came when Peter Chou said: "Experience is HW+SW+SRV+APPS". To have a truly well designed product, the experience has to be top notch with all components working on their own AS WELL AS working well together. 

Here is my new model:
  • layer 0 - hardware is relevant again - no more only beige boxes with a different brand sticker. The innovation on phone hardware is very real and happening with hardware and sensors integration.
  • layer 1 - this is the platform - one heck of a battle is brewing at that level and competition is going to get more fierce.
  • layer 2 – the services – caught in between layer 1 and layer 2 because some will be coming from the platform, and others will be from the outside, independent services. This is the new kid on the block for me, I didn’t realize it could play such a big role as to have its own layer.
  • layer 3 - the app layer –  lots of innovation happening making everyone’s head spin already, and it’s only starting. Connectivity and BigData working hand in hand is bound to yield a lot more to make our lives better.
From where I sit – here is what I see – 
No ones owns the full stack and it’s really a good thing. Competition is good. I think the battle for the platforms and ecosystems is only starting with MS entry and to some extent RIM’s unclear way forward. It’s going to get ugly. The platforms are after my data; they want to lock me down. The applications are after my data too - do they want to know me to ultimately sell me more stuff. Owning the data and collecting analytics about me rhymes with loads of cash for those guys. An independent service layer is a really good thing, as long as there are many providers of services.
  • Think dropbox getting bigger and offering more than file sharing, like they are tipping their toe in with the mobile photo upload sync released recently. I hope this will force the hands of Google, MS, and Apple, just like apps developers to integrate dropbox like they would integrate Flickr.
  • It’s a source of innovation; more services can be created that will collect specific data from the ever growing list of sensors we are using.
  • It also had the drawback that it’s now one more place where data is going to be collected about us.
Overall, the independent services layer is good because it creates alternatives at a critical point in the stack. It gives power to the mobile user, me, to choose where my data should go. It also makes it more difficult for one vendor to own the whole stack, and have way too much power over what advertising and suggestions I’m being pushed to through my mobile behaviors.


Shawn McCormick said...

Interesting. The thing that I have to keep reminding myself is that most consumers are not the tech-savvy geeks that look at the details of these things. And with mobile smartphones still on the hockey stick of adoption, more and more people will come on board. Do they really care about the intricacies of who provides the service and where does their data go? I don't think most people do...and a lot of them will stick with the single vendor integrated stack (top to bottom) because it is "easy" and it works...

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