Blog Post

Mobilize: What's the Future of Mobile Apps?

How do cell phone users want to get their mobile applications, how do mobile developers want to deliver them, and what’s the future? Web or native, preloaded or installed, at a centralized app store or a distributed model, bundled or installed, offered by a company or a consortium, and open or closed?

OK, so the non-controversial answer is a combo of all these things, but the conclusion of the debates, including audience input, was that we want: web apps, centralized, installed, offered by a company, and open. Here are some interesting tidbits from the discussion:

Web or Native Mobile Applications:

Gary Kovacs, Adobe: There are 2.2 billion to 2.5 billion things connected to the Internet, and the bulk of that comes from non-PCs. The lines between browser and stand-alone apps is blurring — browser OEMs don’t want that distinction anymore. Over the next 2 to 3 years that line will blur even more and the web will win out.

John O’Rourke, Microsoft: There are different horses for different courses — both richer and lighter weight solutions.

Jerry Panagrossi, Symbian: There will be a range of applications that will require different options, some will use Flash and there is a huge developer community around Flash.

Where do you want to get your apps? A centralized store or a distributed model?

Jerry, Symbian: We don’t think a single entity should control app stores.

Jason, Qualcomm: I’ve seen major operators that will be coming out with services (web video-type services) that are opening and will provide open video access. There are methods to do this and adopt Internet-type models.

How will we get our apps? Bundled vs. Installed Applications:

Jason Kenagy, Qualcomm: The vast majority will continue to be preloaded, preinstalled applications.

Morgan, LiMo: The take-up of downloadable applications has been astonishingly slow so far. But it’s starting to be taken up. This area is now beginning to move into rapid change, and I would say in one and half to three years it will start to change.

Consortium vs. The Company Model:

Morgan, LiMo Foundation: We decided right away to bring forth a consortium model and not a single company model. The industry has already answered this answer. Since LiMo was announced, Google announced an intention to follow this path and Nokia announced a similar intention as well. But are all consortiums the same? LiMo was designed to do one thing only: to provide the handset operating system. We have to lift the hood on these consortiums; where tech is coming from and how decisions are made. What was the purpose behind the consortium and how was it set up?

Open vs. Closed Model?:

Jerry, Symbian: There are places for both models. In the far right of the open argument, they want all software to be open source, but the reality is that companies need to pay real employees and its not easy to cook up new business models. Though for open source there are so many eyeballs looking at the code. Clearly there are pros and cons of the approaches. Symbian OS will be made open source next year.

Morgan, LiMo: On the open vs. closed question, It became clear two years ago that closed technology was serving the mobile industry very badly. It was based on that crisis that LiMo was founded.

8 Responses to “Mobilize: What's the Future of Mobile Apps?”

  1. @Jerry, Symbian

    Open Model is not just open source its open APIs and open mindset. Developers wants APIs. Open source might help them to write API if you can not provide but developer’s first priority is API not open source. However I bet even you won’t give them enough chance to do that.

    Vendors using your OS (even your new boss NOKIA) plants specific vendor ID checks not to allow developers to write better application. What you are afraid of?
    If security, then I would ask doesn’t your vendors believe in security model that you created introducing symbian signed which itself sucks developers?

    Its your policies that will lead you to failure in high end devices not your platform. Engg did a good job to build strong platform but management is not able to apply right policies. If you don’t change your attitude you will still have market share but only in low end devices. you claim 67% market share, can you provide figure out of 67% market share how much is contributed by devices above $700?

    Its your arrogance and wrong policies that are giving edge to other platforms not because other platforms are better. Your policies sinks developers investment because you can not keep compatibility. you guys sucks never listens to developers. Grrrrrrrrrhhhhh

  2. @Katie,

    Without intentionally sounding too self serving here (for which I apologize 100%), we (EventMobile) developed our first generation application, and (for any mobile with internet access)

    as a Windows Mobile application which we released about 18 months or so ago to version 5.x. Since then, Microsoft has accelerated the upgrading of Windows Mobile, this in addition to slow take up of the Phone Events download, which was noted by one of the panelists.

    We then made the decision to build Phone Events to work “in the cloud” so that we can not remove the downloading requirement for users, but also expand our cell phone reach by supporting all cell phones with open internet access. We abandoned our development for Symbian, J2ME, Linux, and never even considered iPhone or Android native development as they appeared after our decision to “move the service into the cloud”.

    In my opinion, most developers cannot afford, even if they’re well capitalized, to support native applications across OS platforms. Development, testing, and support costs are just too high. Additionally, every OS has one common denominator, Internet access. Hence the recent noise being made about developing native applications is a step in the wrong direction. Internet adoption has driven down the number of native PC and Mac applications, while causing a HUGE explosion in web services. I expect the same to occur with regards to mobile web services. All the rhetoric from the companies which back the various mobile operating systems are being self serving and unrealistic. History says the browser is the killer app, and eventually all of the Mobilize panelists noted here will acknowledge this historical fact.

    My $.02 with best regards,