What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta)

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I should start this post with an extra disclaimer: although I work for Vodafone, this article does not represent Vodafone policy nor is it a product roadmap or public statement on behalf of Vodafone or any of its subsidiary companies. It is purely and simply my opinion. This is also marked as “beta” because mobile 2.0 is a work in progress in a constantly shifting mobile technology landscape.

Mobile 2.0?

Ever since Tim O’Reilly wrote his famous article on Web 2.0, everyone wants to jump on the 2.0 bandwagon. We now have “media 2.0,” “advertising 2.0,” “TV 2.0,” etc… to contend with. So why do the same and try to define mobile 2.0? The answer is that people out there are already using this term. I think there is a danger that the definition of mobile 2.0 will become hijacked either to become synonymous with “Web 2.0 applications and services brought to your phone” (which is part of the story but not the whole story) or with multimedia applications (again, only part of the story).

But if we’re going to have a mobile 2.0, I think we would do well to base the definition on the Web 2.0 mind set and thinking. With that in mind, here are some revised extensions of the O’Reilly Web 2.0 set of examples applied to mobile 2.0 (revised somewhat from my original draft definition).

SMS -> IM, mobile blogging
MMS -> Media sharing
Operator Portals -> Mobile Web and search
Operator chooses -> User chooses
Premium SMS billing -> Mobile stored value Accounts
Java Games -> Connected Applications (e.g. photo sharing, blogging)
Presence & Push-To-Talk -> VOIP applications
WAP sites -> Web sites that adapt for mobile browsers
WAP push -> RSS readers
Wallpaper -> Idle screen applications
Location services -> Google maps application
Content consumption -> Content creation (e.g. mobile blogging)

In short, mobile 2.0 leaps the mobile platform forward to where the Internet is today, and shows us how the mobile phone can become a first class citizen, or even a leading citizen, of the Web. What mobile 2.0 does not mean, at least in my mind, is more sophisticated, but still essentially closed, mobile applications and services (although these will also continue to play an important role in the mobile value chain). Openness and user choice are essential components of mobile 2.0.

Towards a Definition of Mobile 2.0

The term of “mobile 2.0″ can best be defined as the next generation of data services to mobile connected devices. To understand what this next generation is, you must look to Web 1.0. I was developing content on the Internet before there was a Web. My fiction magazine, Quanta, published its first issue in 1989. The potential to reach a world-wide audience (even if it was limited mostly to those at educational institutions at that time) was extremely compelling. Those of us who had experienced the power of the Internet immediately saw its potential, but it certainly didn’t seem like it could ever be a consumer service. The Web changed all that. By putting the already-existing concept of hypertext together with the seamless interconnectivity of the Internet, the Web brought us a compelling human interface paradigm that users could grasp. But the Web, even at that time, also made it relatively easy to create content. The ability of the Web to empower anyone to create a compelling service was its magic.

In the business landscape, consumer expectations have been molded by the Web. Consumers no longer want to be dictated to – they want choice. They want to choose which services they access. If one social networking site is no longer cool, they will switch to another. If a Web-based grocery delivery service doesn’t measure up, consumers will quickly choose another. Imagine a world in which the only data services you could interact with were ones that your cable operator chose for you. At the beginning of the 90′s, many companies were thinking along these lines. Instead of the vast choice the Web has to offer today, you could have been confined to ordering a pizza (from one of a small number of chains) through your TV. It may be difficult to remember now, but this cable TV based vision of the “information superhighway” was very real in some people’s minds. On the PC, Microsoft aggressively pursued this vision with their MSN product (then seen as a competitor to AOL). They sought to buy up the exclusive online publishing rights to newspapers in order to ensure that you could only view certain content through MSN. Quite rightly, they viewed the Web as a threat to this model. When I briefly worked for AOL in 1997, it was already clear to most people that the Web was it. However, the prevailing attitude at AOL was that the real content that mattered was on the AOL portal and that access to the Web was a feature of this portal (grudgingly provided through a badly integrated browser). Flash forward to 2006 and we find that both Microsoft and AOL have embraced the Web. Closed consumer portals on the PC are a thing of the past.

Today, with the reality of the Web pervading our lives, it’s almost unimaginable that you couldn’t sit down in front of your computer and reach out to any information source or service of your choosing at the click of a mouse – that you could live in a world of a confined set of services, chosen for us by a service provider. Could FlickR or Youtube ever have even launched on such a platform? Could Wikipedia? Craigslist? The use of RSS? Would you be able to reach across the globe to find alternative points of view from news sources around the world? Could we have seen the rise of the blog? Social bookmarking? The answer is no. None of these services or technologies could have developed in that kind of heavily controlled service landscape.

And yet that’s what we expect people to be happy with on the mobile platform. We need to remember the lessons of Web 1.0 and apply these lessons to the development of the Web and connected applications on the mobile platform. But mobile data services are changing.

This change has been made possible by a number of convergent elements. Certainly, the sophistication of devices is one of them. Even consumer mobile phones are sporting color screens, increased processing power and performance. This has been largely driven by the rise of the camera phone. At the same time, the mobile networks are getting faster and cheaper. Mobile browsers are becoming more sophisticated about rendering pages designed for large screens. Content and service providers are becoming more savvy about designing user experiences specifically for mobile users.

The result is that the Web as we know it is changing. It is becoming pocketable. The Web is coming outside.

What Place for Mobile Operators in Mobile 2.0?

Mobile network operators (or “Carriers” as they are sometimes referred to) occupy an immensely important position in the mobile industry value chain. They run the networks including authentication, connecting calls, messaging, interconnect, roaming and all the other complexities inherent in delivering seamless 24/7 uptime service. They manage retail networks and customer service. They source phones and devices from device manufacturers and resell these. They are heavily regulated.

In this world of open, unfettered access to services and software across the Internet is the role of the operator diminished to that of a “bit pipe?” Laying aside for a second the relative merits of being a bit pipe, I think the answer is “no.” By enabling innovation in an open way, operators can continue to be at the center of the data services value chain. This shift is already happening. Major operators have opened up their portals and are starting to turn them from walled gardens into jumping off points for the mobile Web. This points to the second essential role that operators can play in the mobile 2.0 value chain: discovery of content and services.

Another important way that operators can maximize their role in the mobile 2.0 world and avoid becoming solely a bit pipe is through exposure of enablers. Exposing your enablers sounds like lewd behavior, but to explain what I mean, take the example of Amazon. Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services division, exposes APIs to third party developers. Small companies and even individual developers can build their own applications on top of Amazon’s platform. This brings more money to Amazon because most of these third party applications are about browsing and mining Amazon’s catalog (and therefore eventually result in more sales for Amazon). Amazon could have taken a tightly controlled approach to their service, but by exposing APIs, they have enabled a whole ecosystem of affiliates and suppliers to grow up around them. Importantly, you don’t need to go have a meeting with an Amazon executive and sign a contract or even pay any fee to start using Amazon Web Services APIs. You simply visit a web site and accept a click-through license.

Operators have long exposed APIs to third parties and they know a great deal about enabling ecosystems to grow up around them and about delivering third party services through their ecosystem. In Europe, operators have been working with third party messaging providers to provide information, news, chat and other services via SMS. Often, these services are provided through premium-rate SMS which means users are charged a premium for use of these services.

Browsers and Connected Applications

Mobile browsers are getting better and better. Since I’ve been chairing the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices working group, I’ve seen a revolution start to take place in the mobile browsing field (which I hope has been somewhat influenced by the work of that group). The mobile Web plays a key role in mobile 2.0 by enabling innovation in the so-called long tail. Because of the mobile Web, it is possible for one person working on his own to develop with freely available and open source tools a social networking service for mobile device users, and to effectively reach a global audience with this service. Of course, we take this for granted on the PC Web, but this capability is only now becoming a reality on the mobile platform.

But it’s not all about the browser. The browser plays a crucial role because it allows access to a range of content sources, but it can also act as a delivery mechanism for connected applications. Most consumer phones today are able to download and install applications (be they Java applications or OS-specific apps for a variety of so-called “smart phone” platforms). Interestingly, it is this feature that Opera exploited when they released Opera Mini. Opera mini is a downloadable connected application that becomes the browser and therefore the conduit for more downloadable connected apps.

Finally, browser-based AJAX applications mobile widgets will play an increasingly important role in providing compelling services to users. Browser manufacturers and others are already scrambling to develop the killer widget platform.

The reason these technologies are so powerful is that they enable innovation by providing a simple framework for developing and deploying applications. Just as the Web did with PCs, the mobile Web and connected applications bring users compelling experiences and services that they can understand and start using quickly, with relatively little learning curve.

Open Applications Leverage Open Standards

Lastly, it is important to note that mobile 2.0 applications need to leverage open standards. Applications that sit on top of closed and proprietary protocols and formats are antithetical to the kind of innovation that will be key to the growth of the mobile Web. Establishing open standards around HTML, CSS and XML has greatly contributed to the growth and success of the medium and to its continued innovation. We are already seeing standards pay off big-time on the mobile platform as well in both the Java/JCP space (where we are finally realizing write-once-run-anywhere) and in the mobile Web.

Mobile 2.0 Is Here

When I traveled to Spain on business last month, I took pictures with my camera phone which were automatically uploaded to a photo sharing service as I took them using a photo upload application that I had downloaded over the mobile Web. My beautiful wife and kids were able to track my trip in pictures by checking back with the photo sharing site as I traveled and no PC was involved on my end. A downloaded mapping application on my phone allowed me to easily find my way from the city of Gigón to Bilbao, and I was able to access Wikipedia entries on cities I visited to find background information when I needed it. A downloaded mobile IM client embedded on my email device allowed me to keep in touch with colleagues and friends. Mobile 2.0 is not “the Future.” it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry.

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15 comments on “What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta)
  1. Ajit Jaokar says:

    Great to see this Daniel. As you mentioned its a draft and it will evolve over time.

    Excellent to see the emphasis on Open Standards, Open Gardens etc etc .. very much in line with what I believe

    I think when you say ..
    >>> In short, mobile 2.0 leaps the mobile platform forward to where the Internet is today, and shows us how the mobile phone can become a first class citizen,
    or even a leading citizen, of the Web.
    >> What mobile 2.0 does not mean, at least in my mind, is more sophisticated, but still essentially closed,
    mobile applications and services (although these will also continue to play an important role in the mobile value chain).

  2. Thanks, Ajit. Absolutely, I think this is related to the great work you and Tony have done with the book Mobile Web 2.0. Your book has certainly be influential in my thinking on these issues. I think you and Tony actually go far beyond what I’m describing above in trying to understand how Web 2.0 principles can be applied across the mobile sphere.

  3. Ajit Jaokar says:

    thanks Daniel. I shall also ask Martin Geddes to look at this. He is doing some great work with the Telco 2.0 initiative kind rgds Ajit

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think many over estimate the importance of the mobile operator (unless you work for one) and mobile handset manufacturer. Access and control over the handset is quickly moving towards the end consumer. Ultimately, and over time, the consumer will dictate the market and they will determine where and what they download to their handsets. Of course, the mobile operators will try to control this but history has shown that companies that try to make decisions for consumers ultimately fail. The communal spirit of 2.0 will hopefully expedite this process. In the long run I see the mobile operator becoming less relevant in the value chain, and becoming more of a commodity serving only as a connection provider.

  5. Hello Dan, nice post..

    A question:
    “Java Games -> Embedded Applications (e.g. photo sharing, blogging)”

    Are you talking of embeeded or downloaded app? I think that the power of 2.0 will be more on downloaded app vs embeeded app….

    I also think that one important point is the evolution of Wap browsing to “synchronisation” . Google Mail for instance, is much more powerfull in his application version than in his browsing only. One of the benefit of synchrnosation vs browsing ( Mobile 2.0 is not Mobile Web 2.0 )

  6. Hi Dan,

    Have read the post, and just like yesterday at MoMo I have a simple question about Mobile2.0, where does voice come in?

  7. Thomas — yes, you’re absolutely right. I mean “downloadable apps,” not “embedded apps.” I was using embedded in the sense of “not something that executes inside the browser,” not meaning something embedded prior to purchase.

  8. Ajit Jaokar says:

    and one more ..

    This is probably our biggest post on any one topic(written by Dr Paddy Byers).

    http://opengardensblog.futuretext.com/archives/2006/11/mobile20_great.html

  9. tobto says:

    I have to say mobile web2.0 is nothing special. You are right – Mobile 2.0 is not ‘the Future.’ it is services that already exist all around us.’ The keyword is ‘mobility’. Thats all. No more.

  10. Avinash says:

    the power of mobile web will be in the fact of reach of internet …even to toilets and other places where the web cannot and will not go…

    Hi,
    It is to bring to your kind attention a mobile web 2.0 startup site launched by me which intends to bring the PRETTY BAD internet out there to mobiles in a

    hasslefree manner and it also serves as a personal bookmark engine.

    Moblify.com is a bookmarks engine for mobiles.

    It works with any web URL, WAP site and .mobi site.

    It uses the best mobile transcoders(google,iyhy,Skweezer,Phonifier) available in the market and tap-reduce mechanisms to achieve this.

    Moblify.com is also a bookmark engine that will store all your bookmarks for use on any mobile browser or device.

    And best of all, as most other good web and mobile 2.0 companies , it is FREE.

    For more details, visit http://www.moblify.com

    WAP URL : wam.tw

    Thanks,
    Avinash.

  11. Dean Collins says:

    Where are analytics discussed in your mobile web 2.0 discussion (btw I pretty much posted the cnontent below from a port I made on your facebook site).

    I’ve been looking at a number of mobile forums this weekend and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of discussion about it.

    Are people actually tracking these mobile browser interactions of their mobile applications?

    I know I have a ‘barrow to push’ working for http://www.amethon.com but it seems most people are just worried about looking good on mobiles rather than actually tracking usage.

    What do you see being used to measure your mobile interactions in the future or do you see mobile browsers just being so good that desktop analytics will work….because they sure dont now.

    Cheers,

    Dean Collins
    Dean.Collins@Amethon.com

  12. Vimal says:

    The beta version of Go 2.0 is available now and is compatible with over 70 different handsets. It can be downloaded from yahoo. Partnerships with Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and RIM were announced today which should mean a lot of handsets will come preloaded with the software soon.
    ________________________________
    Vimal

    <a href=”http://wSreevysh Corp

26 Pings/Trackbacks for "What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta)"
  1. [...] Regardless, while “Web 2.0″companies3 are getting a rush of funding, mobile content companies are starting to following the same path. I was chatting with Anurag Nigam, the CEO behind the mobile search service 411Sync4, about if there would ever be a day where the idea of Mobile 2.0 is as big as Web 2.0. ‘”It’s getting there,” he says. Vodafone’s Dan Appelquist, who helped organize the event says on his blog that the conference helped him realize that “we are at a turning point for the mobile Web5.” But he also adds while he’s live-blogging from Web 2.0 that the message of Mobile 2.0 isn’t being heard at Web 2.0. (For his definition of the term check here6.)6 [...]

  2. Understanding Mobile 2.0…

    Written by Rudy De Waele of m-trends.org and edited by Richard MacManus. This kicks off a mini-series of posts on the topic of Mobile 2.0, which we will explore on Read/WriteWeb this week. On the eve of Le Web 3……

  3. [...] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your ownsite. [...]

  4. [...] Dan offers some examples applied to Mobile 2.0 [...]

  5. [...] Si quieren leer más sobre el tema de Mobile 2.0 -o sea, la llegada de herramientas colaborativas y participativas a los dispositivos móviles- pueden leer el excelente resumen publicado por Read/Write Web (gracias Juan Pablo Paradelo por el dato). Para una definición más comprensiva de Mobile 2.0, pueden ver Dan’s Blog. Para almacenar esta entrada en tu gestor de favoritos online, haz clic en el icono:Estos iconos te permitiran agregar este texto a tu gestor de favoritos online con solo hacer un clic. [...]

  6. [...] If you want to read more about the topic of Mobile 2.0 – that is, the arrival of collaborative and participative tools for mobile devices- you can read the excellent summary published by Read/Write Web (thanks to Juan Pablo Paradelo for the info). For a more comprehensive definition of Mobile 2.0, check out Dan’s Blog. [...]

  7. [...] The overal tone of the conference was all about web 2.0 going mobile, there has been numerous blogposts and discussions lately on the topic… Daniel Appelquist has one of my preferred mobile 2.0 definitions so far: Mobile 2.0 is not “the Future.” it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry. [...]

  8. [...] The overal tone of the conference was all about web 2.0 going mobile, there has been numerous blogposts and discussions lately on the topic… Daniel Appelquist has one of my preferred mobile 2.0 definitions so far: Mobile 2.0 is not “the Future.” it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry. [...]

  9. [...] Daniel K. Appelquist writes… [...]

  10. [...] The overal tone of the conference was all about web 2.0 going mobile, there has been numerous blogposts and discussions lately on the topic… Daniel Appelquist has one of my preferred mobile 2.0 definitions so far: Mobile 2.0 is not “the Future.” it is services that already exist all around us. These services are maturing at an amazing rate and what they are doing is effectively knitting together Web 2.0 with the mobile platform to create something new: a new class of services that leverage mobility but are as easy to use and ubiquitous as the Web is today. These services point the way forward for the mobile data industry. [...]

  11. [...]  최근에 Vodafone의 Daniel이 Mobile 2.0에 대한 정의를 한 내용과 비교해보더라도 제 분류가 좀더 낫지 않나 생각됩니다.   [...]

  12. [...] Daniel Appelquist – who used the term Mobile 2.0 for the first time. A delightfully clear explanation about Mobile 2.0 – written by Ajit Jaokar. Fabrizio Capobianco has written an interesting Manifesto for Mobile 2.0. Understanding Mobile 2.0 10 Things I learned at Mobile 2.0 [...]

  13. [...] About context and the mobile web by Rudy De Waele at gotomobile.com What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta) by Dan Appelquist [...]

  14. [...] I can’t believe it was almost a year ago that we ran the first Mobile 2.0 event. Mobile 2.0 was originally conceived last year as a meet-up for the mobilly minded ahead of the Web 2.0 Summit. It quickly turned into much more than that – an event in its own right that put the spotlight on innovation in the Mobile Web general mobile data space. I wrote a blog post before the event trying to put a definition together for Mobile 2.0. Why? Not because I care about creating a new meme (actually the Mobile 2.0 moniker was already been thrown around by many so all I was doing was trying to consolidate it a bit) but because I wanted to highlight a trend that I saw building in the mobile industry. That trend, which has only gathered pace over the past year, is all about the collision of the Mobile and Web industries. This collision is creating huge market disruption and huge opportunities for established and new players in both industries. Take Jaiku, for example. Five guys in Finland create a Twitter clone and the world shrugs. The Google folks who bought them understand that the value Jaiku brought was in the sophisticated way they weaved together the mobile and Web experience. Jaiku was in some ways a prototypical “Mobile 2.0 Company” – a next-generation service offering that brings together the Mobile with the Web in a seamless way such that the sum is greater than the parts. The Crowd at the Mobile Panel at Web 2.0 Summit (2006) [...]

  15. [...] Thanks to all those who told me I needed to read Walt Mossberg’s article on the state of the mobile industry v. the Internet. It is a really great piece and sums many of the problems facing the mobile industry. As I said last year, I do believe that openness is an inevitable trend. I also realize that there are significant stumbling blocks to openness in mobile data. Some of these problems are “imaginary” (such as the customer service issue, which was also highlighted as a problem by the closed portals of the last century as a reason why they had to keep the Internet at arms length and “protect” their customers from it). Some of the problems are very real and have to do with the physical limitations of the bearer. You can’t treat a wide-area “mobile broadband” (e.g. HSDPA) connection in the same way that you can an ADSL or local-area WiFi connection, especially when it comes to applications like P2P or VoIP. However, both the service model and the technology are evolving. We have already made great strides forward in the last year. I see the pace of change accelerating in the coming year, especially if the (U.S.) regulatory issues that Walt highlights in his article are addressed. [...]

  16. [...] > Next generation of data services to mobile connected devices – Applequist [...]

  17. [...] Daniel Appelquist 在其关于Mobile 2.0纲领性的文章What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta)中对Mobile 1.0和Mobile 2.0的服务做了比较,同时这篇文章对诸如Mobile [...]

  18. [...] Appelquist 在其关于Mobile 2.0纲领性的文章What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta)中对Mobile 1.0和Mobile 2.0的服务做了比较,同时这篇文章对诸如Mobile [...]

  19. [...] > Next generation of data services to mobile connected devices – Applequist [...]

  20. [...] see or understand. The iPhone seems like a device which embodies all the mobile 2.0 ideals I first wrote about in 2006. It provides access to a wealth of applications and services. It’s easy to use. It’s [...]

  21. [...] 2.0 by Oliver Starr at MobHappy About context and the mobile web by Rudy De Waele at gotomobile.com What is “Mobile 2.0″ (Beta) by Dan Appelquist Daniel Appelquist on Mobile 2.0, and views on a different kind of Mobile 2.0 by [...]

  22. [...] today may only gripe about the transition from the Desktop eperience to a mobile. I agree with Daniel Appelquist as he states that the concept of Web 2.0 is nothing new but what it is is the use of what web 2.0 [...]

  23. [...] 2006, I wrote a blog post in an attempt to define “mobile 2.0.” Looking back at that post, I can see that many of my predictions have come to pass. We have indeed [...]

  24. [...] 2006, before our first Mobile 2.0 event, when I first sensed the colliding of these two galaxies, I wrote a post about what I thought that future might look like. I stole a page out of the book of Tim [...]

  25. [...] to Web an app developers. And they are bringing these APIs to real grass-roots developers. Read what I wrote in 2006 about exposing enablers. Most of the other predictions in that post have been borne out [...]

  26. [...] Fehrenbacher at GigaOM has questioned whether Mobile 2.0 will ever be as big as Web 2.0, without coming to any conclusion. There’s an interesting list [...]

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Who is Daniel K. Appelquist?

I'm an American Ex-Pat living in London. I'm a father of two and husband of one. I am the Open Web Advocate for Telefónica Digital, focusing on the Open Web Device. I founded Mobile Monday London, Over the Air and the Mobile 2.0 conference series.

The opinions expressed here are my own, however, and neither Telefónica nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

My books:
Mobile Internet for Dummies
XML and SQL

For more info, see my Linkedin profile.

More (probably than you ever wanted to know) about Torgo.

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