What is “Mobile 2.0”?

The terms “Mobile 2.0” and “Mobile Web 2.0” are being thrown around these days quite a bit, but nobody has really put together a concise definition of what Mobile 2.0 is and how it differs from what has come before, such as exists for “Web 2.0”. Ajit Jaokar and Tony Fish are doing a great job describing some aspects of “Mobile Web 2.0” but I still think we are missing such a clear, consise definition. Well, I figured I’d take a stab at it.

For one, closed mobile application and services, available only through one operator, are Mobile 1.0. Mobile 2.0 applications and services are open and available to anyone to download, install and/or put to use via the mobile Web. In my mind, the Mobile Web is a big part of Mobile 2.0. Mobile 2.0 also builds on the ideas voiced by Tim O’Reilly and extends those to the Mobile platform and its capabilities. Here are some rough extensions of the O’Reilly Web 2.0 set of examples applied to Mobile 2.0:

SMS -> IM (e.g. Yahoo! messenger for mobile)
MMS -> Media sharing (e.g. ShoZu)
Operator Portals -> Mobile Web and Search
Operator chooses -> User chooses
Premium SMS billing -> Mobile stored value Accounts (e.g. Luup)
Java Games -> Embedded Applications (e.g. Blogger application)
Presence & Push-To-Talk -> Embedded VOIP applications
WAP sites -> .Mobi sites
WAP push -> RSS readers
Wallpaper -> Idle screen applications
Location services -> Google maps application
Time or volume-based pricing -> “All you can eat” data charging
Content consumption -> Content creation (e.g. mobile blogging)

In short, Mobile 2.0 takes the Mobile platform 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. Openness and user choice are essential components of Mobile 2.0.

Some of these ideas are controversial, I know, and some of them probably don’t go far enough. I’d appreciate your comments, additions, ideas on this topic. What does Mobile 2.0 consist of and what makes it different from what we have now?

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12 Comments on “What is “Mobile 2.0”?

  1. Pretty good, Dan. Jives with my thinking, except for ….

    “WAP sites -> .mobi sites”?!?! .mobi was and is a bad idea, unless everybody simply redirects to their .com site (and then it’s simply a tax on publishers).

    I’d prefer;

    “WAP sites -> Web sites”

  2. Hi Dan,

    A good start but I agree with Mark that it should be WAP -> Web.

    SMS -> IM I do really disgree with. While IM will take the place of some SMS functionality it has the problem that it requires interactivity. SMS is ‘fire and forget’, there is no need to respond immediately, it’s ideal for quick notifications and enables me to respond when I choose. IM is more like a text based chat (and IM apps are adding voice/video functionality anyway!)

    So how about Operator IM -> Global IM? As the big IM names become interoperable then the operators will have to follow suit.

  3. “Java Games -> Embedded Applications (e.g. Blogger application)
    Presence & Push-To-Talk -> Embedded VOIP applications”

    It’s actually moving the other direction, but you might means something else. Those blogging applications you see on phones now are actually not embedded in the true sense. They are Java/Symbian/etc applications that are thrown in at the last stage of development of the phones, and might even be thrown in by the operator. The customer is none the wiser. They get a phone with the applications already installed, but the manufacturer and operator have saved tons of time doing this and can provide applications that are needed rather than that were thought would be needed years ago.

    See my piece on OMA for more on this:

    And if you want to know about what I think about Mobile IM (I know you don’t) see here:

    Maybe the pragmatic definition of Mobile 2.0 is “Actual access to information, not just enabling technology”.

  4. FYI I don’t mean to say that IM replaces texting in anyway, nor that dotMobi is the only way to get to the Mobile Web (indeed, I helped found the Mobile Web Initiative on the premise that any Web site can be mobile friendly). I do think dotMobi can be an important part of the roll-out of the Mobile Web to consumers though. So comments definitely accepted. I will be working on a revised definition of Mobile 2.0 in advance of the “mobile2.0” event I posted about today.

  5. Hi Dan,

    Nice list up. It appears majority of the Mobile 2.0 components are taking place in the open-market GSM rather than the operator-controlled CDMA realm. I doubt CDMA will ever open up to the full potential and reach of Mobile 2.0. How is your opinion?

  6. I think there is no linkage between openness and specific radio-access technology. CDMA can be just as “open” in this sense as GSM/UMTS. It has to do with culture and the perceived threat of openness vs. tight control. In the US, it happens to be that the GSM carriers are the ones leading the pack in this respect. This might have something to do with their linkage to other global carries through the auspices of the GSMA.

  7. Hi Dan,

    I just wanted to show everyone my project – http://geocities.com/gene_technics

    I think that a standard hardware platform is the foundation for Mobile 2.0 – a two displays device allows to divide the core content of a Website and its framework – menu and ads. It allows developers to make sites with easily seen structure – site map on the second display. It allows advertizers to place easily a??essible ads on the second display-keyboard – the ads is at the fingertips of consumers. It allows users have a good experience from working with it – comfortable form factor, easy-for-typing keyboard with full and standard localization and all the functions they would expect from a mobile device.


  8. I would like to learn more about the future of Mobile 2.0 and what the possible next steps will be. What are some of the visions of the future?

  9. Regarding the LBS you mentioned, my year-old comment, which you might see it somewhere before, is the following.

    These years I browsed around about the location-based services (LBS). A more detailed explanation of LBS for mobiles can be found by


    Most people believe it would be the next big thing or killer app. Quite a few others have different opinion. e.g.,


    Here I can possibly present one opinion from the consumer/end-user perspective, which I have posted in some other places too.

    Do we need LBS so badly?

    Before I really go to the details. Let me give a review of one simple concept and theory here, which are called “Home Range Concept” and “Traffic Pattern Theory”.

    Home Range Concept. It is a concept that can be traced back to a publication in 1943 by W. H. Burt, who constructed maps delineating the spatial extent or outside boundary of an animal’s movement during the course of its everyday activities.

    Traffic Pattern Theory. A people’s daily activity pattern is pretty regular, which comprises of several major events, such as school, work, home, shopping.

    As I remember, a technical explanation of traffic pattern theory can be found in a report by Stefan Schonfelder, STRC 2001.


    What happened here is if you are looking at the traffic pattern of a person, saying a full-time employed, 45 years, car, 3-person-household, one child, the regular activity route is so LIMITED. So, does this mean …

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