I’m very excited to announce that on September 7th I will be co-presenting, with my friend and fellow Mobile Monday organizer C. Enrique Ortiz, a Barcamp-style event in Austin, Texas! The event will focus on mobile widgets and we are looking to bring in presenters and participants from all across the spectrum of companies and industry efforts involved in this burgeoning space. The event will feature a mix of structured and unstructured time, with both a program of speakers (to be announced but including speakers from OMTP and W3C) and an open schedule on which participants can write in their own sessions. If you’d like to attend, just put your name on the wiki (see link above). If you’d like to present in one of the pre-programmed slots, please get in touch with myself of Enrique.

I’ve been following with some interest the press surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Model T, the original “people’s car” that is credited with creating the automative industry as we now know it. The Model T is famous for a number of reasons, but one thing I hadn’t quite appreciated was how versitile and extensible (to use a modern word) the car was. A whole after-market industry grew up around the T, letting people transform it into sports car, a truck, a tractor, a harvester – whatever task required motive power. This factor of openness and extensibility, combined with mass-production and low cost, helped to make the car a success story and created a new industry. The slightly more modern equivelent might be the IBM PC. But this left me wondering: what is the mobile computing equivelent to the Model T? What is the Model T of the mobile Web? Though I love it, I have to say the iPhone ain’t it. It fails on both the low cost and the extensibility criteria. The OLPC device fails on mass-market grounds. What we need is for someone to come along and deliver a mass-market, low-cost device that is extensible and open but which has enough ease and simplicity of use that it is embraced by the great public and enough oomph to be a mobile Web workhorse. There is a gigantic vacuum in the mobile industry right now with this exact shape. Candidates include Google’s Android, Limo devices, next-generation Nokia devices based on the new Symbian Foundation and …

What will be the Model T of the Mobile Web? Read more »

So what does WordPress’s application for iPhone give you that sets it apart from just blogging through the browser?First and foremost, it allows you to blog while off-line. I’m writing this while sitting in the Tube, under the streets of London where network signals are not in abundance. Having the option to compose offline and then seamlessly publish could be a boon to people like me who often find themselves offline. The mobile app also let’s you take photos, a feature that I am testing in this post, so more on how well that works later. [Update: there was an error sending the picture so some bugs still need to be worked out.] On the downside, the app doesn’t have any spelling tools (actually a problem with all iPhone apps). The auto-correction software built into the iphobe can be both a blessing and a curse in this regard, both fixing up obvious mistakes and introducing insidious errors you don’t catch until it’s too late. (iPhone 2.0 has started to auto-correct ‘its’ as ‘it’s’ which can be particularly problematic). One wish-list item for me would be geo-tagging of posts using the Skyhook-supplied location platform demonstrated at this month’s Mobile Monday London (and built in to the iPhone). I doubt even Skyhook, though, could locate me 200 feet below Tottenham Court Road. One more note on location: all iPhone apps now prompt the user for permission when they try to locate you. I believe this is a function of the underlying software – and if that’s the case …

Offline Blogging and Location Read more »

I’m writing this post from the new (free) WordPress iPhone application. Is it the holy grail of mobile blogging? That remains to be seen, but it certainly was easy to install and get up and running (with my own installation of WordPress 2.6 that I have running on Torgo.com). The text creation capability is the same as email and like email there is no way to turn the unit on its aide to get a bigger keyboard. The new 2.0 keyboard seems more accurate and swift than the previous rev though. More on the iPhone update in a later post. Ta Ta for now.

Dummies everywhere are rejoicing today. Finally, they will be able to know the joys of the Mobile Internet, thanks to a new reference book, of which I am proud to announce I have been a co-author, Mobile Internet for Dummies. Based on the structure of Internet for Dummies (and co-written with that book’s author, John Levine, Michael O’Farrell, Jostein Algroy, James Pearce), Mobile Internet for Dummies takes you through the ins and outs of getting connected and using the mobile Internet (and the mobile Web) from chosing the right phone to mobile blogging and photo sharing, to developing your own mobile Web site. This book demystifies the whole topic of the mobile Internet and hopefully gives people a lot of timely and useful information they can use to get online on the move and make the most of the medium. As of today, the book is shipping in the US, UK and Canada and you can buy a copy  on-line from Amazon (USA), Amazon (UK) or directly from the publisher at Wiley or through the Dummies book site. We’ve also created a resource site at mifd.mobi with news, links, downloads, etc… I’m thrilled to have been involved with this project, not for the least reason that I may get fewer blank looks when I tell people what it is I do. If you’re reading this blog, you may already be a mobile Internet enthusiast or expert, so this book may not be for you. However – consider picking up a copy for those people in your …

Mobile Internet for Dummies! Read more »

Open Business Model Panel at Mobile 2.0 Europe moderated by Mike Butcher It’s the final panel at Mobile 2.0 Europe, featuring panelists from Blyk (Leif Fågelstedt), Admob (Laurence Aderemi), GetJar (Ilja Laurs), Bango (Ray Anderson) and Fjord (Chris Liu) and moderated by an ebullient Mike Butcher. The theme of openness has been a central one here in Barcelona. Everyone seems to agree that openness is good, but nobody can agree quite what openness means or what should be open and what can remain closed. The iPhone, for example, has been held up as a beacon of innovation, but the iPhone is also closed in a number of respects, especially around native application development. Interesting comment from Chris of Fjord – do we need a “Microsoft” for Mobile (i.e. a single vendor who can dominate the operating system space)? Ray Anderson’s response (which I agree with) is that that common platform could be the Web (and I would add, mobile Widgets which run on top of a runtime environment). Coming back to the iPhone, the thousand+ mobile Web applications in Apple’s directory should be a indication of this trend. The only problem with Web apps is – no access to device capabilities (camera, location, PIM etc…). But this is coming. Both Ilja and Laurence have spoken up on the power of mobile advertising to help bootstrap mobile innovation. We haven’t heard too much from Leif about open business models — they are pretty focused on their basic “voice and text” proposition. My question was: will mobile (Web) …

Open Business Models at Mobile 2.0 Europe Read more »

Pekka Pohjakallio of Nokia Keynoting Mobile 2.0 Europe In late 2006, I helped to run an event called Mobile 2.0 in San Francisco. Run up against Web 2.0 Summit, the event was first conceived as a kind of mobile “meet up” for people attending Web 2.0 – people who were interested in mobile innovation, and especially the growing convergence between Web and Mobile (which in 2006 was still quite contraversial). We ended up drawing a crowd of 300 industry professionals. In 2007 we re-ran the event and established Mobile 2.0 as a conference series. Today in Barcelona, Mobile 2.0 Europe is kicking off due to the not inconsiderable talents of Rudy De Wale. In the mean time, the topics we’ve been covering in Mobile 2.0 have gone main stream. Mobile Web, mobile social networking, social media, and other innovations that were seen as fringe in 2006 are now coming into the mainstream of industry thinking. Pekka Pohjakallio from Nokia spoke this morning on how his company is becoming an Internet services company. Alistair Hill from M:Metrics has presented dramatic growth in mobile Web usage in western markets. Now we have on stage a panel on Mobile Social Networking including Zyb (now part of Vodafone) founder Tommy Ahlers and Antonio Vince Staybl, CEO of Itsmy.com (a mobile-only social network that is taking off like wildfire). The rest of today’s program is packed with real industry experts and startups across the spectrum of mobile innovation. Exciting times? Yes.

W3C are producing an online training course for mobile Web developers: “An Introduction to W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices” which will run from May 26 to June 20 2008. This will be a great chance to get more information on mobile Web development practices from the experts — highly recommended for any Web developers out there who are interested in getting into mobile. W3C is organizing an online course to introduce Web developers and designers to W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices. In this course you will: * learn about the specific promises and challenges of the mobile platform * learn how to use W3C’s Mobile Web Best Practices to design mobile-friendly Web content and to mobilize existing content * discover the relevant W3C resources for mobile Web design Participants will have access to lectures and assignments providing hands-on practical experience with using W3C’s mobile Web Best Practices. They will have direct access to W3C experts on this topic who are the instructors for this course. Participants will also be able to discuss and share experiences with their peers who are faced with the challenges of mobile Web design. More information at http://www.w3.org/2008/03/MobiWeb101/Overview.html Register now at http://www.3gwebtrain.com/moodle/

Once upon a time, a company called Apple came out with a great concept: a breakthrough consumer device with a new user interface that left the competitors in the dust. It brought UI to a whole new level by introducing a new visual and gestural language which greatly increased ease of use. In doing so, it lowered the barrier to entry for the general public, created new markets for its products and a revolution occured. Sound familiar? It should. I’m talking about the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. The new visual language of pointing, clicking, dragging and using overlaping windows gradually became the dominant UI paradigm. But here’s the problem: other companies stole Apple’s great ideas (which Apple had actually stolen from Xerox but never mind). What could have rocketed Apple to market dominance instead became a commodity that anyone could implement. Flash forward to 2007. Apple again comes out with a new UI paradigm, together with a visual and gestural language, and they release it as part of a breakthrough consumer device; the first of a series of devices in different form factors which they think will undo the last 20 years and rocket them to dominance of all things digital. But this time, they’ve got an ace up their sleeve: a string of patents. As Wired reported in February, Apple is trying to patent the gestures that make up the iPhone UI – the iPhone’s equivalent of “point and click.” In fact, if Apple’s efforts succeed, I think they will be shooting themselves …

Beyond Point and Click Read more »

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Peter Price from BBC’s Digital Planet. Some of what we talked about got onto the Digital Planet Podcast (dated 7 April). Peter also captured Over the Air speaker/participant Brian Fling and spoke about the coming revolution of “Mobile 2.0”. It’s a great piece, which really captures some of the flavor of the event, interviewing one of the competition entrants (Simon Maddox) who was busy learning J2ME in order to build a location-based game. Contrary to what Peter says on the podcast, Simon and his team-mate Kevin were actually one of the winners, for best location-aware app. Because of the hybrid nature of the event, Simon and Kevin had access to some top-level experts in Java J2ME from Sun, Aplix and Vodafone who had presented in earlier masterclass sessions. I think it’s also notable what BBC’s Matthew Postgate and Bill Thompson had to say about why BBC is getting involved with events like Over the Air. It’s all because BBC’s public remit means they have a mandate to encourage and facilitate creative expression and “programming is just as valid a form of creative expression as writing books, making videos, or drawing pictures.” I think they’re absolutely right. Certainly, a lot of “creativity” was evident in the contribution entries. The question on everyone’s lips at Over the Air was “when are you going to run another one?” I think the answer is “not for a while” but in the meantime, BBC Backstage is gearing up for their own, more PC-Web-oriented, event, Mashed …

Over the Air Captured on BBC’s Digital Planet Podcast Read more »