This Monday, me and Erik Sundelof – a former Digital Vision Fellow – headed up to San Francisco for the day to attend the Mobile2.0 Conference, a mobile showcase which preceded the grander, more popular and longer-by-one-day Web2.0 event.
This was a first attempt to bring together individuals, companies, operators and mobile manufacturers to specifically discuss the emerging Mobile2.0 phenomenon. Sadly, it was largely an opportunity missed, although it was useful as a reinforcing exercise. Everyone left the room knowing that it wasn’t just them suffering from the lack of handset standards. Once again, trying to work out a solution seemed way off the agenda, as I guess it would be for a short one day event.
Instead, practical debate was replaced by excitable handset manufacturers and service providers plying their own particular solutions. This in itself was interesting, but at the end of the day the problem will continue to exist until the big players sit around a table and agree to something. But at least we now know that there’s a much wider range of sticky plasters which can be applied in the meantime.
What was interesting, though, was how delegates saw the transition of Web2.0 functionality onto the handset. What wasn’t quite so clear was whether or not the user wanted it or not. Remember, mobiles have tiny screens and fiddly keyboards, and as such aren’t necessarily the ideal device for editing or creating user generated content. The size factor does, of course, work both ways. If they weren’t small then they wouldn’t be mobile. Also, for many the mobile camera will be the only one they have with with them if something interesting or funny should happen in their vicinity, or if they feel compelled to capture a moment digitally. Combine this with location-based services and there is clearly a huge opportunity if it can be grabbed.
For me, one of the key issues here is in definition. We need to decide what we mean by Mobile2.0 – it’s clearer with Web2.0 but the current craze to add ‘2.0’ to everything doesn’t always add value (anyone fancy a Coffee2.0?). The user doesn’t care whether he’s using a 3.0 or an 8.0, as long as he or she can seamlessly and simply carry out whatever task he or she wants on his or her device of choice. If the mobile is simply going to be the originator of content – a photo, video, sound clip or plain old text – which is then uploaded to a web service for ‘mashup’ or whatever, then that’s cool. However, if we’re looking to allow the creation, editing and posting of content directly from the phone itself then that’s a totally different ball game.
If we mean the former then Mobile2.0 is a lot closer than you may think. If we mean the latter, put on the Kettle2.0 – you might be in for a long wait…