Mobile 2.0

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Read/WriteWeb says Mobile 2.0 makes applications the thing. How we connect will be secondary. It will dramatically change the web and the mobility landscape that we currently know.

Devices will become more hybrid and networks more powerful – everywhere in the next decade to come.

Non-carrier projects like Google Wi-Fi and FON aim to make cities completely Wi-Fi accessible. From personal experience I can tell you that people are going to use these alternative options to connect to the internet, once it’s available on their mobile devices. Handset manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola and Sony-Ericsson are getting the company of new players like Apple (iPod), Microsoft (Zune) and connecting the physical and the virtual worlds through the mobile. Not forgetting Google’s possible strategy of offering free phones.

Mobilist blogger Enrique C. Ortiz sees another hindrance (and I think he’s right): the lack of open standards and tools to build your own mobile 2.0 applications. He says:

“Web 2.0 is based on user intelligence instead of technologies, i.e. by giving users smart tools that enable them to apply human semantics to information provided, you get a more intelligent web.

This can only be done in a massive (thus useful) way with open standards and protocols that are inclusive and inviting to everyone. Now, as I see it, this ‘open-source’ story is an aspect seriously lacking from mobile platforms.”

Carriers/operators need to cover their investments and so they want to be compensated by any 3rd party using their network. This is fair enough, but the fact is that operators are losing more and more control over mobile devices – because these devices can communicate with other devices over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wimax, NFC, etc. That is, more options are becoming available for mobile users to access the web over networks other than the closed networks of the operators.

There’s definitely a lot of movement around on the mobile start-up front. Besides Yahoo with Flickr and Google with YouTube going mobile, there are some very interesting start-up companies resolutely going mobile. Many of them are building easy-to-use mobile web apps and services.

Here’s a starter to check out; BluePulse, ComVu, Funambol, Gizmo, Loopt, JuiceCaster, Mobo, Mystrands, Plazes, Plusmo, Sharpcast, SlingMedia, Shozu, SoonR, TalkPlus, Widsets, Winksite, and many others.

Devicescape, for example, enables mobile wireless devices to connect to any supported Wi-Fi hotspot or municipal network. Once the device and the network are set up from the Devicescape Web site, connecting is automatic. As you approach a Wi-Fi network, your device automatically connects and is ready to use.

Devicescape says using a VoIP or Skype phone at a hotspot is now possible and mobile devices that don’t have a browser, like MP3 players and digital cameras, will be able to connect. No scanning for networks, finding your account information and configuring. It promises to automatically connect you to every network your provider has a roaming agreement with.

At the Open Source in Mobile event in Amsterdam, earlier this month, Taiwanese hardware manufacturer FIC introduced the Neo1973 smartphone, running a Linux-based environment called OpenMoko.

The idea — as with Trolltech’s Greenphone (right), announced in August — is to provide developers with a fully programmable Linux-based handset for which they can develop applications. Mobile open source software company Funambol (pronounced “foo-nahm’-ball”), for example, has announced it will provide push email and mobile applications for the device.

Taiwan’s First International Computer (FIC) PDA-styled phone will apparently cost about $350 (£184) — half the price of the Greenphone.

Their Neo1973 smartphone is compatible with GSM networks at 850, 900,1,800 and 1,900MHZ, so it should work in Europe, the US and much of Asia.

While Microsoft and Symbian have integrated off-the-shelf mobile phone software with code libraries, multimedia and communications protocols as well as a healthy third-party software ecosystem, Linux software for phones is generally considered to be more flexible, but less complete.

Surprisingly, the Open Source Development Labs, a Beaverton industry consortium that promotes the Linux operating system, laid off a third of its staff Monday and announced its chief executive will step down. Linux creator Linus Torvalds, who moved to Oregon in 2004, remains with OSDL and will continue to work with the group, according to the organization.

But the cuts are sure to reduce Oregon’s profile in the global open source community, where the state had taken a leading role in the past few years, says the Oregonian’s Mike Rogoway who has more details on the OSDL layoffs.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, December 11th, 2006 at 12:57 pm .

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