The year of the mobile app

The year of the mobile app

Summary: With a single supplier keeping prices high this demand growth is barely manageable. As Android and LiMo devices hit the shelves this year, a firehose of demand will be unleashed.

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Google AndroidThe most popular piece I wrote here during 2008 concerned the importance of the iPhone and Google Android. It was the fourth most-read post here during 2008.

I find this interesting because, as you'll see if you click the link, the item drew just three talkbacks.

Maybe I nailed one and there was nothing left to say.

My point in February was, and it remains, that the iPhone, the Google Android, and all their competitors are not phones at all.

They are Internet clients.

There's a huge difference. A phone is a low-bandwidth device. Digital cellular networks routinely compress calls into just a few thousands of bits per second of bandwidth.

An Internet client is a broadband device. We're accustomed to desktop clients that haul data at 1.5 Mbps, often faster, even in a WiFi-equipped coffee bar. Contrast this with the 3 Kbps of the average digital cellular call.

So-called 3G mobile networks are not equipped to deal with this demand.

When my wife was in Texas recently she borrowed her sister's 3G card to do some work, having been assured it was "mobile broadband." Hasn't stopped talking about how slow it was.

You notice the difference when you plug in with a laptop. You didn't notice it with a mobile phone.

With the iPhone, the lack of speed is noticeable but not annoying. Mobile apps use a lot of programming tricks to get around the problem.

They're small compared to desktop applications, for one thing. And they take advantage of all sorts of RIA technologies, depending on software in the client to handle the presentation and moving only the data needed.

Still, AT&T engineers know who has an iPhone without having to see the ID on their network. The average iPhone user grabs 500 times more data each month than the average phone user.

With a single supplier keeping prices high this demand growth is barely manageable. As Android and LiMo devices hit the shelves this year, a firehose of demand will be unleashed.

That will be the big story of 2009.

Topics: iPhone, Broadband, Browser, Mobility, Networking, Telcos

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Talkback

9 comments
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  • Exciting Times Ahead in 2009

    There are huge opportunities for 2009 and beyond for
    mobile apps. I believe firmly that once the proliferation of
    games and GPS apps have flooded the airwaves, we will
    see a rush to answer the question, "what is relevant" for a
    mobile phone application. Of course, if you are on a bus
    for a 35 minute ride, this could be a game. But to be sure,
    what I mean is an application that people are willing to pay
    for month in and month out. Think of it this way, it costs
    $1.25 per directory assistance call. Follow us at http://twitter.com/opennow
    Morpheus II
  • RE: The year of the mobile app

    [i][b]Maybe I nailed one and there was nothing left to say.[/b][/i]

    Or maybe they clicked through to the article based on the title only to find that there wasn't anything worth commenting on. Just a thought.

    Did you read the three comments? I recommend the one by Skullet.
    dave.leigh@...
    • I was being snarky...

      Although this discussion has already gone on longer
      than the original. And a lot of people read it.
      Usually if people don't like something they don't read
      it at all....
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • I've got to start using more emoticons ;) (nt)

        nt
        dave.leigh@...
  • You do notice

    The reason is that you are loading EVERYTHING from the webpage with the laptop. From the cellphone, you're only loading the html and maybe some images. I notice with Opera Mobile since it actually loads pages better than Safari Mobile. Between Wi-fi and 3G is a significant difference in speed as well as traffic. So, my windows Mobile phone loads pages faster over wi-fi than it does 3g or even edge. Do we have the technology to go faster, yes, do we have the funding and time to get it out. Well, maybe if they spend money.
    Maarek
  • Can't wait for UMA.

    I just checked, before Christmas, the G1 was sold out. They are now back to extremely limited quantity. I little bird told me that the UMA feature (hotspot@home) will be available as an add on later in the quarter (what is holding me back). This service is currently too popular and (allegedly, like the bird said) will be adding massive capacity and then re-advertising. (as they say in the industry, a great problem to have, lol).

    When UMA on the G1 (or G2 by then) is available, expect a real onslaught of new Gx customers. Seeing two in the wild traveling this year, and the ease with which typing is, I would expect to see some intense iPhone/Gx competition this year. Course, the new Android phones will just fuel the fire.

    TripleII
    TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
  • RE: The year of the mobile app

    This is why AT&T is offering free Wifi to their customers in
    Starbucks, etc. They would do well to offer this in as many
    places as possible to offload the data from their 3G
    networks.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't start blanketing specific
    metro areas with free Wifi for anyone using mobile Safari. It
    would be cheaper to build Wi-Fi networks than 3G expansion
    in many metro concentrations.
    AppBeacon
  • Free Wifi Anyone?

    This is why AT&T is offering free Wifi to their customers in
    Starbucks, etc. They would do well to offer this in as many
    places as possible to offload the data from their 3G
    networks.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't start blanketing specific
    metro areas with free Wifi for anyone using mobile Safari. It
    would be cheaper to build Wi-Fi networks than 3G expansion
    in many metro concentrations.
    AppBeacon
  • It won't be the year of the mobile app

    in the UK, unless the four or five ISPs do something about the fact that 70% of the population haven't got 3G. They've only got 53 kbps GPRS. 3G has been the great "con" and has created a digital divide between townies and everybody else.
    peter_erskine@...