Myths of mobile Web2.0 (and mobile Ajax)

One of the next buzzword these days is “Mobile Ajax“, as THE technology that will save mobile applications. This was especially true with the recent announce of “SoonR”, the first mobile enabled Ajax application. Looks good, but unfortunately, I have no Ajax enabled browser out of the thousands of handsets we have here at MobileScope….

But this generates some buzz, and as usual, some hype. So, in a “back to reality” attempt, I’ve tried to discuss a few myth of “mobile Ajax” here:

  • Mobile 2.0=Mobile Web2.0 (and Mobile Web2.0 = Ajax on mobile). Wrong, as this imply a choice of technologies. The good thing (or is it a bad thing?) with mobile, is that there is a huge choice of  technologies. If mobile is connected, does not mean that it is connected only through browser.
  • Ajax is the only technology to create mobile mashups: (this is the same wrong statement than in the web): No, basically ALL technologies can be used to create mashup, to access to existing Web services:
    • J2ME (and not need to use “JSR172″ to do this)
    • FlashLite can do it to
    • Native OS of course….
    • Even Wap/Html/Xhtml can be used to create mashups…
    • A few example of personal mobile mashups (done in “plain J2ME”)
  • Ajax applications will run the same on mobiles than on PC, and this will save us some porting costs. Wrong! Seems that the Write Once Run Anywhere myth is back!! It was actually already not achievable through technology designed for this, so I did not see how Ajax app (which is basically designed for one or two platform) will be able to address suddenly thousands of different platforms….. And all the existing so called mobile Ajax applications are ALREADY specific for mobile. The SoonR mobile version is not the same one than SoonR on PC….
  • Ajax applications are a way to by pass operators….There is
    absolutely NO link between operators and this. Java, Flash, Symbian
    applications can be acceded directly by end user as well as Ajax
    applications (and with a bigger installed base). In fact, there is a
    link: as an Ajax is an online application, it’s easiest for them to
    block certain site if they want too….And no way to install it outside
    the browser! The biggest issue is not the access, is the billing…Or
    the business model. How to make end user pay for services in an easy

I like Ajax as one of the technology that I could use to create a better experience, but as discussed in one of my previous post, I think that the complexity needed both in the browser and the application is unnecessary on mobile device, and we should take the mobile  opportunity to solve some of the technical issue raised by Ajax on the web. There is also an interesting article from Dioan Hincliffe raising a few of the Ajax issues: Seven things that every software project needs to know about ajax.
A few of his remarks:

  • Ajax applications are complex applications (even if they are doing simple things). This leads to this comment: “Good Ajax programmers are hard to find”
  • The browser model (of Ajax) haves some limitation: no way to access to some local resources of the handset…
  • The browser was never made for Ajax. In other way, ajax developer used the installed base of modern browser to create something unique.

Now, back to mobile….Should we try to duplicate current ajax complexity to mobile, with one model, or can we try to solve some of the issues of Ajax?

I am a strong believer of the last option. There are already three technologies that will play significant role in the future: J2me, FlashLite, and Ajax. Only one is really deployed now and it’s J2me. FlashLite is on the way and Ajax far from being a reality yet. But these three are complementary, and could work together in a perfect way, in a different and better model than on the web.

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La Terre vue du ciel (Earth from above)

Absolutely not related to mobile, but so cool:An incredible work done to find on GoogleEarth the exact places and directions where all the pictures of the book “La Terre vue du Ciel” has been shoot. Some are then put as overlay on GoogleMap, others are just the exact position than Yann Arthus Bertrand had when taking the pictures. Result is amazing as you can see:

The link to the KML file is here….Enjoy

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Grazr: Easily display feeds within a page

 Since some time I was looking for an easy way to display RSS feeds within a page. For instance, for J2memap, all announcment are now part of an RSS feed. Thanks to TechCrunch, I discovered Grazr, which is basically an RSS browser that can be embeeded in other pages. The results looks like this:

It’s fine, but I think that this widget could have much more configurable elements (feed title for instance) to make it more contextual to the page where it is displayed…

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How much Zune will compete with Mobile Phone?

The Microsoft iPod killer, the Zune, is on the way. I don’t know all the specifications, but one point seems to be highly interesting is this device will haves WiFi connectivity. And some nice built-in feature to play with.

It seems that Microsoft smart idea is to use the wireless connectivity to promote viral distribution of music content. You will be able to send some digital content to somebody else, and than later, at home, pay for it (of course).

It seems that the idea of a social network community – first based on music-will emerge. I do not know of extensible is the zune, but I guess that if you could add some custom application than it could be a good platform for multiple social application, just like the phone is. Your mobile phone and your media player will be probably the only two devices that young will carry.

Of course, they could eventually merge. That’s the dream of the manufacturer. However, nobody succeed to make a phone as cool as an iPod or as a Zune yet.

With wireless capacities, a media player will go one step further in the direction of mobile phone.

There is still a lot of interesting issues to follow. Most of the time, these players are closed platform without any possibility of software extension. This seems to change. Apple just announced some games for his iPod, so an SDK should exists (even if it does not seems to be public yet), or the iRiverU10 is able to read some FlashLite content.

The business model of these platforms will also be interesting. Advertising based like on the internet? Or end user subscription? Without micro payment means like on mobile, it will be hard to sell content to younger people…

Anyway, the Zune is in my view the first young oriented connected devices (the NintendoDS or PSP are not playing in the same category), and this opens some interesting options….

Pictures from TechCrunch

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Microsoft MAX as an RSS reader

Microsoft MAX is a photo album creation tool from Microsoft…It includes an RSS reader tools. The result is really awesome, as you can see here…Unfortunatly, after the first waoow effect, it appears that the feature is not really useable and less usefull than a good feed reader, for two main reasons:

  • Lack of feedback about what have been read or not.
  • Reading the full article exit from the application and open the web browser…..

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European vs. American mobile phone use

I want to higlight this excellent post:”European Vs American Mobile phone use” in “MobileOpportunity” about differences between European and US phone usage. It started by this post “What is Palm made a smartphone and nobody cared” which contains also some info on this topic…
A lot of very valuable remarks for American or European, to understand some of the cultural differences about phones usage (I understand now why US does not like the word Operator! ;-) )

Who will manage handsets customisation?

UI One is the qualcomm solution to replace hoem screen user interface of handsets. O2 just launched what seems to be the first UI One enabled product in Europe.

As you can see, result in terms of quality seems to be quite good:

Example of Operator branding (from Qualcomm Web Site)

Example of Indivudal user Personalization (from Qualcomm Web site)

Note: these snapshot are example of UI One user interface, but does not display specific O2 customisation.

The interesting question, is who can change configuration, and what part of the configuration. Does this mean that end user can totally change is own home screen beyon Wallpaper, or is just up to the operator to do it? Can we completely remove operator UI customisation (that is from time to time not as good as expected…)….

Anyway, read the new from the MEX blog: Qualcomm gains traction with O2 uiOne handset

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