Its still all about
communicating with friends and colleagues."> When a user signs up for services like AGIs, they get a boatload of choices to makeall trickling into their own customized cell phone world. When friends sign up for the same services, they become a kind of interactive subgroup of AGI; they get on their phones or IM, compare their latest "downloadings," and try to outdo each other in friendly competitions. This is taking community building to new commercialyet still personallevels.New excuses to engage in social contextDigital Chocolate founder/CEO Trip Hawkins, a mobile device content guy, spoke in a keynote address about why cell phones are not "about content ... not now, anyway. (Theyre) about (making) new excuses to engage in social context." Hawkins, who founded Electronic Arts Inc. in 1982 and is considered a visionary of sorts in the mobile game business, said that "simple is good when it comes to wireless. People just want a good, clear connection with each other. If you want to play a good video game, go home and turn on an Xbox." A lobby representing wireless carriers is seeking lower taxes on mobile services. Click here to read more. Hawkins pointed out that about 96 percent of the worlds wireless revenue streams from the killer appvoice transmissionand that the simplest communication applications are usually more than enough to satisfy users. This is the cell phone at its social best, he said. "Look at all the most successful online services we have now," Hawkins said. "Text messaging, e-mail, chat, voice, personalization of services ... theyre all about people connecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and how they want themselves to be represented. "The old model was that people grew up in small villages and enjoyed a tremendous amount of personal interaction throughout their lives. Now we live in far-flung houses and apartmentsmost of us in big, impersonal citiesand we spend a lot of time in our cars and at our work desks alone, so were starving for personal interaction. "Sorry to say it, but an awful lot of us are not happy, and were not sure why. Were bored and lonely. Too often were popping Prozac. We want to interact and be entertained constantly," Hawkins said. High quality of content isnt a high priority for the mobile industry, either, Hawkins said. "Fidelity isnt the issue. (Mobile) applications just need to be simple and work well enough. We need to keep coming up with new ways for people to get together online, new ways to keep the conversations going and get people to hook up with each other." Gartenberg, of Jupiter Research, agreed that the "core voice experience" has to be good for the user right off the bat. Too often it is not. "We had some telephony PDAs a while back on the market that tried to do a lot of things (in one unit), but they had lousy voice service," he said. "Those didnt last long in the market. Users expect to be able to hear clearly and keep a good connection. If a phone doesnt have that core competency, forget it. There are too many competitors out there to choose from." Google is dipping its toe in WiFi and lots of other services, and our David Coursey is wondering where its all leading. Click here to read more. Most users primarily desire a good voice connection and dont need to be fancy about all the add-ons, although thats precisely how the industry is banking cell phone users will, in fact, spend their moneyby getting fancy. Besides the plethora of choices for the appearance, sound, and content of the cell phone, there are companies coming up with other creative add-ons. One of those is Immersion Corp., of San Jose, Calif., which makes VibeTonz, a vibration software which brings the dimension of touch to a phone. For example, when playing a game involving a motorcycle roaring down the highway, pressing a certain button will get you the buzzing "feel" of the vehicle in addition to the sound. As the cycle sways right and left, you can feel it going right and left. As the cycle speeds up or slows down, the user can feel it buzzing stronger or weaker. The motorcycle sounds themselves are very realistic. Sprint, Verizon, and Metro PC all will have phones within the next few months that will enable the VibeTonz software, an Immersion spokeswoman told Ziff Davis Internet. Next Page: The barrier to entry is low.