Over the past couple of weeks, as I developed thoughts for my outlook for mobile and wireless in 2010, I was trying to think of a way to describe my overall outlook for 2010. I thought about the economic meltdown during the past year, the layoffs and the stress so many had to experience. The best term I kept thinking of for 2010 was “better”: better economy, better job outlook, better notebooks and netbooks, better smartphones, better Internet access devices, and better mobile and wireless services. Overall, it’s going to be better.
A year from now, I believe that most people will feel that 2010 was better than 2009. It has to be or we’re in big trouble. The economy is likely to improve. And with it we’ll see the mobile and wireless market improve: more people will buy or upgrade their phone to one of the latest smartphones, more will buy a notebook, and more will buy software and services used with the mobile device.
For the past few years, I’ve put together a wish list of things I would like to see happen in the mobile and wireless industry. My objective is to help device vendors, software firms and wireless operators build and offer the best possible mobile and wireless products and services. Here’s my wish list for the entire mobile and wireless industry in 2010:
1. Near Field Communication (NFC) chip in every phone
I recently wrote about how ViVOtech has worked to install hundreds of thousands of NFC credit card readers in most major retail outlets. Now, we need to have the cell phone manufacturers add the NFC chip in the phone so that the consumer can select which credit or debit card they want to use and then swipe their phone over the NFC terminal. That will make purchasing through retail faster and more convenient. Consumers won’t have to take any card out of their pocket or purse in order to complete the transaction.
I wish some major cell phone manufacturer such as Apple will step up to the plate and integrate NFC hardware and software in their entire line of phones. Once that happens, companies such as FirstData, Visa, MasterCard and third parties will add the necessary infrastructure to enable true mobile commerce in retail.
2. Blocking cell phone use while driving
Companies such as Illume Software and others are helping users to not text while driving. These systems use GPS to make sure you’re on a highway (versus a train) and then block the use of the phone when the software detects you’re moving more than 10 mph. These systems still allow for emergency use. I certainly wish to see fewer accidents caused by drivers whose attention is diverted from driving safely. I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming column of Inside Mobile.
3. Power in aircraft seats
Now that many airlines have installed AirCell’s GoGo Wi-Fi, more and more people are using their netbook and notebook during flights. But batteries rarely last more than two or three hours so most people run out of battery power on longer flights. Some international carriers have installed standard power in the aircraft’s seat (typically in business class). I wish that eventually all domestic flights will offer both GoGo Wi-Fi and power adapters in all seats on most flights.
4. Value-added services
Wireless operators have been offering fixed-rate data plans. Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T’s Mobility and Consumer Markets, recently reported on the challenges that operators face when smartphone subscribers use ten times the wireless data as non-smartphone users. Operators have to add more capacity, as well as determine how to provide good quality of service (QOS) to the subscriber. The operators may resort to tiered pricing where you’ll pay more to download lots of content (such as a movie) or force you to use Wi-Fi for such activities.
Another thing you’ll see is a much greater emphasis on value-added services. Take messaging. It’s typically fixed at $20 per month. But companies such as FunMail offer operators a service for subscribers that enables the subscribers to compose text messages with graphics. This service costs a little more, which allows the operator to make a little more. This then enables the operator to build more capacity, which simultaneously gives users more service.
The big thing in app stores is the migration to free downloads of the applications and then payment of a monthly fee for the value-added service. Application generators from companies such as Appitize work in this manner and so will many others.
Wish List for Apple
Wish list for Apple
I love Apple and all that they do. They are such a cool company and produce outstanding products that give the user a great experience from opening its box to using it on a daily basis. But they do things their way and I believe that they could delight customers even more if they were to implement some of my recommendations (smile). But I don’t work at Apple and can only root for them from the outside. Consider these suggestions:
– I wish that Apple would put politics aside and support Adobe Flash. It will enable iPhone developers to develop better applications and users to have a better experience.
– Include a microSD slot for expanded storage and/or communications. I know that Apple wants to maintain profit margins, and part of the way they do this is by building flash into the unit. But I wish that Apple would add a microSD slot and software to support it, as a generic I/O device would allow users to (again) have a better experience: sideloading music and photos, storing more data and downloading more services.
– I wish that Apple would develop a model of the iPhone that includes a real keyboard. Users like them. Give users a choice. Develop the best smartphone keyboard in the industry. It will sell very well, especially to those who do a lot of keyboard entry (for e-mail, for example).
– I wish that Apple would add a “back arrow” on lower-level menus so that all applications would provide an easy way to go back one level.
– I wish that Version 4.0 of the iPhone operating system will allow applications to run in the background so developers can incorporate alerts and services, as well as allow enterprises to remotely manage their iPhone devices.
– I wish that Apple would enable mobile video and music broadcast using one of the available technologies such as Mobile DTV or MediaFLO. They could test it on one high-end model and, if it does well, they could expand it to all models in the future.
– I wish that Apple will add the NFC chip to all iPhones so that applications can let users select method of payment and swipe at NFC-enabled terminals in retail stores, thus providing a “wallet in an iPhone.”
I wish that Apple will launch a new device that I call the iPad, with the following features:
– Hold it vertical and it’s an e-book reader; turn it horizontal and it’s a multimedia player.
– Launch a new bookstore for the iPad that works similar to the Apps Store but for books.
– Allow third parties to build applications for the iPad, especially in the education sector.
– Develop better Windows-to-Mac conversion tools. This would really help Windows users to convert more easily to the Mac.
– Encourage Microsoft to develop Internet Explorer for Mac, as some Web applications work best with Internet Explorer.
– Apple should allow any portable music player (including iPod, Zune and Sansa to sync with iTunes (this creates iTunes as the master control tower for all music players). After all, iTunes is now on almost every computer.
– Apple should consider renaming iTunes to something such as iMedia, since the software supports and manages all types of media, not just music.
– Apple should also provide a Web version of iTunes that would allow any device to connect and access content on iTunes.
5. iPod touch+
– Apple should create a version of the iPod touch that I dub the iPod touch+ that would contain wide area wireless (data) and Wi-Fi. This would allow millions of people who own a cell phone (for example, BlackBerry or feature phone) to enjoy the iPhone data experience wherever they go, rather than just within range of Wi-Fi (commercial, home or work) hot spots.
Wish Lists for RIM and Microsoft
Wish list for RIM
You have to hand it to the folks at RIM. They keep selling boatloads of BlackBerry devices. They have had some growth pains supporting all the new users. But they will continue to do a great job. I do have a couple of things I still think they should do:
1. I wish that RIM would develop a rich, Linux-based operating system for BlackBerry that replaces the virtual machine operating system presently in place. This would greatly increase the user experience and make it more like the iPhone and Android.
2. I wish that RIM would develop a BlackBerry client. This would leverage installations that already have (or plan to install) the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) but enables employees who want to use the iPhone. BES already provides secure connectivity to both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes/Domino.
Wish list for Microsoft
I was pleased to hear that Microsoft has announced plans to develop Outlook for the Mac that should be delivered by the fall of 2010. It will bring over 500 million Outlook users into consideration for a Mac the next time they upgrade-giving both enterprise users as well as professionals and other individuals that use Outlook a seamless way to migrate all of their e-mail messages, contacts and calendar to a Mac environment.
I wish that Microsoft would make the following improvements to Outlook:
1. Show both the business and home address. It’s annoying to have to use a pull-down list to see someone’s home address.
2. List the title before the company name, as that’s the order that most people use on their business cards-and the way you think when adding someone’s contact information.
3. Make it easy (for example, via a right-click option) to add a new contact from someone’s e-mail signature and e-mail address.
4. Develop a utility to assist in eliminating duplicate contacts or merging slightly different versions into a common contact.
5. Provide “consolidated” view in the Calendar area for an entire week, similar to what was provided in Outlook 2003. Outlook 2007 prints the week’s calendar in the consolidated format but displays only in the “spread” view of time during throughout the day.
6. Improve Outlook’s Search function. Most people simply keep their e-mail messages in their Inbox and Sent folders, which grow over time (it’s good to move them to an archive folder after a year or 18 months). Outlook 2010 is under development. I recommend that Microsoft improve the Search in Outlook in three major ways:
– Present search results very quickly for the first 10 e-mail messages found that satisfy the search (so that the system doesn’t keep searching through thousands of e-mail messages unnecessarily).
– Make using Boolean logic (such as “&” and “or”) much easier for users so they can construct searches such as “Alicia” and “equestrian” that would search for both terms, not just one.
– Provide query by example (QBE) where the Contact folder is displayed and the user can enter the fields they want to search. For example, enter 404 in the Area Code and the system would find all those in the area code. Or enter 370xx and have it find all the contacts with a zip code that starts with 370.
7. I wish that Microsoft would develop an integrated wireless handheld device using Danger assets (Zune Phone?). They have some good services, so Microsoft could leverage the Danger assets and provide something users would enjoy using.
Wish Lists for Nokia, Google and Palm
Wish list for Nokia
Nokia is still the leading smartphone seller worldwide, but has almost no market share in the United States. They need to do something to gain the respect back in the United States market that they once enjoyed. I offer a couple of suggestions:
1. I wish that Nokia will expand the device development based on Maemo, along with making the user interface more acceptable to the North American market. This appears to be the easiest way for Nokia to develop smartphones that will be acceptable to the market in North America. It’s that or they need to acquire Palm.
2. I recommend that Nokia bring Ovi, the online store and service center, to North America.
Wish list for Google
Google’s Android came out of nowhere a year ago to become one of the leading contenders for the smartphone market. While Apple and RIM continue to focus on proprietary, closed systems, Google focuses on open source and building great software. Here are a couple of things that I hope Google will do:
1. I wish that Google would develop an end-to-end digital media store that will be open, provide desktop applications such as iTunes, work with all content providers, and provide both streaming “channels” as well as purchase of music, TV and movies. It would take YouTube up a notch, with a better UI that is friendlier to users, and offers the ability to store and share all of a person’s media. The pieces are all there but it’s not been brought together into one service.
2. I recommend that the Android team add services and support (such as added security) to serve the enterprise market.
Wish list for Palm
I hope that Palm will continue to create breakthrough smartphone products. They are still struggling to get back into profitability. The new Pre got excellent reviews but they need even better products. For example, one that has a horizontal, slide-out keyboard. Their webOS and support services are developer-friendly. I’m rooting for them. I think their fate will be settled a year from today: they will either be a successful, recovered company or they will likely have been acquired (and likely leveraged to then become very successful).
Watch List for Entire Mobile and Wireless Industry
Watch list for entire mobile and wireless industry
HTC has done a good job converting from Windows Mobile to doing more units based on Android. And you’d have to be blind to not have seen one of their recent “YOU” campaign ads. Watch for more great products coming from this relatively new player in the “big leagues,” including their new smartphone they introduced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week.
2. E-book readers
Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader is selling well, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook was sold out for the holidays. Plastic Logic debuted the QUE, their new e-book reader aimed at business travelers, at the CES show. Apple may soon enter the e-book reader market as well.
This is an exciting, emerging market and will likely grow into the third mobile device that everyone will carry around, along with their smartphone and their notebook. Watch this video, created by Sports Illustrated, on how they envision a future with rich media might operate.
Look for bright spots as Clearwire’s “Clear” WiMax services expand rollout around the United States. I’d like to see a MiFi product, perhaps from Sprint, with WiMax and 3G data on the back side and Wi-Fi on the front side.
I like what Connectify is doing to turn notebooks into hot spots. Hopefully they can extend this innovation to smartphones in 2010.
5. Noise reduction chips
I wish that more handset manufacturers will integrate noise reduction chips such as those from Audience to provide elimination of background noise when talking in a public place or driving. This provides immediate improvement in call quality to all users.
6. Dell, HP and Cisco
I would like to see Dell, HP and perhaps Cisco enter the smartphones market, perhaps with exciting Android-based handsets. Each one could differentiate by offering add-ins that would enhance their brand. For example, Cisco could have a smartphone with an integrated Flip video camera and HP could integrate the ability to print from their smartphone to any printer. Or one of these could make an acquisition (for example, Palm) and accelerate their market entry.
Let me hear from you if there’s something not mentioned that you feel would make a huge improvement on the mobile market. If I agree, I’ll write about it and give you credit.
Happy New Year to all readers of Inside Mobile!
J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D., is the VP and Chief Analyst with the Frost & Sullivan North American Information and Communication Technologies Practice. As a nationally recognized industry authority, he focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2006, Dr. Purdy has been specializing in mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld.
He is author of Inside Mobile & Wireless, which provides industry insights and reaches over 100,000 readers per month. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people’s mind-sets, and developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, his ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile & wireless industry. He has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University. He can be reached at [email protected].
: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I’ll disclose it at that time. I have an affiliation with IDG Ventures.