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Evolution of the mobile beyond ‘Apps’

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My 8 weeks at Harvard compelled me to use an Apple iTouch.  There was an application on the iTouch which provided a ‘mobile’ course platform including audio cases, presentations, alerts and schedules.  Being a heavy user of email and browsing on a smartphone, the Apple devices felt a little short of providing a true ‘on-the-go’ platform for me.  However with 2 months of use, I did appreciate the ecosystem created by Apple and the inevitable ubiquity of these devices.

Hats off to Apple for creating a disruptive force in an established business.  With the iPhone came challenges of user uptake, deals with network operators and the ‘killer’ app which would compel users to buy the iPhone.  It may be Steve Job’s magic or culmination of artistic & engineering brilliance but the iPhone has been a roaring success by anyone’s definition.  On the heels of this success, Apple created yet another ‘business’ – the business of Apps – applications that provide ‘uses’ to a variety of users.  Ranging from applications like iPint (yes all you iPhone users download it) providing useless ‘nuisance’ value to Epocrates, a medical application that allows users to view continuously updated medical data or LifeScan’s diabetes monitoring app (I let you judge the value), the Apple Appstore boasts 2B + downloads.  While not all of them are paid downloads,  this is still a good source of revenue for Apple.

Kudos to this success and good luck to all that are trying to ape the Apple AppStore model but I have a prediction – Appstore(s) may be history in a few years..

Now I may be getting a bit geeky here but I cannot help see the progress being made by mobile platforms and more importantly browsers on mobile devices, the richness of functionality on these mobile browsers matches Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox.  If you have a Nokia or a Windows Mobile phone, check out Skyfire, a new functionally rich browser.  If you are an Android user, check out browsers like Dolphin.

So now to my point – I liken the Appstore apps to the ‘client-server’ applications used as recently as 3 – 5 years ago.  It was common to use an application on your desktop for expense reporting, timesheet management or even managing things like Sales opportunities pipeline.  Over the  last few years, pretty much all of these ‘enterprise’ applications have moved to browsers – accessible from any laptop, PC, Mac over the Internet.  In my view as mobile browsers like Skyfire, Dolphin etc. get mainstream use, the app store could be a thing of the past for ‘useful’ applications.

Now only if one could have decent keyboards and screen displays for our mobile phones.  Solutions in that space are also coming out in droves.  I sat next to this guy on a plane ride – he is working on a display screen which can be rolled like a sheet of paper.  Companies like Microvision are already working of small devices which can project displays from PDAs and mobile phones over any flat surface.

The word of mobile devices is changing…. and fast….Obsolescence for the laptop?  I would love to get rid of mine!

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3 Comments

  1. Rashesh says:

    Good and IMHO, prescient, observations.

    I can share a simple example of my own to support your thesis. A few months ago, I had downloaded the free NYT app on my iPhone. However, after a while, I found myself going to the mobile-optimized NYT website on my phone browser instead. The content on the site was always current and quickly available, and I didn’t need to wait for the annoying background downloading and other processing in the app to do what I wanted – which was to scan the news quickly. A few weeks ago, I finally deleted the NYT app 🙂

    Nice to see you keep up your blogging post-AMP. Good thoughts are a terrible thing to waste !

  2. Christina Bharara says:

    Check out my iPhone apps:)

  3. Aamod Joshi says:

    Nice post on so called ‘killer apps’. By the way, you are not the only one hoping to get rid of the laptop… 🙂

    The new kid on the block, Android, extends the work done by Apple and considering Google’s reach to masses, it is no wonder that its a hit.

    I am using Droid/Milestone for last couple of months and I am happy to say that my use of laptop at home has reduced drastically. Office email, document editing, browsing, social networking, entertainment (youtube, camcorder, camera, movie player etc) are some of the features that are roaring to make laptops obsolete. With 90% apps on market (Apple store’s counterpart in Andriod), the use is light on pocket as well….

    Well, let’s hope that the competition among these players stays as fiery as it is, so that we get the best technology to work with….

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