Signals From the Near Future: The Mobile Guru Panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting: Let’s talk about the user experience. What does it mean to you in a product that gives you that zen moment for user experience?

John SanGiovanni, Zumobi: We look at the user experience as built on the cognitive theories of flow. User experience means graphic design and usability testing. But design with a capital D is an elegant solution to a hard problem on the front end. So when building a usability experience team, rather than a hiring a UI team,  creata a team that thinks about putting a smile on the user’s face at the end of the day.

Chetan: Search is the starting point of navigation on the PC. How is it going to be on a mobile?

Marc Davis, Yahoo: Clearly search is important, so we are thinking about what it means to search on the mobile phone. It’s a different design concept. You want to enable people when they’re searching, not just allow them to access the web, but the people and objects that are on the phone.

Chetan: What do analytics mean in context of the mobile and integration of the three screens, and how does that evolve over the next two or three years?

Fred Kitson, Motorola: We participate in all three screens. So we can collect data on all aspects. People will give up a lot of data for relatively little consideration and we can share that data between devices and that will be easier for analytics. If you translate that into some of the payment areas then that can be exploited.

Marc, Yahoo: It became clear five years ago that the nature of information is changing. So if you know where information was made, who made it and more, you can deliver services that know what users want. That will be good for monetization, but also for delivering better services.

Chetan: What does it mean in terms of opportunity and challenges for the carrier?

Russ McGuire, Sprint: The carries is in a unique position. Every piece of activity effectively flows through our hands. The information comes across our networks as well as the location of the subscribers. It is an incredibly rich potential source of information for doing all kinds of things and for monetizaiton or increasing the value for other people interested in the markets, but the challenge is, how can we be good stewards of that treasure? How can we maximize the value of that treasure?

Chetan: How can you exploit this information?

Russ, Sprint: There are technology pieces to that. We have the customer sensing platform that becomes the repository of all that information. We could open that up through an API, but we also need to give customers control of their information.

Marc: The granuality of the control and controlling who has access to it is really important to consumers. We are thinking about a data bill of rights.

Chetan: iPhone has changed everything from how we view data and devices, so what is next?

John, Zumobi: We created an application for Intel and Lenovo around the Olympics. This was kind of like an advertising application, but we learned a lot. Our app knows nothing about the user as an individual, but it knows a lot about how people use apps. Viral was huge and people sent these apps along to their friends.

We also saw that the power of the iPhone App Store was pretty incredible. It’s a powerful distribution mechanism. More than half of the people using it were iPhone users and iPhone users were rabid about using the app. I think we’re at an inflection point in design. The iPhone has enough features for people packaged in a robust design, with services and features. It’s fun to believe that Steve went up on the mountain and came back with this perfectly formed device, but it was actually a team of people and technology to create the iPhone.

Chetan: Let’s talk about enterprise applications. What other applications do you see?

Russ, Sprint: There are two thoughts on that. One thought is, clearly the early leader in introducing mobility into the enterprise was Nextel. It was open and had a feature set that was driving huge adoption by workers who were out and about and needed to have instant communications and a sense of location. Data was horrible. The second observation is how to move beyond that. What will change about the business once mobility sets in? It’s the personal nature of the device.  It’s contextual. It’s about knowing things about me that hasn’t been knowable before. Once the enterprise has that information, how does that change the way we do jobs or how we compete for jobs?

Marc, Yahoo: I think we’ve forgotten about scale. So when thinking about the design of what’s next, it’s important to think about infrastructure. So if you know where, when, who and what about billions of people in real time, whole new applications become possible. So next is designing these multimillion-node systems.

Chetan: What are the next iterations on mobile screens and displays?

Fred, Motorola: There are form factor issues. You want this to be mobile so small is what you gravitate to. In terms of displays, which was pointed out, we’re visual creature, so we’ve looked at several answers. One is a laser projection display that can be projected on a wall. We do have a full, foldable display. One folds out and one is modular. We have an e-paper version. TI has a technology that has evolved from DLP and we have one that involves eyeglasses. The prototypes work now, but the issue is packaging decisions and testing out the market to see what people will pay for. A companion approach is to have the video to jump to another display, so the video could go to the TV set or could follow you around.

Chetan: What will be available in the next five to 10 years?

Marc, Yahoo: Distributed sensor networks. The problems of building systems that understand what you want you need sensors that know what they are and where they came from. So we will live in an animist universe where everything has its own IP address and can broadcast information about what they are.

Fred, Motorola: Symbol is part of Motorola, so expanding that sensor network is on our agenda. We’re expanding sensors to retail, biological sensors. You could point your phone at a rack of clothing and it will tell you if there’s a medium in there. The technology generally exists and now we’re building that out.

Russ, Sprint: The future road map is 4G, but as we think through what the implications are it’s easy to see the increased bandwidth, but the costs of building  bandwidth into these devices fundamentally changes the way we build out the networks. In the same way microprocessors are built into everything we touch, in the future bandwidth will be built into everything we touch.

Fred, Motorola: People find themselves the most interesting objects in the world so it seems we’re going to most of the prototypes we have now are 3D in them right now. The app today that might have some legs is using an avatar as a trusted agent that knows a lot about you because it’s with you all the time. It could be an ambient helper and when you come home it cold jump to your set-top box and follow you and help you at home. It’s a little scary, but hopefully it could become a helpful, trusted agent.