Google’s Miner on Mobile: No One Party Will Be In Control

Rich Miner of Google at Mobilize.

Rich Miner of Google at Mobilize.

Rich Miner, Google’s Group Manager for Mobile Platforms, says no one party should control the future of the mobile platform. Period. With two decades of mobile experience under his belt, including co-founding Android, Google’s mobile platform, Miner should know. At his previous job at carrier Orange he saw, firsthand, the dysfunctional carrier approach to developing and launching mobile applications on an endless amount of incompatible handsets — a bad environment for cell phone users and for a developer looking to build compelling mobile applications.

But good news, Miner said at the Mobilize event during his afternoon keynote, we are in a time of significant change. What a difference even a year makes, he noted, pointing out the excitement over the iPhone, Google’s work with Android and even early moves by phone carriers. The whole movement is being spurred by better devices, always on wireless broadband, better input functions, mobile browsers based on webkit, and the companies who know software — Google, Apple, Microsoft — taking the charge.

There is an increasing amount of openness across platforms, wireless spectrum, and applications distribution that is making the mobile world better for both developers and consumers, Miner said. Verizon (which has been synonymous with closed networks) actually has a VP of Openness, he pointed out.
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Mobilize: Thinking Experientially: User Experience Panel

We just finished a panel on mobile user experience with some excellent ideas about specific opportunities for startups to build mobile software. Here’s the rough transcript:

Thinking Experientially panel at Mobilize.

Thinking Experientially panel at Mobilize.

Dylan Tweney, Gadget Lab, (moderator): Invoking the iPhone. The iPhone interface is beautiful. There it is…(Introduces panelists):

Jason Devitt, CEO, Skydeck
Jyri Engestrom, Entrepreneur, Google
Rachel Hinman, Mobile Design Strategist, Adaptive Path
Jeff Taylor, director of global marketing and product strategy, Hutchison Whampoa

Hinman: At its essence really what makes user experience is if your product is serving some sort of fundamental human need. Feature creep and loss of coherence come out of losing sight of serving needs.

Tweney: But some of good user experience is need creation, like Twitter and Jaiku and iPod.

Hinman: Confusing need with solution — Twitter came out of fascination with status. Read More about Mobilize: Thinking Experientially: User Experience Panel

Without Voice: The Future of Mobile Web Data Products

Ken Fisher, Ars Technica: Amazon Kindle and Dash point to a future of mobile web products that aren’t phones. Traffic coming from mobile devices is on the rise so we’ll look at some of the issues around that.

What was the single most important design challenge you faced and how did you conquer it in bringing your mobile Internet product to market?

Ken Kershner, Dash Navigation: We wanted to provide information that’s not in a standard GPS going at 65 miles per hour. The car experience is a difficult one. You have divided attention and the device has to be seamlessly integrated into that. We also realized that we’re not going to be able to do everything ourselves that people might want, so we opened it up to third-party developers. Read More about Without Voice: The Future of Mobile Web Data Products

Mobilize: Nortel CTO John Roese

GigaOM Founder Om Malik just took the stage to grill John Roese, the CTO of Nortel, who promised a world of hyperconnectivity is already upon us and warned that infrastructure needs to evolve appropriately. It was a timely conversation given the recent news that Nortel will sell off its Metro Ethernet Networks (optical and 40G) business as a way to shore up rest of the company and focus on 4G and related technologies.

Om: Tough day?

Roese: Everyone else is having a tough day, too. Misery loves company. Read More about Mobilize: Nortel CTO John Roese

Mobilize: Location-Based Services, Forget the Starbucks Model

Guess what, guys — the location-based mobile model of the coffee coupon getting pinged to your phone as you walk by Starbucks is tired. Location is all about adding relevancy to applications already being used. That was the contention of Mobilize’s LBS panel. Thank you, let’s retire that caffeine-fueled scenario.

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- Location-based services panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- Location-based services panel

But location is becoming more and more important as a way to make mobile applications richer — and more valuable. Steve Lee, Project Manager at Google, said Google’s mobile applications that are location-enabled can double their usage and Android’s SDK has location APIs for building location applications. The CEO of Skyhook, Ted Morgan, pointed out that most new devices will have some kind of location services enabled, whether it’s Wi-Fi, cellular or GPS. Lee Ott, Global Director of Yahoo oneSearch, said that location matters more as a tool for other services, but that location is here and real, and we should “keep the faith.”

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- Location-based services panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- Location-based services panel

However, the panelists also noted that we need to walk before we run. Most of the panelists said their mobile LBS services were generating revenues, but also that it’s still early days.

It always seems to be early days in mobile location — will we always be waiting?

Mobilize: Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco

I joined Cisco as a CTO about six months ago from Motorola, so I had the opportunity to work for the company that invented the cell phone, and now I am working for the company that’s running the Internet. Mobility as a term has existed for a long time and for a long time it was synonymous with wireless and cell phones for voice. Now that has changed in the last few years, and that’s because of the massive scale of mobile-phone use and adoption.

For example, every second four babies are born and every second 30 phones are sold. The way we are connected today is just mind blowing. So, what are the drives and challenges behind the mobile Internet? Read More about Mobilize: Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco

Mobilize: What’s the Future of Mobile Apps?

How do cell phone users want to get their mobile applications, how do mobile developers want to deliver them, and what’s the future? Web or native, preloaded or installed, at a centralized app store or a distributed model, bundled or installed, offered by a company or a consortium, and open or closed?

OK, so the non-controversial answer is a combo of all these things, but the conclusion of the debates, including audience input, was that we want: web apps, centralized, installed, offered by a company, and open. Here are some interesting tidbits from the discussion: Read More about Mobilize: What’s the Future of Mobile Apps?

Our Live Coverage of Mobilize

It’s a beautiful Thursday here in the city by the Bay, and the GigaOM team is ready to bring you the events of Mobilize, our mobile application conference. GigaOM staffers Katie Fehrenbacher, Liz Gannes and Stacey Higginbotham will be blogging the panels and keynotes, and we’ve corralled Kevin Tofel and James Kendrick from jkOnTheRun for some live interviews with attendees. You can click here for a live video stream (it’s also embedded below; just click play) as well as access the archives of each session and the hallway interviews. Check out some mobile vidcasting from the floor on NewTeeVee.

Let’s mobilize.