All you Blackberry and WinMo users out there that have been dejected, watching iPhone and G1 users download fun and practical applications from each phone’s respective application store, finally have something to smile about. This week’s big mobile news, at least thus far, has been the announcement of an application store for both Blackberry phones and Windows Mobile phones.
Why all the fuss? Well, obviously this means that a much larger number of handsets around the world will have mobile access to a wide selection of mobile applications. RIM and WinMo phones make up the vast majority of handsets in the corporate world, and although the corporate world doesn’t revolve on having a wide range of apps for various tasks, it does mean this: all those business users who, for whatever reason, haven’t adopted handsets like the iPhone that already have apps stores, they will now have the access to apps they will want to use in their personal time.
And aside from those users that have chosen to sport two phones, one for professional use and one for personal use, most folks prefer to pack only one phone on a day to day basis. So most folks will now be able to download mobile apps to whatever phone they’re tied to.
Again, for many of you, so what? Application stores mean that users have access to a wide array of social applications; beyond that, developers compete aggressively to produce the most intuitive and powerful applications every day, and to offer them at the best price points. Right now there are certainly aren’t enough applications for the most popular social platforms, but we’re going in the right direction. With the added stores for Blackberry and Windows Mobile, even more developers will be drawn to projects for mobile platforms. I can almost taste the quality to come.
Also, one of my biggest problems with the nature of mobile social networking to date was that social media really can’t be mobile until every phone is able to partake in the community. Until now, that wasn’t possible; when you rule out Blackberrys and Windows Mobile phones, you’re left with just a piece of the pie. Now we can at least say that we’re at the right staging point from which developers can now start working on truly intuitive cross-platform apps that allow everyone to connect, regardless of their carrier or handset.
This is big. Get excited.
Here’s a little secret from me to you regarding mobile social media and networking: if it is too frustrating or time consuming for people to access social content from handheld devices, they will simply stop trying.
I’m a Blackberry user. You might even say that I am a Crackberry addict. I won’t say it, because that means I have admitted that I have a problem, and experts tell me such admittance must preclude a recovery of some sort. But for better or worse, you might say my life revolves around the shiny little Blackberry Curve Sunset that never escapes my person.
There are days when I wake up to the same blase stream of information filling my feed reader, and then there are days when I am genuinely excited about what’s flowing through the web of tubes known as the internet. Yesterday was one of the latter category.
You see, along with the many various hobbies I entertain, I’m a self-proclaimed gadget geek. Full blown. I read somewhere that my Myers-Briggs personality analysis explains my need to have a new shiny gadget in my pocket at frequent intervals; thank you, whoever managed to connect psychology to my gadget addiction. I now effectively have a doctor’s note to wave around at loved ones who wonder why I can’t stick with a cell phone for more than a year (at most) at a time.
With that said, I’ve been somewhat disenchanted with mobile web browsing until just recently. The iPhone was the very first device that actually made me want to use the internet on the go. I don’t have an iPhone, though. All the folks who browse the internet on Palms, Blackberrys, HTC devices or any other smart phones probably can relate when I say that mobile browsing can be a bear.
That isn’t necessarily the fault of the handset or operating system manufacturers. The biggest problem is that there really aren’t really any rules or established guidelines for websites to follow when it comes to designing mobile-friendly pages. Text can appear all jumbled up, you have to scroll every which way like you’re playing a game of Snake to navigate — no rules usually translates as anarchy.
I said a quiet prayer of gratitude yesterday when I read that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) finally laid out its first set of guidelines for creating mobile websites. Anthony Ha of Venture Beat writes, “The consortium, commonly known as the W3C, is the primary international body that develops standards for the web, and now it’s turning its attention to the mobile world. The idea is to have a set of guidelines that developers can follow so that their sites can be viewed without difficulty on any device.” If that doesn’t excite the pocket warriors amongst you, I don’t know what will!
With standardization of rules that demand mobile websites be accessible by any web-friendly mobile phone, more consumers will get on board with mobile browsing. As more consumers become connected on the go, there will finally be the boom of users necessary for mobile social networking to really take off. The scope and potential is huge! With browsers being packed into every purse and pocket, we’ll see a huge boost in dependence on mobile social communities, and you can bet your britches it will change the way we think about mobile social networks and the devices we choose.
If, at this point, you still haven’t quite grasped how exciting this is (at least for me in my gadget-driven geek frenzy), I suppose you could imagine me doing an Irish jig in my office. That’s not something I necessarily recommend.