Last years we have seen that mobile applications have been closely modelled as Internet Web applications, with some significant differences though. Mainly related to the adaptation to terminal capabilities and to the operator part, and this is a very important one. When talking about Wap instead of Web or IMS applications instead of pure IP applications you get some advantages for sure: better service quality, user identification, billing, etc, but somehow the differences with the pure Internet model may be dragging the success of mobile applications. You can look at success cases in the Internet (Google, YouTube, etc.) that have no real counterparts in the mobile world. So where is the problem?
The problem may reside in two elements:
- Excessive operator dependencies. Although it is nice to have the operator as an intermediate for use identification, billing to the final user, etc, it complicates the technological and business model. The pure internet model is much simpler, and in all success cases they show they really don't need the operator apart from its data carrier service. In fact there are some pure Internet players that are expanding to the mobile world using a pure Internet/Web approach. Google is doing well and using their maps service in a mobile terminal is a very good experience, with the added value that you can use it while you are on the move. Perhaps that is the right approach and for many mobile applications we don't need any operator support and just use the current web browsing capabilities in terminals or J2ME applets.
- Lack of adaptation to terminal capabilities and usability of mobile applications. Probably this is the main point and it deserves a complete talking about it. Just two important points: first, in the mobile world with terminals with small screens and without keyboards, ergonomy becomes crucial, and using web applications as in a laptop is probably not a good idea. We still have to see which is the correct model, but probably, multimodal services, that combine several modes of input and output of information are around the correct model. Consider the capability of browsing the web using a mobile terminal through voice commands, and getting the information videographically. Second point: mobile applications model have been driven by terminal vendors, that have decided technological environment and even programming APIs (Symbian, J2ME, etc.). However new players are entering the game, like Apple with their iPhone and the already in-place Windows mobile from Microsoft. They intend to be big players in this game, and for that reason they need to give better accesibility to services, and this will probably will change the landscape in the mobile applications market.