Thinking inside the (wireless mobile device) box
Moving Experiences: Innovation in Wireless
Moderator: Thomas Purves, WirelessNorth.ca
Panelist: Dominique-Sebastien Forest, Quebecor Media Intéractive
Panelist: Jeff McDowell, RIM
Panelist: Mark Ruddock, Viigo
Friday, March 28 – 2:15pm
If ubiquitous connectivity is essential to grow mobile and wireless adoption in Canada, is there room for growth when our wireless data rates are still some of the worst in the world? Smartphones and mobile devices these days are powerful enough to deliver rich and intuitive experiences, so why are there still few content providers taking advantage of this power to provide usable and compelling experiences?
All big questions that drive any discussion on the future of the Canadian mobile environment. To start approaching these questions, the panel first answered another pressing question: who or what are the engines of innovation in the mobile industry?
- Forest: Device manufacturers are still driving innovation, but need the support of software developers. Content is key to drive increased usage, and increased usage drives handset makers to innovate and create devices that facilitates the content.
- Ruddock: All mobile stakeholders need to work together to create innovation. The iPhone redefined mobile user experience — now these kinds of innovations need to be done not by only own company, but across federated industry with multiple manufacturers and providers.
- McDowell: Device manufacturers are in fact responding to the demands of developers right now. What we need is an ecosystem of people innovating together: there is not enough cooperation in the industry.
Purves then asked the panel about current and future distribution models for content:
- Ruddock: The mobile carrier doesn’t have the same kind of control it used to have. Still, for the potential of large-scale distribution to be achieved, the industry needs to open up more.
- Forest: Media companies need to think differently: it’s no longer a question of making the newspaper available on a mobile device, it’s thinking about what services will be valuable for the mobile device and figuring out how to implement them well. We need to change the mobile model from consumption to conversation.
- Ruddock: Carriers are still sitting on tremendous opportunity by capitalizing on billing and payment schemes. They have to stop thinking of themselves as networks and instead as e-commerce infrastructure.
- Forest: In the end, the user has to decide “what’s cool and what isn’t.”
McDowell: Using the carrier is still an effective way to distribute and charge for content, particularly for maps and navigation. However, for growth, we need to move away from the carrier and go directly to the content provider.
Ruddock also elaborated on Apple’s movements in the mobile industry, in particular the new iPhone SDK. With iTunes, Apple is using a tool that people are already using and comfortable with in order to distribute content. Instead of seeing it as a hurdle, content creators are seeing iTunes as an effective opportunity to get their content out to a large group of mobile users. The rest of the mobile industry — and not just one company — needs to look at using similar push-based models to get content out to users.
Finally, the conversation of revenue and advertising was discussed. Forest stressed that on a small screen, ads can not use important real estate. The advertising needs to be extremely relevant and well-implemented. Ruddock added that the entire advertising model needs to be rethought when it came to mobile interfaces: advertising could now become a useful service to us instead of a way of mindlessly pushing product.
Photos by Rannie Turingan.