Mobile Phone as Computer?

The Feature has an article by Eric Lin:

There’s no denying that mobile phones are getting more powerful. Moore’s law has done more for handsets and PDAs than it has for PCs recently. As handsets grow more powerful, and as they converge with other devices or functions, users rely on them more and more, just as they have traditionally relied on PCs to perform many computing needs. Users, as well as carriers and developers are now treating mobile phones more and more as mobile computers — even models that are not smartphones. Handsets have been evolving incrementally to reflect this evolution, now the chips that power them are reflecting this change as well.

NEC has announced a new mobile chip with not one, but three ARM-based processors, in addition to a processor dedicated to media and sound all in a single, low-power unit. All these processors, or cores, will allow handsets to accomplish a number of intense tasks simultaneously. Dual-core processors for desktop computers have only recently become available, but this technology is already being applied to mobile processors, indicating how quickly handsets are evolving to match the PCs functionality. The companies that create desktop graphics processors are also developing more powerful chips for handsets, as they take on yet another function of the PC — gaming.

As the phone is evolving from a (primarily voice) communication tool into a mobile computer, application developers are starting to take notice. Applications are emerging that take the mobile phone’s abilities and shortcomings into consideration, creating surprisingly prescient glimpses into the future. These applications do not try to cram a PC interface or functionality into a handset, rather they make the most of the phone’s abilities to reach similar goals as PC-based applications. The ability of new handsets to handle all sorts of functions and applications may be why no one has been able to predict what the killer application for 3G or next generation handsets are. There is no one killer application for the PC anymore, there are killer applications depending on a user’s needs and interests, but those vary from person to person. The same is true mobile devices, as they grow more powerful, there will not be one killer application, but a host of them depending on a user’s criteria.

I agree with Jeff Nolan, who writes: “I’m not buying this for the following reasons 1) the processing power is still limited, and the more processing power they build in the worse the heat problem becomes, 2) crappy displays, it will be solved eventually, maybe with OLEDs, but they still suck today, 3) bandwidth constrained, ironically, 4) specialized programming interfaces and user design limit appeal to developers.”

Picking Your VC

Jeff Nolan describes the various types of VCs and adds: “It comes down to the people and their ability to contribute to a team. Startup execs who are inclined to take an investment from an A-list fund but don’t like the partner are setting themselves up for conflict that will result in long term harm. Investors that enter into deals without looking at the dynamics of the investor syndicate and board dynamics are neglecting an important area of due diligence.”

Brad Feld has more.

Tomorrow’s Platforms

Adam Bosworth writes: “The platform of this decade isn’t going to be around controlling hardware resources and rich UI. Nor do I think you’re going to be able to charge for the platform per se. Instead, it is going to be around access to community, collaboration, and content. And it is going to be mass market in the way that the web is mass market, in the way that the iPod is mass market, in the way that a TV is mass market. Which means I think that it is going to be around services, not around boxes. I postulate, still, that 95% of the UI required for this world will be delivered over the browser for the same reason that we all still use a steering wheel in a car or have stayed with << < | > >> for so long. Everybody gets it. But this will, by definition, be an open platform because the main value it has is in delivering information and communication. Notice that the big players, Amazon, eBay, and Google have already opened up their information through Web API’s. It is Open Data coupled with Open Communication built on top of Open Source that will drive the future, not Longhorn.”

RSS Future

Steve Gillmor writes:

RSS bottlenecks are the early indicators of business models for the new architecture. Witness Slashdot, which constrains the number of RSS requests per hour. Alternatively, services that offer more frequent rates can charge for the privilege. A multi-tiered cost structure can offer variable rates based on the relationships between customers, suppliers, and partners along the supply chain. High-value customers might pay nothing for rich feeds, just as Amazon throws in shipping above a certain order amount.

The rewards for adopting the RSS model are greater for those who lag in the current online economy. By contrast, Microsoft has little apparent incentive to destabilize Office by extending the free browser to support not just content aggregation but creation. Yet that is exactly what the competition is moving toward: an RSS console that automates the capture, consumption, and routing of strategic information.

Just as blogging drove the initial adoption of RSS aggregators, so too will moblogging (short for mobile blogging) drive the addition of rich media capabilities to the RSS information router. Whether it’s Dave Winer’s imagined “big red record button” on a future iPod, a suite of audio mixing tools that mix iChatAV, VoIP, microphone, MP3, and GarageBand feeds, or an intelligent router that uses attention data from aggregator services to predict where BitTorrent caches need to be positioned to allow reliable and scalable feed distribution, the resulting blend of these tools will certainly be a killer app for information professionals and consumers alike.

Strategy, Execution, and Innovation

Fast Company writes:

Never is execution more important than when innovation is at the heart of a strategy.

That is because innovation always involves treading into uncertain waters. And as uncertainty rises, the value of a well-thought-out strategy drops. In fact, when pursuing entirely new business models, no amount of research can resolve the critical unknowns. All that strategy can do is give you a plausible starting point. From there, you must experiment, learn, and adapt.

Execution. For a proven business, it is about performing at or above known standards. Many large, established organizations are able to sustain success because they are ruthless about holding their managers accountable to meeting or exceeding standards.

Executing an experimental business is different. It is about zeroing in on the best possible strategy. And in the process, discovering what standards are possible.

TECH TALK: The Network Computer: Service-based Computing

At DemoMobile 2004, Chris Shipley discussed her vision for the future of computing. Even though the context of her keynote was the developed markets, much of what she talked about is universally addressable because the underlying infrastructure (communications networks, mobile devices) is being deployed globally. This is what Chris Shipley had to say:

On the surface, [the] idea of device computing makes sense. The locus of our computing and communications activities has moved from desktop PCs to mobile devices. Over forty years, computational power has migrated from large mainframes to mini-computers, to workstations, to PCs, to laptops, to handheld devices.

And with each progression, some pundit stood up at an event like this and declared that the computing paradigm had made the shift to the new platform. Mainframe computing. Mini computing. Desktop computing. Mobile computing.

With that history and context, device computing seemed the logical next step.

But, its not.

Quite frankly, while all these devices are amazing in their capability and power, they are virtually nothing on their own. Just plastic, LCD, silicon and solder, buttons and jog dials that deliver very little value if they arent connected to some other computer or service. For the most part, mobile devices whether a cell phone or a PDA, game gear or the custom slate the ups driver carries these mobile devices are little more than beautifully designed, computationally rich input/output and storage devices.

Its not until you add a connection a radio, IR, cable, or docking station that mobile devices become truly useful and very exciting.

So, to say that wed entered the age of device computing was to miss the point.

Certainly, we are moving to a new paradigm in computing. Of course, mobile devices play a key role in the new definition. And, its easy to see how the devices themselves might get all the attention. Some of you wear cell phones and email devices on your belts like the gunman of the new digital frontier. We agonize over which cell phone to buy, which device is best for remote email. We talk like proud parents about our latest laptop purchase and will demo at the drop of a hat the features and functions of our favorite handheld.

The device is the visible, physical instantiation of what is truly going on here. The device is the end node of a connected system of computing. A system that is larger than mobile devices, or even wireless networks. A system that fundamentally changes the way applications and data are delivered to the point of interaction. A system that profoundly affects the architectures and opportunities of computing from the enterprise to the home.

A system that I call service-based computing.

Service-based computing delivers applications and data from a managed computing platform to a relatively simple end device the point of interaction with the data. Service-based computing puts the onus of managing the computing environment on the service provider, and liberates the end-user to engage with the information. Service-based computing will drive elegance into application and device design. Service-based computing not only enables, but requires, simplicity and reliability in end-point devices, no matter if they are a cell phone or a desktop PC.

Indeed, service-based computing is bigger than todays mobile and wireless market. It is broadly encompassing of most enterprise, small business, individual, and convergent consumer computing. Service-based computing is the future model for nearly-all computing and communications.

We are already seeing Chris Shipleys vision of service-based computing around us in the likes of the Internet service platforms like Google and Yahoo. As more and more of our data starts residing on servers, the client devices will just become the endpoints to interface with the data. This is the Internet OS that Tim OReilly has been talking about.

Tomorrow: The Internet OS

Continue reading