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'Killer Ecosystem' Needed For Mobile Web 2.0

Open standards and developer outreach are critical now to combining "killer apps" and giving customers must-have products, a panel suggests.
Telecoms and mobile application developers desperately need an agreed upon framework of open standards to ensure the next generation of mobile applications are winners with customers, a panel of experts recommended Tuesday.

Paola Tonelli from the Open Mobile Alliance and Illkka Raiskinen, the senior VP of Multimedia Experiences at Nokia, discussed what elements were needed to advance Mobile 2.0 applications. The panel, which included Ajit Joakar of Open Gardens and Mike McCune from Tellme, made its recommendations during a morning session at the Web 2.0 Expo, which is in San Francisco this week.

The consensus is that customers need a "killer ecosystem" and not a "killer app" or combination of applications to help build Mobile Web 2.0 applications and services.

IP over cellular, Wi-Fi, WiMax, DVB-H, DMB, and other open standards would allow for the advancement of applications beyond what some on the panel suggested was at Internet 1.0 capabilities.

"I want the system to recognize me and satisfy my requests on whatever mobile device that I'm using," Tonelli said. "I want customization. I don't want latency. I think the mobile industry has a lot to offer the industry. We have the ability to identify the relationship with the customer and the relationship which is much bigger today on the Internet."

Tonelli's Open Mobile Alliance has been at the forefront of the standardization push. The group, which includes Nokia, is challenging its membership to raise awareness in the developer community to standardize the building blocks.

When it comes to Mobile 2.0, the panel felt that fixed networks and Internet broadcast models worked better at pushing content to mobile devices than the other way around. Apple, Yahoo, TiVo, and Google have all recently expanded their mobile strategies beyond their basic experiences and made them available through messaging and mobile Web technologies.

While PCs have been a boon to Web 2.0 ecosystems, mobile platforms have been limited by the problems of screen size and memory, making the long-term success of the mobile Web much more uncertain.

Despite Nokia's best efforts, the handset maker admits it has not done enough to provide a better user experience to push and pull content. "It is a 'how' question," said Raiskinen. "We as legacy companies have to be faster to adopt standardization to be competitive and be careful not to fragment the industry."

Telecoms also need to be on the march with innovations and partner with small companies and entrepreneurs, Raiskinen noted, calling out mobile widgets and handsets that use voice-over-Internet Protocol as two crucial areas.

"The Internet has become so necessary that people want to carry it with them all the time," he said.

Other recommendations of the panel included expanding services that are independent of networks and live on the edge of the network, ubiquitous connectivity, and fixed and predictable pricing.

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