Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do I (really) need a new smartphone?

I bring this quetion up as I own an HTC Hero, it lets me do most of what I would like with a smartphone but do I really need to upgrade to a new handset? A question for myself ... but also the manufacturers and operators. Chances are, many people near the end of their contract may be asking the exact same question. Of course, you will always want to upgrade if your current phone has worn out or knackered ... however mine is pretty good condition and nothing has degraded ... yet, touch wood! Even the battery still gets me through a normal day. So, why would I want to upgrade, I mean do I really need to?

What do I get when I upgrade, or can I save money by not upgrading? Right now, handsets are getting better screens, better cameras and so on ... so perhaps I will upgrade soon to something a little more flashy. However, most of the interesting aspects seems to sit within the software, such as the browser and the apps. Perhaps I can upgrade the software and get most of what I need? But actually, thinking about it, I would like a better camera with a flash ... so perhaps yes, upgrade, stick with Android, stick with what I know and feel comfortable with. Will I need another one in 12-18 months time?

I assume (rightly/wrongly, please choose) this is a question all handsets manufacturers have been asking themselves these last couple of years. Rather than deliver every conceivable feature on their latest and greatest handset, they have to hold features back otherwise nobody will want or need to upgrade. But some manufacturers are more about shifting numbers of devices, they aren't really into the post sales side of things so do they really care as long as they hit their monthly targets? If the handset doesn't have all the latest wonderful features, is it ever likely to sell? Are reviewers going to damn it before it has even hit the shelf? Most handsets seem to have about 1 year shelf life these days, so whatever gets built needs to shift quick. With many manufacturers building Android handsets now, they have to be clever in differentiating their models so it has the 'must have' feature I can't do without.

I have a feeling that until something earth shattering and radical moves handset form factors beyond the current rectangular slab with a glass window on the front, the rate of change and upgrades are likely to slow down as software updates become more important to the user. We saw this happen in the desktop and laptop market. Might mean a slow down in smartphones sales at some point. So do operators really need to have 24 month contracts to recoup the costs of the handset? What incentives are there to keep your current handset ... this is the greener thing to do afterall!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mobile Monday London, 5 years down the road

It is with some pride that MoMoLondon has made it to it's 5th birthday ... still in tact and still feels as relevant today as it did all those years ago. I cast my mind back a couple of years before MoMoLondon hit the scene. Along with Dan Appelquist, Paul Cooper and Stuart John we tried to start the perhaps badly named, ill fated and short lived Foneclub. But the idea was the same, get people to meet up, discuss mobile and network. The first 'event' took place in the boardroom of the old offices of Clarity Capital in Mayfair, must have been around 20 of us there, and Paul had chipped in to buy some beers to keep us in there for an hour or two. Even with that number there was a good industry cross section of attendees from operators, technology, funding, agency and so on. Regrettably, consequent meetings saw less people able to make the events ... and inevitably it faded away.

Two years later (the summer of 2005), I was sat with Dan in a restaurant in South Kensington, both of us suggesting we should start it up again (the mad fools). Dan then talked about something called Mobile Monday going on in Finland and in Silicon Valley and proposed we start up a chapter in London. Well in October 2005, the mailing list was created, and the membership flood gates opened. We didn't know what to do for our first event, I mean where do you start? Dan opened it up to the list proposing 'Bridging the mobile and physical worlds' ... and the theme stuck for the first event. It took place in the canteen at the old Vodafone offices on The Strand and there must have been 100+ people there that night (Monday night obviously). In the early days most of our events were in the canteen of an operator or web giant, typically with the sound of a fridge whirring in the background. Since the early days, we moved out of the canteens and into more comfortable and functional spaces, mostly at the CBI at Centre Point. We have run events most months now for over 5 years, and the ideas and offers of help and sponsorship still come, although the organisational side of things has evolved from the original line up.

So where are we now? The MoMoLondon karma is still all about the community, events and networking. The industry may have changed, grown, mutated even, but the community still needs this free to attend space to discuss and network as much as 5 years ago, perhaps more so. A couple of weeks ago I was sat in a board meeting with fellow organisers Dan Appelquist, Jo Rabin and Helen Keegan, discussing what the scene is like now, how we run ourselves effectively, who else are in our space and where we see ourselves in the coming year(s). You will hear more about this in the new year and you will be glad to hear that we continue to celebrate the spirit and values of MoMoLondon.

It is probably worth wrapping up this post with huge thanks to organisers past and present, namely Dan Appelquist, Jo Rabin, Helen Keegan, Stuart John and Paul Cooper. Also thanks must go to everyone that has been involved over the years, the speakers, the demoers, the sponsors, the volunteers and of course, everyone in the MoMoLondon community. Thanks one and all!

Anyway, Happy Birthday us :)

Time to Blog again

I am back, for now, and perhaps this is the time to start blogging again as soooo much has changed in the last couple of years. Since I last blogged, back in 2008 I now work for Nuance Communications as a Technical Program Manager. I have been working in the world of mobile applications now for about 2.5 years and my thoughts are moving towards the future of the mobile web, well maybe that is more my thoughts are moving back to the mobile web. I want to draw some focus of where the web is moving to and why mobile is more about you the user, more so than the device you happen to be using. Nothing ground breaking I know, but an important area in my line of work.