Sunday, November 12, 2006

My Mobile 2.0 Manifesto

Last week I was invited to speak at the Mobile2.0 event in San Francisco. It had all the right elements for a starting point of a revolution: a not-too-perfect organization but with the right people at the right time. I feel it will define the start of a new era. Turning points are defined by simple things, for example a mobile conference that happens in a basement of a hotel, where there is no cellular reception... People that cannot show demos. Just talk. And talk. Guys on the stage with a gazillion boring PowerPoint presentations and everybody that just wait for the discussion to start. Everything happening in the coffee break.

I know Mike did not do it on purpose (see his comment after the conference to believe me), but the result was just perfect. Read all the blogs that it generated. Check Brian's comment in particular. Something is boiling here.

As Steve Bratt noticed in the keynote, this looks like 1994. That was the year I founded Internet Graffiti. Connection to the web was slow and difficult (via modem, paying per minutes). It was all proprietary with some few good standards emerging (HTML and HTTP). Web clients were crappy and you had to develop the same page for each of them (remember Mozilla 2 and IE 2?). There were walled gardens everywhere. I launched Internet Graffiti because I noticed one simple thing: the world needed the web badly. Therefore, I thought, it will happen. Nothing could stop it. Walled gardens collapses, technology improves, standards emerge, speed goes up and cost goes down.

Now, it is just the same in mobile. Everybody is talking about Web 2.0, but they are missing the real revolution. Mobile is the next big thing. The web is just evolving and maturing. The Web was 1.0 in 1994. It is probably at version 7.0 now, following the versions of IE... Mobile is really moving into 2.0 now. And it will represent the biggest paradigm shift of this decade, as the web in the nineties.

Now, I have seen just one attempt to define what Mobile 2.0 means, from Dan (the other organizer of the conference). Although my friend Peter had the best comment during the conference: "It is Mobile 2.0 because we say so", let me try to give a concise summary of what I expect Mobile 2.0 to be.

My Mobile 2.0 Manifesto

1. Mobile 2.0 is NOT a mobile version of Web 2.0. We made that mistake before, please let's avoid it this time. WAP was a failure because the hypertext paradigm (with links and clicks) requires a mouse. No mouse in mobile. Forget the web. Let's look at mobile apps on devices, that are available when you turn the device on, that store local data, that react to push messages. Call them mobile widgets and have them use HTTP to communicate, or AJAX. But let's forget the browser paradigm or we'll be targeting a WAP 2.0 failure.

2. Mobile 2.0 is all about open standards and open platforms. Same as Web 1.0. It all happens when standards get into the mainstream. Let's forget ActiveSync, BlackBerry, Good and the like. Standards are here and will make this big. It is SyncML and others. They are on 800,000,000 phones today.

Mobile 2.0 is driven by open source. Open source is the center element of Mobile 2.0. Developers drive it. It is an unstoppable force. Look at what we are doing with OpenMoko and Mobile Linux. Look at Java ME going open source today or the announcement of Motorola a couple of weeks ago. We are pushing big companies to change and move towards open source. It is an unstoppable process.

4. Mobile 2.0 happens with flat fee billing. It is the same as Web 1.0, which exploded with flat fees after starting with modems. Same here. People using Mobile 2.0 will come from enterprises first (as in Web 1.0), then will move mainstream when flat fee billing will be available and cheap enough for everybody. Let's all push the carriers to understand this. They might risk to become a dumb pipe, but they will make money with it. And it is inevitable, with Wi-Max and the like coming into the picture. Better to move now than when it is too late.

5. Mobile 2.0 is centered on content and messaging. This one is easy. The phone is a device you react to, when content is pushed to you (your email, RSS feeds, soccer results, music, ...) or you push it to someone else (when you take a picture or a video, and you send it around). It is not about standalone games.

That's it, five rules I will follow working with our Funambol community. I know we'll represent a big element of Mobile 2.0 and I am excited about it. If we are at 1994 now, the next five years will be a lot of fun.