Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Better lucky than smart

I have always considered myself a lucky individual. I have a great family, good health, real friends, a fantastic job and every physical item I actually need. I could always get more, but I do not care about it. I do not see the point of wanting more when I have all I need. I just feel, almost every day, that I am a lucky lucky bastard. And that I did very little to deserve it.

Last week in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress, I felt exactly the same way. I felt I got even too lucky. This time, in my work life.

I have been talking for years about a few items: open source in mobile (easy to guess from the title of my blog) and server-based mobile computing (now known as mobile cloud services), with a focus on mobile cloud sync.

For years, I have seen the disbelief in the eye of every carrier I talked to. No, mobile and open source won't work together. Where is the IP? And why would we ever want to open our networks? It is all closed and it works so well for us. For years. Years!

There were days I told my wife this mobile open source thingy might take ages to really happen. That I might have started a company too soon and I will be remembered as the one who originally believed in mobile open source, only to get the timing wrong. When I was fundraising for Series A at Funambol in 2005, I was repeating to VCs a word I heard from Andrew Aitken, one of my advisors: "open source in mobile is inevitable". Inevitable. I believed it then, I always believed it. However, it could have taken 20 years to happen…

Instead, it took way less.

At the Mobile World Congress, the talk of the show was Android. There were Android phones everywhere. It is mobile open source. The big announcement on Monday? Intel and Nokia, two of the largest players in mobile (who is bigger than Intel on chips or Nokia on devices?), announced MeeGo. A mobile open source initiative (and you can tell by the weird name, right amigo?). Then Symbian rushed out Symbian^3… Guess what? Mobile open source.

Stop for a second. The talk of the show was mobile open source?? The talk of the #1 mobile show of the year?????

Guess what, I got lucky. Mobile open source just happened. And I did very little to deserve it.

The second theme was the cloud. The mobile cloud. Devices connected to the network, syncing data among themselves and the cloud. Check Eric Schmidt talk at the show below. It is a turning point for the industry. It is a must-watch for anyone in mobile. He is preaching the convergence of computing + connectivity + cloud. It all happens thanks to the cloud. Replication, he says. Mobile applications are sharing intensive, sharing replication, he adds. I call it syncing, but it is exactly the same thing.

Who else talked about mobile cloud syncing? RIM, the maker of Blackberry. An entire presentation devoted to explain their new mobile cloud syncing product for SMBs (Blackberry Enterprise Server Express). And what about that spectacular presentation of Windows 7 Phone OS (really? That is all you could come up to beat the Zune brand? How do you call a Windows Phone phone? Windows Phone Squared? C'mon…). Look at the video below. It is all about cloud interaction, your friends, messaging. They do not even mention you can call people!!! This is how you sell a phone now. The cloud sells it.

Guess what, I got lucky. Mobile cloud services just happened. And I did very little to deserve it.

Anything else? Well, only some talks about how to make the network faster and more efficient, without killing it because of all the above. But this is just a technicality in the big scheme of things. Networks will be faster and will support the load. There is no other way. Engineers will make it happen. Cash will be there to support it.

I have to say the first two days of the show I was speechless. Andrew joked with me on Facebook that there is no way I was not talking… He knows me well, apparently. However, I was actually without voice. Mostly due to a cold, but also because I could not believe what was happening around me.

Everything I said and preached for years just happened. And I did very little to deserve it.


As they say: better lucky than smart.