It seems the Web 2.0 concept is building up a lot of steam. So I think this is a good time to talk about another transition I’ve been thinking about recently: Mobile 2.0.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that what the blogosphere doesn’t need right now is Yet Another Pointless Meme (YAPM?). But the phrase Mobile 2.0 really seems to capture what this trend is about - the convergence of mobile devices and web services creating an entirely new dynamic. Once the web is truly a platform (although some would argue that it will never reach this stage), our mobiles won’t need to run applications or store massive amounts of data. The vast majority of these applications will exist on the network, with our data spread across the wide array of loosely coupled web services we use everyday. I expect you already upload your photos to Flickr, keep track of your links on del.icio.us or store and share your videos with YouTube, but I see this trend continuing to a point at which most of our data is in the cloud, and only a tiny fraction of it is stored locally. To some followers of Web 2.0, this evolution seems blatantly obvious, but I think we’ve yet to explore the true ramifications of the mobile web.
One likely scenario is the emergence of location-based advertising. It seems that Google, with its movement towards local search, its mapping expertise and its successful contextual ad system, is well-positioned to take advantage of the new dynamic. This MobHappy post gives us a flavour of what’s to come:
Your phone has…become your primary means of accessing the internet, again via Google Net, obviously. Your phone is a thin client, with most storage and processing done on the web. Most people don’t have even a PC anymore. If they want to do work that involves a keyboard and a bigger screen, they just pop their phone into the nearest docking station and away they go. With the added advantage that the phone has ensured that the screen layout, favourite apps, bookmarks and files are all available exactly as you’d want them…
So suddenly, true location based marketing becomes a reality, no longer a question like “when the tech is available” or “providing you’re in line of sight” or “if it’s accurate enough”.
The idea of the “docking station”, with a bigger screen and a full-sized keyboard, is a popular image of our mobile future. When we no longer need to be mobile (at work and at home, for example), we plug our phone into the dock and enjoy all the benefits of a fully-fledged PC. I’ve posted about this concept here and here. And Philip Greenspun has looked into how the docking station might work in practice:
A mobile phone has substantially all of the computing capabilities desired by a large fraction of the public. Why then would someone want to go to the trouble of installing and maintaining a personal computer (PC)? The PC has a larger keyboard and screen, a larger storage capacity, can play more sophisticated games, and has a faster communications capability.
This is a plan for building an appliance into which a mobile phone plugs and that extends the phone’s capabilities without requiring the consumer to become a system administrator or be aware that he or she owns more than a phone. In the rest of this document we will call the new device “The Appliance”…
It’s also interesting to imagine how content will evolve to fit the mobile platform. We’ve already seen content broken down into smaller chunks to cope with our busy lifestyles and short attention spans, but once we’re faced with digesting content on the go (perhaps on a tiny screen), that content will no doubt have to be even more concise. In essence, we’ll need better filtering to create shorter, more relevant snippets of content. But how will we create this content? Moblogs and cameraphone snaps seem to be gaining adoption, but mobile video is on the way, too. And if services like Scoopt and SpyMedia are anything to go by, then the content creators of Mobile 2.0 can expect to get paid for their efforts.
There is much more to be said about Mobile 2.0 - its impact on social networking, web design and payment systems will also be interesting areas to explore. But I’ll leave all that for another post. And before you start pulling these theories to pieces, let’s remember that Mobile 2.0 is just a hypothesis. I also accept that Mobile 2.0 isn’t even the correct term here - perhaps I’m really talking about Web 3.0, or simply the mobile internet. But let’s keep an eye on how these trends develop over the next few years - you never know, we might be on to something!