Mobile Software in an Always Connected World

earth_128.pngNo matter how badly some folks hate them, the terms “Web 2.0″ and “Web OS” just won’t go away. For many, these are the holy grail of software development…a multi-platform single language environment that allows instant upgrades with no downloads, making software available to the customer from any connected device. For others, the terms are empty promises or overused marketing phrases that never seem to live up to expectations.

But consider this. A recent survey discovered the following:

“The survey, which polled 2,062 adults in July and October, found that 79 percent of adults — about 178 million — go online, spending an average 11 hours a week on the Internet.”
- Reuters

With numbers like these, the old argument that “not everyone has access” no longer applies. The internet is now an ever present, vital part of American society. And with the proliferation of affordable all-you-can-download data plans, the mobile world is latching onto the web like never before.

As the Senior Product Manager here at Ilium Software, I need to look at things like this and ask myself “What does this mean for us?”, “What is the future for ‘on device’ applications?”, and “How can we keep doing what we do best…helping our customers to stay organized?”

Fortunately, Ilium Software has answers to these and many more questions. We’re excited and very optimistic about the future of our market. What I’d love to hear, however, is what YOU think. What do you see in the future for Mobile Device Software? How are you using the web with your mobile device? What can we offer or do that will help you to stay organized as the world of mobile devices evolves?

10 thoughts on “Mobile Software in an Always Connected World

  1. doogald

    “What can we offer or do that will help you to stay organized as the world of mobile devices evolves?”

    Please, please, please, can you start offering Mac and Linux OS versions of apps like eWallet and ListPro? I would love to stop using Windows altogether, and those two apps are the only reasons that I have launched XP in Parallels in the last month.

  2. doug

    Marc. You and I have discussed this issue before. I think the biggest thing is to have a central repository for information, which I can access from any computer or connected mobile device. I really like (am I allowed to say this) the model which Google has developed. As long as the security is good (and Google’s is OK, but not great) then you can access your documents, news feeds, videos, and almost any other information from anywhere. That is the kind of portability I think we should be looking at today.

    Doug

  3. Don

    I don’t want web based software. I love the web but there are times you can’t access it. I like the abbility to read my rss feeds offline and read the articles I need. A web based listpro would be useless on plane for example. There is room in the world for both web based and on device programs.

  4. Brandon Steili

    Can you say can of worms?

    Let me throw out there what has been for me the best device I’ve owned yet – The iPhone. Apple beat on the the drums of web 2.0 for months with this device and they’re still beating those drums right now. But I’m here to tell you that the experience was about as pathetic as they come. And for once I’m not going to completely blame the EDGE connection speeds formaking this a horrible experience . I’m going to blame AT&T (and nearly every other carrier in the US).

    Web 2.0 – the web as your applications, the web as your OS, the web as your central repository for all your important data) just doesn’t work because of one glaring problem – The web IS NOT everywhere. Sure its almost everywhere, but it isn’t everywhere. You know where it isn’t? Here’s some random places I found Web 2.0 – and Apple’s holy grail of application developement for the iPhone – to NOT be.

    – Super Target. Back of the store next to the toys. Got a list of possible toys for your nephews birthday stored in a list program online. Forget it.

    – My basement (30% of the time). Don’t ask me why but for some reason AT&T just hates me and randomly decides when I should have 5 bars in my house and when I shouldn’t have any. There goes looking up what time the football game is on and scheduling it on my Tivo from the basement.

    – My daughter’s doctor’s office. 1.5 hours of bliss I thought expecting sit quietly and read the 100s of rss threads I haven’t been able to get to for over a week. Alas … no data connection at all. 1 bar of service.

    – Nearly anywhere off the beaten path. Specifically some really nice RTV paths in Northern Alabama.

    – I could go on but you get the idea.

    So, while Web 2.0 is excellent in most cases – I’m a Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Docs user (along with others) – it isn’t the end all, be all. While I have all of theese web services and I use them on my PCs when rooted to a desk, or wireless on my laptop, I have applications like Newsbreak, Goosync, eWallet and others on my Windows Mobile (and hopefully soon my iPhone RIGHT??!!) to get my through the times when I can’t get a good web connection – which seems to be growing rather than shrinking lately.

    Where do I want to see mobile developement go? Wireless Sync ala Goosync. I want my applications and my data on my device. I also don’t want to have to touch a computer if I don’t have to. The old days of sitting down and “syncing” went out for me a long time ago when I came to the realization that AS was horrible. Apple blew it on this one, and it’s the second biggest complaint I have next to no native apps with the iPhone. I want my newsfeeds online in IE or Firefox on my laptop and then I want to pick up on my mobile and have those feeds that I’ve already read marked as such. I want to update a password in eWallet on my laptop and have it show up on my mobile. Let’s just hit the nail on the head … I want Exchange Mobile Sync for everything I do.

    Want to know how I’m using all those smexy web 2.0 applications that everyone developed for the iPhone? I bought a used o2 xda trion and I keep all my important data on that. It stays in a pocket in my backpack. I’ve been burned waaaay to many times since buying the iPhone by not having everything I needed. Not to say that the iPhone is useless – the ability to hit real websites and have them render properly (like my bank) is priceless, but relying on Web 2.0 just doesn’t work.

    Sorry … I’ll stop now. Told ya … can of worms.

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  6. Spmwinkel

    Hmm I don’t want everything to be online. It feels a lot safer if I know that my protected data is only on my device, and the program that accesses it is also on my device.

    It’s like when you’re getting money out of the wall, you stand close to the wall when you enter your PIN security code so that nobody can see it. Trying to keep the space in which the protected data is visible as small as possible to optimize safety.

  7. Kevin White

    I think Web 2.0, or whatever the appropriate buzzword now is (I mean Web 2.0 came out a few years ago.. is this going to become Web 2.4.3.5.6 – Garnet?) is a chicken and egg problem.

    If you put all of your data in ‘The Cloud’, then you can get it from everywhere.

    But, The Cloud isn’t everywhere. If no one’s going to use it, then companies won’t want to invest in putting The Cloud everywhere. If The Cloud isn’t everywhere, then people won’t want to use it for the reasons Brandon points out.

    I bet that, to some extent, Apple’s push for web apps on the iPhone was to push for more web penetration into mobile life. Saying, “do it on the web” means that as people flock to the iPhone, to get things done they’ll have to use web apps, and so web apps and better web access will have to happen. Apple has somewhat successfully created a very media-friendly ‘egg’… or maybe a chicken?… to try and kick things along.

    Then, Apple realized they were shooting themselves in the foot. Apple operating systems only officially work on Apple hardware – which I don’t think is that much of a problem – but *anyone* can write applications for Mac OS X that can just about anything. The operating system installation DVD even comes with XCode, Apple’s own development suite for OS X applications. The iPhone? Well, anyone can write very limited web apps that only work when you’re within network range. That’s a huge limitation, and the existing ‘smart phone’ community went, “Hey! Duh!”

    So now we’re going to have native apps on the iPhone. I think the inevitable end result will be something like Google Gears crossed with .Mac. Keep your data In The Cloud, and keep a copy on the device. Ha ha, back to the locally-cached syncing nightmare. :)

    Well, that’s what I’d like the end result to be. Who knows what it really will be?

    I do have to say that Synchronizing stuff is a pain in the rear. HotSync, ActiveSync, Windows Roaming Profiles, none of this stuff “Just Works”. (I never used .Mac to sync much of anything when I used it, since I only have ever had one Mac at once and there wasn’t anything to sync to. As much as I like Apple stuff, I just can’t comment on .Mac syncing.)

  8. John Kerr

    I’ll start by describing myself as a late adopter. What I have found to be very helpful lately are PortableApps–applications that sit fully self-contained on a USB memory stick. OpenOffice and Firefox are two that enable me to be very mobile, and keep my employer owned laptop free of personal data and non-standard applications. A portable (USB) version of ListPro would be a welcome addition for me and I’m sure others.

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