Category Archives: Handheld and Mobile World

Any Mobile Masterminds?

Several years ago, we registered MobileMasterMind.com, intending to make a general info/help kind of site for mobile device info. Like too very many of our good intentions, we never got around to doing anything about it, and our ownership of the domain is expiring this week.

I was going to let it expire, but Marc suggested that someone who reads this blog might want it, so if anyone does, post a reply here saying so by Wednesday of this week. I’ll renew it for a year and transfer it to anyone interested. If more than one person is interested, I’ll let Julie pick who gets it using her secret random winner picking method.

And don’t forget that part 3 of Eten Blog dot Com’s Developer Interview series is now online. It was originally designed to be a 3-part article, but there’s going to be at least one set of followup questions as well.

Dusting Off the Crystal Ball

cball1s.jpgBefore January gets completely away from me, I thought I’d put out some predictions for the mobile software world in 2008. Here’s the obligatory disclaimers – these are my opinions only, and do not (as the movies say) reflect the views or opinions of Ilium Software. Or anyone else. They’re just about mobile software and content, not anything useful like the stock market or lottery numbers. And I’ll freely admit I’m not the best predictor, despite our nice crystal ball with Jeff Hawkins’ signature.

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Our Partner Store is Open

We’ve just started selling a few partner products – titles developed and maintained by other companies. You may have seen other of the mobile sites doing this already, and you’ll probably see more over the next few months. We’re still a pretty small industry, and at least some of us are trying to work more closely together and give each others’ titles some extra exposure and sales. Plus, like Amazon selling shoes and hairdryers (both of which I’ve bought from them recently), we’re hoping that our featuring other titles will make it easier for visitors to find what they want, even if we don’t make it ourselves.

The support for any partner products on our site will be provided by the company that makes it – PocketInformant by WebIS, 1-Calc by OmegaOne, etc. – but we’re only selling titles that we know are well supported, and that we know we can always reach the author of. The sales will go through the Handango engine that’s the backend for our own title’s store as well.

It’s an experiment – if it doesn’t work well for us, for our visitors, and for the other titles’ authors, we’ll take it down. If it does, we’ll add more titles. We’ll never turn into a big software portal – believe me that we’ll never turn into a big software portal – but we’re hoping we can expand just a little and help our our visitors as well as ourselves and our friends.

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?

Things Always Change

Palmgear v. Pocketgear trafficThings always change. I’m sure it’s true for any tech company, though I think it’s more true for mobile developers than for those who develop desktop apps. I’ve lost count of how many versions of Windows Mobile (formerly Windows CE) and Palm OS we’ve been through, not to mention different screen sizes and shapes, color depths, and even basic interface components like touchscreens and navigation controls. But I think the next few years, with the iPhone and Google announcements, will change the world for mobile software developers even more than any in the past. My guess is that Microsoft and Blackberry will split the business users, while Apple and Google split the consumers, but given that my last 2 predictions (both of which I was fairly confident of) were:

  • Apple will never release or announce an SDK for the iPhone
  • the Broadway stagehands union will never strike

were both wrong, I’m pretty much batting zero for accuracy. (That may qualify me for a paid position at one of the mobile market analysis companies; they’re always wrong too. Maybe I’ll look into that.)

But another big change this week is the announcement that PalmGear is being merged into PocketGear. PalmGear was, if not the first mobile software portal, the first one of any significance. Motricity (formerly Power by Hand) bought them, as well as PocketGear (formerly CEShopper and one other name that I’ve forgotten) and Smartphone.net. For years, PalmGear was their flagship brand, and I’d assumed it still was, but apparently it’s not. Here’s a really interesting graph, courtesy of Alexa:

Palmgear v. Pocketgear traffic

So given that they’re combining the two sites, which makes a lot of sense, I guess they’ve picked the smartest way to do it. But it seems to me like a pretty loud statement of what at least Motricity believes the successful mobile OS’s of the next few years will be.

Palm – Do You Need Your Crystal Ball Back?

Our crystal ballYes, we have a crystal ball. It’s blue, about 6″ in diameter, and autographed by Jeff Hawkings. One of our staff won it at a Palm conference several years ago.

When Palm announced the Foleo a few months ago, we thought about offering it back to them – we thought they might need it more than we did – but that seemed egregiously catty. As well as somewhat premature.

But with yesterday’s annoucement that Palm is cancelling the Foleo launch, we’re thinking maybe it’s time to make the offer.

Palm – want it back? Just let us know where to send it.

Happy Birthday Clinton Fitch (Dot) Com!

happy birthday!We want to wish a very happy third birthday to Clinton Fitch (Dot) Com. Many of you may already be familiar with Clinton’s site, and for those of you who aren’t, you should definitely check it out! It’s full of mobile news and reviews of some of the coolest hardware and software out right now. And today is a good time to visit the site, because Clinton is celebrating with a contest, and you don’t want to miss out!

Congratulations, Clinton, and we wish you many more years of news and reviews to come!

Where Are They Now?

5thbar.gifI just finished reading (OK, skimming) an interesting book called Founders at Work, interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in their earliest days. It turns out that a few of them were involved with handhelds – PayPal started out as a service by which Palm users could beam each other IOUs (do people even beam using Palms anymore? I haven’t seen anyone do that in years). Another of the founders interviewed was involved with General Magic and the long-forgotten Magic Cap handheld, which we looked at for about 2 minutes in the very early days of Ilium Software.

Another former handheld company founder who’s moved on is my friend Vidal Graupera, founder of Iambic. I first met Vidal many years ago. I don’t remember where, but I very clearly remember our conversation about what a bad idea it is to start company name with an “i“.

Anyway, Vidal has moved on, and has started a site called 5th Bar, full of useful info about, and reviews of, mobile phones and accessories, and cell phone carriers. I find roundups like this very useful – I’ve spent a lot of time lately on the VOIP reviews and roundups (see my previous post for why, and my conclusion). But I’m hoping it pays off in decent service. And I’m definitely bookmarking 5th Bar, because I’m sure that my current mobile phone won’t be my last.