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Trends: Applications & Platforms

February 7, 2010

Trends are once again taking hold in the mobile space and NOT for the better.

Several years ago, GPS navigation was said to be the last great Application & functionality a smartphone or consolidated media device must have in order to survive. Just about every smartphone released in 2009 had one – even many feature phones as well.

Well it didn’t take long for great strides in the application share space to be mated and/or control the mobile phone users’ patronage.

BlackBerry used BBMaps – I’m unsure who the data source is – and allowed many others to play top tier on the BB home front: Google GMaps, TeleNav, and a few others including … Nav4All.

Well not too long – roughly 7days after Nokia feeling the burn that Google had brought to the Droid, and the just released Google Nexus (by HTC) offering FREE Turn by Turn Navigation to them, Navteq, a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia … did NOT extend the license for Nav4All to continue using its database; not for anything! So Nokia allows Turn by Turn Navigation for FREE on such a vast range of existing S60 smartphones, and a few others set to launch, they cut off Nav4All.

Keep in mind Turn by Turn Navigation is NOT cheap to run and deliver high-availability by ANY means! Tom Tom – also finally entering the iPhone stage – Novi, Route66 and a few other heavyweights charged close to $100US annually. Don’t think the rates stopped there, In Europe for regional maps the cost was higher, and add in hardware that boosted signal reliability (or 1-pony-show In-Car devices) the cost to consumers increased.

Well now Nav4All is screwed, but more so …  27.5 million users in 56 languages using devices made by RIM (Blackberry), Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, Android, HTC, Nokia, LG, Iphone, Ipod etc.

The trend here, which I’m sure we’ll continue to see is services by the largest players will begin to cut off the small-fry guys hoping to make a mini fortune as well. Also this will hold users to make a knee-jerk FORCED decision – buy amongst the big players (Google & Open-Alliance partners, Symbian-Foundation players, RIM, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, LG, and SonyEricsson). Take note that 3 of those mentioned are part of the Open Handset Alliance and making BIG bets on the future revenues with Android and thus GMaps free Turn by Turn solution possibly being extended to their brands/products as a heavy value-add feature.

Another trend I’m not fond off … is charging for measely basic applications that really don’t offer anything more, or better than the mobile site already does. The BlackBerry platform is the BIGGEST spawning ground for this sort of thing. Craigslist, which I’ve read on 1 of my favorite BlackBerry sites, had  a BB app made and is now available as an Official Craigstlist store offering. The perception that it offers more than the mobile site (other than bookmarking) is incorrect. It gives you LESS page results for what your searching for, and doesn’t fully integrate into the Blackberry APIs. Charging $4.99CAN for it is absurd.

Also it seems that other companies that previously offered a free application offering rudimentary basic functions, and a premium version offering all the bells & whistles you really want and come to expect in a paid for app has stopped. Only premium version now exist for OS5. I’ve noticed a few others but also RepliGo PDF reader. This is a quality application and is probably worth the $10.99CAN its demanding, likewise RIM put up the bill to have Documents To Go bundled into the OS for the past year or so on OS4.6+ but I’d have loved to see PDF-TO-Go as standard on this platform. So many business & consumer users alike go through roughly a handful of PDFs from sites or emails. I shouldn’t have to pay $49.99US JUST to get PDF-To-Go for my Bold 9700.

Possibly when the platform store & application offerings mature to the point where there are 5 other apps that do the same things just as eloquently then we’ll have decent pricing parity and part-&-parcel pickings for what we’re after: Docs To Go is a HUGE solution, but not all of us want/need the entire solution, just a particular part of it.

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