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The Small-Screen Blues

The whizz-bang sonics and over-saturated colors of the hundreds of handheld games, wireless “community” applications, and mobile TV demos I saw at this year’s CTIA Wireless show left with me with two pounding questions.

One was simply how to get to rid of the pressure headache that felt like it wanted to exit the front of my skull the hard way. Second, I was left wondering if mobile enterprise software vendors are taking full advantage of the computing power and bandwidth that is now patently available on these small battery-powered platforms.

Coders of consumer applications seem much more attuned to their chosen form factor when developing entertainment applications for handhelds and smartphones. Enterprise types need to work on how they present applications on the tiny screen while still fully using the capabilities of each device.

At the moment, the key enterprise application on the “third screen” is mobile email, and it has been that way for several years. As it stands, you can’t even really go out and buy a device that offers push email while handling basic office applications, such as spreadsheets, Adobe Acrobat attachments, and PowerPoint.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) may argue that it can now offer these capabilities with its latest update to the Windows Mobile operating system, but I’ve spoken to analysts and vendors who don’t actually define the Redmond “push email” update as a true push system in the same style as the BlackBerry email service. Meanwhile, BlackBerry is still working on bringing widely used applications like PowerPoint to its devices.

Things get even more fractured as we move beyond the mobile desktop and into niche enterprise applications such as mobile sales force and CRM programs. There are smaller players like Vettro Corp. and Sendia Corp., which has just been acquired by Salesforce.com Inc. , that offer access to a spread of business applications. Most of the industry, however, still seems to be focused on “mobilizing” a particular enterprise application rather than providing the user with a snapshot of the business day.

I wonder why more business software developers aren’t looking at better ways to push the most relevant tasks and information – pulled from a variety of corporate sources – to a user’s device, and to present that information in ways that aren’t so bound by the traditional conception of an office desktop.

Obviously, it's not easy to pull together all the software strands that a typical corporation has in place and deliver them to smartphone and handheld. Companies have been working on that sticky problem for years.

It seems to me, however, that the devices themselves and the networks they run across are becoming less and less of a bottleneck. As demonstrated by the TV clips and colorful games available, we've gone way beyond the green screen and painfully slow download times of yore. Which means that vendors need to take a fresh look what they can deliver – and how to present it – to corporate mobile devices.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

AllKindsOfThings 12/5/2012 | 3:57:34 AM
re: The Small-Screen Blues Well,

the earlier people start to acknowledge that a compact handheld mobile device user is not well served by blindly delivering a wireline connected desktop user experience, the earlier will we actually see useful applications.

Even with seamless switching between ever so much broader bandwidth radio bearers, a wireless compact form factor device and a wireline connected desktop user experience simply have far too many different usability parameters to ignore.

Especially true in the majority of real MOBILE (= not disconnect - reconnect & stay where there is a big pipe) scenarios, where being on the go, sponteneity, urgency, or even emergency drives user interaction.

Yes, there must be ALSO a way to more or less comfortable handle internet sites that don't care to deliver a good, meaningfull, well designed, mobile experience or ever will do it tomorrow - simply because they are not serviced any more of their authors feel their lies in desktop usage - that what broswers improvment can handle.

But you CAN'T fix crappy site design with Opera light - the REAL issue remains the use cases you want to adress when targeting mobile.

Creating the 20th version of a second best poor copy of a desktop experience instead of thinking of what is REALLY of added value when on the go - when DESIGNING a site that is, it what the debates IMHO should be about.

You would think that several hundred million users more enabled in the mobile device arena today than on the desktop should be a driver for some content folks to actually care for this?

Ah well - at least the debate started in W3C MWI in 2004 and is finally accelerating. Might be a good sign of hope for the not so far future...

See: http://www.w3.org/TR/mobile-bp...
Some of the Background Debate can be found here: http://www.w3.org/2004/10/mwiw...

All the Best !
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