Many of you who have read my white paper on “Trends in Mobility and the Implications on Digital Signage” have asked me a common question: “You mention the iPhone as being a game-changing technology, but where do the RIM Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices fit into the picture?” Well the answer is relatively short, but the explanation behind it is a little lengthy. So here goes…
The RIM Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices are not currently major players in the digital signage/mobility convergence game — at least in the game as I define it. I expect that they will be players over time, but based upon their current operating models, they’ll be extremely challenged to catch up with the iPhone let alone match it. The reason is simple, when you write an application for the iPhone (e.g. like the InView Mobile app that we did at Symon), that one application runs on every model of iPhone. The core feature sets are common for every model of iPhone. The form factor is common for every model iPhone. The operating system is essentially the same for every model iPhone. You can’t say that for any Blackberry device, Windows Mobile device, Symbian device, etc.
When we at Symon promote our InView Mobile app, we promote it for the iPhone – regardless of model. If we did a version of InView Mobile for RIM, we’d have to specify which model device the application was supporting. We could not say: “Here’s InView Mobile for your Blackberry.” The variations in form factor alone would prevent us from providing a compelling convergent experience. The same goes for Windows Mobile devices. There’s just too much variability in the existing line of products.
The next most common question is: “what about Android devices or the Palm Pre?” Yes it’s true, each has their own respective set of attributes that closely resembles the iPhones, e.g. standard form factor, common operating system, common feature-sets, etc. These however have one major deficiency: Lack of an installed base. Neither of these platforms has achieved critical mass, therefore neither will attract the same degree of developer talent until they do.
Let’s face it, the iPhone is cool. Everyone except the techies (especially the Windows guys) want to be associated with it. Developers want to write for it, users want to use it, advertisers want to advertise on it. You just can’t change reality no matter how much you may or may not like it.