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View Full Version : The Revenge of the Mobile Internet?

Andy Sjostrom
07-28-2003, 12:46 PM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://news.com.com/2010-1071_3-1026742.html' target='_blank'>http://news.com.com/2010-1071_3-1026742.html</a><br /><br /></div>CNET's William Gurley has written a thoughtful article called <a href="http://news.com.com/2010-1071_3-1026742.html">"The comeback of the mobile Internet"</a>. William says that the wind is changing and that features in new cell phones enable increased revenues for carriers, handset makers, publishers and so on. In a matter-of-fact manner, WAP (which for long was labeled as "the Mobile Internet") is discarded with one simple sentence: "No longer is the experience limited to text-based interfaces such as the much-derided WAP interface.". Instead, William looks at more visually appealing aspects of smart phones.<br /><br />"Qualcomm's BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) operating system and Sun's J2ME are at the core of these next-generation phones, enabling numerous user-interface, development and implementation improvements. Two other contenders hoping to take market share are Microsoft's Windows-based Smartphone, and Nokia's Symbian-based Series 60--including the much-ballyhooed NGage product, which is as much GameBoy as cell phone. If history is a guide, given natural replacement rates and attractive price points, it should not be long before these "fat" phones represent the majority of new phones being sold in the United States."

07-28-2003, 11:02 PM
Hi All:

This is my first post, so take it easy on me:)

Here I am going to discuss the three platforms Andy talked about. BREW from Qualcomm has been around for a while. The BREW SDK of which software is developed on is currently on version 2.1 (1.0, 1.1, 2.0), and there is an add-on to VS.NET which makes development fairly easy, as supposed to J2ME development. Though BREW allows development in different languages such as Java, the default language supported under BREW SDK is C. A simple "Hello, World" program will include three files, two of which will be automatically generated by BREW's Application Wizard, named AEE*.c (AEE stands for Application Execution Enviornment). The third file will be your own C file, which you will need to write your logic/program in. The project will also include a header and a resource directory. Unlike ASP.NET mobile controls, the BREW programs are dlls that the Applets on the phone invokes. A user will first:

Find the needed BREW program (say Pacman) ->

Purchase it through Qualcomm's system ->

Then download the program (8 to 15 seconds) ->

and then auto-installer will install it on your cellphone ->

use the program.

From a business perspective, the line carrier get 10%, Qualcomm gets 10%, and developers gets 80%.

Continue on part II

07-29-2003, 01:47 PM
The author mentions WAP as the mobile internet, which in some ways is still true today. I've been experimenting with IE on my Tanager and sure it supports new standards like XHTML. However, WAP is still sometimes much more efficient for one handed use. Isn't that the whole premise for a smartphone? Seems like now that the S60 phones are out and the MS phones are coming soon, everyone is saying that WAP is dead. I'm not sure this is the case through what I have found the last few weeks.

07-29-2003, 07:38 PM
Hi All:

In the last post, I talked about BREW, which is a developer platform for mobile developers. As most visitors on this site are more familiar with MS smartphones, here I am going to break down (what I think) the major advantages and disadvantages compared with MS smartphones:

1. BREW has wide industry support. Other than Microsoft, everyone is pretty much on board. That includes carriers like Verizon and many others, cellphone chip maker Qualcomm, and various developing companies.

2. Qualcomm has somehow found a way for EVERYONE to make money developing software for the cellphone, and a very strigent application testing/certification process since the first release of its BREW SDK. I know MS has Mobile2Market..., etc. I think MS always think of the developers, but I am not sure how the line carriers or the chip makers will go along with it. The cellphone market is quite different. As stated in my last post, carriers make 10% from the software sales. The bill then automatically adds on to the cellphone user's bill next month.

1. I was playing with BREW last weekend. Having worked with .NET CF and ASP.NET mobile controls for almost a year, I would say the APIs are not even 1/10 as powerful as the MS platform. The development process (though on VS.NET made it a lot easier) is in lower level C, and is extremely similar to developing with Smartphone SDK in evC++.

2. The type of application BREW can build is quite limited. Many BREW application I saw are related to MMS, expense tracker, games, and so forth. These applications either are quite weak, or they are part of the package on the Smartphone OS.

The entry to the BREW market is quite difficult. The successful BREW-development companies out there tend to sell to the cellphone carriers and bundle their softwares in the OEM cellphones, thus making money from the sales of each plan/phone. It would be interesting to see how the market pans out if carriers decide to carry MS smartphone, and MS smartphone in the US allows easy appplication download (via unlocking). This would definitely benefit Smartphone developers and our pocket books.

Did I forget something? Yes, Symbian-based phones. I have ZERO experience with those phones. Anyone feel like writing part III of different developer platforms? Anyone? The floor is yours.

-John Lin

07-29-2003, 08:07 PM
I would tend to agree with you on most things. I work closely with Qualcomm and I know they have most of their interests in BREW. However, there is some projects there that involve MS and the more open Web based development. BREW seems to be catching on. Although I don't know that it has really penetrated Europe and Asia. DoCoMo has their own network. However, I do see the concept behind BREW as promising. Macromedia is doing something similiar with their new Central product. The framework plus application "finder/store" sees to be a good approach, and integrating it through the carrier so the purchases can be added into the user's phone bill is awesome. MS needs to figure this out somehow, maybe just work with the carriers in building a store. This whole unlocking and signing thing is a major hurdle.

However, I'm not sure I would classify BREW and similiar things like Mobile2Market as "the mobile internet'. I think user's will appreciate connected apps that tie into Web Services, but they won't think of it as the internet. To most the internet is browsing documents and searching for tid bits of information. If I am right and this is the perception, then the experience is always going to be a huge let down. The screens can only be so big. WAP comes very close to creating a user experience on a phone, but its been plagued with no image support, etc... Hopefully we will see WAP 2.0 and WAP Push soon. I don't know a whole lot about Symbian either, but regardless, there is Opera for S60 phones, so they have a WAP capable browser, as does MS Smartphones and most BREW phones probably have something similiar.

So I kind of categorize.

Mobile Internet: WAP, cHTML, XHTML
Web connected apps: BREW, .NET, Flash, J2ME.

That might be the wrong way to look at things,

07-30-2003, 10:30 PM
Hi Mike:

I think you made some great points. After reading your posts, few thoughts came to mind:

1. I think Mobile2Market is more than just Web Services. Already ASP.NET mobile controls supports over 200 cellphones. Instead of learning WAP and *HTML, developers from the traditional C++ or even VB background can build mobile Internet as they would building ASP pages. All they have to know is HTML and one of the .NET languages.

2. I agree with you on the "rich" cellphones taking over the market in the future. In history of the PDA is any indication, we will see that history replays itself all over again soon in the next five years, except the stake is now a lot higher. Let me explain:

The average costs of Palm initially costs $300.

Handspring was born.

Handspring developed a cheaper model for less for about $159 + cradle, and bigger ROM/RAM than the average Palm (I bought one of those).

Plam counters by selling high end Palms, and low end uni-color models. In the meantime, Compaq started selling high-end PDAs.

Dell came into the market. Promotional offer for a 400 mhz Axim x5 + cradle + delivery for $299 (I bought one of those as well).

.NET CF now make development relatively easy for Pocket PC.

Compare the quality of apps in Windows vs. Palm devices, then you know why Palm's share is down.

The same can be applied to Microsoft Smartphones. MS usually comes in late to the market, and then completely eliminate any competition. I think the reason AT&T is the only carrier agree to carry Microsoft Smartphone is for the following reason:

1. AT&T does not have any developer base.

2. AT&T is not the leader in cellphone market, and by offering Microsoft Smartphone they wish to carve a niche market.

Line carriers can make money by:

1. charge data transfer throughput on the cellphone. Downside is Cisco's IP phones mess up this plan.

2. selling the phones and bundle softwares for a higher monthly fees. Downside is few are willing to pay for it.

Verizon and many other companies out there already invested a lot with BREW. Having played around with both platforms I see a divergence of market: those who need software on the phones, and those who use cellphones as is. Let's be realistic here: once Microsoft smartphone hits the market, these plans will start to diverge. Any funny thing is, the only non-software player in the mobile market who has the staying power, the ISP experience to back up the bandwidth, and the market monopoly ability to charge a la carte price is SBC/Cingular. I can see in the future that SBC carrying both BREW phones and MS Smartphones, charging people unlimited phonecalls across the U.S. with rollover plans (which they already do) and unlimited download/upload, with a family plan of 5 phones, for one low price of $59.99 per month. mLife? Camera add-on? Those software will become obsolete once MS smartphone is on the market (the MS OS has better default software than most in the market already), and Camera add-on might actually come in the OEM in the future for high-end phones.

The future is soon. In the next 4 months everything should be clear.