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Mobile 2.0 Event review

We kicked off our stay in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley with the Mobile 2.0 event organized by the folks that normally organize the Mobile Monday here in the Bay Area. There were around 300 people attending, the location was great as was the lunch and the free drinks afterwards.
So what does Mobile 2.0 stand for? As Dan Appelquist described it, the concept or the idea behind this term is: “mobile web connected apps on the mobile platform”.

The whole event, apart from the keynotes, was held in panel discussions with panelists also taking some time for presenting on their own. The most interesting topics for us obviously was everything related to the mobile web and to browser based applications of which there were not many to be seen. The highlights were the presentations and demos of:
  • SoonR: nice AJAX job on the Opera Browser for mobile devices
  • Mobile Launchpad: Peter Vesterbacka and his many companies, especially with their brand new REST API for sending out SMS to many people at once
  • Arun Ranganathan of AOL: he pointed out some interesting basic principles like using WURFL for detecting browsers and the need for an API to access phone features from within JavaScript in the mobile browser (as side information while speaking about his real topic)
  • dotMobi: Ronan Cremin presented the brand new validation tool, their Mobile Ready Report generator (nice!) and the developer section under (thanks for the T-Shirt)
What have we learned?
  • there are not so many relevant mobile browsers as initially thought (OpenWave, Access Netfront, Opera +mini, IE, minimo, S60 should cover > 95% of all devices)
  • some SonyEricsson phones use the Netfront browser
  • apparently many people call the “Pocket IE” (or “IEMobile”) “Compact IE”
  • battery life can be heavily decreased if there are AJAX applications running (need to test this)
  • carriers can be a pain and they also slow down browser and phone hardware development (many phones would have much more features if carriers would allow them to)
  • pays you 25 bucks if you contribute a test on your mobile phone to them
  • instant messaging on phones is all over the place and there will surely be some application to be seen in the mobile web area pretty soon
What did we get confirmed?
  • the easier an application on a mobile is, the better
  • SMS is still important and will continue to be, also in the mobile web
  • browser capability detection is important (WURFL)
  • mobile AJAX powered services will replace installable applications somewhen
  • people will use the mobile web heavily only if there is a real killer application (or some of them)
  • the future is browser based, not installed
  • the big thing that is still missing is the access to the mobile phone’s features from within the browser (like a Javascript API to access the GPS module or the contact and calendar info on the phone)
  • making stuff work in many different browsers means making it degrade gracefully and bulletproof

Special thanks go out to Tony Fish for signing my copy of his book and to Michael from Opera, Rick and Yong from Access (Palmsource) for being such good discussion partners and for making this event even better with their questions and remarks on the mobile browser landscape ;). Also thanks to all the guys from Opera who joined us in the free beer extermination after the event and who also were amazing discussion partners.

Let’s hope there will be many more of these events!

PS: Also check out Paddy Byers extensive summary about the event on the Open Gardens Blog! And thanks Paddy for our nice chat after the event and good luck to you for the next couple of months.

PPS: Also check out the comments of Mike Rowehl, one of the organizers of the event, who was not quite happy with his own event. I think I have to disagree with him that Mobile 2.0 “didn’t quite do it”, because at least for me it was quite a good experience.

PPPS: Scott Rafer also seems to have found this event to be under par - check out his comments on it here. Btw. the comment from the audience about the “hiding” of the user agent in Opera Mini caused quite a discussion at our table between Mike from Opera, me and Rick and Yong from Access (Netfront Browser).

PPPPS: Rudy De Waele on Richard MacManus’ weblog Read/WriteWeb shares some interesting views about what Mobile 2.0 is and what companies are there at the moment. He also included a list of “Recommended mobile 2.0 reading” (we’re not in it).