Revisiting 2006 Predictions

Last year, I predicted that 2006 would be the year of the mobile Web and that the mobile Web would “go main stream.” I think I can say that this prediction has largely played itself out. The rise of the mobile Web has become a topic in the mainstream press. Products like the X-Series from 3 and the Nokia Series-60 Web browser have addressed both the functionality and the cost issues. Opera launched Mini, opening up sophisticated Web browsing to a much wider range of handsets. The work of the Mobile Web Best Practices working group and the W3C Mobile Web Initiative have also played a role in providing guidelines to Web site developers and generating awareness of the mobile Web.

Although it continues to be controversial, dotMobi, which also launched in 2006, has played a key role in raising awareness of the mobile Web. I’m proud to have played a role both in the development and launch of dotMobi and in the W3C Mobile Web Initiative.

What I couldn’t have predicted at the end of 2005 was the rapid growth of other sophisticated Web and Internet-linked applications. Mobile photo-sharing and video-sharing are becoming as ubiquitous as their “traditional” Web counterparts. Web powerhouses like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft (Windows Live) have launched their own custom mobile applications for mail and messaging. Mobile Ajax and Mobile Widgets are also starting to play a role in bringing sophisticated and rich user experiences to the mobile handset. The walled gardens are opening up. Mobile Web advertising is rocketing forward, showing a possible path to revenue in this burgeoning space. These were the trends and innovations we focused on at the mobile2.0 event last month in San Francisco, and it was clear from the crowd we drew there and the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the event that we have come to an “inflection point” for the mobile Web.

My second prediction had to do with the use of the mobile Web in the developing world. We haven’t really seen any staggering advances here, although clearly mobile telephony itself is taking off in the developing world, and there are some interesting data points, such as the BBC article I referenced earlier in the year, to indicate mobile Web usage is becoming an important part of this trend. The W3C also ran an important workshop earlier in the month focusing on this topic (for which they just issued a workshop report that is definitely worth a read). There are really two stories here: one of them is about the usefulness of the Web in the developing world and the other is about how the mobile phone is bringing sophisticated technology into the hands of users there – helping to bridge the digital divide. I’m going to be co-chairing another workshop on this topic with Rittwik Jana of AT&T research at the upcoming WWW2007 conference. There we hope to build on the work of the W3C workshop and continue to throw light on this important subject.

More to come soon on wrap-up for 2006 and predictions going into 2007.

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4 comments on “Revisiting 2006 Predictions
  1. mika li says:

    Enlightening piece, Daniel. I very much agree with you on the evolution of mobile web. Opera Mini has been a revelation for me.

    I’d like to see developers and content providers solve the million dollar question… how to bring the rich and vastness of web/desktop content on to mobile devices which have limited real estate for display. Is content-reengineering in the form of (On-Device-Portal, WAP, i-mode) the way forward? or clever solutions to shrink-wrap website content via the excellent OPERA MINI? Or would we see innovative solutions such as Tricastmedia’s TWUIK (http://mobiko.blogs.com/mutant/2006/12/tricastmedias_t_1.html#comments) Rich Media Engine for mobile content creation?

  2. ari says:

    absolutely right!
    the evolving of wimax and mobile network would allow society to stay connected with the internet on move. This would undoubtedly provide opportunity for content creators to work for different platforms. CS3 seems to be Mobile publishing ready.

    It would be very interesting to see who evolves the content engine.

  3. Steven Tolliver says:

    Dan, sorry to pester you again, but we would very much like to have you appear as a keynote speaker at the 2007 Internet Global Congress in Barcelona in April. Is there a way I could provide further information to you?
    Thank you and best regards,
    Steven Tolliver
    [email deleted]

  4. telewizja n says:

    Following Russell’s lead, I thought I’d review my predictions for 2006 that I made at the end of last year. Ditto to his comment about the confusing numbering, we each did 10 out of 20, in no real order, and click through the links for the original posts detailing some of my original shots.

    Predictions 3 and 4:
    – 3G won’t kill Wi-Fi, WiMAX won’t kill 3G. There will be no killing of rival radio technologies.

    Check, one point. I’m hard pressed to think of any technology killing another this year, despite predictions that Wi-Fi would totally own all over 3G and so on.

    – Operators will still struggle to find the key selling points of 3G.

    Hmm. While we’re starting to see some changes here, I’m still going to award myself a point. Overall, operators still aren’t pushing anything particularly exciting on users because of 3G. This may be starting to change (3’s X-Series, perhaps mobile TV), so maybe in 2007.

    Predictions 7 and 8:

    – MVNOs will gain in popularity, with new services announced and launching regularly. But the thinning of the herd will also begin, with at least one high-profile casualty before the end of the year.

    Ding, one point. Plenty more MVNOs were announced this year, while Mobile ESPN and EasyMobile provided two high-profile crashes.

    – RIM will take it on the chin, even if it comes out of its patent suit okay. Push e-mail will become a commodity offering from carriers, and rivals like Visto, Seven, Nokia and Good will make gains in the enterprise market, partly because of their support of all types of mobile devices.

    It’s a bit early to give myself a point on this. RIM’s rivals did make strides in the last year, but it’s still on top of the market. I don’t think I’m wrong here, but my timing was certainly off.

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