The bank, Credit Suisse, projects global smartphone sales in calendar 2009 at 176 million units and 223 million in 2010. Where are we heading?

As more smartphones are sold two things are evolving and exploiting the functionality of smartphones more fully. On the supplier side there is smartphone software and apps. On the user side, changing user habits.

Running with them will be new applications. They will serve health, emergency services, defence, education, banking, retailing, and other sectors benefiting from information services. These applications will be commercialised if smartphones meet user needs.

Those user needs may be because the information sent, or the information received in response, is time critical, location aware, personalised or authenticated.

The centrality of navigation functionality

We are heading deeper into what has long been predicted. Our era is one in which the paradigm for software emphasises navigation. Navigation connotes mobility.

The centrality of the notion of navigation is discussed in Structured networks and the next internet wave.

Road navigation with eTags and iPhone Map App

The evolution of services utilising such functionality will be massive. Consider what it’s done to road transport in Sydney.

The horse and buggy motivated building the roads which in time became today’s grid transport system.

In 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was finished. In 2009 you can’t efficiently use the Bridge without paying a toll electronically. In Sydney and other cities tollways require an eTag (ie expressways requiring electronic toll payment). Car owners can top up their eTag accounts with online credit card payments.

A decade ago I was advising a client company developing vehicle navigation software costing tens of thousands of dollars. It tracked vehicles as they moved to locations. It could monitor a fleet of vehicles and help chart the shortest routes for deliveries. Its benefits were – faster, cheaper, better.

In 2009 I’m doing something similar, and at lower cost, with my iPhone on Saturday mornings. I’m the driver and the delivery is my son. Our destinations are unfamiliar soccer fields. We reach them relying on data from my iPhone email or the iPhone’s Map app and its geographic positioning functionality. Maybe one day I’ll load the TomTom iPhone App (see first photo above).

Legal issues for mobile commerce

Preconditions for mobile applications include reviewing, developing and resolving legal issues, payment systems and security and authentication systems.

There is a thicket of laws relevant to mobile commerce (AKA mCommerce). Commonwealth legislation alone includes – Telecommunications Act 1997, Banking Act 1959, Broadcasting Services Act 1992, Corporations Act 2001, Privacy Act 1988, Electronic Transactions Act 1999, Interactive Gambling Act 2001, Spam Act 2003, and the Consumer and Competition Act 2010.

For content regulation a good place to start is the Codes for Industry Co-regulation in areas of Internet and Mobile Content (Pursuant to the Requirements of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992) as registered with the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

Conclusion

There will be change. It’s an economic imperative in the search for benefits such as:

    • Reduced costs (eg reducing ridiculous mobile phone costs) and increased revenue
    • Faster and improved customer service and response
    • Flexibility and access for workforce personnel
    • Greater collaboration between applications, people and organisations.

In the current and last decade (the 1990s) such benefits were gained online by a rare few businesses. For example they implemented the fixed wire troika of having a website (public), intranet (in-house dashboard) and finally an extranet (external access by personnel and customers).

In the next decade (2010 – 2020) new applications will further unleash that extranet component to operate wireless and mobile. There will be growth in applications, users and infrastructure and changing user habits to monitor.

What is the business typology for mobile content and applications? The building blocks emerged years ago, see  Content licensing for mobile phones and for an update App Store downloads – can’t catch me sings Steve Jobs.

Where are the application stores for smartphones? The iPhone App Store (now with 70,000 applications) has been joined by others in 2009 as follows:

    • BlackBerry App World
    • Android Market
    • Windows Mobile Marketplace
    • Nokia Ovi Store
    • Palm App Catalog
    • iPhone App Store
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