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Mobile World Congress 2012 Conference – How to develop the Apps of the future?

Mickaël Hiver
Mickaël Hiver
Revenue Operations Manager

This conference was animated by Tim Green from Mobile Entertainment. The speakers were:- Jon Summers, SVP, App & SVC Services, AT&T- Scott Jenson, Creative Director, Frog- Peter Broekroelofs, CTO & Co-Founder, Service2Media- Safdar Mustafa, Head of Mobile Media, Al Jazeera- Hoojong Kim, SVP, Global Technology Research Institute, SK TelecomIt was Jon Summer from AT&T who started the debates. For him, change must come from the complexity of tools, platforms, languages, protocols, as well as from data sources that the developers have to manage. All this must be simplified. AT&T has opened its network through a programme (WAC) for developing Cloud, with the aim of providing API/platforms to help developers, and to improve the collaboration with other telecommunication operators. This opening is surrounded by HTML5, by the support to developers, by a dedicated portal and by ‘On boarding’, which has not been developed, therefore I don’t really know what he meant by that. This change has begun in 2008 and continues up to this date.Scott Jenson from Frog then spoke about Apps and about the debate that opposes native development to web development. For him, a hybrid one is the solution with 3 possibilities:- App Glut: we need a store, a product and a website.- size and cost reduction: he calls it “Zombie applications apocalypse”, given the number of applications arriving in the store, many won’t have any chance to stand out and will become “zombies”.- Leverage other applications: having the possibility to interact with various equipment as for instance connecting a bottle in order to find our the number of times it has been used, the validity date of its contents.For him, Apps have not seen their revolution yet (according to the Kuhn cycle): from the mainframe to the tablet/mobile. There is thus a high opportunity to create a solution that concentrates all these new devices. The mobile will/must provide apps/services to be used when necessary at the right moment according to the place.I completely agree with himicon_wink.Then, Peter Broekroelofs from Service2media talked about the solution that they implemented for their customer Aljazeera: the cross device is a good opportunity to reduce costs. For this, Apps must be designed only once, then they must be deployed on various platforms and maintained. Peter has then listed a certain number of facts:- Developing on native takes a lot more time. Thus, there is an increase of the life cycle of the product.- The user experience is different depending on the platform (iOS, Android…) and also according to the equipment (Apple, HTC, Sony…).- There is also the problem related to security: the final user trusts the security of his smartphone, thus it must be preserved.- There is also the integration of the mobile in the IS (cloud, server, accessories) via wifi/3G.- Last, but not the least: one must administer the array of languages of the users (French, English, Chinese…).Safdar Mustafa followed on to make a debriefing in his capacity of client (Aljazeera). He insisted on 2 points: the issue of multiplatforms and the diversity of sources and medias generating info, for example the tweet of the photo of plane crash that was taken over by everybody. The mobile revolution in information is very important in the media world. Aljazeera adds as many functionalities as possible by listening to users (obtaining this feedback is not always simple considering the small number of tools offered by guest platforms). Concerning language, Safdar quoted a concrete example: Windows 7 does not support Arabic (input/output) which is a unacceptable for an OS used worldwide. In Safdar’s opinion, the IT world must determine the increase of the number of media, the development of Apps and platforms, and in particular benchmark and remain attentive to the users’ feedback.Hoojong Kim from SK Planet showed interest on the ecosystem around Apps. The presence of the mobile in Korea is on huge expansion with 27% penetration per year. SK Telecom has thus created a spinoff, SK Planet, to manage the mobile development platforms. With 12 million consumers, 26 million pages viewed each month and 619 million downloads (including documents and Apps), SK Telecom (like AT&T) must cope with the burst of usage of its network. According to a survey carried out by SK Planet, Android is ahead of iPhone and the mobile sites. Also according to this study, Android is more consuming in terms of network than iOS. Still in search of a platform allowing to integrate all devices, Hoojong confirms that HTML5 seems to be one of the best solutions.After all these presentations, the speakers have debated on the never-ending topic “HTML5 or native development?” without unfolding a real answer.A question addressed by a Russian person has fascinated the speakers: this person stated that 80% of the market is taken by Apple and asked the speakers when and how the other platforms will succeed in changing the odds? For Frog, one of the main problems come from the economic model using advertising. As long as it lasts, it will be though to challenge Apple. For Hoojong Kim, there is a need of more collaboration between the operator and the platform editors, especially around HTML5, which will allow to separate Apple and the platforms. For Aljazeera, we must remember the case of Nokia or even Microsoft: users adopt very quickly new standards as far as they see a new added value. Making available an Android App is, for him, a bet on the future. Like the day before (see my previous post), he militates for HTML5 to be able to access the functionalities of the equipment. For Service2Media, Apps are increasingly designed as “free of charge” and in order to make a difference, one must innovate and succeed in making oneself known.Another question: Will the operators make the developers pay for the bandwidth and the battery consumption that their apps use? AT&T works on a tool allowing developers to find out this consumption in order to reduce it. Good initiativeicon_smile!The conference ended on that note. As for me, I discovered later on that there already exists a solution that allows Apps in HTML5 to access the functionalities of devices: appMobi{!}.Second day in MWC: it is still as exciting as expected!

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