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CTIA panelist: Build user-friendly iPhone apps

LAS VEGAS – While mobile Internet usage is on the upswing, mobile service providers and content developers are still seeking the right strategies to push it to the next level.

The “Mobile Internet’s Strategies for Accelerated Growth” panel at International CTIA Wireless 2010 addressed the perspective of carriers who provide Internet access via their network. In addition, they discussed how much of a boost consumers can expect from the newest generation of smartphones and applications.

“The big challenge I see is the device ecosystem and the platform ecosystem, said Bob Gessell, head of technology and network strategy at Ericsson Inc. “There was supposed to be convergence.

“Android is a very positive thing for the industry,” he said. We expect to see that play a significant role in the app side.”

Ericson claims that it wants to promote a community that embraces operators.

Additionally, the company noticed that it is not only about the data, but it is also how the applications behave on the network, claiming that not all iPhone applications that are designed are mobile friendly.

“Things need to be managed,” Mr. Gessell said. “There’s going to be private data flowing in the network and that requires yet another form of info structure. There is a lot of stream lining that has to happen.”

“There’s an ecosystem that’s evolving and it consists of all the players,” he said. “We’re at a point at finding out what the worst practices are – they  are really affecting the operator’s ability to provide service at all.

“Apple has done their own version of this. They’ve already got a set of rules and standards.”

Mobile platforms
David Hagan, president and CEO of Boingo Wireless said that there are only two platforms that really matter – Apple and Android.

Bandwidth is a fundamental issue, which the panelists predict will create a strain.

“I think that the issue of apps versus mobile Web tends to get confused,” said David Katz, vice president of Yahoo. “What’s the development environment and how are consumers discovering the services?

“Whether people are finding experiences through an app store or searching URLs, both of the metaphors are going to get scrambled in interesting ways throughout the years,” he said.

“Developers want to see a common platform – they don’t want to be developing across multiple platforms.”

Orange, a mobile communications company provides bandwidth, but said that its bandwidth is not unlimited and the company uses it in an efficient way.

They are currently looking at strategies that float some of the traffic.

“There needs to be awareness of the value of bandwidth,” said Patrick Remy, vice president of devices at Orange. “At the moment we’re not seeing it.”

“We do provide some services ourselves,” he said. “We’re trying to provide across all devices that we have – there’s no question if the app’s root is more efficient than the mobile Web root.

“Mobile Web is still limited. This year we’ll start to get a good mobile Web experience, but we’re not there yet.”

Future of mobile Web
Todd Zander, vice president of digital media distribution at Discovery Communications, said that although everyone is talking about the future of mobile Web, advertisers do not want to spend there yet.

The big question is if a company can build something that makes sense across all platforms.

Additionally, Mr. Zander predicts that about a year or so, everyone will have a smartphone.

“It costs a lot of money to build an app and to maintain it,” Mr. Zander said. “We want to build the best possible application and it costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time.

“I wish there was a way to build an app once and have it work for every device,” he said.