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November 28, 2012

Thought Leadership for the Wireless Industry
Hello all,
With the growth of tablets, there's been a lot of discussion about the "post-PC" era, as Steve Jobs coined it. I think we should also be considering how the smartphone -- which is essentially a portable broadband computer  -- fits into the multi-screen, constantly connected world. Read my column, It's Time to Talk About the Post-Smartphone Era.  

Also, as you know, I participated in the Open Mobile Summit last month in San Francisco. It was great event with excellent content from across the mobile internet value chain.  My Open Mobile Summit Top Ten Takeaways are below.
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It's Time to Discuss the 'Post-Smartphone' Era 


Steve Jobs, in promoting the iPad, famously coined the term "post-PC". The success of tablets, and growing cannibalization of PC sales, has started a vigorous discussion of what the next era of "computing" would look like.


This conversation should also include the notion of a "post-smartphone" era. With the increasingly blurry line between larger screen phones and smaller screen tablets -- hence the term "phablet"-- this discussion is about more than just semantics. What will be the role for this device, "formerly called the smartphone", in a multi-screen, constantly connected, computing world?

Open Mobile Summit: Key Takeaways
OpenMobile 2012
I spent three days in San Francisco earlier this month at the Open Mobile Summit. In addition to hosting fireside chats with the CMO of T-Mobile and Mark Gorenberg of Hummer Winblad, I attended sessions and had many other interesting discussions and meetings.

Below is 'lightning round' of ten key observations, across several segments of the Mobile Internet Value Chain:

1. Connectivity will include 'multiple tools in the toolbox', not just 4G cellular. Near ubiquitous broadband connectivity, at economics that make sense for both provider and user, is a necessity -- but is a huge challenge to provide. Hence the resurgence of Wi-Fi.

2. Mobile Payments. Probably this year's hottest topic. A tectonic battle shaping up between: incumbent financial industry players, who want the incremental opportunities mobile has to offer but don't want cannibalization of their lucrative business model; and those like Square and LevelUp, who seek to disrupt, and have merchants on their side.

3. Advertising. This is the first year that mobile advertising is showing meaningful commitment and spend by major brands. There was consensus that we need bolder experimentation, leveraging the unique characteristics and form factor of mobile. And better analytics to track those programs.

4. Applications. Sentiments were mixed. On the one hand, huge energy and creativity is going into applications. On the other, there's frustration that outside of "marquee" apps (i.e. Yelp, Evernote) and the occasional surprise hit, discovery, sustainable business models, and predictable monetization are hard to come by.

5.  Emerging Markets. Will see disproportionate % of growth over next 3 years due to rapidly declining BOM for smartphones -- especially Android.  Also, Android-based tablets costing under $200 could become the computing platform in certain geographies.

6.  Games. Mobile games are slowly taking over the world, compared to PC/console/standalone portable gaming devices. This led to interesting discussion about how to apply mobile game UI and design elements to other app categories, such as education.

7. Digital Living Room. Frustration is the word. The technology exists. Great progress has been made in extending content to mobile devices. But involving the living room in the discussion and/or disrupting the traditional TV model will be a huge challenge so long as marquee content providers such as HBO and categories such as live sports are tied to the cable distribution model.

8. Sensors. This is one of the next big things. Sensors that communicate wirelessly will create huge opportunities in areas such as health, home security, and M2M industrial applications.

9. Devices. A bit of fatigue is creeping in, given the relative "sameness" of mobile device hardware form factor and design. There was little sense of what the 'next big thing' might be...but at the same time, stuff just gets better and better. 

10. Native Apps vs. HTML5/Web. The debate is unresolved. It's looking like 'both and' instead of 'either or' for awhile, until there are more big brands in addition to the Financial Times to fill a 'successes in HTML5' panel.
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