My mobile life

Sometimes I think I live on mobile. If there’s a device I really couldn’t miss it’s my mobile phone. Ask my wife, if on occasion I don’t take my mobile phone with me, she’ll wonder how it’s possible I forgot it. It’s just too odd for me to be without. According to my mom, it’ll grow on my ears one day. Whatever ;)

Anyway, it’s true that mobile is important for me, ever since I got my first mobile phone some 10 years ago. Every year I hope that mobile will really breakthrough, but unfortunately also this year won’t be the year of mobile, just like 2007, 2006 nor 2005 were the year of mobile. It’s that one prediction that I wish it were through, but you know it won’t be.

It’s not even in our hands. I think the devices are there, thinking of the N95, the iPhone and some Windows Mobile devices that are all capable of doing amazing things for such a small device. The iPhone has the interface to love, my HTC is less slick but comes with 3G, built in GPS and all the power of Office and Exchange on mobile. Or the N95 with it’s superb camera. And now I’m not mentioning a ton of other great features these phones have.

Apart from all that greatness, I’ve been a very active user of the mobile web for the last 6 years or so as well. First on WAP on my old Nokia 6310i for instance, later on Vodafone Live with a Sharp GX30. Back then I was still working on Kinepolis‘ new media strategy and we invested in this back then already. Today Kinepolis is still one of the very few Belgian companies with a decent mobile site, for which you got to give them credit. But even outside Belgium, there aren’t many mobile specific sites, which already resulted in a shout-out more than a year ago.

The mobile sites I currently use are: BBC, Bloglines, Gmail, Hotmail, Messenger, Dopplr, Facebook, Google Reader, Live Search, Kinepolis, MSN, Twitter, Technorati, Wapedia, Flickr, Yahoo and WordPress. I don’t really know many more that are of use to me, or that aren’t in a walled garden like Vodafone Live.

I also use client versions like Live Messenger (which you can download for all kinds of devices), the Live Search client as well as the Google Maps client, Yahoo!Go, … as well as apps that run in the Java environment on mobile like Gmail and Opera Mini. On the N95 I also tried the Widsets, but whatever the phone, the browse services still top them all.

Today, with the iPhone’s browsing capabilities, or other mobile browsers that enable better viewing of ‘normal websites’ on mobile we will probably skip the further development of mobile specific sites. With Skyfire for instance (see announcement) or Deepfish I expect to see more ‘regular’ browsing in the future.

Still, the problem remains, now even more than ever I guess. We will have access to every site we want, with great browsers but at what cost? There’s a good explanation why I use so much mobile: I can use it obviously but more important is that I don’t have to pay for it. The day I have to pay for it, I’ll cut back for sure, need or no need. How much I love the Wifi on these phones, that’s not truly mobile for me. It’s when in a taxi, or before checking in a plane, while waiting on someone, … that I love to use all my catching up. Not only in my sofa at home for instance.

So unless operators change their models on data costs, mobile will never really breakthrough and that’s sad. And yes you can discuss devices etc aren’t ready yet either, allow me to say they’re well ahead of the game when you compare them to operator attitudes. And I’m afraid they won’t change that soon either. There’s too much money to be made with TXT messages to allow you to use IM on mobile instead for instance. What’s your take?

PS: Also check out the upcoming FF for Mobile now we’re at it ;)

PPS: And Twitter, for god’s sake, at least add a replies tab to will ya!




  1. Hi Kris,
    Pricing of mobile services indeed is an issue. I would even say that pricing of
    broadband in Belgium is an issue when I compare it with the UK… but that is for a different Post ;-)
    I have been testing the new 3 Skypephone
    for a month now and I must say I was not only impressed by the value for money of the phone but also by the pricing of the data packages. The operator 3
    seems to do a very good job at opening up data services to (private) end users.
    At £5/month
    you get unlimited internet browsing and internet email. When topping up £10 per month you have unlimited Skype usage. You can even use this £10 top-up to pay for your Internet browsing and email data package. Mobile TV is available at £0.49 for 24 hours and you can watch BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, FHM, Nickelodeon and many more. When compared to Orange’s pricing for mobile TV at £0.40 per minute, you can see there is a HUGE difference.
    Another benefit is that you can use the 3 Skypephone as a 3G modem for your laptop (just plug the USB cable in and use the supplied software), which is pretty good when you are at the airport with its extortionate Wi-Fi rates. I have also been using Skype messaging and voice on the move. I even tested it with my Bluetooth headset, driving at 70mph on the motorway and I had a pretty good audio quality during a conversation with a friend in Belgium. Compare this free Skype call to making an international mobile phone call and the £10/month investment is quickly recouped.

    If, like me, you also use your iPod Touch to surf the web, The
    offers you some “cheap” connectivity, but it won’t help you when you are in a taxi obviously ;-)

    So it seems some operators and companies are starting to offer data services at prices that are reasonable to private end users, but most of them don’t. People in my circle of friends don’t even bother at all with the mobile data services just because of the pricing. There is a world of new business models out there that would offer added convenience but as long as the pricing doesn’t change true mobility won’t take off indeed.

  2. Jer00n says:

    Twittering on mobile is great – just don’t use Twitter :) is the best mobile interface I have seen so far.
    Check it out, I think you’ll like it!

  3. jamie wells says:

    I’m not going to touch the “X will be the year in mobile” – mostly because I agree… but things are moving in the right direction. I’ve blogged about it plenty here:

    It should be noted that as of 11/07 about 25% of US mobile subs had an unlimited data plan… that’s a pretty big number and a big jump from ’06 (13%). Source: Mobile Marketing Association.

    That’s pretty significant… again, will 2008 be the “year that mobile ‘happens'”? – not sure, but this is the year when things are definitely picking up steam.


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