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"Mobile Web 2.0" – How Web 2.0 Impacts Mobility & Digital Convergence

Ajit Jaokar Asks a Series of Questions Based On His Understanding of Web 2.0 and Mobility

This is a series of three articles – the first (this one) outlining the significance of Web 2.0 technologies, the second article discussing the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on mobility and the final article on the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on digital convergence.

If you are already familiar with Web 2.0, my goal, in a nutshell (no pun intended!) is to extend Tim O Reilly’s seven principles to mobility and digital convergence.

Thus, I will not attempt to add to the body of knowledge in terms of basic Web 2.0 concepts themselves. I would rather prefer to build on some of the excellent work done on the subject from folk such as Tim O Reilly, Richard McManus and others. I will use their work as a background and extrapolate the basic Web 2.0 principles to mobility and digital convergence (areas which I am more familiar with).

My approach will be to ask a series of questions based on my understanding of web 2.0 and mobility. I also welcome your questions. In the two following parts of this paper, I will seek to answer them. Also, if you are a company doing some interesting work in this space, please e-mail me.

A few quick definitions before we start – just to be sure we have the same frame of reference.

Mobile vs. wireless: In Europe, the commonly used phrase for Telecoms data applications is ‘Mobile’. In USA, it is ‘wireless’ or ‘cellular’. In this article, ‘Wireless’ simply implies connection without wires. Mobility or ‘Mobile’ on the other hand describes a whole new class of applications which permit us to interact and transact seamlessly when the user is on the move ‘anywhere, anytime’. Hence, I use the term ‘Mobile’ independent of access technology i.e. 3G, wireless LANs, wimax, wibro, Bluetooth etc.

Mobile Internet: ‘Mobile IP data service’. It is not ‘Internet on the Mobile device’ since mobility also includes other elements such as ‘messaging’ i.e. non-browsing modes of access.

The mobile data industry: The ‘data’ i.e. non-voice side of telecoms. The telecoms operators are an important part of the mobile data industry.

Within the mobile data industry, ‘openness’ is still an alien concept. I wrote a book called OpenGardens along with Tony Fish which advocated openness in the mobile data industry (OpenGardens is the philosophical opposite of ‘walled gardens’).


Web 2.0

When I talk to senior telecoms people about ‘OpenGardens’ – they are still hung about ‘on portal’ or ‘off portal’. Further, most cannot see beyond the traditional ‘song and dance’ applications (ringtones/wall papers etc).

In contrast, I find Web 2.0 concepts refreshingly intuitive and they formalise many things which we know and use. For example – in OpenGardens, we talked about an application called ‘Splash messaging’ also called air graffiti or spatial messaging.

Contrast this with a very different type of application called ‘splash messaging/air graffiti/spatial messaging’. In its simplest case, it’s the ability to ‘pin’ digital ‘post it notes’ at any physical point. Suppose you were at a holiday destination and you took a picture or a video of that location. You then ‘posted’ that note digitally with your comments and made it accessible to your ‘friends’. Many years later, one of your friends happened to come to that same place and as she walked to the venue, a message would pop up on her device with your notes, picture and comments.

The Splash messaging application is a ‘mashup’ of many different feeds (for example a location feed and a mapping feed) and it has other features like user created content. Its characteristics are very similar to a Web 2.0 service.

So, coming back to my question, what’s Web 2.0 and how does it apply to the mobile data industry?

Continued on next page...

More Stories By Ajit Jaokar

Ajit Jaokar is the author of the book 'Mobile Web 2.0' and is also a member of the Web2.0 workgroup. Currently, he plays an advisory role to a number of mobile start-ups in the UK and Scandinavia. He also works with the government and trade missions of a number of countries including South Korea and Ireland. He is a regular speaker at SYS-CON events including AJAXWorld Conference & Expo.

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Most Recent Comments
Thoughts Aloud 03/22/06 10:45:47 PM EST

Trackback Added: The Challenge to Mobile Content Providers as Internet Companies Go Mobile; While Yahoo and Google further go mobile, talks between such internet giants including Microsoft and the telcos are still in progress regarding sharing the cost of operating broadband networks or ‘paying for the pipes’ telcos have invested ...

Thoughts Aloud 03/22/06 10:45:35 PM EST

Trackback Added: The Challenge to Mobile Content Providers as Internet Companies Go Mobile; While Yahoo and Google further go mobile, talks between such internet giants including Microsoft and the telcos are still in progress regarding sharing the cost of operating broadband networks or ‘paying for the pipes’ telcos have invested ...

RogerV 01/15/06 11:31:20 AM EST

Until AJAX has a standards-based graphics API that is pervasively available it won't be of much use to games programmers by and large. Forms widgets and image files are too limiting.

At any rate, I'm the first person to use AJAX in mobile application development and blog about my experience here:

my AJAX web app experience in the early days of DHTML

Leonid Iakovlev 12/30/05 08:21:08 AM EST

Btw Ajit - be sure to check that post from Russell Shaw - will give you some relevant hints.

Leonid Iakovlev 12/29/05 05:22:36 AM EST


There is a big difference between Skype and Google in that sense. Skype *does* have already a useful application widely used across varied platforms (mobile ones including), and that application *already* provides an API for secure application to application messaging/presence/identity/profile. Google as of now just has a potential to follow similar road.

Ajit Jaokar 12/29/05 04:23:25 AM EST

Many thanks Leonid. I shall take your comments on board when I write the next version

I agree with your comment on skype. My bets are also on google for the same reasons you mention. More soon kind rgds Ajit

Leonid Iakovlev 12/27/05 10:38:28 AM EST

I want to point out (and to ask a question at the same time) that for mobile Web 2.0 to happen we need to have some prerequisites that are almost here but not yet. Those prerequisites are needed to ease the relevant application developments and make them complaint. Prerequisites are:
- Unified (available on all major hardware/OS platforms and for all major software development languages, e.g. Win32/Linux/Symbian/PalmOS/WinCE/J2SE/J2ME/C++/Python/etc.) message exchange protocol and secure message delivery framework including message interpretation protocol
- Universal global carrier independent (or dependent on some really global players) presence/profile application framework including identity certificates
- Universal location information framework/provider/portal
I see now Skype as quite good a candidate for providing messaging/presence/identity infrastructure (mobile devices including; having Paypal under same eBay umbrella should help as well). Navizon meanwhile emerges (using kind of CDDB/FreeDB model) as a potential provider of location information - for cellular as well as for WLAN networks. I believe we will see the fruits of those (and similar) developments as soon as next year.

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