Wow! Common platforms are actually happening…

I’ve been working with a web 2.0 company doing social game play things for the last few months… so when I read this, all i could say was “wow!”.

Open-source Linux efforts that pose a threat to Symbian and, by extension, to Nokia, include the LiMo Foundation — whose membership includes Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Panasonic and LM Ericsson, which also are members of the new Symbian Foundation — and Google’s Android effort, featuring many of the same players. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone is set to launch in 70 countries by next year and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS has also gained share in recent years.”

This is so fantastic.  I can’t believe that there is finally so much movement around creating platforms that finally actually have some standards and extensibility.   Some of these platforms also tackle distribution, which will start to finally put a dent in the stifling of creativity in the mobile marketplace.

I’ve been working with mobile platforms for the last 5 years (save the last couple months).  Over that time, one of the biggest frustrations and (admittedly fun for a little while) challenges was how to figure out how to design and create products that could actually be distributed in the current ecosystem.  Its so great and refreshing to see this actually changing.  It means that hopefully we’ll start seeing some more innovation.  More unique offerings.  And more mobile adoption of new ideas.   Maybe we’ll alas be free of some of the carrier bureaucracy!

I’ll say it again – wow!


Urban Living is Greener!

I like this Wired article about Urban Living being better for the environment than Suburban Living.  One of the reasons I love urban cities is the sense of community around resources such as transportation.  From a more sociological perspective, this notion potentially reinforces the sociality of human nature.  (I mean… the more fit places will survive and flourish… no?)


Wii Fitness!

The Wii has revolutionalized gaming systems.  It’s brought simple mechanics back into the gaming world and has allowed physical play to replace narrative.  I love my wii… but find that, at this point in my life, play without any realistic reward returned just isn’t interesting enough to me to spend hours a day at at.  The reality:  I just dont have the time.

The age-old hurdle of game makers, has always been to figure out how to involve more “family” experience into game play.  How do I engage more than just the teen-age boys in video-games.  How do I market to the moms?  Wii has totally done it!  I took my Wii to my mom’s home in Michigan with me last summer (my litmus test for all things technology).  She LOVED it.  She would come home from work and beg me to play bowling with her.  It was great.   I’ve found the same results with the majority of my non-tech girlfriends, here in the bay.  The problem is though, I could never see them getting really hooked… because, simply, they don’t find the value to set aside large amounts of time to “play a game”.

Wii Fitness has put what every busy woman wants back into the game.    It does what other games and systems don’t:  Gives real world meaning and results to something you can play with.  Busy women, working moms, etc, I think are really going to love this!

I can’t wait to get mine!  You can pre-order here.  Its scheduled to be released May 2008.


Lousy Games

Originally uploaded by anitamobile.

I opened up my RCR Wireless News today. The center lead story “Lousy Games”. Below is some of the article that I think is really good, besides the continuation link, which reads “See BAD GAMES on Page 20”.

Developers, publishers and carriers are bringing new titles to market every day in their haste to cash in on the exploding mobile-game industry. But the crush of new games includes far too many mediocre offerings, some say.

“My fear is that we have games that have great names but that give the user a bad experience,” said Jason Ford, general manager of games for Sprint PCS. … We reject probably 50 percent of the concepts that come in the door,” Ford said earlier this month, adding that he was in the process of rejecting one branded title from a major publisher. “(Our acceptance) doesn’t always go in line with big names or big publishers. … It’s on a game-by-game basis.”

The problem isn’t as much what gets filtered out, though, as what gets onto the carrier decks, which are the most prized real estate in the wireless content industry. Games with eye-catching titles based on big-budget Hollywood blockbusters or noted console franchises often get premium deck placement and may be the most attractive to users trying out games for the first time.

The key to creating more quality games is moving beyond traditional games to titles that take advantage of the platform, said Erickson. While the wireless phone is an undeniably poor platform for traditional games, game makers have yet to take full advantage of its connectivity and mobility. Publishers should also develop games that offer self-refreshing content, Erickson said, encouraging user interaction and extending a game’s life cycle.

Need I say more?


No phones in chicago

“A law imposing a $50 fine for those using cell phones while driving goes into effect Friday. The fine increases to $200 if the driver gets in an accident while talking on the phone.”

This law went into effect on July 8th. I find it ironic that in a city where no helmet law is enforced for motorcycle riders and smoking is still permitted in public areas, that phones while driving are banned. Im not saying that they shouldn’t be, Im just saying I find it rather ironic.

I don’t think I’d get accomplished half the business meetings that I need to, if that were the case here.


How MVNOs change the experience

As we begin to see MVNO trends really take shape, how does the experience to the user change? I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately.

Disney, ESPN, and AMPed are just a few rather new MVNOs, which will begin to shape how users experience the mobile lifestyle. Instead of having to deal with a carrier middleman, content providers will be able to control the whole experience down to the billing and payment. It will be much more about brand recognition, and much less about infrastructure quality.

The service pricing will influence the brand. Service pricing will be just as much a part of the brand, as much as a brand will be about its pricing. What sort of implications will this have on brands? Will it mean that one is more premium, one is more economical? What is the monetary essence of Disney?

It is especially interesting, too, to consider the type of targeted content that will now be available. As a third party developer knowing that all my users are age 18-25 on X MVNO makes it much easier to deliver a specific product to a targeted demographic. More specificity will be available, and as such, more opportunity to sell directed content. This I see as a big win for many different parties.

Even more so, though, as a designer I am interested in how this new “total experience” is going to influence the consumer experience in each product. In general, I think it could make the whole experience easier for users to understand. From an interaction stand point, the experience will now be more inclusive: hardware purchasing, service, and content will all be controlled by one brand. Bundling all these price points to really drive a product, both limits choices but makes things much easier on the end user. [Apple does this very well!] For example if I want to purchase the latest mo-blogging phone software, maybe my MMS service becomes cheaper. Or if I want streaming TV or radio, maybe my dataplan is automatically unlimited, without me having to choose that option too. The focus shifts from service to function. What do I want my portable device to do? The pricing, service, and even hardware for the best experience could then naturally come along with it.

I see a big powerful shift beginning to emerge. As we understand better how to cater the entire experience, I think we could also see content adoption process eased and more varied [not just games, wallpaper, and ringtones] content sales.


Impulse information

The other day, I went to see Mimi Ito speak about the work she did on Camera Phones. I’ve heard her talk before, but I thought I’d go again to hear her work once more. At the end of the talk she mentioned a great metaphor, casually. She said that the phone wasn’t replacing the desktop, but instead that it was replacing gum and cigarettes. Yesterday, while I was working, I mentioned to my friend, Ted from 4info, of how to think about designing a mobile app. My analogy: think about designing for a 5 year old.

No attention, clear and direct, simple!

On the way home, we were chatting about the web on phones. We were talking about what a better metaphor for browsing the web on the phone would be. I was reminded of Mimi’s thoughts.

Impulse information.

Impulse information is something that you need within a few seconds of thinking of it. If it takes too much time, then your addiction and impulse wears off. You want to find that one thing. You want to find it fast. You want to find it now. You know what it is you are craving. The challenge is just to get it quickly.

You don’t want to browse through a lot of pages. You don’t want to sift through irrelevant content. You don’t want to be bogged down by massive hierarchical structures. You want something flat, quick, and satisfying. Something like a piece of chocolate after a big meal, a piece of candy at 4:00, a sip of coffee after a long meeting, or even a cigarette after sex. You need it. You want it. The moment matters.

The implications rethinking some of the way the web is structured could have implications structurally, functionally, and with content. Do we still necessarily need links, or is search better? Flatter databases with content that is readily available at a top level just waiting to be picked by an accurate query. Less network interactions. What would it mean to pear down content to only the really relevant information. Could we actually start to include short hand or texting phrases into content pages. Btw, w/o, 2, U, 4, etc. Cryptic perhaps, but if you get what you want and you get it now, perhaps more satisfying.

Taking this thought one step further… I venture to wonder… instead of the information age… are we beginning to enter the information addiction age? If so, sign me up for the closest IA.