I have a Nokia 6220 classic with an unlimited data plan, and I must say it’s pretty awesome. It runs Symbian, has a ton of free software that can run on it, Nokia’s MOSH service is very cool for getting apps to the phone and it has GPS to guide me through my retarded meanderings through London.
Recently I discovered twitter (it’s not that hot in the UK), and I really like the integrated functionality of linking up my Facebook, Blog and Twitter all into one communications stream. And, lo and behold, my phone also has a twitter client.
That’s some basic functionality of a mid-price mobile phone with a decent paltform, and if you investigate further, more and more phones are getting these kinds of features as standard. With Google’s Android release and Symbian’s upcomming open-sourcing of the OS I can see a massive platform battle heating up for the mobile’s soul.
But it’s all irrelevant.
No matter how feature-rich mobile devices get, they will forever suffer from battery issues – it’s no good having a device that shares photo’s, goes online, handles GPS and push email all at once if its battery drains within 6 hours.
This has important applications for the take-up of mobile services, even with standardised platforms emerging, the power issue will continue stunt devices and their applicability to web-services.
My tip, and something I would keep a close watch on is the emerging trends in battery manufacturing – naturally it’s the mobile-pop-culture of Japan and Taiwan that seems to be driving new power cell development, and any company that can replace the lithium-ion battery with something more durable and environmentally friendly will be onto a winner.
If we’re going to look into batteries, it will also affect the dominance of platforms, the manufacturer that is fastest to take-up any new battery technology that fits this description will very quickly win over the market.
Some might argue that it’s the usability of the phone that will drive sales, but with consolidation in the OS market into three dominant platforms (and I don’t include the iPhone OS, as I doubt apple with ever license it to OEM’s) and with battery time being an ever-present issue with all mobile devices, the platform will provide a market for diverse software competition and standardised usability over-time (best-practices exist and immitation is bound to make those OS’s less diverse) – the battery will be the last remaining obstacle in the take-up of mobile web services (even data plans are getting cheaper thanks to the merging of phone and mp3 player)
My prediction: this will become increasingly important in the lower-cost range of mobile’s (the one’s that come free with cheap contracts) and enterprise phones (anything with push-email and a keyboard). Until we have better batteries, mobile’s will be nothing more than calling devices instead of the online, location-aware wonders that the OS makers envision for them.