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Looking back

11/1/09

I spend most of my time looking forward, but, from time to time it’s worth looking back.

My first column started with the prediction that Lewis Hamilton would win the Formula 1 championship, so I can claim accuracy on that, although I did say he’s walk it much as Nokia rules the phone market.

I then predicted that there was no future in mobile gambling, and nothing significant has happened there. My riskiest prediction of the year was that Vodafone would buy T-Mobile US. That didn’t happen: it was the uncertainty over Sprint that dominated  the US carrier scene. The game hasn’t played out yet so the T-Mobile debt/Vodafone cash pile scenario might yet happen, although Vodafone does seem ore interested in Africa.

One prediction that has become more likely is that Nokia will buy a bank. Back then it seemed that Nokia’s love of end to end services would drive it, but today banks are so cheap that when my credit card was refused on the basis of  “insufficient funds” I wondered if that was mine or the banks which didn’t stretch to the Blaniks.

I’d hoped that there would be more reaction to my spilling the beans on how broken the systems are on the London Underground. It seems that everyone is so used to the tube being dismal that no-one was surprised.

I sang the praises of phone retailers, and warned of the dangers of your company being bought by Motorola. I looked at the future of mobile TV needing an attitude change, and how mobile standards are tied up in the heads of a few great men.

Perhaps my most powerful prediction, and one I still think will come true is that Nokia will dominate Google in mobile search.

Pyramids and Egypt go together, but when marketing geeks talk about the “bottom of the pyramid” they mean poor people. Unlike the Egyptian edifices the people are the future. And the future of mobile payments.

One problem the mobile industry seems to be incapable of conquering is how to get good ideas to market. Rich Miner of Google told the Future of Mobile conference that when he was at Orange Ventures he couldn’t get Orange to launch the things he’d backed. What hope is there for the small developer? It’s a problem I tackled in my column in May.

It’s not all doom and gloom, the phone is the most powerful tool we’ve seen for truth and justice. By making everyone a journalist it’s the enemy of the oppressive regime. Maybe that’s hwy it has taken until 2008 for North Korea to put in a network.

Even in the West we can be looking to the mobile as being our savour, mobile healthcare will become increasingly important. If we don’t get it right we’ll die, our kids won’t look after us and the health system won’t cope with an aging population..
One column in June was very different to my usual fare, it was an interview with the SpinVox co-founder Daniel Doulton telling his incredible personal, near death, story.

A couple of columns looked at the importance of software teams. How a few good men are better than lots of average ones and how programming has moved from science to art.

There has been one Guest Column, Bob Schukai, Turner’s head of Mobile looked at how the promise of 3G has delivered.

I looked back at the Pogo, a device of the future, why the smartphone has failed to deliver and how Appsstore is more important than iPhone.

In August I explained the importance to phone manufacturers of a hardware abstraction layer, mobile securityfashion in phones,   the battle over the MID between ARM and Intel and what makes a phone a classic rather than a hit.

Some future directions are clearly lucrative, mobile advertising is one of them, but timing will be important and most people are running too fast. Now running against the tide I looked at the slowing of the Smartphone market and the strength of the mid-price sector.  Something that’s essential for small developers, people with the next great idea, to understand is the handset manufacturers risk mitigation, which is a shame because the smartest users would want the cool new stuff, especially since they are eleven. More mature people, like me will want fashion phones, and I came up with my own recipe . And if they want both they’ll want Multi-SIM. But can’t get it.

Careful shoppers will like my views on scope.com. I’ve used it a bit since and really like it. Note however that I got the Text shortcode wrong, it should be 6555. I do like shopping, which is why I compared operating systems to shops.

One of my favourite columns of the year was when I looked at the evolution of networks and services, and how they interrelate. One of the services which is over estimated is LBS, specifically GPS, another is UMA.

In a period of doom and gloom it’s good to realise that something always comes along, and that something has been about to have its day for a decade. It’s mobile data.

Which brings us up to the end of the year when the anti-virus vendors got a Christmas Present.

So to the future, well of course there is Mobile World Congress. I’ll be putting together my Barcelona top tips, and to future technologies. Software Defined Radio looks like it has been around the corner for long enough to become real.

Have a good New Year.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.

 

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