Graham weighs in on Windows Mobile 6.5
Throughout the talk, the words innovation, interaction and user experience are repeated, however just saying the words does not make it true. I found no presence of innovation in Windows Mobile 6.5, it definitely seems like theyâ€™ve tried to bolt on touch capability to their existing OS. I found more innovation in Appleâ€™s iPhone cut and paste feature than in the whole of this Windows Mobile demo.
I hate to say this but Apple has the industry in catch-up mode again. It’s easy to get labelled as a fanboy but every second headlines seems to be about how the iPhone is brilliant or how some new phone/platform will kill it. Either way it has huge amounts of mindshare.
This evening we had a bit of a treat and were able to attend Mobile Monday Belfast’s Show and Tell for mobile apps. The auditorium had a good number of folk in there and the demos presented all had something unique to offer. I had to speak for five minutes at the start about the, until recently top secret, iPhone initiative and then we got into the demos proper.
EyeSpyFX – Anthony Hutton was on stage demonstrating his webcam viewer app which is available for 15 varieties of mobile phone in addition to the iPhone. His demo, slowed only by the really poor reception in the building, was impressive. Anton’s most memorable statements were regarding the economics of developing apps for mobile phones and the iPhone in particular. He claimed that developing for the iPhone was a fussy affair – requiring a Mac, the developer license and an iPhone to test on – quite a significant outlay for a startup with no prior Mac experience. But he said that development was quick and easy, getting the app onto the store and support documentation were excellent. He also commented that his apps sell on standard JavaME platforms and the operators and aggregators normally charge â‚¬6 for the app and he would get maybe â‚¬1 of this and in the cases of some aggregators, maybe even just â‚¬0.30 per copy. On the iPhone, Apple takes 30% of the revenue but as his app costs Â£2.99, it means he pockets over Â£2.00 per copy. And, in his own words, despite there being fewer iPhones out there, buying apps for JavaME phones is a pain, and his iPhone sales numbers have been four times the sales of his JavaME apps.
The next demo was John Martin from Total Mobile – a Windows Mobile developer squarely ensconced in Windows land and with strong sales in case management (by all accounts they’re a Consilium spin-out?). Their user interface was very Windows Mobile and people used to that would feel very at home. Speaking afterwards, I found John to be very personable and enjoyed his opinions of his various mobile devices (which included a HTC Advantage and a Redfly ‘unit’.
Next up was Ryan Cushnahan with his GAAStats Windows Mobile app. While his user interface was very basic, the use-case for the software was very strong. He licenses the software for Â£400, which seems steep compared to AppStore pricing but it’s a niche product by someone who knows his game. I think Ryan might be a good candidate for the getting a UI makeover!
I then went on stage and did a quick demo of three iPhone apps from ‘local’ developers. The first was Pocket Universe from Craic Design – one of the best astronomy apps for the iPhone. John’s pedigree includes doing similar apps for Windows mobile. I also gave a minute to his other iPhone release, ShootEmUp and just tonight I found out about his free Animal Track kids game, devised by his 9 year old daughter.
Next, I demo’ed Locle mini from Dublin based social networking startup, Locle. Locle is a simple app currently utilising a web view for most of their user interface but a little birdie tells me that their sales have meant they’re able to get a more native version on iPhone.
The third was close to my heart, EyeCandy Comics from Blue Pilot Software. I also made passing reference to a new service called Infurious Republic when I was asked when the rank and file would be able to get their stuff online.
Lastly, and in the door by the skin of his teeth, came Rory from Ammeon. Again the poor reception and lack of WiFi killed some of the demo but there was enough to get the gist of it. Commune effectively allows an operator to create a custom TV station with their own content which is able to be viewed over a mobile link and has a small degree of social network in a comments system attached to each video.
In the conversations after, I was explaining that my interest in the iPhone Initiative was to find digital content companies which were interested in developing skills in mobile interface design – that skills which were developed for iPhone, darling of the media, would easily port to Windows Mobile, Palm or Blackberry when the time came. It was then someone commented about the Windows Mobile offerings, that the marke share for Windows Mobile far exceeds that of the iPhone. The commenter was a dyed-in-the-wool Windows guy (I first met him over a decade ago when he was working for a DELL reseller and was trying to tell me IIS was better than Apache or Netscape Suitespot Servers). I hear you – but so many of those devices are dumb terminals, they’re used as barcode scanners, handheld credit card scanners – it’s a different market and they’re not going to ever run interesting software. It was an odd statement – really rang as defensive – and seemed particularly odd considering Anthony Huttons comment that his sales of iPhone apps far exceeded his sales of apps for the other platforms he supports: JavaME, Blackberry and Windows Mobile. In essence, while there may be more out there, they ain’t buying apps.
All in all, the night was a resounding success for Norbert and Colin, both of whom put a lot of work into Mobile Monday in Belfast. Next month they’ve got someone from Mozilla Mobile coming in and a whole new raft of interesting stuff to learn about.