On February 26, 2008, at the TechMart in Santa Clara, SDForum held an event on the convergence of virtual worlds and mobile technologies.
Virtual reality is moving from super computers to cell phones. Social networking is an important part of both worlds as they are converge. The result is a hybrid or mash-up of virtual and real worlds with images and information rushing back and forth. There will be demand for new investment and infrastructure for payment systems, operating systems and platforms. An integrated VR Mobile system will have to know who and where users are to deliver the content they want at a price they want to pay.
The first keynote was from Anders Nancke-Krogh, Head of Development for the Point&Find business program at Nokia R&D. Nokia must develop the hardware and encourage developers to create mobile services for a better user experience. It has to deliver more than phone calls, e-mail, pictures, music and video.
Most mobile devices are terrible computing devices. Information is consumed but not easily created using toggles and tiny keyboards.
One answer is the Nokia Point&Finds PointPhone. He demonstrated a cell phone hosted service that could take a picture of a movie poster and then display the official website of that movie. From there a user can click and buy a movie ticket.
More than that, a user can create searchable picture tags of their surroundings. At some point there could be facial recognition. There is great potential for games. Nokia wants to encourage a community of developers to create services and content.
The first panel was on the venture capital landscape and moderated by Mike Doran of Fish & Richardson. The panel consisted of B0ris Karadogan of Velocity Interactive Group, Nate Redmond of Rustic Canyon, Sharon Wienbar of Scale Venture and Richard Wong of Accel.
VCs look for off-deck applications outside the operating system of a major carrier. Large carriers must get their revenue share and that could stifle incentive for innovation. They can still influence development through inertia but there will not be a single mobile web platform or an embedded system. Apple has changed the mobile game with the iPhone. People that are serious about their software build their own hardware. Ultimately mobile devices must adapt to the Internet as it is rather than the other way around.
Doran asked a hard question. Historically the pioneers of a new media of technology have been providers of content for older audiences. Will this be the killer app? After an awkward silence, the panel did talk about differing community standards around the world and the explosive growth in these areas. They expect domestic growth in wallpapers and dating services.
What mobile apps interest them? Simpler versions of desktop virtual games. WiFi Army is another, where users hunt each other with cell phones. Gaming, digital goods and ways to express oneself online not possible in real life hold great potential. Revenue will be from a mix of ads, subscription and direct transactions.
The second keynote was a global perspective from Joe Jasin of SK Telecom. Google’s bid for spectrum with the FCC is as important to Mobile VR as the Apple iPhone. It could provide a wide range of opportunities for open source applications. America has a chance to build more advanced and open systems than Asia or Europe. To make the most of it, Jasin thinks microsociology, how people interact in social networks will be important. He said that Helio and Cyworld do a lot of what is expected of VR Mobile right now. The ultimate challenge will be when large countries like China begin to compete in social networking and VR Mobile. The size of their markets can drive industry standards.
Martin Dunsby of Vollee said cell phones are great communication devices but very weak computing devices. The good news is that mobile devices connect with networks at least as well as desktop systems in many places around the world. Vollee adapts desktop applications to mobile devices. He demonstrated how to toggle through Google Earth and Second Life using a cell phone in real time.
Homayoon Shahinfar of Mblox gave his perspective on monetizing the mobile experience. In 2007 they handled two billion messages worth 500 million dollars. He explained the difference between On-Portal services offered by carriers versus Off-Portal services offered directly to consumers and continues to grow. Mblox offers their transaction expertise to application or content providers who get a more revenue using Off-Portal. Soon consumers will get targeted advertising on their cell phones based on their customer profile and physical location.
Ewan MacLeod of SMS Text News moderated the second panel discussion on Paths for the Future: Success Stories and Learned Lessons. The panel consisted of Paul Anderson of Veepers, Rob Osborn of Gemini Mobile Technologies, Tomasz Wojtowicz of WiFi Army, and Mandar Shinde of Smith Micro.
The panel thought there would be more augmented reality or integration of VR and the real world using GPS. Expect lots of WAP tags for advertising. People will behave differently as avatars in VR than with co-workers, family or friends. Recognizing and accommodating that behavior will attract users. Right now, users do not spend as much time in a mobile environment than a desktop. They do not want to spend much time thumbing through windows to do something they can just click on at home. A simple and speedy interface is key.
If you want to take advantage of growth in VR Mobile, get moving.
Copyright 2008 DJ Cline All rights reserved.