Smartphones and media like PB & pickles

In case you were wondering why there was no posting last week, I took a working vacation around CTIA Wireless 2007 in Orlando. I really like spring CTIA as far as large trade shows go. It’s big enough to command a position as an industry focal point while not being so big that taking it in within the alotted days becomes physically impossible without an elite team of ninja bloggers or at least a Segway. Unfortunately, I have neither.

This year I moderated a panel at the Smartphone Summit on smartphones and media with panelists from Nokia, Microsoft, WiderThan, Sling Media and MediaFLO. The panel consensus seemed to be that, while both smartphones and wireless media are gaining consumer momentum, they’re not moving toward each other, at least not yet. Why?

  • the relative newfound popularity of smartphones, particularly the QWERTY Windows Mobile variety, which are starting to move well under the $100 price tag
  • the fractured state of smartphone operating systems, which make native development less profitable
  • the focus on the mass market by carrier initiatives such as VCast and easy to use quick access features such as the “TV” button used by MediaFLO-enabled handsets.

Why develop media optimized for smartphones? For traditional broadcast media, there isn’t much financial incentive, but there’s surely an opportunity for one of the Web 2.0 companies out there to bring some aspects of community and interactivity to a wireless media experience

Will the iPhone goose this market? Well, depending on how you define “smartphone” — and my personal view of the term is liberal — it’s the first high-end device to focus on a consumer media experience, However, much like the WinMo phones, the experience is still based on sideloading, which carriers are at best tolerating and which fail to capture the true flexibility that wireless is supposed to bring us.

Incidentally, this is the 150th post that I referenced in the Out of the Box birthday post.

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