Ewald Anderl, CTO and VP at Kirusa
John Puterbaugh, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Strategist at Nellymoser
Russ McGuire, Strategy at Sprint Nextel
Ken Olewiler, Managing Director of PUNCHCUT
Jud Bowman, CTO at Motricity
Here's what struck me from the discussions:
Interesting comment from Ken, reinforced by Dean, that US consumers are willing to carry bulkier devices, perhaps in belt pouches, compared with Europeans.
Russ from Sprint-Nextel disavows doing their own innovation. He says they recognize they are not the innovators, they just want to be sure they attract the innovators in a fashion that doesn't result in them becoming a dumb pipe -- refreshingly honest!
John points out that off-deck user interfaces are better than most carrier user interfaces even though the carriers can pre-load user interface software onto the phones. There are particular problems with billing, i.e. jumping into and out of billing screens.
Universal admiration for the iPhone's user interface. Jud notes that even if Apple sells 20 million iPhones, that's a drop in the bucket of a billion plus handsets per year. The point is 40 other handsets vendors are scrambling to include parts of the iPhone's user interface. Ken expects a flood of copies, many of which will be by wanna-a-be's, who don't actually understand what Apple has accomplished.
Negatives: iPhone voice calling isn't great. The SMS user interface (with no tactile feedback) is impossible to use behind your back, in your pocket or under the school desk (where you can't see the screen).
But there is still universal admiration from all panelists, including Russ at Sprint. Russ does point out that Apple set the bar with the Mackintosh, but it was a (comparatively) closed ecosystem and Windows won in the end. So Apple has raised the bar for everyone - that's good. But who wins in the end is not clear.
Digression on smart phones... Russ makes the point they are like a Swiss army knife, great to have a pair of scissors but they are not as good as a real pair of scissors. Russ uses that to promote Sprints new WiMAX service Xohm, where they expect 3rd party device vendors to go wild.
Ewald is very much in favor of AJAX on the mobile phone as it reduces the application's footprint on the device to zero. Jud confirms that user purchases go up tremendously when users succeed in downloading a Java application. He can't wait to see wider deployment of AJAX capable browsers so he can avoid the need to have the user download an Java application.
Dean's wrapup is theres no one layer that determines success.