- Piotr Cofta, Ph.D., Chief Researcher, Security and Trust, BT
- Matt Millar, Director, Mobile and Devices, Adobe Systems
- Pierfranco Rodi, Senior Researcher, Telecom Italia Innovation Laboratories
Dean did a quick survey of the audience which showed most people were carrying 3 or 4 devices, i.e. one or two mobile phones, one PC, a camera and/or a blackberry. There is no convergence of devices. People use specific devices for specific purposes.
Piotr (who was the star of this panel) points out the dynamic process of deciding what devices you might use and how it's frequently related to your identity position. Example: your CEO just got a Blackberry, so you'd like one also. Alternately, you are a photographer, you need something more than a camera phone.
Matt says consumers are very smart. They know what they want and what they like and they are unique, each making different choices between convenience & mobility or content at different price points.
Pierfranco mentions blurring of mobile and PC, also the idea of discovery – point phone at an item and get Internet info about that item. On another note, in Italy, you can tell pre-paid from post-paid by the number – that makes your number a status symbol. 80% of Italian subscribers are on pre-paid but post-paid can be a status symbol.
Piotr points out many mobile operators know little of their customers because their customers use multiple pre-paid SIM cards. Some pay higher per-minutes costs to preserve their anonymity, but many just do it to minimize roaming expense. Pierfranco counters that this depends upon the country. In Italy, the operator knows the identity of prepaid subscribers. Also, in Italy prepaid users are not all at the low end – there are more subscribers with 300+ Euro handsets in Italy than anywhere else in Europe.
Piotr describes iPhone as a new walled garden. Matt is actually using an iPhone and views it as a poor phone but a breakthrough media device and a breakthrough way to access to the real Internet. Matt lists browsers as the key interface to access diverse information, but we still need multiple UIs. People choose the user experience to solve specific problems. Matt uses Google, Yahoo messenger, a TV, a PC and a Mac. Dean counters that the MS Windows consistency drove the PC's success. Point by audience member that the fragmentation of the mobile world holds back innovation.
I personally expect Google's Open Handset Alliance to go a long way to solving handset fragmentation, but only over a 5+ year time frame. But I was in audience and the time was up before I got a chance to chime in.