Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mapping a revolution with 'mashups' | CNET

Previously I commented on Google Maps. This CNET article discusses the many neat applications and maps users are creating as overlays to Google Maps, with Google's complete agreement. The Google Maps Mania site gives a great overview of what people are creating.

Along with Yahoo Maps' similar mashups these applications are based on AJAX, a form of Java and XML which allows web based applications to be full featured, incredibly fast and may be even more dynamic than desktop applications as data and changes can flow in an out of pages without reloading. This technology will surely accelerate the trend to web based applications and away from traditional desktop applications and client server technologies. The portability of these applications to mobile devices, as the actual java script client is so light and the response is so fast, will also finally entice users to sign up for data plans on their mobiles in the US.

As an avid runner I particularly like gmap-pedometer (click to see one of my favorite routes on the NH Seacoast) which, for the first time, allowed me to easily measure my daily running routes. Try it out. gmap-pedometer offers the option of using to generate and store what is surely a long URL with all the geographic coordinates and thus provide a shorter pointer for messages, blogs, etc...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wireless Web Services and Nextel Direct Send-Commodity Pipeline and Niches

In my last post I commented on Yahoo Mail and Google Local Maps. Both of these web based services bypass the need to pay an extra monthly fee for the application to the wireless carrier beyond a data plan. In line with the recent Microsoft news of their increasing focus on web based applications which have the features of desktop based applications, the rapidly evolving movement of processing from desktops to central servers, is now coming to mobiles too. The implications are that wireless carriers' data services will increasingly become a commodity carrying and serving up web based applications chosen by customers and not the carrier.

Carriers will not long be able to keep the barriers up, and the tolls on, for individual applications downloaded to the phone or for users' access to web services enabled sites such as Google Local. In fact, this development, and the reliabilty of these new services now make me a happy Sprint Vision (their data plan for $10/mo.) customer. Sprint will likely see increasing numbers of customers opting for data and as wireless bandwidth increases people like me will be willing actually pay more for increased reliabilty and speed as long as the customer has the freedom to chose the wireless sites and applications which make the most sense for their needs. A commodity purchase.

While downloaded music is somewhat more complicated in terms of bandwidth, rights management, and playback capabilities its time will come too. Sprint's recent launch of a download music service, while in all respects seemingly a great product, will not fly far, at least in the US with songs at $2.50 each when the standard is iTunes $0.99. Tolls are on and an opportunity may be lost.

Over on the Nextel side of Sprint niches and focus on customer segments are the norm. The recent launch of Nextel Direct Send ,a service which allows pictures to be taken and sent while on a walkie-talkie call without interupting the call, will prove a boon to professionals such as real estate agents, contractors, and public safety folks. Who knows maybe teens too! The $0.25 per send is a steep price to pay, much like the Sprint music. Likely this will evolve into an all you can send for $5-$10 per month which many will be happy to pay. Nextel will maintain and increase its grasp on tradespeople and professionals through such careful examination of customer needs and innovative use of their IDEN platform.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Google Local Mobile and Yahoo Mobile

After much suffering using Sprint's email as the forwarding mechanism to my mobile I discovered Yahoo Mail for Mobile, directions, weather, etc... It's just Yahoo mail accessible from your mobile's browser. Incredibly easy set up to my Sprint phone. Clear excellence in user interface: very easy to set up, larger type, consistent easy access (unlike Sprint's own mobile mail), plenty of storage (Sprint had me emptying the inbox via my computer as frequently as weekly), and most importantly my forwarded mail is always accessible on the go.

Today, I downloaded Google Local Mobile to my Sprint phone.

Note that not all phones will work with Google Local Mobile as unlike Yahoo it is a downloaded application to the phone. You must have BREW but the easy set up at the Google web site will help you determine if your phone will accept the application. Note that you also need an Internet data plan as part of your service.

Very similar to the Yahoo Mobile with the added benefit of not only directions but the now almost ubiquitous Google maps and even satellite views. Again a very simple and easy to use interface.

You can locate yourself on the map by using your phone's joystick button. You can click through the turn points on the map with a bubble indicating the turns popping up on the phone screen. No more printing directions before a trip. And if your phone has GPS capabilities an MSNBC article states that according to Google the software will know where you are so you can find local addresses all that much easier. I guess it also means Google will know where you are...a bit scary but in my book a worthy tradeoff for the convenience of on the go maps and directions. They do promise they will not use this info to push ads at you.

Much as the iPod's success is due to elegantly focusing on the mission at hand both of these services finally make reading email and finding addresses and following directions a practical feasibility on mobile phones. Consumers will benefit from the battle between these two for the small screens on the go.