Four Predictions for 2007
Happy New Year! This is the first issue of FierceDeveloper of 2007, which means it's time for me to make some predictions about what developers can expect for the next 12 months.
1. Mobile applications are only going to get more complex in 2007, and managing the thousands of different builds for a consumer software app is a real problem. Software, virtual machine and hardware incompatibilities are always going to be an issue so expect more developers to turn to higher-level solutions that abstract away many of these problems. It will be a good year for Flash Lite apps (especially if Adobe's Apollo does well on the desktop). We will also see the first round of simple mobile AJAX applications this year.
2. The vast majority of Windows Mobile development thus far has been focused on PPC devices equipped with touchscreens, but the sudden rise of inexpensive Windows Mobile Smartphone devices like the Dash, Q, and Blackjack makes Win Mobile SP a whole lot more attractive. I predict many enterprises that have not yet adopted a clear mobile strategy and already run on Microsoft will standardize on Windows Mobile Smartphone. Likewise, Smartphone-powered phones are quickly becoming the default $99 upgrade for U.S. consumers renewing their contract, but the Smartphone shareware market has not yet caught up.
3. Mobile advertising was heavily hyped in 2006, but not much came of it. Expect Yahoo to expand its mobile search options and Google to finally launch a Mobile AdWords beta (incidentally, Google is hiring for a Mobile UI Designer apparently for AdSense). With its Web ad dominance, Google is the company to watch, though it's going to face an uphill battle against AdMob, Advertizer, and a dozen other competitors who came to market first. Google may have to result to some Microsoftian measures to make up for its latecomer status.
The carriers want in on the action too: Sprint already serves up ads on its deck and Verizon has plans to put ads on its mobile sites early this year. I see this as a good thing; its part of a larger trend toward the democratization of mobile web access and the crumbling of the walled garden. Carrier decks are eventually going to have to compete on their own merits, so its only fair that carriers are allowed to earn some ad revenue off that deck.
Overall, it will be a big year for mobile advertising, though innovative (and potentially more lucrative) mobile advertising schemes like ad-supported mobile games aren't going to make it in the 2007. Maybe next year.
4. Mobile social networking will grow by leaps and bounds in 2007, but the lack of a clear dominant player limits the usefulness of any one services. Desktop giants like MySpace (partnered with Cingular) will have to duke it out with mobile-centric social startups like Boost's Loopt and Zemble. I predict Google will relaunch Dodgeball in late 2007 (as a "Beta," of course), but the product will face an uphill battle since Google hasn't made many public updates since it bought the company in mid-2005.
Privacy concerns over mobile social networkings apps (especially those that incorporate location data) will make it into the mainstream media scare stories--and rightfully so. The industry needs to come up with a clear set of rules about who owns social and location data and what can be done with it.
What do you think? Email or post your own predictions for the new year. I'll reprint the best ones in a future issue of the newsletter. -Eli