I like to say, “Nokia is a river in Finland, not a company from Japan.” Few people know that mobile phone technology and smart phones got their start in the late ’80s in Finland (and Sweden). I remember having lunch in the mid-90s with my cousin in a cafe in Helsinki when he mentioned needing to feed the parking meter only to pull out his phone and send an SMS message to close the transaction.
But while it’s cool, in my universe it was content that matted and a question got stuck in my mind. How will content be enabled through mobile devices? Little could I imagine then how big the question would become.
A “Quantum Leap” in Mobility
For years, content mobility was a concept that I kept close watch on. I met regularly with key vendors and service providers and even wrote some fun code myself. Some of you may have seen me playing with a Nokia 9000 at Momentum and Internet World in 99, emailing brochures from a Documentum repository. But after a short lullthe question landed firmly in my palms last week.
I finally broke down and bought a smart phone (running Windows Mobile). I saw the benefits of being able to access my email on the road. But I wasn’t ready for the new problem a new bonus of my phone would bring me. How to manage the 8 gigs (and up to 32 gigs) of storage to do on my microSD card.
Contacts and calendar are simple applications that it is really easy to see how the data is managed. A contact is changed on a phone or contact application a periodic synchronization moves those changes from one device to another. But it’s the bigger point that makes even more sense from a mobile perspective, it’s easy to understand why a contact would be changed on a phone. But when does content get changed on a phone? Will content be created on a phone?
Content a “Dirty Job”
The content problem I ran into was “personal” rather than “professional”. In addition to keeping pictures and music on my phone which I was already able do, my new phone let me add video. It was the specific reason I choose the Windows Mobile platform, over Blackberries and iPhones. It would support not only my videos downloaded from my TiVo but also give me real-time access to my Slingbox. Thank you 3G. But when my 1 gig file became a 150 meg file, I realized that I had more than enough space.
So like with anything else when you have to much space, find something to put in it. I can easily respond to emails on my phone, but what if I want to attach a manual to the email? It would be great if I could use my leftover gigs of space to keep on hand my most common attachments. This way I don’t need to wait until I’m in front of my laptop to answer a question and I’m no longer the bottle neck.
The solution is simple, just add the files to my phone. But a problem will quickly evolve, how can I make sure my content is current. All of this sounds very familiar. These were the same questions that came with laptops and disconnected users. Just now instead of a laptop we’re talking about cell phones.
Are Content and Music “Bosom Buddies”?
When you look at music or video for an iPhone or Windows Mobile device, these types of content can easily be synchronized using iTune or Windows Media player. But what about office documents? Can the same simply be used for them? The difference of course is that music and video is not synchronized with the device but published to the device.
But much like with early disconnected users “pushing” content may be enough. But it won’t be long before content is created and edited on a mobile device. Don’t believe me? You can already use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with a Windows Mobile device. And just out this quarter, the HTC Touch Diamond and Fuse both support video out. This means that you can walk around with the basic power of a PC in your pocket.
“Life on Mars”
Can content on mobile phones be managed just like they were on laptops? Is the story really just a repeat of the late ’90s push to disconnected users. Or will the ability to store 32 gigs of content on a device the size of a dime, change all of that.
If you were reading this looking for answers, you will quickly notice you finish with more questions. What do you think? When do you see content going mobile?