One hurdle to a true wireless revolution – ease of use

It is pretty clear that Scott McNealy’s pitch years ago that the "Network is the Computer" is finally coming into fruition with broadband penetration at 50% and wireless data speeds getting faster and faster every year.  Having a network available to you 24/7 makes it easier to keep your data in the cloud and accessible by any device, anytime, and anywhere.  I had an interesting discussion yesterday about what many people call the third screen, your mobile device, and why I believe it is still early in the game.  Sure there are a plethora of startups going after this market with a whole host of new applications including streaming video, blogging, geotagging, social networking, gaming, and advertising services.  But I still believe the one missing piece is that our third screen or our wireless devices still need to be easier to use.  There are only so many early adopters out there and I strongly believe that the big money will be made when cell phone and software companies figure out simpler and easier ways for consumers to access wireless data services.  Only when the so-called "soccer moms" and other more mainstream users are able to discover new applications/services and easily install and access them will we have a true wireless explosion.  This past Christmas I witnessed firsthand the power of wireless killer apps when I sent some MMS photos of my family to my parents and in-laws who were instantly hooked and upgraded their phones and plans to make it easier for them to use the new services.  Of course, they started playing around with their phones and started asking me about other new applications they could use but partly gave up because some of them weren’t exactly intuitive.  Sure, I understand that it is partly a chicken and egg problem as well since pricing is still high for data services and it still isn’t easy to use and there aren’t enough killer apps to make people want to pay.  To that end, it is great to see companies like Alltel make an attempt at solving this problem.  Of course, the devil is in the details, but having a widgetized , personalized home page which any developer can build to is a first great step in making this happen.   Also keep an eye out for Yahoo and others like Netomat (full disclosure- i am on the board) who are both working in different ways to make web-based services as easily accessible on the phone as our computer.

Published by Ed Sim

founder boldstart ventures, over 20 years experience seeding and leading first rounds in enterprise startups, @boldstartvc, googlization of IT, SaaS 3.0, security, smart data; cherish family time + enjoy lacrosse + hockey

3 comments on “One hurdle to a true wireless revolution – ease of use”

  1. Ed,

    I share your view and believe you will see the carriers / manufacturers adopt more user-friendly functionality on the device. Apple’s efforts on the iPhone is the first of many steps in that direction….

  2. Ed,

    I don’t agree that sharing photos and all those are killer apps for phone. Even with best service out there, big screen is always better than tiny phone screen. One phone desktop background service (like webshots etc) is cool app (but not req). I think the needs of apps in day to day life which are really solving the need are required for data services to take off. These apps does not include calendar service for soccer moms , but they could be clever location and price services. Basically really applicable services is major front for wireless services and then there is mobile phone entertainment market because u have time to kill with small device in hand. I hope you guys are looking into those kind of services.

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