People versus Apps; who is winning?

[This blog post is a repost of ]

During the Web 2.0 conference in October 2011, Steve Ballmer went on stage and expressed to everybody his opinion on the Microsoft Windows Phone user experience in comparison to Android and iPhones:

“…but when you grab a Windows phone and use it… your information is front and centre… and you don’t have to scroll through seas of icons and blah blah blah…” The Telegraph: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer attacks Android phones

So, what is his point? Well, it helps to understand why Microsoft is putting out this message, if you look at the phenomenal growth of the usage of social networking on mobile devices. This growth is now the topic of an interesting whitepaper by the Atos Scientific Community. The authors’ paper, titled “Mobile Social Networking” found that:

“The mobile Internet is ramping up faster than the desktop Internet ever did. Some studies in the US show that users prefer to use their mobile device to socialize, rather than a PC.”

I think it explains the message of Mr. Ballmer; he wants to provide a people oriented smartphone. Not an apps oriented smartphone. He probably knows he cannot beat Android and iPhone on the amount of apps they can offer, but he can win if he rides the wave of people using their phone as a social media device. According to the whitepaper, I cannot blame him:

“Mobile devices provide the real-time benefits of enriched user experience and allow individuals to involve their social networks instantly for a purpose. Social networking is one of the fastest growing content categories among mobile subscribers in US and EU.”

But, as always, this is not all. Of course Ballmer is not forgetting that it is apps that ‘make the world go round’ and he needs developers to help him with that. The paper (we will let you know when it gets published) also acknowledges that and explains how the mobile social usage is different and as such opens a whole new opportunity for software developers and content providers:

“Improvements in social networking and mobile application platforms, led by Facebook and Apple ecosystems (with exponential growth), are fundamentally changing the way people communicate with each other and the way developers, advertisers, and vendors can reach consumers. An increasing number of consumers are expected to use mobile devices to obtain real-time information about prices and products, and nearby locations or people (location-based services). There are number of use cases we can see to enrich user experience in the public sector, telecom, media and entertainment, finance, industry & retail, transport, energy & utilities and health.”

It is not only developers and content providers that need to look at this usage model, whereby smart phones take a pivotal role in the social network connected world:

"Key challenges of mobile social networking such as privacy control, identity, mobile security threats, and diverse platforms and OS versions would lead to further opportunities for the platform providers or application providers. Business models could include per transaction, sponsorship, advertisements, one-time payments, payment per subscription or even per click, per visit or per use."

I have made the point in other blogs that I have written. Companies need to understand that there is a natural need by people, organizations and enterprises to make connections, to integrate activities and to analyze complex data structures. Simple apps cannot do that by itself, there is a need for connectivity, not just from phone to phone, but rather from person to person. If your phone allows you to do that – than that integrated experience, rather than just having a million apps, will enrich both your professional and private life.

The Atos whitepaper can be downloaded here.

Microsoft Research proposes HomeMaestro: the home automation platform

Remember my earlier blog about Domotics? Microsoft Research just released a nice video about their home automation platform; and no surprises here – the Windows Phone is your controller.

Demo of HomeMaestro

More info is at

and my source is at:

Microsoft Research propose HomeMaestro: home automation platform | WMPoweruser

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Do you understand the world?

[This blog post is a repost of]

Real estate brokers already know this for years; the most important aspect of their profession is location, location and location.

Given the recent boom in providing maps to mobile phones, this aspect of our lives is not just important for real estate brokers anymore. Anybody with a decent smart phone has access to a variety of mapping material, aiding in navigation and, through the addition of a GPS-receiver, location based services.

The impact of this capability to use digital maps is described in a whitepaper by the Atos Scientific Community, which states:

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For centuries, humankind has devoted efforts to cartography (map making) as a means to represent the Earth in order to achieve a better understanding of the world and to solve practical problems (navigation, exploration, planning). The advent of electronic computers and peripheral devices caused another revolution in cartography during the 20th century. However, until the late 1990’s geo-information did not take a pervasive step into other fields. In the 2000’s, geo-information has become popular and is widely used by billions of people around the world for everyday purposes: we look for directions, plan our holidays or check the evolution of news events with the support of geo-information."

And while we are all just getting accustomed to this digitally enhanced 2D world, a new way of looking at this information is emerging: 3D location based services.

Using complex mathematics and new type of sensors, we will be able to enrich our flat maps with depth, height and rotation. This opportunity opens a new dimension (pun intended) in the way we can use the digital maps for more purposes than just finding our way home.

Applications in building-management, tsunami warning systems, climate and weather control as well as looking at relations between human wellbeing and location based data (such as pollution), are now in use.

The new elements coming because of 3D are emerging, so we can track people in buildings, assets in datacenters and generally combine information to create meaningful relationships in data visualization.

Tracing and combining data in 3 dimensions is not only more accurate, it also give more insight in relationships between the subjects. Only now that we are getting more insight in the associated math and have the (real-time)processing capability to calculate complex equations, we are getting insight in the correlations and how they help us interpret the real word around us.

The paper describes multiple examples and explains how the extra info can be expected to enrich our way of using the extra information for location based data.

The key is to connect the available 3D information to this extra information. This combination not only will enrich our lives, but also opens a new business opportunity for information brokers to provide and combine data that without this technology would possibly be meaningless by itself. In order for this additional data to be completely integrated in our daily lives we certainly need more study and technical breakthroughs. Most of this is done in the background, but some research and results are needed in understanding the way that people interpret 3D information.

Google Earth and other similar technology is showing me nice pictures, but does it provide extra value in 3D (on a flat screen…)?

In the end the 3D element will, certainly, greatly influence the way we interact with our world and our understanding how things relate to each other. Understanding relationships, in my opinion, always makes us a better human.

That combined with the new business opportunities, drives both personal and economic growth, so I consider this a good thing.

The Atos whitepaper can be downloaded here.


3 screens and a cloud – it means you are at the center

Image representing Ray Ozzie as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Most of my regular visitors know I am a fan of the Microsoft (or Ray Ozzie for that matter) vision to merge cloud computing with 3 household devices; TV, Computer and Smartphone.That is why I have put this ‘mantra’ as a byline to my blog since its beginning.

Now a very good article was published in Wired Magazine by Tim Carmody, explaining how this will work out in a Microsoft world and beyond that.

A quote from the article:

Three screens and a cloud” was Ray Ozzie’s mantra when he was chief software architect at Microsoft. The idea is that desktop, mobile, and entertainment/living room experiences each require their own form factors, tied together by backend services that pull those devices together — and furthermore, that all of them in unison serve the function formerly known as “personal computing.”

The article continues to explain this is not just a Microsoft way of positioning their products, and at the end it comes to a very important conclusion. A conclusion I have always believed to be a essential aspect of the future of computing:

The central hub, the location/entity that combines all of these devices and clouds, is not a product, it is not a company, it is you.

All digital services in the cloud, all devices and all software agents can work together because you bind them together. It is your identity that allows them to know about each other and it is your personality that fills them with content.

I believe that to be a fundamental point and I am very glad to see that companies like Microsoft and other are recognizing that.

There is still hope.


(now if I only could get my Windows Phone to communicate with my very new MoBridge Car Kit, life would be wonderful – got any tips?)


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Finally – I was right – Siri to be integrated in new iPhone 5

Image representing Siri as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

In February 2010 I wrote about the fantastic Siri software and called it the next chapter of the Web.In May 2010 I noticed that Apple had acquired Siri and predicted that Apple would incorporate the technology in their platform.

Nice to be right and nice to see things moving forward.

Please read:





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