Haircut? Certainly sir, how many hairs do you have?

Have you ever walked into a barbers and asked for a haircut only and had the price quoted in "numbers of hairs cut?"  If you found this barber, would you get your hair cut there?

Now hairdressing industry specialists tell me that everyone knows that there are around 120,000 hairs on the average human head, with blondes having the most, and redheads having the fewest.  The technical challenges of styling hair is clearly linked to the number of hairs and the cost of a cut in terms of effort is also correlated, so it’s a perfectly reasonable way of pricing a cut.  In fact with current rates in london going as low as 8.3p per kilostrand there has never been a better time to get your hair cut.  In fact why not sign up for our monthly rate and guarantee a cut every 4 weeks for just £7.50.

The above discussion sounds absurd – yet if we replace the analogy of hair with that of bytes in mobile data we see a direct comparison.  The mobile industry has a problem in that it spends too much time thinking about the problems from the perspective of the industry, and too little time thinking about what consumers might want.  The advent of flat rate data tarrifs is starting to change this – with significant growth in the usage of mobile data.  How do we continue this trend? Focus on what consumers want, and provide it in a way that they can understand.  Avoid the temptation to provide consumers something that works "from the industry perspective" – remember all those unsuccessful barbers who price by the number of hairs cut.

Is the iPhone really a Phone?

Even in europe it’s not escaped my attention that the iPhone is being released on Friday.  Notwithstanding the amount of media interest that Apple has managed to generate around this device I think it deserves some more comment.

A question that I’ve been asked repeatedly recently is "what impact do you think the iPhone will have on the phone market?"  The odd thing about the iPhone is that it’s not actually a very capable phone.  It only has 2G data – it’s capabilities are limited (it has SMS, but no MMS).  It’s big, heavy, and the battery life is unlikely to be "market leading".  All of these items will have been beaten by the big 5 phone manufacturers on multiple handsets in their lineups – so what’s in it for Apple?

The great "sleight of hand" here from Apple is that the iPhone isn’t really a phone competitor.  If customers want a phone they will continue to buy the phones that they are doing today.  So what is the iPhone?  The iPhone really is a rich media device.  It’s a new "category creator" that addresses a tired, old market that includes folk who make portable DVD players, hard disk media devices (Archos is a major player here).

Why are consumers going to rave about iPhone?  Because they get to easily consume media on the move.  This of course requires there to be media that they can consume on the move – which is where we see Apple’s real vision come in.  The iPod has been a category success not because it invented the MP3 player, or because it invented the hard disk MP3 player – but because it integrated iTunes Music Store as part of the MP3 player expereince.  So iTunes becomes "part" of the iPod experience – not the entire experience (the majorty of music on iPods remains ripped CD music – remember this ability to rip music is part of iTunes too) but part of the experience.   iPhone is part of the extension of this integrated media consumption experience to mobile.  Once the hype has died down I expect that we’ll see video consumption on iPhones and growth in video downloads – via WiFi networks, not mobile networks become the growth area.  This growth in digital downloaded media consumption plays to Apple’s strengths in computers and software, and also builds a new line of consumer electronics to drive Apple’s revenue growth.

Welcome to Mobile Experiences

Hi, welcome to the Mobile Experiences blog – I’ll start with a general posting and introduce myself.  I’m Matt Millar – you can email me as [mmillar at adobe dot com] or comment on this web site.  I run the Adobe team in Europe who are full time engaged in making the best in next generation mobile experiences happen, though more of that in later blog postings.

What will I be blogging about?  In the course of my day to day work I’m exposed to lots of interesting new concepts and new services that with the help of millions of talented designers and developers Adobe is going to start bringing to life – so I’ll be blogging about my thoughts around these concepts and how I believe it will be possible for people to create great experiences with Flash on mobile.  As I’m based in europe I’ll be mainly talking about the european mobile ecosystem, though expect some guest appearances from other worldwide ecosystems – mobile is a global business after all.

I’ll start with a little background – where is Flash being used in devices in europe today?

There are two major uses that are appearing broadly these are:

  • Flash user interfaces –
    examples include

    • Samsung D900 which has the "uGo" interface – here Samsung are using Flash to create a revolutionary experience on the device that interprets data from the device and uses it in novel ways in the device – a simple example being how the signal strength is reflected in the level of cloud cover on the phone screen.
    • LG Prada – where LG have stepped up to the challenge of designing a complete new phone experience in conjunction with Prada they have chosen to meet that challenge using Flash for the interface
    • Sony Ericsson – the Sony Ericsson walkman phones have some great new interfaces for their menus and music playback functionality – once again where Sony Ericsson have had the challenge of creating a great new experience they have picked Flash as the technology of choice
  • Flash content – in browsers, and for wallpapers, games and applications
    • Nokia have really understood the potential market here – with dedicated resources for designers and developers at Forum Nokia

Content and user interfaces – both areas that I’m sure I’ll come back to in future postings.

Where do I see us heading in the future?  If we look at what is happening elsewhere in the world we see what is happening there then we can draw parallels with what will be successful in europe.  In Japan there is a very successful Flash ecosystem – the iChannel service there is now over 10 million subscribers.  Verizon Wireless in the USA is building a service to meet the desires of the US citizens, and in Taiwan Chungwa Telecom are deploying a service too.

How will these sorts of services appear in the European market?  Telenor Sweden have announced that they will be trialling the service – so it will be interesting to see how these services develop – one thing I am sure of – without great, innovative content then the services aren’t worth anything – which is where the european ecosystem will start to play a role – Adobe’s success is dependent on the success of those talented designers and developers who use our tools to create great designs – our goal is to ensure they have the routes to get their fantastic creations into the hands of consumers, on mobile, just like Flash on the web.