I LOVE the Financial Times' Richard Waters' description of "Smartphone Hell"! To paraphrase: It's when the maps come from Apple, the social network from MySpace, the app store and browser comes from RIM, and the device design from the original Amazon Kindle team!
Richard Waters’ column, “Apple weighs joining content scramble” offers the thesis that the battle for mobile mindshare and walletshare in the smartphone world is about to move up the stack, from physical device design to content ecosystems.
Will Content be the Next Ecosystem Land Grab? Richard Waters describes the current mobile landscape as dominated by Apple and Google’s warring ecosystems. He says the next battle will be over content: “Anyone providing a key mobile service—such as maps, local information, music or pictures—is potentially in the line of fire.” Content providers will need to choose sides, aligning with the “hardening” ecosystems of Google, Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon. Each of these players (with the exception of Apple) currently has its own content plays. Amazon has introduced its own social games and platform. Microsoft has launched a video studio. Will Apple remain an innovator in hardware, Richard asks, or will they also innovate in content?Personal Data, Context & Intent Is the Next Ecosystem Battleground
My take: there’s another important layer on the path to content integration and consumption. It’s the customer’s own data (personal profile, e-wallet, contact lists, etc.), their current context (what am I doing right now), and their intent (what do I want to do next?). Richard points out that capturing users’ intent is the critical rationale behind Apple’s insistence on using it own maps, rather than Google’s. “Keeping access to a user’s personal data is even more important: digital maps, for instance, are a place where users reveal both their location and intent, as they search for local services.” So the first ecosystem turf war (e.g., who can snatch up the most customer-critical players and services) will be focused on this layer of personal enablement: where am I, who do I want to reach, how will I pay/what will I earn, what do I want to do?
This “Customer Context & Intent” Layer of Services SHOULD Be Cross-Platform
Each of these sparring ecosystems (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft) wants to “own” as much of our context and intent as possible. But what if we (the customers/end-users) don’t actually want that? Why not insist instead on a cross-platform standard for maximum freedom and interoperability?