Palm Pre, video, and the connected consumers.

Palm. Palm. Palm.
Just a short few years ago – 2007, actually – they were posting a 43% drop in profit for the same quarter in the previous year, with reports that “hundreds” of employees were having their security passes deactivated during fire drills.

These days, Palm are getting their swagger on. With a brand new device, why shouldn’t they feel more confident?
Shipping over 100,000 of their flagship Palm Pre devices, with another 100,000 in July and 200,000 estimated to ship in August. Completely destroying Sprint’s current sales record in the process.

Not content with re-entering the race with a brand new device, and first mainstream mobile phone wireless charger, the Touchstone, they have also developed a new operating system, the webOS.
webOS uses Synergy to sync with Facebook, Google, and numerous other vendors to provide one central location for your contacts, settings, emails, events, memos, tasks, and software downloaded from the App Catalogue – all happening over the air, everyday, without disturbing your focus.
Not only does this remove the one, single, authoritative, central repository of information, such as your home computer, it also removes the liability factor of losing your device and losing data at the same time. All data is stored on cloud-based services that feed the device contextual information, and data. This is a break from the current functionality of the iPhone, and other smart phones, but it’s a definite advantage, and one sure to be adopted by the next generation of devices.

iPhone, Pre, N97/N85; are we beginning to see an era of powerful connected consumers?
We think so, we predict, and we are on the forefront of enabling consumers to stay connected.
In terms of statistics, 735,000 users accessed Twitter via a mobile device, and YouTube mobile uploads have increase 400% a day since the release of the iPhone 3GS.

Users are starting to get comfortable with this kind of access, and they’ll begin to demand more of a connected computer experience. Mobile phones are no longer phones, they are bordering on becoming mobile internet devices (MID, as pitched by Intel).
What’s stopping these consumers from becoming the connected consumers of the future? A few different aspects, but vendors are starting to make inroads to battle these obstacles.
Adobe’s open screen project is starting to bare fruit, with the release of the Flash Player 10 for Google Android, and the commitment to release the runtime for the Palm Pre shortly.
What does this bring for consumers? Well, the real internet.
Without Flash, a magnitude of web sites are rendered inaccessible, but also many rich internet applications. Opera’s MAMA studies (from Oct 08), have found that 32% of websites use Flash in the United States, and 30% in Great Britain – even at it’s worst, it never dips below 25%.
The same can be said about Silverlight, as well as HTML5.

With potential cross platform runtimes, such as Flash, Silverlight, and even browsers (HTML5), vendors can start producing applications, and platforms to do a magnitude of functions.
Anything from GTD (getting things done) to location based services and applications have started to appear, storing data in the cloud, while allowing persistent data to be cached or stored locally in databases, and shared objects.
While the industry hasn’t yet begun to explore what is possible with Augmented Reality and location based services, at least some progress has been made, with very, very, very, very impressive applications being released for multiple platforms.
In contrast to the VOD (video on demand) industry, where players such as the BBC’s own iPlayer has made inroads on the iPhone, N85/5800/N96, and the HTC Touch HD, we have yet to see the VOD niche to take off.

Primarily this is due to the VOD services still being in their infancy, but soon we will start to see better support for H.264, in the form of graphics, and video decoding chips embedded within the devices (Tegra), or via software ala the rich runtimes (Flash/Silverlight).
With nothing holding the industry back, the potential for  VOD services and platforms to take off and innovate will be similar to the effect that 3G had for mobile devices back in 2003 (when it went mainstream with Three).
And this is where we come out with our predictions, 2010, video on demand and semantic advertising to assist in generating a solid return on investment for vendors.
Larger screens, location aware adverts (E.g, giving you directions to the nearest store),  high definition, locally stored cache, and QR codes within adverts/posters for series/brands.
Unfortunately VOD services are being branded, and pushed, as catch-up services. Starting to push them as a medium on their own will propel them into the mainstream, allowing connected consumers to watch what they want, when they want.

Utilising the standardised technologies prevalent within the existing video on demand industry, such as Flash and JavaScript, the Palm Pre has an obvious advantage.
Rich interfaces, a common code base and a huge base of developers that are familiar or easy to transition too.

Hearing anything familiar as the arguments behind the iPhone’s development stature during it’s first year?
We’ll you shouldn’t. It’s a completely different situation, Apple was forcing users to create iPhone optimised web applications. In order to do this, the end user had to open Safari, and navigate to the web application. Something that was improved in a later release with icon short cuts on the main screen, but still unable to match the look or feel of any of the native Apple applications.
In contrast to this, Palm use their own SDK (JavaScript and HTML5) for all of their own applications. It’s integrated and consistent across all applications, with a specific bespoke API for interacting with the device or doing webOS specific functions.

Anything created for the Pre would be completely HTML5 compliant, and this not only reduces the amount of bespoke (potentially redundant) code, it also allows vendors to explore the future.
With Firefox 3.5, Opera 9.5, Chrome 3 and Safari 4 supporting the video, and audio playback portion of HTML5, how long until vendors can justify using bespoke implementations for each devices, when there is the potential of using HTML5, or Flash to create their platforms. Cloud computing, standardised technologies, and rich interfaces are propelling the mobile devices into a new field, with new possibilities.

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