All posts in Mobile Gourmet

Mobile Gourmet: Apple WWDC Predictions

By Jason Wong

This week, starting today, the tech world will be tuned in to the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. Many will be looking for CEO Tim Cook to announce the next wave of revolutionary products coming out of Cupertino; while some will be looking for any signs that Apple is stumbling in the post-Steve Jobs era.

For those working in or around the enterprise mobility space, here is what I expect and wish for in key Apple product announcements for this market.

iPhone
The universal expectation is that Apple will announce the iPhone 5 in some fashion at WWDC–whether it will actually be called that is another matter (see iPad 3 naming controversy). There are whispers that this new iPhone 5 will be a bigger form factor with a four-inch screen to equal those of popular Android devices from the likes of Samsung and Motorola. Personally, I like today’s iPhone screen size just fine, but many others want that extra screen real estate – maybe to better aim those Angry Birds!
For the enterprise, a larger iPhone 5 will add more challenges to mobile app development. Compared to the vast variations of Android device sizes and resolutions, the iPhone has stayed fairly uniform since launching 2007 – only adding high-resolution Retina Display in the iPhone 4. There may be enhancements in the Apple xCode SDK to help develop for two iPhone screen sizes, but I expect device fragmentation to become a growing issue for enterprise mobile app developers. I wish this were not the case, but fortunately cross-platform development tools, like that from Antenna, can help developers tackle this challenge more easily.

iPad
The new iPad (AKA, iPad 3) only came out a few months ago so there isn’t expected to be much new news on this product line. However, there are still a faction of people looking for Apple to announce a mini-iPad – a version with a seven-inch screen akin to the Amazon Kindle Fire. I’ll just say that to me this is stupid. As an avid iPad user, I find the size to be just perfect. Any smaller and you compromise the essence of the device. Just because the Kindle Fire sold well as a seven-inch device, does not mean that the iPad needs to mimic it. I don’t expect Apple to announce a mini-iPad and I wish those asking for it would just go buy a Kindle Fire!

Mobile Gourmet: Gartner’s New Coke?

Don’t you hate it when you’re used to something and all of a sudden it changes on you? Probably the most extreme and infamous example of this was in 1985 when Coke was changed to “New Coke“–not only in name but also in the formulation (due to getting beat by Pepsi in their taste test challenges). People boycotted New Coke and within months, the “old” Coke was re-introduced as Coke Classic. Plus Coke Classic outsold both New Coke and Pepsi!

New coke didn't last long, and Coke Classic quickly took its place

Another less extreme example was when the Mars candy company rebranded the Marathon bar to “Snickers” in Britain in 1990. It made commercial sense since Snickers was the bar’s brand name elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, UK customers grumbled about the change, but it stuck–and clearly they did not boycott the candy bar. Snickers is the world’s best-selling chocolate bar of all time!

Well, in the mobile world you may have seen or heard that Gartner released their latest Magic Quadrant report on mobility (if you haven’t you can request it for free here). Mobility solutions for enterprises have been around for a long time, and just a few years ago there were many names for such solutions, such as mobile middleware, mobile platforms and mobile frameworks. In fact, Gartner started out referring to this space with without any reference to mobile at all–they called it the Multi-Channel Access Gateway (MAG) market.

Then as mobility became a way of business–and life–Gartner eliminated MAG and created the Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) and Mobile Consumer Application Platform (MCAP) reports. (Why not? Double the exposure!) MEAP was a funny, but catchy name and soon almost everybody dealing with mobility latched on to it (MCAP not so much–maybe because it’s two syllables). If you Google “MEAP” you’ll find loads of references and almost universally people in technology will understand what you mean when you say MEAP.

Which leads us to the present, where Gartner has decided to combine MEAP and MCAP into (drum roll please)… Mobile Application Development Platform or MADP! “Mad-P.” It doesn’t really roll off the tongue like MEAP, or heck even like “M-Cap.” Will MADP catch on? Will this be a case of a New Coke failure, or will the market gradually accept MADP as the new Snickers. What do you think?

Commercial Plug: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Antenna is excited and honored to have grabbed a spot in the Leaders Quadrant of the MADP Magic Quadrant this year, so whether it catches on or not – MADP is cool by me.

Mobile Gourmet: Tastes Like “Steak”

By Jason Wong

In the movie “The Matrix” (the first one), there was a scene where the turncoat crew member Cypher is dining with the bad guy Agent Smith within the Matrix. He chews on his filet mignon and says something to the effect that he doesn’t care if the steak is not a real steak, as long as it tastes real to him.

In the mobile world, often times we – the ones who are building and deploying apps – get caught up in what is a real native app and what is not. A “real” native app, at its root, is one built on the native language and SDK of the device platform – such as Objective-C using Xcode for iOS. This is equivalent to a “real” steak from a freshly butchered cow.

Can you tell if this is the real deal?

However, there are “native” apps built using non-native technology – such as PhoneGap, Appcelerator or AMP Hybrid Client which all use web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript to build an iOS app (and for other device platforms as well), rather than that native Objective-C. But the output from these solutions is still called a native app because the app can be deployed and installed via the native app store and can utilize native functionalities of the device hardware and software. So in effect it acts, behaves and feels like a true native app. Yet many purists label these as hybrid apps or “wrapped apps” to denote their lesser pedigree; as if to say these are like meat grown in laboratories, not meat from a cow!

As a user, what do you care about? You get an app from the app store. It works smoothly and looks fantastic. It even has geo-location functions and maybe even an image capture feature. Do you care if it’s a “real” native app or one built with non-native tools? Chances are you won’t even know, and you probably don’t care as long as the app works well. Technology has caught up in the mobile world where the lab grown meat can now be passed as grade A steak! As Cypher says while savoring his cut of beef, “Ignorance is bliss.”

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet: Year of the Mobile Dragon

By Jason Wong

2012 is the year of the Dragon on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. According to astrologists: “the Year of the Dragon will be marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity. People will respond to the spirit of the Dragon with energy, vitality and unbridled enthusiasm, often throwing all caution to the wind.”

The Chinese New Year doesn’t start until January 23rd (technically February 4th), but already in 2012 in the mobility space we are seeing quite a bit of energy and unbridled enthusiasm. Less than two weeks into 2012 we have already seen three acquisitions: one by WalmartLabs buying up Small Society, another was Deloitte scooping up Ubermind, and the third was Financial Times acquiring Assanka. These are small acquisitions by multinational companies, so it’s not exactly “throwing all caution to the wind,” but the common thread is that companies are clearly showing enthusiasm for mobility and looking for talent.

Let’s face it, mobile technology has come a long way in just a few years, but the technology itself — in terms of the mobile OSes and browsers — will probably not change all that much over the next 3-5 years (have you seen all the “new” gadgets announced at CES 2012?). Sure there will be more devices and cooler features, but the basics of mobility are set in a pretty firm place. An iPhone 10 will probably have a traceable lineage to iPhone 4S, rather than the difference between the original Moto Razr and the new Moto Droid Razr. That’s why in 2012, businesses, agencies, SI’s and ISV’s will make a big push to get the talent they need to build out their mobile strategy to both compete and differentiate.

Up until recently, mobile development required specialists with knowledge of native languages. But with web technologies (HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript) playing a more prominent role on more mobile devices, mobility is now open to a wider playing field of web developers. Plus, with companies having dabbled in their first generation of mobile apps or web, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and accelerate their mobile presence beyond apps.

Let’s unleash the mobility Dragon!

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet: Five Predictions for 2012

By Jason Wong

Another crazy year in the mobile space and food world in 2011. I made some predictions a year ago and for the most part I was pretty on target–OK so maybe some of them were pretty obvious.

On the food predictions, Richard Blais did win Top Chef All-Stars (pretty easily I thought) and Korean food was “killin’ it” on the Great Food Truck Race show on Food Network (until they were accused of cheating and got kicked off), but David Chang alas did not enter the Next Iron Chef competition (he’s probably spending too much time counting his money).

On the mobile predictions, it was more of  mixed bag. Microsoft did not buy Nokia but Nokia did go “all in” on Windows Phone 7 – success still TBD. My Playbook prediction was DOA, but my HP webOS prognostication was spot on. My HTML5 prediction was pure clairvoyance (it’s everywhere now – even Adobe has relented); mobile malware is certainly on the rise (especially for Android); NFC is still in early days; and finally Angry Birds didn’t quite make it to a billion dollars for apps, but have you seen all the licensed merchandise people are buying?!

So what’s in line for 2012? I’ll make it a shorter list of five predictions and keep it to mobile topics.

1. RIM’s BB 10 will underwhelm. It’s not about the hardware or the software any more. It’s about the ecosystem. And RIM just doesn’t have the developers, content and apps to compete any more. Their BES paradigm seems antiquated (did you hear about the outage?)and their value prop is just not relevant in 2012.

2. Facebook phone (if all the rumors are true) will be a dud. Facebook is useful and even fun for many people, but do you really want it to be your phone provider? Carrier IQ has gotten so much backlash, what will Facebook face in terms of the stuff they are capturing from your Facebook phone? Just say no.

 

Facebook phone won't socialize...

 

But Amazon phone could be a success

 

3. Amazon phone (again if the rumors are true) will be a success. Why? because the Kindle Fire is selling briskly and Amazon has the ecosystem to sustain a real mobile strategy (see RIM above). They have an app store, they have content, they have commerce and they have the new Steve Jobs in Jeff Bezos.

4. Microsoft will exceed RIM for smartphone and tablet market share. Windows Phone devices and Windows tablets will be embraced mostly by businesses and this will directly cut into RIM’s target market. Microsoft is an aircraft carrier that is slowly turning to get back into the mobility game. HTML5 and time will be its two biggest allies to help it catch up to Android and iOS.

5. Oracle will make their move and start buying mobile vendors to catch up to SAP and Saleforce.com, both of which are betting big on mobile as the new UI for their apps. If 2012 is really the year when mobility breaks through to the big time, you can be sure Larry Ellison won’t want to miss out.

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet Review: Fooducate Me

By Jason Wong

Do you eat healthy? Do you know what goes into your food? Sometimes I’d rather not know. Take for instance the recent egg scandal around a large producer for McDonald’s. Or this article about everyday food such as potatoes and popcorn that pose hidden dangers.

In this month’s installment of the Mobile Gourmet Review, I have been playing with an app called Fooducate. The purpose of this app is to educate consumers on more than 200,000 packaged food products that we eat everyday. It’s like having a dietician in the palm of your hands. Fooducate provides a letter grade for a food based on the analysis of the food’s known ingredients list and nutritional values.

Using the app is easy and it doesn’t even require setting up a login. All you have to do is open the app and point your phone’s camera at the barcode label on the package. If you don’t have a package handy and you’re feeling bored, you can also shake the phone to get a random food product. From there the product pops up with a picture, a grade, calorie count and a number of “likes.” But more important is the analysis presented on the screen. For example, I scanned a pack of gum I chew everyday, several times a day, and it says that it contains an additive called BHT. I click on it to find out more and it says that BHT has been shown to be a carcinogen in some studies. Greeeeeat! At least my breath is fresh.There’s also a tab that presents alternatives to your scanned product that you can click on. I scanned some M&M’s and one of the better options shown was an apple. Hmm – not exactly what I was looking for. Fooducate says that they are not sponsored or influenced by any food manufacturer, but based on some of the alternatives I was presented with, I’m not entirely convinced.

There are other app options such as a blog and a running tally of items you have scanned with their average grades, along with a comparison to others that have liked the same products as you. Fooducate is collecting great user information. I would like to see them apply it more to show what people are scanning most by category or by geography. Maybe they have this info and are selling it back to the manufacturers – that would be really interesting! They don’t have ads so you have to wonder how they sustain themselves.

Overall the Fooducate app is quite interesting and educational. And even if you don’t care what you eat, it’s a fun app to pass the time or entertain little ones at the grocery store.

Mobile Gourmet gives Fooducate: 5 out of 5 stars

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet: Giving Thanks

By Jason Wong

It’s the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. this Thursday. It’s a time to reflect on our good fortunes and share a good meal with family and friends. Given the current state of the world economy and social unrest in many parts of the globe, I think there’s a lot to be thankful for if you find yourself in a warm place surrounded by loved ones this Thanksgiving.

On a lighter note, I’d like to share some of the things in the mobile world that we should give thanks for.

1. Steve Jobs for giving us the iPod, iPhone and iPad. It’s amazing how powerful these devices are (and transforming in some ways), yet toddlers can learn to use them without any guidance. His vision in the tech world will be missed.

Thank you for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Rest in Peace, Steve.

2. WiFi. Make that free WiFi. It’s fast, it works in buildings and it’s better than being at the mercy of wireless carriers for 4G (and yes, I think carriers should offer free WiFi with data plans!). If a presidential candidate simply ran on a platform for free nationwide WiFi, he/she would get my vote.

3. GPS for giving our world context. “When I was a boy, I had to print out directions to take with us in the car.” How far we have come. Almost every app is location aware these days, using GPS (or some form of triangulation–with the help of WiFi!) and that helps to provide better content and service. Despite all the concerns over privacy, GPS makes the world better, and much easier to navigate.

4. Cameras on phones. I remember when I first saw phones with cameras in Japan about 10 years ago. My wife’s cousin is a dancer and during a party for fans, all these fans whipped out their phones (not cameras) to take pictures. This was before they could share on Twitter or Facebook. Now people are using their camera phones to broadcast revolutions, and famed photographers like Annie Liebovitz are espousing their virtues.

5. Apps. Yes, there are too many of them and it’s hard to find good ones. Thankfully there are companies like Crosswalk and Zwapp that are looking to make app recommendations better (think of the Netflix recommendation model for apps). But without mobile apps, just think how bored and unproductive we would all be!

App finders like Crosswalk make an easier, 'appier life possible.

 

Are there mobile marvels I missed that you’re thankful for?

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Drinking the Kool-Aid

By Jason Wong

“Drinking the Kool-Aid.” The origin of this phrase is quite interesting. According to Wikipedia:

“The basis of the term is a reference to the November 1978 Jonestown Massacre, where members of the Peoples Temple were said to have committed suicide by drinking a “Kool-Aid”-like drink laced with cyanide.”

Definitely NOT gourmet!

At Antenna, we drink our own Kool-Aid — and it IS gourmet, meaning that we believe in our products and use them ourselves. Back in September we launched our own mobile website (m.antennasoftware.com) built using our very own mobile web technology. You may say, “What’s the big deal?”  First, we like to practice what we preach.  On top of that, you may be surprised to know that more than 70% of businesses still don’t have a mobile-optimized website – this includes many of the mobile software vendors out there! Take a look around at some of them, and you may be shocked by what you see.

So if any of you are interested in reaching the mobile masses with your very own mobile site, give our Kool-Aid a try. Check out our video case study of mobilizing AntennaSoftware.com!

We think the Antenna Software mobile site is pretty snazzy...

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet Review: Foodspotting – For Finding the Diamond in the Rough

By Jason Wong

As a connoisseur of fine food and apps, I’m going to start reviewing food-related apps that I’ve downloaded and tried. The first one I’ll be reviewing is an app called Foodspotting.  Here is the description of the app from their website:

A visual guide to good food and where to find it. Foodspotting is the easiest way to find and share the foods you love: Instead of reviewing restaurants, you can recommend your favorite dishes and see what others have recommended wherever you go.”

The Foodspotting app, shown here on an Android like mine, brings mouth-watering dishes to life

The idea is that even a bad restaurant may have one dish that is exceptionally good. Using the Foodspotting app (which, by the way, is available for all the major smartphones –a major plus) you can snap a picture and share that one delicious dish with everyone. The app uses geo-location to display pictures of food that have been taken nearby by other users and allows you to add comments and recommendations to the food photo. You can even flag a dish as “Want It” so that it will be saved for you to go and try at some point.

You also can search for specific foods or restaurants to see what is being served up. Foodspotting is also incorporating local food guides as well as known brands like Zagat and Food & Wine. Having validation from those guides is nice, however, as a foodie I would hate for Foodspotting to get too commercial and watered down. Another interesting thing about the app is that most of the pics are from local mom and pop restaurants. What’s great about this is that it promotes food diversity and drives business towards local restaurants. But more recently I’ve noticed pics from Taco Bell and other chain restaurants. Personally I don’t need a picture of a Chalupa to remind me how good/bad Taco Bell is.

Overall this app is a great idea. Sometimes I just don’t know what I’m in the mood to eat. Or I might be in an unfamiliar city and want some visual reference of the food to go by before choosing a place to dine. A nice photo of a mouth-watering dish makes the decision process that much easier. I just wish there was a “scratch-and-sniff” part of the app so that I can actually take a whiff of these dishes!

Mobile Gourmet gives Foodspotting: 5 out of 5 Stars

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

Mobile Gourmet: Like Leftover Soup, Mobile Web More Tasty With Time

By Jason Wong

Ahhh fall. Colorful leaves, brisk winds, damp days – soup season is upon us! I do love a bowl of hearty soup with some nice bread and some cheese and maybe a bit of fancy olive oil for dipping. I recently bought a cookbook called “The Best Soups in the World,” so I’m very excited to be cooking plenty of soup over the next few months.

To the letter - the mobile Web is like a bowl of soup. We can

But given all the variety of soups out there, there seems to be one universal trait – they always taste better after a day or two in the fridge. Yes, a piping hot bowl is quite tasty and many of us have scorched the roofs of our mouths due to our impatience to savor its sweetness. Yet, like a wine being left open to breath, leftover soup makes a flavor metamorphosis as all the ingredients slowly meld into perfect harmony. Its flavor grows in intensity and little nuances that were not there fresh from the pot slowly reveal themselves.

To me, the mobile Web is like a soup. When it first came into broad commercial deployment, the mobile Web looked so inviting and comforting. Like a rain-soaked child presented with their favorite soup, we were so eager to dive in. Sure there were flaws and shortcomings in the technology, and as a result many business ideas got burned. But overall, it made quite an impression with folks that tasted and liked this new way of getting info on the go.

That “mobile-Web soup” has been in the fridge for a number of years, and now the reheated version has some new added ingredients, like HTML5, CCS3, 4G networks, etc. Now the taste is almost beyond recognition. What was once black and grey text screens are now colorful, rich and interactive interfaces. It’s like transforming condensed tomato soup into a rich tomato gazpacho.

For businesses, now is the time to really use mobile Web. Consumers are lapping it up and licking their bowls clean. They just can’t get enough of good mobile Web sites and content. The technology is mature, the devices are getting smarter and the networks are getting faster and faster. Soup’s on!

 

Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet