Monday, September 3, 2012

(Mobile) Topics that get me excited these days

You may have picked up, following me relo to Israel, I'm on the job hunt these days. Relocating is a full time job. But, on occasion, I get a free hour to connect to the web, and I come across exciting spaces and solutions. Here are some that excite me (AKA, I want to product manage ;)):
  • App store analysis and discovery: Social sharing, recommendations and discovery of apps is just not where it should, or can be. Some startups are taking on that challenge: Appsfire, Quixey, XYLogic and Chomp (now Apple).  More here 
  • Real World eCommerce Link: Between (fail?) Google Goggles (which I had huge hopes for) and QR/other barcodes (really? show me how to monetize) nobody has been massively successful in building a complete an eCommerce solution that recognizes physical objects and offers shopping experience around those. I've no doubt it can be done, it's just a solution that consists of many complex pieces. I've seen interesting technology by SuperFish. I think this space has huge growth and reward possibilities. 
  • Advanced mobile analytics (dare I say combined with APM and production quality?): In mobile I believe there is huge opportunity for advanced analytics. Localytics, Google and others are doing a great job at it, but there are two areas (IMO) for improvement: 
    • Mobile usage 'heat map': Understand what your users are really looking at, what exactly works and what doesn't, and what's the impact on your success criteria. One company that does an interesting job: ClickTale. I've seen them in action in NL Facebook mobile equivalent. Massively impressive. Again here, I believe there's huge areas for improvement in market awareness.
    • Integration with APM and production quality solutions: Yes, most likely there may be multiple audiences. Marketing will look at straight analytics and understand how it impacts the success criteria. IT/Ops will look at the latter. In reality, your bottom line is impacted by both and this is understood by the customers (who are approached by all players in these spaces). So whether you're an analytics play (Localytics, Google), APM (Compuware, Yottaa), Production quality (Crashlytics, Crittercism), you really want to be thinking about integrated services/dashboards/APIs etc. 
  • Enterprise solutions/BYOD/Virtualization
    • Enterprise solutions: I personally believe the space for B2C games/music/productivity is limited. There's just so much there already and the ability to make it big is just slim. An easier way (to innovate at least) is to find what apps Enterprises need and offer that to them. Easier said than done, but the potential is there. I've been inspired, for example, how General Motors, Lowes and Home Depot, Verizon and others leverage mobile as a sales associate tool. Is there still opportunity to innovate in sales force enablement? Absolutely.
    • BYOD: I think there's some debate around the BYOD opportunity. Like coffee, people are split into extremes on this one. Clearly, it offers an opportunity to the enterprise (and a headache to the CSO). Enablement of BYOD in the organization requires a complete MDM solution, which is very complex (remember how touch it was to deploy Blackberry?).
    • Virtualization: I can't tell you how ridiculous it is to see folks (I've seen them mainly in EMEA) walking around with 2 or more phones. Good for the operators, I suppose, but not so great for the person and an opportunity for their employer. Virtualization enables one phone with multiple personalities (+high walls between them). Whether BYOD or employee-provided phone, it's easier on the employee, and the employer can potentially gain some of the employee attention on the off hours.
  • Social Navigation: I'm a bit split about this one. I'm a constant user of Waze. What they do and the value they provide is unparalleled. The only problem with the solution is that it depends on user input. The input needs to be entered on location and in real time. OK, you may be in a traffic jam and there's no big damage if you look at the phone (illegal!!). But if you're driving and there's a hazard, that's downright dangerous. I think that if input could be handled verbally (A-La Siri?) that would make it all very attractive, and safe.
  • Personal interest: Way out of my field of expertise, but there is highly interesting 3D printing technology being created. Fascinating, and feels like rocket science. One I took a look at was EZ3D
Of course, this is a partial list. Interested in your thoughts, what do you think of those spaces? What excites you?

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