Hamid Akhavan: Application Economics in Mobile

Hamid Akhavan, Global CTO of T-Mobile, spoke at MIT yesterday. His presentation was very general, but I thought it relevant to those interested in mobile gaming:

  • Most successful mobile applications have landline replicas (email, voice services, short messaging), and mobile always commands a price premium. The number of successful mobile-only applications is very small (GPS navigation systems, etc).
  • There may be no “killer app” that is unique to mobile. Instead of focusing on new mobile applications, developers should strive to port popular landline applications to the mobile environment.
  • Prediction: before the end of this decade, all consumer internet access will take place via wireless networks, not landlines.
  • Characteristics of a good mobile application:
    1. Automatically knows what device a customer is currently using
    2. Automatically knows a device’s bandwidth capabilities
    3. Includes location-based services when worthwhile
    4. Offers protection from unauthorized use, access, and copying
    5. Ensures that content is presented in the best way on any device and channel
    6. Synchs with all other relevant devices automatically.

Akhavan’s prediction caught my attention. If all consumer broadband will soon be delivered wirelessly, a mobile gaming revolution is just around the corner. Right now, only consumers in hotspot-saturated major metropolitan areas can really enjoy pipe-rich mobile gaming (and even then, not constantly/consistently.) The end of the decade isn’t far off… time to start thinking seriously about the possibilities! Akhavan’s “good application characteristics” seem relatively applicable to games, too.

10 responses to “Hamid Akhavan: Application Economics in Mobile

  1. Does he count home wi-fi LANs as wireless access? Or is it more like there won’t be any plug in the wall at all?

    I’m wondering what the implications are. Games based on the physical proximity of the players is one option; another option is games played over multiple wirelessly interconnected devices. How else would wireless delivery alter the gameplay, though?

  2. He’s talking no plug at all.

    I think the bigger question is: how will pervasive *broadband* wireless alter gameplay (as well as our general mindset)? Pervasive narrowband already exists to some extent — though it *is* too expensive at this time.

    Perhaps more people will become interested in MMOGs of certain types because they can now be played anywhere (while waiting for the bus, etc). This implies gameplay with short session cycles but long overall life. Strategy-centric MMO gameplay is an example. “Maintenance-centric” gameplay (i.e. Neopets-ish) is another. I could imagine an MMO with global strategy elements and an FPS mode that people hop into whenever they have ten minutes. :)

  3. I think it will be an important stride if someone figures out how to make multiplayer games where the multiplayer part is seamless and invisible (no enabling multiplayer mode, no selecting/starting servers, no waiting for connection, etc.)

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