This is the second part of my three part post on the GPhone. If you haven’t read the first part, please go read it here. This post takes a deeper dive and analyzes the possibilities around Messaging, Media and Productivity applications. Remember these are simply my analysis, as if I was building the phone. This is no indication of how Google may do it. Surely, I hope that I end up being pretty close to their thought process.
So without further ado, let’s begin with the Messaging.
It goes without saying that Messaging is such an important function of our Mobile lifestyle. Pretty much all mobile devices attempt to innovate and improve the messaging offerings. SMS, MMS and Email are commonplace now on all phones. That is not to say that they have become simpler or intuitive. Any typical off the shelf phone offers multiple modes of messaging and involves a decent learning curve. It does get complicated for a mainstream user to navigate through this.
In my opinion, the GPhone can improve mobile messaging by leveraging its exemplary messaging portfolio.
In the mobile domain SMS messages are transient and disappear in the ether once received and read. On the other hand there are equal amount of social interactions via comments, scraps or wall to wall messaging within the social networking paradigm. What if these ecosystems could co-exist? This is where Google can bridge the gap between social and mobile interactions.
Google, leveraging its recent acquisition, Jaiku can possibly enable such an environment. In addition by leveraging the fully integrated and network intelligent contacts service (I discuss this in detail in the first part), Google can easily bridge the gap. Such a service could make the transition seamless. Imagine, sending an SMS to your friend results in a comment, scrap or a message on his/her profile and vice versa.
In this fashion, not only the text messaging penetrates the social interaction layer. It is also backed up and an ongoinglog of such messages is available in form of a conversation. Jaiku’s technology can allow Google to bring about such an interaction model. Not to mention that it can also utilize another company called Zingku, which it acquired recently to offer value added applications on top of such an infrastructure. BTW what is up with the names of these companies?
Well no surprises here really. Google already has a great mobile email client, which it supports on multiple devices. It’s recent commitment to IMAP shows a continued focus in this direction.
However in my opinion Google needs to bring the GMail experience much closer to the native phone experience. I would offer an integrated client where text and email messaging can be executed from a single application flow. Secondly enable push email alerts, just like the BlackBerry service using the Push IMAP standard. Since Google is gaining significant ground in the small to medium business area with its Apps offering, these features could be very valuable for the end consumer on their mobile phones.
iPhone raised the bar for this feature by offering seamless visual voicemail. Google will sure have to come close if not go above it. I believe Google has great weapons in its arsenal to excel here.
Google already supports Visual VoiceMail on the web via the GTalk and GMail combination. For example if your buddy is offline on GTalk, you can leave him/her a voicemail. This shows up in their GMail inbox just as a regular message with a capability to playback audio.
They simply have to extend this paradigm to the mobile handset. In my opinion simply bringing this offering to the handset would probably do the job. In addition leveraging the GrandCentral featureset will allow closer integration with the PC flow.
Google has a decent presence with Picasa and a significant presence with YouTube. Now bear in mind that the mobile device can be used to consume content over the data network. However they key differentiator is that it can also be used to generate content.
So apart from simply enabling Picasa albums and YouTube videos on the handset, Google must offer direct integration with the camera/camcorder. The device should automagically upload the captured media (images or video) directly to the Picasa or YouTube.
Going further, Google can integrate sending of media over to other known services such as Flickr etc. It can also enable posting of media directly to social networks such as its own Orkut. Not to mention that the media capabilities will be fully integrated with the messaging elements, so its a snap to send and receive media to friends and family.
These days users expect a lot more from their phones. The smartphone market has really pushed the boundaries of what is possible on the phone. Most smartphones these days support some form of Pocket Office application. I believe Google can combine its key offerings to offer a great and relevant productivity package for the phone. Remember, having the whole MS office on the phone isn’t necessarily great, relevancy matters a lot when it comes to phones.
Now most phones offer basic calendaring capability. These include device resident scheduling and alarm capability. However these applications are fairly static and do not leverage any network intelligence. As we know they have one of the sexiest calendaring service on the web, which integrates with external services in multiple ways. Google can marry the device calendar with its own network resident service.
Google can enable seamless integration with the local calendar. This way one can simply interact with GCal via their handset over the air. Secondly with strong integration with the contacts service, Google can offer public view of my friend’s calendars. So I can traverse my contact list and see if my friends or colleagues are busy or not. Such features are offered in applications like Outlook but are completely missing on the mobile handset. Google has the power to bring this experience to the handset. Especially since they have already started offering basic capabilities on the iPhone.
As mentioned earlier, document management has become a much needed feature on the smartphones. If not full editing capabilities, consumers need atleast browsing and viewing capabilities. Google Docs and spreadsheets is a service, which has got a lot of attention in past year or so. Google is also in efforts to extend this offering to the mobile handset.
Backed up with a GDrive like setup on the network, Google can easily offer a simple service on the handset. The key aspects being simplicity and relevance. Google as we know has the design mentality to enable such an experience.
Now that leaves me with two more productivity applications, Search and Maps on the moble. Now frankly, do you really want me to talk about that, given what we have seen and heard recently? I didn’t think so.
That concludes this part on various value added applications. Stay tuned for the final part, which will delve into application ecosystems and revenue models. Subscribing to the RSS maybe the best way to keep track.
Send in your comments to let me know what you think about it. Oh yeah, I will try and create a GPhone stack diagram and post it in coming days.