ISBN: 0-471-41405 -0
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In the evolution of devices, we can see two tracks that evolve in parallel: horizontal devices and vertical devices.
Horizontal devices often focus on the mass market; therefore, making them cost efficient is of high importance. You must also conform to all possible standards in order to make application development easy. SDKs for horizontal devices are often distributed via the manufacturer’s Web site and are often available to anyone who is interested in supporting them. Horizontal devices are not primarily designed for a specific application or
Figure 10.1 Horizontal devices.
usage model. Examples of mass-market devices include the Palm V, Nokia 3310, and Ericsson R380 (see Figure 10.1).
Vertical devices fulfill a special need for a vertical segment. In other words, devices are generally more expensive and manufacturers do not have to have manufacturing costs as their top priority (which does not mean that cost is not an issue). SDKs are sometimes publicly available, but developers often have to be in a closer relationship with the device manufacturer or with the one who makes the operating system/middleware on which applications are developed. The big advantage of developing for vertical devices is that hardware and software are made specifically with certain uses in mind. A mobile game console, for instance, can have a small joystick or a four-directional keypad for maneuvering. Examples of vertical devices include a Symbol device with a bar-code reader (see Figure 10.2), mobile game consoles, and in-car mobile clients.
The variation between different devices is generally more noticeable within vertical devices, and the provider of the software platform often provides
Figure 10.2 A bar-code scanner from Symbol.
enough tools to get into development easily. For this reason, most of the focus of this book is on horizontal devices. First, we will look at some of the factors that affect future devices and the challenges that the manufacturers face.
Building the Ultimate Device
Many of us have probably thought that it would be great to create the ultimate device with all of those features and a nice design (okay, I guess that puts us in the “geek” category). Not many of us realize what it takes to build a device (and more importantly, make the device a profitable success). The aim here is to narrow the gap between device manufacturers and software developers by making each side understand the needs and challenges of the other party. Note that we use the word device throughout this chapter, because it includes everything from WAP phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) to in -car mobile terminals and wirelessly enabled soda machines.
The traditional way of selling mobile phones is together with a mobile subscription. In other words, manufacturers such as Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia sell the phones to the mobile operator that owns the network. The operator then sells a network access subscription along with the phone. One part of the phone sales is together with network infrastructure sales, which often gives the operator a chance to put requirements on the phones that are to be offered. Therefore, many mobile phone manufactures cannot make some decisions about upcoming products without taking the operators' needs into concern. If the operator is happy with the phones that the manufacturer offers, the manufacturer will market these phones in media campaigns and in retail stores. Some operators also go one step further and brand the phones. Sprint PCS in the United States, as well as NTT DoCoMo in Japan, are examples of the operator reselling phones with the operator’s name on it, although someone else manufactured the main part of the phone. If the subscriber signs up for a subscription that spans a year or two, the operator usually subsidizes the phone and a brand new phone can then cost as little as $1 (Euro) or less. The operator then counts on getting the money back from the call charges that the user acquires during the subscription period. This is of course a model that operators want to move away from, and in some markets we are already seeing fewer phones being subsidized.
Now that PDAs and hand-held computers are becoming increasingly wireless, some of those devices will join this model as well. This group has traditionally been resold as any electronics equipment through departments stores and electronics warehouses. Those devices that become wirelessly enabled via Bluetooth
can easily keep this distribution method, however, because no subscription is needed for usage. Those who have built-in GPRS and 3G wireless functionalities are a bit more complicated, however, because a subscription from a mobile operator is necessary in order to use wireless properties. Possibly, these will be sold just as mobile telephones always have been—via the operator. Of course, there is also nothing stopping an electronics warehouse from reselling mobile operator-subsidized PDAs with 3G subscriptions.