Is 2011 the year of Mobile? This is a question that so many people ask. I have to say I am not quite convinced on either side. In fact I think the question has become rather irrelevant.
Mobile and Social are already here. We are however still struggling to get good at both of them. And good we must get. There is a nice series in WIT drawn from a series of discussions between Siew Hoon and Gerry Samuels Doing it "Bloody Well" and understand who wins - Supplier or Intermediary - are great discussion pieces. If WIT is not on your regular reading list - you are missing a treat.
Getting good at Mobile is not a trivial exercise. There is a lot of infrastructure that is frankly not in place to make it easy. Therefore early providers are having to bootstrap solutions to get the end to end services running. Regulatory and service level functions are scant and frankly the performance of the networks and devices together SUCK. Publishers are complaining that they dont find it easy. For sure they are not adopting fast enough.
One key issue that is decidedly a constraint on Mobile Commerce are the payment systems. There is a plethora of options and the market is just beginning to pick up. The battle for the mobile wallet is a royal one.
There is the huge battle going on between the OS systems on the small aperture devices. You have Android split into Pure and Honeycomb. You have the Apple with its iOS. You have a bunch of also ran players - Microsoft, Nokia (now moving with MS), RIM (About to exit the tablet space by slashing the price of the Playbook), HP (not sure if they are in or out at the moment). Let's not forget the App vs Browser battle. An astonishing statistic is from HP who projects there will be 25 million apps by 2020.
Underneath it all there is a multi-billion dollar battle over patents. This is enough to make ones head spin.
But allow me to put a little perspective on things. While I think it is a bit premature to declare victory for mobile, there is a very interesting trend. The Gen Y/Millenials are not worrying about the problems of infrastructure. It either works or it doesn't. Unlike the Baby Boomers (like me!) who struggle with the small apperture of the devices concerned - they are quite comfortable in using their mobiles to do a wide number of things concurrently.
My conclusion on this? Mobile is darn hard. The traditional gatekeepers in travel commerce are nowhere near prepared for mobile. The suppliers need to break free and stop using traditional processes to address mobile solutions. AND most importantly you have to use every trick in the book to get the consumers to start pulling through adoption. Traditional ways of pushing products into the marketplace and hoping for the best frankly are useless. If I hear one more person scream that their investment in mobile has been wasted - I think I will eat my hat. It's the adoption not the features stupid!!!