What a Fall it's been in the mobile universe. The first week of October saw the death of the single most influential person in the industry. Whether you're an agency, a developer, or a consumer, whether you love or hate Apple, Steve Jobs led the charge in re-defining how we design, develop, and experience digital media.
It’s not news that Apple is still dominating mobile, but fresh indicators are always around. Subtle things, things like the competition’s devices being given away absolutely free.
The following weeks saw a number of announcements and changes by different players in the industry. We were introduced to the Kindle Fire, potentially a strong competitor to the iPad
with Amazon's library of digital media ready to be served up to consumers. Adobe announced they were discontinuing development of Flash player on mobile, and just yesterday, FICT rebranded as... FITC (
Flash In The Can Future. Innovation. Creativity. Technology.) Last week, I headed down to FITC's Screens 2011 conference in Toronto to get a feel for everything that's going on.
Matt Rix gave a great talk about the journey of bringing his hit game Trainyard to the world. He provided valuable insights about marketing your game, but it was his personal thoughts on passion and perseverance that really inspired. Peter Nitsch of Teehan+Lax showed us some of the work he and his colleagues are doing at the company's new +Labs division. I left envious of their jobs, which involve dreaming up and executing in-house exploratory projects, and it made me determined to make the time in Plank's own schedule for free-form creative work.
While there was certainly no shortage of talks covering specific platforms (iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry), and several talks on solutions delivering to multiple platforms, I left with the feeling that in the app world, anything other than iOS is still just background noise. Developers prefer it, consumers prefer it, clients prefer it.
It's not news that Apple is still dominating mobile, but fresh indicators are always around. Subtle things, things like the competition's devices being given away absolutely free. Here in Ontario, Rogers will put a Samsung Galaxy Tab in your hands just for signing up for their services. Feeling flush (or just hate Rogers?), you can pick up a BlackBerry Playbook, now only $199. Come January, I'd like to see the chart showing by what factor holiday sales of iPads outnumbered free Galaxy Tabs.
In the hugely entertaining, closing talk at Screens, Ryan Creighton made this brief, passing comment about the process of getting the viral game Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure onto the Playbook: "It was one of the worst experiences of my life." Without missing a beat, someone in the row behind me said: "That's the second time I've heard that today."
Whether anyone mounts a challenge to Apple in the coming months and years depends on what they're willing to do. Standardizing your OS across a diversity of devices (Android), or just making a decent mobile browser (Blackberry) — make the process as painless as possible for developers, and give consumers the content they want in as slick a package you can deliver.
If you're looking for a great ongoing analysis of the industry as a whole, check out 5x5's series The Critical Path.