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Le Web....c'est mobile

Martin Clancy - 12 Dec 2011
3 min read

I attended the Le Web event in Paris last week. The speaker list featured such notables as Google's Eric Schmidt, Kevin Rose of Milk/Digg, Spotify's Daniel Ek, and a whole host of other notables including the venerable Karl Lagerfeld. As a general trend, mobile was dominant.

Not a single speaker talked about anything else. All demontrations were mobile-focused. I didn't see a single desktop play in evidence—every one of the speakers was talking mobile, without exception. SoMoLo was the buzzword of the day - social, mobile and local. Some speakers were saying that HTML5 isn't where it needs to be yet to give the experience that they desire. Eric Schmidt of Google was probably the best speaker. He pointed out that humans have always been SoMoLo—but mobile devices are amplifying our natural inclinations and abilities. Random quotes from Eric:

  • "SoMoLo has been true of humans for thousands of years"
  • "Mobile first is the answer to almost every question"
  • "We live in a mobile context"

Google noted that since June this year, Google Maps is now more used on mobile than desktop, a change they consider to be permanent, and one that augers similar transitions across all of their products and services. I managed to talk to them afterward about their GoMo program and our own goMobi (now discontinued) mobile website platform. 

So there you have it, le Web....c'est mobile.

In other areas Forester CEO George Colony made 3 interesting points:

  1. The whole social thing is running out of hours and people. People now spend more time on social networks than exercise, prayer etc. He thinks that people simply don't have any more time to spend on this stuff. The other point is that in the developed world, "social penetration" is stagnant at around 80%. His point is that this area is looking very bubbly right now and even mentioned the phrase "post social". He says we are in the era of social. I pretty much agree with this. It's not going away, but perhaps people are simply growing a little tired of it.
  2. Processing power and storage capability are growing faster than network capacity—processing power is now moving to the periphery. To him this means that the cloud model is flawed because it means a) you're not availing of all the power and storage on the phone/pc and b) you're hampered by the limits of the network, which is advancing less quickly. He thinks that this means that the next model is not web or not local code, it's a hybrid of both—applications that are run on the local client but use the cloud to some extent also. I personally think he is wrong to suggest that power on the local device is wasted because rich web apps make extensive use of the local CPU and rendering rich HTML 5 apps is non trivial. I think he draws the wrong conclusion in saying that  "the web is dead". In this new world he sees Apple, Google as holding all the cards, with Microsoft and Amazon as dark horse contenders.
  3. Enterprise social is getting great traction, mostly as a way of getting closer to your customers.

All in all, no major learnings here, but it's good to get validation for what you knew already.