Archive for the ‘Windows Mobile’ Tag

2 Events that Could Help Push Mobile Learning

In recent days a couple of technical events of note have given hope for mobile learning. Microsoft announced that later this year it will release Windows Mobile 7 and RIM (maker of Blackberry smart phones) announced that it will release an updated WebKit based browser. Why are these events important? Well, here’s my take:

Windows Mobile 7:

  • Windows ties well into the overall infrastructure of many organizations (whether we always like that or not)
  • The Windows Mobile 7 update will integrate devices with the XBox gaming system, which could be another option for distributing learning – perhaps along the lines of the Apple App Store or Google’s Android Marketplace or the many other marketplaces available for different mobile operating systems
  • Another strong, well funded competitor in this industry should bring more option – possibly even further commoditizing mobile devices and making them less expensive for educational purchasing

Blackberry WebKit browser:

  • Blackberry smart phones are very popular in the corporate and government space, having a better browser experience on those devices will certainly allow a lot of organizations to have the ability to deploy some of their current learning content
  • WebKit is the same core used for the iPhone Safari browser and the Android browser, it’s a very capable and highly extensible platform for Web development, so it provides the opportunity to develop rich, interactive experiences for learners

These new developments along with the deployment of Flash 10 on many devices throughout this year is really starting to make the mobile device a compelling place for learning content development. When you think of the ways developers can tap into the cloud, access the accelerometer, camera, and phone functions of a mobile device, you can start to see how we can really use these devices to consume and author learning content. It’s turning out to be an exciting year for mobile learning.

I will keep you updated on other happenings around mobile technology and provide details on these efforts as the become known.


Mobile Landscape Really About to Change

There’s been a big stir of comments, reviews, predictions etc. surroungding the release of the newest Android device in the US. The Motorola Droid was released a few weeks back on the Verizon network and so far the reviews and comments have been pretty positive. A lot of reviewers consider the device and it’s operating system to be the first formidable competitor to the iPhone in terms of overall capability. I am going to purchase a Droid in the coming weeks because it’s time for me to upgrade from my trusty Motorola Q9 (2nd generation Q, 1st generation was not so trusty).

Anyway, the recent release of a Android 2.0 device on a major network in the US is really a big deal because it may start to reduce the fragmentation amongst the crowded smartphone landscape here and possibly across the world. Android is very capable, and the development community for Android is increasing daily. iPhone is the well established champion that has long lacked a real challenger. Now that we will have 2 major platforms that do what learners want them to do (everything, web surfing, apps, music, video, etc.), we may start to see some of the other players in that smartphone market tick off. And as we continue to see the population as a whole asking for more features, we will probably see feature phones phased out in favor of a new baseline of functionality in all mobile devices. Just as you can no longer buy a non-touchtone phone for your house, you won’t be able to buy a device that doesn’t access the web and doesn’t have the ability to download apps.

So if you’re looking to build a mobile learning application or to be the provider of mobile learning resources of any kind, you may want to consider the possibility that we will see only a few of the current players in the mobile platform market in a couple of years. My guess is that in 5 years, the major players will be Android, iPhone and Symbian (Nokia, Sony-Ericsson).

I think Windows mobile will still be a fringe competitor because they have the money to stay in any fight for now. I think RIM (Blackberry) may be able to stay in at the edges too if they somehow create a real competitive OS, but right now I don’t hear much about them moving in that direction. They could also adopt another OS like Android and somehow integrate their security features and push technology that makes them so popular with corporations. Palm, I want to see them succeed, but they need to do a bunch of things to help their chances, like get their devices on major networks, build a bigger developer base for application and services development and continue to come out with new and different devices. At this time, Palm’s future doesn’t look so good even with their new WebOS, but they could also find a savior in Android, or they could find a way to make their device a major player in other ways.

These developments could be good for mobile learning in a couple of ways. First, as the platform developers listen to users, it appears that we are finally getting a baseline of functionality that people want. As I eluded to earlier, web access and a real browser are at the top, and the ability to download/access applicatons is very big as well. Devices are also going to come with much better media tools, cameras, and video capture technologies. Second, defragmentation of the market allows mobile learning developers and designers to target just one or two platforms with the expectation of access to the masses. As a developer, this second issue is really pretty important. We would all love to build for every platform out there, but there simply isn’t time or money available in most cases especially when it comes to learning.

If you’d like to know more about some factors driving the defragmentation of the mobile landscape, take a look at this blog post from Jason Perlow at ZDNET: