Sony Ericsson X1 competition

This definitely the year of funding and competitions. There was the Android competition and then the 10M USD fund. There was the iFund for iPhone applications, there was the Blackberry Fund with a stunning 150M USD and now there’s yet another competition from Sony Ericsson. I got a message from David Cushman who claims to have a lead on this, see here: Sony-Ericsson X1 developer competition coming soon. The details are still lacking, but if you are a Windows (Mobile) developer you might consider this interesting, especially if you were wondering if it’s worth starting something.

For many years developers have been locked out of mobile devices, then J2ME came with its sandbox, it was better than nothing, but it was really limited. Over the years most of those limitation went away, but it looks like this is the year of the open development. So start coding, because mobile (web, J2ME and web applications) is where the is money for companies and developers!

Flash, Flashlite, SVG and Java

Flash is a huge success on the web. It’s been like that for a long time now.

SVG is a recommendation (read standard) by the W3C that should address some of the functionalities of Flash.

While Flash Lite has been very successful in Japan for many years (and I think simply because DoCoMo decided it would be the default on all devices), it has struggled in the rest of the world.

In the last couple of years Nokia, Sony Ericsson and other top vendors have more or less quietly implemented SVG Tiny (a subset of SVG for mobile devices). From my perspective it seemed like SVG would take over Flash (Lite) in the mobile space, but it looks Adobe is moving to make sure this does not happen.

A few news that I’ve read in the last couple of weeks, all within just a few days:

SE X1, the only new device at MWC

There were not many exciting new devices and no iPhone-killers, really.

I was especially surprised by the “new” devices by Samsung, where the UI is worse than ever. While testing their new high-end U900 (not the SCH-U900 available in the US that is completely different), one of the guys working in the stand even made fun of me saying something like “Can you get it to work?”. The comment was actually appropriate, but certainly not a compliment to the device interface, in fact I kept pressing the wrong buttons because they were all “misplaced”. It’s true that there is not a right place for a key, but in a good UI they should be where you expect them to be. Here’s a picture thanks to gsmarena. The keypad in the middle changes icons depending on the menu you’re in and you immediately get used to it, but the two softkeys that are outside the pad, are actually needed for any confirmation. That’s unusual to me.

The only device that caught my attention was the Sony Ericsson X1, to be released around June 2008. It’s very interesting, but to me, it’s going the opposite direction of the iPhone. It is definitely overloaded of buttons and functionalities. You have 4 softkeys, a trackpad for scrolling, the touch-screen and you can slide it and have a full QWERTY keyboard. If this wasn’t enough, you can choose among 9 different screens, that is to say you pick a different screen configuration depending if you want to play music, use as a phone, use as a PDA and so on. The functionality of switching is pretty cool and reminded me of desktop transitions in OS X or Vista, but to me sounds like an admission that Sony Ericsson could not find an appropriate design that would match all the functionalities. Sounds a lot like “we couldn’t decide, so you do it” and I think the result will be that users will take advantage of 1 or 2 screens and probably half of the input devices available. The device runs Windows Mobile 6, another surprise, if you think that Sony Ericsson now owns UIQ. Last but not least, they already plan to sell a bigger battery in case the default one lasts too little for you.