Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the 2009 iteration of WebVisions, a conference held here in Portland focused on the future of web design and development.
As with last year, my goal for attending was to gain new design perspectives. Web design is constantly evolving, and we use many of the innovations present on the consumer web internally in Connect. Rich is the primary design force on our team, and I like to broaden my knowledge of what’s out there to add balance to what he knows and likes to do.
Interface design is highly opinionated, so it’s always helpful to have a wider range of opinions from which to choose.
I haven’t been to any conferences since Defrag last November, but I can tell from reading that conferences have changed. WebVisions was no different. There was a distinct emphasis on social media (ahem, Twitter) not present last year.
I started on a daily recap, but I’m not sure that’s valuable.
Instead, I’ll focus on the two sessions I found most interesting: “Future of Mobile: Native Apps vs. Mobile Web vs. Hybrid Apps” and “OpenID: The Panel Discussion“.I really enjoyed Jason Grigsby‘s mobile session last year, and his “Future of Mobile” talk this year didn’t disappoint. The explosion of iPhone apps over the last nine-ish months has forever changed the mobile space.
Even though the iPhone remains the most hyped mobile platform for apps and has undoubtedly changed the mobile space forever, he cited factors like an inconsistent approval process, platform lock-in, low long-term usage rates, and low return on time invested as ones that tempered the fuzzy glow created by the success he and his friends had with the Obama iPhone app.
Side note: I wonder how much time Clayton invested in the Oracle People iPhone app? Obviously, it’s free and not available to everyone, and I continue to get several requests a week for the download location. I can’t really determine the usage pattern from the Pinch Media stats, but I wonder if it’s the same downward trend over time.
Oddly, at least to me, I get requests to review apps because I sometimes blog about apps that interest me. This blog isn’t an iPhone review blog, but this reflects a trend that Jason discusses: success for an app is tied to coverage and the iTunes top lists.
Jason’s overall point was that mobile development should take a hybrid approach, i.e. not lock-in to any single platform (iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm, Android) and not rely on mobile web alone, to get the best combination of native features and portability.
He also mentioned rhomobile, a Ruby-based project that does the same thing. These are awesome alternatives to learning any single platform.
I’ve embedded his slides for your viewing pleasure.
On assertion resonated. Jason estimates that, in terms of mobile technology and usage, Asia is about two years ahead of Europe, which is about two years ahead of the US.
Crazy stuff to think that I’m using the 2004 mobile web as it was in Asia.
One of Jason’s slides reminded of a picture Puneet took a year ago in India, that underlines the point about how many people have mobile phones in the World (4 billion).
This woman has a mobile phone, but no running water in her village. However, if Jason is correct, that phone is about three years ahead of what’s available to me today in the US.
Mobile is crazy like that.
The upcoming Palm Pre and new iPhone releases will have us all buzzing about mobile again.
What do you think? Find the comments.