In an earlier post I wrote about context aware services. Being able to put the world in your pocket is an important prerequisite for enabling the personalized context aware services that I fantasized about in that article. And exactly that has become reality: your pocket now fits the world, because the world now fits inside a cell phone.
The world fits inside a Nokia N95
Our planet’s entire surface (at least the inhabitable parts) is almost entirely digitally mapped, and in astonishing detail too. It goes far beyond satellite images nowadays. Buildings, roads, streets, parks, restaurants, phone booths, wireless hotspots and even individual hedges are being photographed and geographically mapped. Mashed together with directory services this makes for the killer mobile application. Nokia must be thinking on the same lines, because they have just bought NavTeq.
NavTeq is driving though our streets with special GPS and 360 degree camera equiped cars, taking pictures in all directions every 10 meters or so. They will almost need to do this continuously, because phone booths tend to move around every once in a while (wouldn’t you if you were a phone booth?). It means that the digitization of our planet is a continuous process. Imagine the tremendous cost of doing that. The expected profits apparently exceed these costs, because there clearly is a business case. To give you an idea of the value: Nokia paid 5,7 billion euros for Navteq.
The mobile Rich Internet Application (RIA) is the next big thing in the RIA market. An RIA can be quite resource hungry. It needs support for smooth and slick GUI rendering, high quality audio and video streaming and high performance 2D and 3D rendering to name just the obvious ones. The average cell phone certainly isn’t powerful enough. We won’t accept less than a 3G phone with enough processing power to envy an XBox (well, okay, not that much). Apple’s iPhone sure seems powerful enough (unfortunately it does not support Adobe Flash yet), Nokia’s N95 has enough muscle as well and most probably, the mysterious Google Phone too. The latter is much speculated about and was said to be launched in 2007 (by HTC) and would not have a built-in GPS receiver. The world hasn’t seen that phone yet, I guess they have decided that it should have that GPS receiver after all.