Matt Scherer, a contributing blogger, had the opportunity to interview C. Enrique Ortiz, the founder of MobileMonday Austin and a panelist for InnoTech Austin’s Mobile Application Marketplace session. Here’s Ortiz’ take on what is happening within the “mobi” space not only in Austin but also in the U.S. Details on Innotech can be found here.
Q1: What caused you to want to get into working with mobile telephone platforms in 1998?
A: Back in 1998 I used to work on embedded technologies when I was exposed to mobile & wireless; that was the time when handsets and the networks were not as advanced as they are today, the early days of CDMA (code division multiple access) , CDPD (cellular digital packet data) GSM (global systems for mobile communications) , HDML (high definition multimedia interface) and the beginnings of WAP, BlackBerry pagers, Palm OS, WinCE and so on. That is when I immediately recognized the potential for such connected personal devices and what the future was going to be. It was very exciting.
Q2: From reading a little about you, you mention the concept of “people-centric mobile computing.” What do you mean by this term?
A: Over the years, I realized the relationship between mobile and what I call people-centric computing. It is a term that I defined years ago to highlight the importance of putting the user and his/her mobile-context at the center of the mobile sofware design. Writing software for mobile is not the same as for fixed desktops or PCs. When designing software for mobile handsets, many other factors must be considered, from location to the social context, the characteristics of the device, the user preferences and other — all must be taken into account when designing software for mobile.
Q3: What are some of the biggest changes that people can expect from their mobile devices in the next 12 to 18 months?
A: There are different challenges for different people. For some such as early adopters, it is about what they can do with their handsets. These early adopters have access to high-end handsets, access to the Internet, the Web and applications, music on their handsets, personal information and access to friends. This segment of the population consumes large amount of data so their challenges are more around network speeds and tiered data-plans and handset capabilities (that is, what they can do with the handset). For others, the concerns are more about cost. This segment may not have access to higher-end devices and data-plans but still want to use their phone to access information, so there are challenges on how to accomplish that.
Q4: How has Austin become one of the leaders in mobile telephone development and what can we expect in the future?
A: There are a number of top cities when it comes to mobile sofware and applications: Silicon Valley, New York, Seattle and Austin to name a few. In the early 2000s, Austin was a hot bed for mobile/wireless. After the dot-com bubble, it slowed down dramatically. Today it is picking up again. This is a result of many factors. On one side, mobility is finally getting the attention of software designers and developers in general. Combine this with what Austin has to offer, from its friendly people, great city to live on, the University of Texas and VCs, and other. The trend is here and we should expect more startups in Austin and more innovation happening right here.