At last week's San Francisco Music Tech conference, Motorola's Senior Director of Multimedia Dave Ulmer said "Every year we're here, and every year we say 'This is the year of the mobile'. And it hasn't been." Fresh off his company releasing the Droid, Ulmer stopped just short of saying 2010 will not be the year of the mobile, either. It won't be.
The biggest barrier to a mobile 2010 is a lack of innovation because of a lack of competition for the iPhone. Let's face it: Selling only a few million combined, the Palm's Pre and Blackberry's Storm are hardly denting the iPhone's domination, and even Google, with its estimated 30 Android phones planned within 18 months, isn't going to catch up in 2010. Because there isn't any immediate pressure, Apple doesn't have to change its capricious app review process, availability on only one of four major carriers or lack of tactile keyboard. The earliest we can expect any changes is in late 2010.
Additionally, most of 2010 will leave the average consumer confused. Released in summer 2007, the iPhone was the first smartphone for millions of Americans -â€" and the market will be flooded with choices next year. Throw in the tangentially distracting e-book battle between nook, Kindle and Sony e-Reader, and most consumers will be hedging their bets in 2010 and sticking with the only mobile device guaranteed to survive the year -- the iPhone â€"- or opting not to buy anything at all.
Next year will be an evolutionary year, not a revolutionary one, where new platforms such as the Android establish their ground and their identity. Expect 2010 to be a wonderful mess â€"- and for the more stable 2011 to be the closest thing yet to the "year of the mobile."