Mobile Monday Austin hosts Helio’s David Howard

mobile monday
Great Mobile Monday today at Omni Downtown.


First up was David Gill of Telephia, who gave a nice overview of mobile data usage.


Mobile video is seeing a nice growth curve quarter to quarter. David sees this as a trend that will continue. This is in comparison to, for example, ringtones which is flat and games which is flat especially a few months after a new phone is purchased. (I.E. the games vertical doesn’t see repeat buying behavior.)

Myspace is currently something of a “killer app” for mobile data usage.

MMS is still lagging. Interoperability still a problem. (btw, I think MMS is currently a wasted opportunity. To me “voice MMS” is a great messaging app that isn’t getting enough attention.)

Sprint is sticking out as an anomoly from the major carriers as offering the most choice when it comes to data packages and is seeing the benefit.

Even though the 18-24 yr old market is seeing the greatest penetration, the older markets are seeing better adoption growth. Cost is an issue. Older demographic has more money to spend on premium services.

I was surprised to hear that overall US mobile data penetration is still around 40% and discounting SMS only, it’s more like 20%. I thought we were trending a little better than that.


Second up was the keynote, Helio’s David Howard (senior director of platform engineering)

David was a breath of fresh air in terms of evangelizing mobile and seeing results. Helio is a partnership between Earthlink and SK Telecom (South Korean mobile leader).

Highlights of Helio:
Very user experience oriented.
Clever adaptation of web and mobile experiences.
Low total number of handsets. Currently 5. Handsets are built for the Helio experience.
Helio Ocean recently introduced (See Youtube ad here)
Heavy use of “mashups” in mobile internet experience
GPS is a highlighted feature
Server side processing assists in creating the overall experience
“Walled gardens” of carriers is still a buzz kill
Carriers don’t think like Internet companies. David emphasized Earthlink’s heritage is evident in difference.
For the Ocean, they demanded complete control from OEM to develop product. Example of functionality that device manufacturers don’t like to give access to: the address book.

helio ocean

I got to play with the Ocean a little bit and was impressed. It uses the Sprint EVDO network so it is snappy. The UI is pretty nice. I was a little stumped with some of the UI (particularly where and how to use the soft keys) but overall very nice. The software UI is very good, particularly in Web. They have a nice tab structure that integrates the big players — Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Yelp (I’m missing a couple). David’s comment was these are the big players that are offering the API’s. Makes perfect sense.

I liked how he downplayed the music player. “It’s there, but…let’s look at these cooler features” I think the real implication, whether he meant it or not is a music player on a phone like this is a commodity.

The UI of the Ocean handles both landscape and portrait display….and seems to do so well.

If my brief experience with the Ocean and David’s presentation are any indication, Helio is really working hard to provide a solid offering. They seem to really get where the “mobile lifestyle” is heading.

Not to be forgotten, last up was Professor Sanjay Shakkottai of UT who gave a brief presentation on some social network research. For a view of some of his research, check out Sanjay’s research.


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