Who"s davidlian?

My photo
davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beam me a new one!

Sorry for the long absence. You know, life gets in the way... no time... yadda, yadda.

I'm tip-tapping away right now from my room at The Scarlet in Singapore after a long day at Nokia Connection 2009 (disclosure: that's my day job - public relations consulting for Nokia amongst other clients). Naturally, being surrounded by journalists, bloggers and other intelligent people from the mobile industry leads to a whole lot of discussion about mobile devices and where its all heading.

Of course, what most people were most excited about were mobile apps.

A thought struck me. Have we come a full circle? What could really be a killer app today is what was a killer app more than a decade ago - beaming!

Let me explain. In the mid-90s, when a phone was still a monochrome block that made voice calls and sent SMSes, Palm ruled the roost in a category called the PDA. I remember reading a report at one point that the Palm OS had some 300,000 applications in existence. Like today's application scene, most were pointless apps that let you read random quotes from Star Wars, display a Beer picture, and much much more.

But the beauty of the 90s scenario was this - one Palm device could easily beam across any application (as long as the developer didn't lock it) to another via infrared. Want this cool freeware game? *ZAP* its yours. Want my Yoda application? *ZAP* its yours.

Beaming made sharing and spreading applications easy peasy and fun to boot. On a macro scale, this meant popular (though often pointless) apps could spread "virally" through super-distribution.

So what if we brought beaming back today? Would it work?

Beaming would lead to piracy. Not every developer will want his application freely beamed. There's always the option to lock apps. In any case, people who really want to pirate an app would find a way to do it anyway.

There's nothing to lose to let a free app be beamed. In fact, there's massive opportunity. Developers could make money thru ads within the app and a larger distribution means more revenue. Brands could easily "viral" good marketing apps (think iBeer).

IRDA is not commonly found on phones and Bluetooth leaves me open to viruses. Leaving Bluetooth on all the time does pose a security risk and its really annoying to keep rejecting requests to receive a virus application. But wait, new technology is on the horizon like Near Field Communication (NFC) and similar technology could be the new IRDA allowing short-range transmission of apps from one device to another.

So there you have it - my argument for beaming. Now, I know there'll be differing opinions, but I'm thinking, with mobile apps coming to the forefront again, maybe it's time to bring back the ability to share fun apps we love with one another. Let's hope some manufacturers are listening.


KY said...

ahh, those were the days, I still have a sony clie lying around somewhere. Too bad the battery doesn't really work anymore tho..

Jayelle said...

ahhh...i had this thing called a magic diary and it let me send messages to my friends who also had this device. could choose features in a photofit kind of thing for my contacts too! lol my calendar then had a list of my tuition classes. :)

davidlian said...

@KY: Yes, I was such a palm fan then!
@Jayelle: Did you enjoy beaming, tho?

Stanley said...

Beaming was fun. Had a palm ages ago (until it went extinct). Thing about this is that you need other devises with the same functions. So it would be fun if all phones have beaming not just a certain brand =D

davidlian said...

@Stanley: iPhone to iPhone beaming. Symbian to Symbian beaming. Winmo to Winmo beaming. I don't see how that's a problem. Whichever ecosystem brings beaming back wins. IMHO.

Just BoB said...

Why Beam when u can bluetooth? :D

Line of sight tech is sooooo yesterday. HAhaha :D

davidlian said...

@Bob: We meant beaming as a standard word for "sending apps from one mobile device to the next". Doesn't matter if its done via Bluetooth or IRDA or NFC.

However, someone yesterday noted that allowing bluetooth beaming might be leaving yourself open to attacks from other Bluetooth devices.

Justin Koh said...

I still have a Palm with me. The Fossil Abacus Palm Watch. No one beams me stuff because they are non existence!

Tzy Wen said...

I agree that they should allow beaming of free apps through wifi or bluetooth. But I do miss the days of using infrared and the line of sight limitation :P