Application Marketplaces, Smartphones, and Enterprise Mobility

With the iPhone and its App Store, the G1 and its Android Market plus Handango, Blackberry and the App Center, plus all those vending machines still out there distributing mobile consumables, it seems mobile users will soon have Amazon like access to products with instantaneous purchasing power plus social feedback loop ratings for mobile goods and services that cover every imaginable consumer segment plus some SMB industry verticals.   Smartphones and these distribution hubs are ushering a new era of mobility closer akin to the Web way of doing business, and if the iTunes App Store is credible evidence, I suspect we will quickly see more niches emerge across all storefronts creating new demand with abundant choice previously not available in the mobile world. These are exciting times indeed.       

At the same time, there are some not so exciting things going on… Everyone is talking about the financial crisis; about consumers and businesses buying less, and trying to save more.   The near future looks bleak; but is it?   I see an older opportunity emerging with newer content abundance, at least for enterprise and SMB who are harnessing this new era of smartphone subsidy care of wireless carrier sponsorships.   Combined with location intelligence, Smartphone applications using existing corporate IT content systems, mashed-up with newer, free, ad-subsidized consumer-facing content could stand to gain more than ever before by implementing services that cut fuel costs, streamline travel, save cash on time-based payroll, and eliminate inefficiencies with distribution, operations, and logistics to support customers, suppliers, and partners better & faster.  This isn’t a new mobile area, but rather one I haven’t seen front and center since the first US location-smart mobile enterprise services were deployed in 2002 by NEXTEL developers with handset suppliers Motorola and RIM. Those glory days are long gone, but the same tight economic conditions and opportunities aren’t - they're back in fact. This time around however, it's even more interesting as Point Solutions dissolve while consumer-oriented 'free' Web content remains increasingly available at no cost to corporate IT systems and applications developers via service-oriented architectures. With all of this happening, I might suspect to see a nearer-term resurgence in B2B mobile opportunities in the tough times ahead - particularly for those able to take advantage of it.