The Mobile World Panel had an interesting analogy in trying to describe the iPhone’s success:

Panelist Mike Yonker, general manager of worldwide strategy and operations for Texas Instruments’ wireless terminals business unit, said that the way for the user to get the rich content now available on a mobile handset is through the “search” function. But this isn’t so easy. He compared the limitations of a mobile handset to a full personal computer screen.

Searching on a computer, he said, is like going to a store, where the customers sees every product displayed, and can make comparisons, touch the products, even try things on for size. Doing the same search on a mobile, he said, but like trying to shop in the same store but “through a drive-up window.” No matter how much stuff is in the store, you can only find out through the cashier at the drive-up window.

The dilemma, left unsolved by the panelists, was how to squeeze the user through that window, past the cashier, to sample all the things in the store, without guilt, while still feeling grateful to the cashier who seemed, all along, to be standing in the way.

Everyone agreed that, so far, only Apple has been able to turn this trick. For users, “the content is the core,” said Lipman of Power2B somewhat ruefully, “and we have to get out of their way.”

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