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Malcolm Barclay: “Expectations of mobile technology outweigh what’s possible”

Did you get the newsletter last night? My main focus last night was a series of use-cases that I’d love to see in mobile — but in reality, I know that it’ll take decades to deliver. The underlying infrastructure is just too flakey. Read the original post here.

To my delight, Malcolm Barclay, the iPhone super-developer, weighed in. The use-case scenario that I’d mentioned in the post was to do with bus travel — and that happens to be one of Malcolm’s specialist subjects (he’s the developer of superstar apps such as Tube Status, NextBuses, Tube Deluxe and London Bus. If you’re a Brit iPhone user, chances are you’ve got at least one of those apps.

I wanted to highlight Malcolm’s reply which I thought very illuminating. To the whole cadre of network operators, handset manufacturers, infrastructure providers and public service providers out there, make no mistake, the moment you can all get together and deliver some kind of unified platform, talented developers such as Malcolm will get stuck in.

As I read through your use case here I started thinking practically how I could actually implement this in London Bus. All the technology exists today that could make this happen, the Bus would need some sort of near field communication or at least a realtime tracking system (they are all already fitted with GPS systems) I could reference based on the bearing of your phone, there’s security implications of being allowed access to appointment data etc, but that said, all of this can sort-of be done. Or go for cortex view of what you are looking at (i.e I know you are looking at a bus…perhaps you want to know where it goes) like what the crew at WINEFindr did. That technology took 5 years to develop from primary research.

Stepping back from all the technical stuff, you touch on a wider point here. One user commented to me that getting real-time information for all 20,000 bus stops & where their buses are in London is a no brainer and could not understand why I’d left such an obvious piece of functionality out; I must be stupid. And there in lies the problem, more & more, peoples expectation of technology is starting to outweigh what’s currently possible or even simply put together.

BTW TfL are working on making real-time bus information available, go live is about mid 2011.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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