Phone Apps Head To Computers
By Mike Masnick, Tue Oct 12 21:30:00 GMT 2004

Carriers are starting to realize that there's no reason to limit certain applications to the mobile only world. Is communication becoming device agnostic?

For years, people have realized that increasing power to mobile phones would make them increasingly computer-like. However, how many people expected the reverse to happen? Certainly, with the rise of laptops and the recent popularity of VoIP softphones, it's now possible to make semi-mobile calls from your laptop, but two recent announcements suggest an interesting trend: mobile applications are moving to the desktop.

Vodafone started it off yesterday by announcing a desktop application for sending SMS text messages. The idea is to integrate SMS with a user's email in-box. The main purpose is to make it easier for enterprises to incorporate SMS messaging into their offerings. Then, KPN announced its 3G handsets for consumers (they had already launched datacards earlier this year) and made a special point of offering a desktop application that would let users do video calls to KPN 3G phones. The idea, here, it seems is to help solve the "empty room" problem where no one uses the videophoning feature, because no one else has a videophone to handle the other end of the call.

While neither application may turn out to be a huge success (and, in fact, you could make the argument that both are likely to be marginal), it does show that carriers are beginning to realize that the mobile phone environment is not completely separate from the rest of the world. With all the communications technologies people have today, no one wants to worry about making sure they're using the right device to communicate in the way they want. Instead, they want to have as many options as possible open. Of course, this may lead to some conflict, along the lines of what's facing the instant messaging world, but the recognition of bridges between mobile phones and computers is clearly a step in the right direction.