Using my cell phone as an Internet terminal, using my laptop as a music player, I read Raph Koster's blog where he talks about a panel discussing the future of mobile, with his own comments and thoughts about it. Something's wrong here, but it's not the fact that I'm reading his blog using the cell phone. What's wrong here is that I have to listen to music using the computer, since my cell phone doesn't let you multi task browsing with listening to music (something I shall fix when I replace my mobile phone), and the fact that Raph Koster says (and others agree) that mobiles, as any other device, should focus on doing what's their main purpose, and not everything else.
I totally agree that the best tool to take a picture is a camera. Like the best tool to see television is a TV screen, and the best way to see a movie is in a theatre and the best way to listen to recorded music is using some HiFi system. But most of the people, most of the times, don't really want to do one thing in the best way, they want to do several things without much pain. Yeah, it would be great to listen to this CD at home*, with enough candle lights to read the inners and a glass of red wine. But it would suck if I couldn't listen to it now just because I'm on a train. Yes, I would have a better experience reading Raph's blog in the laptop than in the mobile screen, but, on the other hand, I would only be able to do it if I was using my cell phone as a modem, which would consume my laptop's battery faster and leave me to no music earlier. Of course I could pay five more Euros and travel first class just to have a power plug... Oh, did I said mobile phone as modem? Right, I could have one of those PCMCIA or USB mobile Internet cards, but why have them if my cell phone just does the same thing? Oh, and pictures? Most mobile phones in Portugal already have the ability to take them, and, curiously, most people** that heavily use that feature are those who have good cameras and pleasure in making photography. But you don't walk with your camera everywhere, and there's that "casual picture" you like to take for which your cell phone does a quite decent job...
About MMO's in mobile phones: I've done it via telnet or web browser, and I was a player of "the first mobile MMORPG" (or at least that's what they said they were): TibiaME. My experiences? Via web browser it sucks, but that's basicly because I wasn't doing it to go to web MMO's (I don't like any of those I know), and I still have to see a web interface for an MMO that I like (the best would be one of those Second Life interfaces out there, but unfortunately I don't see any of them to be at least as good interface-wise as SLTalker, and yes, SLTalker still sucks...). The telnet experience is pretty good: it isn't better just because I still have to find a telnet-ssl client for mobile phones (or write one). TibiaME... Wasn't a good experience, but that's because the game design isn't that appealing (I was somewhat turned off when I noticed that TibiaME's worlds weren't connected to Tibia's ones) and, specially, because the application (still a beta) was pretty buggy, crashing all the time. So, do I think that mobile phones have what it takes to be a great medium for MMO's? I don't have any doubt. The fun in Virtual Worlds comes with the fact that you have one (or more) avatars, that have their own virtual life in their own virtual world. But if they can't live when you aren't home... Now, with your mobile virtual world, your avatar can be alive and awake as much time as you can yourself... If you think that there's no market at there, look at Katherine, the teen girl that wrote the first web interface for Second Life just to be able to be on while using her school's computers... Give their generation a SL mobile client and you'll see it being an instant success.
As the panel itself, I just have to say: please treat your gardens but burn its walls. There's no "company space" in the future of web, if you take into account that what matters nowadays on the web is data.
*) I'm listening to the only album from the Portuguese musical project "Ambience", that is threatening to be considered by me as the best Portuguese musical act... I should talk more about it in a later post.
**) This is assumed by me, from experience and observation. It isn't based in any study and can be flawed... But I don't think so.