With a great topic and a panel that came from key mobile industry areas (network, handsets, UI design, tools, industry bodies), I was looking forward to this one.
It was the Chair’s first panel session he’s run and unfortunately he talked a lot about his own company for the first 30 minutes without involving the poor panelists who were left there sitting twiddling their thumbs. He then discussed all the in people involved in the industry at length, which I would have expected everyone attending this conference would have had a relatively good understanding of. Further, he then asked all the panelists to speak in turn, making it a lot of little talks rather than a panel discussion, until the end.
Anat from O2 provided some clear points of the aspects of the UI that are important to the network (hooks into core UI, flexibility with idle screen, good update mechanisms). Nokia simply said that they have to work with the networks and that everyone is in it for the money (I would have liked to here about how Nokia see their control of the experience and how their changes in UI design with companies have made real impacts to usage etc). Tomou emphaised the cultural issues for his company and the importance of trust and collaboration. Bruno provided some key information about the historic lack of standards and that they needed to be resolved.
I raised the question of what the industries expectations are around a more seamless end-to-end mobile customer experience (e.g. Helio, iPod). Currently mobile customers have a poor experience getting thrown between the network, the limitations of the handset, different UIs for the phone and content, poor configuration etc. But there wasn’t much of a response from the panel. I got some good feedback and agreement from other attendees after the panel, who also see this as a key concern for the industry. If Apple do make a mobile phone, many of these companies will be standing there with their pants down.
All in all I didn’t walk away with a great deal.