Casual Connect Europe in Hamburg

With the conference season upon us, I shall be trekking to my former hometown of Hamburg on Monday to join the good folks from the Casual Games Association for their European iteration of Casual Connect. It looks like a pretty cool show with lots of interesting stuff going on, in particular also on social gaming and cross-platform initiatives: they have numerous panels and keynotes on both and a whole strand on mobile. Interesting speakers, too: Rob Unsworth (Digital Chocolate), Ami Ben-David (Oberon/I-Play), Philippe Dao (Gameloft) are there plus an interesting panel with Fishlabs' Michael Schade and Handy Games' Christopher Kassulke on the same panel (their two companies had a little bit of a tiff recently). I'll be there to elaborate a bit more on mobile social gaming... Fingers crossed.

If you are there or close, drop me a line, a tweet (vhirsch) or whatever else. I'll try to post my impressions in between but it might need to wait (day jobs turn into night jobs during conference seasons, you see...).

RIM's 50m & Symbian's riposte

Blackberry maker RIM announced it had raced through the "epic" 50m device barrier. An honourable feat indeed! Symbian fired of a riposte (or was it Symbian-fan-boy-bloggers that did? I don't know) that it had sold just under 80m devices in 2007 alone (with a total install base of 250m), and the Blackberry story therefore was to be considered as "how very quaint".

Now: isn't this comparing apples and pairs? Every Blackberry is (and has been for, like, ever) the benchmark device for e-mail on the go. I still remember sitting in Moscow pulling down my e-mail on a Nokia 9300, and, in the time it took me to download the header of the e-mails when my dear US colleague had browsed through his e-mail and replied to 5. So: Symbian is not to be equated with Blackberry; it's an entirely different thing: Symbian was all about creating a more powerful OS that could do a lot of things, and it does them fairly well. But we shouldn't forget that most of them a N-Series devices without a QWERTY keyboard that do different things than a Blackberry does. It is probably possible (now, not 3 years ago) to create a similar experience on a Symbian-powered phone than it is on a Blackberry but I have still to find an e-mail client on a phone as pain-free, reliable and quick as the Blackberry's.

I do believe that it is less about the theoretical power of an operating system but about the end-to-end experience (iPhone anyone? I commented on this a long time ago). And - across the board - a Blackberry beats most of its rivals hands down on that; still. So this comparison limps heavily. It is probably also to blame on this odd way to define "what is a smartphone"? The mere fact that it has a "an identifiable operating system" surely is not that smart (although Admob classifies it as such). 

I applaud RIM to their feat of selling 50m devices (or "i-banker phone" as they were called in their early years) and remain a fan.

On a sideline, RIM also mentioned that there have been 7m downloads of the Facebook client for the Blackberry so far. This would mean that a fairly respectable 15% of all Blackberries that have EVER been sold have the client, and this means that this is probably a rather high number of the ones currently in use. Who would have thought that? I-banker phone goes social networking. Ts ts ts...