I had only started this blogging thing when I was distracted by a personal tragedy – my husband was killed in a plane crash at the end of last year.
So while I had come to the Gartner Blogger Network with the best of intentions, I got a bit side tracked. Now that I am back at work and hurling myself once again into the maelstrom of peer review, client inquiry and exciting new research areas, I find myself thinking more and more “I should blog about that”. So here i am.
Where goest thou, context?
We’ve been wrestling over the last few weeks with the shape of our context aware computing agenda for 2010. I had the good fortune to lead or moderate several of the context aware research sessions, which were very well attended and very lively. One of the very interesting discussions was about the evolution of the context eco-system - shorthanded by my colleague Nick Jones (silver tongued devil that he is…) as “Who will own your contextual soul in 2020?” Among the scenarios that were postulated were:
- the super-player walled gardens, in which people will align themselves with one major context provider like Google, or Nokia or Microsoft
- the coalition of equals, where context information is freely shared across boundaries, the way flight information is shared in the airline reservation network.
I don’t think the answer is one or the other – they are a continuum. After all, the airline reservations networks were not always interconnected. They used to be a collection of walled gardens. They became a coalition of equals when it was economically necessary for them to be. And this pattern has repeated throughout history. POSC came about because no single oil company could afford to explore and exploit by themselves. And my personal feeling is there will be no real progress on universal health records until it becomes an economic necessity, but that’s another post – I digress.
So what we’ll see in the short term is the Googles and the Nokias and the China Telcomms and the Apples competing to bind individuals by managing their context information in a proprietary fashion. The majoir factor will be your level of trust in your provider. That’s in the consumer space. In the enterprise space, the big players will probably be Microsoft and Cisco.
Over time, end user pressure will force the players to open their walled gardens and coalitions will ensue, but that will take time.
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