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Interview: Neil Preskett, Account Director, IKIVO

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What might have seemed to be a confusion of User Interface options, following the Symbian Foundation announcement, turned out to be a great opportunity to companies who focus in this sector of mobile technology.

IKIVO, a supplier of rich media applications, has worked with modular sophisticated technology for embedding and OTA delivery, as well as industry standard tools for the development and deployment of rich media mobile applications and solutions.

Neil Preskett, Account Director, IKIVO spoke to PhoneReport’s Meraj Chhaya, at the Symbian Smartphone Show 2008, in London, on their current work with user interfaces, and discussed how the consumer is making use of SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) in these user interfaces.

Update: The interviewee was Neil Preskett, and not Samuel Sweet, as otherwise published. PhoneReport apologizes for the misunderstanding to the parties concerned.

PhoneReport: “Neil, what is IKIVO currently working on?”

Neil Preskett: “Our primary focus is to offer our customers a rich user experience, or user interface. Our background is been in mobile phones, but recently we’ve moved to new markets, such as the consumer electronics marketplace, we’ve talked about some of the user interfaces that some of those devices are providing to end-user costumers, and we’ve also been moving to different market sectors, such as the automotive one, so we’re looking at user interfaces for in-house entertainment systems, and in-cars.

Our technology is SVG-based (Scalable vector graphics), and our ultimate goal is to embed our run-time player, SVG run-time player into a device that’s sold on the marketplace.

Effectively, what we do is work with operators, handset manufacturers, or niche application providers, to provide a user interface that gives a rich experience to the end-user.

Some of the projects we’ve been working on are the delivery of mobile TV through Vodafone Spain and UK, and other MNOs; the launch of the on-device portal applications in Vodafone UK; as well as with Samsung in order to roll-out an active idle screen on the new Omnia in Korea with SK Telecom, so typically we would work with operators to develop a user interface for a core set of applications they want to offer on either Series 60 Symbian devices, or Windows Mobile devices.

To be absolutely clear, we do not own content, we build the user interface only.

An example of this is a project that we did with Samsung, for the Omnia in the SK Telecom network. They specified the design for it, a clock interface, active idle screen, touchscreen allows you to flick between applications. In my opinion, one of the interesting things we have been asked to do for SK Telecom and Samsung here is a sort of carousel for a contact list, you click on the contact, you can email, call, it’s an intuitive look, and feels very much aligned with what Apple has been bringing in into the marketplace as well. This is Windows Mobile-based, and this particular application is being launched in Korea in November along with SK Telecom, so it’s a very localised launch for Samsung for this particular application.

We work predominantly with Series 60 Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. If we need to work with Java-based devices, we will treat that in a case-by-case basis.

Different delivery models, either the operator or the handset manufacturer does the design and build of the application, and we just provide the SVG run-time, embed that on the system, or, we could do the graphic design, the implementation of the UI, the delivery of the UI, the finished product, for testing purposes. “

PhoneReport: “From A to Z?”

Neil Preskett: “Yes, it’s not our preferred model, our preferred model is to deliver the SDK and the run-time to users, to allow them to build their own applications.

Where we think we differentiate in our toolkit is where we have something called an “animator”, which allows you to bring animation, rich animation into your application as well.”

PhoneReport: “What do you make available to the developer?”

Neil Preskett: “There’s a run-time engine available, a toolkit, and an animation toolkit.

Our core devices are Windows Mobile and Symbian devices, and we expand to other devices as a need-basis, so high-end, touchscreen, high-resolution devices is where we think we get the best benefit from the SVG toolset.”

PhoneReport: “In your own, or IKIVO’s opinion, does open-sourcing help a company to develop further?”

Neil Preskett: “We are a big subscriber to open-sourcing, and we believe that it’s important to develop a community.

If you look at Linux, which is open-source, it just generated a whole set of developer capability in the marketplace. So we are indeed a big subscriber for open-source.”

PhoneReport: “We have asked this to many other companies, but it is always healthy to receive feedback from other players in the industry: How open can a company go before revenue is reduced to zero?”

Neil Preskett: “If you move totally into the open-source arena, then your revenue stream has to come from things such as providing services and development around an application. So from our perspective, our core competence is not development. Our core competence is to sell software licence into the market, and our run-time player.”

PhoneReport: “Is your run-time player open-source?”

Neil Preskett: “No, our run-time player is not open-source.”

PhoneReport: “Do you intend in open-sourcing any part of your run-time player?”

Neil Preskett: “No, that’s not our philosophy.”

PhoneReport: “Once again, in your own, or IKIVO’s opinion, was it important for Symbian to become open?”

Neil Preskett: “I believe in terms of gaining continuous momentum in the marketplace, yes. What I like about what the Symbian Foundation is doing, is taking the best from different areas, and creating a product set or a methodology that is absolutely prevalent and dominant in the marketplace, so yes. I think to move forward , it was important that they did this.”

PhoneReport: “What’s next for mobile technology environment?”

Neil Preskett: “It’s been interesting to see what other suppliers have been doing in the marketplace. The entrance of the iPhone User Interface has really changed the way people want to interact with their mobile devices.

If you look at gaming on mobile devices at the moment, they are very poorly rated versus the PC experience, so someone will have to have to create, the gaming player to step up to the play, the application providers to step up to the play, to offer user interface that is really really rich for end-users.

I think that widget-based user interfaces are going to be prevalent in the mobile high-end marketplace, interactive widgets, very very important as well. Interactive TV, interactive weather widgets, utilising the core functionality of a phone with a more user-friendly interface.

That is how I see the market moving in the mid to short-term.”

PhoneReport: “Neil, thank you very much for your time, we’ll see you next year hopefully.”

Neil Preskett: “It was my pleasure, we’ll definitely see you next time.”

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By , Editor-in-Chief, Johannesburg office

Published on Dec 29th, 2008 GMT +2

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