At the VentureBeat Mobile Summit, top mobile executives, policy makers and investors will explore urgent questions around the industry’s five key business and policy challenges:

1. Platform Wars: Size matters, but what else will dictate who wins among iOS, Android, Amazon and Microsoft?

Four titans — iOS, Android, Amazon and Microsoft — are now duking it out on the global stage to become the biggest mobile “platform” upon which users — and the mobile industry — will standardize. But what will really determine the winner? Whether it is the size of their developer ecosystem, their ability to offer cheap data services from the cloud, or their advertising and user reach, which advantages does each of the four titans have, and which ones really matter?

Talking Points:

  • What works on one platform versus another? What needs to be improved? What are the missing elements of each platform?
  • What is most important to the customer? (User interface, hardware design, carrier, cost, reach across applications, features etc.)?
  • How do device makers and carriers fit into the new platform war?
  • What are the next battle fronts in the platform wars: low-priced devices, living room, cars, connected electronics, cloud? Who will dominate? Where are the pockets of disruptive innovation?
  • Which method will win: Apple’s selective iOS app ecosystem, or Android’s completely open platform? Will open source and free innovation around Android pull ahead in the end?
  • If forced to choose, what platform should companies focus on? iOS appears to monetize better, while Android has a greater reach, but Microsoft and Amazon offer unique incentives as they fight for market. Who will win the support of the developer community?
  • Why is Android monetizing poorly, and what will be done to improve that? How can Google make Android a viable business? And how much does this matter, anyway? Are developers really factoring this into their decisions about whether to develop for one platform or the other?
  • It’s a big year for Microsoft – will carriers finally support a 3rd OS contender in full force?
  • While Amazon hasn’t devised its own OS, it has created a major fork on Android — and it’s now using a completely different advantage to join the battle: the cloud. How much will cloud, and its reach among publishers and ecommerce, help Amazon tilt things to its favor?
  • What will Facebook’s role be in the mobile space?
  • What drives customer acquisition for not just platforms, but carriers too, both nationally and worldwide?
  • With Nokia and RIM dropping to second tier players, are they better advised to go-it-alone or join one or more partners? Nokia appears to have sided with Microsoft. What will that do for the overall battlefield contour?

2. Mobile Shopping: Where billions can be made with location, targeting, and the mobile web

The adoption of mobile commerce is poised to create a massive, multi-billion dollar opportunity. With smartphones becoming smart wallets, as well as instant research tools that are able to communicate specific tastes anywhere people go, what technologies and what companies will help improve the way people discover and pay for items? Who will be the biggest winners from this trend?

Talking Points:

  • How will your phone experience improve to help discover and pay for items, and who will be the biggest winners from this?
  • Which parts of the commerce chain have the most leverage in fulfilling the promise of mobile commerce: banks, web players, startups, operators, local merchants?
  • How can mobile devices help consumers shop before the point of sale?
  • What is the next wave of innovation required to take things to the next level in terms of users’ comfort and trust levels?
  • How will the battle between brick and mortar retailers and mobile retailers play out in 2012?
  • How far away are we from non-virtual transactions taking off ? What do the leading companies in entertainment, retail and automotive say?
  • What will be the key innovation that decides where disruption happens first? Will Asia lead the way, or can major disruption happen in the US?
  • How will the mobile payment war between Paypal, Amex, Visa and more play out?
  • With the proliferation of apps that allow for customer identification, product scanning and pinpoint location within a store, as well as checkout, it is quickly becoming possible to have an interactive mobile application walk customers through the entire shopping experience. What steps must be taken to drive user adoption?

3. Disruption of the Enterprise: What are the new types of apps and services that will spur productivity and competitiveness?

Employees are choosing to bring their own devices to work — iPhones, iPads, Android phones and more — and enterprises are using the cloud to adapt. Given the new enterprise cloud, what are the next game-changing apps or services that will dramatically improve productivity and competitiveness?

Talking Points:

  • How will the intersection of cloud computing and mobile technology make a company’s workforce more competitive or productive?
  • What lessons can be learned from the past eras of centralized computing giving way to client/server, the web, mobile and now cloud?
  • What tools and features will be demanded by employees to use on their mobile devices? What will be necessary in the next wave of enterprise apps?
  • How do developers build and sell apps to enterprise customers? It’s a very different skill set than we have currently seen in successful app develpers, but potentially very lucrative.
  • What are the early lessons from iPad’s latest wins in the enterprise market — for applications and services?
  • What role will the carriers play in this battlefront? (AT&T has typically been strong in the enterprise, but Verizon just acquired Terremark to bolster its cloud services)
  • How do you keep personal /corporate devices useful and usable, whilst protecting against either data / device theft, or the careless deleting of data by employees and toddlers?

4. The Media Revolution: What forms of content will survive and thrive in mobile?

With mobile devices evolving in 2012, and millions of new consumers buying them, who are the most successful publishers of new mobile media, what are the factors driving their success and what is the impact of that success on the mobile industry?

Talking Points:

  • Touch, swipe and beyond: The rise of the tablet has created a new kind of media experience — but what will that experience be exactly?
  • Smartphones aren’t fully optimized for content consumption like tablets and TVs. What type of media is successful on the smartphone, and how must it be adapted for tablets and TVs?
  • Apple and Amazon devices have a strong advantage — especially in the tablet market –- with their ability to give users easy access to premium content. What can others do to compete on the media front?
  • With the Kindle Fire and its associated ecosystem emerging as the most profitable option for Android tablet app publishers, how will Amazon’s business model and financial heft drive what actually gets consumed?
  • On tablets, the Amazon App Store can already deliver more direct revenue to developers than the Android Market. What are the new opportunities for publishers of apps, games, books, music and video?
  • The Kindle Fire changes the economics of media creation for Android tablets. If smart TVs and connected homes finally come true, what media will win in this world?
  • What are the broader impacts of mobile media on education, content creation and distribution?
  • Media companies are looking to tablets as their big hope; What do these companies need to succeed in the connected home experience?

5. User Acquisition in 2012: What lessons will the mobile gaming industry show the rest of us?

In terms of models of user acquisition, the games industry has led the way. What are the next steps games companies must make to stay compelling and innovative on user acquisition strategies (advertising, offers, etc) now that better broadband, better OS’s, better interfaces, and better devices (including tablets) have arrived. What can the rest of us learn from that?

Talking Points:

  • What happens when the cost of user acquisition rises on Facebook and mobile platforms? And what happens when funding amounts from VCs fall? Will a shake-out happen among the app makers?
  • Will in-app purchase growth become pervasive?
  • User acquisition rates have gone down in the past few months on iOS – why? What’s wrong with iAds?
  • For mobile games, there is no built in social network. How are you going to get users? What is Apple doing in this regard?
  • How will games cross-promote via, Facebook or mobile games?
  • What is the data on cost of user acquisition? And what can be done about tracking and targeting?

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