Sunday, December 18, 2005
So many Santas so little Snow...
Lots of Santas roaming around in London gearing up to Christmas. No snow anywhere as one could expect in London. Strangely enough snow is the catalyst for a Christmas mood for me. Unfortunately due, I guess to global warming, man made or cyclical even the southern part of Finland cannot guarantee a white Christmas. I will spend my Christmas in Finland starting on 23rd, with a party for friends and ending on the second when I jump on the plane to head out to San Fransisco and then to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
New Mobility - My remote contribution to Les Blogs 2.0
I am really sad that I will not be able to be in the closing panel of Les Blogs 2.0 talking about the future. Instead I am home, with an aching head, jetlagged, it is 5:00AM and I have been up the past three hours, but fortunately in good spirits. I was wondering how I could make up for not being there and I came to the conclusion that sharing some thoughts here could be the best I can do at this moment.
New mobility is my prediction about the future of mobile. It is thoughts in progress, but something I am starting to see more and more clearly. It is a prediction of Divergence with new players.
Any prediction needs to have some givens: In this prediction consumer demand is a given: Consumers pay for exciting mobile hardware, but want free services and SW.
Let me take three examples. People buy, Motorola Razors,
Apple iPods and Sony PSPs three different mobile devices, all providing clear
utility, Communication and/or Entertainment.
People want free services, let me take one service domain as an example: Storage of photos: Yahoo, Kodak offer free unlimited on-line storage for photos, Adobe and Google offer free storage limited only by size of the hard disk. There are lots of examples.
To date the mobile phone industry has been in equilibrium,
device manufacturers have made HW with embedded SW and the Operators provided
network, billing and customer care. This has worked great, both parties have
made lots of money and users have been pleased to be able to communicate
regardless of place.
In parallel the Internet appeared, got mobilized through Laptops and Wi-Fi and its services got monetized through contextual ads and banners. This communication and Entertainment network now wants to expand into the pocket. Its core utility IM and E-mail both scale to a pocketable device, proven by Blackberry. Its proposition is disruptively powerful, it wants to provide lots of utility for free for the consumer, paid for by advertisers.
The mobile industry is in a stalemate. The handset vendors
are desperately trying to escape the “phone” legacy, a wonderful legacy in many
ways, but the mobile phone we all love to talk on is perfected. It is accepted
as a dominant design all over the planet. It is easy to use, cheap and above
all it works. The way they have tried to
escape it is by moving into SW, namely to operating system and application SW.
This move has been very expensive and to date it has not paid off in other ways
than through HW sales and here the value has been very difficult to quantify.
At least the users value HW more as there seems to be a consensus in the
industry that the Motorola Razor is not the easiest phone to use, nor does it
have the best functionality. Handset vendors could see beyond applications,
into services, but as there is no money in services this is not their rescue, I
have a hard time believing that they could have moved into advertising. Regardless
of handset vendors ambition the carriers made sure they did not move into
services, with the communization of HW allowing small no-brand players enter
and giving operators the ability to brand the handset business and paralyze the
Now Wi-Fi and later Wi-Max is paralyzing the operators, they do not have the handset vendors as their allies, they are bullish and many think their piece is too big, so do I.
If this is the battleground, new mobility will emerge.
New entrants will enter from the service side or from innovative incumbents, but they do not enter with voice optimized devices, but e-mail, IM and service optimized devices. They are pocketable two-hand operated Webpads with Wi-Fi, they are built on top of Linux using open source core applications (Phonebook, Calendar, E-Mail etc.) applications. The added value will come from a new form of social apps, which are server driven client-sever architectures, which has the ability to update themselves and evolve to become, so personalized that they in the end reach segments of ones. They will unite people via, text, pictures, location and interest. These will not be the primary device for voice. The Nokia 770 is a powerful game opener, the concept is not right, but there is a good base in the SW. It is from an incumbent, but and incumbent behaving differently, there is not cellular in the device.
Since the cellular phone will not be used for data, it has
to evolve into another direction and the most promising is towards a voice
wearable, it will appear as a band around the neck providing the optimized
carrying and usage experience voice and stereo audio. Think iPod Nano with
cellular. I call it the NeckPhone.
This is the new mobility: a device for voice which is
wearable and a device for data which is pocketable.
If you read this far and are thinking, so what is new, then you get it, not much. When you in ten years look back at this and look who did it you will say shit, this I did not see coming. It will be a disruption of unbelievable proportions.
(Little disclaimer…this is written between 2:30-4:45 in a state of flu, so I will probably tune it, but I would like to hear some comments ;-) )