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February 27, 2007


David Cushman

Tomi, obviously I'd like to see the thought piece:

Many thanks for another brilliant post - a compelling argument indeed.

David Yoshikawa

Hi Tomi, I would be grateful if you'd send me your thought piece. As a regular visitor to your blog and graduating student, your blog has provided me with some great new insights into the world of mobile telecommunication and has been a true source of inspiration while writing my Masters thesis on convergence in the mobile telecom industry. This post once more made me aware of the endless possibilities of mobile communication. Cheerz =)

David Yoshikawa

felipe zylbersztajn

Yes, I'd like to receive the piece you have written on this topic:

Peter Boland

Very inspiring and insightful article, Tomi. I'd love to receive your thought piece. Many thanks!!

Patrik Rouault

Hi Tomi,

I'd like to receive "Thought piece".

Many thanks

Nicolaas Pereboom


I have just finished reading your great book Communities Dominate Brands (which I bought through Ajit/Futurepress)and I am very interested to alse receive your Thought Piece.

I am involved in setting up a (mobile) web platform for destination visitors (leisure & business) with some ex-Vodafone NL people (I saw your comment on ForumOxford about Vodafone NL and the Dutch which I of course hope is true ;)). I have also been asked here for a project related to city marketing and region branding and how to integrate mobile into this. Your ideas will certainly help here. Thanks!



Great post...informative.

Would also appreciate receiving your "thought" piece. TIA.

Heike Scholz

Hi Tomi,

I'd like to receive your Thought Piece.

Thank you very much.

Best regards

Mark Logan


Great post. Please sign me up for your Thought Piece too.

Mark Logan


Tony outstanding please send the two pager

Adrian Lai


Solid argument. I would love to get a copy of that Thought Piece.


Joshua Y

Thanks, Tomi -- well argued and inspiring. I'd like to see your Thought Piece and share it with people where I work.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi David C, David Y, Felipe, Peter, Patrick, Nicolaas, Jon, Heike, Mark, John, Adrian, Yoshua

Thanks for writing. I wasn't expecting you to post the pdf request here in the notes (but I didn't retype my e-mail address this time, so I obviously didn't make this too easy for you, sorry).

Thank you for the comments.

I will send you all the pdf now. Note Nicolaas and John - your e-mail addresses did not come through to me on your registration. Please check your e-mail, if the pdf isn't there, please write directly to me at tomi at tomiahonen dot com.

Thank you all for writing. I noticed a couple of you have already commented on the story (thank you for that as well). I'll do a bit of a survey and stop by and drop comments at your blogsites where I find such comments.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Hi Tomi,

This is a great post. Reminded me of a phrase I saw somewhere about media changes, dont know where i saw it.

McLuhan had said that "medium is the message" in his epic book on Understanding media but mobile has turned it upside down and now "message is the medium" and thats why we have this new media staring at us.


Alan moore

Dear Tomi,

I shared this concept with some of our colleagues, yesterday, they found it to be a very powerful concept.

You rock.


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Rajan and Alan

Thanks Rajan, good sentiment and yes, it does turn the media world kind of upside down ("again" - which really did happen already once with the internet, due to interactivity and user-generated content. But even before the old media have recovered from that, comes this crazy mobile...)

Alan - thanks. Its a partnership, you know that, and you inspire me and so much of this thinking is from the discussions you and I have regularly. I'm happy our colleagues have also embraced these thoughts...

Tomi :-)

R.A.B Gandhi

Hi Tomi,
it's a very inspiring piece of thought you have. I'm a starter in this mobile business, need that kind of inspiration a lot. Please send me those two-page concise "Thought Piece" of yours, it would be wonderful.

Thanks in Advance,

Sacha Vekeman

Hi Tomi,

As co-founder of Mobiya ( I am keen to read and distribute the 'Thought Piece' to my investors. Mobiya is in the business of mobile enabling the global classified advertising industry. A copy would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks,
Mail: sacha at mobiya dot com

Gustav Clark

That is a powerful idea. You're directly addressing all the critics, a group I usually find myself in. There are a lot of problems with the mobile platforms we have but there are enough people acknowledging them to give me hope they'll be solved.
Send me the Thought Piece please


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi R.A.B, Sacha and Gustav

Thank you for writing. I've sent the Thought Piece to each of you.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Moi Tomi,
Your article made my day yesterday, thanks :-)
I'll be happy to read further with your thought piece (cooli (at) online (dot) fr)
Have a nice We!

alan patrick


I don't buy this argument....if anything I would argue that mobile is like radio and the 'net is like TV - one is a portable, low bandwidth media with limited UI - the other has massive bandwidth, UI and functionality. Transistor radios were personal but TV took all the lolly.

The other problem is the current mobile 'phone maker/operator cabal have given away market segment after market segment - email to Blackberry, music to iTunes, Video to ??? by not building decent user devices in time for the task in hand.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Cooli and alan

Cooli - Thanks for the kind words.

alan - I'm very happy that you took the time to express your doubts and concerns. This is of course what Alan and I hoped to achieve with our blogsite for topics covered in the book. Not only to "preach to the choir" but equally to reach out to those who may not fully agree with us, to have the dialogue. I really appreciate it that you wrote.

So lets get to my replies.

First on the "Low bandwith, mobile is more like radio rather than TV" argument. Very good counter argument and indeed mobile is today, and I foresee it to remain into the next ten years at least, bandwidth-restrained compared with the mobile phone.

Bandwidth itself is no key to dominance, else cinema would dominate over TV and TV over the internet. But still, this is a good point, and it does strike at the heart of what I mean.

The mobile IS a (relatively) low bandwidth proposition. SMS is simpler than e-mail (and used by twice as many people) and ringing tones are DRASTICALLY simpler than MP3 full-track music (and yet generates 6 times the revenues of all MP3 files sold worldwide). This is the issue I want us to understand. While the phone cannot match the exact performance of all of its rivals - it can still replicate the content experiences for the most part, across all legacy mass media including the PC based broadband internet. Enough to allow us to experience those media formats also on the mobile.

But mobile introduces five elements not available on any mass media before. Because of these, we can invent NEW concepts for mobile the mass media, which cannot be done on legacy mass media. And to address your point, they can be very "low bandwidth" indeed they SHOULD be very low bandwidth.

Let me give you one concrete example from South Korea today. They were one of the first countries to launch real-time traffic cams that you could call up with your 3G phone to see what the driving conditions were like. This service, as a traffic conditions "news" concept is something we cannot do in any legacy media except the internet. You can't show live traffic cams on newspapers or the cinema or in recordings or radio. Even on TV you can't scroll through several hundred traffic cams in a meaningful way today or dedicate a hundred channels of broadcast so you'd reach each individually.

This is a service that only can be delivered via the internet or on mobile. But now, it gets better. Since 2003, in South Korea, they have had the personal real-time traffic STATISTICS page. Based on those real time camera views, they measure the driving speeds on all points where the cameras exist. They then let you customize your personalized traffic optional routes, and illustrate ON ONE PAGE the speeds at every camera on a given route.

The service has both gotten MUCH BETTER, and more personalized, AND SIMPLER than on 3G cameraphones. Yes, we needed the 3G video abilities to teach our drivers that this kind of science fictional service exists and is possible. But then the service evolved to be more user-friendly (faster). Now on one screen I see the average speeds of all the points on my route. Oh, the intersection beteen Smith Street and Wesson Street is slow, let me see THAT camera only.

By making it "simpler" by its bandwidth needs, the traffic camera related personal traffic stats service in South Korea has become MUCH BETTER for its users. It is now a killer application, where the initial 3G traffic cam was only a clever application.

This is what I mean we need to do across all media offered to the mobile. Like ringing tones. Yes, we can sell MP3 files to phones, but MP3 files can also be sold on CDs, DVDs, the internet, etc. But on mobile we can offer waiting tones (ringback tones), welcoming tones (eg Cyworld), background tones etc. All of these are impossible on say an iPod. What makes our media superior to the legacy media, that is what we need to learn. The services and money will be there, not in attempting to port the legacy internet to mobile.

Now on the "losing segment by segment" argument, and thinking e-mail ie Blackberry and music ie iPod, here I strongly disagree with you. The initial market is always for the stand-alone device because of the market economics. The population of the devices is so small, the handset makers won't bother with the couple of million that for example the iPod sold in its first few years. As they sold 950 million mobile phones last year, the phone makers do need to target segments which are a relevant fraction of that. Musicphones became that only three years after the iPod was launched, in 2004.

But once the phone industry aims for a given technology, its game-over, in a matter of months. Last year, 2006, Apple sold 46 million iPods with growth slowing down to 46% annually. In the same year, musicphones sold 309 million units with growth annually at 243%. This is so utterly "Game over". Oh, please don't re-open that old argument that you don't listen to music on your phone, or among your peers you dont' see this happening, or people can't or won't consume MP3 files on their phones. The world went mercilessly past that point in 2006 and every consumer study on musicphones reveals that yes, people DO listen to MP3 files on their musicphones. Not everybody, but so many that the iPods reign is totally over. I've blogged about this at length last year and the final installment of that saga was this blog entitled Requiem for a Heavyweight:

Same story as mobile phones versus stand-alone digital cameras, same story as mobile phones versus stand-alone PDAs, sames story as mobile phones versus wristwatches.

On Blackberry you present an interesting example. It is a mobile phone, but one optmised not for talking but for e-mail access. I've tracked RIM's and the Blackberry's emergence since its launch in 2001 and have many insights into what works and what doesn't on it, why its so popular (crackberry) in America, and an utter failure in all more advanced mobile markets. By 2006 they had about 5 million subscribers worldwide. Thats 0.2 percent of all phones globally. Wow, pretty sad in fact.

What most don't notice, as Nokia has not been pushing these numbers to hard, is that the Nokia Communicator series (world's most advanced and most expensive smartphone series across the years, and by far the most expensive smartphone among the major brands up to 2006) which has had in-built e-mail capability since day one back in 1997, has outsold Blackberries every single year, by a wide margin.

But OUTSIDE of America, none of the heavy users of messaging BOTHER with e-mail on a phone. Why? Because SMS Text Messaging is far superior to e-mail. For the current youth, quoted from South Korea to California, all agree, e-mail is for old fogies. Its like for the current e-mail generation adults to think of fax. Why on earth would I use such an archaic communication method (and we hate it when someone insists on a fax eg to send a signature to some weird country etc). The only reason Blackberries succeeded in North America, was that American business execs hadn't learned of the far superior power of SMS text messaging.

Talk to any British exec. 80% of them say SMS is their most valuable communication method. Not teenagers, these are the busy London city counterparts to Wall Street and Madison Avenue and the various law firms etc of Manhattan. Yes the Blackberry can be a crackberry if you've never tasted more potent "drugs" but SMS trumps e-mail.

So to your point, mobile vs the niche apps, yes, niches survive early before mobile becomes interested (GPS receivers for example today) but the moment the mobile phone makers get interested, they totally take over. Every industry by knock-out, not one defeat. The one we have ongoing right now is pocket TV, which again mobile is totally dominating.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Now, on

giving up segments ie Blackberry iTunes (and video)

Liam Greenlaw

Great piece. Can you also send me the thought pice as well please.



great post! please send me the thought piece.

thanks in advance,


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Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati