The Myths and Misconceptions of Mobile
This is a primer about mobile, but in particular it is written to those who are relatively new to mobile (or 'cellular phones' if you are familiar with the American terminology). It is intended to provide answers to many of the basic questions, about the iPhone and apps, about the internet on phones, about media and advertising on mobile, about email and SMS text messaging, etc. I will address these issues from the basics, with the facts, and exposing some widely-held myths along the way. And please note, this is a blog article, a 'primer' which intends to do truly 'everything you ever wanted to know about mobile' to cover all of the most important points now, in 2010. So this is not going to be short. Get yourself a cup of coffee, this will be a journey. But I promise you, if you're new to mobile, you will learn a lot in this article, most of all, I will address many myths to help you avoid common misconceptions.
EVERYONE DOES MOBILE?
So, in the past few years we've heard the world's biggest internet company, Google, say the future of the internet is mobile. We've heard the world's biggest software maker, Microsoft, take the leap from just providing software to cellphones, now they have become a cellphone maker as well. We've heard the world's largest PC maker, Hewlett-Packard announce they believe in the mobile future so much, they bought the smartphone maker Palm. The BBC said a while ago that all TV and broadcast content will be available on mobile (since then, the BBC released their integrated i-Player which has won big awards for allowing media consumption on a phone). Airlines from Lufthansa to Japan Airlines to American Airlines are deploying mobile phone based check-in solutions. Carmakers now say that the internet will come to cars - via the cellular ie mobile telecoms network. Ever since BMW introduced the first car with a SIM-card slot, you could say that BMW's cars were the world's largest mobile phones. What have I forgotten? Oh, banking. Today 49% of all banking accounts in Kenya are mobile phone banking accounts, and more than half of the South Korean population already use credit cards or mobile payments on their phones.
RADIO AND THE SEVEN DWARFS
Where did this all come from? It sure came in a hurry. Lets put mobile into context. A decade ago, there were roughly speaking seven globally adopted technologies of roughly similar size, of between 500 million and 900 million users on the planet. That was global size of television sets, of personal computers, of fixed landline phones, of internet users, of credit cards, of automobiles and of mobile phones. And there was one giant, FM radio which was the giant at roughly 3 billion users. Technologically one could say it was the time of FM Radio and the seven dwarfs. So if you had the impression that 'mobile is just one of several technologies, roughly as important as the internet or PC or TV or the landline phone' - that was a perfectly valid and factually correct view, until quite recently.
What happened. In the past decade, fixed landlines grew mildly, reached a peak, and turned into decline. At its peak there were about 1.25 billion landline phones on the planet, and today its down to about 1.15 billion. For example one quarter of US homes has abandoned the fixed landline as redundant (because all family members have cellphones) according to the FCC. This is no surprise, its a universal trend, first observed in Finland in 1998, and in Finland today over 60% of all homes that once had a landline phone have abandoned it. Oh, Finland went so far, as to find the payphone redundant too, they decommissioned payphones more than a year ago (something that is increasingly happening also around the world).
The PC population grew strongly, roughly speaking doubled and passed the billion user number in 2007. Today there are about 1.4 Billion PCs of any kind in use, including desktops, laptops, notebooks, netbooks and tablet computers (like the Kindle and iPad) all put together. Yes, a big number.
The internet user number was smaller than the population of PCs a decade ago. That reversed, today there are more internet users than total population of PCs. How did this happen? Its because some users share PCs, such as a family shared PC for the kids, or a university PC lab, or an internet cafe; and of course because of the rapidly growing trend of accessing the internet on a phone. The number of internet users today is about 1.7 billion people.
Television kept growing as well, roughly speaking doubling in total worldwide audience, and today there is a TV set in about 1.6 billion homes. The number of credit cards also roughly speaking doubled, and today there are about 1.5 billion unique holders of credit cards. And while its far more expensive than any of the rest in this list, the number of automobiles nearly doubled in the past decade, and today there are about 920 million registered automobiles in use in the world.
Oh, and what of FM radios? They kept growing also in numbers, and tower over these others, where the world has about 3.9 billion FM radios in use today.
ONLY UBIQUITOUS TECHNOLOGY
So that is our context. Each of the giant technologies grew, some modestly like fixed landlines and FM radios, most of them doubled in size like TVs, PCs and the internet. What of mobile? At the start of the year 2000, there were about 500 million mobile phone subscriptions on the planet. Then the number exploded. There were already more mobile accounts than internet users, cars or personal computers. By 2002 the number of mobile phone accounts grew past fixed landlines. By 2003 it shot past TV sets. By 2004 we had more mobile phones than credit cards. And FM radios? By 2008 the world passed the point where there were more mobile phones than FM radios on the planet. The mobile has become the most widely used technology on the planet. And mobile did it only in the past decade. Note, where most of its rival 'hot' technologies like the internet and PCs and TVs roughly speaking doubled in size over the past ten years, mobile phone subscriptions grew almost ten-fold. At the start of this year we had 4.6 Billion mobile phone subscriptions on the planet, for a population of 6.8 Billion people. That is literally a mobile phone subscription for two out of every three people on the planet.
I want to make this point. All other major technologies that were roughly of the same size, TV, PC, internet etc - grew roughly speaking to double over one decade. Doubled in ten years. Mobile started roughly of same size but grew nearly to ten times its size in the same decade. They started as more-or-less equals, today mobile towers over all others.
And do remember, that is global numbers. Two thirds of the planet means we now cover people who are refugees from wars, living in poverty etc. On the planet there are 800 million people of reading age who are illiterate, 1.6 billion people live beyond the reach of electricity, and 900 million are children under the age of 7. There are more people with mobile phones than have access to running water. More mobile phone subscribers on the planet than use a toothbrush (its true!). Yet even across all these hardships, the mobile has spread so rapidly that there was a mobile phone for two thirds of the planet at the start of this year, and will be 75% of planet Earth's population by the end of this year.
There has never been any technology that has even remotely been this widely spread. Remember those FM radios? They are not evenly spread on the planet. In the 'West' ie the Industrialized World, we have on average 2.2 FM radios per capita. In the 'Emerging World' they share five people to one FM radio, on average. But even on the least affluent of the inhabited continents, Africa, the penetration rate of mobile phones has passed the 50% level.
So if you didn't know mobile, there is a good reason for it. Until very recently, it was 'just another technology' and as a pocketable gadget, it could easily be dismissed as just another in the series of the iPod and PlayStation Portable and the digital camera and the GPS device and portable DVD player etc.
SO ITS OBVIOUSLY STILL PRIMARILY A PHONE?
So we examine a new phenomenon from a perspective that we know. A 'mobile phone' is still a phone, isn't it? So its primary use is to initiate and receive phone calls? Yeah, that sounds very reasonable. Its called a phone for good reason, eh? But no. That was true yes a decade ago, but today all over the planet, the primary use of a mobile phone is to use a far more efficient form of communications - SMS text messaging. In most markets the total outbound traffic from mobile phones has shifted away from being voice calls, to being SMS text messages. Even the USA found this trend about a year ago. Its been observed in many Asian and European countries for most of the past decade. And yes, its not a 'youth only' trend. Lightspeed Research reported that in 2009 already 13% of global mobile phone owners have stopped placing any outbound calls on their phones (in India its already at 30%). Its time we stop thinking of it as a mobile 'phone' (or cellphone) - I am trying to learn to use the term 'mobile' by itself as more descriptive and relevant.
The primary purpose of a mobile phone is no longer voice calls. If you find that hard to believe, then you are probably old enough to remember fax. Remember the first time someone suggested that in the future the majority of written communication would be done with email, not fax. You felt that was preposterous, because email was so informal and there was no elegance of the written page, the logos we had in our corporate stationary, you couldn't do a 'proper' signature in email, etc. That email was perhaps acceptable for the youth in their casual communciations, but not suited for the CEO of the company to write proper correspondence to another CEO. Obviously that time has passed and today all business uses email in formal communications and very few remaining industries and uses still require fax confirmations for things such as contract signatures.
But please you don't have to accept my argument on this. The fact that the total population prefers SMS to making voice calls has been verified by the UK telecoms regulator for Britain, the Irish regulator for Ireland, similarly for New Zealand, the USA etc. Literally globally, the evidence is in. I am not arguing that this will be so, it has been already proven to be so. For the majority of mobile phone owners, their primary use of the phone is no longer voice calls, it is SMS text messaging. That is a fact. Which probably is a 'wake-up call' for many reading this blog. Wow, SMS text messaging, really? I hadn't thought of that...
SMS VS EMAIL
So then the natural assumption for many is to look around, see the Blackberries and iPhones in use, and think, ok, I can see SMS is the hot thing now, but that will clearly pass and wireless email will soon be the predominant way to communicate on the phones. Yeah, that sounds reasonable but its not going to happen. Just like so much in mobile, this industry is baffling and counter-intuitive. Certainly email on mobile is one of those many myths.
We have had email on premium phones, not just smartphones but many mid-priced 'feature phones' for more than a decade. The Blackberry has been around for almost a decade itself (launched in 2001). If email was going to give SMS a run for its money, we should have seen some evidence of it by now. But the opposite happened. Those older people who had not been active users of SMS, who started to use an email-friendly phone like a Blackberry, would often indeed migrate much of their email traffic away from the PC to the phone. But then two things happen - those who still use email, tend to start to exhibit 'SMS-like' behavior in their emails - often sending the whole email reply written in the headline of the email (with no content in the email itself) so email behavior when using a phone is shrinking to mimick SMS. And far more often, Blackberry users discover that while most of their messaging counterparts are not at a suitable email device 24 hours a day, they all can be reached via SMS.
The New Zealand Herald reported just this April, that the latest statistics from that country find that a typical email is opened within 48 hours, but an SMS is read within 4 minutes. That means, that a typical SMS is 720 times faster than email. Oh, and these stats are totally in line with similar measurements done by the industry all around the world for many years now. Yes, you can use the ultra-slow messaging (email) or hyper-fast messaging (SMS). How many times do you need to 'experiment' with SMS to notice a speed difference of 720X faster speed. Its like comparing the speed of crossing the Atlantic in a sailship taking three weeks, or in the Concorde doing it in 3 hours. No, sorry, even thats not fast enough. You'd need to get across the Atlantic in less than an hour for this analogy to be approximately right.
And that was 'older users' who had learned email first. Even older users now find the speed of SMS intoxicating and migrate to it. What of young users? Globally, from survey after survey after survey, UK, France, South Korea, USA - youth the world over agree, that email is for old fogies. They prefer SMS. eMail is barely growing in users but SMS has 3 times more active users. No, its true you can do wireless email on a Blackberry or Nokia E-Series or iPhone - but thats not the future of mobile messaging. eMail, even wireless email, is past its prime, and the future of messaging is definitely SMS - which keeps growing by leaps and bounds, year after year, in every country of the planet.
MOST WIDELY USED DATA APPLICATION
So we need a few significant points about SMS, the most widely used data application on the planet. We just heard from Clickatell earlier this year that the world is passing the 4 billion active user number for SMS. Do remember, that all internet users number 1.7 billion and not all of those are active users of email. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace etc are tiny fractions of that number. But SMS text messaging is used by 4 billion people and reaches the pockets of 58% of the planet.
So newspapers? Eight times more people pay to send SMS text messages than pick up a daily newspaper, whether paid or free circulation. More than four times as many people send SMS text messages than have a car. Two and a half times more people send texts on their phones than own a TV set, or own a PC, or have a credit card. More than twice as many people send SMS than have access to the internet, and yes, more people communicate with their friends via SMS, than own an FM radio.
SMS is the magical way for any other media or technology to create an interactive experience with their customers or audiences or constituents or patients or however they consider their users. SMS text messages earn TV shows like American Idol bonus income, the latest USA run of American Idol generated about 100 million dollars worth of televotes. This is income above and beyond the high ratings and the TV ad revenues that the 'Pop Idols' TV format tends to generate in almost all TV markets where it has run.
SMS is used by libraries to send reminders to patrons that their books are due to be returned. Text messages are used by dentists to reschedule cancelled appointments. SMS is used to inform car owners when their car is ready to be picked up from the garage. Texting is a powerful way to deliver coupons, discounts, tickets, balance statements etc. The Helsinki public transportation system has more than half of all single tickets to the trams and subway sold via SMS. Finnair reports that half of the passengers on its short-haul flights of its popular routes now use SMS based check-in. Juniper measured that in 2010 a total of 2 billion mobile tickets of some kind including movies, travel, etc will be delivered worldwide.
SMS was used to send charitable contributions to the victims in Haiti. And Estonia became the first country to migrate one (tiny) part of its economy past coins and cash, to a mobile-only payment world. Today in Estonia you cannot pay for parking by using cash or a credit card - the only way to pay is by mobile phone, using SMS. And in India, out of every 3 SMS messages received by a mobile phone owner, one out of the 3 is some kind of machine-originated content, typically media content or some other customer service or marketing message, according to the Indian Telecoms Regulator.
MMS IS NEXT
So SMS active user base is now at 4 Billion, and even the Americans have fallen in love with SMS (two thirds of American cellphone users are active users - GfK reported it as 64% of all US cellphone owners in 2009). What is the next big thing? Its not smartphone apps and its not the real internet on phones. Its MMS. You may think of MMS as a clumsy, expensive and unreliable picture-sharing system, which results in poor-quality images when received, if received, whenever that happens or not - but regardless they'll charge you an arm and a leg to send the pictures. And email is free, so any 'intelligent' person would use email attachment to even send pictures from one phone to another right?
Fine, lets leave that point to one side. MMS is not a picture messaging platform (else it would be called PMS, Picture Messaging System). MMS is a Multimedia Messaging System. Yes, multimedia includes text, includes sounds, includes pictures and includes video. Video content. You could send short clips of stories via MMS. Or a series of pictures (like a cartoon) via MMS. And sounds yes, plus longer text based messages than in SMS.
Now lets think a bit more. 4 Billion people on the planet already send SMS text messages, so they know fully well how to read an incoming SMS. Then MMS, is designed to be the next type of messaging, very similar. Anyone who knows how to read an SMS, knows also how to receive or 'open' an MMS. And how many people have a phone and network capable of receiving MMS? 2.9 Billion people, thats who. More than twice the global number of personal computers, and almost twice the number of TV sets, the only other globally prevalent mass media devices that can do multimedia. MMS is the worlds most widest-reaching multimedia platform. Its a media industry's dream. It has all the benefits of SMS, but it breaks through the 160 character limit, and allows pictures, sounds and videos. This is the ultimate couponing, advertising, music and TV and movie and gaming -related media platform. The ultimate.
Yes, the price is more per message obviously than SMS. Yes, there are still many teething problems, not all phones support it (the early iPhone did not) and often the user has not enabled the right settings for MMS on their phones. There are still many interconnect problems between mobile operators/carriers. But these are just teething problems that are being fixed. Look at the numbers. The value of MMS this year is 31 Billion dollars according to Portio Research, or 32 Billion dollars according to Research & Markets. My TomiAhonen Almanac 2010 reports that last year MMS revenues were worth 29 Billion dollars, and the active user base was 1.7 billion people or 37% of all mobile phone subscribers on the planet.
This is huge. MMS alone is bigger than the global music industry, and this year is passing the global movie industry box office revenues in total value. MMS is a magnificent platform to deliver compelling but still very simple multimedia experiences to end-users. TV shows send MMS based 'minisodes' to loyal viewers - for example soap operas send short previews of tomorrow's episode, that are available right after today's episode has ended. These cost typically from 50 cents to about a dollar per MMS episode and make tons of extra money to TV broadcasters. In China all major newspapers offer a twice-daily MMS 'breaking news' service, and 40% of their readers have already signed up to these services. MMS also delivered one of the world's most impressive mobile ad campaign for BMW in Germany. Experts in 'engagement marketing' such as Jonathan MacDonald, David Cushman and my co-author of Communites Dominate Brands, who coined the term engagement marketing,Alan Moore - say that MMS is particularly suited as an engagement marketing platform.
So who cares if MMS is used to share pictures (it is used that way as well, mostly by young users). That is not its best ability. MMS is the almost perfectly media-focused messaging platform, the ideal advertising and media content delivery mechanism. And its active user base at 1.7 Billion people is more than all internet users, all PCs in use, and all TVs in use. And you thought it was a stupid picture messaging concept? Yeah. 84% of the population of Norway are already active users of MMS said TNS Gallup last year, in the UK the usage has passed 62% according to Aenas in 2009. Even in the USA the MMS usage level has passed 40% according to Jagtag 2009. If you ever thought, "I like SMS but I wish it could do a bit more" - then MMS is made for you. Just don't think its only picture messaging. Over 30 Billion dollars in revenues this year.. this is huge.
THE UTILITY OF ANY ACTIVITY INCREASES WITH ITS MOBILITY
But my laptop is 'mobile' as is my iPod or the new iPad. Are these not also part of the mobile industry? There is indeed a very good 'law' invented by Sprint's Rich McGuire, called McGuire's Law, which states that the utility of any activity, increases with its mobility. It is why the PC industry now sells more laptop style PCs than desktop PCs. And yes, we could say McGuire's Law applies to our cars, to our boats, to tanks in the army (mobile fortified gun emplacements) etc. And as we add more mobility, we get more utility - a motorcycle can take us far further in a day than a bicycle, etc. His law is not specific to only computing and telecoms. The law does not however, explain what happens with the pocketable devices which tend to have roughly the same level of 'mobility'.
So if we compare a PSP to an iPod to a stand-alone digital camera to a mobile phone. PSPs and Nintendo Gameboy pocket gaming devices sell about 50 million units annually. iPod and all other music-playing MP3 players total about 130 million units sold annually (Apple iPods form about 50 million of those globally, selling very well in the North American market but poorly in the rest of the world). Stand-alone digital cameras sell about 100 million units annually. Digital camcorders sell under 15 million units per year and stand-alone GPS devices sell about 50 million units per year worldwide. Thats our landscape. If we add these all together, excluding mobile phones, the rest of the most popular pocketable digital devices sell a combined 345 million units per year around the world. Mobile phones sell 1.25 Billion units - literally 3.6 times more than all of those devices added together.
McGuire's Law does not help us understand why music-playing mobile phones outsell MP3 players like the iPod at 6 to 1. Or cameraphones outsell stand-alone digital cameras at over 8 to 1. We need more insights, which is why I developed my 'Ringing in the Pocket Test'.
ONLY MOBILE WILL RING IN OUR POCKET
And early on in the past decade when we were trying to understand the addiction that consumers were exhibiting towards the mobile phone, we noticed that increasingly the single most important gadget for consumers is the mobile phone. That yes, they abandoned landlines in favor of the mobile phone. That some heavy users of email would abandon the laptop when they received a good email experience on their phone (ie the Blackberry). That music consumers were abandoning the iconic Apple iPod, for all its excellence in music consumption - in favor of much simpler SonyEricsson Walkman musicphones. This was so contentious a point, that when I first argued it was happening, we were almost crucified here on this blog, but later Apple CFO openly admitted that the Apple iPhone was rushed into the market, explicitly because musicphones like the Walkman phones, were cannibalizing iPod music player sales. And of the big 4 camera makers, Canon, Konica, Minolta and Nikon, the cameraphone revolution was so severe this past decade, that two of the four giants, Minolta and Konica, have quit making cameras altogether - because of cameraphones.
Something is happening here. One could say that it is universally true, that a 'compromise' device like a mobile phone with a camera, or mobile phone with MP3 player, or mobile phone with the internet, etc, will be inferior to a dedicated device. Yet mobile phones sell up to 10 times more in annual units, than these dedicated specialist devices. Why is that? So we found that there is something we coined in Finland as 'Tavoitettavuus' (Reachability) and I wrote about it from my second book, M-Profits in 2002. Studying Reachability, I have since come up with a simple test, and a good explanation.
We do not insist on carrying our phone everywhere because we feel a need we have to call someone (or send a message to someone). We carry the phone 'just in case' if someone needs to contact us. This is 'reachability'. We don't want to miss that important call or contact. Thus the device has to fulfill the 'ringing in the pocket test'. IT needs to be small enough to fit into our pocket
9and iPad for example is way too big) and it needs to be permanently connected so that it is able to ring in our pocket. Now lets go back to the cameras. A cameraphone of similar cost, will be far inferior to the camera functionality of a stand-alone digital camera. If we are wealthy and can afford the devices, and if cameras are important to us, we'll of course get a 'proper' modern Canon or Nikon digital camera, probably with plenty of accessories, like a tri-pod, a flash unit, some inter-changeable lenses, etc. And for such users, they tend to think of the camera on the phone often as too poor in quality, to even consider using.
That is only for the wealthy and the camera geeks. For 9 out of 10 people on the planet, who have ever taken one picture, the only camera they have ever touched, has been a cameraphone. The world's best-selling camera brands has since 2004 been Nokia. And ex Nokia designer Christian Lindholm, now of Fjord, says the best camera is the one you have with you. An expensive SLR style professional Canon system is of no use if you need to take the picture now, after that idiot drove his car into yours and you need to take pictures of the accident as evidence that it was not your fault, and you left the Canon camera at home. Then even if your cameraphone 'only' has a 2 megapixel simple camera with no autofocus and no flash, taking that picture is better than nothing.
That is the point. We carry our phone because we know instinctively that something may happen, and we need to be 'able to be reached'. Maybe there is an emergency, maybe a change to plans, etc. And only a phone can "ring in our pocket". The laptop cannot wake up from its sleep mode, and suddenly warn us, that there is someone on Skype who wants to talk to us urgently. That urgent email cannot reach our notebook or netbook PC if we are not in WiFi coverage. But the call or the SMS message will reach our pocket every time, almost anywhere on the planet. Then it means, that when compared to any other pocketable device, we will prefer the phone. And even if the 'functionality' of the phone for music or pictures or internet surfing is worse than the stand-alone gadget, if the phone is the only thing we have, that gets the emergency usage.
That is why I say, you start with McGuire's Law, and then you apply Tomi's Ringing in the Pocket Test. That tells you whether the Kindle or iPad or whatever gadget will sell in the millions or in the billions. And to prove my point, ChaCha surveyed 1,500 US teenagers this year, and found that if forced to pick one technology over the others, 61% picked their mobile phone vs 18% picking the computer, 11% picking the TV set. And of all that hype about Facebook and youth instant messaging, the same survey revealed that if forced to pick their fave messaging method, 68% of US teens pick SMS text messaging, vs 10% voice calls, 9% Facebook and 3% picked instant messaging. (and 0.3% - one third of one percent - picked email).
REACHES IN OUR SLEEP
The mobile phone is a radical new technology of completely unprecedented reach and power. It has been proven to be addictive in university studies from Belgium to Australia. SMS text messaging was proven to be as addictive as cigarette smoking. The phone is so personal that we don't share our phones with our wives or husbands, and teenagers won't let parents snoop inside their phones. But thats all old news to those who have been in this business for a long while.
Now for some of the more revealing recent findings. New phone models in Japan - the world's most advanced mobile phone market - advertise now the feature of being 'waterproof' - out of the latest phones already a third of new phone models say they're waterproof. Note this is not a sudden beach craze for the Japanese, these are not 'beach' phones intended for the surfing crowd. No, they are waterproof because they are safe to use in the bathtub or shower. Yes, we do take our phones to the bathroom with us. And also to the bath while we bathe. Sega research told us back in 2008 that 42% of the Japanese already took the phone to the bathtub with them. Think about it - a phone call arrives, you want your phone there to take it, without having to rush out of the bath. And use the phone for music, relaxing. Or playing a game, or surfing the web. And of course to send and receive messages. Yes, of course we take the phone to the bathtub. And if then there is an accident and the phone falls into the tub - you want it to be waterproof? Of course you do. Expect waterproof phones from Motorola, Nokia and SonyEricsson too soon in your neck of the woods.
We use the phone as our clock and our alarm. A survey at Portland State University found that only 10% of students wore a wristwatch anymore, because they use the clock on their phone. In Britain the Birmingham Post said 71% of British citizens think the bedside alarm clock is now obsolete, because they use the alarm on their phone. We all do that, Morgan Stanley told us back in 2007 that 91% of the owners of mobile phones keep the phone within arm's distance - or about 3 feet or one meter - 24 hours of every day. Yes, we sleep with the phone next to us. And then the clincher - Lightspeed Research told us in 2009 that in Britain, over half of the total population - 53% - will keep the phone ringing turned 'on' during the night, so that they will be awoken by incoming calls or SMS text messages during the night.
Think about that. Never ever ever in history has there been any device or media or platform that reached us in our sleep (that we did not ourselves set up beforehand, at a set time, like an Alarm clock). Radio cannot suddenly go from 'off' to 'on' and wake us if an emergency has happened somewhere, maybe a Tsunami or earthquake or fire is endangering our home. Yes we can set the clock-radio to wake us up at 7 AM, but that clock radio cannot then use its 'intelligence' to wake us up at 4 AM when the disaster happens. Similarly TV can't wake us up, nor can the internet, nor can the Playstation or the iPod. But we think our phone calls and messages are so important, that over half of us already are willing to sacrifice peaceful sleep. I like to say "the mobile is the last thing we see before we fall asleep, and its the first thing we see when we wake up". But it even reaches us in our sleep! No technology ever was this potent. And its just the beginning.
WE LOOK AT PHONE 100 TIMES PER DAY
The heavy user among the youth will send 100 SMS text messages per day. Thats not just some weird texting freak, its now already 30% of US teens (says Pew in 2010), which is the same pattern as proven years before among the youth from the UK to South Korea. And if you send 100 SMS with your friends daily, you also receive 100 SMS daily. That means, that just for sending and receiving SMS text messages, one third of our youth today worldwide, glance at their phone 200 times every day. What? Yes, this is before the phone calls, before checking the time, playing videogames, listening to music, taking pictures, showing items on the phone to friends, etc. Our youth already look at their phone over 200 times on a typical day. And then lets take the 'other extreme' - adults in Africa - Young & Rubicam told us in 2010 that the average African (poorest continent) mobile phone user (mostly an adult) looks at the phone on average 82 times per day. Its safe to say that for most people on the planet, we glance at our phone at least 100 times daily.
There is nothing else like it. Yes, we may use our PC at work and many spend several hours on the PC. But one session on the PC may last half an hour without a break, often more. Even if we then add the times we go back to the PC to send a quick email or a quick Google search, I think its fair to say a typical PC user has about 10 sessions with the PC per day. What of TV at home - we'll tend to sit and watch attentively through our fave programs, rarely interrupting the attention except for advertising breaks. So if we watch 2 hours of TV at home, we'll probably look at the TV what, 5 separate times in that one session, perhaps 10 separate viewing sessions would be typical. And like the PC, our TV viewing tends to be within a short window of time - for most of us thats during TV's 'prime time' ie evening viewing, on fairly consistent time windows based on our TV viewing habits and our fave TV shows.
The mobile phone gets not twice as much interaction and attention, not three times more, not five times more, but ten times more interaction and attention from us, than any other technology or media! A great business concept taking advantage of this was launched by NTT DoCoMo out of Japan as the 'i-Channel' which brings personalized breaking news headlines to the idle screen of the phone. Imagine the CNN news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen - but on your phone. Except that is it far better - first of all, you get to personalize it. If you don't want the news ticker feed to bother to tell you what the stock markets were doing, just select not to get those. If you want more celebrity gossip, select that option. The personalized news ticker is far more relevant than what any 24 hour cable TV news service an hope to deliver. I am interested in Formula One racing and Ice hockey, don't give me tennis news or golf. Give me more of what I want, and none of what I don't want. This is inherently better! And thats before we take the immediace and urgency through the phone. Its always connected, we get the breaking news on i-Channel long before we are near our TV set to 'watch the news'. This is FAR better. Every network needs to do it. NTT DoCoMo has already introduced it to its partner networks in India and Guam. And what of mobile phone users in Japan? 18% of Japanese mobile phone users on NTT DoCoMo's network loved it so much, they pay 2 dollars per month for this feature (I am already addicted to it even though I don't have the service yet here in Hong Kong, haha).
ENHANCES ANY OTHER MEDIA EXPERIENCES
Not just that we look at the phone ten times more daily than any other technology or media, but only mobile is present whenever we consume any other media. We have our phone within arm's distance when we watch TV - American Idol just earned 100 million dollars in 2010 out of SMS televotes. The phone is with us whenever we listen to radio - UK radio stations have been engaging with listeners via SMS for years now. The phone is with us when we read newspapers, magazines and books. An advertiser can interact with passers-by even with billboard advertising, Audi did that with the launch ad campaign for the R8 - when they let passers-by use their phones, to listen to the engine sound of the new Audi sports car. Even the cinema - where we are told we are not allowed to use the phones - the survey by Disney in 2007 found that 52% of the youth send SMS text messages from the cinema.
Universal McCann told us in 2009 that 1 out of every 7 minutes spent on any mass media, involves our phone. The same study said 77% of TV viewers use their phones while watching TV and that 42% of the population have gone from one medium to another, driven by the phone. If you want a truly mind-boggling statistic, proving that mobile goes where no tech has ever thought of going - now Retrovo reports out of the UK, that 10% of British youth think its ok to send SMS text messages... while having sex. During sex? Sorry honey, can you move your head, I am just sharing this experience with my buddies. Sending SMS during sex? Yes, already one in ten British teens think nothing of it.
Which brings me to texting blind. 42% of US teens can send SMS text messages with their phone hidden out of view such as in their pocket or under the table said Nielsen in 2010. Nothing new here, the USA again follows global patterns, this was reported by UK youth by SubTV back in 2006. And they multitask doing it - 48% of British youth were able to carry on a conversation with a parent or teacher or someone like that, while simultaneously sending SMS messages - said Carphone Warehouse in 2006. The phenomenon is again global. There was an airline hijacking in Mexico City last August, where one of the hostages on the plane was sending updates to the outside world with her phone hidden in her pocket. Not a teenager, an adult woman. And at one point the hijacker had been holding her other arm. She continued sending messages in secret with her phone in her pocket - a Blackberry by the way - and she later illustrated this ability on Mexican TV when the hostage drama was over. Yes, SMS can save your life even, isn't it time you learned to send SMS text messages blindly? There has never been anything like this before.Mobile is the newest, the 7th of the mass media channels, and it is the most versatile and most magical.
MOBILE WITH OTHER MEDIA
Mobile is not just a glue to connect multi-platform media experiences, it is the money engine to generate revenues to dying media concepts. For example in India the Economist gives a free headlines service with topics from this week's issue. They grew magazine single issue sales by 25%. Similarly in Canada the Hockey News launched its mobile phone magazine, which not just turned a profit by its own, it did not cannibalize print sales, the print edition reversed its decline, and grew circulation by 5% driven by mobile. No wonder today all major Chinese newspapers offer a twice-daily headline service which I told you, is used by 40% of the total readership making tons of money to the struggling print industry. And the weirdest print story has to be the amazing success of mobile phone books out of Japan. As far back as 2007, five out of the top 10 bestselling printed books, had started their life as mobile phone books.
And even more weird than that - most of the Japanese mobile phone books, were written on phones! Yes, these tend to be youth novels, written by youth authors - using their mobile phones to author the books (trust me, I will never author a book using the keypad of the phone, no matter how great Blackberry or a future Nokia Communicator keyboard may be, haha). But yes, think of the Facebook, SMS-crazed youth generation is today. The heaviest users of SMS text messaging are the population of the Philippines, where the whole population averages 26 SMS sent per day. The average length of an SMS is 160 characters. If we say an average SMS text message sent in the Philippines is half that maximum length, so lets call it 80 characters, then an average Filippino will create enough new text to fill a normal paperback book in about 4 months. If you do it daily, the words really build up haha.
So if you're a young Japanese teenager girl who is having romantic trouble and reports the ups and downs of her love-life in her journal or diary - which today is of course social networking, and in the case of Japan its a mobile phone based blogsite - how much effort does it take then to turn that into a novel? Most of the text is already created.. In fact thats how most first-time authors of Japanese youth novel authors start their first books. They write their diary or their dreams or fantasies on their mobile blog, and then find out that there is a paid market to turn that into a mobile phone book. Its almost no risk to the book publisher. They pay based on how many mobile pages are delivered to paying customers. If the book is successful on mobile, it will then be released in printed book format, and may lead to a TV show or movie etc as bestselling m-books will of course do.
The value of mobile phone books jsut in Japan passed 430 million dollars in 2009. The average Japanese mobile phone owner spends over 4 dollars per year on mobile phone book content. Some books are sold by chapters, some books are comic books (manga) and some have social networking and gaming elements. Many have multimedia parts and of course some are reformated ebooks. But note, the purely PC internet based classic eBooks in Japan, like you might read on a Kindle, are worth only 67 million dollars. Mobile phone books outsell PC or 'Kindle' style ebooks by 6 to 1 already. And if we projected the Japanese spending to a global audience, at the ratio of how much Japan's mobile industry is of the world, the book publishing industry stands to gain 6.5 Billion dollars out of mobile phone based books. No wonder this is rapidly gaining the attention of all major publishers. Even my little publishing house, my consultancy, turned to mobile phone books with my series of 'Pearls' ebooks and my TomiAhonen Almanac - which were formated for the small screen so my readers can carry these resources on their smartphones for immediate daily access to the statistics and case studies.
The world is changing more than you can imagine. Some did foresee that the internet would migrate to mobile phones. That was the easy part. Some very visionary people foresaw that some digital media like music, gaming, perhaps even TV would migrate to phones. But print media like books? It seems anathema. Yet this industry, mobile, is full of those counter-intuitive phenomena, that have caught out even the best of us time and again. We cannot go with 'reason' in mobile. We may try to guess what the future may look like, but we have to pay attention to real facts, globally, and be prepared to adjust to those facts, accept them and move on. The mobile industry is the most counter-intuitive and most myth-filled of any new industry. It seems at times, that all rules of 'reason' are removed - we pay more for a short snippet of a song (as a ringing tone) in poor quality, than the same song as a full MP3 file. We insist our emails are free, yet we are willing to pay 10 cents per message for our SMS, where again the length is capped and there is no ability to format and no ability to add attachments. The mobile industry is full of such strange facts.
But that is why this blog article. I want to help you navigate this treacherous new industry, where so often 'madness' seems to rule the day. Yet, the mobile data industry alone is worth 250 billion dollars - more than the total internet industry including content revenues, all search and advertising revenues, and all dial-up and broadband access revenues. Yes, mobile data alone is bigger than all that - and younger and growing much faster. The mobile data business alone is bigger than the global music industry, the global videogaming industry, the worldwide movie box office and all residuals incomes including rentals and DVD sales of movies, and the worldwide radio industry - combined. This is a giant industry and growing at breathtaking speeds.
THE INTERNET ON MOBILE
Which brings us to the mobile internet. And then yes, we see the clash of the internet/PC thinking and the mobile/telecoms thinking. There are many very reputable experts and pundits who claim with great confidence that the internet will win, and in the future there will 'only be one internet', and that the internet will absorb the mobile world.
Maybe so. That is certainly a valid point of view and there are many who say so, including many of my peers that I greatly respect. But first, lets listen to the CEO of the world's biggest internet company, Google. Eric Schmidt has been saying for many years that the future of the internet was 'mobile mobile mobile' but recently he's been shifting his story to say 'mobile first.' Note he is not saying 'internet first'? He's been saying 'mobile first' to his employees and all Google partners, that they have to design - like Google now does systematically in all its new product designs - 'mobile first.'
I think its pretty clear that any reasonable interpretation of Google 'mobile first' - especially when that is said by the world's largest internet company - that there is something 'different' on mobile, certainly it must be different from the 'legacy' internet on the PC. That a 'mobile internet' may be different from the 'legacy internet' that we all know, perhaps. Or maybe its not about the 'internet' on mobile, maybe there is a 'mobile services' world, which is different from the familiar PC based internet world.
OLD INTERNET WILL OFTEN MIGRATE TO PHONE
So, first the obvious. Anyone who has used the iPhone can easily see, that there is a very compelling internet experience now possible on smartphones. Other high-end phones, such as many from the Google Android series of handsets like the Motorola Droid/Milestone and many HTC handsets can clearly give similarly comfortable internet experiences in our pocket. It is not as good as a big screen full keyboard notebook, but obviously we also have various mid-point devices like the netbooks and now the iPad, which sit somewhere between the fully fledged PC and the pocket smartphone, in delivering our internet experience.
So yes, we can take a totally unmodified 'real internet' and use a modern large-screen touch screen smartphone, and have that 'real internet' in our pocket. This is technically totally possible, and many smartphones have pricing plans that allow unlimited internet surfing from the smartphone. So yes, its totally possible to do the totally 'real' internet, exactly like on our PC, and have that on our phone. And while the experience is not the same obviously, there are many who like their mobile internet experience so much, they say they don't need a PC anymore. This is not the majority of smartphone users, but a growing slice of those users.
Note that I am not saying that all internet use will migrate to the phone, not in the near future certainly. Still at the end of this decade there will be hundreds of millions of personal computers in use, no matter which scenario happens. And most likely there will be well over a billion PCs in use worldwide for at least this decade. The smartphone will not eliminate the internet opportunity from our trusted PC. But the population of smartphones is growing far faster than that of PCs. The smartphones cost a tiny fraction of that of the typical PC. Smartphones already sell more than all portable PCs (laptops, notebooks, netbooks and tablets combined) and shortly will sell more units annually than all PCs. The replacement cycle for mobile phones globally is about 18 months, and for PCs is about 3.5 years. Probably as early as 2011 but latest 2012, there will be more smartphones sold worldwide than all types of PC computers including desktops, laptops, notebooks, netbooks and tablets like the iPad, combined.
And recently just about all PC makers have acknowledged that trend in some way or another, and all of the big 5 global PC makers, HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba (and Apple obviously) have already entered the smartphone space knowing the smartphone is the 'next'; computing platform where they all will compete. But the trends are now crystal clear. In 2007 PC:s outsold smartphones by more than 3 to 1. In 2008 that was down to 2 to 1. Today its less than 1.5 to 1. And yes possibly next year or definitely by 2012, more smartphones will be sold worldwide than all types of PCs. The race is clearly being won by the smartphone.
What of that 'real internet'. Yes, any smartphone can give the user access to the 'real internet'. But so can about half of all phones in use in the world, most of those are 'feature phones' with an HTML style browser. To understand - the Apple iPhone currently sells about 3% of all phones worldwide. Their installed base forms under 1% of all phones in use globally. Blackberry by RIM sells about 4% of all phones worldwide, and their installed base is about 2% of all phones worldwide. If you designed any apps or web pages that are optimized for iPhone or Blackberry, or even if you covered both platforms, you are still abandoning 97% of all phones on the planet. That is hardly a 'mass media' or 'mass market' approach to anything. Its ultimate cherry-picking of very exclusive (but often wealthy) users. Its like doing a newspaper ad campaign, but limiting your total newspaper ad budget to the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Yes, if you sell business services like say stockbroker banking services, that may make sense, but even for say BMW cars, it would make sense to add the New York Times in addition to the WSJ and the Times of London in addition to the FT, etc to the newspaper ad mix, not only such an extreme limitation of 3% of the total population.
What then of Nokia and Symbian? Yes, with Nokia smartphones you would reach a far larger smartphone user base (except obviously not in North America) and get into the pockets of... 6% of all mobile phone users worldwide. While thats twice the installed base of all Apple and all Blackberry combined, its still small potatos. So that is not your answer either. Even if you take all smartphones of any kind, all Windows Mobile smartphones and Palm and Linux Mobile and Bada and what-have-you, the total installed base of all smartphones of any kind, is 11% of all phones in use. That is not a mass market. You are automatically abandoning 89% of the total worldwide phone user base.
Now the good news. Over half of the world's phones have an HTML browser. Yes, you can a little over half of all users - a massive 2.3 billion people - far more than total PC penetration, and far more than total TV ownership - just by using HTML 'real internet' and browser-based services on mobile! Now, note that obviously nowhere near all those phones are currently being used that way, but while many report those famous Admob statistics (where iPhone is claimed to get the biggest ad traffic), a rival ad network Smaato reports that Symbian traffic is bigger than iPhone, and the non-smartphone browser based mobile web traffic is the biggest of them all. Surprised? (there are actually over 30 international mobile ad networks, so please don't ever think that Admob alone will tell you what the mobile advertising world looks like. They only report on their own network and their data is very heavily skewed to US and iPhone users.)
The bad part is that most of those real internet feature phone users still today do not surf the web on their phones. Many have bad pricing plans (not like the iPhone users who mostly have 'all you can eat' data plans), many have slower connections, 2.5G not 3G, etc. Most do not have WiFi. Some users have had bad experiences with past phones and are 'sticker shocked' and avoid mobile internet use.
So there is huge potential here, but certainly still many stages of user adoption. Regardless, you can reach nearly 5 times a larger audience by targeting HTML internet users on mobile, than targeting all smartphone platforms, combined. But of the world's internet use, this year we've passed the half-point, that more than half of global internet users now come from mobile phones as Nokia reported in 2010. I monitor the individual markets and today already 6 of the 10 biggest internet markets by number users, have more than half of their users accessing the web from mobile phones (China, Japan, UK, India, Russia and South Korea). In most of the remaining Top 10 countries the mobile users are rapidly catching up with PC based users, even in the USA. And in some of the Emerging World countries, the ratio of mobile phone internet users to PC based internet users is so lopsided it ranges from 3 to 1 in South Africa, to 10 to 1 in Bangladesh.
For this, we will see the Digital Divide in its most profound ways. In the 'Industrialized World' we are wealthy and we can afford multiple technologies. There already is a personal computer for 57% of the total population of the wealthy part of the Digital Divide. Beyond the divide, its a totally different story. They mostly cannot afford even the cheapest netbooks. The penetration rate of PCs is less than one for every ten people. And even where they have PCs, they suffer from lack of electricity or unreliable electricity, lack of internet, or unreliable internet, and very poor broadband penetration, at very high costs of broadband, at very slow speeds of broadband. We in the Industrialized World can easily afford to consider buying an iPad as a 'second computer' for the home, we are that affluent. We have multiple radio receivers, often two TV sets in our home, we tend to have access to one or two PCs (maybe one at work, another at home), and we have a fixed landline phone and a mobile phone. That is the technology landscape for us, the lucky members of the Industrialized World, where 1.2 billion people live in Europe, North America, Australia, and rich parts of Asia like Japan, Singapore, South Korea etc.
In most homes of the world - the Emerging World countries - where 5.6 billion people live on the other side of the Digital Divide, the standard of living is so low, that only one in five have an FM radio ! If you can't afford that type of simple technology with 'free' content of news and entertainment, like a radio - then you won't even dream of buying a PC. There is a TV set for only one in 8 people, and a personal computer for one in 11 people, and a fixed landline phone for one in 12 people. That is the landscape for the Emerging World. You often go to your rich relative's house to watch TV for example. And until recently, you went to the rich relative's house to borrow the phone too. That changed.
Today there is a mobile phone for more than half of the population in the Emerging World countries. Yes, more people own a mobile phone than own an FM radio receiver in what used to be called the 'Third World'. In this part of the world, especially in poorer areas of it like in Africa, there is no point in considering mobile as the "7th mass medium", because the first six media are not for the masses. Very literally, mobile the "first mass media" channel in that market. The only way to reach as much as half of the population - with a reach 4 times bigger than TV and 6 times bigger than the personal computer. If you are a media brand or a bank or any kind of service industry - mobile is where you start your customer contact.
So in the Emerging World, the only possible way to get connected to any internet-style content is via a phone. The managements of the mobile operators/carriers in the region, like in Bangladesh and India - say that the first and only way most of their populations will ever get 'online' will be via the mobile phone. And most of those phones will be far simpler phones than 'smartphones' like an iPhone. They will be simple phones often with very basic small 2 inch screens, basic colors or even monochrome, and yes, they will access the web content using 'WAP', rather than the 'real internet' using HTML.
MOBILE WEB IS DIFFERENT
And that brings us back to Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and his 'mobile first' strategy. A 'mobile web' user, a 'mobile web' usage situation, and a 'mobile web' pricing situation, and a 'mobile web' device experience - are all different from the classic PC web. There is no one internet, there are two internets. There is the PC internet we know, and can use for example on a smartphone. And then there is something which is mobile only, called for the lack of a better word, the 'mobile internet'.
To start with, a large proportion of the total user base of 'mobile internet' will use WAP, not HTML browsing. WAP is not the web. WAP is a simplified environment, where 'web like' experiences can be built. The tools are similar, but often far more limited. WAP competence is harder to find than HTML competence. WAP pages have to be designed to fit the mobile browsing situation. But while technically, WAP is different from the HTML 'real' internet, for end users of most major internet brands, WAP seems the same as the web.
They still access all the 'usual suspects' of the internet brands, Google search and Yahoo email and Amazon bookseller and YouTube videos and Facebook social networking and eBay auctions and CNN news - but each of these have WAP pages set up, and most random users on a phone who go to the Weather Channel or the BBC news site or MySpace or whatever major internet brand on a phone - will tend to do so on WAP. Not you and me, mind you, we have our smartphones with our HMTL browsers. I am talking of random normal people, those 89% of the planet who have a mobile phone account, but do not own a smartphone. For them, very likely their 'internet' experience on their phone was in fact a WAP experience. They don't even know it, but go to Vodafone's mobile internet home page, then click on Google and you're on Google's WAP based mobile internet site.
It looks totally familiar, the Google logo and your search window. Except if you have a laptop and a WiFi connection and compare them side-by-side, you instantly see, that the mobile Google version is 'different'. Its totally familiar, yet it has been 'optimized' for mobile. The screen space is used very efficiently. And then try a search, you find two things - less results per page, and number-keypad oriented navigation options! The mobile internet -optimized 'mobile web' (ie WAP) pages are usually designed so, that T9 based WAP phone users can still easily navigate them - phones that do not have touch screens, do not have a mouse, do not have a trackball. So to help navigate, they often allow the numeric keypad to be used to navigate and select options. You never noticed that before? The 'mobile internet' is deceivingly similar, yet definitely different from the 'real' internet.
Then we get to optimization. Which should you use? And now think of Google's mantra, 'mobile first'. The world's biggest, dominating internet giant, also its most profitable - which has by far most of its users accessing its services from a PC - says they will do all their future innovations 'mobile first'. They actually suggest that now, in 2010, its already time to prioritize the mobile web - the mobile phone 'optimized' web - ahead of the familiar PC based web. And this is again nothing new. The world's most advanced mobile market, Japan, has been that way for many years already. The Japanese regulator reported that way back in 2006 the traffic had shifted so, that the majority of internet access in Japan was from mobile phones, not from PCs. And obviously today all major Japanese internet brands prioritize their web page design to be phone first, and PC as the optional alternate page design.
IS NOT A CRIPPLED PC
There is a good reason for why do 'mobile first'. Again the superficial examination leads us astray. You may come from the world of the PC or the internet, and look at the phone, and think 'hey, its a dumb little brother of the PC' because the phone has a small screen, or the input of the phone is so clumsy compared to the big 101 key keyboard - and mouse - of the typical PC. I hear this often. The assumption is that a mobile is somehow 'crippled' compared to the PC in its inputs and outputs.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Lets start with the screen. If screen size ruled, today TV would have nothing to fear from the internet, and the world's biggest mass medium would still be cinema (as it was early in the past century). Screen size is totally a red herring. It cannot decide which media rules, else the internet could not possibly challenge TV today. There is something more to the screen than just its size. The internet brought us 'interactivity' to the screen, something cinema and analog broadcast TV could not do. And mobile too is inherently interactive. An interactive screen seems to 'trump' the size of the screen.
Now, if we compare a PC screen to a mobile phone screen, we get some benefits to one, other benefits to the other. Mobile is not 'worse' - mobile is different. Its like comparing a bus to a taxi, both have their valid uses in any city public transportation. Yes, there is overlap, but both have clear opportunities where the other cannot match. The PC has a bigger screen, so it has the size advantage. The mobile? First of all, the mobile screen can be rotated by the user (easily). Think of the iPhone, just flip the phone and your picture flips on the screen. Imagine a map, its easy to rotate the phone in your hand to get the map the way you want it. Thats not easy to do with a traditional laptop computer (it is probably as easy to do with the iPad as a phone). But mobile has another strong advantage - like I like to say, "but on the other hand... you have your other phone."
Yes, already more than half of Western Europeans who have a mobile phone account, actually have two phones (and at least two accounts). That is again a universal trend where as with all mobile trends, the USA lags but follows obediently every trend. In the USA about a one in five US cellphone users actually walks around now with two phones (think Blackberry from work and iPhone for private use, for many business execs). So now, if we consider one big screen on a laptop, or two separately connected screens on two phones. The phone screen option is different. And the trend in laptop computer screens is the shrinking screen - laptops and notebook PCs had 14 inch screens, now the newer netbooks typically have 9 inch screens as does the iPad. Mean while the trend in phone screens is growing - the average screen size grows about half an inch per year says IE Market Research in 2009. The iPhone has a 3.5 inch screen and already today we are starting to see 4 inch screen sizes in the USA (my Nokia E90 Communicator had its 4 inch screen back in 2008) and 4.5 inch mobile phone screen sizes are now in top phone models in Japan and South Korea. And high-end phones are starting to have "TV-out features", something we saw first in Nokia five years ago, and even the newest iPhones now offer TV out. So I can call your 9 inch netbook screen or your 14 inch laptop screen, or even your giant 20 inch desktop PC flat screen - I'll trump you with my 50 inch plasma TV screen, using my mobile phone and its TV-out feature, haha.
The last thing to bear in mind, is that the mobile phone screen is typically held far closer to our eyes, than the laptop screen. So some of the size is mitigated by distance - similar to how the home TV screen is watched at far shorter range than the giant silver screen of the cinema.
Yes, the mobile phone screen is smaller, but its an interactive screen, it can be easily rotated, we often have two of them, we look at the phone at a shorter range; and the phone screen sizes are growing where PC screens are shrinking. Don't think screen size will determine who wins. Remember, TV was always bigger in screen than the internet/PC, and cinema totally dwarfs TV in screen size. Size doesn't decide. Yes, it matters, but it doesn't decide. The mobile screen is 'different' not 'weaker' than the PC screen.
And what of the small keypad for inputs? Yeah, if you want to write a lot of text, a PC keyboard is far more convenient than even the best of smartphone QWERTY keypads. And most phones today have the T9 style keypad, where you have to triple-tap the numeric keys just to generate any alphabetic characters. Tedious. Yes. I'll grant you text entry is better on a PC than on a phone. Its not impossible on a phone, but PC is better.
But let me give you a counterpoint, in any case. Teenagers who are comfortable with T9 keypads, can actually type faster on a phone than on a 'real' PC with its full-sized QWERTY keyboard. Why is that? The QWERTY keyboard on a typical PC is of course a relic from the typewriter. QWERTY was an American idea of placing the keys in the order of what are most used in the English language towards the middle of the keyboard, and the not-often-used letters to the edges. First, obviously, the QWERTY format is not in any way relevant at all to other languages, and secondly, there is no conceivable 'logic' to the sequence of the letters. You can not reason where a given alphabet letter 'should' be on the keyboard if you don't know. The only way to master a QWERTY is to memorize the layout.
But a T9 keypad is easy - its in alphabetical order! And even better, you only need to memorize the location of 8 keys (the 1 key and the 0 key do not have alphabetical characters on them). So anyone can easily memorize the layout of T9 in just a couple of days of heavy SMS texting, but it takes considerable effort to memorize all the keys of the full PC keyboard with QWERTY keys. And if you have not memorized it, you have to look down from what you are writing - and try to find the key you want. This is significantly slower a, because there are more keys b, because the keyboard is far bigger so your eyes have to scan a far bigger area to find the letter, and obviously c, because the keys are not in any logical sequence. On T9 if you forget where a letter is, its very fast to find it on one glance.
PHONE IS BETTER AT INPUT
But I will grant you, that yes, for any serious text entry - like this blog for example - we will prefer to use a 'real' keyboard on a PC. Now, my point is, that data entry is far easier on a phone than a PC. What? But Tomi you just granted the argument that text entry is easier on a PC than a phone? Yes, 'text entry' is easier on a PC, but not all 'data entry'. There are plenty of other data formats, more advanced, than text. Want to enter sounds? Far easier to move the phone microphone near your sound source, than moving your laptop with its built-in microphone. Want to enter pictures - now phones win hands-down. Most desktops don't have cameras at all. Many laptops still don't. And try to use the camera of your laptop to take a picture of something other than yourself in video call. Its very tedious (and of poor picture quality). The screen is facing the 'wrong way' for 'camera use'. But at the high end many of our new phones now have 12 megapixel cameras already, many with 'real' Xenon flash units. Some premium cameraphones have added 'real' zoom in optical zoom (in addition to the far cheaper electronic gimmick of 'digital' zoom). These are proper semi-professional cameras already, top end cameraphones.
A picture is worth a thousand words. I can trump data entry of any PC one thousand-fold, instantly, by clicking on the camera shutter and taking a picture - and using that phone, to send it instantly to over 2.9 billion people on the planet who have an 'MMS-compatible' phone in their pocket. Yes, thats more than twice the installed base of PCs. Meanwhile lets compare to pictures via the internet and PC. Most who want to upload pictures to Flickr or Facebook, have to have a separate stand-alone digital camera. So imagine the wonderful sunset you see. Now go get your camera. Take the picture. Then come back to get your PC, turn on your PC. Wait a 'microsoft minute' for it to load up. Use the USB cable to transfer the picture to the PC, then open the picture in their picture viewer software and save it into some file. Then open the email application - oh, wait, you also need your internet connection (you might be somewhere on a trip for example, with your laptop outside of WiFi range, where the picture was taken. For you to find WiFi connection it might be the nearest Starbucks or your hotel or your friend's house, so this may be hours, even days later than the photograph was taken) and upload the picture to the picture sharing site, or include it in an attachment in email to a friend. In the best case, moving the picture from your standa-alone camera to your PC and then sending it via email or uploading to a picture sharing site (assuming the PC had to be turned on and logged to broadband or WiFi) will be minutes slower, than the instant upload from the cameraphone. Thats your best case scenario.
Yes, it can be done with a PC, but today the picture sharing experience is FAR more tedious for the average shutterbug on a PC than on any cameraphone. CNN i-Report for example receives over 10,000 citizen journalism images and clips monthly - by far most of those are snapped on cameraphones. And out of all digital content that mankind has created, the whole internet etc, by far more of digital content is in images than in text format. My mobile already wins your laptop and its stand-alone camera many times over 'by input' speed.
But if you still argue PC text entry, I will double down on my cameraphone and raise it to video. A moving picture tells the story of a thousand images. Thats a thousand times thousand - ie million times better than text entry. Try to tell the movie of Avatar or the latest Shrek in text without any images and no moving video or sound. Try to get the exact emotions and feelings and experiences across. I think it is pretty fair to say thats a million times more hard, than just sharing the video of the movie?
Almost every cameraphone does video recording too (even the iPhone, which strangely didn't offer this at the start, has joined this ability). Today top cameraphones record not just DVD quality video (thats old hat, my Nokia N93 recorded DVD quality video back in 2006), now top phones record HD quality video. Most of the content that exists in digital format for mankind today is not in text format or as images or as music; most of the total digital content in data volume is video. Video consumes the most digital bandwidth, so in terms of richest experience and most storage that is used worldwide, that is in the DVDs we have for our movie collections, and the videos on YouTube, rather than the pictures on Flickr, or the text in our blogs and on Twitter. Video creation is child's play on a cameraphone, but try to create any type of video - other than your own video call - on the stationary inward-facing camera of your laptop. Or then, try your digital camcorder, and find the right cables to connect to your PC - you may well need an adaptor you don't have. Or then find that the memory on your PC and CPU is not strong enough to process the video. And if you do, then you still need video editing and viewing software on your PC. Most PCs don't come with that bundled in, remember, not everybody is as geeky as our readers here on the Communities Dominate blog. My parents couldn't hope to save their videos onto their family PC, even though they're pretty tech savvy haha.
Yet anyone can shoot video on a phone, and then send short snippets of video via MMS to friends. Easy-peasy. And most 3G phones do video calling, so they can use services like Qik for instant 'video blogs' - one button uploads that others can share in viewing, and with automatic feeds to social networking sites like YouTube if you want. No cables needed, no special software to install to your PC that is often very complex to use, no media engineering tech courses to attend. Its that easy that CNN for example issues 3G cameraphones to its journalists as back-up broadcast camera units, in case the journalist finds himself or herself without the broadcast TV truck but is in the middle of news.
MOBILE INPUT IS LIKE MAGIC
And I haven't even touched on several more exotic data entry methods that are exclusive to mobile. We can do touch screen of course (not exclusive to mobile, but far more common than on PCs, last year 184 million touch screen phones were sold, according to Gartner. That is several times more in just one year, than all touch screen PC devices ever made). But lets go further. What of the 2D barcode reader? This is sheer magic. We can embed a web address, like http://www.communities-dominate.blogs.com (41 characters plus the 'enter' key on a laptop; 76 characters using T9) on a QR code, ie 2D barcode. Then we can point our cameraphone at that square squibble, and within a second, the full text of http://www.communities-dominate.blogs.com appears on our phone screen ! This is magical. This is wonderful.
This means we bypass ANY typing need at all. It is inherently better than typing on any keyboard. And inherently faster. And inherently more accurate. Its so incredibly user-friendly, that just 3 years after 2D barcodes were launched in Japan, 76% of the total population was using them - and utterly loving them. And you can't read 2D barcodes with the camera on the typical laptop. It does not make typing obsolete, but it sure feels like it when you use it, and it makes any URL entry seem hideously outdated if you have to type it in by text. Why isn't every website accessed with 2D barcodes? (I have been using a 2D barcode on my business card since 2006 - that was obviously already 'normal' in Japan by then)
And there is so much more. We have many automated data entry methods. We can do data entry with motion sensors (like the Wii gaming console, or like the iPhone and many modern smartphones). We can do data entry by proximity sensors. We can do data entry from the network - take location positioning for example. The phone is far superior to any laptop in data entry methods. So don't let any 'expert' bamboozle you into thinking the phone is inferior in its data entry or screen abilities.
MOBILE IS CANNIBAL OF CANNIBALS
But each new media channel tends to bring new benefits too. Mobile is the 7th mass medium (print was the first mass medium, recordings was the second, cinema third, radio fourth, TV was fifth and the internet the sixth mass media channel). Mobile is what we call an inherent threat mass medium because it can technically and commercially replicate all previous existing mass media (the internet was the first inherent threat mass media, for example on radio you cannot show cinema movies, so radio could not cannibalize cinema; but on the internet you could deliver books, music, movies, radio and TV content). Yes, on mobile we can both technically and commercially deliver books, magazines and newspaper content (ie cannibalize print); we can deliver music and videogames ie recordings content; we can offer movies, radio, TV; and we can offer the legacy internet.
Remember, we don't need to do it as well on the newer medium, as long as it is technically and commecially viable. Its clear that a major hollywood blockbuster movie works 'better' in the cinema than on the home TV set, yet even though TV is 'not as good' as an experience, every movie ever made, has also been shown on TV. So don't think that you don't want to watch a movie on your Blackberry. Neither will I. But ask your kids, they already watch movies on their Playstation Portables. Of course everybody wants a giant plasma screen TV to watch movies, but kids today are totally ok with watching TV and movie content even on the very tiny screens on some iPods and basic cameraphones. It is techncially and commercially viable. And remember what I told you about books, consumed (and even written on) mobile phones. I am so old, I want my books in printed form, but many younger people truly prefer to get their books in ebooks or mbooks only.
And now we do need to listen to the media experts. Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman said in 2005 that the future of music was on mobile phones (not on iPods by the way). The past BBC Managing Director Greg Dyke said in 2006 that all broadcast content, TV and radio, will be available on mobile phones. Maurice Levy, the CEO of Publicis, the world's second largest media empire, said in 2006 that within a couple of years 'most of the information and most of the advertising' will go through mobile phones. Its not that the mobile industry giants like Nokia or Motorola or Vodafone or T-Mobile or Ericsson or Alcatel-Lucent are trying to convince us that there is a mobile future for media. Its the biggest global media brands, who have been saying for many years already, that the future of their media content is on the phone. And not on the intenet, the 6th mass media. No, its on mobile, on the 7th mass media.
And we see the transition. The first industry to experience mobile cannibalization was music (the first downloadable 'pop music' ringing tones were launched in Finland in 1998) and in 2009 the value of mobile phone music was 12 Billion dollars according to Juniper Research. When we put that in context of the global music industry which was worth 18 Billion dollars in 2009 according to IFPI, which ignores most basic ringing tone income of mobile in its calculations, we get a total consumer spending worldwide in music of about 30 billion dollars in 2009. And mobile has already cannibalized 40% of that, in only 12 years. Mind you, Apple's famous iTunes music store has in almost as long (the iPod was launched in 2001) achieved only about 2 Billion dollars of sales annually, so Apple has cannibalized about 7% of the global music spending. Makes you think? Mobile music is six times bigger in revenues than iTunes? Yes its true but again, this is not well known, its so new and so strange. The Apple iTunes example keeps popping up in all stories about music and digital. Ringing tones and the other about a dozen mobile music formats are mostly ignored. Obviously Warner's Bronfman was totally correct. We could make similar calculations for the gaming industry, the newsmedia industry, etc, but this blog is long enough as it is. The point is, all media giants acknowledge mobile will be part of their future.
Oh, I have to make one more point here, while we're on ringing tones. Note that the cannibalization does not work 'the other way'. Its not possible to deliver all mobile content and services (technically and/or commercially) that we have on mobile, onto any of the legacy six mass media. Not even from mobile onto the PC based 'real' internet. Now you laugh, I know. You say, thats impossble Mr Phone Consultant, we can do anything you can do on the phone, on the internet. And yes, no doubt you believe that fully and whole-heartedly. It is so obvious, any digital service or content can be put on the web.
But can you cannibalize mobile media? Ringing tones are worth 5 Billion dollars all by itself - thats 2.5 times more than all music sold by Apple on the iTunes store annually, a significant chunk of money - and not a secret, ringing tones are 12 years old - and all major artists release ringing tones, from 50 Cent and Madonna to Lady Gaga etc. So? We have ringing tones in mobile. What of PCs? Have you ever heard of anyone who installs ringing tones to their PC? Who installs ringing tones to their TV set? Who installs ringing tones to their newspaper? Who installs ringing tones to their radio? We can't do ringing tones in any other media except mobile. Absolutely concretely iron-cladly absolute proof, that ringing tones are not a viable commercial media opportunity on the internet. Not viable. So there are major 'billion dollar' industries of digital content, that were invented on mobile, that work ONLY on mobile, and cannot be ported 'back' to any of the six older mass media, including the internet. Yes, mobile can cannibalize ANY legacy mass media, yet mobile has abilites that no other media can match.
You want more? I have hundreds more. Take ringback tones - worth 4 billion dollars according to that same Juniper study, invented in South Korea and taking the world by storm. Most of the digital music revenues out of China are now made in ringback tones. In Turkey ringback tones are one of the hottest new advertising media. They are hits from Japan to Russia and Israel. Yes, four billion dollars worth. Can't do ringback on the internet, can't do ringback even on a 'sound' media like radio or recordings. Only on mobile.
Don't like music examples? What of Augmented Reality. We have Layar, who do a whole media empire around their 'layers' of media content, advertising and information and entertainment, super-imposed upon the real world, and one that is only accessable through a smartphone with the Layar 'Augmented Reality Browser'. Yes AR Browser. What browser do you use on your laptop? Microsoft Internet Exploder? Google Chrome? Perhaps an old copy of Netscape? We can do HTML web browsers yes on a phone, but on a phone you can do an Augmented Reality browser - which is completely impractical on a laptop of any kind (to begin with, the laptop camera faces the wrong way for AR browsing). Show me one laptop that has Layar or any other AR browser on it. There isn't one. Its not techncially and commercially viable on anything else except mobile. Maybe in the future we'll have 3D glasses that can do it too, but not today. Not for the mass media in any format. You can't do augmented reality on TV, not on radio, not in print, not in recordings. And not on the internet on a PC. I have made my point.
The mobile can cannibalize anything from legacy media, but new inventions of media content for mobile can be of the type, that can not be replicated on any legacy media. Wow, that is power. Its like when cinema, the third mass medium came, and you had moving pictures, that were completely impossible in print or early recordings. Think about it, there was no way to take a movie and put it in print. It would not work. 24 frames per second, try to print 130 thousand pictures (a movie of about an hour and a half) one after other in your newspaper and somehow create a 'moving pictures' experience. Even if yes. technically we can print 130,000 pictures in one newspaper or magazine, that is utterly totally commerically impractial. Nobody would buy that magazine or newspaper. And even then, you don't have the sound! Just can't be done. When movies the third mass media came along, it was so radical, there was no way to do it in print the first medium, nor (early) recordings, the second medium. Obviously when we finally got video cassettes 75 years later, it was then possible to also show movies in the second media, recordings. But yes, that is a long time to wait. Today we have hundreds of media formats and concepts that work only on mobile, cannot be ported back to any legacy mass media, not even onto the 'real' internet on the PC.
We are doing magic in mobile today. Augmented Reality is a perfect example of magic. So are services such as instant speech translators, of music recognition services like Shazam. I mentioned the magic of the QR code ie the 2D barcode. This industry is creating magical experiences for users in mobile. A bit like early search engines seemed magical nearly two decades ago. Now we have such a magical moment in media again. A golden age of media in fact. The mobile era.
8 UNIQUE BENEFITS OF THE 7TH MASS MEDIUM
Why is it that we can do unique services for mobile that cannot be replicated in legacy media? Why is this such a rich moment in media today? Yes, part is that mobile is so pervasive. Part is that mobile is addictive. Part is that mobile is exceptionally able at cannibalization. But the biggest part - and the least understood part - is that mobile has unique abilities. Not just one or two, there are 8 unique benefits to mobile, that no legacy media can do. Not just one ability, but 8 of them. This is a list you the reader better jot down or preferrably memorize, and use in every slide presentation and article and internal memo you ever write about mobile from now on. Here are the keys to the magic kindom. Here is how the next billionaires are made on the planet. Those who understand these 8 are the next barons of industry for this decade and the next. The 8 unique benefits of mobile are:
1st - mobile is the only personal mass medium
2nd - mobile is permanently carried
3rd - mobile is always connected
4th - only mobile has a built-in payment channel
5th - mobile is available at the creative point of inspiration
6th - mobile has the best audience information
7th - only mobile captures the social context of consumption
8th - mobile enables Augmented Reality to mass markets
I have written extensively about these unique abilites on this blog and in my recent books. I lecture about them on all six inhabited continents and feature them of course at my Oxford University short courses. Most of the biggest success stories in mobile have based their concept on one or some of these 8 unique abilities, rather than copying tired media formats from legacy media, like copying internet ideas onto mobile. I am not going to make this blog a repeat of those 8 beneifts. They may seem to be 'untrue' ("Tomi, the internet is also a personal media" - not it isn't, it only seems like it to some users, not even all users). Some may seem like they are the same thing (isn't 'permanently carried' almost the same as 'always connected' - you could call them 'always on' - no they are quite different benefits with their own market opportunities) and some may be difficult to comprehend from the short description (what is the 'social context' of consumption?). You can read about them at these two links -the first 7 benefits described here, and the 8th benefit is discussed here.
Also if these 8 benefits are not 'obvious' to you, but you see how they can dramatically increase the commercial success of your ventures into mobile, I would strongly urge you to read my book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media, available on all Amazon sites such as Amazon main USA site and Amazon UK site. It is also obviously available direct from the publisher, futuretext. But that book was requested by my readers, to explain why mobile is different from the PC and the legacy internet. Obviously it tells the story of how we do media like news, games, music, social networks, advertising and the internet on mobile (and SMS, mobile commerce etc). But many very senior industry gurus have called it my best book yet, if you're considering one of my books to read, please start with Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media. It discusses over 100 mobile media and service concepts, and even has 16 case studies of truly world's bleeding edge brilliance of doing magic in mobile.
So you have read through so far. Very good, its been a long and very fact-filled blog article, and you may even find yourself wanting to come back to it, where it may have had 'too much' info haha. Now you need a mobile strategy. Let me try to motivate you to consider that mission. Mobile is a Trillion dollar industry. Yes, the total mobile telecoms related businesses, selling handsets, the mobile minutes and SMS text messages, all our mobile content, and the network infrastructure that is underneath, that totals over a Trillion (ie 1,000 Billion) dollars in annual revenues.
Put that in context. The internet industry was launched in 1969 (internet is 41 years old this year) and is worth a little over 200 Billion in annual revenues (the mobile industry is 5 times bigger, even just 'mobile data' alone, is bigger than all of the internet). The computer industry was launched in 1943 (is 67 years old) and is worth about 300 Billion dollars (mobile is 3 times bigger). Television was launched in in the 1930s, and is worth a little under half a Trillion dollars (mobile is twice as bit). Radio as a broadcast mass medium is from the 1920s and is worth about 100 Bililon dollars (mobile is 10 times bigger). Cinema is over 100 years old and is worth about 30 Billion dollars (mobile is 30 times bigger). Advertising is about 200 years of age and worth under half a Trillion dollars (mobile is more than twice as big). Print came from Guttenberg and is thus over 500 years old, and worth - newspapers, magazines, books etc - about half a Trillion dollars (again mobile is more than twice that size).
Mobile telecoms launched in Japan in 1979 - the whole industry is only 31 years old and is far bigger than all of those, topping 1 Trillion dollars in annual revenues back in 2008 - when the industry was only 29 years old. Its a giant among all those, and more relevantly - mobile is growing FAR faster than any other industry on the planet. Even with the biggest global economic crisis of our lifetimes over the last 2 years, while all other major industries - and the global economy - shrunk - mobile grew user numbers, mobile grew traffic in minutes and messages, and mobile grew revenues - and mobile grew profits. Almost every subsector of mobile made money while the world economy 'cratered' - mobile advertising doubled in 2009 when the global ad industry and every other ad sector shrunk.
In our lifetimes there will be no better opportunity to make money than mobile is today. Mobile is the ultimate center of all digital convergence - fixed telecoms is migrating to mobile, the internet is migrating to mobile, all media content is migrating to mobile, advertising is going to mobile, banking and credit cards are going to mobile; even almost every other industry on the planet from policework to education, from car makers (the next internet is in cars, say carmakers) to farming, fishing and forestry.
MY TREE NEEDS A MOBILE PHONE
Forestry? (Now Tomi you have flipped...) Trees don't tend to call other trees. Trees don't send messages to other trees. Trees don't surf to the Playboy pages to look at pictures of naked trees. And more practically, trees don't go to the Weather Channel to see when the next rains are coming. Trees don't move around, even if somehow you could teach trees to talk, they they have zero need for mobile phones, they are rooted into one place, where they grow to full size in 20 years and then are felled by some lumberjacks for a death-journey to some sawmill.
Yeah, thats true. But go to Sweden or Finland and learn about forestry management in the countries of the highest computer penetrations, highest per-capita rates of engineers, the highest mobile phone penetrations, highest European rates of 3G telecoms, highest internet uses, and highest broadband uses and highest broadband speeds. And in that part of the world that is most tuned into 'green' values, where forests are never cut en masse, but forests are carefully 'maintained' where more trees are planted than cut, and from any forest, only the exact right age trees are felled. What does this region do with the most advanced forest management skills, tools and techniques, in the most ecologically responsible way?
They tag every tree with a GPS-GSM chip. Yes. Every tree gets a cellular mobile connection. Every tree. A million trees in a typical forest. Every tree is given a mobile connection. Each tree in the forest is individually tagged, so they can monitor it, and then that the right tree is cut at the right time, and after it is cut, that the right parts of the right tree go to the right sawmills. Not sawmill. Not singular. Sawmills. Plural. Yes, a standard pine tree produces different quality wood that typically is processed in 5 different types of sawmills, to optimize its utility. Part of the tree goes into high quality wood like furniture or sporting goods (tennis rackets, hockey sticks, skis, skateboards etc), other parts go into construction wood, others into newspaper, part goes into pulp etc. And whereas in say Canada or the USA often forests are just cut every tree flat, taken out to one sawmill, in Sweden and Finland the forests are never felled in total, so the forest remains vibrant while individual trees only are cut. And to manage this, yes they need the best technology. They will not attempt to 'wire' the forest with 'fixed telecoms' or 'broadband'. To do intelligent forest management, they use mobile telecoms - GSM and GPS - to ensure the right tree is cut, and after its cut, the right tree goes on the right truck, and then when that truck brings trees to sawmills, the right trees are removed from the truck to the right sawmill, etc.
MOBILE WILL CONNECT TO ANYTHING
Now think about this - if we can add commercially valuable utility to a tree - which does not 'phone' - cannot speak, cannot read a text message, cannot type. A tree which does not move about for 20 years, is literally rooted to one spot. If forestry management can gain commercial benefits out of mobile, then definitely ANYTHING you do, whether its for people or animals or any inanimate objects, your business can benefit from mobile industry today. Not just benefit - mobile has 8 unique benefits - you can definitely add new benefits to your customers today if you are clever with mobile. Like Holiday Inn Hotels in America right now this week, who have started to enable hotel clients to use their phones to operate the electronic locks of their hotel rooms. Brilliant, magical solution. Or like the farmers in Iceland and Canada who connect with their cows with an old Nokia phone hanging where the cowbell used to hang, and when the farmer wants to milk the cows, he sends an SMS text message to the lead cow, who hears the beep-beep, and knows its time to come home to be milked. I am not kidding. Farmers call the cows. This is a magical industry.
Mobile is so magical, there are services that let people hunt for ghosts and haunted houses with their phones (yes, obviously these are games but they make money on mobile). There are 'lie detectors' installed in phones, there are sensors we can install in our plants, so the plants send us a message when they need to be watered (I really need to get me one of those) and mobile will even let us connect with our dead relatives. Not that they will respond. But it started in Japan and is now spreading, where at cemetaries, you can have a mobile website dedicated to your dear departed. Visitors to the grave can use their phone to visit the memorial mobile website, see the pictures from the burial service, read about the person's history - and leave greetings at the spot, having visted the grave. I know it may seem a bit morose, but people do love this, as the close family will also see from the mobile website when a family member has gone to visit grandpa's grave, etc.
There has never been anything like mobile. It is the only device that is ubiquitous on the planet, even the wristwatch is giving way to the phone. Every economically viable person on the planet has a phone. There is a mobile phone subscription for two thirds of the planet already. The phone is the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we see before we fall asleep. Its the only device to reach us when we sleep. We interact with the phone over 100 times every day, its present with all activities we do, one out of every seven media minutes has the phone with us. SMS text messaging is used by more than 2 times more people than email or any web service from Google to Facebook. SMS has more than twice as many users as total TV sets on the planet, there are even more active users of SMS than the total number of FM radio receivers on the planet. Every industry from media to banking to travel to retail to government to education to fishing and farming can use SMS. Mobile can be used to connect with people, with pets and farmyard animals, with household plants and trees in forests; mobile will even let us connect with our dearly departed. There never ever was anything remotely as powerful as mobile is today.
IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
And we are only starting. The mobile data innovation started in Finland in 1993 with SMS (my past mentor, Matti Makkonen invented SMS), and the mobile content media industry started in Finland in 1998. When I was still employed by Nokia, I wrote the first White Paper of any company in the world to explain how to do the internet on cellular networks. That was in 1999, the same year the world's first mobile internet service launched in Japan (i-Mode by NTT DoCoMo). The new parts of the mobile industry, the mobile data side - is barely more than a child, learning to walk now, before it starts to run.
The Apple iPhone revolutionized the mobile industry. After Apple joined mobile in 2007, we've seen total commitment of entering mobile from such global PC industry giants as Dell, HP, Acer and Lenovo (Toshiba was already there). We've seen Microsoft and Google greatly increase their involvement in mobile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer just this week took the Microsoft mobile project under his personal supervision, that is how serious the world's biggest sofware company is about mobile. The big mobile ad agencies from LM McCann to Ogilvy to Saatchi etc are all now teaching their teams and their clients about mobile. The big media houses from TimeWarner to Turner to Publicis to Disney are all going gung-ho to mobile. Almost all major banks have recently made major mobile initiatives as have the major credit card companies. Car companies are eager to bring the mobile internet to their automobiles (20% of cars in South Korea are already connected to the web).
IT ONLY GETS FASTER
Today we are seeing several accelerators to this dramatic change. Yes. The past decade mobile became the world's fastest-growing giant industry ever. Now its getting faster. We see better phones - 'smartphones' which used to be luxury niches for the rich, but now there are smartphones that are sold for 100 dollars even (street price, without the handset subsidy and a 2 contractual obligation). Smartphones will shortly form half of all phones sold in the Industrialized World, and they are increasingly the first type of personal computer for the Emerging World. And we see 3G and faster networks, so mobile data services can bring richer experiences. The end-users, the consumers, have accepted the change of the phone from being a 'telephone' ie voice device, to being a 'data' device. And now the operators/carriers are expanding the offering of all-you-can-eat data plans (invented in Japan, today over half of Japanese consumers are on such data price plans).
Nokia told us in 2001 that it takes from 4 to 6 years for consumer behavior to take effect nationally, in mobile innovations. So for all that magic that was unveiled when the iPhone launched in June of 2007, we are only half way to the 'full effect' just of the iPhone! Yes, more changes due to the iPhone are yet to come, than what we have already seen. But the evidence is everywhere, Google's Android smartphones seem to be 'more like an iPhone than the iPhone itself' haha, and even Nokia is now releasing a true iPhone clone with its N8 model smartphone later this summer. Taptu started to classify a new type of web surfing experience as the 'mobile touch web' where clearly a touch-screen based mobile surfing experience (like on an iPhone) is distinctly different from 'older' mobile surfing on a T9 type of keypad. These are only the tips of the iceburg. 150,000 apps in the Apple iPhone App Store, yet another indication that there has been very intense innovation by masses of developers, in very short time. Now consider what that'll be like three years from now.
MOORE'S LAW RULES
Three years from now, your iPhone 3GS is 'two generations old' where normal global phone replacement cycle is 18 months. That means you've had time to get a new iPhone (or Android or Blackberry or N-Series or whatever phone you like) and hand your 3GS down to your eldest teenager child. And 18 months after that, you've had time to get your SECOND newer iPhone (or equivalent) and you teenager kid being bored with the iPhone 3GS, has abandoned it, gotten a newer smartphone, and has gifted your precious hot 2010 phone to your youngest 9 year old child.
Think about it. Three years from now, our N97 and Blackberry Bold and Nexus One and Motorola Droid and Apple iPhone 3GS will be so out-of-date, we hand them to under 10 year olds as essentially 'toys'. And Moore's Law still rules, computing power doubles every 18 months. So that discarded smartphone of today's vintage is still more powerful by all major computing metrics than the worlds' most powerful supercomputer was only 20 years before today, the Cray. Yes, in your pocket today you have computing power more powerful than all the computers used to create the hydrogen bomb. More powerful than the computers used to create the space shuttle. More powerful than computers used to create the nuclear powered aircraft carrier. And you will discard that power, and hand it to your under 10 year old kid in three years. (UK stats just reported in The Telegraph this week reveal that of the age demographic of 7 to 11 year olds in Britain, 79% have their own mobile phone. It will happen everywhere soon)
What will that generation do with their lives and careers. Imagine if Quentin Tarantino or Alfred Hitchcock or Salvador Dali or Leonardo da Vinci or William Shakespeare had a supercomputer as their childhood toy, a 3G smartphone with camera, video, music, gaming, messaging, the internet, etc. How will that generation thrive in the digital cyberspace of our near future?
When I was a child, we read in science magazines about the first supercomputers, videogames were at the level of Pong, and digital cameras had not even been invented yet. For messaging I bought a used typewriter and used carbon paper so I'd get a copy of what I had written with my pen-pals (I really did haha). If a kid wants to create an instant copy of a written page today, they snap a picture of it with their cameraphone.. Wow, a copier in your pocket. No matter what I saw on early episodes of the original Star Trek or Lost in Space or Space 1999 or Maxwell Smart's shoephone on TV, there was never any suggestion we'd have something akin to a photocopier in our pocket haha..
GET INTO IT NOW
This is the industry. Yes, microbiology will no doubt have great growth as will green energy etc. But no industry is so much at the center of all convergence as mobile. And mobile itself has already outgrown all its rival tech and media rivals. A decade ago yes, mobile was equivalent to the PC industry or the internet or TV. Today mobile towers over them. Mobile is one of only a handful of Trillion-dollar industries on the planet - and by far the newest and thus fastest-growing Trillion-dollar industry. You don't need to be Vodafone or China Mobile or AT&T to have a place in mobile. You don't need to build phones like Nokia and Apple and Samsung. You can enter mobile via SMS or MMS or WAP or HTML 'real web' or even perhaps by smartphone apps. There are still many great opportunities even in basic services around voice.
But whatever you do do, whether personally, or your project, or your team, or your department, or your division, or your corporation - please study mobile today. Set up a mobile task force to capitalize on this opportunity before your rivals beat you to it. This is the golden age of mobile. It is the best economic opportunity of our lifetimes. Did you notice that the world's richest man is no longer PC industry captain Bill Gates of Microsoft. This year for the first time the worlds' richest person is Mexican mobile telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, CEO of America Movil/Claro, whose empire runs from Mexico through most of Latin America to Brazil and Chile.
Anyone who wants to quote any facts or data from this blog, that is not otherwise referenced, the source for all other data and facts is TomiAhonen Almanac 2010. You may of course refer to this article and quote from it at length at your blog or website etc. Just please include a link to here.
TWO ITEMS FOR YOU
This has been a very long article, to give you the basics, 'everything you ever wanted to know about mobile but were afraid to ask' and I touched on several myths in this article too. Thank you for following all the way to the end. Now what else. You may want to bookmark this blog, and tell your colleagues to come read it, if you found it useful. But you can't really carry this article in your pocket haha. So I have something almost as good. I created a 'Cheat Sheet' of all of the most important facts and stats of the industry, in seven tables of the most important numbers. Its only 2 pages in length, so it won't kill you. Its an unrestricted pdf file that you may freely save anywhere and share with all colleagues and friends - and you may quote from it in your future presentations, internal memos, etc. And yes, obviously its free. All you need to do is send me an email to tomi at tomiahonen dot com and ask for the 'Cheat Sheet' and I'll send it to you by return email.
Meanwhile, if you already know you don't know enough, and want to get deeper into mobile and want more than just the top line information, I have released my TomiAhonen Almanac 2010. It is intended as the comprehensive pocket resource 180 page eBook/mBook with 84 charts and tables, of all the major numbers and stats and facts of the industry. It will tell you how many mobile subscribers are unique users, how many have multiple subscriptions, across regions, etc. The Almanac tells you about the installed base of phones and their abilities, the migration rates to 3G, etc. It reveals stats on users, usage and prices of SMS; of all the different measures of the mobile data/mobile internet space and current usage levels by each definition; it has chapters on all major types of content on mobile, such as music, TV, gaming, news, etc; their users, handsets, revenues; mobile advertising users, revenues, and types; and all other major categories of the mobile industry including voice, business/enterprise services, mobile banking, smartphone apps, the infrastructure business, etc. There are national stats of the most important data points to 60 major countries, plus charts of the world's biggest mobile operator/carrier groups, the 25 leading countries by 3G adoption rate, and a whole chapter on the Digital Divide. And best of all, the ebook costs only 9.99 Euros and is available for you today to have on your phone or PC. There are sample pages inlcuding several of the charts and tables that you can see at the ordering pages here TomiAhonen Almanac 2010.