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May 28, 2010

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Hantu13

Tomi,

An interesting article, and I think you're right about the importance of mobile communications and devices. I do, however, think that your analysis is colored by your background in mobile telecommunications and at Nokia.

I should start of by pointing out that I am an American, but travel extensively for business overseas, albeit primarily to Europe and "developed" Asia as well as India and China.

I think you fundamentally misunderstand the perspective of the Internet and tech giants who are aggressively investing and playing in this space. When Eric Schmidt talks about the importance of focusing on mobile- he absolutely is not talking about current form factors, devices and legacy wireless provider protocols and services.

He's talking about something similar to what Steve Ballmer at Microsoft means when he talks about 3 screens and the cloud- a single ubiquitous cloud of services and multiple devices with different form factors. Some of these services may look a little different, because the "cloud" will know what device is being used an optimize the layout for the size of the screen, but it will absolutely be the true Internet.

The challenge for carriers here is that they will be relegated to the role of "fat, dumb" pipes that the fiber and network providers of the world play..

I agree with you that SMS and MMS are popular, but you forget that these are designed fundamentally to accommodate technology limitations of a particular iteration of a wireless platform. In other words, these tools were designed, not with human users in mind, but wireless service providers. Their success is due solely to access. As the wireless web expands, and service that are purpose built to facilitate natural human communication proliferate, these two legacy technologies will disappear, as will the revenue stream associated with them. Count on it.

Think how superior Flickr or Facebook are compared to MMS, and twitter to SMS. If everyone who has SMS today could be given an email account with fast delivery, who would choose to use SMS? It's a fundamentally in-human means of communicating. Yes, people have integrated into their lives and have learned to be very good at using it, but bottom line- this is not how humans interact.

Yes, the carriers will fight this tooth and nail, and yes, in the developing world, where access may be prohibitively expensive, these will continue to be used. But, as you point out, the adoption rate for wireless is much faster than wired, so prices will fall very quickly.

Perhaps I'm misreading your vision, but it seems you believe that mobile will exist as a complete separate ecosystem of devices, protocols and services from the broader "Internet," but I think this view is wrong.

The success of iPhone isn't that Apple makes beautiful devices, though they do, it's that the device gave you complete, unfettered access to the Internet, anywhere, anytime and the gestalt of the device and UI made it easy to use. The full touch screen allows the device to transform itself to accommodate the application- a messaging tool, browser, map, music player, a level, a currency exchanger, bar code scanner, etc...

The phone is just the latest iteration of the PC, and voice calling will be just another Internet application that runs across the cloud.

Anyway, enjoy reading your blog..

Best Regards,
R

KDT

(Caveat: I'm speaking from a U.S. centric perspective)

I think you're making the same mistake when it comes to what a phone is theoretically capable of doing when it comes to web browser with what people are doing that you made in 2006 (and are still making) with people using their phones to play music.

I argued back then on this blog (using the same nickname) that yes, almost all phones were capable of playing music, but the process was so onerous and unintuitive most people weren't doing it and the memory was so low back then on most phones that they couldn't compare to the typical iPod. Even now, the supposed Google super-phone comes with only 4GB of memory and most phones are still coming with two. Again in the U.S., they just release their numbers and all of the mobile carriers combined sell less than 2% of music. iTunes still sells 28% of the music in the U.S. and 70% of all digital music.

I think the same applies to people who actually use their browsers. Feature phones and RIM phones have such horrible browsers that most people don't even bother to use them. I don't know global number but in the U.S. iPhone + Android make up 80%+ of mobile web browsers.

Enyibinakata

Nice work Tomi. As usual the pro US comments assumes a US centric mobile world. Thanks.

kdt

"As usual the pro US comments assumes a US centric mobile world."

Global mobile web market share....

http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_browser-ww-monthly-201001-201005-bar

iPhone OS (Touch + iPhone) = 30%
Android = 5.8%

So it doesn't matter to web marketers that the iPhone only makes up 2% of the market and Android devices make up probably another 1%. What matters to them is that 35% of mobile web traffic comes from the iPhone OS and Android devices.

While I wouldn't ignore Opera, I think most web marketers can be forgiven for ignoring the horrible excuse for browsers that still come with most phones.

Neither is iTunes dominance U.S. centric:

http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=43561_0_2_0_C

iTunes is the dominant music marketer worldwide. If people were really using their Nokias to play music, don't you think that other mobile music retailers would even be a blip on the radar? Especially since so many more people own phones worldwide than own computers, these people aren't side loading music.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Hantu13, KDT (twice) and Enyibikanata

Thank you for the comments. I will respond to each individually.

Hantu13 - thanks for detailed thoughtful comments. I see totally where you are coming from and I can see you've thought about these for a while. But also, clearly your view is from a US perspective (as you ackhowledge). So yes, its very possible that my view is unduly colored by my Nokia and Finland background. But I have lived 8 years in the USA (plus another in Canada) and now four years here in Hong Kong. My clients are the global 500 giants in mobile, like world's biggest mobile network provider Ericsson out of Sweden, world's biggest PC maker HP out of the USA, world's biggest mobile operator China Mobile out of China, world's biggest mobile application developer Buongiorno out of Italy, world's biggest pure smartphone maker RIM and world's biggest mobile internet company NTT DoCoMo of Japan (plus obviously Nokia the world's biggest phone maker out of Finland and 'its' Symbian the worlds' most-used smartphone OS platform, Symbian itself based out of the UK). I think my visibility is particularly international in focus, and particularly strong among US giants - world's first phone maker Motorola is also a reference customer of mine as is Intel the world's largest chip maker as is IBM the world's largest IT company. With that, yes, I am Finnish and I no doubt have a subconscious Nokia bias, but out of any Non-USA born analyst, I do have a very strong understanding of the US market, and of any expert in the mobile industry, I have a particularly strong 'global' understanding of the issues, and how a given country like say Finland or Japan or the USA - has unique aspects which differ from the global market.

About the internet and form factors. That 3 Screens theory you have heard Steve Ballmer talk about - is obviously adapted and simplified from my 7th Mass Media and 4 Screens theory (both of which I am the father of). Nokia for example uses the theory as the '4 screens of life' which they've used since at least 2007, so Ballmer and Microsoft are very late to the 3 screens thinking. But crucial to the 3 screens (4th screen is the first screen obviously, cinema) is that they have unique abilities. The TV screen and only TV out of the 4, can do broadcast ie everybody in the country gets the live content simultaneously without bottlenecks etc. When a major catastrophy happens like the Haiti hurricane for example, the internet gets jammed and the video feeds, sometimes even Facebook, Twitter etc - get overloaded. Television doesn't. So then we have the PC screen - and we can do search and social networking - something the traditional TV on broadcast and cable cannot do (now new Google, Yahoo etc initiatives for future digital web TV do probably bring internet benefits to TV).

Then we have mobile - it has 8 unique abilities that you can't replicate on the PC and TV. So take social context - the Obama campaign was obsessed with securing the mobile phone numbers of their supporters. Why? because only mobile can send voting day reminders that actually arrive in the pockets of prospective voters. Even calls to the home landline or an email to the PC will not guarantee delivery to the voter before the polls close. But an SMS reminder to the voter brings measured increase in voting behavior (according to US university studies, a bonus voter turnout of several percent, I think it was in the magnitude of about 6% or 8% or something like that - enough to tilt any close election in your favor). No other media has this ability. Its just one of the 8 unique abilities of mobile, the social context of consumption.

Does Google know this? They are very consistent in harvesting the 8 unique abilities of mobile - for example Layar the augmented reality browser was first deployed on Android and long later on other smartphones. I have been told by many Google execs that this blog is required reading at Google HQ haha.. That doesn't mean I am right, or even if I am, that Google or Microsoft have subscribed to my thinking. But I think its very clear to see that Google has a differnt view of the mobile platform than Apple. Apple refused to put MMS on the iPhone (until carriers demanded it). Apple won't let flash be enabled on the iPhone (works on Android). Apple didn't allow early iPhones to deploy ringing tones. Etc. Google understands the power of mobile and enables it fully. Apple wants to invent its own concept of what is 'best' and then force the planet to fork out 600 dollars for iPhones to play in their sandbox.

I am not sure how well Microsoft 'gets it' haha, as I've been on this blog very critical of Ballmer and Microsoft recently on specifically 'not getting it' about mobile. I can see now they are trying to change. But its too early to tell. But to prove to you, that Google does not see the view you talk about, of same content on all 3 screens - look at Augmented Reality. That will never work on the home TV set (are you going to walk around town with a 5 mile long extension cord to your plasma screen, and a handheld camera, and somehow do AR on the TV set?). And its safe to say, that the current generation of desktops, laptops, notebooks and netbooks will not do AR either. Yet Google Android itself celebrates Layar as one of their prime examples of how great their smartphones are - Layar is even used in USA TV ads for Android phones. Absolute concrete total proof, that 3 screens in a Google view, cannot mean 'the same experience' on all 3 screens. But rather, that Google sees that each screen has its own domain and mobile is 'different' and can do things you cannot do on any other platform. Do you see what I mean, Hantu13, that this proves - proves - that a mobile internet experience 'goes beyond' what the PC based web can do? That is the point of my argument in this blog about the internet. The mobile internet is NOT - will not be, cannot not be, and commercially should not attempt to be - the same as the legacy 6th mass media internet.

Its like trying to limit TV to cinema. Every movie ever made on the 3rd mass media cinema has been shown on the newer 5th mass media television. Every movie ever made has been 'ported' to TV. But since TV was invented, TV first copied the legacy media - stole every existing media concept from radio broadcasting for example, news, sports, weather, comedies, music concerts, dramas etc. And TV copied the movie formats. But after TV launched, it started to innovate and now has FAR MORE content than ever could be commercially viable on cinema. Take music videos. Perfectly commercially viable on TV - MTV worldwide operates more than 24 separate 24 hour music channels, I think they have 5 channels in the USA now as they've bought a few of their rivals there. But while technically we could easily show music videos in the cinema (And some 'long form' music videos have been premiered in the cinema like a Michael Jackson video years ago) - there is no commercial viable way to show 3 minute videos to cinema audiences, sell individual tickets to see the next Madonna video, usher in the audience of a hundred youth for 3 minutes, sell the tickets to the next Lady Gaga video, get the Madonna audience out, get the Lady Gaga audience in, then sell tickets to the next 3 minute video of the Black Eyed Peas. Its perfectly viable on TV (and MTV channels very profitable) and totally unfeasible in cinema. Again this is not the only TV format, most TV shows are the same, they cannot be deployed on cinema, try reality TV or 24 hour news or nightly talk shows etc.

I think its great that you're here to challenge me and give your view. I hope I have illustrated to you that in general its possible for one media to be different to an older one, and specifically that mobile offers abilities to be unique, and a clever strategy takes advantage of the new abilities the newest mass medium brings, rather than attempt to 'dumb it down' to the older media limitations.

On carriers, SMS, MMS and mobile web expanding. I hear you, it makes sense, that technically the 'most elegant' solution to say sharing pictures is to upload to Flickr or Facebook in the cloud and for all who want to view them, to go there. That is the technically better way, than for a user to send 5 separate MMS messages to 5 friends, with all the hassle of multiple sending and obviously the costs involved. That is fine. Now, first, the world. 7% of all mobile phone subscribers of the world are in the USA, 93% in the rest of the world. Half in Asia. And of any region, the internet penetration rate is highest in North America. So the 'Facebook' model will work best - and work 'first' in North America, it will work less well, and certainly less rapidly in Europe, and Australia; and far less well and less rapidly in Asia and Latin America; and very likely not work at all in Africa haha..

Make sense? The USA is our 'best case' example for your vision. And of Facebook, we just heard yesterday that Facebook has 540 million active users worldwide (far far more than Flicrk or MySpace or Twitter etc). Thats 8% of the planet's population, and strongly limited to the English-speaking Western World (in Brazil the portuguese optimized Orkut is the most popular social networking site, in China they have their QQ, etc).

Then compare to MMS - 1.7 billion active users. 48% of Asians are active users of MMS according to the Asia Digital Marketing Yearbook 2008. Where there is no significant adoption of personal computers, where phones are replaced far faster than PCS, where phones come fully operational out of the box, where PCs typically need applications to be bought and installed to make them fully operational, and very critically - the main use of PCs today means internet access - what if your city has continuous irregular electricity supply - as is so typical in countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan - regular daily scheduled interruptions of the electrical supply, plus countless unscheduled cuts as well - and very costly and unreliable internet connections. Why would you even consider a PC based internet? Especially when there is no compelling reason to get a PC for the internet. You can do EVERYTHING on a phone (on a feature phone, not needing a smartphone) that you can do on a PC, when it comes to the internet. Not necessarily as well, but every single web site can be accesssed. And if it has any relevance to the locals, if its a job search site or a shopping site or a news site or weather site or YouTube or Facebook or Twitter etc, there will be a mobile web optimized page for it. If you are in Asia, and want to have your 'personal' access to the internet, you'll get it on a phone, not a PC. That is not what I say, that is what the CEO of Telenor Asia - who operate carriers in 5 Asian markets including India - said last autumn here at the Mobile World Congress Asia in Hong Kong. He said the first and only internet experience for his customers in the countries where Telenor operates will be based on the phone, not the PC. And the phone will be simple WAP phones and featurephones, not smartphones.

That is half the world's population there, Asia. And very similar experiences in Latin America, Africa and parts of Eastern Europe like Russia (where also more than half of all internet access is already from mobile).

So perhaps your view is right, even if it is, that only applies to the 'industrialized world' and for the 83% of the planet's population that was not luckly to be born in Western Europe or North America or Australia or the rich parts of Asia - for 83% of the planet the only way to bridge the digital divide is via the mobile. And then if everyone has a mobile phone, and most web style services are actually delivered via SMS and MMS - like Malaysia just now last week announced they are copying Singapore and Finland and South Korea, in enabling all e-government services to be deployed on SMS to reach the total population - then why would they bother to get a 'Facebook account' haha to share pictures, when every person has a phone and you can send the pictures directly..

But lets go to the USA, the other extreme. What is your future looking like? A survey of 1,500 US youth and young adults just two weeks ago by ChaCha found that when asked to name their fave form of communication, 68% said SMS. How did instant messaging do? It came in fourth, at 3%. How did email, it got 0.3%. What of Facebook? It was third at 9% (voice calls edged it at 10%). So, you think the future is the cloud but teens and young adults have already become addicted to SMS text messaging, and the number who prefer SMS leads Facebook at a massive lead of 6 to 1.

Yes, we - adults - can understand the beauty of Facebook and the utility of it, but for the youth - globally - even the USA now has found that addiction that is SMS text messaging. Its far more addictive than the internet and as addictive as cigarette smoking (proven in university studies). Don't kid yourself, no matter how 'logical' and rational the argument is that we all should use Facebook or share via the cloud - and no doubt that will grow tremendously - remember the 540 million user base of Facebook? SMS user base is 7 times bigger! Even MMS user base is 3 times bigger than the total active user base of Facebook.

Now, I actually do agree with you that over time the importance of SMS and MMS will diminish, as we learn to use multiple ways to communicate - there is clear evidence from leading mobile countries like Finland, South Korea and Japan - that the youth actually will migrate to mobile instant messaging - and the Blackberry instant messenger is a perfect example of that. That will not stop SMS, it will dimish its importance and some of the heavy usage will migrate. So yes, total traffic may see a ceiling some years in the future, not now certainly. And similarly MMS will eventually hit its peak too. We will have more advanced ways to communicate, I agree. And the money in SMS and MMS will also adjust to those realities. But they will both grow for many years to come. Remember how I argue MMS - its not a person-to-person medium. Its mass media platform, for the newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations etc to connect with audiences. That is a huge growth oppportunity there. Not to mention, MMS is the optimial engagement marketing platform, ie the future of mobile phone adveritising.

You say you are afraid of misreading my vision, that am I suggesting mobile will co-exist as a separate system, apart from the internet. YES. Exactly. Now, take this evidence. Total internet paid content revenues are worth 27 Billion dollars worldwide said Morgan Stanley last year (excluding advertising). Now take just two music formats for monbile - basic ringing tones and ringback tones - these cannot be deployed commercially on the internet. They total 9 billion dollars in annual revenues according to Juniper. So, just TWO formats of music for mobile, make as much income as a quarter of total global paid content revenues of the internet for 1.4 Billion people.

Now, trust me I have hundreds of such mobile only content formats that I lecture about and write in my books. Take just these two as evidence. There is YES, a commercial opportunity that is EXCLUSIVE to mobile, which is giant. So big, that just two of the biggest of them cover a quarter of the internet's total billable content revenues (the two biggest internet paid content types are pornography and gambling by the way, to put it in context). You understand my point exactly. We can copy the legacy 6th mass media to mobile - like TV can copy movies. But like TV, we can deploy FAR bigger economic opportunities on mobile that are not viable on the internet. You did understand my point exactly. Now is 'my vision' viable? Sure it is - the total paid content and advertising income of the fixed PC based legacy internet last year was worth 64 Billion dollars (excluding access fees like broadband monthly fees) according to Morgan Stanley. Same time mobile data income was worth 250 billion dollars - four times more! Why WOULD we bother to try to shrink the mobile data bonanza into the hopeless economic despair that is the internet?

So yes, they are separate eco-systems, and mobile is far younger, far bigger, far more profitable and growing far faster. But there is increasing overlap - EXACTLY like there was in 'fixed-mobile convergence' a decade ago (I created the world's first fixed-mobile service when employed at Elisa in Finland in 1996). Exactly the same. The bigger and faster growing and more profitable sector - mobile - will attract the weaker siblings to 'want in'. And they think they can change the mobile industry to fit their world view. The mobile will steamroll them. Remember the mobile industry is 4 times bigger than the total internet indudstry haha (when we add all internet revenues like dial-up and broadband fees etc). I hope this makes sense to you? Yes, I definitely suggest there is a vibrant separate eco-system and it would be foolish for mobile to abandon its profitable income streams to 'align' with the poorly performing internet sector..

Finally on the iPhone - yes, it suffered from being a 'Mac PC designed for the pocket' ie a very clever tiny 6th mass media device. The original 2G iPhone was horribly bad as a mobile media device, no ringing tones, no MMS, no video recording (ie cant upload to YouTube or use Qik etc) and so forth. Even today the iPhone doesn't do video calling (it is rumored to appear in the new June iPhone). Now Apple has been forced to revise its device to be less of a PC and more of a smart 'phone' ie more like the Nokia N95 from 2007. As I have argued here on this blog, the original iPhone 2G was the most transformational phone ever, but since 2007, ALL major updates Apple has done to the iPhone, have been 'catch-up' features to copy the older N95 also from a 2007 era.

Yes, the phone is the latest iteration of the PC - I was among the world's first to argue that - when traditionalist PC fans came here to crucify me for suggesting that haha. And yes, in the long run voice is going to IP based voice. And yes, in ten years our phone will be more capable than the most powerful PC today, so yes, I agree many services will be deployed in the cloud, as they should. But person-to-person messaging, don't expect to see SMS migrate to the cloud haha. Half of the industry's profits are coming from SMS. It can be delivered on the signalling channel on a non-intrusive basis in what seems like real time (fast enough that it doesn't matter), so why would carriers abandon that revenue and profit stream? It will be a very long time before these platforms will go, but yes, just like the fax, and phone booth, and fixed landline, we will of course see over time voice calls and video calls and messaging transform beyond what we know now. But not in the next 5 years haha..

Thank you for writing.

KDT (both comments) - welcome back. And I am not going to argue this with you. You know perfectly well, I go by the facts as reported. And for MANY YEARS now, the evidence has been PERFECTLY CLEAR - that people do use their phones to listen to music. Most of that is side-loaded music, just like most music on iPods is not bought from iTunes, but is transferred MP3 files from music on CD collections or from various music sharing sites. No difference. Here is latest facts - ComScore 2010 facts, 13% of US consumers used their phones to listen to music. ComScore 2010 facts, 23% of Europeans used their phones to listen to music. Don't come here giving your personal views KDT, on this point, when the evidence is overwhelming - there is not ONE survey of mobile phone users that says they do not use their phones to listen to music. Give me some facts and we'll revisit this topic, but the point was put to rest by Apple itself - who said they faced cannibalization of the iPod by musicphones like the SonyEricsson Walkman. I am bored with 'arguments' by those who refuse to face facts. I am happy to discuss issues with you, KDT, but the facts have ALL come in to support my (then controversial) view from 2005 where we first argued this.

On your point of 'Android plus iPhone make up 80% of US browsers' that is a common misconception, based on Admob stats. Its true, that the majority of TRAFFIC to the 'real web' ie open internet in the USA comes from iPhones, and second most from Android phones. There is good reason for that, more Blackberries are in use in the USA than Androids and iPhones combined - but most Blackberries are limited to access the corporate 'intranet' which is EXACTLY as valid internet use as 'open' internet - but because intranets do not have advertising this is of course not measured by Admob. That was traffic.

In terms of users - the proportion is roughly this - most US users come using featurephone full HTML browsers (like there are more touch screen Samsungs than iPhones etc, which are featurephones, not smartphones). Then second most users comes from Blackberries, then iPhones, then Windows Mobile, then Android, then WAP users then the rest like Symbian, Palm etc.

Note the difference - the iPhone users are very heavy users, with unlimited data plans - AND WiFi access (which is also counted by Admob, further inflating Apple's and Android's traffic measurements). So one user gets tons of traffic. But others are on modest usage, on slower networks, on more costly data plans, and do occasional browsing like an ESPN site to check a sports score or the Weather Channel or occasional Twitter update. These users are no less valid than the heavy iPhone users. We do not classify internet users by who is heavy user and who is light user, we count total internet users. For any media or advertiser, the amount of pages by the same user is a distraction, it means I pointlessly bombard the same few guys with tons of my ads, and have to pay for them, rather than reaching the true scale of the platform.

So please understand, Admob stats give a totally distorted view, they do not tell you what is the user number, only the total amount of ads served on their network.

Now, I do agree with you that Blackberries and many feature phones have bad web experiences and will need to get better. There is a new view to the mobile internet promoted by Taptu, that promotes the 'mobile touch web' and how to design the internet experience for a mobile optimized and 7th mass media world. The keypad oriented WAP concept 'mobile internet' is definitely sub-optimal, and Apple showed us how to do the new way of phone browsing with touch. That is a great way forward. But we have a long way to go. Gartner measured that last year only 184 million phones (16% of all sold) were touch screen form factors. So we will see a very long while to go, where there will be the keyboard/keypad based and often smaller screen mobile internet sitting side-by-side with the large screen touch screen phones. Note most touch screen phones are obviously not smartphones - you dont need a smartphone to do touch.

Enybinakata - thank you!

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

kdt

I can easily believe that 13% of the U.S. population and 26% of the worldwide population is listening to music on their phone (especially now in 2010). My argument back then was that you were counting every phone as an mp3 player even though most phones weren't being used as such. Even with your statistics, that leaves 87% and 74% of phones not being used as music players.

I also never argued that the phone would eventually cannibalize standalone MP3 players, even Apple knew that when they integrated iTunes with the Razr two years before the first iPhone.

But you yourself said any many countries, people's only access to the internet is via mobile phones and that they don't have computers, so where are they getting their music from and how are they side loading it?

Back to the mobile web though, if most BlackBerry users are tied to the corporate intranet, how is that of interest to marketers? On the other hand, if I'm a marketer, am I really going to waste time appealing to a demographic who is still using a feature phone who barely uses their phone to access the Internet or do I want to appeal to the more affluent smart phone buyer? How do I as a seller even come up with a compelling marketing campaign to a user of WAP phone with low bandwidth? If I as a user, don't have an unlimited data plan, would I even click on an ad that I'm getting charged by the byte to view or would I just quickly check on the scores on ESPN or view the weather on the Weather Channel?

I also agree that SMS is a powerful way to reach people. An opt-in campaign that allows a user to receive a text message is far more powerful than expecting them to navigate to a web page on a feature phone. This exactly what Obama did.

Hantu13

Tomi,

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

By invoking Ballmer's comment, I didn't mean to imply that the idea originated with him- people have been talking about ubiquitous access to the "datasphere" for a very long time. I also agree that 3 screens is a somewhat arbitrary number and the actual number of devices people use will be more.

I also agree with you 100% that SMS is a terrific commercial success, and it is the first application that permit one to reach out and touch anyone, relatively un-intrusively, anywhere at any time...

The question, from my perspective, is how much of the revenue and profits derived from SMS (for the carriers) comes solely from their monopoly of access to their users? As the paid toll-keepers of the "last mile" to wherever the user is, the wireless industry has been able to reap the benefits of a monopolized, closed model.

As that closed ecosystem slowly begins to open- and Internet connected smartphones are the current wave crashing against those gates, this tollbooth can be bypassed. The lessons from the early days of the wired Internet was that closed, communities and services provided by a single provider have a very difficult time competing with the huge population of creators on the Internet.

I guess a relevant analogy is that the current system is akin to predators thriving while growing far and lazy in a closed, secure game preserve. As the preserve opens up, and new predators are let in, the ecosystem can change very dramatically. Of course, the old predators, in the case of mobile have many advantages- they have very cozy relationships with the gamekeepers and are not without weapons of their own.

This is, of course, why Google decided to invest serious time and money into Android. Control of devices to help ensure that carriers will not be able to close off their ecosystem of subscribers from the broader Internet.

Why don't you think the wireless carriers will end up in the same place as the wired, last mile providers who provide DSL, cable modem or fiber connectivity to individual subscribers?

Mobile as a technology is a huge game changer, as we're seeing now, and I completely agree with the transformational aspects you talk about. I just don't see why you think the current wireless providers will be the ones to see most of the benefit.

The exception here, of course, is Africa, and rural areas in the developing world- as you pointed out.

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The exception here, of course, is Africa, and rural areas in the developing world- as you pointed out.

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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.

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Available for Consulting and Speakerships

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

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

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

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

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

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati