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July 14, 2010

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Fernando Guillan

Tomi, simply brilliant. You never stop amazing me.

Antoine RJ Wright

I don't like when articles like this provoke a response from you (or other non-Americans) Tomi. Not because you aren't right, but because there's a part of me that says that all of the analysts and journalists here in the US who do mobile should be speaking louder about this lack of innovation and blatant sheeping of people (and technology).

I ranted on my personal site earlier today (post titled: Why I Don’t Believe in Superphones). I'm not happy with the lack of innovation. I see nothing new about iOS, Android, etc. other than developer and mind-lock in. There's very little to compel anyone who thinks towards seeing anything innovation happing in mobile outside of the labs - that is, if you live here in the US.

Personally, and hopefully corporately, I'm trying something new. I'm pushing further ahead with the use of a mobile web server. I'm pulling my own social graph, and am just going to take the lumps into learning how to take a dynamic page, and create something that shows mobile's imprint online and offline. That's innovate, and something that if we could get off the tiered meters, ads for this and that, and politics to knit it all, we be able to see *here* as a speck of innovation that's not as used elsewhere.

It is sad in effect to read posts like this, and at the same time its a challenge to buck the trend and follow those in this space who are innovative, and who do think about leadership not at a gross revenue level, but at a more sustainable and reachable level of customer/consumer enriching mobile behaviors.

Henrikki

Tomi has excellent arguments on his poits of view. As a Nokia fan I would like to get more forward looking statements and facts related how things are now. We can't live that much longer presenting the case with historic arguments.

Yes, 2003 is already history, because things are developing that fast and Nokia is losing market share rapidly. I hope they can stop it with the N8.

As for services, it's mayby true, that statisticly America is not in the lead. However, if you look at the services offered to consumers, they are leading the pack. Atleast you get that impression looking all those apps having different functionality integrated to vast variety of companies. You may preach for SMS all you want, but it's different to have an app with multiple features right in your palm.

Statisticly all consumers are not yet ambrasing this yet, but the offering is there.

em

Tomi,

You need another name after these rants (and your books). No Mr. Mobile any more, but Mr. Money. Mr. Mobile Money.

A brilliant idea to compare the "mobile space" with true space achievements. Makes it fun to read.

What came into my mind was that during last 15 years US developed a huge financial bubble and rest of the world developed mobile. Both are valued in trillions but only the latter really makes money.


Sam

I quite agree with you.

The USA leadership in the mobile phone area, Apple, is putting outdated technology in a well designed phone and selling it as the greatest invention since in mobility the wheel. User all over the world even believe this are paying a huge amout of money to get this phone.

USA is leading the mobile world when it comes to marketing and design. Many users care more about a cool expensive phone than about technology in a phone which looks like a cheap plastic toy where the manufacturer doesn't even tell the user what is in the phone. I'm still amazed that Nokia put an FM transmitter in the N97 but failed to make people aware of it.

Viipottaja

Tomi Tomi Tomi, you have to relax with your definition of "innovation". :)
Not that Mr Donova even used the word "innovation" in that quote anyway!
And doing something first is not all that matters anyway.

1) iPhone - one _could_ argue it was an insprirational and aspirational leader in the phone market for a while
2) iPhone - one _could_ argue its design language lead the way to many others (not that there is that much room for design in any of the slate/monoblock touchscreens anyway)
3) iOS/Android - one could argue that they been leading a massive charge on the OS (or perhaps more the UI/UX) front (did they do something specific first? no, but who cares? nor did Mr. Donovan claim they did)
4) App Store and Android App store - one _could_ argue they have lead the way for the current applications graze and whipped up an impressive number of both useful and useless apps, as well both successful and not-so-much developer following.

Furie

I've got to say this was quite a depressing read, Tomi. I'm in the UK and, as far as most people who know me are concerned, I'm about as advanced a mobile technology user as you can imagine in this world. The thing is, despite choosing an OS as powerful as Symbian, and despite running the majority of my life through my phone, I'll never have it as good as Japan does. Maybe the culture here isn't conducive to having phones be that centric to our lives, but part of me wishes it was. I jump through hoops to get idle screen RSS and full web ability yet the country keeps so many things hidden from us or simply not available here. Yet more evidence I'd thrive in Japan. As for the US, well it's obvious they like to kid themselves over there. I believe Sprint are still offering Wi-max as 4G even though it has been officially classified as a 3G technology. AT&T themselves classify a smartphone as something with a large screen and QWERTY keyboard despite the rest of the world agreeing on multitasking, connectivity and third party applications written in the native language as the defining features. They change terms and ignore facts in order to make themselves seem better at every turn. The fact of the matter is that the US is far behind most of the world when it comes to available services and the uptake rate but the culture there prohibits them from acknowledging that fact.

J

Best iPhone debunking article ever :)
You have done your homework so well done :D

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi all..

I'm dead tired now, its been a big day on the blog due to the 1 million milestone, and I wanted to release that segmentation blog I have been fighting with for a long while now haha. Thank you all for kind comments here, I'll try to answer you guys tomorrow..

Tomi :-)

Piot

"But that 'iconic' design of the original iPhone was a blatant copy of a spectacular phone design - from 2006, that won many international industrial design awards in 2006 (also well before the iPhone prototype was even shown by Steve Jobs in public in January 2007) Not invented by Nokia, no. Not even by the clever Japanese. That design form factor of a slim one-button design 3.5 inch touch screen - was invented by LG and they have a chest full of 2006 awards for it. The model was called the LG KE 850. Don't for one moment think that the outwardly sexy 'design' of the icon was by Apple. It wasn't. That design won awards for LG a year before. Its just that LG didn't feel the USA was ready for such advanced phones in 2007 and released that phone in Asia and Europe (before the iPhone was even sold in the USA)." (Tomi)

http://www.lg.com/global/press-release/article/lg-and-prada-partner-to-develop-iconic-mobile-phone.jsp
12/13/2006
"LG Electronics, a worldwide technology leader in mobile communications, and Prada, one of the world’s leading brands in the luxury goods industry, today announce an exclusive partnership to develop an innovative and iconic mobile phone.

The initial launch is planned for early 2007, with distribution starting in Europe (firstly in Italy, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany), followed by countries in Asia such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. The Korean version of the phone is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2007." (LG Press release)

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2007/01/09iphone.html
"MACWORLD SAN FRANCISCO—January 9, 2007—Apple® today introduced iPhone" (Apple press release)

So Apple created their "blatant copy" of the LG Prada in less than 4 weeks?
The Prada's had three, front facing, buttons... not one.
The "chest full of 2006 awards" are actually 2007 awards. http://www.lg.com/global/about-lg/corporate-information/awards/awards2007.jsp

Werner Ruotsalainen

Tomi, BB is a Canadian company, not a US one.

Werner Ruotsalainen

That is, Research In Motion (RIM), the guys behind the BB.

Lars

Tomi:

Great post as always.. many thanks for the hat-tip.. =^_^=

I totally understand - and agree with - your observed increase of noise to signal coming from certain quarters regarding the (r)evolution!

Suppose it's to be somewhat expected, considering the 'mobile computing' story is now closer to home for them, and of course we are all living in exciting times.

That being said, it certainly does seem that people who are (either) in a position to know better, or at very least charged with representing the facts, are getting further off base from reality.

Another recent case in point, nearly put a strong shot of morning coffee through my nose, was this 'little gem' from FT:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/46c653f6-89f2-11df-bd30-00144feab49a.html?ftcamp=rss
I'll try to take a reasoned and well worded approach to setting the record straight on that mis-guided effort.. #_#

Otherwise, Major Congrats on your first 5-years here at CDB.. we all look forward to many more!

Cheers,

Lars

Henryk

Nice article, but there are certain points which bothers me. I own e90, actually I am writing this post on e90, but find your argument about the phone somewhat inconvincing. If it is such a great phone, why Nokia dropped the design in favor of 5800 and relatives?

Besides, I am not convinced about the Japanese services. In my home city, Warsaw, I am using some of the services including the electronic wallet provided by mpay.pl This allows in particular to pay for the parking and for local transportation.

Unfortunately, there are some seemingly immanent problems with these solutions. For example, the wallet works as a pre-paid card, that is you have to remember about charging it in advance. Also you have to turn on the parking meter with a text message and later also turn it off. If you forget, then the system charges you until your wallet gets empty. Also, not all tickets are avaliable for electronic purchase. You can buy only tickets for a prescribed period of time, but not a ticket for one ride. Besides, when you enter the the metro, you have to use special gate, because the ticket is purely virtual and not associated to any physical token/card.

Certainly these are minor points, but in a sense I think that all these goodies require more perfect society, then average European society would ever be willing to become. Yes, yes, this is a hidden compliement for Japanese and Koreans :)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Fernando, Antoine, Henrikki, em, Sam, Viipottaja, Furie and J

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

Fernando - thanks!

Antoine - thanks and yeah, I hear you. I also am always deeply disappointed when any major exec in the USA - come on, AT&T Chief Technology Officer, he knows fully well that was bullsh*t what he said, but no doubt the job of AT&T CTO has been a job of apologies the past few years, and if someone attacks the AT&T network he can't even hide. At least if someone asks about US leadership loss, he can kind of deflect the point thinking 'at least that one isn't accusing AT&T directly' and try to argue that other parts of the telecoms industry have moved ahead. I do believe he said it in frustration, in particular as he refused to give details - to a BBC reporter, come on. You don't day that kind of things to reporters haha..

But also, you wrote your comment here very early after I posted the blog. After I read your comment, I decided that I have to add a section to the blog story - which now talks also about true innovation in the USA, including companies like Qik and Sybase etc, not just Apple. I think ARJ you will appreciate that comment now haha, I do want to celebrate US innovation, and have been hoping (and urging) the US industry to 'wake up' and to show its capacity to lead in tech innovation in this area. I am sure it is coming, but I think it will be more the 'outsiders' like Apple, Google, HP (after Palm acquisition) etc, rather than the old guard of Motorola, Sprint, AT&T etc.

Henrikki - good points. I do totally admit, that in the case of Nokia, what they did in 2003 or 2005 is very very long past history (and their stock price recently clearly illustrates that Wall Street is not impressed, they are asking Nokia, 'what have you done for me recently' haha.. And yes, SMS is not nearly as versatile as the new smartphone apps - but even there, it is very few true innovations in the smartphone apps space that were not available prior on Java or widgets or on mobile web solution. Most of the amazing magical solutions that seem revolutionary and are also commercial successes on the iPhone, like say Shazam or Layar or Flirtomatic or Angry Birds, come from Europe (or Asia).

On Nokia itself, as this was not a blog about 'is Nokia still a leader' haha, but rather that 'the USA has fallen behind' - I of course didn't bother to discuss much about what really cool things Nokia IS doing. I mentioned near field and Nokia Money but there are all those artificial intelligence widget things for example that allow the Nokia smartphones to learn how their users behave, and almost magically improve the user experience. These are just now rolling out on top end phones and users are absolutely amazed by them.

There is that level of innovation - again - with Nokia, which the US market has never been exposed to (like QR codes and TV out and FM radio etc were a couple of years ago, and now are starting to become mainstream in the US market) - and in a few years these will be normal also in the USA. Like say FM transmit, a very useful integration solution with cars. As your phone is your media player, you don't need an 'iPod compatible' car - any car in the world, that just has a basic FM radio - can become your media player, and you can use the car stereo to listen to your music stored on your phone. This is the type of innovation coming from Nokia regularly.

The problem to US (ie Wall Street) analysts, is that as they don't see those in their home market (top Nokia phones not supported by US carriers), they can't 'reward' Nokia for those. And then years later when Apple adds TV out or second camera or LED flash or 5 megapixels to the new iPhone, then Wall Street rewards - Apple. Not Nokia who had it years ago and sold 10 times more phones with it in the past years and made the world appreciate their Nokia gadgets in their pockets. BTW I have been slowly drafting a blog about Nokia and its perception problem, but I am personally so close to that story (being a Finn, an ex Nokia executive and still today loving most of their products) I am having a hard time to edit down my personal bits and trying to make it reasonably neutral in tone haha.. I will post it some day, perhaps weeks or months from now haha..

em - THANKS! and haha, very very funny. Yes US developed the Trillion dollar financial bubble with the world's biggest grossing criminals of all time probably too haha, while the rest of the world developed the Trillion dollar mobile industry, that brought first-time connectivity to Africans, Indians, Brazilians, Chinese, Russians etc - and in the process made Mexican Carlos Slim the richest man on the planet haha.. Very very true.

Sam - so true! Yes, its so much the marketing glitz and flash and style - thats all Apple, thats Steve Jobs, thats all Apple products since the Macintosh. Remember the famous Superbowl ad announcing the Mac (1984 and Orwell and smashing the IBM clone culture) - one of the most viewed ads of all time, that was only broadcast once, but was so much impressing the news, it got tons of free airplay when the ad aired, and then it was considered an iconic ad in the PC industry, so it got replayed time and again in any kinds of tech instances, and now on YouTube of course haha.. Yeah, Apple is all style. Not that their tech isn't sleek and sexy and well designed too - has to be - but they will sacrifice the options list and the features list, and rather emphasize the esthetics and style of the device, and then do the best PR marketing spin of any tech company, at any launches.. But they do keep us also on the edge of our seats haha, its 11 PM here in Hong Kong and I am still 'working' while I wait the Apple news conference to talk about iPhone 4 problems, which will be on at 1 AM my time.. Can't miss it haha..

Viipottaja - good points and yes there is far more to leadership than who did something first. I hear you and agree. But, its not like most of these things that Apple for example has now done, have been 'failure' before Apple did it. Take MMS, it had passed 1.3 Billion active users globally - and passed the total number of active email users becoming the second most used data app on the planet behind only SMS - until Apple reluctantly added MMS support to the iPhone. Its not like the world before the USA had somehow stumbled on these issues before the Americans came along. It is for most of them, that they were well established major elements of the handset business before American makers did that. The Communicator was the world's bestselling PDA and bestselling smartphone in 2000, 2001 (and several years since) so for example the QWERTY innovation was well established before Blackberry, etc.

But you make a good point about the app store. Yes, that is one that was tried many times and did not produce any major success until Apple. I would argue this is far more due to the backward and punitive attitudes of the US carriers - they had horrible revenue-sharing deals (in Japan content owners get 90 cents on every dollar that the carriers charge customers, in Scandinavia the deals are typically 80 cents on the dollar). And the US carriers had horribly bureaucratic processes with huge up-front fees etc, so the Apple App Store with 70% revenue share and easy and often very 'fast' approval only in weeks, is a massive improvement - in the US market. That is not a compelling argument in the more advanced markets like say South Korea or Taiwan or Singapore, or even the UK where the revenue-sharing deals were around 70 cents returned to the content owner already before there was an Apple App Store, haha. Now Vodafone UK has been talking of upping the revenue share portion to something like 80% or even more..

Furie - thanks and very entertaining and personal comment, thanks. Yeah, the Americans and their delusions.. they seem to think that if they say something often enough, the words will change reality. Great examples. But yeah, Japan envy haha. I hear you. I drool over the phones and services there and keep a very close watch on what they are doing. But also, don't despair. These things do come to us who wait. The UK is actually well ahead of mainstream Europe on many mobile areas and especially when it comes to media and advertising, is one of the global leaders in mobile. Shazam was launched in the UK first. Flirtomatic came from the UK. The BBC i-Player. Blyk. etc. There is a lot of real global innovation there, and then with the five major operators coming from five separate markets, Vodafone the UK domestic player is the world's largest footprint global operator group, so they have exposure to almost all markets and can bring ideas to Britain. O2 is owned by Spanish Telefonica, and Spain is one of Europe's leading markets in mobile. Orange owned by the French and T-Mobile by the Germans. Then Three, is owned by the Hutchison group of Hong Kong. So for example compared with say France or Germany or the USA, the British have their 5 mobile operators representing a very wide area of major countries and the UK customer benefits from this. So I know yes, its frustrating. Even here in Hong Kong I am always envious of the Japanese, the Koreans, the Singaporeans etc, and it often seems that Hong Kong is so far behind (until I visit some other countries not in Asia and am reminded that I am lucky to be here haha).

J - thanks! haha.. I didn't quite intend it specifically as an iPhone debunking article haha, but yeah, in the process it did get to be that too..

Thank you all for writing. I will return with more replies to the rest of you soon.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Travis G

Great article, just one very important thing not mentioned: developer support. Practically every developer under the sun develops for the iPhone. I used to be a proud nokia phone owner ( long live the n95) but couldn't stand the poor dev support on symbian and nokia's treatment of the ngage app store,it was wasted potential. I am now considering an iPhone based purely on the support, not it's "leading" features.

Henrikki

Thank you Tomi for taking the time to answer the comments.

Bristish Airways launched they phone appliaction which "fully integrates" their affiliate programs features. I used ""'s and text from theis PR, because I couldn't test the apps. BA only developed it to iPhone, android and Blackberry. No Symbian version.

Perception is getting very bad here in Europe too. And Nokia das good market share in the UK. Not a good sign.

Mike

As a long-time Nokia user I LOVE the N95 hardware and software I have used for 3 years and was just waiting to get an N8 - BUT one of the key features I use - Audible books - is not supported on S^3 - but apps are either here or planned for Apple and Android. If Nokia want their phones to capture the market, then they MUST work with companies like that to make sure that users get what they want - I have used Audible for years on the N95 and with the N8 having the FM transmitter it would be a killer app - OK - Audible is a US company and the US is in an Apple/Android frenzy - but if Nokia, with all its superb hardware and innovative quality phones, wants to stay ahead they need to provide key apps on their kit, or work with companies to ensure that they are available. Otherwise previously loyal customers will defect to other camps for specific functionality.

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    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

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