Welcome to this blog story. My regular readers will have gobbled this story up right when I posted it, I am assuming you the visitor are new to my blog or only rarely here. And perhaps, that you might be not sure if this is going to be worth your while. So let me start with a quick appetizer.
MOBILE IS BIGGEST ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY (EVER)
Now, that is a massive statement, isn't it? I mean, biggest? Ever? But before you jump to your next task on your to-do list, please consider just this fact. One industry on the planet has to be it. All others pretend, but factually, one of the thounsands of industries does truly have to be the biggest economic opportunity of any one time. Earlier on in the past century it was oil. Created the oil barons and billionaire oil sheikhs. Late in the century it was personal computers. Made Bill Gates the wealthiest man on the planet. At any one point in time there is one industry which is the best to be in. (and yes, even if biggest at one point in time, is not guaranteed to be 'of all time')
Today that is mobile. Mobile has become a Trillion dollar industry. Not the biggest industry on the planet, but one in a very rare category to pass the Big T of a Trillion. Television is not that big (has never passed half a Trillion dollars in annual revenues). Computers are not that big. Radio is not that big. The internet is not that big. Cinema is not that big. Newspapers is not a Trillion-dollar industry. Neither is air travel, credit cards, advertising, music, pharmaceuticals, hotels, videogames, the coffee industry, etc. Imagine if you were there to be one of the big 'barons' of one of those industries when they were in 'hypergrowth' stage, you'd have retired rich today with probably universities, airports or even cities named after you?
So those were not Trillion-dollar size industries. What are the giants? Automobiles. Construction. Food. Armaments (yes, our wars and weapons, sadly are a Trillion-dollar industry). Banking. Farming. Clothing. And only a handful more are that giant businesses. The newest is mobile telecoms. I am not claiming it - please if you doubt it, go Google 'Trillion' and see how quickly you find references (other than my blog haha) that report that the mobile telecoms industry is worth over a Trillion dollars in annual revenues. And to again underscore the point - the older fixed landline based telecoms business never grew to be a Trillion dollars in value, only mobile did it.
You didn't know that, did you? That mobile is more than twice as big as the total global computer industry. Or four times bigger than the worldwide internet industry. Or ten times as big as the radio broadcasting business.
I hope I have awoken your interest. I hope I am adding value to your time spent here on this blog. Now to the bigger part of that story. Mobile was launched commercially in 1979 (it was launched first in Japan, not as legend often tells you, in the USA). That means that the first dollar earned by this new industry was only 31 years ago. How incredible is that? Mobile has been - by a huge margin by the way - the fastest industry EVER to reach that Trillion-dollar milestone. Not only is mobile a giant industry, it is the fastest-growing giant industry of the economic history of mankind.
This is not bogus vaporware promises of future incomes or mysterious 'new economy' money like that of the dot-com bubble a decade ago. This is real money, real revenues (and real profits, boy does this industry generate profits). But the point I wanted to make, is that mobile has grown to be worth one Trillion dollars in annual revenues, in the shortest period of time, of any Trillion-dollar industry - ever! That means, by definition, that (among the giant Trillion-dollar industries, at least) it is also the fastest-growing giant industry that has ever existed.
CAR CZAR TO PC KING
Whoa? Really? Yes. Please think this through. The car, the modern automobile was invented by Mr Daimler and Mr Benz in Germany (founders of Daimler-Benz, what is commonly known as the company making Mercedes-Benz cars today) in 1885. It took the automobile industry about a hundred years to become a Trillion dollar industry (and made very wealthy men out of its famous moguls, from Daimler & Benz, to Henry Ford to Lee Iacocca, in the process). The computer industry was invented during the second world war, and in 56 years of existence - while driving the biggest growth industry in the 1980s and 1990s, the computer industry has not even reached the half-Trillion dollar level in its scale yet, and it gave us Bill Gates and many more computer-industry billionaires. But mobile in less than 31 years (28 years actually) rocketed to become worth more than a Trillion dollars in value.
There can only be one industry at any one point in time, that holds the world record for being the fastest-growing industry of all time. Perhaps a newer industry at some point will take that record, like mobile took from cars, but there WILL be one, and only one, industry that holds the world record. At this point in history (at least for giant industries worth over 1 Trillion dollars in annual revenues) that is mobile. Unless you've been reading Ahonen before, or are a specialist like an economist studying growth industries, I bet you did not know that. But obviously, you can google the facts right now to verify.
What I have proven - to the degree possible in any blog posting - is that mobile is indeed the fastest-growing giant industry on the planet today, and more amazingly, you are witnessing the establishment of a new world record right now, before your eyes. An economic world record. Pretty cool, when you think about it.
YOU THE MILLIONAIRE (..OR BILLIONAIRE?)
If this is the fastest growing industry ever, it means also it is the most powerful engine to generate millionaires in the shortest time ever? Now, I know there is more to life than money. Not everybody is that ambitious, obviously. Many are completely not motivated by money, and can be motivated by a calling to a career, teachers, firemen, doctors etc. Fine. Please consider this section a bit provocative. But substitute career success where I say money. If you are a politician, rather than money, think votes. If you think education, rather than helping make you a millionaire, I help you teach MORE kids, and help them literally LEARN MORE through your actions. Ok? Lets use the millionaire and money metaphor here as one measure of possible success, clearly it is not the only or even the 'best' measure of success, haha.
But my point. Remember Bill Gates. If you have been following business news this year, you know the story, Bill Gates is no longer the wealthiest person on the planet. The newest richest person is Carlos Slim, of Mexico, who runs an international empire of companies called America Movil.
America Movil is the world's fourth-largest mobile operator (ie 'carrier') company. It has twice as many paying mobile phone subscribers as AT&T. They are the biggest mobile telecoms provider of Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina with over 200 million paying customers. So the revenues are real income, not bogus promise-ware of some future economy, of building 'eyeballs' for advertising or a large social network. No, they are all paying customers. 200 million of them.
The richest man in the world today came from the mobile industry!
My point - I have proven to you that mobile is the fastest-growing industry in the economic history of mankind. It has already managed to produce the richest person on the planet. This is not a fake industry, where you try to create hype around your company, then sell it to Google and retire rich. No, this is genuine REVENUE (and profits). Not hype. And you didn't know that this was happening. You were quite lucky to stumble upon this blogsite. In the first part of this story, I have given you something very valuable already. I have helped you open your eyes.
Now I am here to tell you that you can take part in this journey too. It is not a history lesson about an industry where others once made money, like railroads in the 1800s or cars or oil or computers in the past century. The mobile industry is in extreme growth stage right now! The mobile industry (worth over 1.1 Trillion dollars today) will grow during the next two decades to pass 5 Trillion dollars in value. Television has stopped growing revenues. Radio has stopped growing revenues. The fixed landline telecoms industry is declining in revenues, as are many parts of the print industry like newspapers for example. However, this mobile industry has barely begun. It is one of the few economic giants of the planet, yet it will grow to be 5 times bigger in our lifetimes. This is THE industry to be in.
You can join this ride and make your own career in it. And if you do have that ambition - some who are reading this blog do have that fire burning - that they would want to become a millionaire one day - and many reading this blog who are millionaires will read it meticulously to the end, because they see this article as being the fastest short-cut to their first billion. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. You must read this carefully, in sequence. It builds. You cannot skip. And the next step is vital.
Why care about what I write here, on this open blog. Who cares that this blog is syndicated on CNBC and Business Week and NY Times and Motley Fool and the Brighter Side of News, etc. Yes, we've had a million visitors here alredy. Who cares. Its a free site (no ads on this site, did you notice? what is wrong with this guy?) and its a blog. It can't even be serious stuff, if its just somebody's hobby blogsite, eh? I do have to give a very short summary of why me.
I am the most published author in mobile. That is a nice claim. I cannot prove it to you. What I can prove to you, is that I have 6 published hardcover books, by two big book publishers, that you can buy on Amazon today. The world's biggest publisher of telecoms, tech and engineering books is John Wiley & Sons (if you doubt me, please google it). Then go look who published 3 of my books, Services for UMTS, M-Profits and 3G Marketing. Yes, John Wiley & Sons. All hardcover books still sold on Amazon, all three have gone into multiple printings and all three have been translated even.
There are hundreds of thousands of people in the world who claim to be some kind of experts, consultants, analysts or pundits about the mobile (wireless, cellular, telecoms etc) industry. There are tens of thousands who have been seen speaking at conferences. There are thounsands who have been quoted in the press somewhere. But only hundreds have been published in books. Whether you have ever heard of me or not, that there is one published book, authored or co-authored by Tomi Ahonen, says that my industry respects my views.
SECOND BOOK IS ULTIMATE PROOF
But for someone to be published more than once says something else. The first book is a gamble by a publisher, on a new author. Most first-time authors are never published again. Many first-time authors honestly don't have more to contribute and obviously, some first-time authors in all honesty should never have been published in the first place, they are found to have been that much wrong.
If any publisher comes back to ask for another book by their author, it means the first book was a success. It is not possible for me, Tomi Ahonen, to somehow force the world's biggest publisher of engineering books to print me, unless THEY feel my books are worth it for them to publish me. The number of authors who have published more than one book on mobile is down to a couple of dozen. This is a most exclusive group of thought-leaders, to quote Will Smith's character in the movie Men in Black: the 'best of the best of the best'.
Now, who cares if its five books or seven books or eleven books that I have now. What you can verify today, is that Amazon sells currently several different books published by this weird guy with a huge ego, this Tomi T Ahonen. And those books all have reviews, most with verified names, and most of the reviews quite glowing in fact.
What that proves to you, is that you stumbled upon the blog of someone who is truly considered a thought-leader by his peers and respected by his industry. That is enough evidence that this blog is 'for real' and you really might have stumbled upon the best web article of the week, in fact (if only the ego-maniac would move on, we get it, Tomi, please move on). No you don't get it. My regular readers know this. You do not.
I told you now in 2011 that the world's fastest-growing industry (of all time yes we get it Tomi) is mobile. Now in 2011. Have a guess who wrote the first business book for mobile? Yes. That was my second book, M-Profits in 2002. And you know who was the first author on the planet, to say that this industry would reach a value of one Trillion dollars by the end of the decade? YES. That was me too, also eight years ago, back in 2002.
There is literally nobody else, who has a longer history of explaining how this industry makes its money, and who has foreseen its growth to continue so strongly for the full decade, to reach that magical Trillion dollar level, and thus, I am literally the first person in the world to spot this was to become the fastest-growing industry of all time.
(Brag brag brag, boy Tomi you have a big ego). Yes I do. But look beyond my bragging. I am here on this blog to help you (there are no ads on this blog! I am not getting any benefit from you lingering here to read a long story).
You have to listen carefully to understand. There were tons of pundits a decade ago, who promised people would make millions with all kinds of silly tech schemes. They promised we'd be using satellite phones now (remember those?). They promised all cites would have free WiFi networks everywhere and the WiFi industry would wipe out the telecoms industry (remember those?). They promised that old economics did not matter, and in the new economics revenues and profits did not matter (the fools) and what mattered was 'eyeballs' and with that magic alternate economy in their minds, little internet player AOL went out and bought media giant Time-Warner, using the bogus economics (remember that hysteria). But at that time, a certain Tomi T Ahonen told the world, time and again, no no no, the money is in mobile, get into mobile. What the World Bank will tell you today, is that the only industry that they have ever invested in, that has never defaulted, not on one of the World Bank investments is... mobile!
And look at the economic downturn the past two years. Banks (Trillion-dollar industry) were so badly failing that they needed a government bail-out. Car makers (Trillion dollar industry) were so badly failing they needed a government bail-out. Media giants lost subscription revenues and ad revenues and were in dire straights. And on and on and on. But mobile telecoms - grew customers at the rate of 12% annually - and get this - while the world economy shrunk, mobile telecoms revenues.. GREW.. by SEVEN PERCENT. Wow. I told you this is the best economic opportunity of our lifetimes. But seriously, the recent evidence is mind-numbing. Where essentially every other industry struggles, mobile GROWS. This is the only light in a very dark tunnel.
And back to me. I wrote the world's first business book on this miracle industry. Was it well received? Wiley certified it my second consecutive bestseller. They loved it so much, they commissioned a third book from me (also a bestseller obviously). And how did the audience like M-Profits? Its been so well received, its already referenced in nine books by other authors! And in a truly rare sign of respect of the books that stand the test of time it has already been translated! (I know it may be more difficult for random visitors to verify that, because of the Chinese writing, so here is link to Chinese translation edition of M-Profits from a Chinese bookseller - look for my name and M-Profits written in Western text on the book page and book cover).
So M-Profits was the book, eh? Not so fast. Look at the endorsers of the book: Voytek Siewierski the Executive Vice President of Global Business Develpment for NTT DoCoMo. Who cares? NTT is that same company which launched this industry in 1979 in what we call with hind-sight 1G or first generation. NTT DoCoMo invented the mobile internet in 1999. The company launched 3G (like that iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS in your pocket today) ie third generation in 2001. NTT DoCoMo is seen by the industry insiders as the most innovative company of the industry. And their global business development guy says this is the book to read 'on the dynamics of mobile money making' for not just 'industry analysts and professionals' but he specifically says its the book to read for 'the bankers' too. Wow.
Maybe its a fluke. Sophie Ghnassia, the project leader of France Telecom's 3G project, said the book is the only one to explain the revenues of 3G and 3G services. Why do we care? France Telecom, ie Orange, is the world's 10th largest mobile operator group (50% bigger than AT&T). Not just leading experts at mobile giants of Europe and Asia, what of North America? Mark Weisleder the Channel Director at Bell Distribution (ie now Bell Mobility ie Bell Canada) endorsed the book from Canada. And the foreword? Written by Teppo Turkki, the strategy director for Elisa. You probably never heard of Elisa of Finland, but they launched 2G yes, the second generation, or in other words they launched the modern era of digital mobile telecoms, and that ubiquitous standard we know as GSM. That GSM is yes, the same GSM that Apple decided is more important to launch the iPhone on, than CDMA which Verizon uses. THAT technology, that GSM was first launched by Radiolinja ie Elisa of Finland in 1991. Elisa is also the network that launched SMS text messaging commercially in 1993, and a company called Saunalahti launched premium data services in Finland in 1998. Saunalahti is also part of Elisa. And their strategy guy wrote the foreword to this seminal book about how mobile will make money.
There can be good articles and bad articles written about where you can make money in mobile. This is not by any means the 'best' article out there on this topic, and I am by no means the best expert to write this. But no other expert in the world has the CREDENTIALS that I have now, to talk about how to make MONEY in this industry, NOW, in 2011. On any other free blog or article that you may find, you are taking a chance on whether that guy knows what he or she is talking about, and there is a risk, that reading that article is a waste of your time. Or worse, of that supposed expert steering you wrong - into a direction which will waste your effort, your money, your time and your creativity, in some wishful-thinking fantasy of what might be. This is literally the only guy on the planet who is guaranteed to know what he writes about - if the topic is 'how to make money with mobile' if you demand the expert you consult is multiple-published author, who has written on how the mobile industry makes its money, and whose book is referenced by his peers.
Now, with all that, this crazy guy Ahonen has put his life reputation on the line, in the promise of this blog and the title, that he will help you find the career opportunities and the fastest ways to your first million? If you ever had the chance in one article to increase your personal career and life and wealth, there is no better promise than this article.
So you have now found yourself reading a blog by the guy who spotted this industry to be 'different' from the other tech industries a decade ago. Who correctly forecasted it would become the fastest industry to a Trillion dollars. And his book was the first to explain how this industry will make money. And his peers at the time, from some of the biggest companies involved in the industry, rushed to endorse this book. And still now, it is so highly respected it is being bought and even translated. And nine books by other authors reference that book?
When this Ahonen guy tells you, that he will help you become rich (or succesful) in mobile, it is time to sit down and pay attention. For you to get this kind of advice will normally require you to book consulting services from someone like McKinsey or Boston Consulting and their top mobilist guy will be worth 10,000 dollars a day. And you know now, even that super-expensive mobilist strategy consulting guru guy learned it all from reading the books written by this guy Tomi Ahonen...
So tell me, is your time not worth taking in this article today? No matter how long it may be, no matter how much Tomi may be an ego-maniac and love the sound of his own typing?
This blog will explain where your career should go, and how, from today on, for you to achieve greater career success, through the mobile industry, regardless of what you do today, regardless of what stage you are in your career (still in college or already retired) and no matter how you define success (becoming a millionaire, turning your millions into your first billion, or achieving greater job satisfaction or improving society or teaching school children or healing the sick, or preaching about religion or winning your next election or perhaps you are an artist wanting to delight and entertain your audience, whatever your measure of success).
But this is a primer blog article. It is LONG. It is probably the longest article you've ever read on a blog, perhaps the longest article you've read online, ever. It is long even by my standards and I specialize in long blog articles.
So before we continue, go get yourself a cup of coffee, this will take you about an hour to read. I am serious, you cannot skip on the story, else you will not learn the points I need to make. You may want to bookmark this page, and take notes as we go along. But for many to-be millionaires in this fabulous growth industry, this is the moment. They will be telling years from now, to their teams and fresh recruits, that their 'heureka' moment, their life-changing moment, when they truly 'discovered mobile' happened here, in January 2011, on a classic Tomi T Ahonen blog article. That is what I intend to do with this story. That is why this is my epic blog article.
THE INTERNET THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
So lets start with the frequently repeated mantra, that the internet changed everything. It is written in countless modern business books and taught in MBA classes the world over. Except that it is strictly-speaking not true. Yes, the internet change some industries, completely. Like how internet search pretty much decimated the encyclopedia industry and how Amazon sells the books and CDs and killed many bricks-and-mortar bookstores, music stores. And how air tickets are sold online, not at travel agent stores. And how Napster all but killed the music business and how Apple's iTunes helped save the music industry. That kind of stories. Yes, the internet utterly devasted some industries.
But it didn't. The internet did not change everything. The fisherman in his family boat off the shore of India, does not use the internet to catch more fish, nor to sell his catch. He has no internet in his little open boat. The farmer in Africa does not use the internet to help him farm; he is illiterate, he couldn't even know how to use a computer. The lumberjack in Brazil's rain forest does not need the internet to cut down the trees, he only needs his trusted chain saw. So yes, the internet changed a lot of industries - mostly in the Industrialized World and even there, mostly in industries that exist in the cities, but factually, the internet did not change everything.
And it can't. The internet does not reach everybody. While its easy to forget in New York and San Francisco and Dallas and London and Paris and Frankfurt, but the internet does not reach everybody. Not even close. The planet only has 1.3 Billion personal computers (of any kind, including laptops and even the tablet PCs like the iPad) and not all of those even are connected to the internet. While most in the 'West' have access to the internet, the total internet penetration in the less-wealthy 'Emerging World' countries is 17%. In the poorest parts like in Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bolivia etc its far less than 10%. The internet cannot change 'everything' if only one in ten people even has access to it.
MOBILE CHANGES EVERYTHING
Mobile is the solution that truly will change everything. Differeing from the internet, mobile will change EVERYTHING. First, lets take all those things we have seen the internet 'gobble up'.. Search? The internet service that has the most users globally? Google already is big on search on mobile. Airline tickets? Already sold directly to phones. Music. Yes, just look at ringing tones.
Important point for all technology obsessed readers - understand, every single one of those radical changes that is attributed to the internet, is also now possible - and commercially (ie successfully) being done on mobile! At the very least level, for whatever you may believe 'the internet changed everything' - to all those issues, mobile will now change those changes, again - but more. Why? Because the internet reaches about 1.7 Billion people. But mobile recently passed the 5 Billion user level (yes, go Google that now, you need to believe this number, it is really relevant. I will wait).
5 Billion mobile phone subscriptions are in use on mobile phones today. When measured per capita against the planet's population, it is 72%. Now why is that relevant? Again, global view. This is totally unprecedented in mankind's history. No technology ever, ever, comes even close to this level of adoption. Not the car. Not the refrigerator. Not the washing machine. Not the PC. Not the home video game console. Not the TV set. Not the DVD player. Not the iPod. Not the digital camera. Not the fixed landline telephone. Not even the FM Radio. Not even the wristwatch has ever been on the hands of five billion people! The world's bestselling wristwatch of all time, the only one to pass a Billion units made, is Timex, over a period of 50 years. The mobile phone industry sells over a billion new mobile phone handsets.. every year! And every one of them has a clock on it!
There are three times more paid mobile phone subscriptions in use, than total number of television sets (and only half of those use paid premium TV services like cable and satellite TV). There are almost four times as many paid mobile phone subscriptions than all personal computers - not all of which have a paid internet connection. There are almost 5 times as many mobile phone paid subscriptions as there are fixed landline telephones in use worldwide! Did I get your attention?
So yes, airlines sell tickets on phones and we buy music from basic ringing tones to full-track MP3 files to our phones. But what of that farmer in Africa, the lumberjack in Brazil, or the fisherman in India? Will mobile change their lives. Yes. The fishermen in India were studied and it was found that once they learned to use mobile phones to bargain for the price of their daily catch, they increased their income by a fifth! Wow! Why? Because previously, the fisherman would return with his fresh catch, tie up his boat, pack his catch, and use a bicycle to quickly go to a couple of markets and restaurants to try to haggle for a good price. He never had the exact same catch, from day to day, and he would be in a hurry to get the deal done, and his fish catch would not last long in the heat of India, before he had to settle for what price he had achieved. It took a lot of effort to bicycle between a few prospective buyers.
Now he has a mobile phone. He is illiterate, he doesn't use any premium 'smartphone' services, he doesn't care for an eBay type of online auction service (his son eventually may use that). But he waits until his boat is nearing the shore, and he sees he gets a signal on his phone. Then he calls the stores and markets, telling them what catch he has, and asking for bids. He has enormous ability to bargain and compare and price-shop until he finds his best price, and then he goes directly to that customer. No time wasted in the heat bicycling between customers, and he gets his best price. And the restaurant or market gets more fresh fish that wasn't hustled around town in the heat all day. Win Win Win for all. The internet did not change fishing. Mobile already has.
So lets go to Africa. Truly, illiterate African farmers, toiling in the heat on the equator, struggling with droughts, earning a dollar a day. No internet access in their village, even in the town - a two hour bicycle ride away - the internet cafe is far too expensive to even consider using. Those UN supported services that attempted to bring wired internet to Africa often found, that their copper wires were cut and stolen - the copper was so valuable in a country so poor. So the farmer struggles to know when to plough and when to use the fertilizer etc. The weather conditions are critical for success in their crops. So along comes a mobile service, free, to give farmers weather information! Why free? It is fully sponsored by a fertilizer company. Wow. This is great! Designed for the local market, working on SMS and on voice and on WAP, very basic stuff that works on basic phones. Even in Africa, there is now a mobile phone subscription for half of the planet, so every farmer in Africa does have at least one phone for his/her family. And now they can have the critical weather information on their phone. No, the internet did not change everything for the farmer. The mobile is already doing just that.
FOLLOW THAT TREE!
So the lumberjack. In most forests from Brazil to Canada to Indonesia, modern industrialized forestry management is still quite crude. But lets go to Sweden and Finland, Europe's biggest forestry producers, and how eco-friendly modern 'intelligent' forest management is done. They cut down trees selectively only, harvesting forests, without doing any total fells of a whole forest. This is far more sustainable, but it also requires more skill and control.. and technology. So how do they do it. They tag the trees with GSM and GPS enabled forest management devices. Yes, you heard me right. The modern way to manage forests is to give the trees a mobile telecoms connection!
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall a tree ever having a need to telephone another tree. I have never seen trees being pulled over by the police for texting-while-driving. In fact I don't remember seeing trees ever tapping text messages, not on Blackberries and not on iPhones either. And actually, come to think of it, I don't think trees bother to surf the mobile internet to the Playboy site to see naked pictures of other trees. Wait, trees don't even have male/female genders.
And really, guys, mobile phones? Mobile? When did you see a tree driving a car? A tree sitting over at Starbucks drinking a latte? A tree walking around chatting on the phone or perhaps twittering or checking in on FourSquare. Trees don't move around. They have zero need for mobility! Trees are not just parked into one place, stationary. They are rooted in one place. They can't be mobile even if they wanted to be.
No. A tree will live in exactly one same spot for 20 years, until its time has come, it is cut down, and then it is taken on one death-journey to be processed. This is as far removed from the 'utility' of 'mobility' as you can imagine! But here again, the modern intelligent way of forestry management in the style of Sweden and Finland - parts from the same tree are used for six different types of product! So parts from one tree can go to as many as six different wood mills! Parts of that tree will go into the ice hockey sticks or tennis rackets or such specialized wood products like say, rifle butts of expensive hunting rifles for Sarah Palin over there shooting moose in Alaska. Other parts end up in Ikea furniture. Part of the pulp goes into our newspaper print or other paper into more durable paper, and part of the remainder is used for power generation or for various industrial uses.
Ok. Life of a tree. My point. The mobile connection is SO valuable, it can bring economic benefits to such a static non-movable, immobile item as a tree! If you say 'internet changed everything' I say, I turn around and say, "I never wanted to be a barber anyway, I wanted to be a Lumberjack." And then I'd sing. I'd sing: "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok, I sleep all night and I work all day.."
WRITING READING 'RITHMETIC
Then there is education. Yes, we use computers in schools. And many schools are even bringing in laptops for children as they did in Bolivia. Wonderful. But lets look at that world. Lets look beyond those kids going to school. 800 million people of reading age are illiterate worldwide. They won't have computers, they won't buy computers - because they are illiterate! But they do have mobile phones. Many initiatives exist to help them learn basic reading skills. One such program is going on in Pakistan - where young Pakistani girls now do get to go to school, but before, in the olden days, not all girls got to go to school, so while most adult men are literate, many adult women are illiterate. It is a great shame for an adult woman to know that she can't read. So they now have simple reading courses offered to help them learn basic reading skills, delivered of course by mobile.
Similarly mathematics skills. The UN supported World Summit Awards just last month gave an award for a company in the UAE for teaching math skills by mobile phone. And another award for the BBC service that serves the Bangladesh population to teach them basic English skills via mobile phone, each lesson costing less than the cost of a cup of tea. How many using it? Over 2 million have signed up to the language lessons via mobile in just one country. Mobile phones can even teach the autistic, as yet another award-winner from Ireland was honored at the WSA.
Then what of school-age kids? Lets go to Britain. There museums got together with schools to create a more interactive and interesting school-visit to the museums, using the mobile phones that the students already carry. How successful? They ran the project with 100 schools, and increased the average time spent in the museum by class visits by 4.5X ! Imagine how much more students learn, if they voluntarily spend 4.5 times longer in the museum, with their teachers!
Can it help? Is it just a gimmick or is there any real lasting effect? I have been waiting to see numbers. Obviously the benefits of a new teaching method will take time, as learning doesn't happen overnight. But we just received the first news of a national education campaign in South Africa where 30 schools ran a math support service on mobile phones developed with a math textbook company and 4,000 students were able to use the service. What happened? Their math scores for Grade 10 national math exams in South Africa were improved by 14%. Wow! This is the magic of mobile. It does touch everybody, everywhere, in every industry. Not just airline tickets and music and search, like the internet, but literally, fishing, forestry and farming. And all those aspects of education from reading and writing to 'rithmetic.
Mobile is changing everything! Everything! Every single facet of life, every single industry in existence, everything will be changed by mobile. Retail, banking, insurance, travel, entertainment, education, health, government, farming, fishing, forestry; everything! This is a magical technology. I bet you, you did not know how widely mobile is already impacting our lives, that it really not just touches those industries where people are not literate enough to use a computer, mobile is also helping eradicate illiteracy itself. That is how powerful mobile is. Am I starting to give value to you? Are you learning surprising facts about mobile. Hang on, we are now getting to the high-speed info exchange part.
Because this is not your whole opportunity, Noooo. Not just copying the internet. No. You have not even heard the half of it. I will take you further on this blog, and now we start the real journey into what will happen in this decade and the next. Lets look at the humans a bit more.
TODDLERS AND GEEZERS
What is the time you can become a client of the automobile industry? After you get your driver's licence. What of credit cards? Usually you need to be of legal age. Some industries can serve us from much younger, like magazines, we only need to learn to read to be able to consume magazines say of the pop stars and celebrities so we can sell magazines to teenagers already. TV has shows for the pre-schoolers like Teletubbies.
My point is that almost all other industries have some quite reasonable 'time limits' to how they can be consumed, for example the very elderly usually are not allowed to drive cars if their eyesight goes too bad etc. Movies make most of their revenues in the cinema box office, from the youth (who go to the movies on 'dates'). Very few industries can serve us - and make money out of us - from the moment we are cognizant, ie aware, to the day we die.
Mobile does. We all know of the astonishingly young ages at what kids start to have phones. And I used to think the natural limit of the youngest age of when kids might contribute to the mobile industry started at around age 6 or 7, when kids go to school, learn to read and write (ie also learn numbers to dial a phone) and start to have many friends not near the home - school mates - with whom they want to telephone.. Fine. That seemed reasonable. And I was wrong. So my good friend Sami Makelainen who works for Telstra the biggest operator/carrier of Australia, told me about his kids, Amanda age 3 and Benjamin age 2. Both are avid users of the family iPhone to play games, to look at photos - and 3 year old daughter Amanda even understands apps and the concept of paid or free app - she knows to ask daddy when looking at gaming apps, 'is that free' as she knows daddy is more likely to download free games for her and Benjamin, than paid games.
So wow. The mobile industry can now serve customers easily as young as age 2. And how much is this worth, Sami says his kids add to the Makelainen family phone bill about 2.50 Australian dollars per month (2 US dollars). Think about it. A two-year old already 'drives' this industry to the degree of 1 dollar per month! (in a relatively wealthy family in a relatively wealthy country using a high-end phone, but anyway).
So lets go to the other extreme. Retired people. Many still in some laggard markets, like in North America for example, feel that some mobile phone services like SMS text messaging, is only for kids and at the older ages, they won't find mass adoption. That is a well-known myth in all advanced regions for mobile and first spotted to be a myth in Scandinavia where SMS texting started. So lets go to Norway and look for a world record.
WORLD RECORD PARTICIPATION
Norway's NRK 2 Television channel celebrated achieving a world record in audience participation of a broadcast TV show, when their interactive broadcast TV program, the Danseband Jukebox, achieved a total audience participation percentage of 54% in 2008. First, for anyone in television, imagine that! Imagine if half of your total audience is willing to pay to send premium messages to your TV show. Just American Idol this year alone earned 100 million dollars of bonus income (after the massive ad revenues earned by being the most-watched TV show of its time slot) from SMS votes. And they were nowhere near achieving half of their audience voting (yet). But in Norway we've reached this point. Astonishing.
So what was the show? Its a music show, no surprise. Its an audience-select 'jukebox' format, vote for what should be the next song. They have a live band in the studio who play whatever the audience votes for next. Nifty idea, but this is not exactly Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake or Beyonce, right? Correct. Its not a TV show for the youth. It doesn't play rock or pop or rap. They play tangos and walztes and polkas - music for old people! Yes, this is the favorite TV show of the retired people in Norway, on Saturday afternoons many retired couples will clear the living room floor, and the couple will dance to their favorite songs, as played by the famed band of Danseband Jukebox. The official viewing figures say, they have no audience under the age of 55! The average viewer has retired!
Now back to our statistic. The world record for biggest audience participation of a TV show was set in Norway - by retired people. Retired people are fully happy to send SMS text messages to a TV show. Don't for one second imagine older people will not use SMS text messaging (or any mobile services). Of course they will. (Am I giving you value in this long blog? Are you learning stuff you didn't know? SMS world record set by retired folks, wow, that is news..)
So there seems to be almost 'no age limit' to mobile. It reaches more devices, and more people than the internet, on more industries than the internet can ever hope to reach, and now we see that mobile naturally serves us from being toddlers to being old geezers. But wait, it really gets funkier than this.
WHILE WE SLEEP AND AFTER WE DIE
What of waking hours? Almost all other industries stop serving us (stop making money on their service to us) when we go to sleep. The TV and radio are shut down, we don't read newspapers at night. etc. So yeah, its fair to say most of the industries on the planet are available essentially only for us during our waking hours. And this is not all, a hotel will rent us a room for our sleeping hours, so obviously there are exceptions. But you get my point. Most businesses that serve us, make their money providing their services to us only on our waking hours whatever those might be in an individual basis (some work at night and sleep during the day). But what of mobile. I again go beyond all reason. Only mobile will reach us ..in our sleep. Yes! Reaches us in our sleep.
Its no longer any amazing story that the majority of mobile phone owners will take the phone to the bed with them (or place it by the table next to the bed) and use its alarm clock as their primary alarm to wake up. That is no longer news. What was news in 2009, was the astonishing finding by Lightspeed Research from Britain, that more than half of the UK population will also keep the ringing 'on' during the night. So they will not put the phone on silent, at night. Why? Because we feel so addicted to the phone that we don't want to miss the important call or message that may arrive at night.
This is why national emergency services across the globe, from Finland to Indonesia to Guatemala now use SMS as the first alert service to warn people of earthquakes and tsunamis and bird flu epidemics and whatever disasters they might imagine could happen in Finland, haha, an invasion of Santa Claus's reindeer perhaps? (Finland has no earthquakes, no tsunamis, no hurricanes, no tornados, no killer sharks, no vicious crocodiles, no rampaging tigers, no deadly spiders, no strangling snakes, nothing deadly really).
My point? There has never been any media that could reach us in our sleep. The clock-radio? No, we have to set it to wake us up at 07:15 to hear that familiar radio DJ in the morning. The standard radio cannot react to an emergency, go from 'off' to suddenly 'on' and wake us at 03:48 when the nearby nuclear powerplant has a radiation leak and they start the mass evacuation. But SMS will reach us even in our sleep. Wow. There has never ever ever been any technology nearly as potent as mobile, it reaches us not just from before we know how to read and write to after we've retired, it can even reach us while we sleep.
And what of death. After death. Sure. I also connect with dead people. Seriously. And I apologize, this is not meant to be insensitive if you had a death in the family. But in Japan today it is becoming common to create memorial pages for the dearly departed. And they post the link to the pages at the tombstone at the graveyard. How is the link? Its done by QR code of course so the visitors can access the memorial page right there, at the graveyard, so naturally the page is a mobile internet page. And don't think for one moment that won't happen in your country. If we as a society will have graveyards for our pets, then of course there will be memorial mobile web pages for the beloved great grandmom, the matriarch of the family, so when the families come to visit her grave, they can leave greetings - and for the family to see who has visited the grave recently, for loving members of the family to post pictures and poems and prayers etc. And yes, when your country has 76% adoption of QR codes by all subscribers (as Japan had already in 2008), of course that will be seen as totally normal.
And all this not for the less than one billion rich people who can afford a PC and broadband connection at home. This works for 5 billion people on the planet. More people have a mobile phone than have access to running water. More people use a mobile phone than use a toothbrush. More mobile phone subscriptions exist than people who have access to electricity (yes, people will have hand-cranked and bicycle-peddaled generators to recharge their phones).
Do I have your attention? There has never been anything even remotely as far-reaching and relevant as mobile is today. Am I giving you exceptional insights and value in this blog, and we have not even talked about our pets and plants.
PETS AND PLANTS
(Tomi you gotta be kidding.) No I am not. South Korea was the first nation to offer us Bowlingual, the dog collar that is also a mobile phone. It listens to the dog's noises, and uses some clever programming, and determines what is the dog's mood - and then yes - it sends that as an SMS message to your phone! Why is the dog suddenly barking? Hungry? Hurt? Seeing a cat? A burglar? What is wrong. Bowlingual will send you the message. The service has since spread internationally.
Hey, don't even think thats the only dog service. In Finland they had the hunting dog service, also a dog collar, very intelligent, which lets the hunter call the dog's collar and listen to what the dog hears. And the collar has a GPS chip that lets the owner see where the dog is, chasing the deer. And look at the map on his smartphone to see where the dog is. Yes, we connect to many of our dogs already, for many reasons. But my point - its not just the humans who will consume mobile telecoms services. TV does not offer channels for dogs, neither does radio. Mobile already offers paid mobile services that serve our dogs and their owners.
And plants! Yes, Agrihouse in Japan introduced the first intelligent 'plant-phones' ok, not phones, but sensors. You program the sensor telling it what kind of plant you have. You stick the sensor into the flower pot. It measures the humidity in the pot, knows what kind of moisture that particular plant needs - and yes - it will then send you a text message telling you when your plant is thirsty, needing to be watered! I kid you not. We as an industry now have expanded the reach of our telecoms services FAR beyond humans. Its not science fiction, these are all real cases, we connect with our plants - via mobile! We do not print newspapers or release movies for our plants. But we have mobile telecoms services which allow our plants to talk to us. And every one of these services makes money at some point in the system, most often via SMS text messaging. Which brings me to our cars.
CARS AND HOMES AND HOTELS
Ok, then the obvious telematics uses. Yes we all know the cars with OnStar type of security and remote control assistance, and TomTom and GPS-accurate mapping and driving guidance. Fine. That is peanuts. Thats so 'last decade'. Lets go much further. Pay-as-you-drive car insurance! This is a cool idea whose time has more than arrived. If you live in the suburbs and commute to work with the commuter train, and only drive your cars on weekends to the shopping mall etc, why should you pay the same insurance as the person who lives in the city, drives at all traffic chaos hours in the most accident-prone parts of the city? You sign up for the service and they install the GPS and GSM system to your car, and they monitor how you drive. This service launched in Britain years ago.
Oh there are so many even more clever solutions relating to our cars and our public transport etc, starting from the real time info of when your next bus is going to be at the bus stop where you are at. But the really cool parts come from South Korea of course. Its not magical anymore that you can pay for your parking with your phone (invented in Norway eleven years ago) but the coolest service is telling you where is the nearest available parking place. This service is being introduced in Seoul already.
So the home? Yes, Japan became the first country where new apartment buildings were built that had door locks operated with your mobile phone, years ago. Now Holiday Inn is introducing it to some hotels in America. Meanwhile just about any gadget in your home can be remotely activated by mobile, from the Saunabaths that Finland enabled a decade ago to the SMS-controlled tea kettle sold in Britain.
Mobile telecoms let us humans connect to our gadgets and devices, and allow our devices and gadgets communicate with us. We are expanding the reach of the industry enormously. Far far beyond the total live population of humans, pets and plants.
I could go on and on and on. Twenty percent of all mobile phone subscriptions in Sweden are already these kinds of 'telematics' connections including obviously the very basics like reading your intelligent gas, water and electricity meters, remotely, via mobile, and of course, delivering your gas, water and electricity bills via mobile (imagine the wasted paper every year of paper based utility bills, gosh! Yet every economically viable person on the planet has a mobile phone which can display a basic utility bill on its screen, delivered via SMS or MMS. Isn't it time we stopped printing utility bills already?)
But lets go science fiction here. Robots! I don't mean industrial robots building cars, I don't mean space exploration robots that crash onto Mars and are unable to connect with Planet Earth. I don't mean spy drones flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan hunting for Bin Laden. I mean household robots. And no, not the 'intelligent vacuum cleaner' but real honest-to-goodness robots. They were science fiction less than a decade ago. And then Mitsubishi in Japan made a reasonably practical home robot that only cost about the same as a new car. And then the Koreans stepped in and cut the prices down to a small fraction of that? Today in all major shopping malls of Seoul you will have at least one shop - dedicated - to selling household robots!
You will react saying, 'its the dumbest idea ever, I could never imagine needing a robot for my home.' Oh yeah? Remember once saying you could never need a microwave oven? That a normal oven should be good enough for any normal being haha.. Or thinking that normal people didn't need a computer at home. Or that you didn't need to use SMS or that SMS was not suited for professional business communications. Yeah. Right. What does your household robot do? Well it does the vacuuming of course. But really, the dog? Its a rainy day. The robot can take your dog for its walk. The kids? Need to do their homework and practise their school lessons, who to make sure its all done? The robot. What of grandfather who needs help going to the toilet? The robot can do that. Etc etc etc. Once you understand how incredibly useful they are, no wonder the South Korean goverment has said in ten years every South Korean home will have one. You will have one too. It is inevitable.
And what was the mobile relevance to this, ahem, revellation? Of course the distance remote control for the robot is your phone, and of course the robot has a 3G videocam so it can send live video to your 3G phone of what is happening at home. A surprise guest arrives while you are still stuck in traffic? Its your best friend, no problem, your robot will open the door and let him in. The point here? You think your own 'telematics' needs are limited to one for your home and one for your car and one for your dog, no, you also will need one for your robot (and at some point we will start to have more than one robot, but thats another blog). How ridiculous is this? South Korean schools have already started to introduce robot teachers! Honestly, I am serious. I had a whole chapter on home robotics in my fifth book, Digital Korea. Did you know this? And honestly, before reading this blog, had you factored in the opportunity of connecting plants and pets and robots to the mobile service you may have been designing? I seriously doubt it. I trust you feel this long blog is worth reading to the end?
What of things that are not real, that are assigned a reality, like that concept we call money (or other such assigned things like our 'vote' in elections or our 'identity' that we can prove on our passport or our 'license' to be allowed to drive a car). In reality the piece of paper that says 'one dollar' has no value. It is simply paper. We agree that it the dollar was printed on certain green paper by a federal reserve bank of the United States, that piece of paper will be credited by us, at the value of one 'dollar', and the bank will exchange it for about 80 Euro cents or 100 Japanese Yen or 8 Hong Kong dollars. But it really is only a promise to pay. All cash lost their final real value when the governments removed the last bits of silver from our coins. So why do we need cash anymore? Cash is dirty (very filthy actually, have you ever washed any money you happen to carry, wow, the World Health Organization said cash is the filthiest thing we carry upon us). And cash promotes crime.
So enter mobile. Many pundits have suggested for many decades already that some financial instrument revolutions will kill cash, from cheques to credit cards to debit cards to eCash like Paypal on the internet. But none of those have achieved even one industry to stop using cash. Mobile money was invented in 1999 in the Philippines and today two coins-oriented cash industries in two separate countries have eliminated cash altogether. Yes, in Estonia you cannot pay for parking by coins anymore and in Sweden you can't pay for your bus fare by coins. In both cases you can by mobile. In both cases the governments made that decision to eliminate coins-related crime. Mobile will kill cash. It won't happen soon, but it is inevitable. And you know what? The past summer of 2010 Sweden becamse the first government to start parliamentary discussions about the elimination of cash. Not if, but when. There has never ever ever been anything remotely as powerful as mobile is already today, and we have only barely begun.
You can say 'but I can do that on the internet' - maybe so. But how many internet users have a Paypal account? Only about 10%. So even of the 1.7 Billion people who have access to the internet in some way, PC based or mobile phone based, - you are abandoning 1.5 Billion people who do have an internet account. When measured agains the whole population of the planet, Paypal reaches 2% of the world's population. And Paypal is BY FAR the most widely used eCash solution. And even Paypal doesn't work in every country. But mobile does. Every single country. And you know what? In Kenya right now, 25% of the total national economy is transiting mobile phone based m-banking accounts. One quarter of the total national economy runs through mobile money.
When did they introduce mobile money, oh, when was it, gosh... let me think, it must be, oh, when was it - four years ago! M-Pesa by Safaricom ie Vodafone. Four years ago! Can you hear me? In four years, one quarter of the country's whole economy runs through mobile phones! That means salaries, rental payments, mortgages, car payments, taxes, any payments. Are you still doubting the prospects of mobile money? Half of the Japanese, and half of the South Koreans have 'mobile wallet' type of services and solutions. In South Korea if you order a new Visa credit card, they won't even SEND you a plastic card, unless you separately request that archaic bit of obsolete technology. All credit card merchants accept payment by mobile in South Korea.
Last week I Twittered several times about my fave m-Health story, that broke on Textually, about the doctors in Tanzania. Yeah, we're in Africa again, this is ultra-poor territory, the average wage in Tanzania is 2 dollars per day across a population of about 40 million. Think about that for a moment. Now lets move on. The doctors. There is a medical clinic in the capital, Dar Es Salaam which specializes in some birth related health issues and they treat an unfortunately common condition in Africa of fistula (a trauma relating to complications in childbirth, which results from lack of proper medical care). The treatment requires hospitalization and professional care, so the patients have to travel to the clinic in Dar Es Salaam. Now the problem. Tanzania is typically enormous like so many African countries (most of our maps don't display Africa's relative size correctly) - at almost a million square kilometers in size, Tanzania is three times as big as California, or for my European buddies - thats two times the size of France...
So the average bus fare round trip for a patient to the clinic will cost about 60 US dollars. Its not that the women don't want to take care of this problem, but if the average income is 2 dollars per day (and women in Africa earning far less than the men, the farmers less than those in cities etc) there is no possible way to save such a fortune to be able to afford that bus trip to get cured.
So what do the doctors do? They now offer a pre-paid bus ticket, sent as an SMS text message to the registered phone of the woman needing the treatment. When we think of the relative costs of the total treatment, this is a small part of the real costs, but it means true life-and-death matters to the women. Imagine how beautiful this is! And is it successful? Textually told us that they achieved 2.5 times more women treated after this initiative was launched. And there is no fraud, if you send money or actual bus tickets, they'd be easily abused. But with personal SMS tickets, there can be no abuse. Beautiful.
I told you this blog story is long. I also told you, this will open your eyes. As you can see, most of what I wrote about here, you had never heard. You thought mobile was only about voice and messaging and the internet and apps. No, it is far more than that. Did you know this all about mobile money? No? Are you learning about the biggest growth industry of our lifetimes? And every example I have given is real, and is making money for someone on mobile today. None of this is vaporware or hype or future forecasts. But lets move on, now it gets funky, but these get to the really lucrative and promising opportunities.
Next lets take a mind-blowing trip into the utterly bizarre. We are not limited by reality, in making money on mobile. Honestly! Even if the emperor has no clothes, we cannot sell imaginary clothing. Our car will not run on imaginary petrol. But on mobile we can sell you imaginary things and millions will buy and they will pay billions for them. Lets start with the beginning. You've heard of Second Life, yes? The virtual playground, where people create avatars of themselves and brands like Coca Cola have bought their own islands and you can hang out with other people in their avatar forms. And every person is pretty and sexy and slim and gorgeous and young in Second Life. And they have their own currency and all.
Yeah. Big Deal. Now, what is the world's biggest virtual world? Obviously its not Second Life. Is it World of Warcraft or one of those multiplayer wargames? No. Farmville? No. Its Habbo Hotel. Yes, the childrens virtual playground from Finland developed by Sulake. More than ten percent of all users on the internet have created an Habbo character of themselves! The average age is under 15 years. These kids have no credit cards and bank accounts. Habbo is generating oodles of cash and is viciously profitable. It was the first internet online social network to turn a profit. How can it be? Advertising? No. Habbo makes modest income from advertising, far less than one quarter of their income. So it has to be subscription fees? No, Habbo is totally free to all users. So how can it be? Magic?
Well kinda, I keep telling my readers that 'Mobile is the Magical Money-Making Machine'. It can generate revenues to any other media (and if it can do that, then it can easily create tons of revenues for itself). Habbo invented the premium SMS mobile payment business model, for an internet service. They sell premium goods and services for their users. Only about one in ten kids will pay. But they do pay. They use their own mobile phones to make these payments. This is now better known as the 'freemium' business model and in the past decade hundreds of successful businesses are built copying that concept. So in other words, the service itself (playing inside Habbo Hotel) is free, but users are offered the option to buy premium content if they want. How good is this concept - remember Habbo users are age 15.. Sulake earns about 75 million dollars of revenues and is ridiculously profitable - giving a free game away on the internet, and making money selling premium services, paid for by mobile.
What do they sell? Cool t-shirts and funky pants and wild haircuts and whatever kids like. So, Habbo sells us imaginary things. And that idea has been copied and adapted and improved and developed, from Cyworld in South Korea to Flirtomatic in the UK to yes, Farmville in Facebook. The biggest provider to sell such virtual goods and services is China's QQ by Tencent (bigger than Facebook by the way, in users and in revenues) - which earned about 2.4 Billion dollars in 2010, and half of that - over 1 Billion dollars - is virtual goods!
Here come the weird facts. Many kids in Habbo Hotel will find their Habbo character more important than their real life persona - and some are willing to spend more on a virtual item than the real thing in real life. This is no fluke, same phenomenon in Japan, in Brazil, in Canada, the world over. And not just kids, adults will do this too. The personalization craze in South Korea with Kart Rider the world record holding multiplayer online game. We have only seen the beginning of this phenomenon, but it is enormous. Think, if even a small fraction of the population on the planet, is willing to spend MORE on the clothing and personalization of their avatar than they do on themselves. How huge is this opportunity?
So now to the funky parts. Virtual roses. UK based Flirtomatic became the biggest seller of roses in Britain in 2007, selling only virtual roses, to the membership of their flirting and dating service (Flirtomatic is another viciously profitable service, has expanded to Germany, Australia, the USA etc - it just became the biggest mobile dating/flirting service of the USA last year). So, the virtual rose? It does not smell like a rose. It only sits there on your phone. It stays nice for a couple of days, then it dies away (like a real rose). And the girl knows it only cost about 40 US cents. How can that be romantic? Of course it is. How many times can you get a rose to the girl, when the real florist is closed at night when you leaving the pub or bar or disco?
And which florist can deliver roses at any hour including 3 AM in the morning when you are still involved in some hot flirting and chat with that hot babe? It is far easier for the Romeo to send a dozen roses to his Juliet, via the phone. So how many? Try 3.5 million virtual roses sold just in 2007. So you think this was with over 100 million users like MySpace of Facebook? No, try again. 10 million. No, try again. One million. No try again. Flirtomatic had 100,000 total users at the time - yet sold 3.5 MILLION paid virtual red roses. All made some girl or boy happy for a moment. All roses also died. Not one real plant was cut. Not one carbon unit was wasted in the transport of roses in refrigerated trucks to florists around Britain. Yes, when Flirtomatic was so small they only had 100,000 users, they sold 1.4 million dollars worth of virtual roses in just one year. This is a magical industry! (and just to be clear, Flirtomatic keeps growing with supremely satisfied users, it has over 3 million users today)
That was early going. I call Flirtomatic the most innovative company in mobile social networking right now. They have almost single-handedly doubled or trippled the opportunity for us to make money with mobile. I blog about them all the time and write in all of my recent books. Mark Curtis their CEO even kindly wrote the foreword to my 9th book, Pearls Vol 2: Mobile Social Networking (an eBook). So lets examine their wildest invention (yet).
AND NON-ICE CUBES
The melting ice cube! This has got to be the most clever innovation in making money in any industry, ever. If you thought the idea to sell bottled water like Evian and Perrier in Western European countries like Switzerland and Sweden where tap water is just as pure, coming from domestic glaciers - and bottled water is a 100 Billion dollar industry worldwide by the way - I have something far more astonishing. With bottled water, at least you get to drink the water. Flirto gives us the picture of an ice cube.
What? Yes. You buy the ice cube. You pay about 50 cents. You send it to your friend. It (ie you are sending only a picture of an ice cube). It arrives on the phone of your friend. But here is the incredible part. In six seconds it melts away. It vanishes! The ice cube you just sent is gone. Gone forever. Cannot be retrieved. Flirtomatic now sells melting ice cubes! They sold thousands of them in the first weekend alone. It is the ultimate momentary thing to share with your friend. Stuck in traffic? Running late to a meeting? 'Don't worry mate, I hear you, here, take an ice cube, I am with you.' (ice cube arrives, melts away). Or in the pub, your friend is chatting to a hot babe at the bar, so you send over the ice cube, as just a note, 'Hey mate, I am with you, chill, good luck, you will win, the girl will soon warm up to you' (the ice cube arrives, melts away). Your friend knows exactly what you mean, when you send a melting ice cube. But the genious of Flirtomatic to invent this! And yes, 50 cents every single time. We can't sell real ice cubes for 50 cents apiece, and they would last much longer than 6 seconds, and even when they are gone, real ice cubes would have cooled our drink. But these virtual toy ice cubes - come on, pictures of ice cubes - can be sold by the thousands! Astonishing!
This is not an accident and it is not a fluke. Habbo Hotel invented the concept of the virtual good that was paid for by mobile phone. Today many industry experts suggest virtual goods are the strongest growth opportunity to make money on advanced mobile services like games and social networks - to the point, that experts now suggest, if you are struggling to make money on an 'app' on the iPhone App Store, you should build a virtual goods environment and sell virtual goods to your users (like say, Angry Birds does). So we now can take all human users, and expand their economic opportunity into the imaginary goods economy. And do that with mobile. Wow.
The mobile phone paid premium virtual goods opportunity was invented in 2004 in South Korea. Last year Morgan Stanley measured the 2008 global industry and found that the mobile phone specific virtual goods market was worth 2 Billion dollars (led by QQ ie Tencent of China). For context, the Financial Times told us that the global market for all virtual goods - most are sold online (which is twice as old, as it has existed since 2000) was worth 6 Billion dollars, so already in 2008, one third of all virtual good sales had migrated from the web to the mobile phone. And how big is it now? Flurry measured that on the iPhone App Store alone, which made no virtual good sales prior to the summer of 2008 obviously, in 2010 the value of virtual goods just sold to iPhone apps was worth 1.6 Billion dollars - and to put that in context - its four times as much as total advertising sold through the iPhone App Store apps.
Did you know this monster-sized opportunity existed on mobile today? Virtual worlds. Virtual goods. Came out of nowhere, earning far in excess of 3.6 Billion dollars already in 2010. I warned you that this was a long blog but the story is complex. Am I giving you value? Are you learning things you didn't know - about money-making opportunities that you should know - about an industry that is expanding before your eyes - and haha, also melting before your eyes? I told you I will help you find the opportunties in this industry. But read on. It does get even better.
NON-PEOPLE SENDING REAL MESSAGES
Then lets turn the picture still upside down one more time. So I showed you that we, humans, can buy and consume non-goods, virtual goods. What if there were imaginary persons who could consume mobile services to send real paid messages to us, humans? V-Girl. You probably never heard of it, the iconic service by Artificial Life here in Hong Kong, released in 2002 and selling worldwide for many years and won some awards in 2004. You should have heard of Rovio's amazing Angry Birds game on the iPhone, yes? Well, this past summer of 2010 Angry Birds celebrated their 3 millionth paid downloaded app on the iPhone App Store (becoming the bestselling paid app of all time on the iPhone). Today Angry Birds is also on Android devices and have many million more downloads, and most of their downloads are free. But yes, last summer the industry celebrated that Angry Birds had reached 3 million paid downloads as the bestselling app on the iPhone. Wonderful
Back to V-Girl. It is also a mobile phone game, but it is your virtual girlfriend or boy friend. Not a sex service, its a boy friend or girl friend who needs romance and chatting and flirting, not much more. Its like the adult version of the tamagotchi virtual pet toy from the mid-1990s. Artificial Life celebrated its 4 millionth paid download of V-Girl in the summer of 2008. That was when the iPhone App Store only launched and nobody had even imagined an Angry Birds. And yes, V-Girl is an application but it does not need a smartphone to run. It works on most phones, like most commercially successful mobile services and apps.
Then on how significant thing is this V-Girl? You'd think it wins all the awards and powers Artificial Life to gaming superstardom? That Artificial Life must be one of the biggest gaming companies in the world today? No, its a total side-line business for Artificial Life, they make MUCH MORE money out of their main business - mobile phone and TV interactive services, you know, games and voting and interactive game shows etc for TV, via SMS. That is the real money for the company. Understand what I said. The world celebrated Angry Birds as a record-setting paid app in 2010. A previous game app had sold a million more downloaded units, years earlier. And that game, while it won many awards and made profits for Artificial Life, is a side-line business, where their main business is SMS-to-TV interactive services! Where is the money in mobile.. Its not in apps
But that was not my point. My point about V-Girl is this. We are creating artificial human beings - V-Girl (and obviously, its counterpart, V-Boy), an artificial person, who will send messages to your phone and you send messages to it! The users of V-Girl do actually send real paid SMS text messages to this virtual entity and it sends messages back (which are of course charged to the users). Can you imagine what this means. The planet's population is 6.9 Billion people. But when we start to add virtual persons, where is the limit? What is the opportunity for virtual people in the future? And when is our virtual girl friend so smart, she can program the household robot to take our dog for its walk haha..
You think only people in Hong Kong can be this mad. Well, what of motorbike riders? Think Harley Davidson if you think from a US perspective. Lets go back to Japan. Honda the motorcycle maker has had for many years the virtual hitch-hiker (an avatar, that can only ride with real world Honda bikers, who sign up to take the virtual hikers for trips). You can monitor on your phone to see where your avatar is, on its utterly random hitchiking tour of Japan, at any time. Cool. Why isn't there a virtual hitch-hiker offered to all motorcycle enthusiasts in every market to build the brand-loyalty?
Or the virtual fishing games (the simplest ones ran on SMS and invented in Finland. Imagine, virtual fishing, via SMS). Or the virtual football/soccer game as a multiplayer real time game but run on SMS, as created by Voxline in Romania. But now this - the Augmented Reality virtual butterflies. Man these are cool. Whimsical. Kids absolutely love them. They are programmed to fly and live in certain areas of Japan - regionally unique butterflies. You can't see them except via the Augmented Reality app on certain handsets. Once you spot one, you have to go catch the butterfly - and if you do, you have an image of it living on your phone. Then you can collect more. You can breed these to create unique new butterflies etc. That is truly 'kawaii' as how the Japanese say cool or cute. Yes. And yeah, while we are on the non-real, you also have the mobile phone based ghost hunts and haunted house finders and Santa Claus finders and augmented reality monsters etc that also already exist.
TIME FOR A SHORT RECAP BEFORE WE CONTINUE
(You think this is heavy reading, imagine me writing this, how many times I had to edit this over 5 days to get it even this 'brief' haha. imagine how horribly long the first draft must have been and we are only about half-way done by now. Please reader, if you are not learning from this blog, please stop reading it. And if you do learn, please don't worry about your time, nothing you could do today right now could be more useful to the rest of your professional career..).
My purpose was to sketch out the opportunity. You probably understood that some obvious services and experiences can 'migrate' to the phone, like our voice calls from the fixed landline, or perhaps our email will go to the phones, or perhaps our internet services, at least maybe some of them, like breaking news, search. And obviously you knew already that there is advertising on phones and we'll be seeing more of that too.
So far, I hope to have convinced you that, first of all this is the fastest-growing industry of all time. Secondly, that your impression that 'the internet changed everything' was actually not quite true, it only changed very many things. But thirdly, that mobile will truly change everything, even for farms, forests and fishing. Fourthly that mobile is more widely spread than any technology before, so its reach will be far bigger than anything ever. Fifthly, that mobile touches us far more than any technology ever could have, from when we are asleep to after we are dead. That kids too young to read will generate revenues for us and retired people will happily learn to use our services.
Then sixthly, that mobile goes beyond humans to other living things from our pets and even our household plants and trees. Trees. Seventh, that mobile will add non-living real things for us to connect to, not just our cars and homes and keys, but even those robots that are coming soon to a shopping mall near you. Eighth, that mobile will invade the assigned value world like our money and our voting and passports and licenses. And ninth, that mobile will connect even to non-existing things in the virtual worlds and augmented reality worlds. And tenth, that we will be creating virtual people, who will be consuming mobile services on our behalf.
I hope you can agree with me, that the opportunity for mobile is the biggest opportunity for invention and innovation and economic impact since ..almost anything really.. bigger by far than television or the telephone or the internet or the personal computer or the microchip. Bigger impact than the car or train or airplane. Bigger even than steam power, the industrial revolution and even electricity, definitely the biggest change of the past 500 years. I'd say its bigger even than the invention of movable type ie the printing press, and the only invention even more important to mankind ever, than mobile today, was the invention of money several millenia ago. Electricity didn't reach everyone - still doesn't reach one quarter of the planet. Literature doesn't reach everyone. Mobile reaches everyone. And nothing has supplanted money before, but mobile has started to replace money now. So its not just that everything we can imagine will be impacted by mobile, whole new economies will emerge delivering solutions to matters that were not possible before - exactly like how the invention of the automobile created new industries for service stations/petrol stations and the motels industry, and forced us to build highways and parking garages for the cars. Mobile will have a bigger impact to the planet than cars did, or airplanes or mass media etc.
WHERE IS THE MONEY
(I hope you didn't just jump here, tsk-tsk-tsk!) Ok, now we have a reasonably complete picture of how enormous the opportunity is for this upcoming decade. Am I giving you value in this blog? Now while we hit 1 Trillion dollars in value in 2008, I have recently provide the analysis to explain that the growth in the next two decades will pass 5 Trillion dollars in value for the mobile opportunity (which would then make mobile the biggest single industry on the planet). That analysis has been widely referenced and I discuss it in two of my latest books so its not really the news now in this blog. But so far the evidence we've seen relates to the first Trillion. I have since calculated the opportunities for a 5 times bigger opportunity to come, much driven by the above facts.
Unless you saw me speak, or read one of my articles or books this past year, you would not know of this 5 Trillion dollar opportunity. So understand. Mobile became the fastest-growing industry ever, and breached 1 Trillion dollars in value this past decade. In the next two decades, mobile will grow so strongly, it will become the first 5 Trillion-dollar industry ever on the planet. You have not missed out on this opportunity, if we have only done 20% of the eventual size of this industry so far. 80% is still there to be won! Am I giving you value in this blog? If Carlos Slim is not careful, he may find 4 other multi-billionaires passing him for richest on the planet haha..
Do you understand why the world's biggest internet company, Google says their strategy is 'Mobile First'? Why the world's biggest PC company, Hewlett-Packard decided to buy Palm the struggling smartphone maker (HP was already making its own smartphones). Why the world's biggest software company, Microsoft, has launched an operating system for mobile phones. Why Apple, the company formerly called Apple Computer, dropped the word 'computer' from its name when they announced the iPhone and today Apple calls itself a 'mobile company'. Why the BBC has created a mobile phone solution to let UK consumers see all BBC content on their phones. Why Warner Music says all music will end up on phones. Tag Heuer the watchmakers sell phones. Armani the clothing makers sell phones. Knorr the soup-makers introduced a co-branded Knorr-Nokia phone in Brazil to help sell Knorr soups and food products, as the Knorr phones had an inbuilt cook-book embedded into the cheap non-smartphone basic Nokia phone. Etc etc etc.
CAN YOU GET TO THE POINT?
So now lets go for some big picture lessons. The first point. I like to say in my workshops and consulting, the safest way to find the big opportunity, is to go where the biggest growth area is, within the biggest growth industry. So we now know yes, that mobile is the biggest growth industry. What areas are the biggest areas of growth within this industry? And I am not talking about 'users' or 'downloads' - I am of course talking about the money. Where is the money?
You probably knew that the Apple iPhone App Store had been paying some handsome sums of money to its developers. This past summer Apple celebrated 2 years of the App Store's existence and announced it had paid out 1 Billion dollars in revenues to its app developer community (for paid downloads, there obviously are also free downloads). That means that Apple had taken in about 1.4 Billion dollars, so that after Apple's own cut of 30%, they still had 1 Billion left to pay the developers. That sounds amazing. Wow. This must be the most amazing opportunity that Tomi will talk about.
No, actually, that is the second WORST opportunity in mobile. You heard me right. The second worst. I am not saying you cannot make any money with apps for the iPhone (and Android, Blackberry, Nokia are no better, all are as bad), but I can promise you this - of the next 100 millionaires in mobile - and I am talking of those who remained in the industry earning money from it, not by creating a company and selling it to someone else - of the 100 next millionaires who remain in this industry and earn their millions from mobile revenues generated within it, 95 at least will have learned - some of the hard way - to not waste their most valuable resource - their own time - in struggling with the second-worst performing part of the best industry in the world.
Please ignore everything you have ever read about apps and consider this for a moment. If the app store consumer-downloaded app opportunity is the second-worst performing part of this industry - and no matter what you heard or believed of its supposed success, it means by definition, that dozens of BETTER opportunities exist to make money with mobile today. TODAY. You do understand what I say? Am I giving you value in this blog? Am I qualified to make that bold statement? Who wrote the book and is referenced by his peers as the expert on where money is made in this industry?
Why is it so bad for app store style apps. Remember, I didnt say they make no money, only that its a miserably bad opportunity, in a sea of affluence. Let me just put it into this context. Lets make this really simple, and lets pretend the 1 Billion with the iPhone App Store was all earned during 2010. How relevant is that? Lets compare 'apples to apples; so lets only look at mobile data. So lets take the 1.1 Trillion dollar industry and remove the 'hardware' parts of the industry first, (lets not compare Nokia and Motorola and Blackberry phone handsets to your opportunity, I trust you are not planning to build a factory to manufacture mobile phone handsets). The hardware is about 200 Billion dollars, from phones to accessories to network infrastructure. Then lets remove the voice calls. I trust you are not trying to create another Skype and re-create voice calls to phones. The voice calls of Vodafone, China Mobile, AT&T, Telefonica etc are worth another 600 Billion in very round numbers. We are now left with the 'mobile data' opportunity, which includes everything from basic SMS text messages to 3G videocalls and the mobile internet. That includes those Apple iPhone App Store apps as well. And all mobile advertising revenues etc. The data service revenues for mobile. How big is that? Try 295 Billion dollars in 2010.
So, you can go play with that puny little part of the 'mobile data' industry, where 0.3% of the revenues are generated, on the Apple iPhone platform which is in the pockets of 2% of the planet. Or you could take say, a rival 'mobile data' opportunity where 40% of the revenues are made - and on the mobile data solution which is used by 61% of the planet. You get my point? I am not saying you cannot make money in apps for smartphones. I am saying, if you are intelligent enough to read this blog, you know to STOP IMMEDIATELY your development of any apps, and pause and regroup. If there is an opportunity that is what - 12 times bigger in revenues, and what, 20 times bigger by active users - then lets at least examine if we can get into that instead? Right?
Good. You are with me on this. I am not saying 'never' make apps. There are certain situations yes, when they can be great. But today in 2011, it is a fool's errand to try to make money with apps. There are many very trusted analysts who have already said, the app space is a waste of effort (currently) because of over-hype and over-crowding and lack of revenues and utter lack of profits. Meanwhile that alternate opportunity I mentioned is quoted as being the most profitable technology, service or solution commecially sold anywhere, of all time. Yeah, take 'difficult to make profits' iPhone apps or rather 'most profitable technology of all time'. Which is the smart thing to do?
ITS NOT WHAT YOU THINK
So what was that biggest opportunity? Yeah. SMS text messaging. Simple, stupid, basic SMS text messaging. The ITU said the world sent 6.1 Trillion SMS text messages in 2010 (ie 200,000 every second). ABI Research reported last Tuesday that the world now has 4.2 Billion active users of SMS text messaging. This is a number that is almost impossible to fathom. Email had 1.4 Billion users in 2009 (both Radicati and Netcraft agree on this number). Email is still the second most widely used service on the internet (only search is now used by more). Social networking like Facebook etc, is far smaller by total number of users than email. Yes, we spend far more TIME on Facebook, but in terms of total users, email is far bigger. And SMS? Is THREE times as big as email. There is no contest. SMS is less than half as old in how long its been available, yet grew to three times the size. All markets report email usage is plateauing or declining among heavy users like the youth, while SMS is growing dramatically in the same segment.
There is honestly nothing we can compare to SMS. Cars? SMS is 4x bigger. Every car driver has a phone in the car and far more than half of us have texted-while-driving. Credit cards. SMS is 2.5x bigger. And SMS can be used to deliver credit card services. TV? SMS is 2.5x bigger, and major TV shows earn huge incomes now with SMS - think American Idol voting. Finland became the first country where the biggest revenue source for the TV industry is no longer advertising or subscriptions (or licenses) - its SMS.
SMS can deliver almost anything. Our messages. Coupons. Advertisements. News headlines. Jokes. Poems. Religious greetings. Horoscopes. Money. Discounts. Tickets. Airline boarding passes. Alerts. Votes (from anything from television shows to national elections). Crime alerts. Emergency warnings. The Obama SMS announcement of Vice Presidential choice of Joe Biden. And tons of games of every sort. And SMS can deliver money to other media from television to yes, the internet - remember Habbo Hotel invented this model a decade ago.
You sound disappointed? I am not here to sell you silly fantasies and hope and hype. I am here in this monster-long blog that killed my New Year's holiday, rewriting, re-editing and cutting this story to reasonable size, for one purpose only. To tell you the truth. Where is the commercial opportunity now, in 2011. To help you become a success, to earn your first million, or to deliver customer satisfaction or help your students learn better or help your patients be cured or help your voters connect with your campaign etc. For you to understand mobile, whatever you do, whatever country you are in, you first have to study basic mobile messaging. And in almost every case that starts with SMS. And you have to internalize one thought.
AS ADDICTIVE AS CIGARETTE SMOKING
SMS text messaging was found to be addictive in numerous serious international university studies. Its a proven medical fact, that SMS is as addictive as cigarette smoking (says Queensland University study in Australia). Now remember what we learn about heroin users. There is no amount of logic or reasoning that can change their behavior. It is addiction. That is what we are talking about. Think about any smoker you know, who has tried and tried to stop smoking. How difficult it is.
SMS text messaging is proven to be addictive. As addictive as cigarette smoking. So if you understand this point, you will no longer be surprised when the new numbers come out for 2010 that SMS usage and revenues 'surprised the analysts' and did not turn into decline. And that in 2011 SMS usage and revenues 'again surprised the analysts' and did not turn into decline. And in 2012 SMS usage and revenue 'once again surprised the analysts' and did not turn into decline.
I have understood this fact, because I was the first author to explain that SMS was addictive (I was not that smart to have somehow discovered this, I was writing based on the global messaging survey that my department ran when I was still employed at Nokia back in 2001. I was literally the first manager-level guy in the world to know this fact, and have said it repeatedly, that SMS is addictive to every audience ever since). So that is why you can go back through the past 9 years and see Tomi's forecasts for SMS to be the most accurate in the industry, every single year!
If you find out that there is some fact that is mis-understood by most major published experts and analysts (most experts have repeatedly promised SMS to plateau and decline) - this is a MAJOR opportunity to make profits for YOU. It means YOU have insider information. The rest of the world is mis-informed and you can take advantage of their misunderstanding.
Am I delivering value to you? You see why I want you to understand, that EVERY service to EVERY sector I discussed in the long essay so far, can be delivered via SMS. You do not need a smartphone for them. You can do them via SMS. Not as elegantly, not as 'sexily' and not in as cool and pretty way. You may not win 'design awards' if you launch your solution on SMS today. But I was not writing this blog to help your ad agency or digital agency win some silly award. I wrote this blog to help YOU make your first million in mobile. And its single greatest likely opportunity starts with - but does not end with - SMS.
So how much money are we talking about? Remember the 'amazing' iPhone App Store, which in its first two years managed to sell 1.4 Billion dollars worth of paid apps. That is your context. Now how big is SMS? 119 Billion dollars per year. That is what SMS text messaging is worth in 2010 alone. How big is that. Well, lets compare. What should we take? Lets take the global music industry. Lady Gaga and the Rolling Stones and Madonna and Shakira and the London Symphony Orchestra and all that? The global music industry. How does it compare? Well, lets take actually the Hollywood industry instead, all movies released this year with Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney etc, but not just Hollywood but Bollywood and all other movies released worldwide also in Nigeria and China and Russia. Their total box office of all movies globally, which is bigger than the music biz. Or wait, lets compare to the videogaming industry because that is bigger than Hollywood. Now how big is SMS? SMS alone is as big as videogaming, and Hollywood and the music industry - combined!
The music recording industry started in the late 1800s. Cinema launched a century ago. The first videogaming computer was built in 1951. So those other three industries have all had between 59 and 130 years to grow. SMS text messaging was launched commercially in Finland in 1993, so its gosh, 17 years of age now, and towers over those three famous glamorous industries that have made many famous artists into millionaires. Why do I say mobile is the best opportunity in our lifetimes? Because the facts tell us the truth; the truth about the money.
Every single industry in the world can improve their customer service with SMS. Take libraries, in Finland they send you notices when your book is due, and you can renew the book loan - via return SMS. This is customer service! Dentists, hairdressers, doctors, will send reminders of your appointment and if you cancel, they get instant replacement customers via SMS. Imagine the relief. Your tooth aches. You are scheduled for your dentist tomorrow afternoon. Suddenly you get the SMS that there is a cancellation at your dentist, do you want the slot today at 4:30 PM. You immediately respond, yes! This is ultimate customer service.
No, thats still peanuts. Take this. Finnair the Finnish airline invented the SMS based airline ticket check-in and boarding pass via SMS back in 2001. (yeah, its now available on all continents, on most airlines, no biggie). But you know what they now did last year to it? This is the ultimate. Try doing this on paper-based tickets with your frequent fliers sitting at your lounge in the airport, haha. Finnair know when check-in has closed for a given specific flight, in real time, how many seats are still available in business class. Its too late to sell new tickets to those seats (check-in has closed). The aircraft will fly with this passenger load come what may. So how can they use SMS to increase the profitability of Finnair? This is magical. They will next go in the sequence of their priority class customers (first Platinum level, then Gold level, then Silver level, then regular) passengers, and make a discounted upgrade offer, just for that flight!
So, you have already paid for the flight. You have already been assigned a seat in economy class. You'd like an upgrade. You really don't want to pay the full price of the upgrade. Then suddenly Finnair says, hey, wanna buy an upgrade. This trip only, here is the discounted price to get into business class. You can pay by frequent flier miles, or by your registered credit card on this phone, instantly, and be upgraded! First come, first served.
This is customer service! This is the future of the upgrade. This is why Finnair has been working to get every frequent flier to register their mobile phone numbers and to use mobile check in. This is as close to ultimate win-win as possible.
And you cannot do this on smartphones only! Yes, the Finnair service is on the principle of 'no phone left behind' (as is Kraft's motto) so yes, you can do it on SMS, on MMS, on WAP, HTML 'real internet', and QR codes and on Java app and on branded Finnair smartphone apps on all major platforms. The very latest technology they now use is called iSMS. The point? It can be done with SMS. I can deliver fantastic customer experiences for any industry! Any industry! with SMS. I bet you did not know, that the biggest opportunity, that can cover literally every category of service ideas and concepts I have outlined in this long story, can be delivered with SMS today, in every country, to every phone. And that the biggest opportunity for you today, in mobile, in 2011, is still SMS.
THEN COMES MMS
So you have not had enough? You really want to know what is part 2 to your strategy of earning your first million, eh? Well, its again not what you think. Its MMS. You may think of MMS as a clumsy, expensive picture messaging service that you hate. Fine. Be that as it may. Here are the facts. MMS earned 31 Billion or 32 Billion dollars in 2010, depending on whether you believe the numbers of Portio, or of Research and Markets. Regardless, MMS is the fastest 'minor industry' ever to breach 10 Billion dollars in value, as it achieved that in only 6 years. Last year when the world was in its economic crisis and everybody saw their industry revenues shrink (many media industries literally, catastrophically, and many a magazine and newspaper didn't survive the crisis) what happened to MMS? MMS grew users by 20% and grew revenues by 12% WOW ! While SMS is the biggest money story in mobile today, MMS in its first 9 years has grown even stronger than SMS did in its first 9 years!
How big is MMS? Remember that user number for email at 1.4 Billion users in 2009? At that time already MMS had shot past email to become the second biggest messaging platform on the planet (behind SMS obviously) and had.. 1.7 Billion active users! And why have you not heard of this? Because half of all MMS revenues are earned in Asia. MMS is no secret here.
In North America and Europe, MMS has to fight to get any attention. In Europe and America we have many rival powerful multimedia platforms, like... television and the internet. In the Emerging World (most of Asia like China, India, Indonesia etc) the TV penetration rate is only 17% and internet is only 13%. But 40% of the total population here has in their pockets, a phone that can receive MMS based multimedia content.
Yes, multimedia. That means video clips and sounds and longer text-based news and media content, as well as pictures. MMS is the ultimate media platform. The ultimate why? Because only MMS can deliver video, sounds, pictures and long-form text (and coupons, ads, offers, money, web links etc) to... 3.4 Billion pockets in the world. Yes, exactly twice the reach of television! No wonder Asian media giants are all going madly into MMS and many European media brands are in it, and even Americans are waking up to MMS.
Take "Pretty Little Liars", the hottest new TV show on ABC television in the USA this Autumn season, the youth TV show. Did you know that ABC made an MMS based promotion to talk to the audience weekly, that was built around delivering a 'secret' to the young girls watching the TV show? Yes, using MMS, yes in America. Would this work? You betcha. How many of their audience volunteered and signed up for the secrets? 12% of their core audience!
But hey, thats still amateour level performance. In China all major newspapers have released an MMS version of their newspaper, that delivers "tomorrow's news today" ie short previews of what will be in tomorrow's paper. Delivered twice daily. PAID premium news service. BRANDED mobile news, Branded PAID news. This is what New York Times or Wall Street Journal would love to do, and desperately try on the iPad. Wrong media, wrong concept. The answer is MMS. How well is it used in China? 40% of the total newspaper reading audience pays for these premium news items (which are also delivered via SMS for those with simpler phones and reach every economically viable person in China).
WHERE IS THE MONEY TOMI
The big money is in SMS and MMS. Both are growing dramatically even in dire economic straights. Both are applicable to almost any industry (SMS literaly to every industry). And when I say any industry, I do mean it. Take cars. Take BMW. They ran an award-winning ad campaign on MMS in Germany. The campaign cost 120,000 dollars in total costs including airtime and creative effort. It yielded measurable direct sales to BMW worth... 45 Million dollars! They had a 30% conversion rate. Not a 'click through' rate, a conversion rate. It means that three out of every 10 who received the offer, showed up at an authorized BMW dealer to buy. This is the power of mobile. That isnt' anywhere near the world record by the way, its about average of what mobile can do in advertising. So don't even entertain any thoughts that 'click through rates' of 2% to 5% are somehow 'spectacular (even when those already are 10x better than on the internet).
Or take L'Oreal the make-up brand. Lipstick. Eye shadow. That kind of stuff. Nothing digital about make-up. L'Oreal was running a series of mobile 'engagement marketing' campaigns on Blyk's service in the UK, using MMS, and achieved 30% response rates! Try that on your banner ad or interstitial or pre-roll ads on the inter-webs.. MMS is the second biggest opportunity in mobile today, growing faster than SMS did in a comparable point in time. I am sorry you may be disappointed, but now is the time to go study mobile messaging, and not email or instant messaging, but to study the basics where all the money is: SMS and MMS.
Ok, voice services on mobile. We have tons of premium - yes premium - services that can be delivered via voice. In India alone, 100 million dollars worth of 'radio' services are delivered as premium voice services on the voice channel to phones - in thousands of villages beyond the reach of radio stations.. If you have a phone, you can pay to listen to cricket scores or the latest news or the hottest songs from the big Bollywood movie.
Not just radio. What of 'ringback tones' (a ridiculously lucrative digital music bonanza, which is - get this - impossible to hack or copy. It is immune to piracy!). These are not the same as 'ringtones' you may know. Ringtones are yes the first mobile value-add service and yes, worth much more than all Apple iTunes digital songs sold globally to iPods. Ringtones is a multi-billion dollar industry all by itself. No I am not talking of ringtones. 'Ringback tones' are something totally different, consumed in a different way and yes, utterly impossible to hack or steal or copy. A famous early example of ringbacks had a Chinese musician give his song away for free on the internet 100 million times - and after everybody who could ever hope to like the song, he released his song as a ringback in China - and made 22 million dollars. Awesome! Music moguls the world over are loving ringbacks, as the best way to monetize music on mobile. The best way. It was again just verified to me by one of Malaysia's biggest music labels two months ago. But this is not a blog about music.
I meant to point out the opportunity in voice ie sound related services. So we have things like spoken news (remember 800 million reading-age people on the planet are illiterate and hundreds of millions more are functionally illiterate). And things like translator services. And all sorts of sounds, including yes, the fart app for the iPhone. The voice side of mobile can be huge.
THAT, WHAT IS NOT CRAP
Then after SMS, MMS and voice, we have the fourth and last king of mobile: WAP. Yes, that famous 'WAP is crap' idea, which so many claimed had died. No it hasn't. WAP is huge, alive and well, and a fantastic way to make money on ..practically every single network in the world.. and works on 95% of all handsets in use.. and for most of the common internet services, like Google search or Amazon or the Weather Channel or Financial Times or sports or cartoons or almost whatever you want - the basic 'internet-like' service experience can be delivered via WAP. How much will it kill you? A good iPhone app will cost you 30,000 dollars to develop and takes your agency a month to create. A good mobile web site on WAP will cost you 3,000 dollars to develop and is ready in a week (assuming your agency is reasonably competent) and will reach an installed base of handsets that is 50 times bigger than the iPhone. And WAP offers per-click billing theoretically on all networks (the contract negotiations may be lengthy and painful depending on the country) which the iPhone does not. Hello? What am I missing in this picture. You do understand why Kraft says 'no phone left behind'.
Almost every example listed in this ridiculously long article can be made on WAP. Many of the world's best mobile services ARE made on WAP, or including WAP. Flirtomatic that I talked about as the most innovative MONEY making service in the mobile world - says the best payment method is WAP billling. So said CEO Mark Curtis just in Cologne in Germany earlier this past summer. Don't let your ad agency or digital agency bamboozle you that WAP is crap. They are lazy, they don't like WAP because it is limited compared to all the cool sexy Flash stuff you can do on the 'real internet' which is heavy to consume traffic, looks good on an iPhone but won't work on 98% of the phones. They will have a harder time winning their awards on WAP and WAP skills are more expensive and mobile web design takes much more effort because of the optimization, but if you do WAP well, you can win global awards - again witness Flirtomatic.
Or take the Hockey News, a print magazine from Canada. They give the weekly news about the ice hockey leagues like the NHL. The Hockey News, like practically all print titles in the economic downturn, were seeing a decline in print sales. So they launched a mobile magazine, developed by Polar Mobile. Not as a smartphone app, but as a WAP magazine, so it works on all phones in Canada and the USA where the Hockey News is sold. What happened? They achieved 300,000 paying new readers on the mobile service! This without significantly cannibalizing print sales. But here is the kicker, with the mobile service, they turned the circulation decline of the print magazine around, and in the 2008-2009 season, they increased the print sales of The Hockey News magazine by 5%. Who does this in print anywhere? INCREASED print edition sales while attracting nearly a third of a million new paying subscribers! Come on?
But even with this story of awesome success in WAP, when you talk to most media 'experts' about mobile, they will peddle to you that silly tired story about putting your print magazine onto the iPad or perhaps do an iPhone app. Silly. An app will not create for you new readers, increase your revenues and increase your print sales. Today for print titles, an app is truly crap. The real solution is WAP. And then if you want to know truly awesome 'mobile phone magazine' concepts and advertising, we need to go to Japan again, and look at the youth fashion magazine on mobile, called Girlswalker. That is the future of youth magazines and youth advertising, their average ad response rates are 45%. And a clone of Girlswalker can be deployed in any country to the youth market using WAP. But lets leave Girlswalker for another day, I promise you, you will get the full story on it as well.
Forget everything else. Forget any cool stuff you may have heard of on any other site, by any other famed expert or pundit or guru. Forget all that is now being peddled by others about mobile, whether Bluetooth or WiFi or 'the cloud' or video or HTML or apps or whatever. The mobile industry is the biggest opportunity for innovation in our lifetimes. It will soon help you propel to successes in all sorts of cool things like Augmented Reality and 3D displays and so forth. That will come. This blog is not about the future. This blog is not going to let you waste your most precious resource - your time - on anything except the most relevant. Today your opportunity starts with mobile messaging, with SMS and MMS. After those two, it is still more likely that you can make more money today with voice and WAP than any other technical ability. Those are the four where you start. Then when you are making money with your first million, then yes, lets explore Java and HTML and Bluetooth and cool stuff beyond these basics. But the truth is, that the money today is made in SMS, MMS, voice and WAP. Anyone telling you anything else is not competent to advise you. And if you, after reading this blog, put your primary effort into anything other than SMS, MMS, voice or WAP, then you are taking a deliberate risk, ignoring the biggest revenue and profit opportunties, on the off-chance that after 11 books, Tomi is somehow wrong and you are right. Good luck :-)
Do not for one moment waste any effort of money, of time, of staff resources or even of reading and learning, about smartphone apps. I do not mean this only about iPhone apps, I mean all smartphone apps also on Android, Nokia/Symbian/Ovi, Microsoft Phone 7, Blackberry, Bada, LiMo, whatever. Smartphone apps is the second worst-performing opportunity in mobile. Do not let your mobile developers, your mobile team, your mobile strategy guys etc, do not let them play with the smartphone apps today - until they have delivered for you a working, functional, money-making, profit-generating portfolio of simple basic mobile services on SMS, MMS, voice and WAP.
No matter what you do, whether you're associated with the coolest digital content and brands like Disney or MTV or whether you are in the most competitive digital industries like advertising or videogaming. First you do the 'no phone left behind' part and EARN YOUR MONEY. Then when the money is coming in (or your ad campaign is getting over 30% response rates on SMS and MMS) you can let your team start to play with apps. And for the record, the apps start with Java today, not smartphones. Smartphone apps will not be earning you meaningful profits for many years to come. Mark my words. I said it first on this blog, and today the increasing consensus among industry analysts and experts of the smartphone apps space is that they are not earning profits currently. Who told you first? I know my sh*t. If you trust this blog article, stay away from apps, it is not the fastest way to you becoming a success.
And for the record, where Apps is the second worst, the ultimate worst is of course 'Location Based Services' ie LBS. Very quick facts. Gartner counted that the world had 96 million total users of location-based services in 2009. That is sad. Its 2% of the mobile phone subscribers. But this blog is about the money. ABI research reported that all mobile LBS service revenues in 2010 were worth 560 million dollars. That is under 0.2% of all mobile data revenues globally. LBS was not invented with the iPhone. No, LBS services were introduced exactly ten years ago. In ten years it has had pathetic growth to reach half a Billion dollars in value worldwide. It is literally the worst-performing sector of our industry. You would have to be certifyably insane to suggest LBS services today, with that track record - as any kind of mass market strategy including LBS advertising (but note, even LBS can be a lucrative 'niche' opportunity and even the worst-performing sector in this dramatic growth industry will earn some surprise success stories).
So I have also briefly shown you in highlight form the 'big picture' facts and stats, that the two most popular stories about the mobile 'opportunity' are false promises. But you do not need to believe me on these points now. You have arrived to the end section of this blog. I know your head aches from all the dramatic unbelievable but true facts you have taken in. Now it is really important for you to get some perspective and let your brain absorb what it gained, and then to start to consider your next steps.
THEN THE PERSPIRATION
Of course after you have your inspiration (this blog) next you need your hard world. As Thomas Edison said, invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. That will tell the difference between the pretenders and real contenders. But in this blog you have been shown the way. It is now up to you. And I want to make this obvious point - I cannot guarantee that you will become a millionaire (or a Billionaire) but I have shown the easiest way to get there, the path of least resistance. You still have to have luck. You still have to work hard. You still have to execute smartly. You have to pick your markets and offers and prices and do your marketing and customer service etc. But mobile is currently the fastest-growing (giant) industry in the world. So whether that is the fastest-ever, it is currently the one with the most opportunities for you. Better than say selling shampoo or tootpaste or toilet paper or hotel rooms or airline tickets or hybrid cars or diet cola. And of this opportunity, I have shown you where the big money is today. Now it is up to you, to take this insight and make your career choices, as driven by them.
You have discovered that the world's biggest economic opportunity had been going on, under your nose, for the past decade, but you somehow missed it. Don't worry, so have most of your colleagues and rivals. The good point is that you are here, today.
What is relevant now, is that you are one of the world's first people to see the truly complete picture. I am dead-serious about this. Even in my latest book (that came out three weeks ago) I did not explain the full extent of this opportunity. Yes, you honestly are among the first people on the planet to see the totality of the opportunity (I mean, from before we can read to after we die, even as we sleep, and beyond humans to pets, plants, trees, cars, devices, robots; to abstract things like money, to non-real things beyond reality). You are ahead of the game now. You really are. Don't despair.
Then you are lucky not to have only been shown the scale of the opportunity, but also been shown where the real money is, in it! And here, you find that most of the published articles about mobile opportunities will tell a different story - and then this Tomi Ahonen dude has here, kindly, explained to you in meticulous detail why those others are wrong, and definitely - that whether the others are wrong or right - that there at least exists a much bigger opportunity than apps and LBS, that almost nobody told you about before - SMS, really? Who knew? And MMS, gosh, thats incredible! and what was it, WAP is not crap? Holy crap, that is astonishing. But the evidence he gave so far, is compelling.
WHEN YOU KNOW THAT YOUR RIVALS DON'T KNOW
Now the smart person thinks - if I know now something my peers do not (the true scope of the opporunity) and this is literally the biggest economic opportunity in mankind's history - and I also know now that possibly (maybe likely) there is a huge misunderstanding of where the real economic opportunity may or may not appear - and this guy gives massive evidence of where an alternate - far bigger - opportunity already exists - gosh, then this will change 'everything'.
You cannot sell your house based on this article and resign from your job and move to another country etc. This is only the 'eye-opener' article. Now you do need to do your homework. Now you need to think, and do some serious follow-up study, and start to plot your cunning plans of where you think your career future is. What is the role of mobile in retail or in education or in insurance or in tourism or catering or whatever business you are in, or are interested in. But this article hopefully was able to outline the full opportunity for you, for this upcoming decade.
Yet your life changed today. Today your eyes were opened. Today you 'got the light'. Today you understood why and how. Most of all, today you were exposed to the deviously hidden real opportunity to make money (or success or career or votes or healing or learning etc) with mobile.
So you bookmark this page. And then you may want to take a break now. Go reschedule the next hour. Cancel your next meeting. Your mind needs a break. There was too much in the past hour. Go do whatever you like to do to relax, go to the gym or go for a jog or go listen to music or go for a walk or drive or whatever. And let your mind absorb it. Is it possible that you have just been given the keys to the magic kingdom? Is this like a strange moment in time, when some lucky person learned about where the current real wealth is being made - and real wealth, no con artist pyramid schemes etc... Real honest business by real honest paying customers. Dogs, plants, trees, robots, virtual roses, the augmented reality butterfly, the virtual reality girlfriend. Trillion dollar in value, 295 Billion out of mobile data, 4.2 Billion SMS users who sent 6.1 Trillion messages earning 119 Billion dollars, more than music, hollywood and videogaming. And the next opportunities are MMS, voice and WAP. A 120,000 dollar MMS service that generated 45 million dollars in new sales for BMW? A math service that increased national math scores by 14%? A mobile ad on MMS for L'Oreal with 30% response rates? A WAP magazine that grew print sales by 5%. The melting ice cube. Wow. This changes everything. And it does give one a headache..
On second reading when you come back this article will give you much more. You may want to read it with a notepad and take notes as you go along. But don't worry. There is a reason why those regular readers of this blog keep coming back, and why my consulting customers keep inviting me back for more consulting, and why my book publishers ask me to write more books. I am here, I will be here for you. My personal motto is 'in a connected age, sharing information is power' so that is why I share these lessons with you. But we are not done.
HOW TO GET THERE
Then lets accept, you now know the full scope of this opportunity and want to get up to speed the fastest way possible. Even as this monster-long blog article meanders through 24,000 words (thats more than two full chapters in a normal hardcover book by the way), it cannot give a reasonably thorough overview of your opportunities now. But lets understand the information enigma that anyone faces.
The industry has had two epicenters of innovation in its 31 year history, which were Japan and Finland. Out of all meaningful inventions and innovations to this industry, that have endured and become profitable business, more than half were invented (or commercially launched) in either Japan or Finland from mobile voice calls (Japan) to SMS text messaging (Finland) to the mobile internet (Japan). Finland's big contributions were around the SMS, WAP and MMS era of early mobile data concepts, while Japan's primary contributions come in the 3G and apps era of more advanced ideas. But to be clear, even today, the app store? Not invented by Apple. invented in Japan by NTT DoCoMo. The best-selling game on that iPhone or Android? Angry Birds, yes, created by Rovio - from Finland. You like the videcalling feature on the iPhone, Facetime, that now this past week got a rival on the iPhone from Skype? Who did the first videocalling service on 3G phones? NTT DoCoMo of Japan.
And the 'most amazing' app of them all, was featured on CNBC's end-of-year technology show last week - the 'Word Lens' is an iPhone app so unbelievable, many who see the YouTube video believe it is technically impossible, and think the video is a fake. This is of course the instant real-time cameraphone translator, which sees a street scene of shops, with a sign written in Spanish, and will display the same image on the cameraphone's screen, the same scene of the shops, but the sign is translated into English. Wow, this is magical! This is unbelievable. Yet its true. That service is winning all sorts of awards and accolades.
And it would be cool and great, except that the cameraphone dictionary, exactly that same concept, was first launched yes, in Japan, as Kamera Jiten, by a company called Enfour. It used to be one of my favorite stories that I would end my presentations with. When I spoke at Mobile Monday San Francisco, I included the example of Kamera Jiten as what I wanted our industry to seek to do, in attempting to create magical experiences. And when was that? It was in my presentation in San Francisco in October of 2007. So something Tomi shows three years ago, when adopted to the US market, can be so incredible in 2010, it is what CNBC showcases to the world as unbelievably advanced. Haha, yeah. I like it when 'my' stories spread, no matter how they spread..
THE EARLY PIONEER
If you found this opportunity a decade ago, and wanted to learn from the leading markets, the only way was to go and live for a couple of months in Finland and Japan. That was when massive mobile ideas were launched in those two countries from mobile banking to TV-interactivity to mobile news to mobile advertising etc. But imagine if you did take those early ideas in 2001 from Finland and Japan and launched them in say France or Spain or Malaysia or Australia or the USA or Mexico or Brazil or Russia. You'd have retired rich onto your own island by now.
But in 2002 there was finally a book that explained how the mobile industry made its money and showcased over 180 service concepts, more than half of which were live real-world examples. And as the author was a Finn and he happened to have studied Japan also very closely, the book featured essentially all relevant early innovations from Finland and Japan. That was my second book, M-Profits, obviously. So from 2002, you did not need to go do a pilgrimage to Finland and Japan, but rather, you could read one 80 dollar hardcover book, cover to cover, and see the whole breadth of the scope of this opportunity and would have had countless real world examples to copy and adapt and deploy.
And just to illustrate a bit. In the book M-Profits eight years ago I showcase as already existing commercially launched services including these, that have had award-winning services and apps now in the past two years: when is the next bus (or subway train) coming in real time; spoken translation services; airline scheduling notices; location based navigation and maps; location-based advertising; remote patient monitoring; news on SMS and on WAP; ad-sponsored free mobile news; location-based apartment finder; TV show previews and plot updates for soap operas; cartoons on mobile; mobile banking; mobile lottery; mobile money transfer from phone to phone; TV show based games on mobile like Who Wants to be a Millionaire; virtual reality avatars; virtual goods for mobile games; the freemium model to gaming; virtual girl friend; mobile check in for airlines; mobile chat; video calls; TV chat via SMS; dating/flirting services; the attraction server; the nightlife guide to the city; mobile auctions; paying for vending machines with SMS; public transport tickets; movie tickets; virtual ticket on phone; mobile discount coupons ie for McDonald's; frequent flier miles as bonus rewards for mobile ads; automobile related telematics; gas water etc metering; home remote control and control; applicance remote control; anti-crime; and customer surveys done via mobile.
That was just a quick selection of 37 services that were all described as already active ie as 'having launched' by 2002. Yet all of these 37 ideas have seen similar releases within the past few years in some countries and were still seen as 'innovative'. Or have recently been in the news for massive adoption levels like the McDonald's mobile coupons in Japan were literally one out of eight people alive of the total Japanese population have signed up for the opt-in McDonald's mobile advertising coupons and offers mailing list.
AND IN 2007
If we jump ahead 5 years, in 2007, the best way to see the world's most innovative mobile ideas, with real services that had been launched, in any one place, was one book. It was still my M-Profits from 2002. While the world was catching up to mobile, and even the 'laggard' markets of North America fell in love with premium mobile phone services from SMS text messaging to the Blackberry and iPhone, it was still my 2002 book that told the industry where the money was, the profits were, and gave 180 ideas on how to make money in this industry.
Yes, I had written several newer books but those focused on specific areas and were not the right book for most readers. My next books, 3G Marketing, Communities Dominate Brands, and Digital Korea, all took a focused approach to the industry, so you, the reader of this long article should not even consider reading one of those books first.
So while my fans enjoy reading all of my books, and most of them have plenty of examples of how to make money with mobile, if you are new to this blog or to my writing, then my newer books after M-Profits were not the right ones to read to get the fast insider-view to the industry. That would not come until 2008
BUT FROM 2008
In 2008 I wrote the official follow-up book to M-Profits, as the book many call my best book yet, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media. For you the reader two points - first the endorsements. Former Nokia President Pekka Ala-Pietila wrote the foreword. It doesn't get more relevant than that for this industry. But there is more. The book is endorsed by Trip Hawkins one of the founders of EA, yes Electronic Arts the world's biggest gaming company; and Daniel Appelquist the Strategy Director of Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile operator/carrier group; Ted Matsumoto the executive VP of Softbank of Japan; and BJ Yang the CEO of Aircross the biggest mobile advertising company of South Korea; and Garrett Johnston the Strategy Director of MTS, the biggest mobile operator group of Russia. They say my book 'adds to the wealth of insights' that I have given and 'builds on his earlier themes' while being 'especially ahead of the pack' - and the book is 'his best yet'.
And secondly, the updated selection of real mobile success stories. With over 100 real world services and apps launched on mobile, that alone is reason to buy the 322 page hardcover book. But by now I know what my readers crave, so the book has 16 case studies of what I consider the cream of the crop, the very best in mobile services and apps today. Each case study has two pages devoted to each of my absolute fave innovations in mobile, explaining them in detail including often user statistics, revenues, etc. So who is in that list of 16 case studies? Many services and innovations you know, like the mobile phone based airline check-in as invented by Finnair; UK's radical free mobile phone service sponsored by mobile advertising called Blyk (today Blyk's engine powers all of Orange UK's advertising and Blyk has since spread also to the Netherlands and India); and yes, that original cameraphone text-translator service Kamera Jiten of Japan; and the global multiple-award winner most innovative money engine for mobile social networks, the UK based dating and flirting service Flirtomatic. Then there are services and innovations I have mentioned in this blog posting like the dentist in Finland, which reschedules dental appointments with SMS; virtual multiplayer gaming for which I showcase the racehorse grooming, breeding and racing game SuperStable from Hong Kong; the 'ringback' example of music earning millions in China; and the Pop Idol/American Idol format and its innovations in mobile interactivity.
And then there are those case studies that you probably don't know yet but should know, because these will be the big successes of the near future and should be copied everywhere. The revolutionary i-Channel breaking news headlines service built upon the idle screen of the mobile phone as launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan. If you think Facebook is clever to do Farmville and other multiplayer games on their social network. Thats nothing new, read the Cyworld case study from South Korea and be amazed how much further that idea can still grow even on Facebook. Then why mobile 3G video services like SeeMeTV can earn tons of money where YouTube struggles to make money. Or similarly, how ringback tones are the way for the music industry to earn billions, literally. Billions. And for those in the print media, how about the case study of how traditional print publishers will make tons of money with books sold to mobile.
Thats just a sampling of the 16 case studies! The book discusses almost every relevant mobile service concept, innovation, business model, service and application that I mention in this long blog, from that world record of retired people voting via SMS in Norway (remember all those words ago in this article?) to the use of avatars in TV show interactivity. Over 100 such examples! For anyone who works in mobile, that book has to be in the bookshelf: Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media.
That was the fastest way to get to 'full speed' in mobile, two years ago. And still the fastest way to do it a month ago. ...Until I released my 10th book 3 weeks ago...
Next steps? The obvious one. I have written a free 340 page ebook which explains much more than this article, and my tenth book is aptly named 'The Insider's Guide to Mobile.' It came out three weeks ago. It is totally free. It has over 100 real business examples and services and apps of excellence and success around the world, including 11 case studies. It covers the basics, the biggest opportunities, how money is made in mobile ie the business models, and the 8 myths that will steer most of your peers and colleagues astray in pursuing this opportunity. The fastest-growing industry in the history of humankind?
It has the full perfect total, complete story - from A to Z. Including not just those two myths about smartphone apps and LBS, explained thoroughly, but 6 more widely held myths about mobile. Not just all these examples mentioned here - you get 11 full case studies of mobile industry brilliance today. That BMW 45 million dollar example? You liked that, eh? Its there. You liked the Finnair mobile check-in and upgrading passengers after the check-in desk has closed, yes, thats in there of course. You liked the museum example of how kids stayed longer in the museum and learned more? I have it too, don't worry. The full story of Girlswalker when I said we can't now get into that level of detail. Its in the free book too. There are complete business case analyses of Flirtomatic's innovative money-making ideas and the amazing response rate performance on Blyk's mobile ad networks, and the full business analysis of smartphone apps. And so forth. And how really unrestricted 'for free' is it? I am not even having you register for some bogus email newsletter to bombard you later. No, when I say free, I mean free!
No matter what you do, whether you already knew of mobile and want to get the 'inside scoop' and study the best examples, or whether you now only discovered the opportunity in mobile and want to have something on your PC or Kindle or iPad and read and reflect and consider, that is what the book was intended to do.
The eBook is not even sent from my website! It is only available on Lulu for free, go get it now. Read that book next. Absorb it over the next few days and let the information sink in. Come back to this blog story a couple of times in the next year, to just refresh your bearings and make sure you have not stumbled along the way.
I am not here to try to sell you my other books either (what is wrong with this guy?). That free ebook does have samples from several - but not all - of my books (why not all?). In the back of each chapter there is a couple of recommended books - some are my other titles yes, but often they are not my books at all, that I recommend, in many chapters I don't recommend any of my own books and only suggest a couple of books by someone else. Why is that? There are several hundreds books written on mobile. Most are way too technical and will not help you. Many are obsolete by now. Many are written by pretty clueless so-called experts who come from the fixed landline or the internet side of the industry, who do not understand mobile and who will peddle the tired myths like smartphone apps and location-based services. So my mission is to help you, the reader who had the stamina to read to the end of this blog, to find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The truth is a Trillion, and Billions and beyond humans even. The whole truth is SMS, MMS, voice and WAP. And nothing but the truth means showing you apps and LBS are myths.
My mission is to help you succeed in mobile. That is my mission. I hope someone along the way, years from now, comes from the audience of some random conference somewhere in the world, holding one of my books asking to have it autographed and says, "Tomi, the first time I learned of you, was when I read your blog in 2011 and you know what..." I hope to steer you to the opportunity. That is why I recommend those books in the back of each chapter. Because they are literally the best books written on those topics, by those people I consider my personal gurus on those subject matters, who know that subject matter the best.
So, after you have downloaded 'The Insider's Guide to Mobile' and you have read it. You next will go to the one chapter that was most relevant to your interests (whether you're interested in mobile advertising or mobile money or the mobile internet or whatever). And at the back of that chapter will be my recommended books. If you are serious about changing your life, and I have given you 340 pages of my latest book for free, what you can afford to do, is to go order the two books by my peers that I recommend at the end of that chapter. That investment will cost you less than 100 dollars from Amazon and then you have read the three most relevant books propelling your career to your first million.
THE MANAGER IN YOU
Some who read this long article are in management, or are perhaps CEOs of start-ups, or run teams of engineers, or are investors with a professional need in mobile today. They will also now go to download the free eBook of course, but will appreciate the facts that were given in this free article but are startled with how much they did not know, and will urgently want now to know more 'facts'. The stats, the numbers, the true facts. The smart executive who learned a lot of new info in this blog, will be awoken to this opportunity, and will want 'all the facts' and want them 'now'.
For those managers, executives, CEOs, investors, analysts, I have two resources with the stats, the metrics, the numbers of this enormous opportunity. For them I have two resources, these are not free, but are incredibly very good value. My TomiAhonen Almanac 2010 is the statistical review of the whole mobile industry, from voice and SMS to premium data and mobile internet, from customers to networks, from handsets to applications, from business to residential customers etc. It exists only in eBook format, only from my website, costs only 9.99 Euros, runs over 180 pages and has over 80 tables and charts with every fact you could hope to see about the overall industry. If you buy the 2010 edition now in January, you will get the 2011 edition for free in February. How is that for a fair deal?
And as a companion volume, there is a handsets-smartphones -oriented partner eBook, that looks at the installed base of handsets, the market shares of major manufacturers, the worldwide spread of the major operating systems for smartphones, etc. It is the TomiAhonen Phone Book 2010, runs over 170 pages, has over 90 tables and charts, and also costs only 9.99 Euros. That was just released last month, so its numbers are all up-to-date. The only place to buy the two eBooks is my website so you won't find those on Amazon or Lulu.
So there. Congratulations. You have made it to the end of the longest article Tomi T Ahonen has ever written online. I hope this blog gave you more than one new fact per minute, and showed you many ways you can make money with mobile, today. When we meet up at some point in your career, and you have your company set up to do that cool thing you will think of, in the area of mobile, please do come say hello to me and tell me what your company does. I love meeting my readers and learning how you used mobile to build a career for yourself, your team, your project, your company.. Good luck and may Mobile be with you.
ABOUT COMMENTS TO THIS STORY
Now, on this blog we have always had the tradition of answering every comment. I will be doing my best to answer all comments again, but am afraid this may provoke many questions and comments, so it may take time for me to get to your comment, do not worry, I will get to them. The one rule I will impose this time for this article - the one comment I will not tolerate any mention of the length of this article. I couldn't care less. My time is valuable. I wasted my whole New Year's holiday drafting and re-drafting and editing and shortening this blog to what it is now. I am not paid for this and there are no ads on this blog, I get no pleasure from you spending an hour on this blog. If anyone mentions the length, even if mentioned in jest, or even if mentioned in support that it wasnt too long, or just hints about the length of the blog, those comments will be deleted without mercy and without mention. There is no other free article written prior to 4 January 2011, that covered this subject matter as thoroughly as I did, that managed it in less length than this blog. In the future yes, I am sure many will be able to explain it more succinctly but not now. So if you the reader cannot appreciate the value of what I gave to you for free, then go away. But don't leave a comment saying this was too long for you. If it was too long for you, then you are not the intended reader anyway, and I have no time for you. This blog is my hobby and occasionally I have something that I consider is valuable, that I want to say to my readers. I know they will appreciate this blog. But even my loyal readers, please do not mention anything about the length - I know it was long. if It took too much of your time, imagine how I feel - It took too much out of MY time..