A look back, into how we saw the future. Exactly ten years ago today, 21st of March, 2002. Lets look at my first book. So ten and a half years ago, on October 1 of 2001, I launched my consultancy. Last year, at the 10 year anniversary, I looked back. I also promised I would look at my first book when its 10 year anniversary would arrive. That is today. Now today it is ten years from the release of my first book, Services for UMTS. I want to spend this blog looking back at that book, quite a seminal book for the telecoms industry, how it was born, who joined me in writing it, and what it said and promised us - including a lot of direct quotations - as it looked into the future of mobile telecoms, into a 3G world. If you have any interest in the history of mobile and how this industry was born, this will be interesting to you. (Long article warning: Yes, this runs 13,000 words, so get a cup of coffee before you start).
Very first point to make. I love books. And of all books, much as I love a good spy thriller or a statistical volume about the mobile industry (haha), my fave category of books is Science Fiction, because to me, Sci Fi has been most able to help expand my mind and thinking. And in a kind of pretend-way, my first published book, Services For UMTS was a kind of Sci Fi book. It was fiction about science - with a very short-term future view. Most of what we wrote about, was expected to arrive within a decade of the book being written. And much of what we did write, did indeed come, so when we wrote the book a decade ago, it was kind of 'Science Fiction' and today only ten years later - it is a history book haha..
I say 'we' because Services for UMTS was a collaborative effort by 13 people. At the time we wrote the first manuscript, all were employees of Nokia. The content came from the 11 experts who each wrote material that went into the book. That was edited by my co-editor Joe Barrett and me. Joe and I also contributed original content to several of the chapters. And there were several dozen Nokia colleagues who offered smaller bits, a case example or a given paragraph or helped review a given chapter etc. 23 Nokia colleagues were named in the Acknowledgements chapter for their additions and contributions to the book giving the total of 36 Nokia employees who helped make Services for UMTS possible.
It is therefore relevant to point out, that Services for UMTS was not strictly 'my' view to the 3G mobile opportunity. The original manuscript was written in the year 2000 and the quantity of text to the book, and the quality of the insights in it, were far beyond my ability to understand the emerging futuristic and complex 3G environment. If I was tasked to write the book by myself, it would have been a 70 page pamphlet haha.. In all seriousness, that book was not possible at the time, except as a broad collaborative volume (when conceived, and the first manuscript written, in year 2000). There was no single person in year 2000 who held the 'comprehensive' view to this magical opportunity and could have written such a volume. But a few years later, that became possible (much because of this book).
BIRTH OF THE BOOK
The book idea came from two telecoms books editors/producers at John Wiley & Sons the biggest publisher of engineering and telecoms books, out of the UK. Mark Hammond and Geoff Farrell of John Wiley had run the first 'Nokia book' project with two Nokia experts, Antti Toskala and Harri Holma, a book called WCDMA for UMTS, that has become the technical 'bible' for the 3G industry. The book has had several new updated editions released and is the standard textbook at university courses etc. Mark and Geoff had seen me speak at a 3G event, and felt that I was exceptionally able to describe the services and applications side of the 3G opportunity. Remember, this was years before the first 3G networks were even launched commerically, yet the 3G infrastructure investment was set to become the biggest global infrastructure project of all time. The Economist would call this the biggest gamble in business history. So Geoff and Mark asked me if I could deliver a book to Wiley around 3G services. They felt it would be quite popular. At the time we had the first discussions, this would have been only the second book ever published on 3G.
I told them I would love it, but would of course have to get permission from my superiors and that I was not competent to write the book alone, so I would need partners to help write it with me. They said that was ok, that was exactly the same model as used with the Holma-Toskala book already and Nokia had already approved this method of working etc.
I then got the approval of my bosses, and with the help of a Nokia 3G marketing executive, Helena Kahanpaa, I created the first draft outline and started to recruit contributors. I had also initially hoped Helena could join me as co-editor of the book - but she declined due to other work pressures. I was happy then to find Joe Barrett to join the project as my co-editor, and his support was invaluable, as Joe headed Nokia's 3G Marketing Messages at the time.
I sent out over 50 invitations to various colleagues to join in the project and had an enthusiastic amount of support, and vitally for the project, at least one of the Nokia experts in every area that I intended for the book to cover. I made it clear, that like with the Holma-Toskala book (and soon several other official Nokia books) this project was not to be worked on during office hours, it was a volunteer project and would be conducted on private time. I promised every contributor that they would get their name into the chapter or chapters they contributed to, if they submitted at least two typed pages of content, and that everyone who would participate in the project would see their names in the book at least in the Acknowledgements Chapter.
The writing and editing work was actually completed rather rapidly in about three months to get the first manuscript finished. We had hoped to release the book in time for the GSM World Congress (now called the Mobile World Congress) in February so the manuscript had to be finished in mid Autumn (of year 2000). We then had all the other 'mechanical' work that still needed to be done, the diagrams and illustrations for the book, all the 'permissions' for the various items, and the cover design etc.
What I had not been able to foresee, was how long the internal approvals lagged at Nokia. It took more than half a year to get the book circulated within Nokia to get various approvals and reviews - it being so much across-the-board in its topic as to touch so many Nokia departments. That meant time had passed from the finishing of the original manuscript. For some contributors it was nearly a year from when they submitted their text, and anyone following this blog and the mobile industry knows, a year is a very long time in mobile. I like to joke that it is a bit like dog years. So a month in mobile is like a quarter (three months) in internet time, and like a full year in human time.
So very much had happened in every area of the book, so the contributors were eager to make updates and revisions to the manuscript, which caused considerable further delay. The updating part of the work took several more months to bring the manuscript to its final form towards the end of year 2001.
With that, the final printed version of the book did not come out until March of 2002, thirteen months later than the initial target date, and even after our very best efforts to try to update the book and make it relevant, the text does convey a bit of that time-lag. In the mean while, many other 3G related books has been released including ironically several Nokia books about 3G. Nonetheless, even when it came out, Services for UMTS was a milestone, and truly a one-of-a-kind, the first book ever about the services and applications for the 3G mobile data opportunity just emerging.
Services for UMTS: Creating Killer Applications in 3G, was the world's first services and applications book for the 3G mobile data opportunity, and in fact the first services and apps book for the mobile industry itself, which had only four years earlier discovered the data content services opportunity (through the humble ringing tone, invented in Finland in 1998).
The book lists 272 mobile services and/or applications in its index, but that number includes duplicates where one service might have multiple names at that time, like for example mobile advertising was also often called wireless advertising at this stage, etc. Same thing, but in the index, would have two entries. The book also has five categorized tables of services accross the main abilities of mobile (Movement, Moment, etc) each with 50 mobile services, giving a total maximum count of 250 unique mobile services or apps mentioned in the book. Not all of those will have further mention than being listed in a table.
More practically, the book discusses 212 unique mobile service or application concepts in more detail, from one sentence to several pages across the 360 page hardcover book. The book includes 20 future mobile service concepts, described in vignettes that run one page each. Some major mobile service categories like mobile commerce, mobile advertising and location-based services have half a chapter to each with several service concepts described in considerable detail within the given category.
If we look at our mobile industry today, and see that much of our time and money - and telecoms traffic - is spent on voice calls and SMS text messages, the youth and heavy users are migrating to mobile instant messaging and chat, we play our games like Angry Birds, we listen to music, we get our news, we do some comparison price shopping while in the stores, we receive advertisments and we pay for our parking, lotteries, public transportation etc on our phones - those are all in the book. Even though the term 'social networking' was not in common use, even 'community' services from fan clubs to community chat services to dating are covered in the book. For its time, it was surprisingly comphrehensive. Equally it did not waste the time of the readers on lots of nonsense, most of the services described are very realistic and literally every one of the 212 actual unique mobile services described in the book as concepts, has since been launched commercially somewhere. Obviously, not all to roaring commercial success but launched nonetheless. Quite amazing considering there was no 3G network in use anywhere when we finished the manuscript.
SOME SERVICE PROMISES
I re-read the book once again over the past two days to prepare for this blog article, and I collected relevant quotations from the book to show what it promised for a 3G future, across different service areas - its main focus. Let me show you what types of insights Services for UMTS had for our readers ten years ago.
I always like to start my consutling and my presentations (and often my blog articles too) with the end-user or customer or consumer. So while this was not a book about 'the consumers of 3G' where it would discuss mobile services, it makes sense to add insights about the consumers. There is actually a whole chapter on segmentation. But let me just take two quotations to show the types of insights - bearing in mind this book came out ten years ago. These are worthwhile comments still today, made about mobile phones.
Talking of the youth, we wrote: "(The teenager segment) can be more or less 100% penetrated (by mobile phones). The mobile phone is frequently their main communication device... and SMS can often be 50% of their monthly (mobile) bill." (p 214). We then make the point about SMS use expanding beyond the youth to adults and even into business uses, by busy managers. We wrote: "There are even managers who, due to the overload of daily e-mail traffic tell their organization to send an SMS if they want urgent responses." (p 193). You can take almost any mobile report from 2012 and it will still echo similar themes, just like the brand new Pew report that came out about youth messaging in the USA, this week.
ENTERTAINMENT AND NEWS
Then if we look at entertainment and news, the media industries and mobile. We foresee a birth of 'micro movies' (about 5 min in length) (p 81). Today there are film festivals dedicated to short films shot on cameraphones. We say there is still growth to be had in the voice side of media, in discussing audio streaming: "A mobile phone like a radio?" (p 93) - will be "ideal service for promotions and advertisements" (p 93). This is like the use of premium voice 'radio' services in India, worth 200 million dollars annually - bigger than broadcast FM radio in fact - delivering anything from Bollywood movie hit tunes, to Cricket sports scores and news. As to suitability of the audio stream to advertising, like radio, we see the same phenomenon in many countries from Turkey to Sweden, using ringback tones as a new and highly successful advertising vehicle.
About games, we write: "Mobile games could be such a big and revolutionary business that a whole book should be written just about mobile games." (p 99). Isn't that true haha, most of the paid content on Apple iPhone App Store is games. Much of the free content is also gaming and/or adver-gaming. Angry Birds has spread from mobile phones to Facebook games and now is in movies, on TV, on T-shirts and there is even an Angry Birds amusement park coming. Truly a huge industry and books are being written just about mobile games.
We didn't finish there. We mention some preliminary concepts of what now are called 'freemium' models. We mention the first level free model which "allows full use of one level of the game (for free) but further levels have to be purchased." (p 156). Again - 56 levels of Angry Birds haha..
And we discuss full free trials such as with news services: "Headline news pages can be sent to subscribers of low cost or free news feed service. If the full story is accesssed by clicking on the headline there is a cost for that content." (p 155). This is very much like the NTT DoCoMo news service, i-Channel on idle screen. It is a case study in my 2008 book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media.
As I mentioned, the 'social media' side of the digital industries is in its infancy at the time. The term 'social media' was not even commonly used. We used the term 'communities'. It would be five years later that Alan Moore and I would author the signature book for this blog, Communities Dominate Brands, as the world's first business book for social networking. So back in year 2000 when we were writing the manuscript for Services for UMTS, there was no Facebook or Twitter, even MySpace and Blackberry Messenger had not launched yet. But we did have some very clever statements about these social networking solutions to come. We just called them 'community' services. For example we wrote of community services as fan clubs: "A fan club of a rock band might share sound clips, pictures, and receive fan mail via their 3G phones" (p 44). One of the first such uses was the Hong Kong pop duo Twins who had these types of services in use on their branded mobile service in 2004 (and Alan and I featured Twins as one of our case studies in Communities Dominate Brands).
Furthermore in Services for UMTS, we explained that community oriented services could greatly benefit from viral spreading of content via what we called 'Frequent forwarder' benefits (p 154) ie viral bonus points.
CONVENIENCE AND UTILITY
A lot of the early gains from mobile would be in the areas of more mundane daily chores. But again we did a very good collection of such uses across many areas such as our daily commutes, when we wrote about 'Intelligent Time Tables' ie where is the nearest bus stop, which bus takes me to my destination, when will next bus arrive (p 56). These types of mobile services appeared soon after the book was launched, perhaps most famously the Kizoom service in the UK for the London Underground trains and their notoriously unreliable service.
We said in the book: "Ticketing is likely to be one of the early successes of mobile services." (p 136). And it turned out to be. Today you can do train tickets, bus tickets, airplane tickets, subway train tickets, movie tickets, tram tickets, parking fees etc. In Sweden mobile payments of tickets were such a big hit success that in 2010 they stopped accepting cash as payment.
Another clever view we had was about seat selection (pricing by value of seat and available inventory) when we discussed "optimized dynamic seat pricing" (p 137). This took a longer time coming, but we see it now for example with Finnair, the airline that invented the mobile check-in service eleven years ago. Finnair now has more than half of its fliers using mobile check-in services, and last year they started to offer customized one-time upgrade services to frequent fliers, via mobile. So they are selling discounted upgrades to business class, at the literally last moment, as passengers are already in the airport terminal and ticket sales has closed for that given Finnair flight. This is only possible through mobile. But we foresaw this back ten years ago in our book.
Another obvious benefit was queue-busting ie "avoiding standing in line" (p 137). We said about this, that it "is the most compelling benefit of mobile ticketing" (p 137). How true and how insightful. Now we see such solutions in anything from yes, the airline check-in that allows us to avoid standing in the check-in lines at the airport to amusement parks that issue premium tickets that allow visitors not to stand in lines, to hotels that offer mobile solutions including the room keys delivered directly to the mobile phone - as well as handling the payment after the stay - and again, hotel visitors can avoid the most annoying part of any hotel visit, the delays in the lobby waiting to be processed for check-in our check-out.
And truly to the mundane, how about your utility meters? The electric meter, gas meter, water meter, etc. We wrote that "(Reading utility meters) can - and should - be automated and read remotely. There would be less error and far less cost." (p 177). Again how true. In Sweden already by 2010, 20% of all mobile phone subscriptions were 'machine' subscriptions, many of those were this kind of telematics uses, reading utility meters etc. In India farmers use mobile solutions to control their irrigation systems etc.
Today one of the hottest areas of mobile is of course advertising. The book devoted about half a chapter to various early concepts around the mobile advertising opportunity. We wrote for example that "Mobile advertising will bring about a new opportunity for advertisers." (p 143). We said that was because mobile ads were the most personal, and even our virtual representation would be on mobile, and mobile allowed most precise targeting "along the lines of how Amazon sells books" (p 143).
Wow. That is all 100% accurate today, and still today, it would be main lessons in any mobile advertising workshop or course to the advertising industry. The comparison to Amazon is - as regular readers of this blog know - still today one of my main examples to prove that data mining of our behavior need not be 'creepy' spying of consumers, and can deliver truly delightful - and desired - advertising experiences. We all love the personalized book recommendations we get on Amazon. But also look at the mention of mobile becoming 'our virtual representation' - this was also amazing insight ten years ago. Its like Honda's K-Tra service in Japan today for Honda fans, to create avatars of themselves, to become virtual hitch-hikers and have an adventure with some real Honda bike riders touring Japan. They have completed over 1.8 million kilometers of such virtual rides, over 1.1 million miles.
We also talk about Adver-tainment (p 146) and we then make another astonishing statement: "3G provides an opportunity to make advertising less disturbing, and in some targeted cases even welcome." (p 147) !!! Yes, 'advertising that is even welcome' - sound familiar? This is the mantra I preach about in my mobile advertising keynotes and workshops on all six continents. And it is not impossible, see Amazon, see Blyk, see OutThere Media, see Qustodian etc
We talk about retail and mobile coupons, and explain the benefits of mobile phone coupons (again, remember, this was before anyone has used m-coupons in retail anywhere) - "(In retail, from mobile advertising) the store gets immediately measurable data on which coupons were redeemed, and can measure how successful this campaign was." (p 149). Look at how aggressively now for example major retailers from Tesco to Carrefour to 7-Eleven are moving into mobile.
And that is all good and well. What was perhaps one of the best passages in the whole book, is the one explaining the virtuous cycle that can be created, if the mobile experience is executed well. Read what we wrote: "If the subsequent ad campaigns are built upon the previous customer data, then it becomes a virtuous circle, where each message gets closer and closer to the true preferences of the customer, and the customer's purchasing behavior will evolve more and more to that merchant, which in turn will focus its product offering ever more to its loyal customers." (p 149). Without calling it such, that was the thesis of the primary gains from what Alan Moore had invented and called 'Engagement Marketing'. Obviously that one sentence is not the same as Alan's complete marketing upheaval, but it did capture the primary benefits to all parties involved. And this is what then Blyk illustrated with their engagement marketing based communication processes. Where one advertising project for a given brand was not a single ad campaign, but rather a series of engagements over say a 2 week period, by which the communication gets ever more fine-tuned and personal. It is exactly the point, and the gain, as we outlined. And this is the cutting edge of mobile marketing today. Not bad for our contributors to write about more than a decade ago.
And finally, what of the rewards to the recepient of the ads. Again a revolutionary concept back ten years ago, we suggested that "Viewing of an ad would result in a small gain to the person viewing the ad." (p 154). That was in the forms of credits or points that could be turned into awards. Hey, this is again the model we now see from Blyk to Qustodian.
If mobile advertising is in full swing and accepted as a success in mobile, the mobile money side is still quite contentious today in 2012. We have some big money industry players, like Visa for example, already committed, that the future of payments is mobile. But others in the banking and financial industry still doubt whether mobile will replace cash or plastic. So for this last services group there is less consensus, but the trend in opinion is forming to align with what we wrote about mobile money.
But lets examine what we wrote about mobile payments and money. We wrote: "The electronic wallet of the future is not a smart card or any other separate item in your pocket, it is integrated into the 3G phone" (p27). This is a profound point, when made ten years ago. Yes today increasingly there are many in the digital money space who are coming to this view, but ten years ago, this was a radical and revolutionary view to the future. And highly controversial. We specifically said it won't be plastic, not even the new smart cards, but that digital money would be through the mobile phone. Today, yes, we see this in advanced mobile money countries from the Philippines to Japan to South Korea to Kenya. But when we were writing the manuscript, none of those services had launched yet.
We wrote that the money attribute of mobile services is "the magic key to profits" (p 28). I really laughed out loud reading that, as it is clearly a very early version of one of my mantras today, when I preach in every presentation worldwide that Mobile is the Magical Money-Making Machine.
A more practical point, and once again, very radical for its time, was that we saw the role of mobile money in the distinction of content on the internet, and content on mobile. We wrote: "(Micro payments) will enable the migration of content from the fixed internet into (the mobile internet)". (p 48). Wow. Again, remember, this was written before there was a Habbo Hotel - the first commerically successful attempt to accomplish that - to use mobile to collect payments from internet service users. Today Habbo is the world's largest social network and virtual world for teenagers and we made it a case study in Communities Dominate Brands.
We also saw the uses of payments for small fees like parking. We wrote "(Paying for small fees) will be extended to parking and maybe even to parking fees." (p 172). Mobile parking payments were being invented at the time we wrote the book, first deployed in Norway. Today for example in Estonia you can't pay for parking by cash anymore, so we have another area where mobile has killed cash and the book was very foresightful to point out parking as one such use. In a similar area, the London Congestion charge can be paid by mobile, so we have other driving and parking related fees. What of parking fines? The UAE became the first country to allow paying car related fines including speeding and yes, parking fines, via mobile.
Again, the book reflected truly insightful views from those who had studied that part of the industry. We wrote that the (primary) utility of commerce on mobile is convenience, not price (p 46). Wow. That is so true and is proven in daily uses from paying for public transportation to lotteries to parking etc. The convenience more than any other gains.
If that was all the book provided, even now, ten years later, the book is a very rich collection of very deep insights into the mobile industry, and obviously those points are all valid today, issues that many recent 'experts' are now reporting as their magnificent discoveries. But wait. That was just the services side of the book. I told you we wrote a kind of 'Science Fiction' book about the near future, mostly across the next ten years. What did we write about the near future? Quite a lot, actually. It is most revealing:
BACK TO THE FUTURE
First on the 'one web' debate. Is there going to be one internet that embraces both the PC world and the mobile world, or will there be two distinct internets. That was a hot debate much through the last decade, and the prevailing view today is that the two internets are different and distinct, that they require their own optimizing. So many experts now say that the legacy PC based fixed internet - what I call the 6th mass media internet - is best optimized for larger screens of desktops, laptops and tablet PCs like the iPad. And a separate mobile services world is optimized for mobile, and can yield poweful benefits and service opportunities not viable on the legacy internet. I call this new mobile opportunity obviously the 7th mass media chanel, or mobile. Today many have come to support that view from such industry bodies as the Associated Press to the MMA to companies from Tiffany's jewelry stores to Google. The recommendation from the big gurus is increasingly that you need to optimize for mobile, not copy the fixed internet onto the small screen. But note, not all agree with this view. I just laughed at Microsoft's Bing just this week, on Twitter, when they said - not unlike a caveman - that they think there should only be one internet haha. Clearly Microsoft still doesn't understand mobile.
Back to our book Services for UMTS. What kind of guidance did we give ten years ago to our readers. Check it out. We said that both the PC internet and mobile internet will co-exist. Neither is better and they will not merge (p19). Wow. That was truly radical ten years ago and I personally took a lot of heat for it for many years since (but never faltered on my personal view which obviously is 100% in line with these statements).
A more practical view was this that we wrote contrasting the legacy PC internet and the new mobile opportunity: "It is probable that over 90% of the current internet content is not suitable in its current form for the mobile internet" (p 46). And look at this statement along those lines: "It is likely that the content providers will recognize new opportunities to make more money in the 3G mobile internet than on the fixed (PC based, legacy) internet." (p 338). Yes! this is exactly what for example the Associated Press is now telling us when they said in 2011 that while the newsmedia was struggling to make money on the legacy PC internet, they have found it easier to make money on mobile! Wow. That was a great call ten years ago. Wow.
Then how about an absolute statement. We felt that the best short-term opportunity in mobile was this service that had not even launched yet when we wrote our manuscript: "The biggest impact that we will see in the short term will come from MMS." (p 199). Yes, in years 2004, 2005, 2006 many were complaining that MMS was a total dud and a massive failure. Yet MMS kept growing. I was pointing out that MMS was growing users and revenues faster than SMS, which itself was the fastest growing digital service by users and revenues, of all time. Today MMS has 2.5 Billion users - more than total internet, 50% more than total television sets. More than twice the number of total unique users of email. MMS is about 3 times as big as Facebook by users. And revenues? Oh my gosh. Try 39 Billion dollars of MMS service revenues in 2011. By far the fastest-growing new service by revenues, ever. And remember it is not so much a person-to-person picture messaging medium - even though we use it that way as well - it is primarily a Multimedia platform, for news delivery, for music, games, TV shows, magazines etc to connect with fans and audiences. Did we get the call right? Wow yes.
We also wrote that "The 3G phone is the ideal gaming platform." (p 100) and we listed as some of its benefits the relatively high-resolution screens, pocketable, penetration rates, always on, multi-player and addictive. Look at the iPhone. Look at Angry Birds. Yes, the original Nokia N-Gage was premature and didn't fully capture this opportunity, but the iPhone changed all that, and remember, it was not the first 2G iPhone that was the big gaming hit. No. It was - as we wrote - the 3G version of the iPhone, that finally became the most used gaming platform, ahead of all Playstations and Wiis and Xboxes and Nintendos - as measured by Morgan Stanley in 2010.
And what of this interesting tidbit. I wonder if someone at Apple ever read this line we wrote on page 9: "(We see a future with) internet browsing tablets to enhance and supplement their TV viewing" (p 9). That was not early crude tablet devices of the start of the past decade. But the iPad of today? It is perfectly true today, the perfect couch potato gadget to supplement TV viewing.
Of the handset design, we wrote about voice controls: "(In the future)..keyboard size is no longer an issue, as most commands can be carried out by speech, which is the most natural of all input devices." (p 108). Think of your Siri today and how rival voice assistants will still evolve.
FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
But of the longer term use of mobile, the biggest single change is.. social networking. Or 'communities dominate' haha, as regular readers of this blog konw. This is how we phrased it in the book ten years ago: "Mobile chat will probably revolutionize the way we use and consider our mobile phone." (p 123). Again, we didn't say watching television or placing videocalls will change the way our phones rae used. We said 'mobile chat' and now look at what we do with Facebook, Blackberry Messenger, Twitter, QQ, Mig33 etc. Facebook just reported in February that now they have passed the point where more than half of all users access Facebook via mobile phones. Yes, the single biggest change, and we made the right call ten years ago. That is pretty darn good for a forecast.
And check out this claim. I did remember that Alan Moore and I made this point in our book Communities Dominate Brands. I had forgotten that the point was already in my 2002 book, Services For UMTS about the future of social networking: "the next step is for these (virtual communities online is) to go mobile" (p 45). That - THAT is a bold promise indeed, when few phones in use even had WAP at the time. But in the last few years, all major social networking services have joined in the choir, saying yes, all social networking will go mobile. We did say that first, in a book, literally ten years ago. Wow.
FUTURE OF MAD
Then lets look at promises about mobile advertising. We believed strongly in mobile advertising and devoted half a chapter on it, yet we also wrote this warning: "It is quite likely that 10 years from now, all other forms of advertising will still remain, and mobile advertising will have become just another channel to consider in any advertising campaign." (p 143). So totally true. And consider this bit of advice: "While (location-based push ads) are likely to become one part of the total mobile advertising opportunity, it is likely to be a marginal part of the mobile advertising equation." (p 148). So utterly completely true! Yet year after year we have seen the new converts to mobile advertising offer the silly location-based ads that continue to live only in the fringes. We didn't say they won't exists. But recognizing they will exist, we argued they will be marginal in contribution. We were 100% right on this point. Very very impressive, considering how prevailing the location-based ad myth is still today.
What about mobile and the law? We talked about the use of mobiles in the cars, for texts and games, and foresaw that one day there will be laws and fines against taking our eyes from the road: "Break the law and get caught? There will be a fine." (p 173). Haha, more and more countries and US states are implementing various don't text and drive laws (and I obviously totally support that, texting while driving is very dangerous). Good call ten years ago to foresee this.
We looked at the non-human use of the mobile technology and promised "The (Machine-to-Machine) population (of mobile/cellular devices)... will dwarf the human population." (p 49) We also gave a quantification of that scale saying: "Later in the 3G lifecycle (the M2M device population) might be ten times that of people." (p 49). Wow. 'Later' in the 3G lifecycle, would be reasonably in the 2nd decade of what was expected to be a 25 or 30 year life of a 3G network. So till about what, 3G launched 2001 so this would aim for not now, 2011, but around 2021. What did Ericsson say last year? That there will be 50 Billion connections on the cellular network world. And we will reach something like 5 Billion actual unique humans connected to the mobile networks (out of a population of 7 Billion, bearing in mind that today's 5.9 Billion mobile subscriptions includes multiple connections and already hundreds of millions of M2M connections). So pretty good eh? If Ericsson's projection for this decade is right, then around 2020 the ratio of human to machine population in cellular will be about 1 in 10.
We also made some more whimsical forecasts like the one about remote control toys with 3G phones: "(It will become possible to) create a temporary roving robot out of a child's remote control toy (and use the) 3G phone with its in-built video camera." (p 181). This is like the various iPhone oriented remote control toys like the remote control airplane etc.
THE SCALE OF MOBILE
But we also looked at the very big picture. And again the bold statement: "It is inevitable that majority of users, the best content, and most of the money will migrate (from the legacy PC based fixed internet) to the mobile internet." (p 338). Back in 2000 when we wrote this, there was almost no evidence of this. The early WAP type 'mobile internet' services were often poorly received and slow and very expensive. Yet by 2010 half of the world's internet users accessed the web via a mobile phone ('majority of users') and obviously today most of the money is already on mobile, it only remains to see if 'the best content' will also land on mobile. If we listen to such expert groups as the Associated Press, they were convinced in 2011 that the best place to make money for news organizations was not the internet, it was mobile. Will that drive best content? You can bet your bottom dollar on that. But that is one projection we cannot yet call, although the evidence now is starting to become compelling.
How big is big? We wrote that the mobile services business will be worth 1 Trillion dollars after 10 years of launch of 3G. (p 340). So that means by 2011. Mobile did it a bit earlier in fact, year 2010, but yes. To reach one Trillion dollars in value. Check.
The book spends about half a chapter on mobile payments, mobile money and mobile banking. We made again quite brave predictions such as: "(in the more distant future) your salary onto your mobile wallet every month." (p 209). This was first done in the Philippines and South Africa years ago. Today increasingly we see this happening from some of the most advanced countries like South Korea to some of the less developed like Kenya.
And another view with incredible foresight. We said you could withdraw mobile cash from regular ATM/cash machines (p 95). That is now increasingly possible in countries around the world. But it was quite an amazing idea back a decade ago.
Again, for a book whose manuscript was written in year 2000, when there were two Coca Cola vending machines in Finland that accepted payments via SMS, it was a bold view to suggest that in the future we would see a "mobile enabled cashless society" (p 29). But here, again the wisdom of the group was incredible. While we believed that cashless society would come, we wanted to warn our readers not to expect it soon in the 3G life cycle writing: "We may not see in the near future the total cashless society." (p 208). Haha. Good call. The first country with a target date for ending cash, came out last year, from Turkey, who have pegged their target date as 2025 when they hope to end the minting of coins and printing of banknotes. All killed by mobile money.
In the book I also included a feature of 'Vignettes' to help describe the future when 3G phones and services were common. Each Vignette was on one page, describing the user benefit in half the page, and the technical and other implementation issues in the second half of the page. The Vignettes were very popular at the time. They were all written by me, and all were near future projections of what would be coming from the future. It is now funny to look back at them. The 20 Vignettes were:
Vignette 1 - Picture Postcards (from mobile) ie MMS picture messaging
Vignette 2 - How long will this rain last? (Location-based personalized micro weather forecasts)
Vignette 3 - betting on overtime results (at sporting events)
Vignette 4 - personal loans via mobile
Vignette 5 - personalized ads (location-based)
Vignette 6 - greetings for the whole gang (at work, via videocalls)
Vignette 7 - personal portal on company intranet (think Facebook)
Vignette 8 - online card games (ie like Bwin poker today)
Vignette 9 - is there milk in the fridge/video camera & videocall
Vignette 10 - birthday cam (3G cam when dad can't be at birthday party)
Vignette 11 - cinema tickets virtually on mobile phone screen
Vignette 12 - my car my secretary (reads my emails to me)
Vignette 13 - immediate feedback at conferences (think Twitter)
Vignette 14 - downloading MP3 songs directly to phone
Vignette 15 - videoconferencing via 3G phone
Vignette 16 - live sports video via 3G phone
Vignette 17 - pay bills directly from phone
Vignette 18 - intimate pictures from romantic partners & spouces
Vignette 19 - competitor analysis news to phone
Vignette 20 - click-to-talk, click-to-buy
When I wrote those, each of the 20 Vignettes was only a vision of a possible future. Today, every one of them has been launched, and most of those are quite commonplace and would not surprise mobile phone owners that it is possible. Some like Vignette 2 (location-based personal weather forecasts) were launched to great fanfare but didn't become big business. Others like Vignette 9 (camera in the fridge) were more the standard descriptions of the near future but aren't commonplace even today (these come from time to time, I just saw this past week a rice cooker announced by Panasonic that had its remote control ability on a Panasonic smartphone).
But others among them, like Vignette 5 (personalized ads), Vignette 8 (poker card games), Vignette 11 (cinema tickets) and Vignette 14 (downloading MP3 songs) are totally unspectacular and not even newsworthy today. But also - I like the ones with a bit of a human twist like Vignette 12 (my car my secretary) and Vignette 18 (intimate pictures by lovers) which did nicely foresee the kind of human behavior that emerged in the past decade - even though we often see it on the harmful side from Texting-while-Driving to various celebrity romances suddenly splashed on gossip magazines showing explicit private pictures shot on cameraphones by ex-lovers.
And while there was no Facebook or Twitter twelve years ago, it is pretty nice that I foresaw some of their uses in the business/work environments, and especially via their mobile users, as in Vignette 7 (personal pages at work intranets) and Vignette 13 (immediate feedback at conferences).
THE TOOL OF THE 5 M'S
Perhaps the biggest actual valuable contribution to the industry was the first public unveiling of the tool of the 5 M's, as the industry service creation tool for mobile. I developed the 5 M's tool with Joe Barrett and later we heard from Motorola's Paul Golding who helped develop the tool even further and today it is more commonly referenced as the 6 M's. The original 5 M's were: Movement, Moment, Me, Money and Machines. After Paul's contribution, we split the 'Me' Attribute into two, 'Me' and 'Multi-user'. Many mobile data specialists and lecturers and consultants use the 5 M's or 6 M's tool still today and I hear from miscellaneous colleagues that it is an essential tool for them still today in exploring mobile service opportunities. Already seven published books and three university Thesis publications mention the tool. I think it is probably the single best lasting legacy of the book. The 5 M's has its own chapter obviously.
SO MUCH MORE
Services For UMTS was the first major published survey into the richest innovation opportunity of humankind's history. Among the 212 services covered there was so much more, such as telehealth, enterprise solutions, SMS text messaging, SIP services, MMS, cartoons, MP3 music phones, adult entertainment, WAP, videocalls, dating, click-to-talk, mobile chat, mapping, crossword puzzles, vending machines, forwarding offers and coupons, remote metering, remote surveillance, home zone, infotainment, taxi services, VPNs, Java apps etc etc etc.
About half of the book was looking specifically at the possible services. But this being 3G mobile, the most complex giant industry ever, and nobody had written about the full ecosystem and its challenges, nearly half of the book discussed the other necessary parts, including segmentation, branding, loyalty & churn, bundling, competitiveness, MVNOs, billing, capacity, Greenfield operators, number portability, partnering, value chains, revenue sharing, product life cycles and the ARPU. And there were still whole chapters on the 3G Business Case, and a 3G technical primer.
When it was launched, the book Services for UMTS broke new ground in almost every chapter. We were quite literally the first people to publish thinking (in a book) at the time on these very complex and difficult matters. Now looking back at it, ten years later, I am amazed at how right we got the big picture. However, we did not get it all right, haha.
In 360 pages about a future where that technology is not even in use yet, there are bound to be mistakes. Any forecast about the future is bound to be inaccurate. That is the nature of forecasting. We did get it incredibly right on most of the big points. But it was, of course, not 100% accurate. What were the big mistakes. I counted four big boo-boos:
One of the biggest mistakes in this book was our view about location. We wrote: "Location will often be an integral part of the service to the point that without it the service would not exist." (p 42). That turned out to be almost totally untrue. Location-based services have been THE worst performing part of any service categories covered in the book, or indeed of the whole industry. Almost any location-based service today can be deployed on alternate means without the specific location-positioning info. With a few niche service exceptions (in-car navigation, parcel tracking etc).
For example location-based advertising? So you do the 'targeting' based on location? When you do the same targeting based on opt-in and personalization, it is far more useful and produces far higher rates of success. Or if you love Augmented Reality, sure, you can do that on a smartphone with the right type of camera access technology (not all smartphone platforms allow this, haha, like Windows Phone does not, but 'the obsolete' Symbian of course does, but lets not talk Nokia strategic madness here haha) if the smartphone has the GPS positioning, and the compass feature. But did you know you can enable Augmented Reality also via other means like QR codes for example. Yes. You don't need positioning data to do Augmented Reality (but often it helps haha). Well, at least we weren't the only ones who got this wrong. Still today thousands of ignorant start-ups build their business case out of some silly location-based idea.
What about my personal view? I learned quickly. Already in my second book, M-Profits, I reversed my position on positioning, and issued the warning that location-based services might not be the goldmine we had hoped. That is what real world data does to you (if you are honest).
Another big mistake was on video calls. We certainly got the timing totally wrong. It is conceivable that maybe, in the long long run, we will turn out to be more right than wrong. But today, ten years after the book, this is a 'liar liar pants on fire' type of promise when we wrote: "After five or ten years we may wonder how people could ever have used phones without seeing each other." (p 112). Its ten years from now, and if we get an incoming video call on our 3G phone, odds are we freak out and don't take the call, its that rare for most of us haha.. Yes, we got that totally wrong (but also, I immediately reversed that position as the early data started to come in, and said so in my next book).
A surprising failure is that of the mobile phone (and usually location-based) guide to finding a home to buy or rent an apartment, house or flat. "Searching for a flat via 3G phone might be much more common than via a newspaper only a few years from now." (p 138). These were launched in the early part of the decade in many countries and by mid-decade we heard they were not a commercial success. This baffled me for a long while, because the benefits were so obvious and 'logically' this was a service area where the rewards should have been very rich. But it failed from one market to the next. I talked with some companies who had developed those concepts and found out that it relates to the frequency of use. If we commute by bus or tram, we need the payment twice daily, and when mobile ticketing is introduced, we learn it really fast. If we commute by car, and park on the street, paying for parking by mobile could be used daily, and again we learn fast. But most normal consumers do not change homes every day, or every week, or every month, or even every year. We may discover that there is a house-hunter feature available (as a service or an app) when we are actually in the need of a new home, but that might be once in a decade. After we have signed the paperwork, we have no need for this service, perhaps for the next decade. The usage model is very poor and the service has failed because of that. Its a case of a very nice elegant technology, desperately in search of users. No wonder it failed.
And the fourth major failing we had in our view to the future was the in-car services. We wrote "The in-car segment is one area that could prove to be very lucrative." (p 168). That is not a fully faulty promise. Some in-car services grew to make good money and for a while the in-car navigation was a healthy premium service led by TomTom. But then came the in-built GPS mapping on smartphones and soon the bottom fell out from the in-car navigation part, the 'killer application' for in-car services. Yes, still today we have security systems around GPS positioning, and alerts and even 'pay as you drive' insurance for cars. But did the in-car service opportunity turn out to be 'very lucrative' - no. Not a failure, but not very good either. A modest success perhaps. So we were clearly too optimistic on this part.
I re-read the full book, and I can say those were the four biggest mistakes we made. Out of 21 significant forecasts about the future, that we got 17 right (or likely to be right with data supporting today that we will be proven correct) and only 4 wrong, is what forecasters rate an excellent record, for a 10 year time span. Astonishing. 81% of our major projections for the past decade turned out to be true and only 19% proved out to be wrong.
But also, being honest, we did say in the book quic clearly that there were no guaranteed winners, this industry needed trial and error to find the successes, and that many surprises would emerge.
The book Services for UMTS was, with hind-sight, an exceptionally accurate preview into what services and apps in the mobile industry would look like ten years later. Exceptionally accurate. Far more accurate than any major industry reports of the time. One could call it 'uncannily' accurate. And that was not my achievement - that was due to the actual content providers to the book - the 36 colleagues at Nokia who helped make it such a powerful volume.
Services for UMTS was released on this day ten years ago, by John Wiley & Sons, the world's biggest publisher of engineering and telcoms books. They certified it a bestseller. That was a proud moment for us. But being 'a' bestseller means you are in perhaps the top 3% of the books sold in that category. It is not 'the bestselling book' of any given time, just one of the bestsellers. Still a great honor, in particular when stated by the biggest publisher of the industry. What I could not expect, was to find Services for UMTS as the world's bestselling 3G book of September 2002. I took a screen shot of the bestseller list as reported at the 3G Newsroom (and based on Amazon sales data for the month of September):
Services for UMTS was the best-selling 3G book for four consecutive months, when 3G was about the only topic people talked about in mobile. For the full year, it finished as the fourth-bestselling book even though it was only sold for barely over 9 out of the 12 months of the year.
Services for UMTS went into multiple printings and editions. That is a great honor for any author. What rarely happens, however, in technology books, is to be translated. That is rare, because in high technology, books very soon become outdated, so the translation will tend to be a hopeless task. I was not expecting to see this book translated. So I was utterly stunned when Mark Hammond contacted me from Wiley to come and take a look at the Chinese language translation of Services for UMTS. But yes, there it was. My 'baby' had been translated! This is the cover of the Chinese edition of Services for UMTS:
Since then several of my books have been translated into several languages and one of my books was subsequently even serialized in a tech magazine. But this was once again, a moment I never in my wildest dreams imagined happening. Not only was I a published author, our work was deemed so valuable, it was translated. And its kind of cool to be translated into Chinese, the biggest population, the biggest mobile user base, and the country to become the biggest economy too, one day. I was smiling broadly for a week after that and showing everybody my one copy of that book in Chinese.
So, this was not a 'Tomi Ahonen' book all by myself. I would get many of those to come. This was the most collaborative of all of my books, where I was not even the sole editor, and in addition to 13 contributors, we had another 23 other experts help complete the book project. This was a project of extremely broad collaboration and the result speaks for itself. I therefore want to mention all who participated in Services for UMTS.
Let me first list, in alphabetical order, the 'other' Nokia colleagues who assisted with the book, who were not named for contributing to individual chapters. These were named in the Acknowledgements chapter and each assisted in some way, from giving us individual service concepts (like my 'Pearls') to helping with some of the calculations, to the editing and focus of the book. I want to recognize: Michael Addison, Petro Airas, Paul Bloomfield, Claus von Bunsdorff, Reza Chady, Nicole Cham, Ebba Dahli, Jaakko Hattula, Julian Heaton, Merja Kaarre, Heikki Koivu, Timo Kotilainen, Ukko Lappalainen, Harri Leiviska, Carina Lindblad, Matti Makkonen, Timo M Partanen, Timo Poikolainen, Ilkka Pukkila, Paolo Puppoli, Spencer Rigler, Vesa Sallinen and Hannu Tarkkanen. All were with Nokia at the time.
Out of these I do have to mention a few whose contributions were considerable and could have merited mention within some chapters. Ebba Dahli, Nicole Cham and Merja Kaarre had supplied a large part of early actual services mentioned throughout the book through their assistance in the Nokia-wide project to collect 'Pearls' for my Consulting Department at the time. These were invaluable in validating early concepts described in the book. Hannu Tarkkanen, Timo M Partanen, Petro Airas and Vesa Sallinen were behind most of the business modelling that formed the Business Case chapter, through their regular work as senior members of Nokia's econometric modelling teams. Reza Chady and Paul Bloomfield provided a lot of the consumer insights that were used in the book.
And three Nokia 'bosses' need exceptional mention. Ilkka Pukkila as the immediate boss to both Joe Barrett and me, Ukko Lappalainen headed Nokia's 3G technical side at the time, and Matti Makkonen (his Linked In, his Wikipedia page) as my mentor and the informal godfather to the Nokia Consulting Community, provided invaluable guidance overall to the themes of the book. Ilkka was instrumental in the revision work between the original 2000 manuscript and the final edition, in adding 'community' focus to several parts of the book - what we would today know as 'Social Networking'. Ilkka had already seen this vision and felt this book needed more of that type of focus. Ukko's support and review was felt in the trust that the book was technically credible. Matti of course had influenced much of the very basic thinking of the mobile data future of the whole Finnish telecoms industry so his mobile visions live on almost every page of the book.
Then we had those who did the 'heavy lifting' and actually wrote for the book:
WHERE ARE THEY NOW
Tomi Ahonen - I left Nokia in September 2001 to start my own consultancy a little before this book was published. Since then have written 11 more books about mobile and moved my consultancy from London to here in Hong Kong. I continue to lecture at Oxford University, no longer on topics about this book but more modern topics such as the 7th Mass Media. My website is http://www.tomiahonen.com and my Linked In page is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=2956067 and my Twitter Feed is @tomiahonen. For the book I contributed to 13 of the 15 chapters and also wrote the 20 Vignettes. I was the lead contributor to 5 chapters: the Attributes, the 5 M's Tool, the Money services, Business Case and Postscript chapters.
Jouko Ahvenainen - left Nokia before the book was released, worked in consulting with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, then helped run Xtract and now is with Grow VC. Jouko wrote the foreword to my third book 3G Marketing. Then Jouko released his own book Social Media Marketing with Ajit Jaokar, Alan Moore and others. Jouko now lives in the UK. His website is http://www.joukoahvenainen.com/ and Jouko is @jahven on Twitter. Jouko contributed to 3 chapters: the Marketing, Competitiveness and Partnering chapters.
Russell Anderson - is still with Nokia but does all kinds of stuff in the marketing and creative industries of Finland. His website is http://russellanderson.me/ And Russell's Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=611684596. Russell was the lead contributor to the Services for 'Me' chapter.
Joe Barrett - left Nokia soon after the book had come out, to join Flarion which was later bought by Qualcomm. Joe is now the Senior Director of Strategic Marketing at Qualcomm and based out of his native UK. Joe's Linked In page is http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/joe-barrett/0/b7b/69. Joe contributed to 12 chapters. Joe was the lead contributor to 4 chapters: the Intro, Machine Services, Types of Services and Competitivess chapters.
Frank Ereth - I have lost touch with. Last I heard he worked for Nokia but that was many years ago ago. Frank was the lead contributor to the Partnering chapter. I tried but was unable to find Frank's digital whereabouts, so if anyone reading this blog knows Frank, please ask him to get in touch and I'll update this paragraph with his digital contacts.
Harri Holma - continues at Nokia, on the side of NokiaSiemens Networks and together with Antti Toskala they have continued lecturing at Oxford University about the future of mobile broadband and continued writing books about it. Harri's Linked In page http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=7508067 and his Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=571363630. Harri was the lead contributor to the Tech Primer chapter.
Paivi Keskinen - Paivi left Nokia already before the book came out, and had a career in consulting with HiQ and Omnitele, then returned to Nokia first via Nokia's consulting unit and today is the Senior Manager of Portfolio Planning for Nokia. She has since married so her name now is Paivi Keskinen-Redford and her linked in page is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=18650966 And her Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/paivi.keskinenredford. Paivi contributed to 2 chapters and was the lead contributor to both: the Movement chapter and the Moment Services chapter.
Ari Lehtoranta - continued at senior posts at Nokia until 2008 when he changed employers to join Kone, the giant elevator-maker of Finland where he is now Executive VP of Central and Northern Europe, and a member of the Executive Board. The Kone announcement of Ari's appointment is here. Ari contributed to two chapters: the Types of Service and the Competitiveness chapters.
Canice McKee - left Nokia before the book was launched to join DBTel and then worked in several companies until returning to his native Ireland where he is now Business Development Manager for Lincor Solutions in Dublin. Canice's linked in page is http://www.linkedin.com/in/cmckee and his Twitter feed is @canicelincor. Canice contributed to the Competitiveness chapter.
Timo Rastas - remained with Nokia for several years, earned several patents in the mobile space and left the company in 2005 to join IBM. Today he is a Business Development Executive at IBM. Timo's linked in page is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6769227. Timo was the lead contributor to the Marketing chapter.
Michael D Smith - Michael had a twisting career since leaving Nokia a bit before the book came out. He was at Cymbal, Critical Path and First Data, until joining Amdocs where he is today as the Director of Amdocs Consulting. Michael's Linked In page is http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=34695. Michael contributed to two chapters, the Movement chapter and the Marketing chapter.
Mika Suomela - has stayed loyally at Nokia all these years, and is now the Director of Video and Entertainment Products for Nokia in Finland. Mika's Linked In page is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mika-suomela/10/13a/243. Mika contributed to the 'Me' Services chapter.
Antti Toskala - like his author-partner Harri Holma, Antti also has stayed at Nokia and continues his work in standardization for the NokiaSiemens Networks unit. He lectures at Oxford University and has written more books about 3G. His current job title is Head of 3GPP Radio Standardization. Antti's Linked In page is http://www.linkedin.com/pub/antti-toskala/2/63a/2a6. Antti contributed to the Tech Primer chapter.
BEST OF THE BEST OF THE BEST
I do want to mention this group one more time. Today you may find some so-called experts writing or speaking enthusiastically about some 'opportunity' in mobile. That expert may be lucky to be quoted in some press article or perhaps has a couple of thousand followers or Twitter or a popular blog. The expert may have arrived to mobile 'years' ago, which could be within the last four years for example, into the era of the iPhone. A more 'deep' expert may have written a published article in the mobile industry press or a chapter into a book or perhaps released a report. True experts are those who have authored or co-authored a book in the mobile space, and even those people number now in many hundreds. Most mobile books are total rubbish and obviously the current hot topics are around smartphones, their apps and mobile advertising (like I said, most of those are utterly worthless, peddled by pretenders who truly know nothing).
Compare to this group of 36 experts from Nokia back in year 2000. We joined in to create the world's first book about a service opportunity that did not exist yet. We collected many of the leading experts of their fields, and for the first time, wrote a document outlining a comprehensive view to the total opportunity, of what was to become the most complex and difficult business opportunity ever seen. Look at the book. Every chapter had multiple contributors, some times as many as five. Imagine getting five experts to agree on a book about the future of their industry - where they have to sign their name to that chapter, when there was no evidence. It was their opinion against that of their friends, colleagues and indeed often, rivals. Imagine the debates and arguments to get a consensus view into such a volume, when no other book exists to even compare with.
A single author can get very egotistical with mad views in his or her book. But a collaborative effort book forces debate, argument and consensus-building. Like Alan Moore says, nobody is as clever as everybody. This book was the first amalgamation of the views to the total 3G opportunity. With that, consider those experts again. They had to defend their views in this book, twelve years ago. Its not that they somehow discovered mobile payments last year, reading about M-Pesa from Kenya. Or became believers of mobile advertising a few years ago when Google bought Admob. No, these people saw the light, and joined to create the consensus view of our future, twelve years ago. For the next year, these experts were among the very few to have read the early manuscript - meaning they had already a year's head-start to 'accept' and 'consider' the likely future we imagined. And how accurate were we? 81% of our predictions were right, only 19% were wrong. Every meaningful service concept we imagined, has since been launched, most of them to commercial success. If you wanted to find a group that is literally the cream of the crop, for the mobile industry, it is those 36 people who produced the book Services for UMTS.
Not all of them are in mobile today, but if you meet anyone on that list today, you can rest assured their intimate long-term insights into the mobile industry are far far greater than the recently graduated MBAs at Boston Consulting or McKinsey. I do want to celebrate their effort and thank them for helping me ride that fame to my career. I would not be where I am today, if it was not for those Nokia colleagues who joined in creating Services for UMTS. Thank you!
Today it is clear that mobile is a huge opportunity. Mobile became the fastest industry ever to go from zero to one Trillion dollars (1,000 Billion) in annual revenues. Mobile has powered companies of other industries to discover huge profits, like Apple which today is no longer a PC maker but calls itself a mobile company in a 'post PC era' and became the most valuable company on the planet. Google the biggest internet company and fastest ever to go from start-up to a Fortune 500 sized giant, says the future of the internet - and the future of Google itself - is mobile. Mobile First is their mantra. The richest person here in Hong Kong is Li Ka-Shing earlier best known for all sorts of real estate and transportation businesses. His most lucrative recent investments? In mobile of course ranging from the Three networks around the world to the INQ smartphones. He is the richest man of Asia. And what of Carlos Slim of Mexico? The telecoms tycoon makes most of his profits in mobile running the America Movil networks from Mexico to Argentina. For three years in a row now, Carlos Slim is the richest person on the planet. What an industry, eh? Mobile is the magical money-making machine! And in Services for UMTS, we wrote the book that first catalogued the ways this industry would work.
A BOOK'S LEGACY
There are more than 200,000 new books published every year just in the English language. Most books are non-fiction and most non-fiction books sell far less than 1,000 copies. Most first-time authors have put their heart and soul for years into the book project and believe passionately in what they write about, yet most published books will fade into obscurity, after selling some hundreds of copies, never to be mentioned again. The true legacy of a (non-fiction) book is if its content is found to be worth repeating. So the best measure of whether (a non-fiction) book was a true contribution to its area of focus, is whether peers find it worthwhile to reference it. And we authors have huge egos, we don't want to share our brilliance, trust me. We do not go out of our way to mention other 'worthwhile' books or authors even if we agree with them (or have borrowed from their thinking without proper credit to the original, I might add, with some bitterness haha). But yes, in the next perhaps 50 years after publication, a book may see its real legacy, was it referenced in other books.
The book Services for UMTS and/or the 5M's theory from the book have been referenced already in at least 15 published books in at least three languages:
Anderson, Freeman et al, Mobile Media & Applications, John Wiley 2006
Chavez Miguel Leon, Fieldbus Systems and their Applications, Elsevier, 2007
Crestani, Dunlop et al, Mobile and Ubiquitous Information Access, Springer 2004
Dubreul & Roger, Le Marketing Multimédia Mobile, Editions d'Organisation, 2003
Dushinski Kim, Mobile Marketing Handbook, John Wiley, 2009
Golding Paul, Next Generation Wireless Applications, John Wiley, 2005
Guttshce & Aulich, Untersuchung der Nutzung von Mobiler Kommunication, Grin Verlag 2008
Jaokar Ajit & Tony Fish, Mobile Web 2.0, futuretext 2007
Jaokar Ajit & Tony Fish, Open Gardens, futuretext 2004
Kaaranen, Ahtianen et al, UMTS Networks, John Wiley 2005
Khorsow-Pour, Mehdi, Managing Worldwide Operations and Communications, IGI, 2007
Resende & Pardalos (editors), Handbook of Optimization in Telecommunications, Springer 2006
Sties Peter, Ein Verfahren zur modellbasierten Entwicklung von multimedialen..., BoD, 2005
Turner, Magill et al, Service Provision: Technologies for Next Generation..., John Wiley 2004
Unhelkar Bhuvan, Handbook of Research in Mobile Business, Idea Group, 2006
If there was any doubt about the value of the book, now ten years later to find 15 books making reference to it, is proof positive, this was a massive success. That number will expand and be 25 or 50 or more by the time all of us contributors have died. The thinking in Services for UMTS did help change the world, help shape this industry, and dare I say, helped some find fortune and success in the complex mobile world.
IF ANYONE WANTS TO BUY THE BOOK - DON'T!
Now for the 'mad' comment by an author. If you liked this blog story and feel like reading Services for UMTS - don't buy the book! (My publisher will kill me haha). No serious. Yes, it was a very good book, when originally written 12 years ago. It was a very valuable book when released ten years ago today. But even when it was released, due to the timing and the long delays getting from the first manuscript to the final published book, the relevance did suffer.
So what happened after I submitted the manuscript to John Wiley in October of 2001? I had left Nokia and I had started my consultancy. Meanwhile a company called NTT DoCoMo went out and actually launched 3G, on October 1, 2001. So this book, Services for UMTS was written to imagine the 3G world, and the manuscript was written before 3G launched, but between the time the manuscript was finished, and the hardcover book started selling in March of 2002, that 3G world we talked about in a future sense, had actually arrived.
The mobile telecoms world grew up very dramatically in a period of about 6 months, as the first 3G phones came out, the first 3G services and 3G pricing plans etc. The theory went into practise. And conveniently, at the time, I was no longer employed at Nokia, so I could also devote my interests to this area. As I had finished my work with the book manuscript for Services for UMTS, and Wiley could see what that was, they came back to me for more.
We talked about the just-emerged 3G world in the real sense, with Mark Hammond and Geoff Farrell at Wiley, and the hot story in late 2001 was 'where is the money'. If you remember that was the time of the 'dot com' bubble bursting and the extremely expensive 3G license auctions in many European countries. So the urgent need was not so much to know what kind of services or apps might appear in 3G, but now, the need was, where are the low-lying fruit. Where is the money. Where are the profits of 3G. Will this industry make money (ever).
Wiley asked me to write the first business book about 3G. Where are the revenues and profits. I did that in the winter and spring months of 2001-2002, and the book turned into M-Profits: Making Money with 3G Services that was released in late 2002. And what can you charge for in 3G? Services and apps (and advertising and m-commerce etc). So if you liked this story in this blog, and want a look ten years back, into how this opportunity was perceived, my follow-up book covers still 170 services and apps, but for all major areas it adds the money dimension. How will money be made in 3G and mobile data. And where are the profits.
So M-Profits takes all the potential services we covered in Services for UMTS, but looks at them through two prisms, one of what has actually succeeded already in the early world of 3G, and the other, of where the money is likely to be made. Plus because Services for UMTS manuscript originates from the summer of 2000, and M-Profits manuscript was delivered in the summer of 2002, M-Profits is significantly more current to its publishing date, both being published during 2002.
I do not mean to say Services for UMTS is in any way a bad book. Only that by quirk of timing, its follow-up book, M-Profits, was also released in 2002, but had a much more realistic view to 3G, as it was written right after 3G had launched, and it added the very relevant money dimension to mobile. If you want to go back 10 years, that is the book to start with. And yes, don't worry, that book was also a bestseller, and went into multiple printings, and has new Vignettes and yes, was even translated (ya-ya, into Chinese as well)... And it is referenced already in ..16 books haha, etc. And it has the same publisher, John Wiley & Sons, so I am not 'hurting' their book sales, only pointing you to the better book to buy now, with hindsight. If you want to go back ten years to see what the view was to mobile for this past decade - and perhaps to dig for money-making service and application ideas, the book to start with is M-Profits. And one more thing - yes, I will be doing a 10 year celebration of that book, looking at its promises, forecasts, accuracies and failures, but not now. This blog article is long enough. And no, I will not do that for every one of my twelve books haha, but will do for a few of the most relevant volumes.
Except don't buy that book either! Six years after M-Profits, I wrote the next follow-up. After three books in other areas of mobile and high tech, I returned to my roots, and looked at the services, apps and revenues (and profits) of mobile 3G business. The completely updated and modernized book took a media focus but covers the full spectrum of mobile services and apps, with far more updated customer and business insights. I wrote Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media in 2008 and if you want to buy the definitive book about where are the services, applications, revenues and profits opportunities in mobile today - that is your book to buy. And at 19 UK Pounds the 322 page hardcover book is the must-read book about mobile.
18 chapters, 16 case studies including many of the hottest stories in mobile today from Finnair's mobile check in to the Pop Idol/American Idol uses of mobile; from Cyworld's astonishing cyberworld on mobile to NTT DoCoMo's radical i-Channel news service; from from shared videos to ringback tones; and from mobile books to the magical translators using cameraphones - this is THE book about mobile today. I consider it my masterpiece and you don't have to take my word for it. Highly respected thought-leaders of our industry, people who have read my full library of books, agree that this is my best book about mobile - including Trip Hawkins one of the founders of EA Electronics Arts, Dan Applequist the (then) Strategy Director of Vodafone, BJ Yang the CEO of Aircross the mobile ad giant of South Korea, Mark Curtis the (then) CEO of Flirtomatic the biggest mobile dating service from the UK to Australia to the USA, Ted Matsumoto the Executive Vice President of Softbank the mobile operator of Japan best known for being the carrier that brought the iPhone to Japan, Garrett Johnston the Chief Marketing Officer of MTS of Russia one of the biggest mobile operator groups globally, and Pekka Ala-Pietila the past President of Nokia and co-founder of Blyk.
If you want to buy one of my books today, start with Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media. If you thought to yourself, I wish I had read Tomi's Services for UMTS book ten years ago - this is now the book to read, for similar opportunities and as a guide to the services and applications (and customers, revenues and profits) of mobile for this decade.
WASN'T THERE A FREE BOOK?
But.. you don't need to 'buy' one of my books either! You can download my 10th book for free! Yes, after I became the most published author in mobile, my publishers and I decided to thank my loyal readers with one free book, in ebook format. It is not 'just' a book about mobile services and apps and their business, it is a more broad book about mobile, so it also covers issues such as the handsets, the smartphones, voice calls etc, but before you buy even one of my books, if you have never read one, start with the free book? It is called The Insider's Guide to Mobile. I wrote it last year, it is 379 pages of the very latest thinking in mobile, including several revealing essays and it destroys several widely-held myths about this industry. The ebook is only available through Lulu.com (and there will be a printed version and a pocket m-book version coming later) but the full 379 page book including all diagrams and stats and case studies is fully free, on Lulu.com right now. So if you have not read it, why not go to Lulu.com now and download your own copy today. It is an unrestricted pdf file, so if you like it, you can also share it with your friends. And you know what? It even includes 130 pages of bonus content as several chapter-length excerpts from my other books! Is that not a good value or what? Download Insider's Guide to Mobile at Lulu.com from this link