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July 28, 2014

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tontridge

What? The golden era of the smartphone has come to an end and now there is nothing to see here move along? Crap, plain utter crap, this industry will affect the world more than any other tehnology ever has. The smartphone era has only just begun. period.

Winter

Tomi,

I see yet one other battlefield: Mobile phones wiping out all other "Personal Computing" devices. The friction between all the media and computing devices is hurting. We all want to use our phone:

1) to consume and show our media (Photos, movies, music) on any device near. Like the iPhone stand music players. But we do not want to physically part with our phone. Chromecast is going that way: I have a computerized TV, why can't I just play the contents of my phone on it?

2) to keep all our data and programs we work on. We do use Dropbox/Google Drive etc for that. But that sounds as such detour. I have my files and programs in my pocket, why invoke a third party that will spy on me? I want to sit at a screen and keyboard and start to work with my applications and my settings in my phone.

Much of this can be done in "The Cloud". So the question remains whether in 6 years, phones will be thin clients, with everything, files and apps, "up there" and the phones just a personal ID. Alternatively, they will be fat clients with enough storage and computing power to satisfy my personal needs.

I think that the factor that will decide the equation is the enormous power use of the networking, computing, and storage needs of 7B people. If power generation becomes truly distributed (e.g., solar), then centralized data centers with long communication lines will be at a disadvantage. If power generation stays centralized, e.g., large solar farms in the desert, then a cloud solution will be more economical.

So your earlier prediction that there will still be desk/laptops for the rest of the decade might be true. But I think all those computers will start to work like Smartphone peripherals.

Andreu Castellet

Tomi, fellows,

Interesting, inspiring stuff, as usual.

However, I miss a proper reference on the new generation of wearables -true wearables, not health or sports sensors tied via Bluetooth to a smartphone-, particularly Google Glass and similars. Have you already elaborated your own, detailed point of view on the matter? Do you think Google Glass can have such a disruptive impact on the ecosystem as Apple's iPhone did?

abdul muis

Tomi,

I guess you making a mistake / typo. Second paragraph on the APPS. Quote "...That Apple's lead in the App Store was temporary and will be eclipsed by that or those smartphone platform(s) that lead in market share..."

I believe android apps download per month ALREADY eclipse iOS apps download by a very wide margin since last year. and if I'm not wrong, the revenue got from the ads (not including iAP) is higher in android compared to iphone. Perhaps you meant the PAID APPS DOWNLOAD or REVENUE of the downloaded apps.

RottenApple

@Winter:

"Much of this can be done in "The Cloud". So the question remains whether in 6 years, phones will be thin clients, with everything, files and apps, "up there" and the phones just a personal ID. Alternatively, they will be fat clients with enough storage and computing power to satisfy my personal needs."

This is a viable scenario for stationary desktop computers, but not for mobile devices that may or may not have a connection to the internet. Phones that stop working in more remote areas are not user friendly.

Also let's not forget that many, many mobile users do not have an internet flatrate contract and do not even want one (I, for example, have no need for it as I have WLAN access most of the time when I use my phone.) So this would inevitably limit the target audience.


"So your earlier prediction that there will still be desk/laptops for the rest of the decade might be true. But I think all those computers will start to work like Smartphone peripherals."

Only if smartphone OSs become more like desktop OSs. As pure hardware, most smartphones are already on par with low end 'real' computers, but where things break down is how software is being used on them. You can't run a desktop system in permanent sandbox mode like the iPhone where there's one controlling instance that decides what can and what can't be done.

Personally, I have a feeling that things are going the wrong way with mobile. It's no longer about finding the right applications for it but often the opposite: find a way how mobile can do a job it's not really optimal for (case in point: mobile payment systems.) It's a lot like the dotcom bubble at the turn of the millennium. Inane schemes to make money with the internet were cooked up left and right - and in the end it all fell to pieces when it became evident that this is not what the users wanted and needed. I see a similar trend here.

Winter

@RottenApple
"This is a viable scenario for stationary desktop computers, but not for mobile devices that may or may not have a connection to the internet. Phones that stop working in more remote areas are not user friendly."

It is even worse, I do not see how the telecom providers van supply 7B people with broadband 4G access (or 10G for that matter). What I do see is an increase of local WiFi providers that supply "free" broadband locally (e.g., like Starbucks, hotels, and public transport already do). But you are right, without 99.9% assurance of broadband connectivity, a cloud only solution is unattractive.

My bets would be on phones as fat clients. But I know the Google's of the world and the likes of the NSA, MSS, and FSB want everything in the cloud.

@RottenApple
"Only if smartphone OSs become more like desktop OSs. As pure hardware, most smartphones are already on par with low end 'real' computers, but where things break down is how software is being used on them. You can't run a desktop system in permanent sandbox mode like the iPhone where there's one controlling instance that decides what can and what can't be done."

That evolution is already happening. Google is rumored to combine ChromeOS and Android. There is absolutely no reason why Android could not get a more work-efficient UI.

For example, the OLPC ($100) laptop has a Linux based OS, Sugar, that could do everything needed for such a mobile OS. Ivan Krstić, the man who designed the security model for it (Bitfrost) now works for Apple.

Here Here

The world is ready and now all there is left is some kind of evolution?

What does it mean to wind this game? Apparently it's not about profits or revenues but people using your product. Headcount.

In the end of the day the winner provides services for most of the people but doesn't get most of the profits. Never get most of the profits.

Wayne Borean


Tomi,

Ah, but the hunting time is the exciting time. Now, well, there may be more money involved, but it is BORING.

But of course I'd day that. I'm a hunter at heart :)

Well said. Looks like you covered everything in impeccable detail. Only one quibble - you really need to run a spell/grammar check on it. But hey, it's one hell of a piece of analysis.

Wayne

Wayne Borean


Winter and Rotten Apple,

You are looking at it the wrong way. What I would expect is for Desktop systems to become more like Mobile systems. It all comes down to numbers, and Mobile has the numbers.

Ever wonder why Microsoft is so desperate to gain market share in Mobile? Because they saw this coming fifteen years ago. Can you imagine being Bill Gates, knowing where the market is going, and being totally unable to do anything to get into that market? He must have been freaking. Totally freaking.

What is going to be interesting is now we have four basic form factors:

1) Fixed location boxes, which includes all desktop systems, on up to things like the AS400, and various supercomputers.

2) Laptop/Notebook systems. Note that this includes anything with a keyboard. Thr Surface and Surface RT are not tablets.

3) Tablets of all sorts, ranging from the iPod Touch on up.

4) Mobiles.

The biggie is Mobile. The others are far smaller. This means there should be a transfer of Mobile technology to the other form factors, within certain limits. Some units in each form factor (AS400 for example) are specialty devices, and won't be impacted. Some form factors are already integrated - Tablets are essentially Mobiles without the cellular radio.

This will be disruptive. The largest OS supplier for Desktop and Laptop/Notebook is going to get creamed.

Wayne


RottenApple

@Wayne Borean:

"You are looking at it the wrong way."

No, we don't.
It's not about numbers. These are essentially completely different markets. If you talk about media consumption, yes, there is no reason for using a fully featured desktop. And that's precisely the part of the desktop market that's eroding.


But for actual content productions, mobile devices - and that includes the current breed of tablets are far from suitable. Yes, there may be some convergence, but just because some market A is bigger than some other market B doesn't mean that B is irrelevant. But that seems to be the prime argument of a large part of the 'mobile first' crowd.

No, this part of the desktop market will stay forever - sure, there will certainly be some synergies with mobile - so it still needs some companies to serve it. As such I find all those 'recommendations' to Microsoft plain and simply idiotic. Ballmer listened to it and produced one of the biggest flops in recent software history.

And since these are ultimately different things they need different solutions. The world still needs OSs made for desktop systems. Let's be clear: Without desktop computers producing all this fancy content, mobile phones would be worthless pieces of electronic junk. It's just that some people don't see something that obvious.

geektech

What about the unificacion of the apps, every OS could run the apps from the other, and the hardware like pc, we could install any OS on any device.

That is comming and that would be interesting to watch.

Sailfish Os is creating a luncher for Android and even can run Linux, native apps and Android apps on a vm enviroment, much secure than Android.

RottenApple

@geektech:

"That is comming and that would be interesting to watch."

I don't see any of it happening. And some companies, most importantly Apple, have a vested interest that it's never going to happen or they'd lose much of their leverage on the market.

Aside from that it's not that easy - the executable formats and APIs are just too different. I agree that this is where things should head, though, but the big players will never work towards it.

E.Casais

"My bets would be on phones as fat clients."

This is a point I made here a long time ago, but the evolution towards fat clients with thin servers (mainly data exchange servers) or towards thin clients and fat servers (mainly storage servers) depends on the interplay between networking technology and the -- so often neglected in commentary -- storage technology.

The "cloud" was made possible by the apex in the lifecycle of the hard-disk drive: fairly efficient, fairly reliable, multi-terabytes, cheap rotating storage units that can be put together by the gazillions to serve distant Internet users. Network broadband is not enough by itself.

Flash memory is what made the mobile phone possible (not just the smartphone, the entire mobile phone industry) -- right from the beginning with storing one's personal phone book. Mobile networking was always constrained, and still is; thus fatter and fatter clients. The advent of 4G (and the interests of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Co) now shifts the emphasis towards the cloud.

However, as soon as a new cheap, reliable and bountiful storage technology becomes commercially available, then the balance will move the other way -- why should I need to have an insecure, NSA-riddled cloud if I could keep a terabyte of information on a miniSDcard form factor?

Look at all "rich/fat terminals", and you will see a new storage technology as an essential enabler. PC? Diskette and Winchester drive. Walkman? Cassette tape and then CD. Digital camera? Flash memory cards.

Regarding mobile phones, the advent of the memristor will really determine which way they will evolve. Flash is still too expensive, and is already reaching some of its technical limits.

Winter

"The advent of 4G (and the interests of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Co) now shifts the emphasis towards the cloud. "

We are talking about 7 billion people running a digital life over broadband with 99.9% assurance in time and coverage. That is not expected soon. I would expect that storage technology for personal and data center use will evolve the way they did in the last decade(s). So, I still would bet on fat clients.

Also, almost nobody ever talks about the energy costs of moving all these bits around the planet:

The True Cost of an Internet “Click”
http://energyzarr.typepad.com/energyzarrnationalcom/2008/08/the-true-cost-o.html

~36.8 kJ per GB

See also:
The Hidden Expense of Energy — Print Is Costly, Online Isn’t Free
http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/01/19/the-hidden-expense-of-energy-costs-print-is-costly-online-isnt-free/

Spawn

> But for actual content productions, mobile devices - and that
> includes the current breed of tablets are far from suitable

And only reason that is so are in- and output methods. Yet, as of today, connecting a keyboard with your mobile and using your large screen TFT is possible.

Focus was consumption, thats a huge marget, but without question is productivity/production coming. From Microsoft's mobile & productivity over the Apple & IBM deal to the Google's ChromeOS & Android merger. Ubuntu's smartphone concept, where you essential have a docking station to turn your smartphone into a full-powered workstation-desktop, is where mobile moves to.

The huge problem here is that our for producivity preferred input- and output methods are not exactly transportable. They are still from the fat workstation era. I would expect some transformations, innovations in that area to address the growing demand.

RottenApple

@Spawn:

"Ubuntu's smartphone concept, where you essential have a docking station to turn your smartphone into a full-powered workstation-desktop, is where mobile moves to."

That's the only feasible scenario if you ask me. Everything else taking place right now looks somewhat half-assed to me. I wonder if anyone is seriously pursuing this option, because if they don't, the content producers will happily decline to use your solution. As you said, it's mostly a very conservative environment where innovation is not particularly loved, especially if it disrupts well established workflows.

I wonder particularly about the Android/ChromeOS merger. One is geared towards content consumption, the other towards accessing the cloud - none towards offline content production. Seems to me that an important bit is missing in the equation here.

Troed Sangberg

Now we go visors! It's a brand new world all over again ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NYwbS7e9M0

Cheers Tomi

John A

Just read some news that Tizen are delayed again. So I guess it be Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 in the smartphonemarket.
I think the others are to late and far behind as Sailfish/Jolla.

I am not sure if Microsoft will stay in the hardware business with Nokia in the long term (or with their own Surface brand). I think Nadella will go back to the "old way" with OEM.s making their hardware.

I have no idea if some of the new Windows Phone brands ever will take of. But if they do maybe they only keep the patent portfolio and shut down/sell the rest of Nokia hardware factories etc..

RottenApple

@John A

" keep the patent portfolio"

As I understand the deal, Microsoft hasn't bought any patents. They merely licensed them and they still belong to Nokia. So, great. They got lots of expensive patent licenses but no application for them...

abdul muis

Tomi,

You were right about BB. John Chen just said that BB WILL be survive, but won't be iconic again.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/top-business-stories/can-blackberry-be-iconic-again-ceo-john-chen-isnt-sure/article19818324/

AndThisWillBeToo

WHAAAAT!?!
CEO of a company does NOT say that his company won't survive? My world is collapsing!
/s

(seriously, when Nokia was falling both engines on fire with their WP strategy, did you EVER hear Elop say something else than him being comfortable with where Nokia was, how they managed their technology, their businesses, the margins, the distribution channel or the new products that were coming? After the ridiculous Burning Platforms memo he was nothing but "AOK".)

KK

Hi Tomi,
While I agree that the "old world" of mobile (the telecom side of mobile - operators, OEMs etc) has matured and the focus is on efficiency and scale, the newer side of mobile - apps, services, software side is just starting.

There are so many innovations ongoing - some of which you alluded to already - AR, contextual awareness, contextual search and content delivery, discovery, multi-screen services, advertising, innovative usage of the internet given its mobility and context and many other areas - which are still in infancy.

I reckon it is similar to the early years of the 2000's in the PC world. All the box manufacturers were struggling to make profits - while the internet companies were flying high with more and more use cases.

The smartphone hardware will become like the PC hardware - simply a box to get onto the Internet and services. OEMs who do not find ways to get onto that world - will , as you say, become simply box movers.

We are simply seeing a repeat of the PC industry - hardware rules the world -> software rules the world -> Internet/services rules the world.

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

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