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February 09, 2017


Jonny evans

This is great. Thanks.

Peter F. Mayer

The interesting thing about Pokemon GO is that it is based on Ingress which Niantic released in November 2012. All PokeStops and Gamys are portals in Ingress. The difference between Ingress and Pokemon GO are the Pokemon.

With Ingress Niantic made barely a living after they have been spun off by Google resp. Alphabet. Ingress never got beyond about 4 million active players.

So the reason for the success are the nice monsters, not AR, not mobile.

Abdul Muis


I was wondering if you ever tried Pokemon Go? Do you turn the AR effect all the time?

I think one of the main reason Pokemon Go successful is because it's a new kind of RPG. The first LBS-RPG. Also let's not forget that Pokemon have a huge following.

Anyway, Niantic & Nintendo has done a great job on Pokemon Go.


@Tomi -

Can you expand on your statement that LBS are the one area in mobile that is worse than apps for making money?

"in mobile, apps are literally the second-worst aspect of mobile for making money (location-based services are the only one area worse than apps)."


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Taylor

(Welcome to the blog). My regular readers know this story well. So yeah, anything in mobile will make SOME money, as a rising tide raises all boats. I've tracked the mobile industry from literally its birth (wrote the first book about mobile services and apps for this industry 15 years ago, and chaired the first mobile internet conference, the first mobile advertising conference, the first smartphone conference etc). I report on the various aspects of the industry in my annual statistical volumes like the Almanac, and I publish various mobile-related stats on this blog.

A highly promising area for the mobile industry back 17 or so years ago (around year 2000) was 'Location-Based Services'. It got a big enthusiastic support from major players around the world. I devoted half of a chapter in my first book to various location-based services like the most notorious one, you walk into a shopping mall, the shopping mall sends you a targeted personalized mobile ad, based on the fact that we know you just walked into THAT shopping mall.

But all sorts of maps and games and coupons and augmented reality and whatnot can be done with location information. So we've known this concept and literally THOUSANDS of service ideas have been commercially launched to utilize that location information. The location precision has gotten better where now we have indoor sensors to try to spy on you inside stores (GPS does not penetrate indoors) and so forth.

And there is SOME success. LBS is globally worth about 2 Billion dollars in annual revenues, when all LBS services are added together. We are able to make SOME money out of it. But take music. No, take one SLICE of music. The SIMPLEST form of mobile music is the basic downloadable ringing tone (the ploink-ploink version of cheap phones). That business exploded from nothing into a 2 Billion dollar industry - by year 2002 !!!

So that is what I mean. ANYTHING else you could imagine doing in mobile, doing mobile news, or games, or advertising or music or healthcare or education or gambling or porn - ANYTHING else you could have thought of, back in year 2000, would have given you a FAR FAR FAR better return on your time, money, resources and customer satisfaction - than investing in 'Location Based Services'.

So yeah, once again, I was wrong. By my second book (this is still 2002) I had already wised up and told all my readers - hey, that Location-Based nonsense, forget all about that. Lets do something that makes you FAR FAR more money than LBS.

That is what I mean. Location-Based Services have been deployed for about 17 years now, and everywhere they've been done, they are a dismal failure. There are occasional TOTAL exceptions (Pokemon Go needs Location to work) but as an industry, it is THE WORST performing slice of the mobile economic miracle. Anything else would have served you better than bothering with LBS.

I have written longer blogs explaining why, every few years, on this blog. You can try Googling say 'Communities Dominate Location Spam Myth' and find an article from a few years ago when I talked more deeply about these things.

Oh, and do get the free Almanac 2015 edition - that also warns of course (as all my books since my 2nd) about the LBS myth.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

John Phamlore


I'm afraid you're missing the real mobile story here. Just this month we daily read stories such as this:

The Dutch will revert to paper and pen for their elections in March.

IBM may be demanding even programmers to move to one of a few centralized sites. And they're not the only company that is going away from telecommuting. And it's not just older companies: Even Facebook seems to be paying employees to move fairly close to its company campus.

Don't events like this strike you as being a bit odd? Voting would seem an ideal application for mobile. It wouldn't be hard for a well-run First World country like the Netherlands to guarantee all of its citizens mobile voting capability, and from there, all forms of interaction with the government. And we've never in human history had some incredible communication devices which now permit the supposed dream of face-to-face video communication. Shouldn't of all jobs programming be able to be totally geographically dispersed?

And let us not forget that a couple of years ago, EU / Eurozone leaders of countries had to physically gather together to hammer out an agreement to keep Greece in their group. These leaders all had mobile phones. So did their underlings.

I can't help but wonder if humanity is actually collectively deciding that there is an uncanny valley for mobile communication, especially among relative strangers. In this light, Pokemon Go's success is hardly something that applies to all of mobile. It might instead actually be a warning that the type of application that can make money is something that does NOT pretend intimacy between customer / citizen and company / government.


@John Phamore
"Voting would seem an ideal application for mobile."


The reason we switch back to paper voting in the Netherlands has nothing at all to do with the communication capabilities of mobile or the internet. It has everything to do with security and accountability. Voting has a number of essential prerequisites that cannot be questioned: Voting is done in perfect privacy/secrecy, votes can be done in perfect freedom, all votes cast are counted, and only the votes that are cast are counted.

Mobile voting is defective in all three respects, and electronic voting is defective in two out of three. The dismal security of computers and the internet makes electronic voting not private, and the counting suspect. Voting outside of the voting booth makes voters vulnerable to outside pressure. We know politicians in the USA could not care less about these three prerequisites as they allow them to manipulate the voting process, but we do care about our voting process.

The rest of your arguments are equally uninformed. The bandwidth and flexibility of face-to-face communication and negotiation is still a far cry from what can be achieved by electronic means. This is simply the way humans are build. Many formalized encounters can be brought online, but the bigger collection of human encouters still cannot be done electronically. Try having dinner over tele-conferencing (or an after dinner night together).


In 2009, a good year for Nintendo, they had a annual net income of 2.8 billion. Then in 2016 an almost inexpensive game(for that big of a software developer) makes 1 billion for them/TPC/Niantic.

That's really huge, the Switch is kind of a lost opportunity in the mobile realm for them, but in the other hand it gives them time to revise how to adapt their business model to this new situation. The convergence of their handheld and home console businesses is done now thanks to it, and they now can study if in 4/5 years they want to transfer that convergence to android/ios to go full mobile. That move would give them basically all the human population as their install base to sell software/services to.

By then I guess the only new hardware they will be making would be Joy-con-like controllers(the attachable controllers of the Switch) and other gaming accessories for the iPhones and Galaxies of the world.

In other news

Later this year they will launch an Animal Crossing game under the freemium model, while the franchise is not nearly as well known as Pokemon, it has concepts that well exploited can help it going viral too.


Yes yes. Nice indeed. 1 Billion in a short time is nice indeed. Apple though has done 1000 billion in less than 10 years and they will make another 1000 billion in 5 years.

Then lets remember that Apple gets 25-30% from the Pokemon Go.


@John Phamlore
> The Dutch will revert to paper and pen for their elections in March.

That is because they are paranoid. Voting can be done safely and securely using electronic methods. It can be even better, as with paper based voting you have no way of knowing whether your individual vote was counted, but with electronic voting this is now possible.

Just the voting machines in use in some countries are very poorly secured, about as attack-proof as an ATM (so not very). I think it is even the same companies that make both.

> The dismal security of computers and the internet makes electronic voting not private

That problem is solved, you just need two computers that aren't controlled by the same attacker.

> Voting outside of the voting booth makes voters vulnerable to outside pressure.

That problem is solved too, e.g. in Estonia: You can always after casting your electronic vote go to a polling station and vote on paper. This will make your electronic vote invalid and only the paper vote will count.


"That problem is solved, you just need two computers that aren't controlled by the same attacker."

The fear was that someone could manipulate the electronic counters and the counts in transit. There was talk about the possibility to manipulate the voting machines in the voting booths. Securing that would be extremely costly. And after all votes have been casts, there would bound to be someone that would argue that security was breeched and both computers were controlled by outside forces. That would also be a serious attack: Make it believable that a successful attack had been perpetrated and cast doubt on the outcomes.

That is the strategy of the Republicans in the US. There is negligible in person voter fraud in the USA, but the GOP is very successful in making people believe there are millions of votes cast illegally.

"That problem is solved too, e.g. in Estonia: You can always after casting your electronic vote go to a polling station and vote on paper. This will make your electronic vote invalid and only the paper vote will count."

Our voting process would have to be changed for that. By law, all voting has now to be done in a single day with very few exceptions.

Our minister of the interior reasoned that, while the probability of a successful attack was remote, he simply did not want anyone to cast any doubts about the validity of the voting process. Instead of going into a lot of effort to secure an electronic voting process and still ending up with someone coming up with a possible security hole casting doubts on the outcome, he simply reverted to paper ballots with a transparent and tried and tested security model.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@winter, @chithanh:

In addition to Winters comments I would like to add that transparency is an aspect of voting that is very easily overlooked.

In my country, we have a public lottery. Every week, a winner is chosen by letting a machine release 7 random numbers from a large selection of balls.

This process could be handled by a computer spitting out seven random integers. I think most people savvy enough to code an app knows how to program this type of program. So why do we still have the same lottery drawing machine as back in the sixties? This mechanical machine could easily be replaced for a digital and maintenance of the machine would be next to zero.

Because of transparency. The lottery right now is so transparent, even a simpleton can understand what is going on. It is also fully automated which means the human factor will not play a part.

Replacing this wi th a digital machine that blips seven different random numbers would completely destroy this transparency.

Same with voting; not only does the process have to guarantee secrecy, anonymity and security (from tampering); they also have to guarantee transparency. And computers are not transparent. At all.

This is why even the Pirate Party in my country, a party otherwise incredibly tech friendly, believe electronic voting to be a really bad idea.


"This is why even the Pirate Party in my country, a party otherwise incredibly tech friendly, believe electronic voting to be a really bad idea. "

Actually, all hackers, black and white, as well as all computer security expert are AGAINST electronic voting.


Any sane person would be against computer voting, and even more against mobile voting. Any election that cannot be physically traced to the last vote out there is by definition suspicious.

These are typical ideas coming from technocrats who do not think it through to the end.

Abdul Muis

Talking about the DEVIL.....

Korea opens VR, AR complex in Seoul

"South Korea's science ministry opened a new complex in western Seoul on Friday to nurture the virtual reality and augmented reality industry as the country aims to become a global powerhouse in the sectors.

The so-called "KoVAC" is located at Digital Media City, a high-tech complex in western Seoul, to accommodate various VR and AR companies, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.
A VR exhibition in Seoul in 2016. (Yonhap file photo)

The complex is part of the government's broader plan to invest more than 400 billion won ($358 million) over the next four years in developing new and indigenous VR and AR technologies, and narrow its technology gap with global leaders.

"The government will make utmost efforts in supporting our developers and companies so that they can advance to the global market," Choi Jae-you, vice minister of science, ICT and future planning, said in an opening ceremony.

At the KoVAC, the ministry set up an open space where companies and research centers can freely gather to develop the latest VR content, the ministry said.

Select start-up companies will work with major electronics companies to develop content that can be used on the latest VR devices and applications, officials said.

Also, a VR experience zone will be set up, the ministry said, adding that it is in discussions with major tech firms to establish it.

At the so-called VR campus, the ministry aims to train more than 2,200 VR experts, with 20 more campuses to be built across the country by 2020.

The world's AR and VR market is expected to reach $109 billion by 2021, with AR taking a share of $83 billion and VR with $25 billion, industry data showed. (Yonhap)"

Abdul Muis

And Apple also try to ride the AR bandwagon
Apple, Inc. CEO Tim Cook Talks Up Augmented Reality's Potential (Again)


> manipulate the voting machines in the voting booths

That problem has been solved, and the solution is called "voter verifiable paper trail".

> Our voting process would have to be changed for that. By law, all voting has now to be done in a single day with very few exceptions.

Interesting. Here in Germany, municipalities typically have one or more polling stations open weeks in advance of an election, where people can cast early votes. The early voting process is called "Briefwahl" (mail voting) for bureaucratic reasons, as it is legally a form of absentee voting.

> So why do we still have the same lottery drawing machine as back in the sixties?

I disagree with you, the reason is that even if the electronic machine were to be made transparent (which is definitely possible), people would not trust it because they could not understand it. Actually, laypeople are very bad at understanding computer security.

There was some Google research into what users and what security experts think makes their computers secure, and the answers could not be further apart:

> Actually, all hackers, black and white, as well as all computer security expert are AGAINST electronic voting.

That is not correct. They are against forms of voting which are non-transparent, non-verifiable, and open to manipulation. If you look at the arguments that were brought against electronic voting machines in Germany, these objected against the use of voting machines which were closed and proprietary (on top of being demonstrably insecure), and produced no voter verifiable proof of working correctly.

> These are typical ideas coming from technocrats who do not think it through to the end.

I invite you to check Tor Bjørstad's 31C3 talk on electronic voting in Norway. They were able to design a system that has all the required security properties of voting, including secret vote, transparency through verifiable cryptographic properties of the system (ie. every voter could check if their vote was counted correctly), and did not require any part of the system to trust any other part.

Electronic voting eventually fell out of favour in Norway, but for entirely non-technical reasons.

Wayne Brady

Ooh, my favorite topics: apps and money

Yes, Pokémon Go is the exception and not the rule. Same for every successful business of any type.

But also exceptional is that Pokémon makes its mobile money from app sales. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Wechat, Line -- are making their mobile billions from free apps that are monetized outside of the app stores (and therefore their monies are not included in Apple or Google announcements).

I would love to find a source of information on the size of the app economy inclusive of the "outside the App Store revenue". I doubt that gaming would then be the largest segment, let alone largest by far.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


We are in agreement I think. You bring a very valid point to the table - that most people just do not understand, nor do they want to understand, how computers actually work. Nor should they, in the same manner noone needs to know everything about the car they are driving.

But again, the transparency suffers because of this, which is a big reason why the traditional way is preferred by most techs.

Perhaps in the future this status quo can be slowly altered, but for now...


"But again, the transparency suffers because of this, which is a big reason why the traditional way is preferred by most techs."

The Dutch Minister of the Interior did explicitly refer to this transparency fear to justify his decision. It was not that he was afraid the elections would be hacked, but that he was afraid that "the public" would lose trust in the outcome.

Note that the Netherlands did have electronic voting some years ago. These voting machines were discontinued after it was found out that you could record votes from outside of the building using electronic emissions. This was the straw that ended their use.

A comment on another blog pointed out that security wise, computer hard- and software becomes outdated in a few years. With elections every 4 year, this would mean that new equipment and updates would have to be bought for nearly every election. And that only for a minimal increase in "convenience". On the other hand, there have been no new "hacks" of paper ballots discovered during at least the last century. With the current paper ballot set-up, large scale subversion is next to impossible.

The Dutch approach to absentee voting is different. Voters can delegate their votes to some other voter in the same polling station. Each voter can cast maximally two absentee votes together with his own. Selling votes is illegal and actively prosecuted. Abuse of this system for absentee voting is the only irregularity observed and has an insignificant impact.

Abdul Muis

Wayne Borean

Everybody loves adorable cuddly monsters...

The numbers are fascinating. 66 million peak American users. I wonder how that breaks down demographically? Most Millennials probably watched the tv show. Their parents also saw it as well. Gen X and Gen Y? No idea. Some folks my age know it (and played the games) because our kids wanted to teach us how.

After reading the article, I checked the App Store, and Pokémon Go doesn't show up in the Top 30, which surprised me, then I remembered that Canada got the game later. I can't remember how much later right now (didn't get much sleep last night, and it is now 5:15 AM and my brains are turning into porridge...)

Abdul Muis

HMD Global will launch the Nokia 3, 5, and 6 at MWC, plus a 3310 homage


Cambridge Analytics AI marketing machine:


Let me add, this apparently explains a lot of how Trump was able to win the election.

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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 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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