It is a sad day in tech. This is such a young industry in mobile that most who built it are still alive. One of the biggest pioneers, however, died this past Friday. Matti Makkonen, the inventor of the SMS text message, was a former Telecoms Finland (later known as Sonera) exec and then Nokia VP and later Finnet Group boss and ended his career as Managing Director of Anviva before he retired from active business management work. He still continued on some part-time jobs in telecoms in Finland. In 2008 Matti received the Economist Innovation Award for inventing the SMS and we celebrated that occasion here on this blog at the time.
I had the privilege of knowing Matti rather well as he was the last mentor I had in my Nokia career and I then invited him to become the godfather to my young consulting department. Matti was a fountain of energy and immense experience but also a rock-solid belief in how mobiles would change the world from messaging to the mobile internet to smartphones and mobile payments and customer service etc. He was the first to convince me of the power of social networking on mobile. He introduced my consulting department at Nokia to such exotic terrms as 'infotainment' and 'advertainment' and 'edutainment'. Matti refused to accept the view that laptops would supercede moblie phones, pointing out that only a moblie phone can be operated single-handedly while we walk or stand. Matti is known for that early mobile internet phrase of 'the services migrating fron the ears to the eyes' and so much more.
He lived a long rewarding life. Matti will be remembered by all whose life was touched by him as someone who was honest, who was fair, who was always open to discuss and debate. He was always helpful and incredibly knowledgable. Very much of what we became as Nokia's consulting department (and what my private consultancy has since become, including the philosophy of this blog) is the direct reflection of the man Matti Makkonen was. Helsingin Sanomat writes about his last days (in Finnish) and tells us Matti was in hospital and had been ill for some time. He was 63 years old. We will miss you Matti. Rest in peace.