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« I'm alright Jack: Ruth Kelly ignites public debate on our education system and special needs | Main | Handicapping the race: iPhone markets and rivals »

January 09, 2007


Fidel Guajardo

Here is my take on three future killer apps for the iPhone:

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Fidel

Thanks for visiting and posting the comment. Yeah, I think we have a lot of fascinating application potential with OS-X - and the Apple developer community. I think some of your apps might need GPS, and so far I believe (but don't know) that the iPhone won't have GPS in it, at least the first version. Eventually most cellphones will have GPS of course, as they are now starting to roll our models with GPS built in. And even before GPS there are many location-based technologies of lesser location accuracy that can be used to deploy such services. These depend on the cellular network, like Cingular, to detect the location.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Very good.

Its quite cute how americans think there mobile phone system is not a 3rd world one.

Rgds Maurice

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Maurice

Yes you are so right. Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)


it seems apple have turned crude smsing into a simple fast effective tool superior in everyway to all other phones
smsing in its current form is broken. apple have fixed it

look at the demo of smsing on apples website, then you may wish to rewrite your open letter
reviewers who tried the phone all say the keyboard is very easy to use although lacking tactile feeback

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi radiomoscow

Thanks for writing. As far as I have seen so far, the iPhone SMS is designed to work using two hands. And it seems to be difficult to operate blind (ie without looking at the phone)

We have to wait until we get to use one to know for sure, but a very strongly echoing theme in European and Asian reviews of the iPhone the past week has been that it must have good SMS - that it must be able to be done single-handed, and blind.

If that new interface can do that, it can be a huge hit. If not, the iPhone will disappoint severely outside of North America.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Hi Tomi,

I think your wrong. I'm european and your claim, one can SMSing blind on an european phone is nothing but a joke. Instead you need a magnifying glass to see the three or four micro letters next to the numbers. I don't know anybody who memorized the letters position. So that he or she can write blind SMS. Virtually everyone is looking on the phone while SMSing. And I even doubt that it is absolutely necessary for market success, that it's possible to type single-handed on an iPhone. Everyone has two hands, also when you're not at home.

Don't forget Apple is NOT producing cellphones like Nokia does. It actually presented an iPhone. Meaning in this case the mp3 Function IS the killer application. The providers won't make money with it, but Apple will. And consumers will want to have an iPhone because of Music not because of single-handed blind SMSing. And providers will do what customers demand.


I do agree with Tomi. Lots of people sms 'blind' or 'semi-blind' (I am in, if that helps at all, "Asia"). I suffered grave withdrawal symptoms when switching from an alphanumeric phone to my smartphone with built in qwerty keyboard and would certainly factor that in my considerations when purchasing a new one in the future.

Here are some points:

1. Yes. SMS is a killer app in that it is widely used and drives hardware sales becos of its use. No sane phone comes out with a phone without SMS.

2. The alphanumeric interface of SMS is preference #1 for most people. mini-Qwerty is 'passable' and sufficient compromise for smartphones (i eventually got used to mine)

3. However, smartphone users have needs beyond sms'ing, depending on how 'smart' they really want them to be (from pro office users synching with their calendar online to younger adults who just want "phone + music." I guess Tomi's point is that the majority of the iPhone's target market is the latter category, and that means the sms interface is of supreme importance. To which I agree.



Hi, I am European, having lived in China for more than 5 years. In China, 90 % of my media communication was by SMS, 8 % by email and 2 % by voice. In China you don't pay for receiving SMS but you do need to pay for receiving voice calls (as in many markets in Asia). In China you can send 10 sms for the same fee as 1 minute voice call. SMS can be done privately in public, voice call can be heard by anyone around you. A very popular application is a small sticker that you can paste on your screen, that avoids people can read your screen from aside. All signals that SMS is far more important than voice. The position of the letters is perfect, I never need to watch my keyboard when I type messages. I can type with one hand, while I drive car, or when I am in a meeting, and my phone under the table. I hate the applications with qwerty keyboard, as I always have to look for the letters. Actually, I hope that manufacturers of cell phones develop short cuts for popular key combinations, eg. the "smileys". So, I completely support Tommi's point. SMS is the BEST option on my phone.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Guderian, Gabriel and Ramses

Thank you for writing. I think you three are a perfect sample of what is out there. Some don't use SMS (still a little under one third of all mobile phone owners don't use it at all) or use it only limitedly.

Then there are those who do use it regularly, but aren't really texting blind. They do pick up rather fast the keypad alphabetic arrangements though.

And then are the heavy users who do a dozen SMS per day or more (one third of Korean youth average over 100 SMS per day, in Britain its 10% of the youth who do that)

Guderian - i understand your feeling, you clearly are not yet addicted to SMS. But there is now academic study of the addictiveness of SMS text messaging, after the first such study came out by the Catholic University of Leuwen in Belgium. Numerous studies since have proven it. There is an increasing part of the population who use SMS very heavily. You are not like that, obviously. And perhaps your peers are not either. But absolutely, definitely, according to all published surveys and studies in Europe, it is a universal trend among the youth, that they perfer SMS to both e-mail and voice calls. So while you are not like that, very many others are. Over 85% of Europeans use SMS text messaging (more than twice the number of people in Europe who use e-mail). Toss in addiction, and very rapidly the usage grows. And when you start to send more than one per day, you learn the keys...

I understand Guderian, that you are not like that yourself. But I have given several studies that prove SMS use and addiction. If you claim this is not true, can you provide me one study or survey which supports your view? Or can we accept that the majority is not like you are?

Then Guderian, on music being the killer app. It isn't. To upgrade from a 79 dollar iPod Shuffle to a 500 dollar iPhone, you won't pay that money to REPLACE your music experience. It can be done for a tiny fraction of the price, just as well, with the iPod shuffle. There has to be a reason to buy the iPhone with the iPod funcitonality, and that is the more costly - and necessary - connectedness that cellphones provide. Voice and SMS. Sorry, again that is the case. If you don't care about connectivity and just want music, you'll buy the iPod.

Gabriel - yes we both agree :-) But here just a thought I've suggested many places. Regardless of how good or bad the SMS functionality happens to be in the first iteration of the iPhone (and it may be as good as existing phones, certainly Apple is capable of doing that) - the SUBSEQUENT iPhone models will rapidly gain in this area. Apple will hear from every one of some 200 mobile operators when they talk to them, that every one says "oh, how is SMS on this phone" - and if the first model is not good, it will be one of the biggest reason for returned phones - and cause operators to complain. So Apple will fix it fast regardless, and keep improving this vital feature.

Ramses - Thanks ! Nice summary of the role of the mobile phone in China today. You'd find very similar thoughts with your peers in South Korea or the Philippines or Indonesia etc.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Tomi, get me out of this shithole Finland. Been working with killer apps for 3 years. That means, they've been around for 3 years. It's the companies who don't even open their doors to listen what I have discovered. And believe me 3 years is a long time to stair in the mirror..
One thing about R&D process is always left out of conversations - it's the creative minds ability to produce a working consept. That little detail is my specialty. My little list of consept designing could be:

- What you're eating is what you'll produce
- silence has every answer ready
- take your time - prefer taking it outside society

I'm ready. Are you?



Tomi, I sincerely hope that Mr. Jobs and co. receive your letter!

As an avid Mac user one of the killer apps I'm always on the lookout for is a means to back up my texts onto my computer. The only one that's worked for me is this one:

Maybe Apple will see fit to offer SMS backup on the iPhone. I personally think they're missing a huge opportunity to offer over the air sync of PIM data through their .Mac service; I wrote about it on my own blog for anyone interested:

nick w

i use to send and receive sms txt messages. they have a web based inbox that I can manage by txt msgs. they use real SMPP to send messages, and its free to send and receive messages form

check it out.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Mikey, AC and nick

Thanks for dropping by and posting the comments

Mikey - I hear you. Must be nasty now in winter. Hang on, some day they will understand..

AC - thanks, and very good point about PIM.

nick - thanks, good to hear about peekamo

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


I enjoy reading ur blogs now. Thanks for ur work.

What I expect more of iphone are the TV connection as they are doing in Japan and the MSN or other instant messaging services.But seems IM applications are not incorporated in iphone. (it possible to install it yourself?)

For SMS, from the demo from apple's website, it is possible to do it with one hand. But you can't move your eyes away from the screen.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Averie

Thank you for commenting

Yes, we have to see what the iPhone ends up actually having and how it ends up actually performing. Be certain that Apple will on introduction already be remarkable in its usability, and I'm more interested in the second generation of the iPhone after they learn from users and THEN push the envelope even further.

On user-installed applications, many experts of the mobile space have looked at early descriptions of the operating system and its compatibility, and say the iPhone is not a "real" smartphone, in that it will not allow completely user-installed applications. Apparently there seems to be a limited set of closely controlled Apple branded add-ons.

Also Apple's approach to mobile operators seems to go very deeply into the operator's processes and data such as with the voice messaging they discussed. This would also mean that some network applications like IM would be more controlled than perhaps on a PC or another smartphone.

But I'd say lets see. Apple is now getting a massive amount of feedback from the operators they are talking to, and various experts and pundits, so some of the early assumptions and even statements from Apple can change. Lets see what the iPhone really is, and we'll find out in June.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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