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« Media manipulation - advertising and politics and what type of society do we want? | Main | You shall go the ball... »

January 08, 2007


free mobile resources

nice article ;)

jon peddie

Outstanding essay, and one that will be liberally quoted by thousands for years. Congratulations.

As a fellow writer I’m curious, how long did it take to preare?


Jon Peddie

Dean Bubley

Great article Tomi

Only thing I'm not at all convinced by is your estimate of 750m people accessing Internet content by phone, nor that the "the majority of internet access is via mobile phone" in China, Japan & Korea. Majority as measured how? Pages viewed, hours of use, # of times used per month, bytes or pixels consumed, $ of goods/content bought? Are you including walled-garden content? This figure also implies a very substantial # of prepay users are regularly accessing the Internet on mobile, which seems counter-intuitive.

I've yet to see a survey compiled from an analysis of website logs which suggests that any more than a tiny fraction of pages are delivered to browsers other than PC-based IE or Firefox/Mozilla-type. There's a small sliver of Opera, although that could also be PC or even settop box based, but mobile must be in "other". Sure, quite a lot of access is via WAP, but even so, I still doubt that it's a particular meaningful proportion of total usage, outside of Japan.

Amusing fax anecdote: I finally had to buy a fax last year, as it was the only way a lot of clients (in the tech industry, including some mega-corps) would do business with me. In fact, I needed to send a legal document to a huge mobile organisation last week. The only options: fax or courier.....

Tomi T Ahonen

Dean you luddite...

Nice to see you here as always. On the Korea, Japan and China more than half users on mobile, these all from official figures. Its not usage, it is users. We know each of these have relatively low PC penetration rates, so for most who want to access web content, the phone is the only device. Also there is obviously a great mid-ground of users who have both a PC and a cellphone for web access.

And on the 750 M users, yes I am counting walled garden usage, obviously, as most operators are still walled gardens. But if you access Google or Yahoo on your home PC via broadband, or your laptop and a WiFi connection, or your smartphone and a mobile operator (on its portal, part of a walled garden) it is still web access to Google or Yahoo.

The usage is different, but on that too, like I said, the Japanese telecoms regulator just reported late last year that users on mobile internet are more active than users who access via web. Japan has the most advanced mobile internet ecosystem, obviously, from the launch of i-Mode (and its copycats by the other operators), so all internet content that exists in Japanese, is available on mobile, and is formatted primarily for the small screen. China and South Korea have modelled much of their mobile internet - including the generous revenue-sharing etc - on Japan.

Also - you make a very valid point on the usage. I totally agree. There are four separate transitions which will happen at different points, from the PC based internet to the mobile phone based internet. One is devices. That happened years ago, as today more than twice as many phones have browsers than all PCs in use. The second is users accessing the mobile internet. That is still lagging, but mobile will soon overtake PCs on this. The third is revenue. As mobile content is mostly charged, and web content is mostly free, this will happen much faster. But last is total usage (time or megabytes consumed). That will take a long while to transition from PC based web to mobile phones. Yet that will inevitably happen too, as the phones close the gap between PCs and the necessary elements are optimized (screens, access speeds etc)

But you're right, while user numbers are almost neck-to-neck PC vs mobile internet, the usage is very strongly lopsided in favour of PCs, still today.

Thanks for writing Dean

Tomi :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Jon Peddie

Sorry I missed responding to you somehow. Thanks for the comment. This article is an update of themese I've spoken on and written about for many years, including in each of my four books. So this is the kind of thing that comes from my spine, instinctively. I live and breathe these numbers and analogies - and I am constantly invited to discuss and explain these to global companies on all continents.

So its not a fair answer to say I did the above in two hours. While the physical typing and editing took about two hours, it reflects years of refining of those "stories" in it. I couldn't do a similar piece say on the internet industry even though I worked for New York's first internet service provider (OCSNY) from before the internet became mainstream, and have been closely involved with the web ever since.

Thanks for writing. Because I missed out on replying to you in a timely way, I'll send you also an e-mail to tell you I've replied.

Sorry about that

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Pradeep Sethi

Great article. Thanks.

Tomi T Ahonen

Thanks Pradeep

Tomi :-)

Cameron Moll

An incredible article. Thank you doesn't suffice. Your data will be invaluable for citing in my upcoming book.

Tomi T Ahonen

Thanks Cameron

Let us know when your book is out, if this kind of data is of use in your book, we will want to read the book...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Ken Camp


This is another just excellent post providing real value to those of us who speculate about the future. I can only echo the thanks and kudos already given.

Tomi T Ahonen

Thank you Ken. I sometimes wonder when I do my longer "thought pieces" if anybody ends up reading it to the end, but you guys here have really given me nice feedback that these kinds of thoughts are also worthwhile in this blogging experience where often comments are shorter than a paragraph...

Oh, and PS - Cameron Moll - you're sending us a lot of traffic from your blogsite. Thank you for the very nice words there and I'm very happy to see the readers visiting us here.

If you want to read his comments, it is at this link


Tomi Ahonen :-)

Giacomo Vacca

Great article Tomi! What surprises me the most is the percentage of people accessing the Internet through their mobile phones in China, Japan and South Corea... Really astonishing.
Will you publish some of the sources you used to write this article?


Giff Gfroerer


Just a quick line to tell you how much I enjoy your writings. You have supplied our company with countless research points and marketing tips. Thank you for all of your research and comments, both here and with the Forum Oxford. As we expand into North America, we will continue to point people to your book and blog site.

Cordially yours,
Giff Gfroerer
i2SMS North America

alan moore

Dear Griff,

Thanks for your kind comments, we try to give good value to our community.

We welcome any new members to CDB or Oxford forum

thanks for posting



I think your article was great, Tomi. I just wanted to get that out of the way. I must say I have trouble believing your video game statistics, though. Nintendo has shipped well in excess of 200 million consoles in the portable market alone, many of which are still in use. Well over half of U.S. citizens report that they play video games (which means over 175 million users here alone). I remain skeptical of your statistic. I understand that you meant 200 million consoles shipped that were still *in use*, but even then I think the figure is more like 300 or 400 million.

Wikipedia link on console shipments:

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Dave

Thanks. I went to check my sources, and first, it ignored handhelds. But of the classic console types, my latest source is the Financial Times of 10 Nov, 2006, which had first generation consoles (eg Playstation 1) shipping a total worlwide of 130 million. And then said second generation (PS2, Xbox etc) shipping 152 million consoles by 2006. The article had not counted the newest 3rd gen consoles.

So yes, also to me, that number seems surprisingly low, but I looked back through my previous data eg 2005, 2004 and it is consistent. Also remember, its a very "Western" and "Industrialized world" thing, videogaming consoles. So if for the sake of argument we split the 150M into three (America, Europe, Asia) then we'd get 50 M in North America. Against USA + Canada population of 330 M, you'd still get a Playstation2 or equivalent for every 6.5 people. Toss in some PSPs and Nintendos, and say average 2 using a console, these numbers seem easily compatible with the stat of half of Americans playing videogames.

Oh, and the Wikipedia stats seem consistent with ours, when you remove obsolete consoles and hand-helds.

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)

daniela bermudez

How fun! I love practicity, for as long as it doesn't stop the world from spinning.

Do you think third world countries (or "in development" countries) such as Mexico show the same behavior tendencies?

- dOna the Laggard.

daniela bermudez

... practicality, not "practicity" (Spanglish problem).

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi daniela (Hola!)

Thanks for stopping by and posting the comment. Yes, I think the same patterns hold in the developing world, but with significant adjustments for economic factors. The very wealthy in the cities will illustrate almost identical behaviour to that in cities in Europe or Asia, but the majority of the population is so poor that they struggle to gain access even to a minimum phone and service. Still, one of the beauties of the mobile phone in the third world is that you don't need to be literate, to be able to get most of the benefits from a mobile phone. But if you want to use a PC, you have to be literate.

In fact in the third world you don't even need a reliable electrical supply (for the phone) - as there are even hand-cranked rechargers for mobile phones, that are used for example in Afghanistan where electricity supply is very unreliable today.

Many of the stories from the developing countries are heart-warming, such as the one village in Senagal Africa, where there is no mobile phone coverage in the village. But a farmer noticed that if you climb to the top of a tree in his yard, you would find radio coverage and could get connected to the phone network. He has put up a ladder to the tree, and rents out his phone. Local people in the village come to his house, pay him for the phone, and climb up to the tree to make calls. Before that connectivity, they would have to travel to the nearest town which would take all day walking. Now they can connect.

The benefits from adding IT/telecoms capacity for us in the developing world, such as a new computer (or Vista operating system) or upgrading our phone or getting faster speeds to our broadband, can be felt. But they are only incremental benefits.

In the developing world, if you have NO connectivity at all - no fixed landline phone, no computer, no internet, no mobile phone - in that world, whatever is your first connection, makes an unimaginable change to your life.

That is why the mobile phone is so incredibly compelling in Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. Especially for the poorer people, it is the most amazing improvement in their lives.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Piers Corfield

How refreshing to read an overview on the core trends written with such clarity. As someone who is living and breathing FMC, I would be fascinated to have your view on the likely winner in the race to deliver mobile connectivity. WiMax is the driving force in all that we do, albeit 802.16d and it's new sibling 802.16e aren't actually compatible with each other (although there is, quite understandably huge interest surrounding the concept of the merged standard whose working title is System 1). The irony is that user expectation and demand seems to have outpaced network operators' ability to supply, and whilst there seems unannimous agreement that many will choose access 'the web' through mobile devices in future, few agree exactly how genuinely pervasive computing will be delivered. It is my personal belief that we have only started to scratch the surface of the capabilities of fixed wireless networks as users access a multiplicity of communication, entertainment applications and public security systems that will compliment the mobile applications. With so many competing visions of how 4G will be delivered (WiMax merely being one of them) it would be interesting to consider whether it will be the fixed line telecoms giants going wireless, or the mobile carriers expanding into fixed services that will rule the roost (not that mobile networks have had it all their own way in recent years either).

The comments to this entry are closed.

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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 Helsinki 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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