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February 27, 2007



Moi Tomi,
Your article made my day yesterday, thanks :-)
I'll be happy to read further with your thought piece (cooli (at) online (dot) fr)
Have a nice We!

alan patrick


I don't buy this argument....if anything I would argue that mobile is like radio and the 'net is like TV - one is a portable, low bandwidth media with limited UI - the other has massive bandwidth, UI and functionality. Transistor radios were personal but TV took all the lolly.

The other problem is the current mobile 'phone maker/operator cabal have given away market segment after market segment - email to Blackberry, music to iTunes, Video to ??? by not building decent user devices in time for the task in hand.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Cooli and alan

Cooli - Thanks for the kind words.

alan - I'm very happy that you took the time to express your doubts and concerns. This is of course what Alan and I hoped to achieve with our blogsite for topics covered in the book. Not only to "preach to the choir" but equally to reach out to those who may not fully agree with us, to have the dialogue. I really appreciate it that you wrote.

So lets get to my replies.

First on the "Low bandwith, mobile is more like radio rather than TV" argument. Very good counter argument and indeed mobile is today, and I foresee it to remain into the next ten years at least, bandwidth-restrained compared with the mobile phone.

Bandwidth itself is no key to dominance, else cinema would dominate over TV and TV over the internet. But still, this is a good point, and it does strike at the heart of what I mean.

The mobile IS a (relatively) low bandwidth proposition. SMS is simpler than e-mail (and used by twice as many people) and ringing tones are DRASTICALLY simpler than MP3 full-track music (and yet generates 6 times the revenues of all MP3 files sold worldwide). This is the issue I want us to understand. While the phone cannot match the exact performance of all of its rivals - it can still replicate the content experiences for the most part, across all legacy mass media including the PC based broadband internet. Enough to allow us to experience those media formats also on the mobile.

But mobile introduces five elements not available on any mass media before. Because of these, we can invent NEW concepts for mobile the mass media, which cannot be done on legacy mass media. And to address your point, they can be very "low bandwidth" indeed they SHOULD be very low bandwidth.

Let me give you one concrete example from South Korea today. They were one of the first countries to launch real-time traffic cams that you could call up with your 3G phone to see what the driving conditions were like. This service, as a traffic conditions "news" concept is something we cannot do in any legacy media except the internet. You can't show live traffic cams on newspapers or the cinema or in recordings or radio. Even on TV you can't scroll through several hundred traffic cams in a meaningful way today or dedicate a hundred channels of broadcast so you'd reach each individually.

This is a service that only can be delivered via the internet or on mobile. But now, it gets better. Since 2003, in South Korea, they have had the personal real-time traffic STATISTICS page. Based on those real time camera views, they measure the driving speeds on all points where the cameras exist. They then let you customize your personalized traffic optional routes, and illustrate ON ONE PAGE the speeds at every camera on a given route.

The service has both gotten MUCH BETTER, and more personalized, AND SIMPLER than on 3G cameraphones. Yes, we needed the 3G video abilities to teach our drivers that this kind of science fictional service exists and is possible. But then the service evolved to be more user-friendly (faster). Now on one screen I see the average speeds of all the points on my route. Oh, the intersection beteen Smith Street and Wesson Street is slow, let me see THAT camera only.

By making it "simpler" by its bandwidth needs, the traffic camera related personal traffic stats service in South Korea has become MUCH BETTER for its users. It is now a killer application, where the initial 3G traffic cam was only a clever application.

This is what I mean we need to do across all media offered to the mobile. Like ringing tones. Yes, we can sell MP3 files to phones, but MP3 files can also be sold on CDs, DVDs, the internet, etc. But on mobile we can offer waiting tones (ringback tones), welcoming tones (eg Cyworld), background tones etc. All of these are impossible on say an iPod. What makes our media superior to the legacy media, that is what we need to learn. The services and money will be there, not in attempting to port the legacy internet to mobile.

Now on the "losing segment by segment" argument, and thinking e-mail ie Blackberry and music ie iPod, here I strongly disagree with you. The initial market is always for the stand-alone device because of the market economics. The population of the devices is so small, the handset makers won't bother with the couple of million that for example the iPod sold in its first few years. As they sold 950 million mobile phones last year, the phone makers do need to target segments which are a relevant fraction of that. Musicphones became that only three years after the iPod was launched, in 2004.

But once the phone industry aims for a given technology, its game-over, in a matter of months. Last year, 2006, Apple sold 46 million iPods with growth slowing down to 46% annually. In the same year, musicphones sold 309 million units with growth annually at 243%. This is so utterly "Game over". Oh, please don't re-open that old argument that you don't listen to music on your phone, or among your peers you dont' see this happening, or people can't or won't consume MP3 files on their phones. The world went mercilessly past that point in 2006 and every consumer study on musicphones reveals that yes, people DO listen to MP3 files on their musicphones. Not everybody, but so many that the iPods reign is totally over. I've blogged about this at length last year and the final installment of that saga was this blog entitled Requiem for a Heavyweight:

Same story as mobile phones versus stand-alone digital cameras, same story as mobile phones versus stand-alone PDAs, sames story as mobile phones versus wristwatches.

On Blackberry you present an interesting example. It is a mobile phone, but one optmised not for talking but for e-mail access. I've tracked RIM's and the Blackberry's emergence since its launch in 2001 and have many insights into what works and what doesn't on it, why its so popular (crackberry) in America, and an utter failure in all more advanced mobile markets. By 2006 they had about 5 million subscribers worldwide. Thats 0.2 percent of all phones globally. Wow, pretty sad in fact.

What most don't notice, as Nokia has not been pushing these numbers to hard, is that the Nokia Communicator series (world's most advanced and most expensive smartphone series across the years, and by far the most expensive smartphone among the major brands up to 2006) which has had in-built e-mail capability since day one back in 1997, has outsold Blackberries every single year, by a wide margin.

But OUTSIDE of America, none of the heavy users of messaging BOTHER with e-mail on a phone. Why? Because SMS Text Messaging is far superior to e-mail. For the current youth, quoted from South Korea to California, all agree, e-mail is for old fogies. Its like for the current e-mail generation adults to think of fax. Why on earth would I use such an archaic communication method (and we hate it when someone insists on a fax eg to send a signature to some weird country etc). The only reason Blackberries succeeded in North America, was that American business execs hadn't learned of the far superior power of SMS text messaging.

Talk to any British exec. 80% of them say SMS is their most valuable communication method. Not teenagers, these are the busy London city counterparts to Wall Street and Madison Avenue and the various law firms etc of Manhattan. Yes the Blackberry can be a crackberry if you've never tasted more potent "drugs" but SMS trumps e-mail.

So to your point, mobile vs the niche apps, yes, niches survive early before mobile becomes interested (GPS receivers for example today) but the moment the mobile phone makers get interested, they totally take over. Every industry by knock-out, not one defeat. The one we have ongoing right now is pocket TV, which again mobile is totally dominating.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Now, on

giving up segments ie Blackberry iTunes (and video)

Liam Greenlaw

Great piece. Can you also send me the thought pice as well please.



great post! please send me the thought piece.

thanks in advance,



Very interesting. Wrote a post about it on my blog, don't know why the trackback doesn't show up here. Tomi, I would also love to get that thought piece.
Cheers, Idan.


Excellent post - very thought-provoking. I'd like to get that thought piece you mention.
Many thanks,

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Liam, Wad, Idan and Geert

Thank you for writing

Idan - thank you for blogging about it too.

You'll all get the Thought Piece of course, will send it now in a moment

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Hi Tomi!

As i agree with much of what this article says, the way you claim the "superiority" of mobile phones is rather funny. The industry of Mobile Technology basically copies, and most probably will do so in the near/middle term future. MoTel Industry is not a "thing" it is a product of many other industries. Cameras where not invented by them, let alone the internet (and movies, adds,..), sms came out of paging and so on. The Mobile Industry is a product of what was called D-Netz where i came from, which was nothing else but Car Phones.
All that the Mobile Industry can do is jump on the train of ideas of others, self-evidently mostly the Internet which entered all our lives in a speed not comparible to any other "mass media". The reason: Everything that really matters is free (information and entertainment and socialising), also creative self-expression, even making business.
So if you claim the "MoTec" to be "superior" to the Internet (what do u mean by "Internet" anyway, the Hardware, the Clients, the Idea?) because of "potential revenue", just forget it:
The money has to come from somewhere, and as you said for example even 7-year-old people use mobile phones, and like young cows, they just cant be milked unlimitedly.
So, i agree on the point that the transparence and nearly 100%-availabilty of Mobile Devices (Devices!!! not Industry) is the key and the big (and only) advantage over the "Internet" (still asking myself what you ment) but i can see nothing of superiority in it. Being affordable (/free) is the key to become a succesfull mass media (as it happened with mobile telephoning), and Advertising (which plays a key role in Internet Revenue) jumped on the internet and was/is NOT the basis of it. So if you want to build up "7th Mass Media 2.0" u will not be successfull if you build it on revenue-expectations for something users are used to pay less and less. And if you ment the "superiority" you were speaking of is only based on the possibilty of individually-tailored adds then, well, we have a very different definition of that word.

Mark Sampson

Good work - very thought provoking - Please send me your 'thought peice' I have developed a tracking application which reports to the mobile device only - its private and secure see based on many of your unique mobile advantages. very interested to read the 7 out of 10 mobile users sleep with their mobile within arms reach.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Werner and Mark

Thank you for writing

Werner - you make many points of disagreement. Let me address them each individually. But first I think you did not get my main point. I argued mobile as the 7th Mass Media is superior for two primary reasons. First, just like the internet before it, the mobile is able to replicate all that the previous mass media could do. This is not an inherent ability of a new media. Radio could not replicate movie experiences. TV could not offer content to keep like recordings (until video recording came along 30 years later).

But the internet was the first mass media that was an inherent threat media to its predecessors. Newspapers, music, radio, TV and movies all have seen cannibalization from the web. Now mobile has this inherent threat ability, all SIX (including internet) content can be replicated on mobile.

This is HALF of why mobile is superior. The other half, is that while the internet has two new innovations to build compelling and unique offerings (search and interactivity) the mobile has those of course, but the mobile adds FIVE new elements that cannot be replicated by any of the six older media.

I hope this time I was more clear. Two reasons why mobile is superior. Because it can replicate all of the previous media (while not every one of them necessarily as well) and because mobile introduced five elements impossible on the previous five (today. Obviously digital TV and internet evolution will attempt to acquire some of these abilities too)

Now to your specific points Werner.

Copies. So you say the mobile service industry is only copying. Wrong. Ringing tones, the biggest value-add service on mobile worldwide, worth over 6 billion dollars annually, and the service that launched the mobile internet, is not a copy of anything that has ever existed before. It is very definitely a whole new way to enjoy music. A true innovation. Now granted, if you know the history of the ringing tone, it was indeed invented by an internet company (Saunalahti, later Jippii Group), not a mobile company, but that company went on to acquire one of Finland's incumbents (Elisa), the very company that launched the worlds' first GSM network (Radiolinja). So if they weren't part of the mobile industry, they sure are now.

I have many more examples, but lets just stick to the big ones. SMS voting to TV. This is a true innovation, so radical it is now funding whole cable TV networks and has spawned sub-sectors of chat, dating, games, rap etc. SMS voting is worth a billion dollars worldwide. Pop Idol formats around the world generate more votes than all elections held annually. An honest true real innovation, not a copy. Nobody voted about TV shows before.

Werner next you say Internet is free. You suggested that the internet grew so fast because everything in it is free. And because of this, you seem to infer, that if we offer now a rival new media and billable content, the billable model is doomed to fail. There is an elegant logic to your argument, and conventional wisdom would suggest it to be true. But if facts prove a theory wrong, you have to change your mind. In America in the 1970s all TV was free, funded by advertising, and TV reached practically everywhere. By your analysis, PAID cable TV would be doomed to fail. Why if a free alternative already existed, would anyone pay. But in less than two decades, more than half of American households had subscription TV (in addition to free broadcast TV). Just because there is a free alternative, does not preclude a paid variant.

I never said the free internet would die. Only that mobile would grow to be much bigger. Today in any industrialized country you can safely drink water from the tap. But yet Evian and Perrier and other branded water bottlers sell paid water that people carry to their homes. A free rival does not eliminate a market opportunity (but yes, it does add challenges)

Werner next you ask What do I mean by internet. The common understanding. Is there a lot of confusion about this in this day and age? Specifically the internet as a mass media. The media platform that delivers Google and YouTube and CNN Online and Wall Street Journal website and iTunes and the Dilbert caroon online. The PCs the ISPs and the backbones connecting them. Do I need to draw a diagramme? Is there any confusion what the internet is as a mass media today? What planet are you from?

Werner next you say "Potential revenue, forget it" Hold on. This sounds like you are saying that its not possible to make money on the mobile data networks? Sorry you are so TOTALLY wrong on this. The internet content revenues are worth about 25 billion dollars worldwide. The biggest components are adult entertainment, gambling and gaming. The mobile content industy is worth 35 billion dollars - MUCH BIGGER than the internet content already (where is your "forget it") - but check out what kind of content. The biggest is music (ringing tones), then social networking (the mobile dimension to MySpace, YouTube etc, in services like SeeMeTV and Cyworld etc) and screen savers and logos. I would put it to you, Werner, that already today, in 2007, the mobile content industry is not only younger, but MUCH bigger
already than the internet content industry, and considering where we make the money - yes there is gambling and adult content and gaming on mobile as well, but our industry is much healthier in that we've already developed more unversally acceptable content than those that are on the fringes of social acceptance.

Werner then you say Money has to come from somewhere, 7 year olds. I agree. There is a limit to how much we can spend. Here the money will not come from the internet, which is a small industry, but rather from TV, music, videogaming, print - and advertising. But yes, that shift is already happening. MobileYouth measured it and found that the youth of today (in the UK) spend 8 times more on their mobile phones than they do on their music. This shift is happening. But then its all disposable spending, not only "internet vs mobile".

Werner then you say "Being affordable (/free) is the key to become a succesfull mass media (as it happened with mobile telephoning)" This I am sorry, does not make any sense, perhaps you mistyped something, or accidentially edited out somethign. Mobile calls were consistently more expensive than landline fixed telecoms calls through all of the 1990's until MVNOs appeared in Hong Kong, Denmark and Finland, and the trend reversed in the early 2000s. Mobile grew to almost a billion users with calls significantly more expensive than landline fixed calls - and this first billion was mostly in industrialized countries where fixed landline phones were pre-eminent, not like India, Eastern Europe and developing countries today where mobile is often the first phone of the family. So your point makes no sense. Mobile did not grow being cheaper. I'm sorry Werner I don't get it what you mean.

Werner then you say Advertising is not the basis of it. I never said advertising would be the engine to mobile as the 7th mass media. I have repeatedly said that our unique benefit is payments, we can collect on the click. But advertising goes always where the audience is. As mobile emerges as the newest mass media, it will also attract advertising. See the other blog today (7 march) at my blogsite about Asian TV viewers for mobile, 388 million people in Asia are willing to take advertising on their mobile phone to get TV shows - which they would still have to pay for. Advertising is the engine of revenues for the legacy PC based internet. They have no other viable way. But on mobile we have better payment systems, yet advertising will ALSO be there.

Werner then you introduce 7th Mass Media 2.0. No I'm not adding 2.0 to this concept. Mobile was always connecting people (with my apologies to Nokia for using their slogan), and all good Mobile media concepts are community concepts - eg TV voting, mobile blogging, viral marketing, etc. So adding 2.0 to 7th Mass Media is totally unnecessary. And it also suggests there once existed a first version of the 7th Mass Media. No. It has only now started to emerge. We're not adding the fashionable 2.0 to this concept.

Werner then you say Revenue expectations from customers paying less and less. That is fine, a fair assumption for any digital industry service concept. It is no way invalidates our thoughts. Fine, I charge two dollars per month this year, 1.80 dollars next year, 1.60 the year after and so forth. Meanwhile, I innovate and next year introduce a new variant and charge 2.20 for that better service, which then will decline in its price in 2009 and so forth. So whats the problem out of this? I get the benefit of mobile telecoms economies of scale - unmatched by any other industry in the world, EVER. 2.7 billion people. If i earn just a penny for my service per month, but sell it to all of those customers, I am a billionaire - not a millionaire, billionaire, in three years and one week. You do the math. This is not bogus fantasy internet economics. This is mobile telecoms economics. SMS text messaging is 15 years old. It earns 85 billion dollars of revenues and 74 billion dollars of profits. The mobile industry could buy the complete Hollywood motion picture industry, every studio etc, And the whole music industry, every music label and their back catalogues - with only the profits of SMS, and there would be money still left over to pick up smaller industries like the whole Formula One car racing "circus".

Werner finally you ask if the superiority is based on individually tailored ads. No. Individually tailored ads are a TINY portion of the opportunity. But it is something that the marketing industry has attempted many times before, from direct mail advertising to junk mail on the web to spam SMS text messaging. It will never work on mass mailings. It has to be so precisely tailored, that every mobile campaign is "inherently contageous" - where advertising transcends to becoming content - to its intended target audience. Many examples exist of this both outside the mobile industry (eg yellow pages) and inside (eg nightlife guide to the city). For personalized advertising to work, it has to be very well designed, which means its never a mass market audience campaign, but rather a very niche tight focus campaign (or series of campaigns). But yes, it will be there, is there already. One mobile ad company, Admob, which only started last year in Britain, has already cannibalized 8% of all online advertising from web to mobile, in Britain. Similar cases all over from Japan to Spain.

Now I hope I've answered all of your concerns Werner. I sense from your posting that you won't grant me all of these, what I hope is that I've maybe opened your eyes on a few of your strongly held convictions, that perhaps you need to re-examine your world, it has actually changed since you formed those positions. Please look into these matters and consider.

But regardless, I am happy you posted and voiced your concerns. I am sure there are many more lurking at our blogsite who have some of those same concerns. Now I've had a good chance to address them.

Mark - thanks for writing. Trimtrack sounds interesting. Happy you liked the 7 out of 10, it is actually an old story. Originally we reported the BDDO study of 3000 people in April of 2005, which found that six out of ten physically slept with the phone in the bed. We thought that was funny and blogged about it (search our site for BDDO to find it). Then a year later Nokia came with its study, I think it was 8000 people globally, which found that 72% of us use the phone as our alarm (and 73% have replaced the wristwatch with the phone). That I think is the link I have here in the story.

I'll send you the Thought Piece of course.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Hi Tomi!

Thank you for the long and detailed answers. I would like to add one more post and will try to keep it short. And i would like to say in advance, if you would have not used te word "superior" i might have not even reacted to your post in writing.

First, I would like to replicate something important a collegue of mine mentioned in this context: The desctinction between Media(plural) and Medium. And we should be clear, that a Mobile Device is a MediUM. And this Medium takes it content (apart from telephony) from all kinds of other Media. And the Mobile Industry takes advantage (not imperatively in the negative sense) of the technical possiblities of this Medium being able to "replicate" and reflect what "others" offer. !!-> The Mobile Industry depends a 100% on the other Media and how it develops. It can not take (m)any step(s) indipendent from the other Medias, especially the Internet. (e.g. if a new and better Soundformat than mp3 would come up in the inet, Mobile Industry would have to adapt, not the other way round.)

I think there is a mussunderstading between us in the way we formulate things. So from my point of view (i am rather a "low level"-implementing sense technican) its quite interesting that you mention "Ringtones" as something that the Mobile Industry came up with. From my point of view what is behind it is MP3 and devices (mainly computers and then mp3 players) being able to play those files. That has been there quite long before Mobile Phones were able do that and when the technology got small enough it was obvious to integrate into Mobile Devices. The idea of selling that i would not call "superior", it is rather an obvious decision of revenue based companies. For understanding: In your way of argumentation we could also say that selling (single) music tracks online for portable MP3 players (like ITunes) would be a "superior invention" of lets say Apple. I dont agree on it, but viewed at from a certain level i actually think i get your point now. In the same way, there has been TV Votings since i remember. When i was a child it needed to be sent by post. That MoTel opened the possiblity to do that via sms (as internet did before via email), well, ;). But most probably your point was that the revenue was superior to others doing the same thing.

Another interesting point of yours is that you r actually saying that Mobile Phoning becoming a real Medium for the Masses (u called it Mass Media) is NOT related to it becoming cheaper and cheaper, going even further and mentioning 3rd world countries in this context. Now as this makes me rather smile (i hope you dont take that personal as it contains no disrespect at all), i allow myself to be a bit rude and will not comment on this more but leave it open for verybody who wants to think about it once again.

Anyway, sorry, i am running out of time..just to get over my basic point:
I have seen a lot of wrong decisions -business related and technical- in MoTel (and other industries) by managers and other "important" people and many/most of those decisions where based on assumptions of "superiority" on many levels. So i think people in the MoTelSector who often are being asked for advice by decision takers (like you i´d reccon?) should show a bit of "technical humbleness" and should focus more on the intermediation role of MoTel. And the fact that people more and more will demand to access certain services for "free" (flatrate for Internet, fixed fees in Cable TV, both are not related to the amount of content accessed) should make the MoTel industry aware, that revenue in the future will depend on the same sectors other Medias can expect revenue, wich basically is adverts and in the case of MoTel the role of a "bank" intermedation (paying device) - as the mobile phone will become just a very very small pc over time.
Mobile Devices defentetly have/will have an outstanding role in advertising, no doubt, and Mobile Payment (and in pushing technologies). I perfectly agree with you -once again- that mobile devices are super. Defentely. Because they are already nearly part of the human being in the western world and is part of their life (Basically sleeping with their phone as u mentioned elsewhere ;)
But gee, what about Notebooks and PDAs (latter where also asimilated by MoTel as technology allowed it).

Thanks for taking your time and i look forward to further conversation!
All the best,

Morten Lund

I really enjoyed your post - and your fluent style of writing.

You might want to consider extending the Media Typology developed by Bordewijk Kaam with your thoughts on Media Characteristicas of the Mobile Media.

Please send me the "Thought Piece".

Best regards
'/ Morten Lund

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Werner and Morten

Thanks for coming back Werner, and for the considered remarks.

You seem to suggest in the first part that apart from telephony (voice and SMS), mobile is "dependent" on the legacy mass media for content. As if there is no unique content formats for mobile. Well, we already have several unique concepts that are not adopted from other media, but were created uniquely for mobile.

The ringing tone is exactly that kind of innovation. Yes we had MUSIC before. But never before, were "snippets" of music sold, saved and played. Yes we could have some hip-hop and rap artists sampling music, but then the snippets were played as parts of a larger whole (or repeated endlessly to heavy drum beats) but never before was a 15 second snippet of a song, able to be delivered separately as a music "item" and sold.

Ringing tones allowed this. They are not viable on any other media (so far, although some are now trying). We don't have ringing tones when we turn on our TV or when we open our newspaper or when we walk into the cinema. On radio, TV and recordings, we play the full songs (MTV on TV obviously) not only these snippets.

This is a whole new content category, viable only on mobile the seventh mass media channel (and I've learned my lesson on the Latin ha-ha)

6 billion dollars worth of content sold annually in an industry thats only 8 and a half years old, ringing tones. Crazy Frog alone earned over half a billion dollars in 2005 (thats more than all of iTunes MP3 songs sold worldwide in 2005).

This is a new media channel and we do have unique content already for it. But yes, ALSO this medium can - and will - cannibalize many formats from legacy media and in some cases they will take over as the preferred media channel to consume that type of content. Early signs are very strong that news is one of these, as 80% of Japanese mobile phone owners already pay for news content on their phones. If I get the news fastest on the phone, why would I then pay for slower news media to deliver "yesterday's news" to me?

You Werner also take issue about the price of content on mobile. I would suggest it is not a natural direction for all prices to fall. I think it is natural for prices in a given industry or category to fall, but not prices overall. Witness for example the American automobile industry inventing the form factor of the SUV. When SUV's were pushed, the main automobile formats were shrinking year after year, ever smaller "full size sedans" and ever smaller compact and sub-compact cars. And car manufacturers were making less money on these smaller cars. So they invented a new category, a REALLY BIG car.

Or consider bicycles. In the 1970s and 1980s the most expensive bicycles were the slim, racing-style touring bikes. Slim tyres, the rounded racing-style handlebars, etc. Now go to a bike store today and what do you find? Almost all bikes are "mountain bike" style, with wide, bubbly tyres, and wide handlebars. Not only did the bicycle industry force us to buy new bikes, but also made us buy a new style of bike, with more expensive parts and more metal.

Or consider water. We have free water out of the tap, in most industrialized countries totally colourless, odourless and healthy. Yet Perrier and Evian ship French bottled water to practically all markets in the world.

Back to mobile. Yes we have free formats for content (radio, broadcast TV and internet). But we also have co-existing the same content on paid media - digital radio and recordings vs radio; cable TV and DVDs vs broadcast TV; and various magazines and newspapers vs internet.

Now we have the newest medium, mobile. Because mobile networks are limited in the spectrum, there is a real economic cost to delivering mobile content. There will always be a price. That price is not necessarily billed per view or even to the consumer. It may be that some content is sold as a package or part of the subscription (or a flat free price). Or it may be charged to an advertiser. But every time content is consumed on mobile, a charge goes somewhere for it.

Which brings me to your point about advertising, Werner. A good point. Except that advertising cannot sustain this new media channel. Mobile telecoms as an industry is already almost twice as large as the total worldwide advertising industry. And it is totally unfeasible to assume all advertising would migrate to mobile. So even if a major fraction of advertising would migrate, it would not be able to cover the costs of this new media channel.

yes part of it, but not all of it. That is why there always will be charges on mobile as a mass media channel. it also means that for the fore-seeable future there will be a parallel free PC based internet out there, with mostly free types of content.

My thoughts on these topics. Tell me what you think...

Morten - thanks, I'll take a look at Kaam. I've already sent you the Thought Piece. Thanks!

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Onno ter Wisscha

Hello Tomi,

found this posting trough Bruce Sterling's blog (beyond the beyond).
He seems to think you're overreacting a bit.
But I just switched from ICT consulting to innovation management at a mobile operator...
Please send the two-pager.


Eduardo Cruz

Hello Tomi,

Great presetation of yours last friday at the ForumOxford conference, i have written about you and commented about the 7th mass media topic in my blog, find it here:

Rajiv Lal

I absolutely loved the conversation between Tomi and Werner and yes at this stage of technology, this conversation would not have been feasible on a mobile phone or shared between us in quite this manner.
I work in the revenue part of mobile world and mobile phones as the 7th media are both a challenge and a nightmare. Would like to build on the seventh media point.
The point on content, whether music was available and in what format is actually a bit irrelevant. The core is in how we manipulate and consume content and it is here that the mobile world scores big time.
The huge advantage of the mobile phone over the net is not just that it is mobile but that it connects people by voice. We use it to talk to one another and are happy to pay for this opportunity. This is the ultimate user generated content. It is this feature that creates the ubiquity of the phone.
That ubiquity is then leveraged with the fact that the phone is peronal to create other relevant content like ring tones. Remember we do not hear the ring tone. It is what others hear when they call us. It is an expression of who we are to the outside world, i.e. the world that is calling us that is the biggest revenue generator in the mobile content space.
And then there is immediacy and the way we use it to manage time, games over the wifi network while we wait for the client to come in for the meeting, news in at a red light, gps. Were these invented or adapted for mobile. Unfortunately a lot of content is adapted but as we move on we are not just adapting but inventing. The core tech, may be similar or adapted from the net, I am not a techie and I do not know but the application is becoming unique to the net. Check the difference in news.
On content and paying for it. There is a huge differnce between a pricing model and a business model. The ubiquity of allows pricing at amazingly low unit prices. Now whether these are charged at unit price or bundled prices is a business decision. Remeber, once the network is in place, the cost of data flowing in the pipe is virtually zero.
In the end, it does not matter who invents it (after all I do not know who invented the wheel or fire). What matters is what opportunites are created in terms of consumption and the sheer ubiquity, immediacy and personalization of the medium create opportunities that are amazing.
And please could I have the thought piece.


Hi Tomi-

Very insightful and love the dialogue between you and other bloggers. Overall, I think you're dead on with your thoughts on the industry and where it's headed. I'd be very interested in your thoughts about mobile commerce -- not RFID, NFC or contactless payments...rather actually using a cell phone to search for physical goods (makers of those goods) and buying them. Much like e-commerce on the Internet.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Onno, Eduard, Rajiv and Kristine

Thanks for visiting and posting comments

Onno - I'm not sure if I did send you the Thought Piece (I may have lost the e-mail alert that you had posted a comment here). I will send it to you.

About Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond blog and comments - well, he's of course entitled to his view. I am not the least bit concerned, as I've been struggling with these kinds of reactions for many years now. My thoughts are clearly stated into the public domain, in my books, articles, and now more recently with my blogs and Forum Oxford postings etc. I don't shy away from my position. But what I do find, is that many companies over the years have taken my advice and made masses of money. Not necessarily purely on my contributions, but by adapting and adopting from my thoughts. Look at the Flirtomatic stats and innovations we just wrote about. Thats all pure Mobile as 7th Mass Media.

So its ok. I'm sure Bruce will eventually see the light. Any new invention has to be, by definition, at inception an absolute minority of one. It is my job to convert the world to understanding this view point. What makes me so happy, is that this 7th Mass Media theory is so widely accepted from telecoms to internet to media to advertising companies, so I'm not at all in isolation with it ha-ha...

Eduardo - you are too kind. And it was wonderful to meet you in person at the Forumn Oxford Conference, I greatly appreciated your active participation in helping make that event such a big success.

Rajiv - thanks for the considered views. We are in agreement, obviuously, so I can only thank you for your valuable additions to the points.

Kristine - Hmmmm.... about "true" mobile commerce? I chaired the world's first mobile commerce conference back I think in 2001 in London, and its been a recurring theme in my books (by the broad definition, I have a whole chapter on m-Commerce in my second book M-Profits).

What do I think of physical goods and buying them on mobile like e-commerce today? Like Amazon books, DVDs, CDs, etc?

Well, first of all, two thirds of the world that is connected, does not have a PC. Their only way of connecting is a mobile phone. In Africa, India, most of China, Latin America etc, PC ownership is low single digits, but mobile phone ownership is already passing - or passed - fixed landline ownership.

For those countries/markets/customers - any m-Commerce is a natural evolution. PC based e-commerce is a distant second option.

But I think - and I say so in my Early Eight theory - the real power of mobile is to sell virtual services and goods. For example Expedia. Selling airline tickets. We don't really need a paper ticket to fly. Its a virtual sale of a physical service. Yes, we actually sit on the plane, but we don't buy a piece of the airplane to get onboard. Only the "permission" to fly - which should be purely virtual. For that kind of purchases - passes to Disneyworld, tickets to subways and busses, paying taxes, buying insurance, receiving our paycheck etc - all those should be done directly via the mobile phone.

So in that kind of area we do have a huge opportunity. Oh, and most of that already exists - in Helsinki 55% of single tickets to the trams and the Helsinki subway are sold direclty to mobile phones. Alton Towers (the Disneyland of the UK) was the world's first amusement park to introduce mobile phone passes in 2002. You can buy a fishing license in Oulu Finland, or pay your parking fine in Abu Dhabi directly onto your phone. In South Africa you can receive your full paycheck to your phone, etc.

But back to bricks-and-mortar purchases. In the Western World we will have a leading role with e-commerce into the fore-seeable future. Eventually I do think - in the long run - when future phones are better and more powerful at internet access and services than what the iPhone promises this June - at that time yes, as we replace phones every 18 months and replace laptops every 3.5 years, perhaps you'll buy one more laptop - in about 2008 or 2009, but by 2011 you won't buy a laptop, and only use the super-smartphone as your pocket computer..

But that is one vision, and it is by no means a consensus view. I should point out, that Japan - where the mobile interent was first launched in 1999, and which became the first country where more people access the internet via mobile than PC in 2005 (South Korea and china have joined that group, and several European countries are now nearing that mark) - last year 2006 became the first year that while mobile phone sales kept increasing, PC sales specifically started to decline. As the majority of users access the internet on a phone, there is ever less reason to get a PC for internet use. Obviously as the majority of access is from a phone, also all web pages are pre-formatted for the small screen, with an option for large screen view.

But there, a quick comment ha-ha....

Thanks for visiting and posting comments.

Tomi :-)

Francois Nel

Tomi, thanks for initiating a fascinating discussion. Came late to this one, but just one additional thought on quality: Value judgements like 'superior' should typically be qualified by adding detail about the context and application. For example, mobile is potentially offering superior reach, but (at present) inferior bandwidth, etc.

Would like to think some more, so please also send me your'thought piece': FPNel [at] uclan [dot] ac [dot] uk



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