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February 06, 2007



These (as such encouraging) Finnish statistics should be taken with a grain of salt and taking the context into account - most of the increased sales of the high-end phones can be attributed to the recently allowed phone subsidies. As they are allowed for 3G phones only, that almost automatically translates to 2MP+ cameraphone with a music player.

Plus most of the people with high-end phones couldn't care less about 3G and 3G services.

Dean Bubley

Do Finns tend to select phones because they're smart.... or just because they're mid-to-high end Nokias?

Most people buy Nokias because they're Nokias, not because they have a Symbian OS. The average customer couldn't tell the difference between Symbian+S60 vs. Windows Mobile vs. a hamster on a wheel.....

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Sami and Dean

Nice to see the both of you here

Sami - First, I didn't suggest Finns were particularly fond of 3G services anywhere, did I? But of the 60% 2 megapixel cameraphones and 50% MP3 player musicphones - these are not by any means all 3G phones, so while yes, the recent change in 3G handset subsidies does shift phone purchases to the upscale 3G models - these numbers definitely include a large amount of 2.5G GPRS and 2.8G EDGE phones, not only 3G phones. If it was, that 60% of all phones sold in Finland were 3G phones, we'd have an even bigger story ha-ha...

But yes, you have a good point that we need to understand each market differences. In a way, since the majority of the industrialized world consists of markets where handset subsidies exist, Finland has actually become more like the rest of the world - like the UK, USA, Japan etc with this, rather than the more rare countries where there are no handset subsidies like Italy, South Korea and Belgium for example.

Dean - ha-ha, in Finland Nokia has something like 75% market share, so yes, as Nokia focuses on the higher end (like Samsung and SonyEricsson) rather than the low end (like Motorola and LG) - yes, this has tilted the picture perhaps in the favour of higher-end phones.

I wouldn't suggest Finns are in any way more smart, its only that as a market for mobile telecoms, Finland has historically been ahead of the rest of the world, in particular in the 2G area. Sweden, Norway, Italy, Israel, Hong Kong etc have periodically caught up or even passed Finland for a given area, but taken overall, Finland is still the leader. (In the 3G world the lead shifted immediately to Japan in 2001 and now to South Korea from about 2004).

But yes, as a market for us to understand how society changes due to mobile telecoms, Finland continues to be a market worth studying, as it tends to see the changes first. Like the public transportation of Helsinki, where over 55% of all single tickets are already sold directly to mobile phones. Or Finnair, which reports that over 20% of its passengers on its heaviest congested routes, use mobile check in, etc. And now these impressive adoption levels of advanced phones. Finland is a market worth watching.

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)


Tomi, no, you didn't say they're fond of 3G services but you implied it by (again) stating that Finland is ahead of most places in mobile services and the societal impact - which I tend to disagree with. Sure we have the SMS ticket and check-in, but on the whole Finland has unfortunately dropped from the lead a long time ago.

And another thing to keep in mind when looking at the cameraphone sales (and other features alike) is that better and better cameras are increasingly being pushed down to the cheaper models in manufacturers' phone portfolios. Therefore, unless you buy a really bare bones basic phone, these days you're likely to end up with one equipped with a camera, probably even a semi-decent camera.

Whether or not people use the cameras to a similar extent is an entirely different question.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Sami

Come on, please Sami - I am proud of what Finland achieves in mobile telecoms, but in the over 1000 articles we have written here with Alan on this blogsite, not at even ONE have I suggested that Finland leads in the 3G space. We're both (Alan and me) quite clearly familiar with South Korea and how much it leads Japan, and how much these two countries lead the rest of the world - in 3G.

But you cannot deny that in mobile telecoms impacts to society, time and again, Finland introduces concepts and ideas that others copy. Its not "just transport tickets and airline check in" and you know better than that. You visit our site often, and you know we write on many Finnish innovations from Habbo Hotel and its novel way to pull payments to fixed internet content paid by mobile phone, to the Finnish Idols variant to the Pop Idol format - which single-handedly doubled the voting traffic for what is the world's most voted reality TV format.

I think you are being a bit too severe on Finland. It is not the leader in 3G, but in terms of innovations in the mobile telecoms space, Finland keeps on producing, and innovations that range massively past the tight industry definiton of mobile telecoms.

But thanks for writing again.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


> Like the public transportation of Helsinki, where over
> 55% of all single tickets are already sold directly to
> mobile phones.

This is actually 55% of all single tickets for the tram -not for buses, trains, metro where mobile tickets are not offered.

And how many of all tram tickets sold are single tickets?
From daily life observations, I would think that most people use those dedicated charge cards for periodic tickets (time or value based); not single tickets.

So I would think this is 55% of a small percentage of overall ticket sales.

But I was more impressed about the substantial extra profits for the public transport company (due to lower costs) and additional revenue from people who used to take the tram without paying.
So an excellent example how the convenience of the mobile phone makes people willing to pay what could be obtained also for "free".


Tomi: I agree I may be a bit too harsh on Finland from time to time. That stems from listening to too many people (not you or Alan) extolling the world-class mobile services and lifestyle in Finland far above anything else. That attitude of thinking Finland is a glorified mobile heaven is something that irritates me, so maybe I tend to be overly critical of the good developments we do have :)

Anyhow, I agree many good concepts have come out of Finland and been copied elsewhere. One problem is that it's often this "elseswhere" that succeeds in capitalizing the concepts' full benefits, while they often wither and die in Finland. And it's not just in mobile services - in many other areas Finland also has good, even excellent, plans and ideas and strategies but is sorely lacking in execution.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Alax and Sami

Alex, good catch. I've always specified the mobile tickets replace only "single ticket sales" not all tickets, and the monthly pass and yearly pass and prepay payment systems are in wide use in Helsinki, so yes, these single tickets are a small minority of all tickets sold. They do, however, present a particularly "cumbersome" load to ticket sales, and a mobile solution to that is very good news, not only for the travelling passenger (I think it has something like 92% customer satisfaction) but more for the public transport authority, in streamlining the costs of providing single tickets, which obviously they still need to provide for public transport.

But yes, I was aware that the tickets started on trams, and then spread to the underground and now busses, but I didn't notice that the 55% usage stat for single tickets was only trams. Thanks for that.

Sami - cool, I really appreciate it. I was part of that Nokia "Talking Heads" rotation of execs who ran around the world talking of the "Finnish miracle" at the turn of the decade/century/millenium - and I too felt too many times that people assigned too much to Finland, most of it was a coincidence of timing, what we saw in Finland happened in Sweden or Norway within a few months, and Italy perhaps next, so it was just being slightly ahead of the others. And this was all 2G, by 3G the lead shifted back to Asia.

I also agree with you that many of the innovations have not been well exploited by Finnish companies who experimented in them. For that, I am hoping the Finnish system will compensage.

I was amazed to notice that the Finnish university system is now adding its first ever professorship for "sales" in the area of Marketing. Funny. Finland has one of the globally highly recognized universities in Economics, and plenty of marketing training even for engineers, but there never was one sales professorship in any university department of marketing. It shows that the Finns do take a very academic approach to business, not as practical hands-on as the Americans for example.

But yes, "sorely lacking in execution" is unfortunately a very valid evaluation of Finnish contribution to business (well, outside of Nokia ha-ha)

Thanks for writing Alex and Sami, see you soon...

Tomi :-)

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