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January 04, 2008


Kim Dushinski

It is so fascinating to look back to the 1980s (which seem like yesterday to me) and compare the technological advances. It is almost impossible to think what it would be like to go back to a time without messaging, mobile phones and user-generated content. It sends shivers down my spine to just think of it.

Alan moore

Did people walk around with fax machines in their pocket? I can remember running on too many occasions to the post office to get the last post, now when did I last do that?

Thanks for dropping by Kim



Great post, a fun trip down the memory lane and good food for though for the future.

Indeed, none of these developments will stop where they are now even though it'd be tempting to think along the lines that "Well Blu-ray discs will be enough for ever". Still, on many fronts, we will hit either or both the law of diminishing returns and the laws of physics - the development will inevitably slow down. For example, optics already places hard limits on the resolution of cameras - adding over 5 megapixels to a cameraphone or over 8 to a compact digital camera will degrade image quality, not improve it. On DSLR-level, the limit may be around 20-30MP and even that requires very expensive and large top-of-the-line optics.

Similar effects will take place on other fronts; cellphone power consumption cannot increase past 3W before heat dissipation becomes a serious issue. Increased communication may soon hit the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day - and that figure doesn't seem likely to increase :)

And one more point about digitalization; the digitalization of everything has tremendous positive potential to everyone - all of our information and data will be readily available, anywhere, from any device. However, it also places big demands on the providers of those services - namely all that data needs to be backed up. Without extremely easy (and even automatic) back-up services, it becomes dangerously easy to forever lose all ones once-physical memories (music, precious photos, videos etc) to one catastrophic hard disk failure.

Javier Marti

Good post. We are reading you every day. Keep it up!

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Kim, Alan, Sami and Javier

Thank you for the comments

Kim - ha ha, good point. There are many technologies that are "nice to have" but I honestly cannot imagine being productive without access to Google, using my laptop, and having immediate access to my close colleagues via SMS texting...

Alan - I remember "wanting" the feature of the fax on the first Nokia Communicator, to have in my pocket the ability to send and receive faxes. Then when I did get my first Communicator, I found that I used the fax feature perhaps three times in total during the several years that I owned that device. On my later Communicators I haven't sent or received one fax ha-ha. How fast these things change..

Sami - very good points. I do think we will find diminishing returns on many technological frontiers. Consider trains. They achieved 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) in 1840. Today normal trains - I mean excluding the high speed bullet trains like Shinkansen in Japan and Eurostar in Europe - tend to operate in the roughly 100 km top speed (65 miles per hour) range. Those were normal operating speeds for trains a hundred years earlier. Yes, it was possible - and is possible - to increase railroad speeds but if its a local train making stops at the various local stops in the suburbs, we don't need the theoretical super speeds..

I am particularly concerned personally about that power issue with mobile phones that you mention, Sami. Obviously my personal interest - and roots - are from mobile phones and thus they are very near to my heart (also literally, with one of my two smartphones always carried phones in the inside breast pocket of my suits). I like to try to imagine near future evolutions for the phone and its services, but increasingly we are crashing into the power issues. That also means battery power and related concerns about explosive and bursting-into-flames batteries as they saw a lot in the laptop industry last year.

And your last point - the value of our stored memories and what if the phone or device is damaged and we lose that information - is a growing concern. To me it seems like the "obvious" service opportunity for mobile operators and their 3G networks but so far it hasn't turned into a major service concept of meaningful market success, yet. Maybe this year, ha-ha..

Javier - thank you so much. We appreciate it that you are reading.

Thanks for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Tomi, the portable power issue is definitely one tough nut to crack. Battery capacity hasn't improved nearly as fast as consumption has increased (reminds me of the computer-related quip that "software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster" :).

But for the sake of the argument, let's say it'll be possible to have 100x the power in equivalent-sized batteries ten years from now. But would they then be too powerful? Consider what kind of damage that battery could do if - and, unfortunately inevitably WHEN - one malfunctions. Have you seen Terminator 3? I personally am not looking forward to seeing the first news story of a downed plane or a derailed train due to someones phone exploding.. :\

Then take this thinking one step further; we might have electric cars that run 1,000 or 10,000 miles on a single charge - or, alternatively, wipe out a city block if you short them.

(Think of what it'd do to your breast pocket, too - might even ruin the suit ;)

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Sami

Always good thinking from you, thanks. Yes, that is an alarming vision of the near future, yet something like that is bound to be coming, not only with the phones, obviously, but also with cars etc. Those exploding laptop batteries last year did cause many in our industry to stop and think..

Thanks for writing

Tomi :-)

david baer

Experts have talked about this before. How many times have you read about the importance of ‘adding value’ for your audience? How many times have you read about ‘building trust’ with your readers/prospects?
Many, many times. You know it well. Every marketing guru has spoken about this topic. I’m sick of hearing it. But it STILL bears repeating.



Having been a part of the Online Universal Work Marketing team for 4 months now, I’m thankful for my fellow team members who have patiently shown me the ropes along the way and made me feel welcome

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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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