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February 02, 2009


Mariana Oliveira

There is a very interesting research from Burst Media about that. According to it, 58,3% of internet users watch TV while surfing in the internet, 33% of them are working, 31,1% are reading a book, 29% are reading a magazine or newspapers and 23% are talking to someone at cell phone. Maybe even people who are not in generation C are learning to be multitask.


For myself, tarnished with the monniker, a digital immigrant I do wonder what the social psychology of all this is. I personally feel that it all adds up to a distraction as Mark Curtis posits. The time-space compression where we are involved with instant gratification sounds like it is going to be doubled with using two phones. We are entering a different dimension here perhaps. I think I prefer to be a digital dinosaur and not have the TV on in the mornings!! Oh showing my age!


hmm, i think having two phones has more to do with being on 2 different contracts than using 2 devices and i think we`ll see phones which can use 2 SIMs _simultaneously_ in the not too far future, definitely would sell like hot potatoes, especially in developing nations. so i can`t see other benefit in splitting up the money between 2 devices and having all the annoyances of them being not synchronised and less capable, etc. since having a powerful device means that you can listen to music, write SMS, jump to the browser, send someone onto voicemail, etc all the same time - though no luck here for sad iPhone users :) and also having 2 hands means that you can type much faster! with the flexibility of touchscreen i think we`ll have the quick, one hand, portrait usage and the more immersed, 2 hands, landscape usage. point in case: Nokia 5800, i got this not too long ago and use the landscape virtual keyboard 90% of times - that being said they could tweak the input methods a bit throughout the OS, it`s a bit inconsistent at the moment.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Mariana, Tim and dain

Thank you for the comments. I'll respond to each individually.

Mariana - Good statistics. And yes, its one natural human response to the added stimuli and data overload. In previous times there was probably not much more total media offering than what a person might consume in a day. Consider the 1970s before the internet and cable TV. We'd get the newspaper in the morning, listen to some radio during the day, get the evening TV news at night. Television would transmit only a few channels so even the home video recorder was not really "needed" to capture a lot of programs on alternate channels, now the 2 tuner TiVo/PVR (Personal Video Recorder ie hard drive video recorder) seems not able to capture everything we want at any one time - while watching a third channel..

So yes, we adjust to it, but I think the youth here have even a bigger opportunity where they grow up naturally using the phone keypad for messages etc. Makes them even more in tune and connected to peers, while consuming several media at the same time.

Tim - yes, I agree, and great point about Mark Curtis's excellent book, Distraction. Yes, it captures so well what we are now feeling in trying to deal with the overload.

dain - thanks for the comments, and I appreciate what you write, but the world actually is well beyond the vision you have. Those two SIM card slot mobile phones already exist, here in Hong Kong for example there are many Samsung models that accept two SIM cards etc. China has had those from smaller manufacturers for many years and I just saw some of the Samsung models in Jordan last year. Nothing new there.

But also the assumption about human behaviour is flawed. Yes, there are many who have two networks and occasionally two separate phones to save money on their communications. No problem with that. But that it would then trend to a desire of one phone and feature set is not natural. The UK had a famous consumer survey by Office Angels I think two years ago, when half of British youth now think its cool to walk around with two phones.

The reason is that someone with two phones is "more connected" and more cool and has more friends and is more successful. The second phone can be from work and this itself a sign you have a cool job, etc (Working your first job at Macdonald's doesnt' get you a free company paid phone, ha-ha).

Now, if the youth preferences have started to shift that two phones is better than one, its a lost cause, and we'll increasingly find that also in our future.

I find lots of colleagues and friends, obviously first in the telecoms professionls in Finland for example, but now increasingly among all white collar jobs around the world, who really find utility and convenience from having two separate accounts - and two phones. Its easy to see that the Blackberry is the work phone and the Samsung is the fun leisure phone, so you can pick up the right device with you when you go to the restaurant with your wife, and only want the personal phone with you but not the work phone, etc.

All what you write about, was stuff I heard ten years ago, and even myself often wrote about and claimed. The world has really moved beyond it, and now two phones is the reality. Like I said, more than half of Europeans have two or more subscriptions and most of those also carry two phones. It will only get "worse" not better, even with the two-SIM card phones, as most employed adults have post-paid (contract) phone accounts which means usually they also get at least a partial subsidy on their next phone.

A global replacement cycle of 16 months now means you get a new phone every 8 months if you have two post-paid/contract accounts.. And on two networks, odds are you will have access to almost all the cool phones if you pick your networks well. The iPhone in 2008, the Nokia N97 in 2009, why not..

Finally on the typing. Again dain, I hear you, and it makes sense, but only for older people like myself (I love the full QWERTY keyboard on the Nokia Communciator series like on my current E90). Young people who can easily average 100 SMS sent per day, can type out messages as fast on a keypad, without predictive text - and without looking at the phone - as I can using two hands on my QWERTY keyboard on my Communicator.

They PREFER the phone keypad ! Just like young people prefer driving playstation car driving games using the playstation controls rather than a "real steering wheel" on some driving control simulator systems, the youth also prefer the phone keypad to a large keyboard. There already are small phone keypad layout USB based keyboards that you can plug into a PC or laptop, to use the familiar phone keypad layout rather than the "cluttered" 101 key based QWERTY keyboard that we older people are so familiar with on the PC.

I don't mean it isn't a great idea to have keyboards on phones, in particular when they have touch screens like the iPhone. Good. And yes, slider keyboards (I went publically on record one day after the iPhone was announced, that what it needed was a slide-out keyboard for better texting).

But the phone needs ALSO the ability to operate it single-handed. We often don't have the luxury of two-handed operation when something urgent happens and we need our phone. We may be carrying something heavy on our other hand etc. So then the phone also needs a keypad - like the Nokia Communicator does when its clamshell is closed. So you can easily and conveniently use it also single-handed, also to send messages etc.

If you learn to send SMS using the phone keypad, and are able to use the phone single-handedly, and then you have two phones, its a small step then to start to use both on separate hands. I thought this was a very weird situation when I occasionally would do it when I worked for Nokia a decade ago, and then would spot a fellow Nokia colleague doing it too, but its gradually appeared on all continents and its not at all uncommon, for example when an airliner lands, to see several frequent fliers with two phones, using both to send immediate update messages after the frequent flier has landed. No longer just the Nokia-geeks from Finland ha-ha..

Don't think the one-handed keypad entry will disappear anytime soon. SMS text messaging alone was over 100 billion dollars worth of revenues in 2008, far over 110 billion this year. That is as big as the global music industry, plus the global hollywood movies industry, plus the global videogaming industry, by revenues, combined.

That kind of economic power is not going to disappear silently. The operators/carriers love SMS and will continue to promote phones that are strong in using this cash cow.

Thank you all for writing.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


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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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