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April 30, 2009


C. Enrique Ortiz

Remember when Moto created the texting pagers/devices years ago? They had the right vision, but, too early.

As I understand it, Motorola's decision to adopt Android goes beyond smartphones and it had to do w/ *consolidation* -- simplifying the internal mess and battles related to so many different technologies/OSes to deal with and maintain.

That strategy, consolidating (in general), I believe to be a smart and needed management move by Motorola.


Gibson Tang

Plus, leveraging on Androids helps them cut costs since they do not need to create their own OS(The Motorola OS was pretty lousy) and it also helps them link up with the Android Market and it's growing(slow) market of apps.


Hi Tomi

You have always been a fan of SMS and MMS and I see why. However do you feel that SMS (as simple as it is) will still be a striving technology in 5-10years; with cloud computing and voice - to - text technologies. If yes/no what are your ideas on the next big thing? Have you planned on going beyond SMS? If the future is not the connected internet (as we know it through PCs)then what?

Please help me out - I would love to start a business and mind the Motorola mistakes :)
Please also see that I have not read your books. Just the blog and thank you for your posts.

Br. Vesa

Tomi Ahonen

Hi ceo, Gibson and Vesa

Thanks for the comments. I'll reply to each individually.

ceo - good points and yeah, ha-ha, the pagers were indeed ahead of the curve in a strange way, but died when cellphones appeared and then now the SMS facility on phones has replaced the messaging ability of pagers. The issue with pagers were that most pagers were only numeric - so people would not be able to communicate much except for some agreed-upon private codes, like if I send you a 1 it means I have arrived to my hotel etc.. Then the text capable pagers never reached penetration rates to pass the inflection point, as those wealthy enough to consier those "premium" cost pagers (text pagers) would want the new cellphones rather.. I think the text pager total population never reached even the level of Blackberries today.

But it is funny, the more we see about technology and the future, the more we see signs of the past. History repeats but rarely exactly in the same way, ha-ha. About Android, let me bring Gibson into the story too.

Gibson (and ceo) - about Android. Good point, and yes, Moto is notorious for attemnpting to support a wide range of operating systems including even Symbian in the past. I have no problem with streamlining the company and reducing the R&D investments in multiple OS designs. I would guess - but am not competent enough on Android to know, but every fibre of my understanding suggests this - that Google Android as a smartphone OS is not a practical OS solution to the lowest end phones. Maybe I am wrong. But assuming I am right, then it means still, that after Android Moto will still have to support its low end basic OS anyway. Why then the added investment now into Android if it is not a wholesale solution, only a partial solution. I think this is a very wasteful move by the company, they could achieve significant R&D improvements by dumping some unnecessary OS support, but picking two of their EXISTING operating systems, rather than dumping some, and introducing a new one..

But I'm sure there is much more behind it, elements to the decision that I am not aware of, related to the politics and strategic thinking etc.

So I do agree with both of you, it is good for Moto to streamline its OS line(s). I do think this is a questionable move. I am certain, even if the new Motorola Google Android phone is the super hit of the Christmas season 2009, that phone cannot save Moto. The scale is not there. They have to revive their mass market lines of phones and do that fast. Far faster than Christmas 2009.

Vesa - thanks and yeah, what do I think? Well, SMS and MMS first, these are not brothers, they are more like cousins. MMS is far more like eMail than like SMS. And SMS is nearer say to Twitter than MMS. So while I'm a fan of both, the more I understand SMS and MMS, the more I feel they work in radically different market opportunities, with remarkably little overlap.

Two quick examples. I am in a taxicab. I am running late. I send an SMS to my customer informing them I am coming, but the taxi is in a traffic jam, and give them my estimated time of arrival. I would not think of sending a picture message to inform them of that fact. No overlap.

As to MMS, it is a far richer media opportunity. So while we can yes do even "stories" on SMS, as series of messages etc, MMS is a multimedia (story-telling) platform, while SMS is purely a messaging platform. The rapid growth of various advertising on MMS and short form stories, ie mobisodes, soap operas, jokes etc that are in the form of MMS picture and video clip stories (and sounds) form a rich opportunity for media that goes far beypond SMS.

In terms of scale, I do think that in the next 5-10 years (and I rarely suggest predictions 10 years into the future ha-ha), SMS will trump MMS in total usage, total traffic, total messages sent. MMS may become bigger in revenues but not in total traffic sent. Not in the life-span of the current 2G and 3G network licenses.

Now, your question, SMS vs cloud computing and voice. Good question. Lets take voice first. The utility of the voice communication does not depend on the delivery platform, whether it is Skype or a fixed landline phone or the mobile phone (or something cool on the cloud). Voice vs SMS is a battle already decided. Yes, we like to listen to the voice of our loved one. But most of our communication needs - every single market, every single segment including business and government use - we prefer to send SMS to using voice. Not every time and every use, but the majority. SMS can be done in private. SMS can be sent as a one-way instruction or advice (such as a lovers' pair who break up via SMS rather than voice call) and us asymetrical. I send you an SMS suggesting two alternate times for our meeting. You don't have to respond now, you might not be near your calendar etc, you can respond later today, when you know.

So voice lost the war and will never come back to be preferred to some kind of "semi-instant, mobile phone based messaging". Is SMS the ultimate messaging, very probably not. Twitter is proving very compelling to its 10 million or so users (one third of one percent of all who use SMS). But SMS is very powerful, partly because we can send from anywhere - but more than that, it is "tavoitettavuus" ie reachability, the ability to be contacted by OTHERS at any time anywhere. Reachability is the real key to SMS addiction (and why mobile phone voice calls are so much more compelling than fixed landline voice calls).

Ok, so voice is not making a come-back. It won't go away, but SMS and other instant-type messaging solutions on phones will trump voice on most instances. Not all, but enough, that say a "new Skype" for mobile is pretty useless as a business idea. As pointless as today launching a "cheaper long distance or international calls" service for our LANDLINE phones ha-ha. The time has passed for it.

Cloud computing itself? I am confident we'll get cool new innovative services and applications that sit on the cloud and will deliver new abilities for us. Services that seem like magic. Shazam (the music-identification service) or Kamera Jiten (the real-time printed page text-conversion and translation utility from Japan that translates printed pages in English like say Time Magazine, to display in real time on your phone screen in Japanese) are cases where the technical function of the application was moved away from the phone, onto the network. The phone is only a window to access the service that sits somewhere in the network. These will now evolve as the phones become ever more powerful and the engineers get to have scale of users to deploy their services. What we'll see out of cloud based services and apps, who knows, but they should be about as inventive and innovative and radical, as we consider Wikipedia and Google and Second Life and Amazon today, compared to the birth of the consumer internet fifteen years ago.

Obviously the phone will be the primary access to the cloud based services and apps. Don't believe for one minute that it would be netbooks or cheap notebooks. Smartphones and feature phones, that is the mass market for cloud based services and apps, in the future (in my humble opinion, ha-ha).

PS Vesa, if you are serious about any business in mobile today, then you should invest in the 20 UK pounds to buy my latest hardcover book, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media. It is your guidebook into that future, exactly as my 2002 book, m-Profits was to this decade, now with hindsight. You could take any consecutive 3 ideas from m-Profits and launch them between 2002-2005 and two would have made you millions ha-ha. I dare say 7th Mass Media is as valuable today, into the next decade... Perhaps worth reading?

Thanks all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Sorry Tomi but text phones wont save Moto, you know why? Because they dont know how to do it, even though it sounds simple. I was living in the states 10years ago and remember the time where SMS was just unheard of! LOL Moto has lost its vision, they dont even know what they're doing. Look at their phone lineup.. all of them are awful no matter what segment you look at!

While SMS seems such a big industry i really dont think this is the future, its too expensive!!! For 160 characters for 5 or 10 cents is just outrageous!! I think some kind of Instant Messenger service or maybe even email will eventually replace it once all get some kind of push email service. All you would need then is a monthly data plan and you can text (email) back and forth all you want (think Nokia Masseging enabled on every phone) You are right though, you've got to be able to text easy with the phone! Nokia is great at that, although since they understand this and are pretty good at it, there is still a missing feature on every Nokia out there.. there is no shortcut where it sends you straight to your SMS Inbox (they have it now for emails but not SMS, how stuuuupid!) Nokia has been sleeping the last few years and they know it, if they know SMS is the most important feature in a phone then why offer only 1 candy bar QWERTY phone? Or explain to me why they made the N97 a THREE ROW QWERTY??? It's sooo awfuuuul to text! yuk! The space bar is all the way to the right!! Someone illiterate could tell you that's a no no!

Back to Moto, the only thing that can save Moto is if they merged with Palm and let Palm incorporate webOS into most of their lineup from midium to highend, hire european execs and designers, and create new phones in every segment which are great for texting and a whole lot more, like multimedia, email etc. The benefit of letting Palm do the software is because they can do software and hardware under one roof (keep everything tight) Kind of like Nokia is doing or Apple with their own software. Palm might be known in the US but nobody knows them outside the US, why try to build a whole new brand internationally when they could just brand it as Motorola which everyone knows. The google way is somewhat a dead end i think, google is just trying to lure them in with a free carrot and beat them with the stick later on. They made the Droid with them and now google is marketing Nexus one with better software and more features which is targeting the same segment and eating their customers away. Just a good example.

I think Moto is done though because I dont think their Execs are willing to give it up, they rather stay on top till it drowns then let someone else handle it.

Nokia is next, what i mean is that they will lose market share because they just cant get the software part smooth enough. They are even lacking in the hardware department lately but they can straighten that out, what they can't straighten out is their software. They need an overhaul on software programming because almost all their software that they bring out seems outdated before it even launches (look at Nokia Maps, email client, chat client, ovi suite, ovi maps, ovi store and and and etc). Apple and Google are much better at that, they are the software champs in this day and age. You would think that Microsoft out of all would be a leader in this industry but no they are the worst which is just strange but very true. So, Nokia has some problems long term because they can't keep up what Silicon Valley can do, they will dominate the BRIC countries but BRIC will eventually also move up into high end which is more and more becoming all about software where Silicon Valley is a master of.

What Nokia needs to do is get their software right whatever it takes if they want to stay relevant long term, the next 5years they are fine but beyond that they need to innovate much more into software. Going open source with their Symbian OS is maybe the way to go i dont know i guess that tells you that they and incapable of doing it themselves, but what they're doing with Maemo is just confusing their customers. I have no idea where they're going with that.

Anyway would love your input on that since you've got so much knowledge.

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