My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« The Truth about Smartphone Market Shares, is RIM dying, Nokia tanking and Apple at 40%? No... | Main | Mobile Stories from Developing World Pt 1: Disabled in The Gambia »

October 02, 2009


Phil Hodgen


I am not exactly clear on your opinion here. Could you amplify your thoughts? :-)

(He said, having driven home from soccer practice last night with two middle-school girls hunched over their Blackberry Curves, which are seen as a sign of cool in their circle.)


Phil Hodgen

Quick followup here which may be interesting to you. I remember you posted a while ago about the Nokia Communicator and its adoption among teenagers.

The same thing is happening with the two girls I took home last night. My daughter had my old Curve, and her friend had her mother's old Curve. That's what I see among the teenage set. Yes, they all want iPhones too. But they like the Curves.

Same adoption path for Blackberry that you noted in Nokia's case? Maybe.

Jason Bowers

You're still addressing the software issue with blinders on. Where's the robust SDK for Blackberry? Where's the API for external devices? It is ridiculous to say the iPhone hasn't innovated since 2007. It's on the third version of the OS, which works on all models released thus far... Software is innovation, it is a difference maker and as long as you keep pretending it's not you're going to be keeping your head in the sand. Don't forget mindshare/momentum. (Watch using percentages Tomi, 30% of 85,000 is over 25,000 non-game applications...significantly more than are available to Blackberry users.)

Jason Bowers

You're right about the Forbes article, pure drivel.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Phil and Jason

Great comments, thanks. Will reply to both, and your two comments each, individually here.

Phil, first comment - haha.. not clear enough haha?

Phil, second comment - yeah, very good observation and I am seeing that repeating all around the world. There are the hand-me-down Blackberries that are being snapped up by teenager kids of their parents, and the Blackberry is becoming the phone they ask for by name. Used to be that the weird form factor, extra-wide Blackberry style, was undesirable. Now its the new cool and because it is that good at text entry, it is the preferred phone for Generation C ie Community Generation...

Jason - good points and note, that I was not writing about the future of smartphones, I was answering the faulty reporting or faulty analysis actually, of Forbes. i did not select the topic nor the items to cover, it was Forbes, and they strongly focused on the hardware issues. I have promised my next blog story about smartphone realities, and will get it done some day when I have a bit of time haha, but I do not forget the software side. However, today and next year 2010, for any smartphone maker, they will get the vast majority of their income from hardware (handset) sales, not from software/services sales, not even Nokia, which leads in monetizing apps and services, is going to be anywhere near half point by end of next year, in a shift from smartphones to software - but all handset makers are in that journey, definitely. I agree with you on it.

On Apple non-game apps vs Blackberry. Here is a giant difference. The vast majority of Blackberry apps are business-focused, "vertical" apps as needed in enterprise/corporate segment - ie the healthcare industry has very different needs from the banking industry or government or retail or shipping etc. Apple has very few verticals, and where they do, these tend to be those who are Apple/Macintosh -obsessed ie advertising and media industries. Almost all Apple iPhone non-game apps are mass market consumer apps, not business/enterprise/corporate or government-oriented apps... But Blackberry for understandable reasons, nearly twice the installed base and vast predominance in enterprise/corporate customer base, their majority of apps are focused for these vertical needs.

Jason - second comment, haha, thanks.

Thank you for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)


Great article as always Tomi.

On the apps front as commented by Jason. You know I get so impatient with this notion that having 75k or 85k apps is somehow a magic panecea for mobile phones. I picked up the N97 and I spent a month just downloading and installing apps that predominant were not junk... imagine trying to sort and sift through 75k apps. At a certain point it becomes unusable and becomes a complete turn off. The vast majority of "apps" for the iphone are complete and utter junk covered with pretty UI.

Do the applications for your device serve your needs? Are there enough to cover the weak spots on your device? are there enough to push your device beyond its out of box state? If the answer is yes, then the difference between 1000 apps and 75,000 apps is meaningless. My E71 only ever needed about 10 apps that keeps it competitive. Havign 1000 apps for it becomes meaningless. My N97 needs double the apps to keep it competitive and in many ways, with far fewer apps selections, can be pushed and be more usable than the iPhone with its 75k apps.

The US media tends to get so caught up by large numerics (all just marketing)that this simple fact completely eludes them and they somehow think that having 1000cents is more robust than having $100 because 1000cents has more zeros. And along with that lack of perspective, their reporting also suffers complete tunnel vision.

pk de cville

85,000 apps appears to be 'impressive' but misleading.....

Not if you talk to developers. 1000s of developers say this:

Developing for the iPhone is incredibly easier, cheaper, and more profitable than any other mobile.

How do we know this to be true? 85,000 apps say it's true.

Want custom vertical apps in the enterprise? Let's check out custom development in say, a year. There will be 1000s of custom iPhone verticals shipped by then. Reports of low development costs and high quality apps will get around.

It's Apple's game to win; The others are playing catch up defense.


If we all were alike, then yeah 1000 apps would be more than enough. And the other 85000 would be meaningless. But thank God, we aren't all the same ...

And the fact that there are 86000 iPhone apps with many apps covering the same functionality, means that there are developers out there who are trying to do better than what is already there. That's how innovations take hold. In your scenario, we'd all be "locked-in" to the same 1000 apps because there's no one out there trying to radically improve on them.


Been lurking for a while but this latest round of Apple-bashing prompted me to post. To say that Apple has not innovated since 2007 is ridiculous. Then you go ahead and list RIM's innovations as introducing more models and bundling social networking software with the phone!! The way I see it, Apple has introduced three game-changing innovations in the mobile space.

1. Multi-touch and the gesture-base UI - This made the phone incredibly easy to use - and ease of use isn't just one innovation. It pretty much gets people to use all your other features. No matter how innovative a feature, people will not use it if it is stuck behind a hard-to-use UI. Now, multi-touch gesture-based interfaces are dime-a-dozen so it is easy to forget that they did not exist until the original iPhone.

2. WebKit - It is true that most of the work on this was done (for the Apple desktop platform) quite a while before the iPhone was released. It is also true that Nokia deserves some credit here for being the first to port WebKit to their mobile platform and that Apple didn't build it from scratch but rather started with the KHTML rendering engine. However Apple took a promising but incomplete piece of software and turned it into what it is today. At this time WebKit is the pre-eminent mobile browser. Nokia, Palm and Android all use it and (with the recent acquisition of Torch Mobile) it is probably only a matter of time before RIM starts using it as well. Once that happens, the only mobile OS that won't use WebKit will be WinMo.

3. The whole App Store model. It has been such a success that pretty much everyone else is copying this model.

The first two innovations listed above were, of course, from 2007 or before. The last was introduced in 2008. The next big thing, IMHO, will be the API for communicating with external devices. Pretty soon, we will see a ton of external hardware devices accessories that pair with the iPhone and iPod touch.

One final nitpick - you may way that Apple is not an innovator because many of the things I listed above were not actually invented by Apple. However, recognizing the potential in some technology and improving it to the point where it actually is usable and useful is, in my opinion, another form of innovation. This is what Apple excels at.

All of that said, I am not going to predict that Apple is going to kill everyone and dominate smartphones. I agree with you that the article is brain-dead. However, you don't need to bash Apple (or any other company) in order to criticize the article.


Tim Harrap

Who's on the radar?


Thank you for the great post.

Pavlo Zahozhenko

hanks for the article, it was an interesting read!

I think the best RIM can do is to push its devices aggressively to low-end and mid-end smartphone markets around the world. Blackberry OS itself is suited for this task, as it can work fast on relatively weak hardware and offer good battery life. However, to achieve this RIM should either deeply discount BIS for operators or change its email architecture altogether (making it less centralized).
Surely, RIM's main competitor in low-end and mid-end smartphone market will be Nokia with its Symbian OS, maybe Android will join the battle for mid-end market later on.

What I'm unsure of is whether RIM will stay relevant in high-end smartphone market in the long term. This conclusion comes from Blackberry OS architecture: it cannot adapt to new hardware as fast as the competitors, especially those based on Linux kernel, and its application development platform is not on par with modern mobile app dev platform like iPhone SDK, Android SDK, Palm WebOS SDK or upcoming Qt for Maemo and Symbian OS. Thus, RIM should either adopt or develop new OS for its high-end offerings, or it will lose high-end smartphone market share, slowly but steadily. Not that this is that much of a problem, as the lion share of money lies in low- and mid-end markets, but the high-end market is very prestigious, it is what determines company technological excellence and brand recognition, so I'm sure it will be better for RIM to stay in this market as long as possible.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi ounkeo, pk, kevin, HCE, Tim, arabyana nand Pavlo

Thank you for the comments. I have been very busily travelling and unable to post much. I will do a major blog posting today at the opposite end of the industry, far far removed from smartphones haha, about the Gambia, I think you all will enjoy the blog article. I will then return here later, hopefully still by tomorrow, to answer. I will of course reply to each comment individually as usual. Thank you for commenting, don't go away haha..

Tomi Ahonen :-)

cheap jewelry

Thank you! The content is extremely rich.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    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

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati