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October 04, 2010



Hi Tomi,
I'll always remember that day in 2001 or 2002 when, a young engineer in a mobile phone manufacturer R&D division, I ranted during a meeting about the architecture of an upcoming product, then the 1st cameraphone of the brand: "Why don't we just drop that VGA camera ? And who's really gonna want to take pictures with such a poor resolution ?"

And now, fast forward to 2010, I barely use my antiquated digital camera anymore (my phone has more megapixels...), to the point that I'm even wondering whether I should buy a new digital cam or not. My camcorder ? Why would I carry such a large gadget with me when my phone shoots videos with almost equivalent quality ?
My PS3 ? Fortunately it makes a great media center, otherwise it would probably collect dust while I play on the iPad.

So yes, as you said several times in other blog posts, "good enough is enough", and some mobiles have now become good enough at pretty much anything you throw at them, hence the end of the battle.

It is now for "legacy" (i.e. non-mobile) devices a matter of finding the right niche where "good enough" is still not enough (e.g, DSLR for cameras, or super immersive games for consoles), and focus on those niches rather than attempt to compete with mobile


Hey Tomi, you noticed that camera phones are already compared to proper DSLR's! And the results are not bad at all! Who would have believed just one year ago?


Sorry if its a stupid question, but i read the last part of the article as if you are referring to a video "in this video interview", but even after disabling all ad-blocking, i cant see any links to a video.
Is the intention that there should be a link, or did you not actually link to any video?
In the latter case its a slightly confusing formulation.

Any how always great to read your posts!


> eventually cash will disappear

Very, very ominous statement. Cash being the only truly anonymous payment method, its complete disappearance will purely and simply abolish privacy regarding all economic transactions. Figuring out the consequences is only limited by one's imagination -- all the more so since I cannot remember to have ever seen any form of e-cash or m-cash that did not provide some more or less sneaky way to track monetary transfers back to the owner of the electronic purse/wallet/phone.


Well actually, I read (and responded) to your prognostication that music phones would take over dedicated MP3 players. The argument was never that the phone *would* take over the dedicated MP3 player, but when you posted that you were counting every phone that could theoretically play MP3's -- even one's with a paltry amount of memory and no expandibility -- as a "music phone" as if people were really using their 64MB phone as a music player to substitute as an iPod.

No one seriously argued that Apple didn't see that day coming. By the time you posted the article, Apple was already partnering with Motorola and rumors of the true iPhone had already been circulating.


good. thanks a lot.

Tomi Ahonen

Hi Romain, sami, Jaclu, E and KDT

Romain - haha, yeah, I remember going through the same thought process. First severe disappointment in the early cameraphones and then the continuous replacement phones and suddenly decided, no I am not going to buy a new stand-alone digital camera, the one in my pocket was good enough..

sami - haha, yeah.. I do think its pretty safe to assume Canon and Nikon etc will have a long life in the 'serious' camera niche, eh? But the cameraphone keeps improving faster than the top end cameras, ie the gulf between the two types is shrinking..

Jaclu - SORRY, my bad! I meant to post the link and forgot. Thanks for reminding me. Its up there now. THANKS and sorry!

E - haha, we'll still have semi-anonymous payments in the form of prepaid (and user reloaded) SIM cards like they already use as currency in many Emerging World countries. So while yes, perhaps - perhaps - the operator/carrier can have some identity on the original SIM when sold to the end-user, what if that person trades the SIM card with 30 minutes of voice left on the card, to someone else - and that person then loads more minutes onto the SIM card, say upgrading it to one hour for example - and then trades it to a third person, we very soon lose any chance of tracking who actually is holding that SIM card. And remember, it can easily have a mobile wallet - so it can easily have hundreds of dollars in value as we get into m-banking more seriously...

But nonetheless, you make a good point, cash is anonymous, digital money is (theoretically) not. And a big incentive for governments to shift from cash to digital money instruments is exactly that, to eliminate the anonymity, and thus stamp out black market transactions (read - to be able to accurately tax everything haha) etc..

KDT - we have gone over this argument many times. You know there are NO FACTS to support your outdated view, and the FACTS are CLEAR that no matter how poor the 'quality' of the musicphone - globally - and this includes poorer countries of the Emerging World - globally those musicphones are used by far more than half of the population. I don't need to recite those stats to you again. I won the argument when Apple admitted they feared musicphones and had to rush the iPhone. I win.. :-)

But as to 'no one seriously argued that Apple didn't see that day coming. By the time you posted the article, Apple was already partnering with Motorola and rumors of the true iPhone had already been circulating.' - no that is not true. On the day when I first made my projection - that within a year Apple's iPod would lose its reign - NOBODY in the world said so - which is why for example the Financial Times quoted me. Show me KDT any other expert quoted in any other rinky-dink publication in any language before me, who made that claim. No, you don't get away with saying it was obvious at that time. It was totally counter-intuitive - because when I made that projection the iPod sales were exploding and I specifically said that inspite of that explosive growth - and inspite of the extremely poor reception that the Motorola Rokr received - inspite of this, within a year the iPod reign was over - and I ended up being correct. You know this KDT, go check the original postings, they are still live on this blog and referred by dozens of other sites. No you don't get away with saying it was obvious at the time. It was considered heresy at the time, I was crucified on this blog for daring to say that. (and you know that too)

Thank you all for writing

Tomi Ahonen :-)

O. Mo

It's always interesting to read your blog, Tomi. Apart from the interesting content, your frequent use of 'haha' give your texts a slight feeling of 'comic-book evil genius' (I hope this is intentional, as I, for one, am loving it!).

On a different note: I assume pseudo-anonymous virtual money would be possible using a PKI infrastructure and trusted 3rd parties (bank and certificate authorities) in a process similar to this:
Let's assume person 'P' wishes to pay company 'C' 10$.
- P buys v-cash from a bank (say, a 10$ virtual currency complex alphanumeric code encrypted and signed using the banks private '10$-bill' key).
- P then encrypts the v-cash using C's public key and signing it using P's own relevant certificate (the relevant certificate could well be a 'derived certificate', not necessarily revealing personal identification such as name, address nor social security number, but rather giving only the minimum information required for the context of the transaction on a strict need to know basis (like the age and nationality, if renting a movie))
- P then sends the encrypted v-cash to C.
- C decrypts the v-cash using P's public key
- C then decrypts the v-cash using it's own (C's) private key
- C now holds the v-cash which can be deposited to an account of choice.
- When the v-cash is deposited, the bank immediately revokes the certificate used to sign the v-cash. It can only be deposited once.

Some advantage of such a process are:
- C can ensure that P is eligible to perform the transaction (via the derived certificate) even when P remains anonymous to C.
- Although the bank knows to whom it issued the v-cash, and to which account the v-cash finally is deposited, it has no knowledge of the details of the transaction itself. Also, it is theoretically possible (though not probable), that the v-cash was not 'cashed in' immediately, but participated in several transactions between issue and deposit.
Some disadvantages are:
- The telcos can't act as man-in-the-middle. It's just bits and bytes.
- Governments can't ask mobile operators to give up more than the encrypted bits and bytes, nor the banks to give up more than they know about.

One question is: Are the operators ready to accept their destiny of only supplying dumb transport pipes, or will they insist that they must be the man in the middle, and fight such decentralized, pseudo anonymous transactions?



*Everyone* saw convergence coming almost two years before the iPhone.

Bill Gates actually predicted that the phone would take over from dedicated music players in 2005....

The original Reuters article is gone but....

"The article quotes Gates as saying that heid 'bet on the mobile phone for sure' as the mobile device that will eventually emerge as the best for listening to music."

Samsung was already introducing the "media phone" in 2005.

"Taking mobile technology to the next level, these mobile phones will offer a variety of the most cutting-edge functions, such as motion recognition technology, TV output support, built-in HDDs, megapixel camera and MP3 players, all packaged in compact and sleek designs, which Samsung is well known for."

Also Nokia was already introducing media phones in 2005 as well as Nokia:

"A cellphone that can store as much music as Apple's popular iPod Mini MP3 player will be launched by Nokia later in 2005. "

Again, from the same article. Apple knew that convergence was inevitable:

"Apple has already struck a deal with US phone and chip maker Motorola to jointly create an 'iPod phone' capable of interfacing easily with Apple's iTunes music purchasing and track management service, but the relationship has yet to bear fruit."

Rumors of the true "iPhone" date back to 2005. A year before the iPhone was introduced here an article from 2006:

"The web's abuzz with more speculation about the so-called "iPhone," Apple's supposed up-and-coming moto-killing music-playin' bad boy phone. First off, Barron's Online (subscription required) quotes an analyst who believes the iPhone is right around the corner, and last week Piper Jaffaray said there's a 75% chance of an iPhone showing up "in the next 12 months." Add to that the comments by a J.P. Morgan analyst who says "the chatter about the product is all over the food chain" and this article that claims an Apple iPhone could hurt Motorola, and it almost seems like we're so confident it exists, we don't even need Apple to introduce it."

Fred Jacobs

Tomi, thanks for the mention for Jacobs Media & Arbitron's "Goin' Mobile" ethnogrpahic study. Your blog is always thoughtful and enjoyable. Your readers can check out the exec summary of our study.
Thanks for all you do.

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