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

« Bloodbath update for December, as we await EOY data for 2010 | Main | Smartphones Bloodbath, Q4 and EOY full numbers for Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei »

January 06, 2011



there are a few points
1) Mobile 3G data revenues should not be included under mobile section I think, as people use mobile 3G data mainly for internet browsing.
2) Internet is a meta-medium and some of the values of it is pretty incalculable, for eg, what is the value of 'wikipedia' ? it is pretty much invaluable.


Fascinating arguments on both sides, just a couple of thoughts: Firstly, electricity, via the light bulb, has done more than anything for productivity/industry etc in the modern era. The number of working hours in different areas and circumstances that non flammable, reliable light has created is incalculable! Also, the invention that everyone forgets, glass. Glass created the renaissance and thus all further reform (cf the stagnation of the previous leading eastern science). Maybe not strictly on topic, but thought I'd mention it (I'm sure you appreciate the magic of glass to a working life Tomi!).
Finally, I wondered whether you had any idea why sms is so expensive when it is given away for free in most contracts in the uk (unlimited on a 25 pound one), and zhen technology like bbm does it for free.
Many thanks for all your work,

Jason B

Seeing as there's no effective competion for SMS, it's price is not subject to market forces. If the EU or FCC forces this private data network to behave like email it will cost nothing. You could also argue that for smartphone customers in a lot of countries it is zero as part of a all you can eat data plan.


Interesting debate, but one should exercise caution and skepticism before making very bold, definitive statements. A close look at the history of technology uncovers some surprises.

For instance:

> the fixed landline telephone, which is only a
> communication technology and very few (mostly
> adult entertainment) services have been able
> to offer media services on the phone.

Well no. A number of services are or were delivered over landline phones, except that you have forgotten about them after all those years using a mobile device.
Apart from smut, we have:
a) wake-up services;
b) radio and music (there was a system called "télédiffusion" in Switzerland, where radio programmes were broadcast over the telephone network from 1931 to 1998 -- see;
c) information services (time, meteorological information, news, traffic conditions, sports and lottery results, etc);
d) telephone dictation services.

All of which matches capabilities in current mobile phones -- except many decades earlier, with older technology, and in a very different regulatory environment. So in this regard, mobile and fixed are more alike than it seems.

Second example:

> But the landline system was never
> adapted to be used as a mass media (or
> alarm) system which mobile already is.

10 seconds with a search engine returned these links:

"Emergency Alert messages will be sent via telephones based on the physical location of your landline and mobile phones via the registered address.
Landline telephones will receive a voice message while mobile phones will receive a text message.
When you pick up your landline phone you will hear the Standard Emergency Warning Signal, which sounds like this followed by the words ‘Emergency, Emergency’.
The system is set up to make three attempts at delivering the message.
The landline will ring for 45 second before it hangs up."

Once again, mobile and fixed are more alike than it seems.

Third example, on the historical perspective:

> Cars changed how we travel. Mobile changed how we communicate.
> How we consume our news. How we make payments. Cars only changed
> one major part of human activity...

No. They also changed the way we live (cities were remodelled to assume the utilization of cars and accommodate their ubiquitous presence), how we buy and consume (malls), how we work (people commuting daily to -- possibly various -- distant places of work was unheard of before cars). And as for mobile phones, we continue using other forms of inter-personal communication as well (landline phones, letters, e mail). So the comparison between cars and phones is more apt than Tomi contends.

A last point on historical perspectives:

> Electricity is to my mind the second biggest change to mankind since money...

Really? How do they compare to stirrups, alphabetical writing, the mouldboard plough, or vaccines?


Phil W

@ Baron 65, I think you'll find that poor agricultural villages in Africa or anywhere else actually value mobile phones. What they do is club together and by communal phones which they then share, so the cost of ownership is not so great.


@Phil W

... which is also what took place in Europe many decades ago, especially in the poorer parts of the continent. Villages had just one landline phone -- found at the local post office (the then communal service). Once again, there are strong historical precedents to what is happening nowadays with mobile.

And by the way: then, as now in Thirld-World countries, going shopping or to school could take hours (on foot); visiting relatives or dealing with administrative matters in another town could require planning in terms of days. Transport was way more crucial than telecommunications...

Tomi Ahonen

Hi all. I will respond in groups

Hi Sandeep, Arthur, Jason, E and Baron

Sandeep - What makes you think 3G data revenues are mostly 'internet browsing'? You have not heard about various 3G premium services from videogaming to social networking to music services and video blogging? There is very much more to 3G than just internet browsing. You may be thinking of iPhone users specifically?

About the internet being a 'meta medium' then isn't also print a meta medium? We use print for example to handle most of the value of cash (banknotes and cheques). Just because it has other uses doesn't invalidate it in the comparison of one medium vs others. Everything you can do on the internet can already now be done on mobile - which by your definition makes mobile another meta medium, but mobile can do far more than the internet cannot, like ringing tones, 3D barcodes, augmented reality etc.

Arthur - I agree that the electric light has been very important (and is only one part of the contributions of electricity) but industrialized light was already available in gas powered city lighting and in consumer lamps fuelled by kerosine. Not perhaps as 'convenient' as electric light, but far more commercially practical than candles, and I'd argue, the shift from gas and kerosine powered light to electric light was only an incremental gain, whereas mobile in many cases is a radical change, especially for the 3/4 of the planet who never had any other kind of telephone connection before.

I do like glass and am happy you mentioned it. A magical technology most definitely haha..

Arthur - the SMS pricing is a mystery for me too haha.. There are markets whereit is more 'sensible' but we can do the math for the 25 UK pound price bundle and find that the operators do make a nice profit on typical users on that price plan, so it does make some sense. As to free messaging, they will erode the SMS space but not kill it in a very long while to come for very many reasons.

Jason - the primary competition within SMS is between operators/carriers, not by rival technologies. This is typical of most industries. Airlines will not see competition from passenger ships or long distance trains, they mostly see their competition from other airlines.

E - good arguments and points. I am not a historian nor a sociologist and I am not about to try to argue how electricity compares to stirrups (for those readers who are not very fluent with English, those are where you put your feet when you ride a horse, as part of the saddle arrangement) haha. The clear topic of my blog was about mobile phones, not a historical analysis of different contributors to mankind, but I did argue electricity and money are to my mind the biggest changes since fire, but feel free to disagree.

I can comment on the items you mentioned from the fixed landline environment. I did already state that there were some content services on the fixed landline. All were so tiny as to account for less than 1% of total landline industry revenues, combined, as late as 1998 the last time I studied those numbers. By far the biggest was adult entertainment. We did have the talking clock in Finland too and miscellaneous services on premium calls. If the total industry is under 1%, then its pretty tiny. But yes, I'll grant you, some other services did exist. That is nothing like mobile where a quarter of all revenues are earned in non-voice services, in some countries more than half of all income is non-voice.

About the landline as alarm - I meant it but probably was not clear to say - 'at the time when it was introduced by mobile' The landline has not been - as far as I know - a national alarm system - until first done using mobile and SMS. The Australian example I understand was deployed after the SMS based services. But I may be wrong. Feel free to dig for the facts and tell us haha..

On cars changing one aspect of humanity - you claim cars changed how we live (suburbs) and shop (malls) etc - no, that again was first caused by trains (and trams, the short-haul trains) and later that change was accelerated by cars, not caused by cars. If cars were never invented, we'd still live in suburbian worlds today.

Baron - you clearly have not studied the situation of poor villages in Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc poor countries. What you describe seems very sensible but is not true. The utility of a mobile phone is so great, that farmers, fishermen, laborers etc will get phones. Not that they can call their friends - but to help them get jobs, find work, sell their services, sell their produce, their catch, etc. Sorry, the facts are opposite to your assumptions. They cannot afford a new phone, so they buy a used phone. They cannot afford to make calls, so they use free 'call me' types of services, so that the more affluent family member or business partner will call, etc.

Thank you all for the comments, I will be back with more

Tomi Ahonen :-)


I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my

admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the

end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.

evden eve nakliyat

his full posting first. Its not monsterously long, but he makes really good points in support of, and against my blog. I will be responding here to his main points

Christian Louboutin Flats

Good post. I am also going to write a blog post about this...I enjoyed reading your post and I like your take on the issue. Thanks.

cheap jordans

This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions.

nike basketball shoes

Thank you for this article. That's all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something special. You clearly know what you are doing, you've covered so many bases.Thanks!

su deposu

So how many is the 'unique' user count? That is 3.7 billion people. It is already over half of the total population of the planet - and considering most of the planet lives in very poor conditions, mobile phones are by a very wide margin the most widely spread technology on the planet. Yes, 54% of all people alive on the planet have a mobile phone.

toyota çıkma parça

toyota çıkma parça ,toyota yedek parça,toyota

Joe Mason

Very nice blog with an excellent writing skills of the author. I'm glad that you have raised such a topical issue in you posting. Will be glad to read you soon.

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