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July 04, 2012



Many things must converge before skype skyrockets. We very smart and knowledgeable people know that! SMS is the surefire way to reach anybody. Skype is still a whisper in the grapewine! Look the curves of the emergent factors, how they are zeroing in and base your calculations on that! SMS in nowhere near giving in for instant messaging based on ip-traffic!


Or just call it a pocket computer.

One fairly common vision is that the processors and resources in these pocket machines will get to the point that you can just carry it with you all the time and plug it into a docking unit with screen and keyboard when you get to work/home to do your work (and examples already exist). The hardware is just about there already to make this possible for a good proportion of computer tasks, and i mean running stand-alone local applications at a decent clip, not some gimped hardware hooked up to some network service to do the heavy lifting.

Of course, i'm not sure where the hardware industry will make money when an under $200 pocket computer can replace 80%+ of all personal computer use (pulling a couple of numbers out of my arse); not to mention all the other things one already does with mobiles. By spying on users I suppose.


@count cuntula

Google Hangout is cooler than Skype



About tech cannibalization, I think there is more ahead :
Smartphones are supposed to replace credit/transport cards, they're already replacing GPS (interestingly, this function isn't part of the survey) and boarding passes (Swiss, SAS, and many others...), and I can easily imagine to put a smartphone one a cradle, which replaces a car's entertainment system.

I also think they will replace laptops, which already replace desktop computers, that's why WP8's success is fundamental for MS to survive.


Niche appliances that won't make the top 10 list are being replaced by smartphone apps in interesting number. For example, musicians find their phones can become a feature-rich metronome or a chromatic tuner.


Tomi, I'm glad you finally started posting data on usage of the services/features, vs just what percentage of user ever use a feature.

The data above clearly points to the disintermediation of the carriers. Up until recently the high value was in carrier-controlled features and services (cellular voice, cellular messaging, walled gardens like iMode, carrier-branded iP services - aka operator crapware).

Now it is clear that the value is on the device (e.g. camera, downloaded games, navigation) and the cloud services (Web, social, email, non-cellular apps, soon to come non-cellular voice).

Today, with a data-only device, e.g. an HSPDA/LTE/WiFi Ipad or next gen iPod or an iPhone with no cellular SMS or voice minutes + Skype in/out number, I can do 100% of the functions listed above, for the price of the data connection, and I can off load as much as I want to free WiFi.

Most monthly plans for smartphones already include unlimited (except for roaming WiFi), some (e.g. Sprint) also include unlimited voice minutes. That is realization that those are becoming commodity services with a price ceiling. Try to charge more and people opt out and go OTT.

As countries make spectrum available for competitive 4G services (over the next 10 years or so), we will finally see the operator's ARPU follow the same path as their fixed line brothers and ISP cousins, towards flat $29.95/month or whatever/month.

Then Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, etc will have completed the disruption of the mobile industry.

Yes, Operators will fight it. They will add video services and create triple play bundles, but the trend is in motion like a slow moving Tsunami.

As usual, for the future, watch what will happen in California, then the US, then the UK/Australia. Don't look at what is happening in Finland or Tokyo. Those markets were all about the ETSI/DoCoMo controlled environments. That is the model being disrupted, not the model that will innovate.


Today your mobile computer functions as: Camera, Watch, Clock, GPS Navigation, pager, email terminal, Web terminal, voice terminal (a.k.a. telephone), portable game player, PC for light tasks, portable TV, portable radio, address book, calendar, yellow pages, security alarm terminal, checkbook, personal encyclopedia, dictionary, ebook/eMagazine library,...

Plus a number of specialty devices via apps.

E.g. Physicians use medication dosage calculators (based on age, weight, etc). DJ's use as virtual mixing tables (though most still use MacAir or iPad). Pilots use for weather briefing and flight plan filing. Traders use it as smart ticker tape, stock alerts and instant trades.

Plus, with the subsidized model, there is no reason why your mobile is not the most powerful computer you own. Nobody subsidizes the computers in your car or home or office. You or your company must pay in full. But carriers are hooked on subsidizing buy $600+ to buy a new pocket computer every 2 years. So yeh, that over time will make that mobile computer in your pocket more powerful than the one on your desk.

Judy Brown

Check your math, Tomi. I believe the time is 118 minutes/day rather than 128. Still a lot.

Steven Hoober

This is a survey. With your knowledge of actual use rates, I'd like to see more discussion of this info. Not just to disprove, but to discuss why people (say) over-estimate voice use and under-estimate web use. Which, looking at these, I'll bet they are.

Leading Analyst

Does this make Nokia's PureView a winner? It blows away majority of compact cameras in terms of quality. Another interesting market disruption in the camera industry are the compact size mirrorless SLRs. Sony, Panasonic, Samung are giving serious heat to Canon and Nikon.

Regarding VoIP calls, and all the varieties of it (Skype, Gtalk, you name it). The fundamental problem is that the underlying data transport technology is all packet switched, and not ideal for voice transport. Traditional voice call experience is just better with minimal voice delay.


Interesting blog. Actually google made searching of information easy on any topic

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi count, notzed, cygnus, vladkr, Starkadder, Ninvestor, Judy, Steven and Leading

count - its several separate OTT services and Skype is but one of them (and usually messaging not seen as the primary reason to install Skype). The users will also need internet-enabled phones (usually seen as 'smartphones') plus good data plans (usually on 3G or faster networks). All of these are still minorities in the big picture mobile industry - but all are growing.

notzed - good point. Actually I am encouraging regularly in my workshops and seminars to go do the 'magical' and we should soon get past the keyboard and screen boring metaphor of the 1970s computer interface. We will have inputs that 'read our mind' and we will have information projected into our view (like in AR today) etc so the 'need' of a traditional keyboard and screen may subside and the computer will experience another transformation

On your numbers, not far off. The low end smartphones today cost under 100 dollars and do the job of an entry-level laptop 5 years ago. So the old laptop you gave your mom and dad so they can do their Facebook'ing with their grandkids - they can now do on their next entry-level Android. So its not the 200 dollar level you mention but the correct math yes. Replacing 80% - probably more like 90% of all current desktop and laptop computers in use yes, but those will also partly be replaced (and the market expanded) and also used in parallel - by tablets. But also, it won't be all. PCs will become increasingly 'professional' tools once again, the 'home computer' will shift to tablets and smartphones.

cygnus - haha

vladkr - true, and you know I've been chronicling all that also on this blog and in my books.

Starkadder - cool, thanks! I didn't know that, even thought I know a few musicians haha.. Hey seriously, very good contribution. I have to add that to my stories..

Ninvestor - come on, why that tone 'finally' - where have YOU seen any such usage data published about mobile (that I have not immediately also reported here)? Its not that I have somehow been 'hiding' this usage info by hours/minutes of use - it has not been reported. I report ALL stats I can possibly find about this industry and you know it. That was a cheap shot and you know it.

Now, about 'bypassing' the carrier. You make a sensible-sounding case. Except that you had ALL of that in the iPod Touch. Why is the iPhone - more expensive - outselling the Touch regularly, every single quarter? The Touch does ALL you said, it can do this wirelessly on WiFi and bypass all carrier services. Because it is only portable, it is not 'mobile' ie it does not ring in your pocket. The solution breaks down if you cannot be alerted - ie your device cannot receive emergency calls (or even just calling attempts that you then return the call via Skype) or SMS messages or other attempts at contact. That is a mobile. That is why the carrier is in such a strong position. If your solution was the winner, the iPod Touch would vastly outsell the iPhone today. But obviously, the OTT and cloud-based services will expand and continue to grab high volume parts of the carrier business yes, as I have reported on this blog (as you know).

As for your last comment - I leave it here for posterity, for how foolish it is. You wrote "As usual, for the future, watch what will happen in California, then the US, then the UK/Australia. Don't look at what is happening in Finland or Tokyo." - While yes, Finland's leadership position has been tainted (although Angry Birds isn't a bad new icon for Finland in mobile haha) but yes, anything Apple or Google is doing in mobile - they learned from Japan. We saw it with the iPhone 3G and its OS updates in 2008, the iPhone 3GS and its OS and app store in 2009, the iPhone 4 and its OS in 2010, the iPhone 4S and its OS in 2011 and already those iPhone 5 OS updates we saw in 2012. Same 100% true of Google in mobile. They are smart companies, they have smart execs, they know the mobile future exists in Japan, they go there to study the future they can launch commercially. Only a foolish US company like Microsoft tries to create mobile out of California (to utter global failure like Palm, or Windows Mobile and Windows Phone so far).

As to your second comment, the listing is true, and incomplete as you know, and I've covered every one of those items on this blog and in my books, many times (except checkbook haha, such an archaic US centric payment concept). But on the subsidy, that is another long-past-its time concept that is gradually diminishing and disappearing. Most phones sold worldwide today have no subsidy, only a few markets like USA and Japan are left where most phones are sold with subsidies. Even in those markets the trends are gradually to diminish the subsidy part.

Judy - haha, yeah. The original article said 128 minutes was total time, I used that number. These items do add up to 118

Steven - good point and I hope we get such discussion in the comments and across bloggers in mobile etc. As to my gut feeling - the 12 minutes per day voice use is not to my mind over-estimate (remember half of UK population have 2 phones) so its 18 minutes total. That means half called out, half reveived calls. Six calls total per day. And average call length in Europe is somewhat over 3 minutes per call. The data is very consistent with usage data from network reporting.. I have no reason to think the web data would be under-reported either, but would love to hear your thinking why you think so.

Leading - haha yes it should. Note, 808 Pureview comes with horrid baggage where the CEO more than a year ago called its operating system dead and useless. So the 808 Pureview faces enormous headwinds. But if the camera is the feature most people use (as percentage of all users) it means it is the one most will also try out in the store and thus 'notice' the huge jump in camera capability. The 808 is an ugly phone in cumbersome form factor so some will find it simply unacceptable for esthetic reasons, but for some, who value the camera also highly, yes, the 808 Pureview will be selected simply because of the superb camera - and had the CEO not destroyed Symbian's reputation, this could have been one of the bestselling phones of the season with the Galaxy S3 etc. Coulda woulda shoulda haha.. The sad truth - Nokia KNEW this (that cameras are so important) from their consumer research into handset buyers.. That is why they have the strategic partnership with Carl Zeiss and have owned the top end of cameraphones from the iconic N93 to the N8 to now the 808 PureView.

Thank you all, keep the comments coming

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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It's time to drop the 'phone' from the 'smartphone' term. Maybe SmartPDA.. any other suggestions?

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There is however one situation where mobile phones don't do that well, it's the case of emergency; let me explain :

1990 : You're facing an emergency situation. You find a phone booth (or a motorway emergency phone) near-by, or a home, you call 911/999/112/02/15/whatever is an emergency number in your country, and the operator knows automatically where you're calling from.

2012 : you're facing an emergency situation and you call 911/112/... the operator doesn't know where you're calling from, so either (s)he asks you to find the nearest emergency phone or phone booth, or you have to explain where you're calling from... not always easy if you don't know the exact address.

So, yes, mobile phones allow you to call emergency services wherever you are, but it lacks localisation service, which is quite important in such a situation.

Are cellphones better than good old landlines? Not sure yet.

J.O. Aho


It would technically possible to make the emergency operator to know your location based on the location of the receiver your call is going through.
Of course this would require that the carriers supplies the information and that the laws are changed so that the emergency operator is allowed to know from where you are calling without you telling about it.

Your answer to the comments is almost a blog in it self ;)
Seems you have got two link spammers (or the same one wanting in-links to two sites).


@Tomi - sorry, I didn't mean anything negative by "finally". I truly appreciate you posting the data. It was more like "finally there is data on time usage" for us to discuss. Yes, I know that this is difficult data to get and somewhat unreliable as it is self-reported.

Still it is informative.

As for the iPodTouch - no, unfortunately we don't have it all. If the iPod Touch had a data only HSPA/LTE radio and the larger iPhone batttery, than we'd have it all. As it exists today, the iPodTouch lacks mobility. I can't use it for calls when I drive, etc.

In a sense, the threat of that has already influenced the carriers pricing plan. If we assume that an unlimited nationwide 3G/4G data plan is worth say $50/month, then carriers like Sprint are in effect offering you unlimited cellular calls and SMS for only $20/month, since their all-in data plan is $70/month.

I think that is price discovery. The "value" of unlimited cellular voice and SMS is $20/month. Why? Because with a $10 Skype in number plus $10-$20/month Skype credits I can get similar functionality, once my device has a 3G/4G radio.

In time, you will see other carriers having to respond to competition. Right now Sprint is the only cheap carrier that also has the iPhone in the US. And their service/coverage sucks. So AT&T and Verizon can still charge more. T-Mobile and other smaller carriers without the iPhone can't compete.


@Vladkr - I don't know where you live, but cell-phone location reporting on a 911 (emergency) call has been a mandate in the USA for quite sometime. The operator will know your A-GPS position very accurately on an emergency call from a GPS equipped phone or your triangulated cell site location on a phone without GPS.

Starting in 2018, GPS is mandated on all phones sold in the US, but obviously, most of the phones already have it.

In addition, the US (Verizon was the first) is starting to support SMS to 911 service, because many users/situations (like the young, deaf/mute, people with facial injuries, kidnapped victims, abused children, elderly that fall and can't get up, etc) make it the best solution.

In many disasters, people in collapsed buildings, etc were located by using their mobile phones. Emergency services are, at least in the US, evolving very fast to fully support the mobile phone.

So, I think you need to update your views.


My latest experience was in Canada last week. No GPS information sent to the 911, and it was difficult to give a proper address, as there was no sign indicating the street, and no house (with a number) to indicate the position on the street.

As a result, first police car arrived after 12 minutes (some other people called 911 too, so it's not because of my explanation only), ambulance after... 20 minutes.

I also witnessed an accident in a motorway in France couple of years ago; I was asked to call (or at least give the number) from the nearest emergency-phone.

Fortunately, I've never had to call 911 in the US so I didn't know about location reporting there, and obviously, there were some smart enough people to put emergency-positioning into application, but apparently, of what I know, many countries didn't follow these steps.

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