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January 02, 2015

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RottenApple

@Baron95:

Yes, yes, I understand.
You like to promote the corporatist wet dream of selling stuff without ever ceasing ownership to it.
Sorry, but for me any such product is a no-go by default.

If I buy a product it must be usable with the majority of service providers, if I subscribe to a service it must be compatible with the majority of devices. I'd never buy something where device and service are locked together. Such a service provider with total control over what its users can get, has all the means in the world to extort the content providers because they have to give in in order to reach the customers of this service. And sadly that's precisely where Apple has gone.

So where's my big issue with Apple in particular here?
They set the precedent and a large portion of the industry followed suit, creating their own locked down distribution platforms for certain media. And they still are the most rabid ones. But the copycats are everywhere - worst of all Amazon with their Kindle platform for eBooks that's incompatible with the rest of the market and whose whole design was to monopolize the eBook market (Want to buy at Amazon, buy a Kindle, want to use a Kindle, buy at Amazon.) Of course, unlike a computing OS, you can get around this if you are smart, but you have to use tools that are deemed illegal in most jurisdictions. And 90% of all customers are too lazy so the effect mostly works as intended.
Or take Windows Phone: The entire design reeks of Apple envy with the locked down system, single manufacturer-controlled app store and all. Fortunately this is a case where it backfired: A Windows platform without everything that made Windows successful had to burn - and it did, not only on phone but as Windows 8 everywhere.
I believe that such a business model where the device manufacturer is the only one to decide what gets in and out is extremely dangerous because it gives the industry a tool to exert control over their customers they should not be allowed to have.

And as a developer it means that iOS development can become very bureaucratic at times. It takes forever to get a new app out. And if Apple wants to hinder certain developers they surely can infinitely block them.
I've seen this happen countless times that some stuff got delayed endlessly for completely inconseqiuential issues, one of our less important apps even missed the christmas business because we missed out of one of Apple's more recent submission guidelines changes.

So, yeah, it's great for investors but it's very bad for freedom of choice. And it certainly will mean that Apple never will reach the independent-minded part of society. A lot of smart and affluent people who would never buy into Apple, because they reject their product as a matter of principle, regardless of how good they are. You can count me as one of those. I choose to shop where they don't try to monopolize my money.
And as a direct result of this, Apple will never be able to monopolize the premium segment of the market, as long as there's customers who are willing to spend but are not willing to cease control to a moneymaking machine.

Tomi T Ahonen

On the point by Baron95 and RottenApple etc about Apple controlling everything..

We've seen where this leads to over-stepping their natural domain. It happened with the U2 album automatic installation and the couple of cases where they have deleted songs from iTunes accounts without warning the owners they would be doing so. This signals a clear attitude problem at Apple, where they do think they - Apple - have the ultimate say on what their fully-paid-up customer can do with the Apple branded gadget they bought. This is not like buying a car on monthly payment plan, stopping payments, and the car dealer repossessing the car. No, these were fully paid Apple products that Apple has now been abusing its consumer base by stepping over that boundary of who is in control.

Now. If this was the Mac-vs-PC wars and against Apple was Microsoft they would have made a huge stink about it. The PC community on Windows/DOS would have been strongly supportive of the open way and against the 'Apple way' and we'd have a big stink about it and Apple would be taught to stay away from these kinds of reaches.

That is not the case (yet) with Google and Android nor Samsung. They aren't yet in a strong enough position (in the minds of the industry and analysts) as 'obviously the big guy' where Apple the 'obviously small guy' cannot do this kind of sillyness. Thats why Apple is getting away with it now on the iPhone. This will not last. And Apple is learning VERY dangerous 'customer relationship' lessons now that they might get away with this. These are the kinds of issues that helped push Apple's smartphone loyalty in the USA below Samsung's for the first time ever, just now in the big annual US consumer survey.

In some years everybody 'knows' that Android won and Samsung is totally unassailable by Apple (and Samsung really competes with Lenovo etc). At that time - probably, hopefully - the 'big boys' Google and Samsung - will 'lecture' Apple on its mis-steps where it tries to use its monopolistic position with its consumers to the detriment of the consumer interest. That is of course only a possibility not certainty but currently nobody is holding Apple to the truth on this and they are literally getting away with it. The damage now is on the margins but as Steve Jobs is not there to be the dictator about these kinds of things, Apple is very vulnerable to abuse its customers ever more - which may bring the loyalty fortress down. That would be the ultimate shame because then the profit engine is gone. The profit engine of Apple is that iLove of the iSheep that will buy any iThing and pay obscene iProfits to do so. Apple management should trade carefully in this area and there should be rule number 1 at Cupertino - never upset the existing customer base. That obvious marketing lesson has not been absorbed by the post-Jobs management at Apple. They may become the arrogant monopoly as some have said, Apple to be the new Microsoft haha and Google the new Apple.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

AndThisWillBeToo

@Tomi
"These are the kinds of issues that helped push Apple's smartphone loyalty in the USA below Samsung's"

Are we now talking about J.D. Power survey you just year ago actively ignored as it showed Lumia getting higher consumer satisfaction than Samsung?

http://www.phonearena.com/news/J.D.-Power-ranks-Apple-first-in-US-customer-satisfaction-followed-by-Nokia-and-Samsung_id41087

John F.

@Huber

Huber, you do not get my point, i just care about where the money is, not the brand, I do not come here to discuss the technical abilities of A or B,it is the last and least important thing for me.

You think, "me, myself and I" all the time, read your last answer, technical stuff for just a few who really care, you just dismiss 1.2 billion watches sold annually because you do not like watches, I don't drink coke, prefer wine, so if I am in the brewages business should i say that because of me no one should drink coke?

Recently the company I work for started working indirectly for the watch industry, the industry has been here for a couple of hundreds of years and is ready to be disrupted and re invented, that you do not see the use of it, it is clear, believe me, for the forceable future the industry will thrive and Apple or whomever cracks it open will make tons of $$$ just focusing on a small fraction of the market, the whole world didn't see itunes as a solution of records sales and the list goes on of things people dismissed right away.

One thing is sure, 10-15 years ago no one imagined of what goes on inside a smartphone nowadays, with hindsight is easy, Nokia would be around with Blackberry, Microsoft would be Android and so on and surely what will come 5 - 10 years from now is impossible to predict, wearables are coming, in which form? go figure. Invest in it, don't wear it.

If u like Barcelona and I do like Real madrid, no matter how long we argue, we stand by our club, so discussing about whose phone is better than whatever leads no where. Be happy and make money and let the 98% enjoy whatever phone they want to buy or how the want to use it

Huber

@John F:

No, you do not get my point :-)

A watch is just borderline useless jewelry nowadays. I admit that watches with oldschool mechanical drives are cool, but they are useless nevertheless - you have a watch _EVERYWHERE_, no matter if you sit in front of a PC, a TV or have your mobile phone in your pocket.

It used to be different, 30 years ago a watch had a purpose. Not so anymore.

The problem with smart watches are:

- You need to press a button to watch the time, which takes away the only advantage of a 'regular' watch. You can as quickly us your phone to check the time
- Very small screen
- Small battery with short runtimes (1-2 days)
- Slow as hell because power consumption needs to be miniscule

In case you haven't noticed, mobile phones got bigger during the last 10 years. This is because people do not want to use a smartphone with a screen which is too small.

So what should be the purpose of a smart watch? It offers zero advantage over a smartphone, but has lots of disadvantages. Sure, in theory you can dictate an SMS. But then this can also be done on a smartphone, AND you can use it to actually view web pages/ documents.

I can read a book on my smartphone or play a game on it. I cannot do this on a smartwatch. So I need a phone anyways. What is the watch then good for?

Maybe there were 1.2 Billion watches sold in 2014, IDK. Nevertheless, outside of its jewelry-niche, it will go down the road of the pocket calculator.

Huber

@Leebase:

"And don't get me started on Google being "open with Android". It's already been well documented on this forum the great lengths Google is going to lock people into their services. Samsung is rushing head long to control Tizen...not to be open, but to have it's OWN platform that SAMSUNG controls."

Please, not this myth again!

Google's Play Services are decoupled from Android so you get updates even when the device manufaturer does not update the Android-system at all!

Before this approach, you had to use what came with your device. Back then Googl was criticised because they provided no upgrades!

Of yourse, the nice side-effect for Google is that Amazon and the other Android-forkers do not get their APIs for free anymore and have to program one ones.

This sucks if you are Amazon, but the end user is not affected by this: Google still provides the Google Apps as flashable ZIP-files for everyone to use.

This means you can install an AOSP-version on your Android phone and then flash the Google Apps. As a result, you have full access to all Google services.

So you can e.g. buy a Sony device, unlock it and install an AOSP-version from the FreeXperia-team together with the Google Apps. Then you can control everything, like the handling of the SD-card and assign root privileges to certain Apps.

_THIS_ is what makes Android open for the end user. This approach is also completely different from any other OS vendor. Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry do not allow their end users such things, so Google is still the most open mobile OS.

As long as it stays this way, I am hence satisfied with the openness of Android, and I could not care less about Amazon and Xiaomi writing their own search and maps APIs or not.

Earendil Star

The real issue with "smart" watches is that they need constant recharging. Something people are used to do with phones, but not with watches, which one would assume would go on for years without any recharging need. Unless the majority of people discover that they are totally ok to always put their (usually bulky) smart watches to recharge, these gadgets might have an initial pop, but one which could be short lasting once users realize the nuisance. Unless something really disruptive and useful is proposed that overcomes the hassle.

We'll see.

KPOM

@Tomi, Samsung is not "totally unassailable" by Apple. To the contrary, Samsung seems to be in a panic right now because they are getting squeezed on both ends. Apple alone can't bring down Samsung because they don't compete in the low end, but Apple plus Xiaomi, Lenovo, etc. can. Samsung NEEDS the Galaxy S6 to be a hit. That's how they finance all the advertising. They spent $14 billion in advertising in 2013. Selling 200 million sub-$100 phones isn't going to pay for all of that.

Samsung doesn't need to sell as many Galaxy S6 as Apple sells iPhone 6s, but they need to sell a lot.

As for "monopoly power," Apple doesn't have it. They never have. No one is "forced" to buy an iPhone. People buy into the walled garden because they find it desirable. Cook isn't Steve Jobs, and he realizes he isn't Steve Jobs.

KPOM

@Earendil Star, My guess is that enhancements to future versions of all watches will be focused on battery life over performance. The pace of change in battery technology has lagged that of consumer electronics. If anything is going to spur development, it would be wearables.

@Huber, women wear lots of "useless pieces of jewelry." That's why Apple is marketing the watch to them and making several variants obviously geared toward women (with pink or rose gray leather bands, for instance) as well as the 38mm version, which while not specifically described as a "women's" size (since it works for a man, as well), is at least a recognition that a smaller version is necessary for broader appeal.

Huber

I do not see anything that could potentially be done on a smartwatch, but not a smartphone. But right, let's see...

RottenApple

@KPOM:

"People buy into the walled garden because they find it desirable."

I don't think that most Apple consumers find it desirable. My guess is that most just don't consider it a problem because they don't realize the underlying issues - not surprising for people who have no deeper understanding of economics.

And don't forget the opposite: Lots of people don't buy into the walled garden because it either goes against their ethics or just common sense.

Whether it is smart that Apple leaves these customers behind remains to be seen.
But the problem remains: Walled garden ecosystems inevitably breed abuse, especially if it's accountants who call the shots.

So while it may be convenient upon first glance, in the end the consumer will always lose by having to pay higher than necessary prices.


Re Watch:

I think the Apple watch's only potential is the herd mentality of the core Apple users who can't make do without owning the latest Apple gadget.
Most normal people I know don't even wear watches anymore - and if they do it's mostly the older ones who never got used to have some timepieces around everywhere.

John F.

@Huber ans @watch

Huber, clearly we talk different languages so …

Still you see yourself as the yard stick, not for you, not for anyone....

The wearable market will advances but will remain relatively small for some time its impact is a few years from now, don’t invest then, just ignore it and let others make it big time there, the least believers and competitors the better the money to be made.

The flaw is trying to apply smartphone-like analogies, usability and functionality to wearables, if for you the watch is an extention of your smart phone and that’s your idea of the product, then I understand your apprehension and dislike of it, you will be surprised and probably a bit shocked when in a few years from now you see how misplaced your pre conceptions of the category were

Huber

@John F:

Then please tell me what you exactly want to do with your miniscule display which is driven by ultra-low-power Hardware. And why it cannot be done as well on a smartphone.

AndThisWillBeToo

@Huber
IDK - let's try some things I can do (whether John can or cannot). How about if:
I can see it while driving without taking my hands off the wheel or going for my pocket?
I can see it while riding a bicycle without taking my hands off the bar and without a worry to drop it?
I can use it while running, without carrying inconveniently heavy phone in my pocket? Of course it would be super cool if it could e.g. track my pulse and later sync exercise data to my phone. (Pun intended.)
I could pay by just moving the hand I already have on the counter without once again going for my pocket to pick up a phone (because then I could just as well pick up my wallet - the thing that so far has killed mobile/NFC payments out of my interest).

This is BEFORE some 3rd party geeks hop in and make apps that will do tons of things I didn't even think of here. And when they do, those too will make sense in the "I want that" level. Like the weather app in my phone that warns me to leave work early if there's a rain coming in. (Yes I do ride that bicycle). Something elegant and simple that I didn't think of but makes sense and gets used because someone did.
Of course there will be useless apps I wouldn't use. E.g. Tetris on a watch would be overly silly and still someone probably codes one. But trust me, those developers aren't going to start with "there is nothing this watch can do that my phone couldn't".

As John there said, you don't believe in wearables. Okay, have it that way. John will have it his way. But you both should take bookmark of this page. Two years from now one of you will be able to say "told you so". ;-)

Huber

@AndThisWillBeToo:

"I can see it while driving without taking my hands off the wheel or going for my pocket?"

Fine. And _WHAT_ do you want to see on the watch? The time? This is displayed in any car anyways. I hope you do not want to read SMS on this tiny display during driving...

"I can see it while riding a bicycle without taking my hands off the bar and without a worry to drop it?"

Again, _WHAT_ do you want to see? And why shouldn't I simply mount my smartphone on the handle bar via a cheap attachment? This way I have a nice dsiplay, e.g. for special bicicle-navigation-apps. What advantages has your smart watch then?

"I can use it while running, without carrying inconveniently heavy phone in my pocket? "

The joggers I know have smart phone cases especially made for this, you can simply carry your phone on your arm. So far I haven't heard complaints.

So far nobody has adressed my main points:

- Miniscule display
- Anemic hardware
- Small batteries

Note that _EVERY_ innovation to circumvent these limitations can also be applied to smartphones, so smartphones will profit as well as smart watches from innovations here - a smartphone will always have a bigger battery and more power to burn for the hardware.

'Believing' in smart watches without even having a use case seems retarded to me, sorry.

AndThisWillBeToo

@Huber
What would I like to see? Well...
Who is calling? Should I stop and answer or can I call back?
Who just sent me SMS? Same reason.
What calendar event it is that is alarming? What did I forget?

And for your "why don't you buy bicycle mount/arm wrap for phone/whatever": how about because I don't want to add stuff to my bicycle or how about that I _still_ don't want to jog with extra payload (the phone)? I know those things exist. They are bulky, they wouldn't measure my pulse and besides they have been invented because there hasn't been any better replacement of your smartphone while jogging etc. I have my current watch with me anyway. Could just as well be smartwatch.

I'll bookmark this. Let's see in 2 years how it turned out.

Huber

@AndThisWillBeToo:

Well, I simply connect my phone to my car :-)

The car can also read out SMS and I can simply answer by dictating the text. So no, using a smart watch in a car is no sensible use case for me, especially since I think such features will trickle down from premium cars to even the cheapest car within a few years.

Heck, you can even connect your phone to most Dacias meanwhile.

Regarding bikes and jogging, these are niche use cases for people who do not _WANT_ to carry a phone. I doubt that this has mass-market appeal.

But I agree, let's see in 2 years...

RottenApple

@Huber:

Let's spell it out:

For non-watch users a smartwatch has no appeal whatsoever, I don't think that needs to be debated. And since you seem to be locked into such a thought pattern you'll never see potential use, and neither will I, because I haven't used a wristwatch for more than 35 years - and counting.

But does that mean that there will be viable use cases for a smartwatch? That's a completely different question and I absolutely have no idea what people might find useful here.

The biggest show stopper for smartwatches won't be its limited use but the mere fact that far too many people have no need and no desire to ever wear one, quite unlike mobile phones. My personal guess is that most watch-wearers need it to quickly check time, and that's clearly not what smartwatches are made for, there's better models for this particular use case, even in the luxury/premium segment.

Huber

@Rotten:

"But does that mean that there will be viable use cases for a smartwatch? That's a completely different question and I absolutely have no idea what people might find useful here."

The problem for me is that even the smart watch advocates don't find a sensible use case - apart from joggers/ bicyclists who simply don't want to carry a smart phone which weights 120g.

This speaks volumes in my opinion.

Chris

Hi Tomi,

First and probably last post from me.

You mentioned one important factor under your "Hollywood Ending" headline: brand loyalty. My first mobile phone was from Siemens, i.e., technically solid and reliable, but also a mirror of Siemens's bureaucratic internal structure. In other words: a usability nightmare.

After carefully checking the alternatives I went for Nokia, because they seemed to get everything just right: easy to use and delivering what customers *needed*. Nokia was my brand of choice until Elop ruined everything. Phrased differently: The question wasn't 'Which new handset?', but 'Which new Nokia?'.

Not all of Nokia's models were great, of course, and they created some flops along the way, but since I never bought a phone immediately after its release and waited for reviews, I always found a model that suited my needs.

My main (smart)phone is now a Samsung (surprise), but since I'm suffering from myopia and have to take off my glasses when I want to read a book or a newspaper, a smartphone is only of limited use to me and more often than not an annoyance, because the main purposes of a phone (to me) are: 1) phone calls 2) SMS 3) watch replacement 4) alarm clock when I'm travelling 5) occasionally its use as a torch.

Other requirements are: long battery life, storage capacity, and a Dual-SIM slot, because I'm travelling a lot in Europe. I don't do Facebook, nor can my eyes easily cope with the tiny letters on a smartphone or a phablet.

In this situation Microsoft came to the rescue with a product that lives and breathes Nokia (because it is actually "old" Nokia), namely the N130: light as a candy bar, long battery life (and replaceable batteries), up to 32 GB storage via MicroSD, DualSIM, as well as known and proven Nokia usability. I guess the only genuine MS contribution is support for Windows Media Files (WMA, WMV), since the N130 is also a portable media player.

I originally bought two of them, because they seemed to be the ideal travel phones, and also because they were dead cheap (about 50 EUR for two phones), but the funny thing is that my wife, once she tried my N130, also ordered two for herself -- simply because the phone is so much easier to use and less prone to hiccups than current smartphones.

And now Microsoft ("old" Nokia) has released an even more elaborated dumbphone, namely the N215. I haven't tried it, but it looks like a real Nokia phone again (note that it uses Opera as a browser, not IE).

It would be great if your Hollywood scenario became true, because I'm sure Nokia, if it stayed true to its traditions, would be able to revolutionise the market once again. It would also be able to create a smartphone for people like me and my wife ;)

The comments to this entry are closed.

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