Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Future of Mobile – Without Phone Numbers

Sol Trujillo

Sol Trujillo

The most striking exchange at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was the give and take of jabs between Sol Trujillo , CEO of Telestra and Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype.

Sol represents the mobile business of the present and the past.   Josh is the future.

Josh Silverman

Josh Silverman

The rate of innovation and fundamental change in the mobile industry is out pacing the oligopoly based businesses ability to react or perhaps even acknowledge what is happening on multiple levels.

The basic argument was about whether that phones with Skype capability would grow the market with low cost, data application, voice calling services.

Sol Trujillo was less than enthusiastic about voice as a data service and as much said that he would use his monopolistic power to prevent that in Australia. (Those are my words, not his)

This is the classic industry transition that has been taught in every business school of merit. The existing entrenched companies reaction to a shifting structure is predictable, since their company’s enterprise value, their careers and their personal fortunes have been created with an old, but soon to be outdated industry structure.

The interesting aspect of the interchange in Barcelona was that the market shift is even greater than either of them hyped (Skype) or condemned (Telestra). This is much bigger than arguing whether making voice calls is a voice service (Mobile Carrier) or a data service (Skype).

There are five technologies and business models coming into play that will change the way the world utilizes mobile phones in the near future. These colluding forces are: Mobile Application Stores, Powerful Smartphone Devices, Advanced Mobile Data Networks, Social Networks, and Voice Over IP.

Here is my prediction for the mobile environment of 2015.

facebook_phoneYou purchase your sleek, touch screen, mobile communications device in an electronic retail store (or online). It is likely that some devices will have applications pre-loaded. Any subsidy or rebate that you receive for your device will come from the application providers who want you to use their specific services, not from the mobile data provider as it is today.

Once you have your mobile communicator you will then purchase data access, similar to the way you subscribe to your home or business Internet Service Provider. Your data provider might provide full roaming services (VZW, AT&T, T-Mobile), and/or fixed WiFi access. Your device will work with your home or business WiFi network in a seamless manner.

With your device and data access you can shop over the mobile IP network to download applications for you mobile communicator. Two of the must have applications will be your social network application(s) and your VOIP application.

It would make logical business and technical sense for the VOIP software to come bundled with your social networking package.

mobile-skypeYou will be able to aggregate your “friends” from several Social Networks and load them on your phone. Your VOIP provider (Skype) will be able to place calls to your friends directly. The use of phone numbers will diminish and be used for the 5% of calls you make to people outside of your friends group. Businesses will advertise to become your social network “friend”, so that you can communicate and call them with ease.

This model is not that far off from today’s reality. The Iphone application has several available Facebook applications and Skype applications, and can switch between mobile broadband service and WiFi.

The issue is that this new model strips the mobile carriers of their service model and relegates them to wireless roaming Data IP providers. You can understand why an executive of a Wireless Service Provider would take an aggressive stance against this thinking. The problem is that he is on the wrong side of the technology curve. This will happen. The issue is how long it will be stalled by politics. By politics I mean both company politics and governmental politics.

The fact is that it takes billions of dollars and Euros to license the spectrum and build out mobile data networks. The service model that these investments were predicated upon is quickly becoming invalid, and must evolve and is replaced to reflect the coming reality. There will not be a “free lunch” for the Facebook’s and Skype’s of the world to reap (or rape?) the investment of the world’s mobile carriers.

Rather then ignore, deny or fight an inevitable technology tsunami, the carriers would be better served by creating a business model that fairly compensates then for their considerable investments going forward. The new application providers such as Skype and Facebook will need to acknowledge the value of these mobile networks and work on creating the proper framework for all to move forward.

My follow-up article to this topic is here

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Filed under advertising, blackberry, blog storming, facebook, mobile, Mobile Application Stores, skype, smart phone, Smartphone, Social Media, social networking, Web2.0, wifi, wireless

What-If Historic Tweets?

Last week it was reported that Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich) Tweeted himself into the news by giving real time updates as he traveled to Iraq.   He was in a delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio.    My blog on that topic is here.

In the same theme as this political Twitter blunder   Here is a view of  what world events could have been impacted by Twitter.

I decided to have some fun with “What-If?” Tweets?

Can you determine the senders of the following Tweets?  Some are easier than others?

Please submit your own versions of “What-If?” Tweets to the collection.

Should they stay or should they go? And what’s with those 9 plagues?
Sun high, Payni 26, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

That’s it! Ten plagues – they leave tomorrow, and he used to be my BFF 😦
Moon high, Payni 26, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

Screw this, I’m going to kick their a** at the water, lol!
Sun low, Payni 27, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

Strange low tide? Time to take names! Here we go! brb!
Sun high, Payni 27, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

WTF? what’s the deal with the sea coming back in?
Sun high, Payni 27, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

OMGYG2BK!
Sun high, Payni 27, 18th Dynasty, crackmummie

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When will Ody let us out of this thing?
Day time, 1300BCE, olympusnet

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They still believe we will not invade at Normany ROFL!
6:00 am, June 6th, 1944, alliedcom

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2 FB, then I set up BT w/ curve, GTG
3:56 p.m , October 3 1951, dabums.net

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Having Lunch , first floor cafe TSBD
12:20p.m. , November 22, 1963, notme.net

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Looking fwd to lunch at home, today
22:17:43 UTC, July 20, 1969 , SouthWestBell

Got them all? Add your own in the comments. The ten best will get a shout out in my next article


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Filed under blog storming, humor, mobile, social networking, Twitter

Twitter-Versy!

Last week it was reported that Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich) Tweeted himself into the news by giving real time updates as he traveled to Iraq. He was in a delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

His Tweets are chronologically reproduced verbatim from Twitter below:

Just landed in Baghdad. I believe it may be first time I’ve had bb service in Iraq. 11 th trip here.
9:41 PM Feb 5th from TwitterBerry

Moved into green zone by helicopter Iraqi flag now over palace.Headed to new US embassy Appears calmer less chaotic than previous here.
11:56 PM Feb 5th from TwitterBerry

Iraq! Issues! lLong term impact on containing Iran.. Need a coherent detainee strategy. Amb Crocker leaving after very successful tenure.
2:32 PM Feb 6th from TwitterBerry

More travel today!lots of interesting and new information Every trip is so unique. Progress/setbacks evolving strategies.
7:29 PM Feb 7th from TwitterBerry

Love twitter critics.Spelling mistakes. Sorry but riding in poor light, bouncing around,speed not accuracy. Lighten up. Its called twitter
7:30 PM Feb 7th from TwitterBerry

Headed home!Situation in Iraq improves significantly.Afghanistan poses challenges!Lots of stuff to talk about when I get home Monday late pm
3:38 PM Feb 8th from TwitterBerry

Just arrived back at Andrews. Press had access to CODEL thru photo op in mtgs with Iraqi President and a gov in Afghanistan.
2:01 PM Feb 9th from TwitterBerry

The Pentagon was not happy about a dignitary transmitting his location, in real time, to the world as he traveled to, from and within a war zone. If this social networking, faux pas, does not become fodder for a Saturday Nigh Live skit, I will be very disappointed. So, just in case they miss it, I have penned a few “what if Tweets that are linked here.

A good report on the media’s reaction to this Twitter-versy was written by Mitch Wagner of InformationWeek.

twitterimage

Here is a link to the actual Twitter Blog of Rep. Hoekstra

Rep Hoekstra did respond on his website to the out cry caused bt his personal real time positioning of the Congressional delegation. He turned the whole issue into politics, as usual. He claimed it was the Democrats causing the problem and when they travel to Iraq it is covered by the news, so what’s the difference? The difference is that their exact location was not being blogcasted to the word in real-time. For someone who seems to enjoy Twittering and Web2.0, he really does not get it.

I explored the  political divide in the use of Web2.0 technologies in a previous article.

According to Time Magazine, there are now 65 members of Congress Twittering, or at least their staffs are Twittering on their behalf. There are reports of Congressmen sending Tweets from closed, confidential meetings. The ability to broadcast information from your mobile device is a real security concern for governmental agencies. Crackberry addiction is no longer a lonely affliction that just impacts you and your email address book. It impacts the world, and potentially, if you are not careful, world events.

This microblog broadcasting is not just an issue for Twitter. The famous status update on Facebook is really the same as a Tweet. The only difference between the two is that you are more likely to be followed by complete strangers on Twitter, as opposed to Facebook.

I had previously written about the Web2.0 gap between the Democrats and the Republicans. I , therefore should not be too critical of a Republican reaching out and trying to learn how to use Web2.0 social networking. Perhaps hey can do it in a way that does not endanger their lives?

With social networked instant updates causing national security issues, I decided to do a little hand analysis of Facebook by searching for members of various governmental agencies that have secret access to vital information. Here is what I found.

Agency                                             Members on Facebook                 
CIA                                                  >500 Including Felix Leiter

   
FBI                                                  >500 Including Fox Mulder and 2 Dana Scully’s

   
DOD                                               >500  

  
State Dept.                                    >500 Including 9 Hillary Clintons

   
Secret Service                                 145 

  
Home Land Security                   >500

   
Drug Enforcement Agency           290 

  
National Security Agency          >500

British MI6                                   >500 with 3 James Bonds’

Israeli Mossad                                 0

   
French DGSE                                   0

It is obvious that not all members who claim to be in the employ of our national security apparatus. However, there are real, some people, in this rather easy search, who do work for the CIA, FBI, NSA or Secret Service. The question is can you figure out who is legitimate and who is just trying to impress a potential date by claiming to be a spy.

I found it disturbingly easy to spot whom are the likely government employees. It was so disturbing that I will not publish my algorithm for managing this little feat. If I can figure this out, I am sure the “bad guys” would have no trouble.

In the case of Congressmen such as Pete Hoekstra the task is even easier. Just become his follower.

I would like to offer the Congressmen the same advice I give my “Tween” daughter, “You don’t have to post every little thought that comes into your head, maybe you should think a little before your post. It can save you from much embarrassment” My 13 year old daughter has learned how to be responsible with her social network; we can only hope that the Members of Congress and other government agencies learn the same lessons.

Note: Special Thanks to Sam Gronner, A Great PR guy and a Real  Mench for suggesting this topic to me this week!


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Filed under blackberry, facebook, Iraq, location based services, mobile, politics, social networking, Twitter, Web2.0

Mobile Application Stores Change the Game

For years the availability of applications on mobile devices was determined by a handful of executives at wireless companies. They choose what apps got the penthouse placement of being placed on the carriers’ mobile web portal. Placement on the “home-deck” was the Holy Grail for every business development executive.

In recent years, off-deck players have made significant in roads, especially in the ring tone market. The explosion of premium and non-premium SMS services has done much to level the playing field. Marketers such as Dada, Thumbplay and Jamster spend millions promoting their mobile services on the Web, Television and Print media. They acquire customers by having them enter a 5 or 6 digit SMS address on their phones.

This industry model has been busted thanks to the Apple App store, with an earlier assist by Qualcomm.

images-1Qualcomm had the first app store in the U.S. with its BREW (Binary Run-time Environment for Wireless). Qualcomm aggregated applications with their partners (Verizon and Alltel), certified their quality and populated the handset downloadable application environments. Issues in their initial attempt at an app store were: discoverability of applications (Search), placement on handsets that were not optimized for high-end applications, and most importantly a lack of compelling applications. The on-boarding process of developing an application for their platform, having it approved by Qualcomm, then having it approved by the wireless carrier for actual placement was a slow and cumbersome process. In short, it was a telecom-oriented process, not a rapid Internet style process. It was a good start.

Apple took off where Qualcomm fell off,

The iPhone device is capable of sophisticated, compelling and very cool applications. There are thousand’s of applications. They range from business, to gaming, to social networking and to the regrettably ever-popular iPhone fart app.

The application availability and media utility of the iPhone is more than compensating for the shortcomings of the actual phone.

Apple does not select applications. They let the market choose. Their strategy is to allow a thousands of applications to be deployed knowing you may have a handful of winners.

This strategy is very similar to the path taken by Facebook. There are now several college courses that require the creation of a working Facebook application as a class assignment. Wow! That’s the definition of mainstream.

android_logo_t-mobileThe iPhone app store model is being copied by T-mobile and their Android(Google Phone) product. Last week Blackberry announced that they are following suit with a similar app store. Application stores are also available for the Palm,and the Symbian platforms. Not to be out done, Samsung , Windows mobile and Nokia have plans for their own applications stores. How soon will it be before consumers refuse to have a device that is not connected to a rich app store?

1812250This is another catalyst for the perfect storm of device and applications that I wrote about last year. The combination of the large screen devices, with powerful processing capabilities, on wireless networks with high data services, coupled with open 3rd party accessible application stores and developers that really understand the consumer experience, defines the new value chain for mobile applications.

 

These factors, coupled with a growing awareness and expertise with social marketing, will make the next generation of mobile services a quantum leap over what we have seen to date.

This is really going to be amazing!

Markets are great at creative destruction of the old. The players in the previous market model with either adapt and become major or app store players, or die.

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Filed under android, Apple, blackberry, facebook, Google, iphone, mobile, Mobile Application Stores, mobile commerce, social networking, wireless

Apple Beware? Or Not

Two consumer electronic giants are challenging the Apple iPhone momentum. 

I will not use the popular cliche term iPhone killer.  The only way the iPhone will become extinct is if another Asteroid hits our planet.  Lets all settle on the less violent – iPhone competitor.



Here are the competitors:

These companies dominate their respective home product markets and now have designs on the iPhone.

Let’s size up this fight and make the predictions.

Nokia 5800 "Tube"

Nokia 5800 "Tube"

 

 

In one corner, weighing in at over 100M mobile phones per quarter and a recent announcement that their new touch screen “comes with music” phone, has sold over 1M units, a dominate 40% market leader in all major worldwide markets, is Nokia.

 (European whistles, and polite Finnish cheering)

 

In another corner, weighing in, and weighed down by Vista, with over $60B in yearly revenue, over 30% market share for desktop and laptop computers, with extra muscle in the enterprise space and an e-commerce website that ranks in the top 150 of all sites, worldwide – The Maven from Texas – Michael Dell and Dell Computers. 

(Yelping and waving of cowboy hats!)

 

Now entering the ring, the reigning touch screen champion.  They have sold nearly 14M iPhones, with 4.4M last quarter.  They have generated over 500M application downloads and have corporate revenues of about $10B quarter.  Ladies and Gentlemen welcome Apple.

  (Audible humming from Lycra clad Apple-philes on yoga mats)

Before I get hate mail from Blackberry users asking why I did not include them, I have to state the obvious.  Have you seen the Storm?  If you have, you know that the Blackberry product, while good at what it does, is not yet a threat to iPhone. Let’s move on.

(Boos, hisses, and lot’s of Tim Horton Donuts thrown into the ring, ehhh?)

Pre-game analysis:

If anyone is going to pose a serious challenge to Apple and iPhone it will be Nokia.

Nokia is the world class, world leader in mobile devices.  They have a competency that approaches Apple for usability.  They already have achieved massive economies of scale.  The Nokia  “Comes with Music Service” launched in the U.K. in 2007.

This service allows users to download as many songs as they want from the Nokia Music Store for 12 months after they have purchased a compatible Nokia handset.

Users may keep all the music that they download.  Songs are available from all of the major record labels; Universal, Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music Group artists.

There have been bumps in the road for Nokia.  Their learning curve is taking some time.  With the introduction of the 5800 touch screen handset (the sexier name of this phone is the “Tube”), and over the air music downloads, they are getting close to getting it right.

With the kinks being worked out in the U.K., market expansion is expected in 2009.

Another big advantage that Nokia has is that the music industry wants a competitor to Apple and ITunes.  I give Nokia a better than 50/50 chance of being the significant 2nd place market chaser to the leading iPhone product.

Dell is a different story.  Dell’s Smartphone plans, or lack thereof, were chronicled in today’s New York Times.   The “paper of record” was less than kind to Dell’s prospects in the Smartphone arena.   The reasons for pessimism are simple.

3248Firstly, Dell is only barely in the handheld computing business.  Their handhelds have been product and market failures.    Both Apple and Nokia have huge successful handheld device product lines. Strike One.

Secondly, Dell is not known for software and user interface design.  They are basically a hardware commodity manufacturer.  Both Nokia and Apple are device software and usability leaders.   Strike Two


Lastly, Dell has no phone design experience.  To be fair, Apple did not have a resume of phone design expertise prior to the iPhone.   Apple has fixed many of the early phone issues with the Iphone. Nokia has forgotten more things about phone design and marketing, than Apple or Dell will ever learn over the next ten years.  Strike 2 and a half.

The strengths of Dell are in manufacturing, web marketing, enterprise accounts and sheer volume of PC boxes.

So, Dell enters this fight strategically and tactically handicapped.

Nokia, on the other hand, has better worldwide marketing clout in the mobile segment; tremendous handset design and manufacturing capability and partners who really want them to succeed.   An example of the Nokia thought process for communications design is the inclusion of a second camera on the front of the phone to facilitate video conferencing.  The “Tube” is powered by Symbian software and has borrowed from the iPhone in certain look and feel aspects

This will be the battlefield for touch screen, music enabled phones for the next several years.

So what should Apple do to compete with Nokia?  Simple, just be Apple.  Change the game every 6 months and out innovate Nokia and everyone else.  Nokia may compete in the music download feature, but Apple will define the product as something much broader.  The Iphone platform will out game, out video, out cool, the Nokia devices.

Nokia will try to out produce and provide their devices at a cost advantage to the iPhone.

While the outcome of this looming market battle will not be as exciting or definite as Santonio Holmes’ last minute catch in the Super Bowl, for wireless pundits it will provide enough material to fill a thousand blogs, and hundreds of trade mag articles.  The initial impact for consumers in the U.S. will be some increased price pressure on the iPhone, with a drop in its contract price to below $100.


Let the games begin.

Iphone and Tube

Iphone and Tube

 

 

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Authors Note:

By popular demand, I will start a lighthearted “DotMania” blog to relate all of the truly wacky things I have witnessed over my years in big and small companies.  In most cases I will change the names to protect the innocent, the guilty and everyone in between.  Watch for it on Fridays.  If anyone wants to contribute their stories to this regular feature, just send me an email with the details.  See you  on Friday’s at dotmania.wordpress.com


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Filed under Apple, blackberry, Dell, Google, iphone, mobile, Music, new media, Nokia, Smartphone, wireless