Nokia, the computer company?

Ten years from now, Nokia's going to be the subject of an interesting business case study. It'll either be the stirring story of a company at the height of its power that had the courage to challenge its deepest beliefs. Or it'll be the cautionary tale of a company that had it all and blew it.

Nokia says it's planning for what comes after the mobile phone.

I've heard this from Nokia before, but I always used to think it was posturing. Companies say that sort of thing all the time -- "we're looking for the next big growth driver" or something like that, meaning they plan to keep doing all the same stuff they do today but also desperately hope they can grow another line of business alongside it. That's typical in business; you try to have your cake and eat it too.

But after hearing several senior Nokia people repeat the message over the last couple of months, I've started to believe they're saying something different. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say they are about to abandon mobile phones. But I think they sincerely believe that business won't last forever, and they're starting to lay the groundwork for what will replace it.

The message really hit home last month, when I heard it from Nokia CTO Tero Ojanpera and Bob Iannucci, head of Nokia Research Center, at a Nokia strategy briefing in Silicon Valley. Iannucci pointed out that Nokia started as a paper mill and has a history of completely changing its industry from time to time -- from rubber boots to monitors to mobile phones. He said it is once again "a company in transition to the next phase." That next phase is mobile computing.

Not smartphones, not converged devices, but full-on mobile computers intended to replace both PCs and mobile phones. Nokia says it expects these devices to eventually sell in the billions of units, and to become the world's dominant means of accessing the Internet.

Even though these future devices will still be mobile, if you take all of Nokia's statements at face value the changes from mobile phones will be so extensive that it's fair to call it a new business.

The fact that Nokia's even talking about this is a remarkable change. Five years ago, Microsoft was charging hard in mobile and the big topic of discussion was how could a company like Nokia possibly defend itself. Now Nokia's talking about how it will put the PC industry out to pasture, and oh by the way take over the Internet as well.

Although the goal is almost insanely ambitious, I can't say that Nokia is wrong to try. Mobile phones are gradually becoming a commodity. The biggest unit growth is in low-end phones, a strength for Nokia because of its volumes and efficiencies. But even Nokia managers will tell you that creating low-end products in a saturating market is not a fun business. It certainly won't produce the sort of growth and margins that investors expect.

Nokia's not predicting the instant death of the mobile phone business. It's a very large and divisionalized company, and I'm sure big chunks of Nokia are hell-bent on staying a mobile phone company forever. But it sounds like the senior management feels the mobile phone business is becoming uninteresting, and they want to get started on the next thing before the current business rides off into a long Nordic sunset.


The hard part is implementing

Becoming a mobile computing company is a lot harder than talking about it. The mobile phone world is based on managed competition, in which operators, handset vendors, and governments create shared standards even as they compete. It's a closed circle in which new features flow down from the top like molasses running down a cake of ice, driven by fiat from the leading vendors.

The computing world is much more Darwinian. Barriers to entry are lower, and innovation often flows up from the smallest players. Companies compete in something that resembles a free-for-all, with the marketplace choosing winners.

So what Nokia's talking about is not just a change in product design. It's more like a wholesale remaking of the company's culture, processes, and partnerships. The advantage of this for Nokia is that if it successfully makes the transition, it will have put everyone else in the mobile phone industry -- handset vendors and operators -- at a permanent disadvantage, unless they can make the same wrenching transition.

The disadvantage is that the change is pretty darned wrenching for Nokia as well.

Nokia seems to understand at least some of the changes it has to make in order to be a computing company. Iannucci acknowledged that the "Internet model" of product development is to create and ship products first, and then bother about standards later (if at all).

He said Nokia's research labs, formerly fairly closed, have re-oriented themselves to work collaboratively with universities and other parties in the industry. The collaboration part is essential because "we can no longer fuel...internally" the amount of technology the company has to develop now that it wants to be a computing company.

Thus the briefing in California -- they want to be a part of the peculiar hive mind we call Silicon Valley.


The transition will be awkward

One amusing example was when a Nokia speaker solicited feedback from the audience on what barriers to success they see in the mobile marketplace.

A VC shot up his hand: "Operators."

Dead silence for a second. Then the Nokia speaker asked uncomfortably, "what in particular about operators?"

And you had to laugh a bit, because the question didn't really need to be explained. What the questioner meant was: "we want the operators dead; are you going to help make that happen?" Everyone in the room knew that. Nokia knew that. The question was a test of Nokia's seriousness.

Nokia didn't exactly pass the test. They won't answer that question on stage because it creates too many political issues for the current mobile phone business. So what could have been a nice bonding moment between Nokia and the Silicon Valley folks degenerated into a carefully nuanced spiel about "we're working together to address many issues" and bland verbiage like that. They ended the Q&A soon after.

Lesson: If you want to bond with somebody, be prepared to discuss the issues they care about. And don't ask for feedback unless you're prepared to answer tough questions.


Next steps

Here are some other issues that I think Nokia will need to work through if it really wants to bond with Silicon Valley.

Get real about the role of mobile computing. As far as I can tell, Nokia's hoping that the mobile computer will literally replace PCs. I think that's both naive and unnecessarily limiting to Nokia's prospects. Mobile usage is a different paradigm from personal computing. You use a PC in a long sessions at a static location; you use a mobile while on the go, in places where a PC isn't convenient. That different usage pattern means the users are likely to have different requirements and different expectations for mobiles than they have for PCs. If Nokia tries to just make mini-PCs, it's probably going to end up with products that don't deliver on the great new stuff that mobile computing can really do.

To give a rough analogy, if the mobile phone companies had focused only on making land lines mobile, would they have ever invented SMS?

Nurture developer communities. Nokia has a very extensive developer support organization, but I'm not yet seeing the sort of broad-scale evangelism -- developer recruitment -- that an Apple or Microsoft practices. To really win over the best developers, it's not enough to just make their development tasks easy, you have to make sure they have the opportunity to make money. No one's doing that well in the mobile space today. Including Nokia.

The mobile software companies continue to flail around trying to figure out which company can build a business opportunity worth committing to. The opportunity is there for Nokia, but it has to invest in building the market.

Manage Adobe vs. Microsoft vs. Sun. Nokia said it's working very closely with Adobe on Apollo, the new software operating layer derived from Flash and Acrobat. The implication is that Nokia will distribute the mobile version of Apollo on its phones, just as it distributes Flash today.

There are two potential downsides to this. The first is that Adobe might lose -- it's facing strong competition from Microsoft's Silverlight, and apparently from a revamped version of mobile Java from Sun (I'm planning to write about that one in the future). If one of the others wins, Nokia might end up deeply committed to a failing standard.

The second danger is that Adobe might win, leaving Nokia at the mercy of a mobile software standard controlled by a different company. Replacing the Microsoft monopoly with an Adobe monopoly would be delightful for Adobe, but it isn't going to feel like much of a win for Nokia.

Learn to design solutions, not gadgets. I think this is Nokia's biggest challenge. The most popular mobile computing products so far have been integrated hardware-software systems aimed at a single usage: GameBoy, iPod, BlackBerry, and of course the mobile phone itself. Nokia hasn't been notably good at designing this sort of integrated system. In fact, its most prominent effort so far, the nGage, was an epic failure on the scale of the Edsel and the presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis.

But if Nokia really wants to be a mobile computing company, this is a skill it absolutely must learn. It is an incredibly hard change for Nokia, because computing systems design requires a very strong culture of product managers who understand the customer and have dictatorial control over the features and interface of the product. A good computing system is a product of idiosyncratic vision. Collectivist Nokia, with its endless conversations and responsibility fragmented across dozens of teams, is in a terrible situation to pull this off. Frankly, I'm skeptical that they can do it.

But on the other hand, if they can turn a pulp mill into a mobile phone company, would you really bet against them?

21 comments:

Matthew said...

several years ago Nokia ran a job ad which requested "Send us Your Vision for Cell Phones"
I did, repeatedly, and heard nothing, repeatedly

I'm not sure they are serious about change
here is what I sent

A Vision for Cell Phones

A couple decides to start a family and gathers information from their doctor, family/friends and books. They begin long range plans and schedule appointments/tasks on their calendars. They join support groups, gather/chart medical information, and keep track of their finances. All of these books, calendars, charts, contact information, lists, financial and personal data are kept in one useful location.

They have considered computers and PDAs as they know how to use them, but don't like all the backups, synching, and incompatible software programs with data repeated and not shared. They don't want to spend any more time searching, downloading and installing new untested apps, just so they can put more data on their computer and or PDA.

Another couple is surprised by an unplanned pregnancy. They are in somewhat of a panic, and stumble upon information in a haphazard manner. And the information they do gather is equally haphazardly organized.

They miss appointments, forget health related tasks, don't benefit from a support group, and fail to adequately track health information. Needless to say, their finances are in disarray. As for computers and PDAs - forget it, they are neither adequately proficient, nor interested. However, they do use cell phones.

Now let's give the organizational skills of the first couple to the second couple, and make things easier for the first couple as well: we'll handle everything with cell phones.

What if basic information/help/reference books were available via cell phones? Then several button clicks could quickly bring either couple information at once when they need it to a location that is always with them - their cell phone.

These books would have all the usual advantages of computer books: bookmarking, fast searches and such. But they also are a better way to handle the decision trees found in medical books which assist you in figuring out what to do with a medical question. And if the conclusion was call a doctor, one click would dial the number.

Instead of reading the book, taking notes on tasks to schedule, and then writing such tasks into their calendar - the cell phone book would automatically add this information to the calendar and task apps on the cell phone. Just press a button.

Entire pre, during and post pregnancy data could be immediately placed in their cell phone along with links back to the relevant book information.

Unlike typical apps in computers and PDAs, all data would be shared/linked. No more separate tasks with dates found in the calendar, task, financial, outline and other apps. Moreover, the pregnancy book, could really be an app itself. All information would be gathered in one location in the pregnancy book/app. The doctor, family/friends to call, support groups to message with, health information and charts, calendar view of just the pregnancy, task and more. This information would still be shared/viewed in the other standard apps, for example, the doctor would still be in the address book if you preferred to look something up that way.

Either way they use this data, everything would be backed up automatically, and needed information would be shared between the couple's cell phones.

All of the above exists in one way or another (well maybe not the download of calendar/task data from a book, or the bundling of information around a topic), but certainly interactive books, online chat, support, calendars, download of apps, share, synch, and even linking/sharing between apps with third party add-ons. The problem is this is all handled by many companies in a non-compatible way. One company needs to pull this all together on one platform to make this work. They don't have to build or own all the apps or services, just make sure the underlying technology is all in place for others to build on.

For pregnancy or other medical issues, this might be provided free by government or health care providers, but other similar information could be purchased by the cell phone owner. Such as planning a wedding, starting a fitness routine, or how to organize and print an office newsletter. There are endless opportunities.

mbseigel@ G MAIL DOT (this is nothing) COM

Anonymous said...

"Mobile usage is a different paradigm from personal computing. You use a PC in a long sessions at a static location; you use a mobile while on the go, in places where a PC isn't convenient."

I'm not certain I agree with your argument here. My laptop is a mobile computer and serves as my desktop system as well. I use my laptop docked in the office as it takes on the feel of a desktop system. On the go, I use it as a "mobile" system. While the laptop is a desktop-alternative today and mobiles are generally smaller and less powerful, there is no reason for me to think that this won't change over time. I could envision the "laptop of tomorrow" as literally the size of a mobile, pocket-sized device today, with the power of a laptop and that can dock for "desktop-style" interaction.

Elia Freedman
Infinity Softworks

Anonymous said...

this device very soon be out. and it called iPhone. And Apple is 5 years ahead other manufacturers in starting the next mobile revolution.

I think iPhone (or other device replacing PC and Mobile phone) will have a dock to monitor, keyboard and so on. And will give great desktop experience.

And we find out within next month what is iPhone REALLY.

Marc Orchant said...

Great piece Michael and absolutely spot on in terms of where the trend lines are decidedly headed. Nokia has taken some interesting "baby steps" in this direction with the 770 and N800 Internet Tablets as well as the the high-end "handheld multimedia computers" in the N-Series line like the N93 and N95.

As for the iPhone, it's clear that recent comments from Nokia suggest that they see Apple's latest product as a validation of the direction they've been espousing for quite some time. And, your anonymous commenter's opinion notwithstanding, there is no objective reality that suggests that Apple is five years ahead of anyone.

Don't get me wrong – I'm as curious and fascinated by the iPhone's presence in the market as anyone. And I think that by Apple's metrics, the device will enjoy a successful launch. But the first generation device has a number of flaws that will make it extremely unlikely I'll rush right out to get one including being tied to a single carrier (that I don't already have a contract with) and a sealed case that prevents any end-user interactions like changing a depleted battery or using removable media for photos, music, or video. Additionally, there's a big question about how etensible the device will be in terms of third-party applications and how well the completely touch-driven UI will work in real-world use.

Having bought many first-gen devices from Apple over the years, I'm prepared to wait until at least the second wave before committing my always-on, always-connected requirements to an iPhone. In the meantime, the combination of a MacBook, Treo 700p, Nokia N95, and Nokia N800 have all of my mobile use cases well covered.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comments about docking. I think the large keyboard, large monitor, and mouse as desktop accessories will not go away for the next couple of decades, but I see no good reason for the stationary CPU box to stay as an independent "computer". Docking could be as simple as placing one's mobile device within a few inches of a monitor. Large disc readers/writers may migrate to TV sets. We will still need printers and scanners, but those don't change the picture either. This can be described from the opposite viewpoint by saying that the desktop PC will stay, but the "CPU" and the storage will migrate from it to other devices.

Alessandro

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the comments, folks!

Matthew, I like your vision. You're right that this sort of integration requires a system vendor opening up the right APIs and infrastructure. And it needs to be a big vendor, because the developers won't do that level of work unless there's a big market for it.


Elia wrote:

>>While the laptop is a desktop-alternative today and mobiles are generally smaller and less powerful, there is no reason for me to think that this won't change over time.

Sure, if the mobile is functionally exactly the same as the notebook, then the products are replacements for one-another. But two questions:

1. When exactly is this total convergence between the mobile and notebook computer supposed to happen? I started at Palm in 1999, and people were predicting that it was about to happen. Now it's 2007, and I don't think we're a lot closer now than we were then, because the notebook is a moving target. The #$*& PC vendors keep adding features.

2. If the mobile really is functionally the same as a notebook, why wouldn't the OS on the mobile be your notebook computer OS? In other words, does the mobile take over from PCs, or do PCs just slide down into the mobile space? The PC has more apps, and it's compatible with all the PC files in the world.

I think Nokia's chances are a lot better if the two worlds remain distinct.


Anonymous wrote:

>>I think iPhone (or other device replacing PC and Mobile phone) will have a dock to monitor, keyboard and so on. And will give great desktop experience.

We'll see. The fact that the iPhone runs a version of OS X makes that more plausible.

But still, when you use that device in mobile mode you'll be doing different things from what you do with it in desktop mode. The design and software needs to be specialized for both usage modes, and it's hard to do that in one device.


Marc wrote:

>>it's clear that recent comments from Nokia suggest that they see Apple's latest product as a validation of the direction they've been espousing for quite some time.

Well, maybe. But if I was at a smartphone company and I was competing with the iPhone, the line I'd use in public is, "We welcome the new entrant and we think they just validate our approach." That sounds diplomatic, and reminds people that you've been around for a long time. But what you really mean when you say that is, "We are intensely pissed off that these latecoming jerks are getting more attention than us, but we realize that if we criticize them it'll just look like sour grapes."

Rob said...

."..mobile computer will literally replace PCs. I think that's both naive...You use a PC in a long sessions at a static location; you use a mobile while on the go.. "
I think you have the PC inside out here! My PC is not the large silver box with the motherboard in it. My PC is the things I touch and look at - my keyboard, monitors, webcam, & input devces. These plug into a USB port which in turn plugs into two things - a power socket and a combined storage/processing device.
Let's call that storage/processing device my 'core'. At the moment, it is a great big box, but it doesn't need to be. Strip out the cd/dvd and connect that by USB. Strip out the 200gig hard drive and connect that as a USB peripheral. I only need 20gig in my core to run my OS and 95% of the documents I use. The rest can be archived on my USB drive (after all, I can access it via the internet if I want to)
So now I need 20gig, a decent processor and some battery in my core.
Let's assume the core device is small enough that It can conveniently dock into a foldable screen/keyboard/touchpad - that now becomes my laptop and I don't have to fret about synchronising my mail/documents/etc with a laptop when I go travelling.
Let's also assume that the core has a tiny screen, a numeric keyboard and a gsm radio. I'll use it as my phone. Again, I don't have to worry about synchronisation. Also, I have my documents with me in case I need to check anything while I'm out of the office.
It is already easy to put the memory and battery in a tiny device (think iPod Nano). The possible sticking point is the processor. The chip in my Treo can run Doom, and back in '94, folks might have assumed that that would be enough power for me. Unfortunately, my appetite for processing power has grown as fast as the chips have shrunk. I don't expect that 10 years from now you'll be able to satisfy my processing need with a chip and battery small enough to go on the core. That means you need one innovation.
The one thing I need isa USB standard that can allow me to connect additional processing power to supplement the core that powers my phone or laptop. If I can connect my graphics card and an extra couple of processing cores by USB, then I can balance the mobility of my core with the extra power needed to power my large screens and do my serious processing...

Arvind Lodaya said...

If your point was more about Nokia the company than the gadgets/products it should make, I completely agree with you. As a strategic design consultant, I have noted a relative inability of product- or technology-driven organisations to think service or brand. It's a culture thing, but in some cases, it leads to severe myopia. The auto industry is a great example where this culture was forced to evolve and dissolve boundaries between product, service and brand. Tech companies would do well to learn their lessons and stay ahead of the curve, which I see is very rapidly bending...

Anonymous said...

Nokia used to manufacture computers (PCs) as well in the past:
http://koti.mbnet.fi/~oju/retro/Mikko_eng.html

Scott said...

comment on rob's statements about his PC being the core of his world...

why take all your data with you? I see the content as living in the cloud and accessible from any device. Moving content from device to device takes time and effort and increases security risk. I think I'd rather be done with fallible HW dependence and keep all my content in a secure, hosted environment on RAID arrays with some sort of indemnified guarantee. Then I could rest assured all my content is backed up and accessible from any device, anytime - kind of like my money is in a bank, insured and accessible anytime, anywhere.

Harri said...

This was really nice piece of analysis and discussion.

While I am certainly not a spokeperson for Nokia or NRC, I would like to point out some pieces of work that may help thinking inside out.

http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/mobile-web-server/index.html

The mobile Apache project is one of my personal favourites at the moment. I belive that we don't really know yet how or how much it will change the world, but it certainly will.

http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/openc/index.html

The evolution in SW platforms is clearly happening in many levels at the moment, Open C is small but important step on that ground.

http://opensource.nokia.com/projects/pythonfors60/index.html

Connect BT keyboard to you favourite S60 device, and you have your own prototype of "mobile computer" with tinkering capabilities.

http://opensource.nokia.com/

Is the home of all those and many more interesting projects.

http://www.maemo.org

Good place to visit if you are wondering why N770/800 does exist.

And finally

http://www.nokia.com/betalabs

The place to go for coming BIG mobile concepts; Widsets, Mobile codes, Wellness Diary, Sports tracker, Gizmo for S60, ...

Have a nice experience with those and remenber to connect many more people with mobile devices ;)

Rajiv said...

Wonderful analysis. I wonder what it means for other companies in the mobile phone business. Either Nokia has sensed that the Industry is changing or Nokia has decided to capitulate to the onslaught of the South Asian OEM's.

There are interesting parallels in the Networking Gear market as well. The complete Industry has shifted the focus from delivering Networking equipment to delivering services. The common cause between both of them was of course, the South Asian OEM's!

Gibson Tang said...

Great post on Nokia which I agree on. My company develops mobile games and I see the same issue with the mobile game scene where game companies think that whatever works for a PC or console game will definitely work for a mobile game. The end result is a pile of crap that ends up spoiling the good name of that license.

Nokia should not focus on trying to converge PC and mobile phones as these 2 products serve different needs and are different in their own right.

For a handphone(that is what mobile phones are referred to in Singapore), the usability is restricted by input interface, battery power, screen size etc (Increase the screen size any more and it will be an underpowered laptop and an overpowered handphone).

Plus, for people who are looking for a handphone with PC-like capabilities, they are turning to PDA phones such as the Dopod, Treo etc which perform a lot of tasks reasonably ok, but not great.

A better solution would be to create new phones and segment it along lifestyle needs as handphones are pretty much a lifestyle product in Singapore and Asia.

By the way, the new N-Gage platform that Nokia showcased at GDC mobile 2007 seems to be much better than the original N-Gage which was just a crappy handphone. The new N-Gage platform is a platform that covers all of Nokia's new handphones although it did not really explode as much as I would like it to. Must the the legacy baggage of the N-Gage name

Gibson Tang
http://www.gibsontang.com

rickcart said...

Interesting. I can see where the "Nokia buys Palm" rumors are springing from. Michael, good point about not being in control of your OS. If you are not the lead sled dog, then it does not really matter who is because your view will be about the same either way.

I frankly see the iPhone as Apple's way to exit the ipod as its flagship consumer product. The personal music/video player market is about commoditized. If everyone has one, is it cool anymore? I know the mobile phone market is no different, but I think that Apple is trying to create a new product catergory along with a new type of carrier relationship. They hope the effect is estabalish a new definition of the "cool gotta have" product. I am not really sure that this is quite the vision of Nokia.

My last thought is whether or not Jeff Hawkings has alreeady figured out the next big thing in mobile computing and we will hear about it at the "D" conference.

Michael Mace said...

Thanks for the great comments, everyone!


Scott wrote:

>>why take all your data with you? I see the content as living in the cloud and accessible from any device.

I want it in both places -- in the cloud so you can access it form anywhere, and mirrored on your device, locally, so you can use it when you're out of coverage. Ideally, the user should never have to even wonder where the data is stored; it should always just be available.


Rajiv wrote:

>>Either Nokia has sensed that the Industry is changing or Nokia has decided to capitulate to the onslaught of the South Asian OEM's.

I agree, although I think there is a slightly different third option -- Nokia has decided to change the industry in order to put all its competitors on the defensive.

If you believe that survival of the fittest is a good metaphor for business, then the most successful business is not the one that adapts most perfectly to the environment. The most successful company is the one that changes the environment to suit itself. If Nokia can shift the terms of the mobile competition to computing, it puts just about every phone company except RIM, Palm, and HTC at a disadvantage.


Gibson wrote:

>>A better solution would be to create new phones and segment it along lifestyle needs as handphones are pretty much a lifestyle product in Singapore and Asia.

I agree. Really interesting comments, Gibson. Thanks for posting them.


rickcart wrote:

>>My last thought is whether or not Jeff Hawkings has alreeady figured out the next big thing in mobile computing and we will hear about it at the "D" conference.

I'm wondering the same thing. Palm has created enough anticipation that it'll be hard to live up to it. I had a call from a reporter at a very major newspaper the other day asking what Jeff was going to announce. All I could do is repeat the same stuff we've all seen on the web. The "Zen" will (or won't) be in the software of the device, and I haven't seen any rumors about that.

Joel West said...

Your comment about Adobe is one that everyone in the industry keeps ignoring. Adobe and Sun want to be a monopolist, just like Microsoft. Their motives aren’t any different — guaranteed piles of money pouring in — they just haven‘t succeeded at the same scale.

It seems hard to see how Nokia could miss this. Unlike Motorola or Samsung, Nokia has gone to a lot of trouble to avoid partnering with Microsoft — including creating Symbian. They would not like an Adobe-controlled world any more than they like the idea of paying permanent royalties to Sun for Java licenses or to Qualcomm for W-CDMA patents.

Brain Bubbles said...

Hi,

Seems case study itself. Great work. Nokia also helps mobile operators in managing cellsite operations. I thought they are only in mobile selling but they are working on great technologies which helps telecom service providers in making better network.

Brain Bubbles

Anonymous said...

When I got my first mobile phone, Nokia had the best user interface, the phones were also reliable, durable and had a long battery life. With each successive model, the phones have become smaller (good), slower and less reliable (microphone faults, dead screens), and up till recently had miserable battery life. The interface has also become so much less intuitive. With the most recent smart phones, Nokia has started to stumble on the same problem that PCs have, that is that for much of the time they do not quite work as they should – when you accept a call there really is no reason why your handset should reboot, when you slide the camera cover, the camera really should start, not require 3 attempts… I have heard that Nokia engineers are only permitted to spend a certain amount of time resolving bugs, before the product is brought to market and any major problems are solved later – maybe.

In other words the reason that Nokia got big; by being the best on the market will no longer be the case, the software and hardware will be the same junk as everybody else. Maybe they will get by at least to begin with by the latent good will of previously satisfied users, but they will no longer have the core of satisfied users who will not think about which brand to buy for their next phone. I suspect that once someone buys an Apple, they will probably always buy an Apple.

Anonymous said...

"To give a rough analogy, if the mobile phone companies had focused only on making land lines mobile, would they have ever invented SMS?"

SMS was made to let the operators update the SIM-cards/phones and to send operator messages to the users. It was not initially intended to be what it has become.

Regarding the blog, I kind of agree with much of it. On the other hand the needs for the extra hand and brain that the computer gives, is already today fullfilled by ordinary mobile phones for a large percentage of the population. Banking, tickets, yellow pages and so on can all be done through the phone. It is only document formatting and spread sheets that needs a "typewriter".

Michael Mace said...

Anonymous wrote:

>>It is only document formatting and spread sheets that needs a "typewriter".

Good point, although I think you don't give enough credit to the PC.

We should do a list of what sorts of computing are better on mobile vs. PC. Here's my list:

Better on PC:
--Word processing
--Spreadsheet
--Presentation creation
--Graphics editing
--Immersive games
--Conventional web browsing

Better on mobile:
--Short messaging
--Voice communication
--Listening to music
--Casual games

Not better on either, but different:
--Web access (note that I didn't say browsing)
--E-mail

Anyone want to add to the list?

Anonymous said...

what you said about nokia is quite true ! nokia is reorganising itself to become internet company but the R&D culture there is not experience oriented enough now. it is living on it's hardware advantage since WAP but it won't last long.

google should be where the proper mobile computing experience will be conceived.