The evolution of Open Mobile – 35 trends and directions I am tracking ..

Open Mobile - Understanding the Impact of Open Mobile - Implications for Telecoms-Devices - Web - Social Networks -Media and Personal Privacy.jpg


As you know from my previous posts, my latest book – Open Mobile: Understanding the Impact of Open Mobile – Implications for Telecoms/Devices, Web, Social Networks, Media and Personal Privacy is now free to download

One of the reasons we took this decision to make it free is: The topic of Open Mobile is evolving very rapidly and it is not possible for us (as authors) to keep pace with the changes. Since it has been free, the book has been downloaded more than 1500 times in a month and a half. This post is about an overview of the book and where I see it going. I am interested to know if you can add to the evolution i.e. if I have missed anything significant about the directions Open Mobile is evolving in

Firstly, some findings/impact of Open Mobile

Impact of Open Mobile

The overall theme of Open Mobile is: The worlds of the Internet and mobility are merging. This convergence between the worlds of the Internet and Mobility is happening at two levels: The network layer (the deployment of the IP protocol to Telecoms) and the application layer (Mobile Web and Mobile apps). We explore this trend in an NPOV manner from five different perspectives: The Internet/Web, Telecoms/devices, Content, Social networking and Privacy. We take a cross-stack view and include the Web, Cloud and Social networking as an extended Telecoms stack

This creates a profound tectonic shift of opportunities and disruption for the Internet and the Mobile companies.

If you doubt this trend, consider this ..

In the last few weeks, the iPad has stolen the headlines. AT&T (the network who launched the iPhone) and then complained bitterly about the impact of the iPhone on their network, is also launching the iPad. It seems that ATT may be a glutton for punishment since exactly the same effect on data (from the IPhone) may be expected from the iPad (if not worse)

So, why do networks continue to take this relatively Open path inspite of the obvious impact to their existing business models? The reason is simple. Customers (and not the networks) are now driving the agenda. In fact, AT&T has gone so far as to rebrand itself as a lifestyle company along the strap line of ‘rethink impossible’ – making customers rethink the ATT brand/proposition

In any case, the most diehard proponents of ‘closed’ networks will agree that customers now drive the show and no business can really afford to ignore the wishes of the customer.

This (customers driving the Open Mobile agenda) is the first key finding of Open Mobile.

The second is that the telecom ecosystem is becoming a platform.

Note that this is not necessarily the same as the ‘network’ becoming a platform. While networks are indeed trying to be platforms, the change is also driven by other layers from the (extended) telecoms stack especially devices and the Web/Internet. For instance, elements that were uniquely possible through networks alone (like location) are now available through other layers of the stack (GPS, Cell id databases etc) i.e. value is being abstracted up the stack making the element (in this case location) as an enabler/platform for third parties to build systems on. At the same time, we are seeing elements that are uniquely possible through the network(example Mobile Health). So, paradoxically, value also goes to the network at the same time

As we say in the book, these trends caused by the merging of the worlds of the Internet and the Mobile. The platform (Internet) is an enabler. The services created using the Internet are unpredictable. We are seeing the same with Mobile. It is logical to then believe that mobile will also be an enabler. The concept of mobile and mobility as an enabler is a key aspect going forward in the future of Open Mobile

Overview and philosophy

Firstly, a brief overview of the book Open Mobile. This is followed by the evolution of Open Mobile as I see it. If you already know about this from the book itself, you can skip to the next section about how I see Open Mobile evolving (my list of 35 ways/trends I am tracking).

Much of the closed ecosystem we once took for granted has now been transformed by the Open Mobile mindset. And recent events indicate that there is now no turning back… However there is considerable confusion about the meaning of these terms and its impact on different industries. That impact is ongoing and indeed accelerating. Thus, this book has been written against a backdrop of rapid change and we view it as ‘perpetual beta’.

This book explores the interplay between the world of the Internet and the world of mobility. The Internet world is regarded as being ‘Open’; however, as we shall see, ‘Open’ can be interpreted differently depending on constituency. The mobile world is supposed to be ‘Closed’. Thus, the interaction between the Internet and mobile worlds extends beyond technology – and into the realm of philosophy (Open vs. Closed). Driven by customers and under the influence of the Internet, it is inevitable that the closed mobile ecosystem is now ‘Opening up’. We call this phenomenon ‘Open Mobile’.

We also explored the topic of Open Mobile from multiple perspectives (Telecoms, Content, Web, Social Networking and Privacy). In that sense, this book attempts to present a Neutral Point of View.

This book explores the three drivers of Open Mobile:

• The Internet

• Social networking and

• The creation of content (also called Web 2.0)

We also consider the five perspectives of Open Mobile:

• The Internet/Web

• Telecoms/devices

• Content

• Social networking and

• Privacy

We then extrapolate the current and future impact of Open Mobile in terms of:

• Services

• Business models

• Cloud computing and

• The Internet of Things

In the Web model, the money is in the links and not the nodes. The Open ecosystem fits well into that paradigm by enabling the creation of new links – between people, objects and content. The mobile future, when it manifests itself fully, is bright. However, getting to that future will mean a transformation of industries and economies. We accept that different constituencies react differently to the word ‘Open’, hence, the need to explore the topic of Open Mobile from five different perspectives. These perspectives are not aligned in their meaning and adoption of ‘Open’.

However, by choosing to address Open Mobile from the perspective of different players in the ecosystem, we provide a unique (and sometimes contradictory!) insight into a rapidly changing environment. This holistic approach adds value since it gives insights into the strategies and goals of other players – many of whom may not be from your industry.

It takes a lot of thinking and ‘putting yourselves in other people’s shoes’ i.e. an NPOV (Neutral point of view) perspective and then to also capture the evolution of these principles (trends) and the ethos of open collaboration (i.e. the impact on society of all these changes). Plus we wanted to make it very readable!


Here are the ways in which I see Open Mobile evolving. I could think of 35. (PS just added one more – so 36). Seek comments. In some cases, I have linked it to previous blogs where possible

1) Mobile is becoming a platform (like the Internet is). The concept of mobile and mobility as an enabler is a key aspect going forward in the future of Open Mobile

2) The evolution of the Internet itself – ex Overlay networks

3) Privacy and its impact on Open Mobile – The fallacy of the Better mousetrap: Privacy advocates want to have their cake and eat it too

4) The Mobile as a mechanism for learning and collaboration and perhaps the application of Russ Ackoff’s thinking to this new domain

5) Identity and minimum disclosure ( Solving the minimum disclosure problem: The significance of Claims based Identity system )

6) The evolution of Open standards and especially standards for domains which converge – ex Smart Grids, Mobile health and Secure cloud

7) The contra question: The role of closed in an Open Mobile ecosystem(ex Apple banning specific apps etc)

8) The evolution of Web 2.0 (collaboration, wikinomics etc)

9) Peer to Peer ecosystems(which are a part of Overlay networks but a special case)

10) Smart Grids Paper I am working on: The role of the Internet in future energy networks: Decentralization of Energy networks and insights for Smart Grids from Peer to Peer and Ubiquitous computing

11) Mobile developers and their role in an Open mobile ecosystem(lessons from the iPhone, Android etc)

12) Areas where mobile has a unique advantage: Mobile payments, mobile health, secure cloud and smart grids

13) VOIP and Voice as a platform

14) The future of walled gardens. Are they a paradise as the ancient Persians said or a cage

15) WAC and OMTP/Bondi secure APIs

16) Patent wars

17) HTML5 and the web business model

18) iPad and evolution of the iPad segment

19) The Internet laws good coverage HERE

20) The impact of mobility on GDP

21) Spectrum allocation

22) The Google Open memo – one of the few times a company has attempted to spell out the vision of Open

23) The opening up of social networks especially facebook

24) The evolution of Location(ex foursquare)

25) Transparency

26) Mobile as a platform in emerging markets

27) Mobile as beyond informational services and into transactional services(ex mobile payments)

28) Internet of things I am speaking at the second annual Internet of Things conference in Brussels. This should be a very interesting event and the keynote is by Nellie Kroes.

29) Open Mobile as an enabler for better governance and an enabler to government – a topic I am especially interested in due to my work at the World Economic Forum

30) Who is driving entities to open up and what does it mean(Customers, regulators, competition, providers, developers etc)

31) Embedded mobility – devices like Amazon kindle which have mobility inbuilt in them but are not phones

32) The Cloud and especially secure Cloud and the role of mobile in cloud computing (Mobile Cloud Computing: Issues and Risks from a Security Privacy Perspective: An analysis and a survey for my talk at secure cloud conference)

33) Content business models based on devices – ex newspapers on iPad

34) In general, the evolution of Open business models

35) The evolution of devices and the de-coupling of devices from the network and by extension the classic net neutrality discussion

36) The data deluge and it’s impact on Operators

So that’s it!!

36 in all. What else? I have yet to email the people who have downloaded the book so I hope we will get many more ideas!

Pls let me know either as a comment here or an email ajit.jaokar at