Great presentation .. HTML5 impact on application programming

Why did Gartner fail to spot 77 million devices and what it means for prediction methodologies ..

In a recent analysis, Gartner failed to spot 77 million devices from emerging Indian and Chinese manufacturers

Unverified sources in the Guardian article point to a leaning towards: preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. and . Thing is, real executives got real compensation based on our numbers ..

Then again, over at Fortune, Philip Elmer-DeWitt was contacted by someone who says they used to work at Gartner, and analysed the PC market – “but the methodolgy is the same for phones”. (You can find their comment below the main article, timed at 11.29; the comments run in reverse chronological order.)

S/he says, inter alia:

“So, in 3Q98, I analyzed the “choke points,” those parts of the supply chain where the channel narrowed enough to get a definitive count. At the time, it was OS, processor, graphics, and hard drive. As I recall, I found 20 million processors with no homes. The market at the time was about 100 million, so this was a 20% discrepancy.

“The process that ensued was a marvel of obfuscation. The leader of the Tracker team figured out a way to rationalize away all the extra units (e.g., multiprocessor servers, inventory, speculation, etc.). It was politically impossible to force the extra units on the regions because it would introduce gross distortions to the historical trends.

So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers. Even the growth rates are fiction. The fudge is in the “others” category, which is used as a plug to make the numbers work out. In fairness, we did do survey work, calling around, and attending white box conferences and venues to try to get a feel for that market, but in the end, the process was political. I used to tell customers which parts of the data they could trust, essentially the major vendors by form factor and region. The rest was garbage.

The industry itself was aware of these issues, but agreed to maintain the fiction because it was convenient. Most vendors kept their own numbers, but referred to IDC for public purposes. Thing is, real executives got real compensation based on our numbers. There were other games played, but that’s for another time.”

This is familiar territory. The analyst forecasts for Location based services in early 2000s are now laughable

“Successful plays in mobile data will ultimately exploit that which makes wireless unique. There is an element inherent to wireless that wired networks, by definition, will never possess – untethered mobility. Mobility, and hence location, is therefore a critical attribute to be exploited by all involved in the wireless value chain,” said Cliff Raskind, Sr. Industry Analyst with Strategy Analytics.

My view is:

Analysts can work on incremental trends

These are nice to ‘model’

These models have their accompanying assumptions

Mainly to protect the analysts anatomy ..

But ..

Disruptive trends are not incremental ..

The cannot be modelled by applying an incremental formula to a historical trend

Thats why LBS trends were so wrong(Google, foursquare etc are the big winners for LBS) and thats why the unconfirmed report in the Guardian “So, the mantra became, preserve the growth rates; to hell with the actual numbers” about Gartner’s methodology is so interesting .. more so because much of the industry analysis is geared towards what the industry(in this case Operators) want to hear

But its not only Gartner ..

The process which analysts use to ‘predict’ works only under incremental conditions where it has limited utility for sure, but the methodology fails to detect disruptive trends

See also: With the warp speeds of android, can Klingons win or do we need faster features?

Image: rajkumar1220 on Flickr

Would you hire a woman who maintained a f**k book in college

Tony Fish has a set of new rules for the social media age.

As a collection, they are interesting but they made me think ..

We value ‘online reputation’

We ask the younger generation to be careful ..

We threaten them that NO one would employ them if they found out about what they did in college ..

Now .. consider this recent incident ..

Duke university graduate Karen Owen, 22, put together a mock “thesis,” comparing and rating her sexual conquests from her sophomore year to her senior year of college. The elaborate Powerpoint presentation included names, pictures, graphs and ratings. This ‘fuck book’ went public on the Internet with predictable concerns on privacy violation and outrage from the University.

One could say that the fuss was more because she was a woman.

Some of this is not safe to read at work but the links are
Karen Owen’s Duke Sex-Rating PowerPoint Goes Viral

And the title of her thesis is colourfully entitled: “An Education Beyond The Classroom: Excelling In The Realm Of Horizontal Academics,”. In the report, she describes the men she’s slept with in near-scientific detail and even provides charts ranking their sexual prowess.

Qs is:

You could argue that she has LOST her reputation.

BUT Would you HIRE her as an employee after she left college?

My view is: Why not????

Who cares what she did in college?

For that matter, who cares what someone posts in their private life even if they are employed as long as it does not affect the work?

For the record, I believe she has got a few publishing offers and the sheer imagination and innovation should be commended

(Note that in this post, I am not referring to the privacy of the other people affected – I am discussing the reputation of the writer of this document – also note that she did not publish it herselves but rather a friend did, hence a far lesser crime)

So, would you employ someone with a similar history in college?

Is this whole trend hyped?

Are we forcing our values/norms/morals on the next generation?

Image – huffington post

Video of Aung San Suu Kyi released, met by cheering crowd

A great day for democracy ..

With the warp speeds of android, can Klingons win or do we need faster features?

PS: I could not resist the title :) Androids, Warp speeds and Klingons in one sentence!

In this post, I am trying to discuss the changing positions in the mobile ecosystem especially due to the impact of Android but also on emerging markets. The question is: How can handset vendors differentiate? I don’t think we have all the answers but some trends are becoming clearer as I discuss below

Gartner’s third quarter smartphone data is out and Android is now the second best selling smartphone OS worldwide at 25.5 percent behind Symbian, which still holds the top spot with 36.6 percent of sales share.

This is great news for Android but I think the figures do not explain the underlying trends and the disruption we are seeing in the mobile ecosystem.

Firstly, lets consider that there do not appear to be any specific best selling Android devices globally. So, growth is across the board. In this post, I analyse two trends, first the implications for Android success but also the growth in dumb phones (voice and SMS) and what it means for industry competitive positions

The question, in Star Trek parlance is: Is it possible to just ‘Klingon’ to the Android bandwagon? And what are the underlying trends in the handset ecosystem?

What happens when the handset industry becomes like the PC industry?

Back in 2008, I said about Long tail devices way before Android became popular (which I then called the ASUS effect) and that if the handset industry mirrored the PC industry, we would have a larger white label component. Also, Android is like ‘water’ another post some time ago – Sun Tzu, Android and water: Android is winning because it can evolve in many directions

Why did so many in telecoms missed this and some still continue to deny it? The answer is people often see telecoms and mobile in isolation and not as a part of a system. That can be a disaster as leading handset vendors have found out and many others will soon too .. Mobile was somehow ‘special’. It was supposed to always have a premium(people will always pay for content, people will pay a premium for devices etc etc) have all been proved wrong

The question is: What happens next?

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor (like Water as I said before), and even today, the success factors for Android remain ‘under water’ and nebulous – to adopt a starry analogy. For example, we dont see top 5 best selling Android devices.

One thing we CAN say: The rate of change with Android is the real killer

Customers buy features. Customers want new features fast. Pre Android, the device cycle was 18 months. Gone are those days. We are now in 4.5 month cycles (post an Android release)

The average cycle time for handsets first sold in 2008 based on Qualcomm’s QSD8250 chipset and Android’s Donut 1.6 release was a brief 8 months. By late 2009, the average cycle time for handsets based on Qualcomm’s MSM7227 chipset and Android’s Eclair 2.1 release had nearly halved, down to 4.5 months. This is “warp speed” for complex smartphones.”

This actually decrements the BRANDS of the android makers since people are buying specific features which they are getting fast. They don’t care from whom they get them. The warp speed for smartphones is the real differntiator for Android. And Nokia/Symbian or even WinMo will need different strategies for it since in my view, it is not possible to copy Android strategy by these players.

The WARP speed of Android means customers seem to be buying ‘faster features’ if I may coin that phrase ..

The diversity and rich feature set of Android can be seen from the following four links

There is of course a wider battle going on between integrated (ex RIM) vs modularized(ex WinMO and Android) but the RATE of change from Android cannot be ignored even if you adopt the integrated strategy(ex RIM). Integration(vs modularization) is a great strategy provided you can execute it. Today Apple(and possibly RIM) can execute on it. In future, I suspect INQ may if the rumours of the facebook phone are true, Facebook And INQ: Married, In A Relationship, Or It’s Complicated? but it is unclear how many will be able to do this successfully

So, the Kligon question. If we accept the dominance of the Android strategy, how do you differentiate?


Amongst the analysis of Android gainers, HTC stands out

The giant winner among handset makers? HTC, which grew the numbers sold by 144%. If there’s anyone benefiting from Android’s growth, it’s probably HTC – and the carriers selling them – more even than Google. Those 20.5m Android handsets are worth at least £100 each to someone: that’s an extra £2bn in the smartphone market that wasn’t there a year ago.

Why HTC?

How do we explain HTC success on Android?

Is it just because they were working with Google earliest? Which they were. But that does not explain everything. ex what specific features of HTC devices are users adopting?

Is it device integration? If so, again, we dont know specific features

Is it just HTC sense?

Firstly, HTC are innovating.

They had experience from re-skinning Windows Mobile, which they used with Android

Handset design and industrial design are great

Unlike motoblur, HTC sense has got much better reception even if there are instances of people posting videos to switch off HTC sense

All this alone does not explain the underlying trend trend of Android.

The answer appears to be HTC is executing well but at the same time also keeping the volume of devices launched high (which ties to the rate of change of Android and to the introduction of new features which benefits customers)

We can see this from an analysis of Android devices launched in 2010

HTC 13
motorola 18
samsung 10
LG 5
Sony ericsson 3
huawei 3
Dell 3
acer 3
Garmin- Asus Garmin- Asus 2
And one each for Kyocera,Lenovo, Inbrics, T-mobile, Geeksphone, Archos

Also, HTC, through HTC sense , is now launching new services like backups, security features, remotely lock, and wipe of all sensitive info. Apps ofcourse are rendered through the Android marketplace

The OTHER category of devices

There is a separate unrelated trend – that of OTHER category of devices in emerging markets. I think emerging markets is by no means a secure place for any handset vendor ..

It seems that Those extra 77m mobile phones sold last quarter were attributed to the ‘OTHER’ category

The company is called ‘OTHER’ by analysts, but its worth 77m devices. Note this is not ‘Smart phones’ this is DUMB phones(voice + SMS). Qs is – Why OTHER? why not Huawei? i.e. low cost Chinese manuacturer

Some thoughts on this:

Handset success have always been about optimal supply chain and not low cost devices. That’s why Huawei never made an impact on Nokia since Nokia’s supply chain was one of the best in the world. However, local manufactuers possibly have lowest cost and best supply chain. So Indian and Chinese manufacturers are making an impact at their respective LOCAL levels in the dumb phone category. Huawei is possibly smart enough to ignore that segment of the market and go for lower cost handsets based on Android in the West. This is a wiser move

Having said that, just like I have always discounted Japan in handsets OUTSIDE of Japan, I also think that Chinese manufacturers could end up making the same mistake as Japan i.e. excellent hardware but no excellence in software and closed systems(which is the real differentiator now)

The OTHER category of vendors includes in India includes spice mobilility micromax and Olive telecom and the impact of Android in India is still to be felt

Google seems to be working with Indian manufacturers like Micromax Informatics Ltd., Spice Mobility Ltd., and Olive Telecom to create an Android device in the $150 to sub $100 range. This will test the brand loyalty of Nokia which is already strained at the lowest end of the Indian handset market by the local Indian manufacturers. Already a price point of $150 has been reached by the Huawei Ascend in the US.

Conclusions – Klingons vs faster features

So, the market is becoming clearer now .. and the dominant players are:

1) Integrated strategy – Apple

2) Modularised – Android with whoever can execute fastest and – currently HTC

3) Dumb phones – dominate by the OTHER

There is scope for innovation in Android as future Android UIs show

However, if we accept the rate of change argument, then the winners will be those who innovate at a much faster rate (faster features). Innovation in itself is not enough, the rate of innovation is the key differentiator.

Thoughts welcome
I may explore this question more in subsequent blogs – ex What about the Operators? i.e. if we see the market evolving in three areas: Services(apps), Integrated(Apple), Network? Is there any evidence of any pure network elements that can be deployed competitively at a service level? Operative word being ‘competitively’ i.e. the network should have a unique advantage from the customer perspective

Thanks to insights from: @Kevin Mc Donagh, Sena Gbeckor Kove and Andreas

Image source: Real science

MEF Amercias 2010 – Miami

The southern hemisphere and LATAM region have showed growth and dynamism in the Mobile entertainment industry and reflecting that, our friends at MEF are holding their next event in sunny Miami. The event should give opportunities for ideas and networking and also bridge the gap between the North and the South America for mobile content.

Also see Gary Schwartz MEF North America chair - a future futuretext author and his new book!

See more about the event below

MEF Americas 2010

Private planet – A pioneering personal cloud computer ..

I covered mydex before and private planet is another cool product in Beta.

Headed by Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel who is well known in this space (ex Imperial college/ Head of innovation at transport for London etc). Having known Dr Janko well and seeing this product working, I am tracking it with interest

There are a few interesting things about it
1) It works as of now i.e. its not a vision. Its a product and I have seen it work

2) It works across devices ex Blackberry, iPhone etc

3) Interestingly enough, it does not do traditional IP based routing but uses some form of context / content based routing

I see content based routing emerging from academia to industry. ex see van Jacobsen’s paper from PARC on Content Centric Networking (pdf)

In any case, private planet is one to watch

UK Kindle Users Forum (KUF)

Our friends run the UK Kindle Users Forum (KUF) and I recommend it if you are interested in Kindle

The Kindle Users Forum UK (KUF) launched in September 2010 alongside the Amazon Kindle in the UK. The forum, now known as KUF is currently growing fast as a dedicated UK forum for Kindle owners and eBook fans. The forum welcomes both Kindle fans and authors alike and aims to provide tips, support and a common meeting place for the discussion and review of eBooks and eBook hardware. The KUF book club is now in it’s first month with a book by an upcoming author chosen as the first read.

As well as providing a community, the Kindle Users Forum also has it’s own system from reading news and blogs on the Kindle formatted for ease of reading and compatibility with the Kindle browser. Unlike many other forums, it has been designed to work and display properly on the Kindle’s experimental web browser without causing eye-strain or unnecessary scrolling/zooming.

If you are a Kindle owner, an avid reader or an author yourself, the Kindle Users Forum should prove a valuable resource. The forum is located at UK Kindle Users Forum (KUF)

Carnival of the Mobilists No. 242

Carnival of the Mobilists No. 242 at AJ Wright’s blog. Been a few weeks since I posted on the carnival, so always nice to see my post being selected and great to see AJ does a great job as usual

B. B. King & Eric Clapton – The Thrill Is Gone

This is one of my favourites. Great ‘conversation’ on the guitar between King and Clapton esp the bit after 6:00 mins