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

Knock Knock jokes for telecoms ..

A bit of fun but with some serious insights I hope

Modelled on the Knock Knock jokes .. I used the following at a private talk for a customer to illustruate the many gaps in perception I see in the industry

Although I use ‘Operator’ here the same ideas to apply to others in the telecoms industry

An interaction between a Telecom Operator and a Customer
Knock knock
who is there?
Telecom Operator
Customer: What do you want to know?
Operator: How many appstores do you need?
Customer: You mean apps .. not appstores .. yes?
Operator: No. I mean how many app stores do you need?
Customer: Silence ..
Operator(again) .. How many appstores do you need?
Customer: Silence ..
Operator: Why dont you answer? How many appstores do you need?

Why no answer from the customer?

Have you ever seen a customer ask this question?
It is a question for the industry. Makes no difference to the customer. Customers like apps not appstores. Appstores are an industry abstraction ..

An interaction between a Telecom Operator and the Web
Knock knock
Operator: who is there?
The Web
Operator: The web who?
The Web: What do you mean .. web who .. there is only one web ..
Operator: But I mean .. Is it Google, Is it skype? Is it foursquare? Is it twitter? Is it facebook?

Skype is not the Web. Nor is twitter.

The point is: When the telecoms industry says ‘Web’ they REALLY mean ‘Over the top’ (services that use the telecoms network to deliver content but are agnostic – and often competing – to the network itself. Skype is probably the best example) . In doing so, they muddle up their own competitive positioning because the view of Over the top is really Telecoms centric. No one outside telecoms cares for it ..

My top 20 mobile trends for the next decade for Africa ..

Our friend @Rudy De Waele asked me to give 5 mobile trends for Africa over the next decade for his talk at Mobile Web Africas. I have long supported mobile web in Africa(long before this blog became famous) see The mobile Internet will do more for Africa than live 8! and also the Mobile Web Africas conference created by @Matthew Dawes. So, I want to be particularly radical.

Here are my top five trends for Africa over the next decade – you can add some more below or send them to Rudy

1) Mobile commerce creates efficient economies

2) The Mobile phone enables knowledge so repressive regimes are changed to democracy

3) wildlife is protected more(less poaching due to sensors)

4) Companies emerge FROM Africa to EXPORT mobile expertise to the west!

5) An augmented reality application is developed that maps Genes to regions. Thus, visitors to Africa are able to see where their ancestors lived by a probability of gene pool as they travel. This is based on the Out of Africa theory on study of mitochondrial DNA

Sun Tzu, Android and water: Android is winning because it can evolve in many directions

Sun Tzu art of war.jpg

I was trying to explain this reasoning about why Android is winning although Apple seems to be getting a lot of mindshare ..

Android is winning simply because it can morph in many directions . This makes it a very powerful opponent to overcome since it is hard to fight against water ..

Sun Tzu compared military tactics to Water in the Art of War

Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards… Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.

This is not merely an idealistic viewpoint and needs some explanation since it has profound implications for Apple, Nokia, LiMo, Bada and others

Last quarter, US sales of Android phones beat the iPhone by about 7 percent. Mobilecrunch says that The real reason Android is outselling the iPhone: Android is everywhere. Gigaom adds that Android is the hottest ticket in town

I agree and the reasons are because Android is (relatively) open than other platforms and it is designed to morph(transform) along many dimensions

The competitive positioning of ‘Open’ is often hard to gauge but the company which succeeds in this strategy gets very significant rewards.

Here is why:

1) Open means allowing others to add value to your platform or service

2) You need to be open since products and services evolve faster than you can plan for

3) They also evolve in unpredictable directions than the platform creator anticipated.

4) Once you accept this, then you have to consider that if products and services are evolving fast and in unpredictable directions (whether you like it or not), then it is better to have YOUR product evolve in the right directions (faster than a competitors)

5) Problem is of course: You don’t know the direction, but by being like water(fluid) you leverage the community to morph your product

Android can evolve in three directions(from the efforts of others):

- Hardware(handset vendors)

- Software(open source) and

- Services(apps developers)

Of course, Google maintains control over Android through the Android governance model. Thus, there is a tradeoff. But most people seem to accept the benefits of Android (in comparison to the Governance model)

The tradeoff has tangible benefits because:

- Google contributes code to Android. This makes a big difference

- The level of abstraction / differentiation has shifted to higher levels anyway. In other words, very few people are expecting to make money from software alone.

- Android provides a community of developers to those who adopt it

Thus, the platform is able to morph through existing handset vendors(ex 20 Android phones from LG ), new entrants to the handset industry(Dell), Operators. The evolution continues beyond handsets to tablets and even android TVs

The devices range from top of the range phones to 20$ phones on Amazon

This has profound implications for other platforms because the greater the community, developer support and rate of evolution – the harder it is to compete against. In other words, it is now a race for Nokia, LiMo and others to compete against the rate of change of Android and that will be hard.

And what about Apple and the iPhone?

The iPhone will always have a place and a value but it cannot scale especially considering the recent harsher/closed strategies of Apple. As Anil Dash says: Secrecy does not scale

Thus, I see that Android is already winning through a very fluid, Sun Tzu like strategy.

Image: Sun Tzu

comments welcome


Android Catching Steam As Google Activates 2 Phones Per Second

Keynote at ip3 conference – Toronto: Invisible touch: The invisible impact of Apple, iPhone and iPad in transforming the ecosystem and the opportunities and challenges it creates for designers, developers and marketers

iphone ipad ipod.jpg

I have been way too tied up with projects and forthcoming books, but the ip3 conference in Toronto was too interesting to resist. I am giving the keynote at the ip3 conference in Toronto on the 21st of June..

As far as I can see, the iP3 conference is the first conference based on the iPhone, iPad and the iPod and also Toronto is a centre of excellence for design. Both factors will make this conference interesting. I have spoken at Toronto before and have many friends. So, look fwd to this. If you are there, please contact me and we can meet (ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com)

My keynote abstract as below

Invisible touch: The invisible impact of Apple, iPhone and iPad in transforming the ecosystem and the opportunities and challenges it creates for designers, developers and marketers

On first impressions, the success of the iPhone could be attributed to it’s User Interface. But the User Interface(touch) was just the starting point. The ‘invisible’ impact of the iPhone has transformed the ecosystem and has extended beyond touch(UI). Apple started with the customer experience and then worked backwards into the value chain i.e. content(including professionally generated content and user generated content), applications, device and network. Traditionally, these elements innovated within their own silos but the new apple ecosystem successfully managed to unify all these elements and create a new value chain. This transformation continues with the iPad impacting the publishing industry.

This keynote will discuss what these trends mean going forward. It will span the ecosystem from UI, apps, content, iPad, iPhone 4 etc. It will also discuss the wider issues and challenges beyond the iPhone platform and the implications for designers, developers and marketers

Title inspired by the excellent album by Genesis – Invisible touch :)

Mobile data charges: We risk making the same mistake of climate change scientists by choosing extreme use cases


Most of us agree that Climate change is a risk. We want to leave the world a better place for our children and for that, action is needed else we will end up losing the current ecosystem. However, Climate change scientists have been on the back foot recently since they chose to publicise the dangers of Global warming by choosing extreme use cases.

Specifically, the claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035 by the IPCC was unfounded and not based on real research

Extreme use cases (like Himalayan glaciers melting away) get headlines (even when they are wrong!) .. But as we can see, they do damage to the real issue(Climate change) in the long run

There is a lesson for this as we start to discuss mobile data charges and ‘unlimited’ data charges.

The BBC reported on a headline grabbing article from research conducted by Which magazine which says that a person was charged £41,000 after downloading a television programme onto his phone when roaming ..

This got headlines .. but seriously .. what is the use case here?

Who wanted to download whole movies when roaming and why?

Sadly, it takes us away from a more useful use case of accessing mobile services on the go in a transparent but not necessarily ‘unlimited’ mode.

There is a big difference between ‘transparency’ and ‘unlimited’

For example, when I go to France I get a message like this

Welcome to FRANCE. Vodafone Passport calls cost 75p per call + your

home rate (inc bundled mins) to make and receive. SMS’s are 11p. Data

is 0.5p per KB up to 1MB (£4.99 inc vat). The next 24MB is free then

£4.99/25MB. Sessions reset at 00:00GMT. Call 4636 for free pricing

info & 112 for emergency svcs

While we could say that this message could be improved a bit .. but for most of us this is ‘good enough’ i.e. we CAN live within this limit. If you were just checking text based emails , you would most likely stay in the 1M(£4.99 / day) limit. Which is fair ..

Now, one could say: Does that mean we will be stuck to low data usage when roaming forever?

The optimist in me says that this is where normal competitive positioning within Operators will play out. Ex: Vodafone will offer a ‘special deal’ when I can go to Spain and upload pictures/videos etc for a different price plan perhaps in the holiday season. Others will follow. This is normal competition

However, I fear that focusing on use cases like ‘downloading movies when roaming’ will do more harm than good in the longer term(BBC headlines not withstanding).

It may well be a ‘Himalayan’ blunder!

Image source: http://michaelgreenwell.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/himalayas.jpg

Mobile Cloud Computing: Issues and Risks from a Security Privacy Perspective: An analysis and a survey for my talk at secure cloud conference

Mobile Cloud Computing.JPG

Hello all

I am presenting a paper/speaking at the secure cloud conference on ‘Mobile Cloud Computing: Issues and Risks from a Security Privacy Perspective’

This event has some very interesting co-speakers including Enisa, US Federal Trade Commission, eBay, qualys, European commission, BT innovation, fujitsu, Verizon, NIST. So, should be a good event.

I have covered mobile cloud computing before on this blog and I have some views on it as you know.

However, I seek some feedback through this brief survey. The survey is subjective and you may answer any questions as you feel relevant. Of course all responses are anonymous and in return for your feedback, I will send you a copy of my presentation. You can email me your responses at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com..The survey is designed to be informative i.e. I hope you will learn from it. There is also a significant discussion on Identity and Cloud as you can see in the last question below

For the sake of simplicity and to prevent being bogged down by definitions, I consider cloud computing as below:

Cloud computing entails the availability of software, processing power and storage on an ‘as needed’ basis. Cloud computing reduces CAPEX investment. Its key characteristics include agility, reduced Cost, device independence, reliability (multiple redundant sites), scalability, security and reduced maintenance. Cloud computing applications can be broadly divided into:

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) ex Amazon Web Services provides virtual servers with unique IP addresses and blocks of storage on demand;

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): Ex Google apps – A set of software and development tools hosted on the provider’s servers.


Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) : Ex web based email – in which the provider allows the customer only to use its applications.

Mobile cloud computing could be defined as – the availability of cloud computing services in a mobile ecosystem. This incorporates many elements including consumer, enterprise, femtocells, transcoding, end to end security, home gateways and mobile broadband enabled services. Also since the terms ‘mobile’ and ‘wireless’ are used interchangeably, I consider Mobile – ‘anywhere anytime’ and wireless is ‘without wires’. Thus mobile is ‘wireless’. Hence, we are talking of ‘Anywhere anytime secure data access’ when we speak of Mobile Cloud Computing

To set the stage;

Enisa has an excellent paper on Cloud computing which you can read HERE

The recent RSA conference had some interesting developments:

White House Cybersecurity Plan Revealed 12 point comprehensive national cyber security initiative

The Trusted Cloud computing initiative continues to evolve

Identity is an important part of Cloud computing(both web and mobile) as we see in the last qs below

So, within the context above, my questions are:

a) Is ‘mobile cloud computing’ a distinct domain in itself? Or is it more about ‘Web Cloud providers going mobile’

b) Do mobile providers have any advantages over web providers (like Amazon)?

c) What are the key issues and key advantages for mobile cloud computing?

d) Will mobile cloud computing be about privacy in addition to security?

e) What are the biggest privacy and security threats to mobile cloud computing

g) Will providers use Mobile Cloud computing to ask payment for granular features(like access to voicemail) aka the Ryanair business model for Cloud computing!

h) Will enterprises be the key drivers for Mobile Cloud Computing?

i) Mobile Cloud computing can be implemented at many levels in the Telecoms stack: The Device/Platform, the Operator; The Mobile Web; Infrastructure; SIM. Any more potential ways in which mobile cloud computing can be implemented? And what are the pros and cons of the approaches?

j) Which applications would be most likely to benefit from Mobile Cloud Computing?

k) Would PCs/Sub netbooks and other ‘non phone’ devices covered by Mobile broadband be impacted by this trend and if so, how?

l) Many providers use ‘data backup’ as a stepping stone to cloud services. Will these services evolve beyond the ‘data backup’ i.e. for instance will customers trust their backup providers with personalized information leading to other services

j) How important is end to end security for Cloud computing?

k) How important is the management of the client on diverse devices important for end to end cloud security?

l) Is the Mobile Web a good client for Cloud computing?

m) Will emerging markets adopt Cloud computing services?

n) Will low spec devices (ex feature phones) benefit from ‘thin client’ cloud computing services?

o) Identity and the Cloud …

This is a big development again covered a lot in the recent RSA conference

I seek your views on how important is Identity to the entire Cloud / Mobile Cloud debate.

One could say that: Identity is the security glue for the cloud

and further with the idea of No Passwords in the Cloud as discussed in Patrick Harding’s presentation (you can download the slides HERE – pdf)

At the RSA conference, Patrick Harding of Ping Identity spoke about his company has learn about cloud computing in this session, “How the Cloud is Changing Federated Identity Requirements”.

A few of his observations:

1) Software is no longer build vs. buy. It now includes subscribe, which by definition is a shorter term relationship.

2) Cloud computing is an evolution of architecture. It arrives after Web services, which evolved from Web, client server, and mainframe.

3) Complexity of the identity layer is harder than ever for the simple reason that there are more apps per user than ever before.

4) Services are becoming any-to-any, where internal (employee) and external (customer) classifications don’t matter nearly as much as before. Because of this firewalls are losing their usefulness.

5) Audit is no longer an afterthought. Auditors don’t care how or where applications hosted, but hey do need their reports! This includes Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, Gramm-Leach, Bliley, and more.

I agree with this overall mindset that Identity will be a key player in both Web and Mobile Cloud computing

I also covered the same issue in a previous blog: Solving the minimum disclosure problem: The significance of Claims based Identity system

So, my qs is: Do you agree with the above analysis for the role of Identity in Web and Mobile Cloud computing

Welcome any ideas/thoughts on the above

You can email me your responses at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com. All responses are confidential and I will email you a copy of my presentation as thanks

Mobile parallel universes: The psychological meaning of Mobile to the younger generation

mobile parallel universes.JPG

I wrote this partly out of fun .. I was trying to show the deeper meaning of mobile to young people .. using an analogy of parallel universes

It brings a lot of my personality into the post(Quantum mechanics, Comics, Archeology etc).

comments welcome ..

Quantum mechanics tells us of the fascinating possibility of parallel universes . While these parallel universes may appear to be in the realm of science fiction, many young people who use mobile devices already inhabit such universes in their own mind.

To them, these universes are real and significant since these universes revolve around themselves (they are the stars)

It is easy to think of pictures taken from mobile devices as static images, but to their creators, they are much more because they have a unique meaning. The images also have a special meaning in context of their community (the parallel universe) they inhabit

The psychosocial impact of Mobile devices is an emerging topic. (i.e. one’s psychological development in an interaction with a social environment)

In the paper Mobile Identity: Youth, Identity, and Mobile Communication Media Gitte(pdf) quotes a young girl (age sixteen) who says: Parents usually don’t know how important a tool the mobile has become in young people’s lives. They only think about the communicative function, not the social meaning. They then explore the psychological meaning of mobile devices to young people in greater detail. A mobile device has two functions: communication and also a social element. Since the young person’s Identity is tied to the mobile device, it becomes fluid – both in the physical sense (mobility) but also in the social sense (going in and out of communities). Besides mobility, the mobile device also has Availability, presence, the ability to document experiences and acts as a learning tool (since it acts as a reference point and a filter through the friends in their social network)

This means, young people inhabit a world of constant visual and textual streams which become a part of their identity (i.e. they are often afraid to ‘miss something’ significant in their world). The captured image is proof that ‘I was there’. It need not be ‘special occasions’, rather it is more about ‘what goes on in their mind at that time’. When shared, it is a part of an emerging collective consciousness their own parallel universe. They invest time in capturing the moment since it is a part of their own Identity(what’s on their mind) and consequently they are keen to ensure that it is a part of their collective consciousness i.e. received/shared/communicated to their own group(of which they are the star)

When I read this for the first time, it sounded like an alien world. But is it?

Children has always lived in their own worlds .. A space of their own .. Away from every one else which they create. As a child, I used to read comic books extensively(especially Disney, Hanna Barbara, Tintin, Asterix etc) which I still do! It is a unique world that has meaning only to me ..

We see the same phenomenon today .. But through an interactive mobile medium. The mobile device has become a social artefact i.e. an object made or modified by a human being.

Ancient human beings made rock paintings in caves which depicted their world ..

Through their mobile images, the young inhabit their own private world .. Which revolves around them.

Their own (mobile) parallel universe!

PS: If you are interested in parallel universes, see this BBC link on parallel universes and the work of Michio Kaku whose site is HERE

I first got interested in this topic after reading Hyperspace a few years ago and

Parallel worlds is also good and more recent

Image source: http://www.dl2.net/images/art/merfyl/magic_portal.jpg

Into how many categories could we segment mobile devices?

I posed this question at forumoxfordInto how many categories could we segment phones?

And my initial guess was:

a). Business – ex blackberry

b). Low end phones – emerging markets

c) Low end phones – advanced markets

d) Top end smart phones (advanced markets)

e) Smart phones (emerging markets)

f) Phones in Japan and Korea (different beasts!)

g) Social network phones (inq1)

h). Sim only connections and Dual Sim

i) phones for specific demographics (ex Hispanic)

Brendan Dunphy added

Indeed Nokia spent a fortune on one of the biggest market segmentation exercises I have seen but wit seemingly poor results. Why? Maybe this approach cannot work in a rapidly evolving sector where consumer needs are changing so quickly (we do not know what we want or is possible) or maybe they failed to segment by the right criteria, which should have been ‘needs based’.

Other categories were as follows(with people who suggested the names)

David Doherty

Senior Phones (Emporia, Doro, Samsung Jitterbug)

Health phones

Seb Haigh

Wearable phones -

Machine-2-Machine phones

Eg Phones in vending machines that asks for a resupply

Werner Egipsy Souza

Sports phones: Samsung Marine and Nokia 5210

Fashion Phones: Nokia 8800 and iPhone

Romi Parmar outlines the seven key themes that consumers used to describe “what my mobile means to me…”.

“Expression of who I am”: the technology I use says something about me Mobile as an extension of who you are, not defining who you are. Key factors: Style, Design, Identity, Fashion, Self Expression.

“A life balancer”: I think its going the other way, more spiritual” Mobile helping you to balance pressures in your life to make living better. Key factors: Simplicity, Natural, Spirituality, Well-being, Balance.

Link me to new worlds: I am able to wander around, go to the places I like, thus broadening my thoughts Mobile gives you access to new worlds of experience & creativity . Key factors: Subcultures, Experience, Fun, Play, Creativity.

A close friend: I want something that looks beautiful My computer is my life line A humanised mobile with its own design and functional / personality identity that the owner connects with on an emotional level. Key factors: Humanised, Adopt/adapt, Feminisation, Emotion, Intuitive.

My social passport: This get together in the bar was possible because we all have a cell phone Mobile that is the rites of passage to freedom and social group membership. Key factors: Communities, Bonding, Relationships, Friends & Family, Sharing.

The perfect P.A.: Technology totally simplifies daily activities so we can live as easily as possible Mobile that puts you in control and makes a busy life productive, simple and hassle free. Key factors: Empowerment, Technical, Productivity, Performance, Seamless.

“A basic tool”: It needs to be easy there are too many other things to worry about Mobile is an easy to understand, simple and functional tool. Key factors: Reliability, Reassurance, Familiarity, Simplicity, Intuitive.

My biggest insight is from Brendan i.e. the market and ecosystem are becoming too complex to segment mobile phones in a traditional way!

Open source vs. Open Standards – complementing or competing?

I have been thinking of this idea for some time especially after the launch of Android/OHA – and a recent email from Curro Dominguez of Vodafone Betavine R and D who attended my IMS course at Oxford university prompted this blog.

I seek thoughts on this – and admittedly I may not have got everything right here. Note also that this article/blog is specific to the mobile domain – however similar principles may apply to the Web as well.

So .. Here we go ..

Interoperability and standards

In any consumer based service, we need interoperable standards for the market to blossom

There are three ways to do enable interoperability – the first is by a monopoly i.e.. A single standard controlled by one company. The second is via open standards and standardization bodies and the third(which I find most interesting) is via open source

The open standards process is now well known. For instance, W3C is a standardization body and its process is outlined HERE

As with any standardization body, it comprises submissions, committees, consensus, working groups, draft proposals – so on and so forth.

The result is – all standards from any standardization body have three problems:

a) They are slow i.e. they take a long time to materialise

b) They are ‘standard’ i.e. they leave little room for differentiation

c) Even when there is some effort towards standardization/consensus, there is no guarantee that the market will not fragment(such as in the case of J2ME)

Besides this, there are other problems – for instance -

a) Some companies actually thrive on fragmentation(transcoding companies/testing companies etc) and on the flip side – there are business models built around standardization by standardization entities themselves (for example testing, compliance mark, certification, training etc)

b) IPR management is also an issue

c) Finally, many companies support standards retrospectively. This means they are ‘compliant’ but only later when it makes little difference anyway.

The result is a slow, imperfect process, which does not always work. However, the options are much worse .. Essentially a commercial monopoly

Open source

Can Open source offer a third way forward?

It appears to be a road which companies are increasingly taking – especially with Android/OHA.

Firstly, for the sake of this discussion, let us differentiate between Open standards, Open systems and Open source

We have already discussed Open standards above – i.e. standards which are consensus driven and created by a consortium of companies with some form of community/committee process

Open systems is a term where users are not restricted by any commercial or technological means i.e. no walled gardens. The meaning of ‘open’ in this case is dependent on context. Recently, facebook opened up it’s APIs to third parties. In that sense, facebook is ‘open’. However, within facebook itself, you cannot contact any user without an introduction(unlike in MySpace). So, in that case, facebook is ‘closed’. Hence the meaning that : open = users should not be restricted by any commercial or technological means – is generally valid

Which brings us to ‘Open source’. For once, the Wikipedia article on Open source is not very clear. Hence, I am using a very simple, concise viewpoint to explain this, rather emotive for some people, term

Open source software is managed and promoted through an organization called Open Source Initiative -which maintains an OSI definition and endorses a set of Open source licenses which comply with the OSI definition.

All this is simple enough. However, the term ‘Open source’ was created to distinguish from another term called ‘Free software’ coined by the free software foundation. .

The principal philosophical difference between the free software foundation and the open source movement lies in ‘what to do with derived works’ also called Copyleft . The free software foundation believes that derived works should also be covered by the same terms as the licence(copyleft). In other words, if you modify software under the FSF licence, then the derived work must also be released back into the community.

In contrast, depending on which license you adopt from the open source foundation, derived works need not be released back to the community(there is a secondary question of what constitutes a derived work – but we will leave that aside for the moment). Specifically, the Apache licence v 2.0 covered under Opensource is not copyleft. In other words, any derivatives need not be released back into the community (thereby preserving IP rights of the person modifying it).

There are philosophical debates about this (and one can argue that the copyleft principle is more viral – see wikipedia link on copyleft above)– but the counter argument is that – companies will want to preserve their modifications for commercial reasons and there will be no commercial incentives for people if you force them to also release any derived works.

Of course, none of the open source (and for that matter the free software) licenses mandate ‘commercially free’ i.e. you are free to charge people (or not) for the software and derivatives.

Open source and Interoperability

Open source conjures up images of pony tailed geeks writing Linux code .. but there is another class of contributors enabling the rise of open source.


Why would companies want to contribute code under open source?

To facilitate interoperability and to grow the market.

In addition, unlike standardization which is top down, complex and committee driven : Open source initiatives are grassroots, simple and needs based since they are often solutions to specific problems. This makes the whole process simple and quick with unviable initiatives cut down at the source.

The biggest proponent of Open source in recent times is Google – with Android. The Android user space software is released under Apache version 2.0.This provides a commercial incentive for companies to develop modifications in the application space. See this fantastic post on why Google chose the apache license over GPL v2 for a detailed discussion on this topic.

Of course we have to reiterate that open source is not always better than standardization and ultimately I expect that the two will coexist. But certainly, it is a space to watch.

Others have spotted the same trend.

For instance,

Readwerite web correctly (in my view) identifies open source as the most promising trend of 2008 but wrongly(again in my view) mixes the three terms Open source, Open systems and open standards(for example the Opera lawsuit is not about Open source – it is about open standards since Opera itself is not open source as I understand it)

Vodafone betavine

Finally, we come to the email from Curro Dominguez of Vodafone who works with Vodafone betavine

I have blogged about betavine before and people like Dan Appelquist and Stephen Wolak who work with it are very clued on guys – so I am watching betavine with interest

Hence, I was interested when Curro told me about MobileScript which is an ECMA script that allows developers to access device functionality (calls, messages) in a simple manner.

It’s also one of the first projects to be released as Open Source (GPL v2)

See this YouTube video

As Vodafone are doing (correctly in my view), I see this to be an increasing trend – and it will be beneficial since companies will address specific problems, they will court developers, Android/OHA will provide legitimacy to the whole area and we will balance the objectives of fast development cycles, interoperability and with no monopolies

Also, I wish to acknowledge the thinking from Andreas of visionmobile which I have used to clarify some of my own questions in understanding Open source.

Any comments welcome

Related blogs coming soon:

The Blu Ray debate about openness

The iPhone debate about openness