Friday, December 19, 2008

Cometh the hour cometh the man.

Sitting to write my Predictions for 2009 for clients and I am struck by how disjointed the Mobile Industry is. Over the last year I have heard to oftan from Senior Executives the phrases "Bypass the Networks to get to the Consumer" and "X are Parasites after our Customers for free". To me this demonstartes limited understanding of the Ecosystem that has evolved over the last 25 years. It also forces me to ask who is the Figurehead for Mobile? The PC industry had Bill Gates, the Internet has John Chambers but who do we have?

2009 looks like a hard year for most, which will require cooperation from all if we are to survive the storm. To limit the losses and maintain progression someone needs to look at the WHOLE industry and see that if we are to deliver on its potential it at last needs a genuine leader. That person will have to have an understanding of the HISTORY of all in our Industry and see that we now face the third inflection point which means that it is no longer about a single player controlling the market but rather an ecosystem that requires all to be healthy. Once they understand where we have come from they will need to understand what we could achieve so that they can start to work on what will need to change to get there.

A Figurehead will be able to talk with the Mobile Networks, Infrastructure Makers, Handset Manufacturers, Software House and those who provide the Content and build a Federation that is capable of taking us forward. They will understand that in most countries Mobile is one of the Top 5 industries when it comes to share of the GDP and so will be able to talk with Politicians and Regulators to reassure that they are not forming a Cartel. If we can find our Champion they will be someone with the vision to grow the sector 10-15 fold over the next five years.

As our Champion they will need to talk with the Press in such a way that they explain how we have come so far so fast, the focus will not be on the gadgets but rather the the impact on people's lives and the benefits mobile have brought. It cannot be about the technology, too many of the Engineers in mobile grew up watching Star Trek and have devoted themselves to fulfilling what they saw on the TV. They will need to speak in Parables that educate and evangelise just what an impact the mobile has had in twenty short years. We have the potential to make the mobile phone THE remote control for life, but do we have the person who can deliver that prospect?

Talking to the Industry, he will need to be able to insure that the future is about mutual benefit rather than a zero sum game. A Mobile Phone Network might need to pay over the odds for base stations but the Equipment Manufacturer will have to deliver software that works to open application interfaces so that handset and services work on the equipment without the need to new firmware. Handset Manufacturers will need to understand that the days of milk and honey are over, they need to adopt global standards that allow developers to reach customers and thus stimulate usage. When it comes to selling applications there needs to be a better store than Apple, Google, Handango or Vodafone have managed to build so far. Handset Manufacturers need to better understand and work with component suppliers, now is not the time to destock but rather invest, a Chipset manufacturer needs a return on their investment or they will stop innovating the cost base does not work on a networking effect.

With a Champion for Mobile we will have someone who in Private can bang heads so that all can benefit and in public sells the Industry to the World. It has worked for the PC and the Internet the most successful with such a model has to be the Catholic Church. The CEO's of all the Major Players could form a "house of Cardinals" just do not let them ellect a leader. Those I currently see at the top of the tree lack the knowledge or charisma to be a Champion, as they are the second generation of leaders in the sector they do not have the understanding of the level of cooperation rather than competition needed for ALL to progress.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A look back at 2008

This year in terms of mobile technology I have decided to take a multiple device strategy rather than try and do all things with a single machine. Whilst it has not been cheap it has been productive.

I have downgraded my Sony Ericsson P1i smartphone to the Sony Ericsson C905i and the first plus side is that I can now operate for a whole working day rather than discover that my battery has died just as clients from America come a calling.

I also managed to upgrade my Skypephone from 3 with the second generation of the handset. The device looks better than the original, the battery lasts longer and the new price plan means that I only have to top up every 90 days. However 3 seem to have missed a trick or two because whilst they give me access to Planet 3 I cannot buy anything for my handset. I hope that they have learnt from this with the Facebook phone.

When I am heading into London to meet people rather than give presentations I have taken to carrying either my iPod Touch or Eee PC which allows me to keep on top of my email and also surf the web whilst I await my coffee to cool enough for me to drink it.

When I do need to take my Laptop or Macbook then I also pack my Mobile Broadband dongle so that I can do some work whilst the tube makes its slow trundle back to Hertfordshire. I have tested the service provided by Orange, 3 and Vodafone and the later is best suited to my needs as they at least seem to be able to provide at least 50% coverage on my journey home. I just wish that the power drain was less.

In terms of services I use on my handset, the good news about no longer having a UIQ handset is that I can at last use Yahoo Go 3. The interface is good, I would like to have access to a few better widgets but it works well as a simple app store. It allows me to have access to my email, RSS feeds and upload photos to flickr. I have also been Twittering away on my phone which is interesting. Other Social Networking on my handset has not been as successful, for facebook to work for me I need a bigger screen and LinkedIn is best done with a 13inch plus screen.

I am starting to work more with the GPS in my handset. I don’t use it everyday but I do use it at the weekend when I am visiting places new to me.
In deciding to carry a number of devices I have had to invest in a couple of bigger bags to carry everything. I have also been talking with a friend who runs a bag design company about the need to develop a better man bag. As well as phone I carry a Camera, iPod, Sony Reader, Note Book when I am working. At the weekend the Sony Reader and Camera are not needed but I then have a bigger camera and lenses and my Macbook.

I was thinking that I had a strange case on OCD with my collecting of gadgets but watching others on my commute I am seeing more and more people are carry a range of devices. A recent news report said that UK kids were the best to mug as they were carrying over £800 of gadgets, so I cannot be alone. My disposable income just means that I am to buy more gadgets than the normal consumer.

The impact for the Mobile Networks, I am the guy that you should sell SIM only to for the main device and then as some form of loyalty programme you should offer mobile broadband. Talking of loyalty, when are you going to start doing with just some of the data that you have about me? Why don’t you use the opportunity presented every month to start a conversation with me? Why don’t you look at the HLR data and understand that I have become somewhat of a fan of Sony Ericsson and so stop trying to push another maker’s device at me? When are you going to reward me with lower call costs to my most called numbers?

2009 will be an interesting period in the history of mobile. I am sure that over the period I will get 4-6 new handsets, I hope to get a femtocell so that my home is better served with 3G services. I don’t think that I will be looking for convergence anytime soon, rather as with my knife draw in the kitchen I will seek out the best tool for the job. When it comes to embedded mobile broadband I hope that Sony don’t do a deal with T-Mobile for connectivity because if they do I will format the machine before I transfer data and then demand that my Network support my Vaio.