Is Mobile the next disruptive technology?

Not too long ago, the mobile industry was dominated by discussions about chipsets and back-end carrier infrastructure. Now, the conversation has turned to streaming video and iPhone apps – and there’s a whole cast of new characters that have a seat at the table, from Hollywood studios to web giants like Yahoo and Google. Who will be the dominant players, and what content will succeed in this emerging medium? These are questions that executives across an array of media sectors are trying to answer. This report provides insights into the future of mobile, with a particular emphasis on M&A and VC funding activity, and a glimpse into how mobile content (games, music, video, and social networks) will become a thriving business, through either paid or ad-supported models.

Their database of 1,115 transactions shows $343 billion of investment and M&A activity in the mobile sector over the past 38 months. While there has been a slowdown in activity, deals are still getting done and for good reason. There is no question that mobile is the next disruptive technology.

Increasingly, prognosticators are referring to phones as having the potential to be a mobile PC; while likely directionally correct, we think it is a premature call.

The economic downturn could hamper the ability of the carriers to grow the average revenue per customer/unit (ARPU) through content and service packages, but it could push more consumers to become wireless-only customers.

While mobile advertising and marketing has yet to live up to expectations, the medium is becoming increasingly accessible and scalable and the creative is improving such that there are a growing number of campaign success stories. Not with standing a weak economy, we think this is a sector that can do well near term as marketers seem to be embracing its lower out-of-pocket cost combined with targeting capcustomers.

Video usage should increase dramatically as theand hardware could mute near term growth.

Original Article:
The Changing Mobile Industry and What It Means for Media Executives
By Lauren Rich Fine, CFA, and Galen Vaisman

The full report can be downloaded at

4.1 Billion Mobile Phone Subscribers Worldwide

Mobile Subsribers 200860% of the world’s citizens have access to mobile phones. This is according to a recently released UN report. Pakistan is mentioned as one of the fastest growing country for telecommunications.

The conclusion is that mobile phones help poor countries to improve their economy. That is a well established fact by now. However the more relevant question is how the governments can either support this growth or cause it to slowdown by a) excessive taxes b) poor regulation and c) policies which do not help with foreign investment and d) infrastructure issues. Of course political stability and lack of security is the overriding factor above all.

Mobile Phone Subsribers

Overall the magnitude of the global digital divide remains unchanged between 2002 and 2007. Despite significant improvements in the developing world, the gap between the ICT haves and have-nots remains.

When dividing the world into four groups of countries based on different ICT levels, a slight decrease of the digital divide can be observed between countries in the “high” ICT group and those in the other groups. This could be due to an increase in mobile cellular penetration levels in many countries that are part of the lower ICT groups. On the other hand, results also show that the digital divide between countries with “upper” and those with “medium” and “low” ICT levels is increasing slightly. This suggests that as information societies become more mature, ICT levels flatten out. Less mature, but reasonably advanced information societies grow strongly, thereby leaving behind those at the lower end of the scale.

The Report also presents the latest, end-2008 figures for key ICT indicators. There has been a clear shift from fixed to mobile cellular telephony and by the end of 2008, there were over three times more mobile cellular subscriptions than fixed telephone lines globally. Two thirds of those are now in the developing world compared with less than half in 2002.
The report notes that digital divide is still a issue to be resolved.

The Evolution of the Mobile Phones

Handset Motorola 1985This Videos shows the Evolution of Mobile Phones from 2985 until today.

You’re bound to recognise a few mobile phones from your past as we take you from 1985 to the present day; and you can even learn a few interesting facts along the way.

For instance, did you know the first mobile phone to feature an internal camera was the Sharp J-SH04, released in Japan in 2001? Or that the billionth Nokia ever sold was a Nokia 1100, purchased in Nigeria, a model designed to be dust-proof for use in dusty, developing countries?

Starting with the earliest Nokia and Motorola handsets and ending with the Nokia N95 and Apple iPhone, we also give you a glimpse into the future, with a few concept phones that may make your current mobile look dated within a couple of years.

The future of smart Ambient Devices

Chumby Ambient Device - Mocom2020Continuing with the theme of ambient communications and ambient products, I’d like to compare two ambient products on the market – the O2 Joggler and the Chumby.

In 1998, my mobile design company designed and built one of the first wireless portals ever seen (Zingo portal for Lucent). It was way ahead of its time, as were many of its features, one of which was a messaging service that interacted with a messaging panel on a fridge. Back then, we got a little excited about Internet connected fridges, so we felt that such ambient products were the future.

The fridge wasn’t really important, but the concept of interacting with the “home hub” was. The ability to send messages in and out of the home from various mobile family members seemed useful and an obvious thing to do. Roll on a few years – about 10 – and digital picture frames have become prevalent. I suggested in an old blog entry back in 2006 that it would be useful to pop a calendar into the frame, especially one used to keep track of family events. My family, for example, have a shared calendar on Google Calendar, but there are about 1001 calendar services out there, perhaps more popular than GC.

In my household, we have a plethora of computers that alway seem switched on, so it’s easy to access shared calendars, except … we don’t. I even mounted a laptop right in the heart of the kitchen. It still didn’t work.

As those of us well versed in mobile product design know, there’s often a HUGE gulf between the ability to run an application and actually running the application. That’s what early detractors of the Blackberry didn’t understand. Truly always-on email – ie push – is a very different experience to on-demand email – ie pull. That is, when the app is always running, it gets used by virtue of the “bumped-into effect,” which I have blogged about many times.

When the app needs to be invoked, it often doesn’t get used. Obvious, yes, but subtly important. There is a common objection here, which is to do with the notion of need. Many will say that if you don’t have a “i need to access my email every second” problem, then you don’t need always-on email. That’s not the point. Once exposed to an always-on experience, it can easily become imbibed into the user’s daily habits – new habits are formed. Twitter users will have experience this. Migrating from the web presentation to a Twitter client creates a much greater attachment to Twitter. Soon, the Twitter habit is formed and one can’t imagine daily digital life without it.

Now the question is whether or not the same experience could occur with an ambient device in the kitchen. Is there a device, that once connected, once fired up, once used by its family owners, will become incorporated into the daily habits of digital home living?

I believe that there is, although the exact formula has yet to be uncovered. Amstrad tried it not so long ago with their Internet phone. I even tried one of those in an attempt to get my wife more habitually plumbed into email – she had a tendency not to check email for long periods of time, which caused various problems (at least in my view). It didn’t solve the problem for a number of reasons. Upping the budget a bit, I eventually got her a Blackberry. Problem solved. (And now she has an iPhone.) BUT! Family calendaring still remains an issue.
Enter the O2 Joggler and the Chumby. They are both ambient devices intended to be switch on and accessible all of the time, which, we can imagine, means somewhere in the kitchen if it is to be a family-centric experience. This is certainly O2’s positioning for the product, which is advertised under the rubric of “O2 Family.” The devices are similar in concept. Notionally, one could describe them as digital picture frames with the addition of a calendar. HOWEVER, that is where the similarity ends. And, I believe, there is an important lesson here in what we have been talking and blogging about for some time in the mobile 2.0 world, which is the difference between a product and a platform. As far as can be gleaned from the O2 website, the Joggler’s main feature is its shared calendar function, which has various bells and whistles, such as text message reminders and text-message submission of new entries. There are features to import photos, get traffic info, weather etc, as described on the media release for the device On the other hand, the Chumby offers something that the Joggler doesn’t, which is support for a developer community via its widgets technology (based on Flash Lite). There are already some 1000 widgets in the catalogue, including 17 (when I checked) calendar widgets and 32 photo widgets (including Flickr and all the popular gallery sites). I can certainly use it to access our shared family Google calendar, which already has text or email alerts built in.

In other words, the Chumby guys have created a content platform, not just a device. In the words of Stephen Tomlin, their CEO: “Chumby brings new capabilities to connected devices by streaming always-on, always-fresh personalized Internet content to consumers.”

They have created a developer commnuity by leveraging a well-known development environment – Flash Lite – and an emergent delivery mechanism – i.e. widgets. You can even create virtual Chumbys just for fun (because Flash widgets will play in the browser). Here’s mine, showing real-time search of “mobile” in the Twitter timeline, upcoming events from Yahoo Upcoming, and random pictures from Flickr public RSS, but these could obviously be from my pics.

Mobile Payment: $860 Billion By 2013?

At the Center for Future Banking they are actively examining the mobile space and attempting to understand the technical, social and business drivers that will define the mobile payments ecosystem. Informa Telecoms and Media’s presented the report called “Mobile Payments and Banking” a few weeks back.

Since the turn of the millennium we have heard that one day the mobile phone could replace the humble leather wallet, by storing electronic cash and enabling convenient electronic transactions. Yet so far, except for a few isolated cases, there has been little evidence that the consumer has embraced this new paradigm despite the availability of mobile payment and banking services in most markets worldwide. However, according to Informa Telecoms and Media’s recent report, Mobile Payments and Banking: Worldwide Market Analysis, Strategic Outlook & Forecasts to 2013, this day is getting closer.

Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that in 2013 almost 300 billion transactions, worth more than US$860 billion, will be conducted using a mobile phone – a twelve-fold increase in gross global transaction values in just five years.

There is no doubt that the mobile internet is entering a substantive phase. For many years, a myriad of factors have held back the development of truly breakthrough applications that would capture hearts and minds; applications capable of driving through obstacles hampering consumer adoption. In fact, until just the past year it seemed as if the potential of mobile and mobile payments related services to create much value at all would take many years to develop. And while the ecosystems from a non-US perspective are fairly robust, the US picture was moving slowly.

But that is changing. In April 2008, the number of cellular users worldwide passed the 3 billion mark and reached an estimated 4 billion by year end. Growth in third-generation (3G) penetration is also accelerating, reaching nearly 7 percent of the global population by the end of 2008. Now, it seems as if we are reaching an inflection point, one that could have dramatic impacts to current value chains. And even more dramatic effects for participants and current ecosystem players, with a potential to redraw the playing field.

Still, the remaining challenges are real, and will need to be addressed jointly by a wide range of participants, including telecom, banking, regulators and governments. And this does not even touch the potential for wide ranging cross-industry collaborations around mobile banking, media and health. There is no doubt that the stakes are high – we put them at somewhere around $860B.

Exclusive results of MOCOM 2020 at next conference in May 2009

On May 5 & 6 the next conference is taking place in Hamburg, Germany. Organised by SinnerSchrader, the next conference is one of the most important networking and trend conferences within the European web industry.

Rolf Hansen, CEO of Simyo, and Monty Metzger, CEO of Ahead of Time, will exclusively premiere the first results of the MOCOM 2020 project.

Next Conference 2009:
20% off for MOCOM 2020 Community!

Please register here
with our special promotion code for a 20% reduction of the tickets:

next09 is gathering a hundred international speakers and more than 1500 participants, amongst them will be marketing decision makers of the media, technology and advertising sector, agencies, service providers and start-ups. It is the only conference that unites the Internet community with brands and leading companies.

Share Economy is this year’s theme of next09. This term is shaped by the economy theorist Martin Weitzman. His basic idea: The more we share our success with others, the more we profit ourselves. This applies to humans as well as brands. An outline of the topic and further information can be found in a brief summary of Share Economy.

– next09 programme
– next09 speakers list
– next09 participant list

Are we in the Cambric Explosion of Mobile Advertising?

10 years ago we saw the evolution of Mobile Marketing with first text messages sent around by advertisers on small black and white screens. Since then many forms of Mobile Marketing developed alongside the fast growing penetration of devices as well as their evolving technical capability.

Majority of campaigns are still pull campaigns using SMS, MMS or other technologies like QR-codes to get in contact with the consumer. Nowadays – in the iPhone-age – so-called smart phones allow a quick and excellent browsing experience on the go. So it does not astonish that brands from all verticals, with Automotive, Fashion and FMCG at the spearhead, conquer the fast increasing inventory of sellable ad space in the Mobile Internet. Mobile Ad-Server companies make sure to cover the enormous variety of handsets and display seizes. Application provider launch fascinating apps especially around location based information almost every day.

App Stores of players like Apple, Google and Nokia spill over. Smart phone penetration gets close to 20% in developed countries. In Germany alone this equals an addressable market of up to 15 million people. Under all categories of Mobile Marketing the youngest discipline Mobile Advertising is the one that grows exponentially. If the industry makes its homework (setting standards for media means, defining the currency for reach, lowering the data pricing) Mobile Advertising revenues will explode soon. And Mobile will be a planed line item during the budget process of all major advertisers.

Will roaming be free in the future?

truphone Mobile Voice-Over IP (VoIP) is an opportunity for StartUps like Truphone to compete with the global Mobile Network Operators. Mobile VoIP offers consumers a way for low-cost global calls.

“Until now, the only way to avoid the massive cost of mobile roaming is to carry multiple phones and multiple SIM cards, one for each country you frequent,” stated Truphone CEO Geraldine Wilson. “This means juggling multiple devices and phone numbers to avoid paying the high roaming rates traditionally associated with travel.

“Our customers tell us that they value our current services to make low cost international calls when at home and when roaming. Now they’re asking us to bring it all together. They want one phone, one SIM and one plan. Truphone Local Anywhere delivers this all-in-one solution by providing the first fully-integrated multi-country mobile service for personal users and business professionals. Now these internationalists can enjoy all the benefits of home wherever they may be.”

Video Interview with Geraldine Wilson, CEO of Truphone.

How VISA will change the way we pay mobile?

VISA showed some real life examples of Mobile Payments, Money Transfer and Payment-Related Services at GSMA Mobile World Congress 2009.

The real life examples to demonstrate how its innovations in mobile payment technologies can enhance consumers’ daily lives, providing speed, convenience, security and choice.

Mary Carol Harris, Head of Innovation at VISA, explained several examples how VISA will change the way we will pay mobile?

Here are some user scenarios for mobile payment:

  • Visa payWave embedded in a mobile device will secure mobile point of sale payments. Visa demonstrated both NFC-based and SIM-based contactless payments.
  • Mobile money transfer between Visa accounts, both handset-to-handset and online-to-handset. Mobile Transaction Alerts: Near real-time notification of card purchase activity delivered to the mobile device.
  • Targeted offers and coupons delivered directly to the mobile device and redeemed at near-by merchants.
  • Convenient cashless transactions on the move. Mobile merchants, such as a pizza delivery service, can accept Visa payments with the help of enhanced mobile handsets that double as a mobile acceptance device.
  • Co-branded mobile posters, signposting nearby coffee shops with the offer of exclusive mobile ‘buy one, get one free’ offers.