Month: December 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Social Media: The Emperor’s New Herald

It is this time of the year where people start looking forward (and back) and come up with clever analyses of things we have always known and those that we haven’t. And because Europe has always (?) been the thoughtful and fashionably skeptic part of the world, it is that one of the leading newspapers, the Guardian, posts an article querying, gosh, Twitter. The link actually contains the words

trouble-twitter-social-networking-banality

The proof? Iran is still not free (or so most of us Westeners think) and only 0.027% of Iranians use Twitter. There you have it. It concludes that it is all narcissistic navel-gazing. The comments, alas, are a delight to read… 🙂

Where are we then? Is this true? It is – you may have guessed that this be my stance – not. And here’s why:

Social media (Twitter included) is nothing in itself, it merely defines a group of tools. Therefore, it is not the emperor’s new clothes, it is – if anything – the emperor’s new herald: if the emperor has nothing new, interesting, noteworthy to tell, it will remain as dull and meaningless as before but social tools actually allow you to filter, to focus, to spread noteworthy, sensible and truly good stuff to a group of people that is much larger than you could have reached before at a cost that is (per capita and in toto) much lower than before. And that means it is one cool tool!

There are a gazillion reasons to dismiss Twitter (or Facebook – although fewer people seem to do just that these days) on the basis of boring info about breakfast/lunch/supper/traffic jam on way home or to hype it up on the basis of opposition in Iran/arrests in Egypt/tsunamis in Thailand or a mere plane landing on the Hudson. The argument fails both ways. It is not that. It is the fact that it is possible to communicate at nigh zero costs with people that may be interested – and it is upon the people to find you but it is also upon you to find the interesting bits!

I am already slightly tired to refer to Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody who provides us with some beautiful examples of this but the point is (and here Shirky’s academic background serves him really well): it is a tool, and a tool makes only sense (or nonsense) in the hand of its user. So here’s to everyone who complains about useless and redundant info over Twitter: choose better who you follow; you would not stick around some dinner party endlessly discussing the virtues of starching napkins either, would you?

As with every tool (say, a hammer), social tools are more useful, the easier and intuitive they are to use. If it is self-explanatory on how to extract something positive (e.g. to get that bloody nail into that bloody board), the better (and if you can do it without walking away with a bloody thumb, even better). At the moment, many people walk away from Twitter because of a bloody thumb. But would you dismiss a hammer only because you hit yourself? Probably not. Unless you find a better hammer of course…

Finally (and because I called this blog “on mobile”), here’s why the combination of social tools with this other tool in everyone’s hands, namely the mobile phone, is so powerful:

  • Daily circulation of newspapers worldwide: 450,000,000
  • Number of TV sets in use worldwide: 1,500,000,000
  • Number of Internet users worldwide: 1,600,000,000
  • Number of credit cards worldwide: 1,700,000,000
  • Number of toothbrushes in use worldwide: 2,250,000,000
  • Number of mobile subscriptions worldwide: 4,600,000,000.

Have a great 2010!

Cartoon credit: Hugh MacLeod (http://gapingvoid.com/)

Carnival of the Mobilists

The latest iteration of the Carnival of the Mobilists is out over at Andrew Grill’s London Calling blog (and it is the last one for this year, too). It contains interesting posts from MMS initiatives, to the use of SMS in political campaigning, app store comparisons, a look at Samsung’s Bada and much more. It also includes my very own post on the potential of Android.

Head over there, give it a good read and enjoy yourself!

Top 10 Mobile Phones November 2009

The Swedish maker of accessories for mobile phones, Krusell, has been silent since August or so but they now came back with a bang and published the numbers of the top 10 selling phones derived from their accessory sales for both October and November 2009 in quick succession.

I am only giving you the November positions (hint: the October ones are in brackets). It goes like this:

1.(1) Apple iPhone 3G
2.(-) Nokia 3720 Classic
3.(8) Nokia 6303 Classic
4.(-) Nokia E52
5.(2) Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
6.(-) HTC HD2
7.(-) Nokia E71
8.(-) Sony Ericsson Naite
9.(6) Samsung B2100
10.(5) Nokia 6700 Classic
() = Last month’s position.

The iPhone seems to be the darling of Krusell-accessory-buying customers (which may or may not be a matter of concern – depending on your taste. Nokia’s performance is fairly noteworthy though. A little reminder that the Finnish giant is anything but dead. And don’t be fooled: Krusell has stores all over the world, including in the US, which makes the overall top 10 performance of Nokia phones all the more impressive.

As to how meaningful these stats are, I refer you to earlier thoughts (see also here).

Player One Bites the Dust!?

Mobile sports specialist Player One, that were acquired (or so everyone thought) by ROK Entertainment in October, seems to have hit the wall or, in proper English, entered administration. ROK is – understandably – said to be fairly unhappy about this.

So: the mere fact that Player One folded is not all that surprising. Many in the sector had wondered for a while how a company that focused largely on niche sports properties (a lot of their licenses where very Brit-centric) could survive for so long. However, that they should bite the dust two months after allegedly being acquired by ROK, which is, at least, listed somewhere even if only on the Pink Sheets (not too healthy looking either, mind you…) is surprising.

How can you acquire a company that is in such dire straits that the directors feel compelled to file for administration? Where is/was due diligence? Or was there foul play, lack of disclosure, anything else? Oh gosh, the joys of the Wild West of mobile content… NOT.

The Beginning: Ovi Clocking 1m Downloads a Day

Today seems to be the day of “the others”, huh? 😉 First Android, now Symbian. But the news are too significant to ignore:

Nokia’s app store Ovi is now clocking 1m downloads a day. Make that 300m p.a. Compare this to Apple’s, what, 5.7m per day. That was c. 1 year ago though, so let’s double that, shall we? So, 1/10 then shall we say?

However, Nokia and its much maligned Ovi Store shows that it can actually starts flexing its muscle (what the law of numbers can mean, I showed on the example of Vodafone: its app store is bound to deliver – even on the abysmal uptake of legacy J2ME devices – some 200,000 downloads a day).

Nokia says it is growing 100% month-on-month, and with this pace would overtake Apple in the near future. Doable? Almost certainly! Why? Because of the law of big numbers. Nokia has about 5x as many smartphones out there as there are Apple iPhone and iPod Touch devices combined, which of course means that Nokia would overtake Apple in terms of total app downloads when each Nokia smartphone user would only download 1/5 of what iPhone/iPod Touch users download. Same fun? Arguable… 😉

I do not know how many devices come preloaded with the Ovi Store but this has always been a huge driver: embed and prosper. Nokia confirmed as much, too. But let’s only assume that it is a tiny fraction (none of the legacy devices out there had it embedded, that’s for sure). And it shows you the potential: Nokia has a whopping 1.3bn phones out there (yes, you heard correctly), and let only a fraction of these use the Ovi Store, you are looking at a massive number, outstripping Apple immediately. Now, I doubt that they will outstrip the App Store in terms of apps per user but there is no team that plays football as well as FC Barcelona, and the others don’t give up either…

Nokia has made a lot of mistakes recently, with its stores, and others: to come out with something that was thought to be “good enough” is bad: strive to be the best at least, will you? Incidentally, it might have avoided the scrambling it finds itself in since the Apple app store launched. Hah, who would have thought? But let’s be fair: Nokia went about its business better in the past, it has unprecedented scale. Examples? What is the best-selling consumer electronics device of all time? The Nokia 1100 with more than 200m sold devices). Does anyone remember sub-10 Megapixel digital cameras? Well, there are few left, you see. Nokia killed that market by putting out camera phones with Carl Zeiss lenses: good, good stuff. I was in the room of the hotel in Zell am See when they laid the growth curve of camera phones over the shrinking sales curve of digital cameras. Impressive! Stand-alone PDAs? Gone. GPS devices? Hardly existing outside phones anymore (even Tom Tom satnav devices are offered with 50% discounts this Christmas).

It’s not over yet, it is only the beginning! Oh, and then there will be the mobile web to come, huh? Just wait for it!!! It’s bigger than the “other” Internet already (warning: this is one of Tomi’s monster posts… ;-)!

The Power of Open: Why Android is Big

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a keynote at Droidcon, the (so far) largest Android conference, in Berlin. I spoke about why brands should look at it (I posted it here). Brands care for volume. They’re not necessarily interested in small segments of the market.

The iPhone is not an exception, it is rather a powerful reinforcement of that idea: in spite of its niche, it provides ROI (and warm, fluffy PR as well as content execs) when you compare the cost of the activity (creating an app) with its effects. The conclusion is however not that the iPhone is such a big driver in itself but that EVEN the iPhone (with its very limited scale) generates positive ROI.

The mobile phone market (and its associated content offerings) is extremely fragmented. A plethora of platforms (J2ME, BREW, Symbian, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, a couple of proprietary ones, some with middleware, now Bada and Maemo; wonderful…) and distribution channels (traditionally carriers, and lots of them, plus D2C distributors like Thumbplay, Jamba, Zed, Buongiorno, etc and now, increasingly, app stores: everything from the App Store to Android Market, Ovi, Blackberry App World and countless others). Tough for brands: they do not really care for a subset of users consisting of owners of J2ME devices on, say, Orange UK (no offence, Orange).

The ecosystem is tough to address as every mobile game developer will tell you. Which is why the iPhone was such a huge game changer: one device on one platform with one distribution channel globally. And all presented well, easy to use, great UI and users get to content with very few clicks and without unnecessary warnings). It is also always connected (rather than only connected in theory) and hence opens the doors to a new way of consuming, promoting and using content, specifically interactive one such as games and apps. Everyone else scrambles to follow but they struggle because it is such a different way to look at the world (well, different when you are a network operator or handset OEM). And because of this, competition on this platform is now fierce, very fierce.

But now then, why would one support Android? I mean, Gameloft just said it sucks (well, commercially at least). Why do I think it will be (is?) big? And why do I think one should look at it now rather than, well, later?

For starters: it took Gameloft a full 3 days or so to realize the mess it made with its announcement to cut back Android; and swiftly issuing a statement that said pretty much the contrary… But, heck, we’re not running everywhere where Gameloft runs, do we?

Android’s potential is enormous! Not because Eric Schmitt, Google’s CEO said so. But because it is O.P.E.N. This gives it a potential that is beyond all others: it enjoys wide support from vendors (HTC, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Huawei, Motorola, Acer, Creative and countless more), carriers (it’s a little like the who’s who: China Mobile, China Unicom, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint, KDDI, Softbank, T-Mobile, TIM, Telefonica, Vodafone) and has a very powerful sponsor indeed in Google. The result is a huge number of devices (cf. Wikipedia page here), and they will grow. They will grow faster than Apple can because of the law of big numbers. Even if Apple may retain an edge on running the overall sexiest package but it will not withstand the overall numbers. Incidentally, the afore distinguishes Android – for the time being – from Symbian (which is now also open source): it lacks a convinced sponsor at the moment (Nokia seems to be wavering in its support) and also seems a little clunky (no open can be so strong so as to support a weak or rather outdated proposition). However, with its massive install base of 280m+ devices it could rebound if they fix this.

Android stretches further though: it is not limited to mobile devices, it goes across to eBook readers, set-top boxes, netbooks, you name it. Users increasingly swap between screens. As a content and/or service provider, you want to be with them, be of service to them, wherever they are. They should not have to worry, you should! Android makes this relatively easy for you.

The Power of Open is tremendous. It provides for (theoretically) infinite growth. And you want to be there. And you want to be there now: They say, a tidal wave of apps is coming. You won’t catch the train once you can see it… 😉

Do not forget: people (and brands) want to reach people. Full stop. They do not necessarily want to reach people who happen to have an XYZ device running the ABC OS on the carrier X in country Y! Apple is wonderful (I am an avid iPhone user and do not plan to change – well, yet) but it is a niche. And if you have business to do, you may want to look beyond that niche.

When NOT to use your iPhone…

I am (nearly) terribly sorry that I appear to be cross-posting a lot of great stuff from the good folks at Gawker/Gizmodo these days rather than furthering the world’s knowledge with my (presumed) insights but this one is – yet again – hilarious:

Image credit: http://gizmodo.com/5419435/a-romance-flowchart-when-is-it-inappropriate-to-use-your-iphone

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