I remember seeing one of the communications about Toyota that proudly proclaimed Toyota as “The Machine that changed the world”. It did talk about Toyota, but in a way it also spoke about the sheer domination of the automobile category that defined popular imagination for much of the last century.
It is said that Americans romanticized their cars so much that till around 1950’s close to two thirds of all marriage proposals were actually popped up on the back seat of a car!But all this is set to change, with the advent of another machine that people call the mobile phone. If automobiles were objects of romanticization, mobile phones have become the objects of obsession.
The Guardian already estimates that at least 56 different functionalities have by now converged to that piece of handset you hold in your hand.But the question that is doing the rounds now is how is the next trajectory of mobility going to evolve? First came voice, followed by data, text and then came imaging, music and now we have live, real time video streaming!
The question begets the answer that with 3 billion users already logged in-what is the next killer app and how is it going to intersect with the modern day, time challenged consumer?Unlike computing, the innovation map within the mobility eco system is diffused. While Japan is known for its mobile services innovation, South Korea has successfully shown what mobile broadband innovation can do. Telcos in the US are known for mobile applications whereas Europe is taking the lead in design and fashion aspects of the device.
So, where does the centre lie? We have seen intelligent handsets that compute and smart phones that organize your schedule. Now phones will be used to relay information, encrypt data, compress video files and act as real time gaming devices! Recently, Nokia announced its global software and services push, with the launch of Ovi-its music and gaming download portal and MOSH-Social Networking site compatible to mobile phones.
Why would Nokia do so?
There are three consumer trends here:
* One is as Gartner correctly opined, that close to 60% of the value that a consumer pays for is now “services led” and “handset independent”. This means that there will be a complex mobile services ecosystem that will come into play.Surely Nokia doesn’t want to miss that. For example, In Japan, you can already pay your bills, swap your employee card and watch movies with your mobile. This trend is going to explode around the world.
* The second trend is of physical mobility. Nat Geo says that close to 85% of the world population is now always on the move, as compared to 70% in the 90s and 61% in the 80s! Of course, convenience is another big driver and therefore the term “mobile services”.
* The third trend is the web itself. A medium that spews information, is a repository of your personal records like banking and healthcare and is available anytime anywhere.
Serendipitously, the mobile phone is the gateway that links all these three trends seamlessly. Nokia seems to have realized earlier than most.But competition is awakening too. Apple will reportedly open the i-phone platform for other developers to create web applications. Google has recently launched its own standard for mobile operations called Android. The game is getting interesting and my guess is that Google because of its previous experience in web related advertising services is better positioned to leverage this opportunity than a hardware manufacturer like Nokia. But Nokia has always surprised analysts.
Coming up next on Tech Talk: how “mobile services” strategy for different players is going to pan out in developing countries like India.