Imagine buying your SIM-free mobile phone from a local electronics store and logging into your Google or Apple account as soon as you turn the phone on for the first time. Then imagine having the phone ready to use for voice calls with a phone number provided to you by Google Talk or Skype, and ready to access email, YouTube or Facebook.
That same phone automatically hooks to your home Wi-Fi or any of the available 3G, WiMax or LTE networks without you even knowing (or caring) which specific network its running on at the moment. No longer do you have to belong to a specific carrier — your phone automatically picks the strongest and cheapest network option at any given time. Your network access, along with voice, app/in-app purchases and everything else are provided to you by the mobile platform provider. The carriers are only there to run network infrastructure and sell bandwidth to two to three mobile platform providers.
Let’s face it, the only two things that still connect carriers to consumers are the voice number and billing for the network access. SIM card technology is rudimentary — you can easily conduct user authentication using a simple login, just like Apple does on iPods when you want to buy apps or songs from the iTunes store.
Looking into the future, even the phone number itself will disappear. Why bother with all these numbers when you can just place a call directly to anybody’s Facebook profile?
This future is inevitable, and the changes are coming very soon. With mobile platform providers running the show today, carriers simply have no way of stopping the process. Not having any control over the platform vendors — for instance, via a consortium that would centrally license Android or other mobile platforms to equalize the balance of power between the platform provider and the carriers/OEMs — they will eventually give up on their ambitions to control the user. Just read the Google/Motorola/Skyhook story to see how it happens.
It only takes one carrier to crack and start selling bandwidth to Google, Microsoft or Apple; all other carriers will simply have no choice but to follow. It’s like the prisoners’ dilemma from economic textbooks: If both prisoners don’t talk, both win. But if separated and one is promised a way out (or an easier sentence) and he talks first, then game theory suggests the winning strategy for each prisoner is to talk. In other words, one of them will crack. They are nowhere close to being united enough to stand together, even in the short to mid-term. Look how effortlessly Apple, then everyone else, took over their app distribution businesses — something that only five years ago would have been totally unthinkable.
Most likely, these first-to-crack carriers will be tier-two low-cost carriers outside the U.S., possibly acquired by, but likely just partnering with, the big platform players. Those carriers will have a high incentive to enter such partnerships, as their networks are already optimized for low costs (lean, efficient cost structure without heavy marketing, support, premium services overheads, better network logistics, etc.). Short to mid-term, the strategy will be against tier-one carriers, who have a high marketing/operations cost burden. The UK actually looks like a very logical place to start, especially when some UK carriers have already been experimenting with Skype phones, which were successful to the degree that price-sensitive younger audiences actually started to carry Skype phones as their second device.
It will probably be a while before most users fully switch to non-carrier-provided voice/network services — maybe five to seven years — but it’s only a matter of time, as the new model is so much more compelling to the consumer. Signing up for multiple phone numbers as easily as opening email accounts, getting the best and the cheapest network at any given time in any spot (finally, no more service drops!), free and unlimited voice/video on WiFi networks, cheap roaming even when overseas on a local service, and so many more benefits are poised to take off.
Once this happens, carriers fall into a very undesirable position. Network access becomes an absolute commodity, much more so than in the case of landline ISPs. The latter at least have relatively high switching costs, while a mobile phone is already connected to every network available in its physical location. This means carriers compete head to head over who sells the cheapest bandwidth to Google, Apple or Microsoft, and only those most economically fit with the strongest network logistics survive in the game. This time, the brand, handset subsidies or any other marketing tricks are of no help — it’s all about economics.
What’s really interesting is what could happen with next-generation networks. As carriers see their margins disappear almost entirely and the profits shift to mobile platforms, operators won’t accumulate enough profits to be able to invest in next-generation networks. Nor does the marginalized economics of the network business promise them high ROI. Mobile platforms do the opposite: By that time, they’ll have accumulated profits for all the value-added services, so they’ll have both the money to invest and the strong economic incentive to do so. This will also be very lucrative to mobile platforms politically, as owning services end to end, from cloud to network to devices, enables a whole new level of control and market power.
by Ilja Laurs is CEO at GetJar
Life’s gonna change soon.
Introducing the Nokia CLIPit Mobile Phone.
Brushed steel and Persian turquoise stone encrusted, this phone proposes a bevy of features like finger print as your SIM, Touch pad-Dot matrix screen, hands free clip on design, and a combo of Philips Lumalive and conceptual “Smart fabrics” to blend out a 12”screen!
Design features of Nokia CLIPit:
- Finger print as your SIM.
- CLIPit has all the cell phone’s data web based and you can reach not only by CLIPit but from multiple devices like other cell phones, disposable cell phones, your car kit, your home phone and so on. The key is your finger print.
- On top of the CLIPit you have a steel touch screen made by a group of small Light Emitting Diodes installed in the steel touch pad. So you have dynamic buttons and can dial, send and receive SMS and navigate your music easily.
- You don’t need to hold the phone in your hand or use any other device like Bluetooth hands free. When you have a call, just pull down the clip and CLIPit becomes a hands free.
- The ear phones of CLIPit have two sockets. You can hang your CLIPit around your neck with them when listening to the music. Like a beautiful necklace made by turquoise and steel.
- The way to connect with other devices for CLIPit is to Clip it to them. You can clip it to so many things to have connection with them. For example back panel of public bus seats.
- You can clip the phone to any part of your clothes or your bag. You can hang it around your neck with its earphones. You can wear it like a Bluetooth hands free. And also it is enough small to put it in your pocket.
- PHILIPS has developed a new technology called “Lumalive”. They have fabricated some kind of cloth that has internal OLEDs and is quite a color fabric screen. The design team used a developed form of that technology in the CLIPit and has two fabric screens. The 3- inch screen is just a formable, flexible cloth that has a “Lumalive” screen as the upper layer. You can clip your CLIPit to this 3-inch screen and have a mobile phone with a 3-inch color screen. It is quite BIG for a mobile phone. But the 12-inch screen is a combination of “Lumalive” and a concept fabric called “Smart fabrics”. “Smart fabrics” are cloths with a net of sensors between its layers for touch sense. The net is cut able and the fabric can be cut or sewed. In fact smart fabrics are touching sensitive cloths. This fabric is combined with “Lumalive” and to become a multi-touch color screen. Clip your CLIPit to it and you have a folding pocket 12-inch laptop.
- The 12inch touch screen is also a medium for CLIPits to share their data with each other. Quite easy.
Book soon, if you want it.
An excellent advert.
The tagline aptly says “When you use a mobile while you drive, your head is somewhere else.”
We need to see a similar on on the billboards of Kuwait.
Do you agree?
A firm in London has designed a Bluetoothbased alarm that can tell absent-minded technology geeks when they have left their mobile phone or laptop behind. The device called Nio is soon to hit the shops. It is a keyring-sized box of tricks that emits an alarm whenever a persons device is more than a certain distance away. It uses Bluetooth technology to create an invisible wire, and whenever this wire is brokenfor example, when the user leaves the phone behindboth it and the keyring emit a shrill alarm sound. Nio is the brainchild of 34-year-old gadget whizz Ben Hounsell, director of Tenbu Technologies based in Giles Street. He says that the alarm may also make it easy to spot a potential theft.
Google India has launched an Internet Bus – a mobile bus designed to provide Internet experience to people in a state in India.
Through this campaign Google is aiming to reach out to people with limited knowledge and exposure to the Internet.
The bus will cover 15 towns over a period of one and a half months. With a focus on four themes — information, communication, entertainment and education, the Internet Bus will have useful and informative content in English and Tamil to give the users an understanding of how the Internet can be used for all of these needs.
In addition to basic familiarisation on using services like search, email, social networking, online maps and others, the bus will showcase how the Internet can make everyday life simple.
“We are passionate about empowering users with information and the Internet democratizes access to information. With this initiative we want to take the power of this medium to people who will really benefit from it. We believe that if we can get people to experience the Internet even briefly they will find the means to go back again,” said Dr Prasad Ram, Head of Google R&D, India.
The bus is designed to make the introduction to the Internet simple for a user. The message will be shared through interesting videos that talk about how people are using the Internet for varied reasons and activities – grandparents using email and video sites to interact with children and grandchildren in another city; a student from a small city using search to find information that is not otherwise physically accessible; a local music group using YouTube to share their talent with the world; a small entrepreneur using the Internet to expand his reach and revenues.
The Internet Bus will also address the challenge around access and language for a lot of users in smaller cities by educating them on how they can access the Internet on their mobiles and use various Google tools to break the language barrier.