Archive for August, 2006

Managing the Danger: Week of 8/13/06

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobility and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

Converged Products: Week of 8/13/06

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.


Enabling Technology: Week of 8/6/06

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

The Law of Mobility talks about value increasing with mobility. The impact of this law is being felt because the cost of adding mobility into products is falling, making it a no-brainer for mobility to be built into everything. Here are examples of technology advances enabling this to happen:

Indicators: Week of 8/6/06

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

More and more, the world around us reflects the growing assumption of the law of mobility. Each week we will track indicators of Mobility’s growing importance in our businesses, our lives, and our society:

Capturing the Power: Week of 8/6/06

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Mobility is a wonderful thing. As mobility gets built into all products and services, businesses need to learn how to both capture the power of mobility and manage the dangers introduced through mobility. Here are some examples of how the power of mobility is being applied to create competitive advantage:

Managing the Danger: Week of 8/6/06

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

In order to be winners in the new mobile era, businesses will not only need to capture the power of mobility, but also manage the danger. Highlighted below are recent examples of the danger of mobility and how some firms are beginning to manage it:

The IBM PC: 25 Years Later

Friday, August 11th, 2006

The BBC has a great article about the 25 year anniversary of the launch of the IBM PC.

Here are some quotes from the article that are relevant to our discussion on the Mobility Age:

“The machine … altered the way business was done forever and sparked a revolution in home computing.”

“Moving this revolution forward are the one billion PCs that are now in use around the world. In many ways, the PC has become in the developed world, an essential tool in our everyday lives.”

“Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, told the firm’s shareholders last month the PC era was coming to an end. ‘We’re now in a new era, an era in which the internet is at the centre of so much that we do now with our PCs,’ he told them.”

“With all this small mobile technology and the growth of wireless internet, will people on the move bother owning a PC at all?”

The Law of Mobility is all about the observation that we are entering a new era.  As Ray Ozzie notes, we are already in the Internet Era.  The PC Era enabled the Internet Era to happen, and both the PC Era (enabling very inexpensive computing power to be built into mobile devices) and the Internet Era (enabling connectivity to everyone and every piece of information in the world) are enabling the Mobility Era to happen.

As the article notes, the PC radically changed how we live our lives and how we operate our businesses.  The Internet has similarly radically changed how we live and do business.  And now, Mobility is beginning to have the same impact on all of us.

The PC era was defined by Moore’s Law.  Moore’s Law is all about processing power and specifically price/performance.  Because computing power became incredibly inexpensive, it could be built into everything.

The Internet era was defined by Metcalfe’s Law.  Metcalfe’s Law is all about networks and specifically the value of networks relative to their connectivity.  Because the Internet is connected to everything and everyone, it has become incredibly valuable and integral to everything we do.

The Mobility era is defined by the Law of Mobility.  The Law of Mobility is all about being able to do things anytime and anywhere and specifically how that creates value.  Because Mobility enables products and services to be with you and usable all the time, whereever you go, our patterns of how we live and operate will radically change to follow.

Thanks BBC for giving us an opportunity to look back and reflect, and to look forward and imagine!

Converged Products: Week of 8/6/06

Friday, August 11th, 2006

The most convenient way that mobility is getting built into products is through the convergence of capabilities that previously existed as standalone products into the cellphone. That way, those products are now with you and available for your use whenever you need them wherever you go.

Sprint’s WiMax Network Set to Power Mobility Age

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Yesterday, Sprint formally announced the long anticipated plans for a Fourth Generation (4G) broadband wireless network using the company’s 2.5GHz licensed spectrum.  Sprint had already committed to launching advanced services using the spectrum as part of gaining approval of the merger of Sprint and Nextel a year ago.  So the real news yesterday was the choice of WiMax (802.16) as the technology to be used for the network, key partnerships with Intel, Motorola, and Samsung, and that trials would launch by the end of 2007.

In the announcement, Sprint CEO Gary Forsee acknowledges the impact of mobility on our lives and our businesses: “None of us today can envision our lives without wireless connectivity or the Internet.”

KiTae Lee, president of Samsung’s Telecommunications Network Business explained how Sprint’s technology choice will help further extend the impact of mobility on the world: “I believe Sprint Nextel’s decision to deploy Mobile WiMAX as the 4G network technology will set a milestone in the U.S. telecommunication industry’s history and contribute to further advancements in wireless technology. Mobile WiMAX has the fastest data transfer rate among the existing wireless technologies and is based on all-IP technology. Mobile WiMAX-based services will create a new paradigm shift in wireless services and improve consumer lifestyles. I believe that Sprint Nextel will successfully provide this mobile WiMAX technology based service and begin a new revolution in mobile broadband services nationwide.”

But, what does that revolution look like?

In short, it is mobility being built into every product, every service, and every process, thereby creating tremendous value for the consumers of those products and services, and for the businesses that provide them.

In the simplest example, yesterday’s announcement pointed to building WiMax bandwidth into consumer electronics products. As RCR Wireless News reported in their coverage of the event: “One key element of the strategy is to have the chipsets embedded in a variety of consumer electronics devices. During a conference call with analysts, Sprint Nextel Chief Executive Officer Gary Forsee described chipsets potentially being embedded in portable game stations, video cameras, MP3 players and vehicle navigation systems to provide wireless connectivity for those items—and potential new revenue streams for Sprint Nextel.”

BusinessWeek apparently recently interviewed Atish Gude, Sprint’s chief strategy officer, who also provided key insights into the impact of this announcement on building mobility into products and into our lives: “It will be a life-changing event for the customer to have control and connectivity…. [the] ability to enable the iPod to connect anywhere, anytime is a very powerful concept… We’re not creating new trends but we’re enabling them in a different way.”

The Motley Fool gets it (although perhaps going a bit overboard…): “I’ve come to believe that as computer chips move beyond cell phones and laptops to become embedded throughout our environment — even in our bodies — WiMAX’s type of ubiquitous communication will come to be viewed as an essential element for navigating, prospering in, and surviving in tomorrow’s brave new world.”

Welcome to this brave new world. 

Stay tuned here at to watch it unfold before your eyes and to stay on the cutting edge of capturing the power and managing the danger of mobility.

Historical Example: Sony Walkman

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

In 1979, Sony introduced mobility into the world of consumer electronics.  The Walkman combined a small, battery powered cassette tape player with lightweight headphones to create a personal music device that you could take with you wherever you went.

Before the Walkman, people could listen to music in their homes or in their cars.  Portable “boomboxes” had begun to be produced, but were intrusive, being too large and heavy for many activities and forcing the owners’ listening preferences on everyone in the immediate vicinity.

The mid-1970s had been hard on Sony, as competitors like RCA, Zenith, Toshiba, and JVC adopted and improved upon technologies Sony had invented.  The company lost share in critical markets and overall revenue growth slowed from 166% for the first four years of the decade to 35% for the next four.  

The Walkman ushered in the 1980s as a period of unprecedented growth for Sony.  The company’s sales and operating revenues grew from 643 billion Yen in 1979 to nearly 3 trillion Yen in 1989.   The Walkman also played a pivotal role in establishing Sony as a global brand standing for innovation and entertainment. 

However, this success was not guaranteed when the product was envisioned by Sony’s founder and honorary chairman, Masaru Ibuku.  To keep dimensions small and the price relatively affordable, the Walkman lacked a record function.  Critics claimed that no one would buy a tape machine that couldn’t record.  Industry experts could not yet envision that the value of mobility would outweigh any feature limitations in the product.

The Walkman truly revolutionized the electronics industry.  To properly introduce the impact of the innovation, Sony held a launch event for journalists where the message was completely communicated via Walkman.  The guests were ushered onto a tour bus where each was given one of the new products.  The tape inside introduced the Walkman.  The bus took the journalists to a nearby park where active people used the product while riding a bike and roller skating – all choreographed to the taped explanation of the power of mobility unleashed by this radical new invention.

In the first month of availability, only 3,000 of the initial production run of 30,000 units sold, seemingly validating the predictions of the skeptics.  However, in the next month, the entire first batch sold out.  Mobile music had become a phenomenon across Japan. Sony and its retail partners struggled to keep up with demand.  Soon, fans around the world were begging Sony to take the product global.

By 1986, the Walkman had become so ubiquitous and synonymous with mobile music that the word “Walkman” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.  More than 50 million units of the product family shipped in the first 10 years, with that number doubling again by 1992.  

Not only was the Walkman a huge commercial success that helped put Sony on the map as a consumer electronics and entertainment powerhouse, but it also radically transformed how people listen to music.

Technology and design writer Liz Bailey explained to the BBC “what the Walkman really changed was the culture of music: you could now listen to what was effectively the soundtrack of your own life, starring you as yourself.” 

What Sony did was take a product that, by assumption, was fixed, and made it mobile.

People previously listened to music in a small number of places – primarily in specific rooms in their home and in their cars. The Walkman liberated music from those constraints of place.  Music went from being fixed to being mobile, and as a result, music sales, especially on cassette tapes boomed.  During the 1980s, the recording industry had to introduce a new Multi-Platinum award for titles that sold more than 2 million copies.

This transformation created tremendous new value for the customer.  Music could now be enjoyed anywhere, anytime.  Instead of being limited to the waking times spent at home or in the car, customers were listening while traveling, while playing and exercising, while commuting on public transport, and in previously musically deprived parts of their homes.

That value creation translated into growth for the consumer electronics industry, and most importantly for Sony, a strong foundation for the company’s development into a global powerhouse.