Nokia has announced free availability of its Smart2Go navigation software and maps for 150 countries. The software will run on popular phones including Nokia’s own S60 and Series 40, as well as Linux and Windows Mobile devices. The software will also be pre-installed on future Nokia devices.
Why would the company do something like that?
Nokia clearly believes in the mobility revolution. Mobility has revolutionized how we communicate and is in the process of revolutionizing how we work, live, and play. Nokia acknowledges this shift by passionately demanding that its products no longer be called phones, but rather multimedia computers.
The PC revolution was defined by local storage and processing. Because these computational elements were now local in a personal computer rather than remote in a shared host accessed via terminals, entire new applications became possible and affordable. As we all know, the killer app for the PC was the spreadsheet and it is a perfect example of the kind of application that was impractical prior to the PC. Think about trying to manage your business without the spreadsheet. Imagine how different your life and your work would be without the word processor, presentation software, and laser printers all of which didn’t make much sense prior to the PC.
The Internet revolution was defined by computer networks that crossed organizational boundaries. Networks had existed before the Internet, but getting a network to work that connected one company to another or that allowed an individual from outside the company to access the data inside the company was a huge undertaking. The Internet broke down these barriers. The name Internet refers to the interconnection of disparate networks. This cross-organizational networking enabled information to flow in new ways and broke down the barriers for individuals to participate actively in this networked environment. The killer apps for the Internet were dynamic content, electronic commerce, and virtual communities. These applications were impossible before the Internet. Imagine your life and your work without e-mail, web browsers, IM, Google, the likes of Amazon, the likes of eBay, and the likes of MySpace. This was life and work before the Internet and all of these applications couldn’t exist until networks crossed organizational boundaries.
I believe the Mobility revolution will be defined by contextual relevance. We already benefit from the 100% availability that comes from mobility – our phone number, e-mail address, and SMS/IM staying with us everywhere and all the time. But the Mobility revolution will extend from communications into the kinds of revolutionary changes we saw with the PC and the Internet when everything we do is shaped by the context in which we’re operating – where are we, what time is it, what is on our calendar, who are we with, what’s the weather, how busy is the rest of the day, what is on our to-do list, etc. The first piece to this puzzle is location. As location awareness gets built into everything we do, then the power of mobility will begin to be fully unleashed.
We can already read classifieds online (Craig’s List, eBay) and even while mobile. But what happens when the list of garage sales re-orders itself based on where we are and what direction we’re heading? We can already search the web for restaurants, but what happens when the search gets reordered based on our current location, or better yet based on the dietary preferences of all the folks that are with us and where we are?
I imagine that looking back on these examples will elicit a chuckle once the real applications leveraging context emerge. It’s kind of like when the first web browser was introduced and everyone thought it would be incredibly powerful because the research papers already posted on the Internet could be easily cross-referenced. Looking back, that’s a pretty lame example of the power of the Internet…
So, why is Nokia giving away location capabilities?
What happened in the PC revolution? The market for computers exploded to be orders of magnitude larger than anyone could’ve otherwise imagined. Whole new industries and sub-industries were created. Visionaries like Intel and Microsoft fueled the revolution and came out as big winners.
What happened in the Internet revolution? The market for data networking exploded to be orders of magnitude larger than anyone could’ve otherwise imagined. Whole new industries and sub-industries were created. Visionaries like Cisco and IBM fueled the revolution and came out as big winners.
What will happen in the Mobility revolution? Who will come out as big winners?
Obviously Nokia’s hoping to be on that list!