Archive for December, 2007

Top Stories of 2007

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

(Last year, I stretched this process out over several weeks. I’m not sure it accomplished much, other than giving me more posts to create and manage, so this year I’m going to kill it off in one shot. )

Once again, here are the top mobility news stories of the past 12 months. As with last year, I’m going to split them into two groups – those that were just stories, but haven’t (yet?) had a real impact on the industry – and those that are real and meaningful now. In a hopeless attempt to build suspense, I’ll count down to #1, Letterman style…

#10. Changing leadership, changing direction? Last December, Verizon named Lowell McAdam president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. In October of this year, Ralph de la Vega took over as president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. And just this past week, Sprint named Dan Hesse as its new president and CEO. Has anything changed? Not really. Verizon and AT&T continue their Big Bell ways. I’m hoping that, once Hesse has a chance to get the lay of the land, we could see some big changes – but give him a break – it’s still his first week.

#9. 700MHz auction 266 companies have filed to bid on 700MHz spectrum being offered by the U.S. government. In July, the FCC set the rules for the auction, incorporating some demands of open-network proponents, most notably Google. Those rules caused quite a stir in the industry, to say the least, and helped move Google into a very influential position in shaping the future of mobility. But, since the auction won’t happen until this coming January, the jury is still out on what impact the auction will really have.

#8. Verizon and AT&T open their networks In November, Verizon announced that they were opening their wireless network to “any app, any device”. The announcement was met with skepticism by many, but certainly caused a buzz. AT&T responded by claiming to “fling its network wide open”. As Tim O’Reilly noted in the New York Times, these changes don’t represent any move away from Big Bell Dogma. And the AT&T “announcement” really represented no change at the company at all. So, where’s the real news?

#7. Sprint-Clearwire partnership In July, Sprint announced a partnership with Clearwire to jointly build a nationwide WiMax network. At the time, I explained why this really was big news. Unfortunately, the two companies couldn’t come to terms on the final agreement and it fell apart – at least for now.

#6. Android and the Google Phone Google’s moves in mobility definitely were top stories in 2007. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty excited about the promise of open standards in general, and the OHA and Android specifically. For 2007, however, it’s still all promise. We’ll see what 2008 brings.

#5. Release of The Power of Mobility Okay, maybe this was only a top story for me… My first book, The Power of Mobility, was released at the end of September. It reached a top 10 ranking on several Amazon lists in the following weeks before settling into a more modest, but steady sales pattern. If anyone is looking for some holiday reading…

#4. 50% global penetration and more houses have cellphones than landlines This fall, Informa reported that there were 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, taking penetration above 50% for the first time ever. Mediamark reported that the number of households with at least one cellphone surpassed those with at least one landline as well, and household spending on mobile has passed spending on landlines. All are pretty significant indicators of the growing importance of mobility in society.

#3. Amazon Kindle Those that regularly read The Law of Mobility know that I’m pretty excited about mobile bandwidth being built into non-telephony products. My prediction is that mobile broadband will become as ubiquitous in everyday items as microprocessors are today. But, as of 2007, good examples of this future reality are hard to find. Kindle, Amazon’s mobile broadband connected eBook reader is one of the first high profile examples to demonstrate the power of mobility in action.

#2. Nokia: Navteq and Ovi In October, Nokia announced a big move – the acquisition of Navteq for $8B. Apparently, Nokia thinks location and navigation are important aspects of the mobility future. Nokia’s other major bombshell of the year was the launch of Ovi, a portal for music and entertainment. Nokia obviously is interested in growing it’s business at the expense of mobile operators, it’s largest customers/partners. This is a risky bet by the company and how it plays out likely will indicate the future power structure of the entire industry.

#1. Apple iPhone In January, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the long-awaited iPhone. The product itself wasn’t available until June, and then only in the U.S. on one carrier’s network. But the hype started immediately. The implications for mobility are manifold. For starters, the product proves that customers make decisions based on factors other than network quality (Edge is pretty painful in this 3G age) and price (customers paid full price for a very expensive product) – in fact, usability and functionality can drive pretty rabid response. Perhaps more significant in the long term, the deals that Apple has been striking with operators around the world threaten to reshape the entire industry. Apple is not only in control of customer activations, but also gets to keep a slice of the wireless service revenues. Unquestionably, the iPhone was the top news story of the year, and real news at that!

Did I miss any stories that you think should’ve been in the top 10?

Now playing: Matthew Thiessen And The Earthquakes – I Hate Christmas Parties

2007 Predictions Round-up

Friday, December 21st, 2007

We’ve finally reached the end of 2007, it’s time to see how I did on the predictions I made twelve months ago.

(hit) 1. Cingular will disappear.
Cingular who?

(hit) 2. Sprint Nextel Corp. will launch WiMax in at least one market.
It may be a soft launch, but Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington are live.

(miss) 3. Verizon Wireless will start moving away from ?network? messaging.
Verizon’s still hanging their hat on that old tired “most reliable network” claim….

(hit) 4. Most cellphones will include at least a 2Mpixel camera.
According to a report from Strategy Analytics, 90 new handsets hit the global market in August 2007. Of those, 79 were cameraphones and 49 had at least a 2Mpixel camera.

(hit) 5. The breakout phone of the year will be popular because of usability, not style.
Dean Bubley recently called out the devices that he thought defined 2007. Most notable in his list were Nokia’s N95 and the Apple iPhone. Both are very attractive phones, but what Dean focuses on are features and usability. Clearly the iPhone has driven tremendous activity within the industry this year, with all competitors trying to match it – but unlike the RAZR in recent years, what was being sought was functionality and usability, not style. This one’s a solid hit.

(hit) 6. People watching TV or downloading/streaming music on their phones will no longer seem fantastic.
Mobile TV hasn’t yet been as big of a hit as folks had hoped for, but the iPhone has made it not only acceptable, but even cool to listen to music and watch video on a cellphone.

(hit) 7. At least one major consumer electronics company will announce mobile bandwidth built into a consumer product.
Thank you Amazon. The Kindle may not have received rave reviews when it was introduced in November, but it was acknowledged as “one the first mainstream consumer electronics device we’ve seen that is not a computer and not a phone but which still connects to a mobile broadband network.”

(miss) 8. Context will begin showing up in an increasing number of mobile applications.
Search, social networking, travel guides, etc. Momentum is building. Big bets were especially placed on location based capabilities. I can’t quite count this as a hit, but the momentum is in the right direction.

(miss) 9. Clearwire will offer mobile voice over WiMax in at least one market.
Portable is not the same as mobile. In an announcement earlier this month, the company described their service this way: “Clearwire Corporation announced today the official launch of its wireless high-speed Internet access and phone service to the Charlotte area with the introduction of its next-generation wireless broadband solution. The service eliminates the confines of traditional cable or telephone wiring, allowing customers to connect at home, a local coffeehouse, the office, park or virtually anywhere else in the Clearwire service area. Charlotte residents and businesses now have the opportunity to receive a fast, simple, portable, reliable and affordable alternative to traditional dial-up, cable and DSL.”

(hit) 10. This blog will be significantly higher profile.
I set the goal that blog traffic for December 2007 would be triple what it was in December 2006. I use FeedBurner to track subscribers. For the first 19 days of December 2007, there 3.9 times as many average daily subscribers to the Law-of-Mobility blog as the average number of daily subscribers for the same period last December.

Bottom line: Seven out of ten ain’t bad. I hope I can do as well this coming year!

Now playing: Monroe Jones – Christmas Scratch

Enabling Technology: Week of 12/16/07

Friday, December 21st, 2007

The Law of Mobility talks about value increasing with mobility. The impact of this law is being felt because the barriers to building mobility in are being obliterated week after week. Here are examples of technology advances enabling this to happen:

Full list here.

Now playing: Buddy & Julie Miller – Away In A Manger

Indicators: Week of 12/16/07

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

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:

Full list here.

Now playing:
Jami Smith – Draw Near Emmanuel


Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Thanks to FoxyTunes, I stumbled across this YouTube video of Phil Keaggy. It is very encouraging to see what one guy (one very innovative guy) can accomplish, even as he advances in years. Maybe you’ll allow me the indulgence of sharing this if you make the link from “salvation army” to the bell ringers outside stores this holiday season? Enjoy!

Capturing the Power: Week of 12/16/07

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

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:

Complete list here

Now playing: Phil Keaggy – Silent Night

Managing the Danger: Week of 12/16/07

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Bonus: Philippe Winthrop identifies 5 hot button issues for enterprise mobility

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:

Full list here.

Now playing: Ricki Michelle/Jerry Chamberlain/Sharon McCall – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

60th Birthday for the Transistor

Monday, December 17th, 2007

I was reminded over the weekend that Sunday was the 60th anniversary of the invention of the transistor.? I find technology advances fascinating (obviously), so I really enjoyed (really, I did!) the research for the first few chapters of The Power of Mobility, which deal with historical technology advances that changed the way we live and changed the rules of competition across industries.

If you too are into the history of technology advances, the best sources I found relating to the invention of the transistor leading up to the microprocessor and then the personal computer include:

  • ?The Universal History of Computing by Georges Ifrah ? 2001 by Georges Ifrah published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York
  • Microchip: An idea, its genesis, and the revolution it created by Jeffrey Zygmont ? 2003 by Jeffrey Zygmont published by Perseus Publishing, Cambridge MA
  • Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer by James Chposky and Ted Leonsis ? 1988 by James Chposky and Ted Leonsis published by Facts on File Publications, New York
  • They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine?by Harold Evans, Gail Buckland, and David Lefer ? 2006 published by Back Bay Books, Boston
  • The Road Ahead by Bill Gates ? 1995 by William H. Gates III published by Penguin Books, New York

Meanwhile, here’s what ended up in the book about this period of history:

The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) is often credited as the first electronic computer. It was built in 1945 at the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. The computer filled a 30-by-50 foot room, weighed 30 tons, and it took 150,000 watts of electricity to start it up. Instead of modern transisitors, the ENIAC had 18,000 vacuum tubes and could store the equivalent of about 80 bytes of data.

However, technically, the ENIAC was really only a big calculator. It could not store its own instructions. The first non-specialized computer was the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) built from 1947 ? 1949 at Cambridge University in England under the direction of Maurice V. Wilkes. Although the machine included many concepts that we today consider standard for computers, few would confuse it with our modern products.

No, the computer era, as we know it, had to wait for the invention of the transistor, followed by the integrated circuit, and finally the microprocessor.

While the Cambridge scientists were building the world?s first computer, scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey were inventing the transistor. During December 1947 and January 1948, William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen made the scientific breakthroughs that would be announced in June 1948 as the junction transistor. The transistor replaced the function of the energy consuming, heat producing, and failure prone vacuum tubes in early computers with a tiny speck of semi-conductive material.

A decade later, in 1958, Jack Kilby working at Texas Instruments? and Robert Noyce working separately at Fairchild Semiconductor both figured out how to put multiple transistors and other components onto a single piece of silicon, giving birth to the Integrated Circuit and further miniaturizing the components of computers.

Another decade later, Noyce was one of the founders of Intel. Through most of 1970, Intel?s Ted Hoff worked to create an integrated circuit with all of the components for a complete computer on one slice of semiconductor.? The first Intel ?microprocessor? was delivered to Intel?s customer, Busicom in February 1971, and later that year Intel introduced its first microprocessor product, the 4004.

By 1977, Intel was selling microprocessors for $300 that Bob Noyce compared to the ENIAC in a Scientific American article: ?It is twenty-times faster, has a larger memory, is thousands of times more reliable, consumes the power of a lightbulb rather than that of a locomotive, occupies 1/30,000 the volume and costs 1/10,000 as much.?

In 1974, the 8080 became the brains behind the first personal computer product, a mail-order kit called the Altair.? This new class of computers inspired many new entrepreneurs, some of whom are still dominant players in the computer industry, including Steve Jobs who founded Apple Computer in 1976, and Bill Gates who founded Microsoft in 1975.

Apple Computer was the company that really proved the concept of a mass market personal computer. Their Apple II computer, although crude by modern standards, was approachable and usable by everyday people. The company was started literally in a garage with $1,300. The real key to Apple?s success was the availability of the VisiCalc spreadsheet software, which was initially only available on the Apple II. Thanks largely to VisiCalc, Apple?s revenues grew from $800,000 in 1977 to $48 million in 1979.

Converged Products: Week of 12/16/07

Monday, December 17th, 2007

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

Complete list here.

Now playing: Cedarmont Kids – What Child is This?

Book Signing in Reston

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Last month, we had a book signing on the Sprint Nextel campus in Reston. We just received the pictures. Thanks everyone for turning out and for the great dialog about how Mobility is revolutionizing everything!