The message really hit home last month, when I heard it from Nokia CTO Tero Ojanpera and Bob Iannucci, head of Nokia Research Center, at a Nokia strategy briefing in Silicon Valley. Iannucci pointed out that Nokia started as a paper mill and has a history of completely changing its industry from time to time — from rubber boots to monitors to mobile phones. He said it is once again "a company in transition to the next phase." That next phase is mobile computing.
Not smartphones, not converged devices, but full-on mobile computers intended to replace both PCs and mobile phones. Nokia says it expects these devices to eventually sell in the billions of units, and to become the world’s dominant means of accessing the Internet.
Even though these future devices will still be mobile, if you take all of Nokia’s statements at face value the changes from mobile phones will be so extensive that it’s fair to call it a new business.
Now Nokia’s talking about how it will put the PC industry out to pasture, and oh by the way take over the Internet as well.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Let’s get on with the good stuff already! Way to go Nokia! This is what I see going forward as I ponder, google and write about the mobile phone – the mobile as a post industrial platform for innovation, the role of the mobile phone as a powerful tool for social and economic development particularly for the bottom of the pyramid segments of emerging markets and developing nations.
This new "Internet" – it needs a new name – this web that will bridge the digital divide, connecting the have-nots, giving them a platform on which they too can conduct commerce, collaborate and communicate, connect to the digital world, providing them with the opportunities to contemplate health, wealth and the freedom to choose.
This is the future – the numbers speak for themselves, ONE billion phones were sold in 2006. And unlike a hamburger, the mobile phone has demonstrated its ability – as it is right now – to add value, to generate income, to release the flow of wealth and make a difference to the lives of those who have nothing. Imagine what it could do if there were relevant applications, if there were services, if we could just reach out and ping someone?
I’m excitedly rambling here, probably not making any coherent sense anymore 🙂 but regular readers can understand the implications of Nokia’s future plans – they see what I saw. And for that, I thank them. If anyone can do it, it would be that company sitting high up north in a small country closer to the arctic circle than the majority of those whose lives they touch daily. From a paper mill and rubber boots to the world’s largest mobile handset marketshare? Doubters should recall that Wipro Technologies, one of India’s largest technology companies turned global leader, began humbly making soap and edible oil. I’ll try for a more rational articulation of this WAPWeb, InfoNet, WebMob or whatever we end up calling it in the next post, but bear with my inarticulate ravings here, would you? ;p