Early adopter, entrepreneur, leader interested in software, the Internet, mobile telephony and computing, and VoIP. Founder or senior management with The Personal Bee, Orb Networks, CallTrex, Borland (BORL), The Dr. Spock Company, Neta4, WhoWhere?, CMP Media, and IT Solutions.

Today's Buzz:

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

The most interesting item on Day 3 of NMIC

A terrific presentation by Nokia's internal group that studies consumer behavior -- these guys have done an amazing amount of research and have developed a really compelling model for thinking about how people use mobile devices. They have a number of "dimensions" that they use to segment different people's behavior around the use of mobile technologies. The devices that they introduce, like the 6800 that I wrote about yesterday, are defined by analyzing the intersections of these dimensions and identifying clusters of consumers that behave in certain ways and have certain needs for mobile devices. I can't possibly do justice to the full model and Nokia has in any case promised to put this presentation on the web -- so I will link to it when it is available. In the meantime, here are some of the dimension characteristics as a teaser:

Open vs. Controlling

Receptive and Belonging vs. Individual and self esteem

"Mind styles" that these two dimensions produce -- enjoying, exploring, managing, exploiting, controlling, defending, bonding...

Style dimension -- appearance -- premium vs. fun vs. active vs. fashion

functional dimension -- writing vs. reading vs. relationship management vs. talking...

capabilities dimension -- amount of memory, screen size, user interface, programmability...

Phone Categories that these dimensions produce -- Imaging, Gaming, Classic...

The future vision of Nokia is that "...I will have my phone with my set of applications and you will have yours and they will really be entirely personalized to each of our needs and will look nothing like each other..."

This creative segmentation which allows for devices which will become completely personlized is a tremendously powerful vision. One interesting aspect to me is what a sharp contrast it is to the way in which Microsoft has guided the evolution of the PC -- narrowing down the possibilities to a single, fairly uniform platform. One Nokia person commented to me that he and his colleagues were discussing the issue of the PC volume having plateaued at 400 million devices and why this was -- perhaps if Microsoft had adopted this experimental and fully open and configurable approach that Nokia has adopted, that the PC world would look quite different, with a much wider array of solutions adapted to different requirements...

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

NMIC Day 2 -- Coolest new gadget...

Nokia has rolled out an amazing number of new products today -- all extremely cool. How about a video survelliance camera that is also a GSM/GPRS phone and can transmit images directly to your phone using MMS? How about a "music stand" which has speakers built into a phone recharging station... Here is a link to Nokia's site to look at their new gadgets. But my award for the coolest new gadget goes to the Nokia 6800 -- a phone with a full keyboard like you have never seen before! Here are pictures that I took with my Nokia 7650 camera phone... 6800 closedFirst you can see the phone in its "one hand" mode -- looks like a normal phone, right? But then it OPENS... 6800 openingwith a section lifting up from the keyboard area. This section continues to open up until it flips all the way over the top, allowing you to turn the device into a horizontal position and use a full QWERTY keyboard with two hands... 6800 open The screen automatically flips orientation when the keyboard is opened.

Very cool phone. Also has a color screen... MMS capable of course. Java... And this is just one of a whole group of new phones that they introduced.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Coolest demo of the day

Reporting to you from the Nokia Mobile Internet Conference here in Munich -- the coolest demo of the day was live television playing on a Nokia 7650 over a roaming GPRS data connection! I am not kidding. The crazy engineers at Nokia hooked up a server in Helsinki with a TV tuner card and put TV1 from Finland onto the mobile network! From a 7650 here in Munich we tuned in to watch daytime Finnish television. Video and sound quality was amazing. This is what high speed data connectivity is capable of already today, without 3G -- although I would hate to get that GPRS bill at current rates!

Also, suggestion to Nokia for future demos -- daytime Finnish television is not a killer application... how about a sports channel? I guess TV1 probably wouldn't complain about being pirated though...

UK blocks international calling as well...

Jeremy McGee (an ex-Borlander) writes that:
    To be fair to T-Mobile this isn't a situation that's exclusive to the US. Over here in the UK we, too, have to have the call bar lifted on international roaming and international calls.
But Jeremy goes on to explain why:
    This is partly because the international rates are (usually) stupidly expensive. For some reason this is especially the case for US mobile carriers. So with debt at the level that it is with mobile telcos I'm not surprised they want to do an extra credit check.
OK, so they want to find out if I can pay for all of those long distance calls. Fair enough. But they should be smart enough to ask about this at activation time, not after I actually arrive in Munich. On the question of US myopia about the rest of the world though, Jeremy had this factoid (have to check)
    87% of US citizens don't have passports.
So I stand by my complaint that we need to start thinking globally in the US. How can we be the "world's policeman" and not know anything about the world??

Sunday, November 03, 2002

T-Mobile -- when will the US think globally?

I have been a T-Mobile customer since Friday and I am already frustrated with them. And I haven't even made a call yet. But the problem I am having with T-Mobile is also a problem with every other carrier in the US. There are smart people at T-Mobile, but when it comes to thinking Globally, despite being a division of a German company, they get mired in the same bad logic that slows down the rest of the US mobile market.

Here is what happened: On Friday I set up a new T-Mobile account so that I could test the new Microsoft "Pocket PC Phone Edition" and compare it to Nokia's and Sony-Ericsson's Symbian based phones (more on that later). On Saturday I boarded a plane for Munich, where I am now -- for the Nokia Mobile Internet Conference. So I arrive in Munich on Sunday night (local time) and turn on my new phone. But I am unable to get a service provider connection. After I arrive at my hotel, I call T-Mobile's customer support in the US.

It turns out that, even though T-Mobile is a German company and even though the phone they sold me was a dual-band GSM phone, I can't use my US T-Mobile account in Europe. In fact I can't even call Europe from the US.

You see, if you are a US citizen and you want to call internationally, they assume that you must be a criminal. This is the only explanation that I can come up with. I had the same problem a few years ago when I was a Sprint PCS customer, and again when I set up my Cingular account (which I use for work). By default when you get a phone in the US you can only use that account in the US and you can only call people in the US. In order to get this changed, you have to petition an International department which, after an investigation, will decide whether or not an account can be approved for international use.

I guess the theory is that the US is such a large country and market that we can grow up and live out our entire lives without ever needing or wanting to call someone outside the US and without ever needing to use our mobile phones from outside the US.

Unfortunately isolationism leads again and again to a rude awakening when some external event provides a reminder that we are part of a global economy and a worldwide society. Not activating mobile phones for international use is just a symptom of the larger problem. Eventually we are going to have to start training our children to look at the world outside our borders -- and to think about themselves as part of a global civilization.

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