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What would the Mobile Industry want for Christmas?


What would the Mobile Industry want for Christmas? Well for a lot of the people in the industry it’s a new job. Most of the major players are going through rounds of redundancies. I don’t think it’s quite what Motorola meant when they said “We will be #1”. More P45s than anyone else.

The thing to remember however is that there are still opportunities. The mobile industry might be seeing growth slow. We might even see 2009 having lower sales than 2007 but it’s not the catastrophe other industries are suffering. Flat sales would be a dream for any car manufacturer. They’ve seen a 40% drop in demand in a single month. For the phone industry that would be like Nokia disappearing.

If you are in a mobile company and despairing at your spreadsheets think where you would rather be. Certainly not banking, entertainment, travel, property, retail. It always used to feel that the high tech industries were the dangerous, volatile ones and those that had been around for centuries, like banking, were much safer.

A friend once said that the best science fiction was written when science fiction wasn’t in vogue. Popularity lowered the bar on quality. This might happen to mobile innovation; making phones better where “better” does not mean more complicated. Better means understanding people.

How about supporting Advice of Charge? The GSM standard which tells people what each call has cost. It’s been in the standard since the dawn of digital phones and yet never used. Or a ring tone which automatically changes its pitch and speed based on the CLI of whoever is calling. You’d soon get to recognise the difference between your mother, your best friend and your boyfriend.

Or a phone that listened, and worked out for itself that where you are is very noisy so the ring tone has to be louder. It could even listen to itself and use the camera to try and work out if it was in a pocket or handbag.

Or a phone that listened for  DTMF tones during a conversation and put the corresponding numbers into a new phone book entry so that someone calling you could give you a third person’s number by typing.

While the people in the industry need the jobs, and the industry needs innovation to drive the future. History has shown that it’s the small teams that do the innovative stuff so there is plenty of opportunity. What it needs to make it work is for the big players to share goodwill and understanding with the small and agile. A spirit of co-operation is just what we need for Christmas.

Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column  the previous Friday by subscribing here.


If you are in the usual Christmas panic about what to buy a loved one how about a cheesy Christmas ring tone. Made all the more cheesy by you being the one to sing it. Singtones.com takes your singing and uses the technology used in recoding studios to make it on-key and in time, the send it as a ringtone.

Research in the mobile industry is often done very well, but understanding the research is a different kettle of fish. Perhaps the people at the first mobile research conference will find a solution to that.

When I read a headline about Stella McCartney doing mobile things I was hoping it was that she was designing something. Unfortunately it’s just using male-designed mobiles to sell her wares.

If we can’t work out the difference between a high end feature phone and a budget smartphone what hope does the EU have. Well, none really but that’s not going to stop them trying to use it to tax them. One great example is a survey which shows Motorola as being strong in Smartphones in China . It probably means devices like the A1200 which are closed Linux and not ‘smart’ in the open OS sense.

If you are well enough to text you are well enough to party. This, according to the BBC, is an official medical view.


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