December 20, 2009

Just about 23 years ago...

Following excerpted from "Flashbacks: Marching Towards Midlife" - a work in progress...

Christmas 1986

“I can’t believe they do this for everyone,” Megan slurred after waking to a miniature Christmas tree on the table beside her hospital bed, a tree adorned in a rather uniquely-personalized manner - with little bottles of Baileys.

But I’m getting ahead of myself (again, and so soon)…

Megan, still a Junior at Georgetown at the time, had a job (of sorts) at Saxa’s, the little hole-in-the-wall student store in the basement of the Healy building. Meanwhile, I was six months into a job at Basis Point, account managering or something or other, not too far from campus in the new Washington Harbour complex on K Street. I can’t recall the time of day, nor who it was that called from Saxa’s, but I do recall how desperate the voice was that told me Megan had been hurt, badly, and that I should get to the hospital.

Funnily enough, while twice the distance from the hospital, my cab and I got there before Megan and the ambulance. A bit frantic that I couldn’t find her, I became a bit more so when they carried her in, arm wrapped, blood pretty much drenching her. Seems she’d been in the Saxa’s stock room stacking, counting or, well, stocking, when she turned and inadvertently stuck her arm into a large industrial venting fan set in the wall (sadly someone had neglected to install a protective grate). Sliced her arm almost right off – straight through the bone. Messy.

After checking her in at the hospital, I had the first of what over the years would be multiple Megan health-related chats with my not-yet-in-laws’. They wondered if they should come down to D.C. I assured them no need (what the hell did I know) – I’d look after her…

…Which, for the next few days, I did - at least in terms of visiting her in the hospital every day. Turns out that fixing up the wrist wasn’t as big a deal as the infection that resulted from the beyond-filthy fan blade that had sliced through her arm. Needless to say, Megan was heavily medicated and a bit out of it for a while, including that Christmas morning when she woke to find and misinterpret the miniature tree I’d brought in, adding my own decorative touches, including the little mini bottles of Baileys, a favourite of Megan’s.

Not long after Christmas Megan was released, and we flew up to Connecticut to spend a belated holiday with her family - the first of many of our remarkably generous Walsh Christmases. One of my gifts was a bottle of Dom, which Megan and I kept for many years, not popping it until New Year's eve 1991, mere days before we returned to Washington after two years in Ecuador. But, again (again), I’m getting ahead of myself...

December 03, 2009

further to recent - back to net neutrality...

...picking up where i left off and heading in a new but related direction: all of that is happening (see last post), and it will, the bandwidth demands on the mobile networks are going to be overwhelming. among other things, those of us who drop 3 of 5 calls on at&t mobility in manhattan will soon be joined by our verizon subscriber brethren when the family of 'droids hit the networks...

and it'll be worse in the mobile world than the increasing latency we continue to experience in the fixed environment - notwithstanding accelerated deployment of higher bandwidth fiber, etc. - driven in large part by increasingly data-hungry social and content-based applications and services. kids that used to text are now video-skyping with equal fervor, and the question's begged: when might clogged fixed and mobile networks reach parity in terms of everyday customer frustration.

which, in turn, leads to my long-time favorite hobby-horse - network neutrality. i continue to believe that every consumer should be able to use the device of choice to access the services and content of choice across the network of choice. and i've never been terribly fair to the operators in my past rants on the topic. so, to balance the rhetoric, how are service providers to stay in business as consumer access increasingly commoditizes?

look for other value-added services is one answer, seemingly quite popular.

and that doesn't mean launching yet another music, video, social network, mapping or other such solution - good grief, the choice is already endless. but it does mean the big guys (operator-wise) chasing new enterprise-based telecommunications/IT services opportunities, guaranteeing paying companies competing in an increasingly globalized marketplace quality end-to-end, full service fixed, wireless, secure, hosted and managed IT services across the globe. great costs savings for those companies doing business multinationally in terms of scale and efficiencies, but also in terms of being able to redirect investments away from building out their own facilities and services. needless to say, all of this is already happening.

but back to network neutrality. if the big guys want to chase the enterprise dollars as the consumer side commoditizes, a huge value-add in those service offerings will be in guaranteeing more-than-adequate bandwidth for corporate customers. and, suddenly, tiering - in terms of pricing, access and bandwidth - seems an utter given, despite all of the rhetoric in washington. funny thing is, having raved to the contrary in the past, i get it, from a staying-in-business-perspective if you're a major telecoms/IT service provider. but, i worry yet more than before that the average consumer gets increasingly screwed, in terms of quality of service, breadth and depth of online experience, etc.

bottom line: there's got to be a balance. what we don't want to see, what we can't allow to happen, what would undermine the social, democratic, and innovation benefits of the internet, is the de facto creation of an internet ghetto...

more to come...

November 30, 2009

apps vs. internet

having spent the last few months guzzling delicious mobile application koolaid, i'm taking a step back for a reality check...

let's recap:

the days of app developers commanding $150k per app are over. dead. toast. done. indeed, even quality developers are becoming more or less commonplace (and the vast number of amateurs may best be counted by the number of bodily function apps available at the app store).

moreover, where a mere six months ago they were a rarity, the number of app-building toolkit companies - whether chasing realtors and restauranters (swebapps, kanchoo, appbreeder), or targeting verticals like gaming (gamesalad) or music (mobileroadie) - are exploding.

and meanwhile, we're just beginning to see the i-app model replayed in the 'droid space, without perhaps the hooplah, but with some potentially greater scale. or then again, maybe not - after all, biggest threat to android is fragmentation.

blackberry? yeah, let's see. frankly, i'm not holding my breath - incidentally, i'd buy 'em if i were a certain vender that can't seem to shoot straight (or at all) in the u.s. market. palm: sort of off to a whimpering start, but i believe there remains promise in webOS. motorola? gonna be fun to watch as they throw it all behind android. and nokia? well, not in the u.s. at least not any time soon. and not based on symbian solution. there is hope though for maemo.

but anyway, back to the point, apps vs. internet: here we are, finally poised on the cusp of the internet-mobility convergence/collision/co-whatever and we've got a handful of inherently incompatible mobile operating systems extending the fenced patio mobile app model that's emerged of late as the successor to the 1990's walled gardens (much, i am sure, to the pleasure of the mobile operators who still haven't quite figured out how they're gonna survive this sh*tstorm of co-whatever).

remember wap? that was supposed to help us avoid all of this interoperability crap. shame of it was, while well-intended, the wap vision was 10 years early, predating capable devices and networks, as well as usable or otherwise valuable services and content. remember same idea. same good intent - usher consumers gently, easily, comfortably into the newest extension to our most recent medium - mobility and the internet. well-inspired but ill-executed. well, kinda...

then along comes apple with an actual well-thought out plan, married to sexy hardware, and a user experience and development environment that are simple (the latter only if you happen to be a developer kinda person). and the rest has been history - everyone running around trying to replicate the experience, even blackberry, which seems rightly worried that the cow it's been milking for nearly a decade might be going dry...

and yet, somewhere along the way, slowly, quietly, the original wap and visions might yet be realized. they do, to some extent, overcome interoperability issues. yes, the risk is a lower common denominator service and/or content experience - but sh*t, it works across networks, across devices, across mobile operating systems. and, oh yeah, you can actually deliver dynamic content and services in a fluid manner unlike stand alone apps that rely on updating html, xml or rss feeds to update content. hey, wait, does't that sound familiar? yeah, same thing actually...

ok, so, it won't be that simple. but i think that the app developers and the microsite developers are coming to loggerheads, particularly in the marketing space, and particularly as devices become more common in terms of large screens, touch screens, etc.

and ya know what, there's something more democratic about the web-based approach. indeed, notwithstanding the sudden plethora of app-making tool companies with business plans built around bleeding you lightly while hawking the data your app collects, i'm beginning to wonder if we might instead see increasing consumer interest in designing microsites to celebrate and communicate their individual passions, lives, businesses.

imagine libraries of mobile microsites, catalogued by friends, passions or interests, each designed specifically for consumption on-the-go, always current - the digital snacking that we've all become so accustomed to as we wait in line, sit on a train, or just fiddle about - with a social twist. and, there are lots of simple web-based tools out there for mobile site creation, and, well, a lot of them free - check out mobisitegalore for instance. indeed, take it a step further and point your iphone 3G (i did kinda optimize for that device, but should work on pretty much any smartphone that's not been operator-crippled) at and see what a half-hour's tinkering can produce around a band i happen to really enjoy).

all things considered, there's room for multiple approaches, for awhile anyway. or hell, maybe we'll all just facebook and tweet ourselves to death...


September 18, 2009

Sixteen years, two months ago...

Following Excerpted from "Flashbacks: Marching Towards Midlife" - a work in progress...

July 1993

I was sitting in my hotel room catching up on whatever work needed doing when I got a call from my father-in-law. “Don’t be alarmed, don’t be upset, Peyton’s been run over by a car.”

Holy shit.

Turns out Megan had been shopping with the kids – Morgan (5), Brennan (3) and Peyton (10 months) -- and after an interminable wait behind an elderly and seemingly-medicated shopper at the checkout, she headed across the parking lot with Peyton in her arms and the other kids in tow. She noticed a car steering toward them and, through the windshield she saw, yes, that same elderly shopper. Sadly, the driver, for whatever reason, didn’t seem to notice Megan or the kids and plowed right into them. The car glanced off Morgan and bumped Megan, who, as she was going down to the pavement, lost hold of Peyton. Two thousand-plus pounds of automobile then ran over the baby right before Megan’s eyes (quite literally – she was prone on the pavement inches from the car).

The driver then meandered her car off through the parking lot before being chased down by, well, shit, quite-naturally-horrified onlookers. Megan and Peyton – tire marks across the latter's shirt and forehead – were quickly whisked away in an ambulance to nearby Potomac Elementary school where a helicopter landed to meet them. The older kids were left with a spinster pair who offered to bring them to their Grandma’s house, about a mile away. The helicopter took Peyton to Children’s, leaving a distraught Megan to rush to her parent’s place where, bursting in, she told them Peyton had been run over and might be dead. Mayhem ensued. And, in short order, all were knocked for a yet wilder loop when they realized that Morgan and Brennan hadn’t shown up yet. As it turns out ,they were quickly recovered back at the Safeway with the kind-hearted pair who, it turns out, for whatever reason, hadn’t yet budged.

Meanwhile, while all of this was happening, I was off playing trade negotiator in Switzerland, making the world safe for some or another sort of commerce or something or other.

By the time I got stateside – less than a day later and ever-so-ever-so-slightly keyed up – Peyton had been looked at, prodded, scoped and poked by the good folks at Children’s and dubbed “miracle baby” by the local media. Amazingly, other than a swollen and scratched forehead, bruised lungs and chest, and a slightly scraped and purplish foot, she was fine. Stunning. Truly. Thankfully.

As for the pharmaceutically enhanced near-octogenarian driver, she was dealt a meaningless fine for “failing to avoid colliding with a pedestrian” (or some such blather) and assessed a few points on her license (can I hear a resounding “what?”). Sixteen years since passed, I can only assume - and hope, and pray - that she’s no longer on the road.

August 21, 2009

filling the gap..., given that i've taken to spending more time on facebook than blogger, i've neglected to update the blog of late. some recent highlights:

- june: pretty much gave up tweeting. yawn.
- july: got a job. full of risk and promise.
- august: had yet another great week in bethany.
- september: watch this space...

May 25, 2009

checking in, commenting on landscape

Let's start by skipping the obligatory "it's been awhile..." (or not).

After almost three months as a member of the ever-growing class of the not-fully-professionally-occupied, my search for tomorrow's career continues. It's been a unique, liberating, oft-introspective, and definitively personal awareness-building experience. One or another opportunities have approached fruition only to then die on the vine, while others have been non-starters for me for one or another reason, and yet others remain in play. My targets, and those who have targeted me, have ranged from major global brands (tech and otherwise), to start-ups, to agencies and associations, to non-profits - representing an eclectic array of industries from beverage to fuel cell to reproductive rights, but with the lion's share of course being mobility/information technology-related.

In the meantime, I've been doing some freelance consulting.

Let's review the landscape...

On the mobile front...well, it's crowded, cluttered, confused, overlapping, integrated, inter- or not operable, etc. Look familiar? It should. It mirrors in many respects the essence of the Internet experience - in North America at least (which is where I'll focus for now).

Over the last decade, slowly but surely we've adopted mobiles - those once voice-oriented gadgets - into our daily lives. They are indispensable. Period. Today, even the most basic user has graduated from voice to texting, and, if not yet, will soon be snapping and sharing pictures and video, browsing the web, playing games, listening to music, navigating, face-booking, twittering, shopping, etc. Sound familiar? It should, it's a mirror replay of the PC's evolution from pre-Internet productivity tool to full-fledged commercial Internet multimedia gateway.

Can I get a resounding "well, duh?" I mean really, this is hardly new news - the mobile industry's been hyping the promise for years and, today, finally, with far less fanfare, the reality is happening all around us. Key to it all is ubiquitous (relatively) broadband at affordable (relatively) cost and richer functionality (not just relatively) devices. Everything else - the services, applications, content, etc. - follow as naturally in mobile as they did in the fixed Internet environment. Indeed, the line between fixed and mobile is irrevocably blurred.


And yet the mobility realm remains distinct in some respects. From a mobile device form-factor perspective, outside of the odd quirky fashion niche (e.g. swivel), we seem to have settled into flips and simple candy bars for the mass market low-end; mono-block qwertys, low-end touches or bulky qwerty sliders in the mid-range messenging class (once known as smartphones); and, lastly, sleek, upscale touch, qwerty or qwerty-touch hybrid handheld computers at the high end.

And then, of course, there's the mini-notebook and netbook phenomenon (Acer, Asus, HP, etc.) which so far seems to be mirroring the traditional mobile industry go-to-market model in terms of marrying subsidized, somewhat-limited utility micro-laptops to hefty and long-term AT&T and Verizon data plans (by the way, why not reverse the model? - subsidize prepaid data service via the unsubsidized cost of the netbook married to some unique value-added service/content?). But let's remember, these netbooks are still engineered and designed for "nomadic" activity as opposed to comfortably fixed or truly mobile. Don't get me wrong, there's a unique and exciting market for netbooks, but they'll eat more and faster into the laptop space than the mobile device space.

And before I depart devices, I'd be remiss to neglect Amazon's clever little disruptive Kindle which I believe is setting some interesting business model trends that the netbook folk ought to consider adopting - bit-piping the carriers and upending the years-long debate over who gets what in the mobile payments ecosystem by simply ignoring the debate altogether and maintaining their perfectly functional fixed status quo.


Some sort of shakeout or consolidation in the vendor space is inevitable. Apple's done a marvelous job in carving out a lucrative high-end niche - an impressive 5% of Q408 device share in North America generating somewhere north of 60% data traffic. With one device. One carrier. That’s not even counting the millions of iTouches out there. Pretty damned impressive indeed - just goes to show you what elegant design, intuitive UI and simple application/service/content discovery will do for you.

HTC is poised to play in this space as well, but needs to resolve its OS approach - Android? Windows Mobile? What's it gonna be guys?

RIM still dominates the business qwerty space, at least in perception, but faces challengers and challenges in terms of mainstreaming its consumer offering.

LG and Samsung have done a fine job of catering to carrier whim and fancy and building and holding a strong bastion in the mid-range, and flirting both up and down range from there.

Nokia's foothold in the low end and feature phone space is solid(ish), if a bit(?) weaker than during its heyday, but they'll need to beware LG and Samsung drilling down into low end volumes as they face increasing pressure from Apple and others looking to further mainstream and more broadly scale their higher-end offerings into the mid- (and even entry) range. Getting a volume-oriented S60/smartphone device into the U.S. carrier channel is going to be crucial to Nokia's success in North America, both in terms of regaining device and value market share and in realizing their service aspirations - given Nokia's global scale and scope this should be achievable, and yet so far remains elusive.

And, by the way, I'll not be surprised by any resurgence by Motorola or Sony-Ericsson (much more likely the former, particularly if they execute well on Android and services, but the latter also continues to have promise in and around music and imaging feature devices).

And I'd be remiss to not reference Palm's sleek new device/intuitive OS reinvention - After all, remember that the first digital status device many of us carried out of the last recession was a Palm Pilot - there's a great nostalgia play to be made by Palm, and an application developer community poised for rebound.

And then there's the host of other players niblling at the edges as well as the newcomers we're only beginning to hear about... Like I said, a shake out is inevitable.

Operating Systems

Related to the form factor discussion, I'll offer a quick word on the OS environment where things definitely remain, um, a bit messy. The range of proprietary OS's at the low end is overly (generous word) broad, but, hey, no big worries here - such commoditized devices will always exist to serve a certain population and to provide a certain limited-functionality service set (primarily operator-driven – which does ensure some level of cross platform consistency given very firm operator control of the user experience with such devices).

At the mid-range and high end, you start to see a more stable if still overly-fractured landscape: iphone's OSx, Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, RIM's BBOS, Nokia's Symbian (and Maemo), Palm's webOS, and, of course, the as-yet-realized promise of Open Linux for mobile. There are pros and cons to each solution. The combination of iPhone's intuitive interface, impressive developer and application pool, and simple discoverability of value-added experiences is as yet perhaps unparalleled (but the lack of a physical qwerty keyboard remains a turnoff for heavy-duty messengers).

Meanwhile, Symbian's global reach is without peer in terms of embedded devices supported by a wealth of experienced developers, but the UI is still a bit clumsy (however, much improved) for newcomers and, in any event, Symbian is a relative non-player in the North American market and, moreover, application/service/content discoverability remains a bit sketchy.

Android has promise and a graceful elegance in terms of UI, but continues to lack a strong device base, as well as a robust developer community. The Jury’s still out on Palm’s webOS. RIM’s BBOS is naturally limited in its proprietary implementation and, as for Windows Mobile, well, it does continue to improve, but for whatever and sundry reasons has simply not been able to crack the mainstream.

Whatever the case, the whole ecosystem is certainly less-than-optimal for developers and brands looking to deliver cross platform application solutions and content (but notably not a bad picture for operators looking to control their cross-portfolio service offerings and consumer relationships).


The natural segue here would be to the application/content/services space, but I can't let that parenthetical operator aside immediately above just hang there.

Anyone who knows me or has read past posts on this site or others probably has a pretty solid understanding of my sentiments about open access and choice - bottom line: consumers should have the right to their device of choice to attach to the network of choice to consume the content and service they most value and desire (i.e. choose). You know, kinda like the fixed Internet works. Or, simpler analogy, like the electricity grid. Imagine the electric company dictating which lamps you can use to light your home, and which wattage bulbs, etc.

Okay, okay, so that's grossly simplified and certainly doesn't take into consideration the decades-old quasi-competitive regulatory structure, out-of-synch spectrum planning, deployment of multiple incompatible technologies, etc. that have produced the current North American wireless business dynamic, much less the all important public obligation that mobile operators have to ensure the integrity of their networks, non-interference, some level of interoperability, and billing and account management consistency and control. Nevertheless, the consumer has and to some extent remains a bit short-change on the choice front.

But - good news - that's changing. It's kinda like gravity - it is what it is and you can't beat it for any extended period of time. As consumers increasingly migrate their fixed Internet behavior to the mobile space they will naturally expect to carry with them the freedom of choice they have come to value and expect. And as mobile devices become more and more computer-like and broadband wireless more and more ubiquitous, in a variety of flavors and from a variety of competitive providers, the collision between mobility and the Internet will trump any past expectations of convergence of the same. Choice will out. Period. There was a time for walled gardens in the fixed Internet's evolution, and for more-narrowly fenced patios in the mobile space - but those days have passed.

Thankfully, while the operator space is relatively mature business models and plans are already evolving to embrace this change, particularly as the likes of Walmart and Best Buy flex their muscles, not to mention the impact the exertions of content/media stakeholders are also having on operators. That said, AT&T and Verizon continue to dwarf their competitors, and, ever insatiable, continue to nibble away at the T-Mobile and Sprint subscriber bases, with all four majors continuing to dominate the channel to and permanent consumer touch. But, again, the winds of change are blowing and fully-recognized. And by the way, there's still some room in the market for a major newcomer operator - via acquisition or otherwise - to shake things up further via e.g. innovative service offering, alternative device or service subsidization, and/or alternative rate plans. And, finally, let's not forget that the umpteen billion dollars identified in the Obama stimulus plan includes in excess of $7 billion identified for telecom buildout - good news for infrastructure gear-makers, device venders and operators - existing or new - alike. There is growth yet to come...

Applications, Services and Content

Finally (phew), a few words on the experiences people are realizing with all of these nifty devices connected to these big fat piped networks. Not unlike the fixed Internet experience, it will be applications, services and content that drive the next wave of mobility. Java and brew have served and will continue to serve well enough in terms of cross-platform mass market, low end games, simple apps, etc. But as we enter the true mobile computing age, Apple and iPhone have set the bar pretty high in terms of SDK, app store, simplicity of discoverability, updatability, payment, etc., not too mention richness and depth of applications. Android offers similar promise, but remains time-to-market and device and developer volume challenged. Symbian, on a global basis, should perhaps have or have had the greatest opportunity, but, per points made earlier, has yet to finesse discoverability, application quality consistency, iconic hardware, etc. Changes may be in the wind in these respects, however…

Bottom line: Consumers really don’t care about operating systems, UI’s and the like. They just want a cool device that let’s them do cool things, application-based or otherwise. Easily. Cooperative initiatives between vendors, operators, application developers, content players, social networks and beyond are beginning to bear fruit. It’s no longer about music and video and Youtube and FB and MySpace – those solutions are all relatively nature in the fixed and mobile environments, some implementations more sophisticated than other in the latter respect. Going forward, it’s going to be about how to marry content, with experience, with location, with life… Some extent of universality and consistency of experience is going to be necessary and as such the continuing hardware and software fragmentation remains a challenge. But platform solutions will emerge that both make those distinctions transparent to end consumers and allow a wider and deeper range of brands to extend themselves, their brands and their value into the digital mobile space. Imagine, for instance, a cost-effective, intuitive application platform/template-based solution that would offer major brands the opportunity to develop, control and deliver timely, dynamic and refreshable cross platform mobile applications to target audiences at a fraction of the cost and with more editorial and more brand consistency than reliance on third party developers. Food for thought…

Granting that, in North America particularly, we need to acknowledge that digital affinity relationships have had the better part of a decade to mature and develop. They will not be easily upended. For instance, the MySpace-Facebook migration of two years ago – a true singularity – is not likely to recur. Twitter may have gained a certain popularity as an alternative “social” activity, and novel solutions like clipmarks may carve out a similar (and more value-added niche, but the two big boys rule the roost, at least for the immediate future. The application and service developers that succeed going forward will be those that leverage unique mobile characteristics like location, synch them up with fixed or nomadic Internet applications, services and content and marry the the whole lot into existing social networks (latter day bitpipes?) to deliver an altogether unique experience. Imagine, for instance, a platform- and access-independent, mixed reality, simple-to-use, snackable, brain-teasing, socially-charged, competitive, diverting, entertainment-based experience with the promise of financial reward and enhanced social status. If that sounds like a mouthful, it is - it's also verbatim from the first slide of the business plan...


…Nah, just a beginning. Whole lotta minddump above – hopefully of some entertainment or educational value to the odd reader (or even the normal one). And I didn’t even get into all of the challenges we’re gonna be facing in terms of privacy, security, personal information protection, identity theft, etc. These are key strategic issues that will need to be managed in the context of all of the above. But manageable they are – ignored at your peril.


March 28, 2009

February 04, 2009

google latitude - taking social location seriously

about a year ago, i posted on a variety of potential social location solutions, with a highlight on gypsii's potential (link to that post). since, and much more recently, i've commented on clever solutions such as that developed by buddycloud (link to that post). google today upped the ante with latitude, not so much in terms of an innovative solution (although based on limited use so far it's way cool), but, rather, a solution that is scalable based on google's mainstream, everyday consumer penetration. put aside the privacy issues (they've done what they can), google's launched a simple, intuitive, where-am-i-where-are-you solution for the masses already married to the googlesphere. better, worse, more limited or not than other solutions - it's all about leveraging existing affinities, and google's way out in front in that respect. the smaller-scaled folk - Gypsii, BuddyCloud, Loopt, Whrrl, etc. should watch their backs. and, as for the the mainstream (in some markets at least) giants, well, you all better pick up the pace before there's no-one left to bring on board...

January 28, 2009


well, it's been awhile (a theme)...

...when i started this blog three years ago i tended to focus on where i was (away from home) and how i was feeling (away from home) more than anything else. over time though, a couple of additional trends emerged: 1) random tips on how to get the most out of your mobile and 2) general blathering about openness and network neutrality (check out the mobile-related links at right to browse posts on either topic). all along, while i regularly expressed an obvious bent for nokia and nokia solutions, i tried to avoid preaching nokia, and i never once mentioned that i was a nokia employee (i presumed, however, that most readers knew).

well, after almost twelve years, my nokia relationship is coming to an end. it's been a great run - from setting up a government affairs office, to overseeing the standards team, to leading strategy, then corporate communications, then the north american multimedia business, and finally, to running americas-wide go-to-market operations. all good. great even. but, now, sadly, as a result of nokia's most recent reorganization, i find the america's level organization i was most-recently leading phased-out, and myself standing in a tuneless room with one-too-few chairs. gotta admit, the whole thing's a bit hard to fathom, but hey, what a great opportunity for renewal. and, i suppose it does give me the opportunity to be a bit more candid in this forum. and with that in mind...

there's a lot going on in nokia's world these days, beyond the obvious hemorrhaging of talent (sorry, can't help myself). the convergence/collision of mobility and the internet - now mired in a global financial meltdown - may present the company with the mother of all inflection points. indeed, the economic crisis actually gives nokia a welcome opportunity to enhance its fledgling services offerings while competitors are challenged to capitalize on their leads and/or innovative new solutions. while, granted, nokia may be increasingly-challenged to deliver compelling devices in an ever-more crowded field, its almost-overwhelming (still, but not forever) base of embedded devices and unparalleled device market share position it uniquely to reap substantial services revenues (and add value to commoditized devices and drive future ad-based revenues, and so on, and so forth). not a bad place to be...

(as an aside, however, it's questionable how much of the above might apply to nokia's business in north america - but that's a different story. maybe someday).

so, anyway, the question is: will nokia use the opportunity to take the right risks and make the right investments to secure a leadership position, or will nokia hunker down to weather the ongoing economic storm, perhaps allowing innovative risktakers to gain? for thought. however it goes, it should be fun to watch.

i'll be back.

January 09, 2009

the pace of change... openness?

just over a year ago, in a multimedia-induced fever, i posted somewhat (and overly) caustically on the wireless industry's newly-discovered affinity for "openness" rhetoric (see "open. enough already: some truth"). while the promise remains real, and the sincerity of the rhetoric perhaps more genuine than i may have originally thought, the realization of the promise remains elusive. jack gold's piece in businessweek hammers that point home rather nicely - worth the read: Open, Schmopen: Wireless Networks Are Still Closed.

later... (perhaps sooner)