IoT – Opportunity or Disruption? How Can You Benefit?

Layers of Disruption, and Opportunity
Opportunity or Disruption? Up to You

An interesting study I’d like to commission is the correlation of earnings with Internet connections. I.e. Do those with more connected devices earn more. Anecdotally at least it seems there is a very high correlation. Most of those I know earning 6 figures or more seem to be constantly connected with at least 3 devices.

Also consider how the vast majority of people connect to the Internet. Currently this is via the smartphone.

In a recent project where the City of Melbourne gave every tree an email address they learned that over 60% of the homeless have a smartphone. And it is well documented that the poor in developing nations have a far higher penetration of smarphones than Internet connected computers. Of the almost 3B connections to the Internet, almost 2B are via mobile devices.

This makes some sense, as computers automate more and more processes, scale the amount of information for decision inputs, and connect to lower cost or higher value labour, we amplify the return.

IoT Scales Connections

If this is the case, what does this mean for the Internet of Things? Of rather what does IoT mean for you? Personally?

Personal assets – wearable and mobile technologyThere are a number of areas of opportunity anyone can pursue right now:

  • Household assets – automated home & the connected car
  • Smart Buildings – office, campus, and residential
  • Industrial Internet – machinery, environmental and asset optimisation
  • Travel and transport – fleet management and logistics
  • Smart city – Traffic flow, lighting, safety and policing, waste disposal, event management
  • Utilities and Energy – Energy metering and usage, utility arbitrage
  • National – Environmental analysis, population management, migration challenges

There are opportunities throughout every sector from personal to national. Opportunities for connecting devices to the IoT that benefit you directly and for business.

This isn’t just true for technologists.

We need funding models that benefit from these connections, we need to establish legal frameworks. We need educators to teach users and practitioners how to use this technology. Marketers, sales people, recruiters.

The Internet of Things changes the very fabric of society. And that affects every job.

Whatever field you’re in there is a direct correlation to understanding and becoming a practitioner in IoT and financial success.

3 Reasons why Apple hasn’t adopted NFC yet

For an innovative company like Apple, they often perplex customers and analysts with their feature design choices. Especially in the iPhone. I remember well denigrating the original iPhone, on my blog, and publicly in conferences. It didn’t have a replaceable battery, a decent camera, camera flash, or a physical keyboard, and it only sported 2G connectivity.

Of course history proved me wrong. Not only did the iPhone absolutely dominate the smartphone market, but they fundamentally changed smartphone design. Despite a decade of the Palm, Windows CE, and Blackberry devices, 2007 marked the shift to all premium smartphones sporting capacitive touch screens as their primary IO interface. Over the following years all competitors scrambled to create an app store on the phone, making it easy for customers to buy applications. But none have toppled the dominance of the App Store.

Even so, it remains that iPhone’s, and Apple products in general, often don’t lead with emerging technologies. They weren’t the first with 3G, 4G, and now with NFC. Why is that?

1. Customer experience is king

There is a reason that Apple has fans, from the rabid “campers in the launch queue” to the busy “it just works” executive. A great experience that doesn’t depend on technical knowledge.

Putting a connectivity technology into a phone before widespread adoption would cause a frustration and annoyance that is the antithesis of the Apple experience.

2. Don’t follow the crowd

As mentioned above, the original & current iPhones don’t sport features found on many other phones. Even today, you can’t replace the battery on the phone. This is one thing that sets the company apart. Whatever you say about Apple, you can’t say they’re a “me too” company. Even when they do choose to make something others have made; and let’s face it they weren’t the first company to make desktops, laptops, MP3 players, smartphones, or slates; they revolutionise the design.

3. Invest in technologies that will become standard

There are too many emerging technologies and competing standards for Apple to make a long term bet too early in the design phase. How much did it cost Microsoft to adopt HD-DVD on the Xbox 360 instead of Blue Ray? Even Blue Ray hasn’t taken off like DVD did. Apple has simply ignored both of these formats betting on the longer term future of downloads.

Because of the first, two principles, Apple considers emerging technologies carefully, waits for the adoption of a dominant standard, then revolutionises the design.

Near Field Communication – Close, but no cigar

Let’s face it NFC is still not that widespread. Even where it is in shops, adoption is really limited. And there are hardly any consumer electronics devices actually in the market, let alone peoples’ homes, that have a significant benefit with NFC.

My technology friends would disagree with me of course. And the geek in me agrees with them. NFC is really cool technology, and it would be wonderful not to have to carry a wallet with bank cards, or even a house key.

I could rig that up at home, which puts me as 1 of less than 100k people in Australia that could.

But there are 23m people in Australia, and these are the Apple market.

Watch this space

I have no doubt that NFC will find widespread adoption. It’s based on RFID, which is used in a number of industries from manufacturing & logistics, to toll roads. The one emergent consumer adoption of the technology is in the automotive industry. Already my bike has keyless ignition, and the technology is growing beyond just the premium market.

Like all new technologies though, there’ll be teething problems. Already you can get cases in Asia for Android phones that stop people stealing from the bank cards on your phone. And what happens when your phone battery goes flat when you need to pay for fuel, or unlock your house?

But like pairing on Bluetooth, security on WiFi, and privacy on Facebook, I’m confident we’ll overcome these.

What about the next iPhone?

I reckon it’s still only about 50% odds that the next iPhone will sport NFC. Not only do we need to see more widespread adoption of NFC, we need to see this in the USA. Whether we like it or not, this is still Apple’s primary market. Those of us in the Antipodes will probably gnash our teeth in frustration.

But then we have about 6-9 months until the release of the next model, and in tech, that’s an age.

I am interested to hear from those with Android and other phones that do have NFC though. Do you use it a lot? If so, what for?

Tomorrow’s Technology Today – Alpha

Project 2012: Day 66

Shortly before he died, when launching the iPad 2, Steve Jobs famously commented that we are in a “Post-PC” world. The comment, despite it’s ramifications for OS companies like Microsoft & even Apple themselves, struck me as incongruous. It’s almost as if we’ve really just arrived at the PC world. How many of us use PC’s at work, at home, when we travel?

The PC when it came out in the 80’s revolutionised the way we do things. Because of two characteristics.

  1. Affordability – which gave access to computing power to everyone rather than just corporations and the mega-rich
  2. The magic of software – this made the PC into a wordprocessor, filing system, photo editor, scoring device, video editor, and much, much more

So, just when we’ve come to rely on this amazing technology, how do we move beyond the PC?

In this series about Tomorrow’s Technology, we’re going to discuss how to create your own Post-PC world. Today, we’ll talk about Smartphones.

Credit: CBSi

Credit: CBSi

How to Create a Post-PC World – Smartphones

Most people touch their phones more than their partners. Since the mid-90’s digital mobile phones have exploded into our lives. There are over 2 billion mobile phones in the world.

The smartphone then brings the computing power of the PC, to the portability of the mobile phone. It means you no longer have to be at home or work to check Facebook, or buy something online.

The platform is of little relevance. Leave the arguments to Internet trolls, and ideological purists. Like anything, the best smartphone is the one that is best for you. iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry. They all do largely the same things.

Personally, I’ve had PDA’s (the precursor to the Smartphone) since 1996, started with the Palm, and had Windows devices for over a decade. Since 2009, however, my device of choice has been the iPhone.

Note: My device of choice.

Untethering

There are a bunch of things you use your PC for, that the Smartphone is ideal for. Things like:

  • Reading emails wherever you are, and replying to the important ones
  • Shopping online – eBay, Amazon, even Woolworths and Coles
  • Your calendar makes more sense on a device in your pocket than one on your desk
  • Same again for your task list
  • Checking in for flights without the need to print a boarding pass in the cab on the way to the airport
  • Commuter Timetables pretty helpful when you’re in the city and need to get somewhere
  • Social media again makes more sense throughout the day when you’re engaging in Social Media 1.0 – the conversation
  • Communications. Skype video conferencing from anywhere in the world.
  • Games. It’s unlikely you’ll replace a hardcore console or PC game with one on a phone, but everything from social word games to arcade style games are just as much fun on the bus, or at lunch.
  • Basic Video Editing
  • Basic Music arranging
  • Basic Photo Editing
  • Listening to music & podcasts, and even watching your favourite TV series
  • Catching up on your favourite novel
  • Taking notes

As much as you can shift those tasks to your phone. Leave the large screen real-estate and powerful processor of your PC for more demanding tasks like professional video editing or music arranging, programming and compiling code. If you don’t do any of those, do you really need a PC?

Replacing

I’ve always been known as a bit of a gadget freak. But the Smartphone has finally consolidated all of the devices I used to carry. Either daily, or when I travelled:

  • At 8 MPx the camera has 10X the resolution of my first digital camera
  • 1080p video is as good resolution as my latest camcorder
  • With 64GB of memory, the phone holds all of my music and more than my Zune, Samsung, or previous iPods
  • The GPS means I no longer need a Garmin when I’m navigating
  • The microphone negates the need any more for a digital recorder

Exploring

Then there’s the things that you can do with the phone, just not possible on other devices like:

  • Augmented Reality – everything from seeing a Widipedia entry about a landmark when travelling, to seeing the history of a house you’re thinking of buying, to seeing where & when the sun will set in the winter. The combination of a GPS, camera, gyroscope, compass, and broadband Internet connection enables an experience like never before
  • Location tracking – with the GPS, Internet Connection, accelerometer, and sw you can let people know just where you are

Wrap up

The first device that moves you away from being tethered to your desk, is a good smartphone. This powerful technology is changing the world.

What do you think?

If you could buy just one device today, what would it be? A good smartphone, or a similarly priced PC?

What is the best phone for you, and why?

Please share

If you like this post, or it’s helped you in any way, please do Tweet it, and share on Facebook or LinkedIn.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further, feel free to leave a comment below, via social media, or contact me directly

Nokia – the next big Battleground (or my thoughts on Stephen Elop)

By now, we’ve all heard that the head of Microsoft Office (MS’ 2nd biggest revenue spinner) Stephen Elop, was appointed as the 1st ever non-Finnish CEO of Nokia. Is this big news? You bet it is.

I believe this is an opportunity for a strategy I blogged about way back in January. (In the last paragraph I tipped that either Android or Windows Phone 7 would dominate the smartphone market if Nokia adopted their platform.)

What about Android?

android_logo Interestingly Gartner predicts that Android will take market share dominance by 2014. But then I don’t particularly pay much credence to Gartner, especially in the mobile phone space. For one thing, they (like any of the vendors) didn’t even see Apple’s iOS and the revolution it spawned 4 years ago. For another, their 4 year forecast is subject to many pressures: uninvented technologies, economic markets, not to mention the world’s largest mobile handset manufacturer’s choice of OS platform.

Nokia’s personality

Nokia is around 150 years old. Long before they became a scaled.nokia_logohousehold name because of their  mobile phone division, they were known for paper. Not to mention tyres, televisions, PC’s and of course telephone switching gear. Today their deep relationships with all the carriers on the planet is because of their Telecommunications Division (i.e. not mobile handsets). They were instrumental in the invention of GSM and of course 3G. You can’t have a cellular network without base stations, and outside of the USA (Motorola, Qualcomm), and South Korea (Samsung, LG), most of those base stations are manufactured in Oulu, Northern Finland, or Camberley, England; by Nokia.

They sell 260 000 mobile phones a day. In India and China, they sell close on 8m handsets a month (each). Most of these are feature phones. But, in the developed world, as we near mobile phone saturation, we’re seeing a revolution as up to 65% purchases of new phones are smartphones.

I can tell you from my 2 years in Nokia, that it is very egalitarian, with a flat management structure, and open-door policy. Nokia is also fiercely competitive, and sees their direct competition as Motorola (USA), Samsung (Korea), and SonyEricsson (Sweden, Japan). All of these other manufacturers have adopted Android.

Microsoft has the closest corporate culture to Nokia that I’ve worked for. Both companies value: Passion for technology, and openness & honesty. I have no doubt that Elop will fit right in.

Strategic move or bruising for a fight?

So how do you persuade a company with this stature, a national institution, to forego their home-grown OS and adopt yours?

It helps that their smartphone attempts, after 15 years, have been less than spectacular. That their OS is difficult to develop for, and hasn’t made the leap to innovations in mobile hw. Their online app store, despite a far larger customer base, has been less than stellar.

But Nokia has reinvented itself before, and the Finns are rightly proud of their flagship company.

What better way to initiate the high level relationships you need, than to have the exec responsible for the 2nd biggest revenue spinner in your organisation be appointed to the highest role in Nokia. This same exec who has been working for a year on getting MS Office docs onto Nokia devices.

So Nokia needs a turn-around, and are open to looking outside their shores for the first time in history to achieve that.

What about Microsoft though? What Microsoft needs, apart from developers flocking to write apps for WP7, is the credibility of the biggest mobile technology vendor on the planet adopting their OS. Even in one handset, even in 6 months time.

And then there’s the funeral parade…

Perhaps Elop was wooing Nokia (or they him) as he worked on getting Office onto Nokia devices?To me, having experienced first hand Microsoft’s turn-arounds, and SteveB’s tenacity, it’s just too co-incidental. I mean this may’ve been a way for SteveB to prune the MS exec, but he’s way too strategic for that.

No, MS, more than ever before are going all out! Even pre-launch, they’re confident enough about WP7, enough to “bury the competition.”

At the “Nokia World” conference, they too, are declaring “they’re back” in the smartphone competition. Really?

It’s all about relationships. The right relationships.

As the Yahoo! & Bing adoption shows, you don’t have to buy a company to get market share. Sometimes you just have to have the right relationships. And this, would be about the best relationship you could engineer.

All I can say is: “Watch this space…”