The New Year is starting with a bang and many of us are gearing up for a successful 3GSM in Barcelona next week. The glacier is starting to finally melt and there are some major new technologies and application areas starting to take off. Many of those were invented in the late 90s when I was still at Ericsson and it kind of takes that usual 5-7 years… It is even more encouraging if one tries to predict how 3GSM 2007 will look like and how much the industry will have changed by then. One of the big changes will be the deployment and adoption of HSDPA, the fast version of UMTS technology which will give you a “WiFi-like experience” in laptop use. I tried it out recently in Cingular’s network and I have to say finally I have something good to say about Cingular: the performance is clearly better than EVDO – I totally concur with Walt Mossberg in his earlier analysis and comparison. Now Cingular just has to get it out in more than 16 cities in the US – and the world has to follow during the next year or so. We might really see HSDPA widely deployed in the world by February 2007. I believe the carriers have to make the upgrades as soon as possible because let’s face it, the first generation WCDMA networks are not up to the challenge to provide the end users enough value.What else? I have gained recently a few new insights into how the mobile industry works from a customer service and ecommerce fulfillment perspective. I needed to buy for my project the wonderful Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. What a great device – check it out:www.nokiausa.com/770. It is so popular it is sold out everywhere else except at the Nokia web store in the United States. That is probably because the whole service experience by Nokia is so poorly planned and executed that nobody would want to go there even if they knew about it (it is sold out on Amazon here). In 2006 we are now pretty used to a great online shopping experience by companies like Amazon. And in comes a newbie like Nokia who never dared to sell anything directly to the consumer in fear of alienating the almighty carrier. So I buy the device and call back a week later to find out they have them in stock but I should have called in to verify my identity! The staff shows no emotion, no flexibility, no service-mindedness whatsoever. Then I ask whether I am talking to a Nokia employee or an outsource service. They are Nokia employees. That’s the problem right there: all Nokia needed to do to do this right was to copy what Amazon has done instead of pissing people off and damaging their brand. It is the only device Nokia sells directly to consumers in the US. I heard the fight within Nokia was fierce to get past the internal resistance and to prevent this product being killed before it hit the market. It’s the usual story – people don’t innovate unless they have to… Not in design, manufacturing, distribution, you name it. Nokia is run under the gun of stock analysts expecting conservative behavior and flawless execution for high volumes. New innovation needs new structures, risk-taking, spin-offs, agility. We saw this at Ericsson some seven years ago, it’s an old story.
- Tapio Anttila