It was a hit-or-miss marketing strategy: buy one, get one.
Yup, the BoGo was certainly a powerful marketing tool used so often by American wireless operators to catch the attention of potential subscribers. Or entire families. And how feature phones did rain down upon civilization.
But as average selling prices went up and certain handsets began getting more and more of the operator subsidies, the two-for one offers of desirable handsets seemed to elude consumers.
But now as the U.S. races past the 50% smartphone penetration rate, it could be that BoGo´s are making a comeback.
So, this would be a good opportunity to see where it all began:
Sure, I’m aging myself here, but I have to admit that I’m old enough to clearly remember the pre-smartphone days of the U.S. handset market. You know: the good ol’ days of RAZR’s and RIZR’s and KRZR’s and Stripes.
There were 53-hundreds and 6-oh-3-oh’s. There were 83-hundreds and C-4-oh-no’s.
Yes, what wonderful days and what wonderful claims. Sometimes products had numbers, sometimes they had weird-sounding names.
There was Cingular, Verizon and AT&T. And there were other wireless operators that are now history.
You buy one feature phone now, and you get one for free. Yes, everywhere in the U.S. was BoGo territory.
All mailboxes were stuffed with an offer or two. We like you so much, so here’s what we’ll do:
Come in today and sign on this line, then do it again as we had such a good time.
Bring a sister, a friend, a father, a mother. Two years and a day for one, then the other.
And of course we’re eager to seal the deal, so we give you some hardware and call it a steal.
Two handsets that could be identical twins, and we’ll be happy to tell you that it’s you who win-wins.
No, your kindness doesn’t go unrewarded: two commoditized phones, and you thought you could never afford it.
And so it was about half a decade ago. My gosh, how the two-fer offers did flow.
But now the smartphone age is now upon us, and those double-up deals don’t seem quite numerous or plush.
But wait... are BoGos making a comeback?
I admit that I have no real solid stats to back this up, but using eyeball evidence, it really seems to me that the buy-one-get-one offers have dried up quite a bit as operators began pushing higher-end smartphones. I do remember BlackBerry BoGo deals and perhaps a few for Windows Mobile devices. But as the smartphone market exploded, solid two-for offers for Apple and Android phones seemed non-existent.
ITU to T9 to SWYPE to some voice for some things. Is there room for a brand new touch input scheme at this point?
SnapKeys, the company behind the 2i software, calls it "The Imaginary Interface." (T be honest, I don't quite understand this yet.)
The world will get a closer look at 2i at CES next month. This is going against Nuance, a company few people know by name, but a company that is cornering the input market. I can't imagine it will be easy for 2i to take hold in 2012.
Mobile penetration rates in most developed markets are now well above 100%. In other words, the average person in countries such as Malaysia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, and Russia are juggling more than one mobile subscription, whether is be pre-paid or post-paid, or a combination of the two.
And a few countries such as Singapore, Portugal, Finland, Italy, and Greece are now pushing towards mobile penetration rates of 200%. These people are well-connected and know how to get the most out of a SIM card. Take a trip to Italy or Portugal and you'll witness how clever young people milk the network for every last drop of airtime.
So it should come as no surprise that, as the smartphone market develops, the dual-SIM smartphone market has begun to hit mainstream.
Some markets such as the Russian and Indian markets had been screaming for dual-SIM handsets for years until Samsung answered the call. So, which mainstream vendor is the first to market with dual-SIM smartphones? Of course it's Samsung.
Samsung just announced the GALAXY Y DUOS and the GALAXY Y Pro DUOS (PICS below), two reasonable-spec'd, Android-based, dual-SIM smartphones to be rolled out during the beginning of 2012.
Anyone who knows how the feature-phone market developed during the past five years realizes this is an incredibly obvious move. While these are not the first dual-SIM smartphones, they will likely be the devices that make the masses. Now we have to question, who will this hurt?
Vendors had better start looking for this gap in their portfolios, because there's no excuse in making the same mistake twice. That would be a dual dual mistake.
JK Shin, President of IT & Mobile Communications, Samsung: "With the tremendous success of the Dual SIM feature phones, we are now very pleased to be introducing the first Dual SIM smartphones powered by Android. We have been actively exploring this market and are well aware of the need for Dual SIM smartphones."
A duo of duals: Samsung's GALAXY Y DUOS & Y Pro DUOS:
Back in late 2009 and early 2010, as part of my foresighting work at Nokia, I put together a “Trends Constellations” package listing 20 potential trends for 2010 and beyond. (I’m happy to share this deck with my work colleagues. Please contact me via enterprise channels.)
One of my wild card predictions in that presentation was the re-unification of the Koreas. Why would this matter to the telecoms biz? Because a number of the wireless industry’s major players are just south of the border, and they could, at some point have quick access to some significant if a bit rough content talent sitting just to the north.
It’s not very well known that one of North Korea’s main exports to the world is kiddie content: inexpensive cartoons and games including mobile games. According to internet sources such as Wikipedia, some of the world’s largest content studios are actually North Korean including a company called SEK Studio that has more than 1500 artists working on content subcontracted or sub-subcontracted to them from more than 70 companies around the globe including Italian, French, South Korean, and American companies.
While some of this info is difficult to verify by normal channels such as public financial records, it does seem to be the case that television production companies in Italy and France are directly using North Korean animators, and some large global companies are using North Korean gaming studios to create computer and mobile games.
I’ll avoid using this blog to make any political statements, but you can Google around yourself to find the names of some of the Western companies involved in these deals and make your own judgements.
Whether my 2009 wild-card prediction of a Korean peninsula re-unification seems more or less far fetched now is difficult to say. But as former German president Horst Köhler advised South Korea a number of years back, prepare to reunify with the North sooner than you expect. And Köhler warned of the complications of re-unification. “Learn from us,” he said, referring to the re-unification of the two Germanys.
But along with the complications will come opportunities for companies such as Samsung and LG, and any other company quick enough to see a potential new talent pool. This certainly won’t be child’s play, and it won’t be all fun and games. But here’s hoping for a picture of happiness for future generations.
Getting along side-by-side. Reunification of North and South? North Korean animation and gaming studios could be a boon for Korean companies south of the border:
French “Prudence Petitpas” made in North Korea.
The “King Lion Simba” TV series (not Disney’s) from North Korea via Italy's Mondo TV:
As a follow up to my last post on the death of printed newspapers...
So, who invented the tablet? I still give a hat tip to “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and his script writers.
But check out this vision from the mid-'90s from Knight Ridder's “Information Design Lab” talking about digital paper and tablets. (Knight Ridder was once a major American publisher of newspapers before being acquired.)
Knight Ridder exec, 1994: “Tablets will be a whole new class of computer...” Did Knight Ridder get their IPR issues in order?
Knight Ridder's Roger Fidler, Director of New Media & Information Design Lab from 1992 to 1995: “...our role is to ... develop long-range vision of where the newspaper industry is headed over the next five, 10, 20 years...” Note that this video was made in 1994.
Back in late 2010, the chairman and publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., said that the writing was on the wall: printed newspapers won't be around much longer. “We will stop printing The New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD,” said Mr. Sulzberger.
So, what's the TBD part? According to a study done by the University of Southern California, TBD = 5. In five years, it is claimed, most printed newspapers in the U.S. will be gone, replaced by tablets and smartphones and laptops and internet-connected big-screen TVs.
If not in five years, certainly within 10. And then we will explain to our children and grandchildren how the newspaper used to be delivered at our doorsteps just like our parents and grandparents told us how the milkman came each day to drop off a bottle or two.
Will print be missed? As the telephone became ubiquitous, there was grumblings of how that device would take away the charm of the personal messenger. And now this message is clear: it's time to move on. It's written in black and white.
Jeffrey I. Cole, director of USC's Center for the Digital Future: “Circulation of print newspapers continues to plummet, and we believe that the only print newspapers that will survive will be at the extremes of the medium – the largest and the smallest,” said Cole. It’s likely that only four major daily newspapers will continue in print form: The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.”
Tablets are on a roll. Is it soon the end of newsprint?
IBM has an annual tradition of making five-year predictions trying to forecast what new technologies will move the needle over the coming five years.
Below I list the five trends and give my take. In general, I would say these are interesting but nothing ground breaking. Even a bit wimpy considering these things have been happening during the past five years. But still a fun read from IBM.
1) IBM: People power will come to life. (The use of kinetic energy to power devices)
my take: I've seen several kinetic-energy harvesting solutions pop on the market here and there over the past few years. Nokia, for example introduced a bike-charging solution early 2011. Of course there are environmental advantages to such solutions, but we should also think about the 1.5 billion people who don't have immediate access to power.
Nokia's bike charger introduced earlier this year.
2) IBM: Biometrics will replace passwords.
my take: I suppose we can forget about the demo effect during Google's official introduction of facial recognition in Ice Cream Sandwich. In general, I'd say this has been happening for years now in laptops. So sure, I'd say the technology will be well in place for wide biometric use within five years. But like with all trends, it comes down to user acceptance.
Smile for an Ice Cream Sandwich.
3) IBM: Mind reading is no longer science fiction.
my take: Don't think thought-controlled input is real? Think again. There are already products on the market now from companies such as Emotiv. I've tried this a few times in a simple game in which the player has to move objects via thought. It takes some getting used to. So IBM already has had this one right for a few years now. Good thinking.
4) IBM: The digital divide will cease to exist.
my take: We're seeing the cost of computing come down and the goal of real solid sub-$100 laptops and tablets is getting close. And pretty good smartphones (unsubsidized) have already reached that price point. The problems of connectivity and power still has some ways to go in being solved. Five years? IF IBM means everyone on the planet will be well-connected, that's optimistic.
5) Junk mail will become priority mail.
my take: A strange forecast among the others. As I understand it, IBM points to super-smart filtering and powerful data-mining to bring you only the information you really want. IBM is taking a wide definition of spam here, with even subscribed streams considered unwanted if they don't interest you. We've heard similar predictions in the past from the likes of Microsoft. Meanwhile spam has been a game of whack the mole. But the tide is turning.
An interesting signal for HTML5. TeleNav is claiming that they've "created the first HTML5 browser based navigation service for mobile devices!" This supports turn-by-turn navigation using the sensor features supported by HTML5.
Note that Nokia did introduce something along the same lines back in October: m.maps.nokia.com. Nokia's version supports offline maps to avoid data streaming. Believe me: you want this when roaming around Europe.
An interesting project to support text input for hearing impaired. Of course, such individuals could see and touch a screen just like anyone else. However, this could of course be a replacement for voice input for some people in certain scenarios.
Anyway, this is an interesting idea for the coming non-touch, kinect-like, gesture-filled world.
Microsoft's smartphone market share: how low can it go? How much longer can limbo last?
Purgatory is defined in some religions as being an "intermediate state" between the final paradise and the burning pains of hell. I have a feeling this is where you can find the Windows Phone project team at the moment.
Windows Phone is a certainly a solid mobile operating system. I do like it a lot. But its only major flaw is a zinger: almost zero market share. Literally. It's market share of the smartphone business is less than 1% and possibly less than half a percent. The truth is, few people really know where WP7* stands as Microsoft isn't talking in much detail about real-world unit numbers, and that's rarely a good sign.
So, the signal now is that Microsoft has put in a new head of the Windows Phone unit, replacing Andy Lees with Terry Myerson, a VP-level engineer within the phone group. Such changing of the guards tends to indicate that all is not well.
Microsoft's mobile global platform market share including both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone devices is now below 2%, down from around 14% it reached in 2008.
Windows Phone 7 and Mango and tango and zango and wango and whatever don't seem to be doing much to change the trajectory for MS: yesterday NPD reported that Android and iOS now have more than 80% of the U.S. smartphone market. This must be hell for Microsoft as it's no newcomer to market: it's a veteran whose been around in smartphones longer than Google and Apple combined.
Judgement day for Windows Phone is soon upon us: any year now we'll now if it will be heaven or hell for Microsoft's mobile team. Best of luck. I think you'll make it.
Is this the Windows Phone team? A depiction of purgatory by Venezuelan painter Cristóbal Rojas. (Image copied from Wikipedia)
This is no way for a once respected mobile platform to die. Is this cruel and all too usual? Given Palm's long and venerable history in the handheld space, doesn't WebOS deserve euthanasia rather than some sort of public flogging?
So, WebOS is going open source. It would be tempting to state that the track record for open source mobile platforms is miserable given attempts by some companies to open source their smartphone code, but one could also just as easily point to the Open Handset Alliance and Android. But Android is viciously maintained by one of the world's largest companies. I don't see HP giving the same level of support to WebOS, despite their stated plans to create WebOS devices. Second-hand open sourcing tends not to work too well.
I wish WebOS the best out there on its own: it can be a cruel world:
I like the idea of wearable computing. I do see lots of potential. Things like location-tracking shoes for people suffering from dimentia or shirts which can pick up heart rates and communicate the data with smartphones could make life a bit easier for some. But I'm not so sure about this product.
The "Wearable DJ Quality Drum Machine" won't just help you to loose friends and annoy people, you can also use it to discourage visits from parents and in-laws, and you can be sure to be the biggest loser at the party.
I'm not even sure I should include this two-minute+ video here. When it comes to geekiness, I'm not sure anything can beat this:
( and please note that this actually appears to be sold out! Hope you can get yours for the holidays. )