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The Mobile Juggernaut
April 10, 2008
Juggernaut – noun -- an overwhelming, advancing force that crushes or seems to crush everything in its path.

Business Week has a story on how navigation companies with handheld devices, including Garmin and TomTom, are struggling because of wireless competition. Over the years, as handsets and networks add features, there have been many victims of the Mobile Juggernaut. You be the judge. Here’s a short list of telecoms features and services which have fallen victim to the advancing force that is mobile, or at least lost significant market share to mobile:

  • Payphones — Who needs a payphone anymore? Which explains why you can’t find one when your cellphone battery dies! (You may find a cellphone charging station at the airport before a payphone!)
  • Phone Calling Cards (except international cards) — Once one of the most profitable products long distance companies and others offered are now unnecessary, except for low-cost international calling (if you can find a payphone, and don’t use Skype!)
  • Long Distance Service (domestic) — AT&T Digital One, introduced a decade ago, was the beginning of the end of the domestic LD business. Why pay more for a long distance call when you can make a “free” LD call on your mobile? (On the international side, Skype, Mig33, Jaxtr, Jajah and others are dramatically lowering cost of international calls via mobile.)
  • Long Distance Company – Okay, remember when you bought long distance service from AT&T, MCI or Sprint? None exist today as standalone long distance companies, as they did a decade ago. AT&T and Sprint are increasingly focused on mobile. (Sprint and ALLTEL divested their landline businesses, Verizon bought MCI, AT&T keeps getting bigger but is not “a Long Distance Company.”)
  • Landline Phone Service – For a growing number of people, there’s no need for home (landline) telephone service when they have a mobile. Teens and Gen Y’ers don’t subscribe to landline service as they set up their own households, instead relying on their mobile as their only telephone service. Many business users and entrepreneurs use their mobile as their office phone. Why have two numbers, when you want customers, clients, colleagues or vendors to be able to reach you anytime?
  • Point and Shoot Cameras — At CTIA earlier this month, Sony Ericsson demonstrated its new C902 cameraphone with face detection, a feature heretofore reserved for better “pro-sumer” digital cameras!  I have taken surprisingly good pictures with my Nokia N95, with its 5MP Carl Zeiss lens, all the megapixels anyone needs for great shots. 
  • Handheld Navigation Devices — Read the Business Week story above or MocoNews! Then check out your mobile carrier’s navigation offerings, or better yet, try Google Maps on your mobile, for free!
  • MP3 Players – Who needs a standalone MP3 player when you can take your music with you on your mobile. Did someone say iPhone? Or what seemed like scores of new music phones featured at CTIA last week?
  • Handheld Games – Why carry a PSP, Gameboy or other handheld when you can play great games on your mobile? Want to go online to play games? No need to set up a connection; your mobile has high-speed data.
  • Wristwatch – How many teens and Gen Y’ers wear wristwatches when they get their time on their mobile?
  • PDA – I remember fondly synching my Palm Pilot to my desktop to keep contacts and calendar up-to-date. Now you don’t even need a Smartphone, as most Feature Phones store contacts and calendars, as well as play music, take pictures, run navigation programs and have games. Guess I don’t need that Newton anymore!
  • TV – With 2.7 billion mobile phones in the world and 1.5 billion televisions, the former growing faster than the latter, and mobile TV services being introduced in a growing number of markets, an increasing number of users are watching television on their mobiles. Screen too small? Ever hear of a Video iPod?
  • Web Browsing – In many countries where there are far more mobiles than PCs – just about everywhere – mobile browsing may already be exceeding web browsing at home or office.
  • Dial Tone – Okay, now I’m having fun, but when you rely on your mobile phone, you don’t hear that steady dial tone when you pick up.
Did I miss anything?


You forgot PDAs.
Posted by: Jason Devitt | April 10, 2008 at 08:44 AM

This is an impressive list -- really makes you think. Books, or at least newspapers and magazines, could eventually be on this list -- a Kindle-like seperate screen (linked to the phone by Bluetooth) may be a common accessory for frequent readers. This screen -- in a monitor-like home version and a Kindle-like portable version -- could be part of the mobile TV and movie viewing experience. I think that with a few accessories to overcome the shortcomings that come with a device that fits in your palm/pocket, your mobile phone will be the heart of your connection to other people and the world of content.
Posted by: Matt Bramson | April 11, 2008 at 08:07 AM

I'm always happy I invented the Internet when I see this sort of use of it.
Posted by: Reed Hundt | April 11, 2008 at 09:36 AM

All personal devices are candidates for wireless connectivity but that doesn't mean that they will be consolidated with the cell phones. People tend to use devices that are optimized for their purpose. Most people use wrist watches to tell time even when they carry a cell phone; and lots of people with TV's go to the movies; and the Jitterbug phone has dial tone that is more understandable and more useful than "bars". Posted by: Marty Cooper | April 19, 2008 at 11:23 AM


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