Book Review: Mobile as the 7th of the Mass Media

I've known Tomi Ahonen for quite a while now and I've met him at conferences before and I am a regular reader of his Communities Dominates Brands blog. Up to this point, however, I haven't read a single one of his books so far, due to mostly being busy on my own writing or other activities. It was time to change that so I ordered a copy of "Mobile as the 7th of the Mass Media" as I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years on his blog and as I quoted one of his blog articles on the topic in my recent book.

I was not sure how fast I would get through with it, being a 300+ page book but I made it in less than a week, as Tomi's writing style is entertaining, his facts solid and the material top notch. Most of the material can be found on his blog, too, but the point of the book is that all the material has been put together in a single place so one thing leads to another and ideas can be built upon each other, something that is not so simple when writing a blog.

Tomi has many examples of exciting mobile services from many different countries ranging from Blyk inthe UK for mobile advertising to young people to mobile social networking in Japan and Korea. At one point I was thinking that if all the things he describes would come together in a single country, it would indeed be a very different world from now. But all the things exist today and they will go around the world and be adopted step by step.

Some thoughts I found particularly useful:

  • SMS: My thinking on SMS has changed. I did indeed see it a bit as the tiny brother of the e-mail, but as Tomi points out the mobile and instantaneous nature of it makes it quite different to the e-mail. And as far as the limit of 160 characters is concerned, it's not really a limit for the main target group, as I've recently discovered myself with Twitter.
  • Mobile Payment: Very differently handled from country to country, see my recent experiences in Austria. As a frequent traveler I'd really like to see a common approach but I guess that is unlikely to happen.
  • Why America is behind in mobile: Very good analysis of the issues and I fully agree on the impact side with the major thing being the incoming call charges. While Tomi sees the the variety of different network technologies not as one of the core issues for the problems, I personally do, I probably have a bit of a different angle on it. Maybe a thing for a separate post. One can't agree on everything 🙂
  • Battle for the Pocket: Tomi argues the mobile phone is taking over more and more things that have so far been done with separate devices. Not only that but by including it into mobile phones things get cheaper and the quantities change significantly.
  • Generation-C, aka the community generation: Yes, when I look at kids today in the metro, etc., I see them texting 3 words in a message and it is less a message than a dialogue. While people like us would abstain from doing that because it's a waste of money to send 3 words for the price of 10 or 20 cents, kids think in a different way. And you or me are not going to change this 🙂
  • 18 month replacement cycle: Mobile hardware evolves faster than the PC because it is replaced more often. True, I get a new mobile phone roughly every 18 months and the notebook I am typing this on is already over three years old. If I look at the mobile I had three years ago… No, I don't want that anymore, while my notebook still compares well to today's models.
  • And of course, the mobile internet is not the small dumb brother of the desktop Internet: Fully agree, lots more can be made with the Internet when embracing mobility, location, built-in payment, we are only at the beginning of this. One of the things I regularly do is consult Wikipedia when sightseeing to go beyond what is in the tourist guide. And that just exploits one aspect, mobility. I am looking forward when I don't have to type in the name of the sight but the phone/application figures it out by itself from my current GPS coordinates and offers me an overview of sights nearby with a deep dive link to Wikipedia. I could go on but Tomi has more space in his book, so I leave it to him 🙂

By now I think you get the point: If you are interested in the social and economical changes mobiles brought and bring about then this is the book for you.

One thought on “Book Review: Mobile as the 7th of the Mass Media”

  1. Hello, Martin.

    Very interesting thoughts. Tomi’s books are very good. I still didn’t read this, but I expect to do during this month.

    Last week many people were talking about the failure of iPhone in Japan. Maybe this book could help understand other markets. Tomi is great in bringing new cases.


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