Are you curious about my new book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia, or anything else going on in the mobile device industry? Soon you will have a chance to ask me questions, because I will be doing a live online interview on Saturday 19 April on Reddit.
In the off chance you aren’t familiar with Reddit, it is a social networking and news website where members can submit content and interact with each other. It has a system where users can vote submissions up or down to organise posts and comments so that the most popular or useful information is prominently displayed.
If you don’t have an account, all you need is a username and password. No email is necessary. You can create an account by clicking the ‘login or register’ button in the upper-right corner of the main page on www.reddit.com.
Live, online interviews – called AMA for ‘ask me anything’ – are very popular on Reddit, with everyone from President Barack Obama to bowling alley employees answering questions from users.
Who: Me, or the username DavidJCord
What: A live, online interview
When: Saturday 19 April at 9:00 am Pacific, 12:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 pm Finnish time
(I will post a link to the actual interview thread when it begins.)
I hope to see you there!
Here is a collection of stories and interviews about The Decline and Fall of Nokia.
Aamulehti: Olisiko tämä mies pelastanut Nokian luurit?
Hufvudstadbladet: Elop var ett tredjehandsval
As the saying goes, when the established elites lose their power they also lose their lives. Yet this applies not only to political revolutions, but also to economic ones.
My new book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia, documents one of these revolutions and how Nokia was sent to the wall. I think the story is fascinating in and of itself, but it is also useful to guess what will happen next.
A glance at the mobile device industry could lead one to conclude the battle for dominance has ended with the Google and Apple ecosystems on top. Other players like Microsoft have been relegated to minor roles. This is the case at the moment, but it is not a permanent situation. It will only remain this way until the next revolution.
Unlike most industries, mobile devices go through fairly well-defined cycles based upon the technological standards in use. Motorola dominated 1G until the upstart Nokia ushered in a period of disruption with their cheap digital devices. Nokia ruled 2G until Apple and Google embarked upon their own revolt to control the 3G era.
This most recent revolution is the subject of my book: the advent of mobile computers as part of an ecosystem. Nokia knew where the industry was going. They understood that the internet would become mobile and the ecosystem would become all-important. Regardless of their foresight they could not adapt. They had to protect their existing business lines and were overtaken by events. In the end, they were sent against the wall just like in every other revolution.
Tellingly, each previous revolution began when a new generation of communication standards held a sizable minority of the market. Based upon this we can predict the next disruption. The next generation of mobile technology is 4G, and it has already been commercialised. So far it is not very widespread, but momentum is behind it. If the past is any guide to the future, expect the next revolution to happen within three or four years. Soon, I suspect, Apple and Google will discover it is their turn to go against the wall.
But what will this revolution in mobile technology be? There is a good chance it will be wearable devices. The first thing that may come to mind is Google Glass, but almost certainly this will not be the catalyst for change. By definition disruption comes from a new player. It could be an established company in another sector which enters the industry or it could be a new start-up. Google Glass is based upon Google’s existing business, particularly location-based services, search and social networking. This is not a revolution; it is an incremental innovation. Fundamentally Google Glass is only a really cool smartphone hanging on your nose.
When I set out to write the Nokia story I didn’t realise their decline and fall fit into this pattern. It was only after voluminous research into the history of mobile devices that I saw Nokia’s fate was inevitable based upon existing situation, as well as their actions and inactions. There is a lesson to be learned here, as well as a great story to tell.
The Facebook page for my new book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia, is now up. Come check it out if you are interested in business history, mobile technology, or the Nokia story.
I hoped my book would be banned. I thought it would be wonderful if some self-righteous politician convinced a court it was a danger to society. I imagined crowds gathering as copies of my book were tossed on big, public bonfires like in 1930s Germany. That would have been great.
I was joking, of course. Well, sort of. My first book, Mohamed 2.0, was almost complete. It was a biography of Mohamed El-Fatatry, a Muslim immigrant to little homogenous Finland. People in the West get quite worked up about anything to do with Islam, so I knew we could have some controversy. Mohamed wanted a famous politician to write the Foreword to the book, and we ended up getting government minister and presidential candidate Eva Biaudet to do it. I joked to Mohamed that we should ask her to ban it instead of endorse it, because nothing helps sales better than censorship. He didn’t think it was funny.
Mohamed was right: it wasn’t funny. I did have a point, though, in that few things make a book a best-seller faster than an order from a political authority not to read it. D.H. Lawrence’s best work wasn’t Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but now the book is a widely-read classic simply because the UK government tried to ban it for obscenity.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover had the support of its publisher, though. Sometimes a publisher will forget their high-minded morals and agree to censorship. The publisher Penguin recently decided to destroy all copies of the academic book The Hindus by Wendy Doniger because some Indians didn’t like how it portrayed their religion.
Free speech is often curtailed on religious grounds, and not just in the world’s largest democracy India. Harry Potter was famously challenged in American libraries by Christian fundamentalists because it supposedly promoted witchcraft. I never saw the danger Harry Potter posed to the world, but that might just be me.
Free speech is certainly under threat in America. Reporters Without Borders recently ranked good-old freedom-loving USA number 46 in the world for press freedom, behind countries like Belize, Botswana and Suriname. The American government is quite upset that we have found out they are spying on their own citizens, so they are arresting people who try to leak information and hacking the Associated Press.
America seems to be trying to shed its “land of the free” title, but there must be some places in the world where freedom of speech and the press is still respected. I happen to live in Finland, which was ranked the best in the world for press freedom. This sounds nice, but if we are number one then the world is in bad shape.
A couple of years ago a Finnish politician was convicted of “breaching the sanctity of religion” for a blog post. Jussi Halla-aho had made a careful statement in the “if-then” tradition of Aristotelian logic, comparing the Prophet Muhammad’s nine-year old wife and modern age of consent laws. This was deemed offensive and forbidden speech. It was offensive, certainly, but I don’t agree that being a jerk should be against the law. Other countries take a similar line. People in Great Britain have been arrested for being offensive on Twitter.
Finland also has a tradition of corporate censorship, when powerful companies exert their influence to stop critical journalism. The mobile phone company Nokia was rather infamous for this in years past. When I started writing my new book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia, the possibility they could try to stop us came up a time or two during meetings. Luckily Nokia seems to be mellowing, though, and they don’t seem to be too upset. The book is set for publication in April, so it looks like I will miss the censorship bullet with this one, too.
My novel Dead Romans hasn’t drawn the attention of any corporations, politicians or religious groups yet. It gives a rather frank depiction of paganism and abuse in the ancient Roman Empire. One homeschooling Mom flipped out about it, though. She wrote a review stating “I’m quite aware that this type of thing probably happened, but I don’t think it’s necessary to tell us about it.” I was hoping she would start a campaign to ban my book. That would have been great.
I haven’t talked much about my next book, The Decline and Fall of Nokia, but I thought I could give a little taste of what the book is about. These aren’t set in stone, but as of now these are the chapter titles.
2. Confusion and Convergence
3. Jorma Ollila’s Company
4. GSM and Emerging Markets
5. The Engineers and the Researchers
6. The American Problem
7. The Designers
8. Nokia Declares War on Apple
9. The Northern Byzantium
10. Nokia and Finland
11. The iPhone Changes Everything
12. The Operating Systems
13. Services and the Smartphone Experience
15. The Great Recession
17. A Disquieting Realisation of Inferiority
19. Capital Markets Day 2009
20. The Patent Wars
21. Symbian and Sabotage
22. The False Dawn and Fade to Black
23. Stephen Elop
24. Innovation and Commercialisation
27. Things Fall Apart
28. Pride, Nemesis
29. The Abyss
30. NSN Redux
31. The Evil Empire Becomes a White Knight
32. Ruins, Mystery and Nameless Rage
33. Connecting People