Something for the weekend


I thoroughly recommend you read this excellent and well-researched article on ‘Infolust’. It explores consumer addicition to information and goes into particular detail on how this is driving mobile applications which connect us with the online world and, increasingly, the physical environment.

The generational leap of connecting the physical environment into mobile networks will also be a key topic at the MEX conference on 31st May and 1st June. See ‘Interacting with the real world‘ for more information.

Missed opportunity

The combination of Nokia’s exclusive 8000 series and Aston Martin’s reputation for automotive excellence should have resulted in an exceptional product. This was a real opportunity to go further than collaborations between Sharp, Vodafone and Ferrari or Siemens’ lacklustre effort with McClaren.

Instead, Nokia and Aston Martin have produced an uninspiring launch that does nothing to capture the unique value of the car marque. There is simply a laser-etched logo on the otherwise standard 8800 handset, an engraving on the desk-stand, some wallpaper and an engine-note ringtone. The price is GBP 940.

I have mixed feelings over the direct brand synergies between cars and mobile telephony. There are certainly marketing and engineering techniques which can be shared between the two industries, but a successful union on the two ideas in a single product requires much deeper collaboration or subtlety than has been exhibited to-date.

Ocean Observations has done some interesting work in this area with its Jaguar concept phone. Sofia Svanteson, founder and Head of R&D at Ocean, is a speaker at our MEX conference.

Rising prices

Average selling price (ASP) is a key metric by which investors judge the success of mobile handset manufacturers. Its importance is obvious, but it can be misleading to rely too heavily on it as an indicator of achievement. Many interpret it as representative of a manufacturer’s pricing power with its customers and the value attributed to its products. However, it is also heavily skewed by the markets which the manufacturer happens to be focusing on – a high volume of relatively low cost unit shipments into a new market in the developing world can reduce the ASP by several percentage points and give entirely the wrong impression about the health of the overall business.

Margins remain the most important indicator of how successfully a manufacturer is converting its R&D investment into pricing power.

Both Sony Ericsson and Nokia, however, have pleased investors over the last couple of days by announcing improvements to their ASPs in the last quarter. Sony Ericsson’s rose 4 percent to EUR 149, while Nokia’s rose by a similar percentage to USD 125 (EUR 102.50). The rise at Nokia was unexpected, given its recent focus on developing markets, and therefore seen by investors as a sign that Nokia may be able to grow both the high- and low-ends of its business simultaneously.

Sony Ericsson’s results were also ahead of expectations and both manufacturers raised their estimates of 2006 total industry handset shipments to over 900m, about 15 percent up on 2005.

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