Skip to main content
October 10, 2008

Agility with four billion users

Copenhagen, DENMARK – Yup, still in Denmark. But, before the week is out I wanted to make a few comments on what we are up to, the way the industry is growing, and some other items that keep me awake at night.

Do you know what four billion means? And do folks really know how to use their phones or even dispose of their phones?

Read on to learn more.

Excuse me? That was how many?

I remember about two years ago when we hit the two billion GSM users milestone. We were looking ahead to the next billion, which would happen within a year or so. That next billion would be mostly in developing markets, and most would never have access to a PC. The implications were significant.

Well, I heard though Cellularis (and via that it is predicted we will reach four billion GSM users by December.

That’s a huge number and I think we’ve long past the stage that anyone who can afford a phone has one. I think if four billion own phones, then basically every adult practically has a mobile phone. I could go on musing whether the operators realize what this means, but I won’t. Nonetheless, I think it means humanity has reached a new milestone equivalent in impact to the formation of cities ten thousand years ago.

It’s all about connectivity. I’m still a bit flabbergasted at the scale of things. And, mind you, most of these four billion are text and voice phones. Not super-duper smartphones. Consider that.

Smartphone? What’s that?

Well, while I may be a bit disrespectful of smartphones, I must say they are nifty little gadgets. But, are we a minority of users who really understand the potential of fully-featured devices?

Steve Lichtfield is ready to give up on the mobs of ‘normal’ folks (normobs) and proudly and defiantly wear his GEEK badge for all to see. He’s written a wonderful article on his experiences with ‘the regular folk’ and is baffled, frustrated, and generally upset at what he finds out when reaching out to these people.

Yet, smartphones can be frustratingly difficult to use for many casual users (as in, not geeks who are willing to suffer the learning curve). And the expectation with these higher-end phones is higher and the failures greater as illustrated in an article on the top 10 mobile screw-ups.

But is this the price for being a tech leader?


Switching gears a bit, I want to point out that the folks who did the survey on mobile phone recycling have let me post the results in our SlideShare channel. Go there and realize how few actually do anything about recycling.


Also, I’m a bit disappointed that one of our execs said that we do not have the people to engage communities in a dialogue.

Fortunately, folks were quick to correct the statement, pointing out what we do (also see our about page). Thanks folks.

And I like how the commentors struggle and discuss the very same issues that we discuss internally on how to participate in and grow our activities in the conversational media that the Web has become.

Hey, we hear you. We value your comments. And we try our best to be open, honest, and authentic in our conversations with all of you. Whip us if we are not!


Oh, and I want to end with this great video about agility [via Søren Peterson]. It makes me reflect on how a giant like Nokia can be nimble in this new world order.