Nokia: The dominant global computing monopoly by 2011. Discuss.

Alfie Dennen poked me on instant messenger this morning, firing this statement at me: All things being equal, Nokia’s set to become the dominant global computing giant — within 3 years or so.

Hmm. That got the mind whirring.

‘Right,’ I said, as he pointed to Nokia’s 10m/units a day figure along with the increasing mobile marketplace across Africa and the developing world.

‘There’s some monopoly issues brewing,’ stated Alfie.

And I don’t disagree with him. I have a serious issue about the quality and usability of a lot of Nokia’s current products and services, but … but me no buts.

Alfie’s expanded on his initial statement below and on his own site.

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I’ve been pondering monopoly/antitrust laws and how these global issues might become exceedingly important to mobile phone manufacturers global strategy. Let’s take Nokia, who are at the moment the most bullish in shipping devices with powerful consumer applications, integral to their re-imagining of themselves as a ‘web company’.

As the mobile moves to become the dominant digital/web access device globally (Windows Mobile in the Dunk Tank – MobHappy), that Nokia (for example) may be open to the same kind of treatment as Microsoft was in it’s EU antitrust battle through its inclusion of Nokia Maps, Ovi etc as part of the OS the devices ship with….

I’m really thinking about Africa and the developing world here; Nokia could, potentially, be the global leader in computing within 5 years. Does this open up antitrust questions when considering their on handset application approach? Perhaps there is something in the way that mobile phones are actually defined in law that is very different to how computers are described/classified? I don’t know enough to comment without some research, but I wanted to air the thought. What do you think?

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What’s your view?

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  • Jones

    there's nothing illegal about a monopoly. What's illegal is to abuse a monopoly. Nokia will never be a monopoly, even if they own 50 or 60% of the market, there will always be other mobile computing providers.

  • http://www.nokiacreative.com James Burland

    I was thinking about these ideas the other day:
    http://tinyurl.com/5cdwxs

    In short, if Nokia did become the 'global leader in computing within 5 years', it would be one of the most shocking developments in the computing industry since… well, since it began!

  • http://moblog.net Alfie

    @James – but that assumes you're correct in Apple gaining dominance, which I personally don't agree with. Couple that with the Symbian foundation power play, and their massive dominance in the developing world, it would be shocking if they did become the dominant computing provider, but not at all impossible.

    @Jones – actually that's not quite true, monopoly is illegal in most regions because laws “…regulating dominance and monopoly prevents firms from using their market power to damage the interests of consumers”. That is potentially applicable here. Monopolies powers are addressedusing competition and antitrust laws.

  • Mike42

    “As the mobile moves to become the dominant digital/web access device globally “

    <rant>

    There are soooooooooo many reasons why this statement is utter, patent bollocks.

    The mobile will NEVER be the 'dominant' web access device. Numbers don't mean dominance, otherwise ants would rule the world. Web content/experiences will continue to evolve, pushing the boundaries of the devices constantly. Mobile will ALWAYS lag desktops, because of the difficulties of power storage, management, display size, speed of connection, latency, etc etc. You canna'e change the laws of pyhsics cap'n.

    PC's are getting much cheaper/faster/bigger screens, at a rate much faster than mass-market mobiles are getting longer battery life/faster backhaul. Evidence: i3G. Yes, you can get on the web better than before. No, you can't do so for long.

    Yes, the great African fisherman can check his catch prices using his mobile. Great for him, but please don't translate that into the rest of us ditching our PC's for mobiles.

    Russell B said on his site “* If you

  • http://thesamantha.co.nr Samantha

    I may be wrong, but isn't a Monopoly having a dominance in the market share. If Nokia were to have 60% of the market, then they would be dominant; therefore, wouldn't that make them a monopoly?

    Yes there may other brands, and providers, but if a company has such a large share over a market, say as Microsoft does with the computing industry; they then have this power that makes it harder for competition. That then limits choice, and then it's like a consumer dictatorship.

    Well, that's my understanding of it anyways.

    Samantha.

  • http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com Dean Bubley

    In a word “no”.

    If you're just counting computing devices connected to networks, I'd expect RFID tags or sensors to outnumber Nokia devices. But that doesn't mean that they're the “global computing monopoly” either.

    First things first, there are no mobile servers so that part of global computing is totally outside Nokia's scope (yes, you can you run a small web server on a device, but not a carrier / corporate grade transaction-processing platform).

    Secondly, the population of PCs (around 1.3bn I think) will probably rise to c2 billion as they're getting cheaper, especially in markets like India & China. But they tend to have >1 user each (in homes, schools, workplaces), so there should be almost as many PC users as mobile handset users (maybe 70-80% I'd guess)

    Thirdly, mobile devices are totally unsuited for mainstream enterprise computing. You won't see too many CFOs scrutinising their company accounts on a phone. Or running SAP, or a call centre, or monitoring oil pipeline flows or the other million business applications.

    Fourthly, emerging-world governments want populations to be PC-literate so that they have a chance to develop local software industries. Do any developers actually write code on phones? (meaningfully, not just a few to prove that it's theoretically possible).

    Lastly, this myth that mobile devices “become the dominant digital/web access device globally ” is just that, a myth. Sure, there will be a few stats on “# of people who have ever used a browser, on anything, ever”. But in terms of traffic, value, viewed pixels, time spent online, business conducted or other useful metrics, this is a spurious but self-sustaining assertion. I've done the numbers:
    http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com/2008/01/

    It's still a very small % of users (especially in prepay-centric emerging markets) who use their phones for much beyond voice & SMS. Some of the “mobile Internet” stats are misleading and include closed WAP portals, general GPRS use, SMS-based info services and the like. They're no more “Internet” applications than a bank ATM machine. Interactive comms services, sure. The Internet? No.

    Dean

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com smstextnews

    You can always rely on Dean for excellent analysis and perspective

  • keith_erskine

    While they may be dominant on client side applications, there's still a lot of room for innovation on the server/service side. Anyone trying to do what Ovi and Mosh are accomplishing (or will accomplish) is setting themselves up for failure.

  • South77

    depends how you at it. I interact with the web/internet almost as frequently on my mopbile than on my PC.. and i sit at a desk 70% of my working time.

    so yes, heavy lifting on the laptop, but constant checking of email, sport scores, feeds, etc, on my mobile

  • http://www.nokiacreative.com James Burland

    I'm not yet convinced that there is an awful lot of 'power' in the Symbian foundation power play.

  • http://www.nokiacreative.com James Burland

    Nice rant!! >_>

  • http://andrewcurrie.ca acurrie

    If Nokia does get a monopoly at least this Mac user will have bet on the right team for a change ;-)

  • RussellBuckley

    @Mike42, yes I can spell geek, same as I can spell troll, thanks. Sure, feel free to disagree and debate, but let's not get personal, huh?

    Dean and I disagree fundamentally on this, but neither of us needs to resort to playschool insults.

    Toodle pip.

    Russell

  • RussellBuckley

    @Mike42, yes I can spell geek, same as I can spell troll, thanks. Sure, feel free to disagree and debate, but let's not get personal, huh?

    Dean and I disagree fundamentally on this, but neither of us needs to resort to playschool insults.

    Toodle pip.

    Russell

  • RussellBuckley

    @Mike42, yes I can spell geek, same as I can spell troll, thanks. Sure, feel free to disagree and debate, but let's not get personal, huh?

    Dean and I disagree fundamentally on this, but neither of us needs to resort to playschool insults.

    Toodle pip.

    Russell

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