Where we were in 2011/12?

2011 & 2012 – What happened? 

Much has been happening with the Mobilium Global team over the past few weeks.  With high speed developments in mobile and especially so in the BRIC and developing markets, Mobilium have been staying on top of some of the most exciting mobile developments from around the world.

Our latest focus has been in Africa, where contrary to public understanding, Africa is showing a major advance in all aspects of mobile payments, mobile money and mobile commerce where subscribers are able to buy anything they want using their mobile device as the payment instrument and mechanism.  We went to Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and South africa to check all of this out and what did we find ?  We saw in each of these countries new developments that would leave the established and “older” world, surprised and jealous of the way that mobile users in Africa are getting savvy to new apps and usages despite the low penetration thus far, of smartphones.

We have also spent time in the Middle East and Egypt taking part in the United Nations’ World Summit Awards where 40 companies from around the world won special awards for mobile apps and inventiveness across the categories of m-Health, m-Government, m-Culture, m-Enetertainment and m-Business.  The Cairo ICT Summit and gathering under the auspices of the Minister of ICT in Egypt was a fascinating experience all round:  since the Arab Spring Revolution a year ago, mobile continues to be a major driver for effective commercial and social change.

World Summit Awards booth at Cairo ICT – April 2012
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Ralph Simon at DLD Munich, 2012
Lagos Nigeria: With the MTN Nigeria content team – Nigeria’s biggest telco April 2012
World summit Youth Award show poster – Cairo April 2012
Russian Minister of ICT Igor Shogalev – Moscow June 2011
With Esther Dyson founder of Flickr and Russia’s Yandex – June 2011
World Summit Awards categories on show at the Cairo ICT – April 2012
Author Malcolm Gladwell gladhanding Ralph Simon at TED
Stan Lee, founder of MArvel Comics embraces Ralph Simon at Ken Rutkowski’s LA MET gathering
With Kei Shimada, world leader & expert on Augmented Reality
Parmesh Shahani, director of the Godrej Future Lab, Mumbai India 2012
Entrance to the Cairo ICT in Egypt – April 2012
Social media revolutionaries Zakamek from the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt -April 2012

The Last 3 months of 2012 – Summary of action and global activity:

The Global Mobile Warrior  is on an amazing journeys of discovery in the last three months of 2012.  The autumn season started with a major visit to Ghana and its bustling capital, Accra, to take part in and attend the African Leadership Network’s annual gathering.  The ALN as it is known, is the very prestigious network of Africa’s top business leaders and the leading African digerati and internet and mobile visioneers and executives.  Founded by Fred  Swaniker and Acha Leke some years ago, the ALN has become one of the most important gatherings in the “new” Africa.  This year’s gathering in Ghana saw some 450 of the continent’s top execs and digerati meet and attend a conference program exploring the immense new opportunities that are rising in Africa, as the mobile revolution and mobile payments revolution gathers steam.  The ALN gathering was also the location of the very significant annual Africa Entrepreneurial Awards.  The glittering banquet was held in State House in Accra, and special awards were given to companies in three categories:  a) Companies with turnover from $1 – $10m; b) $10m -50m and then those companies in Africa with a turnover of $50m +.  This year saw a Lifetime Achievement Award given to the noted South African business legend, Richard Maponya, who created and developed the biggest mall in Africa in the heart of Soweto – known as the Maponya Mall.  His story of overcoming profound obstacles during the apartheid era to become one of Africa’s legendary business figures is the stuff of dreams and history.  The ALN is also a great meeting place for the leading new media executives and business ideas, and is also always attended by prominent change agents.  The Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, the Oxford PhD in robotics, Dr Arthur Mutambara attended this year, as did the American Ambassador to South Africa, the highly popular Donald Gips.  Africa is seeing an explosion in mobile growth and now that mPesa is making such an impact as a payment platform in East Africa, mobile money is spreading fast and many say, that Africa is ahead of developed countries such as the USA and EU countries.  One thing is for sure:  there is a very substantial potential in Africa – it feels like it did in Silicon Valley when the internet and search platforms were first expounded.  Those readers of this column that do business in Africa, should make it an essential part of your year to attend the ALN.  Great for doing business and also for finding out what is coming next on the African continent.

We visit Helsinki in Finland on a regular basis during the year.  Our October visit was most interesting especially since great engineers and mobile coding specialists reside in the Finnish capital – many of whom are no longer with Nokia.  In fact it was surprising to learn when there, that Nokia would be selling off their head office – a sign of the pressures on the Nokia company as they struggle to get their rhythm and influence back in the wake of Samsung and Apple’s surging ahead in the smartphone stakes.

The Global Mobile Warrior always likes to stay right in touch with hot new trends and what grows traffic in social media and on social media and mobile social media sites.  The world of Electronic Dance Music is a world-wide phenomenon, and this is nowhere more evident than in Amsterdam in October, when the hugely popular ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) takes place.  It did this year again for the 18th year, and some 3,300 people from around the world came to the ADE Conference and also to check out the world’s top 20-30 DJs.  ADE is the place where the global DJ culture votes on the no. 1 DJ in the world.  If you like David Guetta, Calvin Harris, DeadMau5, Kaskade, Tiesto and Afrojack, then this is the place to be.  Hot new tech trends and also the strong showing of mobile to the global millions of social media users who love dance music, are all exhibited in Amsterdam.  One of the key professionals and bloggers in this space, Jonty Skrufff, is always worth reading as he has his finger right on the pulse of what’s coming next in the dance and electronic dance business.  Mobile apps and mobile phone users around the world follow this genre with the same kind of devotion as sports fans follow their favourite sports teams.  Hot new tech trends can be seen there too – and of course, the 100,000+ people who come to Amsterdam during ADE crowd the many clubs in the city that celebrate the medium with special sessions for the world’s top DJs.  This year, homage was paid to one of the great founding fathers of dance music and techno, Frankie Knuckles.  Daniel Miller, founder of Mute Records and the person who discovered and then developed Depeche Mode as a world wide attraction is a regular attendee.  So too is one of the smartest innovators from Silicon Valley, Seth Goldstein, the founder of www.turntable.fm and now, his new company known as DJZ – say Dee Jayzzzz.  Seth is bringing great innovation to mobile addressing this core global dance music fraternity.

October also saw the annual Rutberg Wireless Influencers’ gathering in Palas Verdes, California – always an important high level gathering of the USA’s top mobile executives.

Mobilium participated this year in Montreal, at the World Congress on Information Technology in October.  Attended by a large gathering of senior technology executives, mobile leaders and also government ministers of IT, Telecoms and ICT attended and the conference itself was a great opportunity to find out what is coming next as the world concentrates on opening up “big data” and democratising almost every aspect of IT and its impact.  The Congress was also the location of the 2012 World Youth Summit Awards – recognition to young mobile apps makers, developers and creators from around the world.  Winners included young people who made apps in Nepal, Kenya, Egypt, Colombia, New Zealand, Latvia and of course the USA, Canada and the EU.

Central Europe is no slacker when it comes to innovation and mobile creativity.  The Global Mobile Warrior is taking part in the highly regarded Pioneers Festival which takes place in October in Vienna, Austria.  The Festival showcases some of the most exciting new start-ups and innovators from Central and Eastern Europe, and also gives focus to the burgeoning area of “colloquial” or local apps that have local relevance.  The Austrian and Vienna city governments are keen to grow innovation and make Vienna a key hub for important new thinking, apps, platforms and formats in new media.   The highly respected Centre for New Media, at the University of Salzburg, led by Professor Peter Bruck are also at the forefront of initiating great research projects that will surely lead to some strong new tech developments and reflect that Austria plays a leading innovation role in Central and Eastern Europe.

We will be going to Russia and Moscow at the end of October and playing a leading role in the all important Moscow Forum for Innovative Development – a major gathering looking at all aspects of innovation and how to accelerate Russia’s already deep and proven tech and scientific brainpower and commercial significance.  We hope to meet and spend time there with the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev – someone who is well versed with innovation and is a great protagonist for growing Russia’s significant potential.  Russia has produced some of the smartest innovators on the web and in mobile.  Companies like Yandex and VKontakte and Mail.Ru have made exceptional progress in Russia and the surrounding CIS states.

We always like to keep a sharp focus on what is going on and happening in India.  With nearly 1bn mobile subscribers, and a very vigorous mobile landscape, where 14 telco carriers compete for subscriber mindshare, India is competitive and innovative.  Our interest there is in the world of content and Bollywood.  We will be taking part in the terrific event known as India’s Music Matters in Mumbai in November.  One of India’s leading mobile visionaries, is Neeraj Roy, the founder of the well-known company Hungama, who export mobile Bollywood to some 40 countries around the world, as well as being the leading aggregator in India.

In November we will also be going to the MIT Media Lab in Boston, USA< to take part in the highly important group of innovators and futurists known as The Futures of Entertainment.   This conclave see s the coming together of some of the smartest brains and thinkers at the MIT Media Lab, incubating ground-breaking new technologies and platforms.  Sam Ford is the luminary that puts it all together, and it is always a thrill to spend time at the MIT Media Lab, where so much of the modern internet era was actually developed and created there.

In a world where there are now some 6bn mobile phone users, and with smart phone penetration growing exponentially, the future is so bright, we have to ear sunglasses !  Heh heh !

More news to come – the Global Mobile Warrior is on the ball, on the road and on right track to get a good view of what is coming next in mobile and trans-media.

See you in 2013