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The following interview of Lauri Kivinen, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Nokia, took place on the NOKIA stand at World Telecom a few days after the press conference for the World Telecom Internet Days. The day after this interview, it was announced in the press that Nokia had teamed up with Palm Pilot to develop a handheld Internet-savy mobile device based on the Epoch OS. Thus confirming the shift in emphasis of Nokia for ears to eyes!

From ears to eyes! The future of mobile communications

A while ago, Nokia marketed a mobile telephone that you can also use to browse the Internet. The trouble is that you can't listen and look at the device at the same time. If we integrate the Internet into the mobile telephone, how are you going to handle this problem of looking and listening at the same time?

We will go from ears to eyes. Voice will remain one of the functions people will use in the new devices, but the very strong growth of short text messaging in GSM networks is evidence that people want to use their mobile phones for many other things than voice calls. Voice calls need to be simultaneous, with participants online at the same time. That is not always possible. In many situations, it is easier to send a short message.

You could have chosen to stay with voice and use voice recognition to access Web sites and services.

The same is happening on the wired, fixed side. People haven't started to talk to their computers. We just don't see that. People are more familiar with using menus rather than voice commands.

We are used to speaking to telephones whereas we are not used to speaking to computers. Are there not arguments in favour of continuing to talk to our mobile devices?

The functions for which you use voice are different from those for which you use data. Checking your bank account is very difficult if the digits come in voice. You want to see them displayed on your screen. Certain things will remain voice based, other services will go to data.

What other services do you expect?

There will be two categories. Many of the existing services will go wireless. Banks, airlines, doctors, bus timetables, ÉThere will also be new services that were not possible because mobile data was not there. In the first category, for example, a bank will ask whether an invoice should be paid now or later. Your airline might inform you of changes in your flight schedule. An example of new services might be online betting where you can change your bet if something happens. There might be location-based services. If you pass a certain point in a town you receive a message, for example guidance on a site seeing tour.

Is not the core business of Nokia the devices, not the services?

There are three groups of players. The equipment makers, we provide the boxes and the tools for the services. Another group is the operators who provide the channels for the traffic. The third category is the content and service providers.

What relationship does Nokia have to service providers?

We wish to stimulate new services that would take the full benefit of mobility and the existing customer base in the Internet world. In WAP (wireless application protocol), for example, we have offered tool kits for software programmers to be able to develop services in whatever category. We want companies of all sizes everywhere to offer services wherever there are mobile networks. The next twelve months will show which will be the winners.

How do you expect users to react to the shift in image of Nokia as you move more to data?

Our big challenge is to make the services and their use so easy that anyone can jump on board easily without any major investments, without any major instalments. No booting, no need for help lines. Services that are so easy and straight forward you can just start to use them. We believe the success of these services could be so great because we are putting the threshold so low. The mobile phone with an Internet access costs much less than a computer. You don't need to contact an ISP because your operator is providing the connection to the Internet. Switching on the telephone takes ten seconds, not two minutes! Volume is the key here. The more people there are, the more services there will be.

We are still prepared to accept sub-standard software for PCs. In the field of telephones, that would be unacceptable.

If you have a device you are dependent on, which contains all your personal information, that is your channel to the world, you can't get into a situation where it is running out of battery. The challenge is on the usability side, which is why we are putting a lot of effort into that.

The mobile Internet is going to look different from the fixed Internet. We are used to unlimited energy, big screens, big key pads, full colour, É The future will bring a mobile version of the Internet which is focused on specific services, helping people in their daily activities. So don't expect to carry a big screen with you, but expect to carry the whole world in your pocket.

Lauri Kivinen, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Nokia.
Interview, Alan McCluskey.

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Created: October 13th, 1999 - Last up-dated: October 14th, 1999