16/2016 The good, bad and ugly handphone
by Tan Thiam Hock
Saturday, 15 October 2016
IF any friends or business associates had seen me recently in Bangsar, Midvalley and KLCC shopping malls walking around aimlessly with eyes fixated to my phone, please understand that I was not avoiding you. I was just trying to catch-up with my family playing Pokémon Go.
When Pokémon Go came to our shores towards end July, my children started playing the game day and night, driving around into the night hoping to catch rare Pokemons.
After two weeks, I was amazed at the popularity of this location based augmented reality game played on a mobile phone. So I got them to help me download the app and teach me how to play my first ever game using a phone.
It was a classic business problem of a late entry into a saturated market with high levels of successful accumulation of market share by the competitors. I had to gather all my resources at my disposal to give my competitors a run for their money.
So I instructed my driver to take me daily around Telawi Bangsar where I could stock up on Poke balls and try to catch them all. My bemused driver is now used to my sudden instructions of slowing down, go round again and darting into side roads whenever rare Pokemons are sighted. Many strategic decisions were made, much time invested and finally I sent a text message my family when I reached level 22 this week.
My children laughed at me and said they have lost interest in the game since end September. I could not believe why they have stopped playing a game which had 500 million apps downloaded and US$500mil revenue within two months of its launch? Pokémon Go is expected to nab US$1bil revenue by end 2016 for Nintendo, Apple Apps Store and Google Play Store.
Games which was played over computers have now expanded into mobile devices. And it has drawn in new customers from the young to the old, overcoming language barriers and played by the borderless world population. Technological advancements have enabled innovative ideas to create new markets or to replace existing businesses or products.
Thirty years ago, communication with foreign buyers or customers was done via telex machines. It was replaced by first generation chemical paper fax machine which was subsequently replaced by plain paper fax now replaced by scanned copies sent over emails. From computers and now mobile devices.
Photography by cameras using films moved to digital cameras which is now replaced by phone cameras which can also record videos. Now everyone can take photographs, make videos and edit on the go. You only need a smart phone.
You can now buy cinema tickets, air tickets, book hotels and appointments online. Book a taxi and chat face to face with your loved ones all by using a mobile smart handphone. Nobody reads newspaper no more. When online news is readily available at your finger tips.
Every morning, I get woken up by my phone. My daily morning ritual involves checking my whatsapp messages, emails and Facebook. Then check my calendar which helps me plan my schedule for the day. My life is incomplete and lonely if my phone is not beside me at all times.
My wife complains that I spend more time with my phone than with her. I have the same complaint vice versa. I believe the smart phone will be responsible for half the divorce cases in the future. Main reasons given will be irreconcilable differences of preferences in smart phone brands. IOS incompatible with Androids. Breakdown in communication, texting instead of talking face to face. Handphone engineers will be expert witnesses in divorce proceedings alongside lawyers and shrinks. Everybody goes mental.
I believe Internet and handphones are the two most influential technological advancements in this century. They have changed the world we live in. The world is now connected, smaller and viewed through the display of a hand phone.
So if you are an entrepreneur, can your business afford to be disconnected from the handphone users? Or should you be more aggressive to be part and parcel of your customers’ lifestyle via his or her handphone? How can a mutually beneficial relationship be built and sustained over a phone? A long distanced faceless affair. It is borderless, colour and race blind.
However having a relationship over the phone does have its negative impacts. Nasty and hurtful words are easily texted when it is difficult to be spoken face to face. Especially on social media. So politicians should avoid exposing their shallow thoughts online lest they be labelled as stupid and incapable. As the Chinese saying goes, nobody will say you are stupid if you keep quiet and stay dumb and numb. You might just survive another election.
Understanding the importance of the power of the handphone in reaching the masses, politicians have stayed ahead of the innovation curve by producing personal apps. Just absolutely brilliant. I am absolutely positive sure that the politician will receive many words of encouragement. To resign.
I am talking about Hilary Clinton who does most of her emails over her non-secured phone and Donald Trump tweeting nasty messages in the wee morning hours. Finally, American politicians can match our local counterparts in advancing their deep meaningful thoughts to the mass electorate via The Phone.
My only advice to entrepreneurs using the phone to build their business is to take measured steps in your online campaign. Building trust in your relationship will take time. You will go through on-off periods and you have to constantly recharge the batteries. Try not to overcharge or it will end up as an explosive affair. Which means the end of the relationship.
Trust Deficit Syndrome. A common disease once inflicted will be difficult to cure. From your personal relationships to your business relationships with your faceless customers. From politicians to its electorates. From government to its citizens.
Nevertheless, underestimate the power of the phone at your peril.
The Phone will rule the world. The Phone will catch us all.