Friday, June 09, 2006

Nokia 2D Code Reader...What Happens To PWC Companies?

Something I want PP readers to think about and provide comments to.

When Nokia added a 2D code reader to some of their high end phones, did they create THE standard for physical world connection?

The question is "What if Nokia, decides to offer a code generating application that is used in conjunction with their 2D code reader?"

Will wireless providers incorporate this into their marketing?

Could the mobile phone manufacturers turn the tables on the wireless providers?

I think it's safe to say that it will be a while before 1D codes and RFID tags are scanned using a camera phone, so the market for 2D codes is where the focus is now.

Nokia has already joined forces with Yahoo and Flickr, but could Nokia be "THE" physical world connection company if they did? Will they create the "standard" for PWC?

All of the PWC companies are trying to get service providers to put their code scanning application on the mobile phone, what if there is one on it already?

How does PWC company go to a brand manager and ask them to pay a fee to use a code that is NOT in the Nokia world, and get the consumer to upload their application on the phone?

If you're a mobile marketing agency or a physical world connection company, where is your added value?

Thoughts and comments welcomed.


Anonymous said...

Certainly the "standard" 2D codes that Nokia is going to be including are hardly ideal, for any number of reasons, mostly having to do with size, aesthetics, and decodability with fixed focus lenses.

But this does NOT mean that Nokia can't succeed in making those standard 2D codes the standard in the PWC. It's altogether too easy for a gatekeeper company to push lousy technology on the marketplace if it so chooses.

This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to patents.

Nokia has had exactly NOTHING to do with the conception or promotion of the PWC idea. It has come to the game over a decade after the true pioneers.

Yet Nokia, by the accident of its position in the industry, is a de facto gatekeeper to establishing a standard in this technology.

Is it right for a player such as Nokia to use an idea entirely conceived and promoted by others, and push aside the pioneers of this concept, with nary a penny in return for their struggles?

Once upon a time, in the age of Edison and Bell and Holerith, that is exactly what patents were thought to protect: a major player ripping off the ideas of others, and profiting from the inventive talent of small players. Indeed, the patents established by those small inventors in turned spawned enormous and enormously successful companies.

Somehow, in our current, rather twisted, envy-driven culture, it's considered a great thing for big companies to be allowed to do that: heaven forfend that some small David should be able to stand up to a technology Goliath! Who the hell does David think he is, better than us? And, you know, we'd like to copy from David too!

If patents mean anything to anybody, this should be a case in which a Nokia should be brought to heel -- otherwise small inventors had better just give it up entirely, because there's no future in America for their kind.

(Oh, and BTW, if you think that ONLY Neomedia has patents in this area, think again.)

Anonymous said...

NeoMedia's PaperClick


Anonymous said...

An OPTION does not equate to creating THE standard. Just as I use different portals when accessing info on the web via my cell phone (I like some better than others), I will do the same with any bar code reader(s) or any other applications provided on the handset, or that I might download to the handset later. USERS will determine which OTIONS will be adopted widely IMO. As to what brand managers will do? They'll continue to seek advice from mktg agencies who will utilize in-house mobile talent or outsource it to find out what USERS have been responding to. The value added of smart mobile marketing companies will be to do just that. PWC comapnies are only an intermediary step in this process. (And being a one trick pony without patent protection of some sort in this space seems risky indeed.) Overall there are way too many variables to juggle all at once if your're the brand manager. Last time I checked, the carriers were the ones choosing the phones (and included apps) that I can buy and use...NOT the handset maker. Carriers can flip the switch off too if they aren't included in the $olution at least for now. Eventually however USERS will be in control...and the smartest brand owners will help speed up this process.

Anonymous said...

While the previous comment seems very optimistic that users will somehow choose the best option among many, it really doesn't reflect the realities of marketplaces such as this.

This marketplace is going to be driven to a standard by a very simple consideration: whenever an advertiser asks the question, how many people might I be able to reach with this code, the answer will depend on the market penetration of the software used to decode that code on consumer camera phones. If a new proposed code is available on only a fraction of the phones, it's a sure fire loser, from the standpoint of the advertiser, whatever its inherent merits might be.

It's a classic case of network effects establishing a standard, however mediocre on its merits that standard might be. Microsoft built its incredible fortune on this kind of phenomenon. It took Microsoft probably seven years after the introduction of the Mac to catch up to it in terms of GUI -- but, as ugly as DOS and the early Windows were compared to the Mac interface, Microsoft kept winning because they had the largest "network" of users and applications on their system.

Don't imagine that it will be otherwise with 2D codes. The codes Nokia is pushing on its phone may be over 15 years old, and designed for very different purposes, and clumsy and ugly, but make no mistake about it: they can be made to win as standards. There's practically no way to get around network effects, once they kick in.

The only way to prevent it is to stop it early. And the only way I know to do that if you're up against a company like Nokia that clearly does NOT want to deal with upstart companies as equals in a space if doesn't absolutely have to, is to use patents in the fight.

Scott Shaffer said...

"And the only way I know to do that if you're up against a company like Nokia that clearly does NOT want to deal with upstart companies as equals in a space if doesn't absolutely have to, is to use patents in the fight"


The only problem I see is almost all of the PWC companies I have listed, if they ever decided to fight the patent use, may win the fight, but would probably lose the war.

There is a company, soon to be added to the list, that COULD stand up to Nokia though.

Anonymous said...

The only problem I see is almost all of the PWC companies I have listed, if they ever decided to fight the patent use, may win the fight, but would probably lose the war.

Not under current patent law, which, thank God, is still in force in the US -- though God only knows how long it will be before it's gutted by the forces of envy and imitation and sycophancy to big companies in this country.

Under current patent law, if someone infringes your patent, you are ordinarily entitled to an injunction against their producing the infringing product. This was what was about to happen to RIM in its patent fight against NTP. In that case, it was clearly just a bargaining tactic, because NTP was in no position to compete.

But some of the companies in this space who have patents ALSO have technology they wish very much to get into the market, and that's not going to go away. An injunction can allow them to introduce this technology later in the game, if need be.

And the looming THREAT of an injunction beforehand will make it a lot harder for people to make firm commitments to buying into a standard beforehand. The big gatekeeping companies will do well to take this into account early in the game rather than later -- whom will they have to blame but themselves if they don't?

And, while you mention a big company who's going to be entering the fray soon, as if that's going to get around some of these problems, isn't it pretty likely that they are going to represent a problem themselves, since they are surely going to plunk down for a solution that is going to favor their own technology and products?

Anonymous said...

Symbol Technologies and its patents could be a formidable foe for Nokia...just musing here...and perhaps be a significant plus for that little PWC company sometimes mentioned by readers of this blog.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Symbol has patents that apply specifically to PWD, maybe not.

Here's how I imagine this scenario playing out. All of the players, from the largest to the smallest, who DO have basic patents applying to PWC are going to have to sit down at the same table as equals -- because that's what the law of the land effectively imposes. Each player has Mutually Assured Destruction capability, because each can enjoin any other from pursuing this application.

At that table, the standards and ongoing business are going to have to be defined so that all players get their fair due. Those who don't have such basic patents are going to be out of luck unless they can offer something essential to all of the real players -- why should they get a slice of the pie otherwise?

While this may seem to some to give patents too much power, the reality is that the alternative, in which patents somehow just go away, is only far worse, in the larger scheme of things. In that case, the big companies, who have had nothing to do with conceiving or promoting the PWC idea, just divide up the pie amongst themselves, and force on the market a standard that happens to meet their own agenda, regardless of how mediocre and inept and poorly thought out that standard might be.

Anonymous said...

Nokia already usind 2 code reader!
they probably knows about all the patents isues....

Anonymous said...

From your blog:

"The biggest problem the physical world connection companies (PWC) face, is how to get their "platform", or scanning application on the phone."

"If you're a mobile marketing agency or a physical world connection company, where is your added value?"

The statement and the question above are really two sides of the same coin IMO. But they are much more relevant than what barcode(s) should be adopted. Nokia 2D? Who cares. That's getting the cart before the horse IMO.

The ideal application would decode just about any common barcode in commercial use without user intervention. Whoever (carrier, SP, PWC) puts THAT a/p solution on a handset gets my vote (and dollars). Of course, then what do you do with a decoded barcode anyway? You're really left with a 'hanging chad' until you figure out how it's supposed to be acted upon, right? And isn't that where the tire really meets the road? that's where thye pesky patents come in!

How about I use patents, if I have them, as a sort of shield to checkmate any competing application/platform. Meanwhile I deploy an a/p using creative, viral means which acts as the sword to open up the marketplace for direct download of my a/p to the masses? It's obvious, I need to offer the marketplace (meaning offer BOTH the brands AND the consumers SIMULTANEOUSLY) something of real value in order to prevail. So what might that be? How about a "better...faster...cheaper" permission-based, L-B, instantaneous, direct connection free to the consumer AND NO click fraud for the commerce partner (SP or brand) if a transaction is involved?! Afterall this is a two way street where as a consumer I want to be viewed as an individual with unique preferences. And I'm willing to share (confidentially) my preferences with individual service/content providers of MY choosing who I require in turn to earn/seek a one-on-one (commercial or not) relationship with me (the term of which will depend on how well they hold up their side of the bargain).

Yep...I'm a tough customer. But just another member of the "smart mob" out there.

Anonymous said...

Nokia's experiment with code reading is only on the highest end phone on the market. the N93 has very special optics and a unique camera. This does not translate to the standard handsets that they sell mass market.

Anonymous said...

I believe if you read the article about Nokia introducing it's new N93 handset they listed several companies they are working with. One of those companies is the PWC that has the "killer App" and their software is on the phone. IMO they have made a deal with that company but the parties evidently don't want it to be made public as of yet. That company has the patents to back themselves up with and that is why I feel a deal has been done to be announced at the right time. And as most of your readers already know who the PWC is and can stand up to the challenge in court if need be. So with that being said Nokia can continue with being the leader in barcode reading on their phone's because they have paid the Piper and can lead the way to the bridge and we all can cash in on this extra-ordinary marketing tool.