Evolution not Revolution in Next-Generation Wireless Telephony

Evolution not Revolution in Next-Generation Wireless Telephony

Antti Ainamo (University of Turku (UTU), Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch067
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Abstract

Traditionally, design for industry transformed consumers’ and other product users’ everyday lives in one of two ways: “technology-push” or “market-pull”. In technology-push, producers took a given technology or a well-specified technological subsystem, applying it into consumers’ everyday lives as true to the original as possible. In market-pull, producers took consumer demand as their point of origin, channeling only those new technologies that consumers demanded (Ulrich & Eppinger, 1995). The traditional trade-off was that technology-push isolated design from consumers and other users, and market-pull isolated it from technology. Now, with technological advances, the market-pull side has developed a wholly new kind of sensibility to mold the evolution of technology. This is because of the multitude and diversity of the kinds of technologies that can be offered to consumers. Besides designing products or services by using front-end planning, products or services can also be designed by using feedback from users and customers, who thus become key “co-producers” (Wikström, 1996). This kind of evolution is not, of course, altogether new. This kind of a strategy of “robust design” (i.e., the market introduction of a new product or service and its flexible adaptation to feedback) can be said to trace at least as far back as Edison. In the case of the electric light, Edison introduced the idea of diffusing the science-based benefits of technology to small businesses and consumer households in a way that was earlier reserved for only “high-tech” and large businesses (Hargadon & Douglas, 2001). The design of innovations that have followed this model include the design of automobiles, computers, and mobile telephones, respectively (Ainamo & Pantzar, 2000; Castells, 1996; Castells & Himanen, 2002; Djelic & Ainamo, 2005; Pantzar & Ainamo, 2004). Ford made the automobile accessible, while General Motors played a role in the 1920’s in contributing to the spread of the product platform concept as a basis for mass customization (see Pantzar & Ainamo, 2004, for a review). Apple made personal computers a consumer product. The current “third generation” of mobile telephony is finally bringing on the arrival into consumer homes of what has been called the “information society” (Bell, 1999). Now, there is obviously much interest in, and excitement about, “the next generation” of mobile telephony. Besides researchers who often have held a purely intellectual interest in the issue, many professional or novice engineers have a technological interest. Still other people are financial investors who are interested in the next generation to make money. Consumers and users of phones have an obvious interest in how to “domesticate” third-generation mobile telephony so as to manage their everyday life with a mobile phone and to run and organize their routines. How to approach next-generation mobile telephony? This article provides an overview of how the next-generation of telephony will be more a point in a long chain of evolution than it will be a revolution.
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Introduction

Traditionally, design for industry transformed consumers’ and other product users’ everyday lives in one of two ways: “technology-push” or “market-pull”. In technology-push, producers took a given technology or a well-specified technological subsystem, applying it into consumers’ everyday lives as true to the original as possible. In market-pull, producers took consumer demand as their point of origin, channeling only those new technologies that consumers demanded (Ulrich & Eppinger, 1995). The traditional trade-off was that technology-push isolated design from consumers and other users, and market-pull isolated it from technology. Now, with technological advances, the market-pull side has developed a wholly new kind of sensibility to mold the evolution of technology. This is because of the multitude and diversity of the kinds of technologies that can be offered to consumers. Besides designing products or services by using front-end planning, products or services can also be designed by using feedback from users and customers, who thus become key “co-producers” (Wikström, 1996). This kind of evolution is not, of course, altogether new. This kind of a strategy of “robust design” (i.e., the market introduction of a new product or service and its flexible adaptation to feedback) can be said to trace at least as far back as Edison. In the case of the electric light, Edison introduced the idea of diffusing the science-based benefits of technology to small businesses and consumer households in a way that was earlier reserved for only “high-tech” and large businesses (Hargadon & Douglas, 2001). The design of innovations that have followed this model include the design of automobiles, computers, and mobile telephones, respectively (Ainamo & Pantzar, 2000; Castells, 1996; Castells & Himanen, 2002; Djelic & Ainamo, 2005; Pantzar & Ainamo, 2004). Ford made the automobile accessible, while General Motors played a role in the 1920’s in contributing to the spread of the product platform concept as a basis for mass customization (see Pantzar & Ainamo, 2004, for a review). Apple made personal computers a consumer product. The current “third generation” of mobile telephony is finally bringing on the arrival into consumer homes of what has been called the “information society” (Bell, 1999). Now, there is obviously much interest in, and excitement about, “the next generation” of mobile telephony. Besides researchers who often have held a purely intellectual interest in the issue, many professional or novice engineers have a technological interest. Still other people are financial investors who are interested in the next generation to make money. Consumers and users of phones have an obvious interest in how to “domesticate” third-generation mobile telephony so as to manage their everyday life with a mobile phone and to run and organize their routines. How to approach next-generation mobile telephony? This article provides an overview of how the next-generation of telephony will be more a point in a long chain of evolution than it will be a revolution.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Wireless Technology: The term adopted by the ITU to describe its specification for generations of wireless services that build towards broadband; digital wireless technology encompasses many different technologies that operate simultaneously in a digital wireless network, such as 2G, ERPS, and 3G.

Analog Voice: Data represented by physical quantity that is continuously variable and proportional to the data

Robust Design: A product, service, system, or software concept that leaves open many details of final form(s) of the product, service, system, or software

Generation: Type or class of product, service, system, and software, usually in comparison to an earlier type

Evolution: The unfolding of a process of change in a certain direction; a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state; the process of working out or developing

Co-Production: Development of product, service, system, or software so that user or consumer participates actively in the process of development

Broadband: A high capacity of voice and/or data transmission, enabling many communications at once and/or applications such as video that demand much capacity

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