Nokia may be known for 'connecting people', with the assumption that people are connecting to people, but that is about to change as people increasing use their handsets to connect with Web, user-generated content, corporate databases and all types of sensors.
'We're moving away from the idea of a phone as a terminal, the end of the road or the connection, to beyond that to the phone as a gateway, a bridge between the virtual information space, the Internet, and the world of sensors that might be in our environment or in our clothing,' said Bob Iannucci, SVP and head of Nokia's Research Center.
He insists that bridge between the physical world and the virtual world of information is probably one of the most important areas of growth for mobile devices.
At a technology briefing for media from around the world in Helsinki at the beginning of the month, he reminded the audience that Nokia is one of the few companies that has successfully reinvented itself multiple times, taking itself from well-established and well-understood businesses into emerging and growth businesses.
'Nokia has asked the Nokia Research Center to help guide it in yet another transformation, given the backdrop of how telecommunications is changing and how the world of IT can be brought into telecommunications.'
Iannucci acknowledged that the company's more than 1,000-strong research team can't possibility satisfy all of Nokia's needs in the technology space in the future and it will be more valuable to the company to be part of a web of innovation that includes universities, industry partners and even competitors. 'Our mission is to go from being a very inward looking lab to a much more open lab, where we're seeking innovation from broader partnerships. Our ring of collaborators has to grow.'
Iannucci announced that the research center is undergoing a transformation and is now organized internally into two equal parts - one focusing on making existing core mobile technology more efficient and the other, its Systems Research Center, which is looking at entirely new opportunities for the future and is allocated 50% of the research budget.
Systems Research, rather than focus on a component technology like a better antenna or a new multi-radio chipset, will look at a more holistic view of mobile communication, 'where we might take elements of radio and computing and software and put them together as a prototype of a new business model and explore on a small- to medium-scale with a business partner how this might play out,' he explained.