I’m pleased to announce the latest two panel additions to MobileBeat, our conference on mobile July 24.
They are Mike Baker, Nokia vice president and head of Nokia Interactive, and Rick Segal, partner at the Blackberry Partners Fund.
This rounds out our panels nicely. We now have the four major mobile platforms represented: the iPhone, Android, Nokia/Symbian and RIM/Blackberry.
Mike Baker (left) has an impressive record. He helped take Engage — a pathbreaking company in behavioral advertising — public in 1999. He was an investor for a firm called GrandBanks Capital. In 2002, he founded early mobile advertising company Enpocket, and sold it in Oct., 2007 to Nokia (amount was undisclosed).
Enpocket became a unit within Nokia that handles ads, via a product called “Nokia Media Network.” It’s now arguably the world’s largest mobile ad network, given Nokia’s huge reach across hundreds of millions of phones. The network handles ads for folks like Sprint, Intel, Viacom, Hearst and Reuters. After the merger, Baker wrote Nokia’s strategy for monetizing all of the company’s mobile services.
He’ll bring a refreshing perspective to the conference, and I suspect he’ll pour a bucket of cold reality over the iPhone hype — if moderator Om Malik lets him. Talk with Nokia’s folks — and a lot of other European and Asian telecom execs, by the way — and they’ll argue it’s all about reach. Even if Apple and Android succeed beyond their wildest dreams, they won’t have the penetration of Nokia’s Symbian OS within five years. Here’s why: Apple may launch its cute breakthrough touch-technology iPhone, but Nokia’s juggernaut can launch 20 such phones next year and open itself to apps as well, shutting down Apple’s advantage. But there’s no doubt Silicon Valley’s software expertise is driving innovation to the software side of the phone, and Nokia will acknowledge it’s a wake-up call.
Segal is a partner at JLA Ventures (scroll down), which put together the $150M Blackberry Partners Fund, to support developers of applications running primarily on the Blackberry. RIM is an anchor investor in the fund. Previously, Segal ran Canadian e-commerce companies Microforum and Chapters, and worked at Microsoft before that. He’s a board member at Paymentus, Planeteye (a travel comany we wrote about), HealthUnity, b5media, MusicIP Corporation, Sirit, and Truition Marketplace Solutions.
Like Nokia/Symbian, RIM is often forgotten in hype-ridden Silicon Valley, where software developers are madly in love with Apple’s iPhone, and to lesser, but growing, extent with Google’s Android. RIM has a formidable lead among business users and will be a force to reckon with. So I suspect Segal will also shake things up on our venture capital panel, which we’ve added now as the first panel of the day. But like Nokia, RIM’s strength is in hardware, and it will also need to adapt to the changes Apple has wrought.
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