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It is common knowledge that most new products and services fail when brought to market. Charles Kettering, Board Member of GM (1920-1947) famously noted that when it comes to innovation: “You don't know when you are going to get the thing, whether it’s going to work or not and whether it’s going to have any value whatsoever." And even as things may have improved a bit since Kettering’s time, thanks to today’s attention to innovation processes and user-centered development practices, there’s still uncertainty that haunts all innovation attempts.

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The message on the second day of Mobile World Congress from the heads of AT&T, Vodafone, Telefonica, China Mobile and American Movil was unambiguous: competition, open-ness and cross-carrier interoperability are what is needed to take mobile to the next level. (Perhaps in the spirit of interoperability, all five gentlemen were wearing blue ties, mostly with dots.)

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Emerging trends in the mobile phone space suggests that the end of feature phone is very near. The market will be full of smartphones. The declining price and availability of technology are leading to fast adoption of smartphones across the globe. Companies like Samsung, Motorola, LG have launched a range of high performance smartphones with very aggressive pricing. This revolution is further fuelled by the wide adoption of the open source platform Android. Except Nokia, Apple, and RIM all the phone makers are using Android to offer ‘smart’ capabilities to their product.

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Openness is the mega-trend for innovation in the 21st century, and it remains the topic du jour for  businesses of all kinds. Granted, it has been on the agenda of every executive ever since Henry Chesbrough’s seminal Open Innovation came out in 2003. However, as several new books elaborate upon the concept from different perspectives, and a growing number of organizations have recently launched ambitious initiatives to expand the paradigm to other areas of business, I thought it might be a good time to reframe “Open” from a design point of view.

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