Month: December 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Just in Case: Merry Christmas Everyone!

I have now taken the liberty to go into Christmas hibernation mode, which is to say, took vacation leave off work until the new year. I may (and, to be honest, probably will) post during the holidays but to all of you who may not read these during the season, let me extend the very best wishes for Christmas/Holiday Season/Time you are not being bothered by Christians or people living in Christian countries because they celebrate Christmas. Peace, respect and understanding across languages, cultures, colours, territories, generations, religions (or belief systems), technology gaps is what I am wishing everyone. Don’t eat too much turkey, think of your loved ones, spend time with the children, relax and sleep in, party like mad, just have a good time!  

Wireless Democracy in Estonia

It was only a matter of time, I guess, and here it is: Estonia will allow its citizens to vote by SMS in 2011. However, the Estonians too have been watching the US Presidential elections in 2000 and decided hence that one needs some additional security to make it safe. Enter a chip that every citizen can apply for and get into his/her phone. If or if not this makes it really safe (my guess it that it should be possible to apply some decent security if the device is “hard-wired”), can (and probably will) be discussed at length by the experts. But it might just not matter much: I find it hard to believe that more people would actually jump through those additional hoops required to be admitted. 

Cool PR, Estonia, hats off. And see you behind the curtain at the good old voting booth (or whatever it’s called) in a few years time. 

RIM eats Chalk

Blackberry maker Research in Motion is acquiring mobile content deployment solutions provider (quite a mouthful!) Chalk Media for $18.7m in cash. Chalk to what they call “pushcasts”, which – if I understand it correctly – is basically pushing podcasts to smartphones. The Vancouver-based company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, so it still requires shareholder approval, and the deal is therefore not closed yet.

The move is a neat one: podcasts are increasingly used in the corporate environment for staff communications of all sorts, and the enterprise being the stronghold for RIM, it makes a lot of sense to strengthen its service offering by adding such a tool.
RIM has of course got under fire by Apple‘s iPhone and this will presumably continue being the case also by the higher-end Android-based phones who have been nibbling away (see here and here) on the Blackberry’s pedestal as the businessman’s (and woman’s) favourite gadget. A lot to defend then, and the price would therefore not seem to be excessive at all… Stringent rationale, me thinks…

Most Precious Mobile Operator Brands

And the winner is… China Mobile. Hard to guess, huh? Some research shows that the Chinese carrier’s brand is worth $30.79bn. Vodafone and Verizon took the other spots on the podium. The top 10 is below (courtesy of the good folks at And for some (by now a little outdated) comparison for how they rank amongst other industries, see here.

The study applies a royalty based on forecast of sales, brand strength (from qualitative panel data) which priced in market share, growth, price positioning, market scope, preference, awareness, relevance, heritage and perception. They complement these slightly fluffy markers with data on turnover, subs, churn, market share, ARPU, profitability, etc and then took the average score of the two to determine the royalty rate applicable. Apply tax and (low) discount rate and off you go. Pretty simple, isn’t it? And, yes, I still think Cingular was cooler than AT&T… 😉

China Mobile China Mobile China Asia 30,793
2 Vodafone Vodafone UK Europe 22,131
3 Verizon Verizon Communications US North America 20,382
4 AT&T AT&T US North America 18,886
5 T-Mobile Deutsche Telekom Germany Europe 16,802
6 Orange France Telecom France Europe 15,489
7 NTT DoCoMo NTT DoCoMo Japan Asia 14,871
8 KDDI KDDI Corp. Japan Asia 14,454
9 Movistar Telefonica Spain Europe 10,799
10 Sprint Sprint Nextel US North America 9,661

AT&T to go all Symbian

An article tells us that AT&T Wireless intends to run all their phones on one platform as soon as 2014, namely on Symbian. Is this odd? I mean: the iPhone isn’t Symbian, is it? 

It is of course not odd. The carrier wants to avoid platform fragmentation (see also here and here) which has made it hard to develop mobile applications (and one might well now think that they indeed had a very powerful showcase paraded past them over the last 5 months: see here), and their Director of Next Generation Services, Data Product Realization (can’t they have shorter job titles?), Roger Smith called Symbian “a very credible and likely candidate” to be “the One”.
AT&T intends to
 provide an own-branded smartphones and they reckon – rightly! – that it would be a “support nightmare” would they run this on various platforms.

Mr Smith also came up with some damning verdicts about J2ME: it failed to deliver a simplification for application developers and, moreover, doesn’t allow developers to get deeply enough into a phone’s OS to deliver the kind of experiences consumers want (what are these, I ask? Not having to put up with clunky and unintuitive restrictions? Ah, now I get it).
Symbian, Android (see here) or another one: the path is, I reckon, the right one. And it is a milestone for Symbian (and one probably only possible because of the decision to go open source with it) as it would wrap up one of the largest carriers in the world under its wings.

iPhone content is recession-proof, too!

Is it becoming boring or is it becoming more and more exciting? However you view Apple‘s forays into mobile, it is very, very remarkable (and I do indeed think exciting) indeed: in ads in the NY Times and the Washington Post (see here), the company reports 300,000,000 downloads in 5 months (I leave the zeros in for mere impact…). That’s 2.1m downloads per day – on a single handset model, which isn’t even the single best-selling one (well, it probably is of recent, but not historically) and is normally only available through one carrier per country (which means that it could also have been, say, 10m downloads per day if extrapolated to the total user base). Woah! Is anyone still skeptical about the equation pretty hardware + pretty UI + hassle-free shop-front + single platform + single distribution outlet = success for content?

The iPhone’s fashion factor does, I think, not matter when it comes to the download numbers: If the above chain would not work, people might smile slightly embarrassed and continue fiddling around with the pinch-z
oom of pictures, etc but they would not come back time and again to get more content for the thing; I mean: just running around with it and placing it onto bistro, bar, cafe and probably even Starbucks tables will be enough to prove your membership in the circle of the hip and trendy media crowd.
There’s only anecdotal reports (or rather rumours) about how much money is being made by developers on the platform (we still suspect a lot of it will be in the “free” category but one rather reputable games publisher apparently said that they’re making more money on the AppStore than through all of Vodafone Global) but these numbers are – in any event – huge!
And it does show that content works if you let it work, i.e. if you make it easy to publish on a platform and if you don’t try to be your customer’s nanny and determine what’s good for them. If people would realize this, and that would be the only lasting impact of the iPhone, that would surely be a lot! Thank you, Mr Jobs!

Mobile Gambling is Recession-Proof

The busy bees over at Juniper are in a pre-Christmas frenzy it seems; they’re very active recently (see here and here). Today, they have enlightened us yet again: according to their latest report, there is a niche sector that will actually be completely unaffected by the doom and gloom of the world economy, and that is mobile gambling. They predict this segment to double in size in 2009 to a not too shabby $3.6bn, 30% of which to be coming out of the UK.

However, 3/4 of that are said to come from betting, which is to say it is mainly an extension of existing betting business: Ladbrokes, Bwin, William Hill, etc, all run mobile sites funneling punters into their regular business. The second-largest sector is casino games, which would be the likes of IGT-owned Million-2-1 early movers Spin3 and the likes. And there is presumably poker (Cecure Gaming has captured a good position there it seems: live on all UK operator decks).
What they don’t say is if the numbers quoted are gross turnover or only the rake (which is only a small fraction of the total). But the rationale convinces me, too: people will gamble. Hope is a powerful consumer value driver! 

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