Month: June 2009 (Page 1 of 2)

Will Vodafone acquire T-Mobile UK?

There have been press reports (in German) according to which Vodafone is pondering an acquisition of T-Mobile UK. The reporting paper, FAZ, is not only fairly conservative but also the most prestigious German newspaper, so there would appear to be some substance in this.

The paper reports that the board of Deutsche Telekom, the owner of T-Mobile, was facing increasingly critical sentiment on its UK investment: they are said to have sunk a painful £13bn into the UK arm since their acqusition in 1999. Investment bank Sal Oppenheim’s estimated sales price of €4.5bn would at least ease some of that pain.

The UK market is hotly contested and one where a lot of the large international conglomerates are represented, namely with Vodafone, Telefonica/O2, France Telecom/Orange and Hutchison Whampoa’s 3. The strong competition would also appear to ease concerns of merger control restrictions (Vodafone would become a clear market leader in the UK): they could argue quite reasonably that there was more than capable competition in the market besides their acquisition.

Vodafone CEO Colao is apparently interested in acquisitions. T-Mobile suggested though that it is very early stage. Stay tuned…

LG is Bullish: 9% growth in 2009

Not all is in recession it seems. The handset vendor world #3, LG predicts to ship 110m phones this year, which would represent a 9% increase in volumes on a year-on-year basis (see the market shares for 2008 and Q1/2009 below; courtesy of Strategy Analytics) in the face of what it believes will be an overall flat market this year.

So whilst everyone is shrinking, LG is growing. Everyone? Ah, now, Samsung is growing, too. The victims? Seemingly Motorola and Sony Ericsson with Nokia also suffering. No news then? Well, by 2012 LG wants to be #2 and ship around 200m devices (which would be 100% more than in 2008). So 9% growth wouldn’t get them there, would it?

Joking aside. Is this surprising? I think not. LG had had a couple of very “pretty” devices out. Starting with the LG Prada, they came out with the “Shine” and had a great success with the Viewty. They have been upping their game at a time where in particular Sony Ericsson and Motorola had been struggling to compose a coherent product strategy, and this will have enhanced the overall effect.

No Smart Phone, Want Apps…

phonesAccording to a little piece of research, we might all have been wrong: it is not that owners of feature phones (the embellishing term for the “not so smart” phones) do not want content, they do, or at least “over” 90% of them do.

The report said they found “strong interest” in apps with VoIP, IM and navigation leading the pack. Now, is this Apple’s ads (“there’s an app for that”) having an impact? Or did these people want that stuff all along and just could not get it? To be clear: there have been VoIP solutions for a while (depending on the carrier of course: Vodafone and T-Mobile Germany weren’t too keen but 3 UK has a specific Skype phone out), there are dozens of mobile IM clients. And when it comes to maps, well, GPS beats triangulation any day and a lot of carriers have traditionally been, erm, cautious with allowing application providers to access network data.

It is striking that the most sought after apps are those that – anecdotally – a lot of smartphone owners use regularly, and also that most of these come for free (to the user). So is it the aspirational look at the guy with the posher phone who gets stuff for free? I wonder…

Carnival of the Mobilists # 178

venice_carnival_2009Welcome to the Carnival of the Mobilists, which has finally arrived on this blog, and how timely, too!

Last week marked not only the launch of the long-awaited Palm Pre but also featured Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (without Steve Jobs threatening to quit this time), so the theme would appear to being set: it is all about smarter phones, is it not?

And, lo and behold, this is exactly what this week’s worthy posts focused on, and from a variety of angles. It apparently energized some of the best and brightest to set pen to paper (or thumb to keyboard; can somewhat come up with an updated simile, please?). So off we go:

We are first and foremost being treated (!) to another of Tomi Ahonen’s epic posts, this time a journey through the times of the smartphone, from Nokia’s first Communicator (oh, how I loved my “brick”) to the iPhone, N97. Specifically, he looks at how differently the concept developed in the US vs the rest of the world. He also tells us where he thinks the real future lies (hint: not in apps apparently…). It is an absolute must-read even if a) you’ll need a good cup of coffee and a bit of time to read it and b) Tomi’s Finnish heritage does shine through on more than one occasion… 😉

Ajit Jaokar’s Open Gardens Blog follows on this theme: he argues that the Web just moved and that this will impact the balance of power with the web winning (hint: this is coming closer to where Tomi thinks we’re going, too).

Peggy Anne Salz’s MSearchGroove blog lends its space to Ben Jacobsen, the former Director of Global Marketing for Opera, who has some numbers to put against predictions that apps won’t really matter by looking at the real value of the app industry (it’s apparently $3.2bn in 2009 growing to $7bn in 2013) and the opportunities for app stores (hint: it is not Apple that rules). He also – rightly – points out however that the fact that Opera’s Mini browser is the top downloaded Java application of all time provides a good outlook on where the real opportunity lies.

Judy Breck suggests that smartphones have become a defining tool to ensure social equality in education: she urges to give smartphones to Washington DC school kids to make sure access to information is the same irrespective of class and income.

If you want more proof on how the web enhances your mobile experience, here you go: Aaron Chua shows us some intriguing examples of mobile applications that combine mobile device functionality with the information available online. Geoff Ballinger throws in his comparison of the price plans competing in the UK with the new iPhone 3GS’s tethering option (just in case you were wondering if it made sense).

And then, here is a voice reminding us that there is not only the web to connect to but the real world, too: Andrew Grill gives us a heads-up on Unilever’s thoughts on mobile coupons. They realized that they might be able to reach youngsters who might not be so keen on cutting out paper coupons anymore…

Before I go, here are two very noteworthy posts on events you should try not to miss:

Caroline Lewko’s WIP Jam Sessions stage events on various mobile open source topics in Amsterdam, Berlin and Marseille.

And then of course Rudy de Waele opens Mobile 2.0 on 18/19 June 2009 in beautiful Barcelona.

And Rudy has a special goodie for Carnival readers: he is giving away 2 FREE TICKETS to both the developer day (otherwise sold out!) AND the conference. Here’s how to win the ticket: send your definition of what is Mobile 2.0 in a tweet tagged #cotm to @mobile20 before this coming Tuesday 14h (CET). Rudy will choose the best and announce the winners on the day.

Post of the week goes to Tomi Ahonen’s tour de force of the smartphone world (but he also receives a caution for being maybe a little too rose-tinted over Nokia – I am referring to their recent innovative forces rather than their early revolutions…).

Now go, click those links and dive into what will hopefully bring you (even more) insight and inspiration. Have a great week!

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iPhone Usage

Here’s a report about an interesting piece of research into the elusive animal that is the iPhone and Android user, or more precisely that animal’s usage of apps (“… there’s an app for that…”).

The researchers from Gravity Tank chose Android (well, the G1) next to the iPhone because Android Market and Apple’s App Store both allow “unlike older smartphones [sic!] easy access to a range of free or low-cost applications”. Now this is what the (mobile) world has become in the last 12 months…

Anyway, the survey finds that the average (!) user has 23.6 applications on his/her phone and uses 6.8 of them every day. 48 percent report shopping for apps more than once a week. About the same number (49 percent) report using apps on their phone for more than 30 minutes a day. Woah, nice!

But it goes on: 32% said they used portable gaming devices less because of their app-enabled phones. This reminds me of one of my predictions on how the iPhone would eat into the handheld gaming market (see here, here, here and here).

And it shows, more importantly maybe, that these owners of the “newer” smartphones use them as true multimedia devices rather than only phones: 31% read newspapers less, 28% use GPS devices less, 28% use MP3 players less (well, they have one of the better ones if they use an iPhone), and 24% are watching less TV. Media going mobile then, finally…

And then – another indication on how far we have gone – the NY Times starts to whine: it notes that “despite Apple’s relentless advertising of its App Store, it seems that the availability of applications is not the primary driver of phone-buying behavior.” Doh. Now, here’s a finding. 74% of the respondents said the device “allowed” them to check their e-mail and calendar, and it allowed them to consolidate multiple devices into a single device whereas “only” 67% cited the availability of new games and applications. Only 67%, huh? Brave new world!

App-sharing coming to iPhone and Android?

iphone-3-0The breath of fresh air that Apple has been bringing to the mobile content industry does not seem to end. However, this time, it is not so much fresh air by Apple but rather a borrowed deodorant from Microsoft (more specifically the iPod killer called Zune) and that is app-sharing. Whilst this might be largely superfluous for the Zune (how often will you find a group where more than one person has one? – as the good folks from the Apple Blog mention), it would be upping the usability game again and, for iPhone and iPod users as well as for the quickly growing Android device-base, it would arguably impact the market a little more. This also since the iPhone has become so much of the benchmark every OEM tries to emulate.

So what is it? According to Business Week who have been speaking to someone “familiar with the technology”, the iPhone 3.0 software kit provides for a functionality that could “if activated by Apple” allow users to share apps between them (note to self: ask my contacts familiar with the technology if they came across this, too).

Technically, it’s compelling and simple, well, the latter at least in Apple’s case: It was a nightmare for an engineer (as much as a dream for every “guerilla” marketeer) in the face of a gazillion different handsets with a gazillion different screen sizes, heap sizes, soft key allocations, etc, etc. In Apple’s case: 1 device, 1 screen size… off to the races…

Now, the same thing is supposed to happen with Android devices, too. And there, this might actually be a little harder to achieve; different devices, etc – well you get the gist.

From a user perspective it is of course fantastic: you can try things out before you have to commit to buy (rather than relying on the voluntary “lite” versions). So rather than buying an app that a friend likes (which increases the likelihood you might to but does not necessarily give you certainty to part with your precious cash). So: try it out. You like it, you buy it… It also (as mentioned above) is a big one on the marketing side: the strongest sales people will be happy users. So if a happy user recommends it to their peers, it is so much more likely that they will give it a go. All good stuff.

Would someone from Apple please confirm this? 😉

Sony Ericsson & GetJar: jump-starting an App Store


Everyone is jumping on the app store bandwagon and, so far, Sony Ericsson had been a little behind. Some thought this might be related to its PlayNow Arena offering, which is already an app – or rather media – store of sorts. But it turns out that the handset maker was plotting a different strategy and one with an interesting result indeed.

It was reported today that Sony Ericsson will partner with GetJar on the creation of an app store. GetJar (the guys with the ugly logo) is a giant in the distribution of mobile content who had gone to clock up 200m downloads in only 2 years by last year (and now recording 6.5m+ downloads per week and more than 300m since launch)), which was, prior to the Apple App Store a very respectable number indeed. Now, GetJar has now something like 45,000 apps on their store. However, these are for free. The company appears to making their money with ad injection…

Sony Ericsson will apparently provide a mix of GetJar’s free applications and premium content. The solution will be using GetJar’s platform and will roll out in the 13 countries that currently support PlayNow Arena first. Compatibility is currently ensured with 38 of Sony Ericsson’s handsets but they intend to roll out to further markets and models over the year. It supports J2ME and Symbian on the outset but they plan to support other platforms in the course of the year. Android probably…

The deal allows Sony Ericsson to jump start its store though and that might be the most important piece of it: it can combine its own catalogue (through its current offerings) with GetJar’s huge catalogue of free apps, thus avoiding the fairly empty places that some of the other guys put together (Palm announced it will launch its Web Catalogue with “a dozen or so” apps, even Nokia’s Ovi Store had “only” 20,000 “items” in at start). GetJar’s platform is arguably fairly powerful since this is the only thing they do, so a quite smart move.

On GetJar’s side, I wonder if this is the one of the first steps into a new direction (Sony Ericsson was not the first app store deal they signed; 3 UK and Portuguese carrier Optimus apparently signed up with them, too, which I had overlooked; apologies). The company’s business model is/was based around ad infusion, it seems (see their CEO blog about it here). So this might be the next wave to monetizing platform and content on it…

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