Tag: T-Mobile (Page 1 of 3)

Microsoft & Skype

Allegedly, this morning Microsoft will announce it will buy Skype for $8.5bn. It is Microsoft’s largest investment into the digital realm so far (and a nice cash-out for the people who bailed Skype out from eBay a while ago; the valuation at the time apparently was put at $2.75bn). Besides these being big numbers (and allowing Skype not having to worry about an IPO anymore), this opens an opportunity for a new kind of animal in the communications corner of things. And here is why:

Microsoft is legendarily late to the party when it came to smartphones. Their Windows Phone 7 OS was labelled as too little too late although it received positive reviews on the merits. Then it struck a much discussed deal with Nokia, the ailing (former?) phone giant to ship its phones with WP7. So, if we add Skype, will this create the torso of a new type of communication service? Think Nokia handset + Windows Phone 7 + Skype = mobile VoIP on a large scale.

Did we forget an ingredient though? Ah, bandwidth. Hm… Skype is understandably much maligned by most carriers (with the notable exception of Three) as it shifts revenues from (high-margin) voice to (lower-margin) data. With most carriers struggling under the increased network loads higher-end smartphones consume in terms of data, a discussion started recently about contributions for such data throughput. Now, a lot of the larger carriers are multi-play animals: be it Verizon, Vodafone, France Telekom/Orange, Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile, Telstra, etc, etc, they all provide both mobile networks as well as fixed-line broadband. It will hence be not that easy to just walk around them and “just make it so”.

Many people have talked about the ubiquity of WiFi hotspots and such like in many areas but I would humbly suggest that this is daydreaming rather than a robust basis for a truly ubiquitous device such as a mobile phone just yet (and it perhaps never will). The future would seem to lie in mobile networks rather than fixed-line anyhow (LTE and all), which means that there will need to be some sort of rapport between vendors and service providers (such as Nokia/Microsoft/Skype) and carriers, and even mighty Nokia has already lost a fight over Skype in the past (see also here). Likewise, Google had come out with lofty promises as to carrier integration and has failed miserably to deliver the goods so far (carrier billing on Android Market anyone?).

So voices that hail the arrival of a new era might well be a little premature. Now, given that Microsoft can work with Skype on the desktop side of things as well will ease the transition significantly. However, the be-all-end-all solution it is not, at least not yet. And if Microsoft and Nokia can deliver remains to be seen, too, I guess.

Back to work then…

Conference: Droidcon, London

On 28 and 29 October 2010, Droidcon London will open its doors again, exploring in multiple tracks the Android ecosystem. Business, Developer, Design or SDK/API – there will be something for everyone involved or interested in the fastest growing mobile OS (and associated ecosystems) at the moment.

For the main conference on Friday, the speaker line-up promises a lot of learnings and insights.

I will be there telling people on how to make money on Android (hint: yes, it will involve Scoreloop‘s tools… ;-)). But you should also come and see great speakers from:

  • Google
  • Admob (yes, I know they’re Google now, too)
  • T-Mobile
  • InMobi
  • comScore
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Motorola
  • Orange
  • Reuters
  • Qualcomm
  • INQ Mobile
  • Ericsson
  • Accumulate
  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Device Anywhere
  • and many more (check here for a full list of speakers).

The conference will be preceded by a barcamp on Thursday (28th), which will feature, amongst other things, a Google Android boot camp and dotOpen’s formidable AppCircus.

I am hoping to see you there. Go here to register (or check here for the full programme on Thursday and Friday).

What matters: Handsets or Packages?

It is this time again: my phone contract comes up for renewal. And – as anyone who is following this blog will know (to recap, look here), I have not been all too happy with the treatment I got from O2 UK. So today I started looking around. Given my rather fat tariff requirements, carriers normally throw in all sorts of goodies (scil. free handsets), so started there. I have an iPhone 4 and a Nexus One already, so started to see what else is out there, as there are:

Then I started looking at where, what, how I could get it and at what price, and the UK carrier labyrinth was entered: The Omnia 7 is carried by 3, Orange and T-Mobile, not by O2 or Vodafone (at least I couldn’t find anything to that end). The HD7 is an Orange exclusive, the Trophy is a Vodafone exclusive. The Galaxy S and the N8 seem to be with all of them.

Step 2: tariffs. With an unhealthy amount of traveling abroad to do, my main cost item on phone bills regularly is data roaming, so this is where my sensitivity lies (because of the eye-watering bills I regularly get, I am not bothered about 600 or 900 UK any-network minutes costing £5 more or less), and it became clear quickly: Orange, T-Mobile and 3 are out of the race (their charges are even higher than O2’s). Vodafone looks good (about 1/3 of O2’s rates) but O2 claims to still have their Blackberry tariff for international data roaming (although I struggled to find it on their website). Now, THAT would bring my bill down by a cool £150-200 a month or so. Enter Blackberry. The Bold (which I dearly loved when I had it) or the Torch (which gets decent but still very mixed reviews)? And then: O2 again? In spite of my anger with them?

And then I started to compromise: anything exclusive to Orange, T-Mobile or 3 was out of the question (because data roaming is pretty much a killer for me), which boils it down to Blackberry and O2 or any of the others on Vodafone (which would mean that I couldn’t get what started being my favourite, the Samsung Omnia 7). Hang on: I compromise over some shoddy pounds? Is the handset then not so all important as one might have believed when reading all those blogs, news blitzes and tech publications over the last months?

And, yes, I think it is true to say that – at least in instances where there are certain usage requirements (in my case data roaming), the package is what rules. This is perhaps then the wedge that the carriers –  scrambling for meaning in this new app store world – could use to pry that dump pipe/smart phone dichotomy open. How’s that for an idea?

So, good folks at the carriers, listen up: do it (oh, Vodafone, and get me that Omnia 7, will you? 😉 ).

Orange UK on Gaming Offensive

The UK arm of Orange, the France Telecom-owned operator that is merging with T-Mobile’s UK bit, today offered a lot of news on the mobile games side. They made an announcement on the introduction of not less than 3 different gaming services that they will be launching over the next couple of weeks:

  1. Playtomo is a social gaming service to be used within the users’ social networks (e.g. Facebook; no others were mentioned). Users can download the app (?) from Orange’s portal and then share scores etc on the social network of choice. It sounds a little like a “posh Facebook Connect” solution (and this is not meant derogatory at all!). Friends can be invited from any UK network operator.
  2. Games Zone is a subscription-service where “just” £5 per month buy you two games and a 20% discount on all others. It also offers “exclusive competitions”.
  3. The third offering is a little unclear to me: Orange will launch the aptly called “Orange iPhone Games” offering, which will feature games that are “designed specifically or published by Orange for iPhone customers”. They say it will include a variety of game genres as well as the aforementioned Playtomo. Now, this one, I am not sure about… Orange clearly looks to bolstering their brand (or, perhaps, use their brand as a lever to lift otherwise unbranded games into the limelight) but this seems like a tough proposition. It is an interesting one, too, though as it would seem the first time an operator steps into the ring as a publisher amongst many. Watch this space…

The really uplifting thing about this is that Orange clearly recognises the significance of games to their overall offering and playful interaction is – as I have often pointed out – likely to be a driver for interaction between people in the mid- and long-term.

Finally: do you think this gives any hint as to which brand will survive the merger of the Orange and T-Mobile UK operations? 😉

Conference: Mobile 2.0, Berlin

It is conference season and one of the more exciting ones kicks off in Berlin this week: Mobile 2.0 opens its gates on Tuesday and boasts an exceptional line-up to look at the future of mobile.

The very, very high-profile set-up of speakers includes:

  • Olivier Laury, Content Director, Bouygues Telecom
  • Jonathan MacDonald, Managing Director, JMA
  • Damien Byrne, Head of Entertainment, T-Mobile
  • Mark Curtis, CEO, Flirtomatic
  • Amer Hasan, Sr Manager Apps & Developer Programms, Vodafone Group
  • Alistair Hill, Analyst, Comscore
  • Antoine Vince Stabyl, CEO, ItsMy.com
  • Romi Parmar, CEO, The 3G Dating Agency
  • Olaf Kroll, Director Business Development Europe, MySpace
  • Chris Wade, CEO, Shozu
  • Antony Beswick, Global Strategic Product Manager Social Networking, Ericsson
  • Stefanie Hoffmann, Founder Aka-Aki
  • Jonathan Medved, CEO, Vringo
  • Mo Firouzabadian, Global Business Line Director – Carrier Solutions, Buongiorno
  • Ilja Laurs, CEO GetJar

and many, many more, including, yes, yours truly (I’ll be on two panels, namely on the succinctly titled panel on “redefining the mobile content marketplace: exploring the growth, development and industry implications of mobile app stores” and on “building strategies around the drivers of innovation in mobile web 2.0”).

You can register here, and, believe me, it’ll be worth it. It is an exciting topic with top speakers in an exciting city. Make your way over and join us!

See you all in Berlin! Ping me on Twitter (@vhirsch) if you want to get in touch.

droidcon: Android Conference, Berlin (4 Nov 2009)

As Android continues to roll out (at least 18 devices by year-end), the ecosystem around it starts to sprout, too. To highlight this, an Android-centered business and development-oriented conference, Droidcon, will hit Berlin on 4 November, and I will be giving a keynote on licensing models and open source (full programme here).

It looks like a very exciting event, so I’d like to encourage everyone to come (there are 4 parallel tracks, so you do not have to listen to my ranting…)! Register here (and, no, I do not earn a commission).

I’ll post a little preview on what I will be talking about more specifically ahead of the event, so stay tuned.

O2, Orange/T-Mobile, and now Vodafone: iPhone everywhere in the UK!

After the news broke that Orange will add the iPhone to its roster from just before Christmas, today we read that Vodafone UK will do the same, only a little later, some time in Q1/2010. Vodafone said that not having the iPhone was basically the reason for losing 200k customers in the last quarter alone. Vodafone had previously been shipping the device in 12 other territories.

With Orange and T-Mobile merging their UK operations, the new set-up which sees basically all large operators offering the device should make for some juicy deals. Analysts reckoned the contract tariff for to come down by £4-5 per month. Orange did not say anything specific but “indicated” that it would be cheaper than O2’s deals.

According to the article, Virgin Mobile (an MVNO that sails on the Vodafone network) is also “understood” to be desperate to secure the right to sell the phone. Happy days…

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