Tag: Verizon (Page 2 of 4)

Top 10 Phones in the US, December 2008: the Ascent of the Smartphone

There’s new data out on the bestselling handsets, and this time it is not being derived from accessory sales (which may have its flaws as I pointed out here) but from a survey amongst service reps and store managers across the 4 big US mobile networks (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile; these comprise 85% of the total subscriber base). Now, this would arguably reduce the recorded sales for the iPhone since this is also being sold via Apple’s own retail stores as well as Walmart, Best Buy, etc. So again not an entirely accurate yardstick, huh?

It is noteworthy that only one handset is available on more than one carrier (and, yes, it ranks prominently amongst the top 1) and that Nokia, despite all waiting, has still not managed to break the top 10.
It is also noteworthy that most of the handsets would certainly be classified at smartphones (the Samsung Rant might be the exception). And this is certainly good news. The T-610 and RAZR may finally have left the building…
So here we go (number in brackets is the previous month’s rank):
1. (1) Blackberry Curve
2. (2) iPhone
3. (3) Blackberry Storm
4. (6) LG Voyager
5. (4) LG Dare
6. (5) Blackberry Bold
7. (-) Samsung Rant
8. (9) Samsung Behold
9. (10) Samsung Instinct
10. (8) LG Env2
Source: Rankings are by Avian Research LL.C. (via the above link)

Vodafone ponders and prepares to bulk up

Did you know about Vodafone’s Flipfont app? No, I didn’t think so; it seems to have gone more or less unnoticed. Well, it allows you to – listen to this – customise your phone frontpage. Woah! How cool is that? The downside? Well, you need to pay £1.99 for the pleasure, per screen! I don’t think so… And, apparently, (now) so does Vodafone. Amidst the iPhone/AppStore rage and the “revelation” that UI might actually matter to people, they seem to have realized that changing a font will not necessarily change the uptake of consumption to new levels. And because they cannot have the iPhone (although it has the Blackberry Storm, which is performing much better than the initial damning reviews would have suggested), they will launch their very own app store, or so they said (if you read Dutch, that is; how nice that we have a Dutch blogger amongst us who translated it for us).

This is not the only bit of news though: Vodafone also wants to tighten relationships with two other players in the market, and these are none other than giants China Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Now if you thought that Vodafone was large, take this in: together, these 3 carriers combine 821 million (!) subscribers (Vodafone 280m, China Mobile 457m and Verizon Wireless 84m [although I believe that VF counts a number of VZW subscribers proportionate to its shareholding in]).
Here’s what Vodafone’s CEO Vittorio Colao told the FT:
“If you think of three players, China Mobile is very strong in China; it’s a big country. Vodafone is very strong in Europe, Africa, India. Verizon is very strong in the US.

“If these three companies could work more closely… in the management of customers, procurement and service creation, we could be unbeatable, quite frankly.”
And right he is…

Mobile Music on the Rise: 40-45% of Digital Revenue for UMG

January is MIDEM time (even though, sadly, I cannot go this year), which means that music dominates the news. In an interview, the EVP of Universal’s eLabs, Rio Caraeff on the revenues of Universal Music Group that:

“about 40 to 45% of our overall digital business is coming from mobile channels like Verizon and AT&T. […] On much of our frontline pop or R&B or urban releases […] we’re seeing mobile comprising 20-45% of the [overall] revenue for those artists.”

Wow! Universal’s digital sales have been growing by 33% during the first 3 quarters of 2008, and they seem determined to fully converge “online”, “mobile”, etc into one:

“The consumer doesn’t want a mobile-only experience – they want an all-digital multi-platform experience. They want to consume their music on their mobile handset [and] on PC and other online platforms. Partners like Verizon and AT&T wanted to have multi-platform online experiences as well. […] Now at Universal, we don’t have a mobile business. We don’t have an online business. We just have one multi-platform digital business.”

Amen to that! And how right he is. Universal also adapted pricing, so that a song costs the same no matter on which digital platform you buy it. And, apparently, mobile storefronts play a role, specifically Amazon‘s MP3 storefront, which is pre-loaded on the G1, the first Android phone. So it’s app stores (or markets) all over this year, huh?
This shows that the majors learned from the pain of recent years and now get a grasp on the digital world. Good stuff that!

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 telecoms.com). 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

Adobe Flash Opens Screens

Flash maker Adobe isn’t tiring on bringing out news these days: this time it announced the “Open Screen Project”, in which it is partnering with a plethora of mobile industry giants, namely ARM, Chunghwa Telecom, Cisco, Intel, LG, Marvell, Motorola, Nokia (see also here re Microsoft‘s Flash competitor Silverlight), NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson (see also their initiative to marry J2ME and Flash here), Toshiba and Verizon Wireless as well as major media players such as the BBC, MTV Networks and NBC Universal.

It said “the project is dedicated to driving rich Internet experiences across televisions, personal computers, mobile devices, and consumer electronics. Adobe said it would open access to Flash technology, accelerating the deployment of content and rich Internet applications (RIAs).” This will include:

  • Removing restrictions on use of the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications
  • Publishing the device porting layer APIs for Adobe Flash Player
  • Publishing the Adobe Flash Cast protocol and the AMF protocol for robust data services
  • Removing licensing fees – making next major releases of Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR for devices free

Adobe says its Flash Player reaches over 98% of Internet-enabled PCs and more than 500m mobile devices today. It now expects more than 1bn handsets to ship with Flash technology by the end of 2009 (this means a year faster than previously forecasted). Flash technology is used to deliver vector graphics, text, interactivity and application logic, video and sound over the Internet. Currently, more than 75% of broadcasters who stream video on the Web use Flash technology (YouTube will be a big contributor to that number).

Following my many posts on mobile Flash (see e.g. here and here), this now looks like a real assault on the medium. Given that Flash reduces developer cost (less porting because of vector-based graphics) means it is a likely boost to the content industry: more and richer content at lower cost. Could this be it?

News Flash (Lite)

A while ago, I blogged about a cool new site French company Mobitween had launched, namely on user-generated games. Now, the good folks are a bridgehead in mobile Flash (they had their fingers in the code more or less from day 1). So, where is Flash Lite today?

Here’s the install base numbers as recently released:

From just over 14% to 23% in a year (yes, I know, this is based on a flat 2 bn handsets out there)… In any event, that is rather respectable, don’t you think?

Flash has the great advantage that its graphics are vector-based and therefore scalable. This means that most of the porting nightmare that contributes to 30-50% of the cost of mobile games, etc would fall away. Nice thought… It would make the whole commercial model of mobile games dramatically rosier. And it appears to be gaining traction: e.g. does Adobe make Flash Lite available on Verizon phones (and I’ve been told – confidentially – of one publisher having recorded more than 2m Flash game downloads on there already).

Flash is particularly good for casual games, which is, as everyone close(-ish) to mobile games knows, all the hype for the (small) mobile screen, and rightly so, as it is normally easier to adapt a casual game to the screen limitations (not even starting to talk about processing power) that are inherent to mobile phones. A natural fit, huh? Just look what Mobitween and their users have come up with! And I don’t even get started on Atom/Shockwave (read an interview here) and all the others out there…

Is it then that we only need to wait until Flash Lite (finally) reaches the mass market? On the web, Flash hurt Sun‘s Java badly. Will the same happen on mobile? Or will Sun be smarter this time, and make sure that its currently dominant position will be reinforced by making it easier for developers to publish on their platform? The jury is out…

ESPN Mobile gets 4.9m hits in 24 hours (10% more than on PC site)

MoCoNews points us to an article reporting about some noteworthy stuff on the usage of the revamped ESPN Mobile (you will recall that the full-blown MVNO they had tanked horribly and the service was then re-launched as a mobile internet destination). They (well, not they but “an executive briefed on the data”) said that for one 24-hour period, ESPN’s wireless NFL section, with 4.9 million visits, topped the PC NFL section’s 4.5 million visits. And that’s impressive!

In the same article, M:Metrics was quoted to point out that it was convenience that did the trick, and this is of course where the data might be a bit distorted (it might not be but it’s unclear): ESPN Mobile is available in two flavours. ESPN MVP is exclusively to Verizon high-end data subscribers who get it for free. So this basically supports the case that the mobile internet will become a fully-fledged “competitor” to the “old” internet once bandwidth and cost for bandwidth will be similar to the internet proper; and that is not a big miracle, is it? The normal ESPN Mobile is available to anyone but may be subject to data charges. It would be interesting to know the shares the two sites/apps have in the above data.

But I don’t want to divert from the fact that 4.9m mobile hits inside 24 hours is great by any measure. Sport is a wonderful starting point for mobile internet usage anyway as it is so time-sensitive (it is not really the same thing to record a live game and then watch it hours later after the city is steeped in the team colours already) and people all over the world are so passionate about their favourite sports and teams. Great stuff, surely!

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