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Ring! Ring! Hot News, 28th April 2008

Meet JIL; that’s the Joint Innovation Lab, a project worked out between Vodafone and China Mobile that’s meant to establish standards for mobile widgetry. Apart from the obvious point that only telcos could come up with anything like a standards body for widgets, what’s the betting the standard turns out to be a lot like the Nokia Web Runtime?

Perhaps more seriously, the head of Nokia R&D suggested there was an urgent need for a standard mobile platform, but it was more likely to be a de-facto one emerging from the chaos than a GSM-like technocratic solution. What Telco 2.0 liked in his speech was the reference to history:
“I feel like I’m been watching a movie I’ve seen three times before,” he said. Just as the IBM 360, the Digital VAX, and the IBM PC delivered standard platforms to hardware industries of yesteryear, Iannucci argued, some unseen mobile platform will deliver a standard in the age of handhelds.
We seem to have seen this idea somewhere else, right? He also mentioned a Nokia research project to generate traffic information by peer-to-peer monitoring of GPSes in phones; which suggests that the sensor APIs in such a solution will be more than interesting.

This is more than interesting. There’s been plenty of scepticism about Blyk, but the ad-funded MVNO-plus claims it’s signed up 100,000 customers six months ahead of schedule. That puts it well over the first hurdle of launching a successful MVNO; the next step will be extracting the value from this by cutting deals with the advertisers.

When Exradia - the company that claimed to protect you from THE RAYS by, ah, radiating more radio at you - turned up at 3GSM, a lot of people thought they were extracting something else. Maybe so; they certainly don’t seem to have extracted value. The UK-based operating company has been wound up, and the report to creditors says:
“In the view of the viability of the product, it is not considered to have any material value.”
Now there’s a surprise.

There’s almost certainly much more value in this: AT&T buys a ton of femtocells from IP.Access, with a view to selling them to their customers for $100 a throw. It’s a great little trick - your customers actually give you money to install base stations in their houses, and then they pay for the backhaul too, and you can even stuff other features in the box as well! That’s unless they realise that it’s…a mobile phone mast in their living room.

Stuart Henshall blogs about India, the world’s fastest-growing mobile market. Surprisingly, it’s being rumoured that Bharti Airtel isn’t satisfied with that - it may be planning to buy MTN, creating an emerging-market specialist of mammoth proportions. If the telco merger curse doesn’t get them, of course. Relatedly, their rivals Reliance Globalcomm are planning to invest heavily in WiMAX.

MTN, meanwhile, announced surging subscriber growth, especially in Iran and Afghanistan. So well is the Afghan network doing that it’s even downfaced the Taliban, whose attempt to force them off the air has apparently resulted in a popular backlash.

If you’re in Mumbai today, you might well be advised to check out Mobile Monday; this month’s session is on value-added services based on voice, which is surely very Telco 2.0 indeed (we call them “communications enabled business processes”, but who’s counting?).

In China, there are rumours that the long-awaited 3G licences will finally arrive sometime next year, and there are supposedly almost 60,000 TD-SCDMA handsets out there. We also happen to know that China Mobile had to be forced not to deploy a UMTS network, already.

Remember Skype? More specifically, remember the regular hype-waves about Skype on a mobile phone? Well, here’s Skype on a mobile phone for you. This time, it’s considerably better than the implementation 3’s X-Series got (no instant messaging, but no way for your friends to know this from your presence status). We’ll have to try this out - as soon as we’ve got tired of Truphone and Fring and all the other 70-odd Voice 2.0 players in the Voice & Messaging 2.0 report…

We’re trying to cut down on iPhone news - it’s a pity you can’t install the de-iPhoner on your brain - so we’ll just note that a 3G Blackberry is being held up to avoid clashing with the 3G iPhone, allegedly. And finally, a warning from South Korea: fibre is not enough - KT Corp profits are down 60% as the last few people get fibre.

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