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Ring! Ring! Telco 2.0 News Review, 30th November 2009

Last week’s top Telco 2.0 news stories

As part of the Telco 2.0 Americas event, we’ll be debating the value of AppStores with American delegates to see if they differ in their views from their European counterparts, who we asked to vote on this question: “How successful will the current focus on consumer apps and app stores be for operators?”

Watch out! Salesforce.com has introduced a new product called Chatter, a social networking platform for users of its CRM systems. Michael Krigsman of ZDnet Project Failure reckons it’s unlikely to be one of his regular topics, and that Salesforce has taken the lead in a new field of enterprise computing. There’s more detail at Salesforce; one of the most interesting features is that your Salesforce applications can be members of the social network, as well. An interesting question - if applications can publish events into the social network, can they also receive them from it?

And how long will it be before the good folk at Salesforce add voice to Chatter? The de facto standard for rich messaging and publish-subscribe functionality is XMPP, which has the huge advantage in this scenario that the message payloads are XML, just like the enterprise data your applications are crunching. There’s an extension to that standard for voice-over-IP. We don’t know if that’s how Chatter works yet, but we wouldn’t bet against it.

On the video front, the BBC and ITV announced that they’re integrating the iPlayer and its ITV equivalent into the Freesat satellite platform they share. It’s not entirely clear how this works, but they’ve been testing with one of the set-top box suppliers; we’d like to remind you all that satellite broadcast really beats everything else for delivering bulk video at low cost per bit.

Informitv, meanwhile, has data on the iPlayer. It’s currently reaching 5 million viewers a week, or 6% of the TV user base, but only achieving 135,000 peak concurrent users; the vast majority of viewers are using it as a complement to broadcast TV rather than a replacement, too, with 96% of usage being video-on-demand rather than simulcast. Broadcast is clearly still very much relevant. However, there’s an issue of quality here - 900,000 users wanted to watch Question Time in the same week it attracted 3 million TV viewers. Now there’s a highbrow user base.

There’s also a full-service client for the iPhone coming, just as Tesco announced it was going to sell iPhones. Think exclusivity deals are a useful strategy? Think again, and stand by for iPhones that come with Every Day Low Pricing. In the US, WalMart is pushing out Google Android devices for $30 a go. Commoditisation is here.

After the first iPhone worm, we now have the first one with a malicious payload, at least if you don’t count Rick Astley as malice. The new worm targets jailbroken iPhones that are running an SSH daemon and using the default root password - so that’s two layers of blatant stupidity right there - and then tries to scarf details of ING Direct bank accounts. It also enrols the device in a botnet controlled from Lithuania, and changes the root password to “ohshit”.

Meanwhile, the original iWorm author gets his reward - a job with an Australian mobile developer shop. In other iPhone news, you can’t easily roll back an update.

There’s a review of the first Vodafone 360 handset here; apparently you have to sign up for 360 for its features to work. Who knew? The UI certainly looks cool, though. if it gets any take-up at all, it surely won’t be long before interesting applications appear, as it’s a LiMo Linux device at bottom. Speaking of Linux, here’s the next version of Nokia’s Maemo Linux running on a TI-based netbook.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, has signed a deal with a Taiwanese chip maker that is best known for providing the components that get into China’s world of grey-market devices. In a sense, it’s the hardware equivalent of the iWorm guy getting a job…and there’s now a Web site for people whose iPhone apps were rejected.

Lenovo has changed its mind about being a mobile devices OEM; they’re buying back the business unit they sold last year. For about twice what they sold it for.

Fring, it seems, has added video calling to the feature set of its mobile SIP client for Nokia S60 devices. It remains to be seen how long it will be before anyone actually makes a video call. In other news of services nobody needs, Twitter founder Biz Stone promised that the service would start to make money in 2010 through the magic of “non-traditional advertising”.

In broadband news, Clearwire announced it’s secured $2.78bn of extra capital it’s going to use to keep building out its WiMAX network. Unfortunately, they have no plans to cover this village, where the only person with broadband is the chairman of BT. It may not matter - Finland’s 2.6GHz auction is a big disappointment.

In Spain, the regulator recently issued rules under which the incumbent, Telefonica, would be obliged to let alternative operators wishing to deploy fibre use its ducts, poles, and trenches. Inevitably, this was too sensible to last and they’re going to law to appeal the decision.

Kenya, meanwhile, gets its seventh fibre network as the Kenya Power & Light Company starts rolling out down its rights-of-way, although we’re talking backbone rather than access here. However, they have some rather different problems; Mickael Ghossein, CEO of their rival Telkom Kenya, says in an interview that his fibre network is sabotaged on average 10 times a month.

In the UK, hotspot operator The Cloud is sued over someone downloading copyrighted content in a pub. Relatedly, Virgin Media apparently wants to deep-packet inspect all its user traffic with a system from Detica.

However, the Internet Service Providers’ Association is the latest body to come out against the proposed three strikes legislation. And then came the mobile operators. Chief among them is of course Vodafone, which is trialling tiered pricing in Spain, with the special feature that the lower classes of service can have more bandwidth when the network is quiet as well as getting less when it’s congested.

O2 UK is home to a new kind of MVNO - GiffGaff wants to be “run by its customers”, which in practice means that you get a reward for signing up other people or answering their questions. And you get free data for the first six months, as well as competitive voice and messaging rates. Let’s see what happens in six months’ time.

The former CEO of Vimpelcom is now the CEO of new Vimpelcom, and a huge quantity of pager messages from September 11th, 2001 has been leaked. That should perhaps encourage us to take David Burgess’s warning about the security consequences of ultra-cheap telecoms gear seriously.

And the cloud sometimes crashes to earth.

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