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Telco 2.0 News Review

  • Developer Communities: Apps: 2nd factor in device sales
  • Strategy & Finance: Apple: What can we do with this mountain of cash?
  • Regulation: OFCOM: Yes, BT, you’ve got to pay the pensions. Yes, everyone else, so have you
  • Voice & Messaging 2.0: Skype is in your TV looking out
  • Broadband Connectivity: Indian 3G auction back on: tower deals surge

  • You really must show more application. According to a TNS poll, apps are now the joint second factor in subscribers’ choice of device - neck-and-neck with brand loyalty, behind look-and-feel. This rises to the first factor for the 16-30 age group.

    Unsurprisingly, the other kind of applications - the ones that happen when you aren’t looking - are also burgeoning. Here’s yet another warning about the threat from malware - especially from the possibilities of a fake femtocell.

    In a world where T-Mobile UK is advertising that you can get “a smartphone with apps” for £20 a month, it may become hard to keep track of some of this stuff. You may recall Palm having a major announcement not so long ago. Now, it’s turned rather sour, with sales of the WebOS devices disappointing - The Guardian’s blog decodes the all-hands internal e-mail from Jon Rubinstein, Palm Chairman and CEO. Meanwhile, Sprint and VZW subscribers got a software update that gives the devices video capture (like most Nokias had since whenever).

    In other device related news:

    - Anssi Vanjöki apologises for the N97 being less than fantastic
    - how Sony-Ericsson said no to producing the Google Nexus One
    - and a criticism of the new MS Windows Phone - it’s too phoney, and not enough of a computer.

    Things are, of course, different at Apple. The AGM is coming up, and key questions are likely to be “what’s the point of the iPad?” and “what are you planning to do with all that cash?”. There’s not that much else to ask, after Apple stretched out a lead of about $2bn in mobile net sales over Nokia’s “converged mobile devices” since autumn 2009. Sales through the iTunes Store aren’t bad either.

    Of course, if all that cash doesn’t tempt Apple to acquire something, and as DTAG and France Telecom have promised not to try anything silly in the line of mergers, it looks like it’s up to the rest of Silicon Valley to keep the M&A bankers, lawyers, etc going.

    Indeed, Google did their bit to keep the lawyers busy, as everything blew up when the Italian courts found most of the company guilty over a YouTube video. In fact, a YouTube video that had been taken down at the request of the police. Some context is here. It may be more serious that the European Commission wants to know if they’re fiddling competitors’ search results.

    In other online player news, here’s a Twitter monetisation effort; every Nth result in a search of Twitter could be an ad. But who searches Twitter feeds when they’re trying to buy something? And, with a limit of 140 characters, wouldn’t the ads-to-content ratio be a little high?

    What about mobile audio ads? It sounds like the worst idea ever, but that’s just the headline. The product seems to be essentially identical to Spotify - audio streaming over IP, with ads.

    There’s a lot of talk about making heavy users, or people who insist on using various classes of applications someone doesn’t like, or whatever, pay more. The BBC announced record iPlayer usage, as if to knock the point home, while O2 is going the other way and offering a smaller data bucket at lower prices.

    Neither, it seems, is trying to get the government to pick up an £8bn bill for pension liabilities. BT, we may recall, argued for a while that its own idiosyncratic understanding of the 1984 Telecommunications Act meant it could dump the bill on the UK Government. Nobody else did; least of all OFCOM, or its competitors, who blame BT for throwing the pensions money at the stock market. Unfortunately, it looks like the alternative solution is to hike the BT Wholesale and Openreach charges sharply.

    Not that the Web 2.0 types are any better - Facebook just tried to patent the RSS feed, a sort of second-rate, history repeating as farce rather than tragedy, version of BT’s attempt to patent the hyperlink.

    Meanwhile, another wave of menace heads for traditional telephony: TV sets that run Skype. One barrier to Skype has always been that it doesn’t really work on most mobiles, or on anything but a PC of some description, so if one party to a call wasn’t permanently near a computer, you had to make a PSTN call or send SMS messages to arrange for them to be near a computer. Basically, a little like setting up an international phone call used to be. But a lot of people have TV sets, and a lot more have mobiles. And Skype users can now use their credit to pay for WLAN hotspots.

    Clearwire announced subscriber numbers that appear to be improving though perhaps the most interesting question is how. Bill Morrow, the old Vodafone pioneer, said that they were expecting big things from “3rd party wholesale relationships”. This chimes with things Telco 2.0 heard at Mobile World Congress.

    There’s been another big sale of Indian cell-sites, and another date has been set for an Indian 3G auction.

    The FCC is after an additional 500MHz of spectrum for universal broadband which is meant to come from the TV world. They also issued a fascinating, dataful 168-slide presentation - we’ll be commenting as soon as we’ve digested it all.

    It looks like nobody wants to know about the Nortel name.

    And finally, via Brough Turner, the the sheer joy of that TV spectrum.

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