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Telco 2.0 News Review: Chinese iPhone + new tech bubble?

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China Mobile and Apple have agreed to do an iPhone that supports the Chinese TDD flavour of LTE, although they haven’t decided when. This would knock open a market of 600 million subscribers and significantly help China Mobile in its aim of keeping GSM subscribers from leaking to the new owners of their 3G network at China Unicom. However, it’s also obvious that only a relatively small subset of that user base could afford an iPhone, and this may reignite rumours that Apple might do a cheaper version. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless strongly suggested that the next lot of iPhones will be LTE/UMTS/GSM/CDMA “world phones” - as long as Qualcomm’s chips are ready in time.

In other Apple news, their users’ brains behave as if they were undergoing a religious experience when they see a Mac, which is hardly surprising - but now it’s SCIENCE, dammit.

Meanwhile, there’s more talk about over-the-air provisioned Apple SIMs, and three workers were killed when the Foxconn factory that produces the iPad 2 blew up, after an “accumulation of dust” met a spark.

Verizon Wireless announced its first Windows Mobile 7 phone this week, the HTC Trophy, which has the typical set of hardware features based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, including multi-radio support for both Verizon’s EVDO network and GSM up to HSPA. Multiradio is available, it’s just that Apple isn’t satisfied with the performance yet.

Not surprisingly, Nokia WP7 phones will also be built on Qualcomm chips. Time was, Nokia and Qualcomm were suing each constantly. Things have changed. The rumour of the week, of course, is that Microsoft might buy all of Nokia except NSN.

Silicon firm Omnivision announced a new mobile device camera module. It’s sampling now and will be in full rate production in the second half of this year, and the interesting bit is that it will record HD video at 1080p. Uplinks, watch out!

In the latest news from the smartphone scoreboard, Gartner reckons that only Apple iOS and Android are outgrowing the market overall. Symbian and RIM are struggling, and MS Windows Phone 7 has sold a mighty 1.6m devices so far. Asymco, meanwhile, points out that although Apple is taking a huge share of the profits pool, and vendors like HTC and LG are shipping vast quantities of devices, RIM is doing better in maintaining its margins - while Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, and LG are struggling to make money at all and Nokia’s going that way. They also have a truly excellent chart here and make the point that smartphones are still a big-brand business here.

Despite that, Vodafone has announced an own-brand Android for £80.

Sony Ericsson may be struggling, but few people are complaining about their latest lineup of phones. Vodafone New Zealand announced this week that the first shipment of Xperia Play devices have all been stolen.

Duelling rumour analysis: Boy Genius Report reckons the RIM PlayBook is a disaster and it’s missed sales targets by 90%, while also running up a huge rate of returns. RIM denies it. Silicon Alley Insider claims it’s selling far better than the Motorola Xoom and returns are normal.

Gadget review: Computer Weekly is pleased with the INQ Cloud Touch.

Sony announced a loss on its annual results, which were brought forward after the Japanese earthquake and the PSN security fiasco. Although the PSN is back on line, yet more security problems keep turning up. It turns out that you can get a new password for any account if you’ve got the e-mail address and date of birth - and every user’s e-mail and DOB are in the leaked data.

Meanwhile, hackers swarmed over Sony operating companies’ websites. Sony BMG Greece’s SonyMusic.gr cracked and leaked a large quantity of user data. F-Secure Labs discovered a credit-card phishing site operating inside a Sony server in Thailand. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Last week, LinkedIn went public in what turned out to be the bubbliest tech IPO for years. The shares doubled on day one, which will surprise some of its users who are more used to getting endless spam from the social network for suits. There’s an interesting discussion here as to whether LinkedIn’s bankers gave it full value, but the big question is surely whether we’re heading into Bubble 2.0.

On that score, legendary investor Steve Blank says yes, but argues that it’s a good thing - he thinks we’re in 1995 rather than Christmas, 1999, and points out that startups these days tend to hit the market when they have started making money. We don’t agree with everything he says (far from it) but it’s certainly worth reading.

Over in the core infrastructure, Benoit Felten notes the big divide in the politics of fibre deployment: central government says no, local government says yes. British MPs are onto the same theme - why is Broadband UK working on a “new framework agreement” when the JANET, NEN, and regional government ones exist already?

In the US, Owens Corning says that it’s struggling to keep up with demand after Verizon ordered about 20% more fibre than expected. Verizon’s CTO also said that he didn’t think you should use WLAN to cover up coverage problems and then promised to do just that, saying that they wanted subscribers to transition onto WLAN at home and in major venues.

Meanwhile, Sandvine estimates that about half the US’s Internet traffic consists of streaming video or audio, with P2P systems accounting for 18%. Interestingly, streaming video has taken over from web browsing as the biggest application by bulk - although this is a question of definitions, as most of that will be viewed as part of a web experience and some of it will be transported as HTTP progressive download. The biggest chunk of that is accounted for by Netflix streaming.

Vodafone and EverythingEverywhere are appealing against cuts to their termination fees and O2 is supporting their crusade. BT and 3UK, meanwhile, are lobbying the regulator in favour of the cuts.

Data point time: US operators Windstream and Zayo reckon that the demand for bandwidth for an average cell site is now 31Mbps per operator tenant - that’s up from 19Mbps a year ago. Their cell sites have an average of 1.5 operators’ equipment up the mast, making a total of 46.5Mbps and a strong case for investing in fibre. Not that long ago, the number was 4Mbps from the traditional pair of E-1 lines.

Data point the second: the costs of smart grid deployment have been revised upwards and so have the returns.

TalkTalk announced solid results, with EBITDA and revenues climbing steadily despite a loss of subscribers, and better revenues in broadband making up for losses in voice. Safaricom announced revenues up 12.9% and subscriber growth of 8.8%, but most of that was swallowed up by spending on the network. Subscribers and revenue from M-PESA are growing at 50% annually.

Telia is not keen on free VoIP services running over its LTE network. It’s keener on using LTE in the 1800MHz band along with DTAG and FTel. And AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson is expecting “5 years of chaos”.

Google has been heavily criticised over dodgy online pharmacy adverts it accepted. It’s also abandoned its project to digitise newspaper archives, and it’s decided to give up on face recognition. You might think there was a certain loss of confidence around. On the other hand, the mobile Web version of Google Maps has just got many of the features of the Android app.

IBM has been saying for a while that business analytics and big data are a huge opportunity, and it just added another $100 million for R&D in this field.

Apple is buying another data centre even before the famous iDatacenter even takes the field. Facebook simulates its own data centres in its data centre in order to decide what to do. Terremark’s CEO resigns. Zynga develops in the cloud but deploys in house.

On Twitter, IBM’s Viswanath Srikanth says:

“Every 600 phones, means a new server in data center” - Cloud Computing being driven strongly by smartphones; tablets

And the government doesn’t know how many data centres it has or who owns them. However, they’re hiring the man responsible for The Guardian’s web activities.

Nokia terminates Ovi. Struggling with dongles. 100 terabits a second. Understanding Twitter spam. Doing speech-to-text in the cloud with Tropo.

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