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Telco 2.0 News Review: BlueVia/Twitter, and Skype Shares Scandal

Telco 2.0 Top Stories

[Ed. Reminder - Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live!, our free global online event, is on live tomorrow Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th June, and on demand thereafter. Do join us for great presentations and interactive chat with Anne Bouverot, EVP Mobile Services, Orange Group, and Carlos Domingo, CEO at Telefonica I+D amongst others. We’ll be covering Mobile Broadband, Cloud, Mobile Apps and Digital Entertainment - all 2.0 of course.]

GigaOM asks if telcos could be the key to Twitter’s revenue model. It turns out that they’re planning to provide their own photosharing service, and might do it with Telefonica’s BlueVia API. The revenue element is, of course, that BlueVia offers you a share of the messaging revenue generated by your app. So presumably Twitter users pay for the messaging in some fashion and Telefonica kicks some of that back to Twitter. Telco 2.0 event attendees will not be very surprised to encounter Telefonica’s Jose Nunez Valles in there - he’s presenting at Best Practice Live! this week too.

Elsewhere in social, BusinessWeek has a detailed story on the decline and fall of MySpace under News Corp management. It’s a deep dive, and well worth reading as it touches on the tension between focus and range in product development, the limitations of the ColdFusion and Microsoft.NET platforms MySpace used, spam and malware issues, and the News Corp management’s insistence on driving advertising, any advertising, in order to hit quarterly revenue targets. Also, did they underestimate external innovation and the developer community?

At one point, News actually planned to build a massive “MySpace pavilion” as the centrepiece of a new corporate headquarters building in Manhattan. But within two years - 2007 to 2009 - they went from planning the ruins of the future to selling the office Slushy machine on EBay. It’s a must-read.

Google is about to face a confrontation with the Feds. Specifically, the Federal Trade Commission is going to investigate its business practices based on complaints from websites who think they should get more PageRank than they do.

Over at Nokia, their new flagship phone has launched, finally bringing MeeGo to market in a smartphone form factor. The pretty pictures are here at the official blog. Initial reviews are excellent; Ars Technica asks whether perhaps Stephen Elop seriously misjudged the readiness of the MeeGo platform back in January, given that, well, here’s a phone and it’s only June.

The answer seems to be that Nokia is using the codebase codenamed “Harmattan”, the ultimate development of the pre-Intel deal Maemo Linux, but it’s been reworked to implement the MeeGo 1.2 API specification. Also, the N9 design has apparently had and lost a keyboard on the way, although “selected developers” are going to get a device the N950 that does have one. (MyNokiaBlog called this one in March.)

Ars’s Ryan Paul makes the point that it’s surprising that Nokia isn’t planning to port its open-source Qt framework to Windows Phone 7, as that would let all the Qt developers working with Symbian or MeeGo/Maemo come along. We would point out it’s even more surprising as Qt already works on Windows desktop machines.

Here’s something interesting, though; over at NDN, the SVP of developers is strongly hinting that Qt will get ported to Nokia S40 phones, or something like that. MeeGo Experts seems to have been assured that there will be no more phones, although they’ve also been told that a hit with the N9 might reverse the whole thing.

It’s possibly telling that MeeGoExperts.com is serving up a big Vodafone ad for Android devices right next to its masthead. Anyway, Stephen Elop has told Helsingin Sanomat that there’s no going back. But he is still talking about Qt “platform independence”, and the Windows handset here looks quite like an N9.

Meanwhile, Nokia and Siemens have backed off from the idea of getting an outside investor into NSN and are instead thinking of dropping in some more cash.

So if you’re a real Nokia/Symbian fan, there’s a prototype Psion Revo going for only £85,000. Now that’s hardcore.

It was the week the Microsoft-Skype deal turned ugly. Last week, Skype suddenly disposed of a herd of executives, they were accused of doing so to avoid paying out on the change-of-control clauses in their stock options, and they denied it. This week, it turns out private equity-era Skype employees didn’t actually own their options even after they vested, so the company (or more specifically, its owners) could zap them remotely, as it were.

Reuters’ Felix Salmon, who led the original story, follows up and points out that Silver Lake is a private-equity fund but tries to give the impression of being a venture-capital fund, which turns out to be critically important. Not that this was considered so important when they bought into the company - back then, white-iPad VC firm Andreesen Horowitz was very much the lead partner.

Oh, and those Skype options may have been over shares in a specially created Cayman Islands partnership in order to make it harder to sue. Skype Journal rounds up the rage and betrayal. More here and here, and possibly the best Quora ever.

In marginally less dramatic Skype news, Disruptive Telephony reports that the iPad version is coming soon. Skype Journal wonders how long it will be before the SkypeKit developer program delivers anything much.

Phil Wolff further speculates that Skype VP for “Emerging Opportunities” Jonathan Christensen might announce a major developer community/API product at eComm tomorrow.

If you’re going, best to have a read of Alec Saunders on “Voice 3.0”. Impressively radical or Telco 2.0 2007 vintage? Dan York offers a critical response. Meanwhile, here’s HOWTO port both your landline and mobile numbers into Google Voice.

Google, for its part, announced that all its VoIP is now using the open-source version of Jingle, the XMPP-based protocol they invented, which has now been incorporated in the XMPP standardisation process. Read the list thread here for the horse’s mouth. There’s also an interesting talk by two Googlers doing the rounds about the history and prehistory of VoIP. Up your clue.

HD voice is coming to Telstra.

Apple is reported to have bought up so many lithium polymer batteries there is a world shortage of them. It’ll be all those MacBook Airs. There’s more chatter about a potential cheaper iPhone. And Apple knows devs: see which bits of the screen are getting hardware acceleration in WebKit!

Meanwhile, the iPhone is the top seller at 51% of Verizon retail outlets and many more AT&T ones. And one million people have actually chopped up their own SIM card so they can have a cheap (and fast) T-Mobile USA HSPA+ link and also an iPhone, which T-Mobile USA doesn’t carry.

AT&T is leaping back into the CDN market, Dan Rayburn reports. Specifically, he says, they’re investing heavily in EdgeCast and Cotendo’s technology, which makes this a more serious proposition than their past attempts. It looks like they’ll be offering both classic content delivery and also edge-based app hosting.

Rayburn also reminds us of those “download player” buttons the Web used to have. Much as people hate Flash, at least it freed us from guessing whether this or that embedded video would actually work.

Elsewhere in the cloud, Facebook is teeing up another huge data centre to take advantage of that delicious North Carolinan coal-fired electricity. Mmm…coal.

Amazon Web Services is currently storing 339 billion data objects in its cloud, says CTO Werner Vogels. That’s more than double last year’s count.

Hulu is available on Android, but only if you have one of six phones that can handle its DRM requirements. More broadly, the TV networks’ Internet video play is up for sale. AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka reports that the company has appointed investment bankers to look into a sale or perhaps an IPO, but that the big problem is whether the owners would let it take its mates’ rates content licenses with it. There’s already been quite a bit of tension between the content owners and their startup - did they want to make money from their stakes in Hulu or from charging it licensing fees? - and it’s obvious that they wouldn’t want a competitor to get their hands on the content.

Of course, though, no content means no company, so if the Hollywood and TV interests behind it go too hardball they won’t be able to get their investment back. And neither will the Hulu team get their share options out. One of the potential buyers is apparently Yahoo!

Here’s the first tablet with the Netflix streaming app, and it’s also the first WiMAX tablet. Netflix is regularly accused of being a bandwidth hog - remember the great peering war? - so it’s interesting to see that you can now adjust the video quality they send you to fit your data tariff.

Verizon, meanwhile, is evening out data pricing between smartphones and laptops, but also trying to maintain a special “tethering” price plan.

There are now more femtocells than macrocells - but as Connected Planet points out, given the difference in capacity between a femto and a macro, this actually isn’t very impressive. They also make the excellent point that public small cells turn out to be more useful than private femtos.

LightSquared has shuffled its frequency band up a bit in a bid to get away from the GPS signals.

Somebody has noticed that UK spectrum refarming and the T-Orange merger may result in T-Mobile UK and Orange’s owners being able to sell a £450m slug of GSM spectrum they were given for free in 1991.

Twitter app Seesmic has decided not to support BlackBerry any more. Bloomberg points out that RIM’s current share price makes it a steal for a solidly profitable business:

“RIM has lost so much value that an acquirer could pay a 50 percent premium and still buy the BlackBerry maker for a lower multiple than any company in the industry,” stated the report.

Although those PlayBook sales could be better.

Apple patents a way for third parties to turn off the camera in your iPhone. Australia starts censoring the Web. The business model of fake anti-virus.

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