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Telco 2.0 News Review: US Smartphone growth, Google + review round-up

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[Ed. All the Telco 2.0 Best Practice Live! videos are now available on demand, including Orange on initial lessons from NFC launches, and Telefonica on how it’s used VOIP acquisition Jajah to build a ‘Facebook phone’.]

A majority of new phones in the US are now smartphones, according to Nielsen. Interestingly, they also reckon that Android market share has plateaued since Christmas, sticking around 27% (which makes it the market leader). Further growth has come from, you guessed it, Apple, especially since the first non-AT&T iPhones arrived in February. Windows Phone 7 was under 1% and RIM on 6%.

Taiwanese government forecasters expect that HTC will pass RIM into fourth place among world mobile vendors next year. They’re also predicting a 17% global market share for Windows Phone 7, which may please folks at Microsoft, where they are pushing out early builds of Windows Phone 7 “Mango” to registered developers.

Dissidents at RIM: a senior executive sent Boy Genius Report an open letter criticising RIM’s strategy, products, management and indeed the odd twin CEO structure. This shook out more internal dissent - more letters showed up, including one which blamed too many former telco executives for the company’s problems. Ouch. More discussion at Hacker News.

HP, meanwhile, confirmed that it’s going to licence WebOS.

Bad economic news is coming. Semiconductor makers report that inventory is rising rapidly in the supply chain and demand from ODMs falling, especially for netbook chips.

And, in a rewind to 2006, Michael Mace on tech market numbers:

“You don’t actually use these things to make business decisions, do you?”—A horrified industry analyst, when she realized why we had requested the latest forecast

T-Mobile’s IBM Netezza data warehouse processes 17 billion transactions a day. A day. They also drew back from data capping, deciding to offer anyone who spent at least £25.34 a month on a two year contract “truly unlimited” data service.

Roaming price caps are coming down today: European roamers may not be charged more than 32p a minute for outbound and 10p a minute for inbound.

The Australian NBN’s satellite element has gone live.

And mobile phones don’t give you cancer apparently.

Big news this week - Google’s second dig at building a social network is out. Google + includes link-sharing, content recommendations, and video chat while introducing the concept of “circles”, letting you organise your contacts so as to avoid letting the wrong people see the wrong stuff.

Here’s Wired’s first impression, an interesting run down of lessons learned from the Buzz and Wave failures, and how Facebook flattens your social network into an undifferentiated blob - and Google + is better.

ReadWriteWeb loves it. Everyone seems to like the circles concept - we remember the Hoofnagel et al. paper on targeted advertising and how the subjects seemed to maintain a number of mental “privacy contexts” and react angrily if information shared in one was used in another. Perhaps it got a few close readers in Mountain View.

The Next Web is a bit more circumspect, but still enthusiastic. As someone said, it’s like 2004 all over again, when people fought over GMail and Orkut invites.

GigaOm thinks it’s more of a threat to Skype, because of the video features. However, as Tim Panton points out in comments at TNW, Skype is likely to counter by using Skype 5.0’s embedded browser to let you do Google + inside the Skype client.

Interestingly, so far it looks like the most requested feature is a script to scrape all your data out of Facebook and slurp it into Google+, which will probably get done about five minutes after the developer API for + opens for business. The Facebook dev world has already struck back - Circlehack is a skinned version of Facebook that implements something similar to Circles, in so far as that’s possible. And there’s another round of Skypebook chatter going on.

The final word is from XKCD - “it’s like Facebook but it’s not Facebook. Hmm, that’s just what I wanted…” indeed.

In other Google news, Android activations have passed 500,000 a day, but they drew a blank in the firesale of Nortel’s patents. In all, the creditors cleared $4.5bn from buyers including Apple, Microsoft, and RIM.

As we heard earlier, some RIM people are concerned that telco culture has infiltrated their company. (Diagnostic tip: the specific strain can be determined by whether the Kansas City or Chicago cable tie knot is used.) Horace Dediu discusses whether the same problem is behind Nokia’s crisis - specifically, did Nokia product engineers believe the hype about the glorious, IMS-based, carrier-led future and therefore fail to spot the importance of mobile applications?

More new Nokias were announced this week. Again, they’re impressive in themselves but you have to wonder about their relevance, especially as they’re running Symbian. The E6 and X7 are both running a new version - ! - of the doomed platform, codenamed Symbian Anna. This is going to be followed up with another iteration, Symbian Belle. And then come four more Symbian devices, all named after women for some reason. The list is here.

Actually, checking, only three are named after women - the other is codenamed Zeta, which usually refers to a terrifyingly brutal Mexican cocaine gang made up of twitchy ex-special forces gunmen given to skinning suspected informers alive, driving around in home-made armoured personnel carriers dripping with machine guns, and rolling the severed heads of policemen onto dance floors. Sounds like the Symbian group might not be taking the whole thing very well.

More detail is at Engadget.

Up in the cloud, Werner Vogels of Amazon announced a major cut in prices for AWS customers. Outbound bandwidth will be significantly cheaper, while inward data transfer is now free. Prices at their CloudFront CDN are also coming down.

The AWS Official Blog further announced some new management features - you can now save and clone the configuration of your app in the Elastic Beanstalk autoprovisioning tool, and also dynamically swap URIs between systems, for example to deploy a new version or to bring a hot standby on line.

Robert X. Cringely caused a stir last week by claiming that the Apple iDatacenter is mostly unusued or at least underutilised. Data Center Knowledge alleges that his, ah, data centre knowledge is lacking, with reference to Apple’s planning application.

It’s worth noting, though, that when Apple iCloud went online, some people noticed that it seems to be using Microsoft Azure - not what you’d expect from a company that had just built a giant datacentre at fearsome expense (we blogged). Perhaps Cringely was on to something?

Meanwhile, Apple MobileMe had a major outage.

DCN reports on a fascinating conference session on future server architectures, notably using Atom netbook cores - lots of them! Packet Pushers’ Podcast discusses a data centre where all the network traffic is broadcast.

And here’s an interesting British startup - Romonet, whose software accepts data centre designs and produces estimates of their key performance indicators.

Moving up a level in the stack, a fascinating piece on how Braintree’s payments processing software works, As well as an interesting scalability study, it has quite a bit to say about upstream developer customers. TripAdvisor has no specialists - just “T-shaped skills”, deep in one area but capable of working on anything in the company.

Tropo has a nice HOWTO on building real-time Voice 2.0 apps with their product, Node.js, and the Redis key-value database. DjangoCon videos are now up. ZDNet compares 7 major clouds’ terms of services.

It’s been eComm time again. For a quick crib, try Brough Turner’s Twitter feed, in use as a live notebook. Dan York is concerned about IPv6 and telecoms. Wireless Cowboys shares some pictures of their 802.11 network. Horses pull fibre.

Missed calls as a telco API product! They are in India.

The standard API for the world’s CRM and helpdesk systems.

Groupon privacy fail: 300,000 passwords indexed by Google. BT engineer saves RevK’s home from fire trying to fix the DSL. Ad.ly - you give them money, they pay celebrities to mention you on Twitter. It’s a business model…

Spam is down from 90% of e-mail to 75%: Brian Krebs inquires and finds out that some key spammers are in jail, but on the other hand, some botnets have moved from spamming to running DDOS attacks for blackmail. A really awful virus - TDL4 turns your machine into (among other things) an anonymous, encrypted proxy for criminals to browse the Internet. For $100 a month, you can do anything you like on the ‘net secure in the knowledge that someone else will be held responsible.

How the tech industry really works.

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