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Apple’s No.s, RIM’s Strategy, & Netflix’s Online Aspirations - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. On the Telco 2.0 front we’ve just published M2M 2.0: Market, Business Models, and Telcos’ Role(s), plus don’t forget to check out the Best Practice Live! online videos now available on demand - you’ll need to register.]

If only everything in life was as reliable as iPhone sales. Apple’s results are out tomorrow and the consensus forecast is for a £3.5bn boost to profits as another round of new products approaches. Given the continued importance of the Macintosh as a hero product for Apple, it’s possibly significant that Amazon is offering discounts on MacBook Airs.

Meanwhile, Horace Dediu reckons that total app downloads from iTunes have overtaken total music downloads. On the other hand, as he points out here with some truly awesome visualisation, the only major platform in industry history to outrun iOS is…Android.

In the iOS 5 beta, it looks like you can forward FaceTime video to a networked TV, thus doing something to deal with the form factor problems of mobile device video calls. Of course, you’ve still got to stare at the phone because that’s where the camera is.

Is someone thinking about how to attack RIM in the enterprise? Apple is going to introduce a new version of the App Store for business customers, which allows multiple devices to be associated with the same iTunes account. To put it another way, that account can manage software (and content) deployed on a whole fleet of iDevices centrally. Sounds more fun when you say it the Apple way, though. There might even been a bulk discount on some apps.

On the other hand, Apple settles the first location-snooping lawsuit for a rather measly sum. Will the A5 chip work in an iPhone case without overheating?

And app developers are pulling software from the App Store for fear of patent-trolls. The latest one appears to cover SMS, e-mail, all instant messaging systems, RSS, and Internet Relay Chat. Surely the courts must see sense about this.

Here’s an interesting insider look into RIM. Among other things, RIM executives were apparently so proud of their users’ low data usage that they didn’t think the Web browser would be important - but this is odd. As the piece points out, RIM benefits from data usage via fees for its BIS and BES services. And there’s nothing wrong with being efficient with network resources.

Also, this bit doesn’t reflect very well on telcos.

I remember going to sit with the CMO of one of the largest wireless carriers, and we would deliver features like “increase battery life by 40%” in the next model, and we would get a blank look on the other side of the conference room. The executives would think, ‘so you’re telling me with this device I am going to sell 40% less car chargers’, there was a blank stare.

Neither does this, from the NSN Blog. Apparently a carrier had a problem with spikes of signalling traffic. The reason was that they’d pushed BlackBerries heavily but without provisioning data service for them. So when the devices tried to do their pre-configured BlackBerry thing, they hammered on the doors of the SGSNs endlessly without ever getting a response.

Meanwhile, a stock analyst wonders if RIM could disappear. He then goes on to say it won’t, thanks to the enterprise products, BBM, etc. But he got the headline he was after. He also says RIM needs to “crack the code in the consumer market”. A majority of RIM’s sales are now outside North America, where the company is much more consumer-centric…and how many other smartphone platforms have their own hip-hop track?

However, as Horace points out, RIM has had several quarters of lost market share in the US. While Apple’s share is steady, Android’s is rising, so it’s the others that have to make room. [NB For our latest take on on RIM see RIM: R.I.P. or ‘Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated’?.]

Kantar’s latest smartphone market readout has Symbian’s market share falling from 32% to 10% in the UK.

Meanwhile, Sony Ericsson reported good sales of Androids and serious earthquake disruption.

Androids aren’t necessarily cheap. ISuppli has dismantled the latest HTC Thunderbolt and costed out the BoM, and concludes that it costs as much as a typical tablet to make. Specifically, the LTE radio is expensive. Qualcomm is making $29 on each of the devices from its MDM9600 chip. Still, MTN is piloting LTE in South Africa.

Some interesting analysis of Microsoft sales data suggests that although Windows 7 is shipping reasonably well, the PC market is heading into a downturn. We noted a couple of weeks ago that semiconductor companies are building up stocks again, which implies that demand from the downstream industry is weak.

Netbook sales have tanked, and just look at the difference between HP and Apple’s numbers. Get a Mac…and they did.

Microsoft doesn’t want Windows Phone 7 on tablets. They should get Windows Windows, as it were. And the Windows division is still trying to sneak onto the handsets via a Windows-on-ARM solution.

Bing has achieved almost as much market share as Yahoo!, with the distinction that Yahoo! is profitable.

Cisco CEO John Chambers said that the company will continue to “reinvent itself”, although oddly he didn’t mention the 14,000 layoffs. The networking specialists’ priorities are going to be IP core networking, data centres, video, and collaboration. They also boasted of having seized 10% of the server market from a standing start.

Also, their Cius communications-focused enterprise tablet has got LTE…in a sense. Rather, VZW will ship a MiFi 4G hotspot device with each one.

In data centre news, DCN has details of Facebook’s future plans. They intend to move out of their leased colo facilities over the next five years as they build their own data centres, which should get rid of $70m a year in OPEX payments to three major datacentre developers.

AT&T is installing fuelcells as back-up power in some of its datacenters. Massive Seattle carrier hotel is on sale, and dammit, it’s ugly.

Verizon Business’s chief electrical power engineer reckons that data centres will develop in two directions - the super-giants built near sources of cheap power, and smaller highly-efficient localised facilities built near cities.

A lot of the stuff being served out of data centres is of course streaming video, and the biggest video streamer is Netflix. This week, Netflix announced it was hiking the price of its traditional DVD-by-post business, compared to the streaming element. Your network will love that! Felix Salmon asks if this has finished the long tail model at Netflix. Dan Rayburn argues that Netflix wants rid of DVDs, although this means killing a lot of content.

Adam Knight argues that it’s all about a contract with Sony Pictures, and that the point is to force a distinction between DVD and streaming subscribers rather than bundling the two.

Telco CMOs expect mobile data demand to rise at a 40-50% annual clip from here to 2015. However, 94% of them have no plans to partner with the OTT content or apps players who are driving the demand for data. [Ed. We strongly suggest they read The Roadmap to New Telco 2.0 Business Models.]

Michigan Telephone has an interesting piece on E-911 and outbound VoIP…but that’s not going to be this week’s top Voice 2.0 story, is it. As well as the editor of the Sun, the UK Prime Minister’s press chief, the executive chairman of the Wall Street Journal, and the CEO of News International, the head of the London police force has been forced to resign in the great voicemail-hacking scandal.

We’ve long said that voicemail is the worst application ever devised. In this case, the problem was that all the UK carriers handled PIN resets the same, broken, way - the PIN was reset to a default value that anyone who had ever reset theirs knew. As practically all voicemail was provided by the same outsourcer, this was a class-break of the whole system. Most of the world’s Web sites that have a password reset form have enough sense to implement it by setting the password to a random string.

On the other hand, there are reports that the paper was paying police for GSM location data, which suggests that they had access to the lawful-intercept systems. Security legend Ross Anderson has some interesting thoughts.

Can Vodafone’s Sure Signal femtos be exploited to intercept your calls? Vodafone denies it. This refers.

This is interesting: Vodafone in India is doing some EV-DO mobile broadband.

AT&T is planning to deliver locally-targeted adverts into in-app advert networks, using its Yellow Pages brand and presumably its base of advertisers.

In a related idea, O2 UK is launching a location-based loyalty scheme, “Priority Moments”. You’ll note that some of the partners are also involved in the sponsored WiFi product they presented at our last event.

Kineto Wireless obviously has an interest in this, but it’s a good point - WiFi is a great way for MVNOs to get deeper into the value chain without buying a network.

Ericsson Money has a launch customer, or rather two - pioneer operators Globe and Smart from the Philippines are using it to deliver an international MMT service in seven countries. Here’s a good summary of the payments aspects of the Parlay-X API.

How did Google build Google +? A great rundown on the open-source tools that underlie it. Using Redis in a big social network.

RevK comes out for user-owned fibre.

Metaswitch announces an RCS-e server. Better caller ID. The Taliban’s own mobile network. And for lovers of big visualisation feats this is beyond awesome.

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