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Steve Jobs reaction in full; HP frenzy; Samsung speculation; and ‘federated cloud’ - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. In preparation for our next big report we’re after your input on Apple, Google, Facebook, Skype and Amazon here. We’ll send you the survey results and a deal on the report when it’s out if you do. Also, book up now for our next Brainstorms in New York (5th-6th October) and London (9th-10th November) run in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.]

It was the week Steve Jobs retired as Apple CEO. Ars Technica has three case studies on big leadership transitions in the tech industry, at Microsoft, Intel, and Sun Microsystems. That doesn’t sound too optimistic when you think about it, although they make the point that Sun’s fate had a great deal to do with the economic crisis and point out that Apple has so much cash on hand it’s relatively invulnerable to shocks.

The Guardian acclaims Jobs as the man who persuaded the public to pay for content on the Internet with iTunes and its constellation of iProducts and apps. Wired draws attention to Jobs’ role as “Chief Advocate for the Arts” at Apple and his concern for the integration of the arts and humanities into Apple’s design process.

Wired’s Tim Carmody profiles Jobs’ successor Tim Cook, veteran IBM and Compaq manager, architect of Apple’s global supply chain, and boss of the Macintosh division. We’ve noted before that Apple’s success in supply, manufacturing, and logistics is an underreported but very important factor. Cook is, in Apple-speak, the DRI for this part of the business - the Directly Responsible Individual. He also described himself as “the Attila the Hun of inventory”, which will certainly be a change from Steve Jobs.

Not so long ago, we quoted a comment from The Register as saying that Nokia hardware tended to be “90% of great” - for example, the N8 got superb video and radio capabilities but no keypad, the E7 got a great radio and a keypad but not the N8’s awesome camera. Carmody argues that the Intel-era Macintoshes could never have been accused of that, and points out that Cook was directly responsible for that as well.

His old job as COO will be filled by Jeff Williams, who as SVP of operations executed Cook’s plan to essentially corner the market for Flash storage in the run up to iPhone launch. Felix Salmon at Reuters points out that Cook is now probably the most powerful gay man in business.

Inveterate Apple bull Horace Dediu looks again at price/earnings ratios in the industry and concludes that Apple is less undervalued than he thought. He also has Q4 forecasts.

Last week, Samsung hired master Android hacker Cyanogen. This week, Apple repeated the trick by giving the creator of jailbreakme.com, the Web site that roots your iPhone, an internship. And Foxconn, assembler of the sea of iPhones, announced a loss.

While the Apple transition went off with typical, bevelled Apple neatness, up US 101 at Hewlett-Packard, things were nowhere near as stable. A top executive in their Personal Systems Group, the bit that makes lots and lots of PCs and surprisingly few mobile phones, promised that the division would remain the world’s biggest PC maker but said that HP was still going to spin it off. And they might even restart making TouchPads after the spin-off. Hardly clear. The Guardian points out that PSG is the lowest-margin line of business at HP.

Ah, the HP TouchPad. Last week, HP decided to let the retailers clear their shelves and warehouses of the devices by slashing prices down to as little as $99. The result was the biggest gadget grab since…well, when HP was handing out free ones at Mobile World Congress, really. A succession of e-commerce majors’ Web sites fell over under the pressure, with Misco UK ill-advisedly tweeting that it was about to make an announcement in the midst of the frenzy. Both BT and HP itself saw their e-shops trampled by the mob despite their cloud infrastructure - we await the diagnosis with interest.

Apparently Linksys has two internal pricing metrics, “justify to self” and “justify to wife”, which are set at $199 and $99 respectively. It says here, anyway, and that’s on The Register so it must be true. It’s clear that people will buy tablets if they’re cheap, but it’s also clear that they’d rather buy them from HP than from some no-name box shop. However, it’s also clear they’d much rather buy them from Apple if they can afford it.

As a result, is Amazon planning to aim its own tablet at that price point? Interestingly, women are much more likely to own an e-reader (well, a Kindle - how many people have any other?) than a tablet device, so perhaps what they’re planning might just be a development of the Kindle.

The impact was already showing up in measurements of advert serving. That suggests WebOS has a future, at least, with several million units released into the wild.

However, HP then reversed course on the TouchPad’s little brother, the Pre 3 smartphone, which is still very much at full price. No wonder the Wall St. Journal thinks HP has a plan to kill itself within one year.

Samsung, meanwhile, may be thinking of buying WebOS off HP, which would come with a nice wodge of patents accumulated by Palm over the years. They also pushed out some more handsets, three for Android and three for Bada. We’re regularly surprised by the number of people who ask us to configure e-mail on their Samsung Bada phones, so perhaps the rumour mongers have a point.

Samsung also launched its own IM network this week, matching Apple’s integrated IM/SMS client and RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger.

LG, meanwhile, has joined the negative margin club along with Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia. Is an exit on the cards? And did you know RIM has the industry’s second highest operating margin?

Nokia pushed out Symbian Belle this week. As with the rest of the zombie Symbian lineup, response was positive, despite the general sense of wondering quite what the point of it all was (although we did spot someone filming at least quasi-professionally at the Notting Hill carnival with an N8). Meanwhile, hackers got into a Nokia web site and stole a database of registered developers.

And a telco wades into the mobile phone patents fight: Verizon asks the government to get involved.

Google is thinking about integrating data from its + social network and the +1 like button into its search algorithm. Wired makes the obvious point that this could be very vulnerable to spam and manipulation in general.

The BBC’s project to crowdsource mobile coverage data has landed, providing an interactive map of coverage information collected from 44,600 volunteers’ Android phones. Compare the enthusiasm involved with the 20 million Brits who could benefit by changing operator but don’t because it’s too much hassle.

In broadband news, Aussie regulators objected to how Telstra intends to implement structural separation. Specifically, it’s going to take 10 years to complete the build-out of the National Broadband Network, and they’re concerned that Telstra’s plans allow it to hamper its competitors during the transition. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the company could fix the issue easily.

In Greece, Vodafone.gr and Wind Hellas are looking at a merger. This would make Greece the only European country to have only two mobile operators, so it’s likely to be more than controversial. Wind Hellas used to be an Orascom company, but was seized by its bondholders after it failed to pay a debt. Presumably the new owners, who never set out to be a Greek telco, are looking to a sale to Vodafone as an exit.

Telco 2.0 alumnoid James Enck has an interesting post on the emerging ecosystem of local fibre in Britain. He argues that it’s vital as the government won’t pay, BT’s balance sheet can’t pay, and neither can Virgin Media.

OK, so you’ve got a decent broadband link and you’ve got that HP TouchPad you bought for pence. But can you watch Hulu TV on it? No. Here’s how - turns out that there’s an unofficial hack that will let you disbork the popular streaming service.

Meanwhile, Aussie IPTV startup Quickflix has hired the head of IPTV from Telstra. And Horace has some interesting thoughts about TV in general, and how it resists change. Are you one of those riotous BlackBerry kids? RIM wants you to share music via BBM - we can see those 40-something hipster A&R men in the record industry loving this idea, which means their bosses might not sue it just yet.

It’s Tuesday, so there must be a Cogent peering war on. This time, it’s somebody else who’s depeered the lovable IP transit price leader. France Telecom, specifically, won’t route MegaUpload traffic. FTel seems to be suggesting to its users that this is because so much stuff on MegaUpload is pirate content of one form or another, but saying to its peers that all the MegaUpload traffic has blown the ratio on the FTel-Cogent peering agreement.

And AT&T, VZW, and T-Mobile are going to put $100 million at the disposal of their mobile-payment joint venture ISIS.

An app store for Skype? Phil Wolff has a good post for Skype’s 8th birthday - we agree with the idea that Microsoft might rebrand its whole unified comms solution as Skype, and also that the voice-hacker coolth has moved on to either Twilio or Tropo, or one of those companies that start with a T and end in O. (Although this testimonial borders on the creepy.)

Speaking of them, they’re off to Burning Man as part of David Burgess’s annual OpenBTS field deployment. Burgess and friends spend their weekend on the playa as the world’s smallest GSM operator - apparently nobody told them they could go there and dance - but this year there’s a special project. They’re going to run their own instance of Tropo, so the temporary cellular network will be more technically advanced than quite a lot of telcos, and they’re also going to have interconnect for the first time. More detail here, and if you’re crazy enough to want to help out, hop onto the wiki.

We like the note that if you’re really a China Mobile user you probably shouldn’t try it. For all sorts of reasons.

What else? Google Chrome has implemented the API for audio processing in JavaScript. The history of resi VoIP. Freespee in the USA.

Up in the cloud, VMWare has some good ideas about cloud federation. Specifically, they are proposing that cloud providers who use their software could offer standardised levels of interoperability and use their software tools to migrate virtual machines between each other. This makes more sense than most talk about this subject, which tends to be as insubstantial and fluffy as…a cloud. Amazon Web Services, which also offers the ability to import whole VMs from some operating systems, points out that import and export of canned virtual machines is an important feature for the enterprise.

AWS also now offers a special region for US government customers, which is compliant with legal requirements for applications that are considered to be weapons. Meanwhile, here’s how Werner Vogels runs his own Web site. Ashburn, Virginia: the home town of data centres. Red Hat hits back at VMWare with its own open-source cloud. Microsoft waps Salesforce’s annual conference with a special offer on its cloud version of Dynamics CRM.

A fascinating talk on Google architecture. Monitoring the cloud. Verizon buys CloudSwitch.

The FCC issued advice for mobile users during Hurricane Irene, but pros will find this fascinating NANOG post on being a GSM operator in the Christchurch earthquake more useful. In-depth reporting on Libya’s rebel BSC engineers. Ouch: dodgy SSL certificates in the wild, again, used against Iranian dissidents.

Analysing Twitter traffic in the UK riots. Looks like rioters use BBM and the clean-up volunteers use Twitter.

Finally, IMS deployments are moving - specifically to replace Class 5 softswitches. Interestingly, Genband and Huawei (of course) are the market leaders.

Facebook shells out $40,000 for bug reports and is criticised over developer relations. MySociety.org launches FixMyTransport, like FixMyStreet but with transport. Microsoft takes a look at the Windows Explorer. IPv6 ready stickers? Computing’s original review of WinXP.

And ZDNet takes a look at the Raspberry Pi, an ultra-low cost ARM-based hacker board for kids invented by Eben Upton. Who happens to be an old school colleague of Telco 2.0…

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