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‘Crises’ at Facebook, RIM; CDN appeal; the ‘end of TV’ - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. There are a lot of major Telco 2.0 milestones coming up in the 10 weeks, with our new report on the disruptors (Google, Apple, Facebook and co.) about to be published and our Brainstorms in New York (5th-6th October) and London (9th-10th November). We’re also delighted to report that the World Economic Forum have just appointed Telco 2.0’s CEO to their Global ICT Council.]

So, is there a crisis at Facebook? Reports are filtering out that the company may have missed internal revenue targets for 2011, and badly - $1.6bn as against $4bn. This is the sort of news that sends publicly-traded companies’ stock rattling down, and it’s probably no surprise that the IPO hasn’t happened yet. Datamotion argues that Facebook is “the new Yahoo!”, a company that was in the right place at the right time and therefore looked much better than it is. They point out that Facebook Messages, Places, and Deals have all failed to get traction, that there still isn’t a tablet-optimised version, and now they’re in a race to copy the latest features Google deploys to Google +.

facebook guide to crisis sep 2011.jpg

And they’re losing users in the United States in significant numbers.

ReadWriteWeb notes that a major Facebook deploy is planned for this week, and looks at what might be in it and what Google + might push out next. Google + has also started to open up a developer API.

Interestingly, Facebook has just integrated its developer site with Heroku, the popular cloud-hosting service, in order to speed up the deployment of new apps. Heroku, originally a Ruby on Rails project, has recently added support for Python and PHP, supposedly at the request of the Facebook engineers.

Ericsson’s Consumer Lab says that self-reported viewing of classic, scheduled, broadcast TV is falling. Instead, viewers are using more and more on-demand video. And the gogglebox is no longer commanding their undivided attention - typically, they’re on the Internet at the same time, browsing the Web or using social networks. Also, they appreciate HD video and don’t like advertising.

On the other hand, only 12% were at all interested in apps for their TV, which tends to bear out Telco 2.0 ally Anthony Rose’s contention that the social dimension for TV will be a companion experience on some other device.

In other TV news, NHK and BBC Research showed off a new ultra-high definition screen, suggesting that your friendly local Cisco salesman’s bonus is probably secure for the foreseeable future. LibertyGlobal showed off its new platform solution which integrates Internet video and cable broadcast, using Comcast’s thePlatform.com backend and a Samsung-made, Intel Atom based set-top box.

Presumably the cable broadcast element is meant to obviate the need for a CDN, as none is mentioned. Asian carrier PacNet was this week reported to have licensed EdgeCast’s software for its own in-house CDN. EdgeCast now has 10 licensed CDNs operating as well as its direct customers.

In other CDN news, Telefonica has launched its own group-level CDN, initially available in Spain and Argentina, with plans to roll out across their entire footprint. 40 POPs are currently operational, which should rise to 70 and a capacity of 600Gbps this year. Interesting detail: Google is named as a possible customer.

TeleGeography says that the Internet is becoming less centralised, with more regional interconnection and more deployment of CDNs and big Web sites outside North America and Europe.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s CEO had to apologise for mishandling their price rise, and also announced that the DVD-rental operation (what some people might call the core business) is to be rebranded as “Qwikster”, keeping the original brand for the CDN-hammering streaming service. Dan Rayburn has hard words over how they are managing the expiry of the Starz content deal.

Reuters has a detailed story on how Hulu continues to search for a buyer and why no-one has come forward yet.

The United States is 25th in the world for broadband, and falling. Also, meet the chap in Idaho whose service keeps dropping out because bears scratched their backs on a tower and knocked a line-of-sight microwave link out of alignment.

Australian ISP iiNet, free of the bear menace, has published its prices for service on the National Broadband Network.

RIM has Q2 numbers out, and they’re pretty shocking. They expected to ship 600,000 PlayBooks and the out-turn was 200,000, so expect a fire-sale of shiny gadgets pretty soon. On the other hand, as Crackberry.com points out, average selling prices for the smartphone range were strong and actually rising, and margins held up or rose on the smartphones as well. Also, the “sell-through” for the new BlackBerry 7 phones was strong, suggesting that the launch has been a success.

They argue that the 20% kicking the market handed out to RIM shares is explained by the PlayBook being a dog and RIM management issuing overoptimistic revenue forecasts - Apple, typically, lowballs its advance numbers and then gets a pat on the head when it beats the spread. Asymco Horace (who we’re delighted to say is joining Telco 2.0 at the EMEA event) makes the interesting point that the impact of Android on the market has been subject to considerable and unpredictable lags.

He also argues that the biggest loser in the market is the non-smartphone sector, which is shrinking fast.

Samsung has retaliated against Apple by suing to block the launch of iPhone 5, claiming that its radio stack violates Samsung patents. Some of the bitterness between the two companies may be explained by this Businessweek story, in which Samsung executives leaked information about Apple’s pre-orders of iPad touchscreens to a hedge fund manager.

Google got a knockback in its lawsuit against Oracle.

And Foxconn has started its first iPad plant outside China, in Brazil.

Speaking of China, stand by for a $4bn website IPO! 360buy.com, a Chinese e-commerce powerhouse roughly analogous to Amazon or EBay, is planning to float. If they go for it, it’ll be a bigger IPO than Google’s. Meanwhile, Chinese Twitter clone Sina Weibo has promised to improve its censorship…sorry…moderation.

In fact, it looks like the whole Chinese Web 2.0 sector has been given the hard word, as this Wall Street Journal piece makes clear. Over the summer, top executives from Sina.com, Baidu, Youku, Tencent/QQ and others were called in for a serious dressing-down by top officials who are concerned about the spread of news they don’t like. Tencent’s visitor was probably the scariest, none other than Zhou Yongkang, member of the Politburo and China’s chief of internal security (two of his regional bosses dropped in on the Guangdong and Tianjin offices at the same time, as well). They were also strongly encouraged to expand outside China, and ended up having to sing revolutionary songs at a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Now that’s what we call a meeting.

AT&T announced that their first 5 LTE networks will go on the air this week, while 7 US states joined in with the lawsuit to block their merger with T-Mobile. VZW, meanwhile, flipped on another 26 and promised that LTE-Advanced was coming up behind. They also said that there would be no move on Voice-over-LTE until they were confident that it would be better quality than CDMA circuit-switched voice.

VZW also announced it would rate-limit the top 5% of data users in congested cells. Which will be interesting, as the Net Neutrality rulemaking is coming.

In France, Free.fr’s mobile service is about to launch and Benoit Felten has some rumoured pricing data, which suggests that they’re planning to declare price war with a vengeance.

Acision makes the sensible point that operators should be competing on the quality of experience they offer customers. Tell that to Qtel, which turns out not just to be using NAT heavily, but to be NATting their entire user base into one IP address. Brough Turner points out that, as a result, IPv6 transition is yet another use case for CDNs. Also, check out his presentation on white-space spectrum.

Phil Wolff notes that between Windows Live Messenger and Skype, Microsoft controls about 68% of the desktop IM market. Speaking of Phil, he’s joined a new Voice 2.0 startup, Hookflash. Details are at Voice on the Web. Dan York is also on the move, leaving Voxeo for a berth at the Internet Society.

BT’s Viewpoint has some thoughts about Call Centre 2.0. Fizzback has been sold for £80 million. SpiderCloud is another small-cell enterprise mobile startup. (We note that ECT Telecoms has just announced a combined enterprise femto/virtual PBX product.) 3UK is furious about termination rates.

Softbank has invested $200 million in mobile ads network inMobi. SKT claims to have invented an NFC-enabled SIM card - if it works, that would fix the problem that the handsets are as rare as hens’ teeth. PayPal is planning to provide its own mobile solution without NFC. Qualcomm demonstrates a location-specific P2P protocol.

BigNum of the week: $945 million in mobile payments by 2015.

Don’t miss this piece on being an app developer. How manoeuvrable is your operating system? The latest Google Docs features are a case in point. ReadWriteWeb previews Windows 8. Key cloud paper: inventing the one microsecond datacentre. Teaching kids to hack on code. Korean spooks confess to man-in-the-middle attack on Google Mail.

That’s *South* Korean, by the way.

Image: www.colmoregan.com

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