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Android ‘profits’, NSN ‘crisis’, and AT&T/T-Mobile deal in trouble - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. This week it’s the APAC Executive Brainstorm in Singapore - hope to see you there.]

ZDNet blogs Google’s numbers and reports that there are some 190 million Androids out there and Google’s mobile line of business brought in $2.5bn in revenue. But, as usual, this is arrived at by taking the fraction of AdSense revenue that came from ads served to a mobile browser, and the debate as to how much of this would have happened anyway rumbles on. However, with the sheer numbers of ‘droids out there, it looks increasingly convincing that Android is a major driver of traffic past the ad properties.

ReadWriteWeb makes a similar point, arguing that Amazon and Facebook are becoming “unwitting platform evangelists” for Android and helping to generate traffic and therefore ad revenue for Google. (Yes, there’s another go-round of Facebook phone rumours on.) If Google has “lost control” of Android, perhaps that’s precisely what they wanted in the first place. You might almost say Google released Android into the wild like a virus.

RWW also has some details on how Amazon forked Android for the Kindle Fire - apparently they’ve removed quite a lot of features and made it very difficult to use the Android Market. Neither the stock Facebook or Twitter apps will work as they use device APIs that aren’t present in the Fire.

Speaking of Android and viruses, Bruce Schneier has an excellent discussion of the growing presence of malware for Android, without going off the edge. Notably, although there are a lot of dodgy apps about, true viral spread from device to device is still unlikely. Interestingly, it’s still an open question whether Apple or Android have the better security model - iOS apps have to pass approval to get into the app store, whereas Android Market ones don’t, but Android users do get to accept or refuse detailed permissions when they install an app. It’s the age old perimeter security vs. defence in depth argument.

Mind you, the only really successful mobile virus is still Commwarrior and that targeted Symbian S60 with its intricate capabilities-based computing architecture…

Apple could buy the mobile industry…except for Samsung. Which is possibly something to do with why they’re at war over patents - after all, Samsung this week threatened to beat their already-hiked smartphone sales target.

China has become the world’s biggest smartphone market, and Nokia is still No.1 there, at least until the Symbian-Windows Phone 7 cutover kicks in. However, “No.1” in this context means 6.8% of the hugely diverse market, and of course it’s the iPhone people want. On that theme, The Register puts aside its usual tabloid style for a deep dive into Hildon, the next-generation version of Symbian that Psion built and Nokia never really used. Meanwhile, Indonesians riot for BlackBerrys.

Things are bad at Nokia Siemens Networks, and it looks like the eponymous owners are thinking seriously about spinning off the joint venture. Before they try that, they’re going to zap 17,000 employees and reorganise drastically. BSS, narrow-band, and “Communications and Entertainment Solutions” are going to be shut down or sold off - as are, more surprisingly, carrier Ethernet and “perfect voice”, which is Nokian for their fixed-line voice business. But there’s not much surprise in the fact that they’re going to get out of WiMAX.

On the other hand, the top priorities are going to be mobile broadband and “Customer Experience Management”, with the outsourcing and network planning side of the company integrating into them and the managed service and consulting businesses being reorganised.

Before moving on from NSN, it’s worth checking out this blog post on network-controlled fast dormancy, their solution for dealing with smartphone roaming aggression. See also this story about an accelerator proxy that’s optimised for power consumption.

Meanwhile, Ericsson renewed its managed services contract with Bharti Airtel. Ericsson runs 70% of Bharti’s network, and the contract has been renewed for the next five years, while they will also take over their prepaid IN and OSS.

Elsewhere in vendor news, Cisco and HP are at war over employee non-compete agreements. Usually it’s not a problem…until one of them moved from Texas to California, giving HP lawyers a brief window of opportunity when the case was justiciable…

“The only problem is that it’s technically illegal”. Meet the company that analyses mobile network data to help shopping centres understand where the customers go inside the building. They want to tie in information from the point-of-sale system and the CCTV. Fascinatingly, Path Intelligence - a British startup, from Portsmouth - isn’t getting the data from the carrier, but rather they deploy a gaggle of femtocell devices around the store and hoover up radio transmissions in order to triangulate people’s mobile phones. Rather like military electronic warfare types would. Their CEO has a presentation here.

That this is worth doing is a testament to the difficulty of doing anything with customer data through a telco. Meanwhile, companies with a social-media ban have more security incidents, and the European Court of Human Rights declares filtering Internet traffic for copyrighted material to be illegal.

In other Telco 2.0 themes, 65 million Vivo subscribers in Brazil get m-banking via a partnership between Telefonica and MasterCard, the GSMA MMU Blog reports. Relatedly, old Telco 2.0 favourites Oi Paggo are rolling out a full-service m-wallet in partnership with Banco do Brasil. (Subject matter expertise on possibly the leading m-payments market is just one of the features of Telco 2.0 consulting, thanks to Keith McMahon.)

The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog, meanwhile, brings us an interesting Logica presentation on “smart metering for dummies”.

Over with the carriers, the FCC officially said it thinks the AT&T-T-Mobile deal is against the public interest this week, and AT&T responded by taking back its application for regulatory clearance, although it’s still trying to sue its way back. However, they’re also taking a $4bn provision against having to pay T-Mobile’s mammoth break clause. Any renewed application may unload as much as 40% of T-Mobile USA.

The Wall Street Journal points out that mergers plus divestment often add up to poor service. That’s precisely what GiffGaff subscribers were getting this week. O2 UK and the user-managed MVNO have fallen out over who is to blame, even though O2 is a shareholder in GiffGaff…

Clearwire continued to walk the high wire over its huge debt repayment this week, saying they might invoke a clause giving them 30 days’ grace in order to think it over. Sprint presentations have recently been putting Clearwire last on a list of partners, but they own 54% of the company and otherwise, they get to see the investment go down the tube.

KDDI is buying out TEPCO’s investment in the telco. TEPCO needs the money because it owns the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear wreck.

And who wants to own African cell towers? Now you can!

Over in content and delivery news, TiVo is back in a big way, driven by Virgin Media’s major rollout of the devices in the UK (170,000 net adds in a quarter). They seem to have backed the right horse in concentrating on cable operators - Comcast VOD integration is coming soon.

The CDN race is on: AT&T, Juniper Networks, and Akamai Technologies are all in the running to acquire highly-rated CDN company Cotendo. Cotendo is a specialist in the emerging growth area of Web application acceleration, or as we think of it, ADN (Application-Delivery Networking), through its DSA (Dynamic Site Acceleration) product.

Dan Rayburn reviews the prospects and corrects countless factual errors in media reporting of the deal. AT&T is a big customer, Juniper is a new entrant, and Cotendo is Akamai’s biggest competitor in acceleration…

Back in 2006, Internet pioneer Bill St. Arnaud of the Canadian national research network CANARIE published this list of predictions for the Internet in 2010 on the NANOG list. It’s telling how on-the-ball the content players were.

Here’s a comparison of four cloud music players.

Be glad you don’t work for Zynga.

Over in voice news, Siri hacks proliferate - last week someone managed to reverse-engineer the protocol and get a non-Apple device to work with the Siri servers, this week someone persuaded an Apple device to work with a non-Siri server. Media centres and cars.

Google Wave shuts down in weeks.

Why doesn’t Skype have push-to-talk? Oops..it does. Meet Plivo - it’s like Twilio but open-source.

OpenBTS GSM over OLSR mesh-WLAN! Now that’s what we call geeky…although this High Scalability post on geo-distributed databases is pretty close, and rather important for the CDN folk.

MobileSquared has a piece on providing 3G for the Olympics visitors and anticipated video blitz. A quick rule of thumb for LTE dimensioning. Microsoft will pay you $20,000 for a great Kinect hack. Apple’s security communication with developers could be better. Hacking UK micro-SIMs - with a razor. Why are airline IT systems so painful?

Meet the EXODesk, a desk entirely covered in an HTML5 touch interface. (Although, we’ve got an EXOPC from the Intel Meego dev program and the less said the better.) The glamorous world of Telco 2.0 - apparently. Are you the most innovative mobile firm in Britain? Perhaps Path Intelligence should try. And, of course, nothing says “Shoreditch” like the combination of mobile apps and DJs. A recommendation.

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