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Vodafone’s buoyant Q3; Windows 8 to launch at MWC; Google, Verizon video plans - Telco 2.0 News Review

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It was Q3 week for Vodafone, and it was a solid set of results in a challenging context, even if the headline forecast of 1.1% service revenue growth was missed.

Vodafone’s interests in southern Europe - they’re present in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Portugal, not to mention Ireland - are right in the firing-line of the economic crisis, and they’re feeling the pain. Service revenue was off by 4.9% in Italy, and although usage held up through most of last year in Greece, it suddenly dived in the last quarter. And the company is bringing home its opcos’ cash balances every night for fear of being caught up in a bank crisis.

Overall, though, Vodafone saw strong revenues from data (which allowed it to grow revenues in the UK) and even managed to increase voice minutes of use across the board, while its enterprise business did very well indeed and it scored for subscriber growth in Turkey and India.

And the OneNet business-focused Voice 2.0 product is still going great guns. In Italy, their revenues from SMBs and enterprise customers rose almost five per cent even in the face of recession, doing as well as they did in (relatively) booming Germany. Perhaps this enterprise focus is why they admitted today in a Stock Exchange announcement that they are considering a bid for Cable & Wireless Worldwide, the half of the old C&W that provides enterprise private networks and voice services. Vodafone has until the 15th of March to make an offer or back out.

The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog, meanwhile, excerpts some charts from a Vodafone Germany presentation showing that Vodafone’s Single RAN program includes their fixed assets as just another access network - interesting in the context of OneNet.

SRAN1.jpg

Curiously, though, Verizon Business picked BT rather than Vodafone for its telepresence and videoconferencing interconnect in the UK. Sprint and T-Mobile USA, for their part, lobbied the FCC regarding Verizon’s AWS spectrum buy.

Road warrior SIM provider MaxRoam is now an MVNO in the UK, only the 10th MVNO to become a Vodafone customer. Unicomms specialist Six Degrees gets some funding. And where iPhones were notorious signalling hogs when it came to data, Android devices are pretty bad on VoIP.

Skype Journal covers Jonathan Christensen’s exit from Skype and the company’s problem with APIs and developers. The question is surely whether Microsoft’s “developers, developers, developers” mindset filters through. On that point, the Journal has some thoughts about what features of EBay and SilverLake’s internal cultures influenced Skype.

It seems that Microsoft will launch Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress, certainly a first and a big pointer to their priorities. At the same time, they are sketching out a much more “Apple-like” view of Windows 8, at least as it applies to Windows-on-ARM (and therefore to the mobile world). No browser plugins and no apps ported from the x86 world, and everything through the app store. Meanwhile, Apple itself turns out to have a version of Mac OS X for ARM devices up its sleeve.

Depending on the valuation Facebook eventually gets, Microsoft’s $240 million investment in 1.6% of the company may turn out to be either a good investment or a brilliant one.

Some bad news for RIM - two major customers, NOAA and Halliburton, are off, with both organisations swapping their BlackBerry fleets for iPhones. Kayak gives its BlackBerry app the Viking funeral. But the interesting bit here is that NOAA’s motivation was in part that they were planning to move their IT systems into the cloud, and specifically, into Google’s specialised Google Apps for Government.

The obvious choice would have been Android, but their IT managers didn’t like the idea of having a multi-vendor fleet of phones. But wait a moment. What’s “obvious” about that? Google Apps are meant to work in a web browser, the most cross-platform of environments. It’s…interesting that a major customer wants to run Google applications and Google servers, on Apple’s OS and hardware.

RIM and its close friend Microsoft have some other ideas. Starting this month, Microsoft Office 365 subscribers get free BlackBerry integration, and a subset of BlackBerry Enterprise Server’s device management features in the cloud, with a web-based management console for the device fleet. Wired wonders if this is a step towards a merger, but it’s also telling that integrated device-cloud products for business are an increasingly important strategic field. The Register points out that BBM has some features the social networks just don’t.

As far as the hardware goes, here’s a leak of the latest gadget, codenamed London (is that London, Ontario or the other one?). It is suggested that it may be coming in Q3 and that RIM may decide to go all-in on it as a hero device.

Here’s some news on their developer strategy, which is as always a little involved.

Meanwhile, Mobile Industry Review has an optimistic look at Microsoft’s other hardware partner, Nokia, while Wired wonders why Nokia’s bothering to launch the Lumia 800 as a $800 unsubsidised option between the (subbed) 710 and the forthcoming 900.

Google may be experimenting with a new phone. Meanwhile, Ben Evans argues that Google’s main goal with Android is to disrupt Apple and Microsoft, and that therefore fragmentation isn’t a problem for Google. (Anti-Apple virus anyone?)

Google’s Fiber project seems to be planning something with TV, as they’ve applied to the FCC to build a major satellite downlink facility near Kansas City. Typically, it’s important for FTTH deployments to get as much TV onboard before launch in order to boost the all-important take rate. At the same time, AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka notes that a rumoured big announcement about Google TV wasn’t. Big, that is.

Verizon, though, does have news - The Voice of Broadband reports on their deal with DVD rental firm RedBox to create a “virtual MSO” over-the-top video service. It’s worth noting that this fits with their parallel tie-up with DISH and also with FiOS TV - in the fibred-up zone, they already have the capacity to deliver HD video, and DISH’s satellites could beam it to customers beyond the fibre footprint. RedBox brings substantial amounts of content.

However, Streaming Media reports that their exclusive deal with NBC to stream the Superbowl didn’t go so well, with complaints of poor video quality, lag between the stream and the live broadcast, and poor execution in general.

Connected Vision has a rundown of Virgin Media’s results, which saw the company edging into profit (although a big one-off disposal skewed this) and strong numbers for on-demand and TiVo services.

Here’s a must-read interview from ReadWriteWeb with Netflix director of engineering Daniel Jacobson about APIs. He says it’s critical to understand who the audience for the API is, and usually the most important audience is you - that is to say, the biggest opportunities are very often the ones APIs give you to re-organise your own business and improve your main product. Parts One and Two are pretty essential too.

Alcatel-Lucent announced that it was back in profit, for the first time in six years, and that it was planning a big push to monetise its enormous stock of Bell Labs patents. Gentlemen, start your lawyers.

A German court this week threw out Motorola’s claim that Apple was infringing a patent embodied in the UMTS standards, quite damningly. Apple followed up by suing Samsung, again, and also filing suit in the US regarding the German case with Motorola. Apple holds that an agreement between Motorola and Qualcomm bars Moto from suing Apple, as Apple is a Qualcomm customer.

It turns out that Apple wrote to ETSI in November offering, essentially, proposed terms to settle the FRAND wars before they got started. Florian Müller explains it in some detail. Google is unwilling to get down off the ledge.

It’s been a bad privacy week. Google Wallet has a vulnerability that lets a thief wipe the account and set a new password, but then re-add the original default bank card to the account and therefore get access to the money without needing to know the password.

It turned out, further, that Path, a social network app, was scraping and collecting all its users’ address books. A furore resulted and Path was forced to stop and to destroy the database. As a result, though, it turns out that many, many popular iPhone apps do just this, and some developers have collected enormous quantities of personal data (including, in one case, mobile phone numbers for Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg).

The point is well made that Android apps need to get user authorisation to read the address book, whatever else may be said about Google and personal data, but Apple lets any app at all slurp it and doesn’t provide the user with permissions control over it, although it does for many other less sensitive functions.

Elsewhere, is OAuth a privacy threat? It’s better than typing passwords into random apps, of course, but it’s argued here that it makes it too easy for app developers to just request access to your entire GMail inbox rather than minimising the risk, and too easy for users to just grant them. Fortunately, MyPermissions.org lets you manage your OAuth permissions centrally.

Iran’s great firewall is now killing all SSL-encrypted traffic outbound.

Last week’s Facebook S-1 filing drew attention to the fact almost half their monthly users are on mobile and therefore, non-revenue. Plenty Of Fish’s company blog notes that they expect to be majority-mobile very soon. So the pressure to do something to monetise the mobile users is mounting. Here’s a rumour to that effect.

Interestingly, not only is Zynga responsible for a big chunk of Facebook’s revenue, it’s also sharing ad revenue with Facebook in respect of ads on its own site.

Do we face a cloud cartel? Forrester argues that the capital requirements of big data are such that a small group of (probably) US-based companies will dominate the industry.

GigaOm argues that Amazon Web Services is pricey for applications big enough to negotiate their IP transit pricing and that face relatively steady load. The AWS Blog hits back.

Speaking of transit, Renesys’s annual carrier scoreboard is out. ip.access lands Telenor contract. Developer review of the latest Chrome version. The US Marines’ mesh network. Have we taken one-button design too far?

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