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RIM + SFR lose CEOs; Network disruptions; and Skype for browsers? - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed: We’ve had fantastic feedback from our Silicon Valley Executive Brainstorm last week. It comprised great content, some stimulating innovations in moderation and interaction, and superb energy and input from the most senior group of participants yet.
cropped nde sv photo mar 2012.jpgWe’ll be sharing some of the insights and new ideas from SF over the next few weeks and more at the EMEA Executive Brainstorm, 12-13 June 2012 in London, where we’ll build on the momentum with a great agenda in a smart new venue. Make sure you sign up while you can, SF was packed and London is heading the same way fast - please email contact@stlpartners.com for more.]

Meanwhile, RIM announced a small loss for the quarter this week, and another of its CEOs resigned (in this case Jim Basillie) after revenues fell 19% and shipments 21% quarter-on-quarter. In annual terms it was worse, with revenues off 25%. The company was forced to write off a sizable stockpile of BlackBerry OS 7 devices as unsaleable, and accept that the PlayBooks are only moving thanks to heavy discounts. Basillie isn’t the only rolling head - the CTO of software, David Yach, is out, as is the COO, Jim Rowan. Thorsten Heins takes over as CEO.

RIM promised that it would “focus” on the enterprise business, which some people took to mean that they would abandon consumer entirely, so they had to issue a denial. Horace points out that the company is still cash-generating and the phones are probably breaking even once the PlayBook money pit is accounted for. Losing another user.

Meanwhile, developers heading for BlackBerry World can expect to be showered with shiny in an effort to get them to stick with BlackBerry OS 10.

Elsewhere in smartphones, are there signs of Spring for Nokia? Analyst Jamie Townsend thinks they are turning into a recovery story and wonders if some sort of Nokia/Microsoft/RIM deal is in the future.

For their part, Nokia is playing hardball at ETSI over Apple’s funny SIMs, arguing that they violate standards and more than hinting that Nokia might invoke patents it holds over SIM-device communication protocols. The 3G & 4G Wireless Blog has details on exactly what a “nano SIM” might be and what they’re arguing about.

Elsewhere, Businessweek has an exhaustively and potentially exhaustingly detailed rundown of the Apple/Android patent wars. One for any long train journeys you may be planning.

Our recent Google Identity Crisis executive briefing pointed out that a remarkably large amount of Google’s supposed “$2.5bn mobile revenue” is associated with Apple devices and indeed any devices, not just Android, although under plausible assumptions it still looks like the wholesale agreement with Apple is well worth having. This week, court filings in the Google vs. Oracle case revealed Google’s Android revenues as being $544 million over four years. To put it another way, Google earns about $3.5 per device compared to about $570 at Apple. Hence today’s Chart of the Week.

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Elsewhere in Android, Samsung claims to have sold 5 million Galaxy Notes. Engadget reviews the NVIDIA Tegra 3-powered HTC One X and is smitten, but then aren’t they always? UK pricing is here. Qualcomm-based ultrabook-like PCs coming. Some comment on Adobe’s results, but it’s fair to say that bundling scareware in Flash Player updates will not help.

In France, SFR’s profits are off 15% on heavy competition from Free Mobile, and the CEO Frank Esser is out. Vivendi boss Jean-Bernand Levy takes over temporarily.

A union source who declined to be named said SFR staffers had begun to question Esser’s leadership. “The response to Free Mobile has been muddled at best,” the person said. “There have been some budget cuts, fewer temporary jobs and outsourced projects but there has been no real new strategy.”

Meanwhile, Orange is threatening to block Free roamers in order to shed peak-time network traffic, although Free is a paying customer. Orange, SFR, and Bouygues, plus the least radical of French trade unions issued a press release complaining to the regulator about the regulator’s decision that Free had indeed reached its coverage targets, but the regulator confirmed that they hadn’t received an actual complaint.

The European Union, meanwhile, wants to make roaming an unbundled service by 2014. Rudolf van der Berg has an OECD report out on the impact of regulation so far.

The French regulators also took a controversial step this week by asking anyone with a license to provide any services in France for details of all their Internet peering agreements. It is suggested, in a NANOG thread, that the officials may not be fully aware of how much information this may be.

Although there has been much fanfare about the HADOPI legislation reducing measurements of traffic on P2P filesharing networks, music sales in France are still falling.

French fibre deployment not all what it’s cracked up to be.

Back in the Valley, this time for the content & services world, Groupon was forced to restate its numbers after its auditors discovered problems with how it accounts for refunds (a problem often raised by Groupon bears). A sharp selloff in the shares resulted. Arch-bear Rocky Agrawal explains why it’s a serious problem and why Groupon is really in the business of trade finance.

A major filing about Mark Zuckerberg’s personal finances is coming up as Facebook clears the decks for the IPO.

Interestingly, while Google is reportedly desperate to be more like Facebook, Facebook’s top engineering priority is being more like Google, specifically by building a much better search function. They’ve recruited Lars Rasmussen, a veteran of Google Search, to lead the effort.

British m-payments start-up Monitise has taken over its rival Clairmail for $173m, in the hope of creating the world’s biggest MMT specialist.

Scout is a pure HTML5 version of Telenav’s turn-by-turn navigation service, available as a developer kit for other mobile apps.

And all Sky TV’s HD subscribers now have access to Sky Anytime TV-on-the-Internet.

Here’s a HOWTO guide for setting up video streaming out of Amazon Web Services’ CDN. Here’s a 30 minute talk on lessons about scalability and online video from seven years’ experience at YouTube.

With that, it must be time for broadband news. Wired reports that Internet companies that operate really huge data centres are increasingly buying their network equipment (switches, especially) from Chinese ODMs, cheaply and to their own specifications. Interestingly, there has been a mysterious gap between sales of 10 Gigabit Ethernet silicon and complete switches for years - and the explanation seems to be that the spare chips are disappearing into Google, which makes its own.

Ubiquiti has a new product out which provides (up to) 700Mbps full duplex wireless up to 15 kilometres in the 24GHz unlicensed band. Detailed, technical discussion is on the NANOG thread linked.

Australia is the latest country to get the fear about Huawei. NBN Co will not be buying any of their equipment on security concerns. Go for a drive test of LTE Advanced in this video.

NTIA has issued a plan to clear the 1755-1850MHz band for wireless broadband. Most of it belongs to the Feds at the moment.

TIM Brazil is the latest operator to feel the need for WLAN offload, planning to roll out 10,000 hotspots in Sao Paulo and Rio targeting pressure-points on the network.

In India, Unitech’s shares in Uninor have been frozen by the government as part of the income-tax scandal. Telenor, the majority owner, is suing the government and threatening to invoke arbitration under the terms of a treaty between India and Singapore. And Bangladesh is going to auction some 5 3G licences.

AT&T has a new web site that lets you view detailed urban coverage maps. How not to do it - T-Mobile USA had the good idea of building an app that lets you administer your account, but the really bad one of making it push adverts into the Android notification queue.

Trying out O2 UK’s LTE network. OFCOM is thinking of a new way to solve the LTE spectrum mess, which turns out to be “move the TV”, shunting the broadcasters down the dial into the 600s in order to keep the 700MHz band for LTE and therefore provide for transatlantic roaming and a modicum of hardware standardisation. Meet the UK’s alternative FTTH operators.

Big news in voice: Microsoft is hiring software engineers to work on a project called “Skype for Browsers” based in London. That sounds like a unifying Web API for Skype might at last be coming (see our Microsoft x Skype Executive Briefing for why this is important, although a quick start would be this Skype Journal post). SJ’s Phil Wolff notes that Skyprosoft integration is coming on in small ways.

Freespee announced a Google AdSense clone for its call-tracking/click to call platform a few weeks ago. Now it’s announced a developer API for the system.

Vodafone’s got a cloud-based unicomms & Voice 2.0 platform for small businesses. Telenor’s got one (and we recently had a chat with them, so watch this space). Now Comcast has one.

And here’s a case study of Voice 2.0 for customer care.

Building cybercafes in Ghana with old shipping containers and Ubuntu Linux. Former MTN CEO denies bribery in Iran. Verizon Business terminates its storied ex-UUNet USENET servers. Massive credit card security breach. Another go-round of British government snooping.

April Fools: Amazon Fresh Servers. USB stick found aboard the Titanic. Apple patents bevelled corners.

Funnier than the April Fools: when M2M goes bad. Australian customs set up a system to track shipping containers moving through their ports. Importers can log in from the Internet and see where their goods have got to. Unfortunately, so can smugglers and thieves.

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