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September 27, 2012

Digital platform strategy: how Google, Apple and Amazon keep winning


We’ve just published an extract from our new strategy report ‘A Practical Guide to Implementing Telco 2.0’ (of which Part 1 is now available) which shows key lessons for telcos from the internet players’ ‘platform strategies’.

As background, we find that many telcos traditionally think of every new service as a profitable new revenue source, and create services in silos with little thought for the total customer experience and overall creation of value. In contrast, the big internet and tech players typically build their future offerings as part of an integrated strategy to raise the overall value of their platforms. For more see, please the extract here.

Generic telco strategies of cost reduction and growth will benefit from a ‘platform strategy’ approach
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September 24, 2012

Apple Maps flops; it’s grim at RIM; Salesforce ID; & more - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Now just 6 weeks to Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and 10 to Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region.)

So, they queued up for the iPhones…and discovered that the new, post-Google mapping application didn’t work, not to put too fine a point on it. (This Wired piece talks about “giddy dancing” and Apple booking 70 cargo aircraft from China to the US for the launch week - evidently planned before the mapfail.)

The origin of the issue is an attempted power-play by Apple - Google didn’t want to licence their turn-by-turn navigation on the terms Apple offered, so Apple decided to boot Google Maps off the iPhone. Unfortunately, it seems that Apple hugely underestimated how difficult mapping is. Hence the stories - the Apple Store that’s missing from Apple Maps, the aerial imagery that drapes motorways over bridges, the Jubilee Line extension missing from the map of London, it goes on. Of course, you can always open Google Maps or indeed Nokia Maps, or Bing, or the OpenStreetMap in a web browser instead, and won’t Apple be relieved and delighted by that? (Although everyone makes mistakes: here’s Nokia Maps getting it wrong.)

Inevitably, via RevK, there’s a Downfall remix in which Hitler is informed of the issue, and a blog collecting examples of it.

Google may have suspected something, as the new version of Google Maps for Android rolled out on the iPhone launch day.

The Wall Street Journal looks into why Apple chose not to integrate NFC, and finds the same reasons as always - the ecosystem and value chain are unclear, nobody uses it yet, and Apple didn’t want to risk turning into a bank, and as a result, they didn’t think the additional effort of integrating NFC was worthwhile. (However, HTC and China Merchants Bank did.)

At Foxconn, meanwhile, 2,000 workers riot and close down a factory. A lot of media coverage describe the incident as a brawl, but it started when a security guard allegedly assaulted a worker, which makes it sound a lot more like a protest, riot, or as the Chinese Communist Party calls them, “mass-group incident”. This report suggests that a lot of promised improvements at Foxconn haven’t been seen on the shop floor. The Foxconn workers are an increasingly assertive and politicised bunch, so it’s probably safe to expect more of this.

Anand of Anandtech reviews the guts of the iPhone and concludes that the CPUs are something of Apple’s own devising, based on the ARM v7 but substantially different. Which of the Psion founders was it who said that real software companies make their own chips?

Apple leans on Samsung again, demanding more money in the lawsuit. Horace notes that this quarter has been only “moderate”.

Elsewhere, RIM had a major service outage, described as affecting “parts of Europe and Africa” as if that was reassuring, and it looks like thousands of jobs are going in the UK. And you can take control of a BlackBerry Enterprise Server by sending one of its users a crafted PDF attachment.

RIM also lost the Yahoo! account this week. Marissa Mayer has started off her tenure as CEO by dosing the employees with company-funded shiny, and free food as well. You get a choice of two HTC Androids, the Nokia Lumia 920, or of course the iPhone 5, but no BlackBerry.

Motorola’s new Razr is an Intel phone. Reuters reports on how chip makers are trying to become more obvious to end users in mobile, with Intel trying to repeat “Intel Inside” and Qualcomm and NVIDIA hitting back.

HTC, meanwhile, launched the “signature” Windows Phones.

Why not wrap your iPod Touch in an LTE WiFi hotspot, to make a sort-of iPhone?

And ZTE, hitherto an Android vendor, is planning to launch a range of Firefox OS smartphones early next year.

Chart of the Week is this ISOC presentation on IPv6 deployment. Congratulations to Germany for getting the most web sites ready. The UK, well, not so much.

Even after Apple fixes the maps, or eats humble pie and makes up with Google, there still won’t be a sensible LTE spectrum plan. Dave Burstein works through the permutations and concludes that a real “world iPhone” would be about half an inch longer than the iPhone 5, although apparently his prediction that the Verizon iPhones would be carrier-locked hasn’t been borne out by events.

Mexico has decided to adopt the plan used in Asia-Pacific for its forthcoming 700MHz auction, rather than the one used in the US.

T-Mobile USA, meanwhile, has started shuffling its 3G network into the 1900MHz band, having launched HSPA+ into the expensively acquired 1700MHz. Now, though, they need to move the HSPA+ out of the 1700s and up into the 1900s, forklift-upgrading the remaining 2G-only customers in the process in order to clear the 1900s, so they can deploy LTE into the 1700s, thus creating yet another LTE option.

Meanwhile, a US congressional committee blamed the FCC for the LightSquared fiasco, although:

they freely admitted lacking any sort of technical expertise regarding GPS, cellular networks, or use of spectrum

At Verizon, it looks like the company is moving everyone who comes in with a grandfathered unlimited-data plan looking for the new iPhone onto a limited plan, while the Net Neutrality wars are cranking up again.

A gaggle of NN campaigns are petitioning the FCC to stop AT&T charging extra for Apple FaceTime calls, or rather, from counting them as voice calls and therefore upselling voice plans. On the other hand, TeliaSonera has decided not to bother with their plan to charge for VoIP, but rather to nudge their data prices up across the board.

DTAG is going to deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s magic vectored-DSL solution on 20 million lines. This is meant to mean much higher speeds on the copper section of their VDSL network, although it’s probably a good guess that like most super-DSL options, it will work well if you’re near the exchange and worse if you’re in the sticks. The immediate question, though, is that DTAG is spinning the move to government as being sort-of-like-fibre in the hope that they get to keep the (very generous) regulatory settlement they got in exchange for deploying more fibre. Will they get to keep the reggy goodness and get out of all that trenching?

The Voice of Broadband reports that net-adds have been very slow worldwide in Q2, and interestingly argues that at the moment, the best mobile broadband networks are quite a bit faster than most DSL or even some cable.

Paul Budde vigorously states the case for ignoring vectoring and getting the fibre out there, in the context of the Australian NBN, and incidentally rips the UK’s plans.

Speaking of which, some money has been shared out among 10 British cities. Will all of it end up with BT, like the last lot? And the Country Land & Business Association is furious about rural broadband.

Telefonica has launched a new round of quad-play tariffs. €89.90 a month buys you 100Mbps FTTH, unlimited national landline minutes, 500 minutes of mobile voice, 1GB of mobile data, unlimited SMS, and TV including the football.

Salesforce announced the latest version of its CRM application, including an HTML5 mobile app, a single identity provider, extensions to Force.com, and support for geographical queries in the database, among quite a bit of other stuff.

Specialised cloud - BMW is building a data centre in Iceland for the high performance computing clusters it uses to run design simulations. They’re benefiting from cheap power there. Meanwhile, will the Internet of Things be a big driver of demand for cloud services?

The OpenStack Foundation is a thing, with $10 million in funding.

Data Center Knowledge tackles a New York Times piece on data centre energy use. Microsoft, for their part, are getting rid of backup generators.

The principles of designing for scale. Getting value from Amazon EC2’s spot market - how Vimeo does it.

Are smart meters actually not very much good?

MetroPCS says it’s going to have VoLTE fully deployed in six months. Perhaps they’ll change the name of the company as well….

Dan York comes out banging the drum for WebRTC.

A French Skype user wasn’t satisfied with the free calls, and was trying to guess the geographical versions of premium-rate numbers, and accidentally hacked the French central bank’s PBX. Specifically, he dialled the wrong number, the PBX automatically picked up and waited for a number, he randomly entered 123456 - and that turned out to be the password. (654321 would have worked as well.) Two years later, policemen descended on him. Now, a court has cleared him on the basis of a lack of criminal intent.

Horrible security fail at WhatsApp.

AllThingsD is starting a series on Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! To begin with, they cover the status of the Microsoft-Yahoo search-for-advertising deal, which has been disappointing for years. In the next instalment, it looks like there’s going to be a huge all-hands meeting this week to reveal the big story.

On the agenda is a redesign of Yahoo! Mail (outsourced e-mail is a huge part of the business), a redesign of the homepage, and a renewed focus on 10 key products. Fortunately, Flickr is one of them. Also, the ad load on the front page is going to be cut back in the interests of a cleaner user experience.

Facebook, meanwhile, has turned off its face-recogniser to comply with EU privacy rules. They’ve also launched a plugin to let you reduce how much third-party web sites tell Facebook about you and settled the Beacon lawsuit for $9.5m. And they’re no longer so keen on “passive sharing”.

SingTel buys a photo startup. Is less copyright good for the economy? Opera Software has a really interesting report on mobile ads - note that taking a photo, watching video, or adding an event to the calendar are interactions that are dramatically more likely to be completed than hitting a Facebook button.

Comedian tries to physically spam Groupon. And will Kim Dotcom end up vindicated?

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September 20, 2012

Meet the CEA’s Chief Economist at Digital Asia (+ free CES passes)

We’re delighted that the CEA’s (Consumer Electronics Association) Chief Economist, Shawn Dubravac, will be joining us at the Digital Asia event in Singapore, 4-5 December, 2012.

Collaboration with the CEA: 2013 International CES® - The Global Stage for Innovation

We’re also proud to be partnering with the CEA, which produces the seminal annual CES event, and unites companies within the consumer technology industry.

The International CES event is taking place on 8-11 January, 2013 and will welcome an expected 150,000 consumer electronics industry professionals, including 35,000 international attendees representing 150 countries to Las Vegas, Nevada U.S.

CES features 3,000 exhibitors across 1.8 million net square feet of exhibit space, 15 overarching product categories, more than 20,000 new product announcements every year and 20 TechZones. Don’t miss this year’s newest discoveries in automotive electronics, digital imaging/photography, entertainment/content, wireless & wireless devices and more.

Registration for international attendees is free until 30th September. Visit CESweb.org and register today.

CEA_MG_9680.jpg

CEA members tap into valuable and innovative resources: market research, networking opportunities with business advocates and leaders, up-to-date educational programs and technical training, exposure in extensive promotional programs, and representation from the voice of the industry.

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September 17, 2012

iPhone 5 reaction (Passbook in, NFC out); UK EE LTE Go!; ISIS stasis - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Just 7 weeks to go to Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and 11 weeks to Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region.)

Apple launched the iPhone 5 this week, and a new features run-down is at the link. There’s nothing radically new, but a lot of incremental improvements. Wired offers a specs comparison if you want to play Top Trumps, although one of the telling details is that all the phones look much the same expect the Nokia Lumia 920. Some more reviewing is here.

One important update is Passbook, an app with a faintly creepy name which acts as a bucket for tickets, receipts, and the like. There’s an API that standardises how you get secure content into and out of the bucket, and Webmonkey points us to a Rails service someone built as an example of how to integrate it with a Web site.

One important absence is NFC support, trailed as always in the run-up to an Apple product launch and still not included. Dean Bubley, in typically acerbic style, agrees with Apple VP of marketing Phil Schiller:

It’s not clear that NFC is the solution to any current problem

Having turned over their entire Web site and most of the mag to all-iPhone-all-the-time, Wired tried to scramble back over into seen-it-all territory with a list of 5 Things That Would Make Us Fall in Love With the iPhone Again. It is unlikely that Apple is worried, as Horace’s forecasts would suggest, especially if the trend is maintained that iDevices defy the deflationary tendencies of Moore’s law.

Ars says it doesn’t have USB 3.0. Apple patents Siri-on-a-Mac. The distinction between parallel and contending voice and data in the CDMA and GSM worlds survives in the iPhone 5, for now.

And Apple’s social network, Ping, has been quietly taken out and shot.

Delight at EverythingEverywhere aka Torange - after all the wrangling, they are going to kick off this autumn with iPhone 5s and with at least a token LTE network for them to ride on. It actually looks like they might get some of that famous first-mover advantage, as the solution Apple picked to the global LTE spectrum mess was to include the 2.3 and 2.6GHz and 900MHz bands out, as Sam Goldwyn might have said, in order to get the 700, 850, 1800, and 2100s in. The 2.6GHz is still up in the air, and the 2100s are full of UMTS traffic, and Apple unsurprisingly picked the AT&T-specific 850s over the UK-specific 800s, so it looks like EE is going to have a clear run for quite a while, and a whole variety of European markets are going to be stuck with LTE but no iPhones on it, or iPhones and no LTE. What a mess.

In this week’s Chart of the Week, the 3G and 4G Wireless Blog summarises the UK spectrum position as OFCOM sees it.

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Details of the roll-out are here, and it’s going to have fairly impressive consequences for T-Mobile and Orange. Although EE is still going to run the two brands on, the whole retail presence is going to be rebranded, and the LTE network will be reserved for EE subscribers only - or to put it another way, the T-Mo UK and Orange businesses are being put into run-off. What would be the point of opting for a non-EE service plan, or not moving over to EE when your Orange or T-Mo plan comes up for renewal?

EE claims that it will reach 70% population coverage by the end of next year and 98% by the end of 2014, with 16 cities (London included) being served by Christmas. It looks like the Nokia Lumia 920 will have the 1800MHz band in its LTE radio, and EE may even get an exclusive on the new gadget.

And they were even talking about fibre. As so often, it looks like the DTAG main board was just playing hard-to-get and actually, T-Mobile is going to make the investment. Like they did with the States, and then again with US 3G, and then again with US 1700MHz spectrum.

Meanwhile, SingTel has upgraded to HSPA Dual Carrier with Ericsson, and given Ericsson the contract for the follow-on deployment of LTE.

In the US, the FCC is planning to release a really substantial chunk of spectrum. But the carriers don’t really want it. The idea is to permit spectrum sharing between radar and cellular networks in the 3.5GHz band, and progressively work up to releasing all the 1,000MHz between 2.7 and 3.7. This would only really work for small cells, both because the frequencies are relatively high and therefore less suited for macrocells, and also because the sharing itself implies power restrictions.

UCLA researchers demonstrated that operator billing systems are surprisingly poor, especially for users near a cell edge. Not surprisingly, the bias is in the operators’ favour by about 5%.

Russian regulators asked Telenor for information about their Vimpelcom holdings this week. By sending a bailiff and 15 heavily armed police to the offices, of course.

Google has intervened against the gathering crowd of forkdroids, devices based on independent variants of Android. Acer, the Taiwanese laptop manufacturer, has postponed the launch of a smartphone based on Aliyun OS, its fork of Android, after a Google nastygram.

Google argues that Acer is contributing to the fragmentation of Android, and breaking the rules of the Open Handset Alliance, the standardisation group for Android.OHA members signed an agreement not to “fragment”, although of course they can “customise” the software. Further, Google agrees that it’s OK for Acer to do a Windows phone.

An official statement from Andy Rubin is on the Android blog.

Elsewhere, Google released a tool that lets you cross-compile Android code into Apple’s Objective-C. You still have to re-do the user interface, but it’s progress.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is keeping the details of Windows Phone 8’s SDK very quiet indeed.

Meg Whitman of HP says that they will have to do a smartphone again, thus completing the U-turn over WebOS. ReadWriteWeb covers HP’s latest, dreadful financials.

Seeking Alpha argues that the Kindle Fire was a turkey and the new one is an even bigger turkey, with a string of excellent charts.

Intel is showing off the first 32nm WLAN radio.

Up in the cloud, the French government is funding two national cloud projects, one with SFR and Bull, one with Orange and Thales, in order to keep the option of a local cloud open.

Here’s a post on the British Government’s G-Cloud blog, which gives some insight into just how painful public procurement can be and how difficult integration with a cloud computing system’s administrative tools must be.

Canonical has reshaped part of its version strategy for Ubuntu Linux in order to make it match up better with the OpenStack controller, which is under very active development and subject to constant releases.

Automated admin tool Puppet now supports OpenStack.

Amazon has a start-up challenge out, plus some more VPN features.

German web hosting provider 1&1’s founders are moving on to the cloud, with an offering optimised for very high performance and a visual designer tool (called Data Centre Designer).

In Telco 2.0 thematic news, here’s a fascinating look at Telefonica Digital’s Voice 2.0 strategy. In the future, they reckon, voice will be entirely contextual, specific to services and applications. What Telefonica bring to this is phone numbers and identity. They also expect that the handset user interface will be far more malleable, being re-rendered for each and every task, which is why they are so keen on Firefox OS.

Intel, meanwhile, demonstrated its Muse technology which tries to work out from device sensors whether you’re available to take a call, and inform callers via presence and availability.

BBC Research is working on better adaptive streaming protocols for IPTV. Another social TV guide startup.

ISIS, the US operators’ mobile payments play, is on hold.

Chetan Sharma reckons we’re at 7 billion phones and 3 billion M2M devices. Re-arranging his sums, it looks like he’s thinking of about 43 billion M2M terminals, and therefore, we’re just coming up to the classic Bass diffusion take-off point around 10% of total adoption.

Why did Facebook scrap its HTML5 app and make a native Objective-C one? Testing and performance analysis.

Europe has used up its last /8 block of IPv4 addresses. Well, except for the one the British social security system has got tucked away, unused. Ed Felten leaves the FTC after a hitch as Chief Technologist, where he’ll be replaced by networking guru Steven M. Bellovin. Invisible design. Intel’s special no Linux ever chip.

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September 14, 2012

Cloud 2.0: the fight for the next wave of customers


The fight for the Cloud Services market is about to move into new segments and territories. In the build up to the launch of our new strategy report, ‘Telco strategies in the Cloud’, we review perspectives on this theme, and the consequence of this change on strategy and implementation, shared at the 2012 EMEA and Silicon Valley Executive Brainstorms in our new briefing report ‘Cloud 2.0: the fight for the next wave of customers’.

The briefing includes input from strategists at major telcos and tech players, including: Orange, Telefonica, Verizon, Vodafone, Amazon, Bain, Cisco, and Ericsson.
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September 12, 2012

MEF Launches Content & Commerce Survey in Middle East


MEF, the Global Community for Mobile Content and Commerce, has launched its third dedicated survey examining the mobile content and commerce market in the Middle East, inviting everyone who does business in the Middle East, no matter where they are headquartered, to share their insights into this key market.

The results will be published in November 2012 and the MEF will be joining the Digital Arabia event to present them. To find out more about the event and to apply to participate click here.

Covering a broad range of topics including new business models, NFC, mobile wallets, apps, and end user content, the unique survey, conducted in partnership with KPMG, delivers a set of industry metrics essential to understanding the changing dynamics within the burgeoning Middle East market.

As the first mobile focused trade body with a dedicated presence in the Middle East, MEF is committed to supporting growth and innovation in this strategic territory. The results of the surveys will provide a vital time series on the Middle East’s mobile content & commerce landscape.

The survey contains 12 questions which should take no more than 10 minutes to complete online, and closes on Sunday 30 September 2012.

Take the survey here. Please contact middleeast@mefmobile.org for further information.

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September 10, 2012

New Amazon Kindles, Nokia Lumias, Windows Server and Hyper-V; Oscar freed; Skype carrier billing - Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Just 8 weeks now to Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and 12 weeks to Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region.)

Amazon’s new Kindles were heavily in the news this week. All Things D interviews Jeff Bezos, although he’s pretty cagey and argues that their strategy is neither one of making money on the devices nor a razor-and-blades business model. There’s a rundown of the specs, compared with the Nexus 7 and the iPad, here.

Horace Dediu is sceptical about the device, arguing that as it’s probably a loss-leader, Amazon will limit the numbers that get deployed, and that customers might be chary of being an advert for the company. The e-ink Kindles, of course, have a clear use case, but it’s hard to say the same of the general purpose tablets, even if Amazon wants them to be perceived as a cheaper iPad equivalent (as Wired argues).

Bezos’ keynote banged the drum for services rather than hardware, which makes sense if you see the device as a loss-leader delivery system for Amazon.com.

The eBook lawsuit is over, as a group of three publishers have settled with the US Department of Justice, agreeing to give up their agency model and therefore to give Amazon what it wanted when it banned them from its web site. Apple, and two other publishers, sue on.

Netflix, meanwhile, one of Amazon Web Services’s biggest customers, has open-sourced an application they built to act as an automated load balancer for their machines inside AWS’s cloud. In a sense, it’s an extension to AWS’ virtualisation technology.

The Nokia Windows 8 shinies are out, and they follow the N9, Lumia 900, Metro design lineage fairly closely, as well as putting a typically Nokian emphasis on the camera. So much so that they were caught out using a dodgy demo video. Tsk. Wired has an interview with Nokia’s head of design. Some more comment is here.

Horace points out that the US is now over 50% smartphones, and that therefore Nokisoft phones have to win switchers from other platforms rather than first-time smartphone users. Anyway, the Lumias’ pricing is such that they’re not competing with the low-cost Androids. It’s going to be a big ask, but one of Horace’s charts does show something important - that Windows Phone has made a clear shift from the net-user loss column to the net-user gain column. Hence, Chart of the Week.

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It’s marginal as yet, but it’s the first good news for a long time for the Nokians. Also, Telco 2.0 spotted the first Lumia we’ve ever seen in the wild in a Shoreditch pub last week…

Everyone is holding their breath for the Applenoucement, and Apple branding is discussed here. A survey shows, unsurprisingly, that iPhone users are highly satisfied. Rather more surprisingly, HTC is in second place and not actually that far behind.

Ars Technica is reduced to polling its readers in search of Apple rumours, but Reuters reports that Apple is cutting down on its order of Samsung DRAM chips, instead spreading the bill around the industry more than we’re used to.

The semiconductor industry seems to be feeling a disturbance in the force: Sharp is scrabbling for cash, putting many of its buildings including the head office up as security for loans, after an investment from Hon Hai and Foxconn fell through. This comes after the discovery that the plant producing iPhone touchscreens is struggling to achieve the quality control standards and throwing a lot of product away.

Intel, meanwhile, cut its revenue forecast by $1bn. Some of this comes from ultrabook sales being disappointing, but it looks more like evidence of a macro-economic slowdown, as inventory is up and sales down across products as diverse as servers, PCs, and network switches.

Is Apple plotting a music streaming service?

Three new Androids from Motorola, reviewed.

In Uzbekistan, MTS has been taken off the air and its staff arrested, allegedly for “providing services without a licence”. 9 million lines are out of service. The GSMA has written to the Uzbek government, protesting.

the company alleged its employees have been subject to “closed-door interrogations … without access to legal counsel, and threats of physical coercion. Other prisoners in chains are paraded in front of them as interrogators taunt: ‘You’re going to end up like this, in chains, if you don’t sign this confession’”.

Google’s fibre-to-the-home project in Kansas City has successfully mapped the city’s ethnic divide, it turns out. The idea was to pull fibre along the city-owned electricity poles to neighbourhoods where more than a threshold number of people pre-registered. Unfortunately, this almost automatically meant that the more status-y districts signed up first. Also, Google is providing the service free to schools, but only as long as the surrounding district qualified, so the Montessori up town gets the free fibre and the others…don’t. Another snag for the project was when they discovered that they would need electricians, rather than just installers, to rig the fibre.

MegaFon is coming to London for its IPO.

Bharti Airtel is likely to put its tower subsidiary on the market, aiming for a $900 million IPO. As well as 33,000 of Bharti’s towers, the division also owns 42% of Indus Towers.

Alcatel-Lucent has put out some details of its cost-cutting plan. 5,000 jobs are going, and all procurement is being centralised. Further, the regional structure will go and four global divisions will replace it. (We fondly remember when Alcatel was such a regionalised company that when Mike Quigley was named from Australia as Serge Tchuruk’s potential successor, it was said he’d never actually been to the corporate HQ. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way.)

So, a new division will take over everything telco-specific, headed by Philippe Keryer, formerly of the Networks unit. Another will take over all things optical and router, confusingly called “Core Networking” although the 3G and 4G core will presumably be in the telco division. The current CFO gets the supply chain, plus three more business units - submarine cables, enterprise, and “strategic industries”. Robert Vrij, formerly head of the Americas region, becomes the head of global sales and will also be in charge of all relations with operators (wait, wasn’t there a telco division?). And Stephen Carter moves from European marketing to being in charge of managed services and the cost-cutting plan. (That’s Stephen Carter as in bankruptcy-era NTL, first OFCOM director, and British government minister who drafted the Digital Economy Act.) All clear so far?

Meanwhile, their competitor Ciena has got the contract for the latest iteration of JANET, the UK’s research & education network, as it scales up to 100Gbps links.

A surprise: Argentina cancels a spectrum auction and hands 25% of the block to their state-owned satellite operator. Will it become a new mobile operator? What will happen to Nextel’s iDEN network in the country, which now doesn’t have a future in spectrum terms?

The FCC, meanwhile, has pencilled in an auction of broadcast spectrum to MNOs for 2014, as part of the National Broadband Plan’s aim to find another 500MHz.

RevK plays World of Warcraft on a train, and discovers just how much of a problem latency is.

Up in the cloud, here’s a review of Microsoft’s new version of Hyper-V, their virtualisation suite. Redmond seems to be making a huge effort to improve their management tools as they wrestle with VMWare. They also released Windows Server 2012 this week.

User-generated video site Reelsurfer picks Joyent’s cloud over AWS. Telefonica, of course, is using Joyent’s technology for their cloud activities, and they also cued up a €300 million VC fund this week, which will invest in new digital ventures.

Google is building its first Latin American data centre, in Chile - or Telefonica’s Latin American back yard, as some might call it.

Zynga is looking pale these days, and its CTO of Infrastructure, Allan Leinwand, has left the building.

Two excellent posts from High Scalability: how Reddit supports 270 megahits/day without going to the cloud, and Microsoft’s new data-centre network.

Google Search is now only 18% search, in terms of screen area.

Skype now has carrier billing - in the sense that you can buy Skype credit and pay for it through your phone bill. Some details are here, the billing is provided by MACH and 650 operator partners. So now you can use your phone bill to buy Wi-Fi access and make Skype calls.

The European Union has given Project Oscar, the UK operators’ m-payments venture, a green light as not being anti-competitive. 3UK is furious.

Liberty Global’s new smart-TV service is out, and The Voice of Broadband reviews it. Dan Rayburn does a detailed comparison review of the Roku 2 and the Apple TV.

He’s also got a ton of data on CDN pricing, showing that it’s falling fast. And Spotify in the browser is coming.

The 3G and 4G Wireless Blog has a handy table of data throughput and volume for various streaming applications.

Business Week profiles John Gruber, “Apple’s favourite blogger”. Orange’s favourite bloggers appear to be here.

Voice 2.0 - the passion and the agony. RIM offers devs money. The app that lets you 3D-print a new case for your iPhone. The app that makes your iOS or Android device into a Geiger counter. Are apps sensitising the public to privacy?

And this looks useful: Google Surveys.

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September 6, 2012

Innovation Strategies: Telefonica 2.0 Vs. Vodafone 2.0


Telefonica and Vodafone are both European-based tier 1 CSPs with substantial revenues, cash flows and subscribers. They have both expanded beyond Europe - Vodafone into Africa and Asia and Telefonica into Latin America. However, their Telco 2.0 strategies are rather different. In this extract from our forthcoming report, A Practical Guide to Implementing Telco 2.0, we outline their Telco 2.0 strategies and their benefits and risks.

We’ll also be sharing some of the findings, and exploring them in the market context at Digital Arabia, the Telco 2.0 invitation only Executive Brainstorm taking place in Dubai, 6-7 November, in and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December, 2012. Email contact@telco2.net or call +44 (0) 207 247 5003 to find out more.

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September 3, 2012

Wingadgets, Baidu cloud, Facebook slides, DTAG bundles Spotify: Telco 2.0 News Review

(Ed. Join us next at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November, and Digital Asia in Singapore, 3-5 December. The agendas cover the Digital Economy, Digital Commerce and Digital Entertainment in each region.)

The first Windows 8 Phone is out and it’s from Samsung. Details are at the link, with more here. You might have thought Nokia would be the first.

There is, apparently, a WP8 Nokia coming, and it’s going to be optimised as a camera phone, although not quite as much as a PureView 808. The over-sampling technology demonstrated in the last of the Symbian gorillas will be ported over, though, at some point in the future.

Ars Technica rounds up the Windows hardware at IFA, making the point that between Microsoft and the manufacturers, they seem to have opted to stick with the keyboard and go for a hybrid design between the PC and the tablet. Lenovo and Asus, for example, have come up with two hybrids respectively named the Yoga and the Tai Chi - the first can fold the screen all the way round to form a tablet, while the second has two screens placed back to back.

Even the Android world is suddenly keen - Sony’s Xperia Tablet S has a keyboard-cover.

Samsung, not at all daunted by the patent wars, announced the second generation of the Galaxy Notes this week. The gadget seems to be becoming their flagship product, being the most powerful in the whole line up. They’ve also got an Android-powered camera coming, the simply-named Galaxy Camera.

Meanwhile, Apple has asked a court to ban more Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S III this time, in a separate lawsuit. The Verge discusses the exact content of the so-called “pinch to zoom” patent and argues that it may be relatively easy to work around.

Here’s an interview with the foreman of the jury in the Apple-Samsung case. The latest rumour: production of iPhone screens at Sharp is behind schedule. Anandtech has an in-depth discussion of iPad CPUs.

HP’s open-source version of WebOS has released code, with two builds of the project being available. The first runs on top of an Ubuntu Linux system, and is intended for developers interested in improving WebOS itself. The second is intended for developers interested in porting the OS onto new hardware. Job listings also suggest that HP is recruiting engineers for WebOS in Sunnyvale and at their Shanghai R&D centre, after it fired them all in February. It’s just another week at the industry’s crisis club.

More details are here.

Amazon announced this week that the Kindle Fire was being discontinued. The question is what will come after it. Horace estimates that Amazon sold just under 5 million devices, which was probably the original production run, a disappointing performance given the marketing welly of the Amazon.com front page. He also argues from this that content sales to KF users would have to have been sensational for Amazon to earn out the loss-leader pricing and actually make money.

On the other hand, the original-and-best Kindle remains an iconic device and Ars Technica discovers that the 3G version is remarkably good as a device to take into the wilds, with huge local storage, austere design, long battery life, and good radio performance.

And finally, here is the heartwarming tale of how Samsung invited two Indian bloggers to IFA via their blogger outreach…and then wanted them to sign an NDA, act as “promoters” only, wear a uniform, and act as booth staff, or their return tickets would be cancelled. Classy!

Baidu announced this week that it’s going to spend $1.6bn on a huge data centre to support its cloud activities. It’s going to be interesting to see if they join the China OpenStack association we blogged a little while ago.

They’ve also launched a mobile Web browser. We can reason from this that a big part of the cloud will be caching/accelerator proxies and perhaps CDN nodes in support of the browser.

VMWare’s outgoing and incoming CEOs agree that they don’t believe in ARM chips for servers. Perhaps this isn’t surprising, as the new guy spent 30 years working on x86 chips at Intel, but they did make an interesting point. A strong point of ARM designs is that they shut down to very low power levels when they are idle - but a major point of the cloud is to avoid having idle hardware.

Australian cloudsters will be the first to try Windows Server 2012, with a local provider (did you know that none of the big clouds operates in Australia?).

More AWS web serving features. Meanwhile, their Direct Connect product is expanding, through a partnership with Hibernia Atlantic’s dark fibre network.

Here’s an interview about upgrading old data centres. The generation built in the .com boom is now looking distinctly wasteful of energy compared to the latest ones - retrofitting could be a cheap way to catch up.

It’s Skype’s 9th birthday. Dan York discusses its potential futures, and points to this MSDN blog post on the Microsoft/Skype submission to the WebRTC process, which differs substantially from the proposals so far.

Jim Courtney has more - we like the point that the user experience and design issues will be hugely important. Phil Wolff, meanwhile, wonders what will happen in the next 9 years of Skype.

BT Research, for its part, has a fascinating project trying to identify why so little social interaction translates on video, while the movies succeed in projecting it. Their answer is essentially that films have a director, and they tried to write software that automates that role, guessing which speaker is interesting to the viewer and cutting to that camera. The upshot is like this:

Facebook shares reached an all-time low on Friday, having fallen 50% since the IPO. One major brokerage has now announced a target price of $10-15 (against $38 at the float), a range which starts to touch our November 2011 call of $30bn maximum. Bargain hunters (or indeed, anyone who bought at the IPO) should bear in mind that another wave of lock-ups expires on the 15th of October.

Meanwhile, they updated the Camera app with more features, even though they bought Instagram. Discussion of how their stand-alone product teams function is at the link.

Facebook’s security engineering team is trying to identify the source of fake “likes” and get rid of them. This seems to be a significant problem for advertisers, going by the stories regarding whole ad budgets eaten up by single bots and by the fact Facebook has apparently built software to identify them.

Some advertisers are furious, although it’s not clear whether they thought the clicks were real or whether they were secretly paying the spammers to juice their numbers and are angry that they got caught.

Deutsche Telekom is going to offer Spotify Premium subscriptions bundled with some of its tariffs. Streaming will be zero-rated for data cap purposes.

Freesat, the UK terrestrial broadcasters’ joint satellite distributor, has integrated Netflix into its new set-top box. And here’s a post on designing the BBC iPlayer for the Xbox.

O2 UK sues over the EverythingEverywhere 4G decision.

Zain is Vodafone’s MENA partner. Users know WLAN is faster, but imagine it’s more secure. Epic Java exploit - certainly update your browser plugins.

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