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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.


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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