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Softzilla in Manhattan; New FCC; Gates vs. iPads; PhotoShop cloud-only - Telco 2.0 News Review

[Ed. Don’t delay - tickets for the EMEA Executive Brainstorm on 5th-6th June in London are going fast]

Son of Godzilla - Softbank CEO coming to Wall Street

What comes from Japan, enraged by arrogant Yankee scientists’ meddling with the ineffable forces of nature, to lumber ashore and bring its terrifying revenge to the skyline of Manhattan? Godzilla, of course. And Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who’s coming to town to explain personally to major Sprint shareholders just why his offer is better than the one from DISH. After his presentation last week, you might be forgiven for thinking it might be a good meeting to miss if you value your teeth. Full background is provided right here on the blog.

Meanwhile, the Clearwire rebels sent out their mailshot to the shareholders and appointed their lawyers. Does anyone else think this could get long?

Telecom Italia’s directors are split on whether to go ahead with the proposed Hutchison deal. As a result, they referred the issue to a committee. The committee is now itself split.

AIS reported net profits up 11% with strong data revenues, as their 3G rollout begins. In the Philippines, PLDT and Globe, though, both had bad news to offer - PLDT’s profits in Q1 were off 8%, although they forecast growth of 2.7% for the full year, and Globe’s were off 76%.

Telefonica’s Czech operation saw its profits in the quarter fall by 35% - taking out “one-offs”, this was reduced to a 10% hit, but that’s surely bad enough. Market share was up, but this just tells us that a price war is raging. Back in Spain, the company is looking at selling the gigantic new headquarters it built at the peak of the Spanish property boom, in a sign of desperate efforts to reduce its leverage.

New FCC chairman named; Aussie spectrum auction flops

We have a name for the new FCC chair, and it’s Tom Wheeler, the former head of CTIA. Having spoken out against the AT&T/T-Mobile deal, he represents continuity with the general Silicon Valley orientation of Julius Genachowski’s FCC even though he does come from the mobile industry.

One of his tasks will be to oversee further sales of spectrum towards President Obama’s goal of providing 500MHz of additional wireless broadband frequencies. In Australia, they just auctioned blocks of 700 and 2.5GHz spectrum, and got a disappointing result - they had hoped for A$3bn and got barely A$2bn. Ed Vaizey has company at last. Telstra bought the bulk of it.

Vaizey’s department, meanwhile, announced a consultation on changes to planning regulations that might make it easier to deploy cell sites. The opposition, for their part, picked a fight with the media and Google and BT all at once, suggesting they wanted to tighten cross-ownership restrictions, do something about broadband, and also stop “a number of the technology and telecoms players becoming “very rich and very aggressive”“. And they also want to do something about digital piracy.

More BT-O2 reintegration, NBN in dash to break ground

In broadband news, here’s more on the BT/O2 deal. BT Wholesale is building the backhaul network for O2’s LTE deployment, and it seems more and more likely that there will also be some sort of arrangement involving O2’s radio network and BT’s 4G spectrum block. 3g.co.uk points out that O2 and Vodafone UK’s radio networks are substantially integrated under the Project Cornerstone infrastructure-sharing deal, so it puts BT in a good position to win Vodafone’s backhaul business too.

This doesn’t mean RevK will be any more satisfied with BT Wholesale though.

The surprising thing here is that Virgin Media seems to think they’re providing O2’s backhaul as well: their Q1s said so. This story, however, gives a number of 1,500 base stations, which is far from the whole of O2 and further from the whole of Cornerstone.

In Brazil, mobile operators are offering 4G, or rather “4G when we get the 700MHz band, 3G until then”. According to the regulator, 40% of the customers find the 3G unsatisfactory, so what on earth will they make of the “4G”? Meanwhile, the government minister is delighted with “the first large-scale 4G test in the world”, which is almost an admission that it’s more of a test than anything else.

Vodafone-Hutchison Australia, meanwhile, is going with Cisco for its core network upgrade, specifically the ASR5500 IP router/EPC solution.

Meanwhile, the Aussie NBN Co is trying to sign contracts and break ground in as many locations as possible before the elections on the 14th of September in the hope of making it impossible to turn back.

In Lebanon, they’ve got fibre. And The Voice of Broadband says 70% of telcos are interested in VDSL2 vectoring and 50% are trialling.

In Ghana, a shake-out is in progress among dial-up ISPs. The explanation is that wireless broadband is more available than the fixed variety, and people have mobile phones, so the cybercafe business is less important as a subsidy to the ISP business. Meanwhile, Orange’s call-detail record pile is helping to optimise the bus system in Abidjan.

Here’s an Ericsson video about LTE Release 12:

And Google Fibre is heading for another market, Shawnee, Kansas.

Amazon beats Google Play to launch in China; Google shutdowns, forecast!

This must sting for Google: Amazon’s Android app store launches in China, before Google Play makes it.

Who’s behind the European regulatory complaint against Google’s insistence on bundling its services with the Android app store? Apparently, it’s mostly Nokia, which turns out to be the driving force among the 17 companies in the “FairSearch” committee, although it doesn’t own a search engine and doesn’t make Android devices.

Google may be preparing to launch YouTube subscription channels in the near future, with pricing set around $1.99 a month. The big question here is to what extent YouTube users really do follow “channels” rather than, y’know, linking to stuff.

In general, it looks like Google thinks the future is all about predictive-push rather than selective-pull modes of interaction with content. Hence the channels, and hence Google Now, the app that tries to work out what you’ll ask Google next….and usually answers “Warning - your battery is low (10%). Please connect your charger”, according to PCPro users.

This is of course a problem with anything that depends on continuous location-sensing - it needs to keep the GPS going, or else the radio in order to get network-based location, and hence kills the battery.

Blog post of the month award goes to this awe-inspiring effort to predict which Google products will get Reader’d next. The safest products are big ones, that are profitable (Sherlock Holmes might have guessed this, we think), that involve social networking in some way, and that aren’t released as open-source code. Interestingly, the model only gives Glass a 37% chance of survival.

Here’s an interview with Ray Kurzweil about precisely what he’s doing at Google. The answer reduces to “natural-language processing for search, mostly”.

Facebook, meanwhile, is trying to restructure its advertiser base from relying on big accounts with big brands that require lots of stroking from big teams of salesmen with big expense accounts to lots of small businesses that mostly self-care through the website. Or to put it another way, “like Google AdSense”. Here’s a profile of the effort and the guy in charge. Another major priority seems to be keeping anyone from ever dropping out of the monthly-active user count.

And hackers get into Google Australia’s building management system, using the default password. Which is “anyonesguess”.

Bill Gates: iPads are doomed, Samsung marketing spends 13x HTC’s budget

The tale of two Android vendors; Ben Evans points out one of the biggest differences between HTC and Samsung in the following chart.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 1.23.56 PM.png

Samsung spends 13 times as much on sales and marketing. In fact, it spends several times as much on sales commission than HTC does on marketing in total.

Horace notes that the North American market has gone through majority-smartphone and the next milestone will be saturation, at which point direct competition between platforms will become crucial. So far, iOS and Android have both been able to expand by recruiting new smartphone adopters. He suggests that Apple will win.

Bill Gates agrees that platform churn is going to be an issue in the near future. He thinks it’s going to be from the iPad to Microsoft’s Surface devices:

“But a lot of those users are frustrated, they can’t type, they can’t create documents, they don’t have Office there”

Meanwhile, Foxconn is looking at diversifying beyond Apple, and has started producing TVs.

The US Department of Defense has officially said yes to Android, BlackBerry, and iOS as secure platforms. This didn’t stop BlackBerry having an outage this week.

Adobe - new Creative Suite will be cloud-only

Adobe is going to move its Creative Suite products entirely into the cloud, as a subscription-based service. Specifically, you’ll only get the latest version if you’re in the cloud; older versions will still exist as downloadable software packages.

As ReadWriteWeb points out, this means an end to the sport of getting a free (or at least cheap) copy of CS.

Amazon Web Services puts its Node.js support into general availability.

An interview with Pat Gelsinger, VMWare CEO.

And why the ultimate transaction-processing businesses, banks, don’t care about transaction consistency in the database sense of the world and therefore achieve higher availability and performance. If you can audit it later, it doesn’t matter so much, as long as there are sensible bounds on how much it can go out of kilter in the meantime.

In Voice 2.0 news, Twilio has lannounced its virtual call-centre product line this week. Details are here.

Tencent, owners of China’s giant social network QQ, have said that they won’t be charging instant-messaging customers. This comes after a government minister suggested that “over the top apps” like QQ might be made to pay telcos for all the data they use (what, an instant messaging app?). Tencent’s president retorted that their customers had already paid for their Internet service. It appears the Chinese have discovered the delights of a good solid net neutrality row, although they get points for originality in beginning with instant messaging.

Chris Kranky points out that the Web would have been very different if you needed a $500 software licence for every server, and argues that the real potential of Voice 2.0 lies beyond the servers and tools and that Google ought to support the equivalent of Apache for WebRTC.

NoJitter, meanwhile, takes a look at what that would require technically.

Alan Quayle reports back from IMS World Forum.

OFCOM starts charging for UK phone numbers, in an effort to encourage recycling of unused blocks. 9 alternatives to Skype, some obvious, some not.

And here’s a voice fail: Path sends a text to everyone in one of its users’ phonebooks. Unfortunately, somebody doesn’t seem to be aware of the idea of time zones, and they receive them at 6am. Worse, the app followed up the texts with an automated robocall, in case the recipient had managed to sleep through the alert!

In online video news, Yahoo!’s bid for DailyMotion, the French YouTube clone, has been shot down after the French government decided they had a national strategic interest in distributing cat videos and insisted that Y! take no more than 50% of the shares. France Telecom, which is a part owner of the site, denies they had anything to do with it and generally seems hopping mad.

BT, meanwhile, has what it hopes will be a trump card against Sky: the rights to broadcast the Ultimate Fighting mixed-martial-arts championship. Apparently the concept was “look for something almost as tough as Sky Sports’ Rugby League coverage”.

NTT DoCoMo has a mobile TV service, and unlike most of them, it has some users, 700,000 of them. The 3G and 4G Wireless Blog has a round-up of information from the NTT Technical Journal.

Mozilla, along with a technical partner, Otoy, has announced a 1080p video codec in pure JavaScript. This is surely going to shake up the whole ego war around browser codecs, although Mozilla can hardly insist on putting a proprietary codec into Firefox…can they?

Optimising a big video server of the special kind, and some interesting insights into Flash streaming.

And finally, demonstrators destroy a Google shuttle bus in effigy.

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