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Apple iNumbers, BlackBerry falls through, Cisco H.264, “Swiss Cloud”: Telco 2.0 News Review

Apple numbers - 270m iGadgets in 2014, Qualcomm in for BlackBerry, ARM strategy

Here’s an extensive review of Apple’s 10-K, which makes the point that although Apple sells more into China than Japan, sales in Japan are growing much faster. This is possibly explained by the timing of product launches in the two markets, although it also makes sense in the light of all those cheap Androids spreading around China. Also, R&D spending is up a little, but this post puts it in context, pointing out that it’s been averaging about 3% of net sales since 2005.

Horace also updates the CapEx/unit shipments model and forecasts 250-285 million iDevices for the year.


Meanwhile, Nokia Lumia shipments hit 8.8 million a quarter, but it’s still nowhere near breaking out of also-ran status. Nokia renewed its patent agreement with Samsung for another five years this week.

This afternoon, the Fairfax bid for BlackBerry fell through. Thorsten Heins resigns as CEO and the company is seeking $1bn in funding soonest. AllThingsD reported earlier that Fairfax Financial, the private-equity firm bidding for BlackBerry, was struggling to raise the cash it needs to close the deal.

The main - indeed the only confirmed - “other bidder” is the former half-CEO, Mike Lazaridis. His bid has just become more serious, having signed up Cerberus Capital Management, and also drawn interest from Qualcomm, which is apparently in talks to join the club with a view to a major downstream market for all those Snapdragons.

ARM, meanwhile, gives The Register some detail about its strategy with the 64-bit chips they provided for the iPhone 5S. They expect the slightly less fancy version, the A53, to be shipping next year in a wide range of devices, although they might only use it in 32-bit mode. ARM’s director of mobile strategy, James Bruce, also says that the feature phone market is actually shrinking as $45 basic smartphones take over, many of them with a Cortex-A5 processor.

Some of the A53s will be manufactured by Intel, albeit for network equipment applications rather than end-user.

Motorola, or Google Hardware, is talking about Project Ara, an effort to develop a kit of modules that you can plug together to make your own mobile form factor. We remember research projects from NTT DoCoMo and Nokia that did this; they didn’t go anywhere.

Meanwhile, VMK Tech wants to assemble Android devices in Congo-Brazzaville.

AT&T to bid for boring bits of Vodafone? BT results; Carrier roundup; Viacloud keeps staffing up

Is life getting boring now you can’t have Vodafone-Verizon rumours any more? Perhaps it is. So why not try Vodafone-AT&T rumours instead? The story seems to be that AT&T approached Verizon during the run-up to the bid for Verizon Wireless, suggesting they might want to buy the whole company, sell the emerging markets operations to America Movil, and the rest to AT&T. As it happened, Verizon found a way to buy VZW without all this complexity. Now, the idea has been refloated, just with the emerging market operations being sold to “America Movil, China Mobile, or Orange”.

Why a bidder would want to get rid of the growing, profitable bits of the company is an interesting question, but then that’s what Vodafone did with VZW. Elsewhere, Telefonica asked the regulator for clearance to buy E-Plus, while the sale of Czech O2 was expected to clear today.

BT reported Q2 consumer revenues up 4%, although overall revenue was flat and “core” profits were down 4%. The secret to both was football - on the one hand, 2 million subscribers signed up for BT Sport, plus as many via wholesale, on the other hand, it costs a fortune, even for the company that got literally all the UK rural broadband money.

DTAG, for their part, is concentrating on selling a second-screen experience in cooperation with Sky rather than buying more rights. They also say that 43% of their customers would sooner give up beer than smartphones.

After years of embittered disputes, TeliaSonera has had enough, or rather, the Swedish and Finnish governments who own much of the company have had enough. The networks in Central Asia, Turkey, and Nepal are up for sale as a job lot priced at around $10bn.

LTE spectrum began by selling unexpectedly cheaply. But as the process begins to tap the frequencies around 1GHz and just below, are we seeing a swing to higher prices and the potential for another bubble?

Meanwhile, LightSquared is suing GPS manufacturers for not suing them earlier (in effect). Ooredoo has signed up the 1 millionth mobile money customer. And MVNO shop Viacloud makes another big signing, recruiting Vodafone’s former head of wholesale James Gray.

Alcatel seeks cash; Telstra, EE testing LTE Broadcast; Turnbull turns back towards FTTH

More Alcatel-Lucent news. After the 10,000 job cuts, and the better-than-expected but still pretty awful results, ALU is looking for cash. Shareholders are getting tapped for $1.29 billion through a rights issue, while the company is going to sell $750 million of high-yield bonds and draw down an existing $675 million line of credit. The main point of the exercise is to refinance debt that matures in the next two years - the CFO reckons that once the shuffle is complete, the company’s net debt will be about €50 million.

Telstra is trialling LTE Broadcast, using Ericsson’s implementation. Interestingly, their interpretation is analogous to IP multicast, assigning heavily requested streams of video to radio channels. Fierce Wireless swings off this to discuss the technology in general, review the sad fate of DVB-H, MediaFLO, and IPWireless’s TDTV, and argue that part of the problem is coming up with a business model.

They also note that EE is planning a trial next year, and Qualcomm has an SDK that should be getting into devices by the second half of the year.

Elsewhere, Malcolm Turnbull, the Aussie Minister for Broadband, has given an interview suggesting he may be warming to the FTTH element of the NBN after all.

And the 3G & 4G Wireless Blog takes a look at ANDSF in Hotspot 2.0.


Cisco offers WebRTC free use of H.264, with strings; Voice 2.0 examples; telco impact

Cisco offered the WebRTC community an ambiguous gift this week. Chris Kranky summarises the issue as “free drug samples”. Basically, Cisco has forked out to license the H.264 video codec and make it available for WebRTC implementers - but as Chris says, what happens if Cisco ever decides to stop paying the fees to MPEG-LA? Suddenly, every application that uses it will be vulnerable to their lawyers. Some WebRTC people go so far as to suspect Cisco, heavily invested in SIP-based hardware, of trying to sabotage them.

Meanwhile, there’s a distinct sense of everything in the Voice 2.0 world draining into WebRTC. You may remember Hookflash, among other things, making a desk phone-like dock for iPads as well as an enterprise-focused VoIP client for them. Now they’re working on an alternative JavaScript API for WebRTC, the Object-RTC (ORTC) API.

Here’s a neat example application from the Twilio blog - a plugin for a CRM package, FullContact, that handles calls via Twilio and generates a screen pop with information pulled from the database based on the phone number when a call comes in.

Here’s a hackathon project that provides an analytics dashboard for voicemail and calls, using Google’s speech-to-text. Google speech-to-text? Yes; there’s an undocumented API and a client library here. And this is what happens when Twilio tries to transcribe a fax.

This all has impacts on telcos. Orange’s voice minutes of use are falling, for the first time (and Free Mobile is credited with pushing down ARPU 10% year on year). Softbank shells out for Ericsson’s VoLTE solution in Japan.

Android Home is Google Search; Wallet gets rid of Secure Element; Google Boat less interesting than feared

Someone else who wants to show you information on phone numbers as your calls come in: Google. Android 4.4 “KitKat” moves the homescreen app inside the Google Search app. Ars Technica rather snarkily says that Google “just pulled a Facebook Home”, but this has some nice features, like automatically pulling up Google searches of phone numbers in the dialler (although that does mean Google gets to reverse-engineer your CDRs).

It also means that yet more Android functionality migrates into Google service apps, rather than the open-source trunk. It has also always been surprising that Android isn’t more of a search-centric UI than it is.

Meanwhile, Google makes some changes to Google Wallet, specifically getting rid of the requirement for an NFC Secure Element. Instead, it uses another protocol, letting the software emulate the Secure Element. This means Wallet can deploy onto devices where the carrier doesn’t accept it as part of the SE - like the ISIS carriers’ devices. On the other hand, it drops whatever additional security the carriers brought to the table.

Here’s an interesting piece about whether Google will put ads in G+. Apparently, they’ve considered something like the “sponsored stories” in Facebook, G+ items advertisers would pay to have injected into the content stream. But, interestingly, there is a school of thought at Google that argues that this sort of advertising is not very valuable compared to search-based. Jessica Lessin also offers some data points about adoption of G+.

Putting them together, you can make a case that Google thinks most of Facebook’s ads are brand-building, with fairly low marginal value, and G+ doesn’t have the reach to make this up on volume. Therefore, it needs to offer targeting and hot leads. That was, of course, true of the original Google Ads.

Elsewhere, did you know that Viacom is still suing YouTube, despite the knockbacks and the fact that they have no objection to YouTube since 2008 and the deployment of ContentID?

And Google Boat turns out to be a “high-tech showcase for Google Glass”, or perhaps yet another train set in the world’s best shed. The Hamina data centre in Finland, though, is very much serious business, and Google is investing another $450 million there.

Schmidt furious about NSA tapping Google WAN, buys $190,000 crypto linecards; whole of Europe “in it up to neck”; supermarket tills are looking at you

Eric Schmidt, meanwhile, expresses “outrage” at the revelation, by the now-traditional means of an Edward Snowden document dump, that the NSA (and GCHQ) tapped the company’s inter-data centre links. They also did it to Yahoo! and much more detail is here. He also says that the company has no current plans to expand further in China. Perhaps the most interesting point here is that the Wall Street Journal bracketed the two issues.

Interestingly, crypto specialist Jacob “ioerror” Applebaum, a key figure in the support network for Snowden, has suggested that someone close to him informed Google in advance of publication. Google has been urgently deploying optical-layer encryption on these links for several months. An interesting thread on NANOG from June 2013 refers (subtly).

Further revelations showed that European intelligence services were sharing enormous amounts of data with the NSA and co-operating in tapping various fibre-optic cables. France’s DGSE, according to a British report, has a

“main industry partner, who has some innovative approaches to some internet challenges, raising the potential for GCHQ to make use of this company in the protocol development arena”

No prizes for guessing that one. As for Spain’s CNI:

the CNI have been making great strides through their relationship with a UK commercial partner

No prizes for that one either.

Meanwhile, Brazil is passing a new law to require that personal data be stored inside the country, and Google’s public DNS servers in Brazil appear to have shut down. Germany and Brazil are also going to the UN over the issue.

British supermarket Tesco wants its tills to recognise your face so they can show you adverts. Adobe’s password leak is worse than we thought. And Barclays Bank won’t let you use their mobile app if you’ve got root on your Android phone.

Put your dodgy data in a Swiss Cloud account; HP ARM; use AWS without needing a server

Swisscom, meanwhile, is hoping to take advantage of all the paranoia to snag some more cloud and managed hosting business. They promise to keep all your data in Switzerland and to comply with strict local privacy laws, rather like Swiss banks used to. They should probably expect to end up with quite a lot of “dirty” data, too.

Here’s some detail about HP’s Project Moonshot, the system that lets you build a cloud out of plug-in microservers. Over at ARM’s annual shindig, HP announced a couple of vendors offering ARM-based plugins, and described its Discovery Lab program that demonstrates the technology.

Amazon Web Services has a new JavaScript API, which means you can build web pages that use AWS services without any server-side code, just the page and some AWS services (at the moment, storage, queues, notifications, and the DynamoDB database).

Some detail about LINX’s new data centre in Ashburn, VA. TeleCity has encouraging Q3 sales.

And finally, a journey in the footsteps of the Australian Overland Telegraph, and the cable and microwave systems that followed.

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