Ring! Ring! Hot News, 1st December 2008

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In Today's Issue: Silly iPhone app of the week - MMS; EU hammers data roaming prices; Web 2.0 payola at the iTunes App Store; iPhone for business, and really silly apps; Nokia turns into an MVNO; Japan, it's the industry's new Holland; MTN CEO bashes bears; HOWTO make a good MVNO; Gphone demand surges; OMA device management for S60, part 2; "Faster" Vodafone beaten to Turkish 3G speccy; BCE LBO KOd; analysts back Telco 2.0 video views; mobile controls for your TiVo; Fring goes to the IMS World Congress, almost certainly youngest participant; SME WiMAX comes to the UK; BT slashes Metro Ethernet pricing; spot the tree competition.

Just the thing we were missing: MMS for the iPhone! Someone's developing it, with the hope of selling it to carriers; it's just a pity that iPhone users already have so many better ways of sharing their moments. There's (good) e-mail; there's any number of clients to upload media to blogging tools, Flickr, YouTube and friends, and then all kinds of social network apps to tell all your friends about it. And for cheap, too: the spread between data pricing and MMS pricing is still significant, which is of course why the carriers would hypothetically be interested in putting MMS on the iPhone, and why nobody will use it.

Ah, data pricing; despite all the lobbying, the European Union's top decision-making body, the council of ministers, has signed off price caps for data and SMS roaming. SMS will be subject to a €0.11 maximum price, while the intercarrier (GRX/IPX) market for generic IP will be subject to a maximum of €1 per MB -- which frankly ought to be enough for anyone, as downloading a typical 650MB Linux liveCD would cost more than the computer you planned to install it on....

If you are an iPhone dev, you might be somewhat concerned by this report. Apparently, one developer has been paying people to post favourable reviews at the iTunes Store. They get five bucks a plug. But the killer detail is that they advertised the job through Amazon Mechanical Turk. Now there's Web 2.0 for you. Perhaps they were hyping one of the incredibly useful business applications in this Forbes article?

Nuh. It's an animated Santa for your iPhone. In related news, Chinese searchco Baidu is in trouble after it was caught accepting money for higher rankings. Alan Turing must be spinning in his grave at what these computing devices have spawned. One excellent reason for his rotation is the existence of Vertu mobile phones. This is a lineup of old Nokia stock covered in sparkly jewels, for rich people who don't need to VPN into their business, get their e-mail or consult the Web. Yes, it's a line of products marketed specifically at the idle rich -- you can't fault Nokia for market segmentation. Now, it seems, Nokia is going to create its very own MVNO for Vertu users.

We're struggling a bit here -- will the phones ring in a specially deferential manner? Will a voice on the line remind them how rich they are? But you have to say it's an interesting departure for Nokia. After all, they already run networks for many smaller operators as a managed service, so why not do the same for their own account? It's arguable that Nokia is edging into the platform here. Interestingly, the launch is going to be in Japan, just as Nokia stops developing Japan-only devices. For many years, Japan was the industry's happy hunting ground. After all, people there used MMS! and funky gadgets! and i-mode! Unfortunately, essentially none of this stuff travelled well, and arguably the innovation is now in the emerging markets. Nokia's move may mark the point where Japan becomes just another 100%+ penetrated mature market.

MTN is trying to push this, arguing that stock exchange fears about the multi-emerging market operators are overblown and that its ARPUs are holding up well.

Here's how to make an MVNO: Surinam's incumbent mobile operator is launching one of the things in Holland, where about 330,000 Surinamese expats live. There's your highly differentiated market. Teleena is providing the IT, and probably Telfort is providing the wholesale connectivity.

Meanwhile, yer Googlephone is doing better than expected -- HTC has roughly doubled its production run. Telephony Online reports from an open-source conference on how the very non-open iPhone is doing so well. (The secret: it's doing everything on the open Web.) Real geeks, meanwhile, might want to check out the next instalment of Paul Todd's Nokia OMA DM HOWTO.

Vodafone boss Vittorio Collao thinks the carrier needs to become "faster" in general -- faster to respond to customer needs, competitor initiatives, and opportunities. Pity, that; they were beaten to the Turkish 3G spectrum by...Turkcell. In other operator news, the Bell Canada LBO has fallen through, and the FT thinks this is nothing but good news.

We're very keen on integrated video distribution, and CPE as a competitive edge for fixed operators. (It's not just those crazy Telco 2.0 guys, either.) Here's some news which combines the two: TiVo users can now control the gadget from a mobile-optimised Web site. We're also very keen on Voice & Messaging 2.0, but far from keen on IMS; so here's a story with both. Mobile VoIP developers Fring will be speaking tomorrow at the IMS World Congress about their tie-up with Mobilkom Austria.

UK WiMAX is a-coming, it seems, with a focus on cheaper symmetrical connections for small businesses. It'll have to do until the fibre shows up. Meanwhile in Australia, they're getting ready to do the job. There is some good news for UK ISPs, however: BT is cutting its backhaul pricing sharply. Not so good if you're a BT shareholder.

And finally: can you tell a Node-B from a real tree? We think it would have made better sport if some of the photos didn't show the various green monster equipment boxes and fencing around them.