Telco 2.0 News Review

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[Ed. - We're just back from Telco 2.0 Americas, and we're looking forward to the EMEA Executive Brainstorm in London on the 9th-10th of November. Sign up while you still can...]

Motorola announced Q3 results showing that the much-battered handsets business had struggled back into profit. The company posted an operating profit of $3bn, as revenues from mobile devices rose 20%. Although the bulk of the profit came from the Networks and Enterprise operation, both halves of the firm are now making money. The key to the turnaround seems to be their decision two years ago to commit the company's future to Android. Two Motorola Androids will be Verizon Wireless's flagship phones for the Christmas season.

It's not only Motorola that likes Android. The US military has been spending enormous sums on mobile communications gear from its favourite defence contractors, but the Special Forces seem to doubt that this is going to deliver anything useful. Instead, they want Android-based kit that will let them develop their own apps, quickly. The official RFP is here - one thing that shows clearly is that the commandos have a technical project manager with serious Internet clue tucked away somewhere. Peer-to-peer mesh networking with multicast as per RFC-5740? As far as applications go, they mostly seem to be about collaborative-whiteboard tools - yes, like all those horribly creaky demonstrations the GSMA used to do with IMS at conferences...

And the 'droids have clocked up their 100,000th app.

Apple, meanwhile, has added to the vast pool of people suing each other by countersuing Motorola over some of its multi-touch patents.

There's a rumour that Apple is considering something along the lines of an MVNO for the iDevices, but we wouldn't put it any higher than that, especially as the people involved don't seem to be very clear about GSM roaming, provisioning and interconnect, to put it mildly. Note Rudolf van der Berg in the comments thread, trying to spread a little light in the darkness.

More significantly, Apple is now the fourth-biggest mobile device vendor, pushing past RIM. There's a video of their enormous new data centre over at Data Center Knowledge - apparently, with the monster just completed, Apple's already looking at building a second beast next door. What are they planning?

Surprise: when Larry and Sergey started Google, they invited none other than Steve Jobs to become CEO, having already persuaded Jeff Bezos to invest some of his own money in the company that would eventually eat Yahoo! alive.

Microsoft had results out this week, beating the spread significantly on a recovery in spending on enterprise IT products. However, the Online Services division remains a nightmare - it lost $560 million last quarter, significantly more than in the corresponding quarter a year ago, and appears to be burning $2bn a year. Woof. Also, here's a HOWNOTTO guide about releasing updates without making your users paranoid.

Interestingly, it looks like they're moving everyone to HTML5 for Web applications, with Silverlight remaining mostly as the widget framework for Windows Phone. Relatedly, more than half the Web's video content is now available as HTML5 video.

Adobe has announced a tool that converts your Flash content to HTML5, so we can expect more and more of that. US courts have shut down the filesharing network LimeWire, so we can probably expect still more Web video as well. The EFF has tips and code to help Drupal websites deliver video without leaking private data.

Australia's NBN Co takes a step further, and hires NSN to provide the optical kit. Meanwhile, the FTTH Council reports that the number of FTTX lines in Europe has risen 22% in the last 6 months - the UK is distinguished by not appearing in the list at all, while the net adds are concentrated in the new members of the European Union.

French mobile operators are planning to share an HSPA network operating in the refarmed GSM900 spectrum, in order to get mobile broadband out to rural France. NSN got the contract there as well. OFCOM, meanwhile, has dropped its objections to 900/1800MHz refarming.

Rudolf van der Berg points out that Virgin Media sees relatively few customers opt for its fastest package, and asks whether the costs of segmenting the market by speed are low enough to make this worthwhile.

Benoit Felten has full costs for various speed packages on Singapore's NBN. And Clearwire has switched on its WiMAX network in New York City.

Google, meanwhile, is the world's second biggest Internet carrier by traffic.

MTN has subscriber numbers, showing significant growth across their markets. Interestingly, their MTN Zone product, which offers discounted calls depending on where you are geographically, is credited with a significant boost in the South African market. China Telecom, meanwhile, saw a 5% rise in revenues.

Blyk launched in Asia-Pacific, having secured another £17m in venture capital in a recent round.

Asterisk has begun a major new project - the Asterisk SCF, Scalable Communications Framework, which aims to re-implement the Asterisk feature set as a fully distributed and modularised system capable of achieving carrier-scale and high availability including live call failover.

Skype Journal has three interesting links - on being disappointed in Skype, on Skype as a game, and on Skype's attitude to business users.

Facebook has signed a deal with PayPal to use them as their primary payments application. More telco-ishly, AT&T has three new mobile payments applications, based on their network API and partnerships with three upstream customers. Details are scanty as yet.

The GSMA, meanwhile, has issued a handbook on how to create an agent network for mobile money transfer. It's free to read online.

Sprint has updated its developer offering, adding a new payments product, voice & messaging APIs, and a partnership with Openwave.

Nokia developers, meanwhile, have the opportunity to win a Nokia N8 if they contribute documentation to the Qt wiki. Elsewhere, some unusually determined gadget blagger has made an entire movie using one of the devices. And here's an endorsement Nokia would probably rather not have - terrorists used a Nokia 6120 Classic Symbian device as the triggering element for the planned cargo plane attack.

Indiana University's Truthy project, which aims to discover how political memes spread through Twitter, has scored several early successes - notably, they've discovered a network of bots that pump right-wing propaganda into the Twittersphere.

Here's a fantastic explanation of the power of a good API, from the people who brought you Yahoo! Pipes and YQL. And here's how to export your work from Pipes and YQL and run it as Python code yourself. David Burgess discovers that iPhones silently keep the last SMSC number they used, a potential man in the middle attack on SMS/MMS. Are tools like UShahidi really that useful? Bruce Schneier speaks on security. A new kind of modular data centre. Fighting the laws of projects.