The slide of mobile voice; Apple iOS 6 & Passbook; Samsung powers on; Ads on Skype - Telco 2.0 News Review

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At last week's event in London, our Chief Strategist Chris Barraclough presented this rather chilling chart showing the slide of mobile voice volume growth in the UK. (NB Join us next at Digital Arabia in Dubai, 6-7 November.)

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It amplified two of the core themes that we'll be exploring in greater depth in our analysis this year: that many mobile operators are now conscious of the negative impact of substitution to other services; and that they are increasingly seeking new business models and ways to transform their businesses to stay relevant in the digital economy. Not that these are new messages from Telco 2.0. What's different is the sense of realism and urgency that we're starting to see, although whether this is yet resulting in enough fruitful action from operators is another matter. We'll have more on this and the other themes from the EMEA brainstorm in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile there was something else going on. Not the football - the other thing. It was Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, of course. Ars Technica has a roundup of what was a relatively conservative WWDC, with the addition of the Retina display to the top-end Macbook Pro (review), the withdrawal of the 13" MacBook and the 17" Pro, and a new version of iOS. Tim Cook also trailed a major update of the Mac Pro line some time in 2013.

Telco 2.0 readers are likely to be most interested in some of the features that landed with iOS 6 - Apple's own mapping (well, their own mapping built on OpenStreetMap), for one thing, is replacing Google Maps in the iDevices' location-based application. Passbook, a new app that ships with iOS 6, is a central store for things like airline e-tickets, reservations, gift cards, and the like, and this is widely thought to be something to do with a move into payments. During the event, Tim Cook mentioned that Apple now has 400 million iTunes accounts with credit cards, and you'd think Passbook would be the obvious place for things you bought with them to end up. AllThingsD has a good discussion.

FaceTime is now going to work over cellular networks (providing, of course, there's enough bandwidth). Possibly more worryingly for telcos, they're going to link Apple IDs and phone numbers, so you can answer calls from other Apple devices.

There's a neat grid here showing which iDevices will support which features in iOS 6 - interestingly, only the iPhone 4S has 100%, which seems to suggest they see it as the core of the product line. Apple is boasting that more iDevices are updated to the latest version than Androids. iFixit dismantled a Retina MacBook and reports that it scores 1/10 for maintainability.

Horace estimates that about 60% of iDevices sold are still in use and that the turnover rate is about two years, and goes on to work out that the app store economy is worth about $4bn, and app pricing is basically stable. Developer payouts are running at about $230 million a month.

Ben Evans goes into why Apple does so much better in the US and concludes that it's down to a lack of price competition, with this week's Chart of the Week:

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Apple laptops are tilted at precisely 70 degrees in the Apple Store and there's an app for that. Apple is going to stand trial over the iPhone privacy problem. Judge Posner says that Apple's request for an injunction against Motorola will be heard, having threatened last week to throw out the case entirely.

Samsung moved 43 million smartphones in Q1, beating HTC and Motorola heavily. The key detail must be that 90% of the profit pool went to Apple and Samsung between them. Androids also surged ahead in the European market, again driven by price competition.

Here's a "nothing to see here - it's all in Android already" take on iOS 6.

Meanwhile, Horace reckons that Androids are being activated at the rate of 1 million a day, and wonders whether even this understates the real size of the market. As ultra-cheap ($160) chipsets come on to the market, how many will even be activated and countable by Google? How many more will end up in unofficial forkdroid/shanzhai devices? For that matter, does it count as activation if it's firewalled off in a secret military network?

Samsung's partnership with Google also includes manufacturing Chromebooks, and the latest and greatest is here. The review, like every Chromebook review, says it would be OK if it wasn't so pricey. As for Chrome the browser, here's a fascinating High Scalability piece on just how much it tries to guess what you're going to do and get there first in order to achieve snappier browsing.

Baidu has bought a Chinese mobile Web browser firm to go with its own forkdroid OS.

It emerged that RIM's pair of CEOs were offered 12 million excellent reasons to quit.

And Nokia executives say Microsoft is giving them "specific support" to help compete on prices. Does that mean money?

Nokia this week announced 10,000 job cuts, closed a succession of plants, and carried out a major reshuffle of the executives. Niklas Savander, EVP Markets, and Mary McDowell, EVP Mobile Phones (i.e. the featurephone empire) are the best-known Nokians getting the chop. At the same time, the Vertu phones-with-jewels-on business was sold and Scalado's imaging technology acquired.

The 10,000 reportedly include the remaining software teams outside a rump working on S40, and puts an end to the planned Meltemi Linux platform for low-cost devices. Apparently, access to the version control system was turned off before the announcement.

Meanwhile, their partner Microsoft acquired business-focused social network Yammer for $1bn, aka "one Instagram".

Is Windows 8 a design disaster? Google thinks so - its Metro version of Chrome replicates the mainline Chrome experience.

Telco rumour of the week: a £8bn management buyout of EverythingEverywhere, led by long-time T-Mobile UK executive Tom Alexander. The Times thought so; Reuters says "not bloody likely", and France Telecom's CFO says it's vital to remain a pan-European operator.

Verizon has slashed prices on its 150Mbps FiOS product by over a hundred dollars, while keeping the $209 price point for the new 300Mbps service. They expect 80% of FiOS subscribers to want more than 15Mbps.

Orange is beginning to deploy FTTH in Spain, with €300m to spend and the first of 1.5 million premises to be connected by the end of the year. That's obviously going to be a very targeted build, but it could go further if there is interest in Orange's offer of various wholesale options.

T-Mobile USA's CTO, Neville Ray, says that the subscribers who have 42Mbps HSPA+ radios consume double the data an average subscriber does. And their average subscriber is already at 760MB/month. Some detail of their upgrade plans is here, with 2,500 Node Bs expected to get LTE by the end of July. In a complication, they have to shuffle the HSPA network up the dial into the 1900MHz band they use for GSM at present in order to free up the 1700s and 2100s for LTE.

Free Mobile expects to get to 15-25% market share fairly soon and to make it to profitability faster than operators typically have done. Their network rollout is described as being "on track", although the most difficult problem holding it back is planning permission. Carphone Warehouse, meanwhile, says Virgin Mobile France is looking better after having a bad experience with Free earlier this year.

BT tells a parliamentary committee it doesn't want price controls on wholesale fibre. Meanwhile, it fed the beast by acquiring streaming rights to a stack of Premiership football matches.

The fixed-wireless element of Australia's NBN has taken on some detail.

Brazil's top four operators bought into LTE spectrum this week, although the offer of 450MHz space flopped. Meanwhile, Movistar Mexico and Iusacell are planning to share infrastructure for their LTE networks.

America Movil buys a stake in Telekom Austria to go with its chunk of KPN.

Vodafone's acquisition of C&WW gets the go-ahead after a major shareholder changed their mind and agreed. (Their tax affairs are OK, says the National Audit Office, but don't expect anyone to be convinced.) Relatedly, has Colt achieved Telco 2.0?

A cable break on SMW-4 seems to have hit SingTel unexpectedly hard, the Renesys Blog notes.

And Reuters digs into the MTN/Turkcell lawsuit. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

In Telco 2.0 themes, Telefonica pushed out its RCSe implementation, Joyn as an Android app this week.

Microsoft is about to start serving ads during Skype calls, specifically to those Skype users who haven't bought any Skype credit.

That's the least of your worries in Ethiopia, where VoIP has just been made a criminal offence carrying a maximum of 15 years' imprisonment.

Facebook's CTO is off, pocketing a ton of shares and talking about a new business he's starting with an ex-Googler.

Only 16% of the stuff you "like" on Facebook will end up in your news feed where your friends can see it. Facebook is offering to up that...for a price. Some people are suspicious.

And here are their excuses for the IPO snafu.

Amazon Web Services rolls out an extensive paid support plan.

Cloudbursting: that's when you run in the private cloud normally, but have a plan to automatically pull in additional public cloud capacity to deal with peaks. High Scalability has a HOWTO.

Talking about ATMs and cash.

Assessing Google's original content.

How do you go about evacuating a data centre?

And Motorola (not the Google bit) buys Psion - sadly, it is that Psion, and it's the remaining vertical applications bit of the legendary British PDA maker.