Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2007 04:33:11 GMTCopyright: Copyright 2007 Omar Javaid
Sun, 26 Aug 2007 04:33:11 GMTInsightful and most likely accurate.
Sat, 11 Aug 2007 12:37:22 GMTSky & Virgin Media Ad Spend According to Nielsen, Sky spent £70m on ads in the first six months of year compared to £37m from Virgin Media which includes its rebrand costs. In the same period last year, Sky spent £50m and NTL spent £16m. These amounts doenít include online search and display spend. Also, it doesnít specific how much of the amount is basically taking money out of one pocket and putting back in another with spending on own channel TV adverts and NewsCorp publications.
Sat, 11 Aug 2007 12:27:45 GMTQ2: UK Mobile Market Wrap-Up I knocked up a quick chart showing the trends in the UK Mobile Market, but before the analysis a couple of notes of caution:3UK figures are not released yet and these are more important to the UK market than Virgin MobileVoda have stopped recording the inactive numbers, so have a different way of counting the base than the restVoda and O2 exclude their MVNO operations from the subscriber countI have assumed all the Virgin Mobile base, both prepaid and contract, are counted within the T-Mobi prepaid numbers. The T-Mobi numbers will also include figures from their smaller MVNOs such as Fresh.O2 and T-Mobi only state their revenue figures in Äís and therefore I have converted them using the average exchange rate used by Orange during the quarter.What is apparent is the speed that O2 service revenues are catching up to Voda's. However with Voda taking much more market share in net adds for both pre and post paid for the half year, Iíd be extremely surprised if Voda didnít finish 2008 still in the lead on the service revenue front.The promotion of the quarter is definitely the O2 Simplicity deal which appears to be pushing its prepaid base into taking sim-only contracts. Personally, I think this is a great idea and will undoubtedly be copied by the other networks. I think the offer could also be slightly developed and offer tenure-based discounts on new handsets ñ this will drive traffic into the operator stores and promote loyalty. This is the approach that Sky is taking on flogging HD boxes and every operator in the UK would love for Sky-like churn figures.The other interesting development in the quarter was the axing of the BT Movio mobileTV service as retailed by Virgin Mobile. Personally, I think this is a shame and is probably an indicator that DVB-H will eventually win out as the standard in the UK. For the other operators, they will be grateful to one less potential buyer of spectrum in the forthcoming L-Band auction.Virgin Mobile has a new boss, but I think he will have his work cut out to improve margins and the customer base at the company. It is easy to provide a short term impetus to earnings by effectively shutting down a vast swathe of distribution to concentrate on direct sales to the cableTV base. Virgin Mobile is probably facing a long decline in the base unless they start pushing prepaid again.The big surprise to me was Carphoneís continued growth in distribution despite nearly all the operators claiming direct connections are at a high. All I can think of to explain this phenomena is that Carphone is taking market share from the other mobile retailers such as Phones4U. It just goes to show the continued excellence of Carphone in retailing both on the High Street and Online. I did have to laugh at the Rene Obermann comments about one UK retailer being exceptionally aggressive in the quarter.T-Mobile are a bit of an enigma at the moment with them cutting the value in the Flext package and also facing the initial wave of Flext contracts from the launch 18-months ago starting to expire. I suppose if things get really scary and they start losing some of the contract base, Carphone will gladly help them out in acquiring new customers at the right commission level.3UK have also been quite quiet in the marketplace, but I think this is more a feature of the success of the X-Series and them not having to put other offers into the market. The key focus for them is the battle with OFCOM over termination fees, a victory in this is an absolute must. - KeithJamesMc [TeleBusillis][...]
Thu, 12 Jul 2007 01:24:34 GMT(embed)
Sat, 12 May 2007 20:23:40 GMTNumber Of Voice Calls Dropping In the UK.
Is the post-voice mobile era upon us? Stats out of the UK show a significant drop in the number of voice calls both pre- and postpaid users are making each week. Last year, prepay users made an average of 14 calls per week; this year, it’s down to 10. Postpaid users similarly fell, from 35 to 27. Prepay users’ texting levels held steady, but postpaid users are now sending almost 50% more texts each week.
What’s interesting is this is happening as voice prices are falling, too — resulting in significantly lower spending, according to the survey. It says prepaid spending is down from ¬£19.29 per month to ¬£12.35 per month, while postpaid is off 20 percent. I’m not sure just how much I buy into the spending figures, though, as looking over the ARPU stats for Vodafone and T-Mobile for the last couple of years don’t show a similar level of disruption (and their subscriber growth doesn’t make me think people are flocking to cut-rate providers).
Anyhow, it’s worth noting the apparent drop in call volume. People are talking less, texting more — and, hopefully, using more data services in spite of the tariffs. To our readers in the UK: are you talking less, or have you noticed any change in people’s behavior? Perhaps we’re running out of things to say, or are even more fully embracing the brevity and non-verbal communication offered by SMS, email or IM. Maybe people are figuring out that they want to talk less on their mobiles, and do more with them.(image) MobHappy]
Sat, 12 May 2007 20:19:43 GMTEmerging Markets Call For Novel Thinking, Not Just Basic Products.
(image) Last week, Nokia announced several new handsets for emerging markets. At first glance, they look like what you’d expect: basic devices without the flashy features of the company’s high-end handsets. However, a couple of the most basic-looking, the 1200 and the 1208, have some cool features of their own that should give them a boost in emerging markets.
First, they support multiple phonebooks — a nod to the fact that in many developing nations, a single handset is shared among several family members or friends. The handsets allow for up to five separate phonebooks that can be managed individually, letting users have their own list of contacts, if not their own phone. Second, they have a call-tracking feature, which lets users set the maximum cost of a call before dialing. This lets users control their spending, but it also helps empower the entrepreneurs in these markets that buy a phone and airtime credit, then resell calls. Two small and superfluous features to those of us in developed markets, but two simple innovations that highlight how creative thinking can triumph even in the most basic of mobile environments.
Neither of these devices are going to have the likes of gadget-site writers writhing in the throes of lust, but these sorts of small innovations will make a big difference in their intended markets, and show the continuous improvement that’s possible on the most basic level of this industry.(image) MobHappy]
Sat, 12 May 2007 20:14:25 GMTVirgin Media Q1 ñ The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks Another quarter, another Virgin Media conference call, another tantrum thrown at Sky. Personally, I think it is all getting a bit ridiculous especially given that most of the current Virgin Media problems are self inflicted.Balance SheetThe Cable Industry loves leverage: this has been the case since the early days of US cable and the model was perfected by John Malone at TCI over many decades. The theory goes that the interest payments eats all the profits and therefore no tax needs to be paid over to the government. The cashflows guarantees the debt and the cashflows steadily rise over time given that monopoly rents can be extracted by addiction to the tube. The leverage leads to greater shareholder returns on a percentage basis than a non-leveraged business model, especially as the business is valued on multiples of cashflow.The corollary of this is that in times of falling cashflows or rising interest rates the equity can easily and quickly be wiped out and the debt holders take over. This is what effectively happened in the UK Cable Industry a few years ago: ntl ran around buying as many cable systems as possible using bondholdersí money and then didnít generate enough cashflow to keep the bondholders happy. The bondholders effectively took over the company, installed new management, bought the only other UK Cable system of any serious size, bought a MVNO to give it an ultra-fashionable quad play and more importantly a fresh brand.So at the end of Q1, Virgin Media had net debt of £5,747m with a weighted average cost of debt of 7.9% which equates to around £454m of annual interest charges. Most of the debt is in US Dollars and floating rate, which probably means the skills of the Virgin Media Treasury department in predicting future interest and exchange rates are far more important than any contract negotiations with Sky.Cash FlowVirgin Media love to use OCF metrics which they claim is a good measure of the underlying performance of the business. However, Iím old fashioned and prefer to look at the Cash Flow Statement, which shows net cash provided by Operating Activities of £106m, whereas net cash used in Investing Activities is £147.9m. This implies a cash outflow from the business of £41.9m before interest charges of around £110m.This is really, really important because if things continue as in Q1 Virgin Media will not be around for much longer without generating some cash or changing the capital structure of the business. Of course, the extremely poor Q1 cashflow could be due to seasonal factors, however if we look at Q1 2006 net cash provided by operating activities was £207.3m and capex was lower than in 2007. So Q1 2007 was not a blip.The Virgin Media capex statement in itself is extremely interesting because it shows that they are capitalizing the cost of CPE or set top boxes. CPE accounted for £62.5m out of total quarterly capex of £152.9m . Another way of looking at this is that CPE costs do not feature in the Virgin Media OCF calculation as they are depreciated below the line. As far as I aware, BSkyB immediately write-off the cost of CPE as part of subscriber management costs and in fact ownership of the box transfers to the customers. It is hardly surprising that BSkyB charge for their HD and Sky+ boxes, whereas Virgin Media give them away like candy.Even more interesting is that Virgin Media only spent £3.5m on upgrading or rebuilding systems, with an additional £15.4m spent on ìscalable infrastructureî ñ this is hardly the spend of a cable company busy upgrading its systems getting ready for DOCSIS 3.0 and 50meg to the home. In fact, it smacks of a company spending the absolute minimum to keep things going.TVVirgin Media appears to have done extremely well attracting TV customers in[...]
Sat, 12 May 2007 20:03:40 GMTYet More Virgin Media/BSkyB and OFCOM It was noted during the Virgin Media conference call Chairman, James Mooney bragged that they had won every legal battle fought so far. I thought this was extremely premature.
"I'm disappointed simply that the politicians chickened out and punt these things to these quangos."Apart from fact that Rupert doesnít seem to have much time for our beloved regulator, OFCOM, he is digging his heels in for a long fight:
"We are not worried by any of these inquiries, however long they take. We have done nothing illegal.îAs Russ Taylor from Ofcomwatch points out the hottest document in the country, which is the actual Virgin Media complaint to OFCOM, is safely under lock and key and most importantly will be kept from the prying eyes of the consumers that OFCOM purports to protect and Virgin Media are also out to protect.
ìSo we have to encourage consumers to pay more ñìThanks Ed, glad to see someone is looking after Joe Public.
So, to summarise, broadband customers aren't sure what speed of service they're buying, are suffering from slowdown at evenings and weekends, are left in purgatory when their ISP goes belly-up and, worst of all, there's no real prospect that things will get better any time soon.In the speech Ed was basically putting forward the case that no taxpayer investment was required in broadband - with which I broadly agree. However at the same time he is still touring the UK trying to drum up support for his ridiculous taxpayer funded £300m injection into the web content industry aka the Public Service Publisher - with which I vehemently disagree. - KeithJamesMc [TeleBusillis]
Sat, 12 May 2007 19:58:36 GMTYahoo - Comcast = The Deal of the Year. Little has been written about yesterdays announcement that Yahoo would be selling display and video ads for Comcast's websites, in particular, Comcast.net.
Sat, 12 May 2007 19:49:44 GMT"Internet 2.0" will create a shift away from PCs, Zander says. (image) Video: "Internet 2.0" will create a shift away from PCs, Zander says. At the Software 2007 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Motorola CEO Ed Zander talks to program host M.R. Rangaswami about the shift toward mobility within the enterprise. He also discusses the competition his company faces from Apple's iPhone.
Sat, 12 May 2007 19:46:48 GMTIs SMS under threat?. One of our Telco 2.0 event speakers, Tomi Ahonen, has written a passionate eulogy on the end user joys of SMS. We’re soon publishing our Consumer Voice & Messaging 2.0 report, and have been looking at the evolution of arbitrage and toll bypass schemes. Will the future be as rosy for operators as it is for their customers? Could SMS revenues be under threat despite growing volumes and adoption? At the event we ran some survey questions on the first day with the full plenary audience. Given that SMS is a super-high margin product delivering between a third and half of most mobile operators’ profits, we asked if this service could be Skyped? These alternative services let you connect to a third party SMS gateway over the Internet (using GPRS, 3G, or Wi-Fi) and send SMS messages at well below standard operator prices. It’s much more plausible than VoIP displacing mobile voice, since there are few quality of service issues sending a one-off message. The question we asked was: What proportion of SMS messages will be originated from non-operator third-party services in 5 years time? The results were quite interesting: There seemed to be little consensus among the participants of whether the threat was real, and if so whether it was small or large. Each respondent was also asked for a reason why they chose their answer. Those predicting a smaller haemorrage of customers to rival services cited several common factors: users are too lazy or indifferent to the cost of SMS to try lowering their expenditure there will be a general move towards IM, which will regulate costs and provide a richer alternative spam and privacy concerns will keep people away from non-operator services operators will just drop prices given any competitive threat Those citing a larger threat suggested that messaging will be embedded in 3rd party applications, notably social networking services, and that operators will lose control of the context from which messages are initiated — as well as the revenue. A common theme on both sides was the user experience. Those predicting a low rate of defection cited poor experience, whereas those forecasting some of the telepocalyptic scenarios felt it would come right over time. We’ve been using a couple of such services recently. Given it costs 40p (about €0.59 or US$0.80) to send an SMS when roaming, we’ve had plenty of incentive. I’ve run out of credit on Vyke having used it a lot, and Jajah only lets me initiate voice calls, so we’ve screen captured all the stages of sending a message from smsBug instead. They all have a fairly similar user experience. I’ve not included any of the sign-up and installation stages, as we’re assuming users will put up with considerable one-off inconvenience to switch (usually by handing a bank note and phone to a nearby youthful technophilic relative). You set up a pre-paid balance on each of these services, and download a Java client onto your handset. It’s not difficult. We’ve laboriously documented all the steps, as there are more than for the standard texting experience. We start from the home screen on my smartphone. I’ve set up smsBug as the (pretty horrible) second icon in the quick access row — the pair of bug eyes. I could have assigned this to the standard messaging hotkey — but we’re relying here on users knowing how to do quite advanced customisation to their phone UI. This isn’t part of the “out of the box” install (and probably never could be on the current generation of phones and Java.) For some reason the message editor starts with the last message you sent, so you have to do a bit of selection and deletion to get rid of it. [...]
Sat, 12 May 2007 19:43:06 GMTDeath of the SIM card?. One of the topics which came up in the ‘Digital Worker’ stream at the recent Telco 2.0 event was the role of the mobile operator and their SIM card. We asked Colin Mallett, our ‘analyst-in-residence’ for that session, and who spent many years working in R&D for BT, to share his thoughts with us: “10 years ago BT started looking at a new kind of player called the ‘SoftTelco’. Later, with a multi-million pound R&D budget, we tried to implement some of the ideas, eventually ending up in the Brightstar incubator. This included looking at MVNOs and how to by-pass the Mobile Operator’s SIM. The GSM SIM card uses tamperproof silicon to provide the client for the mobile operator’s Home Subscriber Subsystem (HSS). It provides a strong authentication token which can be managed securely over the cellular channel. This is a powerful platform which binds the user subscription, handset and network together. Unfortunately, as readers of this blog know all too well, this sort of tight commercial and technical integration is being ripped apart by IP. It’s happened in fixed telephony with VoIP and it’s soon going to come to mobile - by around 2010 or 2011 according to a recent Telco 2.0 survey - even if, in the short term, operators ban VoIP from their ‘unlimited’ data packages. So, are SIMs really appropriate for supporting converged services, especially on laptops or on the new classes of Mobile Internet Devices? SIM Is Good… The beauty of SIM authentication is that you switch on and a few seconds later you have a connection - more or less anywhere in the world. The whole process is hidden from the end user and everyone takes it for granted. Only traffic over the cellular interface is encrypted, but that is optional for the local mobile operator. So, for end-to-end IP data traffic to remain fully secure, familiar techniques such as the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS) are still needed. While automatic and secure WiFi authentication is more complicated, it can be achieved if an application is linked to a SIM card (and TLS or IPSec protocols are employed). …But is Under Attack… So if the SIM card is so effective, why is it threatened? Mobile operators don’t want to give up the tight control that SIM’s give them, especially in the face of a growing number of MVNOs in increasingly saturated markets. For the majority of operators, in voice and messaging in particular, their reaction to the developing Telco 2.0 trends is to defend against convergence rather than embracing it, which giving open access to WiFi via 3G and HSDPA implies. …It Hasn’t Evolved… Over the last 5 years, compared with on-line transactions, SIM based mobile-commerce has failed to take off, partly because the mobile operators and payment card issuers have not been able to agree on appropriate business models and partly because the payment companies have not been able to accept that their logo should not appear on the physical card. As a result, multi-application SIM cards have never appeared and the SIM has been seen as a blocker to progress, stimulating multiple research projects to bypass it. ..But Other Technology Has… For many years, handset manufacturers opposed the dual-slot phone - one for the SIM and one for the credit card. However, the battle is now lost. In the diagram above, the mobile handset looks remarkably like a computer with added Cellular and WiFi modules. A second slot was originally needed for removable media to store photographs or music. Now it can take a ‘secure’ MultiMedia Card (SMC) consisting of a flash memory device combined with Java Cardâ[greater equa[...]
Sat, 12 May 2007 19:28:41 GMTSoftBank Mobile White Plan Results. SoftBank Mobile has announced that the number of subscriptions for the companies âo[ogonek]While Planâo? has exceeded four million on May 3, 2007. Originally introduced in early January, this simple price package offers a monthly basic charge of Â¥980 with free domestic voice calls between SoftBank Mobile users from 1:00 to 21:00, and for domestic voice calls other than those it charges a tariff of 21 yen/30 sec. In addition, text messaging between 3G users is, with some restrictions, free of charge. [Wireless Watch Japan]
Sat, 12 May 2007 18:48:52 GMTSoftBank Announces FYE 2006 Results. Softbank Corp. announced their FYE 2006 results yesterday indicating that the parent companies fourth-quarter operating profit more than doubled YoY after buying Vodafone mobile-phone unit last spring. The entire presentation video is available in English Here. The 1.66 trillion yen acquisition made Softbank the second-fastest growing company in sales terms on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average for the fiscal first half ended Sept. 30. Operating profit rose to 73.8 billion yen ($615 million) in the three months ended March 31 from 34.4 billion yen in Q4 2005, while sales more than doubled to 721.9 billion yen from 298.4 billion yen, according to Bloomberg. [Wireless Watch Japan]
Sat, 12 May 2007 18:37:22 GMTMIH Launches Payment Module, Social Net, Classified Search And More.
(image) MIH India has launched another payment module called ibQash for users of their social media portal ibibo. Users will be classified in six âo[ogonek]leaguesâo? based on the level of activity on ibibo, which determines the quantum of payment to users. The other payment module âo?Great Indian Blogger Huntâo? had issues of some people copy-pasting content from elsewhere, and ibibo has asked users to report abuse. Still, I remain skeptical about the whole concept of paying users to blog - money doesnâo[dot accent]t buy loyalty. And how feasible is it, since this is not an advertising revenue share - itâo[dot accent]s an out-and-out payment for usage...anyone remember the defunct Mailmetoday.com from the India Today group?
Ibibo has also launched polls - both online and mobile - and a classifieds search for cities, jobs, restaurants and (surprisingly) matrimony, called âo[dot accent]dwaarâo[breve]. Gaming sites chotafish and motafish are now ibibo kids and ibibo games respectively.
The more interesting initiative is a social networking site called Cafe ibibo, that requires users to disclose and verify their mobile number, and is hence positioned as being âo[breve]saferâo[dot accent] than other social nets. There are some usability issues and bugs, though - I couldnâo[dot accent]t figure out how to upload my photo directly to my ibibo cafe profile. Someone sent me a friend request, and when I checked the profile, it still displayed my name with his profile. There are no groups yet at Cafe ibibo. I also noticed two more sites via the footer at bixee.com (which MIH acquired) - classifieds listing Apnamarket.com and questionbank.net.By firstname.lastname@example.org (Nikhil Pahwa). [contentSutra.com]
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 06:09:36 GMTWhy the NBC/Newscorp Video Venture is a Great Idea. I have no idea what the traffic will be for this new venture if they create a single destination site. I have no idea what the traffic will be for video hosted by the distribution partners they signed up, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Fox and NBC/Universal sites themselves. Individually they certainly will trail Youtube in traffic. In aggregate, it has a chance to surpass Youtube, but we won't know this for a long , long time. Here is what I do know. 1. Because Gootube has chosen to hide behind the DMCA, it can only sell advertising around videos it has a license for. That means their inventory is limited, which in turn limits its ability to try new things and to make big sales. If the core competency of Google is to sell advertising and the foundation for the Youtube acquisition was to invent and deploy new and exciting forms of video advertising, that goal just took a huge hit. This new venture, if it can launch in the next few months, will hit the ground with more and better content, and more monetization options than Google. Its a unique opportunity to set the rules of how video advertising is sold. Something Google thought they had wrapped up when they bought Youtube. Whether Newco can live up to Google in terms of performance and innovation is another question, but they are going to have every opportunity to do so. Hiring some folks away at Google for stupid money would seem to make a lot of sense at this point. 2. Youtube's 10 minute limitation will put it at a disadvantage. Newco's distributors will have access to full episodes in addition to clips and user generated content beyond 10 minutes. This will give viewers much greater choice and could steal users from Youtube for this reason alone. It may force Google to combine Google Video and Youtube. It also will provide more options and flexibility for advertisers. 3. What may turn out to be the biggest problem created by Newco is the new competition for content from major content owners. Rather than Google walking into meetings as the only kid on the block, Newco can offer an alternative from the mindset of a content provider. It will certainly impact the terms and cost of content for Google. The good news for Google is that it may accelerate their ability to get deals done with people who dont want to partner with Newco for whatever reason 4. If the future of the net is video, where does this put Google Search ? Google Video Search right now plays in a walled garden of indexing and returning results only for Google Video and Youtube. How long will users give them a pass for this ? The distributors of content from Newco all have some level of internet video search, I would expect that they will start making an issue of this in advertising and promotional campaigns..."There are X million number of websites with video on them, Google Video searchs 2 of them..." This new venture is about so much more than who can get more traffic. It was a very smart strategic move to put significant roadblocks in Google's path, while paving a way for those involved with Newco to give users and advertisers what they want from Online Video. But as always, concept is one thing, execution is the bottom line Permalink | Email this | Linking Blogs | Comments [Blog Maverick][...]
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 06:05:13 GMTThe TV Guys Aren't as Stupid as You Think.
There are two ways to build an audience: aggregation and syndication.
Aggregation means bringing everyone to you. It's what the broadcast networks do on television, and what YouTube does on the Web. It's a two-step process: build scale, then monetize. I think most people get this model, although doing it effectively (especially the second part) is harder than it seems.
There's also syndication, which means distributing the content (or applications, or transaction opportunities) to where people already are. TV content producers do that too -- in fact, they largely invented syndication as a business model. And YouTube syndicates as well. I rarely go to the YouTube.com website, but I watch lots of YouTube videos embedded on blogs and other sites I visit. However, YouTube's revenues primarily come from leveraging viewership into visits to the central site, which creates and advertising and transaction opportunities.
The new NBC-News Corp. venture is all about syndication. They are getting beaten up for not having a name for the website, but as they made clear at the announcement, the central site is almost an afterthought. The core of the effort is syndicated distribution through a network of partners, like Yahoo! and MySpace. This is smart. Putting only some popular content into the syndication pipe isn't smart, but I predict that if the effort takes off, that limitation will go away soon. Notice that lots of midsize media companies are already syndicating through third parties, like Voxant and Brightcove. An effective monetization ecosystem for content needs three things: platforms, standards, and tracking data. That's what the current efforts are working towards.
Put aside the copyright rhetoric, which I agree is still overblown. This debate has never really been about "piracy" -- it's about business models and strategy: How big is the pie, and who gets which pieces. Don't underestimate the significance of big traditional media players acknowledging they need to follow their users to the Web.[Werblog]
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 06:02:15 GMTNY Times Spectrum Article.
I'm quoted in John Markoff's New York Times article today about the 700 MHz spectrum auctions. The column grew out of a spectrum policy discussion I led a workshop last week, which John also attended.
My quote compresses a longer point I made, which hopefully comes through. It's that the direct transactional price of acquiring a spectrum license may not accurately reflect the economic and social value of certain spectrum uses. This was a key point of my Supercommons law review article. The 2.4 GHz spectrum where WiFi operates was considered worthless "junk" spectrum due to interference, but opened for unlicensed use, it is the foundation for massive investment and economic activity.[Werblog]
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 04:36:53 GMTAmp'd Mobile Launches in Japan. WWJ Editors, 25 March 2007
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 22:30:11 GMTEncouraging MediaFLO Survey Results. WWJ Editors, 27 March 2007
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 22:29:43 GMTXcerion makes Internet OS real. Internet OS sector seems to be getting increasingly crowded. Start-ups such as YouOS, EyeOS are vying for mindshare with Internet giants like Google. The seriousness of market is reflected by the fact that earlier this month, Microsoft set up an all-star group to tackle the Cloud OS opportunities. A dark horse in this race is Xcerion, a Swedish start-up that came out of stealth earlier this month, and announced its XIOS, its XML-based Internet OS, and got subtle tip of the hat from some of the most respected technology pundits. Xcerion, now about five years old has started out as a company developing a friendly user interface for enterprise resource management systems, has developed a back-end software infrastructure was offering a two megabyte download that looked and mimicked any regular desktop OS. They claimed it took less than five seconds to boot up, and was able to offer applications that did most things we expect from apps on a desktop. Too good to be true? That was my initial reaction, though my skepticism was allayed by the that Xcerion counted Lou Perazzoli, a former Microsoft distinguished engineer and one of key architect of Windows NT, and John Connors, former Microsoft chief financial officer was an investor. These two, clearly are two people who know operating systems. It also helped that a Swedish venture capital group, Northzone was investing $10 million in the company (PDF), and the much-respected Mary Jo Foley, who despite similar trepidations about the company, had given it subtle thumbs up. Xcerion’s technology falls in the category of “seeing is believing” products. (See the gallery of exclusive screenshots at the end of this article.) Daniel Arthursson, CEO of the company demoed the product, and it was a jaw dropping moment, when skepticism gave way to tempered enthusiasm. The little OS worked as promised over the pokey Starbucks wireless connection, and for a few seconds I did forget that this was coming off the Internet and windows running locally. He showed me an Outlook-type email/day planner app, a RSS reader, a word processing application, an Excel style spreadsheet application and a bunch of other small applications. “You can continue to keep working in our XIOS when offline and the information is synced when you connect the next time,” says Arthursson. The entire application can be customized [base ']Äì developers can create skins that resemble MacOS, BeOS or even bring back some of the old OSes that are now long forgotten. (OS/2 anyone?) XIOS comes with a visual application development environment which can be used by anyone to create small applications [base ']Äì lets call them widgets [base ']Äì which can be completely bespoke or sold to others. “XML was the only way for us to keep the download small enough and also be able to reuse the code when creating new applications,” says Arthurson. Xcerion is going to launch in the third quarter of 2007, and has developed the backend technology, that runs on servers using Ubuntu Linux. The company is putting scalable data centers in place to be able to handle all the heavy lifting. Imagine this application married to say Nokia N800 tablet? It could be a full-fledged computer in your pocket [base ']Äì all you need is a decent Internet connection. Or XIOS embedded on a cheap $100 laptop that can be used by schools or kids in the emerging economies? There are many possible scenarios[...]
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 22:28:37 GMTApple TV in the UK PayTV market Iíve just been looking at the Apple TV box specifications all day and been scratching my head trying to figure out for what purpose the strange not-so-beastly device has been placed on planet earth. Well planet USA ñ Brits will have to wait a little longer to sample the delights.The specifications seem horribly basic for a modern consumer electronic device:a tiny 40GB Hard Disk - Iíll have that in my non-Apple phone in a couple of years;a limited set of supported Video Formatsñ H.264 with not-so-Fairplay DRM and MPEG-4 Simple Profile;a limited set of outputs ñ HMDI + Component Video ñ what no European SCART?No modem ñ just WiFi and Ethernet connectivity;No TV record capability; and No DVD play capabilitiesOf course, it is an esoterically pleasing little box, has a beautiful little remote and no doubt a jaw dropping user interface. One of the reasons that the user interface is so beautiful is because the functionality is so basic ñ it basically plays content that has been synched from a userís computer which in turn Apple hopes has been bought from their i-Tunes store.It all makes sense if you look at it from a PC-centric point: AppleTV allows you to play your content on your TV as the iPod before it allows you to play your content on the go. Of course, Apple would prefer you to buy the content from its i-Tunes store, but I suspect that as with mp3ís before it ñ if you can manage to get the content onto your PC in a non-protected format from another source, then AppleTV will sync and play it.The interesting part for me is not in slagging off the vision of Steve Jobs, but the disruptive role of AppleTV in the payTV value chain.Although I whinge about the limited formats options, Apple puts GooTube to shame. The quality of the Apple solution is not only higher because of the formats, but because it is a download solution, it generally beats the best effort streaming network centric solution of GooTube. Also, it helps that you can play Apple content on the iPod and TV screen as well as the PC screen. The GooTube solution looks cheap and nasty compared to the Apple solution. The GooTube solution is also currently heavily subsidised by the Google search engine near-monopoly rents.Next comparing the solution to the BT Vision solution which is basically Freeview + PVR + IPTV. Well the BT Vision box is not-so-free (£90 for installation and connection and you have to be part of the BT broadband ecosystem) and you seem to pay for content on a on-demand basis or by subscription, but the box is closed to non-BT acquired source material. However, you can record DTT content onto the larger hard drive and share it with other wifi networked devices.The interesting part here is the relative costs of the end-to-end delivery mechanism - who has the cost advantage?GooTube featuring the 100% in-house built Google Distributed SupaComputer and Advertising MegaNetwork with User provided access;Apple featuring the Akamai provided Content Distribution Network and the in-house built i-Tunes store with User provided access; orBT featuring the in-house owned IP-content network and the Microsoft IPTV platform with User provided access bought from BT.In terms of devices: GooTube accepts anything, Apple sells and makes a profit on each device, whereas BT subsidises the Vision box with the ISP access fees.The Virgin Media (cableTV) model is remarkably similar to the BT architectu[...]
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 22:28:01 GMTGoogle, Online Ad Giant, Looks at Radio and TV. Google’s efforts to sell radio and TV ads are mixed, suggesting that it is far from becoming a credible player in traditional media. By MIGUEL HELFT. [NYT > Technology]
Sat, 31 Mar 2007 22:19:39 GMTComputerworld to Microsoft: Fear the Fruit.
(image) Scot Finnie, who recently made a public conversion to Macs over the course of three months, has an interesting, if disagreeable, piece on how Apple is competing with Microsoft more smartly than it ever has before. His key points:
• Mac is finally able to move fluidly into and out of the world of Microsoft Windows and its applications.
• Mac users are more productive than Windows users because Macs experience fewer problems. There's nothing mystical about it either. There are some obvious reasons why this is the case: The Mac is a closed hardware/software system.
• Apple is innovating not just with the software and hardware it creates, but with the value proposition it is building in the marketplace. While Macs still aren't cheap, you get a lot more bang for the buck than you once did.
But he also thinks:
Apple should create economy-oriented, business-class desktop and notebook hardware. Since Apple offers very few SKUs, it's almost impossible for enterprise buyers to save money by specifying this or that lesser feature in order to reduce cost.While how you view the piece is going to come down to what you think of Apple more so than what you think of Microsoft—do you think Macs are more usable and more innovative?—the fact that the perception is growing that Apple products are more intuitive and better designed than Microsoft's is more problematic than M$ seems to want to realize.
In NY, it seems like Mac users are the majority, though I realize it's not the case everywhere. What's it like in your neck of the woods? Are you considering "the switch"?
Why Microsoft Should Fear Apple [Computerworld]Gizmodo]
Thu, 08 Mar 2007 01:07:02 GMTThe Telco 2.0 'Business Model Map': Part Four, Action stations. In this final instalment on our Telco 2.0 Business Model Map we[base ']ll look into some of the consequences for network operators. You[base ']ll want to read our introduction, explanation and map timeline before reading this article. We[base ']re going to stick with the ten-year-out map just for sake of typographical clarity, but the points apply to the industry evolution at any stage on the way.The opportunity isn[base ']t where you think it isThe received wisdom in telcoland is that bundling a triple/quad/n-play is the route to a profitable future. We[base ']re less convinced. A few media owners control the blockbuster content (and the rest is on YouTube); telephony [~] even with feature add-ons [~] is coming under margin pressure on both fixed and mobile; and the broadband offering just sucks up capital without giving a good return (unless you[base ']ve got a weak regulator and great lawyers).We think the biggest opportunity lies in a different quadrant, where the apps are less tied into the network ([base "]idiot savant pipe[per thou], rather than [base "]dumb pipe[per thou]) [~] but the billing and value-based pricing remain in place.What operators need to do is to break up the broadband business model, horizontally and vertically: Horizontally break it into tiers: free (ad-funded), subload (e.g. backups), standard best-effort, priority and full [base "]QoS assured[per thou]. Vertically slice it so it can be packaged with devices or services as [base "]postage and packing included[per thou]. This service-funded connectivity is crucial. Today[base ']s broadband model is a user experience disaster for customers, particularly wireless ones. Users have no idea what speeds they need, how much it[base ']s costing them in metered usage, and suffer bill shock when they sometimes find out. They need a single price, all-inclusive. This is not going to displace Internet access, but complement it.The line passes through the IMS/QoS bubble; we[base ']d see IMS being used here as a capacity reservation system of otherwise dump-pipe point-to-point links, but not as a session routing and management service (as with telephone calls).Keep some of the pie rather than lose all the pieThis space maps directly onto our [base "]customer intimacy[per thou] and [base "]market control[per thou] axes from our Telco 2.0 Market Report strategies. (You can read a bit more in a previous blog post).The various additional strategies in the bottom right help stretch the options for a [base "]pipe++[per thou] play that takes the basic broadband offering and packages it in different ways. The [base "]platform[per thou] strategy opens up the closed voice, messaging and entertainment platforms to outside innovation. [base "]Protection[per thou] is about cost elimination and optimising the segmentation and pricing of the low-innovation legacy products.What do you know about your customers?The ability to perpetuate value-based pricing is going to keep telcos in the loop. Being able to slice up the offering and precision-price and package it will be crucial to bringing all kinds of internal and external innovation to market.Telcos with a 360° view of the customer and their full spectrum of behaviour are going to be in a strong position.Left-field is on the leftFinally, some of the more creative business models lie to the left.BT ar[...]