Showing posts from October, 2009

Google Voice has 1.4 Million Users

Google Voice has 1.419 million users, some 570,000 of which use it seven days a week, Google says, in information Google apparently released accidentally in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and discovered by Business Week before the information was discovered and removed.

The early version of the documents also suggested Google has plans to take Google Voice global. Google apparently said it already has signed contracts with a number of international service providers.

How Do You Measure the Value of Something That Has No Price?

Global end user spending on communications services (voice and data, not entertainment video) runs about $1.8 trillion a year or so, one can extrapolate from the most-recent International Telecommunicatons Union statistics.

Fixed line voice probably sits at about the $740 billion range in 2009.

Infonetics Research says VoIP services bring in $21 billion for service providers in the first half, so assume an annual total of $42 billion. Assume 16 percent of those revenues are for trunking services of one sort or another and voice revenues might hit $35 billion or so for the full year.

That suggests VoIP services represent about 4.7 percent of total global voice revenues in 2009.

The point is that VoIP remains a relatively small portion of global voice revenues. But the situation is more complicated than simply how VoIP stacks up as a revenue driver. The larger problem with voice revenues, as everyone agrees, is that it is trending towards becoming an "application," not a servi…

Will Moore's Law "Save" Bandwidth Providers, ISPs?

In the personal computer business there is an underlying assumption that whatever problems one faces, Moore's Law will provide the answer. Whatever challenges one faces, the assumption generally is that if one simply waits 18 months, twice the processing power or memory will be available at the same price.

For a business where processing power and memory actually will solve most problems, that is partly to largely correct.

For any business where the majority or almost all cost has nothing to do with the prices or capabilities of semiconductors, Moore's Law helps, but does solve the problem of continually-growing bandwidth demand and continually-decreasing revenue-per-bit that can be earned for supplying higher bandwidth.

That is among the fundamental problems network transport and access providers face. And Moore's Law  is not going to solve the problem of increasing bandwidth consumption, says Jim Theodoras, ADVA Optical director of technical marketing.

Simply put, most o…

How Many People Will Buy a 50 Mbps Access Service?

Virgin Media now says it has 20,000 subscribers buying its 50 Mbps service. Virgin Media has about 3.77 million broadband access customers. So that suggests about one half of one percent of its customers are buying that grade of service.

I'd be willing to bet U.S. service providers offering a 50 Mbps service are doing about that rate as well, with one possible exception. SureWest Communications has been offering tiers that fast longer than anybody else I can think of, and probably can claim a higher subscription rate.

Virgin Media's current promotion for the 50 Mbps product offers a price of £18 a month (about $29.74) for three months and £28 (about $46.26) a month after that, when bundled with aVirgin Media phone line.

Those sorts of prices will make U.S. consumers jealous, but it is hard to compare pricing across regions and nations. Voice and text message prices on mobiles are far higher than in the United States, though broadband and video entertainment prices seem to be l…

FiOS Does Not Sell Itself

Even FiOS Doesn't Sell Itself

Verizon's third quarter FiOS revenues totaled more than $1.4 billion, up 56 percent year over year. And FiOS average revenue per user also hit more than $137 per month.

Verizon also added about 18 percent more FiOS TV and Internet customers than in the same quarter last year, including 191,000 FiOS TV and 198,000 FiOS Internet customers, increasing Verizon's penetration to 25 percent for TV and 29 percent for Internet.

Still, net adds were less than the record adds of the last two quarters, Verizon says. Gross sales were lower primarily due to a change in promotional activity, the company says.

"As it turns out, we had a couple of promotions that worked, didn't work as well," says Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon CEO. "What happened is we had a couple of better quarters and we toyed with how we could sustain that and found that it was difficult in light of maintaining a fiscal discipline against it."

In other words, Verizon pro…

Twitter Stats Still a Puzzle

Twitter continues to be a bit of a puzzle, for reasons beyond its search for a viable business model. It has enthusiastic users, but also high apparent levels of abandonment. And some studies might lead to the conclusion that Twitter growth is slowing sharply, while other social sites such as Facebook might be accelerating.

Data from hitwise, for examples, shows a peak in Twitter in July 2009, with declines since then. The caveat is that many Twitter users appear to use third party sites to access the service, so the actual visits do not fully capture actual Twitter use.

The hitwise data also might suggest that user engagement with Facebook, a larger and more-established social networking site, is growing much faster than Twitter seems to be growing.

One fact seems clear enough, though, and that is the increased amount of mobile use of the social tool. Although 60 percent of Twitter users say they only use their computers to access the service, about 40 percent say they do…

Is Mobile Handset Market Heating Up?

Handset shipments suffered another annual decline in the third quarter but are forecast to rebound in the key final quarter of the year, according to Strategy Analytics and IDC. Virtually all observers attribute the slowdown to slower handset replacement caused by consumer caution in the face of the recession.

Strategy Analytics estimates that global handset shipments reached 291 million units in the third quarter, down four percent from 304 million units year over year.

IDC estimates third quarter 2009 shipments totalled 287.1 million units worldwide, down six percent from a year earlier, but up 5.6 percent from the second quarter.

"The mobile phone market is showing the first signs of improvement since the onset of the economic crisis," says Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst at IDC. "During the third quarter, we saw a number of channels promoting older devices at significantly lower prices. For many, this was enough to spur demand and push volumes higher."


Pandemic Would Impair Residential Broadband, GAO Says

In a serious pandemic, residential Internet access demand is likely to exceed the capacity of Internet providers’ network infrastructure, says the Government Accountability Office. That means enterprise and government disaster recovery efforts that depend on residential broadband connections may not work as planned, GAO warns.

In a serious pandemic, U.S. businesses, government agencies and schools could experience absenteeism (or forced dispersal of workers as precautionary measure) that could reach 50 percent or higher ranges, thereby displacing Internet access demand from normal daytime sites to homes, says the Government Accountability Office.

But residential broadband networks are not designed to handle this unexpected load, and could interfere with teleworkers in the securities market and other sectors, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Oddly enough, robust network neutrality measures, such as forbidding any prioritization of bits, could render impotent one obviou…

Google Blocks Calls to About 100 High-Cost Telephone Numbers

Google says that although it still blocks use of Google Voice to terminate calls to fewer than 100 U.S. telephone numbers with unusually high termination cost, it still does so. Earlier, Google Voice had been blocking calls to thousands of numbers in some exchanges.

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Google says a June 2009 study it conducted found that the top 10 U.S. telephone prefixes Google Voice was terminating accounted for 1.1 percent of its monthly call volume, about 161 times the expected volume for a "typical" prefix. That 1.1 percent of calls also accounted for 26.2 percent of its monthly termination costs.

Google says terminating those calls costs as much as 39 cents a minute. Google therefore blocked Google Voice calls to less than 100 U.S. telephone numbers, based on that study.

The difference is that where Google had before only been able to block calls to prefixes, it now can block specific telephone numbers with highly asymmetric traffi…

Will Telecom Markets Grow in 2010?

Worldwide telecom spending will decline four percent in 2009 with revenue of nearly $1.9 trillion. In 2010, telecom spending is forecast to grow 3.2 percent, say researchers at Gartner. The question lots of people logically will have is what pattern growth in U.S. enterprise and smaller business markets will take.

Qwest provided some anecdotal evidence during its third quarter earnings report. "As far as the activity in BMG and wholesale, I would say, yes. we are seeing some quicker decision making," says Teresa Taylor, Qwest COO. "Quicker decision making" is a sign of more buying intent and activity, as longer decision cycles represent less intent and activity.

Qwest's business markets group sells to enterprises, so the anecdote suggests enterprise demand, at least for Qwest, is growing. Business markets segment income of $409 million was flat, compared to the second quarter, but increased 11 percent year over year.

The caveat here is that Qwest believes it ha…

Verizon to Debut Motorola Droid Nov. 6, 2009

Verizon Wireless will take the wraps off its new "Droid" device, built by Motorola, on Nov. 6, 2009. The new device will feature a 3.7-inch high-resolution screen featuring more than 400,000 pixels total, more than twice that of the "leading competitor," Verizon says.

The Android operating system supports running of multiple applications at once, and allows toggling between as many as six simultaneous applications. Google searches can be conducted using voice input and results are location dependent. Content on the phone, such as apps and contacts plus the Web can be searched using the search box.

"Push" Gmail is supported, as is "push" Microsoft Exchange email. "Google Maps Navigation" provides turn-by-turn voice guidance as a free feature of Google Maps.

Droid will be available in the United States exclusively at Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and online for $199.99 with a new two-year customer agreement after a $100 mail-in …

Consumption-Based Billing Coming?

Sandvine has released Usage Management 2.5, a software solution that enables fixed-line network operators to implement consumption-based billing models, real-time subscriber communications and multiple service plan tiers. The move is significant as it suggests retail pricing might move in that direction in the future, representing a major shift in retail pricing models.

Historically, consumption-based billing has been problematic for Internet service providers. Time Warner Cable tested and then decided not to implement metered billing earlier in 2009 after widespread consumer resistance to tests in in Rochester, N.Y., Austin and San Antonio, Tex., and Greensboro, N.C.

User behavior also is powerfully affected by billing methods. At one point in time America Online charged users by the minute for their dial-up Internet access usage. When it converted to flat fee billing, usage and subscribers exploded, and AOL became the largest U.S. ISP.

Similar results have been seen when other types…

Wirefly’s Top 10 Most-Anticipated Cell Phones

In a major change, the top-two "most anticipated" new mobile devices are made by Motorola. That hasn't happened for quite some time, and will be a huge test of Motorola's decision to rely on Android as its ticket back into the top ranks of manufacturers of "hot" devices.

The launches are equally important for mobile service providers, who have found devices to be primary ways of differentiating their services. We'll have to see, but it is possible, perhaps likely, that a key new feature of the top-two Android devices will be their methods of integrating contact information and status updates across applications. That's an angle on "unified communications" we have not seen so much in the mobile arena.

Here's Wirefly's ranking and commentary.

1. Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless) - The most anticipated cell phone launch of the season is just days away, but the hype for this the Motorola Droid smartphone has been building for quite som…

Real-Time Internet Traffic Doubles

Real-time entertainment has almost doubled its share of total Internet traffic from 2008 to 2009, while gaming has increased its share by more than 50 percent, says Sandvine. Real-time entertainment traffic (streaming audio and video, peer-casting, place-shifting, Flash video) now accounts for 26.6 percent of total traffic in 2009, up from 12.6 percent in 2008, according to a new analysis by Sandvine.

As the percentage of real-time video and voice traffic continues to grow, latency issues will become more visible to end users, and will prompt new efforts by Internet access providers to provide better control of quality issues not related directly to bandwidth.

One reason is that video downloads, for example, are declining in favor of real-time streaming. Downloaded content is less susceptible to latency and jitter impairments.

Traffic to and from gaming consoles increased by more than 50 percent per subscriber as well, demonstrating not only the popularity of online gaming, but also t…

Broadband Stimulus Delays Continue

It should not come as any surprise--given earlier delays--that the first project awards under the the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's "broadband stimulus" program will be late. Some might not happen at all, unless they can adequately document that there is no existing provider able to provide service in project areas.

The program is supposed to allocate $7.2 billion to provide broadband services or training to rural and other underserved communities, through the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

The problem is that the work load required to evaluate and award funds so vastly exceeds the volume of work either agency has handled in the past. The NTIA must now disburse sums that are about 4.7 times greater than normal, while the RUS faces the task of disbursing amounts 192 times larger than normal.

Those would be challenges under the best of circumstances,…

For Lots of People, This Will Be Unified Communications

Impulse Purchases Key for Mobile Marketing Messages

A significant number of American consumers are interested in receiving opt-in marketing messages, according to a new survey by Harris Interactive. It also appears impulse purchases are prime candidates for mobile marketing messages.

The survey of 2,029 mobile phone users, ages 18 and older shows 42 percent of users between the ages of 18 and 34 and 33 percent of those between 35 to 44 are at least somewhat interested in receiving alerts about sales on their cell phones from their favorite establishments.

Men are more interested than women. About 51 percent of men ages 18 to 34, and 34 percent of women of the same age range are at least somewhat interested in receiving opt-in shopping alerts on their cell phones.

Only one percent of cell phone owners currently receive alerts about sales at their favorite establishments on their phones, yet 26 percent would be at least somewhat interested in receiving such alerts, assuming they were permission-based.

Of those interested in receiving ale…

Might Verizon Still Get the iPhone?

Given the direct knocks on the Apple iPhone in Verizon's latest "Droid Does" marketing campaign, there has been speculation that Verizon has given up on any plans it might have had for offering the iPhone on the Verizon network.

But Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan G. Seidenberg surprised observers by saying Verizon has not given up hope of offering Apple's iPhone.

"This is a decision that is exclusively in Apple's court," Seidenberg said on Verizon's third quarter 2009 earnings call. "We obviously would be interested in any point in the future they thought it would make sense for them to have us as a partner."

"We have expanded our base of other devices," explained Seidenberg. "So our view is to broaden the base of choice for customers and hopefully along the way, Apple as well as others will decide to jump on the bandwagon."

Although AT&T's exclusive deal to offer the iPhone in the US is thought to be nearing an …

T-Mobile USA Launches Unlimited Prepaid Offer

Given the relative strength of prepaid wireless, and a renewed spate of competition in the segment, it might not be too surprising that T-Mobile USA has launched a new unlimited mobile plan available to customers who do not like contracts.

What might have been disruptive is an extension of such plans to all postpaid customers as well, a move that might have sparked yet another round of price cuts in the postpaid business. But it was a move T-Mobile USA chose not to take.

The new plan offers unlimited talk, text and Web surfing for $79.99 a month to customers who do not want to sign up for a long-term contract, which typically lasts two years.

It will also offer a $50 per month unlimited service for non-contract customers that only want access to voice calls, not text messaging or Web access.

By some measures, the new deal represents a 20 percent discount on T-Mobile's standard unlimited monthly fee for contract customers.

Nobody knows what might have happened had T-Mobile USA laun…

On Demand TV "Not So Everywhere"

Comcast Cable subscribers will be able to watch popular cable television series such as HBO's "Entourage" and AMC's "Mad Men" on your computer by the end of the year without paying extra — as long as you're a Comcast Corp. subscriber watching at home.

The initiative is a starting point for Comcast, which hopes to eventually offer what some call "TV Everywhere" service: linear video programming on demand, over any broadband network.

Comcast, wanting to make sure the shows will remain off-limits to non-subscribers, apparently still is working on providing access over competing home broadband systems as well as on the go — at work, on laptops and, one day, over cell phones.

Comcast will be the first cable TV operator to unlock online access to a many cable shows and movies, aiming to replicate what's available on television through video on demand.

Comcast subscribers can initially watch shows and movies only on their home computers after bei…

Net Neutality: What Verizon and Google Can Agree On

Though there are many issues upon which Verizon and Google disagree, both companies say they agree on some elements of network neutrality.

"For starters we both think it's essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform. where people can access any content (so long as it's legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice," say Lowell McAdam, CEO Verizon Wireless and Eric Schmidt, CEO Google.

That should come as no surprise. Those rules already are part of the Federal Communications Commission "Internet Freedoms" principles.

Both executives say the current debate about network neutrality is about the best way to "protect and promote the openness of the Internet."

Both executives say "it's obvious that users should continue to have the final say about their web experience, from the networks and software they use, to the hardware they plug in to the Internet and the services they access online."


Mobile Social Networkers Do More of Everything

“Do we have to build a social network on our own or do we have to invest in an existing one?" asks France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard. "We haven’t decided yet.”

The question itself provides a clue to the growing importance social computing and networking holds for mobile service providers. To be sure, we are at the beginning of a convergence between mobile behavior and social application behavior.

On average, only about seven percent of 16- to 24-year-olds already access social networking sites from their mobile phones, says Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson.

But that is going to change.  In the United Kingdom, up to 40 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds are already using or are interested in accessing social networking sites from their mobile phones, says Husson.

In addition to accessing social network updates, social computing apps include media-sharing, such as viewing and sharing photos or videos taken from their mobile phones or use microblogging services.

Three perc…

Kindle Connections Now Go to AT&T

In a business with true scale and scope economies, ownership of a global network can be a key advantage. Consider network support for the Amazon Kindle book readers, which now are sold internationally.

The U.S. version of the Kindle 2 has used the Sprint 3G network. But both international and U.S. versions will henceforth use the AT&T network globally. Existing U.S. Kindle owners will continue to use Sprint, but all new devices will be powered by the AT&T network.

Of course, there are other ebook readers. Barnes & Nobles sells the Nook, Sony sells the Daily Edition and Plastic Logic sells the Que. All of those readers use AT&T's network.

Verizon will provide service for the upcoming iRex e-reader.

The financial impact to Sprint might be a relatively minor issue. Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett estimates the Kindle will drive one million Kindle users a year to AT&T that Sprint would otherwise have gotten.

Moffett estimates that Sprint makes about $5 for …

How Long Will 40 Gbps, 100 Gbps Networks Last?

The problem with networks is that they do not last as long as they used to, which means they need to be upgraded more frequently, which also means the ability to raise capital to upgrade the networks is a bigger issue than it once was.

Qwest CTO Pieter Poll, for example, notes that Qwest's bandwidth growth now is 45 percent growth compounded annually, or nearly doubling every two years or so. That in itself is not the big problem, though. The issue is that consumers driving most of that new consumption do not expect to pay more for that consumption increase.

"From my perspective, the industry really needs to focus on tracking down cost per bit at the same rate, otherwise you'll have an equation that's just not going to compute," says Poll. Whether on the capital investment or operating cost fronts, adjustments will have to be made, one concludes.

Still, raw bandwidth increases are not insignificant. "If you look at 2008 for us it was unprecedented in terms o…

25% of Business Apps to be Created by Amateurs, Gartner Says

By 2014, citizen developers will build at least 25 percent of new business applications, according to Gartner analysts. If that is shocking, consider the amount of Web content now freely contributed to Wikipedia or many of your favorite blogs, microblogging sites and YouTube.

Gartner defines a citizen developer as a user operating outside of the scope of enterprise IT and its governance that creates new business applications for consumption by others either from scratch or by composition.

"Future citizen-developed applications will leverage IT investments below the surface, allowing IT to focus on deeper architectural concerns, while end users focus on wiring together services into business processes and workflows," says Eric Knipp, Gartner senior research analyst.

Better technology has also lowered the bar for becoming a developer, while at the same time, users have become less intimidated by technology, empowering citizen developers to do more than they ever could before, …

Will Hulu be a For-Fee Service in 2010?

It looks like much Hulu content, especially network TV fare, will move to "for-fee" status sometime in 2010.  Hulu, owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Company, is quite popular, attracting more than 300 million views in the month of February 2009, but ad revenues have been disappointing.

 “It’s time to start getting paid for broadcast content online,” says News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey.

“We’re exchanging analog dollars for digital dimes,” and that simply cannot continue, Carey says. “I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content."

"I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value,” Carey adds. “Hulu concurs with that, it needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business.”

Precisely what content will be "behind a pay wall" is not yet clear. Hulu is not likely to charge fees for all content on its site, but wh…

Will Net Neutrality Curtail Broadband Investment?

Nobody knows what final shape of proposed new network neutrality rules might take. What already is clear is the debate over the impact of such rules on network investment. Predictably, proponents of strong new rules say carriers are bluffing about the stifling effect new rules might have.

Just as predictably, leading industry executives say that is precisely the danger.

“We’ve invested more than $80 billion over the last five years to build these platforms for growth, and that’s Verizon alone,” says Verizon Chairman Ivan Seidenberg.

Speaking about the transformative role communication and information technologies can, and should have, Seidenberg cautioned that “while this future is imminent, it is not inevitable, and the decisions we make today – as an industry and as a country – will determine whether the benefits of these transformational networks will be felt sooner or much, much later.”

“Our industry has shown that we can work with the government as well as our partners and compet…

Net Neutality: What Verizon and Google Can Agree On

Though there are many issues upon which Verizon and Google disagree, both companies say they agree on some elements of network neutrality.

"For starters we both think it's essential that the Internet remains an unrestricted and open platform. where people can access any content (so long as it's legal), as well as the services and applications of their choice," say Lowell McAdam, CEO Verizon Wireless and Eric Schmidt, CEO Google.

That should come as no surprise. Those rules already are part of the Federal Communications Commission "Internet Freedoms" principles.

Both executives say the current debate about network neutrality is about the best way to "protect and promote the openness of the Internet."

Both executives say "it's obvious that users should continue to have the final say about their web experience, from the networks and software they use, to the hardware they plug in to the Internet and the services they access online."


9% of SMBs Use Twitter for Marketing

About nine percent of small and medium-sized businesses currently use Twitter to market their businesses, say researchers at BIA/Kelsey.  In addition, 32 percent of SMBs indicated they plan to include social media in their marketing mix in the next 12 months by using a page on a social site such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace.

Furthermore, 39 percent of SMBs plan to include customer ratings or reviews on their own Web sites, and 31 percent plan to include links or ads placed on social sites or blogs.

"Social media is clearly gaining traction among SMB advertisers," says Steve Marshall, director of research and consulting, BIA/Kelsey.

You might not be surprised if any study suggests Twitter is used disproportionately by younger people. What the BIA/Kelsey study suggests it also is used by "younger businesses."

About 16 percent of SMBs in business three years or less say they use Twitter for marketing or promotion. About 11 percent of SMBs in business four to six y…

Social Media, Networking Now 17% of Total Internet Use

Social networking and blogging sites accounted for 17 percent (about one in every six minutes) of all time spent on the Internet in August 2009, nearly three times as much as in 2008, according to the Nielsen Company.

“This growth suggests a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used,” says Jon Gibs, Nielsen VP. “While video and text content remain central to the Web experience, the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium’s growth.”

The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2009 as well. In September 2009, Facebook had 90 million U.S. users and 300 million users worldwide. Also, those users increased the amount of time spent on social sites 83 percent from 2008 to 2009, Nielsen says.

As always is the case, marketing and advertising efforts "follow people."  U.S. advertisers spent an estimated $1.4 billion to place ad…

Verizon Introduces Quad Play Bundles

Verizon customers in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic markets now can buy quadruple-play packages of wireless, TV, Internet access and home phone service in configurations costing as little as $135 a month with a one-year contract, for FiOS locations. Customers served by digital subscriber line service can get packages as low as $125 a month.

The basic Verizon quad-play FiOS bundle consists of the national Verizon Wireless calling plan of 450 minutes, "Freedom Essentials" voice service, FiOS Internet service with 15 Mbps downstream, 5 Mbps upstream connection speeds and FiOS TV "Essentials" service.

For customers served by Verizon's copper network, the lead quad-play bundle consists of the national Verizon Wireless calling plan of 450 minutes, a "Freedom Essentials" calling plan, broadband access with downstream connection of up to 3 Mbps and the DirectTV Plus DVR package.  A one-year Verizon commitment and a two-year DirectTV commitment with hardware lease…

Droid Does?

I'm not so sure the really important thing about the upcoming Motorola "Droid," which will be available on the Verizon network, is whether it is an "Apple iPhone killer."

Certainly Motorola and Verizon hope the device does attract users who otherwise might be attracted to an iPhone. There are clear commercial reasons for both of those firms to hope the device is a wild success.

But I'm not convinced what the world needs is a better iPhone. What it might need is more devices that do different things than the iPhone, that appeal to new user segments and lead applications.

It makes a better headline to focus on the "iPhone versus Droid" angle, but I don't think that's the main thing. Give users something different. Just as important, give users more reasons to do things with a smartphone that really aren't as easy, or preferable, on an iPhone.

Quick Messaging Phones Gain Favor Fast

While smartphones like Apple’s iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, and T-Mobile’s Android-based MyTouch get all the attention, another category of mobile phones has quietly been accelerating its market share, says Forrester Research.

The quick messaging device offers a keyboard and, or touchscreen, providing much of the functionality of a smartphone but lacking the high-level operating system. Where a smartphone user likely is interested in email or mobile Web, a quick messaging user is text message centric.

At the start of 2008, seven percent of U.S. adult mobile subscribers owned a smartphone, while just one in 20 subscribers used a quick messaging device. A year later, more than one in 10 adult subscribers was using a smartphone, an impressive growth rate of 57 percent, but quick messaging devices grew nearly twice as fast and almost doubled their market share to nine percent.

In other words, quick messaging devices have nearly reached the level of smartphone penetration.

With all major…

Email Remains Enterprise Collaboration Killer App

Email remains the enterprise collaboration "killer app," according to a new Forrester Research survey of some 2,000 enterprises (click image for larger view).

And despite the hype, most "Web 2.0" applications are not widely adopted, the survey finds. In fact, email, word processing, Web browsers and spreadsheets are the top four applications used by information workers, the survey finds.

But even among those apps, the level of involvement or expertise varies widely. While 60 percent of employees use word processing daily, only 42 percent actually
create documents.

Most other applications are used by only a minority of information workers.

One clear area of demand, though, is smartphones. The survey suggests that only about 11 percent of information workers actually use smartphones now, but 33 percent of respndents say they use a personal mobile phone for work purposes.

About 21 percent of respondents would like to get email outside of work, and 15 percent would lik…

Mobile Social Networking Doubles

About 10 percent of social network interactions now occur on mobile devices, compared to five percent 12 months ago, Forrester Research notes.

Interestingly, that is just about the same percentage of U.S. consumers who use mobile devices to interact with their email. According to a study by Epsilon, about nine percent of North American users do so.

Both of those trends have implications, bearing directly on how much people can substitute mobile access for fixed PC access to applications.

That in turn has implications for the design of Web services and applications that can be optimized for mobile use.

End User Danger from Overly-Broad Net Neutrality?

Keep in mind that there is nothing the government can do about the Internet, the quality of our services, the amount of innovation or investment in innovation that can fail to benefit or harm somebody's interests.

That doesn't mean any particular policy is wrong or right, simply that there is nothing "good" anybody can do in Washington, D.C. that does not at the same time have huge financial implications. The way I have always understood this principle is that "for every public purpose there is a corresponding private interest."

Perhaps nothing would have greater potential impact than any move to apply regulations--of any new sort--to IP networks generally, not just the "public Internet."

The reason would be troubling is that all sorts of networks now use IP technology, not just the "Internet." Private corporate networks, satellite TV, cable TV, telco TV, satellite and terrestrial networks of many sorts use the same technology as the pub…

Do Prices, Speeds Benefit From Robust Broadband Wholesale Policies?

“Open access” policies—unbundling, bitstream access, collocation requirements, wholesaling, and/or functional separation—have played a core role in the first generation transition to broadband in most countries with high access rates and lower prices, a new study by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society suggests.

The authors suggest the same principles will be important in the next phase of development, where higher speeds must be provided, as well.

The highest prices for the lowest speeds are overwhelmingly offered by firms in the United
States and Canada, all of which inhabit markets structured around “inter-modal” competition—that is, competition between one incumbent owning a telephone system, and one incumbent owning a cable system, the report argues.

The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost all offered by firms in markets where, in
addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their pre…

T-Mobile USA Sidekick Data Nearly Fully Recovered

T-Mobile USA and Microsoft now say they have “recovered most, if not all, customer data for those  Sidekick customers whose data was affected by the recent outage,” says Roz Ho, Microsoft corporate VP.

"We plan to begin restoring users’ personal data as soon as possible, starting with personal contacts, after we have validated the data and our restoration plan," Ho says. "We will then continue to work around the clock to restore data to all affected users, including calendar, notes, tasks, photographs and high scores, as quickly as possible."

"We now believe that data loss affected a minority of Sidekick users," Ho added. Despite that good news, two class action lawsuits have been filed against T-Mobile USA, alleging that the company misled consumers into believing that their data was more secure than was the case.

Wal-Mart Straight Talk a Tipping Point?

In March of 2009, the Opinion Research Center estimated that 8.7b million Americans already had discontinued their mobile service because of the recession, and suggested that as many as 60 million mobile users would seek ways to reduce spending.

One way many consumers seem to have done so is to substitute prepaid service for contract plans. That would account for robust subscriber growth for virtually all providers of prepaid service since then.

But Wal-Mart's new “Straight Talk” prepaid service, offered at the $30 and $45 levels, could end up being the “tipping point for millions of consumers who are already considering moving away from expensive contract-based cell phone service,” says Allen Hepner, New Millennium Research executive director.

Hepner believes that the $30 plan (with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts per month, mobile Web access and no-extra cost 411 calls, with no contract and no penalties) and the $45 plan (unlimited calling, texting, mobile Web and 411) that Wal-Mart …

Wal-Mart Gets into the Mobile Phone Business

Competition in the voice business is about to get more heated, as Wal-Mart now says it will be a  retailer of mobile phone service, partnering with American Movil to sell low-cost service pre-paid service under the "Straight Talk" brand. The company is offering unlimited voice and text minutes for $45 a month, or 1,000 minutes and 1,000 text messages for $30 a month.

AT&T just introduced a new $60 a month pre-paid service under its "GoPhone" brand with unlimited U.S. voice calls and unlimited text messaging to the U.S., Mexico, Canada and more than 100 other countries.

The plan includes unlimited IM picture and video messages. The service does not require a contract, and offers a range of full keyboard devices.

And AT&T recently reevaluated its position on use of Skype from its Apple iPhones, using the mobile network, not just Wi-Fi.

All the moves show the intensified competition in the prepaid wireless segment, one of the few areas of untapped growth for m…

Peer-to-peer Wi-Fi: Bluetooth Killer?

A new peer-to-peer Wi-Fi specification sponsored by the Wi-Fi Alliance will enable Wi-Fi devices to connect to one another directly without joining a traditional home, office, or hotspot network. 
The Wi-Fi Alliance expects to begin certification for this new specification in mid-2010 and products which achieve the certification will be designated "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct."
The specification can be implemented in any Wi-Fi device, from mobile phones, cameras, printers, and notebook computers, to human interface devices such as keyboards and headphones. 
Significantly, devices that have been certified to the new specification will also be able to create connections with hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED legacy devices already in use.  Devices will be able to make a one-to-one connection, or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously.
The specification targets both consumer electronics and enterprise applications, provides management features for enterprise en…

Consumers Don't "Want" UC, But they Use It

Unified Communications is one of those buzzword terms people in the communications use, but doesn't necessarily resonate with consumer users. That doesn't mean consumers do not like and use UC, they just don't think about it as "UC."

More often than not, "UC" masquerades as "cool apps" that allow users to manage their communications, voice mail, video services email and other messages. These days, that value is available in the form of mobile apps downloadable from a mobile app store.

That's why users are spending more time checking out apps that actually are forms of UC, even when those apps aren't pitched as being "UC" apps.

Comcast’s mobile application for the iPhone and iPod Touch is an example. The Comcast app  provides one-stop access to key features of Comcast Digital Voice, Digital Cable and high-speed Internet services.

It allows to read and compose emails from, listen to home voice mail from one mailbox,…

IP Telephony Makes Huge Gains in Business

IP telephony seems to have made huge inroads into global business organizations, especially in China, a new study by Frost & Sullivan suggests. In fact, IP telephony is more the norm than the exception, illustrating the fact that IP telephony is the new normal.

"About 80 percent of respondents who have not yet deployed IP telephony say they will," says Jim Tyrrell, Verizon Business VP. Verizon Business and Cisco Systems sponsored the study.

Chinese organizations are especially active, with 89 percent using some form of IP telephony as their primary phone service.

And though early on many organizations were concerned about adoption, that no longer seems to be a key concern. About 92 percent of IT managers surveyed indicated VoIP quality is at least as good, if not better than traditional wireline phone systems.

The Frost & Sullivan survey included 3,662 information technology or line-of-business decision makers in organizations in 10 countries in Asia-Pacific, Europe …

T-Mobile USA Has No Urge to Merge

Deutsche Telekom AG Chief Financial Officer Timotheus Hoettges says there’s no need for further consolidation of the U.S. mobile market, apparently squashing the notion that T-Mobile USA might try to buy Sprint Nextel.

“There are four national players in the U.S. market for 300 million households, while in Europe, where we have 350 million households, there are 50-70 operators,” Hoettges says, according to Bloomberg. “We believe in our chances of being the challenger.”

Getting its third generation network strategy into higher gear remaining a key challenge.

“There is no question that we lost customers because many of our customers couldn’t get 3G.,” Hoettges says. “We now have to make sure that we can capitalize on the network in the top-10 cities where we have invested.”

Deutsche Telekom gets 24 percent of its revenue from T- Mobile USA, which saw its revenue drop 2.3 percent in the most-recent quarter.

On top of that is what T-Mobile USA can do about fourth-generation network capaci…

Android: What's in it for Google

Why is Google so aggressive about giving away millions of copies of its royalty-free mobile operating system? It is expected to lead directly to mobile search revenue. Jeffries &Co. thinks Google mobile search revenue will cross the $500 million mark in 2011, up from roughly $180 million in 2009, for example.

Android devices will be available on all four leading U.S. mobile carriers in 2010, so the issue is how much penetration the Android operating system will be able to get.

Beyond what Android means for Google, the issue is what it means for the service providers selling devices powered by Android.

There is speculation that Verizon, for example, plans a major initiative centered around Android to battle the Apple iPhone. Verizon apparently has been mulling the value of getting the Apple iPhone, but might have decided to push Android devices and applications instead.

T-Mobile executives have to be wondering what they will do now that Verizon has positioned itself as a major prop…