Saturday, July 31, 2010

Backhaul Portion of Harbinger Capital Plan is Where Questions Might be Asked

Of several questions that might be raised about the Harbinger Capital plan to create a new national wholesale fourth-generation mobile network using the Long Term Evolution air interface and satellite backhaul, nothing is more important than the ability to attract enough capital to build the network, and the ability to get at least a few  anchor tenants.

The other issue is how the backhaul can be optimized in terms of latency performance. Putting a fleet of satellites into low-earth orbit is one way to reduce latency. Doing so for birds located in geostationary orbit will be more of a trick. Streaming video won't necessarily be an issue.

But interactive applications, such as gaming, voice, videoconferencing and enterprise apps, might be. The ground-based LTE network is a clever idea. Apparently wholesale customers will be able to lease ground segment separately from satellite backhaul.

But that will pose some issues for would-be wholesale customers as well: how to create the fiber backhaul network supporting all those LTE sites. A rational observer might conclude that a would-be anchor tenant would be better off leasing capacity from Clearwire, which will have the backhaul in place as a necessary part of building out its radio sites, without the satellite latency issues to contend with.

Perhaps there is some clever way to use the proposed Harbinger network's satellite backhaul only for apps where latency is not an issue, keeping latency-sensitive traffic confined to the terrestrial fiber networks. Maybe using it for video on demand only is one such approach.

The issue would seem to be that satellite transponders are optimized for point-to-multipoint video distribution. "On demand" services can be provided, but do not play to the network's advantages.

At some point, complexity becomes the enemy, though. Ways to seamlessly integrate other terrestrial 4G and 3G networks with a separate satellite network potentially are workable. But the cost and complexity might be relatively high.

If demand proves robust enough, one could conceive of a telemetry network build around the Harbinger network that is designed specifically for applications that are latency in-senstive. But Harbinger would not be the first company to attempt a business model for applications and customers that proved not to be sufficient.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fiber Connections: Australian Company Can't Give Them Away

Only half of the homes and businesses in the three Tasmanian towns involved in stage one of the Australian National Broadband Network rollout have chosen to connect to the network. The connection is free, and puts into place the network that will completely replace the old copper network within eight years.

The connection also is the equivalent of a "dark fiber" connection at the moment. At some later point, retail providers will lease capacity and try to sell services to consumers. But none of that is "live" now.

The opposition will prove expensive at some point. Any business or home that does not opt to get the free install now will have to pay for a "live" connection in the future.

Apparently, people simply do not understand the proposition. It's an interesting development.

Typical Small Business Search Advertiser Spends $2231 Per Year

Small businesses have dramatically increased their spending on search advertising over the past year, up 159 percent, in fact.

Kindle's Future in an "iPad World"

 Jeff Bezos, CEO, thinks there is plenty of room in the market for optimized e-book readers.
Bezos believes the Kindle can continue to succeed as a device that’s dedicated to reading, especially long-form reading. Amazon isn’t looking to “create an experience." Amazon thinks the author will create the experience.

In a world with short attention spans, one would hope Bezos is right. Fast-paced, short form content is good for lots of things. Reflection isn't typically one of them.

Voice Quality Isn't What It Used to Be

Most people, despite the reliance placed on their mobile phones, likely would say there are times when call quality isn't very good and calls get dropped. Most users of business-grade IP telephony and consumer VoIP might also agree that there are times, especially on multi-party conference calls, when quality also is not good, despite the measures taken to control each discrete set of resources.

Unfortunately, for all the good things that loosely-coupled systems make possible (faster innovation, greater creativity, lower end user prices), one of the downsides is inability to control session quality end-to-end.

The old AT&T monopoly might not have been so good at innovation and pricing (slow innovation and high prices) but it was very good at ensuring high quality.

Is Mobile Device Market Becoming the PC Market?

The phone device market is turning more and more into the PC market, says Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

What she apparently means is that devices are becoming commodities where software and services do not create as much differentiation as once was hoped.

On the other hand, that might be good for consumers who will find they get more power and utility from newer devices without paying higher prices.

"Some, including me, thought that apps and services would help vendors add value to hardware," says Milanesi. "It seems to me though, that the popularity of Android is not going to allow that to happen."

Perhaps oddly, what Milanesi is suggesting is that "open" platforms, though generally considered a better way to foster innovation than "closed" approaches, might need to be re-thought.

She says Apple and Research in Motion provide alternate examples, where suppliers can innovate and capture the returns. She also seems to be suggesting that the separation of ownership of operating systems and hardware is not necessarily the best way forward for device suppliers.

The healthier financial approach would be to feature an "open" approach to applications on "closed" platforms (operating system and hardware bundled).

Rep. Dingle OpposesTitle II Reclassification

In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission Rep John Dingell (D- MI) said that the chairman should abandon his effort to reclassify broadband.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski apparently responded that while he looks forward to working with Congress to a update the Communications Act, the Commission cannot wait for Congress to complete its deliberation.

Virtually all observers expect protracted legal action should the FCC reclassify broadband access as a regulated Title II service.

Best Buy to Sell Branded 4G Mobile Services

Best Buy will offer its own branded mobile broadband services using the Clearwire. network. The deal is noteworthy to the extent that Best Buy is the first major wholesale customer that is not an investor in Clearwire.

Best Buy has tried selling its own branded communications services before, in particular broadband and voice services for small businesses. That effort was modestly successful, one might argue.

Best Buy hopes to fare better with consumer-focused communications services, namely mobile gadgets.

Cars are Where People Listen to Music

Though it might seem that MP3 players are the dominant way people consumer music, the car stereo is the most popular device to listen to music, followed by the home stereo and the PC, Forrester Research says.

About a third of U.S. adults regularly listens to music on a MP3 player, and eight percent listen on their mobile phone. Many observers have suggested that the iPhone is the next-generation replacement for the iPod. The usage statistics so far do not generally support that contention. Most people seem to use their MP3 players.

Android 2.2 for Evo 4G

The version 2.2 update for the Android operating system will start to be pushed out to Sprint Evo devices the week of August 3 or so.

Android 2.2 brings with it a number of new features, including the ability to turn the phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, improved performance, and new widgets for the home screen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Location-Based Apps Still Early on Growth Curve

A new analysis by Forrester Research can be viewed as an excuse not to dive into location-based services, or location-based advertising, at the moment.

Only about three percent of people surveyed by Forrester Research say they use location apps, such as check-in apps, frequently or at least once a week.

Some 84 percent of respondents say they don't even know what the apps are.

None of those findings should surprise anybody, at this point. LBS still is in its infancy. Not many people use any new device or application, at first.

Growing Channel Conflict Between Programmers, Distributors

Despite competing efforts by YouTube, SeeSaw, Hulu, MSN and others to aggregate catch-up TV online in this way, U.K. broadcasters are keeping control of their own inventory for online viewing, including "catch up" services that allow users to view shows they recently have missed.

U.K. broadcasters ITV, C4 and Five each sell their own video ads on either their own sites or on YouTube and SeeSaw (C4 and Five).

The point is that channel conflict between content companies and distributors continues to grow as the online channel becomes more important.

BSkyB, for example, also recently got exclusive rights to HBO content, while Virgin Media, which has on-demand rights for content it shows on its cable network, apparently does not have those rights for mobile or Web distribution.

Top 10 Global Broadband Providers

If the number of fixed-line broadband subscribers were the measure, Comcast and Time Warner Cable would rank among the world's top-10 largest Internet service providers.

The 10-biggest broadband ISPs in March 2010 had 191 million total subscribers, representing 39 percent of the world’s 492 million broadband customers.

KT of South Korea, the world’s tenth largest broadband ISP, is the only new member of the top ten ranking, having displaced Telecom Italia, which is now the 11th largest broadband ISP globally.

Just two providers, China Telecom and China Unicom, accounted for 20 percent of global broadband subscribers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

53% of Mobile Customers Use Data

About 53 percent of mobile users now use mobile data services or applications of one sort or another, Validas reports. That is up from 42 percent in 2009. The typical user consumes 145 Mbytes a month, compared to  96.8 MBytes in 2009. The typical smartphone user consumes 415 Mbytes, up from 139 Mbytes in 2009.

Mobile PC broadband users consume 1.5 Mbytes a month, up from about 1.4 Mbytes in 2009.

Feature phone users consume about 68 Mbytes a month, up from 46 Mbytes.

Verizon Wireless posted the largest percentage increase in mean data usage per user from 48 MBytes to 147 MBytes.

T-Mobile users consume 121 Mbytes, typically. Sprint users consume about 133 Mbytes, primarily because more Sprint customers now consume 50 Mbytes or less each month.


0.3% of BitTorrent Files are Legal

The large majority of content found on BitTorrent is illegal, a new study out of the University of Ballarat in Australia has confirmed.

Researchers from the university's Internet Commerce Security Laboratory scraped torrents from 23 trackers and looked up the content to determine whether the file was confirmed to be copyrighted.

They found that 89 percent of the files they sampled were confirmed to be illegally shared, and most of the remaining ambiguous 11 percent was likely to be infringing.

AT&T Credit Rating at Risk

S&P may lower AT&T’s credit rating, on the heels of Sprint-Nextel posting a widening loss.

“AT&T Inc. may not be able to achieve financial metrics fully supportive of the current rating within a reasonable time frame,” S&P said.

That might not mean much to most people, nor is it a user's responsibility to worry about the service provider's problems. But the potential downgrade is important because it illustrates the pressures the largest U.S. communication carriers now face. A lower credit rating means higher borrowing costs, and therefore less money available to fund network upgrades.

The potential move also illustrates a situation that gets too little attention from policymakers, who tend to act as though America's largest providers of communications services are "too big to fail."

In fact, any careful analysis would suggest there is huge risk in the communications business, and that the objective now is to avoid negative growth. Most of the revenue growth the biggest carriers now get simply replaces revenue being steadily lost from legacy lines of business. They are hardly "too big to fail."

AT&T’s ‘A’ corporate credit rating and the ‘A-1′ short-term and commercial paper ratings were put on CreditWatch with negative implications. “We expect that a potential downgrade of the corporate credit rating, if any, would be limited to one notch,” S&P noted.

More Women Than Men Use Social Networking

Globally, women demonstrate higher levels of engagement with social networking sites than men, new comScore survey finds.

Although women account for 47.9 percent of total unique visitors to the social networking category, they consume 57 percent of pages and account for nearly 57 percent of total minutes spent on these sites.

Women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men’s 4 hours, demonstrating the strong engagement that women across the globe share with social sites.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mobile Category Will Dominate Consumer Electronics Growth in 2011

Mobile computers will provide the consumer electronics industry's primary revenue growth in 2011, according to the Consumer Electronics Industry.

CEA projects that mobile computing, which includes laptops, netbooks and tablet computers, will reach more than $26 billion in shipment revenues by 2011, and "most" of that segment's growth will be driven by tablet PCs.

Wireless handsets, which have driven growth in recent years, also will represent about $26 billion worth of revenue, says CEA. Together, mobile PCs and phones will represent about 53 percent of total consumer electronics industry revenue.

Is Multichannel Video Business in Danger?

Smaller providers in the communications and cable TV business never have had a terribly easy time coping with the emerging shift to broadband-based services. Scale is an issue, and smaller providers, by definition, do not have scale.

Small telcos often cannot take advantage of wireless or video in the same way that Verizon and AT&T can. Small cable companies often cannot take advantage of either wireless or video scale economies.

For many smaller telcos, hanging onto the voice business is a key challenge. Now some might argue the same is true for small cable operators and their video businesses.

"What's dead this year is video," said Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin. "The programmers are destroying the video business" by shifting to online and mobile distribution channels, she argues.

Consumers are gravitating to Internet and mobile applications, she argues, so operators should focus on mobile services, commercial services and the data access business.

"Take the cash flow, if there is any after the programmers get done with you, and what you need to do is protect the future," she said.

Clearly, Martin sees online video as a direct threat to the multichannel video business. It might be shocking to hear an analyst recommend that a cable company get beyond video, as it once was a shock to hear analysts suggesting telcos had to get beyond voice. But the logic is hard to argue with, as tough as the advice will be to heed.

A Look Back at the Last 5 Years in Mobile

Five years ago, the Motorola Razr was the "hot device." The BlackBerry was carried mostly by business users. While smartphones existed, the devices were really more like PDAs with a phone built-in rather than mobile computing devices as we know them today.

There were mobile phone apps, but the app store concept as we know it now was still years away. And while many mobile phones had the ability to access the web, the experience was slow and painful.

Not Your Imagination: The World is Younger

It isn't your imagination: more people are younger these days, and they all use mobile phones. Nearly half of the world's population is under the age of 25 and over 85 percent live in developing countries, according to the World Population Foundation.

Globally, a majority of people in the 15- to 25-year segment have a mobile device of some sort.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Blockbuster Express Plans 10,000 U.S. Locations by End of 2010

Blockbuster Express, the self-service movie rental service, is supposed to be available at 10,000 U.S. locations in 2010. The service competes with Redbox.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Unemployment Above 9% Until 2012

The White House’s annual Mid-Session Budget Review assumes unemployment will not fall below nine percent until 2012. In other words, the White House believes we will continue to be in a virtual "jobless recovery."  In fact, the White House expects unemployment to remain at seven percent until the start of 2014.

The unemployment rate is projected to aver­age 9.7 percent in 2010. This is the average level of unemployment that has prevailed dur­ing the first six months of the year. Despite the growth in output, unemployment is projected to decline slowly because, as labor market condi­tions improve, discouraged workers rejoin the labor force, adding temporarily to unemploy­ment, while part-time workers increase their hours of work.

Even with continued healthy growth in 2011 and beyond, the unemployment rate is projected to fall, but it is not projected to fall below six percent until 2015. Traditionally, an unemployment rate around four percent has been considered a sign of "full employment" conditions.

That is going to put pressure on every business selling products and services to consumers or business customers, and will increase pressure on firms to grow by acquisition, as internal customer growth and average revenue per user will be tough to come by.

read the full report here

Apple Claims Droid X Suffers From Signal Fade When Held

Apple claims the new Droid X also suffers from signal attenuation when held in the hand.

watch the video

Friday, July 23, 2010

State of Social Gaming Business

Tim Chang, principal at Norwest Venture Partners,talks about the social game market, reviewing 2009 and 2010 trends. 

Verizon Wireless Gains Outpace AT&T

Despite the undeniable success the Apple iPhone has been for AT&T, Verizon might be finding ways to compete even without ability to sell the popular device. In the second quarter of 2010, Verizon Wireless added a net 665,000 contract customers, boosted from the increased demand for its line of Droid smartphones, which run on Google Inc.'s Android software.

AT&T added a net 496,000 contract customers in the same quarter. The impact of iPhone 4 sales will not be reflected in AT&T's performance until the third quarter, though, as sales started at the tail end of the second quarter. That should help AT&T post strong net adds numbers in a quarter that typically is one of the weaker quarters of the year for net adds.

iPhone 4 Spoof

Darth Vader Complains About His iPhone 4

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wireless Again Drives AT&T Results

AT&T's financial results for the second quarter of 2010 were driven by its wireless segment. The company says it added 1.6 million total wireless subscribers and a "record" 3.2 million iPhones.

Customer churn meanwhile has dropped to 1.01 percent for postpaid customers;
1.29 percent churn overall.

AT&T saw a 10.3 percent increase in wireless service revenues, with postpaid subscriber average monthly revenues per subscriber up 3.4 percent.

AT&T also saw 27.2 percent growth in wireless data revenues, year over year.

If there is anything to watch, it is that AT&T is activating fewer new iPhone customers that are new to AT&T. The company is getting a lower mix of iPhone subscribers from rival carriers than it has in the past.

During the second quarter, about 27 percent of its iPhone activations were customers new to AT&T. In the latter quarters of 2009, about 40 percent of iPhone activations were of devices used by customers new to AT&T.

This suggests either that the potential universe of users who want an iPhone is shrinking, either because other reasonably comparable models are available from other carriers, because interest in Android devices is growing, or because smartphone demand overall is shifting in some way to lower-priced devices.

The iPhone exclusive has been a smash hit for AT&T, without any doubt. The danger is the obvious risk that reliance on any single product or customer always has for any firm. When revenue is driven by a single customer, or a few customers, or a single product, a shift in demand can lead to rapid distress.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jajah Founder’s Next Project Is Mobile Payments

Daniel Mattes, Jajah founder, appears to be targeting online payments for his new company Jumio. It appears Jumio is focused specifically on mobile payments, both between individuals and businesses, with an emphasis on removing fraud and ensuring trust.

Amazon Kindle At "Tipping Point"?

"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle," CEO Jeff Bezos says. "The growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189."

"In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format," Bezos says. " customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books."

Verizon Wireless 4G Caps "Unfair"?

Verizon Wireless boss Lowell McAdam reportedly said at a Barclays Capital conference that Verizon Wireless likely will move away from unlimited plans on the 4G Long Term Evolution network, instead charging for 'buckets' of megabytes.

That is one more sign of the direction the entire industry will take. Some observers think this is somehow unfair. They sometimes base this belief on the lower "cost per megabit per second" or "cost per transferred megabyte" of a 4G network, compared to a 3G network.

It is no more inherently unfair than a company lowering its headcount, wage rates, reducing advertising or any other steps it may take to keep costs in line with anticipated revenues.

The fundamental trend in the communications business is that the "retail price" of bandwidth keeps dropping. When that happens, providers must sell more units to maintain flat revenue. In a business that also has major declining lines of business, any entity must, over time, reduce its costs in line with the revenue drops in those lines of business as well.

The net effect is a need for greater efficiency, and the lower cost per bit of a 4G network is part of that effort, as much as it is a hedge against constantly-growing bandwidth demand.

Moore's Law adequately captures the typical pace of semiconductor density change. But most of the rest of the natural world cannot improve its performance metrics at that pace. Not batteries, not construction, transportation, manufacturing or marketing cost. Greater efficiency in the transmission network is simply part of preparing for a future where bandwidth costs, per unit, will keep squeezing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New MIT Study Finds Broadband Speeds Much Faster than FCC Reported | Broadband for America

A new MIT study says that previous estimates of U.S. broadband speed may have underestimated just how fast our national networks really are. In March, the FCC said that the broadband network was only half as fast as advertised.

However, the MIT study found that those measurements didn’t fully measure the speed of the “access network,” which Internet service providers (ISPs) control. For example, using the best method, Ookla/Speedtest, current typical speeds are 7.7 Mbps, not 3.8 Mbps.

According to the study, a simple figure for broadband speed isn’t sufficient to understand the quality of the nation’s digital infrastructure, and it’s just as affected by a user’s computer and the location of servers being accessed as it is by the ISP.

That's a bit akin to attributing all of an iPhone's dropped call performance to AT&T, and attributing zero to the iPhone's design, to the extent that the device itself can cause dropped calls.

Bad Connection Inside the iPhone?

Much attention has been focused of late on the external antenna design of the Apple iPhone 4 as a cause of signal attenuation (weak signal). Much attention also has been paid to AT&T's wireless network in at least some locations--New York and San Francisco, for example--as regions where bandwidth problems are worse.

But Wired magazine also claims that software issues related to the iPhone's baseband radio, might also be playing a part in the "dropped call" problem. Wired magazine says Apple sources confirm that the software running the iPhone’s main radio, known as the baseband, was "full of bugs" and contributed to the much-decried dropped calls.

What’s more, Apple had chosen to source the radio from Infineon, whose hardware was used widely in Europe but rarely in the United States, where cell towers are placed farther apart and reception is therefore less forgiving. The suggestion is that the radio has not be tweaked for different tower spacing, at least not well enough.

In truth the relationship between smartphone manufacturers and service providers likely has grown more complex. Handset vendors want maximum feature richness so the devices become indispensable. But carriers obviously would rather that the consumer bond be with the network, not the device.

Also handset suppliers want their devices to be used. To the extent that such use put additional demand on the networks, wireless providers might prefer that wireless data services did become essential, but not terribly network-taxing in terms of bandwidth consumption.

It's hard to tell, anecdotally, whether users typically blame AT&T or Apple for reception problems, but most might agree that AT&T has gotten the blame, up to this point. Perhaps the view will be a bit more balanced now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Redbox Plots Web Strategy

Redbox is developing an online strategy to stay competitive with larger rival Netflix.

Redbox is losing some business as renters use kiosks to get new releases and go to Netflix for older, harder-to-find titles. Adding an online distribution component might help Redbox, which generally stocks about 200 new and top releases in its kiosks.

Why Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers should matter to marketers and consumer products companies because they spend 38.5 percent of CPG dollars, says Nielsen. Yet it’s estimated that less than five percent of advertising dollars are currently targeted towards adults 35-64 years old (which includes the latter half of Generation X in addition to Boomers).

With most marketers generally targeting 18 to 49 year olds, more than half of the affluent Boomer demographic is ignored entirely.

One wonders whether marketers really are missing the boat or know something, or believe they know something, about what they are doing. Maybe the incremental spend targeted at Boomers would not pay returns as high as the traditional targeting of younger demographics.

Verizon's LTE: Not Just Speed, Better Latency Performance

One of the finer points of the Verizon Wireless Long Term Evolution launch is the better latency performance, which will be helpful for real-time services such as video and voice. Reportedly, latency of 30 milliseconds is promised.

The 5 Mbps to 12Mbps downlink speed is nothing to dismiss, either. Verizon has said it will launch LTE in 30 cities by the end of the year.

Apple's Antenna Claims Bogus, Say HTC, RIM, and Nokia

Nokia says its devices are not affected by the way a user holds its devices, though it was not specifically accused of having that problem when Apple defended its iPhone 4 antenna design.

"Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying how people hold their phones and allows for this in designs, for example by having antennas both at the top and bottom of the phone and by careful selection of materials and their use in the mechanical design," said Nokia.

Nokia Siemens Networks Buys Motorola Network Assets

Nokia Siemens Networks will acquire the majority of Motorola’s wireless network infrastructure assets for US $1.2 billion in cash. The companies expect to complete closing activities by the end of 2010, subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals.

That removes Motorola from a mobile infrastructure business it has been in for decades. The move does not affect the Motorola handset business.

Google Boosts Data Center Spending

Google reported capital expenditures of $476 million in the second quarter of 2010, more than doubling its spending from the previous quarter.

The latest capital expenditure number marks the company’s heaviest investment in its data center operations since the second quarter of 2008, when Google was wrapping up a flurry of construction projects in North Carolina, South Carolina and Iowa.

Search Optimization in the Mobile Age

The most significant change to how consumers are using smartphones to find companies is the widespread popularity of mobile apps. The big change for marketers is that people do not necessarily use a browser get information, such as restaurant reviews and product recommendations.

That in turn means traditional search engine optimization tactics are less effective. Also, social networking sites increasingly are being to search for content, information or products, which likewise has implications for online and mobile marketers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mobile Value Shifting to Internet, Text, Trefis Says

The mobile phone business is the largest contributor of value to the stocks of three major carriers with interests in landline and wireless services. About 43 percent of AT&T's equity value is attributable to mobile revenue, Verizon 34 percent of Verizon's equity value and 89 percent of Sprint's value, according to Trefis.

The shift from mobile voice to mobile data has implications for where the value of each stock comes from and how the mobile carriers will compete in the future, as well. For example, 55 percent of Sprint’s value comes from its mobile voice plans and phones business, while another 34 percent of value comes from Sprint’s mobile Internet business. The value of the Internet segment will grow.

Trefis estimates that AT&T’s text messaging and Internet revenue per mobile subscriber for 2009 increased by 21 percent to $14.5 per subscriber, for example.

What Will LTE Mobile Operators Do About Voice?

Though it isn't by any means a show stopper, mobile operators launching Long Term Evolution networks still are considering several different ways of handling voice services.

In some, perhaps nearly all cases, LTE will be introduced as a data-only service. Mobile handsets typically will be introduced gradually as consumers decide to jump from their 3G services to 4G. Aside from native 4G voice protocols, operators always have the option to default back to 3G for voice.

That's the way the communications business is: there are many "legacy" applications, processes and issues that must be incorporated when migrating to a next-generation network.

RIM Execs Deny Apple Test Data on Signal Fade

The Research in Motion "BlackBerry Bold" device, as tested by Apple, appears to show the same signal fade issues as the Apple iPhone 4 when held in certain ways. RIM executives deny they have a signal reception problem.

watch the demo: signal fades

"Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation," say Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, RIM Co-CEOs. They don't specifically refute the Apple test data, though, which is odd.

They simply say "RIM is a global leader in antenna design" and say RIM "has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage."

Again, that doesn't specifically address the Apple test data.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Smartphone Antenna Performance: BlackBerry, Droid Have the Same Problem?

Apple says other smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Bold and Droid Eris, have the same problem with signal attenuation when the devices are held.

Mobile phone signal attenuation happens whenever a signal is obstructed, Apple notes. The density and composition of the human hand can cause attenuation to a greater degree than some other materials.

On a mobile phone, signal loss typically occurs when your hand attenuates the most sensitive part of the antenna. Apple even has put together videos demonstrating how different grips cause attenuation on many popular smartphones, not just the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS.

See Steve Jobs Discuss "Antenna-gate"

watch the video (you may need QuickTime). You didn't think Apple would post on YouTube, did you?

Droid X Sells Out

The Motorola Droid X is sold out online and in certain parts of the country at retail Verizon and Best Buy stores, despite Verizon Wireless' insistence on Wednesday that it would have plenty of the phones in stock.

You will now have to wait until July 23 if you want a Droid X if you didn't get one Thursday.

Verizon Wireless Launches Droid X

Verizon Wireless now is selling the Droid X, manufactured by Motorola, for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.

The Droid X runs Android and features a 4.3-inch screen, an HD camcorder, 8 megapixel camera, 3G Mobile HotSpot capabilities, 8 gigabyte of memory onboard and a 16GB memory card. The new 32GB SanDisk "microSDHC" card allows customers to expand Droid X’s memory to 40GB. Verizon Wireless is the only retailer that offers customers the 32GB SanDisk microSDHC card.

Droid X Launched Today by Verizon Wireless

You might be spending so much time following Apple's iPhone 4 fix that this one didn't get the attention it deserves. It happens, sometimes.

Free Bumpers for All iPhone 4 Buyers, Apple Says

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says the signal reception issue "affects a very-small percentage of users," Jobs says. "I have gotten 5,000 emails from users who say they never see the problem and can't figure it out."

The data suggests this (issue) has been blown out of proportion," he says.

What does Apple plan to do? IoS 4 fixed the signal strength display problem. We have bumper cases and will give one for every iPhone 4, through Sept. 30, 2010. Users who bought a bumper will get a refund. "But we can't make enough ourselves, so we'll source some other cases and give you a choice," he says.

Full refunds will be given for any iPhone 4 units returned undamaged within 30 days.

Lack of Cases an Issue, Steve Jobs Suggests

About 80 percent of new iPhones go out of the store with a case," says Steve Jobs, Apple CEO. "Just 20 percent of iPhone 4s left the store with a case." That means many more people were using an iPhone 4 without the case that would prevent the antenna signal strength problem.

iPhone 4 Drops 1 More Call Per 100, AT&T Data Shows

"AT&T has given us call drop information and that shows call drop data and that is proprietary, but the delta from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 shows that, for every 100 calls made, call drops on the iPhone 4 does drop more calls than the 3GS," says Steve Jobs, Apple CEO. But how many more? "Less than one additional call per 100, compared to the iPhone 3GS."

iPhone 4 Return Rates A Third of iPhone 3GS, Jobs Says

The iPhone 3GS is the best-selling smartphone in history, and return rates were six percent, Jobs said. For the iPhone 4, return rates are 1.7 percent.

Apple: "We're Not Perfect;" Neither is Anybody Else

"We're not perfect," Steve Jobs said at the news conference called to talk about the iPhone 4 antenna problem. "We know that; you know that."

"And phones are not perfect either." Jobs said. Apple started getting reports about the iPhone 4 antenna
problem almost as soon as the device went on sale. But Apple says less than half of one percent of iPhone 4
buyers called to complain about the antenna. He also said the iPhone 4 is the best product Apple ever has
made. "People seem to like it; users seem to love it," he said. After three weeks, it has the highest evaluations

"We have been working our butts off for the last 22 days" to fix it, he said. "We haven't had our heads in the

"We want to find out what the real problem is before we start to come up with a real solution," he said. The
data shows that the antenna signal drop-off is not unique to the iPhone 4, but most people haven't looked at this before."

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 also has the same problem the iPhone 4 has. It is identical to the iPhone 4 in that
regard, he says. The HTC Droid Eris also loses bars when gripped. The signal goes down right away but the
algorithm might delay the signal strength indicator to show the new signal strength. The Samsung Omnia II
likewise has the problem, Jobs said.

These problems affect most smartphones in areas of weak signal strength, Jobs said. "This is life in the smartphone world; phones aren't perfect."

Rates of return for the iPhone 4 in fact are lower than for the iPhone 3GS, Jobs said.

Apple to Give Free Cases

"We're not perfect," Steve Jobs said at the news conference called to talk about the iPhone 4 antenna problem. "We know that; you know that."

"And phones are not perfect either." Jobs said. Apple started getting reports about the iPhone 4 antenna
problem almost as soon as the device went on sale. But Apple says less than half of one percent of iPhone 4
buyers called to complain about the antenna. He also said the iPhone 4 is the best product Apple ever has
made. "People seem to like it; users seem to love it," he said. After three weeks, it has the highest evaluations

"We have been working our butts off for the last 22 days" to fix it, he said. "We haven't had our heads in the

"We want to find out what the real problem is before we start to come up with a real solution," he said. The
data shows that the antenna signal drop-off is not unique to the iPhone 4, but most people haven't looked at this before."

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 also has the same problem the iPhone 4 has. It is identical to the iPhone 4 in that
regard, he says. The HTC Droid Eris also loses bars when gripped. The signal goes down right away but the
algorithm might delay the signal strength indicator to show the new signal strength. The Samsung Omnia II
likewise has the problem, Jobs said.

These problems affect most smartphones in areas of weak signal strength, Jobs said. "This is life in the smartphone world; phones aren't perfect."

Rates of return for the iPhone 4 in fact are lower than for the iPhone 3GS, Jobs said.

Motorola Droid: 8-Month Product Lifecycle

It says something about the blistering pace of innovation in the mobile handset business that the Motorola Droid has reached the end of its product lifecycle after eight months.

With the Motorola Droid X and HTC Incredible slated to top Verizon’s upper-tier smartphone lineup, the eight-month-old Droid will no longer be sold by Verizon, once current supplies are exhausted.

That's one heck of a short product lifecycle.

Google Revenue Grows 24% Year Over Year

Google reported revenues of $6.82 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2010, an increase of 24 percent compared to the second quarter of 2009. That performance was described as "below analyst expectations."

Only Google can grow revenues 24 percent, year over year, and despite having given no "guidance," be said to have lagged expectations.

AdMob Chief Talks about Mobile Advertising

Google's AdMob division head talks about mobile advertising.

Why Consumer VoIP Quality, Despite Quality Components, Is Not So Good

Suppliers of IP telephony and consumer VoIP services often go to great lengths to ensure that the user experience is equivalent to the old "public switched telephone network," and yet users almost uniformly have encountered some instances where that level of quality is not experienced.

There are good reasons why, despite the best efforts made by developers of software, hardware and providers of network services often are part of a service chain that frankly does not work as well as the old PSTN. At a practical level, the quality of bandwidth over an unmanaged connection can be an issue, says

Enterprise and business connections are powerfully affected by the quality of the local area network. Consumer experience can be affected by physical placement of routers and analog telephone adapters, just like mobile connections. Simply, the ATA and the home router needs a bit of spatial distance or interference can result.

Also, VoIP still uses the same transmission networks, and those networks are affected by weather. When there are thunderstorms, heavy rain, or wind gusts, static can be generated. This “dirty-weed” static doesn't cause problems for Web surfing, but will affect VoIP.

As with many other problems, a hard reboot (unplug the hardware, wait a minute and plug it in again) will fix the problem.

VoIP, especially consumer versions, often fail to deliver the same quality as the old voice network, though not because of network, hardware or software carelessness. A VoIP connection is unmanaged, where the old voice network is highly managed.

When everything on an unmanaged network is aligned, experience will be great. When there are issues, even good quality component parts, and the best efforts of each supplier within the value chain, will fail to deliver a high-quality experience.

The phrase "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" conveys the idea. With VoIP, even a chain with individually strong links can occasionally experience issues that degrade quality, though.

Managed connections would alleviate most of the expected issues, but consumers cannot today buy such managed data connections (a broadband connection with service level guarantees). Nor is it clear such a service, end-to-end, is feasible for consumer connections.

Even a managed network connection would not make the end-to-end experience completely managed in every, or even most cases, as no transport or access services provider can always control every single part of the network. And use of third-party applications would obviously be outside the transmission provider's control.

But a small number of things are controllable at the end user level. Sooner or later, just about every consumer VoIP user will find the need to do so.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Apple Won't Issue a Recall of iPhone 4

Nobody outside the top ranks of Apple knows precisely what the company plans to do July 16 when it addresses the iPhone 4 signal reception issue. The Wall Street Journal reports that a product recall, however, will not be among the options.

Despite the embarassement, the company doesn't need to do that. There is no safety or product defect here, and Apple engineers knew of the potential issues "as early as a year ago," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Perhaps Apple will offer free "bumpers" to buyers, which aside from protecting the phone will fix the signal fade problem. It just isn't the "crisis" that crisis management professionals insist it is.

Apple's brand will survive intact, and people will not stop buying iPhones, period.

Do not Neutralize Search Innovation, Google Argues

Google has responded to growing European Community scrutiny of Google's search algorithms in a Financial Times opinion piece. Google is right, as far as the opinion piece goes.

Algorithms embody rules that decide which information is “best”, and how to measure it, and search competitors ought to be free to sort in different ways.

Clearly defining which of any product or service is best is subjective. "Yet in our view, the notion of 'search neutrality' threatens innovation, competition and, fundamentally, your ability as a user to improve how you find information," Google VP Marissa Meyer says.

Ironically, Google does not take the same view where it comes to other partners in the Internet ecosystem, though. Fighting to retain or gain as much advantage as possible within the ecosystem is normal. The irony is that the "freedom for me, regulation for thee" stance can backfire. EC regulators might decide it is Google that requires regulation, not other participants in the value chain.

In all likelihood, the whole ecosystem would be better off with a "lighter touch" that lets clever developers and entrepreneurs, and the consumer response to new products, sort most of these issues out, most of the time.

Stimulus? Really?

Stringing along workers with temporary federal freebies isn’t a sustainable enterprise, and Department of Education adviser Maura Policelli admits as much when she says taking the cash “does involve the possible risk of investing in staff that you may not be able to retain in the 2011-12 school year."

Temporary spending that allows state government to avoid inevitable hard choices a year later is not investment or stimulus, despite the nonsense we keep hearing in certain quarters.

Google Faces More Regulatory Pressure

Google might need regulation, the New York Times seems to suggest.

Google argues that its behavior is kept in check by competitors like Yahoo or Bing. But "a case is building for some sort of oversight of the gatekeeper of the Internet," the Times writes.

In the past few months, Google has come under investigation by antitrust regulators in Europe, for example.

In the United States, Google said it expects antitrust regulators to scrutinize its $700 million purchase of the flight information software firm ITA, with which it plans to enter the online travel search market occupied by Expedia, Orbitz, Bing and others.

Not all software companies are used to such scrutiny by regulators. But Microsoft is. Apple also has come into the spotlight as well, of late. "Freedom for me, regulation for thee" doesn't always work.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

HTC Seems to Be Taking Motorola Android Share

The latest survey of smartphone demand by Changewave Research suggests HTC is taking Android device share from Motorola.

The change seems to have occurred about March 2010.

BlackBerry Satisfaction Plummets, Changewave Finds

Though end user satisfaction with the iPhone has remained fairly constant over the last year, Research in Motion BlackBerry devices seem to have suffered a dramatic decline in satisfaction, dropping from a high of about 55 percent in January 2008 to June 2010, Changewave Research reports.

A reasonable observer would suggest this portends some trouble for RIM, the reception issues with the new iPhone 4 notwithstanding.

Apple iPhone Demand Seen Exploding

ChangeWave's latest smart phone survey of 4,028 consumers shows an "explosive transformation" occurring in consumer demand, suggesting some major new mobile handset winners and losers for second half 2010.

Changewave says its latest survey shows the strongest interest in smartphones ever recorded in a Changewave survey. But there's a significant change within that demand pattern: Apple and HTC devices are getting strong demand at the expense of Motorola and Research in Motion.

The future buying plans suggest coming huge moves upward for Apple and HTC, with a whopping 52 percent of respondents who plan to buy a smart phone in the next 90 days saying they'll get an Apple iPhone.

It also appears that Android demand has shifted to HTC and away from Motorola.

Net Neutrality Issues for Google in Search?

Network neutrality proponents implicitly assume that the key bottleneck, in terms of innovation or competition, is to be found in the broadband access connection, and the way such connections are managed.

It now appears that antitrust regulators in Europe have begun to look at other potential bottlenecks, and search practices already are getting a look, the Financial Times reports. Google's purchase (or planned purchase, as there might be antitrust review) of ITA Software, a travel technology company, is not going to help.

Joaquin Almunia, Europe’s top competition official, already has hinted that European Community regulators are taking Google’s search power seriously. An informal review of search practices already is underway, and seems to be getting more pointed attention now, given the growing issues regulators now seem to be detecting in the mobile content space.

Google has powerful competitors who will not be shy about adding their concerns, and U.S. regulators have been paying more attention to both Google and Apple of late.

The point is that gatekeepers might exist at potentially multiple levels in the Internet business ecosystem, and raising the issue in one area seems to be raising issues in other areas as well.

Mobile App Stores Shorten Time to Market and Time to Payment

Mobile app stores have shortened "time to market" for mobile apps, especially compared to older distribution methods such as placement directly on mobile phones.

Mobile app stores also mean developers get paid faster, according to Telefonica.

iPhone 4 recall would cost $1.5 billion

A full product recall of the iPhone 4, though highly unlikely, would cost Apple $1.5 billion, or 3.5 percent of its total cash on hand, says Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi.

Apple could issue a free rubber bumper case with each phone. Although Apple charges $29 at retail for the rubber cases, Bernstein estimates that giving them away to iPhone 4 customers would cost the company $1 per unit.

Mobile Users 45% More Interested In Local Search

Perhaps it is intuitive, but users on mobile devices are 45 percent more likely to enter a local search query than users on non-mobile devices, according to data from online advertising network Chitika.

Chitika’s research division came to this conclusion after breaking down a sample of more than 24 million impressions.

Local search and mobile search do seem highly correlated.

Odds the iPhone 4 be Recalled

About 4:6 odds a full mechanical recall will be issued in 2010, oddsmaker says. Odds a full mechanical recall will not be issued by Apple in 2010 are 11:10.

Will the iPhone 4 be recalled? Betting from Paddy Power

Apple's iPad Is Going To Destroy The Netbook Market, Says Goldman Sachs

Whether you believe the tablet PC is a substitute for, or a complement to, a netbook, it does seem clear that a tablet's function is different.

The iPad is focused squarely on information consumption versus information production, analysts at Goldman Sachs note. A device that looks like “just a big screen” suggests what users should do with the device: consume information, with limited ability to manipulate it.

The lack of a physical keyboard suggests that the primary purpose of the device is not for inputting large amounts of information, but instead selecting among options, or performing light editing using a soft keyboard, the analysts suggest.

If that is the case, a key element of the experience will be relatively tight integration with content sources. 

I'm not so sure the netbook is destined by be replaced by tablet devices, though it seems obvious that if the reason lots of people carry netbooks or notebooks is simply to consume information and content, that will be the case.

For users who still have to "work" and create content, a tablet simply isn't going to be a viable choice.

Apple Makes More Profit Than All the Rest of the Handset Industry

Since getting into the mobile handset business with its iPhone, Apple has blown away the whole rest of the handset industry in earnings (before interest and taxes), according to a new  analysis by Goldman Sachs analysts.

The other angle is that the rest of the suppliers have lost earnings momentum  precisely as Apple has grown.

At the moment, Apple likely accounts for about 58 percent of the mobile handset industry's annual earnings.

That's shocking, and a measure of Apple's new stature.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

76% of Users Prefer Ad-Supported Apps to Paid

Users always have had a complicated relationship with advertising. If you ask them, they typically will say they "don't like ads."

But if you ask them whether they would like access to a desired type of content, for free or at vastly-reduced prices because of the presence of ads, they will tend to opt for the advertising.

That appears to be true for 76 percent of smartphone owners with web access, who say they would rather have access to ad-supported applications for no additional cost, rather than pay for them, Jiwire has found.

see the survey results here

Why Google Isn't Good at Social Apps Yet

The kind of application that Google knows how to make well are the kind that serve a utilitarian function. Google's search engine excels at allowing users to search for something, consume, and move onto the next thing.

Google so far does not excel at applications that are by their nature designed for "hanging around."

PR Experts: iPhone 4 Hardware Recall Is “Inevitable”

Some now believe Apple will be forced to recall the iPhone 4 because of hardware defects related to its antenna design.

“Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” said Professor Matthew Seeger, an expert in crisis communication. "This is potentially devastating.”

That seems a bit of hyperbole. Every smartphone I can think of has some issues. Sure, users might have to adjust the way they hold their devices, or add a bumper. Users of other devices need to make adjustments to account for battery life, presence or absence of a keyboard, the size of their fingers and lots of other small adjustments. Some people use the speakerphone function whenever possible, or simply limit the number or length of calls to limit brain exposure to emitted radio frequency energy.

The iPhone 4 reception issue is not hazardous to health. The device does not fall apart. It is not perfect, but what device actually is "perfect" on every measure? As the Eagles song goes: "Get over it."

Slow Recovery Ahead for Total Media Ad Spending

Online ad spending will grow while traditional advertising channels will remain stagnant or decline, says eMarketer.

Marketers who turned to digital for its effectiveness and measureability in tough times will continue to appreciate those qualities as budgets go up, and with the world’s population spending more and more time with digital media, dollars will follow eyeballs, eMarketer predicts.

One also wonders whether the greater efficiency of online and mobile formats also is having some effect. Advertisers might reason they can achieve their objectives even while reducing overall spending.

Skype Blocks Fring Video Calls

Commercial disputes in the communications business are not uncommon. Now fring says it has been forced to stop its four years of Skype interconnectivity following threat of legal action by Skype.

The apparent reason is fring’s recent launch of mobile video calling on the Apple iPhone 4.

Google SEO Includes "Human" Ranking

Some people might be worried about whether Google can, does, or might be tempted to manipulate search rankings in ways that favor its own business interests. But every search engine has to use some specific algorithms to attempt to assess "quality" and "relevance" of content found on the Web.

All of which has spurred a rather-robust search engine optimization business, with a sort of constant "cat and mouse" game between the keepers of search algorithms and content providers who try to come up with legitimate, perhaps sometimes questionable methods of "gaming" the Google search algorithms.

"There’s good SEO, allowing people to get to more relevant content,” says Google’s Amit Singhal, an engineer who works on the algorithms, according to the Financial Times.

“Sometimes people do shitty things and sometimes our algorithms are fooled,” he said. That appears to be one reason why Google says it does use some human oversight as part of its overall system.

Given the potential for some abuse, that's likely a necessary and legitimate undertaking. Algorithms are precise, people are fuzzy. Sometimes adding a little human fuzziness might be a good thing, producing more-valuable search returns.

The potential for mischief, real or imagined, will always exist. But that's why markets and competition are so important. Too much mischief should lead to less-useful results, which will lead users to switch to rival search applications. It might not be a perfect system, but it is hard to imagine any other better set of safeguards.

Monday, July 12, 2010

HTC: Carry a Spare Battery

Sprint Nextel Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse has a solution for his carrier’s Evo 4G’s infamous battery drain: Carry a spare, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Before you dismiss the idea, consider that a spare, original manufacture HTC Evo battery runs between $25 and $40 online. Those of you who have purchased spare batteries for other smartphones, that might seem a bit steep, but bigger screens and heavy Web use will drain any battery fairly quickly.

In fairness, users who want longer battery life should buy devices with much-smaller screens, and then not use mobile Web features unnecessarily. Battery advances do not occur at the same rate as changes in processor and memory, so the advent of larger screens and mobile Web usage is simply going to be a bigger issue.

Lots of us use, or have used, devices with much-smaller screens, as well as devices more typically used primarily for voice and texting. Battery life is longer on such devices, period. In phone technology, as with other devices, there are trade offs.

The HTC Evo's battery life is noticeably shorter than many would like. That's the price of the bigger screen, for the most part. Would I be willing to trade down to a smaller screen? No. But I routinely carry two mobiles, one primarily for voice, the HTC for Web apps. So in a sense I alrady carry a spare battery.

Netflix Edges Past Hulu In Total U.S. Traffic

Web traffic to Netflix was 20.2 million in June, 2010, just edging past Hulu’s 19.7 million.

It has to be said that most of the Netflix traffic likely was people updating their queues and so forth, while more of the traffic to Hulu was people viewing actual videos, but the traffic is some indication of the potential for Netflix to move into the video download space, some would argue.

Microsoft Says 74% Of Business Computers Still Running On Windows XP

74 percent of business PC's are still running on XP, according to Tammi Reller, CVP of Microsoft Windows. That is some measure of how Vista failed to get traction, but also suggests a large opportunity for Windows 7 upgrades.

Reller says the average age of a PC is the highest it's been in a decade at 4.4 years old. Typically that would suggest replacement is imminent, as most enterprise PCs have tended to be replaced every three to five years.

The new wrinkle might be increasing use of smartphones, netbooks or tablet PCs powered by other operating systems. Those devices are unlikely to replacement existing desktops, but might siphone off some of the incremental demand.

IntelePeer and WorkSpace Communications Partner to Launch Hosted Unified Communications Solutions

IntelePeer has announced a partnership with WorkSpace Communications to deliver an easily deployed, hosted unified communications offering based on Microsoft Office Communications Server.

By combining IntelePeer's "Quick Start SIP Trunking" program, "Voice Peering Network" and "SuperRegistry," with WorkSpace Communications' Microsoft OCS environment, the companies provide a complete, turnkey solution.

Consumer Reports Does Not Recommend the iPhone 4

Consumer Reports says it cannot recommend the iPhone 4 because of reception issues. The consumer testing group says its findings are not based on the inaccurate signal reception display, but actual reception issues caused when the device is held in certain ways.

"When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal.

Screen Shortage Might Last Until 2012

HTC Evo devices are in very short supply at the moment, as are HTC Incredibles, and most likely, HTC Droid X devices as well, as all seem to use the same screens, and there currently is a shortage of capacity to manufacture the screens, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Analysts say there's a particular dearth of the Samsung Electronics Co. touch screens the HTC phones use. Samsung is building a $2.2 billion factory to make the screens, but it won't start operations before 2012.

It is unclear how the parts shortages might affect mobile providers selling the popular HTC devices, in particular Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile, none of which yet has the right to sell the Apple iPhone.

But to the extent all three carriers experience HTC device shortages, it does not seem clear that the relative positions of the three carriers will change, based specifically on ability to sell HTC devices in this class. For Sprint, though, the advantage it had by launching the first nationwide 4G network is dwindling as Verizon Wireless readies its own launch later in 2010.

84% of Internet Users Never Click on Ads

About 84 percent of Internet users never click on any ads, comScore says.

Conversely, eight percent of users are responsible for 85 percent of activity.

Should we be surprised by that? Not really, considering the Pareto principle, commonly known as the "80/20" rule.

Despite that pattern of behavior, it seems unlikely most advertisers will stop relying on click-through rates.

Google Chief Predicts "Interactive Video Ads"

Google CEO Eric Schmidt says  "interactive video ads," are on the way, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The ads, which could appear anywhere on a Web page, would be like mini-Web pages, allowing Web users to watch a video, leave a comment and see real-time updates within the ads that are more customized to their interests.

Schmidt says he has pushed Google's ad teams to think about the potential for such ads, without specifically adding details.

Public Policy is Devilishly Hard Stuff

Public policy success always is harder than you might think, if only because the causal relationships between a policy and an intended out...