Sunday, October 31, 2010

PayPal To Launch Payment Service Using iPhone

Sprint Will be Shutting Down a Network, But it is iDEN

Sprint and Clearwire have been testing Long Term Evolution as an air interface using fallow spectrum. obviously raising questions about whether Sprint Nextel and Clearwire might ditch WiMAX for LTE.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says the only networks that are slated for replacement at some point are Sprint Nextel's legacy networks, ranging from iDEN, used for the Nextel part of the operation, to the older second-generation and third-generation networks Sprint also supports.

LTE isn't necessarily on Sprint's roadmap, Hesse says, though it is conceivable Sprint Nextel might be interested in supporting dual-mode "WiMAX-plus-LTE handsets.

It is a simple fact that each generation of mobile networks gets replaced, about every 10 years, though the transition periods can last longer. Hesse notes that “2G will eventually come to an end; CDMA will come to an end; GSM will come to an end and iDEN will come to an end.”

“Over time, as fewer customers are using our 2G networks, we can use that spectrum for the CDMA/EVDO network.” Even the current iDEN spectrum might eventually be switched over to support CDMA and EVDO on that band of frequencies, especially to support voice services.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Device Demographics Show User Segments

With the caveat that demographics quite often are "blunt" predictors of end user behavior, the Yankee Group says males favor "HTC" devices, while females favor "Google"-branded devices, even when those devices are made by HTC.

Apparently, brand affects hardware preferences.

LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have a decidedly female bias, though it isn't entirely clear why. Devices made by LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are available in a wide range of prices, which could affect purchasing statistics, as 52 percent of all people in the United States are female.

Apple, Nokia, Palm and RIM products are equally attractive to both genders, the Yankee Group says. Despite Apple’s and RIM’s skew toward young buyers, their products appeal almost equally to both genders.

Perhaps the next step for device manufacturers is a more-direct effort to identify lead applications and the design of devices specifically optimized for those apps.

Mobile Needs to Focus on Pipe; Won't Be Much of a Factor in Apps

You would be very hard pressed to find a single mobile executive who actually will say in public that providing "dumb pipe" services is the key to their future prospects. Up to a point, this is correct. Most service providers already are preparing, testing or deploying new services that add new "services" to "access" products.

But there might be clear limits to how much service providers can escape, or should want to escape, their fundamental position in the ecosystem. "Access" is the unique contribution service providers make in the Internet ecosystem and value chain. That does not mean service providers cannot, or should not, attempt to occupy other roles within the ecosystem as well.

But one can question how much success can be found in some of the adjacencies. Most end users won’t need much help from service providers to to discovering and use their preferred Web content on mobile phones and portable computers, says Declan Lonergan, Yankee Group analyst. In other words, there might be limited opportunity in the web apps area.

At the same time, though, dependency on mobile Web access increases as hosted, in-the-cloud services replace on-the-device apps. Perhaps there is more opportunity in focusing on "connectivity" than many believe, including both packaging innovations, quality of service features and integration with wired networks.

Customers’ mobile content and Web experiences will be delivered almost exclusively by others in the ecosystem, regardless of whether consumers are using apps or browsers as their primary means of access.

The issue with some ideas and concepts is that unstated assumptions are associated with the ideas. Service provider executives hear the phrase "peering" and they understand it as "settlement-free" interconnection. That has financial implications entirely distinct from the issue of manner of connection. Service provider executives hear the phrase "dumb pipe" and think "commodity-like, low-margin service."

But "dumb pipe" does not necessarily mean "low margin, lower price, undifferentiated" pipe. "Dumb pipe" might just mean "access."

The point is that service providers now are suppliers of a number of values, including simple access to the Internet and web, as well as other services that are managed. Entertainment video, voice, mobile voice and texting are the primary examples.

Telcos, cable companies and satellite companies cannot escape their place in the ecosystem, which is network access. In addition to access, they provider other services, applications and value as well, but all are built, fundamentally, on access.

As always is the case, participants in any value chain will fight for a bigger share of total profits from the ecosystem. It is no surprise others want "access" to be as affordable as possible, as that is better for the other participants. But "access" is the one, unique, irreplaceable value that service providers supply. Everything else they might do hinges on access.

The Social Media Bubble

Some might argue we are in the middle of a social media bubble, with all that implies for the fortunes of companies and the behavior of end users.

That isn't to say social media is going to vaporize. Like any other "bubble-infected" product, there is real demand. It is just that, in a bubble, there is wasteful over-investment and speculation that is unsustainable. If there is a bubble, and then it bursts, we should expect that the long-term demand will settle back down to a sustainable level.

But people won't be panicked about "needing to be on Facebook or use Twitter" they way they sometimes think they must, today. Some firms will be able to make good use of social media; others will find it works, but in different ways than they currently believe.

The "crazy" thinking will die down and this relatively new set of marketing tools will take their place in the marketing mix. Those who do it right and for the right reasons, will remain. Social media has enabled us to connect with more people both personally and professionally. It has enabled brands to build a certain level of relationship with individuals, and this has changed the face of marketing.

What will come next is a better understanding of how social media enhances most other forms of media and marketing.

Will Tablets Depress Mobile Broadband Sales?

It's too early to tell, but one wonders whether tablet sales actually will depress some amount of mobile broadband data plan sales int he short term, even though logic suggests they will increase demand, long term.

It has become routine over the last two years to hear executives at cable and telecom companies point to the sluggish economy and low housing starts as the reason for similarly stubborn consumer resistance to spending more money on some services.

It looks like nothing has changed since the start of 2009. That's significant because it suggests consumers are making deliberate choices in spending on tablets that basically come down to funding tablet purchases by not spending elsewhere in the household budgets. 

It might only be slight issue at the moment, or a near term issue, but one wonders whether a shift to Wi-Fi-using mobile devices is beginning to lessen demand for smartphones, higher-end smartphones and data plans. And, if so, the related question is whether the substitution is just a temporary issue.

Most reports seem to suggest that most iPads, for example, are Wi-Fi units, not 3G-connected. If tablet popularity grows, and at this point it seems to be growing, then more discretionary end user income could be shifted to device purchases and reliance on Wi-Fi, and away from smartphone data plans or PC dongles.

It won't take a user long to figure out that he or she can buy an iPad for about 10 months worth of a 3G mobile data plan costing $60 a month, or an Android tablet for the equivalent of 10 months of smartphone service at $30 a month.

For many users, that will be a trade off that seems logical, since at least half of all iPad use seems to occur at home, where most people have Wi-Fi, while perhaps 10 percent to 25 percent takes place at work, where there often is Wi-Fi. It does not appear that many people actually use their iPads "in transit."

Long term, one suspects tablet ownership will increase appetite for, and use of, mobile broadband services. Ironically, such demand might also lessen appetite for sizable smartphone data plans. Some users might conclude that a Mi-Fi type service, which can supply Wi-Fi for a tablet, smartphone and notebook, all at once, works well enough.

Friday, October 29, 2010

YouTube: 1 Billion Subscriptions

YouTube says it now has more than a billion subscriptions to YouTube channels, used by business as well as consumer entities.

To make it easier, YouTube has developed a new widget that any video-maker can embed on a website or blog. It lets people subscribe to a YouTube channel with a single click, without having to leave the website site to log into YouTube or confirm a subscription. The entire process happens in the widget.

You can embed the code below into the source code of your website or blog, in the same way you embed a YouTube video.

Sprint Benefits from iPad

Sprint doesn't sell the iPad, nor does it have the right to sell 3G connections for iPads. Nevertheless, Sprint says it is benefitting from demand for Apple’s device. The reason is that most iPads seem to be of the Wi-Fi-only variety, and that means a wireless hotspot service adds value.

Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel chief executive officer says Sprint Nextel has seen an uptick in demand for its "Overdrive MiFi" wireless-hotspot device, as people use it to connect their iPads to the Internet when on the go.

Google Maps On Android: Key Location Based Service

"The combination and integration of Google Maps, Places Pages, Street View and Navigation (with the phone and contacts) has created a kind of LBS juggernaut on the Android device that will increasingly prove challenging to compete with," says Greg Sterling, a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land.

Right now, no such combination of services exists on the iPhone, which makes it a more “open” playing field for location-based services and local publishers, he argues.

"I use the Google services on my Evo almost exclusively now to find local information and directions," says Sterling. "And yesterday Google updated Maps for Android to make Place Pages on the device look and operate more like Places on the PC."

I'd have to agree that the navigation and mapping features of the Evo are the top reason the Evo has value, though I would rank "voice search" number two.

How Is Desktop Videoconferencing Used?

At the moment, it appears that enterprise workers who use desktop videoconferencing are mostly the same people who used any other form of room-based technology, at least so far, Forrester Research analyst T.J. Klett says.

"We find that while 29 percent of workers use videoconferencing technology, only 15 percent have access to desktop video technology.

\The bulk of those using this tool are not the rank-and-file, but the managers and executives who have historically been the users of videoconferencing services.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Broadband stimulus flows disproportionately to Commerce Committee members

Over 40 percent of stimulus funds that the Commerce Department doled out for broadband went to or was shared by districts represented by House Energy and Commerce Committee members, according to an analysis by Communications Daily. The committee oversees telecom issues.

That's despite the fact that these members only make up 14 percent of the House, the analysis said. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) records show that committee members' districts took in all or part of nearly $1.9 billion in grants, the report said.

The committee members whose districts were awarded the the most funding were Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) with $128 million, Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) with $128 million, George Radanovich (R-Calif.) with $128 million, Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) with $123 million and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) with $115 million, according to the report, which drew from grant descriptions posted on the NTIA website.

Net neutrality: Job-killing zombie

Imposing net neutrality could reduce broadband expansion and cost the U.S. economy upwards of 300,000 jobs, according to a new Phoenix Center study.

Just a 10 percent decline in IT infrastructure investment, Brett Swanson of Entropy Economics found, could eliminate 502,000 jobs and $62 billion in gross domestic product growth. This is a price that the U.S. economy cannot afford.

Slight Dip in Consumer Satisfaction with Broadband Access Services

Overall customer satisfaction with residential high-speed Internet service providers has decreased slightly from 2009 due to declines in satisfaction with cost of service and offerings and promotions, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

The study finds that overall satisfaction with residential high-speed Internet service averages 634 on a 1,000-point scale, a decrease of five index points from 2009.

The study also finds that customer satisfaction with cost of service averages 584 in 2010, a 12-point decrease from 596 in 2009. Contributing to this decline are decreases in satisfaction with fairness of prices paid and ease of understanding pricing options.

“Although product performance is most important in retaining customers, the top reason they switch providers is cost-related,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates.

It isn't always clear how such "satisfaction" ratings affect customer propensity to churn, though. Some products just never seen to be seen as providing high value and reasonable price. Airline service comes to mind. But most consumers are happy with broadband. See

Moms text at home, use apps outside the home

We have a tendency to think of some products as "commodities." Even when that characterization is correct in some ways, it very often is not completely correct, with some important potential marketing implications.

Unless I completely miss my guess, I'd say the "Droid" and "Evo" probably appeal mostly to men, for example.

My unscientific sample suggests the typical first impression some women have is that the Droid and Evo are "heavy," the implication being that neither is a device  would prefer to carry and use.

The point, whether the characterization is mostly right, or not, is that user segments likely exist that service and app providers, as well as device manufacturers, have only begun to assess and design around. To be sure, a smartphone is a multi-purpose device. But most people have lead apps that are more important than most others, and could create opportunities to differentiate the end user experience.

Time Warner Cable Tells Subs How to Cut Cord

Though it is Cablevision Systems Corp. that now is feuding with Fox over the cost of programming, the temporary content blackout is not unprecedented. Time Warner Cable has had its own programming cost disputes, and produced this video to show its customers how to connect their PCs to their TVs to watch content online, during the blackout.

Cablevision is doing the same at the moment. It's ironic, though.

Mobile Users Prefer Browsers over Apps

Although about a third of U.S. mobile phone subscribers used a downloaded application in August, according to comScore, and app downloads have shown impressive growth, many mobile device users appear to think browsers offer the better user experience.

Mobile users polled by Keynote Systems for Adobe reported a preference for mobile browsers to access virtually all mobile content. Games, music and social media were the only categories in which users would rather use a downloaded app than browse the mobile web.

YouTube's Promoted Videos Program Hits 500 Million Views

YouTube’s "Promoted Videos" program hit a major milestone this month, hitting half a billion views. This figure certainly lends more credence to recent conjectures that the video-sharing site might, in fact, be starting to generate significant revenue, if not profits, for Google.

Think about Twitter's "Promoted Tweets" and you will get the idea.

The Promoted Videos program launched two years ago, and, according to the YouTube blog, has seen a six-fold increase in viewers clicking on these creator-sponsored vids in the past year (advertisers basically pay to have these videos appear in search results, on the YouTube homepage and on video pages).

Google exec: Android was “best deal ever”

Buying Android Inc., the wireless-software startup founded by Andy Rubin, was Google’s “best deal ever,” said David Lawee, vice president of corporate development at the search giant.

Google acquired Android in 2005 for an undisclosed price which has been estimated at $50 million.

Microsoft Says Tablets Are Not A Threat to PCs

Microsoft CFO Peter Klein says he is “confident” that the rise of tablets will expand the market for PCs, saying he was “enthusiastic about our opportunity” and insisting that consumers will continue to turn to Windows for “choice and value.”

Executives also said that to date they had not seen a “material” shift from low-end PCs to tablets. Some will not agree with Klein or Microsoft, but so far the iPad might be a new device category, rather than a full replacement for a PC. What might happen later, when early adopter market is satiated, and tablets start to be available at lower cost, in different configurations, remains to be seen.

Some light users who rely on email and ebook reading might find a tablet a perfectly workable substitute.

Appcelerator, PayPal Team for Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce is a huge business opportunity because, at least in the United States, there is not much infrastructure to support it, though that appears to be changing fast. One example is Appcelerator's recent integration with PayPal, which will allow smartphone apps to use PayPal more easily as a mobile payment mechanism.

Now iPhone, Android and iPad developers using the paid version of the company’s Titanium framework get the ability to conduct mobile commerce.

Virgin Media Prepares for 100 Mbps Service Launch

Virgin Media has announced the rollout timetable of its 100 Mbps broadband access service, which will priced between £35 a month (about $56) when bought in a bundle, or just £45 per month (about $72) when bought as a stand-alone product.

The 100 Mbps service will go on sale from December.

The average download speed in the United Kingdom was 5.2Mbps in May 2010, up from 4.1Mbps in April 2009. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of U.K. residential broadband connections had a headline speed of above 10Mbps in May 2010, compared to eight percent in April 2009, according to Ofcom, the U.K. communications regulator.

Why Don't All Users Buy the Broadband Equivalent of a Lexus?

Faster is better, where it comes to broadband. But so is a Lexus, right? But there's a reason we have vehicles in all sizes, optimized for different applications, at different price points.

We do different things with vehicles, and for most of us, money is not unlimited. Were it not so, perhaps most people would drive a Lexus. If one assumes there is very little a single cannot do with 15 Mbps, then a family can well benefit from 50 Mbps, if it believes it will have three or four users online, all at the same time, all watching video at the same time.

Lots of households will find that overkill, at least for the moment. In some cases, users can buy 50 Mbps service from Comcast, for about $100 a month. That's a better deal than $145 a month. But the issue for many users will be how much those users really want to spend for service, when they are paying their own money.

Just for Fun: Time Traveler Using Mobile Phone in 1928 Chaplin Film

Just because we all need a break from serious pursuits....

Mobile Gmail Now "Feels" More Like an App

Google has improved the performance of Gmail on an iPhone, suggesting that the performance gap between native mobile apps and web apps will grow smaller over time.

The new improvements make scrolling faster. In fact scrolling speed seems to match swipe gestures. This is helpful for long conversations where a few quick flicks will get you to the information you need much faster than before.

Also, toolbars stay on screen while users are scrolling, rather than moving down after each scroll. Being able to access toolbars from any point on the page should make it easier to triage email and move around the app.

Aro Mobile Launches in Beta, Unifies Mobile Contact, Social, Email Information

Aro Mobile , a mobile application now in beta mode, aims to simplify mobile use by unifying information stored in the mobile that relate to people and contacts. It's another example of consumer "unified communications" that illustrates why it has been harder than many thought for business-oriented UC solutions to take root: there are lots of ways to unify specific parts of the communication environment, without unifying "everything."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Accelerating Hosted PBX Services

Steve Gleave talks about accelerating sales of hosted PBX services

Many service providers I talk to would often prefer their sales teams to sell hosted PBXs over premises based alternatives. But the reality is that market adoption for hosted business services can be hindered by sales strategies, pricing models and marketing pitches that don't stack up when compared next to premises-based solutions.

If this is your dilemma you may find that:

* your existing sales teams are too familiar with premises PBXs' familiar features, benefits, and pricing
* there is a much stronger organisational structure built to sell and support in-house PBXs than for hosted services
* individual salespeople have deep, field-level relationships with PBX vendors, many of which provide sales incentives
* general suspicion towards hosted PBX as an inferior product.

Verizon Business Adds Global Managed Ethernet Services

Verizon Business is expanding its Managed Services portfolio with the addition of "Global Managed Ethernet." Now, multinational organizations can use Verizon Ethernet services in a managed network environment containing just those services, or in combination with other network services for a complete end-to-end, global managed network solution.

New managed offerings include Ethernet Private Line Service, Ethernet Virtual Private Line Service and Virtual Private LAN Service. Customers who employ Private IP Layer 2 will also be able to choose a managed service.

'For the first time, our customers can combine the power of MPLS and Ethernet in a fully managed end-end-to-end global networking solution,' said Anthony Recine, vice president of networking and communications solutions for Verizon Business. 'Together our Private IP and Ethernet services deliver an ideal business communications platform to handle big-bandwidth applications in a similar fashion, no matter where they are located around the world.'

These managed services support a variety of applications including VoIP, storage and business continuity, large file transfers, distance learning, content delivery and unified communications.

10% of Mobile Users Check Social Network Status Daily

Social networking is a logical and growing activity for mobile phone users, especially those with smartphones, but also feature phone users to an extent. That said, 73 percent of respondents to a recent Forrester Research survey say they "never" use social networks on their phones, reflecting the relatively small percentage of smart phones in the installed base.

That's one reason about half of users say they never use mobile apps, either. Most phones being used today do not support app downloads.

Average Fixed Line Broadband Connection Represents 15 Gbytes a Month of Demand

The average fixed-line broadband connection generates 14.9 GBytes of Internet traffic per month, up from 11.4 GBytes per month in 2009, an increase of 31 percent, Cisco Systems says, in its latest "Visual Networking Index." As you might expect, video consumption is driving the growth.

In North America, nearly 60 percent of the top 100 sites for the last year were video and gaming sites. Video streaming and downloads (including gaming), social networking, and software updates dominate the top 10 sites in North America. Approximately 29 percent of the traffic from the top 100 sites in this region comes from the top 10 sites.

see the full results here

$1 Billion Mobile Video Calling Market in 2015

In-Stat projects mobile video calling revenue will exceed $1 billion by 2015, and also expects "Facetime," the iPhone 4 app for video calling, will be among the key drivers.

In-Stat predicts the number of mobile video calling users will grow at a 115 percent compound annual growth rate through 2015, with Asia/Pacific consumers representing 53 percent of the mobile video calling minutes used by 2015.

Apple, Fring, OoVoo, Qik and Skype are among firms In-Stat believes will be driving the usage. By 2015, mobile video calling will result in over 9 petabytes in data traffic in North America.

Tough Christmas Selling Season for Consumer Electronics is Forecast

The 2010 Christmas selling season for consumer electronics isn't looking so good, says Stephen Baker, NPD Group VP, at least from the retailer and manufacturer standpoint. Pricing levels continue to flatten, so average selling prices are flat.

Consumers have come to expect 20 percent to 25 percent price declines every year, so small movements of five percent or less are unlikely to inspire them to rush into the stores and buy.

The other issue is that consumers are in the midst of technology "refresh" cycles. Just half of all flat-panel TV purchases are now made by first-time buyers. And more than 80 percent of the notebook installed base was less than three years old at the time of NPD’s Household Penetration survey earlier in 2010.

With the possible exception of Apple's iPad and other new tablets, there does not seem to be some compelling new application or device to prompt a big upsurge in buying, Baker suggests.

Also, the 2010 Christmas selling season will face tough comparisons with the 2009 holiday season. In 2009, categories such as flat-panel TVs saw 25 percent sales increases, and notebooks were up twice that amount. It always is tougher to show current period growth when the comparison is to an earlier period with robust sales growth.

The exception will be the iPad and tablets, in all likelihood.

NPD’s research also indicates worsening consumer sentiment. "Consumers who were considering just cutting back on  purchases are now not planning to buy anything at all," says Baker.

read more here

US Companies Have $1 Trillion, But Won’t Spend It

U.S. enterprises are hoarding cash, Moody's reports. Enterprises now collectively hold about $1 trillion in cash, and 20 firms hold about a third of the amount. These include Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle and Apple. Enterprises are hanging onto their cash in case another economic downturn is in the offing, and in part because economic growth is so sluggish at the moment.

The size of those cash hoards also partly explains why job creation has been so sluggish. Smaller companies can't get credit and large companies have cash but won't invest it.

Gadgets Account for 15% of Home Energy Use

According to the International Energy Agency, electronic devices currently account for 15 percent of household electricity consumption.

Energy consumed by information and communications technologies as well as consumer electronics will double by 2022 and triple by 2030 to 1 700 Terawatt hours, equal to entire total residential electricity consumption of the United States and Japan in 2009, the IEA predicts.

Europe has 4.5 Million "Fiber to Home" Customers

Europe now has reached 3.2 million Fiber-to-the-Home) or Fiber-to-the-Building subscribers (nearly 4.5 million if Russia is included) with around 18 million home being passed (26 million including Russia).

That works out to penetration of about 17 percent (percentage of users who buy, compared to the number who can buy). For those of you who think "fiber sells itself," those statistics are sobering. Less than one in five potential FTTH customers actually buys the service, when it is available.

Eastern Europe makes up a large number of these connections with Lithuania still leading, and Slovenia and Slovakia now making up part of the top five countries.

Intel Gets into the "News" Business

Intel now is a content publisher. Intel has launched what it calls the "Free Press," a beta news section on its website that hopes to generate articles that are good enough for professional media outlets to republish. The subject matter is generally related to Intel, or technology generally.

“We are Intel geeks at heart, taking an editorial approach to producing stories with journalistic style and integrity, and doing it as objectively as possible while being transparent about who we work for,” according to a mission statement on the site.

If you think about it, this was always inevitable. The Web now democratizes publishing, music and video. But where most people focus on how this makes "user-generated" content possible, that usually refers to citizens and consumers adding their content.

But in a world where any Web portal is highly accessible to people and companies that want to use them, there is no reason why any single company cannot become the equivalent of its own "media." Where firms used to rely on third parties ("media") to aggregate audiences, and then spend money on advertising to reach those audiences, in today's world firms can simply aggregate audiences directly.

Efforts such as Intel's will be routine, in the future.

Intel Establishes Its Own Free Press - Digits - WSJ (link will open properly if you have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal electronic edition)

iPad is Fastest-Selling Gadget, Ever

According to Bernstein Research financial analyst Colin McGranahan, the iPad has now sold an estimate 8.5 million units and is a "runaway success," perhaps the consumer electronics gadget that has shown the fastest adoption, ever.

Information Week writer Paul McDougall also notes that the iPad is starting to have a measurable effect on PC sales. A recent research study by NPD found that 13 percent of iPad users would have purchased a PC if they hadn't been able to buy an iPad.

Brands Don't Necessarily Benefit From "Lots" of Followers or Fans

The sheer number of "followers" or "fans" a brand has does not seem to impress most users as much as the quality of the interactions, a study finds.

Brands Don't Necessarily Benefit From "Lots" of Followers or Fans

Users Save $2 Billion Each Month by Using Opera?

Use of the Opera Mini browser, which compresses Web data by 90 percent, saves lots of bandwidth, and therefore costs for users of mobile broadband services who pay "by the byte."

Based on the costs of browsing the Web on a mobile phone (on a per MB basis), users in a representative sample of 10 countries save over $802 million per month, or over $9.6 billion per year, Opera says, though it is possible to question that estimate.

Of course, that estimate does not take into account pricing for users who have unlimited-use data plans, though. If you have a flat-rate plan, the compression makes no difference, cost-wise.

Using estimates from typical usage in its sample of 10 countries, Opera estimates that the global cost of browsing is 47 cents per MByte. Based on that figure and the amount of data transferred by Opera Mini users each month, we calculate that Opera Mini users around the world save over $2.2 billion per month, or over $27.4 billion per year.

One can quarrel with the savings estimates, though. Opera assumes a cost of $2 per megabyte for users in the United States. That works out to a cost of $2048 a month for use of 1 gigabyte worth of data. Most users quickly can figure out that they can benefit from an unlimited data plan costing $30 to $60 a month.

At $30 a month, a gigabyte nominally costs just three cents. Perhaps a better way to view the data is that if users purchased their mobile broadband bandwidth using the most-expensive a la carte plans, they might save the money Opera claims. In practice, most users can figure out they need to buy "wholesale rather than retail."

Acer Launching Tablets November 23

Acer CEO Gianfranco Lanci told Dow Jones Newswire that it will be launching its first line of tablet PCs in New York City on November 23rd, priced from $299 to $699 each. That's all the man said, leaving us to speculate on the OS (though Android's been heavily rumored) and whether we're looking at the launch of Acer's 5-, 7-, or 10-inch tablets (or all of the above) priced with or without carrier subsidies.

Myspace Morphing: Not a Social Network but a Content Site

Myspace has concluded it cannot compete as a social networking site, and is shifting focus to become a entertainment or content, heavy on the social features, for Millennials (basically a twenties audience).

The new Myspace reportedly will emphasize sharing and discovery of music, television, movies, games, videos and photos from within Myspace and from elsewhere. There is also an upcoming new mobile site and better apps for smartphones and tablets..

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

PayPal Bets Its Future on Mobile

These days, what company is not betting on mobile?

Comcast Xfinity Offers Marketing Options, Choices

Comcast's "Xfinity" offering, which allows Comcast video entertainment customers to watch some of that content online, offers some marketing opportunities and might require some choices as well. The packaging--you get online access if you are a Comcast video entertainment customer--is a logical way for Comcast and content owners to preserve the value of the existing distribution relationships while growing a new online business that all parties hope will lead to higher revenues at some point.

There might be decisions needed in the area of bandwidth, though. In allowing users to watch linear content online, using over the top broadband access rather than the traditional linear delivery, Comcast engineers face a bit of a dilemma.

When a single user switches viewing from the linear network to the broadband access network, zero bandwidth is saved on the linear network and new demand is created on the broadband access network. Even if most Comcast cable TV customer stopped watching linear TV, Comcast can save no bandwidth.

On the other hand, Comcast would substitute a one-to-one communication for a one-to-many, point to multipoint distribution mode. The difference is significant. If 200,000 users want to watch a linear program, Comcast essentially delivers a single copy, and all 200,000 can watch, with no bandwidth penalty.

If those same 200,000 customers want to view separately, on demand, Comcast has to deliver 200,000 copies. The problem gets worst with growing scale. So the decision that might have to be made is whether to exempt such offset video viewing from the normal 250 gigabyte per month cap, or include the video within the usage cap limits.

On one hand, if the Xfinity option proves popular, Comcast will face new pressure on its access network, and might like the additional revenue it might earn from selling more-expensive access plans that accommodate the additional usage.

On the other hand, Comcast might face customer push back to higher fees, or less usage of Xfinity by users who fear exceeding their limits.

One way of alleviating those concerns is by exempting Xfinity packets from inclusion in the monthly data allowance. None of that likely will be an issue immediately, as few consumers will watch so much, or already consume so much, that there is any danger of exceeding the monthly caps.

Down the road, if the offering proves popular, Comcast might have to ponder other options. Delivering linear programming in on-demand fashion has value. But it also is bandwidth inefficient. At some point, if the offering proves wildly popular, that additional demand will be quite significant.

What's the Difference Between 50% and 93%?

There's a big difference between 50 percent and 93 percent. The first figure is the percentage of advertised bandwidth the Federal Communications Commission says U.S. ISPs are delivering to their customers.

The second figure (97 percent) is the measured percentage of delivered bandwidth, compared to advertised bandwidth, that U.S. ISPs are delivering to their customers, according to Ookla, considerd by many observers to be the most-accurate monitor of real-world bandwidth experience.

The 97-percent figure includes signaling overhead of three percent, which no Internet access connection can avoid. The difference between the two figures has important ramifications. In the first case, one might make the argument that regulation or voluntary industry guidelines of some sort are required to police ISP marketing claims.

The second figure indicates that there is, in fact, no market failure at all, and that ISPs in the United States are delivering exactly what they claim, in which case there is no need for regulation or industry self policing to a greater extent than already exists.

Ethernet Grows, Frame Relay and ATM Slipping

The U.S. business market for wireline data remained steady with year-over-year average gains of roughly two percent, says In-Stat.  The education vertical is seeing the highest spending gains, while construction is faring the worst growth.  The healthcare and social services vertical market spent $5.5 billion on wireline data services in 2009. Retail and trade will spend over $3 billion on Ethernet services in 2012.

The overall market reflects a spending shift to Ethernet at the expense of both the ATM and frame relay markets, as you might guess. The frame relay market will shrink 57 percent, while Ethernet spending will exceed $18 billion by 2014.

Small business spending will grow at a greater rate over the next five years than any other size of business segment, In-Stat says.

see more here

Google Instant Lifting Google Revenue?

Aside from the fact that many users seem to like it, Google Instant might be boosting Google's ad revenue, increasing search operations and clicks, while advertiser costs might have dipped.

A Marin Software study of Google Instant across a sample of clients that collectively manage over $1.3 billion dollars in annualized paid search spend suggests search users have responded positively to Google Instant. Marin found that overall impressions for paid search ads increased by more than nine percent, while clicks increased by more than five percent.

That suggests people are actually searching and clicking more as a result of Google Instant.

Overall advertiser costs rose by less than two percent for the time period studied as a result of increased click volumes. Despite these increased costs, advertisers have benefitted from Instant. With average cost-per-click rates falling by over three percent, advertisers are now getting more value for their money as a result of Google Instant, the study suggests.

New Life for Copper Access?

Adtran has developed an "Ultra Broadband Ethernet" access approach that could help telcos upgrade their copper access networks for 100-Mbps and similar service, without the need to completely replace current access networks with fiber-to-home systems, at least in higher-density areas.

So long as fiber is available within about 75 meters of the target locations, a remote optical network terminal supplies a 100BaseT Ethernet signal to each home over twisted-pair copper.

New subscribers would be mailed a gateway box they install themselves; it plugs into a phone jack on one side, and a home gateway or integrated access device on the other.

The ONT would be customer powered from the premises, consuming about 10 watts total, or less when divided by as many as eight locations sharing a single ONT.

Solutions such as UBE can help telcos upgrade their access networks more economically at a time when the business case for a full fiber-to-home solution is challenged by robust competition, uncertain new services payback and declining demand for key legacy services. All of those conditions make the case for a new fiber access network more challenging, as they reduce the potential revenue and take rate for fiber-based services.

SK Telecom Jumps into Software

SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile-phone operator, plans to spend 1 trillion won ($896 million) to develop software for mobile handsets, Bloomberg reports. Apparently, SK Telecom thinks it has to create its own mapping, instant messaging and social networking apps.

Some observers will argue this effort is likely to fail. Neither consumer apps nor software have tended to be areas of extreme competence for telcos or mobile service providers in the past. On the other hand, the Korean market, like many other international markets, does not have the same end user preference patterns as one might see today in the U.S. market.

One might tremble to compete with Facebook or Google in the U.S. market. But those services are not necessarily so entrenched everywhere. SK Telecom might see an opening to move its brand further up the value stack.

The investment, spread over three years starting 2011, will be made mostly in research and development, Chief Executive Officer Jung Man Won says.

Predicting future behavior using analytics: we haven't had the tools until now

Social networks provide rich mines of data that can be used to anticipate the future. We will all have less privacy than we now think we have.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where privacy issues, social network analytics, marketing and user responsibility meet

Analytics can uncover more than you think.

Xfinity TV now available as a "tv everywhere" offering for Comcast subscribers

About 150,000 pieces of content are available as part of the service.

Cius, PlayBook, Flare: tablets aimed at enterprises wanting mobile collaboration

Enterprise gadgets aim to build off existing apps and products in enterprise environment,0

Best Buy offering pre orders for Samsung Galaxy

800 Mbps DSL?

More than a decade ago, a highly-placed technologist at Nortel told me, off the record, that "DSL wouldn't work." Of course, that proved to be incorrect.

But several decades ago, some smart technologists at what was then AT&T Bell Labs also told me it was "impossible" to load 40 discrete linear video channels on a single optical transmitter, as cable operators said they needed.

The point is that technological innovation often is possible where the smart guys who know the most are convinced a limit has been reached.

The important thing about 800 Mbps DSL demonstrated in the lab means 100 Mbps using DSL in the real world should be feasible, without a complete telco network upgrade to fiber-to-the-home.

And that, in turn, is crucial in part because it suggests there is a path forward for telco DSL and national broadband plans that call for 100 Mbps speeds, without capital investment that carriers would find difficult to justify.

AdMob Adds Video Interstitial Ads

Android is launching interactive video and interactive interstitial ad units on the Android platform. By identifying the screen resolution, size, and network connection speed, Google says it is able to serve users the optimal viewing experience.

Android Drives Use of Add-on Apps

Android users spend on average 42 minutes every day with add-on applications, like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, and Skype, about 60 percent more than Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Symbian users, a study published by mobile analytics company Zokem indicates.

WiMAX and LTE Aren't "4G," Says ITU

Neither current versions of WiMax nor Long-Term Evolution currently are "4G (fourth-generation)" technologies. according to the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R).

In the future, carriers will have to use "LTE-Advanced" and "WirelessMAN-Advanced" ITU standards. The latter, moreover well known as IEEE 802.16m, will form the basement of WiMax Release 2.

It is doubtful any consumers actually care, or that service providers will stop deploying networks now, using platforms that can upgrade to the full standard, without waiting for full compliance. Markets are moving way too fast for that.

Social Media and Branding

Social media increasingly is seen as an imperative channel for larger brands and companies. Social media also relies heavily on mobile access and devices, so there may well be opportunities for mobile network service providers, not just app providers. 

Mortgaging the Future

Whatever one thinks about the trend, there is a reason the Tea Party movement has grown, even why so much of its leadership and constituency consists of "moms."

Contrary to conventional wisdom that stipulates politics is about self interest, moms and parents tend to be quite sensitive to any threats to their children. And to an under-appreciated extent, the Tea Party is concerned about the future their children will face, not the present circumstances adults now face, as difficult as those circumstances are.

And there are threats for the upcoming generations. Most of us do not question the value of higher education. But there are clear signs the financial returns now are more suspect than has been the case, and that our national commitment to supporting such access is likewise in danger. That has direct implications for social mobility.

"It will take decades to calculate the damage caused by the Great Recession, but there is little doubt that even those lucky enough to have jobs are struggling. For young people starting their careers, that is especially the case."

Two-thirds (65.6%) of undergraduate students in four-year programs graduating in the 2007-2008 school year had some debt, according to The average student loan debt among graduating seniors was $23,186. One quarter borrowed $30,526 or more and one-tenth borrowed $44,668 or more. Graduates of graduate and professional schools often face six figures in debt.

Should the link between higher education and earnings become significantly non-linear, or should costs continue to increase at current rates, children will not have as much potential to change their circumstances as Americans historically have felt was part of the "American Dream."

Some issues are more political than others. But some issues are foundational. The level of pension debt for local and state government, or the value and accessibility of higher education, are among them. Both issues threaten a parents' sense of opportunities for their children. That's a much more powerful motivator of behavior than has been present in American politics for some time, perhaps for the first time in such a palpable way.

Internet TV and The Death of Cable TV

Lots of people believe video distribution is going to change, and the only question is how long it will take. Some think the important thing is the number of alternative venues now available, or which will likely be made available, to view professionally-produced content users now associate with "cable TV."

All you need to know is what the content owners want to do, and when.

The networks aren’t blocking Google TV access to content because Google is uniquely disruptive. They are blocking Google TV access to network content because "web TV" economics likely would be incredibly disruptive to the current business.

Content owners want preservation of existing revenue streams--at least the magnitude of those streams--as "over the top" delivery modes develop. One might question whether that is possible, but there is no question the networks will attempt to maintain the existing business practices to the greatest extent possible.

Cable, for its part, claims the lowest-possible distribution cost, from an end-use standpoint. The objection many users will have is that the cost to deliver programming that is not wanted is not the important metric. What matters is the cost to view only the content any single viewer wants to watch.

The key is what content owners are willing to accept.

Will Car Rentals Be In The Future Of Automaker - 24/7 Wall St.

Business model and industry disruption does not always come from upstarts. Sometimes it can come from established players in the legacy system.

Consider how the world of car driving would change a great deal if vehicle manufacturers began to compete against rental companies, which are the auto companies’ largest customers.

BMW will begin to rent cars in Germany. The luxury manufacturer knows that not everyone can afford an expensive car and that other people do not need to own a car because they drive too infrequently.

Detroit will be tempted to follow BMW’s lead. Car sales in the US have barely recovered from last year, which means that they are at terribly depressed levels compared to 2005 and 2006. American manufactures have slashed their employees and factory operations, but the US market is crowded and new competitors such as Hyundai occasionally are successful at their expense.

U.S. Mobile Ad Forecasts: Take Your Pick

Analysts at Borrell Associates admit they are "shocked" by their own analysis of mobile ad growth in the U.S. market, but stand by their forecasts.

Most other researchers take a more "linear" view.

Most new markets grow in a linear fashion until an inflection point, and then growth goes parabolic.

The issue is how soon an inflection point is reached. Borrell Associates obviously believes we are closer to an inflection point than nearly all other observers.

see more here

Mark Cuban Warns of Sharply Higher Broadband Access Fees

Count Mark Cuban as among those who expects broadband access fees to grow significantly as video streaming becomes a mainstream business model and experience.

Ironically, those fee increases will occur as operators have to provision lots more bandwidth and as users begin to cut back on legacy distribution such as cable TV, satellite TV or telco TV subscriptions.

"Expect your Internet bills to go way way up as ISPs make it clear that all this video over the internet is going to require billions in upgrades," says Cuban. "The irony is that while you may not like paying for cable channels you don’t watch, you will end up paying for cable channels on the Internet that you don’t watch as well."

"In this case you will be paying via higher net bills for the extra bandwidth required to stream cable channels that your neighbors like to watch," Cuban argues.

One might argue that is a good thing for service providers, as it will allow them to raise rates in a business where rates generally have dropped. It arguably will help access providers rebuild their business models from services based on voice or multichannel video entertainment.

The issue is that consumers likely will stubbornly resist such rate increases, especially if they keep shifting expenditure into wireless services. Not to mention a bigger version of a broadband problem ISPs have faced for some time.

Many ISPs have found that profit margins on broadband services do not scale in a linear way: prices per Mbps of service produce slimmer profit as the amount of bandwidth provisioned increases.

Also, the incremental revenue from investing in lots more access bandwidth is likely to be slim to non-existent. Cable operators will have to boost capacity to provide broadband-based video, even as they lose revenue from legacy video services.

Telcos faced a variant of this problem when they upgraded to broadband, and found that entertainment video was the only big "new" service they could offer, as the older copper network worked fine, or well enough, for voice and broadband access.

Ray Ozzie on Cloud Computing's Implications

"Whether in the realm of communications, productivity, entertainment or business, tomorrow’s experiences and solutions are likely to differ significantly even from today’s most successful apps," says Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.

"Tomorrow’s experiences will be inherently trans-media and trans-device," he says. "They’ll be centered on your own social and organizational networks."

"For both individuals and businesses, new consumption and interaction models will change the game," Ozzie says. "It’s inevitable."

To deliver what is required, specifically new levels of coherence across apps, services and devices, lots of innovation will happen to occur in the user experience, the interaction model, authentication model, user data and privacy model, policy and management model, programming and application model.

If you wonder why tier-one service providers think cloud computing is important, all this is why.

Endpoint evolution in the enterprise

Dave Michels illustrates enterprise endpoint evolution.

Phones: How good an endpoint?

Not so good, says Dave Michels.

Think Seriously About a Post-PC World, Ray Ozzie Says

"It’s important that all of us do precisely what our competitors and customers will ultimately do: close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like, if it were to ever truly occur," says Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, who has just announced his resignation.

"How would customers accomplish the kinds of things they do today? In what ways would it be better? In what ways would it be worse, or just different?," Ozzie says everyone must ask.

Whatever happens, the future is likely to include approaches that attack the complexity that now characterizes the PC-based computing model.

And make no mistake, Ozzi believes "we’re moving toward a world of cloud-based continuous services and appliance-like connected devices."

Continuous services are websites and cloud-based agents that are constantly assimilating and analyzing data from both a user's real and online worlds.

Tomorrow’s devices will be relatively simple and fundamentally appliance-like by design. They will be instantly usable, interchangeable, and trivially replaceable without loss. A world of content – both personal and published – is streamed, cached or synchronized with a world of cloud-based continuous services.

"Many years ago when the PC first emerged as an alternative to the mini and mainframe, the key facets of simplicity and broad approachability were key to its amazing success," Ozzie says. "If there’s to be a next wave of industry reconfiguration – toward a world of internet-connected continuous services and appliance-like connected devices – it would likely arise again from those very same facets."

Windows Phone 7 Review: "Enticing," "Unfinished"

While it is superficially an enticing interface, whose appearance certainly distinguishes it from every other platform out there, the key problem with Windows Mobile 7 is the lack of information density, Charles Arthur, Guardian technology editor, says.

No matter what the screen size, you don't get many tweets, or emails, or just words on there, he says.

At first it's relaxing, he says, but over time, the lack of information density will make scrolling through long lists of apps tedious, and reading chunked information (such as Facebook and Twitter) exhausting.

Those issues can't be sorted without an overhaul of the interface, he says. If you want a lengthy review of Windows Mobile 7, with lots of comments from readers, this is worth reading.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thanks To Social Networks, Americans Feel More Connected to People

We can debate the issue of whether people are spending less time "face to face," and what that might mean. It is harder to argue about the subjectively perceived value. People do think they are more connected.

A business built around online copy and paste

I think there's something to this. You might argue that people already use related sharing, rating or comment apps. But this approach potentially creates lots more analytical value, essentially surfacing content communities and making them more visible.

It's sort of a content version of "people who bought this also bought" or "people who liked this might also like" but bridging both consumer and producer parts of a content community.

A Whole New Way of Looking at Augmented Reality

A humorous look at augmented reality, using subtraction rather than addition, which is the normal way we think about augmented reality application.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Starbucks Wi-Fi Usage Shows Dramatic Increase in Mobile Usage

Starbucks CIO Stephen Gillett says laptop usage in the company's stores is flat, or even slightly declining, and that mobile usage is on fire and growing a great percentage every month.

Gillett also said that iDevices from Apple are used more in its stores than any others. How important is that? Well, Gillett wanted to use Flash on the social network, but there wasn’t any way he could because of Apple's  refusal to support Flash. So Starbucks built its system using HTML 5.

In other words, the new Starbucks Digital Network is going to be optimized for mobile devices rather than PCs, and for HTML5-authored content.

Netflix testing $7.99 and $8.99 streaming-only plans

Netflix now is offering streaming-only plans in the U.S. market, for prices that seem to range from $7.99 to $8.99, or $9.99 if users want physical disc access as well.

Google plays cross platform in competition with Apple

Sprint to Create Own Mobile App Store

Sprint is going to create its own mobile app store, working with Openwave to develop applications running on devices using the Sprint network. The apps will be operating system agnostic, meaning apps at one store will run on the various operating systems Sprint supports, including Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Android, for example.

What's "King" These Days?

People always can reasons to debate whether "content," "distribution" or "context" is king. Perhaps nobody yet is seriously arguing that "location" or "presence" or "social connections" or "mobility" is king, but one can predict that somebody will make those arguments.

One of the debates which slowly is growing, though, is over "openness" and "curated" approaches to end user experience. It would be too easy to say Apple is the foremost proponent of curation ("closed") while Android, Chrome and Firefox are examples of openness.

It might be more accurate to say the trend to curation is growing, across all platforms. You might think of curation as a culling, optimizing or editing process, where apps and software are optimized and filtered. Apple always has done this to optimize end user experience. But app stores, both mobile and soon Web app stores, also are curated environments, to a greater or lesser extent.

In Mozilla's view, for example, the open Web is the way to create rich applications, while Apple takes the opposite approach. In Apple's case, the company plans to create a new Mac Apps Store containing software expressly optimized for Apple devices and the Mac OS X operating system.

Apple plans to curate significantly, rejecting buggy apps, betas, apps built with Java, apps with Easter eggs, apps that aggregate content, apps that duplicate Apple's own apps, apps that contain pornography, violence, promote drinking and drugs, for example.

Mozilla Foundation is taking an entirely different approach for its new "OPen Web Apps" store. Designed around a "use any browser" approach, the idea is create a store that allows creation of Web apps that work in any modern desktop or mobile browser (Firefox 3.6 and later, Firefox for mobile, Internet Explorer 8, Chrome 6, Safari 5, Opera 10 and WebKit mobile).

Consider the Mozilla initiative an example of the "write once, run many" approach to software. In Mozilla's vision, apps are designed to run independently of operating system or hardware. See for more detail.

Open Web Apps will use HTML, CSS and JavaScript and will supoprt installation to a mobile or desktop Web browser, or to a native OS desktop or mobile home screen.

Open Web Apps will use existing identity systems like OpenID and support portable purchases, meaning that an app purchased for one browser works in other browsers, and across multiple desktop and mobile platforms without repurchase. Think iTunes and you have an example of the difference between the Mozilla and Apple approaches.

Open Web Apps will support access to one or more advanced or privacy-sensitive capabilities such as geolocation on a user opt-in basis.

In Mozilla's view, apps must be distributed by developers directly to users without any gatekeeper, and available through multiple stores, allowing stores to compete on customer service, price, policies, app discoverability, ratings, reviews and other attributes.

Open Web Apps will be able to receive notifications from the cloud, and support deep search across apps. In other words, apps can implement an interface that enables the app container (generally the Web browser) to provide the user with a cross-app search experience that links deeply into any app that can satisfy the search.

In essence, the debate over curated and open approaches is a preference for, or against, gatekeepers. But the emergence of new app stores, already announced by Google, Apple and Mozilla, should change the software development business in some key ways. Web apps should grow in popularity, and make more rapid development of lower-cost apps and lower-volume apps available in substantial quantity, as app store publishing will cost a lot less than traditional shrink-wrapped apps store in physical and online retail stores. See for more detail.

About the only safe statement is that all the traditional arguments about openness and curated approaches, including the issue of gatekeepers, are going to heat up again as the web app store trend gets established.

Watch a Mozilla video about the new Web Apps Store here:

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Look at Google TV

A look at Google TV. using the Logitech set-top.

Startups: When Desperation Leads to Success

Angel investor Mike Maples talks in this video about "pivots," those gut-wrenching, desperate changes in business model that entrepreneurs sometimes make when things really aren't going well. Sometimes a beloved idea has to be abandoned or modified in serious ways to get to a larger business.

Pivots are really hard and painful to do, without a doubt. They aren't planned, they weren't intended or foreseen. But sometimes it is the difference between huge success and middling along. Pivots also are risky. They are emotionally hard to do, since it often means abandoning a dream.

New Android "Gingerbread" Coming Relatively Soon?

The video apparently means a new version of Android is coming in perhaps several weeks.

How Big a Market for 3D TV?

There's always a chicken-and-egg problem when new video devices, supporting new video formats, are introduced.

Devices are useful when there is lots of content available, but lots of content isn't made available until there is a large installed base of terminals.

That isn't going to be any different with 3D television. DisplaySearch thinks those problems will be overcome over time, and they have been in the past for new content formats.

The firm forecasts that 3.2 million 3D TVs will be shipped in 2010, with growth to over 90 million in 2014. Based on this forecast, 3D will grow from two percent of all flat panel TVs shipped in 2010, to 41 percent in 2014.

Some of us wouldn't be surprised if those forecasts fell short, though. The 3D experience imposes new conditions on television viewing, which is among the easiest of all consumer content experiences. There is value, at least for some viewers. The issue is how much new value, compared to the higher cost.

If I had to guess, right now, I'd say the adoption forecast is too steep. 

What is Hulu Worth?

Finding the right price for a monthly video service is tough because it depends on three things: 1) the range of content available, 2) the availability of substitutes for that content, and 3) how convenient the experience is.

Pricing Hulu at $10 assumes that the value of number one can overcome the issues raised by number two and three. Does it?

Among the Hulu Plus substitutes is Hulu itself, since most of the Hulu Plus content is available on Hulu itself for free.

The additional content a user can get from Hulu Plus arguably does not provide enough additional value, and the ads tend to degrade the "convenience."

Hulu's big draw remains its first-run TV shows. But $10 will buy an awful lot of Netflix movie content, sometime soon.

Brand Management in the Social Era

Forrester Research believes that online experiences of the future will be "customized by the end user, aggregated at the point of us, relevant to the device and to the moment, and social as a rule."

All of that has implications for brands, not the least of which is that brands increasingly are experienced on a screen, ranging from smartphone to tablet to PC to TV.

Customized, aggregated, relevant and social also means it will be increasingly easy for the brand experience to include third-party information such as comparative prices, user reviews and other information that can reinforce or weaken a brand promise.

And that sort of thing is difficult to shape and control over the full range of social mechanisms that already exist, not to mention what will increasingly exist in the future. All of that is just a way of noting that brands genuinely have lost control of their brands.

It used to be that a firm could shape and control its end user and prospect touch points. These days, those touch points include comments shared by customers all over the Web. Brand management therefore has to actively include all the major ways people talk to each other on the Web.

That is every bit as hard as it sounds.

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...