Saturday, December 31, 2011

Apple iPhone Gets 66% Share at AT&T Retail Stores

AT&T Device Share from 12/1/2011 to 12/27/2011It looks like the Apple iPhone dominated sales of devices at AT&T stores in December 2011. Apple iPhone rules at AT&T

Cable Bills "Tripled" in 10 Years?

The problem with measuring price changes for all sorts of products is that, quite often, products change. That can lead to an "apples to oranges" comparison that actually misses the mark. One might argue that such misunderstandings are inevitable, now that SNL Kagan has produced figures arguing that the "average cable bill" has grown from about $40 a month in 2001 to $78 in 2011.

There are a couple of obvious issues. Those are nominal prices, not adjusted for inflation. Using a rough rule of thumb about prices doubling every decade, a $40 inflation-adjusted price in 2001 would be about $80 in 2011, which is about what SNL Kagan says is the case.

Beyond that, there is the other problem also experienced by PC suppliers, namely that performance increases are not captured by the retail sales data. The 2011 channel line-up is, generally speaking, much more extensive than in 2001.

Whether that actually provides value for end users is another question. But the "product" itself is different. Also some will compare the "total bill" for all services in 2001 with the total monthly bill in 2011, and argue for a "tripling" of bills. That also is erroneous.

In 2001 arguably few subscribers were buying triple-play packages of voice, video and data. In 2011 that was more the norm than the exception. So the price for a three-service package is compared to what essentially was a one-service package in 2001. 

One easily can argue that nominal cable retail prices have climbed. But it also is true that consumers are buying a different mix of "products," including high-definition services and devices, digital video recorder service and service at more outlets, for example. Cable bills


A Tablet Christmas

If you based your conclusions on Apple and Android activations, Christmas day was "tablet and smart phone day," according to Flurry data. Apple iOS, Android activations

It would be reasonable to assume that the Kindle Fire represented much of that activity. Amazon says it sold more than four million Kindles during the month of December, for example. That means 59 percent of activation events could have been for the Kindle Fire alone. 

iOS and Android new device activations, Christmas 2011

No Killer App for Verizon LTE?

One year after its launch, Verizon Wireless's 4G LTE network has failed to capture the imagination of the cell phone-buying masses, who still prefer the slower-connecting Apple iPhone by large margins, argues Paul Kapustka of Sidecut Reports.

With data-download speeds up to 10 times faster than previous technologies, it might seem that Verizon's "fourth generation," or 4G wireless network, would be a hot commodity in a mobile device-crazed world, says Kapustka.

But lack of a compelling new "4G-only" application is one possible reason why Verizon had sold fewer than 2 million 4G LTE-capable smart phones during the first nine months of 2011. he argues. Some of us also would argue that 3G is quite good enough for most smart phone users, at the moment.

By way of comparison, more than four million people bought the new Apple iPhone 4S the first weekend it went on sale, from Verizon as well as from AT&T and Sprint, Kapustka argues.

But we should not underestimate sales, either. Verizon sold more than a quarter-million units of its first 4G LTE phone, the HTC ThunderBolt, in just two weeks after its mid-March 2011debut. Those sales arguably were made to “early adopters” who had a reason to buy.

No Significant Cord Cutting Yet, But Maybe Serious Cord Avoidance

You can typically get a good argument about the imminent danger of video cord cutting (people giving up their entertainment video subscriptions) just about any day. Lots of observers warn about people substituting online and other sources for their TV and movie viewing, but a substantial number also would argue that there is a relatively insignificant amount of that sort of activity at the moment.

So far, the numbers seem to be on the side of doubters. Keeping matters in perspective, Comcast Corp., lost 442,000 video subscribers in the first nine months of 2011, fewer than in the same period last year. But Comcast also has about 22.4 million video customers and 49.4 million accounts if you include buyers of Comcast voice and high-speed broadband products.

Time Warner Cable Inc. lost 319,000 over the same period, according to the Wall Street Journal. Losing cable customers

But at the end of the third quarter of 2011, Time Warner Cable had 11.7 million video customers and 26.2 milliion buyers of its video, voice or broadband products.

Also, losses at cable companies are mostly defections of customers to rival satellite or telco providers, rather than outright defections from the ranks of video service providers. So the actual amount of abandonment arguably remains fairly low. No Significant Cord Cutting Yet, But Maybe Serious Cord Avoidance - Carrier Evolution

Friday, December 30, 2011

Verizon says LTE outages are IMS related

Recent multiple outages on the new Verizon Long Term Evolution network were caused by software bugs in the IMS core, according to Verizon Wireless VP of network engineering Mike Haberman. Verizon says IMS is culprit behind LTE outages

All three outages were caused by problems in Verizon’s service delivery core, the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) which is used for signaling on the LTE network.

While IMS has been around for some time, Verizon’s is the first implementation in an LTE network and it has continued to be a problem spot ever since April 2011, when a software bug originating deep within the IMS core led to a complete failure, kicking LTE customers off both Verizon’s 3G and 4G networks nationwide.

Verizon to Charge Customers $2 Fee, NOT

Verizon Wireless, in an apparently ill considered move, announced and then rescinded a plan that would have added a $2 surcharge whenever customers made one-time credit care payments using either online or voice customer service channels. Verizon to Charge Customers $2 Fee When Paying Bills Online

Virtually immediate consumer opposition, plus the apparent dislike of the move at the Federal Communications Commission, lead Verizon to withdraw the plan soon after it was announced.

The plan, which would have begun January 15, 2012, would have applied to customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mobile Payment Value Elusive, So Far

One common assumption about using mobile devices in a "wave and pay" application is that such alternate ways of paying for retail and other transactions necessarily will "cost retailers less" than existing methods such as paying by credit card or debit card, providing a business model for retailer adoption.

Specifically, there is some hope or expectation that retailers might be charged less money for each transaction than they now pay for supporting credit card payments. The transaction fee of about 3.5 percent is the typical target.

So far, these hopes have proven difficult. In fact, though many observers would note problems, debit card fees recently have been slashed by the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial services reform law, and not by any change in technological method. Debit card issuers have lost revenue, retailers have gotten lower transaction fees, but issuers still will have to make up the lost revenue some way, by raising other fees, cutting costs, or both.

Beyond that, in many cases, alternative methods, including putting charges on cell phone monthly statements, or alternative methods such as Square, actually do not save money, or even cost more than using credit card payments. Mobile money and transaction fees

Common expectations about value for end users likewise have proven elusive, to date. One advantage of "wave and pay" is the time savings. At some point, with volume deployment and consumer experience, that will be true. Right now, it is arguably the case that consumer inexperience means more friction at the point of sale. So even the hoped-for transaction time savings might not be seen, in practice. That will change over time, with greater experience.

Still, the point is that mobile payments, which largely are in early deployment or testing stages, have not yet created an obvious and significant value proposition either for retailers or end users, with the notable exception of the Starbucks mobile payment system. So 2011 was not the "year of mobile payments," nor will 2012 be that year. There will be significant progress, though.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Facebook was Made for Mobile

Sometime in the last couple of days, the monthly active users of Facebook’s mobile apps passed 300 million, says analyst Benedict Evans.

That is 37.5 percent of the 800 million total monthly active users Facebook disclosed in September 2011, when Facebook said there were 350 million monthly active mobile users, making Facebook one of the most mobile-centric online services out there.

Facebook's 300 million app users

"Latency" Issues Not Under Full Service Provider Control

Network service providers can do many things to optimize bandwidth and latency on their networks. But it also is true that networks cannot optimize most end points on their networks, nor can they control peak load.

That means that latency as a problem can be remedied only partially by steps network service providers can take. 

First person shooter games such as Call of Duty rely on low network latency in order to keep pace with players’ reaction times, and can offer a competitive advantage in multiplayer games.

"Hardcore gamers" often recognize latency as a key criterion when selecting their network provider. That, in turn, poses questions for service providers. How gaming is changing the data center

There are some known ways to reduce latency, such as reducing distance packets travel, for example. Beyond that, one might argue that most latency results from the devices and servers used in sessions, which are, by definition, not under the control of a network operator.

Still, minimizing distance packets must travel, or unnecessary protocol conversions, will help improve latency performance. Peak bandwidth demand, on the other hand, has to be approached differently. Adding new capacity, convincing users to regulate their usage or traffic shaping are potential tools in that regard. But adding capacity does not always automatically improve latency performance.

That implies that the techniques used to improve performance of a network under congestion are different from the tools used to manage latency performance. Caching and other techniques that put server resources "closer" to users are one way networks can be designed to minimize latency issues.

But those decisions have to be made by application providers. 

Amazon Gains, Netflix Loses, on Satisfaction Scores

Amazon appears to have made major gains on Netflix in the “customer satisfaction” area, as  Netflix dropped six points (from 85 to 79); while Amazon gained two points to achieve a score of 88, for a net swing of eight percentage points, in ForeSee’s survey of Christmas and holiday period customer satisfaction in December 2011.

The two companies, who have long been together atop the Index, are starting to diverge, signaling a strong year to come for Amazon and a difficult one for Netflix, ForeSee predicts.

The survey data is based on more than 8,500 customer surveys collected during prime holiday shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2011.  Amazon gains, Hulu loses in satisfaction scores

Google+ Surpasses 62 Million Users

Google+ is adding new users at a very rapid pace, and seems to have surpassed 62 million users, according to Paul Allen, who has been estimating Google+ usage since the summer of 2011. 

In the summer of 2011, Google+ users were unusually weighted in the direction of technology, especially software-related job titles. That might be expected for an "early adopter" product.
“Each week my team from elance runs hundreds of queries on various surnames which we have been tracking since July,” he says.  “We revised our model based on the actual user announcements made by Google on July 13th and Oct 13th.” Google+ subscribers
July 13 - 10 million
August 1 - 20.5 million
September 1 - 24.7 million
October 1 - 38 million (Larry Page announced "more than 40m users" on Oct 13th)
November 1 - 43 million
December 1 - 50 million
December 27 - 62 million
January 1 - 65.8 million (forecast)
February 1 - 85.2 million (forecast)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

894 Million Mobile Banking Users by 2015

Mobile banking and related services are expected to grow from 55 million users in 2009 (at a CAGR of 59.2 percent) to reach 894 million users in 2015, according to Berg Insight, The Asia-Pacific region is expected to become the most important market region, accounting for more than half of the total user base. 894 Million Mobile Banking Users by 2015

Monday, December 26, 2011

Are 4G Sales Slow or Not?

What adoption curve will fourth generation mobile networks take, especially the new Long Term Evolution networks? Right now, only one service provider in the United States, Verizon Wireless, has a full year of operation to talk about. 

Of course, Clearwire has been in operation since 2005, but key differences in business model and markets render the comparison inexact.
Clearwire, which mostly has grown on the strength of its WiMAX 4G network, ended the second quarter 2011 with approximately 7.65 million total subscribers, up 365 percent from 1.64 million subscribers in the second quarter 2010. Clearwire subscribers 

But some would note that Clearwire has made significant changes in its business plan, from fixed to mobile, from rural markets to all markets, and from a mix of retail and wholesale to wholesale-only. Along the way, Clearwire also has merged its spectrum with that of Sprint. All of those changes make an "apples to apples" comparison challenging.

So keep in mind that Clearwire had a five year to six year period where its growth was rather measured, not to mention that it began life offering a fixed-only wireless alternative to fixed network broadband. The inflection point for growth didn't come until 2010, when a variety of factors, ranging from Android adoption to overall smart phone growth to arguably better marketing seem to have made a difference.

The Clearwire subscriber base consists of 1.29 million retail subscribers and 6.36 million wholesale subscribers. The key point is that although the analogy is not precise, since Clearwire started out as a fixed network alternative, and only later changed to mobile broadband, early demand might not be reflective of what might have happened if it had focused on mobile broadband, or if Clearwire had been able to focus on mainstream mobile customers rather than largely-rural potential customers.

The initial focus on smaller and more-rural markets would, in and of itself, been the cause of slower growth than a nationwide smart phone mobile service, at a time when smart phone adoption is robust.
One year after its launch, Verizon Wireless's 4G LTE network has failed to capture the imagination of the public, who still seem to prefer the slower-connecting Apple iPhone by large margins, argues Paul Kapustka of Sidecut Reports. Sidecut report

With data-download speeds up to 10 times faster than previous technologies, it might seem that Verizon's "fourth generation," or 4G wireless network, would be a hot commodity in a mobile device-crazed world, says Kapustka.

But lack of a compelling new "4G-only" application is one possible reason why Verizon had sold fewer than two million 4G LTE-capable smart phones during the first nine months of 2011. he argues. Some of us also would argue that 3G is quite good enough for most smart phone users, at the moment.

The other complicating issue is that it is in most cases the rule that devices drive subscriptions, and the popular Apple iPhone only works on 3G networks. As it has been the case that ability to get the iPhone seems to drive the subsidiary choice of service provider, so it might continue to be the case that overall demand for iPhones, which only work on 3G networks, is affecting the choice of network, though less so service providers, these days.

By way of comparison, more than four million people bought the new Apple iPhone 4S the first weekend it went on sale, from Verizon as well as from AT&T and Sprint, Kapustka argues.

One might not consider Verizon 4G sales "slow," in the context of rather-slow 3G adoption, and the long run-up of Clearwire 4G sales.

SMBs Have Embraced Online Marketing Channels, Local Will Grow

Small businesses are not unlike other businesses where it comes to using various online and web-based marketing channels, with 81 percent to 90 percent of respondents surveyed by BIA/Kelsey saying they use those channels.

One would suspect that the volume of efforts could change, over time, though. As more users on smart phones make active use of web-based information when about to shop, or while shopping, it is going to become more important for many local and smaller businesses to maximize their ability to found easily by users who have access to location information.

Also, the usefulness of information will become more important, as will promotion efforts. 

Mobile Apps Now Top Web Use

Chart MobileApp vs DesktopWeb Consumption resized 600Smart phones are changing how people use "web" resources. For the first time ever, daily time spent in mobile apps surpasses desktop and mobile web consumption, according to Flurry. Also, it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage. Mobile apps used more than web

All of that is going to significantly change the ways people use applications and devices, from navigation to web behavior. For starters, smaller screens and out of the home usage mean that the types of information people are looking for, when mobile, are different from desktop modes. More purposeful searches are one example.

When out and about, people are more likely to be looking for someplace to go, something to do, places to eat and drink or shop. So one consequence is that mobile users are more directly interested in commerce apps than PC users. The latency between search operation and "buying" is more direct, and more frequent.

That explains why there is so much more activity around mobile commerce, mobile payments, mobile banking and mobile wallets.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tim Tebow Interview

 In the first minute, he answers some questions about his touchdown celebration and pre-game routine. About a minute in, a bit of comedy.

Financial Advisors Think Social Media Doesn't Work

Financial advisers in the United States are seeing fewer benefits from their use of social media, a survey by Aite Group suggests.

Out of the 437 advisers surveyed, only 19 percent said social media was useful for reaching new prospective clients, roughly half the number from two years ago, when it was considered a leading benefit.

"Social media has been over-hyped and the benefits just aren't there for a lot of advisers," said Aite senior analyst Ron Shevlin. Fewer leads?

In fact, there seem to be no benefits ranked more highly in 2011 than in 2010 by the surveyed respondents. 

The most frequently cited objective for using social media was to build brand awareness and differentiation. But the percentage of advisers who credit social media with helping them differentiate their practice from competitors dropped to nine percent this year, from 21 percent in 2009.

Are business social media users really becoming “fatigued,” have they simply reaped most of the rewards, or is there some other explanation for why “results” seem to be slipping, at least in this one survey?

One can think of all sorts of reasons why social media doesn't always "work."  Poor execution, inadequate resources, lack of executive support and fuzzy business objectives can cause issues, no doubt.

There also are lots of reasons why it would be difficult to measure success, even if social media did “work.” All the metrics measured by Aite Group are subjective. Also unknown is whether the same executives were interviewed in both years. It is conceivable that a new sample population held different views than the former sample. 

The one social media tool that saw an increase in advisers' professional use was LinkedIn, up 10 percent since 2009. Comparatively, professional use of Facebook fell 10 percent, Twitter dropped eight  percent and personal blogging declined nine percent.

There was a Time Before the Internet....

And who knows how people were able to get anything done at work, research and write their papers or communicate!

Some Retailers Use QR Codes; Others Might Ask Why

Quick response codes are used by retailers and others to turn an "offline" experience into an "online experience." Smart phone users can point their cameras at the codes and then be taken directly to a website.

According to new research by Nellymoser, 7.2 percent, or about 1 in 14 stores are using QR codes during the 2011 Christmas and holiday shopping season, with fashion retailers the heaviest users.

Nellymoser looked at more than 700 individual stores and 318 brands in the five largest shopping malls in the greater Boston area, including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Macy, Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom and Sears.

When it comes to placement, Nellymoser found a majority of the 23 chains using QR codes displayed them in their front store windows to lure shoppers with the prospect of a special deal or discount. Typically, the QR codes were applied in the form of a decal in the lower right or left corner of a window. Retailer use of QR codes

But QR codes failing to gain consumer acceptance or traction, some would say. In fact, most people probably don't even know what they are. It might be that the rapid adoption of smart phones is obviating the reason QR codes were thought to be an advantage.

There was a time when QR codes made some sense: feature phones without keyboards made typing universal resource locators quite difficult. So the QR code was supposed to allow users to go straight to a website without fumbling around typing.

As more users get smart phones with better browsers and keyboards, the need for the QR code as a shortcut is undercut.

To have gotten huge traction, one might argue, feature phones would have had to remain the staple of user mobile web access. But smart phones rapidly are becoming the devices of choice for most people, making the QR a rather less useful way of getting to a web page.

Web Pages Getting "Bigger"

Typical page size seems to be growing, according to data supplied by HTTP Archive.

Over the last year the typical web page seems to have grown from about 700 kilobytes of data to nearly 1 megabyte.

The data also suggests that, for any given amount of pages viewed by a typical web browsing consumer, total bytes consumed will keep climbing.

Less VC Investment, More Progress in Mobile

Though venture capitalists are investing far less money in mobile companies in 2011 than they did in 2000, most of the payoff from two decades of investments will come over the next decade.

In other words, though it is possible less money will be invested by VCs in start ups in 2010 to 2019 than was invested fromn 2000 to 2009, the economic and social impact will undoubtedly be greater in the latter period, than in the former period.

One major reason is simply that the essential background environment, including processor power, cost of memory, cost of application development and adoption of broadband is qualitatively different

In 2000, for example, the total number of U.S. broadband lines totalled 7.1 million, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In 2011, that number is about 86 million to 87 million. About 84 percent of U.S. homes using the Internet do so using broadband connections.

In 2000 there were about 97 million U.S. mobile accounts in service. In 2011 there were 323 million U.S. mobile accounts in service. More significantly, few mobile users had smart phones, or broadband data connections in 2000, and nobody had a faster 4G connection.

Those physical limitations of devices, access speeds and users mean that what was possible in 2000 was simply an order or magnitude, or two orders of magnitude, worse than what is possible in 2011.

In fact, looking only investment with only a five-year lens, investment levels are up. Over a longer 10-year period, though, investments are down sharply. So 2009 was not a turning point for venture capital in the mobile space, though it might appear so, looking only at the 2006 to 2010 period. 

Still, one might argue that much of the investment 10 years ago was “too early,” with much of the infrastructure required to support a huge mobile transformation of business, commerce, entertainment and content simply too undeveloped.

In 2000, the sum of equity invested in the wireless industry peaked at $3.79 billion, according to The MoneyTree Report by PwC and the National Venture Capital Association.

And 2011 investment is likely to be lower than 2010. The average amount invested between 2000 and 2010 was $1.18 billion a year. But not since 2007 has equity invested even passed $1 billion. Mobile investment up or down? 

Also, the rapid rise of the iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices has fueled a mad rush of venture funding into consumer-facing mobile companies, rather than enterprise apps.

During the 2011 first half, according to Rutberg & Co., venture capitalists invested $3 billion into 358 mobile companies, with $960 million going to the “media and applications” sector, defined as social networks, mobile games, mobile advertising, app platforms, news aggregation, photo sharing and group messaging.

VC investment in enterprise mobile companies has been more tepid. According to Rutberg, VCs invested just $254 million into “enterprise IT” mobile companies over the same span. Consumer investments more popular

Keep in mind that venture capital is only one source of investment in mobile initiatives, with arguably more investment being made by established ecosystem participants, ranging from firms such as Google and Apple to RIM, Nokia, HTC and mobile service providers.

"We are in the beginning of a 10-year cycle in which mobile computing will reshape the way consumers live and businesses operate," wrote Rutberg researchers in their July 2011 mobile report. "PC Internet is a ‘dress rehearsal' for what will come with mobile, and the unforeseen applications in mobile computing will exceed those from the Internet thus far."
Mobile decade coming

Mobile commerce will be one expression of the change, as will the subsidiary mobile payment, mobile wallet, mobile remittance, mobile shopping, mobile promotion and mobile advertising businesses.

Netflix Gains Viewership in 2011, Hulu Loses, Amazon Up

Netflix continues to lead all streaming services in viewership, and would appear to have a huge lead where it comes to "subscription streaming" revenue. Many of the sites create revenue by showing ads, or even more indirectly by "gluing" a subscriber to some other service, such as a video subscription service. Netflix Citi survey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

AT&T Cash Will Not Help T-Mobile USA

The $3 billion cash payment AT&T has to pay to Deutsche Telekom as part of a break-up fee for the collapse of the deal whereby AT&T was to buy T-Mobile USA will not help T-Mobile USA at all. All of that cash will be used by parent Deutsche Telekom to pay down debt. 

As part of the break-up fee, T-Mobile USA will receive a large package of  mobile spectrum in 128 “Cellular Market Areas,” including 12 of the top 20 markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Washington, Boston, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Diego, Denver, Baltimore and Seattle).

Likely of greater immediate importance is a seven-year roaming agreement that will allow T-Mobile USA to improve its footprint significantly. Population coverage will increase from 230 million potential customers at present to 280 million.

As a result of the agreement with AT&T, coverage will be extended to many regions of the United States in which T-Mobile USA previously had neither its own high-speed mobile communications network nor the associated roaming agreements. AT&T cash won't help T-Mobile USA

The cash component of the break-up fee directly reduces Deutsche Telekom’s net debt, thereby by strengthening the financial performance indicators affecting the company’s rating.

Amazon weighed buying RIM

rimazonResearch In Motion Ltd apparently has turned down takeover overtures from and other potential buyers because the BlackBerry maker prefers to fix its problems on its own, according to a report by Reuters. 

Amazon reportedly hired an investment bank this summer to review a potential merger with RIM, but it did not make a formal offer. It is not clear whether informal discussions between Amazon and RIM ever led to specific price talk, or who else had approached RIM about a takeover. Amazon weighed buying RIM

That such ideas were considered shows how volatile the mobile space has gotten recently, as content providers, video entertainment companies, many consumer electronics manufacturers, advertising concerns, banks, transaction processors and retailers ponder the growing, and in many cases, strategic role mobility is playing across a broad range of industries. 

For Amazon, the draw likely was a way to get its services and content onto smart phones, as Amazon now is able to leverage tablet screens to support its e-commerce and e-content initiatives. 

Some might speculate that RIM's patents could have been interesting, as well. Patents have become increasingly important in the smart phone business, and any future move by Amazon in that direction might well be on surer footing if Amazon could acquire both a patent portfolio and an existing manufacturing capability, brand awareness and customer base. 

Cable Operator Competition Puts Pressure on Other CLECs

Some years ago, I recall having a conversation with an experienced veteran executive in the competitive local exchange carrier industry, who was convinced cable operators would not prove a threat in the CLEC business, a point of view I never have agreed with. 

To be fair, the executive at the time was running a CLEC that focused more on multiple-site businesses than single-site organizations. 

You can argue that both points of view are correct, that cable companies have indeed proven successful in the small business segment (perhaps 16 voice lines or fewer), but have yet to make an assault on the mid-market or enterprise segments of the market. Cable ops have succeeded in small business market

Integra Telecom, the Portland, Ore.-based CLEC that had in the past focused primarily on smaller accounts, might agree that cable companies are indeed a threat. In fact, Integra Telecom now hopes to focus most of its attention on larger customers. 

Integra Telecom revenues, which peaked at $683 million in 2008, fell to $616 million in 2010, in part because of continuing impact of the Great Recession and in part because some smaller businesses went out of business.


But company executives would also say that new competitive threats from rivals including Comcast Corp. were a key factor.

So Integra began targeting larger customers. Integra Telecom's challenges not unique 

That same decision-making context is certain to affect other CLECs, and sales partners for CLECs, as cable operators now only continue to show they are effective in the small business market, but as they slowly gear up to tackle larger accounts as well. 

Unless you believe the deal Comcast, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have to resell Verizon services is somehow invalidated by regulatory authorities, those cable operators now have many of the tools they will need to succeed in sales of products to larger organizations, not limited to wireless services. 

NFC Hype About to Crash

At some point, overly-optimistic near-term expectations for near field communications payments will diminish, if Gartner is correct.

The reason is that NFC was in mid-2011 at the peak of a hype cycle, which typically means a crash of expectations.

So get ready for a change of public thinking about NFC, with a shift to other apps NFC can enable.

All of that is reasonable thinking, but also will be driven by what Gartner expects will be an inevitable (albeit temporary) collapse of expectations about what NFC can accomplish in the near term.

"When it comes to payments, NFC doesn’t yet offer sufficient convenience to persuade consumers to change their habits," says Thomas Husson, Gartner analyst. "Swiping a credit card instead of waving it is not fundamentally different: You still have to enter your PIN for security reasons."

"The real game-changer is to add value before and after the transaction, enabling consumers to discover offerings via contextualized coupons and to explore new product and service information, and enabling companies to engage with consumers by providing loyalty points and rewards after buying a product," he says.

We agree. NFC is just one of the many technologies that can be plugged into a broader digital wallet strategy.  NFC payment a part of broader wallet value

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Latency" Applies to Marketing, Not Just Communications

Marketing in the Internet age is affected at every level by dramatically lower “information latency.”

Engineers typically measure latency as a matter of time delay, such as the lag between the time a message is launched, and the time a message is received. But the concept also seems to describe the nature of marketing in an Internet age.

For information consumers, latency might be viewed as the total time elapsed for a plane trip, door to door, for example. No matter how many other passengers might be traveling on a particular route, on a particular day, there is some minimum elapsed time to get from point A to point B. That is consumer-experienced latency.

There is a different meaning for a consumer than for a producer, though. From the point of view of flight operations personnel, latency is an entirely different matter.

It is true that the amount of time spent in the air, getting from one airport to another, is affected by headwinds, flight control operations or congestion in the take off or landing patterns that are out of any producer’s control.

But many elements are within a producer’s control, to a certain extent, such as time to clean a plane once it has landed, time to refuel, passenger and cargo loading time, for example.

In a marketing context, consumer-experienced latency is the time it takes to learn enough about how to solve a particular problem to reach a firm buying decision. From a producer point of view, latency is the time it takes to provide information to such prospects at every stage of the consideration process.

Consider only the matter of getting “catalog” information to potential customers. In the past catalogs were printed and mailed at relatively high cost, with information aging every step of the way until the time a prospect actually used a catalog to check an item’s availability or price.

That had meant an information latency issue that was compounded by an accuracy issue, as prices and availability for large catalogs begin to drift out of conformity to reality for months before potential buyers were even able to view such catalogs.

In the age of the Internet, all that is outmoded. Catalogs ought to be, and often are, updated nearly in real time, with information latency a matter of hours to days when a producer decision has been made. Internet information sources now have collapsed latency, both in terms of time and cost.

From a consumer perspective, information latency likewise has compressed. Nobody has to ask for a catalog or wait for delivery. The information often is only “clicks away.”

A decade ago, we might have described the rise of “infomediaries,” agents that work on behalf of consumers to help them take control over information gathered about them for use by marketers and advertisers.

The concept of the infomediary was first suggested by McKinsey consultants and professors John Hagel III, and Marc Singer in their book  Networth.

The idea is not much heard of in 2011, but in some reasons that is because software increasingly acts as an infomediary. Real simple syndication feeds, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn feeds provide examples. what is an infomediary?

Price comparison apps and daily deals programs are other examples in the consumer space.

The marketing point is that software “agents” now widely assist prospects and buyers in gathering information directly related to products they buy. All of that means the fundamental change in marketing has been consistently in the direction of lower latency over time.

AT&T Emphasizes Spectrum Policy

In announcing the end of its effort to acquire T-Mobile USA, AT&T again emphasized the need for access to "additional spectrum" as a continuing issue, including AT&T's pending acquisition of spectrum from Qualcomm.

“Adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things," said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. "First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC."

"Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation’s longer-term spectrum needs," Stephenson said. AT&T abandons effort to buyT-Mobile USA 

PayPal Getting into Daily Deals Business

PayPal says it is getting into the daily deals business, competing with firms such as Groupon,  LivingSocial and Google in the daily deals space. That move should ratify thinking that such "coupon" businesses have a direct relationship to mobile wallet and payments businesses.

The company will make its first foray into mobile deals in the first quarter of 2012, partnering with some of the top 200 U.S. merchants, PayPal President Scott Thompson said.

PayPal is chasing a daily coupon market that may more than double to $4.17 billion by 2015, according to research firm BIA/Kelsey. PayPal to get into deals business

AT&T drops bid for T-Mobile

It's over: AT&T has formally abandoned its effort to buy T-Mobile USA. AT&T already had booked a $4 billion charge, representing the breakup fee to be paid to T-Mobile USA for a failed acquisition attempt. AT&T drops bid for T-Mobile

Deutsche Telekom, the parent of T-Mobile USA, now will be looking at other options to make liquid some of its U.S. operations, for the simple reason that it needs the cash to build out Long Term Evolution networks elsewhere.

We also should expect a new round of activity by firms looking to partner or invest in T-Mobile USA as well. Presumably those new suitors are investors who have complementary assets, such as spectrum assets that could help T-Mobile USA create an LTE network, while giving the new investors access to the skills a mobile service provider possesses.

T-Mobile USA's problems include lack of spectrum for a fourth-generation network, customer churn, lack of access to the Apple iPhone, and competition both from the "premium" providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless at the "top" of the market and lower-cost prepaid providers from below.

Sprint has somewhat similar problems, being much smaller than either AT&T Wireless or Verizon Wireless and less well positioned financially.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Technology Industry Faces Major Disruption

The technology industry is in the midst of a huge wave of growth, innovation and disruption, driven in large part by mobile devices and the "cloud social graph," causing huge challenges for incumbents of every sort, including Intel, Microsoft and Research in Motion, for example.

Google, Apple, Facebook, Samsung and others such as Amazon are taking over, argues Jean-Louis GasséeTechnology disruptions 

The Top 20 iPhone And iPad Apps of 2011

iPhone Screenshot 1From social magazines to music discovery apps to console-quality games that players can hold in the palms of their hands, there are hundreds of new titles in the iTunes App Store that will inform, organize, and entertain virtually anyone who owns an iOS device.

Here are 20 of the best iOS applications of 2011, according to Techcrunch. The Top 20 iPhone And iPad Apps of 2011

Flipboard arguably has been the most-significant consumer content consumption app.

Top 10 Feed & RSS Technologies of 2011

News and activity feeds have become increasingly important ways people keep track of news, issues, products and people they care about.

Here's one list of 10 important feed tools. Top 10 Feed Technologies of 2011

"Percolate turns brands into curators," the company says. Marketers might be able to use the service to discover feeds full of content and then distribute those feeds to Percolate users. to consume. is designed to run on mobiles, tablets or PCs. 

The Downside of Multi-Purpose IP Networks

By now, virtually all observers agree that direct revenue generated by fixed networks will shift to supplying broadband access, while some o...