Monday, February 28, 2011

What Sprint Will be Focusing on for the First Half of 2011

Sprint's board of directors wants Sprint management to focus on five things in the first half of 2011, as judged by the bonus plan for the first half of the year. The first matter is operating income before depreciation and amortization).

Another 20 percent of the evaluation hinges on net service revenue (operating revenue less equipment revenue). So 40 percent of the focus is on overall revenue.

About 20 percent of bonus weighting will be based on retention of post-paid wireless subscribers.

Another 20 percent will be based on postpaid net subscriber additions, while the final 20 percent will be based on how well the team does with prepaid net subscriber additions. So in addition to the 40 percent focus on revenue, 40 percent of the concern is net subscriber growth.

Google Sees Online Ad Market of $100 Billion

The online display-advertising market could top $100 billion over the next several years, says Neal Mohan, Google VP.

Mohan says Google has some 1,000 engineers around the world working to eliminate complexity and challenges from the Internet display advertising market, an effort that will prompt more advertisers to spend more of their budgets online.

Apple Aware of Need for Prepaid and Lower-Cost Products

Apple is said to be working hard to “figure out” the prepaid market, a development that would allow Apple to reach a broader segment of the market for mobile products.

Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein Research analyst, reports that Apple understands "price is big factor in the prepaid market” and that the company was “not ceding any portion of the market, despite the company's historic emphasis on the higher-end, higher-priced portion of any market it enters.

Apple targets SMBs

Apple's new "JointVenture" program reportedly will be launched the week of Feb. 28, 2011, representing Apple's attempt to better sell computing products to small businesses.

Apple will charge $499 for up to five users and $99 for each additional user per year, for expedited acces to the Apple "Genuis" staffs at Apple stores. That $500 is an additional charge n top of the three-year Applecare support plans.

Subscribers of the new service will be able to speak with a store-based Apple technician over the phone for one-on-one consultation and troubleshooting, or they can request an on-site visit. Currently, Apple’s "Geniuses" are not allowed to provide support remotely via the phone or in-person outside of Apple’s retail locations.

Voice Remains a Crucial Communications Function

Global international long-distance and bandwidth trends remain in character, according to the latest TeleGeography data. Users are consuming about 60 percent more bandwidth every year, while pricing per bit continues to drop. International voice growth continues to slow, but still is growing.

But global trends obscure clear differences. In the U.S. market, for example, consumers are talking less even on their mobiles. Nielsen reports that the amount of time mobile subscribers talk has dropped to 700 minutes per month in 2010. That includes incoming calls. A survey by CTIA, a trade group, shows that the average length of a mobile call has dropped from just over three minutes to one minute and 40 seconds since mid-2007.
Voice remains a crucial communications feature. What is less true is that voice communications is the most-strategic driver of service provider revenue. Increasingly, that role is being assumed by data services of various types, on both landline and mobile networks.

Less talking also does not necessarily mean less phone use, in one sense. According to Nielsen the number of paid texts per subscriber has grown rapidly over the same period, recently surpassing 700 per month. But there seems to be some substitution effect.

Content Isn't What It Used to Be

Before the advent of social and other online media formats, businesses used to spend significant amounts of money on advertising placed in traditional media. These days, with significant audience fragmentation, some companies are changing tactics. Where once they were dependent on existing media, now companies can create their own content-rich media channels that arguably can be as engaging and informational as that provided by media brands.

That will come as a shocking notion, but a study by Kingfish Media suggests that nearly two thirds of marketers believe that content from a brand or company is perceived as having the same or more value than content from a media brand. More importantly, they feel that having their own original content will produce a better return on marketing dollars than traditional advertising, and they have reallocated their budgets to invest more in original content development. See this..

One might argue that, the effect of periodic adjustments for recessions notwithstanding, the advertising business is at the front end of a huge long-term change, where funds formerly earmarked for advertising are diverted to other customer channels, ranging from website investments to social media or content marketing of new types.

The typical business marketer spends 33 percent of the total marketing budget on "content," including brochures, white papers, Facebook, blogs, testimonials,  creating articles, newsletters, webinars, videos, events and so forth, according to the Content Marketing Institute. The "2010 Content Marketing Spending Report" from Junta42 found that 59 percent of marketers were increasing their content marketing spending in 2010, compared to 56 percent in 2009 and 42 percent in 2008.

According to ITSMA, nearly two-thirds of buyers (63 percent) report they conduct their own research when considering an information or manufacturing technology purchase, and then contact the vendor. About 37 percent of the time, a supplier contacts the enterprise before the enterprise starts conducting its own research. What that means is that, in most cases, before buyers have personal contact with any given supplier, they are already armed with information about the company and its products. This is true whether they plan to buy office equipment, software or machine tools.

One might argue that means an opportunity exists to educate potential buyers about an industry, possible solution choices, best practices, and the right questions to ask, before an actual "sales process" begins. In fact, one might argue that the key issue is not the "sales" process, but the "buying" process, which can begin before any sales entity is aware a purchase is contemplated.

Content marketing, some would argue, is about influence on the buying process, before the sales process begins. In essence, the potential customer has initiated a conversation with you before you even know they are interested in your products and services.

In the pre-Internet world, buyers relied on traditional media companies to fill their information needs. With today’s technologies, that is no longer true. In fact, discrete companies can become media. What makes that possible is not simply the Internet, blogs, social media and other content media. There also has been a change in buyer attitudes about the “credibility” of content.

Today’s buyers look everywhere for essential content in  order to make smart buying decisions, and those searches are not restricted to traditional media. These days, people use search engines, real simple syndication, Twitter, Facebook and blogs as part of their information gathering and learning strategies.

Businesses that provide that content will win. Whereas in the past, customers were wary about information that didn’t  come from a traditional media source, today’s savvy buyers can sniff out the good content from the bad, and they don’t mind if the information they engage in comes from a non-traditional source, be that a blog, micro-blogging sites and feeds, Facebook or even content marketing sites.

Traditional media sources also are less effective than they used to be. Some companies might have better information about their potential customers and prospects in their own databases, or can create such assets using content marketing.

Also, shrinking revenue streams mean media companies are less able to cover as much terrain as they used to, if only because the number of traditional outlets is shrinking, as well as staffs. Continued cutbacks in editorial staff and circulation size have created a void that non-traditional content  
creators can fill.

Selling to all customers also is becoming more challenging, because all buyers now have access to much more information than they used to. Some companies will develop a different relationship with potential customers because those firms already have become trusted sources of information about the issues, problems and opportunities any particular business segment has.  Such thought leadership "rubs off" on the firms that supply the knowledge.

Read more here

Mobile Payments Are About Erasing Difference Between Offline, Online

Mobile payments are important for reasons more than “payment.” Though much of the attention now seems to be focused on ways to replace a plastic payment card with a mobile phone, that ultimately will not drive most of the value, many believe.

Instead, it might be more about ways to redefine “commerce” to account for “always on” devices carried by people who can use those devices in new ways.

When a user walks into a store, all of that user’s shopping lists, loyalty, couponing, comparison shopping and social networks will available, interacting on a real-time basis, in a dynamic way, in a present space way, with a particular retailer.

Mobile Grows Faster than Expected, Says Eric Schmidt

Employers Expect Flexible Work Trend

CEOs, senior HR professionals and workplace decision makers from across the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries, including Spain, Argentina, El Salvador, and India, believe 50 to 80 percent of employees would move to time or location flexible work within five years, driven largely by the need to attract and retain superior talent. This is up from a reported 25 percent today

Email Not "Dead"

It might not be the case that any application or service actually is waning when stories about the "death of X" start to appear, or when "X is not dead" stories also start to appear. Email is among the latest applications to get the treatment. Obviously email is not "dead." It remains among the top applications used on either mobile or tethered devices. But there also is greater use of alternatives, such as text mesaging, instant mesaging and even micro-blogging.

Verizon Wireless Sold 60% of iPhone Online

Some reports have suggested that relatively sedate traffic at Verizon Wireless retail locations indicated less-robust demand for iPhones than some might have expected. Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead points out that more than 60 percent of iPhone sales occurred online.

That heavy activity online contributed to short lines on launch day, he maintains. "If we had not done online, you would have seen a much different flow in the pictures," says Mead. Mead also says that Verizon deliberately phased the introduction, to avoid potential problems with a sudden rush of buyers.

Verizon deliberately limited the number of locations where iPhones could be purchased, in addition to using the online channel quaite heavily In a few days, Verizon Wireless also will double the number of stores that sell the iPhone, going from 4,000 to 8,000.

Mobiles, Tablets Gaining Gaming Share?

As smartphones and tablets gain greater share of the installed base, one would expect to see some changes in end user behavior. The whole point of ebook readers, after all, is to create new ebook reader consumption, and displace reading of physical books.

Among the early trends with tablets is that they are displacing other devices for purposes of content consumption, ranging from email to video. TechCrunch, in fact, already sees a shift of its readership from Windows PCs to other devices, and mobiles seem to account for about 14 percent of activity. Read more here

But gaming experiences also might be shifting towards general-purpose devices such as smartphones and tablet. Many games available for smartphones and tablets now appear to be "good enough" to displace use of a dedicated game-playing system.

Mobile Alters TechCrunch Reader Habits

In four years, Windows share among TechCrunch readers has fallen 30 percentage points, TechCrunch reports. Up to this point, the bulk of the shift has been from Windows PCs to Apple PCs.

The new wrinkle is that mobile devices now represent about 14 percent of user visits, and the mobile share is growing.

Seniors Bigger on Mobiles than PCs

Seniors (those over 65)traditionally have lagged younger users in terms of Internet and mobile adoption, but the mobile gap is no longer huge, and the Internet gap likely will continue to close as Boomers replace their parents in the "senior" demographic.

US Senior* vs. Total Internet User Penetration, 2010-2015 (% of population in each group)

Tablets Won't Save Publishing, Financial Times Says

Tablets are not going to "save the publishing industry," the Financial Times believes. That forecast comes despite predictions by Boston Consulting Group that tablet prices ultimately will decline to the $200 level that will allow mass consumer adoption.

A BCG survey of nearly 13,000 consumers in 14 countries, conducted in May 2010 revealed that 28 percent of all respondents plan to purchase an e-reader or tablet in the next year; over three years, 49 percent plan to do so.

While intent always overstates actual penetration, BCG estimated that 25 percent of U.S. consumers who read print publications will own tablets within three years, assuming that prices decline to the $130–$200 range, far less than the current low-end model of the iPad, which retails for $499.

read more about the survey here

watch the video about iPad economics here

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Google Describes Impact of its Search Algorithm Updates

LightSquared Will Have to Address GPS Interference Issues

Interference issues are not unusual when new applications are proposed in adjacent frequency bands. Garmin says mobile transmitters using Lightsquared spectrum will interfere with GPS signals. Those issues always get addressed, as the new applications are not allowed to operate until the issues are resolved.

read about the issues here

iPad Still Dominates Tablet Sales, Android at 25%

During the fourth quarter of 2010, 22 percent of the 10 million tablet devices that where shipped ran on Android. Overall the market grew by 120 percent sequentially with Apple maintaining it’s leading position with 75 percent of global market share, according to Strategy Analytics.


Clearwire Tests LTE

"Ongo" Launches Subscription Mobile News Service

Google as "Dangerous" as AT&T?

Optus CEO Paul O’Sullivan thinks content monopolies can be just as troublesome as access network monopolies. O’Sullivan, whose firm has battled incumbent
Telstra for more than a decade, said that while gatekeepers in the broadband access or voice areas still are important, he also can foresee much greater risks in the longer term in the application provider area.

Content and application monopolies can be just as troublesome as network access monopolies, he said.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dish Network CEO on Transitions

Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen has been through big transitions in his days in the video entertainment business. Many will not recall it, but there was a time when satellite programming delivered to cable TV headends was not encrypted. In other words, any consumer who was willing to spend the money on a satellite system could watch all cable TV programming for free. But in 1986 HBO encrypted its feeds, and all the other satellite-delivered channels followed shortly thereafter.

The transition was that sales of C-band "television receive only" (TVRO) dishes peaked at about 735,000 in 1985, after growing parabolically in the few years before 1985.

Shipments dropped to 235,000 as more than 50 percent of all satellite retailers close their businesses. See

Ergen started out in the TVRO business in 1980. In 1986 Ergen applied for a direct broadcast satellite license. The point is that the original C-band business erupted somewhat suddenly, then declined just about as suddenly, after satellite feeds were encrypted. The shift of the consumer satellite video business to both Ku-band technology and the DBS business model likewise was a transition from the original C-band business.

Given the maturity of the existing video entertainment business, Ergen, like every other executive at every other company in the space, has been thinking about the implications of the coming shift to online delivery.

"I think I know where this thing is going now," he says. "If you were in the phone business and wireless came along and you kept on putting in a twisted pair of lines, that was still a good business for another 10 years, 15 years, but at some point that wasn't a very good business."

"So I'd rather be on the leading edge of that than the back end of it," he said.

"The hope is that you don't take too much money out of the ecosystem while you're figuring it out," he said. What he means is that the new business might cannibalize the existing business, and the trick will be to finesse the transition without undue cannibalization.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Coupon Sites Reached 19 Percent North American Users in December

Coupon sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial reached 18.8 percent of the U.S. Internet population in December, according to data from comScore.

On a global basis, coupon sites reached 6.9 percent of users, the measurement firm estimated, while penetration in Europe reached 9.6 percent of users, having grown by 5.7 percentage points compared with December 2009.

OneRiot Launches Social Ad Targeting for Mobiles

OneRiot has launched what it believes is the world’s first social targeting service for mobile ads. OneRiot now enables advertisers to reach targeted audience segments on mobile devices.

Segmentation and targeting are based on factors such as audience interest profiles, demographics, social influence and realtime conversations.

75% of TV Viewers Now are Multitasking

Deloitte’s latest survey of media habits indicates that nearly three quarters of American consumers are multitasking while watching TV.

According to the research, 42 percent are online, 29 percent are talking on cellphones or mobile devices, and 26 percent are sending instant messages or text messages.

That might suggest to some that TV simply is not as engaging as it once was.

Skype Angles for More Share of Outbound Landline Calls

"Skype To Go" has been available for some time, but Skype now is positioning the service as a way to provide lower-cost calling from landline phones or mobile phones.

"You don’t need an Internet connection, and you don’t need to be in a 3G coverage area," Skype says. "Let’s say your aunt lives in Australia and you live in New York. Simply give us your aunt’s number in Australia, and we’ll convert it into a unique Skype To Go number with a New York area code."

"Then, all you need to do is call this number from your mobile or landline, and you can talk right away to your aunt in Australia at Skype’s amazing rates," Skype says.

Perhaps oddly, many such applications now are marketed as "communications as a service." It is odd because legacy communications always was a service. What is new is the ability for applications to provide that utility. But sometimes those application-based approaches are marketed as new "X as a service." In many cases, these new application or "over the top" approaches also were services, before. "Communications as a service" is a Non sequitur.

Why Mobile Will Not be as "Commoditized" as PC Market

One reason the mobile application environment will not be as simple as the PC environment can be glimpsed by looking at the state of mobile browser usage or operating systems in use. There is no uniformity similar to what one seems in the PC market.

Bandwidth Demand Pushing Higher-Speed DSL

VDSL Subscribers
New subscribers to very-high-speed digital subscriber line (VDSL) services are set to nearly quadruple by 2014 as more competitors begin to ramp up their support for the technology, according to new IHS iSuppli research.

The number of new annual VDSL subscriber additions will grow to 60.1 million in 2014, up from just 15.6 million in 2009. A total of 23.3 million new VDSL subscribers were added in 2010.

Make Netflix Pay for Universal Service?

Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America, thinks Netflix should have to pay into the Universal Service Fund. To the extent that the Federal Communications Commission is looking to shift USF funding to support broadband, rather than voice, that notion, though sure to be resisted by application providers, also is likely to receive support from access providers.

It would not be unusual, for example, to hear executives from rural phone service providers say that application providers driving bandwidth consumption by consumers should also share in the support burdens.

The FCC is trying to migrate USF subsidies to fund broadband rather than phone service this year. The question of who must contribute into the fund now comes into view precisely because of the shift to a broader business ecosystem, where most of the new value and revenue accrue to application providers rather than the access providers.

Debates over USF and other support mechanisms always are highly contentious, but in the past have largely pitted various parts of the access provider community against other members of the community. These days, though those sorts of issues remain, at least for voice services, there is new attention being paid toward spreading a support obligation more broadly.

80% of Users Not Getting Top Value from Unified Communications

A non-scientific survey of 126 people registered to attend a unified communications conference in the United Kingdom has found that half of respondents have a unified communications solution in place, but 80 percent do not feel they are getting the most from it, Unified Communications Expo 2011 reports.

The results also show that lack of finances is significantly slowing adoption of unified communications in both business and technology sectors.

"The research suggests that UK businesses are still struggling to get to grips with the approach, and that the wealth of communication channels, especially social media related channels, is hindering rather than helping them," says Mike England, Unified Communications Expo director.

Cloud or Unified Communications or Something Else?

Communications industry personnel are not always noted for creating snappy, easily understood product or service names. "Unified communications" might be a case in point. Granted, it is in some ways a tough, perhaps overly-elastic concept to put across. A recent survey of providers shows more than a little variety, made more complicated by the new "cloud" appellation.

Of course, a continuing problem is that there is not universal agreement on the minimum, or core, or common features a "UC" solution represents.

New Chrome Extension Can Hide Unwanted Search Results

Google has launched an experimental Chrome extension that allows people to "block" ("hide," at any rate) sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends "blocked site" information to Google, allowing Google to study the resulting feedback and possibly using that information as a potential ranking signal for search results.

You can download the extension and start blocking sites by downloading the extension here:

YouTube to Launch Video Service in U.K.

Google's YouTube is reportedly getting ready to launch a movie-based video subscription service, bringing YouTube into more direct competition with Netflix and Amazon, and will launch first in the United Kingdom and other European markets.

Google apparently has earmarked $100 million for buying content, as part of the launch. YouTube reportedly also is in negotiations with both the National Basketball Association and National Hockey Leage to start broadcasting live pro-basketball and ice hockey games, according to a Bloomberg report.

YouTube users tend to spend 15 minutes on the site daily, on average. Google has found, to no surprise, that showing live sports can boost viewing to an average of 40 minutes.

Honeycomb: The Next Generation for Android

Google Tweaks Search Algorithms

Google says it tweaks its search algorithms virtually all the time. Now Google says it has made some changes that will affect search rankings for perhaps 12 percent of queries.

Google says it has revised the algorithms to reduce rankings for low-quality sites that add little value add for users, especially those that copy content from websites or sites that are just not very useful. Google doesn't say so, but we obviously are talking about "content farms" that are created for the nearly-exclusive purpose of generating traffic to support ad impressions, producing "webspam." See

Webspam is the "junk" users might see in search results when websites successfully cheat their way into higher positions in search results or otherwise violate search engine quality guidelines.

At the same time, the new algorithms will provide better rankings for high-quality sites, those with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on, Google says on its blog.

The new changes presently affect only U.S. searches.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mary Meeker on Mobile

If you have an hour, and really want to learn something, here's Mary Meeker's full presentation. You'll learn a lot:

Half of U.S Broadband Homes Have Video Stored on PCs

Nearly 50 percent of U.S. broadband households report that they store their electronic video home library on their desktop PC. Some 30 percent use their notebook PCs.

Smaller percentages store electronic video on their gaming devices, portable media players, Flash devices, and mobile handsets.

Digital video usage models are now a mix of physical discs, free content, video on demand, streaming and rental models, in addition to outright purchases, says says Keith Nissen, Principal Analyst.

Nevertheless, downloading and storing video is a growing and important element in the overall mix. By 2015, collectively, U.S. broadband households will be storing over 4.5 million GBs of professional video content. This translates to up to 65GBs stored per household.

How Netflix Beat Blockbuster

How Netflix is Destroying Blockbuster
Source: Online MBA Programs

U.S. Mobile Banking Population Doubles

U.S. mobile banking adoption has experienced rapid growth in the past three years, more than doubling from five percent of online adults in 2007 to 12 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

By 2015, Forrester predicts that one in five U.S. adults will be using mobile banking. Much of that activity will be "informational," with consumers checking balances, for example.

Apple to launch iPad 2, Sources Say

Apple is poised to launch the second-generation of its popular iPad mobile tablet device on March 2, 2011, according to reports. The iPad 2 is said to be thinner, lighter, pack more memory and use a faster processor.

Motorola Xoom Launch

Tablets Displacing Smartphones and Netbooks in Enterprise Market?

The global tablet market was the hardware segment that had the highest growth rates in 2010, according to Frost & Sullivan. Almost 100 new tablets were launched in 2011, but Apple's iPad sold 18.3 million tablets in 2010, about 90 percent of all such devices sold globally.

In Brazil, about five percent of tablets were purchased by business enterprises. But Frost & Sullivan projects 30 percent of sales will be by businesses in 2015. The pioneer verticals in the use of the tablets are pharmaceutical, construction and consumer goods industries.

The logical question is whether tablets might, at least for a time, become the device that accounts for the bulk of new enterprise device buying, not smartphones or netbooks or other PC devices.

Foursquare Looks at Content to Enrich Experience

Multi-OS Mobile App Development Platform Kinoma

With some signs of developing conflict between app developers and app stores, some developers may want to hedge their bets by developing once, for multiple platforms, just in case, Kinoma claims to provide that environment.

Google Pulls Visual VoiceMail, In-App Payments the Reason?

Google has pulled the Visual VoiceMail app from Android Market, citing a violation of the developer payment rules.

Visual VoiceMail believes the reason is that the app does not for process in-app payments through Google Checkout.

What Makes for a Great Mobile App?

Mobile Internet Used Daily by 20% of Americans

Some 20 percent of U.S. mobile phone owners use the mobile Internet every day, according to the 2011 Mobile Internet Attitudes Report from Antenna Software.

The second annual survey conducted by YouGov measured the attitudes, preferences and behaviors of adult consumers in the United States and United Kingdom. Nearly half of respondents also said they would use the mobile Internet each day to stay in touch with friends through instant messaging (21 percent in the UK and 22 percent in the US) and social networking (27 percent).

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness

Roku as "Cable TV Disrupter"

Low to Negative Returns on Communications Network Investment?

Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett argues that, over the last decade, the returns on invested capital in communications networks in U.S. markets have been anemic, at best. He argues that economic value creation has been, in aggregate, barely positive.

Wireline networks have the weakest returns on invested capital with a 1.5 percent gain over the last decade. Wireless networks had a meager return of 0.3 percent. Cable garnered a 2.5 percent return. Satellite networks had the best return on invested capital at 5.5 percent. Others stocks --AT&T, Comcast, Dish, Sprint and Verizon -- have negative returns, he argues.

59 Percent of Universal Service Funds Used for 'Overhead?

The universal service program in the United States, despite its good intentions, is ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable, said Scott Wallsten , research vice president and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute.

Analyzing data submitted by about 1,400 recipients of high-cost subsidies from 1998 to 2008, Wallsten found that of each dollar distributed to recipient firms, about 59 cents goes to “general and administrative expenses” overhead such as planning, government relations, and personnel, rather than to making telephone services more affordable.

13 Percent of Immigrant Americans Own Tablets

Some 13 percent of immigrant Americans already own a tablet, representing approximately five million users, a study by Rebtel has found. The results were based on 1,340 responses from immigrants residing in the United States, which represent a consumer segment of approximately 38 million consumers. By way of comparison, Nielsen says only four percent of all Americans own a tablet.

French Americans claim the highest percentage of tablet owners (17 percent), followed by Mexican-Americans (15 percent), Nigerian-Americans, and Ghana-Americans at 14 percent respectively rounded out by Ethiopian-Americans at eight percent and Cuban-Americans at seven percent.

LightSquared Might Lease Sprint Facilities

LightSquared is in discussions to use Sprint Nextel Corp.’s cell sites and equipment to help build out its network, Businessweek reports.

The deal would allow LightSquared to roll out its network more quickly and at lower cost, but also could have ramifications for Clearwire. At least in principle, Sprint itself could use LightSquared facilities for Long Term Evolution traffic, if Sprint decides to add LTE as an air interface in the future (perhaps it is a foregone conclusion that Sprint will formally launch an LTE network, beginning sometime later in 2011 or early 2012).

Facebook Dominates Social Networking, Growth Slows

Facebook users in the United States seem to include more than half of all Internet users, measured by log-ins at least once a month, says eMarketer.

In 2011, 132.5 million U.S. web users will use the site monthly, eMarketer forecasts. That increase of 13.4 percent in the number of users means Facebook will reach nearly 90 percent of social network users and 57.1 percent of Internet users. By 2013, 62 percent of web users and almost half (47.6 percent) of the overall US population will be on Facebook.

But that very substantial penetration also means single-digit U.S. user growth in users after 2011.

Twitter will have higher growth rates, at least in part because relatively fewer online Americans use the microblogging service. By the end of 2010, 16.4 million U.S. adults, or nine percent of the adult Internet population, used Twitter. Growth will surpass 26 percent in 2011 as Twitter reaches 11 percent of Internet users and 16.5 percent of U.S. adult social network users. By 2013, nearly 28 million Americans will be tweeting.

NEC Medias: Docomo To Offer The World’s Thinnest Smartphone

NEC Casio Mobile plans to introduce what is described as the thinnest phone in the world within weeks. The "Medias" device measures just 7.7 millimeters thick and weighs 105 grams. The Android device features a four-inch touchscreen, Gorilla Glass and Android 2.2, with an update to 2.3 promised for the summer of 2011. It will run on the Docomo network operated by NTT.

Unmet Enterprise "Mobility" Segments 42% of All Workers

Nobody seems to argue that enterprises are better off using all sorts of technology tools. But one might always get an argument about which tools various associated require. Consider the matter of company-issued mobile phones or smartphones, which have become a huge cost element for most enterprises.

Forrester Research estimates many enterprise IT managers are underestimating demand for mobility solutions, especially from two employee segments Forrester Research calls "mobile wannabes and mobile mavericks."

"Mobile wannabes" are employees not considered to be "mobile" workers who need mobile tools. "Mobile mavericks" are employees who use smartphones for work but without company support.

Combined, those two worker segments currently account for 22 percent of all employees; by 2015, they will grow significantly to 42 percent of all corporate employees.

Mobile wannabe workers can include executive assistants, human resource workers and customer service representatives, Forrester says. Mobile maverick employees buy their own smartphones and download their own productivity and communications apps to do their jobs on the go. Common apps include email, calendar and voice. About half use However, half of navigation applications and instant messaging services, and one quarter use social apps for some work-related purpose.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amazon's Prime Streaming Will Disrupt Netflix

Analysts tend to agree that Amazon has about 10 million "Prime" members. Of those, it is estimated that 60 percent are paying members. If that's true, Amazon brings in $474M a year in revenue from Prime subscriptions, says Dan Rayburn.

If Amazon could add five million paying Prime members this year, they would generate nearly a billion dollars in revenue from about 10 million Prime members. There's your revenue stream.

Mobile Phones and Your Brain

A good reason to use speakerphone when you can, perhaps.

Amazon Gets into Video Streaming

Data Warehousing at Inflection Point?

This year, 2011, might be an inflection point for data warehousing, according to Gartner.

"In 2011, we are seeing data warehouse platforms evolve from an information store supporting traditional business intelligence (BI) platforms to a broader analytics infrastructure supporting operational analytics, corporate performance management and other new applications and uses, such as operational BI and performance management," said Donald Feinberg, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Apple Cuts Minimum iAd Price

Apple's iAd platfrom started out with a $1 million minimum advertiser commitment. Now iAd campaigns can be bought for $500,000. One can argue the move makes iAd available to smaller advertisers or campaigns. One might also argue that the move suggests some resistance to the original prices.

Mobile Banking Gets Investment

Hannes van Rensburg, the CEO of Fundamo, a South African firm that has built 50 mobile payment systems for operators in Uganda, Pakistan and others, says margins on mobile payment projects are much more attractive in emerging markets.

"In the U.S. and Europe, you have to compete with the established credit card system, which is already very efficient," he said. "There is more money to be made in emerging economies."

Android's Indirect Business Model

In just one year, Android's share of the smartphone operating system market rocketed to 30 percent from five percent in late 2009. But the whole business model is indirect, as Google gives away Android for use by mobile handset suppliers, some of which clearly have benefited.

Android has returned Motorola and Sony Ericsson back to profitability. it can be argued. HTC, an early proponent of Android, is now considered a major handset player in the United States as well.

Millennial Media reported that in Android continued to lead in mobile ad impressions after overtaking iOS in December of 2010. Millennial, whose ads reach approximately 80 percent of U.S. mobile web users, reported that Android's ad impression increased by eight percent to 54 percent in January while iOS dropped four percent to 28 percent and RIM fell two percent to 14 percent.

Android applications have doubled since August 2010 as well.

Google makes money on advertising and app sales based on the popularity of Android devices, but nothing directly from Android itself, which is an open source product at this point.

Nokia will be Volatile, Analyst Says

RBS analyst Didier Scemama believes Nokia's stock price will drop to 5.80 Euros. In a “base case” scenario the Nokia of 2013 will have 11 percent of the smartphone market and the stock price will drop by 15 percent, says RBS analyst Didier Scemama.

In the worst case scenario those figures change to 6.4 percent smartphone market share and 53 percent of the stocks value disappears. If Nokia manages to do everything perfectly, which it almost never does, then the best case scenario is 15 percent smartphone market share and share price goes up 54 percent.

Mobile Payments Price War

New moves by mobile payments provider Square suggest competition is heating up in the small business mobile payments space.

Intuit's GoPayment system charges 2.7 percent, plus 15 cents per transaction, while Square now charges 2.75 percent, but no per-transaction fee.

The moves suggest that small business mobile payments now has become a serious business, with serious competition for customers.

What is a Book?

Average physical book prices are going up, and average units sold are going down, at the same time that ebook reader ownership also is growing.

Having seen this before, just about all of us would conclude that a shift to new formats, business models and delivery channels is inevitable.

40% of Facebook Users are Mobile

According to Facebook over 200 million of its active users now access the network from mobile devices, representing 40 percent of its 500 million total membership. Mobile users are also twice as active on Facebook than non-mobile users, the company says.

Mobile Music Revenues $5.5 billion in 2015

Music consumed on mobile handsets will generate $5.5 billion annually in 2015, representing growth of $3.1 billion from 2010 levels, according to Juniper Research.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Still Some Skepticism About LTE, In Some Quarters

Apparently some in Europe simply don't believe that fourth-generation LTE networks actually are going to be in commercial service this year, in the United States. And that isn't to argue about whether LTE-Advanced is that "only" LTE. Apparently there is some skepticism about the earlier, commercial versions as well.

Apparently there is some merit to being able to buy it, at a retail store, and use it in many cities, as an aid to belief.

Consumer, Business PC Markets Divergomg?

The latest round of earnings reports might suggest a divergence of consumer and business PC trends. Hewlett-Packard's consumer PC revenue was down 11 percent from last year for the quarter ended January 31, 2011. In contrast, sales of PCs to businesses were up 12 percent.

Dell consumer revenue was down eight percent from last year in the last quarter of 2010. The company appears have done adequately selling to large enterprises and businesses.

Microsoft: revenue from sales of Windows on new PCs was up three percent from last year in the last quarter of 2010. Microsoft says the business PC refresh cycle -- not consumers -- is driving growth in Windows.

One might conclude that consumers are flocking to tablets, while businesses are continuing to hold up Windows PC sales.

Apple sold 7.3 million iPads last quarter, while Mac unit sales were up 23 percent in the last quarter of 2010. Is it a permanent trend?

Sprint Selects BilltoMobile to Enable Subscribers to Charge Online Purchases to Their Wireless Bill -

BilltoMobile has reached a deal allowing Sprint customers to charge online purchases directly to their Sprint bill. Once implementation is complete in the coming months, merchants and payment resellers using BilltoMobile's mobile payment service will be able to offer this payment option to Sprint customers.

BilltoMobile already had signed deals with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, giving the firm access to about 85 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers.

Facebook Replacing Mobile Communications?

Mobile and fixed service providers face all sorts of competitors, most of them indirect. Email and instant messaging, for example, cannibalize some amount of voice traffic, as do over-the-top services such as Skype. In other cases, over-the-top applications simply "suck up all the oxygen in the room" by usurping the revenue created by those apps. In past years, telcos might have preferred to create the apps and keep the revenue themselves.

Some even think Facebook is in competition with mobile operators. Facebook has an integration deal with Skype for voice communications and in November 2010 unveiled an email offering.

In the Philippines, for example, the National Telecommunications Commission reports declining text message volumes as more people communicate with each other through the web and web-based apps.

The agency said that in 2009, the average Filipino user sent about 30 text messages per day, or a total of well over two billion messages. If the volume of those messages declines, there will be revenue implications for mobile service providers.

Square Drops 15-Cent Fee for Credit Card Purchases

Square says it is dropping the 15-cent transaction fee when merchants use its mobile payment system, and instead will take what is an interchange fee of of 2.75 percent of the gross sales amount.

The change is helpful for many of the small merchants who use Square, namely high-volume, low amount transactions.

U.S. Cable Operators Will Lose 6 Million Households by 2015

U.S. cable operators will lose six million more customers by 2015, predicts Jonathan Doran, Ovum analyst, down from 60 million households in 2010 to 54 million households.

Doran estimates that U.S. households subscribing to cable dropped by four million between 2007 and 2010. The losses will come from a combination of share losses to satellite and telco competitors, plus some amount of replacement by online services.

Dwolla Promises Retailers Lower Transaction Costs

Much of the original premise behind mobile payments was that it could lead to lower merchant transaction fees. That has not always proven to be the case, but Dwolla claims it does deliver on the promise.

Augmented Reality for Navigation

The downside for video-assisted navigation services used by auto drivers is that they might be tempted to look at the screen, instead of keeping their eyes on the road. This is useful, but potentially also a source of distracted driving danger.

Mobile Payments Boosts Ecosystem Value

Mobile and fixed service providers these days continually face the challenge of adapting their services in ways that preserve or create significant roles in the Internet, application, broadband access and voice ecosystems. In that regard, mobile payments and banking are significant precisely because those sorts of services are amenable to leverage.

In other words, service providers have other assets they can bring to bear that offer a substantial role in the creation of value, and presumably, therefore, a substantial role in revenues and profit within the ecosystem. It isn't that mobile banking and mobile payments cannot be offered "over the top," as virtually all other applications now can. It is rather that mobile service providers have existing assets to leverage, typically described as including active billing relationships with hundreds of millions of customers.

“Google’s massive, but Google does not have a billing relationship with 99 percent of its customers,” Deutsche Telekom Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Ed Kozel said in an interview last week. “That’s our opportunity.”

Also, some ways of conducting mobile banking and payments make use of text messaging, a service mobile operators largely control. In principle, mobile service providers also have billing systems set up to handle micro-payments, a potentially significant part of the overall mobile payments business.

Tablets also represent an opportunity. Online or virtual goods payments are growing in volume, and tablets should provide a richer environment for that sort of activity, especially as tablets develop as significant platforms for gaming and content consumption.

By some estimates, the retail mobile payments business could account for a third of the $1.13 trillion global market in mobile transactions by 2014, according to IE Market Research. Note the obverse, that other transactions will represent two thirds of mobile activity.

Amazon Streaming Video Service Has an Advantage

In business, it typically is advantageous when one competitor can afford to merchandise (give away) something of value that other competitors charge for.

Amazon, for example, now offers an instant video streaming service for its U.S. "Amazon Prime" customers. Amazon Prime is its $79 a year service which includes free two-day shipping for Amazon customers. The deal is that Amazon Prime members get access to Amazon's streaming service for no additional cost.

To be sure, Amazon's service currently offers unlimited, commercial-free and instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows, where Netflix offers something on the order of 20,000 items. The Netflix streaming-only subscription costs $7.99 per month, which adds up to about $96 a year.

The point is that Amazon has another way to monetize its service, compared to Netflix.

VoIP Bandwidth Calculator

I recently ran into a cable TV executive who reported some issues with a recent business hosted IP telephony installation. The issue was the sizing of the upstream bandwidth. Apparently, the issue was that the hosted IP telephony system also was interacting with some premises gear that essentially required four call paths to set up a session.

Here's a table to estimate the bandwidth required to support a given number of lines (voice paths) across a broadband connection, using a variety of codecs, and assuming you do not have the aforementioned problem.

Will Apple’s Subscription Plan Drive Developers to Android?

Google and Apple are in a building race for the loyalties of content providers and developers using their respective application stores.

While the iPhone has the largest app store, Google recently overtook Nokia and other phone manufacturers with the largest mobile operating system market share.

Google's "One Pass" will allow publishers to sell subscriptions with better terms than they can get with Apple. Google is only taking a 10 pecent share of the revenues, will Apple takes 30 percent.

Why is NCR Renting DVDs?

You might have seen Blockbuster DVD rental kiosks in grocery stores. Those kiosks actually are owned by NCR. You might wonder why NCR is in that business. Basically, NCR is doing so as a way of increasing demand for its automated terminals, and to gain operating knowledge that could be helpful as NCR attempts to create new uses for automated terminals.

Today NCR makes most of its money from automated teller machines and retail checkout systems. Nobody knows yet how much more that might change in the future, but observers might point to substantial use of retail kiosks in Japan, for example, as pointing to the possibility that consumers might want to buy a broader array of products from kiosks in the future.

How Airlines Use Twitter

Social media is a two-edged sword, a tool brands can use, but also a tool consumers can use. Note that United Continental gets 57 percent negative tweets.

It's tough to control a brand message when that level of negative commentary is being posted.

France Could Outlaw Skype

Many executives in the telecommunications industry, a decade ago, thought it was unfair that VoIP services such as Skype did not have to abide by many of the rules that govern providers of public telecommunications service. Contributions to universal service funds and payment of taxes were sticking points.

Skype is not "registered" as a "telecommunications provider" in France. Skype also has been the subject of legal proceedings in France for that reason. So it appears the issues will be raised again.

Readability Tests Apple App Store In-App Fee Policy, Loses

Readability is a software development boutique whose reading functionality is part of the Apple Safari browser, but whose Apple App Store app (Readability iOS ) has been rejected, apparently because the app uses a non-Apple in-app purchase mechanism.

Readability says content providers get 70 percent of revenues when users buy content, but that Apple's 30-percent fee for app content sales then destroys the business model.

Which brings up an interesting question: as cloud-based software subscriptions start to proliferate, will Apple apply the same 30-percent fee? And, if so, will providers of all sorts of cloud-based apps avoid the App Store?

There are signs Apple already has thought about this, and does not plan to impose the same arrangements for cloud-based software apps. See

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mobiles are Most-Owned Gadget

Mobile phones are by far the most popular device among American adults, especially for adults under the age of 65. Some 85 percent of adults own cell phones overall. Taking pictures (done by 76 percent of cell owners) and text messaging (done by 72 percent of cell owners) are the two non-voice functions that are widely popular among all cell phone users.

Desktop computers are most popular with adults ages 35-65, with 69 percent of Millennials, 65 percent of "Younger Boomers" and 64 percent of "Older Boomers" owning these devices.

Millennials are the only generation that is more likely to own a laptop computer or netbook than a desktop: 70 percent own a laptop, compared with 57 percent who own a desktop.

While almost half of all adults own an mp3 player like an iPod, this device is by far the most popular with Millennials, the youngest generation. Some 74 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 own an mp3 player, compared with 56 percent of the next oldest generation, Gen X (roughly between the ages of 33 or 35 up to 43 or 46).

Game consoles are significantly more popular with adults ages 18 to 46, with 63% owning these devices.

Some five percent of all adults own an e-book reader.

Motorola Touts Zoom Tablet

Apple Dominates App Store Purchases

Apple dominates app store sales, with 93 percent of device-oriented app store revenue. Click on the image for a larger view.

HTC Thunderbolt Near Launch

Amazon Says Kindle Beats iPad

The thing about investment bubbles is that the irrational exuberance occurs because there is a genuine sense that big things are possible. Since 2010, there has been some sense that an Internet bubble is forming, that expectations are unrealistic. Of course, that is the excessive side of the belief that something big is afoot. We probably have both at the moment: a time when some truly new and big things are coming, and the near certainty that valuations are too rich and that too many firms will be funded.

Teens Text Because it is Faster than Voice, Also More Fun

It would come as no surprise that teens and many younger users have a preference for texting rather than calling. In 2010 a Nielsen survey suggested that the overwhelming reason SMS resonates with teens is that it is easier than making voice calls.

About 22 percent of teens surveyed said texting was easier than making a call, while 20 percent said it also was faster than making a voice call. Voice activity has decreased 14 percent among teens, who average 646 minutes talking on the phone per month.

While voice consumption rises and peaks at age 24, only adults over 55 talk less than teens. Teen females, who are more social with their phones, average about 753 minutes per month, while males use around 525 minutes.

In 2009, teens texted instead of calling because it was fun. They still think it is fun. But beyond that, it also seems to be seen as a better way to communicate.

Calling from Inside Gmail

Since the third quarter of 2010, users have been able to launch voice calls using Google Voice from inside their Gmail accounts, and at this point, calls to destinations in Canada and the United States are free. Separately, Google has created a Google Voice iPhone app, while other firms obviously have created their own mobile apps for "over the top" calling.

Developments such as these are examples of voice becoming a feature embedded in applications, as well as voice becoming a "mobile app" and a "browser app," as many proponents of "voice 2.0" have suggested would increasingly become the case.

Apple iPhone Cartoon Lampoons HTC Evo

Warning: this is funny, but there are several "F bombs." Also, despite the cartoon, I vastly prefer, and use, the HTC Evo, not the Apple iPhone, though there are six active iPhones in the immediate family (100 percent of my children and their "significant others.")

fonYou Mobile: Cloud Telephony for Mobile Service Providers

Most mobile executives are likely resigned to the idea that, at some point, they will have to offer their own "over the top" voice services. A firm named fonYou Mobile offers a "Cloud Telephony" service that allows mobile operators to offer their end customers over-the-top voice services such as an online activity register, smart address book, advanced call control features or visual voicemail, accessible through web and mobile phone browsers as well as smartphone and Facebook applications.

Service features include the ability to blacklist unwanted calls or SMS, set up different voicemail greetings for different callers, manage contacts and messages online, forward voicemails as emails, or set up call forwarding services at different times of the day.

Will Tablets Disrupt Linear TV?

Screen size typically affects the amount of consumption by any single viewer. During last year’s World Cup coverage, MobiTV said that viewers watching coverage on devices with five-inch screens watched an average of 118.2 average minutes of coverage; four-inch screen users watched 102.2 minutes; three-inch screen users, an average of 67.4 minutes; and two-inch screen users watched 61.1 minutes.

That raises the obvious question of how much more users will watch when they are using tablets with very-large screens, in a mobile context. One would assume viewing would increase.

MobiTV seems to think tablets also will create an opportunity for cross-platform entertainment video viewing, including smartphone TV, time shifting, recording and playing back content on tablets, PCs, and the main living room TV.

Best Buy Offers Demo of HTC Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt will be available on the Verizon Wireless network soon. It basically is an HTC Evo with a slightly-different size and battery.

$10 Billion Valuation for Zynga?

Android Big in Barcelona

Sunday, February 20, 2011

12 new file formats in the Google Docs Viewer

Google Docs Viewer often gets used to open PDFs, Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations online. But the Google Docs Viewer also supports viewing of 12 new file types, without requiring a download of the documents.

Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
Apple Pages (.PAGES)
Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
TrueType (.TTF)
XML Paper Specification (.XPS)

Verizon iPhone selling mostly to more-causal users?

Some data provided by Instapaper’s App Store might indicate that current iPhone buyers have different priorities than the early adopters, suggesting that iPhone users are becoming more "mainstream," and also that users do not feel the need to break their current contracts to get an iPhone.

Tablet Impact on PC Sales

The Apple iPad clearly caused a shocking deceleration of PC sales. Among the more interesting speculations one might make is the embrace of tablets by enterprises. Given that tablets do not easily allow enterprises to load or run many of their typical apps, one has to conclude that for many users, those apps are not so mission critical.

Which leads one to ask whether many organizations are getting the productivity enterprises believe they are, from many of their users, as well as whether enterprises have adapted their business process software largely completely to hosted access based on use of web browsers.

It also appears many enterprise users only require simple email access and apps that can be accessed using a standard browser. They've been carrying devices with fewer input, output and application support capabilities than they actually need.

Is The Second Dotcom Bubble Underway?

Some would argue there are 10 tell-tale signs that a technology bubble is building. Insert "social networking" for "New Thing," for example.

You can make your own decisions about how well the logic works for "cloud computing," "mobile payments" or "tablet computing." So far, by my reckoning, those other trends have not yet created "bubble" logic, but could. Keep in mind that the last Internet bubble, which began in 1995 or 1996, actually was a couple of bubbles, both Internet and telecom. It is possible there were be a couple of bubbles this time, if in fact a bubble is building.

But it also is fair to note that bubbles build because people really believe something "really big" will result.

1. The arrival of a “New Thing” that cannot be valued in the old way. Dumb-money companies start paying over the odds for New Thing acquisitions.

2. Smart people identify the start of a bubble; New Thing apostles make ever more glowing claims.

3. Startups with founders deemed to have “pedigree” (for example, former employees of New Thing companies) get funded at eye-watering valuations for next to no reason.

4. There is a flurry of new investment funds catering for startups.

5. Companies start getting funded “off the slide deck” (that is, purely on the basis of their PowerPoint presentations) without actually having a product.

6. MBAs leave banks to start up firms.

7. The “big flotation” happens.

8. Banks make a market in the New Thing, investing pension money.

9. Taxi drivers start giving you advice on what stock to buy.

10. A New Thing darling buys an old-world company for stupid money. The end is nigh.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Is iIt 1996 All Over Again?

Some entrepreneurs now starting mobile app and other firms were in primary school in 1996, when a wave of Internet innovation built, culminating in a great bubble and bust in 2001.

But there are ample enough signs that a decade later, we are likely seeing another great wave of innovation.

Will mobile applications and the technologies that support them change the way people communicate, get information and do business to the degree that the web did starting in 1996?

Some think so. Others are likely reminding themselves what happened last time.

Twitter Conflict with 3rd-Party Developers Heats Up

Twitter has recently been squeezing third-party developers since 2010, when it began buying and internalizing formerly independent applications that build on Twitter, and arguably making it harder for third parties to provide important functions Twitter believes are "core" features.

In that regard, Twitter recently shut off access to its service by several Twitter client applications provided by UberMedia. UberTwitter, Twidroyd, and UberCurrent were shut off from Twitter, said Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia.

Mobile Hotspot an Early "New" 4G Application and Revenue Driver

Though the feature also is becoming something more common on 3G networks, the "mobile hotspot" feature has become an early "4G" application differentiated from what 3G has offered in the past. As important as 3G "PC dongles" have been as a driver of mobile broadband revenue for mobile service providers, the 4G mobile hotspot seems to play a similar role for 4G. 

You can argue about whether a mobile hotspot is markedly different from a PC dongle, but there is one important difference. A mobile hotspot eliminates the need to buy a tablet from a particular carrier. Just buy the tablet you want, get the Wi-Fi-only version, and use the mobile hotspot for on-the-go connections in the same way that a PC dongle can be used to support on-the-go notebook service. 

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...