Thursday, March 31, 2011

SIP Trunking Service Revenue Grows 143% in 2010

The VoIP services market reached $49.8 billion in 2010, compared to $34.8 billion in 2008. While the residential services segment remains the largest of the market at 69 percent of total revenue, business VoIP services are growing at faster rates.

SIP trunking had a breakout year with 143 percent revenue growth in 2010,” notes Diane Myers, directing analyst for VoIP and IMS at Infonetics Research.

Infonetics Research forecasts the combined business and residential and small office/home office VoIP services market to grow to $74.5 billion in 2015.

Managed IP PBX business VoIP service revenue is expected to more than double from 2010 to 2015.

The fastest growing segments of the VoIP services market are SIP trunking and hosted UC telephony. Based on healthy demand for cloud-based services, the number of seats for IP Centrex and hosted UC services grew 20 percent in 2010, says Infonetics.

Kansas City Might Not be Last to Get 1-Gbps Fiber to Home from Google

Google has suggested it might fund more than one test site. From the Google blog:

We’ve heard from some communities that they’re disappointed not to have been selected for our initial build. So just to reiterate what I've said many times in interviews: we're so thrilled by the interest we've generated—today is the start, not the end the project. And over the coming months, we'll be talking to other interested cities about the possibility of us bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities.

Blogger is Changing

0.05% of Entities Produce Tweets Read by 50% of Twiiter Users

On Twitter, roughly 50 percent of tweets consumed are generated by just 20,000 elite users including celebrities, large media and other organizations and some bloggers, a study by Yahoo Research has found. In other words, 20,000 users, comprising less than 0.05 percent of the user population, attracts almost 50 percent of all attention within Twitter. read more here

39% of SMBs Will be Buying Cloud Services by 2014, Study Suggests

Some 39 percent of small and medium-sized businesses expect to be paying for one or more cloud services within three years, an increase of 34 percent from the current 29 percent, a study conducted by Edge Strategies has found. The study also found that respondents expect to almost double their use of cloud services over the next three years.

The global survey of 3,258 firms that employ up to 250 employees included respondents from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

Collaboration, data storage and backup and business-class email are some cloud-based services that hold promise for channel partners and other sales entities. SMBs paying for cloud services will be using 3.3 services, up from fewer than two services today, over the next few years, the study suggests.

The larger the business, the more likely it is to pay for cloud services. The study suggests 56 percent of companies with 51 to 250 employees will pay for an average of 3.7 services within three years.

Within three years, 43 percent of workloads will become paid cloud services, but 28 percent will remain on-premises, and 29 percent will be free or bundled with other services.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Consumerization of Enterprise IT Continues

Workers now report using an average of four consumer devices and multiple third-party applications, such as social networking sites, in the course of their day, according to a study sponsored by Unisys. Also, workers in the survey reported that they are using their own smartphones, laptops and mobile phones in the workplace at nearly twice the rate reported by employers.

In fact, 95 percent of respondents reported that they use at least one self-purchased device for work. Another big change is that where enterprise IT staffs used to assume they were responsible for training and supporting users on enterprise technology, these days many users simply will go ahead and train themselves to use tools they prefer. That also is a big change.

That 'consumerization' of technology is quite a big shift. Decades ago, the pattern of technology diffusion was fairly straightforward. The latest new technology was purchased by large enterprises and large government entities. Over time medium-sized businesses and organizations started to buy the same technology. Later, small businesses and organizations adopted the tools. Finally, some consumers 'brought the technology home' and used it as well.

All of that has changed over the last two decades. These days, many enterprise tools actually were brought into the enterprise by consumers who already had adopted the technology for home use.

Net Neutrality Positions Hinge on Assumptions

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has told Internet service providers that their plans for a two-tier Internet go against the principle of net neutrality. Berners-Lee said that Internet users should have free and open access to all content, and that content providers should also have unrestrained access to customers.

That sort of points up the confusion around the whole notion of network neutrality, understood as the idea that every user and entity should be able to communicate with every other user, for "free."

Even the original thinking that every entity should be able to communicate with every other entity no longer is possible. China will not allow some communications, on some subjects, by any Chinese user, no matter what a content or application provider might think. Many governments will not allow the use of Skype or other VoIP services and applications.

Watch for Significant Cord Cutting in 2012

Nearly 25 million U.S. households have watched online video on their standard TVs, Forrester Research reports. The U.S. online adults Forrester Research surveyed reported that 14 percent of their total video viewing was coming from the Internet, on average. Assuming a typical user watches five hours a day worth of video, which implies about 42 minutes a day of online video consumption using TVs, PCs or other devices.

When the results are sorted to include only respondents who say they watch online video on a TV, 28 percent of total viewing time—about an hour and 24 minutes a day—is online video.

In about 56 percent of cases, consumers are using their videogame consoles as the gateway to online viewing that is displayed on a TV. That makes sense, as the game players are, by definition, already connected to the TV and to a broadband connection.

The personal computer is the second most common gateway device used to view online video on a standard TV, Forrester Research reports that 10.9 million homes currently connect a PC to a TV at least occasionally, representing about 44 percent of the gateway devices used to watch online video on a TV display.

Half of Mobile Subscribers Use Their Phones to Shop

About half of mobile phone owners use their devices when shopping, to one extent or another.

While 89.7 percent of the U.S. population aged 18 to 64 have mobile phones, only 49.1 percent are using their phones to shop, according to Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of advertising agency Leo Burnett.

Mobile shoppers are using phone-friendly versions of websites and apps to compare prices, read reviews, check out product features, download coupons and make purchases.

read more here

Half of U.S. Mobile Users Buy Mobile Broadband, Parks Associates Says

Growth in Mobile Data Revenues"Almost 50 percent of U.S. mobile phone users pay for mobile Internet access, according to Parks Associates. Some 95 percent pay for SMS, 92 percent pay for Internet access, 83 percent pay for mobile email, 63 percent pay for mobile navigation, and 43 percent pay for mobile video.

Tablet Sales Could Drive Significant Mobile Broadband Sales

Global Sales of Tablet DevicesIn yet another sign that connected devices other than smartphones are starting to drive demand for mobile broadband service, Parks Associates forecasts more than 68 million of the 126 million tablets sold worldwide in 2015 will have 3G or greater technology. That only means that users have the ability to buy mobile broadband, not that they will, of course.

Some 29 percent of the 16.5 million tablets sold in 2010 featured embedded 3G technology, while tablets with 3G or 4G technology will account for over half of all tablets sold in 2015.

U.S. SMBs Highly Likely to Buy Tech Support Services for Tablets, Other IT

SMB Use of Tech Support - chartU.S. small businesses are three times more likely than average consumers to use professional computer-related technical support services, compared to consumers, and significantly more likely to purchase additional support features when acquiring new equipment, Parks Associates says.

"SMBs waste dozens of hours per month troubleshooting technology issues," said Kurt Scherf, VP, principal analyst, Parks Associates. "Over 70 percent are involved with ongoing computer maintenance on a monthly basis."
About half deal with Internet access issues, 44 percent troubleshoot computer problems, 31 percent troubleshoot networking issues, and 27 percent deal with server problems.'"

There might be new opportunities for a variety of companies and channels. Apple, for example. recently announced JointVenture, a new support network for small businesses that combines remote and retail support for its iPads and Macs.

Tech Company Valuation: 1999 and 2011

It's hard to say for certain whether we are in a dangerous valuation bubble for Internet companies or not, as we were around 2000.

It is clear there is an enormous wave of Internet innovation going on at the moment. But there will be excesses and failures, as well as some big new market leaders.

But one difference seems to be that all the emerging companies are applications and software firms. You'd be hard pressed to name a hardware company that is among the emerging firms.

Microsoft Strategy Chief: Tablets May Just Be A Fad

Microsoft's chief technical officer and strategic leader Craig Mundie told an audience in Australia that he's not sure if tablets are here to stay. Steve Jobs agrees with Mundie on one point: the iPad is not a PC. Beyond that, Apple and Microsoft do not seem to agree on much else.

Google "Plus One" is Another Way Users Can Annotate the Web

NFC is Overhyped, says Sybase

Sybase is a leader in text messaging based mobile payments, so Sybase might be forgiven its public view that mobile payments using near field communications are over-hyped at the moment. The general observation is correct, as always is the case. Enthusiasm always outruns actual adoption when brand-new technologies are introduced.

Sybase says text-based payments more than doubled in 2010, so “mobile commerce is exploding." But the skeptical view about NFC is both a realistic assessment of what can happen in 2011, and a rational response for a leader using a rival method.

Microsoft Planning Mobile Payments Support

Microsoft Corp. is working on a version of its Windows Phone software with near field communications support, allowing creation and use of NFC-based mobile payments applications and services. What isn't immediately clear is whether Microsoft wants to provide NFC support without creating its own mobile payments solution, or will try to compete as a supplier of mobile payments or related services.

Is a Wireless Duopoly a Good Idea?

Though the notion will strike some as obviously ill-fitting, until 30 years ago, telecom companies were regarded as natural monopolies. There are few places left where that remains the case.

That doesn't necessarily mean there is universal agreement about the best way to foster competition, or which patterns are stable and yet workably competitive. In some cases, network access still is seen as a sort of utility function, with competition between retail providers using a shared wholesale network now seen as the way to harness competition while minimizing investment in expensive access networks. That isn't the pattern in the U.S. market, however.

AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, with no change in the Verizon Wireless footprint, which would result in nearly 75 percent of U.S. subscribers being served by just two national carriers. In some cases, duopolies arguably have provided workable, though not perfect competition.

In the wireless sphere, some will argue that the analog services duopoly was characterized by low rates of innovation, high prices and modest mass market adoption. Not until new competitors and digital services were unleashed did the mobile industry really reach ubiquity. So some will worry about a return to a national duopoly.

But some also will note that much innovation and competition in the wireless space now is conducted by application and handset providers, and that access is just one element. It will not be a terribly easy analysis to figure out what the "market" is, or how the dynamics of competition now work.

Kansas City, Kan. to Get Google 1-Gbps Fiber to Home Network

Kansas City, Kansas will get a Google-built 1-Gbps fiber-to-home access network as part of a Google test of what can be done when such networks are available.

Buyer Processes for Software and Hardware are Changing

As more business software moves to a cloud-based model, something else is going to change: The way business customers buy software and applications. To an extent probably not yet appreciated, a shift to Internet-delivered software makes it easier for business buyers to focus on business outcomes, not "speeds and feeds."

Buyers will start to focus less on "features" and start to concentrate on the quality of business outcomes enabled by technology, and not the technology itself, said Peter O’Neill, Forrester Research analyst.

That should have implications for sales teams, as it suggests the typical buyer is going to be inclined to look for a discussion of how a particular solution helps an organization boost its chances to grow revenue, or conversely how a given solution helps an organization reduce its costs in some measurable way.

As always, it is a good bet that the more interesting stories will revolve around "growing revenue" rather than "reducing cost." For some suppliers, this will represent a challenging shift. All too often, a hosted IP telephony discussion, or a potential new premises phone system sale, will center on all the features a new solution offers. That doesn't fit with the growing emphasis on "business impact," especially as the actual "buying" becomes easier, since applications can be sourced simply by using the Internet access connection and browser.

By simplifying all the implementation and provisioning tasks, hosted or cloud-based applications mean the buyer can spend more attention on the direct business benefits attached to any solution. That will prove a different, and perhaps more difficult sales challenge, since the pitch will have to be on the business benefits, not the attributes of a given solution. Instead of "our box or software does X, Y and Z," sales forces will have to speak to the ways the deployed solution helps boost revenue, customer acquisition, retention, sales volume or number of prospects that can be contacted in a day.

Gartner Identifies 10 Consumer Mobile Applications to Watch in 2012

The most important mobile apps in 2012 will be those that are purpose-built to take advantage of mobile device capabilities and situational use cases, say analysts at Garner. Perhaps the most interesting apps will combine multiple mobile-specific features that use sensor information, combine it with other user-supplied preferences, and then create some sort of commerce activity.

In other words, the mobile experience is becoming a distinct medium from the location-based experience, representing something more than simply a smaller-screen, out of home or "on the go" version of the tethered Internet experience. If you had to pick one element that is most distinctive, it would be "location," the smartphone's ability to use the actual user location, as it changes, to modify the application experience.

Most of the distinctive mobile apps will use location, mapping and directions, in conjunction with other user-supplied data and preferences, to create new experiences and new business models for application and service providers. Context awareness is the new wrinkle.

How Traditional Telecom Suppliers are Preparing for Mobile Payments

Mitch Cornell, Xius VP, talks about the mobile payments business, particularly illustrating how a traditional provider of prepaid mobile solutions believes its traditional solutions can be "re-purposed" for the mobile payments ecosystem.

Apps Moving to PCs

Enteprise Hierarchies Endangered?

As 24/7 connectivity, social networking, and increased demands for personal freedom further penetrate the walls of the corporation, corporate life will continue to move away from traditional hierarchical structures, a Booz & Co. analysis apparently suggests. Instead, workers, mixing business and personal matters over the course of the day, will self-organize into agile communities of interest.

By 2020, more than half of all employees at large corporations will work in virtual project groups. These virtual communities will make it easier for non-Western knowledge workers to join global teams, and to migrate to the developed world.

The proliferation and increasing sophistication of communication, interaction, and collaboration technologies and tools, and the economics of travel itself, will result in knowledge workers’ traveling much less frequently. Many of you undoubtedly would agree that although work processes are becoming more collaborative and fluid, the hierarchy of authority has not much changed.

Is Mobile Voice Nearing a Tipping Point?

Sprint has announced very-significant integration of Google Voice, allowing Sprint subscribers to use their Sprint phone numbers to access a full range of Google Voice features, including routing calls to fixed phone numbers, as well as replace Sprint voice mail with the Google Voice voice mail service. That move can be interpreted in numerous ways. At a tactical level, you might say that more-substantial innovations in a market tend to come from contestants that do not have market power, and which need to shake things up.

At another level, you might ask whether a strategic shift has been made at Sprint, in terms of where the single most important revenue stream is coming from. It is no secret that mobile service provider revenue, which has been based on voice, but augmented significantly by text message and now mobile broadband revenue, continues to evolve in the direction of primary reliance on broadband-based services and access. Perhaps Sprint has made a decision to essentially hasten that process by attempting to change the value equation for voice, even if that hastens the demise of voice as a revenue stream in many ways.

"For an operator to work with a company such as Google, which is widely perceived as a significant threat in the most lucrative areas in mobile, and to endorse a service that has previously been seen by many as a threat to core voice revenue, is intriguing," says Steve Costello, GSMA content editor. "At the very least it reflects changing telco attitudes, as the previous business model is swept away by new-entrants from the internet world."

Whether merely tactical, or indicative of a broader strategic shift, the Sprint deal with Google Voice is possible evidence that a turning point is about to be reached, historic for either the fixed-line or mobile businesses, where at least some contestants reach a point in their business development where the growth of broadband revenues and the tempo of innovation has to be spurred, even at the expense of putting further pressure on the core voice services revenue.

Unified Communications Goes Social, Because Social is a Competitor

"You can have enterprise social software without unified communications, but no unified communications technology player worth its salt is without an enterprise social media strategy," says David Carr at Information Week.

One might also say that the reason social software now is being grafted onto unified communications systems is that social software to an extent replicates the value claimed for much UC software. Another way of explaining what "social software" is to say it is "collaboration." And collaboration is another way of describing the value of much unified communications.

One might also point out that in many instances, social software can be seen as a replacement for much of what UC is supposed to provide.

Better Ad Targeting for GMail

Google's Economic Value $119 Billion?

Here's how an economist would conduct the analysis. Google economist Hal Varian came to the conclusion that Google saves us 3.75 minutes per day, and then used the average U.S. hourly earnings numbers ($22) to calculate that Google saves users $1.37 a day. That number multiplied by 365 days in a year equals $500. Varian then multiplied that $500 number by 130 million, the number of people employed in the US, to get to $65 billion value in savings for users.

Adding those two bottom line numbers $65 billion + $54 billion together results in the rough ballpark of the total value of Google to US users ($119 billion), Varian holds. For comparison Google’s global market cap is $187.04 billion.

But that $119 billion number doesn’t take into account extraneous factors like the value to non-employed. “You should think about these numbers as an underestimate," says Varian. The value of getting answers to questions immediately is a pretty big deal.”

Tablets Now Represent Difference Between Decline and Growth for Worldwide IT Spending

Among other things, tablets now represent all of the difference between "flat" global information technology growth in real terms and a decline in real terms, according to Gartner. On a nominal basis, tablets drive most of the 5.6 percent growth in 2011.

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.6 trillion in 2011, a 5.6 percent increase from $3.4 trillion in 2010, according to Gartner.

Tablets account for the increase in top-line growth, said Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner. “Absent the addition of media tablets, the forecast would have slightly declined in constant-dollar terms; however, with their addition, there's virtually no change in underlying forecast growth at the level of overall IT.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Netflix Canada Creates 3 Streaming Rates

To cope with new user caps in the Canadian market, Netflix has created three different image quality levels for users of the streaming service. The "Good" setting is the default setting and provides good picture quality and lowest data use per hour (about 0.3 GBytes perc hour).

The "Better" setting consumes about 0.7 GBytes per hour. The "Best" setting picture quality consumes about 1.0 GByte an hour, or up to 2.3 GBytes per hour when streaming HD content.

The "Good" setting limits video and audio to 625 kbps and 64 kbps, respectively. The "Better" setting limits video and audio to a maximum of 1300 kbps and 192 kpbs, respectively.

The "Best" setting will use any of the video and audio rates available. The highest quality files are 4800 kbps (for 1080p HD video) and 384 kbps audio (for 5.1 audio).

AmEx Mobile Payment Addreses "Debit Card" Gap

In yet another take on the mobile payments value and business model, the American Express "Serve" service gets American Express into the "debit card" revenue stream, essentially.

"In our view, this is a bold undertaking for American Express that has the potential to address the company's key strategic weakness, debit," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Chris Brendler.

Serve could also help extend Amex's reach beyond just the high-end consumer as Serve is clearly targeting the mass market. So in addition to making possible an Amex foray into the debit card revenue stream, it also extends Amex activities in the broad consumer market in a new way.

Is There a Social Networking Bubble?

Bob Metcalfe says "yes," there is a bubble.

Google Updates "Google Commerce" for Retailers

Google Commerce is an application designed for retailers, and has been upgraded to feature "Search as You Type," provides instant gratification to shoppers, returning product results with every keystroke, right from the search bar.

"Local Product Availability" helps retailers bridge online and offline sales by showing shoppers when a product is also available in a store nearby, in-line with the search results.

"Enhanced Merchandising" tools allow retailers to create product promotions that display in banners alongside related search queries, and to easily set query-based landing pages (for example, when a visitor types [shoes], they’re directed to a “shoe” page).

"Product Recommendations"  helps shoppers make purchase decisions by showing them what others viewed and ultimately bought.

Netflix Adjusts Video Quality

Netflix Canada now has adjusted video image quality so that less bandwidth is consumed, allowing users to watch more video while remaining under their usage caps, Netflix says. Users can manually reset image quality to higher levels, consuming more bandwidth, from their dashboards ("Your Account," then "Manage Video Quality").

Where watching 30 hours of video, especially in high definition, would consume as much as 70 GBytes, and about 30 Gbytes in standard definition, now Canadians can watch 30 hours of streaming from Netflix in a month that will consume only 9 GBytes of data, well below most data caps.

Smart Phone Sales to Grow 49% in 2011

The worldwide smart phone market is expected to grow 49 percent in 2011 as more consumers and enterprise users turn in their feature phones for smartphones with more advanced features, according to International Data Corporation.

Smart phone vendors will ship more than 450 million smartphones in 2011 compared to the 303.4 million units shipped in 2010, IDC predicts, growing four times faster than the overall mobile phone market. None of those predictions will come as a surprise.

Operating System

2011 Market Share

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Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile












Millennials Much More Responsive, but Overall There is Low Response to Text Message Advertising

Millennials with mobile phones look at texted ads and respond to ads sent by text far more than do other cell phone owners, followed by GenXers, according to the latest data from GfK MRI. Baby Boomers, have yet to warm significantly to text ads.

But the more important finding is that few adults actually have gotten, or looked at, a text ad of any sort. Approximately six percent of adults with mobile phones looked at an ad sent with a text message in the last 30 days (some 12.5 million people), while 2.7 percent of adults with mobile phones used text messaging to respond to an ad or to make a purchase in the last 30 days (some 5.3 million people).

Millennials (born 1977 to 1994) are 57 percent more likely than the average cell phone owner to have looked at a texted ad. Moreover, they are 93 percent more likely to have used text to respond to an ad or to make a purchase.

GenXers (born 1965 to 1976), on the other hand, are only 19 percent more likely than the average cell phone owner to have looked at a texted ad, and they are just six percent more likely to have responded to an ad or to have made a purchase by text messaging. Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) are 40 percent less likely to have looked at a texted ad than the average mobile phone owner and 55 percent less likely to have responded to an ad or to have made a purchase by text.

But it would be fair to note that virtually every type of digital activity, even when much more heavily engaged in by younger users, has also been adopted by older users. That suggests responsiveness to text ads will grow, in the older demographics. But that is likely a secondary consideration. At the moment, few users of any age actually receive, or look at, text message advertising.

Mobile Payments: Tough Business Case for Credit Card Issuers

Bank of America, Citigroup and U.S. Bank executives do not see a compelling business case, for them, in mobile payments, in large part because mobile payments simply represent a way to defend their existing business.

"There’s just not a business case right now," says Dodd Roberts, Merchant Advisory Group CEO. That perspective is not limited to credit and debit card issuers. Telcos found there was no business case for digital subscriber line, allowing competitors to gain a market foothold. Telcos found there was no business case for widespread deployment of consumer VoIP. Cable companies, on the other hand, easily could justify VoIP as their way to attack the consumer and small business voice business.

Credit card issuers, in other words, might find that mobile payment systems actually represent new cost, but little, if any, incremental revenue. Attackers will find mobile payments a business platform for taking market share away from established players. In fact, a likely early approach for many credit card issuers is simply to tolerate some loss of market share, until a defensive response becomes absolutely necessary.

The reason is simple revenue economics. If one assumes that new mobile payments systems promise retailers lower transaction costs, then a major shift to mobile payments by credit card and debit card issuers will simply lower profit margins across the board. As telcos early found out, revenue is higher if established players simply allow competitors to take some amount of market share, while maintaining higher gross revenue and profit margins as the remaining business that does not shift.

There are limits to the strategy, though. At some point, so much business is lost that a competitive response, even at the cost of lower gross revenue and profit margin, is necessary.

How Important are Social Product Recommendations?

People still get most of their information about products and services from friends and other people in face-to-face conversations. Email and voice conversations also are frequently used by more than half of respondents to a Colloquy survey.

Communication Methods Used to Discuss Products/Services According to US Young Adults vs. General Population, Dec 2010 (% of respondents in each group)Company sites, shopping sites, blogs and Twitter and other micro-blogging sites are much less frequently the source of such information. But that is likely to change as the lead edge of younger users become more nearly representative of the "general" or "typical" user.

Some might argue that socially-influenced product recommendations are not as influential as often is thought. But 56 percent of respondents 18 to 25 already say they share such information on social networking sites.

96% of Marketers Increasing Social Spend

Fully 96 percent of World Federation of Advertisers members polled recently are spending more time and money on social media. However, half of them admitted to being unsure of the likely return on that investment and nine percent believe the outcome will be "poor."

The attraction of social media often seems to be that it can be done without spending much money. But nearly always, organizations find that it takes far more time than originally anticipated. Just nine percent found their social activities took less time and cost less than expected.

Some 27 percent of those who have increased their social media efforts have found running fan pages takes more time and money than they had anticipated. The payoff is additional insight and increased loyalty (85 percent agreed), and the opportunity to increase advocacy (80 percent).

read more here

Online Cannibalizes Print, Not TV

US Major Media Ad Spending, by Media, 2009-2015 (billions)Television retains the greatest share of US major media ad spending, at 39.1 percent in 2011. Increases in online ad spending—set to grow from 15.4 percent of the total in 2009 to 25.6 percent by 2015, will not come at the expense of television, but of other traditional media like print and directories, eMarketer says.

In fact, eMarketer does not believe television advertising share will decline at all, between now and 2015. That doesn't mean changes are inconceivable. It is possible the actual venues and channels within the television segment will shift, from linear to online, for example.

Social and Mobile Are Changing "Shopping"

One way to look at marketing is to say that channels today are highly fragmented, and becoming more fragmented. (Click on image for a larger view)

The other way to look at marketing is to day that products are more customized and personalized, and there are buying influences broadly scattered across a range of digital channels, including social shopping influences.

In other words, people have more input available from other shoppers, and shoppers use that information when buying themselves.

Some people think social commerce or social shopping is basically just social networking. That's likely too narrow a view. Social processes (people sharing and collaborating) are bigger than simple "social networking," and affect both the ways consumers find information and make choices, as well as the ways marketers have to plan on reaching potential buyers.

Simply Tap: Mobile Payments Aimed at Mobille Shopping

A new mobile payments service, Simply Tap, will launch in the United Kingdom at the end of the summer, allowing consumers to buy any product on any mobile phone by sending a text message bearing a numerical code displayed on a billboard, for example.

The service works independently of any mobile network or handset brand. Once they have registered their name, address, preferred delivery address and debit or credit card details, consumers can buy products by entering the retailer's product code, and having the product delivered directly to the user's home.

Simply Tap: to launch an app and SMS service later this year

The service will be run by the Mobile Money Network, a company owned by Carphone Warehouse,Best Buy and Monitise.

The venture is another example of the different potential business models mobile payments represents, beyond the actual payment transaction. Google sees an advertising angle, Simply Tap is an e-commerce play. Others see in-store promotion as a key way to monetize the platform.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Australia's National Broadband Network Becomes Law

Australia's parliament has passed legislation establishing the new National Broadband Network. The legislation passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The new law sets out a regulatory framework to provide that NBN Co. will operate on a wholesale-only, open and equivalent-access basis for all retail providers that wish to use the facilities. See Australia's National Broadband Network Law Passes Parliament -

The NBN also effectively structurally separates Telstra operations into retail and wholesale operations, as Telstar will be required to sell facilities to the NBN. In principle, you would think such structural separation would not allow vertical integration. But some observers say that might happen, to a certain extent. Nor does the existence of the NBN deal with the issue of "monopoly" or "full competition" in all respects.

There are, for example 120 points of network interconnection. But that also means NBN can refuse to connect to any retail provider except at those 120 points.

Similarly, NBN Co is going to offer a bundle of voice and data services as a uniform product across its fiber, wireless and satellite networks. Apparently to protect the government’s promise of uniform national pricing of NBN services, NBN will have the ability to deny supply to any service provider that doesn’t want to take the bundle.

That commitment to uniform national pricing at the wholesale level necessitates a system of cross-subsidies. Urban customer bases will subsidize higher-cost rural and regional customers.

NBN also is going to be allowed to "discriminate" in its pricing, providing volume discounts as well as possible special pricing for enterprise, educational institutions, government and local government agencies. None of that is unusual for wholesale carriers. But such issues show that structural separation might not solve all the problems "monopoly" is thought to cause. See

Millenials Value Lots of Things in a Brand, Not Just "Coolness"

Affluent Gen Y: Media Survey | Robert Mertz from L2 Think Tank on Vimeo.
Authenticity, for example, is quite important.

Handet Leadership Changes Over 10 Years

In an industry that is changing so rapidly, you'd expect changes of leadership in just about all phases of the business. Consider handsets. A decade ago, European brands such as Nokia, Siemens and the Swedish-Japanese JV Sony-Ericsson lead, in terms of sales and market share.

Over time, Asian manufacturers and computer makers like Apple replaced them.

American Express Launches "Serve" Mobile Payments Service

American Express is launching a new mobile payment system called "Serve." Serve will allow consumers to make purchases and person-to-person payments online (, using mobile phones and at millions of merchants who accept American Express cards as well. Serve unifies multiple payment options into a single account that can be funded from a bank account, debit, credit or charge card, or by receiving money from another Serve account.

Serve aims to provide an alternative to cash, check and debit card payments. Serve accounts can be used on Apple iOS and Android applications, at and through Facebook.

“A cornerstone of the long-term vision for Serve is developing partnerships with commerce, gaming, entertainment, and social networking organizations,” American Express says, suggesting Serve will be pitched as a standard payment method for applications and games.

Google Teams with MasterCard, Citi for Mobile Payments

Google is teaming up with MasterCard and Citigroup to add mobile payments functionality to Android mobile devices. The deal is an example of Google's different take on mobile payments. Where Isis, the mobile payments venture supported by AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA aims to generate revenue through transaction fees, Google is more interested in the advantages for its advertising business.

The planned payment system would allow Google to offer retailers more data about their customers and help them target ads and discount offers to mobile-device users near their stores.

Freemium Model for Mahala Mobile Banking

Mahala, a new mobile banking service, will launch in South Africa in May 2011, using a "freemium" model. Peer-to-peer money transfer, money deposits or withdrawals and retail payments are offered without charge. Mahala expects to make money by selling additional services to users. See more information about Mahala here:

Mahala is likely to disrupt existing mobile banking providers in South Africa, as those providers now charge for transactions, generally based on the gross amount of each transaction or a flat fee per transaction.

South Africa is by far the country where mobile banking is most widely used on the continent. Still, about half of South Africa citizens don’t have bank accounts. Nearly 40 percent are either unemployed or work informal jobs paid in cash. Bank charges are high and banking regulations are so strict – such as proof of regular income – that they prevent many poor people form having formal bank accounts. Moreover, most South Africans live in rural or semi-urban areas where access to a bank is very limited or non-existent.

First National Bank of South Africa has over two million customers and attracts about 90,000 on a monthly basis. In 2009, FNB mobile banking customers made 56 million transactions worth the value of ZAR7.2 billion. Customers can send money to anyone in South Africa, whether they have an account with FNB or not.

South Africans often paid couriers the equivalent of USD 30 to USD 50 per transaction to deliver cash to relatives. Now they can do it for only USD 0.50 through Wizzit mobile bank networks.

Flash Mobile Cash by Eezi gives home shop owners the tools to be the bank for communities where formal banking infrastructure does not exist. The home shops, equipped with shared-phone ATMs, enable communities to withdraw, deposit or borrow small amounts of cash from their local township residence. The shopkeeper, as the banker, transacts using a GSM enabled device supplied by Shared-phone. “

read more here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mobile Payment Models Show Why Mobile Service Providers and App Providers Are in the Business

Some would argue there are just three primary ways for U.S. consumers to make retail payments, and the methods show why mobile service providers, application providers and banks are getting into the business.

The three primary methods, some would say, include direct billing by a mobile service provider, paying by credit card or debit card and using an "online wallet" such as PayPal or Google Checkout.

Direct operator billing has been possible for many years, but relatively few retailers have embraced it, in many cases because the transaction charges are higher than when using a credit card or debit card. That has been a problem especially for the sort of small-retail-value transactions many believe will drive use of mobile payments.

Credit cards and debit cards are routinely used by consumers for online commerce as well as retail purchases, and mobile payments simply represent a move by credit and debit card issuers to hang on to market share and revenues they already are getting.

Online wallet services such as PayPal, Amazon Payments, and Google Checkout mostly have been used for online payments and money transfers, typically by use of applications that combine log-ins, passwords, shipping addresses, and credit card details in one central place, linking credit card accounts with the other payment process features.

In all three cases, mobile payments represents a move from an existing offline or online payment mode into a mobile mode, where the phone displaces the credit or debit card.

So the interest in mobile payments is rather obvious. Banks that issue credit cards and debit cards want to hang on to the business they've got, while mobile service providers and payment application vendors want to conquer new markets that represent net revenue growth.

30 Million U.S. Mobile Users Access Financial Accounts Using Mobiles

A new comScore report found that 39 million U.S. mobile users accessed financial services accounts (bank, credit card, or brokerage) using their mobile device in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 54 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009.

Mobile Financial Service Audience (Accessed Bank, Credit Card or Brokerage Account)
3 Month Avg. Ending Dec-2010 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Dec-2009
Total U.S. Mobile Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Total Unique Audience (MM)
Q4 2009Q4 2010Percent Change
Accessed Mobile Financial Services*19.329.854%
Accessed via Mobile Browser11.818.658%
Accessed via Application4.910.8120%
Accessed via SMS6.08.135%

Swiss Mobile Banking App

iPhone Screenshot 2The "iBank CH Mobile Banking" app sold by Recon IT Services GmbH provides an example of mobile banking as it appears on an Apple iPhone. Some apps primarily are "information" apps that allow users to track balances or make transfers between accounts.

Other apps are designed more specifically to support retail purchases.

read more here

In 4G, Verizon Wireless Emphasizes Quality

If bandwidth is a measure of fourth-generation network quality, Verizon Wireless stands out from all the other carriers, according to a test by RootMetrics at some locations in Seattle, Wash. With the caveat that results will vary from location to location, across networks as well as on any single network, as well as the obvious observation that a lightly-loaded, brand-new network will not have much congestion because it has few customers, the test shows a wide disparity in experienced speeds.

read more here

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Does this look like a reasonable alignment of value and price?

Connected devices are one major reason mobile service providers need more spectrum

Some might argue it is T-Mobile USA's spectrum that is most important to AT&T, not the subscribers. Connected devices consume at least an order of magnitude more bandwidth than smartphones.

SinglePlatform Auto-Updates Multiple Social Sites

Small business owners are busy people. Updating multiple social media and websites with new information takes time, considerable time if sites need to be updated frequently. SinglePlatform runs a publishing network that updates such sites without requiring discrete sign-ons and postings. Restaurants are a customer set that SinglePlatform seems to be getting traction with, providing an easy way for restaurants to easily menus and specials, for example.

Restaurants have a particularly difficult web presence environment, given the number of review sites, guide sites and travel sites where their information is relevant, and where restaurants would prefer to be visible. Identifying and then updating hundreds of such sites, in real time, obviously is a chore. A big chore. SinglePlatform aims to automate the updating of hundreds to thousands of such sites.

The service also features a built-in pay-per-call ability, which allows users to take action immediately, and thereby provides both a direct response vehicle and campaign or site tracking. SinglePlatform charges businesses a yearly fee to use the platform, as well as a flat-fee per call generated over a certain length. In return, they provide direct user metrics, including time on the site, pages viewed per visits and visits per user per month.

SinglePlatform provides hotels, restaurants, bars and PR firms a unified way to manage review sites, mobile applications, local guides, as well as social media pages, website, and mobile-optimized sites. The chief limitatiion would seem to be the actual social networks, hotels, search engines, local directories, city guides, newspapers, and mobile applications that have signed up to be part of the network.

Dwolla Launches FiSync, Cuts ACH Wait Times by 2 to 3 Days

 Dwolla is launching "FiSync," a mobile payments front end allowing FiSync will let members of partner financial institutions send and receive money by a number of methods, including phone, web, Twitter and Facebook as well as at retail locations.
Dwolla FiSync will eliminate as much as two to three days of delay when Automated Clearing House transactions occur, and will allow users to directly transfer cash from their bank accounts, without the need for a pre-loaded Dwolla account.
For consumers, Dwolla provides the ability to send, receive, and request funds from any other user, charging merchants and others receiving funds 25 cents per transaction. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Investors Talk about Mobile Banking in Africa

 Hunter Newby, investor in Africxpress, and Eliot Samuels, PilotRock Capital, talk about mobile banking in Africa. 

How Important Can Twitter Become?

So far, Twitter has not achieved the broad usage or financial value Facebook has. But some think Twitter will achieve substantial success and leadership in the next era of Internet computing.

98% Smartphone Ownership at South by Southwest

A Google survey at South by Southwest found 98 percent of survey respondents have a smartphone. That's what you call serious adoption.

Google Witholds Honeycomb

Google says it will delay the distribution of its newest Android source code, dubbed Honeycomb, at least for the foreseeable future. The search giant says the software, which is tailored specifically for tablet computers that compete against Apple's iPad, is not yet ready to be altered by outside programmers and customized for other devices, such as phones.

Unless you believe Google has suddenly decided Android isn't open source, you would tend to think Google isn't yet happy with Honeycomb in some significant ways, and doesn't think it is ready for general release, yet.

AT&T, T-Mobile USA Acquisition Document

Unless you are a regulatory attorney or a merger specialist, you will not enjoy reading this document, which outlines the terms for AT&T's proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA. But here it is.

Apple Will Be Bigger Than HP And IBM

Apple will pass IBM in terms of annual revenue in 2012, and will pass Hewlett-Packard in 2013, predicts George Colony, Forrester Research CEO.

“They’ll be bigger than IBM next year, and they’ll be bigger than HP the year after that,” says Colony, who predicted that Apple would eventually earn $200 billion in revenues, and post sales growth exceeding 50 percent through the next two years. Demand for the iPad and other Apple devices will fuel that expansion, Colony says.

Hewlett-Packard had sales of $126 billion in the year that ended in October and IBM’s revenue was $99.9 billion last year, making them the largest technology companies, respectively, by sales. Apple ranks number one by market capitalization.

We might argue about what all of that implies for "leadership" or "innovation" or any number of other dimensions. But technology watchers are on the lookout for leadership in the post-PC era of computing, for the simple reason that no firm has lead in more than one era.

Netflix, Redbox Face New Restrictions

Though online video revenues are growing, they still do not approach the revenues studios and content owners earn from sales of DVDs, Blu-ray disks and rentals of content using those physical media. In the interim, studios seem to be concluding they are better off protecting the declining DVD sales business, even to the extent of harming the volume of rental revenues.

Studios seem to be moving to delay availability to Redbox and Netflix more than they have in the past, allowing a greater period of time when consumers will have to buy discs to see new release material, for example.

That is especially true as studios have concluded that Netflix now has gotten too much power in the distribution business. By increasing the length of time new movie and TV series content is available for rental, the content owners hope to arrest the revenue decline in physical media sales, at least for a while.

The overall consumer video business seems to have been declining since about 2004. So far, video offered using pay per view or video on demand, plus online revenue, has not kept pace with the decline in sales of physical media products. See

Studios are aware of what happened in the music business, where online has not arrested the decline of music sales revenue. See

Groupon Appears to Lose Market Share as Competition Grows

Living Social - GrouponGroupon appears to be losing market share in the social shopping market, with LivingSocial gaining enough share to pull even with Groupon, according to an analysis by yipit.

LivingSocial has more than 25 million members, meaning a growing portion of Groupon subscribers are now subscribed to at least one more deal service.

Users who had previously been members of services like DailyCandy, Thrillist, UrbanDaddy, Travelzoo or OpenTable have now started to receive Daily Deals from them as well, the yipit analysis suggests.

LivingSocial’s average revenue per offer is approximately $24,000, while Groupon’s is now $13,000.

Groupon might also be saturating a narrow demographic of young, single-oriented target audience where 68 percent of subscribers between the ages of 18 to 34, while 64 percent of LivingSocial’s is 34 and above. Groupon’s competitors may have a broader appeal as the Daily Deal universe expand beyond young singles, as well.

read more here

Twitter Founder Talks about Analytics, Commerce

"You have to instrument everything," says Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder, and now CEO of Square. "For the first two years of Twitter's life, we were flying blind."

"We had no idea what was going on with the network," says Dorsey. "We had no idea what was going on with the system, with how people were using it. We were making guesses."

At Square, analytics is everything, given Dorsey's view that a next great wave of innovation will aim to affect the 94 percent of all consumer shopping activity that remains offline.

Decades of Turbulence Ahead, Says Paul Saffo

Futurist Paul Saffo predicts decades of turbulence, with huge upside for some firms able to harness the disruption.

For Google Mobile Payments is a Gateway

Google's "Google Checkout" users to pay for goods in the Android marketplace using their cellphones, and now users also can buy virtual and other goods from inside mobile apps as well. But Google is looking at mobile payments in a broader way, as well, not just as a way of buying digital goods inside apps, or buying merchandise online, but also supporting traditional retail payments.

For some in the market, transaction fees are the whole business. But that isn't likely to be the case for Google.

Google's main business is advertising, and that now includes mobile advertising and likely will extend to mobile promotion and social shopping. For Google, mobile payments could help it leverage the "searching" function that often occurs before a person becomes a "shopper." A direct tie to the "purchasing" function might allow Google to craft new advertising and promotion services, occurring before a sale, in the search phase, while shopping, while checking out, or after the sale.

Mobile payment data also could allow Google to tailor all of its targeted ad techniques with greater richness, and provide key signals about which targeted promotions should be offered to classes of shoppers or individual shoppers, assuming there is an opt-in program. If you know what a person buys, it is easy to figure out what sorts of coupons and loyalty programs should be offered to shoppers in general, or classes of shoppers.

Google plans a major test in New York, San Francisco, and possibly in plans to start testing a mobile-payment service at stores in New York and San Francisco. But some say Google also will be testing in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

As reported, VeriFone Systems will provide terminals in San Francisco and New York.  ViVOtech Inc. will provide terminals in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

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