Thursday, June 30, 2011

Smart Phones Outsell Feature Phones in U.S. Market

It was only a matter of time before sales of smart phones eclipsed sales of feature phones, and according to Nielsen Wire, that time is now. It will take a while before the installed base of smart phones becomes a majority, but that, too, is inevitable.


$4 Billion North American Backhaul Market in 2015

The market for wholesale backhaul services in North America will grow from $2.45 billion in 2010 to $3.9 billion in 2015, with the majority of this growth coming from Ethernet backhaul, according to Yankee Group analyst Jennifer Pigg.

Average macrocell backhaul requirements were 10 Mbps in 2008 (seven T1s, five E1s). Today’s requirements are 35 Mbps in 2011, and by 2015, Yankee Group predicts they will demand 100 Mbps.
The Yankee Group analysis suggests 66 percent of rural cell towers support at least two mobile operators while suburban towers house up to six antennas, while urban towers can house 12 to 20 antennas, belonging to multiple operators and networks.

LightSquared GPS, Aeronautical Communications Interference Could Easily be Fatal

If you have been around spectrum policy long enough, you will early have learned that existing licensed users have enormous political leverage. So the fact that LightSquared interferes with both aeronautical communications and the GPS system could be a fatal problem. A spectrum owner simply will not be allowed to launch a new service that is shown to disrupt existing users, and given the public safety angles to both GPS and aeronautical communications, the demonstrated interference to both types of applications will continue to face a very-high burden of proof.

LightSquared believes it has solutions, but it will have to prove those solutions work to the satisfaction of the existing users who want certainty there will be no interference. Vacating spectrum closest to the GPS frequencies should help, in principle. The issue is that the transmitted power differences between LightSquared signals and GPS satellites is so enormous that even that protection could be problematic.

If adjacent signals transmit at equivalent levels, filters and spacing are effective. The issue for LightSquared is highly unequal transmitted power levels. Cellular networks such as LightSquared's transmit at much higher power than do satellite-based systems, as much as one billion times as high, according to some critics. In tests, the LTE network overwhelmed GPS receivers, such as in-car navigation systems, that were trying to lock on to weaker signals coming from GPS satellites.

GPS device sales total $20 billion per year, and about $3 trillion worth of commerce each year relies on the U.S.-built system, said Roy Kienitz, under secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

One initiative that would be endangered by LightSquared is NextGen, a new air traffic control system designed to improve safety that relies on GPS, Kienitz said. The Federal Aviation Administration and airline industry have already invested $8 billion in NextGen, he said.

"Insane Demand" for Google+

Google+ project
Google wants a controlled launch of Google+, its suite of social applications. On June 29, 2011 it was allowing some users to give "invites" to people. Apparently so many people were signing up that Google had to close the invite process.

“We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand,” Google’s head of social Vic Gundotra said. “We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way.”

Google launched on June 28, 2011 to a small cadre of users. That the demand was strong enough for Google to turn off invites is telling. For Google, a company that has previously failed with social projects like Buzz and Wave, it’s a sign that consumers haven’t yet written it off when it comes to social services.

U.S. Smart Phone Sales Eclipse Feature Phones


It was only a matter of time before sales of smart phones eclipsed sales of feature phones, and according to Nielsen Wire, that time is now. It will take a while before the installed base of smart phones becomes a majority, but that, too, is inevitable.

Okay, You've Got "Google+": Now What?

Thanks to my daughter, I now have Google+. So the next issue is to figure out how to use it in a way that is different from Facebook, right after I get thorough all the hygenic stuff of loading up profile information and navigating a bit.

One thing is clear: I don't need another "Facebook" experience, where there is no ability easily to create natural groups around friends, family, work, interests and so forth.  That is what Google+ is supposed to fix. So before I start with "circles," I've got to figure out what "circles" make sense to me, and aren't already taken care of on Facebook.

Since Facebook now seems to be the repository for most friend, family, high school and college buddies and work associates, I'm not sure it makes sense to try and move those contacts over to Google+. But I can think of natural circles that I haven't pursued on Facebook that relate more to hobbies, intellectual interests and so forth, that might make much-better sense on Google+, as Google clearly intends.

I already notice a feature that reminds me of the way I track stuff I'm interested in, largely for work, up to this point. I rely heavily on RSS feeds for that sort of thing, but I notice Google+ has a "Sparks" function that allows a user to set up topics and subjects of interest, and then Sparks automatically creates a feed. Sort of like RSS, but drop-dead simple.

Now Banks are Worried About "Dumb Pipe"

Dickson Chu, who is leading Citi’s participation in the Google Wallet effort, says the bank understands its role in the coming era of mobile commerce. Citi intends to provide the secure payment piece to mobile wallets and other m-commerce offerings.

This “bank grade” payment service would be combined with the new mobile advertising-funded models planned by emerging m-commerce players, such as its partner Google.

Chu noted that banks are not the most innovative of organizations, something that sounds familiar if you work in the telecom business. He also warned that the evolving m-commerce landscape “must not relegate us to becoming a dumb pipe." That also sounds familiar.

Businesses boost their Facebook Markeiting

Online advertising channels, ranging from search engines to social networks, are attracting larger budgets from businesses across the country, a recent report from IgnitionOne indicates. But it is Facebook that seems to be getting outsized traction. Facebook advertising spend is up 22 percent year over year on a same-client-basis, with impressions up 11 percent.

Facebook advertising also has experienced high rates of growth due to new marketer adoption in the past year, which contributed to a 280 percent increase in spend across all clients and 200 percent increase in impressions year over year.  Read more here.

While companies already using the popular social network for marketing purposes have increased budgets allocated to Facebook by 22 percent compared to last year, a growing number of companies have begun to integrate the social network into their marketing mix for the first time. Overall, IgnitionOne observed a 280 percent year-over-year increase in advertising spend. See Businesses boost their Facebook marketing efforts

Google "Transparency Report" Shows How Often Governments Ask Google to Remove Content, or Block Google Entirely

Sometimes Google has to remove content from its domain because government agencies around the world ask Google to do so.

Jun 2, 2011SyriaAll Google services inaccessible. [Source: Renesys]
Mar 28, 2011ArmeniaAll Google services partially accessible. [Source: Guardian]
Mar 28, 2011GeorgiaAll Google services partially accessible. [Source: Guardian]
Mar 3, 2011LibyaAll Google services inaccessible.
Mar 1, 2011TurkeyBlogger partially accessible. [Source: TurkishPress]
Feb 18, 2011LibyaAll Google services inaccessible.
Feb 17, 2011LibyaYouTube inaccessible.
Feb 8, 2011SyriaYouTube accessible. [Source: BBC]
Jan 30, 2011IranGoogle Videos inaccessible.
Jan 27, 2011EgyptAll Google services inaccessible for 5 days during protests. [Source: Renesys]
Jan 26, 2011SudanYouTube was partially accessible for 3 days.
Jun 3, 2010TurkeyAdwords, Analytics and Docs inaccessible for a week during attempt to block YouTube. [Source: ONI]
May 20, 2010PakistanYouTube inaccessible for 6 days due to concerns around the "Everyone Draw Mohammad Day" competition organized by a Facebook user. [Source: CNN]
Jun 13, 2009IranYouTube inaccessible following disputed Presidential election. [Source: ONI]
Mar 23, 2009ChinaYouTube inaccessible.
Mar 6, 2009BangladeshYouTube inaccessible for 4 days due to controversial content. [Source: BBC]

All dates are given in Pacific time.

Read more here

Why Do People "Follow" or "Like" Brands on Social Networks?

Google's Zero Moment of Truth

The "zero moment of truth" is a marketing concept that deals with the amount of time that lapses between an advertising message and a consumer taking action on the message.

Here's an ebook Google put together about the concept and what it means for marketing and advertising.

Zero Moment of Truth E-Book

You can figure out why Google thinks the concept is important. To the extent there is latency between ad and action, Google thinks it can create quite a nice business reducing latency.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

PayPal Sees End of Physical Wallets by 2015

"We believe that by 2015 digital currency will be accepted everywhere in the U.S., from your local corner store to Walmart," says Scott Thompson, PayPal president. "We will no longer need to carry a wallet."

The prediction came as PayPal announced it has reached 100 million active accounts.

PayPal believes that as the lines between online and offline commerce continue to blur, the payment industry’s model for is looking more and more like PayPal’s, says
Sam Shrauger, PayPal VP. PayPal has been handling mobile payments since 2006, he says.

Debit Card Fee Rules Issued by Federal Reserve

In a move that apparently settles a nettlesome issue directly affecting the fortunes of retail merchants and banks that issue debit cards (and which indirectly affects the attractiveness of new mobile payment systems built on a transaction fee revenue model), the Federal Reserve Board issued the final version of Regulation II, which sets new rules for debit card transactions. Retail trade groups and banking trade groups have been at odds over the final rules for months.

The “Final Rule” implements Section 1075 of the “Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” known as the Durbin Amendment.

The rules will go into effect on October 1, 2011 and sets a cap of 21 cents on transactions. That rate essentially lessens the financial sting for card-issuing banks, but also lowers fees for retailers. The original rules might have resulted in limits as low as seven cents per transaction, or as high as 12 cents per transaction.

The rule as adopted allows card issuers to charge up to 21 cents per transaction, plus five basis points of the transaction value. On a $40 transaction, this represents a 48 percent cut in revenue from current rates.

On the other hand, the worst-case scenario for banks would have called for a, which is a 75 percent cut in transaction revenues.

Aside from the direct impact on retailers and card-issuing banks, the rules also create a differently dimensioned revenue stream for any contestants in the mobile payments business that hope to make a business out of transaction fees.

Read more here

Wireless: Where We are Going

There weren’t any surprises in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent report on wireless competition, but one tidbit, already made available by the National Health Interview Survey, is an indicator of where things are going.

The number of adults who rely exclusively on mobile wireless for voice service has increased significantly in recent years. According to the January to June 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 24.9 percent of adults, or one in every four, lived in households with wireless phones only during the first half of 2010.

In its most recent study, the NHIS found that 30 percent of respondents only used mobile phones during the last half of 2010, an increase of three percentage points since the first half of 2010. In addition, about 16 percent of respondents indicated they received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite having a landline phone in the home as well.

More than half of adults aged 25 to 29 (54 percent) lived in households with only wireless telephones. This rate is greater than the rates for adults aged 18 to 24 (46 percent) or 30 to 34 (44 percent), according to the NHIS survey.

Tablets Are Changing User Behavior

Today’s early tablet adopters are using print media, PCs, and other devices less often than they used to, according to Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester Research analyst. Some 31 percent of tablet owners surveyed report they are using their PCs less, while 26 percent are using their notebooks or laptops less.

Of the tablet owners surveyed, 23 percent reported using their portable game player less, while 20 percent said they are using their iPod or MP3 player less. About 15 percent reported using their mobile phone less than they used to.

E-reader use seemed to be lower in about 11 percent of cases, while nine percent reported lower use of their game consoles. Some nine percent say they use television less.

Tablet early adopters, though arguably different from tomorrow’s mainstream adopters, nevertheless seemingly are changing their content habits as well, not just their hardware habits.

Of tablet owners surveyed by Forrester Research, 32 percent reported that their tablet use has been accompanied by less use of print newspapers. About 28 percent say they have reduced use of printed books, while 23 percent indicated they use print magazines less.

Mapping the Mobile Commerce Ecosystem |

Here's another look at the developing mobile commerce ecosystem, with payments and banking being viewed as parts of the broader mobile commerce landscape, produced by Mooreland Partners.

Google Sites Goes Mobile

Google has added a new feature to "Google Sites" that allows small businesses and others to create mobile sites themselves. Google Sites "mobile landing pages" allows retailers and companies to create professional-looking mobile home pages without any coding experience.

Google has been offering the Google Sites program to give businesses and consumers a way to quickly build their own websites with no HTML knowledge required, making it relatively easy for anyone without a technical background to build a simple website. Until now, the platform has not had a mobile component.

Google Sites "for mobile" allows users to pick a template that suits the consumer’s needs, such as an e-commerce template for users who want a mobile site to sell products using Google Checkout. Google also offers customer mobile templates for local businesses, restaurants, lead generation and social.
On these mobile sites, businesses and users can include the ability to integrate their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social accounts.

Will Google+ Succeed?

I have no idea whether Google+ will be success. But I would say it seems as though Google has a shot at creating a social network experience that fixes a problem many people routinely encounter with Facebook, namely that it is indiscriminate. The whole idea of "Circles" is that real social networks come in "real" groups, not imaginary "communities." There's your family, your extended set of friends, your high school or college buddies, the circle of your business associates and then the various other groups you have in life. See Read more here.

Nobody seems to think Google+ will replace Facebook, and that's probably healthy and realistic. The issue is whether Google can tap something new, such as the fact that Facebook "friends" are a jumbled mess of all kinds of people from all kinds of natural groups, and increasingly also includes people you don't even know.

"Not all relationships are created equal," Google says. "The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers."  Read more here.

Among the obvious problems Google says Circles will fix include the fact that "we only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time." Because every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less." And there is no ability to account for important nuances in real social relationships.

43% of U.S. Firms Use Social Networks for Customer Acquisition

According to a new survey by Regus, 43 percent of firms are successfully using social networking to win new customers, up eight percentage points from last year’s survey. The research also reveals more firms are using social media to engage with existing customers than a year ago

About 50 percent of businesses in the United States use applications such as Twitter to engage, connect with and inform existing customers, says Regus.

In the United States, 55 percent of firms encourage their employees to join social networks such as Linkedin and Xing. Also, 38 percent of U.S. companies dedicate up to 20 percent of their marketing budget to business social networking activity.

Globally, the survey reported a seven percent increase in the proportion of businesses successfully recruiting new customers through social networks such as Facebook.

An Explosion of New Types of Content

Just about everything is changing in the video business, including the ways advertisers do video content and messaging. As video on demand is a reflection of increased demand for video wherever people are, using whatever devices are available, so video advertising now is changing to reflect the increased ability consumers have to simply ignore the messages.

Advertising and public relations are two different ways of accomplishing the business goal of communicating value to external constituencies, prospects and potential buyers. Owned media, content marketing or custom publishing are other ways to achieve many of the same objectives. So it might be revealing that practitioners from the "advertising" start talking about an "absolute explosion of new types of content from brands."

So says Chris Schreiber, director of marketing at social video advertising company Sharethrough. A leading expert on social content strategy, Chris recently presented a two-hour workshop on viral video at the Cannes Lions festival.

Simply, more "storytelling" is going to happen, with much more investment in content creation. In advertising as well as elsewhere, pushing messages at people doesn't work as well as it used to. These days, people have to be enticed to come check something out, hang around and then share.

Will "Social Business" Disintermediate Unified Communications, Email, Phone Systems, even IP Communications?

“Social business” is a buzz word, but it also appears to be perceived as a strategic executive imperative in the enterprise, according to a survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland and sponsored by Jive Software.

Some 78 percent of the executives surveyed said having a social strategy is critical to the future success of their businesses. You might wonder what that might mean.

Fully 66 percent of executives surveyed believe that social applications for business represent a fundamental shift in how work will get done and how companies will engage with customers. about 53 percent believe they must adopt Social Business or risk falling behind.

Some 62 percent think social approaches can lead to "better customer loyalty and service levels" and 57 percent anticipate "increased revenue or sales" as a result of implementing a social business strategy. A similar 62 percent think businesses need to leverage social software inside and outside their organizations in order to remain competitive.

Some might think social business refers only to use of social networks. A better way to look at matters is to substitute the word “collaboration” or “communication” or “feedback” or “market intelligence” for “social.”

It definitely is true that social networks and online communities are an important source of information for making purchase decisions, especially for Millennials. Some 54 percent of Millennials said that they are more likely to rely on and make purchase decisions from information shared by personal contacts in online communities versus 33 percent more likely to use information from "official" company sources.

Also, about 83 percent of executives leverage at least one social network for work use. But the larger point is that Web-based tools now can be used to support all sorts of business processes more effectively and efficiently than before.

The study of 902 U.S.-based knowledge workers also suggests growing interest in app stores as a way to source a broad range of business applications. Some 70 percent of executives and 51 percent of Millennials have downloaded at least one Web-based application for work use either on their mobile device or personal computer.

Knowledge workers still find communication to be one of the top work challenges. Some 77 percent of executives, 68 percent of Millennials and 61 percent of general knowledge workers indicated that email usage in the workplace has increased in the last two years, but 89 percent of executives, 88 percent of millennials and 76 percent of general knowledge workers believe that they and their teams would be more productive if they could dramatically reduce the time spent writing and reading emails.

Perhaps most importantly, 73 percent of executives, 73 percent of Millennials and 64 percent of general knowledge workers agree that social platforms will fundamentally change the way people share, connect and learn at work and with companies.

That’s the immediate, practical meaning of “social business.” It represents a potentially new way to collaborate with all internal and external constituencies. People sometimes too casually talk about “redefining communications.”

“Social” is a buzz word, but it also hints at something more profound, a new way to achieve business results once promised more prominently by all sorts of “communications” tools ranging from phone systems to email, email on mobile phones to unified communications. Sometime much bigger might be coming.

More significantly, for many, something different might be coming.

Read more here

Square Raises $100 Million At $1 Billion Valuation

Square, the mobile payments provider best known for the free one-inch credit card "reader" that plugs into a smart phone (iPhones and iPads at first) and lets anyone accept both credit and debit-card payments, has rasied $100 million in financing, with a $1 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reports. See this (Wall Street Journal subscription required). If not, see this.

The valuation will worry some observers, confirming a possible investment bubble in Internet-related start-ups that promises much pain when the bubble finally does burst. But Square's rapidly-growing transaction flow also indicates that mobile payments finally, after many false starts, getting traction.

Square's value proposition also highlights the complexity of roles in the new mobile payments ecosystem. Square sells a service built on a new type of point of sale terminal (the "square" adapter) and so might be said to compete with VeriFone. But Square monetizes the terminals in a different way, essentially making its money on transaction fees, as do credit card and debit card issuers. In that sense it competes with bank card providers.

Square also competes with Intuit, as both Intuit and Square provide special value for small retailers and other non-traditional retailers. And many expect PayPal to make its move into retail commerce, at least in part, with its own point of sale system designed to be used by smart phones or tablet devices.

But Square also has launched "Card Case," an app that would let users pay directly from their smart phones. That makes Square a contestant in the digital wallet space, where Google, among others, plans to focus.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Half of Twitter Activity from Mobiles?

As of May 2011, 13 percent of online adults used Twitter, according to a study by the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project. That represents a significant increase from the eight percent of online adults who identified themselves as Twitter users in November 2010.

Some 54 percent of respondents access and use Twitter on their mobile devices, which makes sense. Twitter is a quick reaction update application. Mobile devices are always with people, and can be used at any time, for that reason.

Facebook CTO Bret Taylor has been known to say that “mobile devices are inherently social," and that a third of Facebook users access the app on their mobiles. See this. It appears Twitter might be "more mobile and social" than Facebook, on that score.

Tablets Changing App Behavior?

Today’s early tablet adopters apparently are using print media, PCs, and other devices less often than they used to, said Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester Research analyst. Some 31 percent of tablet owners surveyed report they are using their PCs less, while 26 percent are using their notebooks or laptops less.

For some of us, the most important implications of tablet use are not the devices tablets compete with, but the ways application usage and time commitments change. 

It isn't clear whether tomorrow's mainstream adopters will use their tablets in the same way that early adopters do. But it seems likely they will. The bigger question might be whether tablet growth rates can continue at high rates given all the other devices consumers will want to buy as well.

Consumers who intend to buy a tablet in the next six months are almost twice as likely as US online consumers in general to want a new HDTV set, and they’re more than twice as likely to want an eReader, Blu-ray player, 3D HDTV, Xbox 360 with Kinect, and a host of other gadgets, says Rotman Epps.

One might well question whether it is possible for consumers to manage all that in the next six months. When compared with current tablet owners, would-be tablet
buyers have 21 percent lower incomes, are 51 percent more likely to set a spending limit for technology purchases, and are 75 percent more likely to say they delay other purchases to buy a new gadget.

There are some scenarios where PCs still will remain the preferred device. Office settings, where heavy content production is required, still seems to be the province of the PC. It might be reasonable to predict that tablets and smart phones will largely be preferred elsewhere than the office.

Tablets also seem poised to displace portable game players, but not consoles. Casual gaming seems to work fine on tablets, while more-complex games still require a console.

Video consumption in the living room still seems the province of the HDTV, while PCs are used at work and in offices, while tablets will be used elsewhere. There seems little reason to dispute the prediction that tablets will take share from offline products, PCs and e-readers.

Visa Launches French Test of microSD, Australia Test Raises Some Questions

Visa International is planning another trial of microSD-based credentials security, working with French bank Groupe BPCE.  Visa will be using microSD technology from Device Fidelity, which has long championed the use of NFC secure elements, rather than putting credentials into the subscriber information module used by mobile service providers to load subscriber information. See this.

The trial will use iPhone cases containing the NFC radio and antenna, as well as the microSD slot for the secure element. The Samsung Galaxy S and a pair of BlackBerry devices also will  be used in the trials.

The trial is significant because there still remains disagreement within the ecosystem about where to put the credentials loading and security functions. Mobile service providers want to load the credentials into the subscriber information module used to load mobile subscriber account details.

Others, including Device Fidelity and many handset manufacturers, would prefer some new method that does not use the mobile operator SIM. The differences of opinion have other angles, including form factor of the SIMs, perceived security advantages and, most importantly, control over the credentials loading process. 

Obviously, if credentials are loaded into the mobile SIM, a role automatically is created for mobile service providers in the payments ecosystem.

Visa, handset manufacturers and other interests might like to escape such control.

But there’s a reason new technology gets tested. Sometimes partners find some approaches are not suitable, for any number of reasons, or are not suitable at this time.

Australia’s ANZ Bank, which has been testing a microSD approach to storing credentials in mobile devices, has concluded its Near Field Communication test, but has decided not to proceed with a full deployment based on MicroSD technology.

The bank, in partnership with Visa, launched a trial in March 2011 where a MicroSD card pre-programmed with a user's banking details could be inserted into an NFC-enabled phone case on iPhones and Android-handsets. Users could then open an app on the phone to be used in conjunction with Visa PayWave readers.

ANZ Bank says the MicroSD card system used in the trials didn't measure up to the bank's needs, for some reason. See this.

FCC Wireless Competition Report is Inconclusive, Sort Of

The Federal Communications Commission’s 15th “Annual Report and Analysis of Competitive Market Conditions With Respect to Mobile Wireless, Including Commercial Mobile Services  makes no formal finding as to whether there is, or is not, effective competition in the industry” actually reaches no stated conclusion on the U.S. wireless market, in terms of effective competition, a surprise to some observers, who had predicted that the FCC report would declare the U.S. market “not competitive” in some substantial respects.

On the other hand, one standard test of industry concentration shows a "high degree of concentration." But many observers would simply ask what other state of affairs could possibly be the case.
The report does use the “Herfindahl-Hirschman Index,” (HHI), which is calculated by summing the squared market shares of all firms in any given market, and is a commonly used measure of industry concentration.

Antitrust authorities in the United States generally classify markets into three types: Unconcentrated (HHI < 1500), Moderately Concentrated (1500 < HHI < 2500), and Highly Concentrated (HHI > 2500).

In the mobile wireless services industry, the weighted average of HHIs (weighted by population across the 172 Economic Areas in the United States) was 2811 at the end of 2009, compared to 2842 at the end of 2008.

By that measure, the U.S. wireless market is “highly concentrated.” But observers will argue about what that means. Access services of any type are “highly concentrated” in almost every market, in the sense that there are typically two dominant wired providers.

Wireless markets typically have more providers than that, but even wireless is “highly concentrated.” Whether access markets, wireless or wireline, can be anything but highly concentrated seems to be the issue. There is a good reason why access markets traditionally have been “monopoly” markets. Until recently, it was thought impossible to have facilities-based competition in access markets.

In fact, in most markets globally, that will still generally be the case. Hence we see wholesale networks being built in several countries, the theory being that markets will not support more than one optical access network.

So you can draw your own conclusions. The report does not specifically say the the U.S. wireless market is uncompetitive. The HHI test would suggest the market is highly concentrated, though.

And many would say there is virtually no possibility of any other outcome in the access business. That is why wholesale-only optical access networks are being built in New Zealand, Australia and already is available in Singapore. In other words, traditional tests of market concentration always are difficult to apply in the access business, since there probably is only room for a small number of facilities-based providers, in any scenario.
Mobile voice coverage would not strike most observers as being anything but competitive. The report states that 89.6 percent of consumers can buy service from five or more suppliers, for example. To be sure, the number of competitors is higher, across the board, in more-populated areas, as you would expect.

Wireless broadband coverage is relatively consistent with the voice findings, as 68 percent of U.S. consumers have a choice of four or more providers. The caveat is that the. competition is mostly confined to more-densely-populated areas, again as you would expect. Rural consumers clearly do not have as many choices.

Google Tries Social with New Google+

Google+ Logo

Where Does Tumblr Fit?

If you are familiar with blog software and Twitter, you might wonder where Tumblr fits, as not really a replacement for a traditional blog, and it’s not a substitute for Twitter. You then will have to decide if you have time to add yet one more social tool for which you must create content.

fashiongonerogue:  (via Dinara Chetyrova by Jamie Nelson for Elle Vietnam July 2011)Tumblr can be used primarily as a microblog, which is to say, a content site that doesn't require heavy text, but more pictures, videos and photos, but with more ability to post than Twitter provides. See Journalists, take another look at Tumblr

Parts of its utility are the “heart” and "reblog"features, which make it ridiculously easy to note that you "like" a postand to instantly “retweet” with the ability to replicate photos, videos, quotes and links while perfectly preserving the original source. Tumblr, some would say, is more socially oriented than a traditional blogging platform, more suited to microblogging that is highly visual. See

PayPal, Google, Facebook And Apple Are Fighting For This New Multibillion Dollar Market

"AT&T challenges Visa, MasterCard" is an irresistible and compelling headline. So is "PayPal, Google, Facebook, Apple fighting for dominance in mobile payments." Whether the implied competition is direct, indirect or largely fictional is hard to address at the moment. Six months ago it seemed as though AT&T and Verizon Wireless were on a collision course with Visa and MasterCard. That no longer seems to be the case, and it has taken just six months for matters to change.

Nor is it likely that PayPal and Google are interested in the same parts of the ecosystem. Google cares about advertising potential. PayPal, on the other hand, clearly cares about transaction revenue and the "float" on prepaid accounts. Apple might be more concerned about boosting the value of iTunes in ways more directly related to content. Facebook almost certainly is more interested in online forms of social commerce.

There is but one unifying theme: Every company, or just about every company, thinks people are going to be using their mobile devices more often for commerce activities. In some cases that might mean using the mobile device as a substitute for a credit card or debit card swipe. In other cases the loyalty application will be the driver. In yet other cases the business model will hinge on promotion, advertising and marketing potential.

In yet other cases, the attraction will be mobiles used to make micropayment purchases for games. In most cases the headline potential won't be as dramatic, though the concrete revenue models will be. Some players will enter the market targeting one segment, then shift course and wind up targeting other segments. Isis originally launched as a "payment" competitor, but has switched to the "wallet" or "credentials" part of the ecosystem.

Square established itself as a payment terminal provider, but now seems to be adding on "wallet" functions as well. Similar shifts can be expected each step of the way as the "mobile money" business gets going on a larger scale. PayPal already is a major player in online transactions, and the issue is how it might try to leverage its position to become a bigger player in real-world retail transactions as well.

Location-Based Ads Will Hit $6 Billion By 2015

"Location-based service" advertising will grow to over one-third of all mobile advertising in four years, according to Pyramid Research. But navigation services will be important, likely much more important, for mobile service providers, as most of the advertising will be earned by third parties.

By 2015, location-based advertising will be $6.2 billion,Pyramid Research says. In 2010, location-based advertising was $588 million, representing about 18.5 percent of all mobile advertising. Location-based advertising will generate 60 percent of all location-based revenue in four years. See MediaPost Publications Location-Based Ads Hit $6B By 2015 06/28/2011.

“Following many years of high expectations, the location-based services market is finally coming of age," says Jan ten Sythoff, Pyramid Research analyst.

Overall location-based revenue is expected to reach US$10.3 billion in 2015, up from $2.8 billion in 2010, ten Sythoff says. “There are a number of different factors driving market growth, including increasing GPS and smartphone adoption, success of new business models, continued growth of mobile advertising and the wider coverage and higher speeds of mobile networks,” adds ten Sythoff. See

Growing adoption of GPS devices is the key driver, helping a whole host of different applications and services to grow. “For mobile operators, this is an opportunity to drive new revenue streams, but it is also a threat because it means access to location information is no longer their monopoly.

In 2008 operators gained around 80 percent of all location-based service revenue. This has fallen to around half, but the total market has grown more than fivefold,” he says.

How Long Before NFC Payments are Used by 10% to 20% of Consumers?

Consumer adoption of new technologies often can take a while, even when the application or product is deemed to have clear value. It might take an application, service or device to reach 10 percent penetration of U.S. households, for example.

There are some caveats. Not every innovation succeeds. But a Wall Street Journal illustration of past adoption rates for new and popular consumer electronics products shows how long mass adoption can take, even if rates of adoption for newer products and technologies have grown significantly shorter than in the past. 

A panel I was recently on was asked how long it might take for near field communications technology to be adopted by a significant number of U.S. consumers. My response, based on past work studying consumer electronics adoption rates, was that it can take quite a significant amount of time, between three and 10 years, to reach the crucial 10-percent-of-homes threshold, which seems to be the point at which any innovation really begins to accelerate, in terms of adoption.

Also, the more complicated the ecosystem, the longer it will take. Apple iPhones and iPads did not take long to reach the 10-percent penetration mark, because they operate in a fully-developed ecosystem where all that is required is purchase of a product, to obtain the value.

Mobile payments will likely take longer, as will NFC adoption, because lots of other things must be done, on the business infrastructure level, before 10 percent of U.S. consumers will easily be able to use NFC, on a large scale.

We often hear that it will be year X when some percentage of phones shipped will include NFC capabilities, or year Y when X percent of phones in use will have NFC. That's an important metric, but only one metric among many that has to be substantial before NFC-based payments are ubiquitous enough, valuable enough and easy enough to use. It isn't as though the credit card and debit card payment system is broken.

Despite the legitimate excitement, it might take some time before NFC-based mobile payments are a widely-used payment mechanism in the U.S. market.

LTE Advanced: 954 Mbps in 60 MHz

Ericsson has demonstrated Long Term Evolution "Advanced," running at 964 Mbps, in 60 MHz of spectrum, to the Swedish Post and Telecom Agency. The demonstration, held in Kista, Sweden, featured speeds more than 10 times faster than those currently experienced by LTE consumers in Sweden.

If you have enough bandwidth, you can go fast!

10 Airline "Location" Apps

Location-based services are supposed to offer value to businesses and end users. It isn't so clear, yet, that they always do so. But here are 10 applications airlines have created to target and "track" their customers, speed customers through unfamiliar airports, entertain or provide messaging.

Monday, June 27, 2011

France Telecom Debuts Data "Family Plan"

Executives at AT&T have been saying for some time that the firm expected ultimately to introduce data plans that are shaped as many mobile family plans now are, allowing devices on a single account to share a single bucket of usage.

For a couple of months now, France Telecom’s Orange unit has been allowing iPad owners in Austria to share one allotment of data with a phone, while other shared data plans were recently launched in France, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Although the plans vary somewhat by country, the basic premise is the same. Users pay an extra couple of dollars a month for each additional device that shares data, similar to the way families and businesses here have long been able to share minutes between multiple phones.

“We believe that’s really a way for the future,” said Olaf Swantee, senior executive vice president for France Telecom’s Orange unit.

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...