Showing posts from October, 2012

Do Smart Phones Really Lengthen Your Work Day by 2 Hours?

Much will be made of a study sponsored by Pixmedia that reportedly shows Britons work an additional 460 hours a year, on average, because of smart phones that allow them access to their email. 

The study by technology retailer Pixmania supposedly shows the average U.K. working day is between nine and 10 hours, with an additional two hours a day spent responding to or sending work emails, or making work calls.

Some will question the validity of "self reported" work hours. U.S. governmentsurveys tend to show that although U.S. employees "work longer hours" than they used, to, the differences are relatively slight. 

Numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a very gradually rising trend through the 1990s that has only just recently tapered off, hovering somewhere just north of 40 hours weekly.

To be sure, the notion that people are being asked to work longer hours seems intuitively true, given job cuts since the Great Recessionof 2008. The simple reality is th…

Value Based Pricing is Creeping into the Communications Business

“Value based pricing” has been discussed in the communications industry for some time, the theory being that it makes more sense to charge customers for communications-based services on the perceived “value” of the applications or access. 

The principle is similar to use of toll lanes on highways at rush hour. Some consumers are willing to pay extra to use the toll lanes. Most do not prefer to do so. To be sure, current regulatory rules that require all Internet access to be supplied in "best effort" fashion are impediments that prohibit service providers from creating such differentiated products. 

Still, when networks are congested, for example, many consumers will be willing to pay for priority access. That is an example of value based pricing. 

But value based pricing has been used for quite a long time in the communications business, in some ways. 

You might argue that the value of text messaging is not, in fact, directly related to its cost of supply, but on the usefulness…

Apple iPhone Owner Loyalty Declines, For the First Time Ever

For the first time since the Apple iPhone was released in 2007, the number of iPhone owners who say they definitely will or probably will purchase their next phone from the same brand has declined, a survey by Strategy Analytics shows. 

The survey found 75 percent of iPhone owners in Western Europe say they are likely to buy their next phone from Apple, down from 88 percent in 2011. Though most suppliers would love to have such "repeat buy" sentiment, that is a decline from all past surveys. 

U.S. repeat purchase intentions also have dipped a bit, down from 93 percent in 2011 to 88 percent in 2012, Strategy Analytics says. 

Internet Access Goes "Mobile First"

Consumers are migrating away from PC-based Internet usage and are increasingly using mobile devices as their default gateway to the Internet, according to  International Data Corporation. That shift to "mobile first" Internet access is especially pronounced in the U.S. market. 

In fact, perhaps for the first time, the number of people using PCs for Internet access is shrinking, even as PC access grows elsewhere in the world. That doesn't necessarily mean the number of fixed access lines drops, only that PCs are not the devices using those connections. 

Other studies back up those contentions. The use of mobile devices to access the Internet is becoming the medium of choice, with 69 percent of all Internet users surveyed doing so daily, according to Mobile Web Watch 2012, a study of consumers in Europe, Latin America and South Africa conducted by Accenture..

In addition, consumers are using multiple devices to connect to the web, including smart phones (61 percent), netbook…

App Store Revenue Shows "Long Tail"

App store revenue, at least for Apple iOS and Android app stores, now shows a clear "long tail" or "Pareto" distribution. In other words, six or so apps account for about 55 percent of total application revenue (from all sources, including app sales, in-app revenue and advertising). 

Keep in mind that the iTunes App Store and Google Play now offer more than 600,000 apps each. 

Looking at app sales and in-app revenue only, and excluding ad revenue, in 2012, Flurry estimates that the top 25 apps will earn about half of total revenue.

The rest of the top 100 apps will earn about 17 percent of revenue in 2012. 

Branded Retail Stores Essential in Saturated Mobile Markets, Says Optus

Australian mobile service provider Optus now says a branded retail store strategy is more important in Australia's saturated mobile services market, and is shifting effort in that direction. 

“As the Australian mobile market matures and we move from a period of growth to one of customer retention, we need a distribution model that reflects this,” said Rohan Ganeson, Optus Optus managing director. “There is too much capacity in the mobile distribution market and we have made a decision to rationalize our third party distribution channels, while strengthening our branded Optus channels.”

Optus is opening 33 new stores as well, with a focus on customer service and education as much as sales.

German Mobile Point of Sale Launch fo riZettle

 iZettle, the Sweden-headquartered firm that sells a dongle similar to Square, has entered the German market, working with  DZ Bank and Deutsche Telekom.

Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest carrier, will distribute the iZettle reader in Deutsche Telekom retail stores.

It is not immediately clear whether Telekom benefits financially in a direct sense other than earning a sales commission for each device sold, though iZettle obviously increases the value of a connected tablet or smart phone, and thereby offers an indirect driver of mobile subscriptions for Deutsche Telekom. 

The service was first launched in the summer of 2011 in Sweden, and now individuals and small businesses is in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom.

“The cooperation with iZettle is a further step for Deutsche Telekom to strengthen the relevance of mobile payments in Germany and to position itself as a relevant player in the payment market, said Thomas Kiessling, Chief Products and Innovation Office…

Frontier Communications Lends Name to Retail Energy Services

Frontier Communications Corporation has lent its name to "FTR Energy Services," as part of a marketing agreement with Crius Energy. That doesn't mean Frontier Communications is "getting into the business of retailing energy services." 

It means Frontier is lending its name and marketing muscle, presumably, to a third party affiliate that will sell "clean energy" including electricity and natural gas to customers. 

FTR Energy Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Crius Energy and will launch in select markets in November 2012.

The company will initially provide 100-percent "green electricity" to customers in New York and Ohio, and clean-burning natural gas to customers in Indiana.

Some will be glad to hear that Frontier has not made a direct effort to add energy retailing to its triple play or quad play offers. At various times over the last couple of decades, telecom service providers have dabbled with the notion of adding energy services to …

Games Lead App Usage on Both Smart Phones and Tablets

General patterns of smart phone use, across a typical day, resemble the usage pattern for tablets, according to Flurry, with one salient exception: tablets are used less than smart phones during the workday, and more than smart phones during the evening hours, Flurry says.

At a high level, consumers spend more time using tablets for media and entertainment, including games (67 percent), entertainment (nine percent) and news (two percent) categories which account for nearly 80 percent of consumption on tablets.  

Smart phones claim a higher proportion of communication and task-oriented activities such as social networking (24 percent), utilities (17 percent), health and fitness (three percent) and lifestyle (three percent), representing nearly half of all usage on smart phones.  

Games are the most popular category on both form factors with 67 percent of time spent using games on tablets and 39 percent of time spent using games on smart phones.  

Consumers also spend 71 percent more of the…

France Wants Google to Pay for Links to News Stories

President Francois Hollande told Google CEO Eric Schmidt that France would pass legislation to force Google o pay for displaying links to news articles unless it struck a deal with French media outlets providing those entities payment for linking, essentially. Google obviously doesn't agree with the policy. 

Press associations in France and other European countries want Google to pay when it displays links to newspapers in Internet search results

The tussle isn't new. Owners of copyrighted material, especially those losing revenue and relevance to online media, obviously would prefer to be paid by search engine application providers. That revenue would help offset revenue losses in other areas, including subscriber fees and advertising. 

Google, of course, prefers to argue it merely is indexing and "pointing users to" such sites. Owners of newspaper or magazine sites are free to put their content behind a "pay wall," of course. 

It is reminiscent of the imila…

What Will "Nomadic Web" Mean?

If we are entering the era of the nomadic Web, a major question still remains: will most of the content, interactions, and organizing principles of the wired Web simply migrate to the wireless world? 

Even if the answer is, for the most part, yes, the speed of this transformation and the route it will take are far from certain, McKinsey analysts say. 

The fates of many leading stakeholders could be affected, for better or worse. The reason Google, Apple, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook and many other application providers are racing to secure a foothold in mobile apps is that it is not certain PC-based business models are completely transferable to the mobile domain. 

Looking just at advertising, display advertising, a mainstay of the PC web, does not translate very well to smaller screen smart phones, and requires some reworking for tablets that do not support the traditional "keyboard and mouse" interface.

Also, tablets are not used for the same reasons, or at the same places, as PCs …

New Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 Will be Sold Direct on Google Play

Google's new Nexus 4 smart phone will be sold unlocked and without contract on the Google Play app store. 

The 8GB model will sell for $299 while the 16GB model will sell for $349, beginning on November 13, 2012, in 
the United States, United Kingdom, Australia,France, Germany, Spain and Canada, Google says. 

The 16GB version also will be sold by T-Mobile USA for $199, with a two-year contract
, a 
Google also unveiled the Nexus 7, a seven-inch screen tablet, as well as the Nexus 10, a tablet with a 10-inch screen. 

The Nexus 7 featuring 16GB of memory will sell for $199, while the 32GB version will sell for $249; available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Japan, and also through retail partners Gamestop, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples and Walmart.

The Nexus 7 with 32GB and mobile data will sell for $299, unlocked, starting Nov. 13, 2012, on the Google Play store in the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Germany, Spain and  Canada.

The Nexus 10with 16GB wi…

How Much New Revenue Must U.S. Telcos Generate, Over the Next 5 Years?

How much incremental revenue might the U.S. telecom business need to generate over about the next decade to replace lost revenues from landline voice, mobile voice, mobile messaging and other revenues related to voice?

Perhaps $33 billion, one might argue. That is the amount of voice revenue U.S. service providers (fixed and mobile) will lose between 2010 and 2015, Verizon says. And the good news is that it probably won’t be a problem, at least for the leading mobile service providers.

The precedent in the U.S. market was long distance revenue. Over about a decade, service providers moved from earning about half of their total revenue from long distance, to earning about half their revenue from mobile services.

In North America, some believe voice connections should shrink by about half between 2007 and 2016, a period of nine years, according to Pyramid Research.

As a rough illustration, look only at the U.S. market, where some have forecast annual six percent declines in fixed networ…

How Many U.S. Mobile Service Providers are Optimal?

With the recent mergers of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS, and the purchase of Sprint by Softbank (assuming both transactions pass regulatory muster), there is once again an active discussion in many quarters about the future shape of the U.S. mobile service provider business.

What seems a safe observation, though, is that the number of successful mobile service providers will be few in number. The only question is “how few?” In many markets, there are four to five major providers, in terms of market share. But just how stable a market that is is questionable.

The Rule of Three holds nearly everywhere. While the percentage market share might vary, on an average, the top three mobile service providers control 93 percent of the market share in a given nation, irrespective of the regulatory framework.

Some might argue that scale effects account for the relatively small number of leading providers in many capital-intensive or consumer electronics businesses. At some point, the access business …

Why U.S. High Speed Access Costs So Much

With the possible exception of Google Fiber's 1-Gbps symmetrical broadband service pricing in Kansas City, Mo. and Kansas City, Kan., few consumer customers likely would agree that retail prices for 100-Mbps or faster services are "affordable." 

Some business users, and to date it is likely that most buyer of 100-Mbps services are businesses, might say the price-performance of a 100-Mbps high speed access service is reasonable, though, especially compared with retail pricing of much-slower T1 services, for example. 

Still, many observers would point to prices for 100-Mbps services in other countries as examples that U.S. services are overpriced. 

Prices for residential gigabit service range from a low of $26 per month for Hong
Kong Broadband’s service to a high of $560 per month at network operator Turkcell,
according to astudy by Joe Savage, Telecom ThinkTank principal, and Michael Render RVA Market Research principal.

It is hard to ignore South Korean pricing of $27 a month…

Turn an iPod Touch into a Mobile Phone

FreedomPop has just announced that its WiMAX-capable iPod touch cases are now shipping. The sleeve wraps around an iPod touch and uses the Clearwire network to create a local Wi-Fi connection for the touch that is nomadic. 

The sleeve costs  $99 and reportedly operates for six to eight hours on a single charge. FreedomPop also is working on a mobile VoIP app, allowing a FeedomPop-equipped iPod touch to function just like a mobile phone.

Smart Phones Drive Global Device Revenue

The global mobile phone market grew 2.4 percent, year over year, in the third quarter of 2012, lead by Samsung and Apple. Nokia dropped off the "top five" list of smart phone vendors. 

Vendors shipped a total of 444.5 million mobile phones in the third quarter of 2012,  compared to 434.1 million units in the third quarter of 2011,  IDC says. 

In the global smart phone market, suppliers shipped 179.7 million units in the third quarter of 2012,  compared to 123.7 million units in the third quarter of 2011. 

The 45.3 percent year-over-year growth was slightly above IDC's forecast of 45.2 percent for the quarter.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share, 2012 Q3 (Units in Millions) 
Vendor3Q12 Unit Shipments 3Q12 Market Share 3Q11 Unit Shipments 3Q11 Market Share Year-over-year Change Samsung56.3 31.3% 28.1 22.7% 100.4% Apple26.9 15.0% 17.1 13.8% 57.3% Research In Motion7.7 4.3% 11.8 9.6% -34.7% ZTE7.5 4.2% 4.1 3.3% 82.9% HTC7.3 4.0% 12.7 10.3% -42.5% Others74.0 41.2% 49.9 40.3% 48.3% Total179.7 100…

"TicToc" Messaging App Going Global

Korea’s "over the top" messaging service TicToc has set its sights abroad with the international launch of TicToc Plus TicToc Plus on the Google Play store and an upcoming iPhone app.

The recently updated TicToc Plus Android app offers unlimited calls and messages, integration with Facebook photos and YouTube videos, stickers and group chat. The app is currently available in English and Korean with more languages planned soon.

Over the top messaging apps are anything but unusual these days. But what is more noteworthy is that Tic Top Plus is owned by Korean mobile service provider SK Telecom. 

Some service providers, such as Telefonica, have launched their own services. Others, such as Sprint, simply integrate with one or more favored over the top providers. Embrace or resist, every mobile operator has to have a strategy for dealing with over the top messaging and voice.

Text messaging (short message service, or SMS) still dominates the mobile messaging market in both traffic an…

Vodafone to Launch its Own Mobile Wallet Globally

Vodafone is launching its own mobile wallet service in 2013, allowing Vodafone’s customers to use their smart phones to conduct a number of transactions, including paying for goods and services at the point of sale, during 2013 CorFire says. 

Near field communications seems to be the technology of choice for the global initiative. 

NFC remains a controversial choice of device to point of sale terminal communications in some quarters, but NFC clearly is the favored mobile service provider communications protocol. 

Vodafone has approximately 406 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets and equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 50 partner networks worldwide. 

As is often the case, Vodafone also participates in other mobile wallet ventures, including Weve, the newly rebranded "Project Oscar" venture of a U.K. mobile operator consortium including EE (Orange and T-Mobile), Vodafone and O2. 

New Nexus 7 Pricing

Though the official launch of the Google Nexus 7 tablet is delayed by Hurricane Sandy, pricing news is available because retailers already are advertising them.

The 32GB Nexus 7 is priced at $249 and the 16GB version is priced at $199 at Office Depot,  Droid Life reports. 

The prices are not terribly surprising, given trends in the broader market, especially pricing of Amazon devices in similar form factors. 

Tablet computers will see an explosion in sales over the next four years, selling 60 percent as many units as PCs by 2015, Gartner predicts. 

Most analysts predict that PCs will outsell tablets for quite some time.Forrester Research has estimated that in 2015, PCs, including notebooks and desktop units, still will outsell tablets in the U.S. market by a better than two-to-one margin. 

U.K. Mobile Operators Launche "Weve" Mobile Wallet

The United Kingdom mobile payments venture originally code named "Oscar," and operated by a consortium of U.K. mobile operators including EE, (Orange and Deutsche Telekom), Vodafone and Telefonica’s O2, have chosen the retail brand name "Weve."

Along the way, the consortium has modified its anticipated revenue model, as have others in the young market. Originally, the idea was that the consortium would provide a single network platform for all participating card issuers (banks, for example), and would take part of the transaction fee.

After a European Union investigation of potential antitrust issues, as well as stout opposition from Visa and MasterCard clearing networks, Project Oscar was refocusedon mobile advertising and mobile commerce. 

Now "primarily aimed at advertisers looking to engage in mobile commerce," Weve has adopted the "mobile wallet" approach also used by Isis and Google Wallet.