Thursday, August 30, 2007
AUGUST 29, 2007
Nokia Corp. today took a great leap into providing mobile Internet services with a new brand, new devices, and the handset vendor's first new services.
The world's largest handset maker will offer mobile Internet services under the brand, Ovi, which is Finnish for "door." With Ovi, Nokia means to provide access to users' existing social networks and Internet content as well as a gateway to Nokia's Internet services.
The first services within the Ovi brand are a mobile gaming service called N-Gage, the Nokia Music Store, and an updated version of Nokia Maps, which was launched earlier this year for the N95 handset.
"Today, we're constantly thinking beyond the device. The device itself is not enough," says Nokia president and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. "By intergrating services tightly into our devices we bring simplicity and ease of use to users to take full advantage of the mobile Internet."
Some operators are likely to view Nokia's services as a threat to their own Internet services.
"Operators are quite likely to negotiate tough with Nokia for revenue share on such services," says Mark Burk, industry analyst at M:Metrics Inc. "And if that doesn't work, they'll ban the Nokia service and use their own."
But as Unstrung Insider's chief analyst Gabriel Brown points out, operators have not done well with their own mobile Internet services so far.
"Operators have had their chance and largely failed to deliver mobile Web services," says Brown. "It's not surprising Nokia wants to forge its own initiatives now." Kallasvuo insists that Nokia's services strategy will help operators deliver services rather than compete with them directly on their patch.
"We're cooperating with operators on services... We're not in contradiction to what they're doing," says Kallasvuo. "This has not been happening in stealth mode. We announced our services strategy a year ago."
Indeed, Nokia will not want to damage its core handset business with operators.
According to M:Metrics' Burk, Nokia is in a good position to enable mobile Internet services, particularly over-the-air music downloads, because they determine the user interface and how easy it is to find a service. "They can make it a one-click business," he says.
In the U.K., 79 percent of mobile phone users have handsets that can play music. Of all the phone users in the U.K., on an average over a three-month period ending June 2007, 13.4 percent have listened to music that they sideloaded from a PC, and only 2.1 percent have downloaded songs from an operator, according to M:Metrics.
Burk says that with Nokia's services, more people will find it easy to download music over-the-air onto their phones, adding that users really need 3G phones to do it.
Among Nokia's new devices are an updated N95 and the new N81, which has 8 Gbytes of storage. Nokia's marketing for the N81 marketing comes complete its own music video and dedicated song with irresistible lyrics, such as, "N81, when I caress your sexy Navi Wheel..."
Nokia will also soon introduce touch-screen user interfaces on certain handsets, like Apple Inc.'s iPhone.
Reliance is making big all encompassing moves in the media segment be it BigFlicks, Adlabs, BigFM, BigAdda, Zapak, etc.
Smart move considering we have 20% of the world's population. Reliance has the deep pockets to pull this off as for the first few years the burn rate is bound to be high specially in the online businesses.
Reliance ADAG to invest $100 million in BigFlicks
Anil Ambani is betting big money in his entertainment business. BigFlicks.com, a part of the Reliance ADA group, will pump in $100 million over five years.
BigFlicks.com has launched its on-demand movie download service. It offers films in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Kannada that will be available for either download to own at a fee or for free streaming.
BigFlicks will be introducing its movie rental services through its online home delivery service as well as a network of retail shops. The roll out of these services across top ten cities will begin in September.
"We will be investing $100 million over five years in BigFlicks," said Reliance Entertainment president Rajesh Sawhney.
Besides India, the portal is also targetting the overseas Non Resident Indian (NRI) population. The company will offer download to rent and subscription services in its portfolio of operations as well.
The firm says that its USP is that it is the first and only online movie library with the largest regional content. The download price ranges from $2 - $15.
BigFlicks.com will offer 2000 titles in the first year and there will be revenue sharing arrangements with the content owners. The site is also looking at acquiring Indian television content apart from looking to connect with subscribers in America, UK, Canada, Middle East, Australia and South East Asia.
The site aims to have an easy interface and navigability. It offers downloading speed with bit rates of 1500 kbps.
Said Sawhney, "Our vision is to build a scalable business model that brings entertainment to all kinds of consumers and homes through a multi channel distribution platform across broadband, Internet and home delivery and retail infrastructure. We also believe that BigFlicks.com will become the window of Indian entertainment content to the world. With over one billion people on the net, and increasingly on broadband, the portal offers an opportunity for Indian movie industry to reach out to the audience across the world: in the US, in Canada, in Europe, in Japan and even in South America.
Bigflicks.com is looking to set up retail home video stores across the country, said COO Kamal Gianchandani.
By the end of this financial year there will be 100 stores in 10 cities. In three years there will be around 500 stores in 50 cities. They will function as neighbourhood stores.
There will also be call centres for home delivery. The first stores will launch in Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Pune next month. The aim is to find the demand for different genres, consumption patterns and habits and plan accordingly.
When asked about the price points for rentals for these stores, Gianchandani says that it is being worked upon. He, however, praised the efforts of firms like Moser Baer which have worked towards bringing down the prices of home video products.
"This strikes a blow against the piracy menace. About a third of our content in the retail stores will come from Hollywood and international titles. We will buy the rental license from firms like Excel Home Video. The stores will eventually have around 17,500 titles in total. Having said that we see ourselves as first being an online home video firm. A year from now around 65 per cent of our revenue will come from the online component. The offline activity is an extension and our prices will be competitive," he added.
As far as the online business is concerned, BigFlicks has partnered with Entricl, a company which provides content protection service through Digital Rights Management (DRM), issues end licenses on downloadable content and provides access control to prevent misuse of content.
The content serving platform of Entriq is a download manager platform which allows the user to download movies from BigFlicks.com. The progressive downloading feature of this application allows users to download and watch movies at the same time. Ten minutes into the downloading process, a user can start watching movies while the download progresses.
It has also appointed content delivery network Limelight Networks as the exclusive provider of streaming content delivery services for Bigflicks.com that will enable the site to deliver its vast library of full length Indian movies, music videos, TV shows, documentaries, and other premium video content via the Internet to a global audience.
Bigflicks.com will later launch an online mail order service for the Indian market.
It has two revenue models. In the streaming model, the content (including films/songs) are available for free viewing. A user with a fast broadband connection can view them instantly. Ads will support this model.
The other is download to own model where downloads are available for a fee of anywhere between $2 and $9.
Moreover users can watch a movie on one PC and make copies on three other PCs. In the future it will also allow for burning of movies to DVD. Very soon the downloaded content could be transferred into mobile or an iPod besides offering premium quality DVD content without the retailer and wholesaler margins at a competitive price, the company said.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Surprising and in way very pleasing to see an incumbent like BT, giving the newer nimble service providers a run for their money by regularly churning out innovative services [21CN, Fusion and now this]
BT's new play is with Sony's Playstation
28/08/2007 - by Martyn Warwick, TelecomTV
BT is teaming up with Sony to introduce software that will enable users of the Playstation Portable to make phone and video calls and send text messages from their handheld consoles.
The new software, called GoMessenger has been developed by the incumbent UK operator and will target the 8.5 million Sony Playstation owners across Europe. It will be launched in Britain in January 2008 and in the months thereafter will be rolled-out to Germany, Spain and Italy.
In what is being described as "a first for the gaming industry" Playstation owners with fast Internet access will be able - for free - to download the "BT broadband talk softphone package". In other words, VoIP.
BT says it has taken "two or three years" to get the project completed and won't say how much it has spent or how any revenue share between it and Sony will be effected. A spokesperson for the operator said only, "BT has a strong record in gaining revenue from internet services, but its just a bit early to reveal any more."
So there you are.
What we do know is that the software is free and users don't have to be BT broadband subscribers to be able to use the new service. What's more, it's pretty certain to be popular because calls from one Playstation to another will be free. And for the really adventurous, Sony is also providing an optional camera (you'll pay for it though) that can be fitted to the Playstation to facilitate video calls.
So, where's the money to be made then? Well, BT will charge for calls from the Playstation to a mobile phone or landline. No tariff has been published as yet but a BT spokesperson say call costs will be "similar to the Softphone charges". Softphone calls are 3p per minute using BT equipment and calls to UK mobiles cost between 7.5p and 12.5p a minute. International calls cost up to 10p a minute, plus a 6p call set-up fee.
Even recent introductions are variants of the Razr. Surprising they haven't been able to get a clutch of decent models out over the last 24 months.
Motorola's market share is collapsing says Gartner
28/08/2007 - by Martyn Warwick, Telecom TV
Motorola's lacklustre performance continued through its second quarter as rivals still claw away - with apparent ease and impunity – at the Chicago-headquartered handset manufacturer's market share as the company's senior executives look on like rabbits caught in the headlights, seemingly unable to do anything about the fact that they are being turned into pate.
There is as yet absolutely no sign that the public are turning en masse to the company's much-vaunted new handsets that have been rush-shipped in a late effort to increase damaged margins and mend a huge gap in Motorola's credibility.
Research newly published by Gartner reveals that Motorola's market share is in danger of collapsing completely. It has declined by an incredible 7.3 per cent in just twelve months. This time last year Mororola claimed a global market share of 21.9 per cent. It is now down to 14.6 per cent and is still falling.
That catastrophic decline has permitted Motorola's arch-rival Nokia to add three percentage points to its own market share, that now stands at a 36.9 per cent whilst Samsung of Korea, a distant third in the world rankings a year ago, snatches second place.
Gartner analyst, Carolina Milanesi, believes Motorola will not be able to regain its lost market share until next summer at the very earliest, and that the struggle will be hard, bloody and long.
The research company says that a Motorola recovery might be fueled by the intelligent and creative inventory management the company has successfully carried through over the most recent reporting quarter. During that period Motorola successfully offloaded an excess of handsets that had accrued since Q1 while Samsung's current gains could be mitigated by an inventory backlog of its own.
Motorola sold 39.5 million phones in Q2 and Gartner estimates that 270.9 million handsets were sold globally in that period driven by a remarkable 41 per cent growth in the Asia Pacific region. To put that surge into perspective, the whole of the North American market grew by just seven per cent in the same period.
In light of real sales figures achieved during the first half of the year, (rather than on the corporate wishful thinking exhibited in some company's forecasts) Gartner predicts that annual sales figures will peak at 1.13 billion handsets, down from an earlier forecast of 1.15 billion.
In-game advertising worth US$850 million by 2011: Report
28/08/2007 - by Martyn Warwick, Telecom TV
The research and analysis group ABI predicts that the market of advertising in video games could be worth US$850 million by 2011. At the moment the sector, globally, is worth a comparatively paltry $80 million.
ABI notes that, globally, the increased ability of video game consoles to connect to the Internet will allow publishers and their respective console partners to advertise to gamers.
“In the past, static advertising meant that publishers and their advertising partners could not create real-time marketing messages. With the incorporation of advertising clients directly into game engines – and through connections to ad servers – advertisers will be able to deliver messages that reach audiences in-game and through the walled garden game network,” says ABI's research director, Michael Wolf.
What games players will make of this unwarranted and no-doubt unwanted intrusion into leisure time activities that they are already paying full-whack for in the first place remains to be seen. However, it is unlikely that they will be best pleased.
More signs that it's all slipping away at Alcatel Lucent
28/08/2007 - by Martyn Warwick, Telecom TV
Since the great "marriage of equals" between Alcatel of France and Lucent of the US, the much-vaunted synergies upon which the deal was sold to shareholders have, in the main, failed to materialise and the trans-Atlantic union has not been the success it was promised to be.
Now, in a sign that things are getting worse, the troubled company has lost two of its top executives with president Mike Quigley and chief administrative officer Frank D’Amelio resigning.
Mr. D’Amelio has accepted the position as chief financial officer at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, whilst Mr. Quigley is returning to his native Australia without a job to go to (although it is expected that he will not be unemployed for long).
Mike Quigley’s departure is understandable and not unexpected. Indeed, many were surprised that he stayed with the company for as long as he did.
The amiable, bullet-headed Aussie was widely regarded as the natural successor to and heir apparent of Serge Tchuruk who has headed Alcatel since 1995 and, at the age of 69 cannot be far from retirement. However, the realpolitik of the so-called merger (which, in fact, was really a takeover of Lucent by Alcatel) meant that the US company had to be appeased and the job of CEO went to Patricia Russo. She has not led the merged company to the myriad market victories she has so frequently promised.
The resignation of Frank D'Amelio is more of a shock. He was one of the architects of the amalgamation and has been in charge of many aspects of the prolonged merger – a process that even today is far from complete.
It is difficult to imagine two companies with more disparate cultures than Alcatel and Lucent, and bringing them together has been like trying to piece together a 10,000-piece jigsaw with a sledgehammer. Many observers are taking D'Amelios abrupt resignation as further evidence that the merger is in trouble.
In response to the departures Alcatel Lucent trotted out the usual palliative corporate twaddle – saying nothing of any substance and completely ignoring the realities. The statement reads, “During the past year, both Mike and Frank have contributed significantly to the planning for and the launch of Alcatel-Lucent. With their help, we achieved a number of important milestones in a very short time.”
Strange that none of them are listed then, isn't it?
And whatever Alcatel Lucent says, and however hard the company's PR department spins the story, the departure of Mike Quigley is a major loss.
He was responsible, personally, for bringing in key deals such as the Project Lightspeed contract with SBC in the US and at present there is no one else apparent within Alcatel Lucent with the skills, knowledge, charisma and determination to be able to do anything remotely similar.
With his going, Etienne Fouques, currently the head of the Carrier Business Segment at Alcatel Lucent will assume leadership of the Science, Technology and Strategy functions that previously were Mike Quigley's ultimate responsibility. Mr. Fouques will also oversee the Services Business Group, that will continue to be led on a day-to-day basis by John Meyer.
Meanwhile, Michel Rahier, the head of the Wireline Business Group will assume the overall leadership of the Carrier Business unit, that includes Wireline, Wireless, and Convergence businesses. The individual executives who previously reported to Etienne Fouques when he was head of the Carrier Business segment will now report to Michel Rahier.
Frank D'Amelio's resignation has also sparked a reorganisation. Henceforth the teams that used to report to him will now report to "other members of the senior leadership team". In addition to his role as Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. D'Amelio also oversaw the Integration Programme Office, with Christian Reinaudo.
Commenting on what is a double body blow to the entire Alcatel Lucent organisation, CEO Patricia Russo said, “When we announced the merger of Alcatel-Lucent we acknowledged the breadth and depth of the senior management team and we anticipated that there would be an evolution in leadership responsibilities, which is natural. We are well served with a strong bench of top executive talent that we can draw upon as well as an extensive set of resources that we believe are unrivalled in the industry”
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
- 8.06 million wireless sub adds in Jul07 taking total wireless base to 193 million
- Total telephony subscriber base up to 233 million taking overall teledensity to 20%
- Total broadband connections up to 2.47 million
India Overtakes USA as Nokia's Second Largest Market
Nokia has announced that India has become the second largest market for Nokia in terms of sales, going past the USA in the quarter ended June 2007. Over the last three years, India has been gaining significant ground Year on Year moving from No 4 position in 2005 to No 3 position in 2006 and is today poised right behind China.
In another milestone, the company also announced that it has started exporting to 58 countries from its Sriperumbudur, Chennai manufacturing plant. The factory has now reached production volumes of 60 million handsets (August 2007) and is exporting half of its production to 58 countries across Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The factory currently employs 4700 people, 70 percent of which are women. The Nokia Telecom Park has received an investment of US$500 million with seven global component manufacturers likely to generate in excess of 30,000 jobs when fully functional."
Today, India hosts a comprehensive Nokia R&D, Manufacturing and Design presence. Moreover, we are also the country's leading provider of wireless infrastructure through Nokia Siemens Network, the newly merged entity. This not only reiterates our commitment and belief in the market but also underscores India's emergence as a strategic resource hub for Nokia globally," said Mr. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, President and CEO of Nokia Corporation.
Nokia Siemens Networks has recently announced its plans to invest US$100 million in India over the next three years as a part of its commitment to develop a strong telecommunications environment in India. This investment will include setting up a proposed telecommunication equipment manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu for wireless network equipment, new offices across various cities, additional development of an existing R&D centre, and expanding the Global Networks Solution Centre.
I personally believe that we have achieved the critical mass and industry maturity to proceed on issues such as MNP which are at the end of the day in the larger consumer interest.
I for one am a strong proponent of MNP to catalyze competition. While this might not be required on the pricing front it definitely is the need of the hour with respect to QoS
Indian GSM, CDMA ops clash on MNP
India's warring GSM and CDMA operators have clashed over the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP).The CDMA operators' representative body the Association of United Service Providers of India (AUSPI) is supporting the introduction of MNP and has written to telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja encouraging MNP introduction, arguing it will increase competition in the mobile sector.
However, GSM industry representative group the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) is opposing the immediate introduction of MNP. COAI Director-General TV Ramachandran said that although GSM operators were "not afraid" of MNP introduction
that, "The implementation of MNP is a misplaced priority as there are many other issues that need to be looked at to improve telephony penetration in the country."
Sunday, August 26, 2007
However, Web 2.0 definitely lowers the entry barrier and overall cost.
The Right Way to Use Web 2.0
Expert advice on using new marketing techniques; business owners review LinkedIn; researchers analyze social-entrepreneurship ventures; and more
by David E. Gumpert , Businessweek
Three Keys to Successfully Exploiting Web 2.0
Entrepreneurs are eager to use the rapidly emerging social networks and blogging tools to get closer to their customers, but first they need to develop a business strategy, according to members of a high-profile panel in a recent discussion at the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Northwest. Panelists included representatives of Technorati, Facebook, and Wetpaint, who offered the following suggestions for best using Web 2.0 techniques:
• Define the business goals your business can achieve by creating a community. One panelist described how Victoria's Secret created a Facebook community around "Pink," a line of sweat suits, before the line was even launched. The company successfully used "a two-way dialogue" to build up advance sales for the new product
• Don't automatically give up on old marketing techniques in favor of Web 2.0. One panelist asked the audience how many have bought products based on TV advertising vs. Web advertising, and the TV side won out by a large margin. "People are sometimes too willing to abandon" tried-and-true marketing tools, noted a panelist
• Go beyond starting a conversation with customers. While getting people talking is a good start, "You have to listen to people when they come" to a blog, noted a panelist. Because people tend to trust their own personal social networks more than any particular company, entrepreneurs must demonstrate their organizations are worthy of trust by applying feedback to their offerings.
Opinions Divided on Linkedin for Entreprenuers
The networking site gets mixed reviews in a discussion on the Harvard Startup listserv.
One entrepreneur reports he is down on LinkedIn because "it depends on all its members responding to messages when one member wants to contact another beyond their immediate network. In every case where I tried to contact someone two networks away, I found the gatekeepers asleep, so my messages were never passed along."
Another says he finds it "to be very static. The network's in place, but I'm not doing anything with it, partly because I'm not sure how to use it well.I like having other people I respect in mine in the hopes that they will 'meet' each other, but that doesn't seem to be happening either."
Others say they've had the opposite experience. "As your network grows, the number of gatekeepers available to a given contact grows as well. Perhaps I have just been lucky, but the ones I asked to pass on a referral have been prompt and helpful." The head of a startup says he uses LinkedIn "almost daily. Anything from finding valuable information about a prospect…to finding the next employee, finding contacts in a particular industry, geography, and much more."
Must Social-Entrepreneurship Ventures Be Nonprofit?
Not necessarily, argue two Spanish researchers in a paper published in the Journal of World Business. Analysis of three success stories—a bank in Bangladesh, a hospital in India, and an educational organization in Egypt—"reveals a common feature: All three creatively combine resources…to address a social problem and thereby alter existing social structures," write Johanna Mair and Ignasi Marti of IESE Business School at the University of Navarra. The Bangladesh and Egyptian organizations "fit perfectly with a for-profit scheme," they maintain. "In sum, whether social entrepreneurs choose a nonprofit or a for-profit vehicle often depends on the particular business model and the specific social needs addressed."
More Early-Stage Businesses Leverage Emerging Economies
Consulting firm MasterPlans.com saw the percentage of inquiries for global businesses increase to 22% of the total, from 5% in the year-earlier period, according to the firm's chief executive officer, Bryan Howe. Examples include not just outsourcing computer programming to India and targeting suppliers in Mexico, but developing condominiums in Montenegro for wealthy Russians and selling agricultural technology to Tanzania, he says.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Fig-2 : % agreeing with statements by network used
I guess this is borne out by the proportion of sales entry and mid level handsets command even in mature markets. I guess the biggest challenge for handset vendors and network operators is broad basing usage of advanced features and services.
"Some credit for this must surely go down to the innovative advertising and marketing for O2 which has been involved with sponsorship of a wide range of music events and of course the former Millennium Dome, although it should also be noted that customer satisfaction with O2 is also the highest amongst the mobile networks. O2 seems to be doing well both in promoting itself and also in providing good customer service.
"Looking at the percentage of customers who are very satisfied with customer service, O2 has been the market leader in each of the last 3 years - a very considerable achievement in a competitive market. The investment in customer service seems to have paid off, as O2 now has a higher share of customers prepared to pay more for mobile style and technology."
Review: Rival phones no match for iPhone ; Apple's IPhone Takes Other Luxury Cell Phones to School
Aug 24, 2007
The iPhone makes me mad. Not, mind you, at the iPhone itself, but mad at cell-phone manufacturers who have saddled us for years with interfaces that lure us into labyrinths of menus.
The buttons that are supposed to guide us through this maze do different things on every screen: a single button can mean "Back" on one screen, "Cancel" on another, "Exit" on a third.
The iPhone has one button on its face. It always does the same thing: takes you to the top menu, where icons representing all functions of the phone - music player, Internet browser and more - are laid out in a clear manner. Wham, you're out of the labyrinth.
This makes me mad, because this isn't just the way it should be done, it's the way it always should have been done. This became clear to me as I set out to look at the iPhone along with two other top-of-the-line phones, the Nokia N95 and Helio's Ocean.
The Nokia N95 costs $750, even more than the iPhone, and is jam-packed with features like a high-resolution camera, radio receiver and satellite Global Positioning System receiver. There are 13 buttons on its face, and that's before you slide the screen out to reveal the keypad.
Two of the N95's buttons take you to a top menu. But each button takes you to a different top menu. The menus navigate differently. The first doesn't have all the options of the other, the second has all the options but hides some of them. How am I supposed to remember which menu has which option?
This wouldn't have bugged me before using the iPhone. But the iPhone has a way of opening one's eyes. After using its beautiful, logical touch-screen interface, I get the feeling that if an Apple designer had said "Hey, let's give it two top menus! Give the user more choice," Chief Executive Steve Jobs would have demanded not just his resignation but his left pinky finger. Just as a lesson.
As you probably know, Apple's first phone launched amid tremendous hype in late June. Since then most of the press has been about hacks and complaints, and speculation that it's not living up to sales expectations. Most recently, the news has been that AT&T uses too much paper to print bills for the iPhone (the company said it would shorten them).
Don't pay it any attention: the iPhone is the best phone you can buy right now.
The two iPhone models, with 4 and 8 gigabytes of memory respectively, cost $499 and $599, and AT&T's plans start at $60 a month. Like the N95, its price is high partly because the cell-phone carrier doesn't subsidize the cost of the phone. Unfortunately, with the iPhone you're locked in to the AT&T plan for at least two years.
With the N95, you can sign up for any AT&T or T-Mobile plan, those being the two major U.S. carriers that are compatible with the phone's GSM technology.
The Ocean is considerably cheaper, at $295, with monthly plans starting at $65. Helio's stated goal is to bring cool high-powered phones, as found in Asia, to hip, young Americans. It rents time on Sprint Nextel Corp.'s network, which provides broadband download speeds. This gives it a leg up over the iPhone and N95, which both use slower data networks, supplemented by Wi-Fi where available.
But the Ocean's main claim to fame is that it's a "dual slider:" push the screen up, and you reveal a standard numeric keypad. Push it sideways, and you get a QWERTY keyboard.
The screen on the N95 slides two ways too: up to reveal the keypad, down to reveal a set of media-player controls: play, stop, forward, backward.
Three months ago, I would have found these Swiss-knife-type designs brilliant, or at least useful, but really, they're not the way to go. To do different things with them, like switching from typing an e-mail to listening to music, you switch between different modes - slide parts of the phone this way or that, and see buttons change their functions.
Basic theory of user interface design states that you should keep the number of different modes to a minimum, for ease of use. This theory seems to have been hammered into the designers of the iPhone.
Sure, the iPhone has its annoyances. To name a few:
- The headphone jack is deeply recessed. The only headphones I managed to use were the earbuds Apple supplied, which don't do justice to music or shut out noise. You can't use wireless headphones, at least yet.
- You have to use Apple's iTunes application, which doesn't run well on PCs. In fact, my PC screen turned itself off, then back on a few seconds later, when the iPhone was connected. It's a phenomenon I have never before seen.
- AT&T's EDGE data network can be painfully slow, taking minutes to load a Web page or load e-mail. A pity, since the iPhone's Web browser is the best ever.
- The pictures from the 2-megapixel camera are fuzzy, and the lens smudges easily to make them even fuzzier.
- Standby time is supposedly up to 10 days, but I found I had to recharge the phone at least every three days of light use, which isn't very good.
- It has Google Maps, but it can't tell you where you are. The N95 can, if you manage to get the GPS receiver working, which was quite tough. The Helio can too, or is at least supposed to. It placed me half a mile off.
I could go on about the iPhone's flaws, but it doesn't really matter. When you're in love, you forgive the shortcomings of your loved one.
Levi Strauss Branded Mobile Phone Due Next Month
The fashion company, Levi Strauss has announced more details of their planned branded mobile phone, which is now expected to be available from next month. Information is still limited, but the handset will come with 40MB internal memory and external a microSD slot along with a 2 megapixel camera. The screen supports 65,000 colours. The handset will be finished in stainless steel, and the company says that this can be personalised. A range of denim material cases will also be offered at launch.
The Levi's phone is being manufactured under license by Paris-based ModeLabs Group.
"The line of Levi's branded mobile phones and mobile phone accessories will mirror the brand values in terms of innovation, design, quality and craftsmanship. ModeLabs Group has expertise in the mobile phones and mobile phone accessories area and we look forward to a successful partnership with them in growing the Levi's licensed business. Technology and apparel are a continued focus area for the Levi's brand" said You Nguyen, Senior Vice President Product of the Levi's brand in Europe.
The Levi's phone is offered in metallic silver, black and brown copper. Feminine "shiny silver" and "shiny sand" editions, featuring a 'mirror' screen have also been created.
"As pioneers of the connection between fashion and technology, we wanted to create an accessory that combines design aesthetics with consumer needs. We are confident that this phone lives up to the promise of the Levi's brand", adds You Nguyen.
Back in 2002, Levi Strauss launched a pair of jeans which came with a radiation shield in the pockets to "protect" cellphone owners should they put their phone in the pockets.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Indian cellcos hit record high net adds
Indian cellular operators added a record 8 million wireless subscribers in July, 400,000 more than in June, taking the subscriber base to 189 million customers.
The subscriber base grew 4.4% quarter on quarter and 48% year on year. "The strong resurgence in net adds is in line with our FY08 [ending March] average monthly run rate of 7+ million net adds," Credit Suisse said.
Bharti, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular and Vodafone Essar added their highest-ever subscribers in a month. In fact, Vodafone Essar overtook BSNL to become India's third largest mobile operator after Bharti and Reliance in July. BSNL's performance continues to be affected by network rollout delays. "The share loss of BSNL/MTNL has been the gain for other GSM players with Reliance and Tata struggling to maintain their market share," added Credit Suisse. "This raises an issue of customer preference and scalability of the CDMA model."
Employers increasingly turning to online searches before they hire
21/08/2007 07:04:00 - by Leila Makki
Landing that dream job is difficult enough at the best of times but a new survey reveals that these days its not just the job hunter doing the homework necessary to stand out from the crowd, gain an interview and perhaps be lucky enough to be taken on. More and more employers have started to conduct online searches on prospective candidates before they make any binding hiring decision.
A new study by Careerbuilder.com finds that one in five managers admits to using search engines, such as Google, when researching potential employees.
The survey of 1,150 hiring managers shows that 12 per cent of them used social networking sites like Facebook.com as part of their hiring process. What's more, 64 per cent of these thereafter decline to employ an job applicant.
Significantly, such refusals are not based on poor interviews or yawning gaps in a CV where a prison sentence may lurk, but instead on unacceptable behaviour discovered online.
As might be expected top two disqualifiers the respondents cite are bogus qualifications and ownership of criminal records – although there is no direct criminological evidence that the possession of discs by the Bay City Rollers and Wham! necessarily predisposes recidivism.
Careerbuilder.com’s Jennifer Sullivan says, "The Internet brings a new dimension to the job application process. Sometimes it can work to your advantage, and sometimes to your disadvantage."
However, the study says, a positive online profile may well work to a job seekers advantage. Some 40 per cent of managers says hiring decisions are blostered when an online view of a candidate shows him or her to be "well rounded and exhibiting a wide range of interests."
And those who aren't can take advantage of other web-based services that claim, for a small fee of course, to be able to alter, adapt, disguise or delete unflattering Internet profiles and to remove that photo of drunken excess or embarrasing blog.
One such website, ReputationDefender.com will search your name on password-protected websites and compile a report of their findings for less than £5 a month.
For an additional £10 a month, the website will make sure any inappropriate content – including images – will not appear in an online name search.
The company’s founder and chief executive, Michael Fertik, says, "Often pictures that are intrinsically innocuous get taken out of context, and then can become punitive.” Mr. Fertik, who believes everyone should know just how he or she is perceived online, says that the majority of his clients use the website just to search and do not utilise the filter function.
Another website, DefendMyName.com caters to both employers and individuals who take their online reputation seriously. DefendMyName founder Rob Russo, comments, "Online searching has taken on an essential role in the corporate world when people are scouting new employees. It is becoming an actual part of the hiring process along with a criminal background check."
The company says it will conduct online clean-ups for anyone – from private individuals to massive multinational corporations through its proprietary technology. DefendMyName virtually "papers over" negative search engine results by creating new links and promotional sites thus generating "a more positive online brand image" for clients.
Monday, August 20, 2007
No doubt about the fact that mobile advertising is the most personal and intimate way to communicate and engage with subscribers. However, for it not to be viewed as being intrusive, subscription (or choice to unsubscribe) must be voluntary and consumers must be offered some benefit (tangible or perceived) in return.
Technology helps reinvent cell phone ads
Technology Helps Reinvent Cell Phone Advertising, Distant It From Spam
Derrick Ho, AP News
Aug 17, 2007
Mobile phones are a potential gold mine for advertisers, the most personal and intimate way to communicate and engage with subscribers - more than 2 billion of them and counting worldwide.
Yet the advertisers' two-liner text pitches have largely fueled a growing hate club, with recipients quickly equating the messages with spam they abhor on desktops.
Several blue-chip brands like Nokia Corp. and McDonald's Corp. have been experimenting with interactive ads on cell phones, taking advantage of the device's ability to know where you are. Customers have the option of finding the nearest retail or restaurant outlet with the press of a key.
Others partner with search engines and e-mail services to slip in an ad or two, similar to how Google has mastered the use of e-mail and search keywords on the desktop to help determine which topics users find interesting and, in turn, what ads appear.
Better handsets and faster networks mean "more brands utilizing mobile devices for more advanced marketing and advertising initiatives," said Laura Marriott, executive director of the Denver-based industry trade group Mobile Marketing Association.
The search-based advertising model seems to be working in Japan - a mature mobile phone market where the bulk of the 98 million mobile phone users have phones with Internet capabilities.
Japan's mobile advertising expenditures are expected to reach $1 billion by 2011 - more than three times the $328 million last year, according to an April report from media and communication think tank Dentsu Communication Institute Inc.
Although subscribers had felt they were wasting their time and money going through ads while conducting searches on their phones, those concerns have diminished with faster speeds and flat-rate pricing for Web access, said Akira Miwa, the report's author.
Yahoo Inc. took the plunge in June with a mapping service that combines search and location-based mobile technology. All one has to do is to enter a keyword to search, and advertisers registered on Yahoo's database pop up on a digital map.
The advertising industry is mindful of earlier mistakes, including inundating consumers with pop-up ads on the desktop and text messages on the phone.
Many agree that preserving a good customer experience is critical.
"Push marketing and spam have a very short shelf life," said Frank Brown, director of the mobile marketing and technology firm Sydus.
People need to feel, Brown said, that they had specifically invited the pitch or are engaging with the brand in a relevant and entertaining way.
Rebecca Ye, a 22-year-old Singaporean, said she wouldn't mind having ads sent to her phone as long as she had subscribed for them, like "a notification on upcoming sales."
"Let's say you're on the train and you get a message telling you something's going on somewhere you can just drop by," she said. "So it's very targeted and purposeful."
MobileOne, Singapore's second largest mobile communications provider, promises to cater only to the "willing customer."
Subscribers can choose to receive offers, free news headlines and advanced functions with an interactive ad-based text messaging service, but if a customer declines, "he continues to send and receive (text messages) the way he does today," Chief Executive Neil Montefiore said. "It is completely under the control of the customer."
Wireless carriers, meanwhile, are starting to loosen restrictions on third-party ads, which they had resisted for fear annoyed customers might defect to competitors. Until now, most mobile ads are found on content producers' own Web sites, which are accessed through a mobile browser rather than through the carrier's cell phone menu.
Yum Brands Inc.'s Pizza Hut and KFC are among the first to advertise through a free, ad-based e-mail service from Southeast Asia's largest operator, SingTel.
"Our customers are fully aware that they will be receiving the ads, and from our initial findings, they aren't disturbed by them at all," SingTel spokeswoman Tricia Lee said. "We also found that a relatively large segment of customers are willing to try mobile advertising provided they receive something in return."
Analysts say slowing revenue growth and saturation in developed markets have forced wireless carriers to reconsider - good news for advertisers that want to target specific groups. After all, the carriers have the key to a treasure cove of customer demographics - where they live, their age and what games they play on their phone.
"Carriers today are now focusing on targeted advertising and personalization capabilities," said King Yew Foong, research director of Gartner Singapore. "The crucial point is whether carriers understand their customers well enough to execute this flawlessly. They will have to develop better customer intimacy."
The risks are high if they don't do it right.
"Consumer aversion to such advertisements in the past is due to the fact that they were irrelevant to the recipients," King said.
To mitigate the risks, Korean and Japanese companies that have allowed advertising have also put in place spam filters.
The Mobile Marketing Association has set up guidelines that include letting consumers decline to receive ads and ensuring that information advertisers obtain from customers be kept confidential.
"So because of that, spam will be less of an issue," MMA's Marriott said.
Brands themselves are also learning to be more subtle with its mobile campaigns, tapping on to a trend where youths in Asia are increasingly turning to their phones rather than an iPod for on-the-go entertainment.
Bacardi Ltd., the company best known for its top-selling rum, recently extended its yearlong partnership with Sydus to stream music to cell phones through a virtual radio "brand-channel." The company hopes to connect with a younger audience that way _ without overt advertising.
It may take time, though, for mobile ads to gain better esteem among consumers. Some parts of Asia have yet to embrace the third-generation, or 3G, phones that can carry multimedia ads. Handset technology and network signals differ among mobile carriers and countries, forcing advertisers to cater only to the tech-savvy group.
But it's only a matter of time before mobile networks improve - and the mobile ads follow. The key is to avoid simply importing techniques from television and the desktop.
"We should all by now (know) that doing boring TV ads aren't much appreciated," Craig Davis, worldwide chief creative officer of New York-based advertising agency JWT, said during a recent visit to Singapore. "Doing annoying things is no way to seduce people that your brand is for them."
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Compatibility with the existing office application is definitely the key keg of this strategy.
What's Behind Apple's iWork?
Microsoft's Office still dominates the market, but Apple's new software may signal a tectonic shift in the two behemoths' uneasy alliance
by Arik Hesseldahl
It's hard not to wonder if the relationship between Cupertino and Redmond isn't a bit more strained these days. But then again the two giants of the tech industry that reside in those locales have always had a rocky relationship.
Long Cold War-style rivals, Cupertino (Calif.)-based Apple and Redmond (Wash.)-based Microsoft fought a bitter campaign for the hearts and minds of personal computer users everywhere. Microsoft won more minds and wallets than did Apple, which won plenty of hearts, but not enough.
Their struggle ended in a peace of sorts in 1997. Microsoft took a $150 million stake in Apple. Apple made Internet Explorer its default Web browser. And they settled a toxic patent dispute.
Making Another Run at Office?
At the time, Steve Jobs was just beginning his comeback as Apple's chief executive (he was called "interim" CEO). Key partnerships, he said, would go a long way toward restoring Apple to health, and none were more important than that with Microsoft. Saving Apple, he said, required getting beyond the insistence that for Apple to win Microsoft would have to lose. It was controversial but it was necessary.
And no application, from Microsoft, has been more important for the Mac's long-term survival than Microsoft Office. Ten years after that historic deal, Office for the Mac continues to be the best-selling piece of Mac software that doesn't come from Apple.
So it was a tad surprising that Apple announced on Aug. 7 a new version of its own office productivity software, dubbed iWork '08. Included in iWork, which will sell for $79, is a new application called Numbers, a spreadsheet application analogous to Microsoft Excel, but as with all things made for the Mac, Apple made it easier to use.
Previously, iWork had contained only Pages, a word-processing program comparable in many respects to Microsoft Word, and Keynote, a presentation program that is comparable to, but far better than PowerPoint. (Al Gore's infamous presentation that led to the film An Inconvenient Truth was created in Keynote, not PowerPoint, as many, including myself, have said.) Adding Numbers completed the circle.
The announcement from Apple also couldn't help but raise eyebrows in the wake of word from Craig Eisler, head of Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, on Aug. 2 that the software giant will delay the release of its next version of Office for the Mac until January, 2008. It was at least the second announced delay for that product. Apple's move in 2005 from using chips from IBM and Freescale Semiconductor to using chips from Intel apparently contributed to the delay, plus a shift in the file format that Microsoft uses for Office documents complicated the job of updating that program.
So, as of this week, Apple has its own office software suite that does more or less the same things, is compatible with Office, and sells for just a little more than half of Office's starting price of $149.
A Move Toward Google?
It's tempting to think that Microsoft may be in trouble on the Mac front. That's not the case yet, but it could be. The Microsoft Office brand is still, by far, the most powerful one when it comes to basic business software. Say what you will about all the many confusing versions of Office that Microsoft has put out for Windows, when you have a PC, you gotta have Office. And the same thing is true when you have a Mac.
But will that always be the case? Take Google, the search giant that has its sights set on toppling Microsoft's dominance. Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt is an Apple director, as is its special advisor Al Gore. And there are deeper ties between Apple and Google.
Google's Web-based office applications, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, are free, easy to use, and compatible with Word and Excel. They also work on a Mac. To use them, all you need is a fast Internet connection and a browser.
And besides Google, others are creating Web-based office applications such as ThinkFree and Zoho, both of which are, like Google Docs and Spreadsheets, perfectly Mac-friendly.
Office Market Share
Should Microsoft be worried? Certainly not yet. I checked with Chris Swenson, an analyst with NPD Group, a market research firm that tracks retail software sales. What effect if any, has there been on sales of Office for the Mac in reaction to Google, Zoho, and ThinkFree? "None. Zero. Zip," he said. Microsoft Office for the Mac enjoys a market share in the neighborhood of 91%, while its nearest competitor is Apple's iWork, which comes in at 9%.
You would think that Mac users would be the one market niche desperate to resist the Microsoft-ifcation of everything. Well, there certainly are some resisters. Jobs said at the Apple event on Aug. 7 that the company has sold 1.8 million copies of previous versions of iWork over its lifetime. That's a fair number when you consider that Apple sold 5.3 million Macs during its fiscal year 2006, and has already sold 4.9 million during the first three quarters of fiscal 2007.
Yet what's the first thing many new Mac owners buy before they walk out of the store? A copy of Office for the Mac, usually the $149 student version that allows you to install the software on three machines. (Apparently, no one ever checks for student ID.)
So why does Apple bother with iWork? It must have more to do with something as simple as "offering choice to our users." Apple's core marketing appeal right now for the Mac is to two main groups of people: established Mac users and new users who may be switching from Windows.
"Switchers," who are new to the Mac, may be computer novices or computer experts with varying levels of comfort with Microsoft Office and perhaps even a limited need for it. So iWork offers that consumer-friendly option that anyone can use, with Office compatibility thrown in.
iWork complements iLife, also updated on Aug. 7, the suite of consumer-grade applications like iPhoto, iMovie, and Garageband, all of which are for fun things like managing photos, making home movies, and creating music. So between iWork and iLife, Apple can say it has a complete range of "essential" software applications, and thus can ensure those "switchers" that they'll be able to do everything they need to do without Windows.
You might also ask why Microsoft bothers building Office for the Mac? Because its profitable. Practically everyone who owns a Mac buys Office at one time or another. Assuming everyone buys that $149 student version, you're looking at sales in the neighborhood of $800 million in 2006, and perhaps as much as a $1 billion this year, assuming a strong back-to-school quarter.
Backing Off of Mac
Yet Microsoft has been reducing its commitment to Mac software overall. Gone is VirtualPC, a Windows emulator made more or less obsolete by virtualization software from Parallels and VMWare, which, along with Apple's Boot Camp, allow Mac users to run Windows and Windows versions of Office on a Mac.
Gone is Windows Media Player for the Mac. It has been replaced by Telestream's Flip4Mac, which allows Windows Media files to played in Apple's QuickTime. Gone is Internet Explorer, Microsoft's Web browser, made irrelevant by Safari (now also available for Windows), Firefox, and Opera—and the general hostility of Mac users to Microsoft.
What's left? Microsoft Messenger, but most Mac users eschew it in favor of iChat, which supports both AOL's instant messenger and GoogleTalk, or AdiumX, which supports more or less every instant-messaging scheme under the sun, including Microsoft's. There's Entourage, Microsoft's answer to Outlook for e-mail, calendaring, and so on, which can in most cases be replaced by Apple's freebie trio, iCal, Address Book, and Mail. You might think that Microsoft might get fed up with all these upstart competitors on the Mac, and walk away, focus on its core business, Windows—which, given the underwhelming reaction to Vista so far, seems to certainly need some attention.
But Apple still needs Microsoft, and especially Office, to remain on the Mac. Office gives the Mac the stamp of workplace respectability. Without it, sales into businesses would be all that much harder if only because customers will worry about compatibility issues with their PC-using vendors, customers, and so on. And that fact is only going to become more true as Microsoft migrates toward its new XML-based format. Expect some confusion to reign as more companies buy Office 2007 on Windows, while others languish behind on Office XP.
So why would Microsoft reduce its exposure to the Mac when the number of people using it is growing? Mac sales growth is ahead of the rest of the PC industry. So tell me where in the textbooks of business strategy does it say that the time to walk away from the market is when it's beginning to grow? If Microsoft is so passionate about the Mac, why is the Mac Business Unit down to producing one flagship application and a few others? That sounds to me like a great opportunity for Google. Perhaps the Cold War never really ended.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
It was inevitable and it's happened: the Skype iPhone app arrives
15/08/2007 - by Andrew Beutmueller
A German software developer, SHAPE Services, has released a new application called “IM+ for Skype” that turns the iPhone into Skype VoIP handset by utilising the default-bundled Apple Safari browser.
The application, that works in any network and does not require WiFi, was specifically designed for use with the distinctive iPhone touchscreen. The service is accessed online at skypeforiphone.com where users log-on to to make free Skype to Skype calls or low cost PSTN calls to mobiles and landlines using SkypeOut credits.
The service is not officially “endorsed or certified by Skype”, but it uses the Skype API and is clearly no problem – at least according to Skype company spokesperson, Chaim Haas, who makes it clear that Skype encourages 3rd party developers.
The “Skype Developer Program (https://developer.skype.com) … provides an … opportunity for third-party developers to access the Skype platform and create new and innovative solutions … This now includes 4,000-plus members of the Skype Developer Program who are developing a broad range of different types of applications for the Skype platform. One way developers can do this is to write Skype Extras, third-party plug-ins that enable users to do more with Skype,” says Haas.
SHAPE's CEO, Igor Berezovsky, says in a company statement (actually rather more of an understatement really) that , "Noticing the public interest for Skype on iPhone, we decided to use our mobile IM and mobile Skype experience and develop an application for them; this has also been a move towards our IM+ for Skype platform coverage.”
IM+ for Skype is also available for BlackBerry RIM, Windows Mobile Pocket PC, Palm OS, Symbian and J2ME devices.
Skype is no stranger to mobiles itself. Last month the company launched “Skype To Go” software as a part of its so-called “Skype Pro” package that supposedly reduces the cost of international mobile long distance voice sharply, e.g. 1.7 Euro cents per minute for UK to Australia with the Skype Pro plan.
“Skype for Windows Mobile, which supports over 120 Pocket PC/Windows Mobile smartphones and PDAs, has been downloaded more than 5 million times", says Mr. Haas.
Germany’s third largest mobile phone network operator E-plus also partnered with Skype in September 2005, thus accepting the inevitability of Skype moving into the mobile world. Billed as a landmark partnership, the two announced that Skype software would be bundled with an E-Plus “flat-rate data subscription” to allow customers to make Skype calls via the E-Plus’ mobile network.
For a limited promotional time, IPhone users can use the IM+ for Skype service for free.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
AT&T launches high-definition Internet TV in the US
04/05/2007 - by Andrew Beutmueller
Despite the hype from others, the only players in the US market that actually were anywhere close to triple play over the last few years have been the cable operators. However, times are finally changing with AT&T’s announcement of its new IPTV offering. The new services comes on top of, and will add to, the telco’s hegemony in the local, long distance and mobile telephony sectors.
According to AT&T, the company is now the only national provider to offer a 100 per cent Internet Protocol (IP)-based TV service. And the claim could be true as the system comprises a national head end, regional video serving offices and AT&T’s own private “fibre-rich” IP network. The network was built exclusively for video transport and to deliver “cutting-edge” TV and high speed Internet services.
The new AT&T U-verse, TV service offers a combination of next-generation digital television, HDTV channels and three tiers of high speed DSL Internet access. These are: Elite: Downstream up to 6.0 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps : Pro: Downstream up to 3.0 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps and Express: Downstream up to 1.5 Mbps, upstream up to 1.0 Mbps.
The U-verse product is premiering in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area and surrounding region as well as in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara markets.
AT&T’s expansion into California is the result of new laws passed by the California Legislature and signed in September 2006 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The new laws liberalise access by telecoms companies into the California TV market.
Since January 2007, with approximately 18,000 TV and Internet subscribers already in service, the company’s average installation rate has ramped to approximately 2,000 a week. Before arriving in California, U-verse services had been launched in Milwaukee, Kansas City, to 200,000 households in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas."
Our video strategy is showing strong momentum as we add new subscribers at an increasing rate," said Ralph de la Vega, group president of AT&T’s Regional Wireline Operations. He added, "Consumers are clearly hungry for an alternative to the cable companies, and AT&T U-verse is a very attractive choice.”
Google Gears up for Web 3.0 titan clash with Microsoft
01/06/2007 09:39:00 - by Andrew Beutmueller
Like two great-bellied Sumo wrestlers stuffed with cash, the mountainous US companies Google and Microsoft have planted their thick, powerful corporate legs in the middle of a virtual Sumo dohyo, each braced for the impact of the others' next bulldozing product launch or encroaching acquisition - who will be shoved out of the ring first and who will prevail?
Last week Microsoft pushed its way into the Google side of the ring shelling out $6 billion dollars for the digital ad company Aquantive, highlighting its designs on Google web ad territory. Countering back this week at the Google Developers Conference in Sydney, the company unveiled plans to smack down Microsoft's desktop with 'Google Gears' a so-called open source technology for creating 'offline' web apps.
This new browser extension is being made available in its early stages so that everyone can test its capabilities and limitations and help improve upon it according to sources at Google. "
Google Gears marks an important step in the evolution of web applications because it addresses a major user concern: availability of data and applications when there's no Internet connection available, or when a connection is slow or unreliable," explained Google in a statement.
The fact that Google Gears "allows you to run a web application without an Internet connection is a huge development," said Patrick Thomas, CEO of telepark, a German firm that develops specialty Personal Web Applications.
The technology "hints at the potential for offline web applications that don't compromise the core integrity of any interaction, interface, or data transaction," added Will Carter, CXO, Protomobl Inc., the LA-based Web and mobile social networking software company.
Other big web players are also moving into Google's corner of the ring; Gears after all works with all major browsers and across Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. Google is also building bridges, both politically as well as technologically, working closely with the web community to create a standard offering developers one consistent API for offline functionality."
This announcement is a significant step forward for web applications," said Brendan Eich, CTO at Mozilla Corporation. "We're pleased to see Google working with open source and open standards bodies on offline web applications."
"Opera and Google share the common goal of making Web applications richer and more robust," said Håkon Wium Lie, CTO, Opera Software.
"Developers have long desired the functionality and flexibility Google Gears can offer browsers ... [so] we're excited to work with Google to extend the reach and power of Web applications.
"We are definitely seeing opening skirmishes in what will likely be a clash of titans according to Yankee Group Research Fellow Laura DiDio; "Google has $12 billion in cash and Microsoft has approximately $26 billion. This sets the stage for a large-scale game of Monopoly between these giants ... fighting for preeminence in what Yankee Group identifies as the emerging Anywhere Applications ... versions of popular productivity packages such as e-mail, messaging and collaboration."
It seems that web 3.0 season has officially opened, even though most of us are still grappling with the vagaries of Web 2.0.
Microsoft, Adobe and Sun also think so, according to Jeffrey S. Hammond, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research "which is why they've introduced Silverlight, Apollo and JavaFX" respectively.
"We're very excited to be collaborating with Google to move the industry forward to a standard cross-platform, cross-browser local storage capability," said Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect at Adobe. "The Gears API will also be available in Apollo, which enables web applications to run on the desktop, providing developers with consistent offline and local database solutions."
Despite the love-fest Google has its work cut out for it, and Microsoft is not exactly breaking a sweat. Google Apps, albeit a less expensive curiosity, currently pose no threat to crown-jewel Microsoft Office for the simple reason that its features, functionality, documentation and support don't come close to those produced in Redmond, Washington.
Meanwhile, Google has yet to cash in on its $1.65 billion dollar investment in YouTube, which has do far only yielded legal troubles to the tune of $1 billion in damages in a suit by media giant Viacom according to Yankee Group's DiDio. This added to controversy surrounding Google's DoubleClick acquisition, which triggered antitrust finger pointing from AT&T and-ironically-Microsoft.