Monday, March 31, 2008

AT&T MediaFlo service to launch – six months late

Would MobileTV be the next battleground of European and US standards a la GSM vs. CDMA ? The learning from the latter clearly is that at the end of the day open standards with broad industry traction triupmh as its the end customer who benefits most this way.

AT&T MediaFlo service to launch – six months late
31/03/2008 - by Commsday, Andrew Beutmueller & Martyn Warwick
In the US, the operator AT&T has announced that it will finally launch its mobile television service in May – more than six months later than originally planned.

The offering is based on Qualcomm’s MediaFlo technology and initially will be available on just two handsets: LG Electronics' Vu and Samsung Electronics’ Access. AT&T says it will launch a pair of exclusive channels but, bizarrely, has declined to make any comment on content which, after all, is what mobile TV is all about.

Indeed, all industry analysts agree that relevant content will be the key to success of Mobile TV and Weston Henderek of research house Current Analysis says, "there are some problems still to address, but the long term looks good for mobile TV in the US, especially in light of this newly launched programming." Not everyone concurs with this upbeat assement though.

Meanwhile, an uncharacteristically subdued AT&T also refused to be drawn on pricing details or indeed much else about the planned launch, stating only that it was "a brand new service on a brand new network, and two brand new devices."

For its part, Qualcomm has a lot riding on its MediaFlo initiative, having chosen to build-out its own infrastructure and offer licensed content rather than develop an open video platform. However, that gambit could backfire in a market with scant opportunity for watching long-form video on the fly.

"Without a clear block of time like commuting on the subway it's just not clear there will be that many people willing to pay for the service," says Tim Farrar, the president of Telecom, Media and Finance Associates, adding the business case for mobile video remains questionable even in presumed hotspots such as Japan and South Korea

Friday, March 21, 2008

MyLoki lets you tell the world that you are here

Another context application along the lines of the one highlighted in the previous post except this works on logging into a certain service providers Wifi network whereas that was more pervasive and relied on mobile networks.
Both are offered as Facebook plug-ins and this one can even be an embeddable badge and append it to your e-mail signature.

MyLoki lets you tell the world that you are here
Erick Schonfeld

If you look at my Facebook page you might think that I’m still in Miami, although I returned from that trip two weeks ago. I simply forgot to change my location status back to New York City. The problem with most location updates on Facebook or elsewhere is that they require you to manually change your status every time you get on a plane. Finally, though, there is an easier way to broadcast your location automatically. It is called MyLoki.

MyLoki is a service offered by Boston-based SkyHook Wireless, the same company behind the GPS-like, WiFi-locating technology in the iPhone. Skyhook can determine your location based on the nearest WiFi routers that it picks up through your laptop or other computing device. After first downloading the Loki toolbar for your browser, whenever you are in the vicinity of a WiFi hotspot it should be able to triangulate your location. You can then broadcast this information in a number of ways. You get your own MyLoki page that shows people your exact location, or you can embed a constantly updated map with your position on your blog:

You can add the map as a Facebook app:

You also can create an embeddable badge and append it to your e-mail signature.

New FindMe location sharing service keeps friends connected using Smartphones and Facebook

Neat application. Puts your every step under the scanner though to a wider audience as co-ordinates get posted on Facebook ! I guess no privacy laws violated here as subscription is voluntary. An option to make it available to a smaller select set would in my view be palatable to a larger audience across age groups.

New FindMe location sharing service keeps friends connected using Smartphones and Facebook posted Rocco Augusto in "Smartphone Software"

Electric Pocket, developer of mobile media and media applications for Smartphones, today introduced FindMe for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. FindMe enables users, their friends, family and colleagues to share their current locations automatically and securely through their BlackBerry or Windows Mobile Smartphones without needing GPS.

FindMe offers the opportunity to “tag” commonly visited locations, such as home, office, soccer field or favorite bars and restaurants, and post those locations on their Facebook profiles."
This is probably one of the coolest applications I have seen come out in a while. There really isn't much to say on it as the program itself is pretty basic. In a nutshell, what you do is install a tiny application on your Windows Mobile device. This application grabs information about the cell tower that you are connected to and allows you to assign a tag to that location. Then the application uploads your current location to Facebook which in turn allows all of your friends to see where you are. The only downside of this application that I can see is it will make a bit harder to hide from those individuals that you do not want to hang out with.

iPhone helps video, web access usage

Interesting. What would also be interesting to analyse in parallel would be whether any promotional or concessional content or data plans are being offered to trigger this usage. I guess, the jury is still out yet as these are early trends and that too from a user base predominantly comprising early adaptors
Both 'ease of content discovery' and 'ease of use' though are well recognised catalysts for VAS adoption.

iPhone helps video, web access usage
March 20, 2008
By Robert Briel, Broadband TV

The iPhone is the most popular device for accessing news and information on the mobile Web, with 85% of iPhone users accessing news and information in the month of January, according to research from M:Metrics. Not less than 30.9% of iPhone owners watched mobile TV or video, versus a 4.6 market average, and more than double the rate for all smartphone users.
"The iPhone has certainly delivered on its hype," said Mark Donovan, senior analyst, M:Metrics, in a prepared statement. "Beyond a doubt, this device is compelling consumers to interact with the mobile Web, delivering off-the-charts usage from everything to text messaging to mobile video."

"This data indicates that the iPhone’s widgets are and effective means to drive mobile content consumption," observed Donovan. "Two featured widgets, YouTube and Google Maps are extremely popular among iPhone users: 30.4% accessed YouTube and 36% used Google Maps. In comparison, only 1% of all mobile subscribers accessed YouTube and 2.6% checked out Google Maps."

Although this report shows early findings, we believe it clearly indicates that an easy to understand user interface does help promoting new services. Of course , iPhone users are early adapters and more likely to try and use new technologies, but the device is so easy to use that it really does make a difference. Now, if Apple only could translate this to its Apple TV.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

How the iPhone Is Suiting Up for Work

Is Apple working this a step at a time. Slow & steady wins the race !
Interesting and a very aggressive foray into the enterprise segment right from - Push mail tie-ups, VPN and device management support, embed IM & games, sales force applications support and a venture fund to entice outside software developers to create their own business tools, or applications, for the iPhone.
The very interesting bit is the recent announcement solely revolves around enterprise services and there is not even a mention of anything on the hardware front. Another vendor taking the solutions and Services path !

How the iPhone Is Suiting Up for Work
To appeal to corporate clients, Apple is giving its handset a raft of features such as the ability to support Microsoft Outlook
by Arik Hesseldahl, Businessweek

Even as the Apple iPhone has drawn praise for its design and music- and video-playing capabilities, the handset has also borne criticism for what it lacks.

Sure, the iPhone looks good and lets users elegantly go from listening to songs to making calls to watching video and surfing the Web. But from the time it was introduced more than a year ago, detractors immediately wondered: What's the iPhone's appeal for business users?

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs paid heed, and on Mar. 6 the company announced a raft of new features aimed at addressing the needs of would-be corporate clients. At last, the iPhone will support Microsoft's Exchange, the key corporate system that delivers mail, calendar, and contact data to PCs running Exchange as well as Research in Motion BlackBerrys, Palm Treos, and Windows Mobile handhelds.

Pushing for Push E-mail

To do that, Apple has licensed ActiveSync Direct Push, a Microsoft technology for synchronizing e-mail, contacts, and calendars between the Exchange server and a wireless device, Apple Vice-President Phil Schiller told reporters at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The company also unveiled details of its plans to entice outside software developers to create their own business tools, or applications, for the iPhone.

A wide range of potential corporate customers requested support for Exchange and its "push" e-mail capabilities that redirect messages to a person's wireless device, Schiller said. "There are a lot of things enterprise customers have told us that have held us back from being huge in the enterprise," Schiller said. "What do they want? Push e-mail [is a] huge request. They want great calendar integration. They want it pushed to them wherever they are."

Satisfying those users could give Apple a much-needed new source of revenue as growth in iPod sales slows and consumer spending tapers off. The company could use the iPhone to court corporate users hankering for a more fashionable alternative to existing-e-mail-compatible devices such as the BlackBerry and the Treo.

Will BlackBerry Fans Switch?

The new features will no doubt enhance the iPhone's allure for the corporate crowd, but there's no guarantee they'll win over die-hard BlackBerry fans. RIM has established itself as the supplier of choice in the corporate environment and has even started making inroads among consumers. "We remain bullish on RIM," Standard & Poor's analyst Todd Rosenbluth wrote in a research report. "As an industry leader, we believe it is entrenched with corporate customers, and we see its existing relationship with various telecom service providers around the globe as providing additional loyalty."

What's more, the iPhone still won't work for many businesses. Exchange Direct Push mail works only for companies that support Exchange 2007 or Direct Push on Exchange 2003. And Microsoft has generally struggled to popularize ActiveSync, even on its own devices, making it harder to catch other players, notably Motorola's Good Technology unit, already gaining traction as vendors of push server software.

Still, Motorola could develop a Good Mobile Messaging client for the iPhone. "Good has an excellent solution, and there's nothing stopping them from building it for the iPhone, and I would imagine there will be a similar arrangement between Apple and Motorola very soon," says Sara Radicati, head of Radicati Group, a messaging consultancy. "It's just a matter of time." Dan Rudolph, director of product marketing at Good Technology, isn't ruling out such a move. "We've been keeping our eyes on the iPhone for a while," he says. The division will examine the newly introduced sofware developer's kit "to see if it makes sense for us."

Apple is loading the iPhone with other features it hopes will bring business users on board. The company is adding support for Cisco Systems' virtual private networking technology, which is based on a standard called IPSec. Other new features include giving corporate IT personnel the ability to set security policies for the device and the ability to wipe all data remotely when an iPhone that may contain important company information turns up lost.

Heavyweight Corporate Clients

Apple also gave the first look at its road map for software development on the iPhone. Legendary Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers announced a $100 million venture fund that will invest in companies developing applications for the iPhone. Gaming company Electronic Arts demonstrated a version of the forthcoming game "Spore" adapted for the iPhone. Apple, too, demonstrated its own internally created iPhone game, a space game called "Touch Fighter" that uses the combination of the iPhone's touch screen and motion-sensing accelerometer to control an imaginary spaceship.

But there were serious applications as well. demonstrated a customer relationship management application on the iPhone. TimeWarner showed a version of its hugely popular AOL Instant Messenger, filling a huge gap on the iPhone, which to now lacked a native instant messaging client.

Will the efforts pay off? Already, Jobs is signing up some heavyweight corporate clients. Among them, Genentech, whose CEO, Arthur D. Levinson sits on Apple's board.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mobile WiMAX Faces a Diminishing Time-to-Market Advantage

This has been my long standing prediction :-)
The dominant share of GSM in the global wireless mobile segment, ease of migration (for existing WCDMA/HSPA deployments), likely ubiquitous coverage and broad industry traction which in all probability will result in broader device availability are likely to see LTE emerge as the dominant 4G technology.
Mobile WiMax is likely to be deployed for fixed/portable applications (DSL/Cable substitutes) and as also in niche deployments by players who have not managed to get hold of 3G spectrum.

Mobile WiMAX Faces a Diminishing Time-to-Market Advantage
Service providers with the right spectrum, available capital, and access to enough sites to place base stations are in a great position to take advantage of WiMAX’s headstart on the 4G market. But LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband) are vying for 4G as well - and even though mobile WiMAX has a time-to-market advantage over LTE, delays in certifications by the WiMAX Forum (coupled with delays in network rollouts) could narrow that window of opportunity.

ABI Research is confident that UMB will not gain traction, as the true battle for 4G blossoms between mobile WiMAX and LTE.
"The biggest opportunity for mobile WiMAX is the chance to develop a wider device ecosystem and worldwide subscriber base before LTE starts to do the same," says ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis. "However, LTE remains a potential threat to WiMAX since 3GPP-backed LTE will become the dominant 4G technology and is progressing quickly toward standardization. Additionally, LTE is seeing early trials take place while moving into TDD (as well as FDD) spectrum territory."
GSM-based networks represent the primary radio access network technology deployed, with over 80% of the installed base of base stations worldwide; so WCDMA networks generally will migrate to LTE (with Verizon Wireless being a notable exception). Eventually, this will translate to wider deployment at a faster rate than WiMAX. ABI Research forecasts that LTE subscriber numbers will surpass mobile WiMAX subscribers after 2015.
Around the same time that LTE rolls out, 802.16m, or WiMAX 2.0, will make its way into products. Just like LTE, 802.16m will be part of the IMT-Advanced set of technologies.
"One main differentiator for 802.16m will be its backwards-compatibility with a developed OFDMA ecosystem derived from 802.16e," continues Solis, "whereas LTE will be not be backwards-compatible with anything except through the inclusion of 2G and 3G radios. 2G/3G compatibility can and will be achieved with WiMAX in the same way."

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mobile World Congress: Bigger, better & brighter than ever

Key themes at MWC 2008 - Open mobile OS, mobile internet, advertising and convergence - None unexpected !
Mobile World Congress: Bigger, better & brighter than ever
by Martyn Warwick, TelecomTV

As 3GSM has evolved into the Mobile World Congress, this year's Barcelona event was the biggest best-attended, and, quite literally, the brightest ever. Indeed, it has been said that you could probably see some of the big outdoor screens (such as ours) from the moon!

MWC really is the global showcase and debating chamber for an entire world-changing industry.
Several themes emerged over the course of the show, not the least being the very evident and fruitful convergence of mobile technologies, services and applications with the content, media and entertainment industries. Five years ago who could have imagined the day when film stars of the calibre and fame of Robert Redford and Isabella Rossellini would attend a mobile telecoms conference and extol the virtues of cellular handsets as viable and vital medium for the development of cinema? Well, it happened this year.

Apart from lime-lighting the industry's new love affair with the movies, Mobile World Congress also threw into stark relief the levels of fragmentation in the mobile device market. Leading the chorus of operators appealing to manufacturers and vendors to consolidate diverse operating systems and simplify application platforms was none other than Arun Sarin, the chief executive of Vodafone. When he says something is wrong, vendors really do need to sit up and take notice.
How quickly they will make much needed changes remains to be seen, but ignoring calls for a new inter-operative approach is not a long- term option given that the likes of Google are going to elbow their way into the market with massively disruptive technologies and business models. The existing vendors can do nothing to stop it and those that stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is alright really, will soon be dead.

Another hot topic at MWC was mobile advertising as it moves beyond industry hype and into juvenile reality. The model has not solidified and set yet but many manufacturers, media companies, operators and, of course, those spectres at the feast, Google and Yahoo, were extolling the virtues of mobile advertising, talking-up its economic potential and, most importantly, demonstrating applications.

However, before the sector can mature into adulthood, operators and service providers will have to devise secure and robust systems able to collect traffic data and then correlate it with information on subscribers drawn from a plethora of management information systems. Furthermore, the information will have to be carefully mined for the benefit of advertisers but without antagonising and alienating consumers. That will be a difficult tightrope to walk.
As usual, there was also much emphasis on the "real" mobile Internet and the potential of mobile broadband was again a core theme at MWC this year as it has been for several years past.

Allowing mobile users to experience the "real" Internet is a dream that has taken far longer to come to realisation than was ever expected. It's hard to do and consumers have been somewhat put off by early efforts such as WAP, that certainly didn't fulfill the airy promises that had been made for them. However, and at last, there is a technology able to do what it says on the tin. This is HSPA. It is a real success and, the GSMA revealed, currently is in live usage by 163 operators in 74 countries whilst a further 288 carriers in a another 94 countries have committed to roll-out HSPA services this year. The mobile Internet now has real momentum.

Elsewhere there was much debate about the effect femto-cell systems might have on the roll -out of 4G technologies, especially if, as is being mooted, it is deployed in conjunction with broadcasting networks. There was similar discourse on the prospects for WiMax. The technology has its evangelists and adherents but take-up overall has been slow and patchy.

As usual, Telecom TV was on the ground in force at Barcelona providing six hours a day of live TV coverage of the event. And we didn't just cover the waterfront but all the halls, marquees and tents as well as the palace on the hill at the back of the show where the annual GSM Awards Night attracted the great and good of stage screen and mobile handset.