Saturday, September 27, 2008
Awesome speech by the Nokia CEO highlighting how context is going to take center stage of the mobile internet domain. We are clearly seeing the build out of Web 3.0 or the context aware web.
“The Global Opportunities in a Wireless World Where Context is King”
Nokia CEO's speech at the The Executives’ Club of Chicago Global Leaders Luncheon September 23, 2008
(Note: Speech as delivered may have varied slightly from the written text)
Good afternoon everyone, and thank you, David, for that fine introduction.
It is an honor to be among those who have addressed this distinguished organization, which for nearly a century has played such an important role in Chicago’s business community. I also would like to thank the Board of Directors and say “kiitos” to my fellow Finn, Kaarina Koskenalusta, for inviting me here today.
It’s always exciting to return to this vibrant city. Chicago is one of my favorite places in the world, and it is increasingly playing a critical role within Nokia.
Chicago was the first American city in which we opened one of our Nokia flagship stores, down on the Magnificent Mile, in 2006. More significantly, in July we completed the largest acquisition in our history: the acquisition of Chicago-based NAVTEQ.
NAVTEQ is the world leader in navigation technology, and will be involved in developing many of the innovations you will see today. We have several members of NAVTEQ’s management team here today, and I would ask them to please stand and be recognized.
As you can see, there is a strong connection being built between Helsinki and Chicago. It is a bond we expect to grow much stronger in the years ahead.
Chicago, of course, also has played a key role in the history of the telecommunications industry – as the home of Motorola. Motorola offered the first commercial, handheld cellular phone back in 1984, the same year Nokia introduced its Mobira Talkman. Our two companies have battled in the marketplace ever since.
Like many other companies in the current downturn, Motorola is facing some challenges. But Moto has always been a tough and respected competitor. I am confident it will continue to challenge us for many years to come.
In its early days, The Executives’ Club of Chicago had this slogan: “The Thinker and Doer.” Like many tech companies, Nokia spends a lot of time – and money – thinking about the future, and what we will do to prepare for it.
Nokia’s own slogan is “Connecting People.” Exactly what that means has evolved over the years as technology has evolved. But whether someone lives in a shantytown in Mumbai or in a luxury high-rise in Chicago, we all share a basic human need to connect to one another and to the world around us.
A golden age of mobility
At Nokia we are constantly looking for new and different ways to fulfill that need. That is what I would like to talk to you about today.
Our world is in the midst of a fundamental change in the way we connect and communicate. For years, our industry has talked about the pending convergence of the Internet with mobility. Now it’s happening.
Indeed, I believe we are entering a golden age of mobility. This is a change as profound as the invention of the motion picture, TV or the personal computer. We at Nokia call it, the dawn of “the fourth screen...”
We recently produced that video for a Nokia event focused on our music and game services. But the significance of the fourth screen goes well beyond entertainment.
Consider this: The world’s population today is around 6.5 billion people. One day next year, we will reach the point where 4 billion of those people will be using a mobile device. Four billion!
Just think about that for a moment.
That means this little screen eventually will become the most common way to access the Internet in the world. The biggest personal media distribution channel. The largest advertising vehicle.
It already is, in fact, the largest, most widespread communication medium mankind has ever known!
It also has been the fastest-spreading technology in the history of civilization. The first billion mobile phones were sold in about 20 years. The second billion were sold in four years, and the third billion were sold in two.
Most of you are probably old enough to remember back in the 1980s when cell phones looked like this. They cost thousands of dollars and a call was more than a dollar a minute. I still remember how cool I felt when I impressed my friends by making a wireless call!
How things have changed.
Since then, of course, the mobile phone has shrunk dramatically. At the same time, it has been assuming the roles of other electronic devices.
Our Nokia E71 smartphone can do so many things that calling it a “cell phone” seems inaccurate. It’s really a portable, multimedia computer. It takes pictures, plays music, video and games, and lets you watch movies and TV. It tells you how to find your way, lets you surf the Web, and predicts the weather. And it also keeps you in touch by email, text message and, yes, even by phone.
It’s no coincidence respected companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have become very interested in the fourth screen. The potential business opportunities of a connected, wireless world are limited only by our imaginations.
Context is king
The title of my speech today refers to “a wireless world where context is king.” And I’m sure some of you are wondering what that means. Context has become something of a buzzword in our business, because it is at the heart of the next wave of mobile technology.
It’s pretty simple, really. When we speak of “context,” we mean the ability of your mobile device to connect you, and what matters to you, with your location and what’s around you.
Let’s look at an example. It’s an application we call “Point and Find.”
Say you are an architecture buff and you’re visiting Chicago for the first time. You turn a corner and see an interesting building, and you want to know more about it.
You take out your Nokia device and you point it at the building. The device then immediately provides detailed information via the Internet: when it was built, the architect, its history and significance, maybe even the hours when tours are available.
Or imagine you’re walking downtown and you see a poster for a new movie. You point your phone at the poster and instantly you can watch the trailer. If you like what you see, you can find where the movie is playing, and even buy tickets for that evening’s showing – all with just a couple of clicks.
This isn’t really future stuff. In fact, as a first step in making this a reality, we will soon be introducing a beta version of the Point and Find movie service.
This is context. It’s the ability of your mobile device to bring who, what, where and when together. It will allow you to become more immersed in the real world around you. And it will do that by linking the power of the Internet to a small device in your pocket that always knows where you are – even if you don’t!
Getting you where you need to go
We decided to partner with NAVTEQ precisely because navigation technology is a key ingredient in the menu of services we plan to offer our more than 1 billion customers. NAVTEQ’s expertise clearly gives us a leading competitive edge.
Many of our phones now come with sophisticated navigation software that gives turn-by-turn directions while driving. Some are now offering pedestrian navigation as well, which is great when you are trying to get around an unfamiliar city on foot.
While mobile phone navigation is just starting to penetrate this market, our studies show it has already become one of the top mobile services globally. The others are photos, music, games, email and messaging.
While devices will remain the core of Nokia’s business, we are expanding rapidly into services. We anticipate the Internet services market could total about $150 billion by 2010.
Navigation is obviously a helpful tool as we expand the kinds of services and applications we offer. But imagine a device that actually anticipates what you want, maybe even before you know what you want!
Pretty soon, simple sensors built into your mobile device are going to change the way you shop, and make it far easier to access the information you need at a moment’s notice.
These sensor-equipped devices offer huge potential as an advertising medium – in ways that will benefit both business and the consumer. Of course, when I mention this the first reaction of many people is, why would I want advertising on my phone?
Again, it gets back to context.
Traffic Works, advertising and sensors: a glimpse into the future
The average person is bombarded by more than 3,000 advertising messages a day. Context-aware mobile devices equipped with sensors will reduce the clutter and noise. That’s because you will be able to determine the kind of ads you want to receive, about the products you are interested in.
That’s something most of us would appreciate. By tailoring advertising to your precise interests and your location, the information becomes much more relevant. For businesses, it means you can target your advertising to customers who want it and are more likely to act on it.
These sensors and filters will soon become as widespread on mobile devices as digital cameras are today.
Here’s another interesting way mobile sensors will make our lives easier. It’s a traffic management project called “Traffic Works,” which Nokia has been working on with California transportation authorities and the University of California.
It involves using sensors in drivers’ mobile phones to detect traffic problems and congestion patterns as they develop.
In the future, as you leave home, your phone will know where you are headed based on the calendar entry in your device. Data collected by the sensors in other drivers’ mobile devices will allow your phone to suggest the fastest route. If conditions change on the way, your phone will warn you and offer new directions to help you avoid a tie-up.
For transportation authorities, these mobile sensors offer a lower-cost, more efficient alternative to traditional traffic sensors buried in the pavement.
On an even more personal level, biometric sensors in our devices will allow us to monitor our own heart rates, our blood pressure and our vitamin levels. Or allow us to check air quality or noise levels where we live and work.
The goal is to turn your context-aware mobile device into an indispensible assistant … one who knows in advance what your preferences are, anticipates your needs, reduces information overload and improves your quality of life.
Nano-technology and the Morph concept
The late science fiction author and futurist, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
I’d like to share with you a bit of magic.
One of the challenges in our business is keeping up with the pace of innovation, and making the right decisions about what the next big thing will be. It means you sometimes have to take risks. It means you need to pay close attention to innovations in areas of science that may appear completely unrelated to your business.
Here’s a good example.
Nano-technology doesn’t usually make you think of mobile phones. But our designers and researchers recently produced a fascinating concept called “Morph.” It shows how nano-technology could radically change how we use and even “wear” or mobile devices.
Together with the University of Cambridge Nanoscience Center, our researchers are exploring innovations like transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.
Imagine mobile devices that are stretchable, flexible, and ultra-personal.
You can see here how these devices might work. They are able to adapt to different needs or situations – time after time, again and again. Wearable like a bracelet, you can fold it into a variety of shapes. Yet it’s still useable as a normal phone.
One of the benefits of nano-technology is you can create devices with a self-cleaning cover, where spills simply roll off.
But I think the most interesting aspect of Morph is it allows for infinite options to personalize your device. You simply use the built-in camera to capture a pattern or color, and then transfer it to the phone. It becomes part of you, and your personality.
And this is not just an idea or a theory. There is real research going on in our labs to make Morph a reality, and sooner than you might expect.
Technology development helps sustainable business
As we look to the future, we are also looking at how to make our products environmentally sustainable – from design to production, to recycling and energy consumption.
We see this as an opportunity rather than a constraint. The fact is, in most cases, doing things in a more sustainable manner also makes good business sense.
Earlier this year, we showed this concept for a mobile device made entirely from recycled and renewable materials. It’s called “Remade.” And I expect you will be seeing its features on your phones in the not-so-distant future.
This phone also uses a zero-waste charger that automatically shuts off when the phone is fully charged. That may not seem like such a big deal. But if everyone who charges a mobile phone unplugged it when its job was done, it would save enough electricity to power 100 thousand homes.
Again, to borrow from your club’s old slogan, it’s about not just thinking, but doing.
Making a difference and improving lives the world over
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I have given you some feeling for why we at Nokia are so excited about the future – a future where “context is king.”
But I would like to conclude today with a few words about serving the mission implied in our slogan, “Connecting People.”
Our industry spends a lot of time debating these future technologies and how they will further enrich our lives. And that debate is important. But it’s also important to remember that the simplest innovations often make the biggest difference in people’s lives.
Nokia has been very successful in the regions of the world where the number of mobile phones is still growing at an amazing pace, including India, China and Africa. We have succeeded in these markets because we take the time to understand the unique needs of people in each of these countries.
Our research led us to develop phones with built-in flashlights to help customers in areas with frequent power outages. Globally, we have developed user interfaces in more than 80 languages, which has been critical to spreading this technology to more people.
In poor villages, it’s common for many people to share a single phone. So we have phones with multiple address books and software that tracks prepaid phone credits. We have designed inexpensive phones, which are incredibly rugged and simple to use, with features to make life in difficult surroundings a bit easier.
These innovations get virtually no attention in the tech blogs or in the hallways of Google or Apple. But getting a simple “fourth screen” in the hands of people struggling to make a living in remote villages or crowded cities does far more to improve lives around the world than 10 million iPhones, Blackberrys – or E71’s for that matter -- ever will.
Providing affordable mobile phones in places like India and Kenya means fishermen can now call ahead to find the port where they can get the best price for their catch. It means a mother in Uganda with a sick child can call the doctor in a far-off village for treatment advice – and potentially avoid a three-day journey.
The impact that the simple mobile phone is having on the quality of life in the poorest parts of the world is often overlooked. The many small improvements in human efficiency that it affords, multiplied by billions of people, are reshaping the global economy in ways we are only beginning to understand.
To me, this is what “Connecting People” is all about: Improving people’s lives by meeting the basic human need to communicate, to connect. It is the most important thing we do.
The other key ingredient in my mind is customisation (ability of the user to customise his or her phone be it via accessories, apps, look & feel) and the move towards a "Build your own" phone concept. Some dimensions of this are reflected in G1 (Android phone) and also in some way via the ability of iphone users to populate their phones with apps of their choice.
Barbarians at the portal: is the old mobile empire about to crumble?23/09/2008 - by Tony Poulos, Telecom TV
The arrival of Android, Google’s foray into the handset operating environment following Apple’s iPhone launch, raises two important questions: Why did it take so long for these new, user-friendly, systems to make an appearance and challenge the established players in the smart handset space? And why have the incumbent phone-makers persevered with sub-standard systems for so long? There are currently hundreds of operating system versions out in the market, most of them proprietary. Of course, if you’re not sure which OS your customers prefer, you can always offer multiple phones with multiple operating systems. And if you can’t decide on which Symbian version to use, why not offer them all (and if you’re Palm, you can throw out your own OS and adopt Microsoft Windows Mobile simply because more applications are being developed for it). Google will hardly need to take any risks after seeing Apple successfully breach the walled garden of the mobile industry and break the hold handset makers had on both operators and customers. Even when the operating system needs tweaking or updating it can be done the same way Apple has always kept its customer devices up to date, viaiTunes. Simplicity personified. In this fast-paced market, hungry for ingenuity, there could be a revolution. After all, arrogance and smugness have brought down much bigger empires!
This is what makes the mobile phone and PC markets inherently different. The former is inundated with operating systems, none dominant, the latter with three or four at best, dominated by one. You’d be hard pressed to pick a leader in the handset space.
If open-source Android lives up to half its hype and works on multiple handsets it will certainly give the market a shake. If developers see a big market, and a free Software Development Kit (SDK) is made available, they will probably flock to capitalise on it.
In fact, Apple only did what it has always done brilliantly: it came up with a device that was user-friendly and was operated by something most people have at their disposal 24 hours a day. A finger.
Apple also took its clever and efficient PC operating system and made it fit into a neat package with a big, clear screen and gave developers a means, to not only develop consumer and business applications, but also to sell them for a reasonable fee, direct to the customers.
And with the huge success of the iPod it’s a very small step for customers to make in selecting an iPhone. Google will not have this type of advantage, but you can bet it will learn from Apple’s initiatives.
Take almost any other handset over the last ten years and see how easy it is to update the OS. Not at all.
And how many add-on packages have you bought online and downloaded only to find they didn’t work? Yes, it was designed for a Symbian phone, but not exactly yours!
Or you tried the latest Sudoku for your Windows-powered phone but, oops, you have the wrong screen size. Most people don’t even know what model phone they have, let alone the software version of the MP3 player, or the screen’s pixel size. Result, frustration bordering on rage.
All this begs the question again: how come the companies with the biggest market share, biggest turnover and largest resource base in the operating systems’ world don’t invest in the development of an all-new, all-singing, all-dancing operating system that works on all devices and works properly?
Most of all, how come Apple and Google, with little or no previous mobile industry experience, have had to lead the way?
There are currently hundreds of operating system versions out in the market, most of them proprietary. Of course, if you’re not sure which OS your customers prefer, you can always offer multiple phones with multiple operating systems.
And if you can’t decide on which Symbian version to use, why not offer them all (and if you’re Palm, you can throw out your own OS and adopt Microsoft Windows Mobile simply because more applications are being developed for it).
Google will hardly need to take any risks after seeing Apple successfully breach the walled garden of the mobile industry and break the hold handset makers had on both operators and customers.
Even when the operating system needs tweaking or updating it can be done the same way Apple has always kept its customer devices up to date, viaiTunes.
In this fast-paced market, hungry for ingenuity, there could be a revolution. After all, arrogance and smugness have brought down much bigger empires!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We've also added other features to help you search for and get to businesses and locations. You can now read business reviews, so you'll know if it's actually worth driving across town to that store. And once you decide where to go, you can get there on foot using the same walking directions (beta) we recently launched on desktop. Finally, we hope you'll notice significant improvements in search speed with this version, as well as better location accuracy in all versions thanks to this week's My Location update.
Friday, September 19, 2008
by Umair Khalid on July 22, 2008
We recently saw the launch of Apple's new App store which is turning out to a big hit globally. The store consists of around 800 applications out of which 25% are freeware whereas the rest of them are available for a reasonable price.
The guys at Tech Radar have spent some time downloading and trying out various applications available on Apple's App store and they have listed 15 applications that every iPhone user must have installed on his/her iPhone.
Midomi: Midomi is a free voice recognition application that allows iPhone users to listen to the track of their choice by simply speaking the name of the artist or song, singing a song or playing a song to the application. The application responds by taking the user to iTunes or YouTube so he/she can listen to it or purchase it.
Mobile News: Mobile News is a free news reader application that allows iPhone users to easily get and read latest headlines and news by the Associated Press.
VoiceNotes: This is a free application that records voice clips into iPhone's memory. Users can also name the sound clipslinks and play them whenever required.
Last FM: This application allows iPhone users to create and listen to customized radio stations based on the songs, artists and music of their choice.
iPint: This is a free application that iPhone users will enjoy at the pub.
BubbleWrap: This is fun application that pops up bubbles and gives you a bubbly feeling when you press your iPhone's screen.
Super Monkey Ball: This is an accelerometer based iPhone version of the exciting famous Sega game of chimps trapped in balls. It is available for 5.99 pounds.
Bloomberg: This free application brings all the latest financial and stock market facts and figures from all over the world directly to your iPhone. This is definitely a useful application to have for all the finance geeks.
Aurora Feint-The Beginning: This is one of the best iPhone games available on the App store. It is Tetris like block building character based RPG game which is available totally free of cost.
Talking French/Spanish/Italian Phrasebook: This is a free but a must have application for all the travelers. It contains a collection of phrases in various languages that you can simply select and play on your iPhone to say what you want to say.
TapTheBeat: This is a cool free application to have for all the music lovers.
Cloudy: This is free but easy to use photo sharing application that you can use to take photos on your iPhone and share with your friends and family.
MySpace: This is the iPhone version of the famous social network tool known as MySpace.
G-Spot: This is a very useful and affordable GPS application that allows friends and family to track each others location while on the move. It is available for 1.19 pounds.
iFob: This is another cool and free social networking tools that allows you to make friends with people with similar hobbies and interests.
For more info visit Tech Radar's website or Apple's App store .
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Can anyone really take on Apple?
September 16, 2008
During the chaos in the financial markets Monday, an M&A deal closed that had nothing to do with banks. Retailer Best Buy is buying online music site Napster Inc for about $127 million in an all-cash deal ($121 million, plus unvested Napster stock options).
Best Buy is paying $2.65 per share--almost twice where Napster's stock ended the week last week--but it's still not a huge chunk of change for the retailer. And its good news for Napster investors, getting a premium for the stock after reporting a $4.4 million loss last month.
With this acquisition Best Buy is acquiring Napster's 700,000 subscribers who pay a flat monthly fee of $15 for unlimited access to its music service and it recently launched an iTunes-style download store. Best Buy had been offering a Best Buy Music Store, powered by Rhapsody technology (Rhapsody is owned by RealNetworks)
This is clearly a play to expand beyond the electronics business, at a time when the sector is sure to be slowed by the pullback in consumer spending. Best Buy is likely to bundle digital music, or access to it, with its mobile handsets or computers. Buy a cell phone, get a free subscription to Napster? That could be a way to lure consumers.
This is all part of the digital music wars. Apple clearly dominates the market; its iPods dominating 73 percent of the MP3 market. This field will only get more competitive. In October Nokia launches "Comes With Music" --UK buyers with Nokia phones get unlimited song downloads for one year that never expire. And there are rumors circulating that Sony Ericsson might launch a mobile music store with an unlimited download plan.
Can anyone really take on Apple?
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Can MySpace Save the Major Music Labels?
Record companies are counting on their new deal with MySpace Music to help make up for declining CD sales
Meet the record label, version 2.0. After nearly a decade of plunging music sales, the labels are trying to overhaul their traditional business. Instead of just selling recorded music, they want to use music to sell a range of related extras, from online advertising to mobile phones packed with tunes. The new business model puts the Internet at the heart of the industry in an attempt to transform artist Web sites from promotional vehicles into money-making enterprises.
The biggest bet on this new model is MySpace Music. The joint venture between News Corp.'s social networking site and the three largest record labels—Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Warner Music—is set to launch in the next few days. The partners are expected to unveil the venture officially and name a chief executive during the week of Sept. 15. On the short list for CEO: Owen Van Natta, the former chief operating officer at Facebook, and Andy Schuon, former CEO of Universal Music's International Music Feed. MySpace declined to comment on the CEO search.
"Skin in the Game"
While the labels already work with a number of online retailers, from Amazon.com to Apple's iTunes, this is their most ambitious push yet to develop online advertising and e-commerce revenues. The labels will have equity stakes in the new venture. They'll also get a cut of the revenue from ads on artists' pages, as well as those from music downloads, ring tones, merchandise sales, and concert tickets. "We wanted the music companies to feel like real partners and to have some skin in the game on the upside," says MySpace.com founder Chris DeWolfe.
How much upside is the key issue. The record industry has been hammered in recent years by online piracy and a dearth of mega-hits, with sales sliding steadily since their peak of $14.6 billion in 1999. As CDs sales have dropped, the labels have tried repeatedly to develop digital strategies to make up the difference, and they've all come up short. Last year was the industry's worst yet in terms of revenue losses. The total value of digital and traditional sales dropped 12% in 2007, to $10.4 billion, compared with a 4.4% slide the year before, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Record labels have high hopes that this time will be different. Michael Nash, head of digital strategy at Atlantic's parent, Warner Music Group, predicts MySpace Music and related moves will help reverse the industry's fortunes. "We will be able to return to overall growth," he says.
Cushioning the Decline
That will be a stretch, though. Even if it's successful, MySpace Music will be too small to make up for plummeting CD sales. The labels are "really dwindling," says Paul Verna, a senior analyst at market research firm eMarketer. Still, the new strategy could help the labels cushion the decline in the years ahead and perhaps begin to rebuild revenues a few years out.
The idea behind MySpace Music is that it can help generate revenue for artists every day, not just around an album's release. The venture gives the labels access to MySpace's global audience of 118 million users and its ad sales team of more than 250 people. It also provides the labels with a prominent venue to pull in audiences and advertisers with new types of non music content, including music news, behind-the-scenes videos, and artist interviews such as the one with T.I.
Major advertisers are signing up. Industry sources say MySpace Music has signed multimillion-dollar ad deals with McDonald's, Toyota Motor, and other major brands for its launch. Toyota and McDonald's confirmed their participation, although they wouldn't specify the ad dollars involved. Kim McCullough, Toyota's manager of marketing communications, calls the MySpace Music launch an "unprecedented opportunity."
MySpace is designed to do more than bring in ad revenue, though. It also gives the industry a new channel through which to sell songs, ringtones, T-shirts, and tickets. With 5 million artists using the site to promote their bands, MySpace has already become a major destination for discovering new music and upcoming concerts.
MySpace Music can't save the industry on its own. The whole site takes in about $743 million in advertising revenue now. Make some reasonably optimistic projections about MySpace's prospects, and the record labels could end up with $1 billion in new revenue from the venture by 2012. That helps, but given the current rate of decline in CD sales, the industry could lose an additional $3 billion in yearly CD sales by that time.
Still, MySpace Music may prove to be a model for future ventures on the Net. If the concept works, it could help the labels turn other online hangouts, like the leading social networking site, Facebook, into forums for music sales and related revenues. It could also help demonstrate that the labels will see tangible benefits from new contracts under which they share in advertising, e-commerce, and merchandise sales. "If they do all that, then maybe they can stem the tide of these rapidly falling CD sales and start to see the pie get a little bigger," says Paul Verna, a senior analyst at eMarketer. "But it is definitely a big if."
The labels are experimenting with a host of new efforts beyond MySpace. One recent deal with Nokia will let the Finnish mobile-phone maker, through its Comes With Music program, sell phones preloaded with music subscriptions. A separate deal with imeem, a Web site designed to help people discover new music, provides the labels with licensing fees and a slice of advertising revenues. "There is a larger degree of sophistication at the labels and a willingness to embrace more cool stuff," says Dalton Caldwell, imeem's chief executive.
Lack of Innovation
The labels are intent on reinvigorating music sales on the Net. Digital sales growth slowed from 74% in 2006 to 43% last year. Record executives believe that, as Apple has come to dominate online sales through its iTunes store, sales growth has been hurt by a lack of innovation. "I think everyone has a sober understanding that the next three years will be challenging," says Mitch Bainwol. chief executive of the RIAA. "But the long-term prognosis is outstanding."
Not everyone likes the labels' latest approach. Under new contracts, bands are being asked to give labels a cut of revenues from concert tickets and merchandise sales, instead of just from music sales. Jason Debiak, keyboardist with the band New London Fire, thinks that's a bad deal for musicians, unless the labels are going to pay for singing lessons or other development. "It's an offer that should be thrown in the garbage," he says.
Still, the major labels have made a sharp reversal that may improve their prospects. For years they fought Internet companies for fear that their music would be stolen. Now they're racing to capitalize on the new opportunities on the Web. Warner has created a special digital studio to help artists develop unique online content. And Warner artists T.I. and Grammy Award-winning rapper Missy Elliott have album releases timed to coincide with the MySpace Music launch. "The labels were very reticent to embrace change at a time when it could have actually worked to their advantage," says eMarketer's Verna. "Now there's a sense that they have no choice."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Important but long expected move given the Tandberg acquisition. Would be interesting to see if they next move into broadcast mobile TV. Announcement doesn't seem very clear on that.
As far as IPTV, still not sure on the potential business model for India and potential differentiation vis-a-vis DTH though I liked one of the explanations I heard about DTH being for the masses and IPTV being for the classes.
Ericsson Takes On IPTV Giants
Light Reading, September 08, 2008
Ericsson AB has upped its IPTV game with the launch of a new, developed-from-scratch IPTV middleware solution to rival the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft Corp., Nokia Siemens Networks , Thomson, and UTStarcom Inc.
The news is just one of many telco TV announcements expected this week as the market gears up for the annual IBC show in Amsterdam, where Ericsson is planning to show off a lot of gear. (
Having effectively bought its way into the telco TV market with the acquisition of Tandberg Television in the Spring of 2007, the company has been working on a middleware system that will help piece together its IPTV offering together, says Alan Delaney, Tandberg TV's IPTV Business Development Director.
Delaney says Ericsson has pieced together a complete package for IPTV hopefuls in the fixed and mobile space, including telecom network infrastructure, applications, and video equipment and software. Add to that list the middleware, which is "something fundamentally new... it's not built from anything we previously had." It's "the glue" that pulls it all together, he notes.
"We've been working on this in a number of different geographies and using expertise from a number of different parts of the company. It's part of the drive to enable an end-to-end service across multiple platforms. It's IMS [IP Multimedia Subsystem]-enabled, and is aimed at operators that need scalability and an open standards-based platform -- it's based on specifications from the Open IPTV Forum ," says Delaney.
"At IBC we'll be showing how it can enable services such as messaging, presence, and chat services between [for example] a set-top box and a mobile phone in an IMS, but it's also ready for non-IMS environments too," adds the Tandberg TV man, who says the solution is ready now for operators to trial.
The reference to the IPTV Forum is important: That group was set up in March 2007 and was notable at the time for not having AlcaLu and Microsoft as founder members.
While Thomson and AlcaLu have since joined, Microsoft has stayed away, and is often cited as the company that doesn't sell an open standards-based offering, though that hasn't stopped it from landing multiple (though not all) Tier-1 IPTV customers.
So is Ericsson targeting Microsoft in particular with this launch? And are AlcaLu and Microsoft still the companies Ericsson needs to muscle out in major carrier RFPs?
AlcaLu and Microsoft "are always at the table, but the strategy is not to go after any specific rivals," says Delaney diplomatically, "but to deliver a solution to the market that can go up against any other rival, whether an incumbent or a new entrant," he adds.
Yeah, right. Let battle commence!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Vodafone Says Apple Will Meet It Part Way over Branded iPhone Apps
Independent analyst comment - Tony Cripps, senior analyst at Ovum
9th September 2008
Apple may be willing to allow operator-specific applications to run on the iPhone, according to Vodafone’s terminals chief. Any such applications would apparently be made available through the Apple App Store. While such a move would go at least someway towards addressing operator concerns over Apple’s walled garden approach, it appears unlikely that the iPhone vendor will allow operator applications that compete with its own.
Open iPhone for operators was never inevitable
“At a briefing outlining Vodafone’s handset strategy, Jens Schulte-Bockum, Global Director of Terminals for Vodafone Group, told analysts that Vodafone Italy is already experimenting with Apple to deliver a Vodafone-branded “portal experience” via its App Store. Other applications for other Vodafone operating companies could follow.”
“A loosening of Apple’s previous hard line on customisation was always a possibility once it offered developers the keys to unlock the iPhone with its software development kit (SDK) for native applications – Vodafone is as much a developer as anyone else in this view.”
“However, it was by no means a certainty that Apple – which rigorously guards the entrance to the App Store – would welcome operator applications. Indeed, previous indications have suggested that the vendor was more than happy simply to use its operator partners to further its own aims, using their networks without offering much back in the way of iPhone customisation (although clearly iPhone operators benefit fiscally from the arrangement).”
But this may be as much as they’ll get
“In this light, Apple’s new-found flexibility is good news for Vodafone, and potentially for other operators. Nonetheless, this is by no means a capitulation by Apple, which Vodafone says is unlikely to allow it to offer branded applications that compete with iTunes, such as its own MusicStation and Music Store.”
“In reality, it would be unrealistic to expect Apple to back down completely to operator demands to make the iPhone a fully open platform for their own services. And right now most operators, Vodafone included, are grateful to have the iPhone for the halo effect it brings to mobile data and web access in particular.”
“But as iPhone numbers on operator networks grow this is sure to become a greater issue. Apple’s strict terms and conditions will start to erode the margin on operators’ own content services in meaningful amounts. This will lead them to make judgements as to whether they are happy to assist Apple in its goals long term or whether they should really look after number one.”
“Apple appears to have recognised that some give and take may be necessary to quell operator concerns over what Schulte-Bockum described as a “pseudo-open walled garden”. But will meeting Vodafone a third of the way suffice?”
Are these the beginnings of free legal music - DRM free and 'All you can eat' plans ? Is this goin to be another ad driven model ? Will the money only remain in live events ?
Sony Ericsson Looking at Unlimited Music Downloads Services
Sony Ericsson is reported to be working on a mobile music service which would offer handset purchasers an unlimited download of music tracks. The move is expected to compete directly with the similar platform from Nokia which is just launching in the UK and offers 12 months worth of unlimited downloads with selected new handsets.
The Financial Times reported that the company is in talks with all the major music labels about a product launch prior to the end of this year.
Warner Music, Universal Music and Sony BMG are all suppliers to the Nokia service - although Sony, the 50:50 joint owner of Sony Ericsson recently took full control of the BMG music label.
Dan Cryan, an analyst at Screen Digest, told the newspaper that competition had encouraged Sony Ericsson to launch a product it had once rejected as devaluing music.
“Sony Ericsson’s market share is shrinking,” he said. “If everybody is launching 'all you can eat’ services, which make handsets more attractive to end users and to operators, they don’t have much choice, especially when so much of their brand value is built around the Walkman.”
Monday, September 01, 2008
Microsoft plans 'Skymarket' apps store for Windows Mobile 7 in 2009
Monday, September 1, 2008
Following in the footsteps of
According to the job listing, Microsoft doesn't plan to commercially launch Skymarket until the release of Windows Mobile 7, slated for late 2009. However, the company does hope to find someone who can handle "driving the cross group collaboration for the initial launch of the marketplace offering to the developer community this fall."
'Competitive spirit' required to monetize
The posting also indicates Microsoft hasn't made much progress so far about its conceptual goals for the store. It calls for an applicant who can assume responsibilities for "definition of the product offering, pricing, business model and policies that will make the Windows Mobile marketplace 'the place to be' for developers wishing to distribute and monetize their Windows Mobile applications."
It also demands "responsibility for the business model and key elements that will drive the optimal experience for developers and monetization of the service by Microsoft" and the ability to "define and mange the consumer, developer and mobile operator value proposition and supporting materials for use by PR, MCB's [Microsoft's Mobile Communication Business] developer outreach organization, and other teams across Microsoft."
The product manager position is also tasked with "management of KPI's [Key Performance Indicators] for the service post launch." KPI is used to define metrics for setting and reaching organizational goals within the world of corporate middle managers and committees. Among other qualifications, the position also requires a "competitive spirit" and "demonstrated success in starting, building and driving new business."
A half decade of Windows Mobile
Microsoft's Windows Mobile was unveiled as a conceptual project in 2000 as a way to move the company's underlying Windows CE operating system from the dying world of handheld PCs and PDAs into the emerging market for smartphones.
The effort followed the promising success of Handspring's 1999 Visor, which licensed the Palm Pilot operating system to deliver a PDA with an expansion slot that allowed the device to be used as a mobile phone with the appropriate Springboard module. The device turned into the Treo, and its success resulted in Handspring merging back into Palm itself and converting Palm from a PDA vendor into a smartphone company.
Microsoft delivered its first WinCE-based support for phones with Pocket PC Phone Edition in 2002, followed by a release the next year branded as Windows Mobile 2003 (WinCE 4.0). In 2005, Microsoft released Windows Mobile 5.0 (WinCE 5.0) and began a partnership with Palm that replaced the Palm OS with Windows Mobile on certain Treo models noted with "w," a move that nearly doubled the market share of Windows Mobile among smartphones at the expense of the Palm OS.
In February 2007, just weeks after the announcement of the iPhone, Microsoft released Windows Mobile 6 (WinCE 5.2). The company has released one update since, branded Windows Mobile 6.1. Despite the expansion of Windows Mobile across Palm's Treo models, Microsoft's share of the worldwide smartphone market has fallen from 23% in Q1 2004, to 18% in Q1 2005, and down to 12% in Q1 2006 where it remained in its Q4 2007 figures according to Canalys.
Microsoft's slide is due in part to the advance of
The race to sell mobile software
The rapid success of the iPhone and its even faster expansion worldwide with the launch of the iPhone 3G have been matched only by the explosion of interest in Apple's iPhone App Store, which reported 60 million downloads and revenues of $30 million in its first month. T-Mobile announced plans to open its own store for the various different phones on its network, and Google recently announced its own outline for Android Market, intended to distribute software in the model of YouTube.
Apple executives have stated that the goal of the Apps Store was to add value to the iPhone rather than bring in big profits. Google's plans describe a similar intent to foster interest in Android development; it has not yet released any details on how it might being handling paid transactions.
A Microsoft-run mobile software store designed to "monetize" mobile software for the company would compete against the company's existing partners, including Handango, a site Microsoft currently recommends to interested developers. Handango takes a cut from between 40% and 70% of mobile developer's revenues.
Microsoft has already established a store for selling games called the Xbox Live Marketplace, as well as a separate store for music called the Zune Marketplace. Microsoft also acquired a mobile software subscription service in its purchase of Danger, the maker of the TMobile Sidekick.
The company's inability to make any money in its consumer-oriented products division has caused some of the company's investors to demand that Microsoft spin off its Windows Mobile business along with the Xbox and Zune and focus on PC operating systems and software.