Posts filed under 'WiMAX'

Apple iPhone 5 is here : CellStrat opinion

As if you have not heard enough about iPhone 5 already, here is more of it :)

Apple announced iPhone 5 on Sept 12th. The other big thing that happened that day was Quantitative Easing version 3 announcement by US Federal Reserve – one wonders, it was a synchronized announcement – just kidding.. Certainly, some market analysts have said that iPhone 5 may do more for US GDP growth than Fed’s QE3..amazing..

Well, intentional or not, both the announcements have a dramatic impacts – QE3 will accelerate the stock market rise around the world, fuel more inflation etc. Apple announcement will lead to Apple maintaining it’s hegemony in the smartphone ecosystem. I know, I know, some of you are on side of the table which is less than enamoured by the new iPhone 5. However, our take is that the ecosystem of Apple is much too strong and still underestimated by most. The vertical integration of iTunes, Macs, iPhones, iPads, licensed content in there, seamless charging via iTunes, cross-device synch capabilities are so intense and so transformational in the tech world, that few can match up with Apple prowess over the marketplace. Apple ran out of online inventory of iPhone 5 in one hour of opening the sales..validation enough of a huge pent-up demand out there.

Lack of NFC or some other popular features, now commonplace in other smartphones, will not deter iPhone 5 in creating breakthrough success once again for Apple sales. What most people fail to realize about Apple is that it does not usually toe the line created by others – it creates new models which, in many cases, become the benchmark over time. Coming back to NFC, Apple did bundle a feature called Passbook in the new iPhone 5 – a loyalty and coupon management feature – this is not payment enabled but it could evolve into a Digital Wallet. Many leaders like eBay, Square, Paypal are making do without NFC in Mobile Payments and quite successfully at that. It is likely that NFC may never become the mainstream mobile payment tech if Apple and others listed here do not push it.

As to what Apple iPhone 5 does pack, it has a laundry list of neat features :

LTE (4G capable), Thinner, Lighter, bigger screen (4 inch diagonally), all new Apple-designed A6 chip, better retina display, improved camera (although megapixels remain at 8 megs), enhanced HD video recording, 5 rows of icons on the screen, improved Siri assistant, new lightning connector, new Apple mapping app, better iCloud integration, 700,000 apps, new iOS 6 OS, Passbook loyalty feature, the list goes on and on.

To view all iPhone 5 features, click here.

As far as we can visualize, we still feel demand for iPhone 5 will be back-logged and people will go gaga over this device the world over. Apple mobile leadership is far from being threatened, not until they make major blunders or others truly can provide a neat vertically integrated ecosystem. So far, we see only Amazon as being anywhere close to providing the vertical ecosystem with Kindle platform. Samsung tried but it is missing many major components for creating a complete ecosystem, music partnerships to begin with, among other things. Google does not try as their focus is entirely different – to monetize via search engines on Android devices.

So – for now, it is Apple’s world to rule in the mobile arena, until somebody else “does an Apple” on them.

September 17th, 2012

Reasons why hospitals should buy tablets for physicians

With 3G already in place and tablets taking over the world, buying physicians at your hospital an iPad may seem like an expensive way to solve workflow problems, but it has paid off in the west and so can pay off in Indian hospitals and other health care organisations the world over.

Here are a few of his reasons why:

Speed: To stay ahead of the competitive curve: If hospitals want to be counted among the top 10 healthcare institutions for the hi-tech worthiness. The technology would help in real-time data delivery instead of having prescriptions first on papers and then waiting for long to be transfered to systems.

Controlled development: Hospitals can keep a control on the systems used by them. They can have a  team that creates a mobile electronic health record, and other in-house apps to fulfill exact requirements of doctors.

Maintenance, device control: Having to support and maintain multiple platforms and unregulated apps are two of the headaches that can be avoided by purchasing the iPads outright. IT departments can have a set configuration for every machine, and be able to have standard remote wipe, log-ins, screen shut-down times and other security protocols. Updates and upgrades will also be far simpler to manage on devices.

Cost savings: While the $600-plus price tag for each device may seem hefty, it’s less than a PC or laptop. “The PC avoidance costs alone are enough to pay for [the iPads],”. And that’s significantly less than other medical instruments that physicians carry with them each day.

Two years back too, I had written a post on how wimax and mobile communications enabled ambulances are creating waves in Europe. Now all that is possible along with tablets integration in and our of ambulance vehicles and hospitals.

All of the above  doesn’t count the “hours per day” that physicians would be saving in documentation and administrative time and gues how many more lives could be saved or given treatment in time.

What are your thoughts on this?

August 18th, 2011

“Year of the Tablet” – notes from Wireless Technology Forum (Atlanta) session on Tablets

(from our Atlanta desk)

It is commonly said that this is the “Year of the Tablet“. Certainly, with Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom and dozens of other tablets and eReaders being introduced in the marketplace, everybody is talking about the “post-PC” era and the impact of tablets on consumers and businesses. Tablets are causing upheavals in the Publishing and Media industries with most major Newspapers and Magazines plotting a Tablet strategy for their periodicals. Netflix and other Streaming Entertainment providers are booming due to the surge in Tablet access subscriptions. Book Publishers are digitizing their books at an increasingly rapid pace expecting a shift away from Printed Books to Tablet or eReaders. 80% of Fortune 100 companies in the United States are trialing iPad for their Corporate employees. Laptops which were hyper-growth computers for the first decade of this century are making way for the Invasion of the Tablets.

Our analyst in Atlanta attended an intuitive session on Tablet computing at the Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta on March 17th, 2011. Here are the notes from this session :

Speakers :

Mike Lupo, Sr Director - Digital Products, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC)
Karen Truitt, Director - Mobile Devices, Intel
Chuck Rainbow, Technical Manager – Tablets, Research in Motion
Jim Dudenhoefer, Manager – WebOS, HP Palm
Moderator : Dr. Phil Hendrix, Director, Institute of Mobile Markets Research (IMMR), Atlanta

 

A great cast of speakers from top contenders in the Tablet space (the 800-Pound Gorilla, ie Apple, was missing, so was Google). This session focused on the tablet form factor, the applications that will drive adoption and the business models needed to support this new networking paradigm.

(All data below refers to USA Tablet Market)

Dr Phil : Tablets have almost 5 to 7% penetration right now – it is currently one of the fastest growing Consumer Electronics products.

IMMR (Dr Phil’s organization) recently concluded a survey on the Tablet ecosystem. On the question of “Familiarity with Tablets”, here are the stats :

  • On the question of “Familiarity with Tablets” :- 38% audience – somewhat familiar; 26% – very familiar; 35% – not familiar
  • Smartphone familiarity is higher than feature phones in households.
  • 4 in 10 people are interested in purchasing a tablet for someone in the household. Once the tablet comes into the household, it tends to get shared. Over time, some households may become multi-tablet households.
  • Lower prices will unlock demand. $500 is the breaking point for most folks when they get discouraged from spending on tablets. iPad is at a higher price point but has still sold like hotcake – this is due to Early adopters, who are buying high end tablets today. But significant opportunity exists for cheaper tablets below the $500 threshold.
  • Preferred Tablet OS :- Apple iOS – 58%, Windows OS – 36%, Android OS – 35%, BlackBerry – 13%, HP Palm – 9%. Interestingly, Windows OS beat out Android slightly.

Mike (AJC) : AJC Newspaper has just developed its iPad App and it is currently in Beta. AJC also has an iPhone/iOS App called AJC Digest which is available on App Store today.

Karen – Intel, which is a strong leader in the PC microprocessor industry so far, is looking to expand into tablet microprocessors, chips inside cars, etc.

Jim – HP had acquired Palm recently and HP plans to deploy the Palm WebOS in many of its tablet devices over the years.

Chuck - RIM is about to release its Tablet play titled “Playbook”. There is much excitement within RIM with this upcoming launch.

Dr Phil - Why now for tablets ?

Karen - Apple has created the game-changing device in iPad. Apple is a master of simple products that work well. They made the Mobile Device, App and App Delivery ecosystem simple enough to allow for a mass market adoption.

Chuck – Tablets are now because chip processing and battery power has reached a point where these devices are possible (our take on this : RIM won’t admit to Apple’s role in opening this market :) . These devices are now feasible. We are reaching an inflection point where tablets can substitute for laptops, devices which are anyway more difficult to lug around. People are not getting acclimatized to these devices.

Jim- Consumers today demand anywhere access to content and data. Tablets are just another end point in this evolution. It’s about data access – moving it to the cloud and the desire to access it from anywhere. Phone screen is too small to allow an optimal experience for this. Jim also noted that they are not concerned about Apple’s dominance so far. Jim has a great point of view that, if at all, Apple has been a positive contributor in creating a huge new market for all device makers to play in. Jim said market is huge for many to thrive. This is a market where all boats can and will rise. (Good point)

Mike - In an average American home, people think of tablets as lean back experience whereas PC is work – so tablets make sense now for AJC. Newspaper is about relaxing and consuming the news. So it makes sense for AJC to work in tablet space.

Dr Phil – The 800-pound gorilla (Apple-who else) is not in this session. Where is the gap in Apple’s tablet strategy which others could potentially exploit ?

Karen- Apple has created the benchmark. Everybody else is trying to catch up to that. Android Honeycomb from Google is an attempt to catch up to the iPad benchmark. However the user experience of Android still has to mature for it to be a strong contender. AS to Apple’s weak points, Flash is certainly one – a blatant omission from the likes of Apple. (Karen admitted, however, that Apple does not consider lack of Flash in iOS devices as a weak point).

Chuck- Apple is weak on security. There is a security breach every 4 hours in Apple iOS environment. RIM / BlackBerry is known for security (note that BlackBerry is still dominant smartphone in the Corporate world). Mobile Device security is critical area – virus maker McAfee has smartphone security software today. Apple does even acknowledge the security issue in its iOS environment. Chuck said that until something goes wrong, people don’t take notice. Consumers will start getting concerned when they loose credit cards etc in Apple environment (CellStrat note : Note that Mobile Payments is about to become a big area and here security is of paramount importance).

Jim - Apple is consumer-focused firm. There is lot of opportunity in Enterprise and niche verticals (where the field is still open for all) in addition to the huge consumer opportunity.

Dr Phil : Avg selling price in 18 months?

Mike – 350 or 300 dollar will be great.

Dr Phil - Newspaper in Canada is giving away iPads if folks buy newspaper subscriptions. Will Atlanta Journal Constitution adopt this approach ?

Mike (with a chuckle) – No (resoundingly!)

Karen - Intel has created  tablets for healthcare verticals. Businesses will want ruggedized versions of tablets (a delicate iPad device will not work in many industries) – these devices may get dropped and used in rough conditions in various industries.

Dr Phil - Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Nobile (Nook) eReaders will have more and more of tablet functions over time as the boundaries between eReaders and tablets will become indistinguishable. Printed Books may become redundant. Tablets will take over though it will take some time.

Q/A :

Ques : Will HTML5 replace Flash?

Dr Phil - Depends on how quickly content makers adapt.

Ques : Where is the money?

Karen – Apple is making money and also App developers. Carriers are making money also because of rapid growth in Data plans.

Jim- Dynamics of the industry is changing. It is still wide open to pin down the business model. Revenue Models are evolving still.

Chuck- When the PC came around, money was in hardware sales. Then, software became more important and apps like Microsoft Office made money. A similar ecosystem will evolve in Mobile Devices (implying mobile device hardware will make money followed by software over longer term).

Ques : What about accessories business ? The new Apple Smart Covers for iPad 2′s is all about margins (for Apple). Will USB attachments and such accessories be a lucrative area ?

Chuck - Ultimately Bluetooth will be dominant. Apple model of side-loading will be replaced by Cloud services. (Chuck said that in spite of this, Blackberry Playbook will have USB and HDMI port to cover all bases).

Ques : HP Palm strategy to win over developers given Apple’s popularity in Developer ecosystem (50,000 Apps already available customized to Apple iPad and HP Palm has hardly any, so far) ? After all Developers make or break Mobile platforms. Also, Apple deducts a large chuck (30%) from Developer App revenue as commission.

Jim - HP talked to a lot of developers and they are struggling on revenue generation with the Apple App Store or even the Android Store. Certainly there is room for developer innovation here in terms of Business model which helps them.
HP’s strategy will be to be as open as possible (Open Mobile environment) – ultimately this will help Developers. Eg Kindle Book Store will be available on HP Palm – this means that HP Palm Tablet will have 800,000 Kindle Books available from the get go. Also, HP will offer both models in its App ecosystem - the App store approach for mass market as well as Private distribution for corporations.

Chuck – Even though Apple iPad has 50,000 custom Apps, most are trivial (he referenced iFart apps on Apple Store:). Average Usage per app among the 50K apps (on iPad App Store) is less than one day. RIM / Blackberry has much higher average usage of its mobile apps. (our take : Good point but can one discount the mass Developer and Consumer Crowd running after Apple ?)

Ques : On Tablets replacing PCs ?

Karen - Tablet is a consumption device. It will do well but won’t replace PCs/laptops. PCs will always be ahead in graphics and processing power.  So tablet will not replace PCs/laptops that fast (our take: they better not – else Intel’s primary business is in jeopardy :)  

Overall a great session on Tablets. Kudos to the folks at Wireless Technology Forum (Bob, Steve, Maury, Scott, John, Ed and others) for organizing this event.

March 18th, 2011

Does Mobile Web fit your Integrated Media Strategy ?

Mobile Apps and Web have taken the world by storm. Certainly, Apple deserves credit for orchestrating the Mobile Web experience when it created the iPhone and its App Store. In the process, Apple unleashed the creative energy of hundreds of thousands of Mobile developers worldwide. As of last count, Apple App Store counts 350,000 Apps in the store. With the launch of the iPad tablet, Apple popularized the Tablet computer category and now lot of developers are developing Apps for the Tablet version. Tablet has started what most refer to as the post-PC era. Certainly firms like Microsoft, HP and Intel are in lot of trouble as many consumers and businesses are going the Tablet way instead of upgrading or buying regular PCs and laptops. Now Apple is trying to bring the App experience with its launch of the MAC App Store.

Mobile Web is the latest and greatest Media channel today. It is a most apt media channel for a variety of reasons which we will explain a little later in this post.

Are the various Media firms and Brand Marketers prepared to adjust to this titanic shift of Mobile-based Media ? Do Mobile Apps and Web even belong in a firm’s Integrated Media portfolio ? We will attempt to answer these questions below.

Today media consists of various channels :

Media Channels

 How does Mobile Web fit in this scheme ? The schematic below elaborates the various Digital and Mobile Advertising formats :

Digital Media Channels 

 Consider this (taking Indian context here) :

  • There are 770 million Mobile Subscriptions today (out of a total population of 1.2 billion people) – granted only 550 million are Active Mobile Subscribers : still almost 45% of Indian population are active Mobile Subscribers
  • India has less than 10% internet penetration
  • Mobile is the first and only communications tool for most Rural and Semi-Urban Audience in India
  • Mobile is personal, has context, is location-aware and is always ON
  • Admittedly 90% of Indian mobile market is comprised of feature phones, leading to SMS as the dominant marketing channel in India. But the fastest growth rate is now seen in Smartphone uptake – with acceleration in sales of cheaper smartphones from the likes of MicroMax, Lava etc in addition to established Brands like Nokia, Samsung etc. Mobile Web is now proliferating throughout the Indian consumer class much more rapidly than the feature phone growth.
  • The 3G launches this year will only accelerate the move to Broadband Mobile Services (think Mobile Web with much superior user experience and faster speeds)
  • The post-PC era may have started with Tablets taking over the role of laptops and computers. Many leading businesses and business execs are using tablets for business travel instead of their laptops now.
  • Print Media and Book Publishers are rapidly shifting en masse to Mobile Apps and Mobile eReaders as the delivery channel.
  • People are increasingly consuming media, content and advertising on Mobile phones and tablets.

Given the above advantages – Mobile can be a top Media and Marketing Channel for any Agency or Marketer today in India, much better than the Internet at least.

Now how many Brands and Media Agencies in India have actually integrated Mobile in their portfolio ? Our research indicates that most Media Agencies and Brands in India are yet to include Mobile as a captive Media channel (more on this in our upcoming Research Report : “Mobile Apps Innovation Report for India“. Contact us for details). Though many firms have tried the SMS and VAS marketing route in India, the future now lies in capturing the Mobile Web and Mobile App Media market which is developing rapidly in India.

Our upcoming conference on Mobile Apps (April 29th) – the “Mobile Apps Conclave - Bangalore” will address the entire gamut of topics on Mobile Web and Mobile Apps. Do not forget to register – there are some early registration promotions going on right now.

March 7th, 2011

How to Monetize Mobile Apps ?

Mobile Apps – those tiny applications which sit on your mobile phone and provides all sorts of functionality, simplying your life and business, your connectivity, your social experience and entertaining you on the go. Mobile Apps – hundreds of thousands of them literally on various App Stores – have created a Mobile Web revolution – it is the advent of Web 3.0.

Ok – Mobile Apps are great – businesses are enamored by their potential, consumers want them, developers and brands want to make money of them. The last part is the most tricky one so far. How do you monetize Mobile Apps, most of which are either Free or sell for less than a Dollar? This remains a tough challenge for most developers or brands the world over. Here are some key insights on how one can market Mobile Apps we well as monetize them:

  • Selling Mobile Apps is (generally) not a Business in itself

What? And people think they can retire writing Mobile Apps in their basement.. The sad fact is that just creating Mobile Apps, even with all their promise,  is not a standalone Business Model. The Barrier to Entry is way too low. Any half decent developer can produce a Grocery Tracking app overnight.

Discoverability and Marketing of apps from smaller firms and developers is a difficult task. It is like saying SEO alone will make your business money, to take an analogy from the online world.

  • Relying on Advertising revenue may not be a viable strategy

Many developers and brands assume that Apps can monetize themselves using those Banner Ads or in-App Ads. Issue is mass marketing apps is challenging, especially those apps which are from smaller brands and developers; unless the App is widely popular over a long period of time (eg Facebook, NDTV or Angry Birds apps), Banner Advertising will not provide substantial revenue to make the business tick.

  • Apps are extension of your other business

The fact is that Developers and Brands need to think of Mobile Apps as an extension of their other Businesses, as an additional value they provide to their audience beyond their core business. That means, Mobile Apps are an Extension to other businesses and not a Business by themselves. Hopefully your core business is successful and Apps will serve as an additional value add or accelerator for the core business.

  • Apps and Social Media Marketing

The world of Mobile and Social Media / Digital Media has truly converged. These areas are inseparable from two angles : First – Social goes on Mobile and Mobile enables the Social Networks. Secondly, App Marketing needs to integrate with Social Media Marketing.

Social Media is probably the best way for App Developers and Brands to generate buzz about their Apps and drive downloads (or mobile website access). It is a low cost way to engage audience and create social ambassadors for spreading the word about one’s Mobile Content and Apps.

  • Apps in a Niche Market

Say you are in the business of selling Legal Content and Consulting. Your business could benefit from providing Mobile Access to your Legal Content. Another example is of that an Educational business – which puts its Educational offerings on a Mobile Channel.

The bottomline is that Apps developed for a niche market marketed by Experts in that Vertical have a higher chance of success and monetization.

  • Large Brands can use Apps as an additional Channel

Finally, Blue-chip Brands and Large Enterprises have it most easy when it comes to monetizing or leveraging Apps. These firms have strong brand name and visibility already and can easily mix Marketing of their Mobile Content into their overall marketing messaging and portals. Eg large brands can prominently display their App Download links on their highly-trafficked website and newsletters. Plus, consumers actually search for apps from these providers in various App Stores.

In summary, Large Brands can and should use Apps and Mobile Web to engage their audience further and provide additional value.

Hope this helps those who are thinking about App Monetization and App Marketing. To learn more on this, we encourage you to attend the Mobile Apps Conclave – the largest Mobile Apps Conference and Expo in India on 29th April in Bangalore, where many leading experts from India’s Mobile Industry will tackle this topic, among many others.

February 27th, 2011

“2011 Analyst Outlook for Wireless” – Notes from Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta

(from our Atlanta desk)

I attended the Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta meeting on 18 Nov. The topic was “2011 Analyst Outlook” – an excellent one as we all are very curious to know what comes in 2011 in Wireless. Here are the notes from the meeting :

Speakers :-

There was an excellent lineup of speakers -

Keynote : “Prospects for LTE in 2011″ by Steven Leonard, Regional Director, Data Sales, Verizon Wireless

Panelists :

- Phil Hendrix, Principal Analyst, Institute for Mobile Markets Research (or IMMR)
- Jorge Fuenzalida,
Vice President, Strategy and Technology Group, inCode Telecom Group (now part of Ericsson)
- Jeremy Schneider,
Principal, Telecommunications, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
- Robert Prudhomme, Vice President, Client Services, Telecom Practice, The Nielsen Company

Moderator : Gerry Purdy, Principal Analyst, MobileTrax

Steven Leonard (Verizon Wireless) on LTE in 2011 :-

LTE offers 10 times faster speed compared to 3G networks. Verizon will have LTE in 38 markets by 2011. Verizon has the valuable 700 MHz spectrum which allows high speed and data accuracy in network transmission. LTE utilizes the MIMO technology. MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) is a technology that  increases in data throughput and link range without additional bandwidth or transmit power.

Another key aspect of 2011 is the growth of Tablets and accompanying data demands. 181% growth expected in Tablet usage in 2011 over this year. Verizon is the only carrier with contiguous 4G spectrum in USA (AT&T may disagree : )

Lte is 3.5 times faster than CDMA in how far signal will travel without diluting. It offers Latency near 30 ms where earlier it was 150 ms.

Verizon 4G leadership (per Steven) :-

    – Joint innovation lab
    – Open devl
    – Verizon developer community
    – LTE innovation center
    – M2M management center in partnership with Qualcomm

Note : M2M or Machine-to-Machine is the new wireless industry developing around putting wireless chips in home appliances, hospital equipment and other such non telecom functions).

Verizon Launch mkt this year – Athens and Atlanta are included

Wireless broadband features in LTE include :-

    1 Advanced applications :- like Entertainment and Music

    2 Innovative devices

    3 Location agnostic : Whereever you are availability

As per Steven, Verizon 4g network rollout will be completed in 2013 in the USA.

Phil Hendrix (IMMR) :-

Phil gave a presentation on Mobile Commerce, an area which is rapidly evolving. The most happening event in USA on Mobile Commerce has to do with NFC phone proliferation expected in 2011 with Google Nexus S and Apple iPhone – both NFC enabled phones coming out potentially as per reports.

As per Phil, Mobile Commerce has three perspectives :-
    – Consumers : mobile shopping
    – Brands : mobile advertising
    – Retailers : m-commerce

8 dimensions which together constitute mobile commerce:-
    – Mobile Shopping
    – Mobile Funds Transfer
    – Mobile Advertising
    – Mobile Rewards
    – Mobile Coupons
    – Mobile Booking
    – Mobile Offers
    – Mobile Payments

Today we are only in the initial stages of Mobile Commerce.

Certain trends are accelerating Mobile Commerce. These Accelerators include :-

    – Location-Based
    – Hyper Local sensitivity – what is around us
    – Social Media
    – Yield Management
    – Supply Chain integration
    – Big Data

Jorge Fuenzalida (inCode) :-

inCode Telecom Group, the telecom strategy consulting firm, has been acquired by Ericsson recently. inCode is famous for its “top 10 predictions” in wireless every year. Jorge said that these are not finalized for 2011 but offered a Sneak preview of the top 10 :-

Predictions :-
    1) Over the Top goes over the top (in other words, over the top video/OTT or IPTV accelerates and everything in video goes online)
             2009-Netflix becoming very popular – CPE based OTT
             2011-all content goes online eg Google TV or other such offerings
    2) Tablet rush - in 2011 it will overtake netbooks
    3) The new Gold Rush in 2011- wireless rural broadband – due to government stimulus

Well said, Jorge.

Jeremy Schneider (McKinsey) :-

Core wireless has matured. Revenue growth has slowed in voice and messaging

What is next then? Three predictions (since it is the day of 3 predictions from all analysts : ) :-

1) Data will grow much more than what most analysts are calling for. McKinsey thinks 17 times growth from 2009 to 2012 in mobile data
     McKinsey thinks that even this number is relatively conservative. They think it could be 25 times growth by 2012.
     Tablets, mobile video and broader consumer adoption of mobile browsing will drive mobile data growth.
2) Enterprise will outstrip Consumer in wireless (this is surprising as per me as consumer has been the bigger driver of smartphone data via apps so far)
     Enterprise mobility will enable employee mobility etc
     – 6 times higher willingness to pay in enterprise consider to consumer
     – big market. M2M sensors estimates keep rising on a daily basis
     – many verticals are ripe for innovation

     Healthcare is particularly exciting in the M2M arena.
     Healthcare will expand in 5 trillion dollars overall in 5 yrs. At current rates healthcare will be 30% of us GDP
           * Remote Monitoring
           * Remote Consultation
           * Medication Management
           * Health and Wellness

3) New directions in Application Architecture
     – Data growth needs efficient network
            * 30% time waiting on mobile browsing
     - Platform independent tech like HTML5, JIL (Java Intermediate Language), WAC (Wholesale Application Community – the operator consortium), SNs (?)
     – Delivered in the cloud (aha – Cloud Computing – we know it)
          * Consumer – Large portions of iPhone apps already on the Amazon Cloud or EC2
          * Enterprise – 40% savings by moving to cloud

Robert Prudhomme (Nielsen) :-

Growth has slowed in postpaid the USA. Prepaid is going well.

Only verizon and AT&T were able to get net adds in Pospaid this year. However, all of these came at the expense of T-Mobile or Sprint (no wonder, with 80%+ market penetration for wireless in USA, you can only get new customers by poaching from your competitors)

AT&T is doing well with its Connected Devices business, however a concern is that Standards and Business models around these new devices are not clear and their financial worth is not known.

The erstwhile prepaid kings, the carriers Cricket and Metro are suffering as the Big-4 wireless operators are getting most of the prepaid now.

Sprint is competing on pricing while it tries to retain its customers who are churning fast. The No 1 reason to win a customer now is promotion and pricing. This means price wars as are seen in $50 all you can eat plans from some carriers. Now, Sprint is even undercutting T-Mobile in pricing. (my conjecture is that the profit margin in $50 all you can eat plan is really next to nothing).

Of course wireless has lot of bright areas too on the premium side – mainly Record smartphone sales. On premium side, smartphone (driven by top smartphones like iPhone and Android phone) sales are driving fast growth.

Wireless Tablets remains an unpredictable play for the operators. This is depicted by the fact that only 1/10th of iPad tablets sold are activated on the AT&T network. Rest are using WiFi or exported out of the country. (But AT&T still scores as it has a respectable nationwide WiFi network – of course free public WiFi for broadband customers is a customer retention strategy by carriers like AT&T and not really a revenue generator).

Smartphones are driving increases in App adoption (finally a direct reference to Apps)
    – 59% smartphone owners download apps
    – 9% feature phone owners download apps

AT&T – 74% postpaid net adds in last quarter are iPhone customers (did I get it right – 74% ?).

Interesting stat from Nielsen : -950,000 netadds lost from AT&T if they lost iPhone exclusivity per Nielsen estimates. In other words, with the impending Verizon iPhone and potentially on other carriers too, AT&T might loose almost 1 million net adds per quarter. A significant number but one AT&T is already planning for most likely.

In France and other European countries, when iPhone exclusivity ended with one carrier, Apple doubled their share or more in some cases. So one can conclude that the Apple stock price may be trading at a discount if its market share is about to rise (now let me run and buy some Apple stock.. : )

Overall an excellent discussion on the 2011 Outlook for US wireless by some Industry heavyweights in the Analyst world. Congratulations to the team at Wireless Technology Forum (Atlanta) and especially to Gerry Purdy of MobileTrax for putting together this awesome event.

November 22nd, 2010

Notes from Wireless Technology Forum SIG on Mobile Video, Feb 11 2010

(from our Atlanta desk)

I attended the Wireless Video SIG organized by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta on Feb 11, 2010 at Goizueta Business School, Emory University. The title was :

“Mobile Video : New Horizons, New Possibilities”

Here are the notes from the SIG :

Panelists :

David Barnette, Regional Vice President, Clearwire

Craig Kirkland, CNN Mobile

Dr. Nikhil Jayant, Executive Director, GCATT

Mark Nagel, Mobility Video Services, AT&T Mobility

Susan Schedel, Director, Business Development, FLO TV (Qualcomm)

Clay Garrett, Director of Visual Design, N4D

Moderated By : Dr Benn Konsynski, George S. Kraft of Business Administration, Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Overall – an excellent session on Mobile Video arranged by Mobile Video SIG Chair Caroline Dunn and Ashok Kumar.

Dr Konsynski started off with saying that there is a tidal wave of mobility and also of video. There exists a confluence of each. Moreoever, UGC (user-generated content) and other actors are confounding these influences. There is also a strong pursuit of standardization in this space.

David Barnette – Clearwire :
Clearwire leading 4G space in United States. Clear (Clearwire markets its 4G wireless service under the brand name “Clear”) is present in 27 cities covering 30 million people. Clear finds that usage for its service is increasing rapidly. Users are moving double the bandwidth compared to first generation network that they had. As they say : “If you build it, they will come”.  David says that Mobile experience with Clearwire is not about dropped calls (dig at traditional wireless operators :) but rather can you take a video while driving and not dropping the signal. Clear is judged by video apps and not really voice. “does it pass the hulu test?”.

Davind mentioned that typical phone customers are on 3G but have no expectation for video for 3G. This is not the case when these consumers adopt 4G and WiMAX. Clear thinks that video will become standard expectation with consumers in due course and then the 3G networks just won’t suffice. Price structure is crucial for marketing mobile video. In future you buy bandwidth on Wireless and voice is just one of the many apps offered on the wireless channel.

Consumers – most devices and networks are designed for 3G svcs. But Clear is evangelizing with consumers and manufacturers that new age services and products need to be designed for 4G.

iPhone has opened lot of eyes. Clear is excited about the potential of Mobile web. Clear considers itself as an ISP and not as a wireless carrier (interesting !).

Dr Konsynski asked Clearwire about extraordinary innovations once the WiMAX network is in place. Clear executive said that it is normal everyday things which will have better capacity and pricing on 4G network. On business side, Clear gets requests (from enterprise customers) for high speed business apps in places where it is normally difficult to reach using the older networks.

Craig Kirkland - CNN Mobile :

Craig said that CNN (United States’ leading news network and TV channel) is bullish on mobile and in fact quite excited about it. Short and longer videos both will succeed, eventually, CNN feels. They say mobile video is in experiment stage right now. Their iPhone app is the most successful so far. It has video clips and streaming videos of major events (eg Haiti disaster reporting). CNN sees lot of challenges as well. Craig used to work at Alltel before (and so has a carrier perspective as well). CNN Mobile is  excited about the device evolution. But CNN is concerned about mobile network quality. They are hoping the WiMAX LTE solves the network issue (indeed- a customer does not care whether it is LTE or WiMAX, Customer only cares about what experience they get). CNN Mobile also worries about discoverability challenge on app stores. CNN Mobile team focuses on discoverability a lot.
Craig said that CNN Mobile believes in net neutrality, even though a small set of users hog a a majority of the bandwidth.

Dr Konsynski says that Prodigy example (remember that now defunct high-flying ISP of the 90s) shows that if you throttle network for a small set of users, you can damage experience of your larger user base. So have to tread carefully in network throttling practices when managing high volume data users.

CNN has lot of internal resources dedicated to Mobile effort.

Dr Nikhil Jayant – GCATT :

Dr Jayant has an extraordinary background in academia and corporate. He said that he wanted to recognize the underlying core technology of Signal Compression. He said that signal compression was a great enabler to transfer CD-quality music and other things. Video is even more compressed signal. Video signals are compressed today by factor of 100 to 1.

Mobile TV factor compression today is sometimes 200 to 1 and 300 to 1. Dr Jayant expects 1000 to 1 video compression in his lifetime. He says network is fine but services on that is key. Video has the potential to become even more exciting in the next 5 to 10 years.

Mark Nagel - Mobility Video Services, AT&T Mobility :
Mark said that AT&T is focused on consumer and consumer experience. First mobile video app from AT&T stable was MobiTV in 2006. 3-4 frames per secs. You had to buy a $20 Data plan to get MobiTV. MobiTV was popular. Now they have a more advanced product from Qualcomm (called FLO TV) and it costs 9.99 per month. Nickelodeon is their most popular show on the mobile TV channel. He said that consumers still need to find the right app – consumer awareness about Mobile TV is the biggest issue right now.

Susan Schedel, FLO TV, Qualcomm :

The carrier partnership is most crucial for Qualcomm to popularize its innovative FLO TV service. They are trying to understand TV on the Go. MediaFLO (the network operated by Qualcomm for its FLO TV network) has high usage per day per user. FLO TV was started 5 yrs ago. They started with carrier partners like AT&T and Verizon. They have wholesale relationship with the consumer so far. Now, Qualcomm is also introducing direct-to-consumer channel called ”Personal TV” sold via Best Buy or Amazon (in my personal opinion, they face stiff competition from Apple iPad TV channels in near future). They have a dedicated device for Personal TV.  Eg parent does not want to provide a phone to a kid but can give a Personal TV device. They are also working on backseat vehicle TV (personally, I think Qualcomm and Apple are on a competing path in 5 years – probably the reason why Apple did not choose SnapDragon processor from Qualcomm for their iPad device). They are also developing TV for the Android platform also.

FLO TV has DVR type capabilities as well as interactivity on roadmap for a user to stop, record and do catch up television.

Clay Garrett, N4D :

N4D is about 3D imaging. Focused on content. Volumetric rendering like catscans, weather etc.
Trying to solve headaches in watching 3D etc (think Avatar). As a content firm, they want to know about network viability and compression to allow them to deliver the content to consumers reliably.

Dr Konsynski – stretching the capabilities is important. Clay said that brain and eyes can cause issues eg in the recent blockbuster Avatar, 3D people said that content felt as if coming out of the screen can cause headaches and nausea. So, N4D is working on cutting-edge technology trying to make it easier to consume this 3D content.

CNN - iReport (user submitted video content on CNN) is popular with all audience ages even though CNN originally assumed that only youngsters would be interested.

Clear – Maximum adoption for Clear service in Atlanta area is in the midtown (think young, urban audience in townhouses and condominiums rather than suburban family crowd). It seems that the lifestyle pattern is more important to predict user adoption rather than age profile for such services.

Dr Jayant – Quality of Experience is key as Craig pointed out. eg Healthcare over broadband may be a big factor for success of broadband.

David (Clearwire) said that in few years Internet traffic and video traffic will become one and the same thing.

Audience question – Why will WiMAX succeed (when most major carriers are touting a LTE future) ?

David (Clearwire) – speed to market is important. WiMAX is available today with users. He said that Clearwire is aware of LTE but he says that they have spectrum positions. They say LTE and WiMAX are very close and feel that there may be dual mode devices and networks in the future. Eg combined LTE and WiMAX base stations and devices are alredy being built.

Audience – all said and done, what about mobile battery life?

Mark Nagel – FLO TV is broadcast-only technology and so battery experience is not really that bad.

CNN Mobile – battery issues bother them but the CNN exec agreed that consumers still want cool thin phones, regardless of battery issues.

International issues :-

CNN – have a large International operation. In general, they merged international and domestic products together. There are different subsets for both and there are pros and cons abroad compared to the US environment.

Dr Jayant :-
What consumers expect abroad in different parts of the world could be different from USA. Willingness to pay and Broadband policy may influence growth in other nations. Eg Finland declared recently that broadband is a birthright (::) (wow – won’t fly in the USA).

Mark Nagel (AT&T) - Rich experience in iPhone compared to before. Opening up new models and apps.

Dr Konsynski – why did qualcomm go direct to consumer ?
Mark Nagel (AT&T) downplayed that question. He said that AT&T is not competing with Qualcomm for Mobile TV. Bigger issue is consumer awareness.

Clay (N4D) – 3D has bad rep. But Avatar kind of experience may help popularize it and make it more consumer-friendly. Consumer education about 3D needs to be increased.

Net Neutrality :- (tough one)
Clear – flexibility is key and it is imp that people can push and pull content freely.

Mark Nagel – AT&T is open (ok!). Network is precious and have to manage the network using innovative techniques.

Dr Konsynski provided a killer line : If Content is King, then Context is Emporer.

Dicoverability, search, context :-

CNN – discoverability is about people making aware of their mobile app and moving across CNN properties.

Mark – trialing of apps is useful for discoverability but too many apps make it difficult to innovate in this area. Too many apps is a good problem to have ultimately. Somehow discoverability issues need to be solved via some innovation.

A fabulous panel discussion on Mobile Video set up by Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta. Thanks to Caroline Dunn and Ashok Kumar of WTF.

February 25th, 2010

Wireless Predictions 2010 for India – by CellStrat

Here is our list of Wireless Predictions for India for the year 2010 :

1) India 3G auction happens finally – but faces corruption charges and slow uptake in the consumer space. Ministry of Telecom will still make boatloads of money in 3G auction as large carriers have no choice but to get into a bidding war to get the limited 3G spectrum for future growth.

2) 3G Devices continue to lag – only select few devices can benefit from 3G. 3G Devices start catching up in 2011 finally on a broader scale.

3) India 3G Rate Plan Pricing  and expensive 3G devices keeps the lid on fast 3G adoption. However smartphones take off big time in upper middle class and corporate segments.

4) Price wars in Indian Mobile sector accelerate. Carriers press TRAI to intervene but government keeps out of it. Carriers try to differentiate using innovative new Mobile Media, VAS and Apps.

5) India continues to add new Mobile Subscribers at the rate of 8-10 million a month. Next phase of mobile adoption is in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities but revenue growth is slower in these areas due to limited financial ability of consumers.

6)  Rural Mobile on a mass scale remains a distant dream for carriers next year at least. Rural consumers will come online in larger numbers in another 2-3 years.

7) The Big 5 Carriers (Airtel, Vodaphone, Reliance, Idea, Tata) continue to innovate with new Mobile Media models and VAS services. Smaller but fast growing carriers like Tata Docomo or Aircel try to differentiate by playing on niche market segments (like prepaid or multi-member family households) or with new innovative pricing schemes (remember Tata Docomo was the first carrier to introduce the 1 p / sec pricing forcing all other carriers to drop their prices).

8)At least one major foreign carrier makes a big splash in India Mobile scene in addition to the new upstarts like ETILASAT, MTS India, Uninor (Unitech-Telenor venture) or S Tel. This could also be another big European or US operator. ETILASAT, MTS, Uninor and S Tel have the license to spectrum in India in some circles but any other new foreign operator would have to take the acquisition route. All these upstarts are primary acquisition targets as foreign wireless majors like AT&T, Orange, Deutsche Telekom or others try to penetrate the Indian mobile market.

9) Mobile VAS firms face cut-throat competition due to massive market fragmentation. A few big and fast-moving Mobile VAS firms survive and acquire the weaker ones.

10) Serious Foreign money continues to pour into Indian wireless sector in all segments including the Carriers, Mobile Apps, VAS, IT, Network Management, Back-office services, Consulting and so on.

11) CDMA looses market share as Reliance and Tata, the big CDMA protagonists before, divert their attention to their GSM arms. CDMA arms of Tata and Reliance will focus on innovative pricing models to maintain market share although it seems that India is rushing to being an all-GSM nation in due course. This makes sense as GSM offers easy and clear evolution path to UMTS/HSPDA 3G and eventually to LTE 4G, both of which are GSM-based technologies and the winning global standards for 3G and 4G respectively.

12) WiMAX sees Green Shoots in India. However it remains a niche play targeting certain market sectors and areas. Demand for alternate wireless networks like WiMAX, WiFi and Femtocell begins to increase as carriers face massive network congestion due to rapid mobile Voice and Data growth.

13) Mobile Media adoption grows – there is some shift from SMS to Mobile Web and Mobile Apps / WAP (finally). However SMS maintains its lion share of Mobile Media and Mobile Ad business. Corporate segment drives Mobile App adoption in smartphones.

14) Smartphone sector booms as upwardly mobile consumers try to spend a bigger part of their incomes on these expensive devices.

15) Apple iPhone makes a big splash in the premium market segments but faces intense competition from BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones.

16) Google Android is introduced in India. Finds limited uptake in the first year at least. 2011 will fare better for Android in India.

17) SMS advertising prices continue to fall rapidly. Firms in this sector continue to diversify into Mobile Apps business and try to find new business models to make money.

18) Mobile Money and Mobile Payments continues to grow although slowly. Until banks catch up with this technology and push it to their customers, the growth in this area will be somewhat slow although there is a strong business case for growth in Retail location Charge-ups and prepaid cards.

December 21st, 2009

Wireless Predictions 2010 – A Panel Discussion : Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta

(from our Atlanta desk)

I attended the Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta’s General Session meeting on Nov 19 at the Ashford Club. This session had a blue-chip panel from leading Market Research firms and Mobile Strategists world :

J Gerry Purdy, VP and Chief Analyst – Mobile and Wireless, Frost and Sullivan

Jorge Fuenzalida, VP/GM Strategy and Consulting, Incode

Jeff Kagan, Telecom Analyst and Publisher, The Jeff Kagan Report

Moderated by Hamish Caldwell of AT&T

This star lineup of Mobile Analysts presented their views of the Wireless Industry in 2010. Here are the notes from these experts’ presentations :

Mobile is turning out to be unique compared to Internet. In Mobile, both the extremes of Open (eg Google Android) and Closed (eg Apple iPhone, RIM etc) are doing well. Apple iPhone and AppStore story is well known. Google Android is the new star and giving sufficient headache to old entrenched stars like Nokia and RIM BlackBerry in the Mobile Media space.

Jorge Fuenzalida from Incode :

Jorge showed the Top 10 Predictions Incode is making for next year (these are for US primarily but some themes apply to Asia) :

i) Operators push netbooks. They see mixed success.
ii) Net Neutrality in USA remains stuck in debate.
iii) Data Capacity issues get resolved somewhat.
iv) All devices in the West move to be smartphones. Smartphones compete on features
v) Wireless Rate Plan pricing looks like airplane pricing (read – complex and unfriendly)
vi) M2M (Machine-to-Machine) Wireless leads to acquisitions (think a GSM chip in your watch, refrigerator, gym machine and so forth). In my opinion, broad M2M is a pipe dream at least several years away.
vii) Carriers get into cloud computing in a big way. Compete with Google and Amazon there.
viii) At least one major handset OS bites the dust (Palm OS – anyone ?)
ix) MVNOs bounce back with niche business models (eg eReader network)
x) Internet video via game consoles. eg XBox and PlayStation drive IPTV – cable firms feel pressure.

 

Jeff Kagan, Prominent Analyst has this to say :

Wireless Industry changes every 5 years or so and basically re-invents itself. Current state of Wireless Industry is Very Good and Wireless is stronger than ever in spite of (or perhaps due to?) recession. Communication thrives both in good times and bad times. It is a critical social behavior.

Apple changed the smartphone sector. It brought amazing user experience and other handset makers were forced to follow suit. Phones are doing what computers used to do. iPhone is still the fastest growing smartphone business. Why – Apple is a marketing genius. Other handset makers play catchup in marketing strength. Google is in this space now. Verizon is pouring lot of money in Google Android promotion for its Cliq and upcoming Android handsets. Customers love Google over the internet and it is free. Google’s success in Mobile is quite different than that of Apple. Google will succeed with several carrier and handset partners. Apple is limited in partner base but vertically integrated.  Google wants to be everywhere. Apple wants to be the premium player and mind-share leader. Apple is a rifle where Google is a shotgun.

Wireless will transform other industries eg Meter Reading, eReaders, Smart Grid, Healthcare. Wireless will continue to be a strong industry but it will look substantially different in 5 years from now.

Gerry Purdy :

Android is customizable. It may face fragmentation (remember J2ME or Java Mobile Edition!). But it is all about the consumer experience and Google will eventually figure it out just like it did for the Web. Apple has low fragmentation – it is vertically integrated via iTunes and iPod/iPhone and quite beautifully at that.

All speakers were also of the opinion that off-network traffic will accelerate. WiFi, Bluetooth, Femtocells all have bright future because classic wireless networks will be buried under the load of iPhone like traffic and Mobile Video.

When asked, which of the Incode predictions were more likely to bear out next year, Jorge from Incode says that it is No 5 – “Wireless Rate Plan pricing looks like airplane pricing (read – complex and unfriendly)”.

What happens one year from now :

Gerry – Apple and Google continue to do well in fast growing smartphone space. RIM (BlackBerry) remains under pressure as they have a Virtual Software environment (cloud-based mostly) and lack a good Mobile OS as capable as Apple’s or Google’s. Microsoft struggles in mobile space. Palm will probably be acquired by Nokia. Maemo – Nokia’s one of two Mobile OSes (other being Symbian), may see mixed success.

Jorge – No further Mobile OS will be seen in the marketplace as it is already too crowded.

Jeff – Things will be faster and better in wireless, one year from now.

Excellent presentation by an accomplished panel. Kudos to WTF and its board for pulling together yet another excellent General Session. The next General Session at WTF is on Jan 21 and it is focused on Investing and Funding Opportunities in Mobile and Wireless domain. Stay tuned for this session and do attend if you are in Atlanta area.

December 21st, 2009

3G hopes rise in India…

After much delay (which costed Indian Government loss of as much as $16B), government has finally fixed the 3G spectrum bid price to Rs. 3,500 crore (earlier it was fixed at Rs. 4,040 crore). Earlier, lot of comotion was created by operators over WiMAX spectrum pricing – WiMAX base price, earlier as suggested by DoT was Rs. 1,000 crore and operators wanted 3G base price to be in the same range. (WiMAX base price has now being increased to Rs. 1,750 crore (as per our sources)). A total of 5 players will be allowed to offer 3G services in every circle, of which one slot will be reserved for state-owned telcos BSNL & MTNL. 3G auction, as mentioned by government will be completed in 90 days and government is expecting Rs. 25,000 crore from these auction. So finally, things seem to move in some direction.

August 30th, 2009

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