Sorry I'm a couple of days late, but here are the top stories in the US and Indian wireless markets for the week ending April 17th 2010.
- On the regulatory front this week, the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010 finally made Caller ID spoofing a crime, and that includes VoIP. Finally you can breathe a sigh of relief that your number cant be used by others for purposes that range from benign – like crank calls - to nefarious – like identity theft – without legal repercussions.
- Mobile DTV tests will begin on May 3 in Washington D.C., with 20 channels. Also, Sprint is also pushing its mobile TV service quite heavily these days. Will this finally whet consumers’ appetite enough for them to try watching TV via their mobile devices? I guess time will tell.
The FCC is reported to be pursuing its broadband agenda in spite of the legal setback last week.
- As I reported last week, AT&T seems to be playing around with its branding instead of improving its network. I find this amusing, but I’m sure the brainiacs at the one-trick-pony called AT&T have their reasons. Or perhaps, they are in denial.
- Verizon has been continuing to make a lot of noise this week
- Ivan Seidenberg sat down with the WSJ to talk about how great the US wireless and broadband markets are, how great Verizon is, and how they are perfectly poised to take on this opportunity. Ars Technica decided to fact-check Ivan Seidenberg’s (Verizon’s CEO) claims and found that as expected, Verizon is twisting the data to suit their message.
- On the LTE front, Verizon reiterated that their previously announced commercial LTE markets are on-track for launch in Q4. Verizon also ‘broke ground’ on their spanking new LTE center in Waltham, MA. Keep in mind that the center isn’t open yet – in fact, construction is yet to begin. So infer what you will from this. I call it – more noise from Verizon’s seriously awesome Corp Comm group.
- Verizon is also continuing to water its walled garden by opening its V-Cast App Store this week. Now feature phone users on the VZW network can rejoice because they can get the latest Apps for their devices – all at a price, of course. No free apps for you! Except of course, the NFL App. To be fair however, I think this is a great move by Verizon. Given that the 83% of US mobile subscribers still use feature phones, the V-Cast App Store should be a great business opportunity.
- On the devices front, Verizon is extending its Droid line this month by adding the highly anticipated HTC Incredible to its lineup on April 29th for $200.
- In other news, the ‘Vodafone / Verizon future’ news continue to swirl with reports that Vodafone is apparently talking to its shareholders about Verizon's future
- Sprint seems to be having a good week too except for a few exceptions
- The ‘Now Network’ got a boost this week when the prominent wireless research firm ABI Research announced that Verizon and Sprint handled 16 Billion MB more data than AT&T in 2009. I expect this trend to continue in 2010 given the various product launches that Sprint has planned for the year – and due to announcements like this one - Every new Lenovo Thinkpad will now integrate Sprint 3G/4G.
- The 4G network also seems to be generating quite a bit of buzz. For starters, the Overdrive is picking up a lot of positive reviews. The EVO is still hot – and quite funnily, even news relating to its accessories is making big news. But here is something to consider – in the first three days after the HTC EVO was announced, its product page saw about 82% of the volume of traffic that the iPhone 3Gs saw in its first three days. That said, Compete is reporting that mobile subscribers don’t necessarily know what 4G is all about – and Fierce Wireless thinks that Mobile Video calling doesn’t have a future. I think Sprint’s new 4G ads should help alleviate this somewhat.
- Quite logically, Sprint seems to beating the data drum more loudly with each passing day. For example, Sprint has beefed up its Mobile TV offering, and is now pushing it more aggressively.
- On the downside for Sprint, its upgrade to Sprint.com hit a major wall this week. The website was reportedly down for over 4 days causing a lot of angst among its customers. Hopefully, this issue has been fixed – and customers can now look forward to a better web experience. In other news, Ericsson Services announced that they will be cutting hundreds of former Sprint Nextel jobs. If you remember, Sprint outsourced its network operations to Ericsson, sometime in 2009.
- Finally, Sprint announced the launch of Sprint Football Live this week. Sprint lost its exclusive tie-up with the NFL to Verizon last month. Hopefully, this Sprint Football Live can compete against Verizon’s brand-spanking-new NFL App
- Among other carriers news, Leap is reported to be looking for new devices, and to boost its coverage 2010
Since networks have become more-or-less ubiquitous, mobile devices have transformed into the great battleground in wireless - not only between device manufacturers but also between the carriers who manage to snag these uber-cool devices. Here's a great little article from Gizmodo on the Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft wars.
- As you know, Microsoft launched the KIN line this week, focused on the youth market. Here's a writeup on everything you wanted to know about these devices, courtesy Engadget. Initial reviews point to the view that the KIN isn't anything like the Windows Phone 7. The Windows Phone 7 meanwhile has received rave reviews, but there are people who think that the new iPhone OS is still better.
- The Palm saga is still dragging on this week. For starters they are said to be working with Goldman and Qatalyst to seek buyers. The rumored list of buyers has included LG, HTC, Nokia, Motorola, and Huawei. Meanwhile, spotting a trading opportunity, (the Hedge Fund) Harbinger is reported to have picked up close to 10% of Palm's shares this week. Finally, as rumored earlier, Palm officially announced (finally!) that they will be launching the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus in Germany shortly with O2 and Vodafone.
- RIM bought a company called QNX this week. Through this acquisition, RIM will start exploring avenues to start integrating BlackBerry's into car systems. Personally, I think this is a great idea but I sure hope that I wont be forced to use BlackBerry's browser in my car.
- While this is a no brainer, analysts are reporting that Android is a source of great profits and growth to HTC.
- Sony Ericsson posted its first profitable quarter since 2008 this week.
- Nokia seems to be continuing its strategy of focusing on the low-end of the market, and has introduced a trio of affordable messaging phones.
Quantcast has released its study of the wireless web consumption by Mobile OS for March 2010. The iPhone is still the top dog, accounting for 61% of the share. The other notable news from this study is that on an absolute basis, the iPhone lost 2.2% of its share in March, whereas Android grew by 1.8%. Android's growth is even more striking in the quarterly numbers. For 1Q, the iPhone dropped by 4.3% and Android grew by 4.6%. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change this summer on the back of some high profile device launches like Verizon's Incredible, Sprint's EVO and the rumored fourth generation iPhone.
- Google posted strong Q1 earnings this week.
- Android continues to be a strong area of growth for Google, although the OS' fragmentation continues to raise concerns among analysts. That said, some analysts also believe that Google is aware of the Android fragmentation issue and is working hard to address it.
- It is reported that the Nexus One is in the black, and Engadget estimates that 60K Android devices are activated per day. I expect this number to go up significantly, especially if Google launches its rumored iPad rival.
- In other Google related news this week, Google bought Plink this week. Plink is a visual search company and Google plans to improve Google Goggles through this acquisition.
- Google has launched Google Translate for Animals. I have no clue how this works - or if this is a joke - but it makes for a fun read.
- Finally here is a great article that summarizes Eric Schmidt's thoughts on the future of mobile, from his speech at ASNE.
- Intel and Nokia are rumored to be attempting to woo developers for MeeGo handsets and netbooks. You can see some of the Meego UI screenshots here.
- Finally, its Apple-time!
- The iPad: As the dust settles, the verdict is well, unclear. What is clear however (at least this week), is that (a) the iPad has arrived on the scene (b) the iPad will likely eat the Kindle's lunch - unless Amazon fixes it, and (c) the popularity of the iPad has led Apple to delay international shipments by a month. On a side-note, if you own the iPad and have installed iBooks on it, you should consider downloading 'Alice in Wonderland'. Apparently, its the best book you have ever read
- The iPhone OS 4.0: Surprisingly, the 4.0 OS has only received a tepid response. Most analysts feel that the 4.0 has features that you should already have by now.
- The App Store: The Opera mini browser was finally admitted to App Store this week - and it has already clocked more than a million downloads!
- The iPhone 4/iPhone HD rumors. Honestly, I'm tired of these rumors - but here's a roundup - (a) Leaked pics (b) Rumored announcement date - June 22nd.
Here's a list of some other things that went on in the industry this week plus some opinions and some relevant research.
- How The Discovery Channel Makes Mobile Apps Pay
- Cablevision, Time Warner, Comcast announce agreement for free Wi-Fi roaming
- Breaking down usage-based data pricing
- Opening Up Mobile Monetization
- Emerging Devices Take Chunk of March Ad Impressions
- 1 in 2 Americans Will Have a Smartphone by Christmas 2011
- Seven unlimited prepaid trends
- 31% of U.S. teens want iPhones
- User appetite for apps continues to surge
- What Will Be the Next Big Thing in the Mobile Space?
- With More Cores, the Cell Phone Closes in on the Computer
- Ericsson CEO Predicts 50 Billion Internet Connected Devices by 2020
- Vonage VoIP Apps Now Available for T-Mobile and AT&T Android Phones
- Intel, Motorola, Samsung and more join forces to support WiMAX 2
- Let's start with some funny stuff. I seriously don't see the connection here but the UN is reporting that there are more Mobile Phones than Toilets in India. Maybe the UN wants to highlight the unsanitary conditions in India, bu their choice of mobile phones as a comparison metric is hilarious!
- The latest mobile subscribers data (for the month of March 2010) from COAI is now available. That said, the data does not include any numbers from Reliance - apparently they haven't reported yet.
- Rural Wireless: Accenture recently released their study on business models that can be employed for profitable rural expansion. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It is available for download here. Some additional challenges and opportunities of going rural have been identified by the Plugged.in team and these can be viewed here. Similarly, trak.in has identified rural handset needs here.
- 3G Auctions: As of the end of last week, the 3G spectrum auction bids crossed the $1.3 Billion mark. Macquarie Group estimates that a pan-India license could now cost bidders as much as $2 Billion.
- In some troubling news for Indian operators, Light Reading's analysis of numbers released by TRAI points to the fact that mobile ARPU in India slid by 12.4% in 4Q 2009 to Rs.144 (US$3.26). Additionally, it is expected that these trends will continue sliding in 2010. Minutes of Usage (MOU) also slid in 4Q, and surprisingly CDMA MOU was faring better than GSM.
- Bharti Airtel seems to be going from strength-to-strength - and is slated to become the fifth largest wireless operator in the world, thanks to its purchase of Zains African assets. In other news, Bharti announced that it plans to work with Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens on rolling outs its 3G network and services.
- Vodafone has found a novel way to celebrate its 100 Million customers milestone - by letting select customers fly for free on a Vodafone branded airship! In other news, the mobile price wars in India show no signs of abating. Marten Pieters, the CEO of Vodafone India is reported to have said that Vodafone Essar is looking at newer discount choices like location based tariffs.
- Videocon launched its GSM services in Punjab and Haryanathis week and plans on launching in Gujrat shortly
- Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) is supposedly finally gearing up for Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
- MTS is expected to receive funding from the Russian Federation shortly. In other news, MTS reported that it has begun offering its CDMA services in Haryana this week.
- Per a recent TRAI survey, Tata Indicom's Maharashtra network has been rated as the only congestion free network in the Mumbai and Maharashtra circles. Also, Tata Indicom has launched 'Speed Living Photon plus' services for mobiles in India. This service allows subscribers with HSPA enabled phones to experience downloads of up to 2.4Mbps for a pretty reasonable price.
- Top 10: Worldwide wireless operators No.'s 11-20
- Indian Government Asks Telecom Operators To Sharpen Location Awareness; LBS
- The Indian Comptrollers & Auditor General's (CAG) office has found that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had extended undue benefits to Reliance and Dishnet
- Twitter Growth Worldwide – India Witnesses 100% Growth
- While the Apple iPad hasn't launched officially in India yet, it is available for over $900 in the black market.
- A new research vendor called Smartmobi.in has launched its services in India, and it aims to be the go-to destination for India related smartphone analytics.
- Per a recent report by Admob, web traffic from mobile phones in India is now the second highest worldwide (the US is #1 in terms of requests).
- A company executive has said that China Mobile will be trialling TD-LTE networks in 3 China cities in 2H10. This has special significance in India because it is very likely that India will also be heading down the TD-LTE path - thanks to Qualcomm.
- This is some pretty scary stuff - an Indian startup called SpyBubble now allows you to spy on anyone’s mobile phone - provided the person you are spying on uses a BlackBerry or Android device. The service allows you to view vall logs, read SMS messages, tracke users via GPS, and eve listen to phone calls! All you have to figure out is how to load SpyBubble's software on to your target's phone. Yikes!
- A service called 'RainedOut' recently won the Mobility Award for Best Alerting Service (at the CTIA). I think such a service has phenomenal potential in a market like India. Anyone taking note?
Well, thats it folks! More next week (hopefully, on time)