Monday, October 31, 2005

Buying high

So after many attempts O2 has found someone to buy them. Today Telefonica agreed to take control of O2 for £18billion.

Looking at the deal you have to say that the price has a strategic premium to it. In talking with others today once the news had broken the question is can Telefonica pull this purchase off?

Todate the Spanish have a very poor record on integrating businesses it had paid for rather than grown. What is needed is an executive team that will deliver benefits for Telefonica using the power of the worlds fifth biggest mobile firm. What Telefonica has done in buying O2 could well have killed the FreeMove group it created with T-Mobile, Orange and TIM.

Just how long are we going to see O2 survive as a brand, can we assume that just like Abbey, Telefonica will add their name once they complete the purchase in January 2006?

How much more are the Spanish prepared to invest in the network once they have bought it? At present O2 needs cash spent on speeding the launch of 3G services. As well as new services money also needs to be spent on developers so that customers can try products before they buy? Will we see the Labs return in Marlow and Ealing that O2 closed?

Just wonder what we can see in a years time once the deal is done and if for once Telefonica can find the people to make this work before the current O2 execs head for the hills with pockets full of cash?

UPDATE James Enck has posted his views on the deal, and like me he cannot see the value in such a purchase. Guess they guys in Madrid might like to spend money with the Strategy Houses rather than the Investment Banks!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mobile Search

The Pondering Primate posts on why Mobile Search is not working for the major players in Online Search. He says that what is needed is for the likes of Google / MSN & Yahoo! to realise that before the bombard me with adverts they first off need to give me some information.

I have to say that for me Mobile Search is about more than Mobile Info it needs to take into consideration my location and thus the context for my search. For example, my Network Operator knows what my standard region is and thus when I ask "Where is the nearest cash machine" in Central London I am looking for a machine that does not charge me to take out money and when I ask for the same in Germany I just want some money so show me the closest one.

With Mobile Search we need services like AQA, which I have commented on before, for the same reason that the Guiness Book of Records started to solve Pub Questions. We also need something like WhereOnEarth (recently bought by Yahoo!) to tell us how to find the way out of a strange town. A few years ago Orange predicted such a service with the arrival of 3G, well we have 3G but still no adequate serch services.

When do you think someone is going to develop a useable version of RSS for mobiles, perhaps with the launch of OperaMini we could see Mobile Search develop because at present a service based on SMS does not make sence to the user.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Google Wallet!?!?!?!

Whilst looking at what was happening with Mobile Search over on SearchEngineWatch this little nugget was near the top of the list. As the poster said it might just be Google doing some simple housekeeping. Then again in might just be the start of Google's payment system.

So if I take the view that Google are about to do something the the payments world and also make the logical deduction that Google were a major player on T-Mobile's new Web'n'Walk service, could that also be why SIM-PAY failed? Maybe I have been reading to many Grisham novels.

Wired overview of 4G

Wired has a great special report on how new developments in wireless might to deliver on the vision of Mobile Broadband Conecticity. Taking the view that the public has heard it all before it does a good job on outlining the new software-based systems that could form the backbone for 4G networks.

A key view is
Indeed, at least when it comes to mobile phones, consumers have been disappointed with the speed, stability and general clunkiness of "the internet on wireless" for years. And while limited applications such as e-mail have worked well, broader internet surfing has been less than stellar.

Meanwhile, broadband-thirsty wireless users have turned to Wi-Fi "hot spots" and 3G data services such as Verizon Wireless' "Broadband Access" and Sprint/Nextel's "Wireless High-Speed Data" products, which have enabled wireless broadband primarily on laptops.

The main problem is that these services are ones that will be launched and run by Networks that base their whole business on voice calls. Both SMS and Blackberry use has come from outside the product development teams of the mobile networks.

Before anyone becomes interested in have I got a 3G, 4G or 2.5G service the first thing that has to happen is that you have to have a service that we want to use. I am on my third 3G handset in 12 months and this is the first one that users of Motorola's Razr would be happy to carry. They still don't see the point of video calls and are not much concerned for faster surfing of a web that is limited.

Perhaps what is needed is someone to work on a search engine for mobile devices so that users can get the content they want that fits onto their handsets.

Looking at people who have been buying PDA's recently what is interesting is that they are using the device for a number of things, such as an GPS system and MP3 player as well as the PIM functions, Now who would have thought that when we were looking at the first iPAQs and colour Palms?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

3's vision for the future

Bob Fuller (CEO of 3, former Executive at Orange) set out his view of a 3G Future. Gone are the old predictions from his time at Orange, the future now is about being a media company with banking services!

Guess that he might need to go get the gang back together if he is to see the sucessful IPO of his former employer. He might be pushing the useage of 3G the problem is that now other networks also have a 3G service he has to find a reason for customers to stay. Rumour has it that at present he is suffering a churm rate in the 40% region which will make it difficult to get the city interested in investing.

Perhaps his case could be helped when his competitors start pushing the 3G lifestyle, once O2 has shown us just what i-mode is we could rush off and sign up for 3G assuming that they do as well as they did with the silver surfer ;-)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Peter's viral networks

Bit slow on this one because its been a busy week.

Peter Cochrane (Former CTO of BT) blogs on Silicon about free spectrum for wireless. Over tea and toast this morning it was like being in the eye of the storm that was 3G spectrum bids five years ago when Peter was saying that everyone had overpaid. At that time Peter said that the mobile market was close to saturated, today he is talking about machine-to-machine systems that uses free spectrum for RFiD.

As a futurologist Peter is looking at the development of peer-to-peer radio with dumb receivers that need very little energy to power up. This he says is the smart evolution of the current Wi-Fi based systems that have given works the ability to work wire-free. I just guess that like me Peter has yet to sit down and wade through the recent White Papers from Qualcomm and Nokia that say that the present "standards" for WiMAX just don't add up and need development.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A new digital pen

Yesterday saw the PR launch of a new digital pen called the VPen. Like the ANOTO based devices it has a bluetooth chip to allow connection to a number of devcise and uses handwriting recognition software. The difference is that unlike ANOTO you can write on any surface and the prototype is the size of a highlighter pen.

Having been a user of the ANOTO system for over a year I have to say that although the technology is excellent. It is far more social to take notes with a pen and paper than a computer when in a meeting you are not putting up a barrier for example, it also works outside in bright sunlight. A number of people who having seen me using my Pen have asked about it and then gone and got the technology themselves. The problem is that over half who have purchased the equipment have then given up using it, the problem is that they don't like the fact that it is a ball point in an ugly case. Why they ask if the clever technology is the OCR camera why can't the manufacture put it in a fountain pen, preferably one that looks like a Mont Blanc?

I have to say that I don't know why they have not got the IDEO guys to look at the technology and make it more human?

At the end of the day we were all tought to use a pencil and paper why before we were introduced to a keyboard and so why don't were use a handwriting device for input?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Smartphone Show

Spent the best part of the day at the Symbian show. For me the highlight was finally updating my handset with Opera Mini.

The buzz was around the new P990 handset from Sony Ericsson. Was lucky to get a one-to-one demo from Product Marketing who spent 30 minutes with me showing what the new UIQ 3 interface was all about. Well lets just say that the bug list is long! On the plus side what we do get is an excellent 2Meg camera with autofocus and zoom which works in Portrate & Landscape with the cover open and closed. The closing remarks were most telling "once this handset comes to market in early 2006 we will have fixed the bugs and have alot of personalisation by the network.

Had a great meeting with TI who have a great story in the development of chip families for wireless.

Intellisync have a good story to tell on how thay are competing in the push email and messaging space. They are worth looking at if you are think do I use Visto or Blackberry for email.

Also had to spend a lot of time with a number of developers who were spinning hopes and dreams in a similar manner to the boom. All I have to say to them is remember the mobile phone is just that a phone and also before you do a deal with OEMs think about the fact that we already have 1 Billion handsets out being used and it takes over 4 years to update them. Don't believe me, just ask the guys that did solutions for MMS!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Is That it?

So yesterday T-Mobile launched its new data service, called Web'n'Walk.

All I can say it that I am underwhelmed, if this is the great leap forward I think I have just stepped in a puddle. If people are asking "Whats it all about?" When they see an Orange advert just wait for them to see the demo on the website.

So T-Mobile has said that the solution for mobile data is Google. Guess they don't expect people to surf on the phone just want them to use a hotspot.

Can't see the executives at O2, Orange and Vodaphone thinking we need to update what we are doing.

Then when I think lets give it a go we come across the problem that my UMTS handset won't work because what they have built the software for is the MDA handsets. So it just gets worse, T-Mobile have built a walled garden for PDA's guess they think this is a big niche but personally I guess we are looking at another lame duck.

Now I had hoped for more than this, most of all what I was looking for was Opera to extend its mobile browser download service. I am using a K600i from Sony Ericsson and would very much like to improve the browser to Opera which I have been using since my PSION days. In Norway that launched a service that let you download Opera Lite for mobile using text messaging. But hey this is something that T-Mobile does not want to do as at present what they are looking for moving new devices and getting more 12 month contracts away.