Friday, December 19, 2008

Cometh the hour cometh the man.

Sitting to write my Predictions for 2009 for clients and I am struck by how disjointed the Mobile Industry is. Over the last year I have heard to oftan from Senior Executives the phrases "Bypass the Networks to get to the Consumer" and "X are Parasites after our Customers for free". To me this demonstartes limited understanding of the Ecosystem that has evolved over the last 25 years. It also forces me to ask who is the Figurehead for Mobile? The PC industry had Bill Gates, the Internet has John Chambers but who do we have?

2009 looks like a hard year for most, which will require cooperation from all if we are to survive the storm. To limit the losses and maintain progression someone needs to look at the WHOLE industry and see that if we are to deliver on its potential it at last needs a genuine leader. That person will have to have an understanding of the HISTORY of all in our Industry and see that we now face the third inflection point which means that it is no longer about a single player controlling the market but rather an ecosystem that requires all to be healthy. Once they understand where we have come from they will need to understand what we could achieve so that they can start to work on what will need to change to get there.

A Figurehead will be able to talk with the Mobile Networks, Infrastructure Makers, Handset Manufacturers, Software House and those who provide the Content and build a Federation that is capable of taking us forward. They will understand that in most countries Mobile is one of the Top 5 industries when it comes to share of the GDP and so will be able to talk with Politicians and Regulators to reassure that they are not forming a Cartel. If we can find our Champion they will be someone with the vision to grow the sector 10-15 fold over the next five years.

As our Champion they will need to talk with the Press in such a way that they explain how we have come so far so fast, the focus will not be on the gadgets but rather the the impact on people's lives and the benefits mobile have brought. It cannot be about the technology, too many of the Engineers in mobile grew up watching Star Trek and have devoted themselves to fulfilling what they saw on the TV. They will need to speak in Parables that educate and evangelise just what an impact the mobile has had in twenty short years. We have the potential to make the mobile phone THE remote control for life, but do we have the person who can deliver that prospect?

Talking to the Industry, he will need to be able to insure that the future is about mutual benefit rather than a zero sum game. A Mobile Phone Network might need to pay over the odds for base stations but the Equipment Manufacturer will have to deliver software that works to open application interfaces so that handset and services work on the equipment without the need to new firmware. Handset Manufacturers will need to understand that the days of milk and honey are over, they need to adopt global standards that allow developers to reach customers and thus stimulate usage. When it comes to selling applications there needs to be a better store than Apple, Google, Handango or Vodafone have managed to build so far. Handset Manufacturers need to better understand and work with component suppliers, now is not the time to destock but rather invest, a Chipset manufacturer needs a return on their investment or they will stop innovating the cost base does not work on a networking effect.

With a Champion for Mobile we will have someone who in Private can bang heads so that all can benefit and in public sells the Industry to the World. It has worked for the PC and the Internet the most successful with such a model has to be the Catholic Church. The CEO's of all the Major Players could form a "house of Cardinals" just do not let them ellect a leader. Those I currently see at the top of the tree lack the knowledge or charisma to be a Champion, as they are the second generation of leaders in the sector they do not have the understanding of the level of cooperation rather than competition needed for ALL to progress.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A look back at 2008

This year in terms of mobile technology I have decided to take a multiple device strategy rather than try and do all things with a single machine. Whilst it has not been cheap it has been productive.

I have downgraded my Sony Ericsson P1i smartphone to the Sony Ericsson C905i and the first plus side is that I can now operate for a whole working day rather than discover that my battery has died just as clients from America come a calling.

I also managed to upgrade my Skypephone from 3 with the second generation of the handset. The device looks better than the original, the battery lasts longer and the new price plan means that I only have to top up every 90 days. However 3 seem to have missed a trick or two because whilst they give me access to Planet 3 I cannot buy anything for my handset. I hope that they have learnt from this with the Facebook phone.

When I am heading into London to meet people rather than give presentations I have taken to carrying either my iPod Touch or Eee PC which allows me to keep on top of my email and also surf the web whilst I await my coffee to cool enough for me to drink it.

When I do need to take my Laptop or Macbook then I also pack my Mobile Broadband dongle so that I can do some work whilst the tube makes its slow trundle back to Hertfordshire. I have tested the service provided by Orange, 3 and Vodafone and the later is best suited to my needs as they at least seem to be able to provide at least 50% coverage on my journey home. I just wish that the power drain was less.

In terms of services I use on my handset, the good news about no longer having a UIQ handset is that I can at last use Yahoo Go 3. The interface is good, I would like to have access to a few better widgets but it works well as a simple app store. It allows me to have access to my email, RSS feeds and upload photos to flickr. I have also been Twittering away on my phone which is interesting. Other Social Networking on my handset has not been as successful, for facebook to work for me I need a bigger screen and LinkedIn is best done with a 13inch plus screen.

I am starting to work more with the GPS in my handset. I don’t use it everyday but I do use it at the weekend when I am visiting places new to me.
In deciding to carry a number of devices I have had to invest in a couple of bigger bags to carry everything. I have also been talking with a friend who runs a bag design company about the need to develop a better man bag. As well as phone I carry a Camera, iPod, Sony Reader, Note Book when I am working. At the weekend the Sony Reader and Camera are not needed but I then have a bigger camera and lenses and my Macbook.

I was thinking that I had a strange case on OCD with my collecting of gadgets but watching others on my commute I am seeing more and more people are carry a range of devices. A recent news report said that UK kids were the best to mug as they were carrying over £800 of gadgets, so I cannot be alone. My disposable income just means that I am to buy more gadgets than the normal consumer.

The impact for the Mobile Networks, I am the guy that you should sell SIM only to for the main device and then as some form of loyalty programme you should offer mobile broadband. Talking of loyalty, when are you going to start doing with just some of the data that you have about me? Why don’t you use the opportunity presented every month to start a conversation with me? Why don’t you look at the HLR data and understand that I have become somewhat of a fan of Sony Ericsson and so stop trying to push another maker’s device at me? When are you going to reward me with lower call costs to my most called numbers?

2009 will be an interesting period in the history of mobile. I am sure that over the period I will get 4-6 new handsets, I hope to get a femtocell so that my home is better served with 3G services. I don’t think that I will be looking for convergence anytime soon, rather as with my knife draw in the kitchen I will seek out the best tool for the job. When it comes to embedded mobile broadband I hope that Sony don’t do a deal with T-Mobile for connectivity because if they do I will format the machine before I transfer data and then demand that my Network support my Vaio.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is this lazy analysis?

The last few days has seen a number of sites pick up on the latest news from Canalys bout the shape of the smartphone market. The latest view on the shape and movement in Smartphones is that Apple has grabbed second place in the market with some 17% jumping over RIM and Windows Mobile. Getting detailed numbers on the size of the business market is very difficult and looking at the PR for this report I have to question some of the assumptions.

Whilst I have no reason to question the analysis of Apples success with the 3G iPhone I have to question the numbers for both RIM and Windows Mobile. Over the course of my work I has been difficult to accurately get shipment numbers for either of these companies, the Management of both are very good at not answering questions and the fact that the distribution channels are different to the classic handset business that sell to consumers. Whilst both RIM and HTC do sell handsets to the consumer most are business sales and are thus far more difficult to measure.

I do agree that Apple will have a fight to keep it's position as number 2 in the market now that most fans who wanted the God phone have got one. Since the period this report covers is the one that includes the summer I would expect to see changes in the next two reports that see Apple slip to 4. Symbian's performance as the dominant supplier could be interesting, this report shows that in the period 18.5M Symbian handsets were sold which is somewhat above the forecast given by Symbian themselves at their recent Smartphone show.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Post included in 148th Carnival of the Mobilists

This weeks carnival is over at MoPocket and my post on Symbian has been included.

The posts on the iPhone are interesting if you don't like mine.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Giving Up on a Smartphone

At the start of this week Orange sent me a new handset. I decided that this time I would take the Sony Ericsson C905 rather than a Smartphone. For the last six months I have been able to access my Email via a Windows Mobile Smartphone, Sony Ericsson P1 and iPod Touch I also have a Mobile Broadband Dongle and so have been able to use my Laptop to reply to email even if I cannot find a hotspot.

Rather than carry power cables so that my main handset has a days worth of power I have a handset that has fast connectivity for the times that I need it. If this experience continues I might just decide that when my renewal is due on the other Smartphone I no longer wish to have such a device and once again select a simple device; I know that the Network would be happy to give me a cheaper device which it has to pay for. I wonder if the Handset guys have strategy people who are looking at the fact that we now seem to be carrying multiple devices becuase the Smartphone is not something that we buy into as consumers?

Over the last three days I have charged the phone once, I am using the handset to check email when travelling have been able to download Yahoo Go3, Opera, Google Maps so I have not given up on data but rather no longer have a Qwerty input device.

If I find that the form factor does not work then I will have to swap the handset for something else but at present I am happy to have a phone that makes calls and receives messages for a whole business day and I am carrying a number of other devices that allow me to respond to those messages that I see as important.

Maybe once Orange gets its mapping service to work I might discover that the battery drains faster because I am using GPS. But if the experience of my Nikon Coolpix P6000 are any indication geotagging will be limited.

I still would have loved to have been able to have something simple that would have transfered the content stored on my old handset to the new one quickly and simply. If only Cognima had been able to find a route to market for the software as well as service that is now Shozu. I now that mobyko does something similar but it just does not seem as simple.

Photo from Sony Ericsson Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Has Symbian not learnt from Psion?

Last week I went to the Symbian Smartphone show with hope, it had moved out of the docklands and the Handset business is facing competition at the high end. After 30 minutes at the show I was fealing that Symbian is at the risk of missing the party.

In the Keynote Symbian's CEO spoke about the fact that this year 50M new smartphones will be sold making 250M handset shipped in the 10 years it has been formed. He said that these numbers demonstrate to developers that by sticking with with Symbian they will have the advantage of speed. However when you look at the new developer networks what you see is a shop that sits outside the networks control and has very simple terms (providing that you are not a competitor to the main spftware).

in talking about evolution accuse Symbian of being bloted. Whilst long time watchers call the death of UIQ which means that the new Foundation will be based on the S60 platform. This means that Symbian is at risk of becoming a Software arm of Nokia and who would want to get in bed with the largest handset maker?

This years Symbian event was my fifth year in attendance the quality of the speakers this year was weaker than in the past. I would have hoped that in moving to Earls Court they could have got Senior Executives from Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile they did not. This forces me to question just what level of endorsement does Symbian have? Having considered things I fear that they have little more than warm words.

The FT is reporting that in this economic downturn will hit the handset guys rather than the Networks. The Symbian devices are amoungst the most expensive and so are at risk when budgets are cut by Networks looking to limit costs. Walk into a handset shop and what you see from RIM, Apple and Windows Mobile all impresses more than the Symbian Handsets.

Psion stopped making PDA's when they were let down by Motorola on the development of a Smartphone and internal research showed that the consumer want a number of devices rarther than one that did it all. Whilst PSION allowed some excellent engineers to develop few remember that however did not save the company. On the basis of what I saw last week Symbian is at risk of being the platform that the train passes rather than stops at.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Technology Futures Network event

Last month I managed to make it up to Oxford to listen to Craig Barrett speak at the Said Business School to a group of MBA students and members of the Technology Futures Network.  The first event of the TFN at the same venue saw Dr Irwin Jacobs of Qualcomm and so it was good to hear another from the chip industry talk.

Craig Barrett has been with Intel from the early days having joined from the teaching staff at Stanford University.  He spoke about the fact that what any country needs to succeed in the present climate is an Environment for Innovation.  The first thing that is needed is Smart People, these are well educated in mathematics and science rather than business and finance.  The next thing that is needed in Smart Ideas, these are both basic development and Blue Sky research.  Finally what is needed is Smart Environments this is somewhere that has Money, Government that taxes smart and offers innovators protection and promotion of their ideas.

Craig went on to talk about planning to eat your own children i.e. what you are doing today will not do for next year therefore if it has to change then you should be the one that does that change.  Look for the Technology Transformation in a sector and grasp the opportunity to upset the status quo and lead that industry.  He used the rise of Nokia and fall of Motorola to demonstrate the change to digital in mobile telecommunications in the mid 1990's. 

One of his grips was that the Bush Government has let the R&D Tax credit system lapse and so now US businesses are offshoring Research and Development because of the tax rates.  Intel at present invests 50% of its budget in South East Asia.  His other major grip is the quality of maths education in the under 12's if a child has a bad teacher in these early school years they are lost to maths because they cannot catch up.

His advise to the MBA students in the room was that they should have read engineering if they want to be a CEO.  The reason is that it equips you to be a better problem solver.  Once you have a management position act like a pre-school child and always ask why - five times to get to the bottom of the problem/issue.

Finally he said that once you become an Executive eat out at the chinese regularly as the best advice he has had was from the fortune cookies.  His top three are 
  1. "If you want to win you have to chose to compete"
  2. "Small deeds done better than great deeds planned" and
  3. "The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms"

After two weeks of working hard to prove assumptions on models in a changing market his opening comment that the future is knowledge therefore education is critical are wise words.

Random Thoughts

Have been busy thanks to the current financial situation and so not had time to blog.

The Mobile Networks seem to have changed the business model successfully when it comes to Subscriber Acquisition Costs which has affected both the retailers and handset manufacturers. The Networks are looking for staged payments over the course of the contract dependent on spend which combined with longer length contracts could have changed the business model of the likes of Phones4You and Carphone Warehouse.

The European Regulator seems to wish to use her role to promote political ambitions back home, however in doing so she has made it very difficult to invest in new data services if you are a mobile network. Some of her economics seem strange from my seat when it comes to the cost of transit. It is all well and good to look at the lowest cost but at this moment very few networks are effective as we have a mix of standards running on 4 generations of networks.

Looking at networks the move towards Mobile Broadband still is a solution looking for a market in my view. However I do not think that we will be looking at the technology in the same way as we do with MMS; the consumer needs to understand better what he is getting before we have something that is long term. Recent trips have shown that WiFi and Mobile Broadband in London are mainstream with the number of “old style” internet cafes that are closed. My summer holiday in Greece proved that the same is not true as you move south with very poor service available.

What does all this mean to the Consumer?

I think that the traditional spurge on Handsets at Christmas will not be seen this year. Whilst some have been attracted to the glitz of an iPhone more have turned their back on it. Over the last few weeks I have been interested to look at the number of people who are using a Blackberry. It no longer seems to be the technology of the City, I have had to wait for shop assistants to finish an email and been held up in the Gym by women emailing. It will be interested to see what happens once they have got the bugs out of the Bold and Storm when it comes to attacking the consumer market. Sony Ericsson has a challenging time ahead it needs to get the new handsets into the stores at the same time it needs to retire handsets like the K800i. A number of Senior Executives are using the Xperia handset prior to its launch and I for one love the handset. Nokia seem to have lost the love in Europe with few interested in Comes with Music and the availability of E and N series being limited by the larger Networks. The reason for this is I think the price is disconnected at the moment. Looking at Price Plans as I do more and more often the Consumer is expected to pay some of the cost of the handset or commit to a higher than average monthly fee.

Recent research has shown that Mobile Networks have at this moment got the tariffs wrong. They are giving away too much, with under 40% of those on a contract using 50% of a bundle. This means that perceptions of value are lower than they should be. We are in danger of forgetting just what the mobile premium is. When I joined Motorola the fixed telecoms network was unreliable and getting to talk to someone was hit or miss. Roll the clock forward nearly 25 years and we now call someone rather than someplace if we cannot connect we can leave a message. New technology allows presence based solutions which will allow users to see who is available to take a call just as we can with IM services such as Skype.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Holiday Experience

This year we took our family holiday in Kos.

I did not have my mobile on all the time but I did use it someone of the time. 

The first thing that I was interested to discover was that my connection in the Hotel was with Turkcell rather than a Greek network.  In Kos Town I was connected with Wind and in the more rural areas I was on Cosmote.  Whilst I know that the order in which I connect when roaming is a function of the relationships that my Network has with overseas providers I was surprised to discover that when I was in Greece my primary connection was with a Turkish network.

Text messaging was not functioning as well as I could have hoped.  Messages were delivered out of synchronization.

In my Hotel WiFi connectivity was to a satellite services rather than DSL line.  This meant that timing was everything if you wanted a service that worked.  Try and get online between 19:00 and 22:00 local time and you were likely to discover that the service was patchy.  If you connected between 10:00 and 15:00 the service worked well.  This meant that Email was as reliable as my SMS.  

Given that the fixed Internet was so poor I would have been happy to try the Mobile Broadband however I could not get a connection that was any better than GPRS.

Looking at some of my fellow holiday makers use of mobile was interesting.  Most seemed to feel that they were on Holiday and so did not carry their mobiles with them.  At the end of a day by the pool a number could be found catching up on voicemail before heading for Dinner.

The most interesting group was the children holidaying with Parents.  A few took a phone call to inform the other that they were in Greece and saw that they cut the call immediately thinking that they were being charged  for an International Call.  

From my observations I say that Mobile Networks need to do more planning of network coverage.  Turkcell have planned a network for the 1.5M who stay in Bodrum in the holiday period; whilst the Greek Networks are working on the 20-30K who live on Kos in the Winter.  An intelligent network could see base stations deployed for the high season and then placed in sleep mode.  The incremental revenues would be profitable as they would be predominately holiday makers who were paying roaming rates rather than a flat fee.

The experience of the youths shows that pricing is still something that is a dark art.  Better information needs to be sent to those arriving in a new country so that they do not experience  bill shock.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Latest Carnival of the Mobilists

My post has been included in the latest Carnival by Andreas over at Vision Mobile. Go over and read a round up of some of the best writing on Mobile Blogs in the last seven days.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

iPhone 2.0 a stepping stone not Nirvana

So one week into iPhone 2.0 and what do I think so far?

The device is owned by four friends so far. Another few have said that they would upgrade to one after the summer holidays once others have smoothed out the bugs for them.

Would I get a iPhone or am I waiting for a Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 which should be available in September?

I think that I will pass on the iPhone at present. I was lucky enough to be given a 32GB iTouch which I have upgraded to 2.0 and so am able to share in some of the excitement of the App Store. I would have issues with the iPhone on battery life and my big fat falanges make text input a bind. I also am finding Mobile Me a little light of functions compared even to the SE Phone Suite when it copmes to moving data between laptop and device.

The App Store is interesting and I wonder how long before we might see similar on the Operator Portals for ALL handsets. Russell Beattie points out that it is not something thought up by Apple but rather borrowed from Qualcomm who developed it for the Brew Platform.

I am still to be convinced that Mr Jobs is committed to the Mobile Phone market. You only have to look at the present pain felt by others to ask if he has the endurance? The iPhone has not broken the market for Mobile, Apple have learnt just as Nokia did that the Networks are still key in any relationship with the user thanks to the billing relationship reather than coverage. Whilst we see statistics that show a significant number of users of mobile data services none yet say that for any particular service they are exclusive users of the service! Thus Apple are doing things better than others but it is still the same user activity if different experience.

I might become more conviced about the iPhone if I could discover more than one form factor. When it comes to iPods I am give a choice not just in terms of storeage but also in terms of form factor with the Shuffle, Nano, Classic and iTouch but when one looks at the iPhone you get two coloure and two sizes! Not exactaly a wide range, even compared to RIM for example.

I am sure that now we have a 3G iPhone we can expect to see more people using one. A number of committed MAC fans will now be ready to own one, dispite having to downgrade the quality of their camera. I am confident that in those markets where the Consumer has choice we will see even better penetration. I guess we will have to wait until we have iPhone 3.0 before we can say if this was a fad or a serious player in the game?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Report: Market is ready for Mobile Wallet

The latest report from John Devlin at IMS Research points out that the federated approach of the US, Japan and South Korea is gaining traction when it comes to Mobile Payments. "Strong Partnerships are being formed between Banks and Mobile Networks;" comments Devlin.

The reason - Improved coverage, greater uptake of feature phones and smartphones, higher mobile penetration and service availability have all contributed to this. As much as anything, greater demand from consumers, operators and financial stakeholders has seen the number of application developers and platform providers all multiply in numbers in recent years.

So can we expect these benefits to be seen in the UK?

I fear not. The way that UK Banks have adopted Faster Payments shows that the technology infrastructure is lagging behind in to many of the High Street Banks. With the rush to lend money the Banks have not invested in the systems needed to effect day to day current account transactions without those the ability to interface with a mobile phone to make payments will be very limited. The current difficulties within UK Banking means that they are looking for low cost solutions rather than high value. So we have to expect to be left on the hard shoulder let alone the slow lane when it comes to mobile banking.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fierce 15 for 2008

Looking at the latest list of Start-Up in Wireless to follow from the Fierce point of view I was interested to see that mFoundry was one tipped for a bright future. Since first hearing of them they have managed to get funding from Bank of American and now serve 15 of the top 20 Banks in America when it comes to mobile banking. The PayPal P2P payment service on mobile is one that uses mFoundry.

"Effective mobile-banking marketing targets specific segments, such as business travelers, and highlights the ways mobile banking can serve the segments," said Tripp Rackley CEO of Firethorn at the Mobile Commerce Summit last month in Las Vegas. Marketing to specific groups also helps financial institutions gain more mobile users than just the early adopters, he added.

American Banker says that within 12-24 months ALL Financial institutions will use Mobile as a channel to customers. If this is right then mFoundry and Firethorn along with ClairMail and Yodlee will be at the centre of a very profitable industry. Javelin have been looking at the market for some time and Bruce Cundiff reports that almost a third of users are Paying Bills, almost the same are monitoring transactions and over a quater are transfering funds between accounts.

Whilst all these things excite me, I am frustrtaed by the fact that as a Customer of the Halifax I am at the back of the line when it comes to technology adoption. The way that the "Bank" has adopted faster payments shows that they are very much a follower when it comes to new technology.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Carnival of Mobilists

MJelly has the editors pencil this week when it comes to selecting the best in Mobile blogging and he has selected my post last week on Time for a Change.

Head over an take a look at some excellent analysis of the Symbian deal amd Purple labs buying back of its IP from Openwave.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Time for a change?

If we are to see Mobile to continue to grow, then some structural changes are needed. With change at the top of Vodafone could we have a catalyst for change?

The new CEO of Vodafone offers something different from the status quo. In Viterio Colao you have someone with the skills of a Strategy Consultant supplemented with Operational Experience of a Country Manager. Having worked in the Italian Media industry he also has developed diplomatic skills that sees him able to form federations.

The price of a mobile minute is afalling thanks to competition and regulation. Whilst I expect to pay some premium for my use of mobile over fixed it is not as great as it once was. The reason for the deflation in the value that I place on the value has to do with my perception that mobile coverage is not as good as it once was; along with the lack of innovation in the basic product, Voice. Those that offer Mobile Data Services have failed to grasp the fact that for me it is connectivity for my Laptop whilst I enjoy a coffee between meetings rather than ebay and facebook coverage on my handset.

With a new CEO vodafone can take advantage of their scale and influence to alter the way the whole ecosystem functions. They could acknowledge the fact that at this moment the revenue streams are out of kilter and recent adjustments have not achieved a better balance.

At the moment Equipment Manufacturers have little incentive to innovate with margins falling over the last two years to less than 5%. If Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks or Nortel cannot find a reason to invest in developing new data solutions then what chance the Mobile Internet? The current Mobile Broadband has placed a massive load on the OSS and BSS systems in Mobile Networks as 5% of users are consuming two thirds of all data on the network. Whilst Huawei have excelled in the development of HSDPA/HSUPA/HSDP+ as they have taken marketshare to the point that today sees them leading the field; what will motivate them to create the flat architecture needed to open the mobile web?

The content space is no better with those that provide free content doing better than those who have a subscription service. The quality of the network means that very few attempts to watch streaming media by myself have been a success. Efforts by Networks to impose additional standards have resulted in displacing successful content with bland services that nobody wants. The iTunes platform is not something loved by Artists because the economics are wrong however the portal approach of Mobile Networks seeks to replicate this.

The battle between Handset Manufacturers and Mobile Networks seems to have swung to much in favour of the Networks. Sony Ericsson joined others in reporting a slowing of sales this year and a lowering of its average selling price. This means that they will expect to get a better return on the investment it makes in handset design which means that we can expect handsets to stick around longer. The only people I know who upgrade the firmware on a phone are iPhone users who are prompted to do so when they connect the device to a computer rather than over the air. To many early adopters have attempted to do so on other devices and turned them into bricks because of Operator profiles. If we slow the rate of release of new handsets then we will slow the rate of innovation as this is the only way that we can seed new services. We are now looking a handset makers moving towards three platforms in a way similar to the computer market with Windows Mobile, Symbian and Linux. This lowers the cost of deployment for Mobile Networks and makes the developers lives easier because the APIs needed will be smaller.

Recent projects have seen me look at the launch of Mobile Banking in the US. Over the last year they have managed to get over 8M Consumers to move from the Internet to the Phone. Some are just doing simple queries whilst just under half are making payments. This market is serviced by a wide range of service enablers who have acted as trusted providers sitting between Banks and Mobile Networks. All in the process share the rewards in a federated approach no one is talking about "my customers" rather it is about users. Dependent on the handset and my financial needs I can Bank using SMS, Browser or Java Aplet. All those working in Mobile Banking have a common evolutionary path that sees them working towards Mobile Payments and then Mobile Wallet over the next 2-3 years. They will include Store Cards, Coupons, NFC, Access and Keys in the evolutionary steps. They are all able to work on the development of functionality because they have a framework that is stable thanks to the Federated approach.

The work of the European Commission seems to be to reduce the mobile premium to zero via regulation.

Taking all of the points above I would hope that Stratergy in Vodafone would apply some degree of logic that says its time to make a massive change otherwise we face the risk of becoming a dumb pipe. If European Networks do not change the way that they deal with partners then they will find themselves by passed. The difference between fixed and mobile is that mobile has the payments mechanism built in thus connected consumers with retailers the mobile network could take a commission on the sale. If Vodafone were to look outside of Telecoms and say we will become a facilitator in the same way as Tecso's Clubcard provider the ARPU will not come just from handset user but from those that want to communicate with them; this is after all the plan of Blyk. Better software installed at the level of the base station could improve the information that the Mobile Networks gather and thus aid knowledge about the users. At this moment my Network providers know very little about me or my useage of mobile as I us more than one network and so simple bill anaysis fails.

In Europe rather than buying new subscribers the focus needs to be getting more of the current subscribers wallet. As a mobile user we all have a budget, some of the most informed users are those with a limited budget. My daughters and their classmates have an excellent knowledge of prices for mobile and are innovating how they share content off network. What they present for Vodafone is a communication chanel which used correctly will provide revenues far greater than the amount they spend on connectivity. The FMCG community has an excellent knowledge of Brands and are will to pay for a conversation with small groups who they can get to spend money on increasing the money they already spend on a product.

If you look at the failure of WiMAX, IMS, MMS ..... to find a market you will see that one common feature is the lack of a common ecosystem. Perhaps if these technologies had first attempted to form a Federation then they would have been a success? Vodafone has the power thanks to size and footprint. Does it have a CEO prepared to change the game?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Some quick thoughts

Have been busy causing trouble and disrupting poor thinking in some of the big clients that I consult for.

On one level I am ashamed by some of the thinking that I have seen from the Blue Chip Strategy Houses and have to hope that clients will reject the invoices when they are presented. However I fear that the fact that people were not fired if IBM were hired rings true when it comes to Bain and McKinsey.

Over the last week I have been forced to look at the published analysis of Mobile Broadband in Europe more than I would have chosen to. Clients have asked will we see the Mobile Networks follow the fixed in becoming just a dumb pipe? The one thing that I think will stop this is the payment relationship that the mobile networks have, if you already have one payment mechanism why would you need to invent a new one as you did with pay pal on the fixed internet. I also think that Voice could play an important part in the new data services that we will use. Vox shows some of the possibility with turning you voicemail into text. My Opera browser on the desktop shows some of what might happen with its voice controls. Before you buy into mobile broadband, the situation in Sweden, Finland or Austria is not something that can be used for the Globe or even the five biggest European markets on the basis of population. PC ownership in Spain and Italy is far lower than in Northern Europe for a start.

What are Nokia doing with Symbian?

Since the departure of Psion from the party it started Nokia have controlled the shape and direction of Symbian. We are told that Symbian leads the Smartphone market in terms of sales globally. However do Symbian phone's demonstrate that they are smart? When I was a Psion user you had a community of geeks who developed and exchanged software which they hoped they could replicated on Phones. They failed because the Networks were closed to personalisation that was more than just wallpapers and ringtones. I have explained that I see handsets as looking somewhat like the computer market of the mid-1980's in that we have too many Operating Systems. Only history will prove if Symbian was the DOS3.1 of mobile OS rather than VAX. The power of Nokia has put Symbian at risk because of its close association. At the moment all I see is Nokia saving money paying licence fees and the demise of S40 because the only reason it is used at present is because it has a lower charge. If they both have a zero cost Nokia will Supersize the OS with S60.

Was Motorola's new handset the last roll of the dice? This weeks new handset with its Kodac 5Meg Camera was behind the curve once again. Is this something to show that they still are around in the hope that they can find a buyer? Will be interested in seeing how public Huawei are about the PE House offers for a stake in their Handset Business. Should give an idea as to just what my old Motorola shares are worth not that I expect to be able to more than buy the family a round of ice creams with the "profits"!

Today's FT shows that what some Vodafone shareholders wanted may be about to come to pass with the Head of Verizon talking about taking control and buying assets overseas. The new CEO faces a challenging time when he takes the top job at Vodafone. I expect that those in Newbury are on for exciting times for the next 12 months.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thoughts from the Network Equipment World

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at the current and future trends in the world of Mobile Network Equipment.

Over the last few weeks we have seen Nortel move away from IMS and WiMAX and put its money behind LTE.

China have started to restructure its telecoms structure and so ZTE and Huawei might not have the workforce to continue to erode margins in Europe.

I was at a presentation from Nokia Siemens Networks where they spoke of the fact that they are managing over 1Billion HLRs for its customers, its new flex base station is saving money for operators by improved power management and the purchase of Apertio has given them the tools that might improve the user experience. The CEO is looking at becoming a Services business that aims at improving the cost of running a network rather than facilitating multimedia services.

The arrival of the Chinese in the market has effected margins to the effect that over the last two years they have fallen to less tha 5%, which explains why they have been buying business via outsourcing deals.

For the Mobile Data fanboys the Network guys are saying that until they have installed a flat architecture that allows users to conect to the internet at the base station the walled gardens will always be needed to shape traffic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Could Southern Europe jump Internet Banking for Mobile Banking?

Recent work sees me look at at the levers needed for Mobile Banking in Western Europe. Looking at what is available to date and outside the UK it seems that in Italy has seen innovation by the Post Office who are an MVNO. PosteMobile now offer bill payment over mobile phones. Customers with a PosteMobile prepaid card or BancoPosta bank account san pay bills. On a technical level the service sends an email and SMS to confirm successful payment. It costs €o.15.

The Post Office Bank in Switzerland plan to launch mobile payment services with a large marketing campaign targeting young people attending music festivals over the summer.

Now All I need to understand is the Post Office in Southern Europe still the main service for Bill Payment as it once was in the UK before Thatcher & Co put it to the sword. Am sure that Southern Europe is much more a cash based economy than Northern Countries and so Bill Payment forms a bigger part than the UK ,where a significant number use direct debit.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More bad news for Mobile Services

I have spent the last few weeks looking at the boom in Mobile Banking in America. I have benefited from the excellent blog by Brandon McGee and LinkedIn's ability to contact the key people quickly to bring myself up to speed having focused on the Mobile Payments boom in the Emerging Markets.

The first thing that get me is just how much the Banks have spent on Adverts that educate Consumers to the fact that they can Bank on the mobile. Chase has spent $70M so far this year and others have matched that spend.

Wells Fargo have adopted the most diverse platform offering Customers the opportunity to Bank via SMS, Browser and Java Client. Bank of America leads the field with 1M customers after just 9 months.

That's the good new, the bad news is that the best way forward at present is a Simple solution that uses SMS because users are too dumb to find the Java ap once the have installed it and the networks use of content rendering solutions means that they can't present a consistent view via a browser.

So here in the UK we have a system that few have heard of and less are using. Mobile Banking is happening in the US and Payments are now at the centre of business plans in Emerging Markets as the channel to reach the Unbanked. In the UK we have little prospect thanks to the fact that mobile data is something that Consumers stay away from because of the assumed high costs. Will be held back because of a lack of clear thought or will it be because we are not financially literate?

The CEO of ClairMail is telling Banks in the US that mobile needs to be at the centre of their strategy because of the fact that it will drive Dialogue in the same way that Tesco's drives business with the Clubcard.

Wells Fargo are developing Mobile becuae it matches the profile of its customer base, this profile sounds like First Direct in the UK but HSBC do not seem to see the need for the service.

A few reference points for you, less than 70% of Americans have a Bank Account, under 40% have a Cell Phone. Yet they see the value in Mobile Banking not for Payments but rather in fraud protection and marketing terms! Here in the UK more people have a Bank Account and a Phone and yet we have no vissible services.

Mobile Banking is an ecosystem that needs to undertake defined steps if the Mobile is to replace the Walet. Without the simple account checking ability to educate users what hope does peer to peer payments have?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So just how do the mobile data evangelists square this then?

I am trying to finish two blog posts at present but things keep getting in the way.

Just had to post about Ewan's problems with Vodafone and data charges.

His solution following a chat with another member of the Customer Service team is no long term solution but rather a way to exit a contract that he feels is unfair.

I had a similar issue with the rates that Orange wanted to charge me for unlimited data useage last year. The good news was that I had the name and number of the head of the executive office and after a short call managed to get the to fix the problem and refund the over charge. It took them two months to resolve the issue. It also highlighted holes in the billing systems used by the operator.

So with a disconnect between Marketing and Operations just how will the networks enter the market? Ewan is now unhappy with both T-Mobile and Vodafone. He intends to try 3 on the basis of cost. In a market that sees everyone who wants a mobile having two the networks need to retain customers. With termination rates falling they seek to replace declining revenues from Voice by selling people something new, Data. This sale is not informed as they have little understanding of what a normal user consumes and so cannot price accordingly. With the investments made in 3G the Network needs to find some form of ROI or it will not build the networks, see O2.

If all those who spoke at Mobile Portal Strategy last week are to deliver the vision of Mobile they hold then they have to remove the bill shock. Why did Vodafone not have a Credit Control process in place that gave Ewan a warning that he had used his allowance and then it was his dicision to stop or pay through the nose? Ewan is not the only one to be surprised by the cost of Data. The Bloke in the Pub effect will mean that Mobile Data falls into the WAP is C**P sector if the networks do not quickly resolve pricing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This could be fun!

Next week I am Chairing the first day of Informa's Internet Portal Strategies conference.

The Event Producer sent me the welcome pack today and so I have had the opportunity to review the agenda and speakers. When I was asked if I would do this I did warn that it could be lively given my view that Mobile Data is far from main stream.

The first two speakers look interesting in that they come from the print industry. Then we have a couple of friends talking about User experience and advertising. Then after Lunch we will have the networks talk about how they will monitise the process. Followed by the Sun talking about how they engage with their "readership" before Turner talk Mobile TV. If the speakers can engage then I might become less of naysayer - then you might just see Richard Dawkins next to Tony Blair taking Communion on a Sunday!

Not going to be able to make all of the second day as I have a client breakfast to attend, a lot of friends are presenting and so I do intent to grab a free lunch and do a bit of networking!

If you want to come along then drop me a line via the comments box and I will send you a VIP discount form. For those that are unable to attend I will write up ALL that happens next week.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Are Mobile Phones causing traffic jams?

Three times this week driving to meetings I have had to endure heavy than expected traffic. Whilst the number of people on the road was high there was no logical reason for the slow traffic. We were not being funneled into fewer lanes, no one had broken down or crashed.

Watching some of those that are travelling slower than the average speed all to often they were on the phone, those that were the worse example of a roadblock were doing data rather than voice.

Is one of the problems with mobile becoming mass market the fact that people think that they can use the device anywhere? Even Television is a technology that people realise was not something that worked in ALL aspects of our life. Why then is it that Mobile is something that people do not seem to realise needs context?

I am starting to become annoyed by those who think its expectable to take calls when eating with me. If I can turn of my three phones why can't they switch off their one!

Is Cuba doing wrong in opening up telecoms to its population? Would it be a better situation if Mobile Networks undertook a fit and proper person test as well as a credit check on all new customers?

The fact that everyone who wants a mobile has one is good news for the Networks, Government, Equipment and Handset industries but is it good for society? It does not seem that social pressure works with these people when it comes to getting then to accept norms. What is it about having a mobile phone that makes some users Autistic?

It is not a class issue. It was not only those that drove a BMW who were guilty of acting as a rolling road block. It is not a gender issue or race. The bad news is that "convictions" for using a mobile while driving do not seem to count on police statistics. If they did then we could expect to see a road camera that captured not just the drivers face but also his mobile number so that they can add a new revenue stream to Police income. The M4/A4 would be full of Police if the figures made a difference to crime statistics.

I am not a Grumpy Old Git but I do feel that at times the last thing that you need is a Phone whilst you are in a car, shopping in a supermarket, taking a comfort break. Send a text message when you are nose to tail on a road is dangerous, doing it in the Fast lane is stupid!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Deloitte reports on M-Payments

First off an appology to those who do bother to read this blog, I have been busy with work and so not spent as much time writing as I would have liked.

One of the assignments that I have been working on is the possible future of the Handset business.  Very soon I think that we will be in a position where the incremental improvements become so small it will be difficult to sell them as the next great leap forward.  I think that Italy will be the first country that this happens as nearly 40% of the users have a 3G handset, France will be the last of the Big 5 to adopt such a model as it has the smallest number of 3G users.

I think that what users will adopt is a "Business Watch" play in that they will have a Work Phone, Dress Phone and Weekend Phone which they swap a single SIM between them.  The Network will provide its services on a SIM only contract and the user will buy handsets in something closer to the Apple store than CPW.

If we accept the premiss that this might happen, then the networks are going to look at services rather than products that will retain staff.  If that is true then M-Payment that is based on SIM NFC could be something that aids just such a retension.  Tarriffing will not be something that helps retain the users as regulation will lower prices, just look at what has happened with International Roaming.

What Deloitte does not address is the fact that at present the Networks strategy is to just rent space on the SIM to a Payment Processing Group rather than understand the customer segmentation.  But then my Network fails to understand that as well as a relationship with them, I also have relationships with tow of its rivals so how can it understand my Banking relationship?


Mobile Phone Firms rip you off....

Over the weekend Channel 4 have been trailing the Dispatches report due to be broadcast tonight.

In the show they will show that Phone Shops are paid commission to sell the phone + plan that the networks want rather than the consumer needs!

So next week are they going to tell me that the sun does not go out at night it just moves so I cannot see it until the following day!

The market is all about supply and demand.  How do you think that Charles Dunstone, Martin Dawes and John Caudwell all made it onto the Times Rich List?

I am going to watch the show and if the kids are luck they can expect a new TV as I will have broken the current one as I throw things at the screen.  From what they say on the C4 website I cannot see an invistigation from the OFT unlike some of the other practices of the Supermarkets.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recent thoughts

Having spent a few days offline a few post on the internet recently have caught my attention.

Over at ReadWriteWeb they have two post that are worth reading. First we had a new study on iPhone users, that tells us they are far from usual phone owners. If this is the case it adds weight to my observation that what they are doing in terms of mobile data has to be discounted as the actions of early adopters. The Mobile Web needs alot of work done before it crosses the chasam one of the biggest is user education, to oftan those in the industry fail to realise that the key features for a normal user are phone + text + clock. This is something that has been emphasised to me in the last year as my twins have started to use mobile phones. What music they do do is side loaded, very little is peer to peer because it take to long to bluetooth.

The other is an updating of Mobile Web Trends and Products by Rudy De Waele. As someone who helps run one of the Mobile Monday chapters Rudy has an excellent understanding of the zeitgeist. Some of the Start Ups to watch are new to me, but others are businesses that have been trying for quite sometime to build a customer base.

Symbian/Nokia have a lot of work to do in America if this study is anything to go by. I know that the sample size is small, but it does help to explain all the America Investment Managers foolish questions on how Apple and RIM are fighting for the Enterprise space.

VisionMobile has an excellent post on User Interface technology which shows that it does not need to be only Apple that have all the bells and whistles!

Harris Interactive reports that America is ready for M-Banking, but are the Networks in synch with the Banks, Consumers and Payment Groups?

I have discovered MobileStance and his post on Anarchy in the UK is an excellent introduction into his blog.

Off message I was sent this by one of my contacts one LinkedIn it is something I believe in and so thought that I would ask those who read this to watch it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Want to see what Mobile Money is all about?

So the GSMA sent me an email this morning asking if I wanted to attend a two day conference on mobile money in Egypt. Out of professional interest I looked at the web site for the event and discover that I cannot see who is speaking, they have no Sponsors or Exhibitors and so it looks like a work in progress. The only problem in that the event is some two months away and so if this was a professional conference everything would have been in place.

This sums up the whole get rich quick mentality of the GSMA when it comes to mobile payments. Rather than look at the ecosystem for Mobile Banking and debate the need for joined up thinking the GSMA have decided to host a two day demonstration on why they have the magic box that will see everyone bank on their mobile. The GSMA solution is to develop a whole new approach rather than look at the banking sector and say how can we move customers from branches and atm's on to handsets? At this moment the consumer and Banks need to understand the functionality and features needed fot payments.

What we have from the GSMA is the movement of Remitances onto mobiles. Now ask youself if what you want is the ability to pay the window cleaner by text message rather than cheque rather than send hundreds of pounds to a relative overseas phone to phone.

I understand that the project manager for this has moved on from the GSMA. Perhaps they can now kill the assignment and accept that the fees paid to consultants proved that they have little chance to make money selling something that no one needs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mobile turns full circle

A few years ago when planning for the arrival of 3G I undertook a study of value added services which saw the idea that Vodafone might become a retail bank. Now we have Cat Keynes asking when will Nokia buy a Bank.

One of the issues when I did my work was regulation, A mobile phone network would not be able to invest in the infrastructure at the same time as holding customers money because of liquidity rules. (In today's market I have to ask if some Investment Banks comply with liquidity rules!)

Nokia becoming a bank is interesting it would give the likes of HSBC a run in terms of Brand. However the issue is that I do not think that they would want to be a Bank in the UK thanks to the fact that we spend more than we earn.

I am keen on mobile payments and Nokia have been keen to deploy NFC technologies. The issue has to be would Nokia want to be Bank rather than an enabler for all Banks. This is after all something that it has attempted to be in the past.

Thanks Mr Rockman for the heads up.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What's wrong with this post?

Smart Parts have a survey of what is available to the consumer when it comes to Mobile Broadband. The biggest problem I have is that Telefonica and France Telecom businesses do not have a product!

At an event last week the head of 3's Handset Group said that he intended to sell 500,000 devices for Mobile Broadband. They will be promoting the device as just the thing to have so that you can get ahead of others by using it on the train whilst you commute. Shows that he drives to work in Maidenhead because if he did he would know that it's standing room only for those who try and travel from London to Reading and would not work on the Chiltern Line that I use when I have to join the rush hour. But he is trying and those that I know that use the service are happy with the ease of use and cost.

But why can I not get the service from Orange who are the main provider of mobile for me? They did provided the service when I was in Spain last month for Mobile World Congress. They will do so later this month when I am in France. But the only way I can get the service in the UK is as a Business customer. Perhaps the new Chief Executive for Orange can get his masters in Paris to stop playing in the fixed broadband market and spend money on a mobile option, the costs should not be that high thanks to a network share agreement with Vodafone?

Before we all start picketing for better mobile broadband though perhaps we need to realise that fixed broadband seems to be something that those of us that live in the cold north of Europe. Mobile is something that is important to Europe because it generates approximately 5% of the GDP which is almost twice of what it should be worth. However what is needed is more than just dumb pipes from the mobile networks and shinny shinny toys from the handset guys.

If we are to develop we have to get all the networks to become involved, Mobile Broadband will not be mainstream in the UK until it is a service that is supplied by Virgin Mobile, Tesco Mobile AND Orange & O2 when that is so we might be able to talk about data services.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Time for a new toy

So it has been a year since my last new handset on my T-Mobile contract after a number of text messages from "agents" wanting to help me upgrade, Something that has stopped on my Orange account I decided to see what I could get.

As I had some time to kill between meetings I decided to try a T-Mobile store so that my gratification would be instant. Only problem was that my records on the T-Mobile system have errors on that I know little about as the guy in the store cannot find me, strange as I have been a customer for the last 14 years!

Having seen the poor range of handsets from t-Mobile in the UK I selected the HTC Touch Plus and decided to call the retention team on my mobile. After spoken to three different CSA they agree that I can pick up a handset from the store and the system will find me this time.

So I stop off at a different store on the way home and get a phone but only after calling the Retention team and getting them to talk the store staff through the data errors on my account.

So after a weekend of "testing" what do I think of the touch over the TyTn device that it has replaced?

The User Interface on the Touch is a great improvement.

The processor is faster and so things run better.

The touch thing is not as good as an iPhone but it is better than only touchscreen on my last windows mobile.

The bug on the T9 system has yet to be fixed so rather than a you get c.

Battery life is good.

So far happy with a device that is basically my email device when mobile. My SE P1i is still the primary handset and the Touch would have to go some if it were to replace it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hyper Curve in action

Gartner have a report to sell on how shops need to develop a M-commerce channel. Have they not seen that people want to get out of Pricechecking as no money can be made from such a service?

Expectations need to be adjusted. Whilst we are looking at the adoption of mobile services any that say that mobile data will be big in shops first needs to ask about in building coverage. Most shopping centres are very challenging when it comes to signal strength. The adoption of Radio Network Sharing might mean that coverage improves but I am not sure. The latest news from Arquiva is not bright, after all most of us are after Mobile free areas rather than better coverage.

It will be better if we can start to adopt payment services on Mobile and thus change the market rather than try and fit the fixed world into a phone.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Final Thoughts on Barcelona

OK my time spent walking from Hall to Hall to have meetings and look at the latest trends is over. If I had taken all the papers pushed at me then I think that the excess baggage charge could be more than the price of my seat on the flight home. In a digital age this seems wrong, some have been smart enough to have added the handouts to the free memory sticks that they hand out this would also allow for links to web pages and the use of video and audio. I guess once those who are part of the Mobile ecosystem start to think in this way then we can speak about mobile being media companies until then they will have to stick at being technologists.

I think that the GSMA may have reached a tipping point in that the World congress is too big for Barcelona. In the early days in France you had a dynamic feel and deals were done in small cafe and one boats. Now you have a massive exhibition with a small conference supported by global suppliers running briefings, but too many people told me that in the next few weeks they were taking customers to Dubai to close a deal. Eventually the big guys are going to move the World Congress to Dubai so that they can talk with the Emerging Markets Customers. Whilst we saw a lot of Chinese attendees to the event I did not see many Indians or Africans and as Orascom's CEO told everyone if you do not address the Emerging Markets then you are not going to be about for long.

My themes from this years show were Coverage, Services and Future. The GSM world has been such a success because it is a vibrant ecosystem.

When I started working in Cellular Communications some 20 plus years ago we spoke about Talking to a person rather than a place. Today we are saying that mobile is about communicating with potentially everything simply and wirelessly. However great that sounds I have to ask if everyone has the same objective? To demonstrate the point today I received a new wireless printer by Lexmark and they have placed a USB cable in the box so that I can connected it with my computer to get things started, this is something they do not do with the wired printers, as I know to my cost and it is not a great inditement of wireless technology!

At the Limo launch event I attended we were treated to a talk by Dr Marty Cooper who explained who mobile was evolving and thanks to Open Standards such as Linux the cost of devices was falling to a level where all could expect to enjoy the benefits of Wireless Broadband and a device that you held in the hand would offer mass communication. Perhaps Dr Cooper needs to travel a little wider? Sony Ericsson handsets for India have to have AM radio so that the owners can listen to cricket because the FM network does not cover a wide enough region. Just how 4G will reach users that are yet to experience 1G is beyond me. I also do not think that the medical technology that he spoke of will have the scale to make it mass market. Some of the issues that we face in the mass market can be seen with the Social Business models. People do not want charity they just want a fair chance. Thus they are unlikely to accept something that we market as a poor man's phones as they aspire to be better. One of the Executives I spoke to told me of the difficulties he is having in India. In talking to a large FMCG company about a handset that would do all the business tasks they needed he discovered that the cost became an issue as it was the same a three months wages. "However in Bombay I see young guys riding a bike and using an E90 as they want to seem a success as our phone is cheaper than a car and gives the same status!" he said he frustration.

When it comes to the network on which we use mobiles we are seeing some interesting developments with LTE some seven years out from what will be commercial launch. OFDM gives the best bang for buck in terms of bandwidth, the metropolitan wifi networks show that mesh networks using wifi are not going to work and so broadband wireless will be either WiMAX or LTE. Looking at the size of demand the legacy element makes LTE the standard for those that already own mobile assets. The support for LTE by Networks across the globe means that now we can start to ask ITU to move forward with setting the standards and building trails.

This year they move the content providers to their own hall which shows that more people are trying to get media onto mobiles. But before you expect to watch video and network in real life with those that you have shaken hands with on Facebook/Bebo/MySpace et al you have to realise that the GSMA stuck them in a Hall that was away from the main group of halls. If content was import it would have been given Hall 2 or 1 the handset guys are still the main bankers for the event as demonstrated by the amount of people in Hall 8. I am still not an advocate for mobile data because I always find the experience somewhat similar to watching HD TV on a black and white screen, i.e. a disappointment. For mobile data to work what you need to do is significantly improve the handset screens and the coverage of the mobile networks data networks. Until that happens then the key data activities on a handset will be text based communication be that SMS/E-Mail/IM dependent on the market. None of these usages should happen when you are moving at a speed, especially if you are supposed to be in control of an car.

The introduction of RFiD to handsets means that a number of new banking services could be launched in developed markets. Germany looks like it will be an interesting place to be at the end of the year with a number of trials following on from the Vodafone and the German Train service.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Day Two @ MWC

Second day walking the halls, catching up with friends and being introduced to new ones.

Managed to gain more knowledge as to what the next generation of mobile might look like and what it may be used for. The battle for 4G has already started as people in committee rooms discus just what is possible and how it may be deployed. The new standard for wireless looks like it will be something that is used more in laptops than in phones to start with. This will be a battle between the mobile players and Intel as to what is used in laptops alongside WiFi. I still have to ask if the dash to a business model that becomes based on Data is something that the Networks will do? But the evidence that in 2009 Vodafone will have a commercial network that is faster than the fibre at a cost to build a lot less than the £50/metre that fibre will cost means that if the in-building coverage can be resolved then 4G might just have a business case.

Have managed to continue my discovery of just what might play out in Mobile Banking by talking to a number of players and the issue seems to be a lack of trust between the Banks and Networks. Stored Value services provided by trusted third parties offer solutions for the Pre-paid sector but this not exactly high value transactions! Perhaps as Banks release message based services that are two way rather than alerts then we can look at some of faster deployments of payment programs. Edgar Dunn have written a report for the GSMA that explains that the development of M-Banking is a headline strategic play for Mobile Networks. Are these the same networks that said that the do not need third parties as they hold the billing relationships? Whilst the developers continue to be small players rather than significant organisations such as HP, IBM and Accenture who work in both the Mobile and Banking space then the M-Wallet risks looking SubPrime for some time to come.

Rounded off the day with a relaxed dinner with a small bunch brought together by Simon Rockman. Good to catch up with a few old friends and make some new ones. One more day of meetings and then a late night flight back to the UK to digest and edit all the information gained into something that might be useful and see me gainfully employed for the coming months.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ist day at MWC

After a long day on my feet looking at all things new in the mobile space I now have the time to think about what this years show is about.

In Hall 8 we have the handset manufacturers showing what they might have to take on Apple. I saw the Nokia Press Briefing and saw that they are hoping that the new N78 and N96 will be the big winners in the Computer in your hand fight with Apple. The dark horse may just be the Nokia 6220 Classic which could become the icon handset that every housewife and student has because it will most likely be Free on an 18 month contract for £20 per month. Over at the Sony Ericsson stand the excitement is for the Xperia X1 which the Product Manager had a tight hold of as he was giving demonstrations of just what could be expected come Q3 of this year. My current handset will not be replaced instead I can have the G900 which has a very interesting menu system and was very light to use and has some nice features when it comes to using the camera phone. Nothing on show from the other handset manufacturers that got much attension on my quick spin around the hall. The only other note for those reading this is make tracks for the Symbian stand as they have have imported a barrista from London to make the best coffees in the show and they are free (Thanks Christian for the tip, it was worth the trip and wait).

The big trend was for mobile payment, with a number of NFC devices that were either hardware or SIM based alongside the SMS based remitance services. Did not see much sign of the GSMA backed services from Visa and Mastercard but then I still have a number of halls to still cover.

The big push is in Ubiqutous coverage with yet more talk of Femtocells amd Picocells. Not much sign of the launch of HSUPA although I have managed to enjoy free connectivity thanks to an E220 USB Modem. My device was easy to install and will have to see if I can get the executive office to organise an Orange SIM that works in the UK when I return later this week. The next two days will see a number of meetings to catch up with old friends and learn more about how 3G will evolve into 4G.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Yahoo mess up again

This week Yahoo launched the latest version of Yahoo Go 3.0 at the CES.

So yet again I went and tried to get the Java Application to work on my Symbian handset, and yet again they do not have a version that works with my Sony Ericsson. Oh well I thought I can upgrade the version that I am already running on two other handsets. You guessed it..they do not have versions that work on my Windows Smartphone or Nokia N93i. But both of these already have Go 2.0 so WTF.

Now when Go 2.0 was launched Christian Lindholm had a team in Europe who were developing the application. Last year the European Mobile group became no more than a sales team and the development was centralised to America. This means that Go 3.0 will be just as poor as 2.0 when it comes to customer uptake and that the number of handsets supported will be closer to the square route of -1.

The problem is that Go 3.0 is a great tool when it comes to simple mobile data services for someone like my other half who just wants a simple portal on her handset. After years of trying to get her to use her mobile I gave up and have left Her to use the handset as something that he controls and uses on the basis of an A&E device. Over the last year She has started to adopt some mobile services as she starts to communicate with our Twins who are now at Senior School. This has seen Her experiment with more and more things on her handset what she would now love to be able to do is check her Yahoo email account and some simple surfing Yahoo Go would be ideal for her but she has a Sony Ericsson K850i and it is not supported.

If Yahoo were serious about the Mobile sector then it would be working with everyone who makes mobile phones so that the software works on the handset even if it is not installed at the time of purchase. All the time that it fails to allign itself with the European Mobile community Yahoo has as much potential as Motorola in its post Razr stage.