Monday, July 20, 2015

How Apple Pay highlights ALL that is wrong with the App ecosystems

So last week Apple Pay launched in the UK on a wave of hype, the Usual Suspects were interviewed on now simple it was to use to buy coffee and travel on The Tube and now disruptive it was; using just an iPhone or your iWatch. To watch the reports the mobile phone was finally going to replace your wallet doing away with the need for plastic payment cards and finally mobile payments were going to take off after years of false dawns.

But hang on Apple Pay only works on Apple Hardware and quite a few people I see out in public don't have an iPhone preferring to have an Android device. Also there is an issue with just what banks payment services are available at this moment as not all card issuers are set up on Apple Pay. So far nobody I have seen has spoken about how Apple Pay will allow the user to ditch their wallet as  with this version of the App it allows only one card to be associated with the service at any time.  But hang on the thing it seeks to replace has more than one payment card and so rather than a replacement at present the service is an alternative as most wallets are see have six plus cards in.

The first week of use, judging by my twitter stream seems to be users explaining how those in retail did not know that you can pay by phone or the service failing to work as the EPOS didn't confirm payment and so they are having to revert to traditional contactless cards.

Rivals to Apple are now promoting that they have or will have there own App that allows the user to do just the same and so you can add that to Apple Pay on your phone or remove and replace it.

What we are not told is that the service is not a full replacement for Internet Banking, the lack of interface with Payment Service Providers means that it will not allow you to confirm account balances, review all transactions on your account or make direct payments.  These services should be available and they potentially could be very secure however the Banks and Mobile Networks are at a standoff as to pricing such interactions.  The Banks wish to pay the Mobile Networks 0.0001p per transaction, The Mobile Networks want 5p per transaction because the massive volumes make it necessary to invest in more infrastructure.  Given that the Banks charge retailers over 50p per transaction it does seem that the Banks are attempting to rip of the Networks, but then I would say that because I work for MNOs rather than Banks.

Why should be accept such a limited service in a mobile payment app? I want something that allows me to replace cheque writing at the start of every school term with a simple system that allows me to send money by text.  It's not difficult Africa and Asia have had such services for years now.

Does Apple have a roadmap that means they will upgrade the services as volumes increase and users demand more features or will Apple Pay be a service like visual voicemail a flash in the pan that is quietly killed off?  Apps are not the disruptive innovation a journalist will have you believe they are compromises because infrastructure for different markets does not have the ability to talk to one another and the owners of the different systems demand so form of entry fee.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Which way does Microsoft turn when it comes to Mobile?

Yessterday Microsoft wrote off the full cost of the Nokia purchase confirming that the addition had failed to change its fortunes within the Mobile sector.  I have watched Microsoft continuely fail in the mobile space for over 15 years with either poor software or limited hardware.  So what does Microsoft do now, walk away from the sector or can it be an effective player?

I think that it has one last roll of the dice.  Look at Microsoft as a whole and whilst it does have some exposure in the consumer space it is predominately an Enterprise business.  If it is to be a success then it should embrace the Enterprise market for mobile solutions and buy BlackBerry.  In doing so it would have an operating system capable of interfacing with Exchange Servers and open up a wide range of poosibilities for itself and its partners.  A BlackBerry that is part of Microsoft would be able to move into the Blue Collar sector and stop losing Professional customers thanks to imporoved Channel Partners who could deliver customers in the tens of thousands.

In the early days of Mobile Data Windows CE was used in the majority of handheld terminals used in logistics, field service engineering and government sectors.  As mobile has become more important to businesses Microsoft has lost its focus and whilst some have attempted to eat into the market with the launching of Apps.  These Apps are a compromise given that iOS and Android do not have enough APIs to open up all the functionality needed for Enterprise Mobility.

The rise of Apple and Android has lowered the valuation of BlackBerry and Microsoft has a large cash pile that it can use to fund a purchase.  BlackBerry can be happy with a new owner that is unlikely to closedown it's Canadian offices and make large redundancies rather they will have someone likely to invest and increase the workforce so Regulatory approval will be easier than say selling to a Far East Manufacturer or Software company.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Don't believe the spin BT will not manage EE any better than it's current owner

The Chief Executives if BT and EE have recently been on a charm offensive aimed at getting us to buy into the view that BT buying EE is a good idea for more than the shareholders of Orange and DT.  They have presented interesting scenarios about Network Investments whilst managing to limit details about pricing and product strategy.

Looking from the outside I fear that in becoming a division of BT Retail the mobile tallent will walk away from the business rather than stay and execute on the plans of the Chief Executives.  Nobody is talking about staff retention for EE and if BT fail to do so then they will be serious trouble.  BT's history in managing Mobile assets is not a good one and for the past 15 years they have not had to, which means they have very little understanding of 3 and 4G Networks.  The Civil Service mentality within BT means that very few within EE will feel comfortable but their knowledge is vital is any progress is to be made post acquisition on the development of Radio Access Networks.

The addition of Mobile to the regulatory mix will give Ofcom the chance to balance the advantage that BT has held recently in gaming investigations.  The EE regulatory team will not find the present relationship carried forward and they might find that they are queried more about network coverage and quality. Becoming the largest operator in both Fixed and Mobile Networks means that BT will need to demonstrate that it is meeting access requirements as well as investing in upgrades.  The Consumer may well benefit in the short term from BT taking over EE in that I expect that a significant investment will be made in Subscriber Acquisition budgets in an effort to retain EE customers and switch BT ones to the Network.  Will shareholders be happy with gifts of subsidised smartphones and tablets?  The increased load on BT Wifi hotspots will also be an interesting traffic light on current investment in the BT Broadband network and upgrade cycle.