Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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EU vs. US

ATT vs. Telefonica The Long Tail Effect of Apple's App Store

August 10, 2009

Having received the quarterly reports of Apple, ATT and Telefonica, I was very curious about the reasons that Telefonica was not basking in Apple's glory like ATT was.

The iPhone 3GS has added about another 1M new subscribers to the ATT network and if my calculations are correct they have about 10% of the US population on the iPhone.  

So if the apps are so kewl why is Telefonica not enjoying the same results.

A few reasons have been pointed out to me, some ring true and some do not.  The first one is that app store has many apps that are not available in Spanish.  Particularly the cooler (kewlr?) ones that rush to market to get ahead of the game do not make it on to App Store in a user friendly manner.
So the app store is not as powerful a weapon for Telefonica which interestingly enough impacts word of mouth, if you have to translate the app your are using to another person is it that interesting?

Secondly comes the issue of GSM countries versus the US.  In the UK Telefonica offers the iPhone to English speakers versus their O2 subsidiary, but the sales are not astronomical. It may be that ATT is in the backward nation of the US of A, where wireless has been starved for a working wireless Internet.  In Europe the ability to browse the Interenet from your cell phone is not as unusual thanks to GPRS, so the wow factor of mobile browsing is negated.

Also comes the fact that the exclusivity is leaky in Europe.  T-Mobile has the phone in the Germany as does O2 (even if its not sold directly their its supported) and a lot of ATT phones made it to Europe when Apple sold them only the US orginally.  An article in a German Trade magazine suggests that about 25% of the market is being supplied via other contracts.

Then comes the reality of smartphones, the blackberry, Nokia's N series and other smart devices were more readily available as a choice in the lands where GSM offered the customer the ability to bring their phones of choice to the GSM standard.  A closed network smartphone looks like a step back to people who are used to buying their phones and selecting the carrier independently.  Its hard to sell the cool of a proprietary service in Europe.

Finally comes price and the price points from Telefonica may not work in world where the cool distinction is marginalized by the factors above.

I bring this up for a few very specific reasons.  It may be that the iPhone does not have the same wow factor for other countries. In Japan, the iPhone has very little marketshare.  The wow factor their is the wrist action, which in the land of the Nintendo's Wii, NTT's Docomo and Softbank's mobile games is not that compelling.  I don't have exact prove of this but the sales numbers seem to indicated that where the wireless Internet has been available the longest, there is where iPhone sales are least.

Did you buy your car to access the road?

November 2, 2009

Roger Von Oech, the creator of the Whack Pack, often looks to spur creativity by asking questions that are not direct but would have a parallel.  So I asked the question to understand the nature of the access point to the Internet, which is your phone, home network or some other connection.  You buy a car with the assumption that your ride on roads. 

Are we at the point where you buy a device assuming it has connectivity to the Internet?

What if the device starts at Google?

What if the device only gives you Apple approved sites?

What if Microsoft made it a closed system?

Note these are not the names associated with the access fees you pay, but having everything to do with the regulations being discussed. 

We are at interesting stage of discussion in Washington about the future of the Internet.  We could make a case that it is an irrelevant discussion since the Internet has never been designed to be regulated by a single country.  However for the 200 M plus of us that live in the US, these issues are real.

In the Wall Street Journal today, L. Gordon Crovitz did a nice job talking about the goings on in Washington.  Markey and McCain giving opposite views as well as the Freedoms / Principles expanded by Chairman Genachowski.

One thing that Washington may be missing is the insight by Craig Labowitz shared at the joing meetings of NANOG/ARIN.  It was very insightful about the technological innovations that are reshaping the Internet. 

In the presentation there is cause for concern, in the fact that 50% of the Internet's traffic is aggregating into 150 sites.  It used to be thousands.  So Media control may be happening to Internet as well.  However these 150 sites are not just carriers or media companies, so the rules and roles of regulators are not a match to this next generation.  We could of course redefine Media to include them.

The reality is the Internet is progressing in its own policing with technology.  So where is the bottleneck?  And is it a smoking gun, a slow adopter, or some market power that represents the problem?

My own take is that its slow adoption, so I applaud the administration for its BTOP program, because the last mile is the place where you attach your device.  And back to the car metaphor, you want to hit the open road as soon as possible.  Trying to regulate the open road by your driveway specification seems like a bad strategy.

The State Ruling on State: Do EU Understand

November 22, 2010

Today's WSJ has an interesting article"":http:// about the use of cookies.

As someone who used to build VoIP services, I want to speak in praise of cookies and particularly their use for stateful things like Presence and Call Control.

When I worked on the first class 5 softswitch, we made a bad decision that was based on keeping state of a call on the network. My SOB friend from Harvard filled me in on his advice for the rest of the community that came to late to save me.