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Rich Tehrani
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XV6800: Why Verizon Wireless Opened Up

November 30, 2007

There could not be a happier person on the face of the earth than I regarding Verizon Wireless opening up its network. And while I thought I pegged some of the reasons for Verizon making this decision in a recent blog post, the actual reason is probably a great deal simpler.   My take? The XV6800 handset.   You see, the XV6700 handset while rife with problems such as slowdowns and freezes was a great product for its time. The comfortable mobile keyboard, the widescreen 320x240 view and the Microsoft Office compatible applications made this device a winner.

Google to Bid on 700 MHz Spectrum

November 30, 2007

While it is not really a surprise at this point, Google will be bidding on the 700 MHz spectrum auction and if the company wins, it will likely change the business model of many other service providers. The reason is simple. At least one service provider has expressed interest in leveraging their connections as a competitive weapon/advantage and more specifically as a way to exact a toll from Google!   As you may remember I referred to this situation in an article titled SBC Goes Trick-or-Treating which took an excerpt from a BusinessWeek article referring to an interview with SBC CEO Ed Whitacre*:

  The question posed was:   How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google, MSN, Vonage, and others?   And the answer was as follows:   How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe.

Sprint Turns Down $5 Billion Offer

November 29, 2007

Sprint Turns Down $5 Billion Offer CNBC is reporting Sprint Nextel turned down a 5 billion dollar offer (according to RTTNews.com). It is not clear who made this offer as of yet. As you may recall I wrote a blog entry lately regarding the potential of Google purchasing the wireless carrier. Stay tuned.   Update:   According to the Wall Street Journal:  
Sprint Nextel Corp. rejected an offer by South Korea's SK Telecom and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners to invest $5 billion in the company and install its former chairman, Tim Donahue, as chief executive, according to people familiar with the matter.   Mr. Donahue and the investment consortium proposed the deal before Thanksgiving, sending its bid to Sprint's board in the form of a letter, these people say.

Android Sans SIP and IMS

November 28, 2007

COTS to the Service Provider Rescue

November 20, 2007

There was a time when service providers had to purchase massively expensive proprietary equipment in order to deploy telephone service. Class 4 and 5 switches required enormous investment and could be justified as this equipment would be depreciated over many years in a well-known and slow-moving competitive environment.   Then along came VoIP and the market shifted into high gear. All of a sudden customers wanted more services and they wanted to spend less money for it all. Competition seemed to come from every direction with crazy “woohoo” ads from companies like Vonage and more sober ads from the cable companies.   Even worse, the wireless companies began to take share making it that much more difficult to pay for the massive iron sitting in central offices worldwide.   Just before VoIP became popular, new architectures such as CompactPCI and later Advanced TCA emerged allowing service providers to benefit from technologies being popularized in the enterprise and consumer markets.   As voice becomes a cheaper and cheaper commodity, service providers must look for other services to replace lost revenue.

Mobility as Strategic Advantage

November 20, 2007

It is obvious that mobile device proliferation has had a dramatic increase in productivity for knowledge workers worldwide. In addition it is well known the US government and military functions more effectively because it relies on Blackberrys.   It goes without saying that the individual mobility needs of a users varies widely as some mobile workers need optimal web access while others primarily need e-mail access and others may need specific applications.   It is also well known that every mobile device today from Blackberry to iPhone consists of numerous design tradeoffs weighing size, keyboard, connection speed, processor speed and more.   The next point worth considering is consumer choice. For example, if using the best device makes users most productive, then having the greatest access to devices means the best potential fit of personal needs and device which in turn means the most potential productivity. After all, if a user needs access to the best browser, they need a device with sufficient resolution to allow for this.   As different users have different device preferences and needs, it seems obvious that having one dozen devices to choose from is better –from a productivity standpoint – than having four.   If we can agree that having the greatest access to mobile devices can make users most productive then we must further acknowledge that if a country such as the United States has access to the greatest variety of mobile devices it will in turn have a competitive advantage in the world market.   Unfortunately the opposite is true and I was reminded of just how far behind the US is when it comes to mobile phone choice as I read this MSNBC/Forbes article titled Coolest cell phones you can't get in the U.S.   While this article is focused more on consumer-friendly phones, the situation in the business phone market is similar and U.S.

Ma Google

November 19, 2007

What will the communications market look like in ten years I wonder? It may be difficult to forecast incredible change and disruptive technologies but it is relatively easy to predict what will happen based on what we know today.   For example:   1)      We see more video being transmitted over broadband networks. 2)      Google is rolling out new services on a daily basis and using advertising to support many of them. 3)      AT&T and Verizon are not huge fans of the search leader as they are envious of the companies using their pipes to transmit services which make money for Google. 4)      The government does not seem to care that much about network neutrality.   So with these four points in mind let’s look at what needs to take place for Google to continue operating in a hostile service provider environment:   They need access to consumers directly.   It is that simple really. If the service providers continue to be the gatekeepers to Google the company risks its future. It is tough to see the US government stepping in and enforcing net neutrality at this point so this means Google must have a network -- and quickly -- to ensure it has a seat at the service provider table.   Of course Google does not want the messiness associated with becoming a service provider but they just have no choice but to protect themselves.   Many people have written me recently saying there is no way that Google will buy Sprint in response to a recent article on the matter.

Mobile Advertising Grows to $16.5 Billion

November 18, 2007

I was perusing some articles on mobile advertising recently and was absolutely stunned at how big some analysts think this market will be. According to this TMCnet article, Strategy Analytics predicts the global market for mobile advertising is slated to reach $14 billion by 2011.   ABI Research predicts the global market for mobile marketing and advertising will reach $3 billion by the end of 2007, and expand to $19 billion in 2011.   If we take the mid-way point between the estimates, the mobile ad market will be $16.5 billion in 2011. To put this in real-world terms it means that one-billion users will generate about $16 apiece.   It would seem to achieve this grand vision things will have to drastically change in the way we interact with mobile devices. One would imagine the path we are on at the moment cannot possibly get us to these numbers.   So as sit here looking at the gargantuan estimates above, I just wonder what would have to change to make these numbers achievable.

Google in Wireless

November 16, 2007

More discussions regarding Google getting into the wireless game were sparked today by a Wall Street Journal article focusing on Google’s wireless ambitions.   In summary:  
  • Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum or lose good will in Washington
  • The company’s bid will be $4.6 billion or more.
  • Google has a test FCC license and has cell towers at its campus which it uses with Android-based phones.
  • The company has been in semi-serious discussions with Clearwire regarding building out a WiMAX network.
  • Google has invested in femtocell maker Ubiquisys
  • Everyone and their brother is on record explaining how difficult it is to build a wireless network.
  • Wall Street is enthusiastic about lending money to Google to bid at the auction
  • Google will think about bringing in partners after the auction is over and it sees what happens.
  • The company has brought on game theory experts to help it in the bidding process.
  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the rumors of Google acquiring Sprint with many thinking the idea is farfetched. It would seem however that since Google is working on its own wireless network, they are very serious about getting into the wireless space.   As we discussed in my recent post on the matter, Google likes to build everything itself from scratch. This is just the way the company operates. However if you are going to go into the wireless business it will take years to put towers around the US and then the world.   Think about the layers of negotiation which need to take place… City by city… Neighborhood by neighborhood -- the company has to place base stations with antennas on tall buildings, water towers and hilltops as far as the eye can see.   Sure this can be done, but it will take such a long time… Let’s say five years to cover the U.S.

Android Developer Contest

November 13, 2007

Question: What is the best way to get your mobile platform to be adopted by developers and subsequently end-users?
Answer
: Pay off the developers   And that is just what Google is doing with their Android SDK. A total of $10 million dollars will be awarded to the best applications in a contest Google recently announced..   Having lived through the application wars of Apple vs. PC and then Microsoft Windows vs. IBM OS/2 I can recall just how important it is the have the application developers behind your platform.   For example in the publishing industry a popular software package for desktop publishers was Quark Express and the company was a loyal Apple developer.
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