Krishna Baidya’s Random Musings

Archive for May 2009

Thought of sharing this write up that talks about how netbook pricing holds key to the embedded future. Has some good arguments that is in align with my thought too.

“The fledgling market for 3G-enabled netbooks was given a big boost this month as the leading U.S. operators moved to embrace this new device class. AT&T announced that this summer it will begin selling mini-laptops with embedded 3G modems from Acer, Dell, Lenovo and others in 2,200 stores nation-wide and online, while Verizon Wireless Communications stores began selling their first netbook – the HP Mini 1151NR.

For AT&T, Verizon and other operators in Europe and Asia, rolling out netbooks is another step towards the creation of a potentially much larger and more strategic market for mobile broadband connectivity in a wide range of consumer electronics and industrial devices, from cameras to games consoles to energy meters to environmental sensors. In a sign of operators’ growing interest in this opportunity, there will be a panel session devoted to the “The New Embedded Mobile Economy” at the GSMA’s Telecoms Marketplace at HiT Barcelona on June 18th.

But the size of the embedded mobile economy is going to depend heavily on the cost of the mobile broadband modules, which is going to depend on the economies of scale available to module manufacturers. In other words, it is a bit of a chicken or egg situation.

Although there are already 68 HSPA embedded modules available from more than a dozen suppliers, according to the GSMA, the market itself is still relatively small. The mobile broadband modem market in Europe, including USB modem devices, PC Cards, ExpressCards, and internal cellular modems for laptops and mini-laptops, reached only 10.5 million units last year, according to Telecompaper. The market research group didn’t break out how many of these units were internal modules, but it doesn’t expect sales of computers with embedded modems to overtake external modems until 2012.

Of course, independent of the PC connectivity market, mobile broadband modems are being added to other devices today. Amazon’s successful Kindle electronic reader is spawning imitators, while the GSMA has identified 15 consumer electronics devices, including cameras, watches and media players, with built-in HSPA modems.

Even so, it is still laptops, and particularly the netbook segment, that is most likely to create the initial scale needed to bring down module prices significantly. While there are signs of strong latent demand for 3G netbooks, potential buyers are bound to be very price-sensitive in the current economic climate. If mobile operators want the wider embedded market to emerge in a significant way in the short-to-medium term, they are going to have to price and promote their 3G netbooks aggressively.”

Nokia today launched three new handsets designed to bring Internet services to emerging markets. Included in the offering is the Nokia 2730 classic nokia_2730_classic(pictured, left), priced at EUR80, which the world’s largest handset vendor claims is its “most affordable 3G phone.” It is expected to start shipping in the third quarter of 2009. The Nokia 2720 fold (pictured, below right) is a fold-phone boasting email and Internet connectivity, and will be offered with Nokia Life Tools in select markets. The 2720 is expected to begin shipping in the third quarter for an estimated retail price of EUR55 before subsidies and taxes. Meanwhile, Nokia’s 7020 is marketed as “a fashionable fold phone that uses light, colour and metal finishes to convey personal style.” Incorporating a 2 megapixel camera, the device will ship in the fourth-quarter this year for an estimated retail price of EUR90 before subsidies and taxes. Nokia_2720_fold_red_18

Nokia’s announcement today is its latest effort to ramp up its emerging markets strategy. In November the company unveiled two emerging market services – Ovi Mail and Nokia Life Tools – that are supported by the three new handsets. Ovi Mail provides the ability to create an email account without the need to use a personal computer, whilst Nokia Life Tools is aimed at providing agriculture information and education services for rural and small town communities in emerging markets. Nokia claims to have carried out research declaring that nearly half of emerging market customers would rather connect to the Internet using a mobile phone than a PC.

source: GSMA MBB

Credit card firm MasterCard is to launch a new person-to-person (P2P) mobile payment platform for its card-issuing banks in the US later this month. The new service – known as MoneySend – will allow MasterCard’s partner banks to offer their customers a way to send and receive funds via SMS, mobile browser, mobile applet or a PC. Initially, consumers will be able to use MoneySend with a MasterCard prepaid card issued by Bancorp Bank. However, MasterCard said that as additional card-issuing banks enrol in the scheme, their customers will be able to use MoneySend with their everyday accounts, including MasterCard debit, credit, prepaid or checking/current accounts.

Senders can transfer funds to any domestic (US) mobile phone number via SMS, mobile Web browser or a downloadable application. Upon initiation of the transfer, the sender approves the request by entering a PIN only known to the account holder. The recipient then receives a text message confirmation of the transfer (for pre-registered users) or that the transfer is pending (for yet-to-be registered users). The funds can then be accessed by the recipient through an account designated during the registration process. The US launch follows the successful rollout of the service elsewhere in the world, where it is available in 17 countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and the Philippines.

Source: GSMA Mobile Business Briefing

  • SingTel yield better result than expected – Q4 profit beats forecasts
  • Continue to look at M&A (Pakistan market consolidation is of particular interest)
  • Earnings impacted by strong Singapore dollars against regional currency

singtelSingTel, South East Asia’s biggest telecom company, reported a 17 percent drop in quarterly profit in the fourth quarter. It made S$903 million compared to previous year’s more than S$1.09 billion. For the financial year (ending 31st March), the group’s net profit dropped 13 percent to S$3.45 billion, compared t o S$3.96 billion in the previous year.

SingTel contributed the drop in net profit to foreign exchange volatility and a good will impairment charge of S$330 million for its regional mobile associates, Warid Telecom and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom. Though, these charges were partially offset by an exceptional gain of S$217 million from Bharti’s dilution of its equity interest in a subsidy.

SingTel continue to reap benefit from its heavy investments in Asia in recent years capturing great share of fast-developing regional markets (Optus in Australia, Advanced Info Service (AIS) in Thailand, the Bharti Telecom Group in India, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Pacific Bangladesh Telecom (PBTL), Telkomsel in Indonesia and Warid Telecom in Pakistan). Since, its operations outside Singapore accounts for more than two-thirds of its business, the group remains sensitive to currency movements in the region.

SingTel reported 35 percent annual growth in its regional mobile subscriber base. As of March 31, the number of mobile subscribers increased by 64 million from a year earlier to 249.4 million.

According to official statement Australia and Singapore continued strong momentum and showed resilience with their impressive growth despite the economic uncertainties. SingTel has performed particularly well in its home turf to register 12.7 percent revenue growth (including revenue from SCS) and a quarterly net profit of S$428 million (61.3% growth). In Singapore, revenues from its wireless broadband internet customers largely compensated for lower ARPU and minutes of usage (MOU) from mobile business. Its “Mio” service (broadband and IPTV services) too started gaining traction among locals.

In a statement the company mentioned that while its results for the coming financial years will be affected by foreign exchange fluctuations, future earnings growth will not be dependent on acquisition. The company is expected to focus on controlling its costs amid continued market uncertainties and suggested infrastructure sharing as one resort in some markets.

  • New feature to enable customers to view Anytime
  • Enhanced ability to record shows (up to seven days in advance)

box_p_cabletvOn Monday, StarHub has launched a viewer friendly feature that allows viewers to catch up shows they have missed on two different services – On Demand Channels for catching up on shows after their telecast, and a ‘Start Over’ feature that allows the re-start of a programme during its first telecast. However, this feature is only available to viewers using StarHub’s HubStation and HubStation HD DVR set-top boxes.

StarHub is also enhancing its On-Screen TV Guide which displays programme information for a longer period of up to seven days as compared to the previous three-day period.

These new features are likely to make TV viewing much more convenient and likely to go one notch up against the closest (only) rival SingTel.

imagesAccording to a study performed by IDC for the Business Software Alliance, global software piracy is increasing. The report estimated that worldwide losses due to piracy totaled $53 billion, an 11 percent y-o-y increase.

The study estimated that pirated software accounted for 41 percent of all software installations globally, which is neck to neck to legitimate commercial installation of 44 percent. The remaining 15 percent of software was free or open source. Despite successes in fighting piracy in China and Russia there has been 3 percentage point increase in pirated software installation in 2008. All the while, global sales of PC software rose by 14% last year to $88 billion.

According to the study, U.S. piracy was about 20 percent of the total market, the lowest in the world but the highest single dollar loss, it was a major problem because more software was sold in the United States than anywhere else. Much of those losses came from small businesses that use unlicensed copies of popular software programs

There has been mixed results in Asia Pacific, with eight economies showing a decline in the PC software piracy rate, no change in seven and an increase in three. The PC software piracy rate for Asia Pacific meanwhile increased to 61 percent compared to 59 percent in 2007, with dollar losses stemming from software piracy escalating to over US$15 billion in 2008 compared to over US$14 billion in 2007.

The personal computer (PC) software piracy level in Singapore registered 36 percent in 2008, a one percentage point drop from 37% in 2007.  However dollar losses caused by software piracy continued to increase, rising to US$163 million in 2008 compared to losses of US$159 million in 2007. Amidst government action towards using legitimate software and ISPs cooperation in combating piracy, software piracy in China fell to 80 percent, a 10 percentage point drop from previous year.

The study said that the countries with the lowest piracy rates are the US, Japan, New Zealand and Luxembourg, all near 20 percent. The highest software piracy countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia and Zimbabwe, all over 90 percent.

  • While emerging economies account for 45 percent of the global PC hardware market, they account for less than 20 percent of the PC software market. If the emerging economies’ PC software share were the same as it is for PC hardware, the software market would grow by $40 billion a year. Lowering global piracy by just one point a year would add $20 billion in stimulus to the IT industry.
  • Of the 110 economies studied, Russia has made the most progress, with a one-year drop of five points to 68 percent and a five-year drop of 19 points.
  • The lowest-piracy countries are the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and Luxembourg, all near 20 percent. The highest-piracy countries are Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, and Zimbabwe, all over 90 percent.
  • The highest-piracy regions are Central/Eastern Europe (67 percent) and Latin America (65 percent). The lowest regions are North America (21 percent) and the European Union (35 percent).
  • The United States has the largest dollar losses from PC software piracy, $9.1 billion in 2008, because it is the largest software market in the world.

If you are interested in the detailed report, you can get it here.

Telecom operator Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Monday reported a net loss of Rs.1.6 billion for fiscal 2008-09 ended March 31 against a net loss of Rs.1.25 billion in the previous year.

The total income, however, increased to Rs.20.53 billion from Rs.17.89 billion in the previous year, a company statement said. Tata Teleservices Maharashtra, is the listed unit of Tata Teleservices in which Japan’s telecom major NTT Docomo has a 26 percent stake.