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Archive for the ‘mobile services’ Category

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Results of poll by China Internet Network Information Center released this week.

Most young Chinese use mobile phones to access the Internet as these are cheaper and easier to obtain than desktop computers, according to a survey by a government-linked body.

About three-quarters of China’s 195 million web users under the age of 25–roughly half of its world-leading online population–surfed the Internet using a mobile in 2009, up from 50% from a year ago, the poll revealed.

The finding marked the first time that mobile phones emerged as the top platform for Web use among China’s youth, according to the poll by the China Internet Network Information Center, which was released Monday.

The poll offers further proof of the importance of the burgeoning mobile Internet market in China, which has the world’s largest number of mobile phone subscribers at more than 765 million, according to government data.

Nearly 70% of young Internet users still use desktops–implying that many Web-savvy youth are using both methods to get online.

The center said more young people in the countryside had opted for mobile Internet than their urban counterparts, as the handheld device “provided youths in areas where computers are hard to get with an alternative.”

Young Chinese primarily use the Internet to listen to music, play games and watch video clips, the center said.

Source: Total Tele

Japan provides some fascinating pointers as to how tech-savvy mobile operators are trying to contend with the growing strategic importance of handset operating systems that lie beyond their control.  In Japan, this shift in the balance of power is an entirely new phenomena – Japan’s mobile operators have traditionally controlled handset development, setting out detailed specifications for both software and hardware.

Detailed story is at the below link:

Japans Operators Sharpen their Smartphone Strategies.

I personally like DoComo’s approach of creating a “global” platform that would make “write once, use everywhere” (symbian, linux, android etc.) a reality for developers.

T-Mobile USA has launched a new unlimited mobile plan available to customers outside of a contract in a bid to compete with prepaid rivals such as Leap Wireless and MetroPCS.  The new plan will offer unlimited talk, text and Web surfing for US$79.99 a month to customers who do not want to sign up for a long-term contract, which typically lasts 2 years. Earlier this year (March) it started offering ” Unlimited Loyalty Plan”, unlimited minutes on an individual line for $49.99/ month and unlimited minutes on a two-line Family plan for $89.99/ month, to its customer who have been with the carrier for at least 22 months with a reliable payment history. Now, the company is believed to extend the $50/ month unlimited service for non-contract customers. The new deal represents a 20 percent discount on T-Mobile’s standard unlimited monthly fee for contract customers, though subscribers to the new deals will be required to pay a higher fee for a handset.

The introduction of unlimited monthly prepaid plans in the US was pioneered by Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile, which launched a US$50 monthly plan in January. The plan has since been replicated by a number of its prepaid rivals and has led to a fierce price war in the prepaid low-end segment.

This is quite a bid to attract customer to its network and will not be surprising the beginning of a price war. As a end user, I am not complaining. Other broader implication is more subtle (but non-avoidable in my opinion) where mobile carrier too is following suit of ISPs in becoming nothing but a dumb pipe. It will be interesting to see how long more other operators across the world can wait before forced to accept this very fact.

Comviva, formerly known as Bharti Telesoft, has launched the virtual SIM and handset concept in Cameroon eight months ago, which is likely to increase mobile penetration like never before, helping people without the financial ability to afford a handset, to have mobile connections.

In the 21st century, mobile telephony is scripting a new chapter that underscores its billing as the economic change agent for under-privileged masses in Cameroon. A virtual mobile SIM works this way: a potential user approaches any mobile operator, registers for a SIM and is allotted a number. The user can top up that number by an affordable amount and receive or make calls from any phone. The user can also have all other facilities like SMS, content, weather updates or any other value-added service as in any regular mobile connection.

Once the virtual number is inserted into any handset, the user’s ‘personality’ resides in the gadget as in a dual SIM format, and the user can receive or make calls from that handset. Once a call gets ended, it depends on the users to delete the number residing in that handset, or retain it there if more calls are expected on that handset.

Sangeet Chowfla, Chief Strategy Officer of Comviva says, “The concept dramatically increases the affordability of a mobile connection for the economically underprivileged. For someone with a low disposable income, the cost of even a $50 handset can mean 180 days’ savings. The virtual SIM concept can cut that by a factor of six.”

This concept was introduced with an aim of catering financially marginalized population, but later on it has also appealed to unintended user groups, including businessmen who prefer to have a different SIM to use while speaking to a certain group of their contacts, and youngsters who prefer to have dual numbers to interact with different friends’ circles.

The virtual SIM is being considered as a boon for low-income families that cannot afford multiple handsets. Family members can top up their personal virtual numbers with payment upfront, feed their numbers into the common handset and receive and make calls from the same handset without having anyone else to bear the tariff for their personal usage.

Success in the Cameroon venture, where virtual SIM users are learnt to be making five million calls per month, has stirred Comviva to launch the facility in partnership with local operators in different markets, with East Africa, Bangladesh and India to be the early markets for launch.

Source: SI

Debt ratings agency, Fitch says that it expects the recent tariff war by new telecom entrants in India and the likely retaliation by incumbent operators, will have a significant impact on industry revenues and profitability.

The reduced tariffs will lower the ARPUs and operating margins for all industry players. In a recent report, Fitch stated that EBITDA margins of existing operators will fall on lower ARPUs in the near term. The exaggerated tariff reduction and competitive intensity will likely reduce ARPUs by 10%-15%, which is lower than expected.

The Indian telecom industry is witnessing price wars with the entry of the new telecom operators, which were allotted universal access service licenses (UASLs) in February 2008 by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

The new entrants (Aircel, Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) and Tata Docomo (GSM)) have launched aggressive tariff plans in an effort to garner subscriber market share. These new entrants have launched per second billing, either selectively or throughout their networks, while Tata CDMA has launched tariffs on a per call basis, irrespective of duration (Re 1 and Re 3 per call on local and STD, respectively). Following this trend, Reliance communication (Rcom) has reduced the tariff to 50 paise per minute for local, STD, roaming and SMS, for both off-net and on-net calls. BSNL has also launched per second billing plan in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

Fitch expects other incumbent operators to eventually match the reduced tariff plans, considering the adoption of mobile number portability in the near future.

Nevertheless, Fitch expects the Stable Outlook of the sector to continue, given the net monthly subscriber additions. However, the impending 3G and BWA auctions remain an event risk.

Fitch expects subscriber growth to be at a CAGR of 25%-30% over the next three years up to FY12, as compared to a CAGR of 44% in the last three years (FY07- FY09). The incumbent operators with strong balance sheets and strong portfolio of high-end customers in metro areas are expected to maintain their credit profile. However, Fitch expects new entrants to face increasing difficulties in garnering any meaningful market share, with already low tariffs leading to lower ARPUs, a lack of adequate spectrum quality and restrictions on spectrum sharing.

The telecom industry has yet to see service launch of other UASL holders like Etisalat DB Telecom India, Datacom, Telenor – Unitech wireless, Loop Telecom and S-tel. Fitch believes that the reduced industry profitability will likely expedite industry consolidation in the medium to long term.

Source: Fitch Ratings

Mobile advertising market is emerging as a huge growth area with the rise of web phones like the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm. According to the Kelsey Group, a market research firm, the mobile advertising market will balloon from $160 million in 2008 to $3.1 billion in 2013.

Of course, that is just an educated guess which will turn out wrong. But there is no doubt that mobile advertising will be much bigger in four years, perhaps even ten to 20 times bigger than it is today.

Where will all of that mobile ad money go to? Display ads are projected to go from 13 percent of the total to 18 percent, while SMS ads will decline as a percentage from 63 percent to 9 percent (see charts). So once again it looks like search is going to be the big winner. No wonder Google is so focused on mobile search as one of its major sources of growth.

US Mobile Advertising Revenue

Think about it. Display ads take up precious real estate on your phone screen and tend to just get in the way and be an annoyance. That’s whymost people don’t like them . But when you are doing a search on your phone, you are often looking for something nearby?a store, a restaurant, a dry cleaner. You are more open to ads, especially if they are relevant to your search. As reported by TechCrunch, the Kelsey Group also projects that mobile search will go from 24 percent of the total mobile ad market last year to 73 percent of the much larger pie in 2013, according to a recent research note put out by Citi Analyst Mark Mahaney. He said that Mobile search is particularly tuned for local search ads. “Given the nature of mobile devices, local queries on mobile should, over time, be greater than local queries on the desktop,” he added.

Indeed, the Kelsey Group predicts that local searches will rise from 28 percent of all mobile searches in 2008 to over 35 percent by 2013. And as a percentage of mobile search ad revenues, local search is already half so that it will be a $1.27 billion market opportunity in four years just for local mobile search.

Source: Silicon India, Washington Post

They thought this day would never come: Ladies and gentlemen, AT&T Inc. will now allow VoIP applications to run across its cellular network, not just Wi-Fi.

The carrier has blocked IP-based voice apps for the iPhone from running on 2G and 3G in the past, including Skype and, famously, Google Voice. Though AT&T never mentioned why, speculation as to the reason blockage includes, of course, a reluctance to lose voice call revenue, and network congestion concerns.

But it’s caught a lot of flak for those decisions, and as VoIP continues to become an embraced application in the industry in general, who is AT&T to blow against the wind, right? Competitively, Clearwire, several cablecos and even Verizon Wireless have said they won’t block third-party VoIP on their 4G or 3G networks, even if cellular voice remains the bread and butter revenue stream today.

Officially, the carrier said it made its decision because it already enables cellular VoIP on other devices, and, well, the sky hasn’t fallen. “iPhone is an innovative device that dramatically changed the game in wireless when it was introduced just two years ago,” said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO for AT&T Mobility & Consumer Markets, in a statement. “Today’s decision was made after evaluating our customers’ expectations and use of the device compared to dozens of others we offer.”

It’s good news for Vonage too, which this week launched an iPhone app for its voice service.

Regardless of the reason, AT&T is now cellular VoIP-friendly on the iPhone, saying it has taken the steps necessary to let Apple enable VoIP applications to run on AT&T’s wireless network. AT&T this afternoon informed Apple and the FCC of its decision.

Skype took a vindicated tone: “Since launching our iPhone application six months ago, consumers have downloaded and installed Skype on 10% of all iPhone and iPod touch devices sold,” said Josh Silverman, president of Skype, in a statement. “This clearly demonstrates that our customers are extremely interested in taking Skype conversations with them on the go on the iPhone.”

He added that while Skype is naturally happy about the turn of events, “the positive actions of one company are no substitute for a government policy that protects openness and benefits consumers and we look forward to further innovations that will enable even more mobile Skype calling.”

Source: VON newsletter