Krishna Baidya’s Random Musings

Posts Tagged ‘Vodafone

NexusOne1Google has performed a u-turn on its strategy to sell its own-brand Android smartphone, the Nexus One. In a statement yesterday, the company announced that Vodafone will from this Friday start selling the device in the UK via its stores, online and over the phone. “Soon after,” Google said, it will be available via SFR in France, as well as via Vodafone’s other subsidiaries in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. More operator launches look to be on the horizon, as Google noted that Vodafone is the “first European partner to distribute the Nexus One.” The move is a direct contrast to Google’s original retail model for the device; when it launched the high-profile phone in January Google surprised many industry watchers with plans to only sell the product via its own online store. Such a move broke heavily with traditional mobile industry business practices, bypassing the mobile operator retail stores that serve as a key distribution channel for mobile phones. Meanwhile, US operator Verizon Wireless has been dropped as a partner for the device; despite being touted as an initial partner at launch, Google is now advising customers to instead “pre-order the Droid Incredible by HTC, a powerful new Android phone and a cousin of the Nexus One that is similarly feature-packed” and available in stores on 29 April. The Nexus One remains available to T-Mobile USA customers.

Reports have been quick to cite analysts as stating that the actions represent a setback for Google’s plans to carve a role for itself in the mobile business and to redefine industry practices in the process. The move is also likely to fuel speculation that Google has been forced to change its strategy due to less-than-stellar demand for the Nexus One; analysts believe Google sold about 150,000 Nexus One devices in the first quarter. By contrast, Apple sold 1 million iPhones in the first 74 days after releasing the gadget in 2007. However, earlier this month Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette said Nexus One is “a profitable business for us”, whilst Jeff Huber, SVP for enginnering, added that the company is “very happy with the device uptake and the kind of impact that’s had across the industry in terms of raising the bar for what devices can do.” Huber added that Google’s Android system is powering 34 devices and that more than 60,000 Android devices are sold and activated each day. Android also had 38,000 apps in the previous quarter, up 78 percent from the last quarter.

Source: GSMA Daily

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Move over credit cards, India is now preparing to use the mobile contactless payment method. Citibank has announced the launch of Citi Tap and Pay pilot service in Bangalore as an effort to make the mode of payment more convenient. Using the NFC or Near Field Communication technology, Citi along with Nokia, Vodafone, ViVOtech and MasterCard, is aiming to gain insight into a wide range of parameters including, assessing customer acceptance to making contactless transactions through mobile NFC. This technology allows the user to use the phone instead of a credit card to make purchases at the grocery store, bookstore or eating joint. If the technology becomes a success in India, it will be a big opportunity for other banks to tap into the market with Citi as pioneers in the field.

The technology has already been piloted across other parts of the world and may soon replace the traditional credit card system. In fact Visa launched the world’s first commercial mobile payments service using NFC in Malaysia, in April this year. In Japan, the technology has already been employed by wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo which allows customers to use cell phones as mobile wallets. Now NFC is making inroads into India.

A recent study by ABI Research shows that globally, 450 million mobile phones will be NFC-enabled by 2011, which represents about 30 percent of handsets shipped worldwide in that year. Moreover, Strategy Analytics predict that mobile phone-based contactless payments will facilitate over $36 billion of worldwide consumer spending by 2011. Now, the banks are eying to cash in the Indian mobile subscriber base that stands at 415 million in May 2009 to promote the contactless payment. Jeff Semenchuk, EVP and Head of Growth Ventures, Citi Innovation said, “Citi believes contactless mobile payment services will be a key lifestyle driver for our highly mobile, international and increasingly urban customer base.”

The mobile phone can be tapped on a contactless reader at the point of sale to pay for purchases eliminating the need for the traditional swipe of credit cards. With this, the need to send SMS or mobile data charges is also eliminated. One can avail of the service free of cost and all one has to do is register and have a Citibank account and MasterCard card. However the service will function only on NFC enabled Nokia 6212 phones which cost Rs 11, 560 but will be sold at an inaugural price of Rs 5000. The customer also needs to have a Vodafone connection and will be charged for the GPRS service to make contactless NFC mobile payment.

Michael Mullagh, CEO of ViVOtech, which will be providing the reader machines and the necessary software said, “This new technology promises to revolutionize the payment and shopping experience and bring enormous benefits to consumers and the payment, retail and mobile ecosystems.”

Although there are already a few startups like mChek and Cashnxt that are planning to launch similar pilots in other parts of India, it is the first time that an initiative like this is being taken up in India. Out of the four lakh Citibank customers in Bangalore, the project is targeting around 5000 for the pilot which will be six months long.

Windows store to launch with 600 apps Microsoft will offer around 600 certified applications when it opens its mobile app store later this year, according to a Washington Post report, despite the Windows Mobile platform having more than 20,000 applications developed for it overall. Consumers will be able to buy applications on their credit card or through their operator bill, and will also be able to return apps within 24 hours if they are not completely satisfied. Microsoft has already signed up a number of software partners, including web music service Pandora, games publisher Electronic Arts and social network site Facebook. Other partners include another games publisher, Gameloft, weather website Accuweather.com, and News Corp’s MySpace social network. The store was officially unveiled in February and is scheduled to launch in the first half of this year on smartphones running Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile 6.5 platform. Microsoft’s app store will compete against a raft of rival platforms launched in response to the phenomenal success of Apple’s App Store, which offers around 50,000 apps.

Google’s Android store offers around 5,000 apps whilst Palm reportedly only offers around 30 at present. Microsoft said in an earlier statement that Windows Marketplace would launch in 29 countries and offer third-party developers a 70 percent cut of revenue-share, the same rate offered by Apple and Google.

In separate app store news, Dow Jones Newswires reports that China Telecom plans to launch a mobile app store for its 3G network, though no details on timescales were released. Operators including rival China Mobile and Vodafone have been quick to jump on the application store bandwagon, going head-to-head with software and handset vendors.

Mobile carriers with presence in diverse geographies are more likely to enjoy continued growth in their businesses, compared with providers that focus on a single country, according to a study out today from TeleGeography. Only exception to that could be to leading mobile carriers in India (~48% y-o-y sub growth) and China (~12% y-o-y sub growth) which boasts more than a 2.4 billion population between them and continue to grow at a rapid pace. Even carriers from India & China too looking outside for growth (in 08 we saw talks among Indian carriers to buy shares of South African carrier MTN, China mobile’s investments are in ZoNG in Pakistan, Peoples in Hong Kong’s and Far EasTone in Taiwan).

news20090507-1.gif“The report estimates no fewer than 2.5 billion net new subscribers by the end of 2013. However, growth in the value of the telecoms services market will not keep pace with subscriber growth. The bulk of subscriber growth will come from countries where GDP per capita is under US$3,000 per year. Despite the best efforts of service providers to maintain or increase ARPU, global telecoms service revenues will grow less than 5% annually—less than half the rate experienced over the past five years.”

Above chart offers a relative positioning (in terms of growth prospect and competitive position outside home market) of eight of the world’s leading mobile carrier that was studied by TeleGeography. One clear conclusion is that service providers with a more geographically diversified business have enjoyed much stronger business growth over the last three years and are more profitable.

Quite similar story can be seen in Asia Pacific as well. SingTel and Axiata (TM International) are good examples in the region who are enjoying good growth from their investments in the other emerging markets in the region.

singtel subs*result ending Dec ’08 for SingTel Group (Source : SingTel)

axiata*result ending Dec ’08 for Axiata Group(Source: Axiata)