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CTIA podcast October 31, 2007

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CTIA did a podcast to coincide with their cover story article “The Continental Divide.” You can listen to it by going here, then click on Conventions and expand Audio under CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2007. The podcast is available under the heading “Global Mobile Markets: Does the US Measure Up?”

Yours truly appears on and off in this 5 min podcast. My colleague Kanishka, VP Nielsen Mobile was also interviewed for this piece.

Sprint in talks as well - re: the gPhone

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Looks like Sprint has joined VZ and TMO in talks with Google regarding the Google phone. Om is reporting a Nov 13/18th announcement. My sources are also telling that product launch is imminent.

Google and Verizon in mobile phone discussions October 30, 2007

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Amol Sharma at WSJ is reporting that Verizon and Google are discussing a potential phone partnership. Should this come through, it will be a big coup for Google and a game-changing event for the industry. Verizon doesn’t want to miss out on another key phone and might be bending backwards to make something happen. The biggest sticking point will be the rev split. Both camps believe that other party shouldn’t get more than 10-20%.

Interesting. Very Interesting ..

The gPhone

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The noise around Google’s rumoured phone is reaching elevated levels. WSJ is reporting that Google is close to releasing its strategy for the wireless market.

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce advanced software and services that would allow handset makers to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say. In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom’s Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.’s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Carnival up at VisionMobile October 29, 2007

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Andreas Constantinou of VisionMobile hosts the Carnival this week. He has links to the best posts of the week from bloggers around the world. Check it out.

Thanks Andreas for picking our CTIA post as the post of the week.

CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2007 Roundup October 28, 2007

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Partnership, Privacy, Smart Phones, Strategy, US Wireless Market, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 5 comments

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http://www.chetansharma.com/ctiaoct07.htm

The early morning full moon over the San Francisco bay was much more inspiring than any gizmos or gimmicks at the annual CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment show. Maybe it is the conference fatigue setting in but the scaled back event failed to gather steam and one had to rely on alternate sources to get a sense of where things are headed in the next 6-12 months. This note summarizes the observations and commentary from the show.

First let’s do the numbers. CTIA released its mid-year data survey for the year. In summary, as of June 2007 - 243M subs, $67.9B in revenues (first 6 months), $10.5B in data revenues for the year accounting for 15.5% of the total service revenue, MOU exceeded 1 Trillion minutes, 1B TXT messages daily. These numbers were in line with the numbers we reported back in Aug.

Keynotes - The central theme that tied the three keynotes was “Be Open, Do Good Work, and Rest will take care of itself.” The keynotes from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook, and Atish Gude, Sprint Nextel emphasized the need to have an “open platform” for innovation, applications, and services. Haven’t we been down this lane before?

Steve started by taking a page out of our (upcoming) book, literally (page 243 to be exact) and describing a vision where mobile device becomes the remote control of your life for both workstyle and lifestyle. Too often we focus on separating out personal vs. professional but our lives are so intertwined that one minute you are setting up a doctor’s appointment and the next minute closing a sale. Companies that focus on managing the experience start to finish (waking to sleeping) independent of everything else will be the ones that dominate these turf wars. Microsoft’s big announcement was the release of device management server that includes mobile devices in addition to the desktop world (but it is limited to windows mobile devices only, Open?). Microsoft has been making impressive strides in occupying its place in the mobile ecosystem. Though windows mobile and battery life don’t go together, the fact that they are deployed with 160 operators in 55 countries, shipping 20M devices/year places them at a significant advantage in the coming days.

Facebook’s Moskovitz made the plea for openness of networks, devices, and applications to enable the social networking phenomenon on mobile. The fact that Microsoft and Facebook were doing the keynotes on the eve of strategic investment wasn’t a coincidence. Dustin brought out the elderly statesman Mike Lazaridis to announce the facebook app for Blackberry smartphones. The interesting thing was how the app was introduced - Facebook chose RIM and RIM chose T-Mobile for this app. Device manufacturers are surely getting bolder. Facebook extended its platform to mobile. Getting social networking apps on mobile is a no-brainer. In fact, the coming enhancements with Presence, IMS, Broadband, Profiling, Location, can make mobile social network a society of its own.

I thought the most forceful case for “openness” was delivered by Atish Gude, SVP of the XOHM (WiMAX) initiative at Sprint Nextel. In fact, it was exactly along the lines of our recommendations for the operators in our book. Atish talked about openness across network, devices, content, and applications to deliver a great “customer experience.” Operators focus on delivering the intelligent network by focusing on QoS, Network elements like Presence and Location, Security, and Consistency of throughput and performance and leave the innovation in applications and services on the ecosystem who know how best to exploit the medium. His definition of “device” expanded beyond the mobile phone into consumer electronics and appliances which is a smart way of looking at things. However, vision is one thing and execution is another. Will Sprint be able to deliver on this vision in a timely fashion amidst quarterly Wall Street pressure is going to define the industry more than any of the hoopla of 700MHz.

Enterprise MIA - One of the personalities was clearly missing from the show. Yes, there was an enterprise pavilion but nothing new and different surfaced. Microsoft’s late foray into the device management space was the only worthwhile news that emerged.

LBS - The LBS industry proudly presented its posterchilds TeleAtlas, Navteq, TeleNav, and others. Their imposing presence on the show floor and in some of the sessions was palpable. I have been working in or following this space since 1995 and it finally feels that there is going to be some activity in this space after years of posturing, delays, and hype. However, the true value of “location” can’t be unlocked unless it truly becomes “open” for the application and service developers. The delivery of coordinates for every request is not cheap so some form of business model or technical break through is needed to make the use pervasive. Some of the newer players displaying their wares were Telmap, locr, and earthcomber.

Mobile Advertising - It is great to see the progress over the last 12 months. The distribution, inventory, and ad networks are all improving and size of the campaigns are starting to reach six figures on average. Some of the working demos I saw were really compelling and some unique solutions are going to be introduced in the market in the next six months. Though the space is still nascent, some trends have started to emerge - companies who are focused on solving the problem end-to-end from strategy to execution to understanding the results are separating themselves from the plethora of technology providers in the space. There is tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in the metrics and auditing space in addition to the integration of silos.

WiMAX picks up steam On the heels of WiMAX being declared as part of the IMT-2000 family, WiMAX is slated to gather momentum though a lot still depends on carriers like Sprint to deploy nationwide networks and device manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung to bring cheap devices to the market. Nevertheless, Cisco’s acquisition of Navini, Beceem’s deal with NEC and others are signs of positive movement in this sector.

Mobile Video a dying market? Already? Only a couple of CTIAs ago, Mobile video took the event by storm only to find defending itself as a viable business in a short span of time. The video quality has improved significantly but the business models have not.

Entering the US market - US remains one of the most attractive market for mobile data but very few overseas firm succeed. One of the big European brands “Zed” is making an aggressive and impressive push into the US market and is expecting up to 30% (or $150M) of its revenues coming from the US market in the next 12 months. They have developed a good platform for interactive games that tie the experience across mobile and online really well. EA and the likes should take notice.

Open - not in my backyard The keynotes were in sharp contrast with some of the carrier panels. One of them seemed to be the replay of a session I attended in 2001 or was it 1997. Eerie.

Presence, IMS - The discussion around presence and IMS is intensifying. Demos are getting better and the coordination between carriers to standardize and interoperate is improving but we still have a long way to go.

Coolest gadget - NeuroSky filled the void of a gadget less show by showcasing its mind-over-matter technology. Using brainwaves which are detected by a sensor attached to your head, it allows the user to move, push, and float objects by just concentrating on them. Remember The Matrix. Now, if you throw in Philip’s amBX and Microvision’s PicoP, your cell phone becomes this gaming platform that takes the die-hards to the transcendental state of nirvana.

iPhone continues to dominate the talk - iPhone continues to set the tone of discussion in the industry. Since July, there has hardly been a mobile conference worth its salt that hasn’t had a session on “impact of iPhone.” There hasn’t been a mobile device like this one and it shows. Attendees proudly fiddled with their iPhones in public and were eager to discuss their experience and forecasts.

US vs. Europe - There was quite a bit of us vs. them discussion. CTIA’s Wireless Wave magazine started the discussion by its cover story article “The Continental Divide” (for which we were interviewed). It was soon covered by the likes of WSJ (Walt Mossberg - Free My Phone), GigaOM (How far behind is the US vs. Europe?), Steve Largent (Largent to Mossberg .. Wish you were here in San Francisco), and others. As I say in the article - the picture is more complicated .. and one needs to take a holistic view. This topic is crying for a detailed study.

MCommerce - Behind closed doors there is a lot of discussion on MCommerce and how to enable phone to become the wallet of choice (this will be music to the ears to my colleagues in Japan and Korea). Some new and interesting models are starting to appear. One is from Mobilians, a company that has had good success in South Korea and is now setting its sight on the US market. Their focus is to use the phone to enable payment of online and offline goods. In Korea, Mobilians is registering 7M transactions/ month and over $1B in goods sold/year with up to $250 items (which appear on the carrier bill). This is a totally untapped space for the carrier and is a threat to the credit card companies especially for the low cost items where the 2%+20-25c fee drives up the effective rate for the merchant. A tier-1 carrier is also looking to firm up its mCommerce strategy in the next few weeks. It should be noted that some of the smaller regional carriers who survive due to laser focus customer service are testing and rolling out innovative solutions ahead of their bigger peers. For e.g. CellularSouth launched picture application (with Ontela) and after their successful trials with NFC based payments is looking into launching WirelessWallet. Similarly, some others are in the process of getting some LBS, Mobile Search, and Mobile Advertising solutions in the next quarter or so.

Misc

· AOL Mobile re-launched its mobile suite of products. It has a good suite of assets and the company is starting to integrate and enhance the user experience.

· More M&A activities are expected in the mobile advertising space in the next 6-12 months as startups use every advantage to maximize the returns before the big boys catch-up.

· There was hardly any mention of the gPhone or the zPhone.

· Verizon and Sprint are boosting the holiday season lineups to counter the onslaught of iPhone with similar looking phones.

· Becker - a 60 year old company which launched the first ever car radio showed off its “Traffic Assist” unit which had a good user interface and free real-time traffic info for life.

· M2M players such as Telit and Numerex showed their solutions in the machine-to-machine communications space.

· Talkster talked about its free global calls in exchange of listening to ads.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

CTIA in Pictures October 26, 2007

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Full Roundup coming soon

CTIA Wireless Wave Interview: A Continental Idea October 19, 2007

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CTIA’s Dr. Robert Roche and John-Paul Edgette interviewed me for this cover story article of the Fall issue of Wireless Wave magazine that is going to be released at CTIA’s Wireless IT & Entertainment show next week in San Francisco. You can pick up a copy of the issue at the event.

Fall 2007

A Continental Idea

By: John-Paul Edgette and Robert Roche

http://www.ctia.org/media/wireless_wave/

The U.S. or Europe. Who’s ahead in providing the best value to consumers? The facts show that a gap perceived by some is virtually non-existent. And, because Americans pay so much less for wireless service and use it so much more than Europeans and others, that America leads the world in wireless is a Continental Idea.

Every few years, a wave of stories appears comparing telecom services in the United States with those in Europe and Asia, but what are the facts behind these stories? Comparing the U.S. and other markets on a variety of metrics including cost, adoption and usage shows that the U.S. is the leader in wireless voice value, providing more wireless minutes at a lower cost than other developed countries. More than that, the U.S. is a strong competitor in the field of wireless data, striving to deliver more applications to more consumers at increasing speeds.

The Price is Right in the U.S.
Individual consumers’ readiness to use a particular application is shaped by their expectations and experiences with comparable products. This can range from comfort with an application, to the absence of an alternative, or to the economics of the alternatives. The high price of wireless voice service in Europe helps explain the lower volume of calls by Europeans as compared to calls in the U.S., and might have helped foster Europeans’ adoption of text messaging. But even as the price of wireless service in Europe has begun to fall, earlier this year Merrill Lynch reported that Europeans still pay an average of 19¢ per minute for an average of 153 minutes a month, compared to 5¢ per minute for 834 minutes a month for customers in the U.S. The U.S. is the leader in offering bucket plans, driven by competitive market forces to offer more minutes at a lower effective rate.

Of course, when comparing international markets, it’s important to recognize that there are economic, social, and geographic differences between countries and the performance of their markets is shaped by those factors. Whether comparing markets or the behavior of consumers globally in adopting or using similar products and services, it is important to consider these factors, and not rely on overly simplistic yardsticks.

Adoption and Applications
According to industry analyst Chetan Sharma, President of Chetan Sharma Consulting, “When comparing markets, some analysts generally look at only one factor mobile subscriber penetration. However, the picture is more complicated than that and it is better to take a look at the analysis holistically.” That makes it important to consider the availability of similar products and services, and how those options affect the adoption of other products. For example, the high penetration of mobile broadband in Japan and Korea is partly attributable to wireless being the cheapest, most widely available means of high speed Internet access in those countries. In the U.S., by contrast, Sharma notes “Because of the heavy penetration of the Internet over the desktop, as well as the late advent of 3G in the market, there was not a big driver for mobile Internet until the last one or two years. As 3G penetration has been increasing and now we’re up to 15 to 16 percent penetration (in the U.S.) we’re seeing that a lot of people are getting used to . . . the capability of Smartphones and phones like the iPhone” and “saying ‘oh, I can actually do some browsing on my cellphone.’”

Kanishka Agarwal, Vice President, Mobile Media, for Telephia, agrees that U.S. consumers’ experience with the traditional Internet and other products have been a factor in the takeup of mobile Internet in the U.S. But, he notes, “When you think about Internet, video and games, penetration of use in Europe versus the U.S., the difference is certainly narrowing  Europe is one to two percent penetration higher, that’s about it.”

Agarwal points out that “In the U.S., 15 percent of subscribers actively use mobile Internet on a regular basis every 30 days, in Europe it is about 18 percent.” Likewise, a mobile video market is now emerging in the U.S. and elsewhere. Agarwal says, “Video is actually rather small right now, four or five percent in the U.S. and Europe as well. When you look at games, it is about 9 or 10 percent in both the U.S. and Europe.”

M:Metrics - which conducts an on-going survey of thousands of wireless customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. – recently found that a slightly higher percentage of U.S. consumers browse wirelessly for news and information than their European counterparts. M:Metrics reports finding that users of the mobile web in Europe and the U.S. show pretty consistent interests in the nature of their browsing, with the exception of a greater interest in sports among European women, while American women appear to be more interested in accessing weather-related information via wireless.

It is important to keep in mind that the values and preferences of consumers of even similar services will likely differ from one country to another or one region to another, and also influence their purchase of products and services. Thus, a consumer in Milan might differ from a consumer in Sicily. One consumer might value rugged utility and efficiency; another consumer might prefer a product associated with a particular brand or designer. These are potentially purely cultural differences – it doesn’t make one superior to the other it simply reflects a different valuation.

Although a greater percentage of European users send text and photo-messages than U.S. consumers, the reverse is true when it comes to ringtones. Moreover, increasing familiarity with the capabilities of wireless devices is one reason why Sharma thinks that there is a “tremendous uplift” in wireless data going on in the U.S., and that wireless data revenues are “growing quite rapidly – even probably at a higher rate than Europeans are experiencing.”

Sharma also points out that the U.S. enjoys “a long history of strong enterprise focus and deployment,” with the result that “carriers in Japan and in Europe . . . look to the U.S. to figure out what the trends are in enterprise mobility,” since from “the applications perspective, those markets have not been that mature.”

As the European Commission says in its Twelfth Report on the European Electronic Communications market, data services other than SMS “still account for only a small percentage of total revenue, [though] non-SMS services such as access to internet via mobile devices and music downloads might in future become the primary driver for additional growth.” This is not to criticize providers of wireless data in Europe, it simply recognizes that the primary use of wireless communications devices remains communication often in the form of voice and text messaging. Other applications in the U.S. and around the world are still growing, while voice is a common and mature application.

Devices and Choices
As Agarwal notes, “The way in which consumer demand engages with the mobile supply is different in different geographies.” Consumers in many countries first shop for a handset and then for service, while in the U.S. it has generally been the other way around. Consumers in the U.S. can choose to purchase handsets directly from service providers or from third-party retailers, although most choose to purchase discounted handsets directly from carriers. While the store-front display of devices emphasizes the wide variety of handsets available to consumers, a review of wireless service providers’ and third-party retailers’ websites recently indicated that the number of handsets available in the U.S. is three or more times the number available in other countries, such as the UK.

Likewise, although a wide variety of handsets are available around the world, they share many similar features in the U.S. and other countries, from texting and photo capability, to web access. Moreover, while there are heavy users and early adopters of advanced capabilities everywhere, consumers’ interest in using those features will vary. A recent Harris interactive survey asking 1,092 U.S. wireless subscribers what they wanted in their next wireless device found that 39 percent say they “just want a simple mobile phone with less bells and whistles.” The top three ‘wants’ mentioned by these users are: more battery life, “less bells and whistles,” and more economical access.

Of course, the sheer number of wireless consumers means that there will be a wide variety of interests including consumers interested in the most advanced applications and features, as well as consumers interested in the simplest offerings. Thus, the iPhone and other Smartphones co-exist with the Jitterbug™. Dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular service also known as Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA was recently introduced, and is currently being offered by two U.S. carriers, and four providers in seven other countries (including two in Britain, one in Holland, Poland, and Spain, one in Finland, one in Italy, and one in Denmark). The recent launch of this service in these countries means that it is too early to judge the comparative performance of the different markets. Indeed, there was a relative scarcity of dual-mode devices worldwide until relatively recently.

Content and Variety
Just as consumers can choose to go to their carrier or a third-party for a handset, they can choose to go to their carrier or go off-deck for games, music, wallpaper or other content. In Europe, revenues from content are split 50-50 between on-deck and off-portal sources. In the U.S., it’s been estimated that the split last year was 70-30 for on-deck and off-deck sources. More recent data suggests that the U.S. split is shifting towards more off-deck purchases.

Although some critics argue that U.S. consumers’ options have been limited, carriers have introduced expanded options, including competing browsers (leading to mobile-optimized content or the larger Internet), and the ability to tailor the consumers’ display to highlight their application and content preferences. Agarwal believes that “the carrier portals have done a good job in the U.S. but I think they can do a whole lot more with search technologies and so on, and once consumers can get to what they want with a few keystrokes, I think that will drive adoption as well.”

In judging the take-up of different mobile services, it is also important to keep in mind that, as Agarwal notes, “There may be better alternatives to reach that content.” Consumers are aware that “you can reach the mobile web and mobile video, but they cost money, and consumers have to make trade-offs am I willing to pay a little extra for that anytime, anywhere access, or would I rather just wait? Given that the alternatives here in the U.S. are pretty strong, mobile really ends up being more of an extension of those traditional media than a substitute.” This is not to suggest that mobile has less of a value to consumers in the U.S., rather it is a growing complement that allows consumers to access content on their mobile in addition to checking it on their PCs. Given the history of the Internet and telecom in the U.S., mobile access has emerged here as a complementary means of access, while it was the primary means of access in Japan.

Innovation and Investment
Wireless carriers in the U.S. have been deploying higher-speed networks over the past few years, providing faster download and upload speeds to customers. Although dealing with a larger geography than individual Western European countries, Korea, or Japan, American companies currently offer next generation technologies that deliver average speeds ranging from 400-700 kbps, bursting up to 2 Mbps, in markets covering more than 210 million Americans. They continue to spend more than $20 billion annually in upgrading their networks, and have spent billions more acquiring additional spectrum to deliver more advanced applications to a growing number of consumers.

This is not to say providers and customers will or should take anything for granted. Everyone is interested in pushing the boundaries improving technologies, finding products and services that meet or define new needs, and satisfying customers. This is true both in the U.S. and abroad. As Christopher Guttman-McCabe, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA-The Wireless Association®, observes, “The ways in which people engage with the mobile ecosystem have evolved over 20 years, with market forces driving end-to-end competition in the U.S. Tampering with the existing business model in the U.S. isn’t necessary, and might produce entirely unanticipated and undesirable results. We shouldn’t assume that the differences existing between one nation and another, or one model and another, means anything other than that we are different. Both the U.S. and European systems have delivered competitive products and services, but the U.S. model is certainly allowing American consumers to talk a lot more for a lot less than those in any other developed country. With the number of subscribers here approaching one quarter of a billion, it’s obvious wireless is an increasingly popular part of American life.”

WiMAX is an IMT standard

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This is a significant event in the industry. Watch out for more movement in this space. Sprint looks smart for its decision to pursue WiMAX now.

The International Telecommunication Union agreed to include WiMAX technology in the global family of advanced wireless technologies. The win is a major victory for vendors and service providers on the eve of the World Radiocommunication Conference that the Bush administration hopes to build on during the next four weeks in Geneva.

“Including WiMAX in the IMT [International Mobile Telecommunications] category sets the stage for the WRC to consider the future spectrum availability for further generations of broadband mobile services,” said Ambassador Richard Russell, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and head of the U.S. delegation. “The industry often refers to these over-the-horizon networks as ‘4G’ systems, many of which promise landline broadband download speeds and high bandwidth to mobile handsets and laptops.”

Bill Gates in Junk Box October 16, 2007

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Had an email from Bill Gates on “The Age of Software-Powered Communications” in my Junk Box. You have to hand it over to the Junk Box team - they don’t discriminate or do they?

Mobile Advertising Book Update October 12, 2007

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After a frantic summer, things have been quiet on the Mobile Advertising book front except for working with reviewers to gather feedback which has been great thus far. We will be sharing some of that in the next 2-3 months. The manuscript is currently being reviewed by editors of John Wiley and we are expecting it back for our final review and approval in the next month of so.

Having spent so much time on the subject this year, will be looking for some new strategies and startups in this space at CTIA. If you have a unique value proposition, would love to hear from you.

China - Part III

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My final leg of trip was to Kunming and LiJiang - further southwest - getting close to Vietnam and Tibet. I thought Kunming will be a small city  but was shocked to see a New York City. This spring city was buzzing with nightlife and energy. Stone Forest is the main highlight of the city which is about 2 hrs from downtown.

LiJiang is a charming little old town at almost 5000 ft close to Tibet province. Highlights are Old Town which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site restored after the 1996 earthquake, The Jade Mountain at 5500 m, and the Tiger Leaping Gorge - believed to be the deepest gorge in the world.

The Old Town of LiJiang

The Tiger Leaping Gorge

Another season, Another CTIA October 11, 2007

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Will be making my bi-annual pilgrimage to CTIA in San Francisco 22-25th. Looking forward to catching up with colleagues and friends and making some new ones. Though the show is focused on both entertainment and enterprise, from the PR thus far, it seems entertainment will completely steal the show. Ballmer is doing the keynote on the enterprise side while the Facebook founder represents the fun side of the show. I am surprised that more keynotes haven’t been announced yet, more should be forthcoming.

We will have our post-CTIA report. Please let me know if you would like to see any particular company, technology, sector, or sub-segment covered or investigated in more depth.

Hope to run into some of you at the show.

China - Part II October 10, 2007

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From Beijing, I headed to Guilin - famous for its picturesque hills, rice fields, and hordes of tourists. That this city is completely (over) tooled for tourism would be an understatement. Guilin was the first city to be opened for tourism in the mid eighties. One has to really tune out hordes of tourists everywhere to really enjoy the surroundings and the mystical journey on Li river to Yangshuo. The river is so crowded with tour boats that it feels like a long train of big boats. However, once you are on your way, the towering peaks of the mountains help you forget the immediate vicinity of the people everywhere. The river level is barely knee deep and it is getting smoggy so who knows how long the beautiful area will survive. Btw, at one point, this area was under water. Over the years, the erosion has shaped these Karst Hills.

LBS Consumption

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On the heels of Navteq acquisition, LBS has been the focus of the industry. This morning, Telephia released some numbers to shed light on the segment.

According to the latest Telephia research, a service of The Nielsen Company, LBS represented 51 percent of the $118 million in revenue that downloadable mobile applications such as LBS, weather applications, chat/community, and personal organization tools generated during Q2 2007. In addition, more favorable carrier deck placement for LBS applications and the bundling of navigation services with data packages have contributed to record high downloads. However, overall consumer penetration for mobile applications hovers around five percent, as compared to penetration rates of 7-13 percent for other downloadable content like games, ringtones and premium SMS.

Of the $118 million in revenue that downloadable mobile applications such as LBS, weather applications, chat/community, and personal organization tools generated during Q2 2007, LBS represented 51 percent.

Networks In Motion (NIM)—an LBS navigation publisher for products including Verizon Wireless’ VZ Navigator—secured a 27 percent share of carrier revenue from mobile applications and leads all mobile application publishers. Telenav Mobile followed with a 15 percent share of carrier revenue and is another LBS navigation publisher.

Average Price Paid by Consumers for Mobile Applications (U.S.)
Mobile Application Average Price Paid
LBS                                    $9.23
Weather                             $3.82
Sports                                $4.58
Wallpapers/Pictures            $3.29
Music                                 $4.99
Maps/Directions                 $3.95
Personal Organization Tools $5.41

Source: Telephia Mobile Application Report, Q2 2007

Lack of Patent Strategy is going to cost you

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Vonage is learning this the hard way. Many companies go through product development or launch of new services without good understanding or execution of their IP strategy and then in some cases like Vonage’s pay a huge price that can literally drive you out of business.

Vonage paid Sprint $80M and is likely to pay a similar amount to settle with Verizon and believe me there are others with VoIP patents as well. A licensing arrangement up front would have set them back by only a fraction.

Google’s Mobile Strategy

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Google is slowly and steadily putting together the pieces of its mobile strategy though it is unclear what it might be in the long run. Recent purchase - Finland’s Jaiku. We might hear more from Google around CTIA though no major annoucement is expected.

Paying too much for acquisition

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After months of fiercely denying paying too much for Skype, Ebay finally acknowledged that it paid 50% too much. While I love Skype and it comes really handy during International trips, from a business point of view, the valuation never made sense. UTube is in the same category

China - Part I October 9, 2007

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I arrived into Beijing via Seoul in the evening hours making the jet lag pains manageable next morning. The drive through the city to the hotel gave the glimpse of a vibrant city that is preparing for a global Olympics party within a year. The construction projects everywhere were just amazing. This on top of a solid infrastructure across the city. Traffic is as bad as any major city, for some reason, the congestion used to hit the peak around 7pm daily.

Spent the first week in Beijing as the city and surroundings have a great deal to offer and can keep you busy for weeks. The compressed schedule however took us to the main sights - The Tinanmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and the most glamorous of all - The Great Wall of China. While others sites are impressive and have great historical significance, it is the Great Wall that truly captivates you. As you stand on this historic landmark traversing the peaks as far as the eyes can see in both directions, it take a while to truly comprehend the enormity of the task of building and managing logistics and support. Hiking up and down the serpentine alleys of the Wall was so cool that one almost forgets the sweltering heat. If you are heading that way - pick a site that is typically less crowded. It will allow you to absorb the surroundings and embed an experience that will remain with you forever.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu

The Gates of Forbidden City

The Temple of Heaven

The Summer Palace

Intellectual Property Talk October 2, 2007

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , add a comment

I am giving a talk on Protecting Intellectual Property on Thursday if anyone is interested. It is focused on entrepreneurs and companies looking to set up policies and procedures as well as understand the landscape of patents and IP.

More info at here

ZINOpreneur Education Series sessions are scheduled over a casual lunch in an intimate setting where the entrepreneurs can connect with peers. The series features speakers covering topics addressing challenges that entrepreneurs face.

In this session, we will discuss the basics of Intellectual Property and patents and how should companies and entrepreneurs strategize about protecting IP. We will also look at policies and procedures that need to be in place to ensure right IP is being captured at the right time to build competitive advantage. The session will be conducted by Chetan Sharma, President of Chetan Sharma Consulting - a leading strategist in the field of IP and Patents.