20060120

You look WonderPhone tonight

This week, Les Echos mentioned WonderPhone were considering MediaFLO as well as DVB-H and DMB-T for the "push to store" concept they've been lobbying for since last october at the French NRA. I guess Qualcomm would love to enter by the content window after being turned down at the infrastructure door...
Along with the article came a crossbar handset, the kind of beauties dominating the airwaves in Korea since TV and movies entered mobility. T-DMB services (dubbed "take out TV") joined SKT's S-DMB Tu Media last month, but handsets are just arriving now. LG (the manufacturer) also released a T-DMB LG PDA called PM80 and big enough to tear your pockets off... judging by the size at least - I didn't read the price tag.
LG Telecom (the operator) don't offer DMB, nor even MediaFLO. So they decided to offer mobile TV for free and KTF may well follow suit.
But such devensive gifts have nothing to do with innovation, and broadband Korea will go even more broadband this year : FTTH keeps spreading* and KT will launch their Wibro services next April in Seoul. The fixed incumbent intends to compete with SKT & KTF's HSDPA much more aggressively than it did with their WiFi services (Nespot).
In the meanwhile, ReignCom Ltd (iRiver's manufacturer) are building an impressive (and not so unreminiscent of N-GAGE) platform around their new Wibro game console : partners include KT, POSdata Co. (system integrator), CJ Internet and NHN (Hangame portal).
How do you say "plenty" in Korean ? "Manta"... Which leads us back to WonderPhone : Manta happens to be the name of their mobile game portal.

* I've been enjoying it at home for one year now. In Seoul, because as far as Paris is concerned, I understand FT were just planning a few thousand lines for the next two years at 4 to 5 times the price charged in Seoul...
A few links : wonder-phone.com - nespot.com - reigncom.com



20060117

Cloned cell... phones in Korea

Dispite HWANG Woo-Suk's disgrace, Korea remains the world leader in cell cloning... Cell phones, that is.
The MIC's Central Radio Management Office already seized 860 cloned cell phones in 2004 - they scored an amazing 6,600 for 2005. We're talking actual stem cells : cloners steal serial phone numbers and use them with stolen handsets.
This shift from Hello Moto to Hello Dolly appears unethical, but not so difficult thanks to Doc Jacobs' unsecure CDMA technology. So I'm affraid this Hanryuwood remake of Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones shan't play at a theater near you if you live in a GSM area.
Yet, T-Mobile, who expect their 3G inside laptops to mushroom in 2006, will face another kind of cell duplication phenomenon : Mushroom Networks and WiBoost Inc will peer-to-peerly help individuals share their DSL home connections with their friends and neighbors. If you operate a DSL joint, the "Got mushrooms ?" moto will resonate like a fairly bad trip.



20060110

Movio Modio Modeo

Following their Pittsburgh, PA trials, Modeo LLC (the new name for Crown Castle Mobile Media) will launch DVB-H services (including audio and video podcasting) across 30 US markets (including NYC) by the end of 2007.
Meanwhile, BT released some data from their BT Movio DAB trials (1,000 users) : unsurprisingly enough considering the technology and the services, digital radio was more popular than digital TV with 90 mns per week vs 66. 50% of the time, mobile TV is home TV, with a 6 P.M. prime time... One should wonder whether the age of broadband - at least one screen in every room - will make this kind of usage irrelevant, but up to now, the Korean case proved mobile TV usages could bloom even in the dead middle of the broadband home / office spheres. The fact is mobile TV is more personal TV than the set in a teenager's bedroom, mobile TV is more seamless than TV on the go. Two thirds of BT Movio users would pay £8 per month for the service (translation : reality would put that around one fourth max, especially when they learn digital radio will be free), and one third would change for an operator with this service (make that one third max).
Because of BT's intense PR, Nokia are already asked why they chose DVB-H over DAB, whilst the latter is clearly out of the global race for mobile TV. Mainstream medias don't even mention DMB, Nokia's and DVB's biggest competitor. For the moment, argumentation appears like a walk in the park for Nok-Nok.



The ultimate wireless killer app ? Ask Stephen King

Since you are a cellular network operator, worrying about health issues is part of your daily job and responsibility. You also have to cope with irrationality and urban legends but come January 24, 2006, you will regret those peaceful days.
The launch of the year has of course something to do with entertainment but not with TV. Yet.
Stephen King is releasing "Cell" on January 24, 2006, and you don't want to consider that a minor event. We're talking millions of fans reading about a genuine killer application : over the air signals that turn your dear customer into something even scarier than a churner. You'd better prepare your hotlines for this crisis.

Otherwise, the King of ARPU (Average Reader Per Universe) could become your worst nightmare.



20060108

At the count of 3, Hutch disappears and FOMA turns 20

3 added one million subs between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7, reaching a grand total of 11M : +10% over last quarter, the sales department can be proud... but how about the CFO ?
Hutchison Whampoa Limited are giving up the lead in Hutchison Telecom International Limited : Orascom Telecom* took 19.3% of it, leaving HWL right under 50% (49.8%). They may want to strenghten their wireless activity, they obviously don't want to consolidate it anymore.
Especially after HWL and HTIL secured (two weeks ago) a 5.1 bn rupee loan supposed to "enable the companies' two indirect non-wholly owned units, JayKay Finholding (India) Pvt Ltd and Usha Martin Telematics Ltd, to acquire shares to be issued by Hutchison Essar Ltd (HEL) pursuant to a rights issue"...
Now liberated from the Orange brand, Hutch Essar (formerly known as Hutchison Max) claim 10M subs and push their own new brand : "Hutch", symbolized by an ugly drooling dog. The name definitely has something to do with HWL, but the logo doesn't look 3ish at all. Furthermore, the color switched from orange to pink. Now whenever T-Mobile wants to make it into India, they'll have to tame this pet from HEL.
Vodafone badly wanted to make it into India and that made sense : Arun Sarin wasn't born in Helsinki, India is all the rage for investors worrying about a reverse Chinese syndrom, and Master Voda just loves winners (see how they dumped ManU for McLaren ?). So after wolfing Telsim down, Vodafone take another small slice of another big cake (after China Mobile, 10% of Bharti Tele-Ventures).

NTT DoCoMo with they could rule over China and India as well as they rule over Japan : they reached the 20M FOMA users mark right after reaching the 50M subscribers plateau. As expected, they will soon take over KDDI as the 3G leader at home : their 40% migration rate** should be compared to KDDI's 95%+ (nevermind Vodafone KK's 15%).
What wasn't expected from the beginning was the time it took them to catch up : they lost about 6 months to glitches that could have been avoided. And there, I'm not talking about the baby steps. Oh, by the way... did you notice how DoCoMo now claim they launched FOMA in October 2001 instead of May 2001 ? Another example of revisionism this side of the "Sea of Korea"...



* The Egyptian operator is growing ambitions : 14.5M subs 12/2004 end of 2004, 17,5M on March the 31st, 30M end of 2005. They keep advertising on CNN International, target 50M subs end of 2006 and should open new joints after Egypt (MobiNil), Algeria (Djezzy), Pakistan (Mobilink), Iraq (IraQna), Bangladesh (Banglalink), Tunisia (Tunisiana) and Zimbabwe (Telecel Zimbabwe).
** Also : 45.4M i-mode subs (90% of all customers) of which 32.5M have i-appli enabled kentais (70% of i-mode customers).



20060106

CES2006 - beyond Gates, real openings

Billy Boy's pathetic remarks about Google's tendency to overhype future announcements (look who's talking) made the headlines, but I'm eager to see how T-Mobile performs next march with their HSDPA laptops. Less glam but more subs ?
Quite impressed also by Samsung's massive nextgen overload : Blue-ray, MPEG4, Wibro, MediaFLO, GPRS/EVDO S/T-DMB, DVB-H... you name it ! Plus another striking partnership : after Vodafone in the mobile world (by the way, Sammy just demonstrated HSDPA at 3.6Mbps), Comcast and set-top boxes.

They're starting 2006 at the top, but can they keep the pace ?



20060103

Happy birthday, happy new year of the foxy dragon

History tells us Tim Berners-Lee invented the WorldWideWeb back in 1989 at the CERN.
Headline news tell us the first web page was published 15 years ago on time for Christmas 1990. The first web page could be published because the key to the web had been created.
15 years later, competition seems to revive in the browser area. Thanks to mobile access but also thanks to a cute penguin and a foxy dragon.
My stats for december 2005 show that Firefox snatched 15% of the traffic for this excuse for a blog (+ 1% for Mozilla). Safari hunted another 2,5% while Konqueror ruled over 1%. Opera charmed yet another 0.3% to which Netscape added 0.2%. MSIE claimed 80% of this humble pie. Down from 90% 3 months ago.
If Netscape is almost dead, Mosaic is still alive. Behind the question mark on your Internet Explorer toolbar, that is. MSIE was not brought to you by Microsoft inventors since Microsoft never invented anything but virtual cash cows ; IE is based on NCSA Mosaic (TM), the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
I happened to visit the Urbana-Champaign campus back in 1989 on my way from Chicago to New Orleans. Instead of trying a few lousy pitches in the stadium that Fighting Illini built, I mighta coulda shoulda... sent better pitches.

But I waited till 1993 to use the web on a regular basis and join a online gaming company.
The thing is OS and browsers are not much fun to me. Even with a cute penguin or a foxy dragon.



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