20060424

Far and Middle East predators

China Mobile recently had to deny rumors of bidding for MIC (Millicom International Cellular), the most exotic mobile arm of the late Jan Stenbeck, once a specialist in military mobile comms (you RACAL you).
More than a tactical weapon, MIC could even become a Weapon of Mass Differenciation for today's most ambitious cellcos. Etisalat (Emirates Telecommunications Corp) and China Mobile already fought for a slice of Pakistan Telecommunications Co last year, but MIC offers more than a few crumbs (10M clients across 16 markets totalling 390M people).

Millicom's "strategic review" started with a cleanup of participations and the purchase of minority shares. The "Up for sale" sign has not yet been painted but deep-pocketed purchasers already left fingerprints all over the place (the heavier the smearer). Beyond deep pockets are required patience, expertise in risk management and a knack for caligraphy (this may not look like your usual J or S curve).




20060422

Subsidies - 2nd Korean Wave

KTF ignited Korea's second round of handset subsidies* and SKT followed yesterday. Consumers don't quite understand the sophisticated grids proposed by the operators but the message is clear : you'll get more if you're a loyal big spender.
For example, at SK Telecom, you're still offered 70,000 wons if you joined the company during the last three years and if you spend less than 30,000 wons per month... but if you've been a client for over 8 years and spend over 90,000 wons per month, subsidies reach 240,000 wons and that's a 26% increase since March the 27th.
People who joined the back-then-not-yet-broad-bandwagon in '96 and spend about 80 euros per month are either business users or deep pocket early adopters (if not both) : core targets for such expensive next gen devices as DMB handsets.

The thing is SKT badly need to boost subscriptions to TU media and its business flavor TU media Corp**. End of March, almost all SKT consumers had WAP enabled (99.5%) and color (92.8%) phones. And it looks as if not everybody will need 3G (unless the operator gives up 2G) : EV-DO penetration reaches 44.6% (of which 90% are June enabled), but the score was already 38.3% end of March last year and SKT started before Japan's KDDI, a 96% 3G cellco***. The same could be said about Nate - active users stuck around 55% of the customer base.
Actually, from a wireless ARPU point of view, I'm not sure TU is such a great booster. But far beyond, the transformation of the cellco into a powerful multimedia broadcaster and content provider remains impressive.
SKT's other growth engines require time : m-commerce becomes mainstream (and it shows in ARPU), but international operations remain quite small (of the 20 M global customer bases, 19.7 M live in Korea...). We'll see how Helio** performs in the US.
And we'll aslo see how KTF performs in Korea with W-CDMA and his new international partner NTT DoCoMo...


* see "Saving private Korea Inc - back to subsidies, but no way back" (20060326).

** see previous posts on SKT's S-DMB service (TU) and US M-VNO (Helio).
*** even if you cannot compare the circumstances : SKT a leader in a pure CDMA country, and KDDI a CDMA laggard in a PDC country (who became #2 thanks to an aggressive 3G strategy).



20060415

Another good fairy over Helio's cradle

After the 65+ million MySpace members*, Helio LLC adds the half billion Yahoo! users to his wishlist.
Among the key features included in the partnership : Yahoo! Search (dedicated button), Yahoo! Shortcuts, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messengers and all Yahoo! content channels, plus cross-marketing operations.

More partnerships should follow, but the not-yet-born M-VNO already presents a healthy face. Technical witchcraft plus marketing know-how... SK Telecom's DNA starts showing.



* see "
MySpace Mobile On Helio with Hero and Kickflip" (20060220)



20060413

Excuse my French

Announcement :
If you're sick and tired of my twopenny puns written in a more than poor English, learn that from now on, you can also enjoy my twoeurocent puns written in an utterly broken French on CNET France*.
That blog is also about mobility and innovation, only in the langue de Moliere - some of us froggies are still moving and considering disruptions beyond the classique strike / demonstration acception.
For the bulk of mot-bile's visitors who don't know a word of French, stay tuned.
For the others, stay tuned too. I've got 5 blogs to feed** now, and you don't know where the next blogule will land.

And please keep feeding me back with your comments and remarks, which are always more than welcomed. Provided you don't write in Korean, that is.
Best regards,
Stephane


*
http://blogs.cnetfrance.fr
** besides mobility, some blogules in
French and in English, plus a soccer playground in French (footlog).



20060412

SlingPlayer Mobile - placeshifting or shoplifting ?

Sling Media Inc exhibited its recently released SlingPlayer Mobile in Cannes*. For $29.9 per month, you will be able to turn your Windows Mobile device into a remote home TV, "remote home" meaning you can zap on the go through any channel you've subscribed to at home (local channels, pay TV, pay per view...).
SlingPlayer Mobile is marketed as an extension of the Slingbox device, which "placeshifts" your set top box anywhere you bring it and works on Wi-Fi or 3G.
Instead of "placeshifting", cablecos and cellcos would rather talk about "shoplifting" or "boxjacking" : teleporting Spock is good entertainment but teleporting access is bad for business.

Well... slings are supposed to send things that hurt over the air. The problem is the said things are not supposed to fly on their own. Sling Media Inc seems to have made a perfect shot through a loophole and could prove to be as sustainable as TiVo**. Time will tell whether it was pure blind luck or the beginning of something.

* at MIPTV featuring Milia : 3GSM moved to Barcelona but many cellcos keep roaming the center's alleys
** not so sure : TiVo hosts more value than this smart remote control, TiVo already proved to be legal, and even TiVo is not untouchable yet.



20060410

Nano vs Micro - The Other Yellow Peril

China's Desert Storm op is a total success : Korea was caught by surprise and had so shut down key production lines for a few hours. Unlike plasma screens, semicons were preserved thanks to outstanding confinement procedures.
The Empire of the Middle struck its neighbor's silicon core with silicon. Sand, to be more accurate. From the Gobi desert, as usual ; these yellow fog days are happening more and more often and because only the smallest dust travels all the way, both humans and machines fear for their lives.
Last week-end, the volume of dust went over the 2,000 microgram per cubic meter mark. Instead of enjoying the scents of the capital's trees magnificent blooming, Seoulites had to cover their face.
So much for my cultural lag : I had just landed in Incheon after a few days in Dubai.



20060409

Qualcomm and Microsoft - the unusual fees plus expenses

Microsoft are in danger. Washington sent a diplomat to Brussels. As if Redmond Inc needed lessons in that field. From the Administration that sent John "UN Bomber" Bolton whack the United Nations...
Qualcomm are in danger. After the EEC, Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating the CDMA Ksar, even visiting its offices in Seoul. We're talking about the very state that invested in Qualcomm a few years ago, creating a CDMA heaven in a GSM world... a state that is now not very likely to let MediaFLO bloom in the land of DMB.
The royalty of royalties are in danger. Windows and Office are going Live and the company that used to not believe in the worldwide web may find a way to counter Linux, Mozilla, OpenOffice & Co, but neither Microsoft nor Qualcomm will enjoy the same wealth ten years from now if they don't change their business models or better, their ways of doing business.



20060407

Digital rights and sports wrongs

Netcos, telcos, cellcos, ISPs... Look at them fight for the rights to broadcast the 2006 FIFA World Cup and other major sports events. Did they only read the labels beforehand ? Did they even check what came in the package under the nice wraps ?
Partners and official sponsors are associated to the successes and failures, the world records as well as the criminal ones. Eventjackings by terrorists ? I'll take it. A Julifest project by German and Polish neo-Nazis ? On the house. Athletes on steroïds ? Don't mention it (official MLB broadcasters ESPN don't : actually, they will even air a 10-part series on the rise and rise of pristine Barry Bonds...).

Much food for thought, a lot of trash for sewers, but as an accomplice, you cannot join the bashing crew.
Sir Ruppert found the right angle. As usual, it's not the moral one : after joining News Corp, the MySpace community kind of turned into a web tabloïd for the masses by the masses. Because bashing became the new National Pastime, here's your DYI O'Reilly Factor, your own ultimate real-TV-over-you-name-it.
MySpace Mobile will be launched at about the same time as ESPN mobile*. On the same Sprint 3G EV-DO network. Expect a full coverage of the World Series.

* see "MySpace Mobile On Helio with Hero and Kickflip" (20060220) and "SK-Earthlink - postponing and smartcasting" (20051021)



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