Free: alea jacta est

Unsurprisingly, Virgin Mobile / Numericable / Bollore & Co didn't bid for France's 4th 3G license*, leaving Free Mobile as the only official candidate.

"Free Mobile" is neither Free nor Iliad but a special vehicle (100% Iliad) likely to welcome new investors on board... should it win.

Losing a beauty contest of one would be embarrassing. Not finding MNOs eager to invest and bring some know-how after winning could be even more embarrassing.

ORASCOM dropped from the race earlier this month but remains as deep-pocketed as a few days ago. Other players stay tuned, including MVNOs.

French regulator ARCEP should give its verdict by Christmas. Free targets a Time To Market 18 months later.

French consumers also expect gifts from the new entrant, but incumbents will probably anticipate as well, donning brand new Santa Claus suits a few months before #4's arrival on the market.

mot-bile 2009

* see
Iliad's 20091028 communique


In Google times, where are the operators ?

Google and Verizon Wireless will release several Android devices every year, starting with two in 2009 (courtesy HTC and Motorola), contributing to a global roaster of 18 gizmos for this OS.

Microsoft announced 30 Windows Mobile 6.5 devices by EOY 2009. It speaks volumes of Redmond's intentions to remain ahead of Apple in smartphones. Or to remain in smartphones altogether.

Ever the sexier BlackBerry announced the Storm of the century and new Curves.

Meanwhile, Kindle goes global : Amazon intends to become the worldwide cultural leader before Apple makes its splash in the ebook reader / app space.

We're talking platforms and OS but Amazon is into grocery, Google into advertising, Microsoft into healthcare (a cash cow for antivirus labs). BlackBerry ? A "manufactoperator" which somehow succeeded in opening itself without losing its consistency.

Nokia "pushes" Symbian as a Wikipedia style fundation, Palm "WebOS" as a more or less open platform (open as in up for grabs ?)... but the mojo seems to belong to the Open Handset Alliance, the movement supporting Android. Verizon Wireless is not even a member, and SonyEricsson could be jumping on board anytime soon, along with other nondescript manufacturers and operators.

The OS wars are not over. They're simply getting more boring. Differenciation will at last converge towards that forsaken player, the user.


3DTV, 2D screens, 1Dollar from the referee

Imagine the referee, in the middle of the game, paying from his own wallet new recruits to improve the quality of play.

In Korea, convergence is also about blending roles : mobile operators can become banks, and regulators invest directly in new technologies. Well, isn't it about regulating the pace of innovation ?

In that field, Korea Inc. usually needs to be cooled down but when it comes to 3DTV, the country's lagging behind Japan, even if LG released a product last summer.

So the KCC will invest KRW 2 bn (1,000 Korean wons = about USD .85 these days) to facilitate the first 3DTV commercial tests in the country in 2010. Too late for the World Cup ? Officials are rather mentioning the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics, to be held home in Daegu (good PR), and the 2012 London Olympics. The actual target for worldwide recognition and mass market HDTV.

mot-bile 2009

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