HP buys a Palm ? Big deal...

$1.2 billion for Palm Inc., the sale itself a non-event, 3Com and its spin-off reunited under the Hewlett-Packard umbrella... times have definitely changed over the past 10 years.

Even if the Palm + HP combo can propose a seamless handset-PDA-tablet-laptop-desktop platform, this episode is not likely to bring real disruption to the market. And to me, it doesn't mean that HP is becoming smart : it simply confirms that smartphones are becoming if not commodities at least more and more common things.

No change for Microsoft : WebOS won't kill Windows Mobile by itself. But the eventual emergence of a more consistant open / Linux-based alliance remains more than ever the base case scenario.

No change for Google : it still needs to succeed regardless of the OS, and Android / the Open Hanset Alliance are bound to merge with some rivals anyway.

No change for Apple : Cupertino still needs to change its strategy if it wants to become THE leader, which I doubt. And there's still a lot of money to make where it sits (and moves), including as an editor.

No change for Research In Motion : it still can stick to its profitable niche, or accept a nice offer.

And most of all, no change for Nokia : the leader in hardware and mobile OS has not been acting like one for too long.

mot-bile 2010


ITA Software : Google's dark cloud obscuring the skies ?

mot-bile 2010 - Location, location, location. That's what matters when you're purchasing properties.

ITA Software Inc., an expert in online travel solutions, is said to be the next target of Google. Google, a young and promising company, is said to have a few ambitions in things mobile. Come to think of it, Google Earth is the world's biggest virtual airline.

Big G strikes when all airlines are grounded by an icelandic volcano, and competitors can be fuming : some rely on ITA for their travel search engines.

Google's engines probably won't be damaged by their ashes.

Korea Telecom Qooks ebooks

mot-bile 2010 - In spite of a long literary tradition, Koreans are not big readers. Worse : in 2009, 90% of Korean publishers didn't print any new book.

Through the Korea Electronic Publishing Association, the Ministry of Culture is betting on ebooks to revive the habit (target : 100,000 ebooks per year). Kyobo Book estimates the Korean market at about KRW 1 tn (over USD 900) EOY 2010 and KRW 2.4 tn EOY 2012.

The Ministries of Knowledge Economy and Education are joining this national effort, which will also benefit local manufacturers : those guys didn't wait for the local market to do something (ie Samsung Papyrus, iRiver Story), but the issue became sensible after the launch of the iPhone, and the iPad buzz.

Harmonizing the 40 or so existing distribution platforms is a key factor of success, and the association recently held an "e-publication standardization forum" at the Korean Education & Research Information Service (KERIS).

Education is key in a country where families spend fortunes to help their kids survive one of the most competitive education systems in the world.

Precisely, for its first ebook distribution partners, Korea Telecom picked Woongjin Thinkbig, Inc., which holds a strong position in private tutoring text books, and Wisdomhouse Publishing Co., Ltd., which also has a specialization in educational contents.

The funny thing about the service is the brand : we've already mentioned Qook, KT's umbrella brand for home services. "eBook cafe / Book Cafe" makes sense because book cafes are getting popular in Korea. But "QOOK Book Cafe"
bookcafe.qook.co.kr) sounds like the Java hub for rogue accountants.


Lagardere Active meets YouTube

An interesting partnership was announced at the 2010 MIPTV between Lagardere and YouTube for the international distribution of online videos, ranging from short programs to fictions and documentaries.

Turning the group's traditional media brands (ie Elle) into truly multimedia cash machines... this 3-year agreement is vintage Didier Quillot, who already boosted digital revenues to 7.5% of Lagardere's total turnover.

YouTube / Google promotes its own key features : advertising and DRM, with the IDfication of each content and the total control of diffusion for each region. Of course, this is pure streaming and no download is allowed.

Both partners will share advertising revenues, and the enduser will access new contents for free :
. short in-house programs (caranddriver.com, elle.fr, europe.fr...) : 7,000 by summer 2010, 15,000 by EOY. Distribution : 45% for the French market
. long programs (Lagardere Entertainment) : 315 hours by summer 2010, 600 by EOY. Distribution : 80% France 20% International
. TV programs and cartoons from Lagardere channels, including TV archives. Distribution : 100% for a French audience.

mot-bile 2010


iAdMobsters and multitaskers

Apple will take a 40% for all ads on its new advertising platform : iAd.

Google will gobble AdMob (whose moto happens to be "Enriching Mobile") with the benediction of regulators on the grounds that Quattro Wireless* + iAd = Google left some room to whatever's left of competitors.

iAd focuses on in-App advertising across iPhone, iPad*, and iWhatevercomesnext. Steve Jobs estimates the potential at 1 billion ad impressions per day on existing Apple devices.

Google focuses on everywhere, including iPad, iPhone, and iPutaspellonyou. It's been a long time since Big G ditched that billboard advertising "over 1 billion burgers served".

But iPhone OS 4 also offers improvements in multitasking, a word Cupertino definitely seems to be getting a grasp on.

mot-bile 2010

* snatched by Apple last January (see "
SK Telecom pushes Android"). Google's purchase of AdMob last September has not been okayed yet.
** which eventually sold 450,000 units in 5 days instead of the 700,000 on day one earlier outoftheballparked by a fan (see "
iFad's deliberate marketing blur") - anyway a good score. More significant : 600,000 ebooks and 3.5 M apps downloaded (iPad apps store claims 3,500 applications).


FCC : the end of regulation or the end of non-regulation ?

mot-bile 2010 - A regulator that fails to regulate may need some fixing.

After being awarded the right to deregulate broadband by a Supreme Court ruling in 2005 on the ground that it would not be a telecom service but an information service, the FCC allowed broadband subs to plug whatever hardware or software they pleased to their access, but after that ordered ISPs to fight against peer-to-peer abuses. Comcast logically sued and won the case at a federal court.

That same FCC has also been working on a much advertised National Broadband Plan which now appears to be left to its own devices.

The only way out of this farcical situation would be for lawmakers to restore some regulatory power, a move that could prove unpopular for partisans of freedom on the liberal front (no regulation for the internet : that's fascism) as well as on the libertarian side (no regulation whatsoever : that's socialism). If Obama thought he was done with ideological battles between health care madness and financial reforms, here's yet another hot potato to catch before mid-term elections.


iFad's deliberate marketing blur - Naver / Livedoor

With 700,000 units sold on launch day including pre-orders (according to Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray), iPad already found its spot on the market. Apple hypists fueled this early success, but other segments may follow, including technophobe seniors who are neither interested in computing nor in exotic web browsing.

Other players targeted this segment, but the Orange Hello and Orange Tabbee proposition, for instance, is clear a deterrent for hypists (see "Orange Hello, is it me you're looking for ?"). Why ? Because it is marketed around functionality-segment duos that mirror the very classic engineer-marketer binome.

The smartest thing about the iFad is the deliberate marketing blur : Apple refuses to build artificial segmentations and prefers to let the market decide, hoping the device will find more niches than initially thought. But the manufacturer pushes the concept with a clearly identified "software-level warranty" to help the hardware concept look more sustainable in the potential purchaser's mind : iPad v1.0 is not the best tablet*, just like iPod was not the best PMP or iPhone the best smartphone, but just like iTunes came from Apple computers to secure the launch of iPod, iPod music platform served as a base for the iPhone, and iPhone apps are paving the way for the iPad.

So if the iPad is not a category killer per se, it could help kill artificial categories, and tear down artificial walls.

Just one word about NHN / Naver, who would be about to snatch the Livedoor portal and its 30 M subs put on the market by LDH Corp (formerly Livedoor Holdings). It reminds me of the Daum / Lycos deal a long time ago. Korea gains an entry point in Japan the same way it did in the US : in a very traditional way. And I hope Naver has bigger plans than Daum. For instance, I wonder which role Naver, as it enters a new country using non-latine alphabet / characters, intends to play in the promising hosting business related to Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA).

mot-bile 2010

* and certainly not the best ebook : too heavy, UI and screennot optimized for reading...


KT claims 500,000 iPhones

We've seen earlier how Korea, a laggard in smartphones, woke up with the help of iPhone* and the arrival of Android**. Now "smartphone" and "apps" pop up anywhere anytime, relegating "ubiquitous" or "well-being" to corny conversations. Among recent developments :

. KT announced today that it sold its 500,000th iPhone four months after launch, and that it's now batting a steady 4,000 new ones every day. Good score, but Samsung's Omnia 2 (Windows Mobile) will remain ahead (600,000th handset sold yesterday). Yet, Apple reaches beyond the smartphone, and KT estimated its market for apps, contents and software at KRW 470 bn, plus KRW 230 bn for accessories (KRW 700 bn means about USD 600 M these days). Unsurprisingly, early bird iPhone caught heavy mobile internet users : 44 times more than other KT customers (includes the majority of non users).

. Last month, Samsung made the headlines by snatching Android trademark for hardware in Korea, preventing rivals from branding any Android gizmo beyond the OS. LG's "Andro-1", an horizontal slider with keyboard sold exclusively by KT, definitely sounds borderline. Andro-1 itself is borderline : even if it came after Motorola's MotoROI (2.0) and the Samsung SHW-M100S (2.1), it runs on Android 1.5...

. In a country plagued with voice / email phishing scams, or even North Korean e-blitzkriegs, the brutal success of smartphones was bound to cause a considerable number of attacks much scarier than Rick Astley***. Competition among crimefigthers is quickly going wireless, and local expert AhnLab released new versions of its star antivirus : V3 Mobile for Android and V3 Mobile+ for iPhone. But operators don't want netcos to claim their own territories and the next day, mobile leader SK Telecom decided to offer McAfee antivirus to all its Android subs. Besides, even if for the moment the bulk of smartphone users are over 18, adult content is also becoming an issue...

Local internet powerhouses Naver and Daum don't want to be followers - Daum even planned to equip all its staff with iPhones ahead of the launch. Both are seizing opportunities and multiplying applications, and the coopetition between Korean netcos and MNOs will really become interesting.

mot-bile 2010

* "iPhone rocks Seoul and sacred cows"
** "SK Telecom pushes Android" followed by "Wal-Mart's Vudu Trance - home entertainment and apps"
*** see "iPhone worm raises its ugly head : Rick Astley"

Video In Print : an example in video

French advertizers' Bible Strategies published* this interesting video of a video : inserted in Enjeux-Les Echos (business news magazine), all commercials for Citroen DS3 car are played on small LCD screen with a rudimentary mike :

Beyond the mag (10,000 copies), the campaign run by agence H (Groupe Havas) also includes billboards featuring video and interactivity with cellphones.

For this model, the carmaker and its agency have been targeting urban hypists with an "anti-retro" claim, where Marilyn Monroe or John Lennon deliver dopey versions of "think different, think Pepsi".

The screen and holes in the cardboard for the mike do look retro compared to say the seamless and flexible epaper on that Minority Report subway, but that's enough for the buzz.

mot-bile 2010

"Le magazine Enjeux-Les Echos diffuse une vidéo dans ses pages" (Strategies 20100330)

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