2001 2011 2021 revolutions

The Nokia-Microsoft knot tying didn't quite come as a surprise - more the confirmation of a double failure, and the sign that times they have a-changed over the past decade.

Remember the time when both giants were competing for mobile data supremacy ? Well combined they still lead the smartphone OS barnum, but not as cultural leaders.

Ten years from now, we'll probably be laughing at the Apple-Google war - or rather at the Google-Facebook face off. Ten years ago, former webehemoth Yahoo! was licking his post-bubble wounds, toddler Google waiting for better times to consider its IPO, and Facebook was not even on its founders' brainwave maps (whoever said founders may be). Ten years ago, MNOs were trying to figure out how to recover from insane auctions for 3G spectrum.

2021 top duettists may not be born yet. Maybe Apple could be one of them. Not Apple the device manufacturer (still struggling with a sub-5% market share), but Apple the champion of cloud management services, and your favorite remote librarian.

But the next tide is coming. Take Southcentral Google, for instance : rumor has it they're considering a merger with fellow Baby Googles Southeastern Google and Northwestern Google. Announcements to be made in Seoul at the 5GLTE World Congress.

mot-bile 2011


SK Telecom keeps Hoppin

While I was blogging about KT's cloud computing services, rival SK Telecom was presenting its own cloud computing platform to the press, N-Screen.

The idea is to make convergence as seamless as possible for the enduser and service providers : the platform automatically recognises the device and adapts the content to it, and all DRM hassles have been taken care of in advance.

There too, your handset is as more a smartphone as a smartTV enabler. It's a Samsung device, of the now well established Galaxy S family, and it's branded Galaxy S Hoppin (among other characteristics : Android 2.2, 1 GHz CPU, 4-inch Super AMOLED display...). Subventions included, it will cost you KRW 300,000.

SKT has already been advertising massively for Hoppin, with an enduser glued to the screen in every context, even asleep. Since Hoppin is also the name of their cloud computing service, they will eventually communicate about other devices (TV, PCs, tablets, fixed phones... - note that more and more models of fixed phones feature a color screen in Korea).

N-Screen is an open platform, meaning first of all that everybody is invited to join. To prove successful, that should include, beyond endusers, more than a few content providers or handset manufacturers.

Same story for Android platforms : SK Telecom boasts about its close partnership with Google in hardware and software development (GED / Google Experience Device, Samsung Galaxy, Motorola Xoom Tablet, LG Electronics G-Slate...), and it is a clear leader at the handset level (SKT sold 83% of all Android handsets in Korea and now averages 20,000 units a day), but the operator is still struggling at the BtoBtoC level, even if developers are proposed a "T Academy" to create more apps for the "T Store".

This press conference followed the announcement of a partnership with Japan's KDDI and Softbank Mobile for NFC-based mobile payment. Smart Poster will be operational in both countries and aims for the global market. Local competitors with exotic proprietary solutions, take notice :

The aim of the trial test is to establish mutual compatibility between countries using NFC as a common international standard instead of existing local Korean or Japanese mobile financial service methods. Currently in Korea, telecommunication companies provide mobile financial services such as credit cards, public transportation, stock trading and banking using a finance-enabled USIM chip called the 'Combi Card'. While Japan's finance service utilizes a self-developed method called 'Felica' by installing a second chip, apart from the USIM, within the mobile device

NTT DoCoMo, a partner of KT, must have appreciated the ironic tribute. Some may hear some bitterness in the tone : as we often mentioned earlier, SKT has somehow abandoned its cultural and innovative leadership to Korea Telecom. It reshuffled its management and pledged to develop a "young, speedy organization", to promote "openness" and "collaboration", and to regain confidence overseas.

MelOn recently made it in Indonesia, and this partnership with Japanese MNOs is really significant, but it will take more to be recognized as a major value aggregator at the international level. Let's see how the new management takes up the challenge.

mot-bile 2011


Communication-finance convergence: KT joins SKT

Seems like SK Telecom's debuts as a credit card operator (see previous posts about the SKT-Hana Bank deal) spurred the competition. Korea Telecom announced yesterday that their participation in BC Card, the national leader, would increase from 1.98 to 35.83% after purchases from Woori Bank (20%) and Shinan Bank (13.85%). KT also negociates a further 4.03% participation with Busan Bank.

Lucky Koreans MNO: they can become content majors or financial institutions just by signing checks. And they formed a common lobby with other financial institutions to promote mobile banking in Korea (SK Telecom and KT with Mastercard, Shinhan Card, Samsung Card).

"Finance-communications convergence" comes handy as MNOs need to completely revamp their business models : voice revenues keep decreasing, and the data equation went crazy.

Significantly, KT is now insisting on Wifi coverage in its smartphones advertising campaigns, and promoting uCloud for consumers also as an IPTV service (Smart TV tomorrow I guess). Remaining a leader in cloud computing is an absolute must... and it sure beats car rentals as diversification (KT are also campaigning about that peripheric service of theirs).

mot-bile 2011


Atos Origin and the Three Musketeers

Atos Origin and France's 3 MNOs Orange, SFR, and Bouygues Telecom created Buyster, a JV devoted to ecommerce with a focus on micropayments and a first batch of merchants already on board (Darty, Rue du Commerce, Aquarelle...).

Led by Eric Gontier, a mobile multimedia veteran with an Atos origin (via Axime, who merged with Sligos to found Atos Origin during the late XXth Century), the new platform targets within 5 years a 10% market share in ecommerce against the likes of PayPal.

The concept also ties the Buyster account to a bank card (transactions will require a Buyster code), but it adds a link to the phone number, a key ID in this mobile world of ours. Conveniently enough, Orange, SFR, and ByT manage the bulk of France's numbers, be they fixed or mobile.

So long life to the new venture... and good luck for the URL : buyster.com is owned by an Australian retailer (buyster.com.au). From checks to kangaroo bounces... And oh, Box Creative LLC recently preempted buysters.com.

mot-bile 2011

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