Friday, November 24, 2006

Goldman Sachs quit Softbank Financing - eMobile?

The FT reported on Wednesday that Goldman Sachs have withdrawn from the Y1,450bn ($12.4bn) refinancing for Softbank’s acquisition of Vodafone Japan. The article says that Goldman wouldn't commment on the reason for the withdrawl and the FT claims analysts believe GS has some misgivings about the term of loan, supported by revenues from the mobile arm.
abigidea? reckons that something is up here, and the reason for the withdrawl may be something to do with Goldmans recent investment in Sachio Semmoto's new mobile venture, eMobile. Admittedly, I'm not too familiar with Japanese corporate governance but I would suspect that providing significant equity funding to eMobile (GS holds approximately 25% of eMobile) while at the same time providing significant debt facilities to one of its major competitors may be deemed a classic conflict of interest.
Dr Semmoto, the legendary Japanese entrepreneur behind KDDI and eAccess has now got his sights set on the mobile sector and is using eMobile as his vehicle for disrupting the Japanese market in a similar fashion to what he did with fixed telecoms (KDDI) and broadband internet access (eAccess). A recent article in Red Herring revealed that eMobile is building out its own next generation wireless network and has recently signed a roaming agreement with NTTDoCoMo to provide gapfill until the network is complete. A data-only offering is expected in March 2007 with nationwide voice services scheduled for March 2008.

Further info:
eMobile corporate profile

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Skype without a PC

There's been a lot of buzz this week about Skype Mobile, but before we crack that - I think the home experience needs to be sorted first - and me thinks this is the solution. Skypestyle are selling exactly what I need chez moi - a Skype handset (the RTX Cordless DualPhone 3088) that doesnt require the PC running in order to work.
Comes with two main parts; handset & charging station, and the base station. The base station plugs in to your router and telephone line and you can plug the charging station in anywhere in your pad. You can then make and receive both Skype and "normal" telephone calls from the same handset.
Having the PC on, connected and headset avaialble was an early adoption barrier for Skype, which people put up with so that they could make a free call. With this simplification of the user experience, it should trigger even higher usage as the handset is such a familiar hardware medium for making calls. Presumably, you can also check you contact list to identify a victim to call. The only downside to this is the price - 109 of the UK's finest green sheets!
Buy it here at SkypeStyle
Noticed @ Red Ferret

SunSim - Pre-paid Holiday Talk & Text

SunSim have launched a pre-paid offer to German residents, providing cheap(er) text and calls when abroad. In-country (Germany) calls are priced at €0.25/min while calls from abroad back to German fixed lines are priced at €0.35/min with a one-time €0.19 connection fee, and €0.45 for calls to German mobile networks. SMS are priced at €0.25 for most of Europe. The service doesnt require a monthly contract and top-ups start from €5.

Mobile Flickr

Flickr have launched a mobile site at Great for finding free mobile wallpaper :-)

See previous post here

Via SymbianOne

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mobile YouTube - TinyTube

Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about a Verizon deal with YouTube to distribute videos via wireless and TV networks. The plan is to initially provide viewing access to the top 50/100 clips and then follow this up with the ability to post a clip from your mobile.

TinyTube are already providing the first part of this - a mobile site where you can download and view the latest featured clips on YouTube.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mobile Monday Germany

Mobile Monday is coming to Germany with the first gathering scheduled for December 4th at Ernst & Young offices in Düsseldorf. Speakers include Russell Buckley of Admob and MobHappy, Ajit Jaokar from FutureText, Dr. Alexander Lautz at T-Mobile Deutschland and Carsten Schwertfeger from Vodafone.
The second meeting is scheduled for the 5th Feb in Munich.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

List of all Java Handsets

This is a handy list of nearly all Java handsets broken down by manufacturer, model, MIDP, screen res, JSR support, RAM, CLDC config etc etc blah blah.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Top 12 operators - 1.2 Billion Customers!

MobileZoo provides a breakdown of the top 12 mobile operators "carriers" in 05 and their proportionate customer bases. Being an employee of Vodafone, I must admit I was slightly surprised and alarmed to read that we generate a total revenue and ARPU of..... zero!

Unified Short Code Launched in the UK

Full article here in Cellular-News
Well done to MX Telecom - this is another step in the right direction towards simple and unified mobile service experiences.

Under the Radar: Mobility Conference

The Under the Radar Mobility Conference looks like a mini-Demo, with a sharp focus on some interesting trends in the mobile space; imaging, social messaging, advertising and payments.

"On November 16, 2006, IBDNetwork will host its sixth one-day Under the Radar event, which will feature 32 emerging startups in the mobile sector. Under the Radar will take place on at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View, CA. You’ll see a collection of companies in areas such as mobile content/video; sms and messaging; voice services; marketing and advertising services; and a host of enabling technologies. From the industry experts and pundits to the company presentations and demos, you will learn about the future of mobility- it’s challenges and opportunities from consumer adoption to monetization of services".
Confirmed companies include:

4info Admob CascadaMobile ComVu Daem Interactive EQO Flurry GreyStripe Juice Wireless Loopt mChek MobiFusion Mobileplay Mobo MotionDSP Nexage Ontela PayWi Pixpulse Pixsense Plusmo Rocketalk Renzoo Sapphire Mobile Systems ScanR Sharpcast Snapvine TalkPlus TinyPictures Veeker Voxlib Winksite

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blyk - an ad-funded MVNO

News of a yet another MVNO to tackle the heavily congested UK mobile market has broken. The company, Blyk (further evidence of the fashionable trend not to use vowels in your company name) has funding from Soffinova, and a management team that is hotter than Nokias HQ Sauna. Blyk intend to offer a mobile phone service, initially targeted at the UK's young & fun segment. The key USP and differentiator is that the service will offer free calls (and text?) funded by targeted advertisements. The press release and other available information is short on detail, presumably to maintain an advantage until launch mid next year.

I was surprised to read that Blyk have opted to launch a new MVNO with all the hassle and OPEX overhead of SIM distribution, handset subsidisation, customer service provision and marketing. An alternative approach would be to develop a proposition and product to address the ad-funded model and convince existing operators to market this to the appropriate segment. Although most operators have been taking a very close look at this topic, and producing mountains of powerpoint on the opportunity, most are a long way away from launching a proposition. Blyk could harness this opportunity and provide the operators with a one-stop shop solution that addresses the entire value-chain, from advertiser to device.

As I said, the product details are murky, so we shouldn't go jumping to conclusions assuming that every SMS sent will generate a reply from Coca-Cola. Mobile devices and their associated networks can be very clever things, enabling very smart value-add to an advertiser that traditional advertising outlets and even the web have no way of even coming close to. Location, presence, content purchasing history , device type, roaming propensity and so on cumulatively have the potential to explode CPM rates and finally offer the detailed, auditable and accountable trail that all advertisers and media-buyers crave.

Read more in:
Blyk Blog
International Herald Tribune

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Mobile Blogs...

Miguel-Angel, a fellow Future Products colleague (and top bloke) in Madrid is blogging about mobile, the web and other topics at Azulares (Spanish), and Katie Lips has started a new mobile innovation blog at NewIdeasInMobile. Both have much more creative and technical dexterity than myself which is clearly visible in the layout, design and general usability of their sites. Check em out....

Motask - mobile To-Do list

Motask is a simple editable to-do list, accessible via the web and your mobile phone. Handy.

iF Design Award, BenQ 2006

"A mobile becomes many things you need: When more functions must be put into a single device; when a mobile phone tries to do everything, the solutions are always too complex. The functionality losses its familiar forms to communicate with users that result in difficult use and compromised experience. Arbitrary interface causes user confusion. The Black Box concept is to recall and respect the classic long-time conventions and real-world experiences of using various common tools and devices; keep only the meaningful and minimal interface elements to fulfill the maximal user desires. Back to classics. Back to basics". Go here for more...

Friday, November 03, 2006

the YouTube deal....what really happened?

Mark Cuban sheds light on what may have really happened at YouTube in the run-up to G-day.

This is a snap I took of the deserted items table at Heathrow airport. Some spurious observations; more people smoke than brush their teeth, more people brush their teeth than use deodorant and finally, buy shares in Colgate and Vittel. I would like to know where all these items end up - i hope not in the bin, could they be handed out free to the homeless?

Rubbish research, Zune v's iPod

A new survey conducted by ABI Research has shown that many prospective MP3 player buyers — even owners of iPods — would be likely to choose Microsoft's Zune player. 1725 teenage and adult US residents were asked whether they planned to buy an MP3 player in the next 12 months. Of those responding that they were likely to do so, 58% of those identifying themselves as existing iPod owners and 59% of those who owned other brands said they would be "somewhat likely" or "extremely likely" to choose a Microsoft Zune player over an iPod or another brand of MP3 player."Our conclusion," says principal analyst Steve Wilson, "is that iPod users don't display the same passionate loyalty to iPods that Macintosh users have historically shown for their Apple products." Only 15% of iPod owners said they were "not very likely" or "not at all likely" to choose Zune. link here

These kind of statements P*ss me off and are completely misleading, but they're everywhere and you have to watch out for them. Firstly, the piece fails to tell us how many respondents actually planned to replace their music player in the next 12 months. Given that iPods retail at $200/300, its not the kind of device I would expect to have a rapid replacement cycle. This data is important to ascertain the significance and value of what comes next.
Secondly, what does "somewhat likely" really mean? I may be somewhat, kind of, possibly likely, maybe if i get a good deal or discount, perhaps almost interested in buying it? I suspect the ratio of "somewhat likely" to "extremely likely" is heavily weighted towards those seated firmly on the fence.
Finally, Mr Wilsons conclusion is flawed. How can you make a statement on iPod loyalty based on showing an audience a picture of a product that hasn't even launched, and that most haven't even heard about.

Friday rant over.