Just coming back from holiday …

Sorry for the radio silence .. Just coming back from holiday. At Bangkok international airport waiting for Swissair flight to London via Zurich.

Had the pleasure of meeting Callum Laing expat brit and a great source of info on Thailand for all of us in London

Also thanks to Andy Stephenson (Third secretary – Trade and Investment) of the British Embassy in Bangkok for the lovely lunch at a French restaurant round the corner from the British embassy(ironically on a road called ‘Wireless road’!)

I have known Andy for a few years now. He and his team at the foreign office are doing some great work building bridges between British and Thai companies ..

He has promised to send me more information about the work his team is doing and I shall post it here since I suspect it is of interest to many readers of this blog

More soon from (cold!) London

future of web apps event ..

Hello,

I was going to attend/speak at this event but cant make it. However, I think its worth a visit considering the star speaker list. Details are as below. If you are interested, please contact them directly through link below

The Future of Web Apps

Sep 13-14, San Francisco $295 (for two days)

Speakers: Kevin Rose (Digg), Mike Arrington (TechCrunch), Carl Sjogreen

(Google Calendar), Dick Hardt (Sxip), Evan Williams (Odeo), Jeff Veen

(Google/Measure Map), Mike Davidson (Newsvine), Steve Olechowski

(FeedBurner), Cal Henderson (Flickr), Tom Coates (Yahoo!), Matt Mullenweg

(WordPress), Tantek Celik (Technorati) and Ted Rheingold (Catster/Dogster)

My interview in Javamagazin(German)

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The German language version of my interview at Software development magazine was published in Javamagazin(German). Thanks to Sven Haiges for both of these!

Lunch with Martin Geddes ..

It was a pleasure to have lunch with Martin Geddes and Chris Barraclough of STL partners yesterday. We have both respectively referenced our work a lot. So, it was a great time to finally meet up in person and swap ideas. Watch this space for a blog about the synergies of Mobile Web 2.0 (my book) and Telco 2.0 (Martin/STL initiative)!

US Wireless Data Market: Mid Year Update statistics

US Wireless Data Market: Mid Year Update

By Chetan Sharma

• US wireless data market is growing at an impressive rate. Top 4 US carriers (Cingular, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile) accounted for over $6.3B in wireless data revenues for the first half of 2006. Overall, wireless data service revenues exceeded $7B and the figures are likely to exceed $15B for the year 2006. This is almost a 75% jump from end-of-2005 number of $8.6B. The growth rate slowed down only slightly from 2004-2005 growth rate of 87%. SMS and data transport still drives bulk of data revenues but their percentage share is declining.

• Among the top 4 US carriers, Verizon has made the most impressive strides in the last 4 quarters, increasing their wireless data revenues by a whopping 114%. Next Sprint with 71%, T-Mobile with 65%, and Cingular with 54% also netted impressive gains.

• Verizon became the first US carrier to net over $1B in wireless data revenues in a quarter. Cingular was close second with $979M and Sprint with $935M are likely to cross the $1B mark next quarter.

• Sprint retains its leadership position of highest wireless data ARPU in terms of absolute dollar amount at $7.25 but lost its number one spot in the % data ARPU to Verizon which now leads the US carriers at almost 13%. Average data ARPU is now $6.3 or 12%.

• Overall ARPU (voice + data) increased slightly from Q106 but declined $0.27 from Q405. The general trend is towards slow decline. Data revenue is barely keeping up with the decline in voice ARPU. On an average voice ARPU has declined 8% from a year ago and data ARPU has increased 48%. Average Overall ARPU was $53.04. Sprint led with $62 followed by T-Mobile at $51, Verizon at $49.7, and Cingular with $48.4.

• If the current trends hold, Verizon Wireless is likely to surpass Cingular Wireless as number 1 US carrier by Q307.

• US had about 7M 3G subscribers by Q206, primarily from Verizon and Sprint Nextel. With Cingular joining the fray, the 3G growth is expected to accelerate with 2007 being the inflection year.

• US wireless subscriber penetration stands at approximately 74% and is likely to exceed 78% by the end of the year.

• Top 4 carriers added 12.7M subscribers from Jan-Jun 2006.

• The top 4 US carrier account for 79% of the subscribers, 86% of the service revenues, and approximately 95% of the wireless data revenues.

• US Off-net revenues for the year are likely to exceed $750M.

• Data ARPU of CDMA/EV-DO carriers was 20% higher than GSM/WCDMA carriers.

• Several high-profile MVNOs were also launched in the last few months and the overall results have been disappointing primarily due to poor execution, instant crowding effect, and competition from big 4.

• US wireless carriers are steadily climbing in their wireless data performance as compared to their peers worldwide. Verizon, Cingular, and Sprint ranked number 4, 5, and 6 respectively, amongst the top 10 operators worldwide in terms of total wireless data revenue generated for first half of 2006.

• The #1 carrier worldwide in terms of total wireless data revenue for the first six months of 2006 is NTT DoCoMo which has maintained its position for a number of years. It is now generating almost $900M/month from wireless data revenues.

• The top 10 carriers in terms of total wireless data revenues for 1H06 in order of rank are NTT DoCoMo, China Mobile, KDDI, Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel, O2 UK, Vodafone Japan, SK Telecom, and China Unicom. (6 Asian, 3 US, 1 Europe. Who says US is behind). Vodafone Germany, TMO Germany, and TMO US are also closing in.

• All the top 10 carriers in the list exceeded $1B in data revenues for the first six months of 2006. China Mobile and China Unicom benefited from their huge subscriber base of 274M and 135M respectively while DoCoMo and KDDI did well because they are generating over $17 (or 28%) in wireless data ARPU.

• The top 10 carriers accounted for almost $24B in wireless data revenues for the first six months of 2006. The top 10 carriers account for approximately 700M (or approx 28%) subscribers worldwide.

• In terms of wireless investments, over $2.8B was invested in wireless related companies/startups from Jan-Jun 2006 (this figure jumped to $4.1B in July). Source: Rutberg. Mobile TV/Video, Mobile Personalization, Mobile Search and Advertising, Semiconductor, Carrier infrastructure, Device design and development are hot areas. M&A activity also picked up quite significantly.

• WiMax industry got a big boost with almost $1B investment in Clearwire and due to Sprint Nextel’s announcement of WiMax deployment. Sigh of relief for Intel and Samsung. Puts pressure on Qualcomm. Maybe Intel will renegotiate with Clearwire.

• Worldwide Handset market share: Nokia and Motorola dominated with 35% and 23% market share respectively. Samsung with 12% stands third. Source: iSuppli. Though Apple’s iPhone rumors have been clouding the market, it is Motorola which continues to lead in launching must-have handsets. Windows mobile is starting to make serious inroads in the handset market but performance issues and high price points deter mass market adoption.

If you want a powerpoint version of this , please post a comment with your email address and we will email it to you

Click to call: New revenue models from Mobile Search

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This is the first post from Chetan Sharma

“What we find changes who we become” – Ambient Findability, Peter Morville

As the discoverable content increases in depth and breadth, it is inevitable that mobile search will drive user navigation on devices. Whether it is by user keying in a few keywords or short cuts or search engine generating a personalized, to-the-minute “always-active” user interface that directs user navigation, mobile search strategies will start taking center-stage for most consumers.

There are several differences between Internet (aka Google) search and mobile search. While Google on desktop might return a useless list of 2M hits (the useful results are generally in the first dozen links), mobile search needs to take in more variables before it figures out the “answer” to the user input. These variables are driven by context, history, preferences, and social network. You weir off a bit and the experience starts to waffle. Understanding “user’s intent” is key.

The business models are also different. While Google might present the paid-search-results on top, on the side or even blended in the main body, search results needs to very optimized and customized to the query and context. In addition, several new models come into play like “click-to-call” or “push-to-call” where real money is to be made. Click-to-call has a simple revenue model which most businesses understand. It is conceptually same as ‘referral fees’. Some calls such as in real-estate or mortgage business can yield over $30-40 per call for referrals. Some of the emergency services like plumbers, dentists, locksmiths have up to 50-60% conversion rates. You can do the math. The provider who has the best and most updated inventory has a big leg up in the race for mobile search domination. Local inventory plays a huge role, the hard part is to keep the numbers refreshed and encourage the ecosystem to participate and update the information while also getting involved in the advertising side of the business. Click-to-call already exists on Google on the Web. But on mobile devices, it takes on a much more useful and immediate dimension due to the nature of the medium.

Advertising also takes a new dimension with mobile. The wealth of user information and the capability to have 1-to-1 relationship with the user makes it a very powerful platform for the multi-billion dollar advertising industry. Advertisers design their campaigns based on the hard and real user demographic information and also get the confirmation of a “view” which is gold for advertisers. Having said that, a few missteps can also alienate users for months. Advertisements and/or promotions will also have the “click-to-call” functionality. Several travel agencies and big brands have already experimented with clickable ad campaigns. Earlier this year, Google filed the patent application for the same. Similar functionality could be built for audio content and other pieces of content types. Click-to-call will also become a very social and viral feature.

Click-to-call in combination with automated attendant is also very disruptive to the multi-billion directory-assistance (DA) and yellow page industry. If a smart analytical engine backs up the voice recognition system (could be tied to mobile search), majority of the consumer queries can be taken care of without reaching a live person thus deceasing the $1-$2 per call charge to the consumer.

Click-to-call can also be offered as a customer service-enhancing tool by the carrier or as an instant survey or feedback tool for different industries.

The majority of the searches initially will happen via browser and by using keypad input from the user but will gradually be integrated tightly across applications and platforms and will accept voice, image, bar code, and others input mechanisms. Mobile search will also renew the “dumb-pipe” debate, disrupt the value chain, and force players to form new alliances that weren’t conceivable before. New business models such as “click-to-call” will bring new sources of revenue to the wireless industry. In the end, mobile search will help drive quality of content and better user experience.

I welcome your thoughts on this model and others in relation to Mobile Search

Image source: SEO roundtable

Well done to our security forces ..

Well done to the British security forces for foiling the terrorist plot today. Keep up the good work!

Interview in SDA magazine Asia ..

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My interview in Software development and IT architecture magazine Asia is live this morning. Thanks to Sven Haiges for this interview. A German language version of the same interview is to be published in September

Lee Epting refers to my article on Ajax..

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The head of Forum Nokia, Lee Epting refers to my forthcoming book section on Ajax in an article . Lee’s team is doing some great work and it’s nice to get a reference from her article. Thanks to Jeremy Geelan for pointing this article to me

Mobile phones features: who is the customer for service enablers?

Dean Bubley, in his Disruptive Wireless blog, recently discussed the tension between operators as subsidisers of mobile phones and the manufacturers with their need to include differentiating and value-adding features. His point was about the effective subsidy of features that are incidental to the primary (operator-sponsored) capabilities of the phone.

However, this issue is about to become much more serious as operators migrate away from the creation of specific service offerings and towards the broadband business model as mere providers of IP and other basic data services. This is starting to happen, even for the big brand operators; and it is only a matter of time before off-portal services, such as for gaming, will have a significant or dominant share of business that was once an operator monopoly. Vodafone, for example, has started to face up to the reality that some operator-sponsored services have been dismal failures. It’s only a short step from there to a strategy of enabling off-portal services and capitalising on the uptake of lower level data services that should result.

One consequence of this shift is that the operator will no longer be (directly) incentivised to demand the required technology enablers for service delivery in their handsets. Today, the operator is effectively a gate to the introduction of all new functionality and technology into handsets – typically, no new feature that has any impact on the bill of materials gets incorporated by the manufacturer unless it is explicitly demanded by the operator. However, the operators’ continuous push to launch new services has historically driven the inclusion of the underpinning technical enablers – WAP2 and IP, browser capabilities, multimedia, java, MMS, etc. The operator was able to justify the increase in handset cost based on an investment appraisal that took account of the specific services that would be enabled as a result. So, for example, we have JSR184 (3D API for java) being specified by operators, based on the push to create higher value games for purchase via the operator portal. Other relevant technology examples are advanced audio (eg 3D positioning and advanced formats like XMF), Ajax, Flash, DRM, barcode reading, etc.

As soon as the operator de-prioritises its specific services in favour of raw data transport, there is no longer any sponsor for inclusion of the technology enablers within the handset. For the majority of device manufacturers, the result will be quite simple – if the operator hasn’t asked for it, it doesn’t get included.

So who pays? It’s not the device manufacturer because he typically doesn’t participate in data services business conducted using his handsets. It’s not the service providers – at least not directly – because each one in the “long tail” will typically only ever deliver service to a tiny fraction of the handsets enabled with the relevant technology. And it’s not the operator, because he no longer derives any directly related service revenue and is much less likely to attempt to predict the technology that third party providers might want to exploit.

If nobody is prepared to pay, the features simply won’t be there at the point of manufacture. What happens after that? A small proportion of phones will have open OS and will permit the addition of enabling technology (eg as installable libraries); but most phones don’t have open OS, and even if there is an open OS it’s just not possible in many cases to add the technology as an aftermarket download. Even when it is possible, the technology providers will need to construct business models with service providers so that they share service revenues to recoup technology investment.

So what do we expect to happen? The more forward-looking device manufacturers, who are prepared to invest in their future brand potential, have a significant opportunity – to take control of the software technology agenda that they were previously prevented from doing by the operator. Those who succeed in this will be those that have sufficient market footprint to represent a significant targetable population to attract service providers to their platform. Perhaps the introduction of technology only happens hand-in-hand with the creation of services by the device manufacturers themselves – see the Nokia Next Generation Mobile Gaming services, for example. There is also an opportunity for the more forward-looking operators who are prepared to predict the relevant technologies and demand them in their handsets.

As for the rest – the lower tier manufacturers and operators – we may well see the introduction of service-enabling technologies stall, or become fragmented with limited interoperability and features. Far from being the liberating development that all off-portal service providers hoped for, withdrawal of the operators from portal services could have the opposite effect resulting in service limitations, poor footprint and uptake, interoperability problems and technical workarounds. If this does happen, it won’t be the result of any shortage of technology, but a breakdown in the value chain that sees enabling technology through to profitable commercial deployment.

What do you think?