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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick thoughts on MWC

I haven't really had much time to write posts this week as I've been dashing about between dozens of meetings here in Barcelona.

But some quick things to mention;

  • Nokia's 6700 Classic is a really nice small phone - I'm definitely a believer in nice well-engineered metals and other materials, rather than squeaky plastic.
  • QVGA screens are really starting to look tired on handsets, especially for web browsing and heavy-duty email. I think iPhone-style 480x320 or VGA (640x480) or WVGA (800x480) are pretty much essential for decent smartphones from now on.
  • Oberthur's integrated accelerometer-on-SIM is quite clever. But like most SIM innovations, it will suffer from the fact that most users keep their SIMs longer than their phones unless they churn, so it's easy to put new stuff in the handset itself.
  • Lots of policy management and DPI products. Lots of different pitches and usage cases too. Some are pretty good as they focus on integration with customer intelligence, providing data to marketing teams. Still lots of unrealistic expectation of app-level policies, often backed up by a deep lack of understanding about application environments and user behaviour.
  • Mostly realism about LTE, with timelines being pushed out a bit. Outside Verizon and Docomo, it's becoming clear that the only other big player in a rush towards it is T-Mobile. I'm wondering if any CTO-to-CFO friction will result in them dusting off their HSPA+ scenarios instead.
  • Recognition that Voice over LTE is still not fixed, although various propositions are being suggested. Since I identified issues with VoIPo3G and VoIPoLTE more than a year ago, there's been fair progress, but it's still slow.
  • ...although not as slow as IMS handset development. Yes, there's some release-1 RCS phones around, with trials being expected for H2 2009. But the really useful stuff like integration with Facebook, plus the addition of iPhone and Blackberry and other members remains at some indeterminate point in the future. There still seems a lack of thought about prepaid vs. RCS as well, while a 3rd-party SDK doesn't seem to be even on the horizon. There's a big risk that dedicated RCS clients will be made redundant by more full-featured browser and web runtimes that can access handset APIs, and which are more open to innovative developers.
  • Truphone launched it's Local Anywhere service, based on multi-IMSI technology. Looks differentiated from the other VoIP / roaming offers., Will be interesting to see how this evolves as it looks to sign up partner operators in different countries
  • Adobe is still quietly building up an impressive footprint for Flash and its Open Screen project.
  • I met the CEO of possible the world's only prepay quadplay operator at the Highdeal round-table I moderated. Very cool business model & billing/charging system indeed.
  • I'm a lot less surprised than many people about the announced Nokia / Qualcomm relationship for US Symbian phones, although I'd guessed that it would be Samsung rather than Nokia that would bring them into the fold.
  • Lots of noise (and foot-fall on the stands) among the picocell and femtocell crowd. A lot of feeling that "it's actually happening!" now.
  • The GSMA OneAPI platform for opening the network capabilities to third parties is emerging rapidly. I saw a good demo on the Aepona stand.
  • Apple is conspicuous by its absence. Not that surprising really.
  • A fair amount of noise about Android, as expected. But I've met one or two fellow unbelievers around. We'll probably be burned as heretics by the Googlistas.
  • My little Samsung netbook has got a full day of battery life for undemanding tasks like writing meeting notes. No carrying around a charger & power cord this year.
  • Not much mobile TV or NFC hype, although there's a bit of "digital money" and remittances talk.
  • Continued interest in developing SMS as a service. Interesting pitch from Acision about it's new open platform for playing with SMS - for example delayed rather than instant deliveries. Forget the doomsayers predicting the replacement of SMS by IM - it's easier to grow a $100bn business by 20%, than a $10bn business by 1000%. Oh, and SMS over LTE needs to work just as well as voice.
  • Less overall pessimism about the economy than I expected. Although that might be because the real doom-mongers all had their travel expenses cut this year.

And lastly, the "villains of the year" award goes to the GSMA Stasi demanding photo ID to get into the Fira precincts in the morning. Yes, I know security is an issue, but I'm not interested in attending any event that's based on Stalinist "We need to see your papers" approaches. Have they been taken lessons in authoritarianism from Gordon Brown & Jacqui Smith?


superglaze said...

Re the photo ID stuff - well said. It was embarrassingly stupid.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dean,

Could you develop a litte more about the "world's only prepay quadplay" carrier? I don't think i'm familiar with it?

Thanks and regards

Muthukumaran said...

Hi Dean,

Is GSMA OpenAPI and what Telco2.0 block proposes one and the same?Atleast from what they try to achieve, they sound like same.

If affirmative, why is there a duplication?

I have been having reflections around this specifically from network capacity perspective.

Apart from just standardizing interface for network services (which Parlay-X did long back to make access suitable for web community), if OneAPI / Telco2.0 kind of initiatives try to set directions in areas of service-federation, standardize aggregator-oriented models, it would be much beneficial.

For example, an application which uses SMS messaging would have better coverage if it is composed of services from aggregators (eg. clickatell.com) than from individual operators not because individual operators cannot send SMS messages to wider parts of the world, but mere network operational cost per SMS in doing so and its impact on the usage-charging by operators towards applications

Any comments?

Unknown said...

Hi Dean,
I wanted to let Eric V. know that the '"world's only prepay quadplay" carrier' is Ipkonet, a subsidiary of Telekom Slovenia.