Wednesday, July 28, 2010

LightSquared LTE ambition, will it see the light?

Harbinger Capital Partner, a New York private equity firm plans to build an open Multibillion dollar wholesale 4G wireless network that will cover most of the USA by 2015. Just couple of days back the company launched the new venture, called LightSquared. According to industry sources, the overall cost to build the entire network will be between $6-10 billion. From a funding standpoint, Harbinger has secured $1.75 billion in debt and equity financing . The new financing adds to the $2.9 billion already contributed to LightSqaured. The dream is BIG. The folks running the show at LightSquared are no newbie’s. These are veterans’ in the Telco world and have run multibillion dollar networks in the past. However building an entire wireless network from scratch is a stretch and many folks doubt( here and here) if this is ever going to be become a reality. There are lot of hurdles from financial and implementation standpoint. In addition, as per FCC guidelines, LightSquared needs to cover 100 million people by end of 2012. Other operators are very aggressive with respect to 4G rollout. So competition is gone be stiff.

The clear winner out of this whole deal is Nokia Siemens, which signed an 8-year agreement worth $7 billion to deploy, install, operate and maintain LightSquared network. This will give Nokia Siemens a big boost to its ambition of becoming one of the Key Vendors for North American operators. The recent acquisition of Motorola wireless infrastructure business also bolsters its entry into most of the North American operator accounts.

Here are some highlights of the LightSquared announcement:
• Nokia Siemens Networks signs an 8-year agreement worth $7 billion to deploy, install, operate, and maintain LightSquared network
• First-ever wholesale nationwide 4G-LTE wireless broadband network integrated with satellite coverage allows partners to offer terrestrial-only, satellite-only, or integrated satellite-terrestrial services to their end users
• Telecommunications luminary Sanjiv Ahuja becomes Chairman and CEO, joined by a seasoned management team
• First truly open and net neutral wireless network spurring the development of new wireless devices, applications, and services
• Unique wholesale-only business model avoids conflict of interest with customers
• LightSquared is announcing up to $1.75 billion in additional debt and equity financing
• LightSquared network build-out anticipated to generate more than 100,000 direct and indirect private sector jobs within five years

Only time will tell if Harbinger will be able to execute its grand ambition of providing a wholesale-only nationwide 4G-LTE network. Stay tuned.

Digg this

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Samsung Galaxy a worthy iPhone rival

Walt Mossberg, the most popular gadget reviewer for Wallstreet journal reviews Samsungs Galaxy series which is built on top of android platform.

Please find the video below:

Competition is good and iam happy Android is steadily gaining the ground. Also the number of apps available on android platform is increasing. It’s good news to consumers. Expect to see more innovation in the Smartphone space.

Digg this

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mobile Video services to make $2 billion

According to ABI research , Mobile video services is expected to generate revenue of $2 billion worldwide in 2013. This should be good news to all the Mobile video players like Skype, Fring, Apple etc. The mobile video includes Video Telephony, Video Messaging, P2P and Web 2.0 video sharing and live streaming. Apple recently launched its ambitious Mobile Video calling via FaceTime with iPhone 4. Though I don’t have an iPhone 4, I had the privilege to watch the FaceTime demo from one of my colleague and it was awesome. Already lots of folks are raving about FaceTime. Mobile Video calling is still in its infant stage and needs a big push from one of the Big Carrier/Mobile Vendor. Looks like Apple is pretty serious about mobile video and iam sure they will play a pivotal role in making this feature popular. Iam glad Apple is driving the technology.

The uptake of Mobile video service also depends on the wireless bandwidth availability, and this is one of the reasons most of the operators are moving towards LTE. Consumer’s appetite for mobile entertainment is increasing and thanks to iPhone’s and the droids. The mobile handset which was originally used for basic calling and messaging is now used as a primary entertainment device. In addition, consumers are willing to pay for the bandwidth usage. Web 2.0 services have definitely changed the Mobile industry. Information is Real-time. Be it Location, News, weather etc.

On a flip side, availability of mobile video capable handset and bandwidth can derail the growth of this service. The recent policy change of AT&T to charge for data based on usage is definitely going to hurt users while help operators make some more buck. If the service is compelling, consumers might be willing to pay some extra bucks and that might be a new avenue for operators to make money.

Some interesting tidbits from the article:

“Video services revenue will only amount to about $121 million this year,” says senior analyst Mark Beccue. “But the growth curve is very steep indeed, and will only continue to accelerate through the end of our forecast period in 2015.”

“MNOs mustn’t settle for the role of undifferentiated mobile ISPs that manage ‘dumb pipes’,” Beccue advises. “They should provide a variety of mobile video services and leverage strategic ecosystems until they upgrade their networks to provide quality video services. Partnering with device OEMs and software solution providers will help to optimize mobile devices. This will contribute to an already significant investment, but the rewards will be great.”

Though some folks are skeptical about Mobile Video calling, iam upbeat about the product and definitely think it has a bright future.

Digg this

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Apple’s Dream run with a Hiccup

Looks like Apple’s dream run with iPhone,iPad is going through some hiccups in the form of iPhone 4 antenna issues. Though the issue was observed immediately after the launch of iPhone 4, Apple ignored it saying it was not a big deal. And the man( Steve Jobs) of the era said consumers need to learn how to hold the phone. The irony is that during the iPhone 4 launch, he was holding the phone in the wrong way. After some more hue and cry by iPhone critics and users, Apple PR came up with some cooked up story of how a software glitch was causing these antenna signal bar issues and how a new software update would solve all the problem. So far so good. The latest report from Consumer report blog was the last nail in the coffin. This was picked up by almost all the media and blogosphere and exposed the arrogance of Apple. The impact was pretty big and it tanked Apple shares by 2%. Yes 2% of the shares were down and definitely not good news to the shareholders.

So here is my personal opinion about the whole fiasco. If Apple expects me to pay a premium price for their product, iam willing to pay as long as I get what is promised. But if there is a problem with the phone and iam asked to change my behavior or use some shit hack to make it work, Now that is ridiculous and arrogance beyond imagination. If the shit you manufacture has issue, go fix it rather than asking people to fix it. I hope the man I admire the most comes out with a common sense solution instead of stupid gimmicks.

There is lot of speculation on what could be a potential fix. A simple duct tape or an iPhone Bumper case . Some folks even suggest a recall is inevitable, which would cost Apple around $1.5 billion. In addition, every week delay would cost them $200 million dollars more.

The impact of iPhone antenna signal issue has reached its peak. Tonight show David letterman has fun at iPhone 4 expense:

Digg this

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Android Gaining Momentum, Apple and RIM lose

According to ComScore’s data on Smartphone market for the three month average period ending May 2010, Google’s Android platform is making steady progress with a 4% increase in the Smartphone market share. Apple lost 1% of the market share for the same period. Google Android platform stands at number 4 with 13% of the market share. Though android is gaining momentum, it is still a long way for it to catch up with RIM and Apple. The overall gain of 4% comes from RIM, Apple and Microsoft. No wonder Microsoft lost 1.9% of the market in the same period. A total of 49.1 million people in the U.S owned Smartphone’s. Iam happy that Android is making steady progress and could become one of the biggest competitors to Apple’s iPhone. Though iam an iPhone freak, I think competition will keep Apple’s momentum in check. We don’t want to see another Motorola (Razr) story repeated from Apple.

From a manufacturer shares, Samsung is leading the pack with 22.4 percent market share followed by LG (21.5 percent), Motorola (21.2 percent), RIM (8.7 percent) and Nokia (8.1 percent).

Smartphone Platform Market Share:

OEM Market Share:

Mobile Content Usage:

More info Here.

Digg this

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Microsoft’s Kin debacle, big embarrassment

It’s sad to see Microsoft’s Kin’s failure. It has become a big embarrassment to Microsoft . Everyone has started trashing the management for the Kin’s failure. With Kin, Microsoft ventured into making a kiddie phone, which would be enjoyed by teenage girls and boys. Alas, they failed miserably. It spent over billion dollars on Kin, which includes the acquisition of Danger (Sidekick). I had a chance to look at both Kin1 and Kin2. The phones UI was cluttered and the form factor was very small. The whole unified view of social networking was a bit complicated. What’s disheartening is the fact that only 500 Kin phones were sold after the launch. Some even say that they could not even recoup the money spent on the launch party.

I have always been critical about Microsoft’s mobile phones and their OS. I tried couple of Smartphone’s that had windows OS and it sucked. For someone who was there from the early days in the Mobile space, I expected lot more innovation than the new crop of companies like Google, Apple or HTC. What a disappointment. I guess they have lost the battle. The iPhones or droids are way better compared to crappy windows mobile. Iam not sure if there are still developers out there working on the Windows Phone 7 train wreck. Stay away! Run, Run, Run. Oh worthy of mention is those TV commercial which sucked bug time. Sometime I feel Microsoft needs to get their act together on the marketing front. In addition, Mobile consumer market is very competitive compared to the Enterprise market. If people have choice, they will buy superior product even if they have to pay the premium (iPhone, iPad etc). No wonder apple is ruling the Mobile Smartphone space.

An unknown Microsoft source talks to Jay Yarrow:

"We had a huge launch party on campus and I bet that party cost more than the amount of revenues we took in on the product. As an employee, I am embarrassed. As a shareholder, I am pissed. It's one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it's something else to launch. I suspect we launched because we felt like we HAD to so we could save face because we were trying to build buzz, but overall - HUGE fail."

Here are some interesting comments by former and current Microsoft employees including Danger folks on minimsft:

All I can say as a former Windows Mobile employee who is now working for a competitor in the phone space is that this is good news for the rest of us. [...] Personally I quit because of the frustrating management and autocratic decision style of Terry Myerson and Andrew Lees. The only exec in the team myself and other folks respcted was Tom Gibbons who is now sidelined. Lees and Myerson don't know consumer products or phones. Gibbons at least knows consumer product development. We often talk about how Andrew Lees still has a job but Microsoft's loss is a gain for the rest of us.


And now Kin is killed *after* it has shipped in June 2010. You can bet Andy was involved in the development of Kin, the partnership agreements with the OEM, Verizon and most importantly the "ship it" approvals all along the way. And Microsoft discovers its a bad idea after it blows up in the broad market. Absolutely no thanks to any pro-active decision making on Andy's part.
Now there is spin that Andy killed kin to put all the wood behind Windows Phone 7. Er, the guy was in charge for two years of Kin development. He could have made this decision far earlier.
Similarly Windows Phone 7 has two years of development under his watch. Based on his past performance, 99% chance this is also going to be a total catastrophe. It further doesn't help that much of the Windows Phone 7 leadership team was kicked out of Windows when they screwed up Vista.

And finally, one Danger-employee's point of view of why they became demotivated:

To the person who talked about the unprofessional behavior of the Palo Alto Kin (former Danger team), I need to respond because I was one of them.
You are correct, the remaining Danger team was not professional nor did we show off the amazing stuff we had that made Danger such a great place. But the reason for that was our collective disbelief that we were working in such a screwed up place. Yes, we took long lunches and we sat in conference rooms and went on coffee breaks and the conversations always went something like this..."Can you believe that want us to do this?" Or "Did you hear that IM was cut, YouTube was cut? The App store was cut?" "Can you believe how mismanaged this place is?" "Why is this place to dysfunctional??"

Please understand that we went from being a high functioning, extremely passionate and driven organization to a dysfunctional organization where decisions were made by politics rather than logic.
Consider this, in less than 10 years with 1/10 of the budget Microsoft had for PMX, we created a fully multitasking operating system, a powerful service to support it, 12 different device models, and obsessed and supportive fans of our product. While I will grant that we did not shake up the entire wireless world (ala iPhone) we made a really good product and were rewarded by the incredible support of our userbase and our own feelings of accomplishment. If we had had more time and resources, we would of come out with newer versions, supporting touch screens and revamping our UI. But we ran out of time and were acquired and look at the results. A phone that was a complete and total failure. We all knew (Microsoft employees included) that is was a lackluster device, lacked the features the market wanted and was buggy with performance problems on top of it all.

When we were first acquired, we were not taking long lunches and coffee breaks. We were committed to help this Pink project out and show our stuff. But when our best ideas were knocked down over and over and it began to dawn on us that we were not going to have any real affect on the product, we gave up. We began counting down to the 2 year point so we could get our retention bonuses and get out.

I am sorry you had to witness that amazing group behave so poorly. Trust me, they were (and still are) the best group of people ever assembled to fight the cellular battle. But when the leaders are all incompetent, we just wanted out.

Digg this

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hilarious EVO 4G salesman vs iPhone 4 shopper video

These two videos below are hilarious.

Digg this