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Indian Telecom: Entry Barriers and Incumbents Wrath

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 9, 2009

Incumbents wrath: I had defined this term for players in the market who are well settled and entrenched in the market with an established network all over. These are the incumbents who grow because of an established network presence, a brand that consumers are aware of and sheer economies of scale. By leveraging these points of strenght. these players are able to fight late entrants and challengers more effectively. The analogy is to some one who is firmly based on a hill and can roll off rocks down the hill to ward the challenger who intends to take over the control of the hill!

That is certainly what is happening between the incumbents (Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircell) and the challengers (Datacom, Unitech, Swan Telecom, Shyam, Loop and Reliance Communications). The piece under contention is the mobile termination charge which one operator pays to the other when the customer of the further uses the roaming charges of the later. This is 30 paise a minute charge as of today. This is charged to the consumer as the cost of roaming.
With an all India footprint (or 80% coverage), the incumbents effectively donot have to pay termination charges. The full coverage ensures that calls are terminated within their network. So for instance a Airtel call from J&K will not have to pay the Airtel network at Kerala the termination charges! However, a Swann call from Delhi, will have to pay a Vodafone network in Pune, since Swan is not present in Maharashtra. It will take Swan at least an year to get into Maharashtra! The incumbents have either been pocketing the termination charges or passing them to consumers “no roaming charge” kind of schemes.
This puts the pressure on the challengers who would from day 1 not have the comfort of their network everywhere! Thus they will mandatorily have to pay the 30 paise charge! Thats a point of disadvantage!
TRAI is trying to mediate a free termination or a 10 paise termination charge! Only thatthe Lobby of incumbets is trying to put a spanner in the wheel by claiming that such a waiver will affect their rural roll outs as this would reduce revenue!
TRAI has to take a stance and i would vote it does so for the consumer’s good.

Apple iPhone: Whats next?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 9, 2009

 

Apple rise to glory has been fast and furious! In time, i think it would be given a “cult” brand status for its pathbreaking technologies and designs whether be the Macintosh, Apple Mac Book, iPod or iPhone! The iPhone has been around since June 2007. One year and a quarter and a refresh version later, the iPhone buzz is only become stronger, louder everywhere! It has redefined the smartphone category with its design appeal, intutive UI and backend service elements (Music and applications). 
Apples performance in 2008 US Smartphone market has been explosive. It spearheaded a 68% increase in the smartphone sales by growing 101% Year on year. RIM also did amazing by outgrowing the market at 88% growth! Apple beats its iPhone shipments and sales targets both in US and all over the world! Basis the Iphone shipment numbers, Apple has also cornered a 1.16% share of the world handset sales in 2008.
However, 2009 will be different! A period of slow growth (4 to 5%: IDC forecast) because of the economic slowdown and a maturing market could make things difficult. Smartphone growth will depend upon the operato’s abaility to subsidize these devices and developers continuously producing “killer” applications!
http://seekingalpha.com/article/118993-canaccord-three-new-iphones-expected-in-2009
This year I Phone is expected to come up with three new iPhones: a 32 Gig iPhone in the first half, a low cost 2.5G iPhone for the developing markets such as India and China and a smaller version iPhone Nano at $99! Also expect the China Mobile Chinese iPhone variant by first quarter 2009 and a gaming iPhone by first half 2009 (with Etisalat!)
While the plans are good and knowing Apple, it would deliver more than what it promises, i would still believe that sometime this year, Apple will need to look at the “look” of the iPhone. A similar looking phone in various avatars is not a winning proposition for long! You just need to look at Motorola and its Razr for answers! (Razr,Razr 2, Razr D&C, Razr Gold etc etc…)phoneshare081
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Online Application Stores: Fad or a Necessity?

Posted in Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on February 9, 2009

Apple did it with a good measure and great success for their online application store, which has generated interest both in consumer and developer communities. After the Apple App Store began reporting monumental numbers, however, there was a significant shift; suddenly, those responsible with making the handsets tick wanted to be the ones vending the wares. Google launched its application store for Android in August 2008. http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2009/02/04/not-every-company-needs-an-app-store/ RIM BlackBerry will now be launching its application store, Blackberry Applications, in March 2009. http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/10/21/tech-rim.html . Not wishing to stay away from the party, Nokia has also announced the launch of its application store, Nokia Applications! http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/08/nokia-shaping-up-to-launch-its-very-own-app-store/ Nokia Applications is not a new thing alltogether but a “old wine new bottle” phenomenon. Nokia has owned developer communities in Nokia forums and the Zook – Nokia Search tie up is a resultant of developer – Nokia partnership! Nokia would only look to refurnish the Nokia Forum and re brand it as Nokia Apps! Palm is also debuting its application store Apps Catalogue with Pre, its new OS! And so is Samsung with its mobile applications marketplace! http://applications.samsungmobile.com/en/gbp/index.html. The developers are going to have a party! The only biggie missing from this party is Microsoft, who presently are more engaged in release of Windows 7! With all these race to finish application stores debuting one after the other, it feels that a application store is suddenly a trend now! It is fashionable to own a application store. So it would seem. In the future, other vendors could also open up their application stores! The rationale for these stores is to provide the consumers of their higher end services more applications to experience their products better. With Apple it seemed to create the loyalty glue in terms of the Apple’s music stores! There is money to be made from the application stores business model! However, it is important from the vendors perspective, if you are starting an application outlet, you need to be at the reins of the platform as well. Without having your own platform, your work can be copied on the same platform for other vendors. There is no differentiating factor left! Suddenly you will have many venddors peddling the same content and messing up the market place, segmenting it and creating rapid commoditization! Thus it makes sense for vendors like Apple, Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Palm and RIM to launch their online apps stores. Samsung however would not have any huge justification on building a apps store on what is a Nokia property!

Open Source: Microsoft’s anti thesis

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on February 9, 2009

Legend (not confirmed reports) has it Bill Gates had remarked “The internet is just a passing fad” in a Microsoft press conference in late 1995. Then there is this famous “The Internet? We are not interested in it” attributed to Bill Gates, 1993. “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” – said Bill Gates in 1981. Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Bill_Gates
The idea here is not to belittle Gates. He is what he is and the significance of his contribution cannot be over looked (nerds, rookies and champions put together)

However, the internet has not been Microsoft forte and it has been playing catching up mostly. (The best example is the take over of MSN-Hotmail)!

Heres the latest on the OS front for microsoft. The latest to catch on is Ubuntu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu, a free and open source software owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. What this allows OEMs is that they can develop Desktop, Notebook and netbook systems without having to pay the Windows License fees and undercutting the windows powered systems! Simply hook up –> Get an IM client –> Use web based services and voila.. there you are! The Ubuntus and Linuxes of the world coupled with a depressed economy and dissatisfaction of Windows usage are putting Microsoft in a tight place!

The battle between the Legacy systems and the open source development is gathering some momentum and the odds look stacked against the Redmond giant

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