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Challenges and Opportunities: Ovi Application Store

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on February 17, 2009

Ovi is Nokia’s door (Literally in Finnish) to the high end internet and convergence enabled consumers. Over a year and a half, Nokia has been building its Ovi brand. On 16th February, 2009, Nokia announced Ovi Application store, a virtual store front where developers can develop applications and consumers can easily download them. N 97 will be the first device to sport the Ovi Aps store when it goes to sale in June 2009! The Store will be available on its S40 and S 60 platform devices. Nokia intends to pep up the offering by tracking downloads and suggesting applications to users, which may be of their interest.

A few days back, i had covered the Online application stores story in one of my posts: http://technologyandtelecom.blogspot.com/2009/02/online-application-stores-fad-or.html
Apple and Google are “there”, Nokia, RIM, Palm will get there soon. Microsoft is also designing something on these lines.

Challenges and Opportunities
While Ovi Apps Store (OAS) has the advantage of a captive base of Nokia’s consumers, which it can choose to exploit well, there are some formidable challenges that OAS faces.

The first challenge obviously is a “me too” positioning important from a perspective of “being available” to its consumers. Having the store was not really a innovation novelty as much as having a store to offer 3rd party applications. iPhone and Google have established themselves fairly well in the application space and the next three entries will be (RIM, Nokia, Pearl) will only fragment the market to feed their consumers!

The happening place in terms of application and their developments is really the North American market and Nokia doesnot have a good representation out there. This is slightly stiffling as Android and iPhone are getting ahead in the same context.
Nokia can tap into the base of developers in Europe and South East Asia. However, the market for applications and downloading is not so great in South Asia. Thus, cutting edge applications can have longer acceptance periods.

One significant advantage that Nokia brings to the table is the robustness and stability of its Symbian platform.

There is a lot of work that is happening on Android and Microsoft platforms. While Microsoft is distinctly seen as “pro enterprise”, Android is seen as “pro consumer”. Apple is .. “apple”. Symbian has not generated as much interest in terms of work lately as a Android or a iPhone has.

Nokia already has a the largest community of developers (3.5 million). So there will not be any dearth of Ideas!

However, with low acceptance of applications in Nokia dominated markets, the same application developers may get higher returns in the Android, Microsoft or iPhone stores.
End Note
The first 6 months after launch is going to be important for Ovi. This is because, there will be a lot of applications, which will be source copied from the Apple store and Android store. The developers will expect a quick buck. Making a fast buck will depend on the ability of Ovi and the consumer acceptance of the Symbian store. That may shape the developer perception of the Ovi store!

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On Google and its Android plans

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on February 17, 2009

Last year MWC saw Google unvieling its Android plans. It also had a few applications for mobiles, which generally where cut down version of its computer operations. Within an year, Google Android has come a long long way. Android is a platform where many smartphones are being developed today. In terms of future in smartphones, it probably has the largest number of alliances and products under development (even larger than Symbian and Microsoft). Android also boasts of a up and unning applications store, the Android market. While the number of applications on Android (800) may seem significantly smaller than iPhone(15000), the number of Carriers rooting for Android’s open source technology can herald a significant upheavel in the mobile OS market shares (Dominated so far by Symbian).

According to Wireless intelligence, the number of mobiles globally is a figure close to 3 Billion where as there are only 1.5 billion Internet users (Internet World stats). The medium to internet for the next 1.5 billion users is going to be the mobile. Also mobile will exceed the desktop or Laptop as a medium to internet for the existing 1.5 billion. That is where Android is so important for Google!

Google is also working on Voice search, an extension of its search feature on voice recognition software which will take away the typing, writing, keyboard punching on mobile devices.

Microsoft failed to turn it’s dominance of PC operating systems and office software into a significant presence online, and Google took full advantage. For handset makers and mobile operators, the same forces are at work as Google takes on the 37% market share and incumbent leader Nokia on the mobile space!

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Telcos delaying 4G: a case of generating returns over the 3G technology cycle

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 17, 2009

In an earlier blog , http://technologyandtelecom.blogspot.com/2008/11/what-is-biggest-challenge-telcos.html, i had mentioned that RoIs and profitability of innovation is severely challenged, when innovation out strips technology cycles i.e New technologies are introduced at a faster pace and it doesnot allow the incumbent technology to be generate viable returns before it becomes obsolete.

4G poses such a disruptive threat to 3G and 3.5G in Europe! Follow the link to read about LTE/4G versus HSPA/3G/3.5G.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/524d7ea6-fb88-11dd-bcad-000077b07658.html?goback=%2Ehom
Vodafone, France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom have expressed no hurry to launch LTE in their respective countries because
1. They dont want a CAPEX splurge at a time of recession! Sound thought!
2. Avoiding a CAPEX splurge, is also going to re-assure the share holders and stake holders!
3. These players feel that there is enough head room in 3G and 3.5G for enhanced consumer services and thus there is no need to jump into 4G

It would be 2011-2012 before the implementation of 4G networks hits the ground! This thus means that these companies give themselves 2 to 3 years to generate maximum of their returns on the 3G investments!

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Indian telecom story: Collaboration as a tool to Profitability

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on February 16, 2009

The recession has not been able to put the spanner through the growth engine of Indian telecom Subscribers. It is adding the 10 million month after month and the engine seems good to keep chugging on at a fair and brisk pace. The ARPU are south bound, which has a direct relation to profitability. However, competitors collaborating with one and the other have been able to keep the costs light. Wonderfully well, collaboration has reduced the CAPEX and OPEX of the operators giving them the healthy booster shots in their profits! I had reported sharing of the infrastructure / towers/ sites in some of my earlier posts as well. This has the single biggest tool in terms of reduction of the Capital expenditures! It was under the government intiation that infrastructure sharing started off. The win win logic, was higher reach (which the government was persuing) and lower CAPEX which the Telcos were persuing while adding the numbers. Both these objectives were thus fulfilled by Project MOST! Operators today have set annual targets of 50 – 60% incremental sharing! The traffic varies from being heavy in the day times to being sparse in the night times. An analysis of the traffic for geographies also enbales switching off the sites, without impacting service quality and on the other hand, making savings on the OPEX! While project MOST is based on existing infrastructure sharing, roll out of infrastructure in weak coverage areas and sensitive areas is also happening through collaboration. So instead of 2 or 3 different towers in a newly opened geography, operators are agreeing on one site shared by the others. Three simple steps and yet, when CAPEX accounts for 31% of your Revenue and your OPEX is $ 6 (per consumer), with ARPU of $6 per month (implying no margins), changes in these figures can significantly alter your bottomline.

Social Context in Search applications: Is Google missing the action?

Posted in Social context, media and advertising, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on February 16, 2009

Search Engines are now a way of life with Internet addicts. While there is Google and Google only, there are others like Yahoo, MSN, Cuill, Ask and many others. I am a Google fan and on one occassion had told my wife, there is Internet and there is Google!

However, off late, Google seems to have fallen back in terms of Search. Not in terms of market share, not in terms of volumes, not in terms of efficacy or any optimised results! It is the social context that Google has started missing.

http://forums.techarena.in/web-news-trends/1114191.htm: This news feed was featured some time back and essentially speaks about Ziva Software’s application for mobile search, Zook coming together with Nokia! This addresses a huge potential market of mobile search applications. With more and more people opting to use Internet on the go on their mobiles, a search feature is a very apt application. Loaded as a widget (the name of a icon which features the application on the menu screen), these mobile search applications can will massify “SEARCH”!

So what, i said to myself, you can also load a Google Search Icon on your mobile and use it for search. But there lies the catch. A socially optimzed search will not only “search” but also prompt solutions intutively. As an illustration, if i do a “Italian Food Joints + Connaught Place” search on Google and a Social context optimized search engine, Google will generate the list and throw it back at me in no time. The Socially optimised search will generate the list, understand relevance of Restaurants (which means i need to eat –> hence may require booking) and intutively given me an option, “Book a Table?”. I can take the browser on Book a table and click on it so that i would directly talk to the Restaurant manager! Two Clicks.

On a Google, i would get the results, click on the result, figure out the telephone number, write it down ona piece of paper and then call the restaurant. Thats 3 clicks + manual work. Thats one click and a lot of hassle too many!

Kudos to Zook for having done that now! But with size and might of Google, it may turn it around any day now. Zook will have some days and time and distance to go before it thoroughly integrates all content like Google. But so long, for Social aware context applications, is the way, it is to be.

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Microsoft: WIll it be able to contain and win the “open Source”?

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on February 13, 2009

The Microsoft – Open source scene is heating up fast and furious! In an earlier post i had mentioned the open source as the anto thesis of Microsoft’s philosphy.http://technologyandtelecom.blogspot.com/2009/02/open-source-microsofts-anti-thesis.html

It looks like the Redmond giant is waking up to the reality of the open source as the next evolution in computing history and Microsoft has a strategy to hold this threat or atleast ride it. On the surface it looks like a two pronged strategy eventually leading to Microsoft evolving into an open source product itself. Voila! A change in philosophy is on the cards!

The two pronged strategy revolves around a holding action and a transformative stance! The holding action is to position Windows as something on which an open source can be run. On the otherhand, they will fight the open source to be a replacement of Windows by transforming Windows into an open source product in the next 1-2 years. Thus, on one hand, they’ll be building a great place for open source to play; on the other hand, they’ll continue to try and prevent it from eating into the walled kingdom they’ve created on the desktop.

It is not a marked departure from their earlier character of defending their products with lawsuits, patents and antitrust actions. Only this time, they would like to befriend the challenger, learn the terrain an then outrun the “open source” challenge.

This is going to be fascinating and every biuut, worth waiting and watching for!

Microsoft, Google and Ovi: The Error list!

Posted in The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on February 13, 2009

Less than 2 days back, i had blogged about the fallibilities of the super corportaions: Microsoft and Google. http://technologyandtelecom.blogspot.com/2009/02/even-invincible-and-infallible.html. Interestingly enough Nokia’s foray into online services and application, Ovi has fallen into the list of goofers! This happened when a recent server crash lost all unsynched data on Ovi. This unsynched data is dated from January 23rd 2009 to Febrauary 9th, 2009. This means any data uploaded by the consumer from 23rd Janaury 2009 onwards would not have been saved.

Ovi is Nokia’s foray into internet services through the Nokia devices. Apart From Nokia’s Ovi, Apple’s Mobileme and Microsoft’s My Phone service (to debut) use the cloud to store data uploaded by the customer! While the number of affected users is limited, because of Ovi’s small userbase, it is worth questioning what would happen if for some reason a Facebook would have such a failure.

The conclusion here for the user is: Dont trust the cloud for everything. It is also wise to have a back up local hard disk for your data.

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Microsoft’s marriage to surface computing: Risking Redundancy?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 12, 2009
U.S. Patent No. 7,479,950 was awarded to Microsoft for a application which tracks position of gadgets and applications on the screen of a computer.

Incidentally, this patent was Microsoft’s 10000th. So far, so good. However, it increasinly begins to look like Microsoft is obatianing and getting patents in a territories which will not find much takers. Surface computing. With the trend moving to the clouds, OSs diminishing, Browsers and web apps getting more potent , Microsoft is increasingly finding its users vacating their seats. Even if nothing, the browsers are migrating to “available for free” instead of a Microsoft License. The Web 2.0 with its freetardonomics principles is something that Microsoft will have to figure out!
So long for Patents!
Interestingly, earlier patents were used a legal aids with which a corporation would defend its turf. Lately however, the trend has changed and Patents are being used as bridges to collaborate with others in developmental stages of new products/technologies! Microsoft has been at this. However, the cloud and  the web 2.0 seem to make the software gaint redundant faster than Microsoft would like it!

E 75: Doing the honours till N 97 hits ground!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 12, 2009
e7511e7531The mercurial N series line up has not churned some great ones after the N 95. Instead it was E 71 which turnedthe heat for Nokia last summer. Then came the E 63, essentially a colour refresh for E 71. The latest in the Nokia armoury in E 75! the first of its kind, this will be a complete departure from Nokia’s hardware architecture. It is an ultra-slim dual-keypad slider with a standard 0-9 pad beneath the display and a landscape QWERTY exposed by the slide. Chrome accents, sleek rounded lines, a nice wide full keyboard – it’s all good.
A 2.4 Inch, 240*320 display with a 3.2 MP Camera, HSPDA and Wi Fi is how it packs its punch. This would hold the place before the N 97 comes in this summer.
Pity, Nokia doesnot have significant representation in operators in NA.
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Samsung Memoir: The phone and the camera fuse! (The phone dissappoints!)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on February 12, 2009

Equipped with an 8-megapixel camera with a Xenon Flash, the Memoir should be a camera-phone fanboy’s dream. The 8 megapixel camera, which includes a 16x (digital) zoom, will also shoot video. SGH t929 will also feature a full HTML browser, a virtual QWERTY keyboard, and a whole lot of other multimedia features. No Aps store, No Wifi and a loose interface ruin what could otherwise have been a state of the art device in here! 158976-samsung_memoir2_original

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