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Indian Telecom Story (Part IX): 400 not out

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

In the newest release of subscriber figures by TRAI, 11.90 Million users were added in April 2009 as against 15.64 million in March 2009.The number of mobile subscribers in India crossed the 400 million mark in April, putting the country on track to reach its goal of 500 million customers by next year. The rise took India’s total wireless subscriber base to 403.66 million, TRAI said. The slowdown in subscriber growth came after cellular operators withdrew special deals on offer during the final months of the fiscal year to March when the firms sought to boost revenues to help their annual accounts.
But India remains the world’s fastest-growing mobile market and analysts say the government’s target of 500 million mobile phone users could be reached ahead of schedule.The total telecom subscriber base made up of wireless and landline customers stood at 441.47 million at the end of April compared with 429.72 million in March, TRAI added.Total penetration stands at close to 38 telephones for every 100 people, TRAI said.

3G Deployments
India has said it will stage its much delayed auction of third-generation (3G) wireless spectrum by year end.Third-generation wireless service allows voice, data and video to be sent at high speeds to mobile devices and is viewed as the next major booster driving growth in India’s telecoms market.The Congress-led government had forecast the auction could raise Rs400 billion rupees ($8.5 billion).
But since its re-election last month, it has backed off that forecast, saying the global financial crisis could reduce the windfall.India’s newly reappointed telecoms minister A. Raja has also said he will seek to push cheap local mobile call rates even lower to spur cellular growth.Local mobile calls now cost as little as one cent a minute while long-distance rates vary from two cents to four cents a minute.Raja says he wants to cut the local rate to less than half a cent a minute

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Who needs (or wants) another search engine?

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on June 17, 2009



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Microsoft’s quest for search excellence now has a name: Bing and, whether Ballmer and Co like it or not there are parallels drawn between Google and Bing. Ballmer has made an attempt to consciously avoid pitting Bing directly against the god of search, however, on a competitive aspect, the comparisons are inevitable and unavoidable. Two smart things, that Microsoft (MS) has done with Bing is:
Position itself as a decision engine (rather than a search engine) à Meaning it provides results rather than search query results.
Unlike MSN and Live Search, MS has committed $100 million to marketing the product.

But introducing Bing didn’t answer the most relevant question: Who needs (or wants) another search engine?
The only real answer for that question would be to provide a search engine that would actually be worthy of using instead of Google — one that would be so compelling that we’d want to change our habits to use it.
Bing isn’t that search engine. It’s just another nice Web site. If it wasn’t Microsoft that was launching it, one would probably never even hear of it. Not because it doesn’t have good ideas. It’s just not earth shattering — and that’s what it would take for most people to break their Google habits. Although Microsoft is positioning Bing as a decision engine, it actually plays like a bunch of individual applications, each with interfaces that are together and sometimes look and feel similar. Moreover, a lot of these features are reminiscent of other websites/platforms.
When you scroll over a result on Bing, it displays a shape to its right. Hover your cursor over that shape to see a preview of what’s on the page behind the link. It’s a lot like the images that and those look-ahead browsers that predated Internet Explorer and Firefox. The maps section has all the same capabilities as Google maps or Mapquest but feels faster and displays the info in a slightly different way. Breaking down the results according to category, is much like Vivismo’s Clusty search engine. But it doesn’t do as good a job of categorizing as Clusty. A lot of other browsing /navigation capabilities at Bing are very inspired from other websites (example: for travel links etc).
Thus with no definitive features or interface that define it to be radically different from the existing stuff available on the net, MS is merely putting together few different things together on the same website. With the fierce pace at which Google is innovating presently, MS needs to relook the paradigm. Presently MS is re-packaging stuff. But to out do Google, one would need to out innovate them. Looks like MS is not doing much of that.

Worldwide Mobile and Smart Phones Sales: Q1,2009 Company and OS Updates

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on June 17, 2009

Source: Gartner

Continued from earlier Post:

Reference/ 2008 Market share archives:
Devices Market Share

1.Nokia continued to lead the mobile phone market, but its share dropped to 36.2 per cent from 39.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2008
2.Samsung retained second place and improved its market share as its sales totalled 51.4 million units.
3.After dropping to the fifth position in the fourth quarter of 2008, Motorola overtook Sony Ericsson to regain fourth place.

4.Positive performance by Research In Motion (RIM) and Apple showed that services and applications are now instrumental to smartphones’ success.
5.Much of the smartphone growth during the first quarter of 2009 was driven by touchscreen products, both in mid-tier and high-end devices.
6.“’Touch for the sake of touch’ was enough of a driver in the midtier space, but tighter integration with applications and services around music, mobile e-mail, and Internet browsing made the difference at the high end of the market.”

Smartphone Market Share

7.Symbian accounted for 49.3 per cent of worldwide smartphone operating systems (OS) market share in the first quarter of 2009, down from 56.9 per cent share in the first quarter of 2008.
RIM’s smartphone OS market share reached 19.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2009, up from 13.3 per cent share in the first quarter of last year.
8.The iPhone OS accounted for 10.8 per cent of the market, up from 5.3 per cent market share in the first quarter of 2008.
9.Nokia’s worldwide sales reached 97.4 million units in the first quarter of 2009, due to reductions in inventory in markets such as Asia/Pacific and Latin America. This was the first time Nokia’s sales dipped below 100 million units since the first quarter of 2007. The real impact of the current market recession was on the average selling price (ASP), which saw an 18 per cent drop year over year. Nokia managed to grow its sales in the smart-phone segment by introducing the Nokia 5800 into more regions.
10.Samsung had a very successful first quarter of 2009. With sales of 51.4 million units, Samsung’s market share grew 4.7 percentage points to 19.1 per cent. It returned to double-digit profitability due to a good product mix. Sales of its Omnia, Tocco and Pixon handsets continued to benefit from strong consumer interest in touchscreen devices. The arrival of the Tocco Ultra Edition late in the first quarter of 2009, and the announcement of its first Android-based product, the i7500, will help Samsung in a highly competitive second half of 2009.
11.LG sold 26.5 million units in the first quarter of 2009, growing its market share by 1.9 percentage points year over year. The company benefited from a very strong portfolio of touchscreen, messaging and imaging devices. The new LG Arena device showcases a new user interface that demonstrates a positive focus on improving usability. However, LG’s biggest challenge is to become competitive in the smartphone segment as services and applications become more important to customers.
12.Motorola continued to experience significant difficulties even in its home market, but it had a solid quarter with prepaid operators Boost Mobile and Tracfone. It expects worldwide sales of iDEN handsets to be up 50 per cent in 2009 compared with 2008. These factors will help sustain Motorola until it revamps its portfolio in the fourth quarter of 2009. Motorola has committed to Android not only to revamp its position in the second half of 2009, but also to produce long-term performance improvements. How Motorola will be able to differentiate its offering when so many players in the mobile device market will be delivering Android-based products at the same time will be critical for Motorola.
13.Sony Ericsson lost market share compared both with the fourth quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2008, with sales of 14.5 million units. While the recession contributed to this decline, a weak product portfolio was also a factor. The product features that helped Sony Ericsson become one of the world’s top vendors — imaging and music — are now too common to serve as a differentiator. Sony Ericsson is late to catch on to the popularity of touchscreen devices and has a limited smartphone portfolio. While its focus on services through Play Now Arena is important, Sony Ericsson needs to ensure its devices include the most desirable applications and features for consumers

Worldwide Mobile and Smart Phone Sales: Q1,2009 Industry Update

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on June 17, 2009

Source: Gartner
Reference/ 2008 Market share archives:

1.Worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 269.1 million units in the first quarter of 2009, a 8.6 per cent decrease from the first quarter of 2008.
2.Smartphone sales surpassed 36.4 million units, a 12.7 per cent increase from the same period last year
3.Overall sales in the first quarter of 2009 registered the biggest quarter-on-quarter contraction since 2001.
4.Since 2001, this was also the first time the market contracted year over year during the first quarter, a period traditionally helped by strong seasonality in the Asia/Pacific market. The channel intensified its efforts in the first quarter of 2009 to reduce the levels of stock it holds. Stock reduction is intended to minimize capital investment in response to low consumer confidence.
5.Sales into the channel were just short of 244 million units in the first quarter of 2009, while sales to users were just over 269 million units — a difference of 25 million units, compared with 17 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008, the biggest difference ever recorded
6.Channel inventory reductions will continue into the second quarter of 2009, albeit with lower volumes
7.Smartphone sales represented 13.5 per cent of all mobile device sales in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2008.
8.With inventory-reduction efforts expected to continue in the second quarter of 2009, although to a lesser extent than what we have seen so far, and better-than-expected figures for the first quarter of 2009, overall sales to users for 2009 will remain considerably higher than the sell-in that many vendors are expecting
9.Device vendors will focus increasingly on smartphones, improved user interfaces and services to differentiate themselves and fuel consumer demand.

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