Ronnie05's Blog

Facebook’s smartphone Buffy isn’t a smart idea afterall

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates, Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on November 30, 2011

Why Buffy could be a problem child for Facebook?

Buffy: Chances are that this name would remind you of the Vampire Slayer, as it did with me when I first heard of it. Wonder who Facebook had on its mind as the Vampire for its first ever smartphone called Buffy. Possibly it’s a combination of Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon and more. HTC will be producing the Buffy which will deeply integrate the social network into its platform. So then, after all these years of going round and round mobiles and smartphones as the delivery platform for their social services, Facebook finally is all in!

Slowly but surely all these big players are beginning to acquire, buy or subcontract all elements of the delivery value chain – and become the Walmarts of the digital world. Walmart puts all the shopping needs behind one door for the customer. Apple wants the customer to buy one iPhone and spend all his time in its virtual app world. Google’s the same way. To compete, Facebook needed a piece of hardware. Facebook has the liberty to choose between Android, Windows Phone or even create a new OS (WebOS anyone?). Facebook would obviously opt to heavily customize the Operating systems and store fronts and Android is a readily available choice to do that.

Globally, smartphones and tablets are converging at ecosystems as these become devices to primarily consume data from the eco-systems. Amazon’s success with the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet is a shinning example and given the success of Amazon, Amazon is thinking of a move into smartphones. Given that Facebook has a been building an apps based ecosystem and is becoming the de-facto web standard OS, Facebook nursing intentions in the smartphones and tablets is a logical extension of their clout to the physical world of devices.

However, as Facebook pursues building a smartphone, it risks alienating far more important partners – a lesson they should have picked up from Microsoft’s Zune fiasco. Arguably, the Zune is one of the most expensive failures that Microsoft has ever had, all because it betrayed its partners and then under-resourced the effort.

Is it really going to be able to promote a piece of hardware? Does it really want to go to war with Apple and every other device manufacturer? Right now Apple, Microsoft and others spend lots of time on Facebook, but they aren’t likely to continue if they view Facebook as a potential competitor. Facebook should be focused on building the best Facebook app for every major platform. Going into competition with these platforms and phone providers could alone turn them into the next Microsoft Zune or Kin. This may partially explain why Microsoft is thinking of building its own social network all of a sudden.

Facebook may be dreaming of the upside of being the next Apple, without considering the collateral damage and opportunity cost that is more likely to make them the next Zune/Kin. However, its equations with major platform operators is destined to sour with the hardware approach no matter how much parity Facebook provides to the deal.

The dawn of Tablet computing

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on November 28, 2011

In 2009-10, Apple changed the tablet computing landscape with the launch of iPad- In a very short period of time, tablets have absolutely changed the computing landscape. Tablets bring computing to new areas where using a computing devices was not really practical and feasible. The tablet now roles up as media consumption device, a great browsing experience and has spawned a complete applications based eco-system redefining the web touch points with the consumer. In that sense it removes the situational disabledness around media conssumption and the challenge to interface properly with the device. It has also extended the time period in the day which people spend with any kind of computing device. Google, Microsoft, HP and RIM have since followed suit with varying degrees of success.

From the consumption perspective, Future of consumption devices is really about how people interface with computing devices. Tablets enhance the touch interface with a larger screen and the mobility factor. Add to that the fact that these devices are always online, instant on, portable, application based and are essentially media consumption machines is adding to the degree of adoption of these machines. Tablets, fundamentally redefine interface with computing devices, the way we interact and use devices i.e. multitouch, gesture and voice recognition and are changing the way people interact with their devices.

What sets the tablet apart quite clearly is that it works on a converged platform where services (Music, Video, Gaming, e-Books, GPS, eMail and Social networking etc) combine the use cases with the delivery platform to present itself in one neat Application package on the Tablet. Again the combined used case is that of media consumption on the tablet.

Thus, summarizing the growth and promise in tablets, my perspective is that given multifunctionality, contextual relevance, new modes of connectivity, a thriving apps eco-system and interface elements such as touch based intuitive interface and usage hygiene will fuel rapid expansion in reach and purchases.

Infographic: The Tablet Revolution and the Future of News

Posted in Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on November 26, 2011

Source: Pew Ressearch Centre’s project forExcellence in Journalism

Will WinMo – Nokia really turn the tables for Nokia?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on November 24, 2011

Nokia’s Windows Phone Devices Unlikely to Gain Market Traction

Expectations were always high for Nokia’s next round of handsets. Ever since the company partnered with Microsoft, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop promised great things were ahead for the Finnish-based company, and we enthusiastically agreed in our early review. Unfortunately, not everyone is as optimistic about the company’s future.

According to the New York Times, James Faucette, an analyst for Pacific Crest Securities, has drastically cut his shipment projections for Nokia Windows Phone sales this quarter – from 2 million to a measly 500,000. It’s not so much that Nokia produced bad phones; rather, the handsets were not competitively priced, nor did they present a clear advantage over other Windows Phone devices.

With no breakthrough innovation, we believe Nokia’s new phones are unlikely to get traction in a highly concentrated high end, Mr. Faucette said in a research note.

The saturated market is exactly what Nokia is aiming to get a piece of with its Windows Phone-based devices. A few weeks ago, Elop revealed the company’s lofty ambitions to undercut its Windows Phone competition going forward – an objective the CEO said has little concern for profit margins.

Currently, the Lumia 800 is only available to a limited market in the UK, with an early 2012 release slated for the US. So figures may potentially change once a wider audience is reached. However, Ross Rubin, a consumer electronics analyst for research firm NPD, isn’t so sure. Because most American’s are already invested in apps and media for their Android, iPhone or BlackBerry devices, consumers are unlikely to change OS’s, Rubin said.

Microsoft shares some of the blame, too. Overall, Windows Phone 7 hasn’t been the resounding success some people hoped for, especially compared to the popularity of Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android. In fact, during a recent meeting with financial analysts, Steve Ballmer admitted Microsoft hasn’t “quite sold as many [Windows Phone devices] as I would have liked in the first year.”

To compare, Gartner estimated that 1.7 million Windows Phone devices were shipped during Q3 2011. Apple sold four million iPhone 4Ses in its first weekend of availability.

Despite this Nokia is remaining steadfast and confident heading into the new year. Nokia recently said that orders for its Lumia 800 have so far been strong, “The level of pre-orders, as well as reaction in shops today, lead us to be very positive.”

The stakes are indeed high. If the partnership is to be successful the two companies need to hit a homerun, and soon. Developer interest is on the rise for Microsoft’s mobile platform, so the time is right. Maybe the future isn’t as bleak as some believe.

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Facebook & the four degrees of separation (Vasudev Kutumbakam)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on November 23, 2011

Vasudev Kutumbakam (The Whole world are descendants of Vasudev (the Hindu God Krishna)). Facebook revisited this premise and has taken it a step further by actually measuring the degrees of separation between two unknown individuals. In the 1960s, social psychologist Stanley Milgram’s “small world experiment” famously tested the idea that any two people in the world are separated by only a small number of intermediate connections, arguably the first experimental study to reveal the surprising structure of social networks.

With the rise of modern computing, social networks are now being mapped in digital form giving a hugely scalable, accessible, immediately personal and almost idiotically simple networking platform.

The idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ — that any two people are on average separated by no more than six intermediate connections — was first proposed in 1929 in a short story by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, and made popular by the John Guare play and movie, Six Degrees of Separation. The idea was first put to the test by Stanley Milgram in the 1960’s. The idea was first put to the test by Stanley Milgram in the 1960’s. Milgram selected 296 volunteers and asked them to dispatch a message to a specific individual, a stockholder living in the Boston suburb of Sharon, Massachusetts. The volunteers were told that they couldn’t send the message directly to the target person (unless the sender knew them personally), but that they should route the message to a personal acquaintance that was more likely than the sender to know the target person. Milgram found that the average number of intermediate persons in these chains was 5.2 (representing about 6 hops). The experiment showed that not only are there few degrees of separation between any two people, but that individuals can successfully navigate these short paths, even though they have no way of seeing the entire network.

While 99.6% of all pairs of users are connected by paths with 5 degrees (6 hops), 92% are connected by only four degrees (5 hops). And as Facebook has grown over the years, representing an ever larger fraction of the global population, it has become steadily more connected. The average distance in 2008 was 5.28 hops, while now it is 4.74.

Interestingly enough, the study also proves that individuals are both well-connected in the sense that you can reach anyone from anyone else in a relatively short number of hops, but at the same time, they are very locally clustered, with the vast majority of connections spanning a short distance. The study, found that 84% of all connections are between users in the same country. But this isn’t the only dimension along which people tend to cluster. The study concludes that People tend to have a similar, albeit typically smaller, number of friends as their neighbors, and tend to be about the same age. Somewhat surprisingly, even for individuals aged 60, the distribution of their friends’ ages is sharply peaked at exactly 60.

The pictures in Numbers: Indian Mobile Handset industry

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on November 22, 2011

Gartner release on the size and growth projections of Indian Mobile handset numbers:

Mobile handset sales in India, expected to grow an annual 8.5 percent and reach 231 million units in 2012
Annual Mobile handset sales in India to top 322 million by 2015
Smartphone sales 6 percent of the total device sales in Q2, 2011. Gartner expects to go up to 8 percent in 2012
Average selling price ASP for a mobile device sold in India is about $45
75% of the Mobile devices sold costing below $75

These set of projections amongst other things emphasize the growth of the smartphone segment in the mobile phone markets. Smartphones are projected to grow by 45% as against a total market growth of 9% Y-o-Y 2011-12.

The report also speaks about the waning klout of the Tier A brands to the local and Chinese brands such as G’Five, Micromax, Spice, Karbonn.Going forward in 2012, the big global brands will continue to face competition from local and Chinese brands as some of these brands are building capabilities to compete at a larger level covering broader consumer segments.

Generations in computing interfaces and the Promise held out by Siri

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces by Manas Ganguly on November 19, 2011

The future of computing devices is really about how people interface with computing devices.

Generation #1:Many would remember the ubiquitous keyboard and the QWERTY keys which defined the early days of mobile computing. Remember having to key an SMS while navigating your car. It was not just difficult, it was fatal.

Generation #2: Haptic or touch based interface for computing was around for many years, but it was Apple’s iPhone and iPad range of devices along with Androids which truely revolutionized this scene and in effect put the Generation #1 devices into history books.

Generation #3: Gesture control and gesture recognition is really a evolution of the Generation #2 Haptic feedback devices on a much larger scale in tersm of being able to read body movements in a 3D plane. Interestingly this input mechanism came through from the world of gaming. Microsoft Kinect and to a some extent Microsoft Surface defined this generation of interfaces.

Generation #4: The easiest human interface is that of Speech. And after defining the interfaces with multi-touch, it was Apple which took this one step much further into future than Andbody else. Yes! Google had the speech recognition technology much ahead of Apple. However it was Apple’s fate to add the dash of character and spunk to Voice recognition – called Siri which holds a huge promise into future.

This presentation analyzes the factors why Siri could ultimately do something none could ever do before it- Challenge the Search paradigm. Again the simplicity of the voice interface and Siri’s character and spunk is what differentiates Siri. But in some time, Siri could be the de-facto standard, with app developers and Apple’s presence across a huge range of consumer based devices chnaging the way people search – by saying it out. Apple could take the whole paradigm further with intelligence on the voice enabled platform. It would be an interesting duel between Apple and Google and Siri could change the future.

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VAS update: Indian Telecom (Part I)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on November 17, 2011

Contribution of VAS or non-voice revenue of Indian mobile operators is 13% of the total revenue or Rs.13,026 crore in FY11. Higher spectrum bamdwidth to push VAS in India have been around for about and year now and there are movements which if not scape changing and huge, are definitively moving towards a wiser set of Value Added Services with deeper reach.VAS in India contributes approximately 13% of operators’ revenues, whereas in other countries its contribution is around 25-30 percent. On another note, it is an observation that, VAS services come to full bloom ion an average 2 years after the implementation of 3G. That has been the case in European and American roll outs. India was late to the 3G technology club, and hence VAS services have not found the required network environment to push higher end services.

Despite getting huge recognition and prominence in the telecom industry, Indian VAS players need to shake away a few more crucial bottlenecks to reach a full bloom. The VAS industry also faces challenges like reconciliation issues with operators, delayed payouts from operators, and lack of a common body to offer unified short codes, which work across all operators at the pan-India level.

Even though the VAS players know their customer’s demands, majority of content producers are only producing VAS content that has low cost of production, eg, wall papers, ringtones, astro, or other plain vanilla text based content. Since the content producers get extremely low revenue shares from the mobile operators, hence they are doing so. And, since the mobile operators do not get any specialized content, therefore they give low shares.

The mobile VAS industry needs to work towards building up an ecosystem where in each and every stakeholder should benefit in the value chain process. The time has come to break away from this vicious cycle and convert this process into a value chain.

Today, a typical value chain in the MVAS industry encompasses content creators/providers, mobile advertisers, aggregators, technology enablers, telecom service providers, and end-users or subscribers. Also, it’s to be noted here that in the value chain of MVAS, telecom service providers are a very big entity in comparison to the content providers/content aggregators who are basically SMEs.

Since there is no standard format of agreement between the telecom service provider and VASPs for VAS, hence the telecom service providers being the core of the MVAS value chain, usually dominate in finalizing the terms and conditions of the agreement.

The VAS industry in India is at a nascent stage. In the present scenario, there are quite a large number of small and medium sized content aggregators and technology enablers.

Generally, such VAS providers depend on the facilities provided by the telecom operators. Effective cooperation and collaboration among various stakeholders is a key factor to form a healthy value chain of VAS. Looking at the potential of MVAS, there is a need to develop a suitable framework, which will enable consumers to access a variety of VAS, promote entrepreneurship, and at the same time create additional revenue streams for the service providers.

to be continued

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Qualcomm adds more teeth to its Snapdragon smartphone processors

Posted in Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on November 16, 2011

Follow up to an earlier post on Qualcomm microprocessors. reproduced from an article Qualcomm unveils new Snapdragon smartphone processors

Qualcomm unveiled a new class of its Snapdragon mobile processors today in an effort to maintain leadership in chips for smartphones and tablets.

The company announced its Snapdragon S4 class of mobile processors and enhanced its Snapdragon S1 chips for entry-level platforms. The S4 processors are aimed at lowering design, engineering and inventory costs while bringing the latest performance in 3G and 4G connection speeds to mobile data users. The company made the announcement at its analyst meeting in New York.

San Diego-based Qualcomm is trying to address the whole mobile market, from basic smartphones to high-end smartphones and tablets. The S4 chips are optimized for software that includes multimedia, connectivity, camera, display, security, power management, browsing, and natural user interface features. The S4 is a quad-core (four computing brains on one chip) chip built with a 28 nanometer manufacturing process.

Snapdragon chips are already in 300 smartphones and are in about 350 more that are under development. The heart of the new chips is the Krait central processing unit (CPU), which is built from the ground up for mobile performance and power management.

The new S4 chips include the MSM8660A, MSM8260A, MSM8630, MSM8230, MSM8627, MSM8227, APQ8060A and APQ8030. Devices based on the S4 processors will appear in early 2012. The new models of the low-end S1 chip are the MSM7225A, MSM7625A, MSM7227A and MSM7627A. Those chips are aimed at 2G and 3G phones. Rivals include Texas Instruments, Marvell, Broadcom and Nvidia.

Snapdragon has more than 225 design wins with 30 different Android smartphone manufacturers.

Smartphones are expected to sell 4 billion units between 2011 and 2015, according to estimates from Gartner, Strategy Analytics and IDC. Emerging regions are expected to be 50 percent of sales by 2015.

Qualcomm shipped more than 483 million MSMs, or modem chips, during its fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Gartner: Q3, 2011 Mobile Phone and Smartphone Market shares

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on November 15, 2011

• The global mobile handset market gained 5.6 percent in the third quarter to 440.5 million phones. It slowed from 35% growth reported a year earlier and 16.5% in the previous quarter. The slowdown in Western Europe has been compensated by stronger growth in emerging markets such as China.
• Nokia retained the top spot with a 23.9 percent market share, climbing from 22.8 percent in the second quarter, down from 28.2% year on year. Samsung, LG Electronics Inc., Apple, and ZTE Corp. rounded out the top five vendors.
• Smartphone sales by volume grew 42 percent. Smartphones gained one percentage point from the previous quarter to 26 percent of all mobile-phone sales. Smartphone sales to end users reaching 115 million in the quarter
• Google Android accounted for 52.5 percent of smartphone sales, more than doubling its share from a year earlier. This is up from the 20.5 million Android-powered smartphones sold in the third quarter of 2011, when Android accounted for a 25.3 percent market share.Android benefited from more mass-market offerings, a weaker competitive environment, and the lack of exciting new products on alternative operating systems. Android was estimated to sell 60.5 million units in the third quarter of 2011
• Samsung, maker of the Galaxy line of Android smartphones, became the biggest smartphone maker for the first time. Samsung sold a total of 24 million smartphones in the third quarter compared with Nokia’s 19.5 million. Symbian handsets lost almost 20 percentage points from a year earlier (36.3% last year) to account for 16.9 percent of smartphones as the company shifted to Microsoft Corp. Nokia accounted for 22.1% smartphone sales in the quarter that ended June.
• Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) declined 4.4 percentage points from a year earlier to 11 percent of the smartphone market in the quarter.
• Apple was the world’s fourth-largest handset vendor, while its iOS operating system was the third-largest smartphone operating system with a 15% market share, down from 16.6% a year earlier. With a limited number of iPhone models taking on a plethora of Android-powered handsets from multiple manufacturers, Apple’s iOS actually lost market share in the worldwide smartphone market last quarter despite growing sales
• ZTE Corp.’s smartphone market share increased to 3.2% from 1.9% in the same quarter a year ago, while Research In Motion Ltd.’s (RIMM) share declined to 2.9% from 3.0%.

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