The Telco/Mobile Operator Cloud – what are the unique aspects for Operators?

I have been asked this a few times .. and its a changing goal post ..
Time to do a quick recap of my views

Qs is: What are the unique differentiators/ advantages for the Telecom Operator for the Cloud?

Here is a brief summary

The Cloud
- The Cloud can be seen to be ‘on demand/metered’ access to HW, SW and services. Hence, its all about business models

- Cloud converts CAPEX to OPEX. The ideas are not new but the technology is here which makes the business model feasible. There are many advantages – ex scaling, outsourced sysadmin etc

- Amazon S3 and EC2 clouds provide access to computing resources – ex disk storage, CPU etc and are one of the best example of Cloud services

- The problems with Cloud are the same as that of any ‘outsourcing’ –security, privacy etc etc

What can ‘telecoms’ do for the Cloud?
- In a word of ‘on demand’ services – the question arises – which services can telecoms uniquely provide(typically then Operator) – which others like amazon cannot

- Convergence is one i.e. you are with one provider and that provider manages your mobility ‘seamlessly’ at home and outside and also stores all your data

- This model has some limited success(typically in fixed to mobile convergence for homes) and in enterprises but has not really taken off

- ‘Bandwidth’ is another service that can be provided by the Operator ‘on demand’

- Ericsson is widely reputed to be speaking of 50 billion connected devices by 2020. The management of these devices could be an important part of the Mobile cloud

- Similarly, management of sensors in venues such as cafes could also be ‘outsourced’ and managed by the Operator

- The Operator could also sell QOS(Quality of service) but end to end QOS is hard to sell and gurantee for Operators

- There is now a clear trend to store music in the cloud (maybe followed by other content) ex from Apple to be announced next week

- Security, Privacy and Identity will always the the forte for the Operator

Managing the Cloud ecosystem end to end for the Telecom operator
- One of the unique challenges which Operators face, especially in the West, is that Operators do not control the device.
- This has relevance in the cloud context since many of the benefits (ex security, guaranteed QOS etc) cannot be provided unless the Operator also has a ‘footprint’ on the client(device)

- This can be achieved in at least three ways: A SIM card (which is controlled by the operator), an operator managed ‘on device portal’ or devices like femtocells

Hypothesis
considering the view that the Operator Cloud advantages can only be deployed if they have some footprint on the device, then there are three possible options

a) Security, privacy, Identity – you do not have to necessarily go via the Operator route for these, but the Operator has a long history in this space and also the motivation. I am moderating some webinars (free) at the Sim alliance on this topic and I will summarise these ideas more

b) Sensors and other devices – these are ‘greenfield’ and in some cases, the security, privacy and Identity arguments also
apply

c) There is also a wider aspect of ‘Voice and the Cloud’ which Martin Geddes and Dean Bubley are speaking of and that is also a differentiator for the Operator

That’s my thinking so far ..

comments welcome

M2M LTE and the next generation SIM applications – my talk at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam

M2M LTE and the next generation SIM applications – my talk at the LTE world summit in Amsterdam

Machine to Machine (M2M) refers to the idea of devices that transmit and receive data over a network, typically
from remote locations. Application domains include healthcare, energy networks etc

- O2 + Smart metering company G4S – deploys a remote management system including around 200,000 SIM cards,
to connect smart meters across the UK to G4S’ data centre.

- Telstra introduced a web-based self-service platform, allowing organisations to manage M2M products
themselves.

- Operators like M2M because predictable billing , more connections etc

Currently 5 billion users worldwide connected to mobile networks and Ericsson estimates there will be 50 billion connected
devices by 2020. These devices need certification, authentication, registration and management(ex SW upgrades) + QOS

BUT M2M != IOT

Machine to machine is two (intelligent) machines communicating with each other

Internet of things is about interacting objects(active or passive) – ex includes RFID

M2M is a subset of IOT

many factors driving IOT

[email protected]: Google I/O last week – An IOT – home gateway used by Lighting Science to connect an Android tablet to mesh-networked LEDs. Pitched towards inexpensive hardware for mesh networking.
• Networked LEDs and devices over WiFi
• A Tungsten music player reacting controlled via NFC. Once the CD touched the player, it automatically started playing the album.
• Microsoft – Smart Home, Kinect , IBM, Cisco and HP all have sensor development and service platforms
• Homeplug,
• Smart objects,
• Ipv6
• NFC for interactions vs. NFC for transactions.
• Tap and know’ vs. ‘Tap to pay’ – NFC can extend itself to signage, posters, billboards and other merchandising and
advertising mediums, Compare prices, read reviews, receive a coupon – replaces bardcode scanning (but less clunkier) –
(image GigaOm)

• NFC is now being built into many devices – especially Android, Samsung, Blackberry and Apple

• 150,000 retailers in the U.S. with readers that accept NFC transactions but mass market penetration 3 to 5 years away

• Interactions may come before transactions .. (easier problem to solve)

• Visa is launching a system that includes
: an e-commerce offering,
an m-commerce offering and
an offline piece for point-of-sale transactions.

• Disruptive because – it is a platform (includes other providers, allows customers to choose cards, allows promotions
and couponing)

• Visa recently announced a strategic investment in Square
• PayPal is expanding its online efforts and going more mobile, Amazon is reportedly considering its own NFC
• Apple is also reportedly looking at NFC AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile’s Isis
• Facebook credits
• LTE is all about high performance, low latency and low cost.
• But selling advantages of a network has not been easy for Operators since customers do not understand networks,
they understand services.
• While Operators have been good at selling simple, mass market services globally; how they can do this in the
LTE world remains a challenge.
• In the LTE world, the SIM plays a mandatory role as specified by 3GPP
• But the SIM is also evolving and could play a role as an enabler of services and in management of services
• Which services? Services based on the SIM for LTE and M2M may be based on mass market elements like
Security, Mobility and Identity

- Identity takes on more significance. Recently, the NSTIC (National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace)
US govt – officially unveiled its plans for a national secure internet ID program.

- This initiative will be voluntary and largely driven by various private sector companies, who will be responsible for verifying your ID

- It provides you with secure credentials that you’ll be able to use across the internet
– the credentials themselves could simply be a secure application, or something like smart card or SecurID token.

Outsourced management services of devices(la IBM, Accenture) – ex privacy and security is a good initial model

Objects as a service. Cloud (on demand SW and HW) and m2m
– not buy but rent
Security and privacy issues are drivers(not just enterprises but cafes!)

We are seeing the development of open platforms and that’s good development for the ecosystem(Visa and Sim
alliance)

To conclude:

- Telecoms not the only way for M2M/IOT.
- Means learning to play in a broader ecosystem vs. controlling it. We are seeing the rise of Open platforms (Visa, Sim alliance etc)
- Interactions vs. transactions. Interactions may come first
- Mobile Broadband is a good analogy. But in niches (health, smart grid). Operators are good at managing access networks
- Portion of revenue within ecosystem is a good pie …ARPU valuations may have to change(machines are not people).
Operators can reuse existing assets leverage network
- Outsourced management services of devices (la IBM, Accenture) driven by privacy and security is a good initial model
(not just enterprises but cafes)

PS: I am a part of webinars at the Sim alliance covering various aspects of M2M, SIM, NFC and APIs

Image sources:

http://www.simalliance.org/en?t=/contentManager/selectCatalog&e=UTF-

8&i=1185787014303&l=0&active=SFP&ParentID=1277822322702

http://www.theberryfix.com/wp-content/uploads/Visa-NFC-Digital-Wallet1.jpg

The launch event of my next book – Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter : Personal development through social meditation – from shamanism to transhumanism

Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter: Personal development through social meditation – from shamanism to transhumanism is a book about the evolution of meditation. The title, Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter, is limiting and perhaps even a little misleading, because I hope the ideas I discuss in this book will outlive websites like Facebook and Twitter.

The book was announced on June 6, 2011 at the B B King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, New York as part of The Realtime Report’s Realtime NY 11 conference and the official launch date is Jan 20 2011

The Realtime Report conference is an appropriate place to launch the book! We live in a ‘realtime’, ‘always-on’ world and these networks and connections impact our minds and, as I propose, the very nature of human evolution.

Most people accept that Meditation can bring about a lasting change in your life. At the simplest level, it can help you relax. But meditation, as we describe in this book, could be a lot more i.e. a technology that could lead to an exponential uptake in human intelligence and evolution.

The book draws on both the ancient and the modern taking a secular perspective

A friend who read an early draft of this book called it a ‘platypus of a meditation book’ in reference to the Duck Billed Platypus . The Duck Billed Platypus is an evolutionary ‘missing link’, an interim stage. Like the Platypus, this book is evolutionary bridge between meditation as it is understood today and the evolution of meditation as spirituality, technology and an understanding of our minds converge.

Meditation conjures up images of a monk-like existence divorced from everyday life. In contrast, I propose a different image, that of an air traffic controller, where your mind receives many inputs, the stakes are high and split second decisions and intuition are a part of the job.

While the stakes are less serious for us, we all relate to this situation and if meditation can help us solve the problem, it can have practical use in our increasingly complex lives

In this book, I propose that we are now entering the fourth age of meditation (following the previous ages of Shamanic meditation, Religious meditation and ‘Leaderful/Guru Led’ meditation). In the fourth age of meditation, meditation becomes a technology that will cause an exponential uptake in human intelligence and evolution. The starting point for this exponential uptake of human intelligence is our brain and our mind. More specifically, the exponential uptake of intelligence could be brought about by a connectivity and enhancement of minds through networks and technology. In that sense, meditation is a ‘transhumanist’ technology and networks are the underlying paradigm of the fourth age of meditation.

All networks, including neural networks and social networks, have a common theme. In the fourth age of meditation, we take a network based ‘two-sided view’ of meditation. On one hand, meditation is a disconnection from the emotional attachment to the flow of messages. This is the historical/ conventional understanding of meditation. But we also explore the other side of meditation i.e. the ‘connectivity’ aspect of meditation, with it’s fascinating possibilities.

The book shows you meditative techniques using brainwave technology.

It addresses questions like:

• How will our brain evolve through transhumanist meditation?

• How can we use technology to enhance our meditative state?

• What are the future implications for society, culture and spirituality?

• If we take the approach of ‘gedankenexperiment’(thought experiment), how would the world look like as we evolve?

• How would our Identity and relationship with the world change as we continue to change, evolve and enhance our minds through a fusion of meditation, networks and technology?

The book also studies social meditation augmented by technology as an on going exploration. Working with Neurosky headsets (see the cool technology behind this at Neurosky brainwave technology) we are creating a collaborative, technology based meditation concept using the Neurosky APIs. Think of it as a ‘game’ where you can synchronize with each other in a group

If you want to stay in touch and also receive the first chapter after the launch event, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com . The book will be launched in August in Europe and October in North America

Why the two sided business model does not apply to telecom operators

I have been thinking of this since I attended the LTE world summit in Amsterdam.

The two sided business model has been used by many in the industry, especially @Telco2, to point to a potential gold mine for Operators by comparing to the Web.

While the concept has been popularised recently by Telco2, the two sided business model is a generic idea in macro-economics and in this post, I am going to consider the two sided business model from first principles.

I believe that it is wishful thinking to consider that the two sided business model applies to Telecom Operators.

Two-sided markets , also called two-sided networks, are economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits. Credit cards are one such example: Consumers prefer credit cards honoured by more merchants and merchants prefer cards carried by more consumers.

When applied to Telecom Operators, the two sided business model is perceived to have two sets of customers: The downstream customers (millions of consumers) and the smaller set of ‘upstream’ customers – specifically verticals such as healthcare, retail, media etc

However, when we look back at the definition of the Two sided business model, the Operative word is to ‘gain network effects’ i.e. the platform, in this case, the Operator, is supposed to facilitate network effects on both sides

The reason I question the feasibility of the two sided to Telecom Operators is: I do not see how the Operator provides network effects on either side.

A classic example of network effects is the fax machine or the telephone. The more people own a fax machine or a telephone, the more valuable it is to each owner. In other words, every subsequent user adds value to the whole system.

Do we really believe that subsequent users of the Telco platform add value to all other users of the platform?

Now, consider the ‘other’ side.

When considering network effects(fax machine concepts) to two sided business models, the members of each group exhibit a preference regarding the number of users in the other group (cross-side network effects). If firms account for the fact that adoption on one side of the network drives adoption on the other side, they can do better.

We are not seeing any examples of such behaviour (cross side network effects) when the Telecom Operator is a platform

So, not only is the Telecom Operator platform not demonstrating scale (on it’s own side of the platform) but nor is it demonstrating cross side network effects on the ‘other side’.

Let’s consider a concrete example: Network APIs (when applied to Operators)

Yes, network APIs have value to the customer but they do not provide network effects.

Contrast this to Apple and it’s developer ecosystem

Here, we do see a two sided business model ..

By many standards, that ecosystem is also ‘closed’ (ex approval of apps) but, critically, it DOES achieve scale on both sides of the platform (In this case, developers and consumers).

In contrast, the Operator as a platform is (relatively) closed, fragmented and not globally interconnected. The Telco platform is confined in most parts to one country or a group of countries where the customers are not necessarily constrained to using the Telco app (ex they could get the same service from an app from the device maker or from downloading the app from the web on to their phone). The same applies to all such ‘upstream’ customers – ex Retail, health care etc etc in relation to the Operator.

The fallacy lies in applying the ideas of the two sided business model to the Network Operator just because ‘Google / Facebook etc are doing it’. .

Ironically, the Apple developer ecosystem succeeds even when it is closed precisely because it manages to use the principles of the two sided business model to create network effects

Taking a more formal, mathematical approach in the paper Two-Sided Markets: A Progress Report – pdf Jean-Charles Rochet Jean Tirole conclude that

Because all markets involve transactions between two (or more) parties and therefore are potential two-sided markets, it is useful to circumscribe the scope of two-sided-markets theory.
The first objective of the paper has been to propose such a definition: A market is two-sided if the platform can affect the volume of transactions by charging more to one side of the market and reducing the price paid by the other side by an equal amount; in other words, the price structure matters, and platforms must design it so as to bring both sides on board.

Jean-Charles Rochet and Jean Tirole ‘s formal mathematical analysis makes a lot of sense to me because it takes network effects into account and in that context, I cannot see how these ideas apply to Telecom Operators.

To conclude:
The idea of a two sided business model is intertwined with the idea of creating network effects.

The two concepts (two-sided business models and network-effects) cannot be separated.

Hence, the two sided business model does not apply to telecoms because there is no evidence that the Operator platform can nurture scale on both sides of the platform (cross-side network effects)

Image: the roman god Janus – who can see on both sides – but is mythical :)
Image source: flickr

Tony Fish and team announce the Innovation Warehouse

Tony Fish and team announce the Innovation warehouse

They have put in a lot of work with it and its good to see it being launched

Tony says

For the past year I have been growing, under the banner of mashup*, Ignite in partnership with Avanta. The vision was to provide a space where early stage, high growth, companies can start, grow, meet and collaborate – accelerating the rate of their innovation and connecting with critical delivery and implementation skills. So far fruit includes InDigital, Start-up Intelligence, Bluefield and OOsocial. Whilst doing this I have also been part of the founding team to start-up a much bigger open collaborate/ co-creation space called IW (working with the City of London Corporation) and we opened the doors
today!

There is now 10,000 sq foot of digital incubation space in the Smithfield. IW is a shared, semi-open plan office space designed for growing companies in a vibrant atmosphere. We aim to attract dynamic young businesses who want to grow fast. IW is not an exclusive club and is open to those who are prepared to stand up and justify why they will grow and what they are adding to the community.

The official launch week starts on June 6th when we will host a number of regular London events…..but I will be based here so please drop in an say hello. 1 East Poultry Avenue, London,EC1A 9PT

Innovation Warehouse on facebook

Innovation warehouse on twitter

Innovation warehouse on Foursquare

Have mobile network operators lost their voice ..

I have been having some fascinating conversations with @disruptivedean, @stuarthenshall and others at @forumoxford. (which by the way, is free to join)
Here is the conversation in its full context so far .. lots of interesting insights

Future of Voice and Personal Communications by Dean Bubley – Monday, 23 May 2011, 05:03 PM

We spend quite a lot of time on ForOx discussing handset OS’s, mobile payments, SMS and other related topics.

However, I’d quite like to stimulate some more discussion on how the use of phones is going to change in terms of voice and telephony. It’s an area I’ve been following for a long time (I first wrote about Mobile VoIP in 2004) and one that’s increasingly important with the transitions to both LTE and massmarket smartphones.

I recently wrote a guest post on the Visionmobile blog which discussed the role of “non-telephony voice applications”, such as embedded speech inside games, conferencing, corporate applications and so forth. It also looked a bit at whether our experience of the “phone call” is basically the result of 100-year old technology constraints which no longer apply.

My hypothesis is that while it’s definitely good to be able to speak to anyone, anywhere, with a fair degree of reliability, there are various trends occurring in both user behaviour and technical capability, which could lead to a reinvention and fragmentation of telephony. Both the Internet and app developers enable “voice” to go well beyond the model of “person A calls person B for X minutes”.

Some of the trends include:

- Communication escalation, where either an SMS or IM message (eg Skype) drives permission-based phone calls (“OK for a call now?”)
- Teenagers and others avoiding voice calls altogether (“I don’t pick up voicemails, send me an SMS instead”)
- Microsoft acquiring Skype, which has impact on the home (eg Skype+Kinect in TVs), business (WebEx replacement?) and mobile voice/telephony
- Viral adoption of new mobile VoIP apps like Viber
- Attempts to change the way that SIMs and roaming work (eg Apple, Truphone etc) to enable easier MVNOs or similar models
- Steady growth in the use of video in some instances (FaceTime, Skype etc) although likely to remain niche
- Increasingly desperate attempts by operators to retain relevance and value in voice and also cope with the transition to LTE (VoLTE, IMS etc)
- Some operators looking at OTT-style services of their own (eg Orange ON Voicefeed, Telefonica Jajah, T-Mobile Bobsled)

In essence, there’s a lot of commonality with messaging, where we have seen huge fragmentation of both usage and value in recent years, with different messaging formats used for specific purposes and groups of people: email, SMS, MMS, various types of IM, Facebook messaging, BlackBerry BBM, WhatsApp and so on.

I’m interested in ForOx’s views on mobile voice and telephony, and what is likely to occur in coming years with the adoption of smartphones, LTE and the ability to use full mobile VoIP, as well as cloud/mashup voice capabilities.

Lastly – for those really interested in debating all this in person, I’m running some Masterclasses along with Martin Geddes on the Future of Voice, over the next few months. More details here on my blog

Dean Bubley
Disruptive Analysis
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Re: Future of Voice and Personal Communications by Tariq El-Haj Omar – Monday, 23 May 2011, 10:48 PM

Thought-provoking post on vision mobile and same can be said about this thread.

In my mind, the notion of a ‘phonebook’ is in itself is outdated, and it is only once we get past the notion of the ‘phone number’ that we can see a revolution in voice. I should not have to know your phone number in order to speak to you. It’s absurd. If I meet someone randomly in the street or elsewhere, do I ask them for a 8-digit code before I begin to speak to them?

But taking a practical approach, and seeing as we all have phone numbers, could we not just have the MSISDN as the ‘primary key’ upon which I can attach and control other non-traditional voice services?

For example – I want to link my MSISDN to Facebook, LinkedIn, PSN account (maybe not these days), WordPress, Match.com account, Gmail and MBA university login to …

a) Allow FB friends to call/VM/etc me, without knowledge of my MSISDN, thru FB with certain permission groups
b) Allow business contacts on LinkedIn to leave me a VM or call directly if given permission (say, if they were on the same organisational network or 1st degree contacts)
c) PSN friends to contact me in a push-to-talk manner during a multiplayer game
d) WordPress readers to leave voice comments on my blog that are directed to my phone
e) A trusted match.com date to be able to video call me or drop me a flirty video message that is delivered to my phone (a ‘rich’ flirtomatic)
f) Gmail to call me when certain emails are pre-flagged as important and perform a IVR text-to-speech call
g) my MBA lecturer to broadcast a last minute voice-sms type message to notify a change in course schedule

… and the list goes on…. eBay (call the seller), online tutoring, etc etc

and finally, for everyone else, they can simply call me on my mobile number to which of all of the above are linked. Eventually this direct dialing will fade away.

The reality is, I care about FB, LinkedIn and all the other channels I mentioned above. I don’t care about my operator. In an ideal world, the operator would be there to link all of the above with a voice/messaging/data channel to me. Let the MSISDN be the gel between all these services. For a business contact to call me they should be able to click ‘call’ next to my name on LinkedIn – via the desktop or mobile web or app etc. They shouldnt care about country codes or work/business numbers – they are by definition calling me on my business line because its via LinkedIn.

Voice should be a feature bolted on to different services that are meaningful to me – and I should be able to control who can call me and how. Managing presence and availability would be the major service the operator would provide me in this case. I can imagine an interface with all of the linked services and a red/amber/green indicator – green means full voice contactability, amber means voice mail / sms / voice sms / other asynchronous modes and red means do not disturb.

And for those worried about the ease of being so contactable – well, social etiquette goes a long way and for whats left, a ‘dislike’ / ‘block’ mechanism can be used to block out unwanted voice.

The concept of a phone number, when you really think about it, and as Dean correctly points out, is very unnatural. Embedding, or really, ‘extending’ voice onto everyday activities / services would be more natural. If I ‘like’ Pizza Hut on FB, why can’t there be a button for me to ‘call’ my nearest branch? It would identify my location and connect me through. If I’m browsing FB photos on my iPad and decide to call an old friend I see in a picture, why can’t FB be the originator of that call? Why do I have to go look up their phone number in some yellow pages? The room for innovation on voice is endless – it’s just that the ‘phone number’ concept has been so ingrained that it’s difficult to move past it.

All this would of course require a re-thinking of the role of the operator.

To this extent, I can imagine an operator being the custodian of the ‘primary key’ linking all these services and a manager of presence and privacy. The concept of ‘minutes’ would disappear and they would indeed become a platform upon which innovative and more natural voice services can be delivered. Services that aren’t bound by the CDR confines of A-party / B-party for X duration.

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Have Operators lost their voice .. by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 06:50 AM

Hi Dean, Tariq

Great insights and I liked your presentation at LTE WS (which I attended and tweeted about as best as I could!)

While you have some excellent insights .. I think there is a very fundamental question which needs to be addressed here from the perspective of the Operator(which is what I was asking before and at the event as well)

1) The Operator’s key asset is their network
2) For a network to have value it should be interoperable
3) Today, that means globally
4) Globally interoperable IP voice networks take time and money
5) No solution is on the horizon(for the operator) – correct me if I am wrong – to facilitate global interoperability for IP voice
6) further, because building the network costs money, the operator expects to recoup that money
7) contrast with web players – like Skype – who have a global interconnect for IP but do not have the QOS
8) For Operators to be even in the game .. they have to consider a globally interconnected voice IP system
9) failing that, the customer will choose the existing global IP system(ex skype) for cheap or for free
10) So, its like two people building competing houses. One(web) builds it faster but with some uncomfort. However, the ‘web’ house is safe. By that I mean the customer entering the building has some discomfort(steep stairs) but can still put up with the pain
11) the competing house(telco house) .. takes a LOONG time to get off the ground but they watch that the neighbouring house is coming up fast, customers are going there, they suffer because of the steep steps but still are OK with it. The house is definately not ‘falling down’. It is growing.
12) So, what does the telco house do?
13) The temptation for telco is: slow down the other house(block skype etc) or try to build their own house by ‘skipping’ the ground floor!
14) That does not work! and by that I mean that the ground floor is interoperable standards and interconnect
15) If there is no network level global interconnect, then the operators are at the same position as the OTT players!

This is what I mean by ‘losing their voice’ ie voice is a commodity(and like I said with some discussion before some elements of voice will become ‘standalone’ – ex voicemail) in their own right ..

But Operators may well have ‘lost’ the voice battle
hope that clarifies
kind rgds
Ajit

two sided business models and telco market caps .. by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 09:03 AM

Hi Dean

Thanks for the presentation (download)
One more feedback ..

I have often seen(and also in your slide) that the two sided business model is a potential solution ..

But this has some questions:
1) the current telco model(and more imp market caps) are based on mass markets

2) two sided business models are not ‘mass market’ – they are (and will be) niches. They are profitable – but not necessarily scaleable.

3) finally .. there is no reason why ONLY telcos can adopt two sided business models. any large network can(including say skype)

so .. qs is: is the two sided business model compatible with telcos? esp their current valuations and nor are they easy to explain to the market

kind rgds
Ajit
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Re: two sided business models and telco market caps .. by Dean Bubley – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 10:43 AM

Hi Ajit

I’ve been following two-sided models (2SBM) for a few years, mostly through my association with Telco 2.0

Bottom line is that they are interesting, potentially valuable – but often difficult to build for operators. There’s a lot of complexity about the IT systems involved, brittle silo’d organisational structure, and continued tensions on slow collaboration (eg OneAPI) vs. going it alone more quickly.

Operator value is not solely based on mass-market stuff – many make a sizeable % of their revenue from corporate deals & systems integration / outsourcing for example.

However, it is definitely a challenge for investors to work out how to value things that don’t fit with neat #subs / ARPU spreadsheets, yes. So with IT & outsourcing stuff, most equity teams have their own metrics & models, but they’re not there yet with 2SBM stuff.

Ideally, the operators will build automated platforms for 2SBM – perhaps similar to Google’s AdWords for example. (Google is a good example of a 2-sided marketplace of searchers + advertisers, although it only monetises one side)

There are numerous industries with “platform” 2SBM plays, some of which monetise both sides, some only one.

It’s worth noting that Freephone is a good example of telco 2SBM, also maybe things like identity management in future. The tricky stuff is around monetising broadband via guaranteed QoS etc

Dean
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Re: two sided business models and telco market caps .. by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:27 PM

thanks Dean

yes glad you kind of agree with the challenges ..
I always thought that the 2SBM was an effort to follow the web and just because it works for the web does not mean it will work for telco
there is also the psychological barrier(valuations etc)

thus the telco assets(Identity, commerce, customer services etc) are all nice to see on paper but hard to implement(on scale)

Perhaps this is the solution – ie the move from a mass market services to niche market services(which is not the same as long tail services)

kind rgds
Ajit
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Re: Have Operators lost their voice .. by Dean Bubley – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 10:29 AM

Hi Ajit

Some quick feedback:

1) The Operator’s key asset is their network – YES, which is why outsourcing may be counter-productive
2) For a network to have value it should be interoperable Not necessarily. Plenty of examples of valuable standalone networks & services (eg Sprint-Nextel Push to Talk)
3) Today, that means globally Definitely not true (eg DoCoMo, various Chinese services). Desirable for some use cases but not others
4) Globally interoperable IP voice networks take time and money YES
5) No solution is on the horizon(for the operator) – correct me if I am wrong – to facilitate global interoperability for IP voice Not really – the GSMA has its IPX for IMS-based VoIP, various exchanges like xConnect for general SIP interconnection, plus it can potentially be done in the cloud / via Web anyway
6) further, because building the network costs money, the operator expects to recoup that money YES, but doesn’t have to be with “vanilla telephony” – eg see wholesale-only or data-only operators like Yota
7) contrast with web players – like Skype – who have a global interconnect for IP but do not have the QOS Doesn’t really have global interconnect, except where it breaks out to the PSTN/mobile circuit. Which is something you can buy wholesale from a ton of international VoIP transit players
8) For Operators to be even in the game .. they have to consider a globally interconnected voice IP system Consider it, yes. Rely on it, not necessarily
9) failing that, the customer will choose the existing global IP system(ex skype) for cheap or for free For certain use cases, not for others, at least for a while. Problematic to give good-enough mobile data to emerging India to compete with new/cheap/perfect GSM.
10) So, its like two people building competing houses. One(web) builds it faster but with some uncomfort. However, the ‘web’ house is safe. By that I mean the customer entering the building has some discomfort(steep stairs) but can still put up with the pain
11) the competing house(telco house) .. takes a LOONG time to get off the ground but they watch that the neighbouring house is coming up fast, customers are going there, they suffer because of the steep steps but still are OK with it. The house is definately not ‘falling down’. It is growing.
12) So, what does the telco house do?
13) The temptation for telco is: slow down the other house(block skype etc) or try to build their own house by ‘skipping’ the ground floor!
14) That does not work! and by that I mean that the ground floor is interoperable standards and interconnect Not really no. Skype is non-standard, but can interconnect when/if/where it wants, but that’s a very one-sided decision. In my view Skype benefits from *ignoring* standards except where it can derive value
15) If there is no network level global interconnect, then the operators are at the same position as the OTT players! Well, if the operators *do* manage to launch VoLTE (and of course there’s already SIP NGN VoIP in the fixed world) then they can easily interoperate.

My whole point is that the operators spend far TOO MUCH time focused on interop, and NOT ENOUGH time on user experience. They focus on “hard” QoS issues in the network & not on the “soft” bits of UI and service engagement

Dean
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Re: Have Operators lost their voice .. by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 01:59 PM

Hi Dean

1) Re
My whole point is that the operators spend far TOO MUCH time focused on interop, and NOT ENOUGH time on user experience. They focus on “hard” QoS issues in the network & not on the “soft” bits of UI and service engagement

that I totally agree ..

I said once before that in any case, end to end qos, is hard to gurantee and you need only to walk in a non-reception zone to lose it

2) Re IPX for IMS-based VoIP
I smile
The issue is not IP connect … IPX and IMS want to BILL for IP connect. which is a fundamentally losing proposition. thats the issue. In that case,. what I said is valid – plenty of solutions exist – but telco tries to create a solution to charge per packet.. and that does not fly ..

3) PTT etc
PTT was an anomaly at a point in time. today PTT would need support from devices. none is forthcoming as far as I know. same applies to any such restricted service. when you see it end to end it does not work. Geographies(Japan, Chine and Korea) have always behaved differently but that does not scale beyond the specific linguistic domain

4) wholesale only or data only (yota, lightsquared) – I like that model – but are you suggesting that they have a role to play in the voice debate?

kind rgds
Ajit
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Re: Have Operators lost their voice .. by Stuart henshall – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 01:36 PM

This is an area that really interests me. I’ve worked on more than one startup that sought to address elements. Ajit… you stimulated me to comment… I’m just using your framework below to ask some “other” questions in a crude attempt to be provocative.

Hi Dean, Tariq

Great insights and I liked your presentation at LTE WS (which I attended and tweeted about as best as I could!)

While you have some excellent insights .. I think there is a very fundamental question which needs to be addressed here from the perspective of the Operator(which is what I was asking before and at the event as well)

1) The Operator’s key asset is their network
Operators increasingly have nothing… they bill me for access and I pay to shift and receive bits. I want higher speeds. They know my Mac address (and more) but I care very little about their “number” which I am now misappropriating for my own purposes… like facetime, viber, tango, etc. I haven’t cared about their directory for years – my yellow page searches went to google long ago – and who’s listed in the white pages anymore…. Not Mobile numbers. And the landline home phone is going fast. My mobile number will be next. I have other addresses that have more value to me and I can use for voice when I want to at my behest.

2) For a network to have value it should be interoperable
They are many ways I can get on the Net. For the carrier to have value… it must reach me where ever I am and provide a decent speed at a cost I can afford. As a “consumer” or basic user I don’t even know what interoperable means. I do like downloading mp3 to my mobile… and getting my email. I’ve got off SMS with what’sapp and ebuddy. Skype once and awhile – it just kills my battery. I always use my mobile for international calls – all are free! I don’t care about minutes and many of those minutes are video.

3) Today, that means globally
I have globally already covered. I sometimes / very occasionally pay something extra to connect to legacy endpoints. In a few years I won’t pay to get to a company with a legacy endpoint….. I already tweet my abuse directly to companies…. when they fail me. Or they pay that interconnect already 1-800. I wish they could actually provide more transparent net based interconnect services. Eg off their websites… with real people that I can identify with. I might actually get a callerID that means something.

4) Globally interoperable IP voice networks take time and money
Huh? I have Skype, I have Viber – I have SIP —- MSN, Yahoo etc. Time for you to adopt my channels….. Don’t dictate your channel to me. Mr Operator… You want to talk to me.. then skype me… or Tweet me…. Maybe I will even Facebook with you to a limited degree. I will share more riches when you are willing to be more transparent with me. Apply same to a company. I – the consumer am tired of being addressed as a number… I am a name… and I expect to know who or what is on the other end of the line. I want nothing less than a complete change of manners… Frankly I should be in control… I should not always feel like I am on the receiving end.

5) No solution is on the horizon(for the operator) – correct me if I am wrong – to facilitate global interoperability for IP voice
The operator can’t sell me this even if they wanted to. What I want is clear calls…. easy to escalate scenarios from text to speech to video etc. I have no need to centralize services like recording etc… I can manage that on my own thanks!

6) further, because building the network costs money, the operator expects to recoup that money

There is nothing to build… the tools — no sorry the software is already there. In fact MR OPERATOR… the one thing you have that is valuable is CURRENTLY STUPID. You have a “NOTIFICATION SERVER” that is a dumb pipe. It is time you made it smart.

Similarly you should turn my number into a name! And empower me to link it wherever I want at no cost to me. Why? Because simply you cannot build out my network faster than me and as I learn faster than you… you must make my ability to adapt more responsive and quicker. I’d also like more security over my conversation and exchanges although I won’t pay for it… Skype provides it for free…. So should you… oh I forgot – you are in business by will of the government.

Where you really fail… is your complete lack of open API’s so I can really create value off your network. That means.. you don’t let me manage my gateway and access!

7) contrast with web players – like Skype – who have a global interconnect for IP but do not have the QOS
From my perspective… Skype is the better service.. it is clearer, it is cheaper and more flexible. Skype is also an IP dinosaur at this point. I wont’ even bother to write down what it could have been.

8) For Operators to be even in the game .. they have to consider a globally interconnected voice IP system
This seems like traditional crack smoking. The value in the mobile is not in VOICE today. The value is in entertainment or creating social connection or frankly doing business more effectively. Perhaps even a little backing up. Voice is a small part of the value equation that is now in your pocket. I’d be willing to make a bet that most people would give up the “voice/number” aspect for a cheaper bill. What do you want… 60 bucks a month and an iphone or 30 bucks and an iPod touch 3G (i wish) fitted out with Pinger/Textfree and GoogleVoice? I am certain some bright spark will one day create the android ipod equivalent without the phone.

Where is innovation still lacking in voice? Eg spacial – as in conference calls. Makes it easier to keep track of. Who’s who at the table…. How to layer things like music and voice concurrently…

9) failing that, the customer will choose the existing global IP system(ex skype) for cheap or for free
Well – I love it when I see Indian operators touting 3G video calling as the next best thing and then hoping to charge by sec for it. It’s too expensive in that format. Similarly… lets charge for TV. So what happens – customers use Skype instead. What have we learned.. The customer has learned that the operator wants to charge them multiple times… when we only want to be charged once. Voice is data… End of story.

10) So, its like two people building competing houses. One(web) builds it faster but with some uncomfort. However, the ‘web’ house is safe. By that I mean the customer entering the building has some discomfort(steep stairs) but can still put up with the pain

The fundamental difference between today and five years ago… is the mobile computer in your pocket. When VoIP was tied to the PC it worked sort of. In your pocket….. it only matter about coverage now. Have coverage it works. The problem is… telco’s have thought about the mobile phone like a landline… PC manufacturers like it was PC (with two exceptions)…. The mobile is defining the PC today and it is defining telephony based on a mobile internet rather than a home internet/business internet. The device simply has more utility – so it continues to suck up more and more …. and soon it will start broadcasting / signaling what we really want… It’s a vacuum sucking in value for the user… right now. As a device it would be foolish to forget how empowering it is.
11) the competing house(telco house) .. takes a LOONG time to get off the ground but they watch that the neighbouring house is coming up fast, customers are going there, they suffer because of the steep steps but still are OK with it. The house is definately not ‘falling down’. It is growing.
Oh dear… What.. they dropped their landlines! What they dropped their mobile phone number? What… they redirected it to personal gateway? —— Yes of course they will….. Isn’t Apple’s notification server my “Gateway”?

12) So, what does the telco house do?
Better USE SMS and make it smart…. Make more aspects of the web available to a broader group of people at a lower cost. Every business in the world wants to put real info in my hand… SO make them pay…. Make it possible so even those that don’t have a data plan… get one soon…. Who’s going to help you with the transition? How will you accelerate it?
13) The temptation for telco is: slow down the other house(block skype etc) or try to build their own house by ‘skipping’ the ground floor!
Yes… we know how miserable the service is. However, there’s no trust left. We “users” know it is a regulated monopoly or close enough. The waste of costs is obvious – from marketing of handsets.. to paying bribes to consumers, to sticking them with unconscionable fees. Don’t worry… Skype may have broken the landline / international call monopoly… just wait until handset radios start self-organizing in major cities… it may be slower.. and disruptive to begin.. but how much “slow bandwidth” can we offload… and traverse for free? Teleco’s. rather than thinking about the house that is already built… think about a world where your service is really empowering… building my identity… adding to my wealth, assisting me with creativity…. opening up new doors. You did it once… we could speak over long distances… Frankly since then you have little of real merit.

14) That does not work! and by that I mean that the ground floor is interoperable standards and interconnect
See we agree the emperor has no clothes….

15) If there is no network level global interconnect, then the operators are at the same position as the OTT players!
Be a good idea perhaps to sell off the “utilities” and separate from the marketing…. Wouldn’t take too long to get some lower costs.

This is what I mean by ‘losing their voice’ ie voice is a commodity(and like I said with some discussion before some elements of voice will become ‘standalone’ – ex voicemail) in their own right ..

Can’t help adding that VOICE MAIL was always a failure case. It means the message didn’t get to the recipient on a timely manner and there is no confirmation that they ever got it or did anything with it. A voice message is a different case and like a video message certainly has some value. Yet I still can’t turn off my AT&T voice mail box.

But Operators may well have ‘lost’ the voice battle
hope that clarifies
kind rgds
Ajit

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Re: Have Operators lost their voice ..
by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 01:48 PM

proving to be a very interesting conversation hope all useful for mr bubley. this audience is far more tougher than he would get anywhere else!
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personal gateways and APIs
by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:09 PM

thanks for your very robust comments Stuart

two questions
a) can you elaborate personal gateways? there may be some merit here

b) APIs .. I used to long talk of APIs but are they a red herring. Opertaor APIs have existed for some time. I am not sure what the real usage ie. ie APIS seem to be a strategy to imitate the web. But the web has scale. most operator APIs(voice or data) have limited audiences – hence the qs if they are a red herring and what value they would add

kind rgds
Ajit
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Re: personal gateways and APIs
by Stuart henshall – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 05:07 PM

two questions
a) can you elaborate personal gateways? there may be some merit here

Simple illustration… I forward all current calls to a gateway…. That gateway requires certain information from you… before I will accept an escalation to a call. We demoed this in Phweet where a Tweet was a call request. Neither party had to share their number or what channel they were connected on. The gateway was the bridge. The “accept” was simply a response to a text based call request which launched a personal and unique exchange for that communication. The model was an exchange for every call… Build and destroy or keep. A kept exchange was potentially an open channel….

Still one has to manage their mother who remains on the PSTN. She gets a free pass – while others perhaps have to establish some other credentials.

Now that’s not much different from GoogleVoice which will ring x concurrent extensions… However I want control. I also want a more sophisticated “contract” established. “each exchange can have it own contract… So this gateway can perhaps manage sharing, privacy, usage, expiry, etc for other parties I may want to communicate with. Who can be added. (example google calendar control who may be added to the event based on levels of authority. Their cloud to my cloud – so to speak. A part of this is already managed by LinkedIn or Facebook… So I just need to attach them. If we are connections on both services thats fine too.

fundamentally I should have a gateway or agent that puts me in control. I may even be happy to contract that out. I may also be happy to put myself in a state of open channels from time to time… eg re a location.. or a time…. or relative to a subject…. I should be able to hear it even if I am in another call.. .just like outside my office door.

b) APIs .. I used to long talk of APIs but are they a red herring. Opertaor APIs have existed for some time. I am not sure what the real usage ie. ie APIS seem to be a strategy to imitate the web. But the web has scale. most operator APIs(voice or data) have limited audiences – hence the qs if they are a red herring and what value they would add

As someone who used Twitter API’s to develop on…. for awhile you better be really careful. API’s are too often used against you or the rules changed when the real value become obvious to the company. I was certainly part of the first Skype API’s and the initial hack that created the presence server and the Callto: approaches. They served a purpose… get handset manufacturers making handsets that ran off computers… Then the controls came in… API’s are ultimately required for people… not programmers alone. The language typically remains too complex when what we want is drag and drop.

Perhaps what’s required is API’s for me….??? Rather than API’s for the telco. That’s empowerment. As an example…. when we did Phweet by setting up each call using a public or private tweet… and another when it was accepted… it meant we created a searchable record. All the records around that exchange were public or private. Try searching your phone records… and whether or not they tie to a person or SMS or MMS or some packet exchange today. It’s a nothing. Why aren’t calls searchable on the corporate database?

If the operators gave people real API’s then perhaps they would build the value added networks around them. The problem is… they have to give us access to our name, numbers, call logs etc. And even the signaling and setup. In the meantime progress will come from other directions.

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Re: personal gateways and APIs
by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 06:05 PM

very insightful. many thanks.
I liked the idea of a personal gateway and one product is from a friend (http://www.privateplanet.co.uk/index.html)
but what you describe is more than private planet.

Re APIs I once said that I needed a service that will tell me (using network APIs) how much a session would cost (or how much I just paid for!)
Customers would love it. telcos – not so much!

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Re: Have Operators lost their voice ..
by Gabriel Brown – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:20 PM

If you ever get into the building game, please warn us…

Under your analogy Skype would be like a 60s block of flats knocked up quick with dodgy concrete. Developer will have disappeared by the time the liabilities come up. Why’d you want to live in a place like that? I’ll be in the well-built Edwardian semi.

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Re: Have Operators lost their voice ..
by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:33 PM

Hi Gabriel
actually a 60s block of flats is interesting
telco equipment may be from that time
and you have to replace some of it.
and meanwhile someone else is creating a block of flats using a totally differnt building technique
but more to the point, the analogy was applied to interconnect ie operators need(or percieve to need) interconnect
They try to BILL for IP interconnect. which is a losing proposition
This, in a nutshell, is the problem with IP voice(and with initiatives like IPX which are created on the same principles)
rgds
Ajit
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Re: Future of Voice and Personal Communications
by Alex Kerr – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:38 PM

A subset of the overall discussion, but I see great potential in a resurgence for some sort of IVR (probably keypad rather than voice-recognition based).

Why? Well simply because of the number of blind (~800 million) and illiterate (~1 billion) people in the world. We all enthuse about SMS, apps and the mobile web, but these are obviously visual/literate mediums. There is GREAT potential for reaching those for whom a phone is only ever an audio device, but allowing them to access and interact with content in a controlled way. The obvious way being via the phone keypad. There is great potential for more developers to build stuff for this “platform”.

Also with the rise of the elastic cloud (e.g. Amazon Web Services) plus great VoiP switch/pbx software like FreeSwitch (10 times more efficient than Asterisk on the same hardware), you can have the back end infrastructure to serve a continually fluctuating global audience (and of course there are ASPs that already have this all set up). The one issue I did find when I looked into it a couple of years ago was a lack of ability to connect local access numbers in less developed countries, into the internet, but this has probably improved now.

Content publishing on mobile phones (specifically, i.e. to reach those in poorer areas) does not have to just be a visual medium only for the sighted/literate.
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Re: Future of Voice and Personal Communications
by Ajit Jaokar – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 02:40 PM

good point.
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Re: Future of Voice and Personal Communications
by ALexander Gödde – Tuesday, 24 May 2011, 08:15 PM

My landline is gone. I make calls on my mobiles, work and private computers. Ideally I’m reachable on all of them under the same identity.
Currently the most universal identity is still a phone number. Reachable from the most devices in the most places. My mobile phone operator can only enable a phone number that works on my mobiles – well, more than one mobile is already a stretch.
The alternatives? skype or SIP, linked to a traditional phone number. Both work, albeit in my experience not very well over mobile data yet. Additionally, data connectivity is not universal yet.
Since I only pay for minutes I use, and need a contract for the data plan anyway, I can just forward incoming calls to my mobile number once I’m out of reach of data. Outgoing calls are a problem – no way of avoiding them being shown as originating from my mobile number in these cases.
So for the time being, mobile operators can only count on some incoming and some outgoing minutes to fill the gaps – either when VoIP is not possible, or the quality is not acceptable. Should they ever close the gaps in their network enough, then traditional voice is no longer a consideration.
At the same time even that part of voice that is routed through operator phone networks at all is taking a plunge. Some of my contacts are on skype – and that’s what I use then. Other networks may come in the future. I don’t think the operators have lost their voice yet, and they’re not going to lose it for a long time. It’ll just go quieter and quieter, switched connection by switched connection.

Image source: the lost voice

Mobile technologies shape the future of Africa – by Rudy De Waele

A good presentation from Rudy ..

Mobile technologies shape the future of Africa

Reprap – Recursive 3d printers that make other 3D printers – China on your desktop .. very interesting ..

Reprap – ‘China on your desktop’ very cool :) 3D printers which make other 3D printers ..

via @russellbuckley

enjoy!

RepRap from Adrian Bowyer on Vimeo.

Connected Home Global Summit

Connected Home Global Summit is another interesting event which I am tracking.

Verizon Wireless, Comcast, Vodafone, BBC, Telecom Italia Cable and Wireless and Virgin Mobile are some of the 20 operators, broadcasters and content providers confirmed to speak at the 2nd annual Connected Home Global Summit, 24 – 26 May, London, UK

Focused on the technology choices and business models that will monetize the Connected Home, the event is co-located with the inaugural Connected Home Global Industry Awards which celebrates excellence and innovation in the bourgeoning marketplace.

From the agenda, I find these themes interesting

- A View of the Technological Roadmap and Services Enabled by a Broadband Connected Home
- DLNA – The Platform Enabling Seamless and Interoperable
- Environment for Sharing Multimedia In and Around the Connected Home
- Multi-room/multi-device Content: How operators can keep ownership of the connected home? (I smile :)
- Case Study: Delivering a 3 Screen Strategy
- Bouygues Telecom Case Study: Connected Home Services Delivered Through a Box
- Enabling Secure and Guaranteed Delivery to CE Devices in the Home
- Exploring Net Neutrality – The Equality of Internet Traffic
- Applications and Services – Monetising the Connected Home Eco-System
- Assessing how Content and Services will Drive the Connected Home
- Unpicking the Value Chain: Who Owns What, and Who Pays Who For It?
- The Connected Home as a Brokerage Platform for Broadband Operators – Ingredients and Recipes
- Understanding the Extent to which Usability is a Key Differentiator for Connected Home Services
- The Impact Content Delivery Networks will have on the Connected Home
- Orange Case Study: Social TV, Taking TV Beyond the Television Screen
- In Search of Seamless Connectivity & Content Sharing: Assessing the Use of Tablets as Universal Remote Controls of the Connected Home
- Tablet Mania – Which Devices will Drive the Connected Home?
- How can “There” be Made Part of “Here”? – Exploring the Trends and Opportunities around Open TV Platforms
- Getting the Best out of Combining Mobile and TV Applications
- Smart TVs: Opportunities for pay-TV operators
- From Single Connected Devices to a Central Point of Access and Control
- The Future Connected Home – Focus on the Users, and All Else Will Follow
- Future Technologies – What’s Next? Exploring the Future of Connected TVs, 3D and Beyond
- Applications and Services – Monetising the Connected Home Eco-System
- Opening the Home Gateway to the Outside World
- Content Everywhere – Value Added Services for the Connected Consumer
- Understanding the Extent to which Usability is a Key Differentiator for Connected Home Services

more at
Connected Home Global Summit

Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets – By Chetan Sharma

A bit late posting this but quintessential Chetan Sharma and must read ..

Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets – By Chetan Sharma