Voicemail hacking and the ‘phone hacking’ scandal – by David Rogers

David Rogers is a friend and a very clued on security person. He has an excellent, long blog on the voicemail hacking saga. David will be contributing regularly to the OpenGardens blog soon

A synopsis:
Voicemail hacking and the ‘phone hacking’ scandal – how it worked, questions to be asked and improvements to be made

In brief, there are three main mechanisms for illicitly accessing voicemail: firstly social engineering the call centre to reset or change the PIN for you as precursor to one of the following 1) call the remote voicemail number and access it using the default (or acquired PIN), 2) ringing the actual phone, going into the voicemail menu by pressing the * key or 3) using an advanced mechanism to fool the phone into opening up the voicemail. There are some loopholes still existing and as technology evolves new ones will emerge.

This is not ‘phone hacking’. It is illicit or illegal access to voicemail.

The mobile operators are coming under some pressure from the Home Affairs Select Committee, led by Keith Vaz. Both the Police and network operators will have responsibilities in terms of their actions over the affair, although the operators took the Police lead on what to do. It is unlikely that the full list of victims will ever emerge as the data has likely been deleted after all this time.

More at ..

Voicemail hacking and the ‘phone hacking’ scandal – how it worked, questions to be asked and improvements to be made

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

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

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

- 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


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

• Android@Home: 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

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:




MSFT acquires Skype – Are we seeing a new type of IP based Telecom Operator?

MSFT acquires Skype -

Are we seeing a new type of Telecom Operator (MSFT + Nokia + Skype) = Internet + Devices + next generation IP comms?

same as

Google + Android + Google Voice

I think so .. and thats indeed exciting and a game changer

This could lead to a deeper alignment, more acquisitions and more pressure on existing Operators to innovate

All good for customers

Does net neutrality apply to machine to machine communications?

Does net neutrality apply to machine to machine communications?

I am exploring this for a talk at LTE summit in Amsterdam next week

In a nutshell

Net neutrality = all packets are created (commercially) equal

It matters because networks are about communication and innovation shifts to the edge of the network

However, this innovation is driven by people(who are at the edge of the network)

So, in a M2M(vs a P2P scenario), there are no ‘people at the edge’ to innovate

Furthermore, network traffic is predictable

Machines don’t want to talk more than what they are designed to

When they do communicate, they often need network level QOS

So, does net neutrality apply to M2M networks?


Image source: Telecoms.com

why would anyone use Alien Dalvik?

I have had the pleasure of meeting Benoit Schillings, Chief Technology Officer and industry expert of the Myriad group. I met Beniot a couple of weeks ago at CTIA and as usual, he had some interesting insights. I shall cover these in two blogs the first of which(this one) is about Alien Dalvik.

Essentially, Alien Dalvik brings Android applications to non-Android devices, allowing OEMs, operators and application stores to leverage the Android eco-system across a much wider range of mobile devices. Android applications run unmodified and with no loss of performance on non- Android platforms.

When Beniot first explained this concept to me, I wondered .. Why would anyone need Alien Dalvik?

Two thoughts.

Firstly, see this excellent post from Martin Sauter on Android and Open Source as A Door Opener for Deep Down Innovation. The Alien Dalvik takes this kind of innovation much beyond Dalvik and Android itself

Secondly, and more importantly, the value today is in the ecosystem as I have said many times before Am I the only one who is cautiously optimistic about the Nokia – MSFT deal?. So, that means, devices can easily be launched. HW and SW are commodities. Integration is complex but not a differentiator.
That leaves us with the nebulous ‘community’ aka developer ecosystem

When viewed in that way, any non Android device that can leverage the Android ecosystem can benefit and to me, that provides the best motivation for using Alien Dalvik

Comments/feedback welcome!

The mirage of the home screen apps – Why the home screen application may never be mass market ..

I conducted a workshop on Mobile Web and Mobile apps strategies at ICE Amsterdam which was successful with great participation from the participants

I was discussing home screen apps in response from an insightful question from  Maartje van derleij and I proposed that the home screen application may never be mass market ..

I have covered home screen applications here before especially in context of hiplogic and before that, on device portals and surfkitchen where I said that  the strategy has some merits but with caveats – ex in the case of hiplogic, if I dont want an ‘astrology’ application can it be removed, the surfkitchen application had an overhead  .. etc etc ..

But in Amsterdam .. I thought of this in response to Maartje’s question:

Who REALLY owns the first screen?

The operators long thought that they controlled the first screen

The handset vendors thought the same

And then came ‘home screen replacement’ platforms like hiplogic and others who also wanted to ‘manage’ the first screen often on behalf of the handset vendor or the Operator

But guess who the screen REALLY belongs to?

A vast majority of people have a picture of their child, boyfriend, girlfriend or other loved one ..

Its hard for anyone to compete against that ..

If icons clutter up a picture of your child, guess who will stay and who will go ..

Thus, I said, home screeen applications may always be a niche service since a vast majority of people are always going to use a picture of their loved one and no commercial entity can win against that!

Hence, the ‘mirage’ of the home screen apps ..

Image source gotoknow

Nokia’s problems and INQ facebook phone on Android ..

In response to the Nokia memo, I am glad that finally reality seems to have dawned at Nokia .

While Tomi Ahonen and others have launched a passionate denial/ contradiction of the ideas in the memo, the reality is very simple ..

I do not mind if the memo is genuine, a blog, a rumour or a combination thereof.

The point is: The memo (if you can call it that ..) does encapsulate the problem .. which is

a) Lack of ecosystem management and dominance.

Google orchestrates the Android ecosystem.

Apple owns the iPhone ecosystem.

Nokia sells very large number of devices but it is no longer enough to JUST sell a large number of devices

What ecosystem does Nokia manage/dominate?

If not, can it be called a market leader?

b) The rate of change

c) Taking emerging markets for granted

So, related to above, the questions then become:

a) Can Nokia develop and dominate an ecosystem? and / or leverage existing ecosystems

b) Forget iPhone, consider Samsung which has (so far) managed the rate of change much better. Someone called it a ‘fast follower’. No matter what we call Samsung, they are managing to leverage mindshare

c) Refusal to acknowlegde the new manufacturers in India and China and hoping that these markets will be loyal for ever i.e. ignoring spice mobilility micromax, Olive telecom and others.

Now consider that today INQ announced the facebook phone .. on ADROID

lets read the back story behind this ..and the irony of a facebook phone on Google’s Android .. then think of the rate of change ..

I remember going to a Nokia booth at MWC last year and a woman showing me an idea of new Nokia services.

It was a ‘green’ service for travellers(reducing carbon footprint). As someone who travels extensively and a heavy user of mobile devices, in theory, I am an ideal target user of the service

But to get it, I had to get a Nokia id and a nokia phone.

I told her that there are OTHER ways to get that service and I added that as a traveller the most imp site for me is time and date but she rattled on on a pre scripted manner about how great this new green service was if ONLY I switched to Nokia ..

That’s basically completely missing the point(that I, as a customer have an option and that the reducing carbon footprint service can be obtained from many different ways)

And in my view, apps are a long tail service .. and most customers are now defining what they want in a much more granular way

Now this bring us to facebook phone ..

when I talked of mobile web 2.0 I often said that it should be called ‘web mobile 2.0′ i.e. web drives the agenda

Thats why facebook phone is more important.

Its the service which customers want ..

So, finally glad that someone(at the top) in Nokia has woken up to a new reality that the dynamics of the market itself have changed completely! and old style strategies and approaches will not work

In April 2008, I posted a blog based on a talk called The ASUS effect : Mobile innovation triggered by open source, long tail devices and a shift in the device value chain

That has been highly prophetic .. although I framed it in context of Linux and not android .. the principles are the same ..

Open source introduces a MUCH higher rate of change .. that explains Android success and Facebook phone on Android .. and on the other hand we have the iPhone

Think about it: A young person(a traditional Nokia demographic) goes to a phone shop

They have two choices – a Nokia phone OR a Facebook Android phone

Which will they choose?

Will it matter that its an Android phone? Its the same analogy with me at the MWC Nokia booth ..

In any case, lets wait and see what happens now ..

iPad and Media Tablets: what are the key trends and issues

In the next couple of months, I am speaking/chairing two conferences – both related to tablets. CTIA – future of tablets event – Orlando and ICE amsterdam – Amsterdam

The objective of this post is to isolate the key issues around Media tablets for these events.

If you would like to speak/sponsor/attend these events, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

Like the iPhone, the iPad has also created it’s own ecosystem. But the iPad is not the only game in town. Specifically we have a lot of devices deployed around Android Honeycomb especially at many tablets were launched at CES. Blackberry and Windows7 also have their own Tablet deployments

In many ways, Tablets represent the ‘Post PC’ phase – and we are soon going to manage three devices: the PC, Tablet and Mobile device. For many, including me, the Tablet is likely to be a content consumption device and depending on the tablet size, the device is not likely to be ‘mobile’.

Thus, a media tablet should have three key features:

1) It must have the form factor of a tablet which includes touch input, always on etc

2) Media tablets are optimized towards content consumption(browsing, video, books, magazines etc). Some like the Amazon Kindle are optimized towards specific content types such as books

3) Media tablets have an appstore

So, here is a list of key trends and issues. Please let me know if I have missed any

Overall Market perspective (analyst / statistics)


Content types (entertainment, games, books, magazines, newspapers, movies, academic publications, Textbooks, music, comics, Blogs)
What do customers pay for
Revenue shares and compensations, subscription
Content rights
Global distribution of content on Tablets
Content conversion

Business models

Digital first – print second model
Free vs paid


Android tablets
RIM playbook


Adobe Air
Android Honeycomb


Apple, Samsung, LG, Dell, HP, RIM, Motorola, Sharp, Acer, HTC, Asus, Archos, Lenovo, Toshiba, Nokia, Sony, MST

Design and Development

Insights from best selling ipad apps
Designing Tablet Apps best practice
User interface
Publishing to multiple platforms
Production systems
Customer analytics
Standards – EPUB vs others
IPR, Copyright and Licensing
Context for Tablet apps
Community for Tablet apps
Customer behavior on Tablets


Marketing and viral promotion
Community created books (social books)
Venture capital
European lessons vs USA
Tablet apps for blogs
Discovery of content

That’s it. Have I forgotten anything?

If you would like to speak/sponsor/attend these events, please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

With the warp speeds of android, can Klingons win or do we need faster features?

PS: I could not resist the title :) Androids, Warp speeds and Klingons in one sentence!

In this post, I am trying to discuss the changing positions in the mobile ecosystem especially due to the impact of Android but also on emerging markets. The question is: How can handset vendors differentiate? I don’t think we have all the answers but some trends are becoming clearer as I discuss below

Gartner’s third quarter smartphone data is out and Android is now the second best selling smartphone OS worldwide at 25.5 percent behind Symbian, which still holds the top spot with 36.6 percent of sales share.

This is great news for Android but I think the figures do not explain the underlying trends and the disruption we are seeing in the mobile ecosystem.

Firstly, lets consider that there do not appear to be any specific best selling Android devices globally. So, growth is across the board. In this post, I analyse two trends, first the implications for Android success but also the growth in dumb phones (voice and SMS) and what it means for industry competitive positions

The question, in Star Trek parlance is: Is it possible to just ‘Klingon’ to the Android bandwagon? And what are the underlying trends in the handset ecosystem?

What happens when the handset industry becomes like the PC industry?

Back in 2008, I said about Long tail devices way before Android became popular (which I then called the ASUS effect) and that if the handset industry mirrored the PC industry, we would have a larger white label component. Also, Android is like ‘water’ another post some time ago – Sun Tzu, Android and water: Android is winning because it can evolve in many directions

Why did so many in telecoms missed this and some still continue to deny it? The answer is people often see telecoms and mobile in isolation and not as a part of a system. That can be a disaster as leading handset vendors have found out and many others will soon too .. Mobile was somehow ‘special’. It was supposed to always have a premium(people will always pay for content, people will pay a premium for devices etc etc) have all been proved wrong

The question is: What happens next?

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor

Android is a fundamentally different type of competitor (like Water as I said before), and even today, the success factors for Android remain ‘under water’ and nebulous – to adopt a starry analogy. For example, we dont see top 5 best selling Android devices.

One thing we CAN say: The rate of change with Android is the real killer

Customers buy features. Customers want new features fast. Pre Android, the device cycle was 18 months. Gone are those days. We are now in 4.5 month cycles (post an Android release)

The average cycle time for handsets first sold in 2008 based on Qualcomm’s QSD8250 chipset and Android’s Donut 1.6 release was a brief 8 months. By late 2009, the average cycle time for handsets based on Qualcomm’s MSM7227 chipset and Android’s Eclair 2.1 release had nearly halved, down to 4.5 months. This is “warp speed” for complex smartphones.”

This actually decrements the BRANDS of the android makers since people are buying specific features which they are getting fast. They don’t care from whom they get them. The warp speed for smartphones is the real differntiator for Android. And Nokia/Symbian or even WinMo will need different strategies for it since in my view, it is not possible to copy Android strategy by these players.

The WARP speed of Android means customers seem to be buying ‘faster features’ if I may coin that phrase ..

The diversity and rich feature set of Android can be seen from the following four links





There is of course a wider battle going on between integrated (ex RIM) vs modularized(ex WinMO and Android) but the RATE of change from Android cannot be ignored even if you adopt the integrated strategy(ex RIM). Integration(vs modularization) is a great strategy provided you can execute it. Today Apple(and possibly RIM) can execute on it. In future, I suspect INQ may if the rumours of the facebook phone are true, Facebook And INQ: Married, In A Relationship, Or It’s Complicated? but it is unclear how many will be able to do this successfully

So, the Kligon question. If we accept the dominance of the Android strategy, how do you differentiate?


Amongst the analysis of Android gainers, HTC stands out

The giant winner among handset makers? HTC, which grew the numbers sold by 144%. If there’s anyone benefiting from Android’s growth, it’s probably HTC – and the carriers selling them – more even than Google. Those 20.5m Android handsets are worth at least £100 each to someone: that’s an extra £2bn in the smartphone market that wasn’t there a year ago.

Why HTC?

How do we explain HTC success on Android?

Is it just because they were working with Google earliest? Which they were. But that does not explain everything. ex what specific features of HTC devices are users adopting?

Is it device integration? If so, again, we dont know specific features

Is it just HTC sense?

Firstly, HTC are innovating.

They had experience from re-skinning Windows Mobile, which they used with Android

Handset design and industrial design are great

Unlike motoblur, HTC sense has got much better reception even if there are instances of people posting videos to switch off HTC sense

All this alone does not explain the underlying trend trend of Android.

The answer appears to be HTC is executing well but at the same time also keeping the volume of devices launched high (which ties to the rate of change of Android and to the introduction of new features which benefits customers)

We can see this from an analysis of Android devices launched in 2010

HTC 13
motorola 18
samsung 10
LG 5
Sony ericsson 3
huawei 3
Dell 3
acer 3
Garmin- Asus Garmin- Asus 2
And one each for Kyocera,Lenovo, Inbrics, T-mobile, Geeksphone, Archos

Also, HTC, through HTC sense , is now launching new services like backups, security features, remotely lock, and wipe of all sensitive info. Apps ofcourse are rendered through the Android marketplace

The OTHER category of devices

There is a separate unrelated trend – that of OTHER category of devices in emerging markets. I think emerging markets is by no means a secure place for any handset vendor ..

It seems that Those extra 77m mobile phones sold last quarter were attributed to the ‘OTHER’ category

The company is called ‘OTHER’ by analysts, but its worth 77m devices. Note this is not ‘Smart phones’ this is DUMB phones(voice + SMS). Qs is – Why OTHER? why not Huawei? i.e. low cost Chinese manuacturer

Some thoughts on this:

Handset success have always been about optimal supply chain and not low cost devices. That’s why Huawei never made an impact on Nokia since Nokia’s supply chain was one of the best in the world. However, local manufactuers possibly have lowest cost and best supply chain. So Indian and Chinese manufacturers are making an impact at their respective LOCAL levels in the dumb phone category. Huawei is possibly smart enough to ignore that segment of the market and go for lower cost handsets based on Android in the West. This is a wiser move

Having said that, just like I have always discounted Japan in handsets OUTSIDE of Japan, I also think that Chinese manufacturers could end up making the same mistake as Japan i.e. excellent hardware but no excellence in software and closed systems(which is the real differentiator now)

The OTHER category of vendors includes in India includes spice mobilility micromax and Olive telecom and the impact of Android in India is still to be felt

Google seems to be working with Indian manufacturers like Micromax Informatics Ltd., Spice Mobility Ltd., and Olive Telecom to create an Android device in the $150 to sub $100 range. This will test the brand loyalty of Nokia which is already strained at the lowest end of the Indian handset market by the local Indian manufacturers. Already a price point of $150 has been reached by the Huawei Ascend in the US.

Conclusions – Klingons vs faster features

So, the market is becoming clearer now .. and the dominant players are:

1) Integrated strategy – Apple

2) Modularised – Android with whoever can execute fastest and – currently HTC

3) Dumb phones – dominate by the OTHER

There is scope for innovation in Android as future Android UIs show

However, if we accept the rate of change argument, then the winners will be those who innovate at a much faster rate (faster features). Innovation in itself is not enough, the rate of innovation is the key differentiator.

Thoughts welcome
I may explore this question more in subsequent blogs – ex What about the Operators? i.e. if we see the market evolving in three areas: Services(apps), Integrated(Apple), Network? Is there any evidence of any pure network elements that can be deployed competitively at a service level? Operative word being ‘competitively’ i.e. the network should have a unique advantage from the customer perspective

Thanks to insights from: @Kevin Mc Donagh, Sena Gbeckor Kove and Andreas

Image source: Real science