Categories
传播媒体 | media | 미디어 创造力 | innovation | 독창성 商业 | business | 상업 工艺学 | technology | 기술 无线网络 | wireless |무선 네트워크 电信 | telecoms | 통신 经济 | economics | 경제학

Seidenberg’s Folly?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Who is Ivan Seidenberg?

Ivan Seidenberg is head of Verizon, a U.S. telecoms company based in New Jersey, they jointly own one of the U.S.’s largest mobile phone operators with Vodafone and are provide landlines to Americans living on the eastern seaboard. They are a direct descendant of the Bell Telephone Co. a former telecoms monopoly rather like BT prior to privatisation. Verizon was one of the baby Bells made by the break-up of the previous company. It was originally called Bell Atlantic but has grown beyond its roots by acquisition and joint venture.

What is a folly?

A folly is the ruins of a great accomplishment that never gets finished. The English landscape is dotted with disused and crumbling monuments. Many of the follies were made by industrialists who spent the wealth generated by textiles mills, shipyards and heavy industries. A more modern day version of this would be the expensive shower curtains purchased by L. Dennis Kozlowski during the recent Tyco scandal in the U.S.

What’s the SP?

In January, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Seidenberg laid out a plan to spend two billion dollars digging up and replacing the copper cables that lie between the customers house and the telephone exchange, replacing it with strands of glass called optical fibre.

This is interesting because:

Verizon until now has been very focused on creating shareholder value, broadly that means working the business in such a way that they keep paying a dividend and the share price keeps going up. In order to do that you need to avoid ‘bet the farm’ type moves, or anything that may unsettle institutional shareholders. One of my frustrations working as a PR consultant agency-side with Bell Atlantic mobile (a predecessor of Verizon) was trying to get my spokespeople to say anything daring, visionary or forward-thinking. We struggled to send out news, even issuing European  press releases about mobile phones donated to battered wives shelters in New Jersey

  • Verizon, historically has made more of a mess in providing value-added services over broadband and wireless services than other carriers like Deutsche Telekom or BT, there is no indication of how Verizon is likely to be able to make additional value out of the investment. Capgemini did a survey of 100 CEOs in the telecoms, media and technology sectors in 2000, which I helped to promote. One of the summary conclusions that came out of it was that everybody knew they wanted broadband, but they did not know what it would be used for, or how they were going to make money out of value-added services. I still believe that to be the case, I have seen nothing that has convinced me otherwise
  • Online and digital entertainment is very much up in the air, no one is sure how the market is going to pan out
  • Content providers will rob you blind, Apple recently said all the 99 cents a track from iTunes Music Service went on credit card transaction costs and record company royalty payments, How will there be room for someone like Verizon at the table?
  • Selling fibre to consumers would disrupt the market for business data communications, driving prices down and causing a corporate bloodbath unlike anything we have seen in modern times. It could annihilate companies like WorldCom who are in the final stages of bankruptcy protection and Comcast who sell broadband DSL services. This very disruptive process while in theory of some benefit to consumers, could still be loaded with many anti-trust issues
  • The economics of putting fibre into the ground are very complex. Putting fibre in the ground is no more difficult than putting in cable. Optical fibre has its own challenges, water must not be allowed anywhere near the fibre, otherwise it will get between its plastic skin and the glass causing a kink that greatly reduces its ability to carry a signal, Despite the best efforts of the likes of Corning this process happens by osmosis, because of this optical fibre is very likely to decay to uselessness in less than ten years; potentially a much shorter lifespan than the copper cable it replaces
  • Generally the denser the population the cheaper it is to wire them up, you don’t have to go miles from one house to another. Verizon covers some of the densest population on the planet and the high rise living of Manhattanites presents its own engineering problems with added expense
  • The biggest barrier to putting fibre into the home has been the cost of the electronics at either end of the cable, these have come down in cost, but not as fast as the cost of computing power or electronic storage. This would still be substantially dearer than a cable box, broadband satellite receiver or DSL router
  • Providing consumers access to huge amounts of bandwidth means that you need to ensure that there are no bottlenecks in the core of the network. Verizon like most carriers are still carrying the billions of dollars already spent in the core of their network as high value assets. Will this have to be scrapped and made over to allow for the new fibre world? How would this affect their balance sheet?
  • Verizon like many carriers relies on declining numbers of traditional voice calls to finance new services including this ambitious plan, how would it finance it and how would this affect shareholders?
  • In order for Verizon to even make their money back on the fibre installation they need the regulators cut them some slack on forcing them to rent the lines to alternative carriers at cost. A practice currently in place to encourage competition in telephone and broadband services

If Verizon are successful, it may encourage other telcos to do the same thing, they may not be so lucky….

Seidenberg and the False Prophet

Seidenberg’s bet reminds me of George Gilder a strange mix of techno sage and right-wing evangelist that America is good at putting out. He foresaw a golden age for the information economy brought about by photonics and charged many business executives a whole pile of money for a newsletter about companies that he felt was at the vanguard of the revolution.

George’s vision hasn’t come to pass, yet Seidenberg’s plan sounds like something straight from the Gilder playbook including the lack of profit imperative.

Categories
无线网络 | wireless |무선 네트워크

Speculation on 3UK

Reading Time: < 1 minute

After the hastily denied speculation in the city that Hutchison was going to pull out of the UK mobile market by closing down 3 Totaltelecom magazine has published research figures from Capgemini in its leader article this month that indicate almost three quarters of 3 customers will leave when their contract is up. The full article can be read here (subscription is required).

I am not surprised. While 3 has addressed the issue of appalling handsets with new models from Nokia and LG, it still lacks:

– a killer application, a reason to chose 3 over its competitors

– an open IP gateway to allow people to pick up email and surf the web

– a WAP gateway to allow people to get information on the go

– decent network performance (though this is improving)

– the ability to transfer calls from cell to cell (the calls often cut out when you are speeding along in a car or train)

– compelling content, using a free trial I found no decent ringtones and a poor selection of wallpapers for the phone

– Decent customer service. When I emailed 3 to highlight my concerns abou the service I received a reply to say that I could not compare the service to 2G rivals as this was new technology. Bottom line is I want a mobile phone that works, how they do it is their problem

I have posted on AlwaysOn about this subject (registration required to view)

Categories
创造力 | innovation | 독창성 商业 | business | 상업 小工具 | gadget | 가제트 工艺学 | technology | 기술 无孔不入技术 | web of no web | 보급 기술 无线网络 | wireless |무선 네트워크 日本 | japan | 일본 电信 | telecoms | 통신 铭记 | branding | 브랜드 마케팅

I haven’t got a clue (and neither has Sony)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sony announced yesterday that it was pulling out of the PDA marketplace by stopping making the Clie range. There has been much analysis already of this on all the usual suspect sites online.

The good news is that they are managing the process in such a way that existing customers won’t get shafted. They deserve a HUGE amount of kudos for this, I wouldn’t expect that kind of attitude from Palm, Dell or Apple.

Most of the Sony gear that I do like now like their MDR 7506 and 7509 headphones are professional gear that is hard to get hold of, I am saddened that the business isn’t everything that it could be.

Having in the past been involved with Palm and Sony as consultant and a customer I just wanted to share some observations and unanswered questions that had been brewing about their portable devices for a while:

– Why did the Clie range never support the Mac community? Their overly designed devices were ideally targeted at these non conformist computer users. Palm and Handspring supported them, whereas Sony made their product as Mac unfriendly as an iPaq

– Why has Sony bought into to PalmSource and Symbian?

– Why has it taken them so long to get their act together on iPod type devices and services when they were the first people to have a Palm PDA that could play MP3s

– Why is the new Vaio iPod wannabe so ugly and complicated looking?

– Why is there no joined up thinking going on using content to leverage platforms? Do you think that Microsoft would have sat on their hands for this long with the kind of diversity of resources that Sony Corp could knit together?

– Why did they expect people to buy a 600USD device? This is a known dead price point in tech marketing circles, almost the price of a no make laptop and well over double the price of many competitor devices

– Why were Clies so slow to adopt wireless?

– How long are they going to allow Playstation to carry the rest of the business?

– Will SonyEricsson phones benefit from the Clie product design team?

Categories
传播媒体 | media | 미디어 创造力 | innovation | 독창성 商业 | business | 상업 媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술 小工具 | gadget | 가제트 工艺学 | technology | 기술 无线网络 | wireless |무선 네트워크 电信 | telecoms | 통신 软件 | software | 소프트웨어

Big Brother Live on Mobiles

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The UK version of the ‘reality’ TV show Big Brother is being streamed live on to mobile phones. The video is played using a downloadable Java application. The video is available for Symbian mobile phones with a GPRS connection. Endemol were looking to expand broadcasting OTT. It involved a massive amount of video compression too make it work.

Categories
传播媒体 | media | 미디어 商业 | business | 상업 媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술 工艺学 | technology | 기술 无孔不入技术 | web of no web | 보급 기술 无线网络 | wireless |무선 네트워크 电信 | telecoms | 통신

Blogging & Mesh

Reading Time: 2 minutes

No not some sort of record of a fetish of fishnet tights, but the two main subjects for this entry.

First off, a bit of history. The first film based on a weblog is in the pipeline. Many of you may have read in the news last year about Salam Pax, apparently someone blogging in Baghdad during the last gulf war. The blog despite doubts over its authenticity was turned into a book. Now the film rights of the book have been taken up. Coverage here from the BBC Online.

Friends and journalists who went to Network+InterOp the networking and communications show in Las Vegas have provided some mixed feedback.

– Vendors dwarved the amount of customers at the show. This is being touted as an indication that business customers are not there to buy. I am inclined to think that it is much more of a cultural shift in organisations, when your job could disappear abroad, how can you justify a week long company shopping trip in Las Vegas when you can get the information off the web or by reading journals? Shows have been more of the business culture in the US than in Europe, with the exception of a few events like drupa and CeBIT in Germany

– Lots of people where showing cool technology that will never see the light of day because computer users are in business and the home move at a slower basis than technology advances

– Mesh networks had a higher profile. Mesh is one of them buzzwords that many people have been kicking around for a good while. One way of looking at it is that it allows a number of wireless devices be they a laptop with a wireless card or an airport hub to act as one network. This would allow wireless hotspots to be grown and managed more easily in businesses or in the home. I expect more of a push around this in the next few years, though it would struggle to be used with present technology to distribute high quality video around the home.