SkyMarket

January 27, 2009

Reading this article for the Mobile and Communication class, I found interesting that several companies (Google, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Rimm) are focusing on wireless applications market places. It seems that with the organization of these markets, opportunities in the mobile industry will expand even faster, especially for mobile application developers. For Microsoft, that “presents a philosophical dilemma” according to the article’s author, Skymarket may represent a new and completely different strategy, which “embraces the democratization of software revenues with 3rd party providers”. As we know, Windows Mobile has been struggling for years with customer experience, so I believe that a neat, democratic, and profitable change will be more than welcome.

Questions:
1. Apple iPhones have been working well with several Google applications, such as the YouTube channel and Google maps. How are things changing with a fiercer competition between Google phone and iPhone?
2. Microsoft Live Search is being used as search engine on all Verizon phones, including BlackBerry (RIM) models. Is it likely that Rim will utilize Skymarket? Or will they prefer to develop their own applications market place?

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Growth in Mobile Services

January 19, 2009

Understanding the Mobile Ecosystem”, a white paper written by Strategy Analytics, explains in detail the roles of the key players in the mobile industry. The paper emphasizes the rapid growth of the use of mobile phones all over the world, and especially the continuous development of technologies to provide users with data services and content. The report also examines the market opportunities for content owners, designers and developers, publishers and aggregators, hosting partners, and delivery agents. I will briefly comment on two topics discussed in this paper: the mobile phone as the most widely-used electronic device and the distinct uses of cell phones world-wide.

The numbers shown in the report are not surprising: there are approximately 3.5 times as many mobile devices in use as there are PCs. Mobile phones are cheaper than computers, even though used computers may be cheaper than high tech brand new mobile devices. Nowadays, mobile phones encompass several functions that only online computers were able to offer in the past. They are being used as aggregators, and they are making us put many other tech gadgets aside. Cell phones are not only used for voice communication; they are mp3 players, video cameras, televisions, radios, GPSs, and, of course additional Internet navigation portals. One of the charts presented in the report shows that 800-900 million phones equipped with cameras and/or music are expected to be sold in North America, Western Europe, and the Asia Pacific by the end of 2010.

Another interesting topic in the paper is the diversified uses of cell phones in distinct parts of the world. The report mentions that Japan and Korea are globally known for use of data services. In these countries users spend twice as much per month on data than users in Western Europe and North America. In Brazil, for example, the data service opportunities are still pretty small. The 3G technology has already arrived, but the price of smart phones and other technological devices are still very high. The iPhone was released in Brazil last year at seven times more its price in the US for prepaid plans. In my opinion, the level of technology penetration in a country is a decisive factor for the success of data services business. Another barrier for the expansion of data services is piracy and lack of control of illegal downloads.

Questions:

1.      How does an international channel such as CNN produce mobile content having to take into account regional differences of data service use, and many other variables such as diverse types of content consumption, device storage capacity, platforms, sizes of screen, etc?

2.      One of the advertising delivery options presented in the report is “display space on websites accessed by mobile users (p.11).”Smart phones users, for instance the iPhone users can zoom in and zoom out parts of the navigation page to facilitate their reading. However, having this option, will they not skip the ads in those pages? And in the case of users with devices that don’t have this option, will the ads placed on websites not be too small? 


Consumption of mobile content

January 12, 2009

The Mobile End User Survey, by Nick Holland, compared mobile subscribers and social networking subscribers to determine which group had higher consumption of mobile content. The results of the survey showed a higher mobile content consumption among social network users than old mobile subscribers. Based on the findings, Holland suggests that investments on mobile content for online social network should be prioritized in the mobile industry.

I believe the analyst presents a possible trend for the mobile content industry in the future, considering the popularity of online social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace, but he doesn’t sufficiently analyze the age group of online social network mobile users.

The author should more carefully consider that 50% of online social network mobile subscribers are between 18 to 24 years old. This age group belongs to what the authors of Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, called “the net generation.” According to these authors, this particular generation is more willing to share, to participate in diverse communities, and to look for different information sources than any other age group. In other words, the strong participatory characteristic of this young group doesn’t necessarily reflect on other mobile subscribers. Therefore, instead of narrowing businesses strategies only to social networks, I think mobile companies and content producers should also come up with actions to increase the content consumption in other age groups. Some suggestions would include reduction of cost of smart phones, development of a friendly interface for less Internet savvy users, distribution of practical guides regarding how to download files, send e-mails, and other types of assistance to help users to take advantage of other services on their cell phones. 

Questions:

1.       Why is Internet access in mobile phones so expansive in the United States?

2.       Most people replace their mobile phones with more hi-tech models in less than five years. Every year, several new types of phones are launched in the market. How should users, mobile companies, and environmentalists deal with the excess of used electronic components and, therefore, electronic trash that is massively generated every day?