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Nokia Rebuilding Ovi Store as Downloads Near 1M a Day

  • Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Market Survey, Nokia

By Jason Ankeny

Nokia said it is at work on rebuilding its Ovi Store mobile content storefront, stating that its current iteration was always designed as a stopgap to bring together the handset giant's assorted portal efforts like Download and MOSH. Speaking at a roundtable event in London, Nokia's vice president of media products George Linardos said Nokia is currently revamping Ovi Store for a proposed spring 2010 launch, emphasizing greater speed and reliability as well as an improved user interface. "We're doing just under one million downloads a day, and our download numbers are growing 100 percent month-on-month," Linardos said according to Mobile Entertainment. "All the while there's been this new platform being built in the background, which we'll be talking about in the next couple of months."

According to Linardos, Nokia is constructing the revamped Ovi Store largely from the ground up--a handful of legacy components will be retained, but phased out over the course of subsequent updates. "So it'll probably be about 75 percent from scratch, and three or four months after that it will be 100 percent," Linardos added. [FierceMobileContent]

Mobile Web Users to Top 1 Billion by 2013

  • Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Market Survey

By Jason Ankeny

The number of mobile web users worldwide will more than double from 450 million in 2009 to over a billion by the end of 2013, according to a new forecast issued by market intelligence firm IDC. While mobile Internet use currently mirrors conventional web surfing--search, messaging, multimedia downloads and news/sports information dominate--IDC anticipates that over the next four years, mobile users will increasingly embrace applications like online purchases, social networking and creating blogs. In addition, the forecast contends online business applications and corporate email systems will also surge as businesses empower their mobile workers.

"The number of mobile devices with Internet access has simply exploded over the last several years," said IDC chief research officer John Gantz in a prepared statement. "With a wealth of information and services available from almost anywhere, Internet-connected mobile devices are reshaping the way we go about our personal and professional lives. With an explosion in applications for mobile devices underway, the next several years will witness another sea change in the way users interact with the Internet and further blur the lines between personal and professional." [FierceMobileContent]

Chinese Operators Enter the Crowded Application Store Market

  • Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Sherrie Huang, Analyst

After the success of the Apple App Store, mobile application stores have been headline news, and more players from different domains are rushing into this market. The major global players – although not all are available in China – are Apple (App Store), Nokia (Ovi Store), RIM (BlackBerry App World), Google (Android Market) and Microsoft (Windows Marketplace for Mobile), as well as GetJar, Handango and Handmark.

Ovum’s Mobile application downloads forecast: 2009–14 estimates that from year-end 2008 to year-end 2014 the number of application downloads from non-operator channels worldwide will grow from 491 million to 18.7 billion, among which downloads in Asia-Pacific will grow from 27.8 million to 3.67 billion, with a CAGR of 108%. Mobile application demand in China is one of the major drivers, and its growth is expected to be even higher than in Asia-Pacific overall.

Seeing the opportunity and importance of this market, all three Chinese operators have launched application stores not only to develop more direct and indirect revenue sources but also to increase customer loyalty and to promote the ecosystems of their network standards in China. China Mobile launched Mobile Market in August 2009, and China Telecom launched eSurfing Space Application Market in October 2009. China Unicom Shanghai has launched WO Store, and it has also recently been reported that China Unicom has decided to build a group-level application store.

Chinese operators face strong challenges

Chinese operators are facing competitive pressure from existing players such as Apple and Nokia that already operate application stores. These players already have experience and established tools, processes, support and channels that satisfy developers’ and end users’ needs.
The Chinese operators will need to deploy their branded application stores across a steadily growing and diverse portfolio of devices while attracting and managing a critical mass of application developers.

It may also be hard for operators to convince subscribers to buy from their stores. Chinese subscriber behaviour tends to be cautious, with many subscribers used to free applications. In addition, the image of the Chinese operators has been damaged by unfavourable reports and rumours about overcharging.

Chinese operators must leverage their advantages
The leading platforms are less prominent in China compared to in mature markets, so there is still potential for Chinese operators to develop their stores. Operators in China also have direct access to their huge subscriber bases, which gives them economies of scale and a strong negotiation position. The similar culture shared by their subscribers also enables the development of more localised store interfaces, services and applications. Additionally, they have strong service delivery capabilities.

Furthermore, some non-operator application channels rely on credit card payments, but in China credit card ownership is low and online credit card charging is unpopular due to security concerns. Operators can provide more reliable and convenient charging than non-operators by simply adding charges to existing bills.

To overcome the difficulties they may face, Chinese operators must learn fast from existing players or partner with them. In order to reduce complexity, they can promote applications that are not device-sensitive. Consumer behaviour can be cultivated by strictly managing charging, ma king billing transparent and through other initiatives such as free trials.

In order to leverage their unique strengths , operators can combine their application business with service delivery, such as selling their current content and value-added services on the application store, and offering applications requiring continuous charging or service delivery by operators. Importantly, they need to limit their investment and expectations about this business in order to reduce risk. For more information, see the Ovum report Operator strategies in the application store ecosystem.

We are generally skeptical about the likelihood of operator-driven application stores catching up with those of the handset vendors and third parties, but we believe that dominant operator China Mobile has a good chance of succeeding. It has a huge mobile subscriber base, solid experience with mobile services and a good brand image. It has also formed partnerships for Mobile Market with leading handset vendor partners such as Nokia and RIM. In addition, it has the potential to achieve more synergies with its own handset operating system, OPhone, which it launched at the end of August.

China Telecom and China Unicom both have much smaller subscriber bases and weaker capability in mobile operation, especially in the mobile application business. For them, other less risky and less difficult options are recommended – for example, partnering with others or upgrading their portals. /PR-Ovum

Culture in the Core of Enterprise Collaboration

  • Posted: Wednesday, December 02, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst

Cisco has announced several new and enhanced software applications for instant messaging, email, social networking, videoconferencing and software collaboration, including document and video sharing. Some of these new products will compete directly with similar products offered by partners such as Microsoft and IBM.

Having a comprehensive collaboration strategy will help Cisco to enable new possibilities for enterprises and create increasing demand for collaboration services, including video. It is unsurprising that Cisco is pushing to have everything video-enabled to accelerate the refresh of enterprises’ network infrastructure, which is still its core business.

However, cultural issues and behaviour dynamics suggest that video will have less appeal in some markets than others. This is reflected in different cultural preferences across the region. In some Asian countries, people will be less inclined to use video communication and will prefer true face-to-face meetings or more traditional forms of communication. For example, our research with SMEs shows that SMEs expect personal video collaboration to be four times more common in Australia than in Japan in the next two years.

Culture is important but behavioural changes will be the challenge

Cisco’s collaboration strategy focuses on three main points: technology, process and culture. We were pleased to see Cisco highlighting culture as an important factor in the collaboration story, especially in Asia-Pacific where countries and companies are highly diverse. In our view, culture is a key factor in building the business case for collaboration. Increased collaboration will translate into business benefits according to the profile, culture and social character of each enterprise. Not every company will value collaboration to the same degree.

We see three main factors defining the corporate culture. The first is the nature of the business – a bank is normally different to a hospital or a government agency. The second is how a company is managed. Two banks in the same country may have different corporate cultures. This is normally defined by the CEO and the management team, and the CIO generally has a more supporting role providing the tools and applications that the business requires – although some also have a higher influence in the business.

Last, but perhaps most important, is the difference between country cultures. Countries have different labour regulations, privacy rules, personal habits and historical backgrounds that will also define how much people will want to collaborate and partake in video conferencing. It is still unclear how Cisco will address all these cultural factors and deliver its strategy. We expect its partners will play a major role, and Cisco will need to shift its focus slightly from technology to business process consulting when selecting partners.

In addition, Cisco can’t avoid the issue of user behaviour. Telepresence is helping to introduce many people to collaboration services. The life-size and high-definition qualities of telepresence offer users the same feeling as a real meeting. Perhaps this is the main reason for its success. On the other hand, to get the most out of the full range of realtime collaboration tools users will need to decide between different applications and manage their presence status in a dynamic way. This will require behavioural change, which is normally the hardest part of the processes. Furthermore, companies will need to work on best practices around the management of presence information, and solutions will initially rely on users’ input. Cisco will have to back its partners in supporting end users with training and educational processes. /PR-Ovum

Four in 10 Consumers Don't Want Mobile Ads

By Jason Ankeny

Thirty-eight percent of consumers say they don't want advertisements on their mobile phone regardless of the circumstances according to a new survey issued by market research firm Parks Associates. A quarter of respondents say they are open to mobile ads, and 37 percent of consumers are neutral. In addition, while 18 percent of subscribers say they support personally relevant ads, 39 percent are indifferent and 43 percent are not interested.

In terms of recall, 19 percent of respondents tell Parks Associates they remember viewing a mobile ad within the last 12 months. Younger users boast higher recall rates, led by 27 percent of subscribers ages 18 to 24. Forty-nine percent of consumers who recall seeing campaigns identify the ads as text message--45 percent remember ads at the top of the page, and 42 percent indicate image-based ads. Movie trailers topped the list of specific ad types users were most likely to respond to in some fashion. [FierceMobileContent]

Facebook Creating Dual-class Stock Structure

  • Posted: Friday, November 27, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Facebook

By Jason Ankeny

Social networking behemoth Facebook said it will create a dual-class stock structure and convert its current shares into so-called Class B shares, but maintains it has no plans to go public. According to The New York Times, the Class B shares will have 10 votes each on matters of corporate governance--Class A shares, which would be sold in an initial public offering, would carry one vote each.

"We did introduce a dual-class stock structure because existing shareholders wanted to maintain control over voting on certain issues to help ensure the company can continue to focus on the long term to build a great business," Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said in a statement emailed to the NYT. "This revision to the stock structure should not be construed as a signal the company is planning to go public."

In the event Facebook does mount an IPO, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg would retain control over the firm and its board of directors--a dual-class structure "is another mechanism to exert complete control and it's tantamount to almost like a preferred security," said Scott Sweet, senior managing partner at advisory firm IPO Boutique.

Earlier this year, Facebook allowed employees to sell a portion of their stock to Russian venture capital firm Digital Sky Technologies, which added $100 million in shares to its previous $200 million ownership stake. Facebook employees have also sold their shares via secondary exchanges like SecondMarket and SharesPost. [FierceMobileContent]

Informa Telecoms & Media Announces its Top Ten Predictions for 2010

2010; a year of slow recovery, broadband access monetisation, cost control, and partnership with Internet companies

Informa Telecoms & Media today announced its top ten predictions for 2010 to the telecoms and media sectors at its annual Industry Outlook event in London.

Speaking at the event Mark Newman, Informa Telecoms & Media’s Chief Research Officer comments,“We selected the most compelling and critical predictions from across all our research areas and these emerging trends indicate that priorities, markets, competitive landscapes and technologies are all rapidly changing.”

“We are beginning to see signs of economic recovery and predict that telecoms and media players can look forward to sustained, slow revenue growth in 2010. However, the dominance of the Internet and the transition from hardware to software and services means that the landscape is becoming increasingly competitive and companies will need to shift their strategies and implement cost cutting measures to survive these new market dynamics,” he adds.

1. ‘Widgets’ will become the key to harnessing power of the mobile web.
All device vendors now see potential opportunities in offering widgets since these applications enable them to enhance the value of their devices and complement revenues from handset sales. It is becoming clear that, in developed markets, handset vendors can no longer rely on mobile phone sales to sustain growth. They will have to look at other opportunities, such as playing a role in enabling content creation and offering services through application stores, the internet, and ‘widgetization’.

2. Fixed broadband operators will experiment with new business models in a bid to end the “arms race” of increasing speeds and declining prices.
The recent history of broadband in mature markets has been characterised by a sort of broadband “arms race” of increasing speeds and declining prices. Operators must now face up to the need to grow revenues in saturated markets. The major effect of declining prices and increasing bandwidth has been the emergence of mass markets for the consumption of on-line video and music, which other players are now better placed to profit from.

3. North American pay TV revenues will peak in 2010.
Global pay TV subscription revenues will start to decline from 2012 as operators convert subscribers to triple-play bundles. North American revenues will peak in 2010 and Western Europe will do likewise in 2011.

4. Mobile operators will make small steps towards a de facto functional separation in order to position themselves to address the demand for 3rd party connected devices and applications.
Unless operators give full autonomy to wholesale units, we believe they will be too slow to succeed in shifting internal mindsets. We believe retail businesses need to be seen as just another customer of the network operations, albeit a so-called "friend with privileges". Only in that way, do we think operators will be able to fully address the undeniable and sizeable opportunities that exist on a wholesale level.

5. Mobile LTE commercial launches will slip to 2013/2014 but LTE’s role as a provider of rural broadband connectivity will gain momentum.
2010 will be a year of further LTE trials and progress towards commercial services is likely to be slow. Informa expect only a handful of cautious early forays from the likes of Verizon and NTT DoCoMo towards the end of the year. Mobile LTE commercial launches in GSM-only markets will slip back to 2013-2014 as HSPA+ comes into the market.

6. IPTV operators will embrace ‘over-the-top’ TV and open Internet apps.
Following years of promise but little activity, there are now an increasing number of ways that content providers will be able to reach the TV. These include open specifications such as Canvas and HBBTV, via connected devices such as the Xbox 360 and via initiatives within the CE industry, such as Yahoo’s Connected TV initiative. Many of these initiatives should be commercially launched by 2011, if not 2010.

7. Operator app stores will struggle to compete with handset-manufacturer initiatives; Android will emerge as a worthy competitor to the iPhone.
Operators will be the ones that most struggle to make a success of their application stores, unable in most cases to compete with Apple and other vendors in global reach, brand coolness and agility. Their biggest chance of retaining a significant role in the mobile applications value chain will be as billing enablers, since most handset/OS vendors realize they need carrier billing to get downloads going on their app stores. Beyond Apple, Google will be the vendor to make the greatest headway with its Android Market, possibly matching or even exceeding the App Store’s success.

8. Network sharing and outsourcing will gain in popularity as the drive towards cost-control intensifies but the network itself will remain a key point of differentiation for operators.
Expect further infrastructure sharing announcements during 2010 as operators attempt to extend coverage and reduce costs. Both network sharing and outsourcing will continue to gain momentum as mobile operators seek to reduce their capex and opex burden. Each of these individually is already an established trend but we can also expect to see more variations on a theme where the two approaches are combined.

9. Enhanced address books will become a focus for mobile operators and handset manufacturers
Mobile operators and handset vendors are poised to follow Vodafone, T-Mobile and Motorola in enabling enhanced-address-book services for mobile subscribers. These will be made available by the mobile operators as an application that is pre-loaded onto the device or downloaded over-the-air, and by the handset vendors as a native feature (typically as part of the Rich Communications Suite project). Mobile operators will launch enhanced address books as a focal point around which to aggregate a range of community, messaging and content services and seize back the initiative from online brands.

10. HDTV will reach tipping point but platforms still need to increase channels to win over subscribers.
HDTV is finally taking off, but platforms need to ensure that they have a critical mass of channels to guarantee its success. For example, BSkyB offers 35 HD channels, and the service has enjoyed successful take-up. Other countries are increasing their HD channel choice, but still need to win over subscribers. Providing only a handful of HD channels is not enough to make for a successful package. /PR

Unified Communications Market to Approach $4.2 Billion in 2014

  • Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Miscellaneous

Unified Communications, merging IP telephony, conferencing and collaboration, messaging and other forms of integrated information exchange, are on a steeply rising curve of adoption in the enterprise. According to a new ABI Research study, the market’s size was just $302 million in 2008, but will rise quickly to nearly $4.2 billion in 2014.

However this market is far from monolithic. “Companies have been buying only those component technologies that they think will deliver immediate value,” says ABI Research practice director Stan Schatt. “It’s only later that they start tying it all together as true Unified Communications.”

Once that happens, synergies multiply: for example, many companies have messaging by voice and email, but when they are integrated, a user can “see” voicemails and have emails read aloud. Such synergies can deliver increased productivity and efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction.

Big corporations with multiple locations will benefit most immediately from Unified Communications, but many vendors’ systems are not interoperable. There are still gaps where no standards exist. Even the largest vendors such as Cisco don’t make everything, so there’s a premium on partnerships. A few vendors will try to sell end-to-end solutions, but most others will attempt to integrate their offerings with the legacy components they find. That opens a tremendous opportunity in replacing older equipment.

The largest companies may have the required integration expertise in-house, but, says Schatt, “We foresee a booming market for managed services, simply because Unified Communications is tricky and many companies won’t want to spend the time and effort to do it themselves. That applies to the market as a whole, but particularly to smaller businesses.”

Despite the large potential, Unified Communications vendors won’t find it all plain sailing. They are up against internal corporate “turf wars,” a widespread lack of understanding of the benefits Unified Communications can deliver, and a high initial cost. [ABI Reseach]

Foreign Outsourcing Vendors to Benefit From Rise of China

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Patrick O’Brien, Senior Analyst

China’s importance as an outsourcing location is rising fast, but a fragmented local vendor landscape and a domestic market dominated by Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise customers means that it will be the major Western and Indian outsourcing vendors that will reap the rewards, according to a new report from analyst and consulting firm Ovum.

The Chinese government is anticipating the need to migrate its economy from manufacturing to a services base in the long term, and has put in place a strategy to ensure that China will eventually rise to challenge India in the outsourcing sector. The Chinese government has designated 20 cities for outsourcing business and the investment in infrastructure, education, training and tax incentives at these locations is extremely impressive.

Software parks are being built rapidly and on a large scale with transportation links to match and the university education system has ballooned to create 6.1 million graduates this year. It is clear that the Chinese government is intent on providing first-class infrastructure in which IT services and BPO vendors can flourish.

Low costs and access to a superpower economy is enticing outsourcing customers, and China’s huge labour pool and expanded education system means that salaries for graduates are lower than in India. China is the fastest growing major economy in the world and Western companies, many of which have fully embraced the concept of global sourcing, are setting up Chinese subsidiaries to target a relatively untapped market. These subsidiaries will be an entry point for vendors to use China for delivery, and will lead to multinationals to consider Chinese delivery for its businesses in other locations.

No sign of domestic giants emerging
Chinese companies are mainly state owned, and are not as yet, major users of outsourcing services. Unless the government encourages this to change, the domestic market will be mainly made up of Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise (WFOE) customers. These firms are more likely to choose to be served by the international vendors with which they have already built up relationships rather than sign with domestic vendors. The domestic vendor market is highly fragmented and while there has been some consolidation, the market needs this to be much more rapid for some strong leaders to emerge.

In the meantime, Western providers have invested in Chinese delivery centers having learned their lesson from the procrastination many showed when India emerged, which effectively allowed India’s domestic vendors to build themselves into global players.

There are no signs of a Chinese equivalent of a Tata Consultancy Services or an Infosys emerging, capable of challenging the Western major vendors for the foreseeable future.

China needs to deliver promotional punch
Possibly the biggest barrier to China achieving its full potential is its lack of marketing skills. This is amplified by the lack of an industry organization such as NASSCOM to promote China’s impressive abilities to the international market. Currently there are two government ministries working on the outsourcing industry – the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology – which have, confusingly, both begun separate attempts to develop a “China Sourcing” brand.

Vendors with a presence in China agree that a NASSCOM style organization would be beneficial, but as yet there seems to be no push to make it happen. Any such organization would have to work in tandem with the government rather than as a lobbying group. /pr-Ovum

Gartner Forecasts Money Transfer, LBS to Dominate in 2012

  • Posted: Friday, November 20, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Market Survey

By Jason Ankeny

Money transfer applications, location-based services and mobile search will reign among the top 10 mobile application categories of 2012 according to a new forecast issued by market research firm Gartner. Basing its predictions on each app category's projected revenue, loyalty, business model, consumer value and estimated market penetration, Gartner anticipates that most consumers will use no more than five mobile applications at a time, with most opportunities coming from niche market apps.

"Consumer mobile applications and services are no longer the prerogative of mobile carriers," said Gartner research director Sandy Shen in a prepared statement. "The increasing consumer interest in smartphones, the participation of Internet players in the mobile space, and the emergence of application stores and cross-industry services are reducing the dominance of mobile carriers. Each player will influence how the application is delivered and experienced by consumers, who ultimately vote with their attention and spending power."

Money transfer ranks No. 1 on Gartner's 2012 hit parade, contending the service's lower costs, speed and overall convenience boast strong appeal to users in developing markets. Gartner believes the LBS user base will grow from 96 million worldwide in 2009 to 526 million in 2012, crediting its ability to meet a range of needs spanning from productivity and goal fulfillment to social networking and entertainment--mobile search, meanwhile, is listed third due to its dramatic impact on technology innovation and industry revenue.

Fourth on the list: Mobile browsing--according to Gartner, browsers will be available on about 80 percent of handsets shipping in 2012, compared to 60 percent of devices in 2009. Mobile health monitoring is fifth, followed in descending order by mobile payment, NFC, mobile advertising, instant messaging and mobile music. [FierceMobileContent]

More Challenges Ahead of Fixed-mobile Convergence

  • Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst

Ovum’s research shows that there is currently little integration between the services available for the different users’ profiles. Most companies struggle with separate fixed and mobile devices, independent infrastructures and separate voice-mail systems. However, these companies want more integration of their mobility services to support the growing mobile workforce with better productivity, simplified management and save cost through an integrated approach.

Enterprises will choose either integrate all the parts of this puzzle themselves or outsource the challenge by picking a one-stop shop. However, even the latter option requires that many decisions be made. Furthermore, there is a wide range of suppliers approaching enterprises with their offerings. Enterprises can turn to a traditional systems integrator (SI), a vendor, a network service provider or pick the best-of-breed offering and integrate the services themselves — or even a combination of these. For most enterprises the migration from legacy telephony technology to an integrated collaboration environment will normally occur in several steps. A multi-vendor environment will initially be the norm, and system integration is a key part of this transition.

Cost is a key decision factor in any enterprise communication project. Enterprises with a significant long-term investment in communication systems will rely as much as possible on their existing infrastructure. Reutilizing existing components might result in lower entry costs and less deployment complexity. Furthermore, users will be more familiar with some of the functionalities, requiring less effort in education and business customization. We expect that larger enterprises with recent investments in communication systems will use their existing premise solutions as a basis to integrate their fixed and mobile services. Established relations with SIs and UC vendors are likely to be the starting point.

We believe that enterprises will also start to evaluate their suppliers’ approach to cloud capabilities. Telcos are developing next-generation networks (NGNs) that will support integrated services. The advantage for enterprises is that the hosted approach can avoid up-front capital investment and brings the flexibility they need to respond quickly to market pressures. This allows them to pay as they grow or reduce their operations when business gets tough. However, most of the offerings are still in the early days and larger enterprises might think it’s too risky to have their communications locked in with a single provider and will prefer to retain management and control a little longer. /PR-Ovum

Google Scoops Mobile Advertising Pioneer

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst

Google is set to buy mobile advertising network specialist AdMob in an all-stock deal valued at $750 million – a deal that shows how serious Google is about being a top player in this space. The acquisition is a good fit: Google needs to strengthen its hand in mobile display advertising, where Admob is already a strong player (particularly in serving ads on Google’s Android platform and also the iPhone). AdMob, although well established and respected, needed a strong partner and funds for future growth.

A deal that should bring benefits to both sides

Google is getting stronger in mobile search but lacks a strong foothold in mobile display advertising. AdMob reportedly serves more than 8.5 billion mobile banner and text ads per month across a publisher network of 15,000 mobile websites and applications in 160 countries. AdMob, which was set up in 2006, has a strong track record of campaigns with leading brands.

One of the things we’ve always liked about AdMob is its spirit of constant improvement. It has put a lot of effort into improving the targeting capabilities of its platform. AdMob publishes regular metrics for different aspects of its mobile advertising network – advertising traffic requests by region, country and device type. It was one of the first companies to launch a unit to handle ads for the iPhone platform in July 2008, followed by a similar unit dedicated to the Google Android device platform in February 2009.

AdMob ripe for acquisition
We marked AdMob as a hot acquisition target in our March 2009 report Mobile advertising players: ones to watch. AdMob is privately held and only reveals limited financial detail. It is well funded (investors include Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners) and when it received a third round in October 2008 it stated that it had achieved positive cash-flow results. This is good for a company barely out of start-up mode, but what AdMob needs for future growth is the resources and scale to compete against larger players in mobile advertising such as Microsoft and Nokia. There are also clear benefits for AdMob in becoming part of a group with a platform that offers a larger set of capabilities to advertisers and publishers. The Google acquisition provides all of this, along with a strong sales team infrastructure and relationships.

Careful integration is key to future success
This kind of acquisition strategy is not new for Google. In December 2007 it bought DoubleClick to strengthen its position in display advertising. The thinking behind the AdMob deal is similar. What will be important to its success is how carefully Google integrates AdMob into its sprawling business. For example, how will AdMob sit alongside AdSense for Mobile, which was set up in June 2009 in a bid to improve Google’s push into mobile display ads?

AdMob has a stronger track record in mobile so this might not be too much of an issue. We hope Google does not turn AdMob into a vehicle to drive ad sales only on the Android platform. The key selling point of AdMob has been its willingness to serve ads across a wide range of device platforms, enabling advertisers to reach the broadest base possible and one of the reasons why AdMob has one of the largest mobile ad networks in the business. /PR-Ovum

PayPal Opens Payments Platform to Developers

By Jason Ankeny

Online payment solutions provider PayPal announced its decision to open its PayPal X global platform to developers, unveiling a series of new APIs as well as a mobile SDK to embed payments directly into iPhone applications.

According to PayPal, developers can now build person-to-person solutions or business-to-business payment applications on their platform of choice, whether it's a mobile device or a social networking site. Developers can also take a cut or distribute funds from PayPal payments as they happen, and can enable buyers to send money to several people in one payment. The mobile SDK--scheduled to launch in the first half of 2010--will enable developers to integrate PayPal services into mobile apps so that consumers can purchase physical goods; PayPal adds that funds will be transferred in a matter of seconds.

New capabilities and enhancements for PayPal's Adaptive Payments APIs include currency conversion for international purchases, Pay Anyone (enabling financial and other institutions to allow customers to send money when logged in to their bank accounts, regardless of whether the customer has a PayPal account) and pre-approvals (giving developers the flexibility to create reusable payments agreements between buyers and sellers). A new developer portal, X.com, promises all the information developers need to create applications built with PayPal X. PayPal now boasts more than 78 million active accounts in 190 markets and 24 currencies worldwide. [FierceDeveloper]

Strategies for The success of Mobile Search

  • Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

With a growing appetite for mobile applications, services, and content, consumers and business users will be looking to mobile search to streamline their information/content access and retrieval.

“Unfortunately, there is little ‘joy of use’ in the current mobile search user experience”, said Sarah Burnett, Ovum Senior Analyst, based in London. With a growing appetite for mobile content, consumers and business users will be looking to mobile search for information or content access and retrieval. Given the rapid evolution of mobile devices and networks in recent years, they would be justified in thinking that mobile search would provide slick interfaces and accurate results. But in most cases they would be disappointed. While search on the Internet has revolutionised how we access information, the same is not true of mobile search. This is still in its infancy, and the typical user experience leaves much to be desired.

Burnett said, “Vendors and content providers have to recognise that people interact with their mobile phones in very different ways than they do their PCs. The interaction is dictated by the tiny screen, typically awkward keypad and limited on-screen navigation. Given these constraints, navigating a long list of search results is hardly user-friendly”.

“Mobile search should deliver answers, not links”, advised Mark Blowers, Ovum Principal Analyst. There is more to mobile search than just browsing. In mobile devices there is an increased need for accuracy, relevancy and contextual results. This is not to say that PC users do not require the same, but on a PC it is much easier to create an advanced search query that improves the probability of getting the right answer. The need for a simple and easy user interface and user-friendly results is amplified in a mobile device. Already, mobile search tools such as Taptu only list sites that are optimised for mobile viewing. As more people switch to mobiles for web access, site sponsors will see their hits decline unless they provide better mobile support.

Google and Yahoo have begun to offer location-tailored results. Given their Internet search presence, it is not surprising that they are two of the leading players in the mobile search market – helped by alliances with mobile service providers that place them as preferred search solutions on web-enabled handsets. Their solutions are optimised for mobile use and, to facilitate speed of delivery, URL and search suggestions appear as you type. Another vendor, Apple, provides a good example of how successful location-based search applications can be – there are many offerings within Apple’s App Store that use the handset’s location to provide details of local facilities (such as restaurants) and other tailored information.

“The giants of PC-based search will be difficult to topple. Small technology companies will continue to create niche mobile search applications, but brand recognition and deep research & development pockets make existing market leaders obvious favourites in the race for mobile search queries and, ultimately, the associated advertising revenues”, concluded Blowers. PR-Ovum

Global Telco Service Providers Seizing the Opportunity in Managed Telepresence

  • Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

A market worth USD450 million by 2014 globally

A new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, finds that managed telepresence services for multinational corporations will provide a significant stream of new revenues for global telecoms service providers in the next five years, even if operators are not all exploiting the opportunity yet.

According to the report, entitled, “Business video 2010-14: chasing revenues in managed telepresence”, only a handful of operators offer global managed telepresence services today. But the number will grow steadily as more global network operators, as well as regional operators, follow the lead taken by AT&T, BT and Orange Business Services.

“Managed telepresence is proving to be a value-add revenue stream for major telcos,” says David Molony, principal analyst at Ovum, and author of the report. “It really allows them to exploit their global services network assets as well as all their expertise in videoconferencing.”

Ovum estimates that managed service charges in the new installed base of telepresence videoconferencing systems for MNCs will add a modest $77.4 million to network operator revenues in 2009. But this figure will accelerate over the next five years, with cumulative revenues for global managed telepresence services totalling $1.7 billion from 2010 to 2014.

Add to that the receptiveness of MNCs towards telepresence, which many see as the new keystone for their unified communications programmes, and the industry has a standout service offering.

“Telepresence is at the apex of the unified communications opportunity for managed telecoms providers, and not just the equipment vendors,” says Molony.

In fact, if anything it is the service providers that stand to gain most through the rollout of telepresence services now reaching 100+ sites in the biggest single deployments at MNCs. So far there is no sign of a challenge from the major systems integrators that compete with telcos in so many areas of global services.

“Some operators will take a volume approach, like some vendors,” says Molony. “Others will try harder to maintain the longer-term value of managed sites.”

At some point, the value of the service ‘rentals’ becomes greater than the annual sales of equipment, and in managed telepresence, Ovum thinks that point could come as soon as 2012, because many of the biggest MNCs will have placed their orders by then. Service revenues of $359.5 million will outstrip the value of equipment sales at $272.5 million in 2012, and will grow to $450.3 million in 2014.

Inevitably there will be challenges for global telcos, particularly as telepresence technology shifts from hardware-based systems to software-based installation as part of integrated and centralized UC packages.

Telcos will respond by growing the range of features in the managed service, for example by adding user controls in session management, as well as realtime business tools such as RoI estimators for the cost-benefit analysis of a single telepresence meeting vs travel costs. /PR-Ovum

Mobile Advertising Measurements Still Lack Standardization

By Dan O'Shea

The telecom industry is getting closer to the integration of content and services across multiple screens, including mobile phones, PCs and TVs. Some of that content will include advertising, delivered in a personalized and targeted way enabling service providers to get a bigger piece of the advertising market by selling advertisers more effective cross-platform packages.

For now, however, advertisers look at these platforms separately. The tools to allow more advanced advertising are in early stages. Vendors are integrating advertising support and management into existing equipment architectures, but service providers also need proof points showing that advanced advertising methods can actually work with commonly-applicable metrics that don't confuse advertisers.

The mobile industry has been an early proving ground for techniques to measure effectiveness, and there are already many sources of mobile advertising metrics: Companies that serve ads and support ad management, like Ad Mob, Millennial Media or Bango; analytics groups, such as M:Metrics or comScore; or trade associations, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the Media Research Center (MRC), the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) or the GSM Association (GSMA).

Yet, there isn't a common set of standards, and that may be holding back the progress of mobile advertising, let alone setting a foundation for multi-screen advertising. "I think the biggest barrier is industry consensus on measurement variables, their definition, how should they be measured and a third party that can audit and verify the numbers being put out by various vendors in a systematic and timely fashion," said Chetan Sharma, founder and president of Chetan Sharma Consulting. [FierceWireless]

Smartphone Users Are Happy, But Not Traditional Mobile Phone Users

  • Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Miscellaneous

Market information company J.D. Power has released a new customer satisfaction survey that shows that satisfaction is increasing rapidly for users of smartphones, while users of traditional mobile phones are becoming less satisfied.

Based on reports from over 16,000 mobile phone users, the data also highlights that iPhone owners are the most satisfied of smartphone users, whereas LG phones rate highest among traditional mobile phones.

J.D. Power ran three customer satisfaction surveys: one for consumer smartphone users, one for business smartphone users, and one for traditional mobile phone users.

Over the past six months, satisfaction among consumer smartphone owners has increased by 14 index points (on a 1,000-point scale), whereas among traditional mobile phone owners overall satisfaction has declined by six index points, most likely as a result of “heightened awareness among traditional mobile phone owners of advanced features available on smartphones”, according the J.D. Power.

Satisfaction among business owners has increased by 43 index points from 2008. Read more on this topic MobiAdNews

IT Services Providers Need to Shift Strategies to Prepare for Cloud Computing

  • Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

According to Ovum, the global analyst and consulting company, IT services providers, particularly those offering systems integration (SI) services, need to adopt new strategies and approaches to ensure that the trend toward cloud computing services does not negatively impact their business.

Although widespread adoption of cloud computing is slow to materialize, services vendors should take steps now to ensure that they can take advantage of any revenue-generating opportunities that the cloud computing services market will provide in the future. John Madden, Ovum Research Director says, “These steps include becoming an innovator in the development of cloud computing services, and creating and supporting cloud services ecosystems among various IT vendors”.

“In truth, services providers have no choice but to take such steps to keep up with customer interest and, more importantly, to blunt the technology’s potential negative impact,” says Madden, based in Boston. “Global systems integration firms in particular are worried that cloud services could irrevocably alter the SI business as we know it.”

Madden says the traditional SI model of tying together disparate IT systems is not going away any time soon due to cloud services, as the market for such services is still too young. “However, some customers that leverage cloud services in theory will no longer need an SI for complex, time-consuming and costly integration of their internal IT systems”, Madden adds. “Cloud services also could open up new opportunities for services providers to package SI services with consulting and outsourcing, as customers look for guidance and third-party expertise in the delivery of cloud services.”

Madden and his colleague Jens Butler, Principal Analyst in Ovum’s IT services team in Asia-Pacific, recently completed several well-attended and successful Ovum Executive Seminars in Hong Kong and Singapore, presenting research on cloud computing services and cloud’s impact on end-user IT sourcing decisions. /PR-Ovum

Mobile Application Downloads: Hype to Slow But Growth Set to Continue

  • Posted: Saturday, October 17, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

Michele Mackenzie & Adam Leach (Principal Analysts)

Application downloads to mobile devices have been the subject of a great deal of hype since Apple launched its App Store in 2008. Many of its competitors in the devices market are following hot on its heels, and not a month goes by without an application store launch. There have been some impressive announcements from Apple – most recently that 2 billion applications had been downloaded to the iPhone and iPod Touch. Ovum’s Mobile application downloads forecast: 2009–14 looks at how the market will grow going forward, and how much revenue this will generate.

Global mobile application downloads grow to 18.7 billion by 2014
Between year-end 2008 and year-end 2014, the total number of application downloads (including both free and paid-for applications) will grow from 491 million to 18.7 billion worldwide. This represents a CAGR of 83% across the forecast period.

Apple has driven much of this growth between 2008 and 2009, and has fuelled market demand for applications. We estimate that in 2009 Apple’s App Store will constitute around 70% of the total application download market, but that Apple’s share will decline to less than 20% by the end of the forecast period. Growth in mobile application downloads will accelerate over the next two to three years. Ovum estimates that the global market will grow by a CAGR of 153% between 2008 and 2011, but will drop to around 33% between 2011 and 2014. In brief, we believe that a number of substitutes will emerge for application downloads, including browser-based services.

We believe that there is significant potential in this market but that there is also a great deal of hype. Not all players will succeed in taking a significant share of the market, and we expect to see a period of consolidation following greater fragmentation in the early years. Consumer willingness to pay will be a key factor in determining the overall size of the market, and the industry is already seeing a great deal of pressure on application pricing, even though some high-end applications are successful. Overall, we expect to see fast growth in the early years followed by a period of slowing growth and commoditisation.

Global paid-for applications to grow to 3.3 billion and end-user revenues to $5.7 billion
There will be strong growth in the number of downloads that are paid for by the end user, achieving a CAGR of 68% over the forecast period. Paid-for applications will reach 3.3 billion, up from just under 147 million in 2008. However, this is lower than the growth in free downloads, which are set to grow at a CAGR of 88% over the period.

End-user revenues generated through non-operator-controlled application stores, including those operated by device vendors and independent stores, will grow from $367 million in 2008 to almost $5.7 billion in 2014.

Lack of operator billing will be a barrier in some markets for paid-for applications, particularly emerging markets, where there is low penetration of credit cards and bank account holders in general.

Asia-Pacific to have strongest growth throughout the forecast period
Revenues will grow by a CAGR of 108% in Asia-Pacific across the forecast period, compared to around 35% in North America. This reflects the fact that the North American market has dominated in the early years of the forecast period, accounting for the lion’s share of the market early on. Although throughout the forecast period the North American mobile application download market remains the largest market, although its share of the market declines steadily over the period.

In 2008, we estimate that Asia-Pacific market constituted only 6% of total mobile application downloads, but this is set to increase to around 19% at the end of the period.

While the Asia-Pacific market will grow at a CAGR of 126%, other regions will grow at a slower rate; for example, the Western European market will grow at around 94% CAGR and North-America at 62%.

Despite the fact that some of the newer application stores are establishing themselves quickly across various regions, one of the common complaints from end users is that the number and availability of locally relevant applications is low. Hence, unequal distribution of applications in the early years impacts the speed of development in some regions including Asia-Pacific.

This also explains the heavier initial consumption in North America and Western Europe, where more applications are available. However, we believe that by 2010/11 applications will proliferate in all markets and supply-side issues will have less impact. /PR/Ovum

Nokia's Comes With Music Barely Tops 100k Users Worldwide

  • Posted: Saturday, October 17, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Nokia

By Jason Ankeny

A year after the U.K. debut of Nokia's all-you-can-eat Comes With Music service, digital music research firm Music Ally reports the mobile music effort has signed up slightly more than 107,000 users worldwide. According to Music Ally, 32,728 consumers signed up with Comes With Music as of July 2009--Australia follows with 23,003 subscribers, trailed by Singapore with 19, 318. Music Ally notes that Comes With Music is faring more successfully in emerging markets than in developed Western nations, where the competition is stiffer.

"Comes With Music has been a live service for 12 months in the U.K. and over the last eight months, has also gone live in 11 other countries," a Nokia spokesperson told Music Ally. "This is a very fast rollout for a service of its kind, especially when you consider the music is a mix of global and local content for each location. In terms of innovation, Comes With Music is a significant shift for both consumers and the industry alike. Nokia will continue to bring new services to market and we will continue to add further countries and partners to our Comes With Music rollout. We look forward to being able to share more details on this over the coming weeks. With regard to the statistics presented in your article, as per our longstanding policy we do not comment on industry speculation or rumors." [FierceMobileContent]

Asian Suppliers Step into Telepresence

  • Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

A market worth USD 190 million by 2014 in Asia-Pacific alone

According to Ovum, an analyst and consulting company, Asia-Pacific is one of the regions experiencing strong growth from managed telepresence services over the next five years. “By 2014, the telepresence-based videoconferencing services market will be worth USD 450 million globally, and Asia-Pac could account for nearly 42% of that,” said David Molony, Principal Analyst at Ovum, based in London.

During 2008–09 we have seen vendors increasing their interest in the Asia-Pacific region, with Asian vendors also jumping on the video bandwagon. “This increased interest is due to the great potential in the Asian market, which not only boasts technology-savvy markets such as Japan and Korea but has also seen pronounced growth in global enterprise relationships with China”, adds Mr Molony, author of a newly published report “Business video 2010-14: chasing revenues in managed telepresence”. Videoconferencing solutions such as telepresence could ensure that these relationships can grow without the need for travel.

Vendors are also moving into the Asia-Pacific region as the opportunity presents itself to share managed service charges as well as equipment sales revenues. This is a very attractive proposition and is not an option in other markets, where global telecoms operators are mainly responsible for the management of telepresence solutions.

Among developments in the Asia-Pacific this year from vendors, Polycom has launched a room rental service for telepresence in seven countries; Huawei has launched a telepresence solution to compete in its local market, where it partners with China Telecom to help distribute its equipment, and Tandberg has opened a T3 telepresence room in Hong Kong to encourage enterprises to experience telepresence. Service providers like Tata Communications in India, Telstra in Australia and CPCnet in Hong Kong have launched managed telepresence in region.

Ovum forecasts that revenues from suite-based videoconferencing (including telepresence) are oustripping revenues for desktop videoconferencing in Asia-Pacific and will be worth 53% of total business videoconferencing revenues of $360 million in the region in 2012. Whereas in other regions like North America and Europe, price regression and competitive pressures will leave suites-based video at 14% and 28% of the market respectively. /PR/Ovum

Are Women Really Ignoring Social Network Marketing?

Research is mixed

Social media marketers have noticed the millions of women taking to social networks and blogging as a prime target. But research from Q Interactive presented at ad:tech Chicago may be causing marketers to rethink those efforts.

According to the “Women’s Survey,” despite more than one-half of women active in social media visiting social networking sites at least daily, 74.8% reported not being influenced by social networks when it came to their purchase decisions.

A little more than one-fifth of respondents said they were somewhat influenced, and only a tiny 3.3% reported great influence on their purchase decisions by social networks. About 15% of respondents to the survey reported not using social networks at all.

The female Internet users polled were much more likely to say online purchase decisions were affected by coupons and discounts (41.6%), products ratings and review Websites or information searches (22.2%) and even online advertisements (9.5%) than by advice from friends (7.6%) or blog posts and online communities (4%).

Further, the top social networking activities of responding female Internet users—who have been touted as a group highly likely to share product information with their online communities—were sending private messages to friends and sharing photos. Just 8.7% said their No. 1 activity was getting product information, and 1% claimed it was writing product reviews.

It should be noted, however, that only one response to the question was allowed. While researching and sharing product information might not be women’s first priority on social networks, that does not mean they are not doing it.

Among female social network users surveyed by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners in March 2009, 34% said they used social networks to share their opinions and 20% sought advice and recommendations.

Further, in a spring 2009 study of female social network users by ShesConnected, substantial majorities of respondents considered researching products and services (79%) and finding deals and discounts (64%) important.

eMarketer senior analyst Debra Aho Williamson suggested that consumers surveyed about their reliance on social networks for purchase decisions may not be thinking of the constant stream of product-related information they share with their networks on a daily basis.

“Perhaps it is true that social networks are not a primary source for this information—yet,” wrote Ms. Williamson in the eMarketer report “Marketing on Social Networks: Branding, Buying and Beyond.” “But it is also true that social networks are immensely valuable for passive transfers of information, and these may ultimately prove more powerful than dedicated consumer review and comment sites.”

Keep up on the latest digital trends. Learn more about an eMarketer Total Access subscription, today. [eMarketer]

Most Print Publishers Planning to Launch Smartphone Apps

  • Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Mobile Content

By Jason Ankeny

More than 80 percent of newspaper and magazine publishers believe consumers will rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source over the next three years according to a new study conducted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations print publishing forum--in addition, close to 70 percent of respondents agree that mobile is receiving more attention at their publication this year than last.

ABC reports that half of publishers believe mobile traffic to their websites will increase anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent in the next two years--17 percent of respondents said their publication currently has a smartphone application in production, and 56 percent said they plan to develop a smartphone app in the next 24 months.

More than half of the ABC survey respondents indicate a belief that mobile content will be supported by both advertising and subscription models, and almost a third anticipate that mobile will have a significant impact on their publication's revenue in just three years. Publishers nevertheless tell ABC that they do not plan to abandon their print publications in favor of digital-only distribution--while 55 percent of respondents believe that digital delivery of their publication is vital to their strategic future, three quarters expect their publication will still be available in print five years from now.[FierceMobileContent]

Where’s the Value Add in Big-screen Mobile Broadband?

  • Posted: Monday, September 21, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Mobile Broadband

By Steven Hartley, senior analyst at Ovum

Fierce price competition in Europe continues to drive down the price of big-screen (laptop and netbook) mobile broadband services, threatening profitability as usage increases. Mobile operators have spoken of the potential to boost revenues and margins by selling a range of value-added services. However, the potential options are unlikely to have a dramatic impact. Therefore, operators must focus on stringent network efficiency for big-screen mobile broadband to remain profitable.

Network optimisation should be the main priority

The flat-rate subscription structure that helped to stimulate demand for big-screen mobile broadband (essentially laptop and netbook access) is leading to a margin squeeze for operators as traffic growth per user increases, just as it did in the fixed world. As a result, although there is very little activity today, mobile operators are beginning to investigate the potential of value-added services for big-screen mobile broadband to ease the squeeze.

However, as Ovum has concluded in its recently published report Value-added services for big-screen mobile broadband, we believe that the primary objective for mobile operators in the short term should be to optimise their networks to carry data more efficiently, rather than seek new value-added service revenues. They must also focus on customer retention (primarily their most valuable customers) with those consuming network capacity either migrated to more profitable plans or, as a last resort, off the network.

The reason for this belief is twofold. Firstly, we do not believe that a value-added service for big-screen mobile broadband will contribute a great deal of additional revenue or margin. Therefore, several services will be required to have a meaningful effect on the top line, increasing operational costs at minimal margin impact. Secondly, each new value-added service will be under pressure to progressively contribute more revenues. This will be to plug the shortfall caused by price erosion in both access services and older value-added services.

Very few operators will benefit

Only some operators will benefit from big-screen value-added services. In particular, integrated operators will be able to leverage content and services from their fixed divisions. These will need to be optimised for the mobile environment though, and the costs and complexities of this should not be ignored. The other players likely to benefit in the long term are those aspiring to be among the SMART players of the future (see Ovum report The future of the mobile industry: a vision for 2020 for a definition) – most notably the largest global players or those in large emerging markets with less competition from the global Internet players.

Software, storage and business solutions look most appealing – content and advertising least

Big-screen mobile broadband value-added service activity is limited today, and the services offered closely resemble those of fixed broadband service providers. Operators are mainly focused on selling software, especially anti-virus. Software sales are simple to implement, but will have minimal revenue impact due to the intensity of competition. Software is available from so many different channels that operators will only be able to attract a small share of the market. In addition, price competition will erode margins.

Network storage has much more potential as it plays to the advantages of network operators. Furthermore, for mobile operators, the portable nature of mobile broadband increases both the risk of loss or damage of laptops and the desire for content synchronisation across multiple devices, particularly netbooks used as secondary devices.

Among other potential services, business solutions look inviting, although it will take very dedicated mobile operators to develop, sell, deliver and manage services to businesses. Content is clearly attractive to consumer users, but it is difficult to see how mobile operators, outside those aspiring to be SMART players, will be able to compete for revenues with other online retailers. Integrated players may have more luck if they can leverage their existing content rights across to the mobile arena.

Similarly, advertising services could be utilised from a fixed division for integrated players. For mobile-only players it looks more difficult, although the connectivity dashboard provides excellent real estate. Ultimately, the advertising opportunity sums up the role of value-added services for mobile broadband: difficult to implement, open to a great deal of new competition, difficult to differentiate and unlikely to add significantly to the top line. /PR-Ovum

Emerging Markets Need a Practical Approach

  • Posted: Monday, September 21, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

A new report from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, finds that mobile broadband in emerging markets is a very different proposition to that seen in mature markets. According to the report titled, “Operator strategies for mobile broadband in emerging markets”, low fixed-line and PC penetration provide an opportunity for mobile broadband to become a viable fixed-line alternative. However, Ovum believes that for operators to succeed, ‘pragmatism’ must be the watchword in terms of access technology, devices, deployment and market approach.

Operators today are taking a far more pragmatic approach to mobile broadband in emerging markets than in developed markets, focusing more on the service offered (web access) than the technology or device. According to this report, operators are selling mobile broadband services based on everything from GPRS to WiMAX.

That said, HSPA will undoubtedly be the dominant technology in emerging markets for the next five years, accounting for two-thirds of next-generation access connections in 2014. “The opportunity for mobile WiMAX in emerging markets is certainly greater than in developed markets, but the more rapid adoption of LTE will see the two next-generation technologies almost on parity by 2014”, says Steven Hartley, senior analyst at Ovum and co-author of the report.

Another crucial practicality to consider is the cost involved in launching and running mobile broadband services, as with all emerging market services. “It is vital that operators build and then run highly efficient networks to handle the resulting data traffic,” Hartley explains. “ARPU will be low and margins negligible without a clear understanding of the building and operational costs associated with these services. Nonetheless, costs will not be solely in the network. The additional support needed for more complex services and devices should also be carefully considered”.

Pragmatism is also evident in the approach to deployment; however, the competitive landscape will dictate the strategy that operators should adopt. “Operators should take a more conservative view of technology and service rollouts to ensure demand and profitability before committing too much finance, where competition (or the threat of it) from fixed and mobile operators is limited.”

This may seem counterintuitive to operators with a mature market background, but those operating in markets with low ARPU and potentially high costs (such as fuel supplies to remote base stations or international connectivity) must be sure that a new service launch is viable. Therefore, operators are best ‘skimming’ the most profitable segments of the market if they can. “If competition already exists in the market then they may be forced into a broader, mass-market approach from launch”.

As a result of the heightened cost-consciousness and careful deployment of mobile broadband in emerging markets, customer segmentation is critical for success. The services, marketing and pricing for small-screen (handset) and big-screen (PC) devices will differ depending on the customers targeted. And the segments targeted will depend on the strategy adopted.
Unfortunately, the success or failure of mobile broadband in an emerging market may still be outside an operator’s control.

“Governments have a major role to play in providing an environment conducive to success; spectrum policy is the clearest example of this, either through its release to operators or through global harmonisation to benefit from economies of scale”, says Daniel Subramaniam, analyst at Ovum and co-author of this report.

Governments also hold the keys to unlock several other stimuli for deployment and uptake. “Reducing taxes on telecoms services, encouraging competition and boosting investment in power supply and international connectivity could all result in lower prices to end users”, adds Subramaniam. Universal service obligations to bridge the digital divide can also be implemented to boost uptake. These may be less attractive to operators, but could be the stick compared to the carrot of the former measures. /PR-Ovum

Windows Mobile 7 to Emphasize Social Networking?

  • Posted: Monday, September 21, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Windows Mobile

By Jason Ankeny

A new Microsoft job posting discovered by MobileTechWorld suggests the software giant's forthcoming Windows Mobile 7 operating system will focus squarely on social networking integration. The posting to the microsoft-entertainment-jobs/com website reads in part "'Social Networks' and ‘Mobile Phones' are two rapidly evolving socio-cultural phenomena that deeply impact the way in which people interact with each other. How would you like to be at the confluence of these phenomena--not as an observer but as someone who is defining the course? The Windows Mobile 7 Communications group is building experiences on the phone that present your content--friends, pictures, messages, events--to you in immersive and engaging ways.

Our vision is to bring social networks to life. For example imagine seeing all the newsfeeds from all the networks you care about in a single hub on the phone. Or imagine the phone instantly telling you what your friend is doing and where he is when you get a call from him... Our aim is to build a ‘Mobile Social Platform' that provides rich APIs to both internal and external applications and to not only enable but also inspire them to build compelling social experiences."

The Microsoft posting, which seeks a senior program manager to oversee development of the social networking platform, adds there are "several" Windows Mobile 7 teams developing social experiences. "The vision of WM7 and especially the Communications team is ambitious. We are not building yet another cool phone; but one that is truly personal and relevant. Yes--the competition is stiff; but it's exceeded only by our desire to win." Microsoft is expected to launch WinMo 7 sometime in 2010. [FierceMobileContent]

What Women Want from Social Sites

Networking tools and privacy

Women who are core social network users expect a lot, according to “The Power of Social Networking For Women Research Study” from female-oriented social networking site ShesConnected. Participants in the survey were recruited through several social networks and were encouraged to share it with friends.

ShesConnected respondents were heavy users of social networks: 59% reported visiting such sites multiple times per day, with a further 14% logging on daily.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook was the most popular social network among these users, with 83% belonging to the site. Nearly three-quarters (73%) were members of LinkedIn and 55% were on Twitter, while just 41% belonged to MySpace. Almost one-half of respondents (48%) reported belonging to four or more social networks—the most common response.

Professional networking and staying up-to-date with friends were the most compelling reasons to visit social networks, according to the respondents. Substantial majorities also considered researching products and services (79%) and finding deals and discounts (64%) important.

Despite their enthusiasm for joining, female social network users are concerned about privacy issues. Fully 93% of respondents said control over privacy settings was “very important,” and another 6% rated it “somewhat important.” The ability to block specific users from contacting them, presumably also for privacy reasons, mattered to 96% of users.

These concerns spill over into the marketing side of social media. While the vast majority of respondents were fine with social networks displaying advertising, the prospect of the sites selling data to advertisers was another story. More than four in 10 respondents said they would not be comfortable with the idea, and nearly as many—36%—said they would refuse to use a site that sold their data.

“Advertisers should strive for engaging and useful communications on the site so that it is viewed as an enhancement to the community rather than a painful requirement,” noted the ShesConnected report.

While users understand the need for revenues, networking, self-promotion, keeping in touch and privacy remain their top priority. [FierceMobileContent]

Organisations can maximize value by Working Under-utilised Enterprise Applications Harder

  • Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Miscellaneous

In a low capital expenditure climate organisations need to know how to unlock the financial and intellectual value hidden in existing assets

When capital is in short supply the pressure to optimise existing resources and assets intensifies. In the IT space, enterprise applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are prime targets. A new report by Europe’s leading IT research and advisory organisation Butler Group, points to the strategic importance of these applications in terms of running businesses efficiently and effectively, and how changes in the way they are architected, delivered, and used are altering the entire application value proposition and lifecycle. Titled “Evolving Enterprise Applications”, the report says there is a tendency to focus on cutting costs. It argues that cost reduction and value generation are two sides of the same bottom line so should be tackled together as part of a unified strategy with savings in one area being used to fund smart investments in another.

“Cost cutting is a natural reaction to a tough economic climate, so is freezing budgets and halting additional expenditure, but these actions can be counterproductive if they are carried out in a siloed fashion with little attention paid to long term and strategic implications,” says Angela Eager, Senior Research Analyst at Butler Group and the report’s lead author. “Challenging times are times of change, but change also brings opportunity and that means taking a fresh view of what is being done, why, and how, and being prepared to adapt both business operations and applications.”

Organisations need to start viewing enterprise applications as enablers of change, not static back-office transaction engines

“Enterprise applications form part of the DNA of an organisation and are core to its ability to do business but that integral status means they are often overlooked. They impact so many areas of the business that they become almost invisible. As a result when it comes to developing value-generating initiatives they are back of mind, yet no new initiative can be fully effective if the core it relies on is not tuned,” says Eager. “Organisations will benefit from a change in perspective in which enterprise applications are perceived as fundamental enablers of change, with the capacity to adapt to new business demands and add further dimensions to new technologies, rather than as static back office transaction engines.”

Technology changes such as the move to service oriented architecture (SOA) that brings modularity and therefore technical and business agility, increased use of business process management (BPM) capabilities to enable enterprise-wide process standardisation, embedded business intelligence (BI) for actionable insight, and participatory Web 2.0-type technologies for collaboration and real time interaction, all play a part in opening enterprise applications up, changing the way they are used, and enabling them to be used for more. Each technology would be so much less without the enterprise application DNA structure. However, for this transformation to be effective, closer alignment between business and IT is a prerequisite.

Strategic spending is necessary to maintain the value of existing investments and deliver fresh financial benefits

Maintaining the value of existing assets can be achieved through internal optimisation – opting for standardization over customisation, general license and user housekeeping, upgrade and maintenance strategies, and so on – which in addition to reducing operational costs will improve operational efficiency with minimal investment and prevent investments falling into the application equivalent of negative equity. Yet, strategic investment in application extensions at the micro level is also a requirement: for example investing in functionality that reduces waste in production planning by a few percentage points can deliver substantial direct financial returns. “Existing implementations are the perfect platform to deliver these sorts of micro-based incremental benefits, rapidly, with minimal risk and in a cost efficient manner,” says Eager.

Evolution has multiple dimensions and change is being enacted in the way applications are delivered – organisations seeking ultimate agility should look at SaaS

The economic climate has highlighted the need for business agility and as agility is ultimately enabled by the supporting IT and application infrastructure, the situation is playing well to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) movement. This alternative delivery method offers flexibility and cost efficiency, providing the essentials to enable organisations to bring about change in the way they carry out their business. With the advent of development platforms SaaS no longer means having to take what you are given, and with an architecture built for the Web and for integration, it provides a valuable adjunct to organisations looking for application technology to support business development. /PR-Butler Group

One in Every Seven Minutes of Media Consumption Now Mobile

By Jason Ankeny

One of every seven minutes of media consumption now takes place via mobile devices, according to a study conducted by AOL and media agency Universal McCann. Ninety-five percent of respondents said they used mobile media to fill downtime, and 82 percent said they use it at work--81 percent turn to mobile while shopping, 80 percent at home, and 65 percent while commuting to their jobs. In addition, 77 percent of respondents said they use mobile and TV at the same time to enhance their multimedia experience.

While there are now 63 million mobile web users in the U.S., 19 million of them access the mobile Internet on a weekly basis, and 80 percent of smartphone users tell AOL and Universal McCann they are satisfied with the overall quality of the mobile web experience. Among specific activities, 73 percent of respondents reported accessing maps and directions and 55 percent participate in mobile social networking. Forty-four percent reported looking for national news and information. [FierceMobileContent]

Don’t Lean on Becoming Lean in a Recession

  • Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

The economic tide might turn before process improvement methods deliver cost takeout

According to global advisory and consulting firm Ovum, many organisations that are looking to process improvement methods in the current economic environment are too late. While commonly used approaches such as Agile and Lean can reduce waste in IT systems and software development, they don’t offer the rapid efficiency gains that CFOs are increasingly demanding of CIOs. Their implementation takes too long and is too resource-intensive for an organisation that’s currently reviewing its IT processes.

“A lot of CFOs have heard that process improvement can cut the cost of IT processes, and in the current economic environment, that’s very appealing,” says Dr Alexander Simkin, a senior analyst and process improvement specialist within Ovum’s IT Services practice. “What they don’t realise is that becoming Agile or Lean takes time and requires major change management. If you’re starting from a base of traditional processes, these approaches won’t provide rapid cost reduction. The efficiency of your processes may even get worse before they get better. CFOs need to know that and it’s a CIO’s job to educate them,” he adds.

Organisations that already have an established process improvement programme aimed at waste reduction in IT have a competitive advantage in the current economic situation. However, when the economy eventually improves, the cost-cutting agenda will wane and other priorities such as improving the quality of processes will come to the fore. “Organisations that are only now seeking to improve their IT processes should consider methods that are optimum now and beyond the recession, that is, that both cut costs and improve quality. Lean Six Sigma is a good choice,” advises Simkin, based in London.

Methods that audit and certify the maturity of an organisation’s IT processes such as the Capability Maturity Model Interactive (CMMI) and the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 20000 are also attracting renewed interest in the recession. These methods provide CIOs with evidence to C-level colleagues and other stakeholders that investments in process improvements are providing returns.

For ITS service vendors, they have another advantage: they make those vendors eligible for contracts that stipulate minimum levels of process maturity. Two sectors in which IT service contractors typically have to certify the maturity of their processes are defence and healthcare – especially in the US. “Defence and healthcare have been relatively unscathed by the recession, so being able to bid for contracts in those sectors is increasingly important. Hence some of the extra attention that audit methods are currently receiving,” Simkin explains. /PR-Ovum

Google Chrome OS Needs to Prove Itself

  • Posted: Saturday, July 11, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Google Chrome

By Laurent Lachal, Open Source Director at Ovum

Google as the Linux champion on netbooks

Google generates most of its revenues from advertising, but intends to diversify its revenue streams with offerings such as Google Apps, which have just (surprise, surprise) come out of beta and whose momentum the new OS aims to boost (along with Google Mail and Google Docs usage) in one of the only markets that is still showing some health: netbooks.

In a recent report entitled Netbooks: a Linux appliance opportunity we identified two main sequential trends in the netbook market.

The first is a shrinking netbook/laptop divide, with the average netbook price shooting up to $400. After a strong start in this market segment, Linux is now increasingly being distanced by Windows, although its performance is still outstanding compared to its overall performance in the desktop market. Google Chrome OS could potentially enable it to regain some of its lost ground.

The second trend is a reaction to the first, a back-to-basics backlash with ambition to deliver netbooks that are not only cheaper ($200 on average) but also designed as appliances/mobile Internet devices (MIDs) rather than would-be laptops. In this market Google Android, which is also Linux-based, is making good progress.

In response, Microsoft needs not only to push Windows 7 forwards but also to boost its Windows Mobile offering.

The battle is on price as well as user experience
Either free (as many expect) or low cost, the new Google OS will challenge Microsoft’s ability to maintain profit margins. It will also challenge Windows from a user experience perspective, which is key to Linux-based netbook uptake. The objective is for it to “start up […] in a few seconds”, to provide a “minimal” user interface that “stay[s] out of your way” and to be secure “so that users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates”. It could also be the starting point for a more integrated experience across Google applications/services and we expect it, like Android, to be linked to an online store of web applications not just to make it easier to consume these applications but also to prove that they can meet most needs.
Internet-centric but not dependent

Google dismisses OSs “designed in an era where there was no web.” The expectation behind its own OS is that “most of the user experience takes place on the Web”. The key word here is ‘most’. With technologies such as Gears (that predates the Chrome browser and is embedded in it), and the Native Client plug-in and O3D API technologies that followed, Google is also working at enabling online applications to run offline. It needs to points this out more aggressively.

Keep things in perspective

The proof of the Google Chrome OS pudding will be in its eating. When the Google Chrome browser was released, in a report entitled Google enters the open source web browser fray we warned “don’t fall for the hype; Google Chrome still has everything to prove.” A few months later, despite Google claiming 30 million regular users, the browser has not made much impact.
Similarly we do not expect Google Chrome OS to take over the world – it is a bit late for that.

With Windows 7 about to ship, it would have been better for Google to release, rather than simply announce, an alternative for the netbook market. Key to Google’s OS success will be its ability to create a strong community around it. This is going to be difficult. A rethink of the project based on an alliance/convergence effort with the Ubuntu community could help. [PR/Ovum]

Is Social Network Advertising Ready for Primetime?

Mapping the social graph.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way.

As a result of the poor economy and various difficulties at MySpace, paid advertising on online social networks in the US is expected to fall 3% in 2009.

But the drop will be short-lived. eMarketer projects that US marketers will increase their social network ad spending 13.2% in 2010, to $1.3 billion.

“The expected rebound in spending will come as more companies focus on creating and implementing an overall social marketing strategy,” says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Social Network Ad Spending: A Brighter Outlook Next Year. “And it is a clear indication that the experimental phase of social network marketing is finally drawing to an end.”

2009 is turning into a year of major shifts in the social network business.

“Facebook, once a distant second to MySpace, has outperformed its rival in nearly every measure of usage—and is on track to surpass MySpace in ad spending by 2011,” says Ms. Williamson.

US spending at MySpace is expected to fall 15% in 2009, to $495 million, while US spending at Facebook is projected to rise 9%, to $230 million. Consequently, MySpace’s share of US spending is projected to fall to 43.4% in 2009, while Facebook and other social network venues will increase their share.

While the US accounts for the majority of ad spending on MySpace and Facebook, non-US spending is growing rapidly at Facebook. eMarketer estimates that marketers will spend a total of $520 million to advertise on MySpace worldwide in 2009, down 14% from 2008. Worldwide spending on Facebook, by contrast, is expected to grow 20%, to $300 million, in 2009.

“Regardless of which site is in the lead, 2009 is the year of building social marketing strategy,” says Ms. Williamson. “2010 and beyond will see increased activity and deployments.”
Social network users create a gigantic amount of data about themselves—their friend networks, likes and dislikes, content-sharing activities and more.

“Harnessing this information to deliver advertising not only within social networks, but on other sites a consumer may visit, is a marketer’s dream come true,” says Ms. Williamson. [eMarketer]

Financial Crisis Brings Risk Management Discipline Under the Spotlight

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 08, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

Reducing a company’s focus on risk management during a downturn is a false economy. Although businesses feel compelled to ‘do more with less’, the economic climate can in fact increase or intensify the level of risk companies are exposed to, as it can affect anything from levels of capital expenditure to staffing requirements. This is according to a recent report titled, “Managing risk during an economic downturn”,from global advisory and consulting firm Ovum.

Ovum’s study reveals that companies are now starting to rethink their approach to risk management and are placing a more strategic focus on its implementation and deployment to drive it from a siloed approach to an enterprise approach. As a result, risk management promises to become an even more central part of planning, managing and running a business.

“The financial crisis has provided a very high profile example of how poor risk management practices can severely impact not only a business but also a whole industry sector”, says Helena Schwenk, senior analyst at Ovum and author of the report. “While the banking system recovers and readjusts from the crisis and moves to a more tightly controlled and regulated risk management environment, other industry sectors are advised to take heed of the risk management lessons learnt from this painful episode.”

Much of the failure around past and current risk management practices does not point to a failure of risk management as such, but to a lack of understanding about the discipline and how it should be applied correctly. The financial crisis has highlighted the dangers of managing various risk types in isolated silos, each with its own set of tools, applications and models. Hence much of the failure around risk management lies in the inability to have a more holistic view of risk management and understanding the inter-dependencies of risk across different lines of business.
“The current economic crisis has also underscored the need to treat risk management not just as a strategic ideal, but also as an operational imperative”, says Schwenk. “Businesses need to make sure that risk management trickles down from high-level business strategy, objectives and goals to the operational coalfaces of the organisation so that all employees, at all levels, gain a company-wide perspective on risk”, Schwenk concludes. /PR-Ovum

Google's Anti-Malvertising.com Site Launch Welcomed by Finjan

  • Posted: Monday, June 29, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Miscellaneous

Finjan, a leader in secure web gateway products and the provider of a unified web security solution for the enterprise market, has welcomed the launch of Anti-Malvertising.com by Google to assist its advertisers in spotting potential providers of malicious advertisements.

In total, 45857 unique malicious, advertising, and potentially unwanted programs were detected on users' computers in March 09 alone according to Kaspersky Security Network.

"The launch of the new site by Google is not before time, however, as we originally identified the problem way back in our Q1 2007 Web Trends Security Report," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's chief technology officer.

This tidal wave of malware has become so overwhelming, that even Google has created a custom search engine - Anti-Malvertising.com - designed to help ad network customers conduct quick background checks. It researches a variety of independent, third party sites that track possible attempts to distribute malware through advertising.

This is a trend that Finjan's MaliciousCodeResearchCenter has followed and reported on during 2008 such as the high-volume banner ad server that delivered infected banner ads to many of the 14,000-plus web sites registered to receive ads. The attack employed the random JS toolkit, a crimeware Trojan that infects the end user's machine and sends back information to the hacker.

"With the automation of crimeware, the rise in all malicious code will increase exponentially and endanger both an advertiser's brand as well as their customer's PCs," explained Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO of Finjan.

Advertisers will have to be vigilant to ensure that their ads are malware free both in the creation of the advertisements as well as the delivery.

Businesses should employ a Secure Web Gateway utilizing real-time content inspection technologies to protect their valuable assets from today's Web2.0, Ads and other malicious content being served on compromised legitimate sites./PR

Nokia Signs Agreement With Intel

  • Posted: Saturday, June 27, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

By Adam Leach, Device principal analyst at Ovum

An endorsement for Intel’s Atom processor for mobile devices

Since Intel’s launch of its Atom family of processors it has made no secret that it intends to make a serious play in mobile. The company hopes that taking a slice of the mobile device market will provide an engine for growth outside of its traditional PC and server markets.

However, the current family of Atom chipsets is not suitable for use in handsets and instead Intel has developed a new market segment for larger form factor mobile internet devices (MIDs) positioned above smartphones and below notebooks. To reach further down into the volume part of the mobile market and start reaching the expanding high-end smartphone segment, Intel needs to produce a chipset which can match the power/performance ratio of processors based on the designs of ARM Ltd. This week’s announcement is a sign that at least Nokia believes that Intel’s roadmap is credible and that the company can in time provide a competitive offering against ARM-based alternatives.

Nokia and Intel to collaborate on open source software

This announcement follows Intel’s acquisition of Wind River, a supplier of operating systems for embedded devices. The Wind River acquisition has given Intel a significant foot-hold in embedded and mobile devices, it provides them with the expertise to ensure that its chipsets are optimized towards embedded devices and gives the company access to a wide range of existing Wind River customers in this space. Intel understands the strategic advantage of maintaining control of the software stack that sits above its processors; this acquisition is a kin to Intel buying Microsoft in the early days of the PC market.

The agreement with Nokia continues Intel’s focus on software and strengthens its position. The two companies have agreed to cooperate on key open source projects and use these common technologies in Moblin (Intel’s Linux-based software platform for Atom) and Maemo (Nokia’s Linux-based software platform for its Internet Tablet products). This is good for Nokia as its platform will become more suited for the growing segment of mobile internet devices and netbooks; good for Intel as its platform will become more suited for smaller mobile devices and good news for developers as it will, to an extent, reduce fragmentation in Linux-based devices.

However, the real opportunity here is for Nokia and Intel to combine their efforts and back a single Linux-based platform for mobile devices. This could provide device vendors with a credible open alternative to existing smartphone and netbook platforms.

Intel to license Nokia’s 3G modem technology

To date, Intel has focused on WiFi and WiMax radio technologies. The announcement gives Intel the capability to produce 3G capable chipsets that will make its products more relevant the wider mobile market. It may also be the first sign that Intel is prepared to work with alternative 4G technology in addition to WiMax. It should be noted that this is not the first agreement between Nokia and Intel; in 2006 Nokia agreed to supply a HSDPA module for Intel’s Centrino platform, however, it never resulted in any commercial products. The fact that the current agreement to supply HSPA modem technology is in the context of a broader agreement, should increase the likelihood of commercial success this time.

Agreement provides Nokia with opportunity in MID and netbook markets

For Nokia this announcement also makes sure that it can compete on equal terms with PC and notebook vendors entering the mobile market with Atom-based mobile internet devices and netbooks. /PR-Ovum

SMEs in China: Promising in Mobile UC

  • Posted: Saturday, June 27, 2009
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  • Author: pradhana
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  • Filed under: Business Analysis

With a strong domestic market, SMEs in China are less exposed to the global economic climate than most of their counterparts in other countries. As a result, they expect to continue spending on telecoms during the downturn. “They are price-sensitive and are more likely to adopt managed and hosted services in order to avoid up-front capital investments, however we recommend caution when looking at these expectations”, said Claudio Castelli, Senior Analyst based in Melbourne.

"Even in China, economic growth is slowing considerably. At some stage it is likely that cash-strapped SMEs will look to cut costs and that budgets may not be converted into actual spend”, advised Castelli.

Mobility is growing fast among SMEs in China - currently 61% of their employees have some degree of mobility; but this high level of mobility is not yet reflected in expenditure on mobile services. As is the case in most Asian countries, SMEs in China don’t supply mobile devices to their employees; mobile users supply and support their own personal mobile devices when at work. “We believe this practice has a high degree of risk for the business”, added Mr Castelli.

However this scenario is likely to change, as SMEs expect their expenditure to grow more on mobile services than on fixed services. “Moreover, recent reforms in the Chinese telecoms market and the release of 3G licences nationwide will promote more services and competition, further accentuating this growth”, he adds.

SMEs in China are also expecting to adopt new mobile applications. Considering the magnitude of the Chinese market, this is a major opportunity for vendors and service providers. Mobile email has the highest potential to grow, while other promising mobile applications include mobile IM and mobile multimedia, which offer great opportunities for mobile UC providers. Applications that address the specific needs of mobile workforces, such as tracking of goods or vehicles, field service automation and sales force automation, will also be in demand.

In addition, there are a few companies deploying specific solutions for people moving around within the workplace, and we see potential for fixed–mobile convergence (FMC) solutions. Many SMEs are willing to deploy PBX-like features on their mobile phones – some expect these to be provided by a mobile service provider while others expect to deploy them at their own premises. However, it will be difficult to deploy integrated solutions based on users’ personal devices. “SMEs will need to take full control of their mobility solutions, including mobile devices”, concludes Castelli. /PR-Ovum