Tag Archives: Mobiles

When Congress becomes something more

So as I stated in ‘The Fantastic Four and the Bully’, the four getting grilled are not the bad guys. Well, there is some debate, but the foundation is that these four tech entrepreneurs are getting grilled by people who are clueless on tech matters. So as some read the BBC part “At issue is the fact that Apple doesn’t allow apps to be installed onto iOS devices from alternative marketplaces, and that it enforces tough rules over the way subscriptions and other digital items can be sold.” The issue soon becomes, will congress be responsible for any bad app and data gathering app that Congress would want to allow for? Even as an android user, I see that there are very few bad apples around, as such most apps are safe. There are a lot more dangerous apps on Android. This is not the fault of Google, there are several ways that a personal device gets to be the victim, there are a lot less issues on Apple, as such and as Congress might demand third party options, will they not be responsible for the damage that they put on Apple and its users? There is another side, a these tech giants come under fire, the chances of Chinese hardware makers making it bigger only increases by 35%-55%, how is that of use to congress? We might see Fitbit mentions and other mentions, but these products are closely followed by Asian alternatives, the entire setting does not add up. Then we get the advertisements, until Google Ads was here, we had DoubleClick, there were versions that equal Epom, with price tags that started at $250 a month, then $1000 a month, $2500 a month and higher. So, can the US Congress give us a list of all the small business and small startups that had that kind of cash? Google Ads was one of the first AFFORDABLE solutions for small business units, the fact that the bulk all switched should be a larger consideration, in addition, Google Ads was one of the first to truly die a larger rise to localisation and languages. Usually one or the other was missing, as such, is the growth of Goole Ads to be blamed on Google, or on all the others who could not be bothered? Not everything is perfect at Google, we all know that, but we also know that the ignorance in congress is a little too large to wonder who they are serving, they claim the people, but in reality? I am actually wondering who they are setting the stage for, I see it as a different stage that the one they tell us we are on.

And even as we accept Sundar’s optional defence of “Today’s competitive landscape looks nothing like it did five years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search”, we need to see that this landscape is largely influenced on the upcoming 5G and as it is now, especially as well over 50% of all searches are done via mobile, the only thing I see coming is that China gets a much larger share of it all and Congress intervening on matters that they do not comprehend is a much larger danger to that happening. I have always been favour of Huawei technology, that does not mean that I want China to have the bulk of all the business. The White House wants us to think it is the same, but it is not. They have set the stage that unites Huawei in a political tool for China to set a much larger field, they were pushed by US stupidity, not Huawei needs. The US took it away and now we see a very different stage, one where Huawei is still independent, but taking the customers that China is pointing at. The stage is changing and Congress is adding fuel to that fire by chastising the big four tech makers, each entrepreneurs. Each understanding the digital landscape. I had no clue in the early 90’s when Amazon started, I thought it was mad to continue when the losses were so great, now the owner has is worth in excess of $35,000,000,000, a personal value that exceeds a lot of nations. I am not saying that all is kind and kosher with each of the four, I am stating that when we are getting told changes, we are properly getting told by people who understand that business and in Congress, I doubt that they can rub together 2 one dollar coins on the subject on digital advertising. The more ‘diplomatic’ answer comes from Facebook’s own Zuckerberg. With “Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation. I believe that strong and consistent competition policy is vital because it ensures that the playing field is level for all. At Facebook, we compete hard, because we’re up against other smart and innovative companies that are determined to win” and some of them are Chinese. Some are Russian and others are all over the place, yet Facebook has other problems too, privacy and marketing do not go hand in hand, not in their granular market and that is where part of the problem lies. We could decide that from the four, they are the bad apple in this, but that would be wrong. I worked for people who had no idea how to dress a Facebook market when it was offered to them, their bullet point presentations could not deal with that unknown side of business, that was the strength for growth for Facebook, it was so new, there were no defining borders and there is where we see part of that problem, a lot never caught on, not to the degree that Facebook represents and there I see the dangers of the US Congress, they are not that clued in (as I personally see it). So as we get to one of the topics ‘One of the matters concerning the committee is the degree to which three of the tech companies now control the market for online adverts’ we need to recognise that these players made it affordable for a lot of businesses, the old way was dictatorial and something only rich companies could afford, they refused to give way and when Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon gobbled up the small fry, the large fry moved positions because their provider was no longer the bee’s knees. Three never ruled it, the grew it changing the rulers and the old stage should never return. And finally, according to numbers one in three uses Bing and Microsoft search and are therefor exposed to Bing Ads, so why is Microsoft not in that stage? There are 4 players and one has well over 20%, so why is Microsoft not in the meeting? Is that asking for too much?

Those who have read my articles over the year have seen that I have chastised each and every one of these four (5 if you include Microsoft), but here I see no blame, not from any of the 5, the stage was set, the rules were followed and when the opportunity was there 20 years ago, most would not wonder there, I was a personal witness when some stated that there was no future for a business form of Facebook in 1997, as such what is the US Congress bitching about? And as we look at the article (at https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-us-canada-53582909) we see the graph by eMarketer, yet Microsoft and their Bing is absent, why is that? So whilst they claim it is merely about the smaller rivals, it is about something more and something different, I wonder if we will ever be told the truth. As I personally see it, the members of congress have a different set of needs and I wonder what they are.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

Billion dollar blame

Some do it quick, some do it with conviction, some take a life time and some don’t experience it at all. You might want to guess on what naughtiness I am talking about. It is simple negative profit in a firm. Some seem clear, some are to be expected and some are just plain ignorant.

We could rephrase them as the alphabet, like A is for Airline that’s lost in the queue; B is for banks, who lost more than a few. But then, that nursery rhyme would get boring real quick. The issue is not Tesco, not as we read in Bloomberg: ‘Bank of America Lost $2.7 Billion in a Maze of Accounting‘, it is simple overreaching. First the car industry, now the mobile industry is getting hammered. It would be fine to just blame Apple, who does have a stake in this, but in the end the true culprit is what I call ‘lack of vision‘.

Sony is downgrading its profits to far below zero. It is projecting a loss of 2,140,000,000 at the end of the current financial year. So we are talking about a loss so big, I personally believe is that those ‘idea-illogicals’ are still with their heads in the pre-recession era, they keep on believing that the old ways still work. Guess what! That time is gone, the financial institutions and banks changed that game forever.

The electronics empire initially forecast a $466 million net loss by the end of the current financial year, but has now informed investors that the projected loss has been revised to $2.14 billion. That is the budget for a small nation, so how is Sony still around? Well, that is not about that part of the equation, but it is an interesting question to consider for the future. The biggest issue is with their mobiles and we should wonder how they are currently surviving. I have nothing against Sony mobiles, I have had Nokia mobiles, I have Sony mobiles and mobiles from Ericsson and currently I use a Motorola. The entire mobile market is plummeting, Apple is doing fine, but overall they are likely to see a peaking of profits too.

Why?

Well, like those in the car industry, the people behind them are just not too clued in. They listen to ‘experts’, ‘analysts’ and from there they think that they comprehend their customers. They get market research, get 1000-2000 responses, weigh the hell out of the data and they consider that they have the knowledge.

Guess what, it does not work that way!

True investigation takes more, takes longer and takes actual preparation. Some half-baked set-up, which is quickly designed on Monday, live on Tuesday, data collected up to Thursday and reporting on Friday can work for some parts to get a general idea, but in the end, you will not get the ACTUAL wisdom you need. And guess what, it is not just Sony doing this; there are a few other larger players. Apple, Alcatel, BenQ, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson et all. All of them have several models; most of them are not that cheap.

To this I add two facts. The first one is the economy. It has been 10 years when the 2004 crash came, that hit many people, then the 2008 crash that turned a massive amount of people over the brink of poverty. In that decade the consumer lost close to 21% of purchasing powers. In that decade, the bulk of all people lost a job, or was retrenched at least once, was forced to live on a frozen income, whilst prices of food and housing kept rising and many are not dealing with their debt, so that part is also hanging round their necks as an anchor. The consumer markets ignored that part and now they see the fallout, a fallout that could have been clear to them for at least 3 years, so the writing is not just on the wall, it is a massive neon billboard that was ignored by those who should not have done this (at http://www.cnet.com/au/news/sony-forecasts-2-1-billion-loss-this-year-due-to-its-smartphone-business/)

There is additional ‘evidence’, which is seen here in the quote “The Company blamed the ‘competitive environment of the mobile business.’ Sony has been hammered by competition and an inability to find distributors in key markets such as the US“, I consider that to be a statement of falsehood. Why?

Well, that is always the real question. Consider the list I gave earlier. Siemens has lost a large share, Ericsson lost it as it united with Sony (the company in question), Alcatel was never the largest party in this and neither is Siemens. Huawei is relatively new and several smaller ones do not make the list any more (like NEC), so overall Sony should have consolidated its visibility, but it did not and neither did Nokia. Apple, Samsung and HTC grew, yet overall Sony should not have lost THAT amount, which means that there is more. I blame the over flooding and iterative consumer model as one reason, such a model cannot be sustained if you cannot grow the customer base and that part is currently diminishing and will keep on diminishing for another 2 years. We can no longer afford a new mobile or car every year, in all honesty, we never could, but that part is mainly the result from the pushed idea of ‘ego’ and peer pressure.

The second quote that gives the ‘frying pan’ and ‘the fire’ expression is: “While its Xperia Z3 flagship is making its way into the US through T-Mobile“, many consumers have had enough of being held over a barrel by telecom providers, the ‘new’ mobile is less and less an incentive to hold on to a solution, that side only works for business customers and they too are shopping in the margins. The final quote is “companies such as Google and Microsoft are laying out plans to broaden their reach into the emerging markets with more affordable smartphones“, that group is now targeting the ACTUAL consumers that are available. Huawei had an advantage there, but they are quickly losing that advantage as they emulate Samsung and HTC more and more.

You see, in this day and age, mobile makers have been pressing the ‘exclusivity’ option just a little too long and now the towers break down. You do not have to believe it, but not unlike the car industry, we do not need 7 models with 22 configurations. That image is created by advertisers, finding people telling you that ‘choice’ is all about ‘individuality’ whilst they try to sell that same package to millions; it is a fake concept as I see it. Yes, we want some choice, but the consumer driven industry took that way over the top. That same issue we have seen in mobiles for some time now and the bigger players, coming with half a dozen models are now finding that they are selling ‘hot’ cakes from a fridge in a place where there is no electricity. So why the ridiculous amounts of ‘add-ons’?

Apple avoided most of the issues by having one phone in 3-4 options, where memory was the choice. We do not need 8-12 models, having one phone, which does most, would suffice. Then we get the issue with price, smaller models cost some, or need a ‘contract’, in my eyes it is an interaction of pimping and harlotry for customers, but who is who is not clear to the consumer. Consider that many do not have $800 for a phone, yes we get options for cheaper, but many providers offer a lot less at that point, whilst a generic cheaper phone would be the solution to many, brands are ego pushing the more expensive models at any given opportunity. Although Huawei seemed to have nailed the market, they seem to slowly start making the same error the others are making. Consider that Huawei offered a 4G phone for less than half the price (unlocked and free of contract) than many other providers, so why would we pay twice the price?

Let’s not forget that many providers are no longer delivering a reliable mobile. If it has android than it is likely that the phone is forcing Google search down our throats, whilst forcing people to store all data on a Google account, so that they can copy the data. Apparently there is a way to switch that off, but the result is implied to be so disgustingly customer unfriendly, that we are starting to wonder whether criminal charges are in order. Now, my Motorola suddenly got ‘enhanced’ buttons at the bottom, where it seems that there is a software overlaid button that FORCES me to Google search. How was that MY choice?

So, in the age of data, the market will soon belong to the mobile maker that will respect the customer and BY DEFAULT, let the person choose what they want to do with their data, photos and other smart phone parts. This is all linked, because where confidence dwindles, people are less likely to choose a smart phone and more likely to go back to the old days of the Nokia 1100 (with silver LCD screen, offering voice and SMS only, oh and it avoided bank security for a little while).

It is my firm believe that if big boys like Sony, Nokia and others want to turn their market around, they will need to take time to ACTUALLY learn their customers’ needs and not force corporate choice as customer wishes down the throats of these consumers. For example, instead of 19 Nokia Lumia models make 4 with one extra landscape option. If you only need 5 models, you can simplify the process, down production costs, distribution complications and get a better return. It is just a crazy thought, but what do I know. I thought that the Lumia was gorgeous, but I am not paying $935 for a phone, not in this age of theft and pickpockets, especially as phone insurances are getting less and less affordable. Sony should consider that same idea. Do you think Apple was lazy? 2 phone models, each with three memory options, which means two models each with three memory chip options. NO! Apple foresaw the complicated BS that others face and as such they have more than a small corner in the market. This is odd as the main component for a phone is its battery and Sony has always had superior battery technology, so Sony should have been the number one choice, but alas, that is not the case, so why do we see a contender with a superior key part run a market at minus 2000 million? Beats me, but someone is clearly asleep at the wheel.

Of course, I admit that I am oversimplifying the entire issue, but am I so wrong? I do not think so. I will admit that I missed a few issues in this, but as Sony is at minus a lot and others have a dwindling market, I feel that I am onto something. I am also certain that people have had enough of data collection and these mobile players to use their consumers as off the books revenue piggy banks, the first one to change the wheel on that process might end up owning the market. For those who would ‘ignore’ that path, remember that no matter how ‘valuable’ that data seems to be, once the customers walk away, you end up without data and without people using your product. Sony has the option to bounce back, but that window of opportunity is small and quickly getting smaller as Google and Microsoft are tapping into their own worlds. Sony might have not have that many options left and they forgot the one lesson Miyamoto Musashi instilled upon them almost 450 years ago: “If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you”, they forgot this lesson as well as the fact that ego is as much an enemy as an actual opponent, especially as ego is not regarded as an enemy until it strikes after which it gets named Hinan!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media

The Telco is on the wall

The Dutch giant KPN is in the market to stay alive. As the message is now that they are selling E-plus to Telefonica. Consider that the sale of this company is sold for 8 billion, which might seem good. It was however bought a decade ago for 20 billion. So that means a loss of 1.2 billion a year.

So this seems not that good an investment, when you look at it. Is this turning into a moment of selling the family silver cutlery, or is it about more? KPN is not the only one in this regard. Nuon (a Dutch energy provider) is also surfing the red waves of tremendous debt. So much so that its mother company Vattenfal is now putting the Dutch energy giant up for sale. Experts have stated that some of these problems are due to the company holding on to old methods for too long. Considering that they require gas, and the price of gas is up, means that their energy is more expansive then most others.

Back to the Telecoms! In Australia, Vodafone has a multitude of problems. Due to less reliable connection issues they had, over 550 thousand customers left Vodafone Australia for other providers. That is a shift of customers that started only 6 months ago. That means that Vodafone is facing a loss of revenue approaching 20 million a month. So we are talking about a decent amount of revenue. It amounts to a loss of almost 8% of their customer base. That is not even close to the end for Vodafone Australia. They currently have a class action running against them, so that is likely to be a none too small bill, and linked to the loss of customers (at http://www.zdnet.com/au/vodafone-australia-reports-customer-losses-of-551k-7000018290/) we also see that there are currently some legal threats coming from Telstra. That can be read at http://www.zdnet.com/au/telstra-ramps-up-4g-rollout-as-3g-scales-down-7000018225/.

The quote that matters is “Riley also took aim at recent claims from Vodafone that it has better spectrum holdings than Telstra in the capital cities, allowing the company to offer faster 4G services.

Perhaps Telstra needs to consider a few things!

First there is the article that ABC published in 2011 (at: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2011/09/28/3327530.htm).

Yes, I got to hear all about it in Uni when I was doing my mobile technologies subject (party of my IT degree), so if this is about ‘marketing’ claims, then Telstra might revoice the words stated in the claim. They could read the following: “Riley also took aim at recent claims from Vodafone that it has better spectrum holdings than Telstra in the capital cities, allowing the company to offer faster 4G services” in the air of “Riley is also aiming at the mention that Vodafone is more colourful then Telstra when offering a mobile service labelled as 4G in the capital cities“. Have you seen those BORING 4G posters all over Sydney? Yup, making legal threats against opinions, that makes perfect sense to me…..NOT!

OK, it is 2013 now and there are true 4G providers now, but what is important?

4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone mobile communication technology standards. (Quick Wiki grab). When we consider the 4th generations, we see WiMAX and we see LTE (Long Term Evolution).  The ITU (International Telecommunication Union) stated the requirements on what makes a 4G standard. So when the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (IMT-Advanced) specification was set for the 4th generation in 2008, there was an actual next generation target to achieve. You wonder why it took so long? Well, the ITU looks forward on what the next step would be. So they set peak speed requirements for 4G service at 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) for high mobility communication (such as from trains and cars) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbit/s) for low mobility communication (such as pedestrians and stationary users). This would indeed be a massive step forward in a time when those speeds were not even close to an option. It makes perfect sense. You have seen this before. When we went from VHS to DVD, similar steps forward were made. This step was even larger as people moved from DVD to Blu-Ray.
It is technical evolution baby!

Yet, Telco’s are all about marketing, and Telstra was really clever. From the information that WAS then, they basically offered 3G+ and named it 4G, but that does not make it true 4G. That is how I personally see it! When I think of a power Telco offering 4G, I think of NTT DoCoMo and TATA (India). DoCoMo has close to 60 million customers in Japan, which is well over 45% of the mobile user population. How many Telco’s can actually make the claim that 1 in 2 connects to them in the Mobile community? In India there is the Tata Teleservices group with over 75 million customers, and NTT DoCoMo owns 25% of this.

So when we think Telco, Telstra and Vodafone Australia do not really measure up. Yet the interesting link here is that NTT DoCoMo had Billions invested all over the world, including in KPN in the Netherlands. Is it not interesting to see how these Telco’s seem to cross pollinate? This raises an issue that many people forget. If we consider the Vodafone class action, and if we consider the reasons of bad connections, then what is going on? Our little Island has 20 million people, which is less than a third of the active Japanese mobile phone users. So why are our connections failing (I am only considering the large cities)? It is clearly not about technology, but about infrastructure and implementation (in my humble view). Yes, we should not forget costing here either, as it all costs money, but consider the income in India and Japan, consider the amount of users. NTT ended up with a net income (after expenses and licenses) of roughly 5 billion dollar last year, which is almost 12% of the total revenue. So we see three things.

1. A ROI of 12% is not that bad.
2. Several nations are competing against giants with means we cannot fathom.
3. All of them seem to be writing off ‘losses’ on massive levels.

Is this about losses, about write offs or about something that is not here?

I reckon it is mostly about the not being there bit. When we look at incomes then we see that the Vodafone Europe CEO (Vittorio Colao) made 2.2 million Euro, whilst David Thodey, CEO of Telstra makes a mere 7 million dollars. So, yes they make decent coin, yet nothing more a mere mid-level banker is likely to get as an annual bonus, so the money is not draining away in that direction either.

No, I personally see the issues as a side effect of devaluation of technology. This is a side that has been ignored by most members of the public from 1997 onwards. You see, technology providers saw the benefit of the armistice race and went the same way. Every year we see a PC, laptop or tablet that is better, faster and newer, but how much faster? The impact with computers is not that big as it hits the individual. They deal with slightly larger programs, and that is pretty much it. Your text file is not that much larger. If you consider a 3000 word document, then that file remained relatively the same over the last 10 years. For electronic devices like TV’s it is also the same. We get the same signal and beyond that it only looks nicer, all this did not impact the provider.

With telecom it’s a different cattle of fish (pun intended). When we upgrade our phones we also attach to that an almost exponential growth of data needs, as such as Apple sold around 25 million mobile phones per quarter, we see that the need for an almost exponential growth of infrastructure is needed (a lesson Vodafone is learning the hard way). Even as the large Telco’s are installing the need for hardware on a continuing base, and as we see the replacement of equipment, we see that the life time of current facilitating hardware is likely less than 40% of its actual life cycle. It is either that of build more places with facilitating equipment, with a connected drain of ‘revenue left’ as well. The last level is one that is not that apparent at present, but will hit Telco company values on a massive scale soon enough. This side can be read at http://www.globallegalpost.com/blogs/global-view/registered-patents-devalued-by-outdated-ip-laws-6786253. Considering the issues at play, then the assets of Telco companies are about (read 2-4 years) to hit a certain basement value. I reckon that there will be consequences down the road. In my view it will be that the truly big boys will continue, the smaller packs will no longer be able to compete in a field where they will get charged for services needed and then some.

What is the solution? Not sure, it is in the end a business answer. Yet, voicing a 1.2 billion loss a year cannot be that good for the ego, and as the amount of players increase, these levels of ‘bad’ news will continue. It will not hit your taxes, but consider that services falter, where will you run to when your mobile phone leaves you with the message ‘searching…’ from your provider?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under IT, Law