Posts Tagged ‘mobile’

Keeping Your Eyes and Ears Open

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Given the speed of technology advancements it is imperative that we all keep our eyes and ears open to new opportunities. In my opinion, there has not been anything as exciting as what we have seen take place in the mobile industry in the last 5 years - both here in the U.S. and abroad.

From a prepaid perspective, 2009 has to be the most impressive year yet. It was in early January that Boost Mobile introduced their $50 unlimited plan and from that point forward the “Prepaid Mobile Price Wars” began. Maisie Ramsay just recently wrote a great article titled “Duking It Out In Prepaid” in Wireless Week on this subject. Beyond the price wars, the introduction of smart phones and the demand for mobile applications have really changed the face of prepaid mobile.

Also in 2009 we have seen an explosion in the number of mobile applications developed, and more importantly paid for and downloaded. While Apple’s iTunes store model has been by far the most successful (2 billion applications downloaded to date), Nokia, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windows have all introduced their application store models in an attempt to gain market share in this space. I foresee the day when having a mobile application for your company is just as important as having a website.

As I leave my hotel room this morning and make the short walk to the San Diego Convention Center to attend CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment my eyes and ears will be open to the many new mobile opportunities that lie ahead for NetworkIP and our customers.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Will MetroPCS and Leap Wireless Merge?

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Gary Kim, editor in chief of IP Business Magazine, shares his thoughts on “the on-again, off-again potential merger between MetroPCS Communications and Leap (Cricket) Wireless” that might be on again.

With Sprint Nextel’s recent buyout of Virgin Mobile and just this past week watching the merger in the UK between Orange and T-Mobile take place, it is no wonder that analysts are talking about MetroPCS and Cricket. Kim makes a great point in his post by suggesting that this price-war between the two carriers can’t be good for either company for an extended period of time. It only makes reasonable business sense that the two carriers will have to make some move in the near future to avoid the “race to zero.”

I for one would applaud a merger between the two companies. Better yet, I’d like to see some smaller regional wireless providers like Pocket Communications and US Cellular included in that merger - that would give the larger carriers a reason to step up their efforts and provide more competitive products in the market.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Prepaid Wireless Providers in Q2 2009

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

It won’t be long before the prepaid wireless providers are reporting their Q3 2009 numbers. Before that happens, I better get these Q2 2009 numbers posted. A BIG thanks to Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOm for doing the grunt work and compiling this data and making it available for all of us to consume.

From these numbers it is evident that Verizon remains on-top (both postpaid and prepaid) in total number of subscribers and it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone after looking at these statistics on why Sprint bought up Virgin Mobile when they did.

What does surprise me is that MetroPCS, even after adding 206,000 new subscribers last quarter and taking some big strides to promote their services & roll out a number of new products and marketing campaigns, has seen their stock prices continue to drop this quarter. Since the beginning of Q3, we have watched their stock price decrease from $12.63 (Jul. 1st) to $8.25 (Sep. 8th).

It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of Q3 2009 plays out for MetroPCS and the other prepaid mobile providers. I have a strong suspicion that we will see these providers focus on data and become much more aggressive with their international calling plans.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Leap Wireless (Cricket), reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $541.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: n/a
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 203,000
Total Subscribers: 4.5 million
Prepaid Churn: 4.4%
Prepaid ARPU: $41.91

MetroPCS, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $859.6 million
Wireless Operating Income: $111 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 206,000
Total Subscribers: 6.3 million
Prepaid Churn: 5.8%
Prepaid ARPU: $40.52

T-Mobile, reported Aug. 6
Wireless Service Revenue: $5.34 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $425 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 268,000
Total Subscribers: 33.5 million
Blended Churn: 3.1%
Postpaid ARPU: $48

Sprint, reported Jul. 29
Wireless Revenue: $7 billion
Wireless Operating Loss: $314 million
Wireless Data Revenue: n/a
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 777,000
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 991,000
Total Subscribers: 48.8 million
Postpaid Churn: 2.05%
Prepaid Churn: 6.38%
Postpaid ARPU: $56
Prepaid ARPU: $34

Verizon, reported Jul. 27
Wireless Revenue: $15.5 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $4.46 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.9 billion
Net Prepaid & Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.1 million
Total Subscribers: 87.7 million
Postpaid Churn: 1.01%
Postpaid ARPU: $51.10

AT&T, reported Jul. 23
Wireless Revenue: $13.25 billion
Wireless Operating Income: $3.2 billion
Wireless Data Revenue: $3.4 billion
Net Postpaid Subscriber Additions: 1.2 million
Net Prepaid Subscriber Additions: 200,000
Blended Churn: 1.49%

How to Find Us at the Prepaid Press Expo

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

We wouldn’t be the Gladiators of Prepaid if we just sat back and kept quiet. If you are coming to the Prepaid Press Expo this year you’ll have a number of opportunities to meet NetworkIP.

You’ll always be able to find one of us at booth 323 from sunrise to sunset this Tuesday – Thursday. We also have a number of speaking engagements planned throughout the duration of this year’s event.

Our CEO, Pete Pattullo will appear twice on Tuesday. First at 10:00 AM, Pete will talk about “Prepaid Virtual Operators – Turnkey Hosted Solutions for Card Providers.” Then later in the afternoon at 1:30 PM Pete will talk about “New Developments in Prepaid Technology – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, Nichole Janner, our VP of Prepaid Services & I (Brian Kirk), VP of Business Development will have show floor presentations. Nichole is keeping her presentation under wraps for now. I’ll be talking about the Prepaid Mobile Space and providing insight on what has occurred in just the past 6-months and how the prepaid calling card industry can best leverage the prepaid mobile space.

If your tied up during the day, then you still have a chance to catch up with one of us from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on Wednesday during the Gladiators of Prepaid Happy Hour Lounge at booth 512 – 514 which we are sponsoring.

We look forward to meeting you at the show.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Remaining Optimistic About CTIA ‘09

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The annual CTIA conference kicked off in Las Vegas earlier today. Due to a conflict I was unable to make it for opening day, however, I’ll be on the conference floor both Thursday and Friday of this week.

According to today’s press releases about the show’s attendance more than 1,000 folks have registered to attend this event. Of the many wireless/mobile conferences in the U.S., I highly recommend you check out CTIA in the future if you have never attended before.

I first went to CTIA in 2007 when we were in our early stages of developing our Text-to-Talk products. My focus when attending CTIA that first time was to meet with all the major Short Messaging Service Center (SMSC) providers like Click-a-Tell, Sybase 365, VeriSign, etc. in order to establish SMS Points of Presence in the different countries we were targeting for these products.

While at the 2007 CTIA conference, I couldn’t help but be distracted by what was then a plethora of new mobile technologies. I’m referring to smart phones, mobile TV, voice-mail to text services, GPS, etc. Now, only two years later, we have 3G technologies, 4G and LTE networks are being engineered, and the end-all be-all game changer the Apple iPhone now exists and in my opinion is the ultimate Unified Communication tool for the consumer.

Given the poor economic climate we are currently in, the telecom industry has been no stranger to numerous layoffs, cutbacks, and even some Chapter 11s. So, as I prepare for CTIA tomorrow I’m trying to remain optimistic about the new technologies and services that the mobile operators and MVNOs will unveil. I suspect this industry to be focused more on providing value and savings to the consumer versus new and innovative services. In recent months numerous MVNOs have begun offering unlimited calling plans and they are in a fast paced race to gain market share. Reducing customer churn is also high on the priority list for all mobile operators and MVNOs right now.

In late February ‘09, Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOM assembled a Wireless Scorecard based on Q4 ’08 statistics from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. Based on Stacey’s breakdown she concludes that cheap rate plans win and that the iPhone is helping to keep AT&T running strong. To note, these numbers were released just prior to Sprint and T-Mobile releasing their $50 unlimited prepaid plans so this year’s Q1 numbers should answer whether those plans proved successful or not.

Tomorrow I’ll have a better since of what’s happening and how the carriers are responding. I remain optimistic and look forward to CTIA ’09 along with the other 1,000 attendees that I’ll be sharing the conference floor with.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

Meet In the Middle and Transact

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

An article this morning on mobile commerce - “Survey Says: Retailers Need to Go Mobile” - referenced a recent survey conducted by Foresee Results that reported nearly a third of online shoppers said they used their mobile phone as part of their regular shopping trip.  Whether used for calling or texting a friend for advice prior to making a purchase, or for taking a picture of a product with their mobile phone and sending it to themselves to look at it later from home, the mobile phone has become an important tool that consumers use when making purchase decisions. The article went on to explain the need for brick-and-mortar retailers to consider developing and offering mobile applications to their customers in hopes of increasing their sales numbers.

The article concluded by asking its readers, “How else do you think brick-and-mortar retailers could appeal to mobile-enabled shoppers?”

I’m a huge fan of mobile applications and I use my mobile for anything and everything that I can.

At NetworkIP and Jaduka, we have long envisaged that consumers who buy products and services at brick-and-mortar retail outlets will migrate to buying through their mobile phones and hand-held devices. That’s why NetworkIP and Jaduka have deployed a robust, global transaction processing platform that brands can use to engage with their customers both online and offline.

Our platform affords consumers four unique options for purchasing product, activating products, and even renewing existing product subscriptions: via the web, through traditional voice applications (using both automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions and traditional customer service), through mobile devices and via over 500,000 retail outlets equipped with Point of Sale (POS) capabilities.

Hunter Newby of Internet Telephony Magazine described our platform as “a virtual real estate for a giant digital Wal-Mart!…an IP version of a free-trade zone allowing multiple parties to virtually meet in the middle and transact.”

We agree, and the future, is, indeed, exciting!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Mobile Money Transfer From Around the World

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The last day of MMT08 was focused on the true landscape of the mobile money transfer market & offered insight on how to succeed in this emerging market. As conference delegates, we had an opportunity to directly interface with the CEOs of many of the companies who have already deployed MTT solutions. The list of CEOs & their companies included Michael Joseph of Safaricom, Karim Khoja of Roshan, Brian Richardson of Wizzit, & Carol Realini of Obopay who have all had their own unique experiences developing & deploying MMT solutions.

Of the four CEOs that offered their insights, Carol Realini of Obopay is the only one whose company is experienced with deploying a MMT solution in the States. I understood Realini’s description of the MMT market in the U.S. very well which today is primarily made up of unbanked & underbanked immigrant workers & teenagers. For those teenagers that are adopting Obopay’s MMT solution it is more about convenience than anything else & since teenagers trust almost any application available on their phone it’s no wonder that this market is one of the first to adopt Obopay’s solution. In the States the MMT market is also being utilized by working immigrants because MMT offers them both a convenient & more importantly a cost saving option compared to traditional means of transferring money such as Western Union & MoneyGram.

Banks, Point of Sale (POS), eCommerce solutions, etc. are readily available in the States. In other countries, these solutions are practically nonexistent. What is readily available in these other countries with undeveloped baking & payment solutions are cell phones & because of this reason MMT is taking off!

Brian Richardson, CEO of Wizzit, did a beautiful job of describing the undeveloped market his company is working hard to serve in Africa where less than 4% of the population is banked. Richardson gave an uplifting & passionate presentation about the opportunity that exists in Africa & why his company is taking an innovative approach of bringing the banks to the unbanked; not the other way around. Richardson asked the audience of the conference to consider giving up all bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, Internet banking, etc. The question was followed by an uncomfortable silence while we all pondered the difficulties that this would present in our lives & what the unbanked population deals with on a daily basis.

The current situation in Africa does not nurture a system for banking. Banking fees are high, the banks are open for short periods of time (9am - 3:30pm), banking services are poor, & the banks are an average of 30 kilometers (18 miles) from where most Africans live. Cash is an expensive, dangerous, & an inconvenient option, but despite the inconvenience & danger cash presents it is still a better option than banking at a conventional bank in Africa.

It was evident from beginning to end that Richardson possess real passion & excitement for this industry & to succeed in any business passion & excitement are key. Just as we at NetworkIP through our own passion & excitement have brought affordable & quality telecommunication services to the unbanked & underbanked here in the States, I hope that Wizzit will succeed in empowering those in Africa with a banking solution using MMT.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Why All The Hype With Cloud Computing?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Believe it or not, I like Wiki’s definition of Cloud Computing the best. Wiki defines Cloud Computing as a general concept that incorporates Software as a Service (SaaS), Data as a Service (DaaS), Web 2.0 & other recent, well-known technology trends, in which the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users.

The best example of Cloud Computing that comes to mind & the ones I use most often are Google’s Mail, Talk, & Doc Applications. Why do I use these applications instead of similar applications already installed on my PC? The answer is simple, these Cloud Computing tools allow me to access my e-mail, message with colleagues, & edit documents, spreadsheets, & presentations regardless of the PC I’m using & the city/state/country I am in. Simple said, they offer me a convenient solution to communicate & work that doesn’t involve me taking my PC everywhere that I go.

When Amazon officially released their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) earlier this year many companies (especially start-up companies that had yet to invest millions of dollars into their IT infrastructure) jumped on board. EC2 offered far more than a hosting solution. EC2 gave companies & software developers access to all the computing power they needed to run their applications at a cost far below what it would cost to procure & maintain the computing power on premise. To note, EC2 is just another piece of Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) offering.

Even with Google & Amazon’s play in the cloud, few were treating Cloud Computing as a mainstream approach to IT. Following Microsoft’s announcement of Azure, its long-anticipated Cloud Computing strategy, earlier this week at their Professional Development Conference I believe that Cloud Computing will become more mainstream. While many reports from Microsoft’s conference suggested that the news largely unfazed show attendees; I think this news will rattle the cages of Google, Amazon, & will awake the “regular” PC users who will think that it is cool that they can now work on their Word documents for work at home without having to take their work PC home.

Microsoft’s dominance in productivity software — Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, & Excel — remains strong, with market share based on revenue of at least 95%, according to data released in late 2007 by research firm International Data Corporation. Google Docs & Spreadsheets & even OpenOffice, which is an open source suite of tools that users can download for free, will continue to chip away at Microsoft’s market share, but the reality is that they still have a very long way to go before Microsoft will become scared. With Microsoft now making their Office suite more accessible, they are positioning themselves to maintain control of their existing user base that may otherwise eventually migrate to online tools because of their convenience factor.

Along with the online convenience factor I think this move to Cloud Computing also shows Microsoft’s realization that more users are beginning to user their mobile phone to write & edit documents, spreadsheets, & presentations. When doing such work from a mobile phone it makes more since for a user to manage their files in the cloud & use software that is also accessible to them in the cloud. Just this Monday, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about how the mobile phone looks to be replacing the laptop. There is so much truth to this article & Cloud Computing is going to make this shift to mobile even easier for the consumer.

The hype about Cloud Computing is this. Businesses will turn to the Cloud mostly because the costs & resources to manage a large IT infrastructure far exceed the costs to make use of the Cloud. Software developers will turn to the Cloud because they can quickly obtain the environment needed to develop & deliver their applications. The “regular” PC users will turn to the Cloud for applications because of convenience & because the Cloud supports their applications for use on their mobile phone.

At NetworkIP & Jaduka we will continue to support the advancement of Cloud Computing by making both our telephony infrastructure & transaction processing engine available to the masses.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Contactless Payments Gain Momentum

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Next week the 2008 CARTES & IDentification conference kicks off in Paris, France. CARTES is the world leading show for banking technologies & eTransactions & this year they are giving special attention to mobile & contactless payment solutions. This year’s event should be quite exciting for all involved given the high number of mobile & contactless payment solutions that have deployed in many countries & that went into prototype here in the United States.

We’ve been following the contactless payment industry for almost two years now & we continue to see an abundance of new contactless solutions develop. Combine contactless solutions to what has emerged in the mobile space these past 18-months with the introduction of smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone & I can assure you that contactless mobile solutions are closer in sight than many predicted.

Just last month, Juniper Research published a study titled, “Mobile Payment Markets: Contactless NFC 2008-2013”. Key points from this report include:

- By 2013, the global mobile subscribers with NFC phones will reach 700 million
- FeliCa-enabled phones riding on Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, & SoftBank’s network dominate this market. Juniper estimates that roughly 50 million FeliCa NFC enabled phones have shipped to date.
- Juniper predicts that North America, Western Europe, & the Far East & China will be the dominate regions by 2013.

This Juniper study also reiterated some of my own concerns about the roadblocks that currently exist in this Near Field Communications (NFC) mobile market. The first & most obvious concern stated by Juniper was the lack of NFC phones on the market. The report also pointed to the lack of NFC readers installed at merchant locations as the second roadblock. An additional concern that I have is that consumers & merchants have yet to be properly educated on how NFC works. I dialogue with a number of smart & tech savvy people each day & I’ve realized that NFC is still an unknown technology. To my surprise, some of the people I dialogue with aren’t even familiar with the term NFC.

Hence the reason I am so delighted when I read reports that indicate that NFC trials here in the U.S. continue to show progress. One of the best examples & one that got a lot of attention was the NFC trial conducted with riders of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in San Francisco. For four months (January 28 – May 30, 2008), BART riders were provided NFC equipped phones to pay for their transportation costs. These same NFC enabled phones allowed participants taking part in the trial to make payments at participating Jack in the Box restaurants & to download directions from NFC enabled posters inside BART terminals. Full results from the NFC trial with BART can be viewed in this Yahoo Finance article.

As more NFC trials are conducted here in the U.S., NFC will gain adoption by consumers. Retailers are already beginning to acknowledge the benefits associated with NFC payments & are favoring them over traditional Point of Sale (POS) swipe solutions.

I suspect as next week’s CARTES & IDentification show gets underway, we will see a growing number of devices & articles pointing to the market that exists for contactless mobile payment solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Phones offer More Than Just Voice

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Almost every day someone presents a new idea or use for mobile phones. The size of the mobile market has become so vast that it is increasingly more difficult to identify those mobile business ideas that will work & those that won’t. In the last 12 months the mobile space has opened up new business verticals that few would have ever imagined.

The mobile space is still relatively young. It was only 25 years ago (October 13, 1983) yesterday that Bob Barnett, President of Ameritech Mobile Communications (what is now AT&T Inc. & Verizon Wireless), made the nation’s first commercial cell phone connection from Chicago’s Soldier Field.

When Barnett made that first commercial cell phone connection he used a Motorola DynaTAC handset that weighed 2 1/2 pounds & retailed for $3,995 USD. Fast forward to 2008 when most mobile phones weigh less than 1/2 a pound, they retail for around $50 USD, & even the most basic mobile phones offer address books, calendars, games, text messaging, music players, & cameras.

Just three weeks ago I read an article in the Canadian Press describing how a new Japanese mobile phone built by Sharp Corp. will be used in place of a traditional car key. This new phone uses a technology developed by Nissan Motor Co. called “Intelligent Key”. As reported by the Canadian Press, “Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.” NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile operator, will provide the mobile network that this new service will run on.

It isn’t a surprise to me that a Japanese company is the first to introduce this type of technology. The mobile phones available in Japan are some of the most sophisticated in the world. Most of the mobile phones you will find in Japan come standard with digital TV, music players, Global Positioning Service (GPS), & cameras that double as barcode scanners & wireless credit cards.

The mobile phone is no longer a device for business men & women or the elite. The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous device for all income levels & demographics around the world.

Today, the mobile industry is nearly a $150-billion-a-year industry. As data speeds continue to increase & mCommerce solutions gain popularity the mobile industry will only continue to grow.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka