Archive for March, 2011

Will Wireless Giants Kill Mobile Cloud Innovation in the U.S?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Mobile cloud enabled innovation and entrepreneurial activity, vital to U.S growth, is under threat. The concern is how will future mobile cloud services be delivered and by whom?
The wireless landscape is set to change dramatically following AT&T’s $39bn bid to buy T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom. Many people have difficulty understanding why these two companies would even consider merging their operations. It’s because the cost of competing in the mobile cloud industry can amount to billions of dollars and can be a significant drain on cash flow. The trouble that startup Clearwire is having funding the roll-out of its 4G network and at the same time attracting subscribers to its network is evidence of this.
The issue that Clearwire also has is that of being one small player competing against behemoths. Despite having some substantial investors, including Google, Intel and Sprint and several cable companies, Clearwire has struggled. This raises the question about what happens to the other smaller carriers, such as US Cellular, in a world dominated by two giants? Can they afford to provide the types of mobile cloud services that are key enablers for the economic future of the U.S?
If two major players have 70% control of the overall market, and 80% of the smart phone market, it could pose a dangerous situation for the consumer in terms of pricing, contract and usage restrictions. It could also mean that the opportunity for smaller players to grow and offer new innovative and competing services would be more difficult, and potentially even stymied. This concentration of power also raises the broader issue of being able to enforce a net neutrality policy under these circumstances.
An alternative approach that the FCC could consider is encouraging the creation of a shared wireless broadband network that smaller operators could piggy back on, and which could even stimulate a new breed of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). This network could be created with Sprint, a possibility that was originally being explored, and give T-Mobile access to the Clearwire spectrum and a network based on WiMAX. Over time, this network could migrate to the same LTE technology as the other operators. This migration is much simpler than most suppose since vendors of the network equipment have been anticipating it, and WiMAX and LTE have about 85% commonality of technology.
The detractors of this proposal would point out that all three companies have different cellular technologies and that this would be a marriage from hell. The reality is that AT& T, Verizon and Sprint have all operated different technologies simultaneously, including Wi-Fi hotspots. With the exploding growth of data traffic driven by video, network operators need to learn to seamlessly manage layered and multi-technology networks across diverse spectrum holdings. The Sprint /T-Mobile/ Clearwire “ménage à trois” could become a world leader, forcing the industry to focus on this issue, and a role model for encouraging the participation of smaller and more innovative players.
The concept of a shared network requires a clear vision, an open mindset and willing participants. T-Mobile, unfortunately, may not be one of them. After spending $32bn to buy a foothold in the US, and years of mismanagement according to Strand Research, Deutsche Telekom appear almost desperate to exit the venture which is probably why they went for the easy option with AT&T. The irony is that, unless the FCC does something radical, Deutsche Telekom’s decision will result in the U.S wireless industry becoming monopolistic. The landscape will be controlled by two cumbersome power houses and history predicts that this could ultimately hinder the full potential of the mobile cloud; this in turn could inhibit the entrepreneurial and innovative growth that the U.S so desperately needs. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Is mobility a product or feature? Neither-it is an adopted way of life!

Monday, March 21st, 2011
Digital Life Renaisance

Digital Life Renaisance

You may wonder about this question – and more significantly the answer! The fact is that, unless you understand that change is occurring, you and your business are overlooking one of the most fundamental shifts occurring in the global market at this time – one that will radically reshape your industry’s business models.

We exist in an unprecedented emergent age of advancing and converging technologies. The Internet appears set to subsume consumer electronics, broadcast, wireline and wireless communications, enabling seamless “anytime anywhere” experiences.

Convergence of technology is also resulting in overlapping business models, which in turn results in blurring boundaries between traditional industries. We see convergence (and the changes in human behavior that accompany it) as an accelerating trend. Consumers, customers and enterprises are embracing this change; they are interacting and sharing knowledge and experiences with one another in new ways – and in near real-time.

At KeySo Global we have been studying the drastic changes brought about by these convergence technologies and have documented these in a research project we call “Digital Life Renaissance” or DLR.

As this convergence grows, a new capability is beginning to emerge as Internet-based cloud services collide with the 24/7, “always on”, high speed, advanced 3G and 4G wireless networks. This phenomenon is the mobile cloud and it is set to be to the Internet what cellular was to telephony; it will liberate consumers and enhance their everyday lives in ways that most of us could not have conceived a few years ago.

At the heart of the mobile cloud is the concept of online services (information & social networking updates for example) going mobile and offering “anywhere-anyhow-anytime” accessibility and availability. Increasingly, as GPS data and social networking are merging, these services will be personalized by location. As a result, consumers continue to rapidly absorb these services into their lives and adjust their behaviors accordingly. In the future, all lifestyle services will be available via the mobile cloud, addressing the mobile needs of businesses and consumers.

Markets, customers and employees of all companies are being shaped by these changes. The issue is that only a few companies recognize and are doing something about the pace and extent of the changes. At KeySo Global we recognize that traditional tools and methodologies do not adapt well to emerging Digital Life opportunities and threats, and that fresh perspectives and frames of thinking are necessary in order to create the new business and economic models required.

In order for businesses to succeed, it is imperative that a holistic, integrated and interconnected view of Digital Life is at the root of all their future enterprise strategies. Business strategies that are developed, without taking such things as mobility as a life style into consideration, will struggle to win against competition that understands how better to digitally adapt.

Based on our DLR research, we at KeySo Global have developed a process for understanding and addressing these changes utilizing unique tools that we have developed specifically for this purpose. We would be delighted to share our understanding of Digital Life with you and help you define strategies that will enable you to take advantage of these exciting new opportunities. To find out more about our research and capability, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com. Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global LLC

Smart city architects – would Aristotle and Steve Jobs make a good team?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Smart City InforgraphAristotle and Steve Jobs would, I believe, have worked well side by side.

While researching for his book the “Politics”, Aristotle studied the Greek city/state of Polis and questioned why people live together? He concluded that “the city… is a partnership for living well”.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, said “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such he should be above systems and structures, not subordinate to them”. The design philosophy of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes reflects this, enabling simple usage that adapts seamlessly into a person’s lifestyle. Business at Apple has become the “art of life”.

What has this to do with smart cities? About three months ago I wrote a paper about the Internet of Things (IoT) based on an all-day discussion at the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), a Washington based think tank. This paper addresses the challenges associated with this emerging technology, and examines some of the considerations from a government and regulatory perspective.

The paper covers topics such as the state of global collaboration, innovation, government and industry partnerships, infrastructure development, cost and motivational factors that prompt government and industry to pursue and develop these technologies on a global basis. It also touches upon four main areas of concern for society: privacy, control, security and elitism. At the heart of these issues is the principle of double power; that although this technology has the power to greatly enhance the way we live, it also has the opportunity to do significant harm to things we hold dear.

The Internet of Things, along with other Information Communication Technologies (ICT), are key enablers in the future world of smart grids, smart buildings and smart cities. The concept of smart cities has been emerging around the globe; in China it addresses the anticipated 350m people likely to move to urban living in the next 10 years; in other countries smart cities are being developed to take advantage of emerging technologies and to combine new concepts of urban living with better management of scarce resources.

Convergence of technologies has resulted in the creation of vast and ever more complex networks or systems. Within the systems, most attention tends to be paid to the components (IoT, ICT) making them up but really the true value of a complex system lies in the interaction between all the components. Smart cities are an extension of these complex systems and they will languish or flourish based, not on the technology used, but on the interaction facilitated between machine to machine, machine to humans, and humans to humans.

The principles of business as the “art of life” and the city as a “partnership for living well” should guide the holistic systems architecture and integration of IoT and ICT technologies into smart cities of the future. This should ensure that smart cities do not fall prey to the double power issue. More significantly, smart cities should be designed to foster communities of people, linked together through smart networks, which enable partnerships to grow and flourish. As a global community, we should listen to philosophers of the past and embrace practitioners of the present, to encourage the creation of smart cities in which we can live our smart lives to the fullest.

To obtain a copy of our comprehensive report on the “Internet of Things” or to find out how KeySo Global can assist you in taking advantage of Digital Life opportunities, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.

Is iPad off target and Nook Color in the sweet spot?

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Has Barnes and Noble accidentally stumbled upon the sweet spot in the converged space between PCs and smartphones?

Their Nook Color device, with its Android operating system, is a significant step above just being an e-reader but it doesn’t have the pretension or the price of some of the tablets that are due to arrive, or are already, on the market. The device, in addition to providing excellent reading and media experiences, can also act as a storage facility for sharing presentations and other material. I’m a convert! It’s lightweight, easy to use and read and, as I have said before, has instant-on capability, so ideal for the moments when you feel compelled to share that key slide in a quick sales pitch!

A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group implies that Barnes & Noble could have a real winner. BCG’s report, released just before Apple’s announcement of a second generation iPad on Wednesday, finds that the consumer’s growing preference is for multi-use tablets over e-readers but says that the “sweet spot” for pricing will be below $200. The fact that the Nook Color appears to be an enhanced reader and is priced at $249 indicates that it’s very close to that sweet spot.

The ability to access the online bookstore, participate in magazine subscriptions and have special offers focused on reading and leisure interests is supplemented by a growing number of applications that are available on the Android market. The Android application developer community is the secret weapon and truly enhances the value of the Nook Color to its users. According to an Engadget review, Barnes & Noble plans to launch its own Android tablet app store in the first quarter of 2011, providing a consistent, compatible application experience.

Barnes & Noble could also have the upper hand due to the fact that Apple is increasingly leveraging its iTunes store’s quasi-monopoly to extract value from the ecosystem. The most recent announcements of the 30% tax on all media content sold via the store means that the company is penalizing consumers and increasing the total cost of ownership for the iPad experience.

Barnes & Noble, with its existing books, magazine and media distribution capability, is in a strong position to offer a compelling and competitively priced reading and entertainment experience on a device that also provides Internet access and a wide variety of online applications. Combine this with an opportunity to create an enthusiastic community of users who also like to frequent the bricks and mortar stores for coffee and special offers, and the Nook Color could be the best thing since the invention of the paperback for the publishing, media and bookstore industry.

If you would like to learn how to holistically assess the market place and take advantage of Digital Life opportunities, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.