Archive for May, 2006

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May 5th, 2006

A phone in my ipod?

Why does a wireless iPod have to be a phone? Why does every device with wireless (cellular) connectivity have to be a phone? or data modem in my PC? Why can’t I just have a wireless ipod tied into an existing account and be billed for the airtime? or have it bundled into a $1.25 price point for a song? I’m not the device analyst or music analyst – just the wireless analyst, but I’d love to see some new paradigms besides one phone number = one account = one device that is only available when tied to a two-year contract. Perhaps when the IP infrastructure is in place.

See article from Fierce Mobile Content.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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May 5th, 2006

Voce

Voce – the exclusive MVNO with the $1000 handset and $400/month voice plan finally launched this week. My colleague Joe Laszlo blogged on Voce earlier this year. He covers a lot of good ground in his blog with one of the more important points being that it is difficult to differentiate on quality of voice services. And … who consumes $400 of service per month?

Interesting though, we’ve spoken to a number of MVNO’s. Some claim to be making money with only 10,000 or so subscribers. Others claim to need closer to 500,000. Helio says they have a target of 3,000,000 in about five years. At $1000 up front (but, hey, you don’t have to sign a service contract by paying for at least a year’s worth of service upfront) and $400/month, how many subscribers do they need to be profitable? If a $100/month MVNO needs 500,000, these guys may only need 125,000 subscribers. That said, Paris Hilton carries a Sidekick.

There is a car on the front page of their web site.

One idea that I like that I “think” they do offer, but I couldn’t find it on their web site, is the idea of swapping phones more often than every two years. I like the idea of unlocked cell phones that allow you to carry one phone during the day, one to the gym, one out at night, one for traveling (with email), etc. If I were to sign up for this service, I would like a collection of handsets upfront (at least a couple) so I could swap the SIM card and phones. Oh, and I’d also like to take not only my list of contacts with me from phone to phone, but also all of the content that I’ve purchased, personalized settings, etc.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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May 3rd, 2006

Pepsi Mobile Content

See story from www.MocoNews.net

It’s exciting to see something like this be launched even if it isn’t in the United States. A lot of applications developers, storefront providers, marketers, etc. having been dreaming of such a scenario here in the States. We’ve seen examples online (e.g., SoBe) where online sites – especially CPG sites – are offering mobile content (mostly ringtones and wallpaper) as part of a lifestyle image.

Challenges with carriers have inhibited offering such services in the US to date. Also, consumers here are less savvy when it comes to off deck content. This application is compelling in that once the user has loaded it on to the phone, the advertiser has a means of pushing out messaging and content to the mobile subscriber. Could also be sweepstakes, trivia, coupons, etc. – opportunities to get mobile subscribers to engage with the brand more frequently.

Lots of vendors here in the States waiting this for to happen here – ok, well not waiting, but selling hard to make this happen. Will be interesting to see what brands are strong enough to draw consumers in and whether or not CPG brands can.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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May 2nd, 2006

Helio Launches

Helio launched today. There has been a long string of announcements leading up to the big day, and we are finally here. I’m anxious to get my hands on a device so I can try out some of the new features such as HOT, BEG and GIFT. They appear to be very cool devices with a rich experience built in. There is no doubt that it is one of the richer mobile data experiences on the market.

A lot of the questions I’ve been getting to date really aren’t answerable, but I’ll give it a shot.

Q: Are the handset prices too high?

Probably not for early adopters who tend not to be price sensitive. Vcast handsets also launched in the $200 to $300 price range and they sold a few. They sold a lot more once the price dropped below to the $100 price point in mid-summer 2005. We’ll know when/if the handset price is too high when they drop the price. Most consumers want a less expensive device, but these aren’t the consumers Helio is targeting. I’m more interested to see how long it takes for a more fashionable device from the likes of Nokia, Motorola or Apple to appear in their line up.

Q: Is the service priced too high?

Again, majority of mobile consumers want great coverage plus low priced service for voice and a subsidized handset. This isn’t Helio’s target market. They are hoping for about one percent market share five years out. Comparing pricing for fully loaded data services with video among competitors … anyone buying Helio’s service can rationalize that it’s not too bad … and if they are really heavy users, they may even come out ahead.

One concern … with a small network (i.e., few people) with purchased airtime, in-network calling can’t be free. 1000 minutes with free in-network calling adds up a lot more slowly than if you are being charged to call everyone.

Q; Are there really that many heavy data users out there?

What we do know from our research is that the number is growing quickly – both in terms of adoption and usage. Also, with migrating online experiences to the cell phone (e.g., MySpace, Yahoo! announcements), they are making it easier in that the mobile experiences will be more familiar to their users … hopefully, this will translate into more airtime usage.

Q; Are the carriers worried about the impact of Helio on their business?

They haven’t answered this question for me directly, but I think the answer is “no” at least in the short term. Sure, the carriers want every customer they can get and the ones Helio is targeting are high margin customers. That said, the number of subscribers that Helio is likely to pull in in the next two to three years is relatively small for a carrier like Cingular or Verizon. Also, Helio is not necessarily stealing from Cingular or Sprint – they are also going head-to-head with other high end services such as Voce, ESPN, Amp’ed, etc. I think the carriers will welcome the help in building the market and driving demand from mobile subscribers for more data services.

Verizon and Sprint have likely spent (ok, and I’m not a TV ad analyst, but I do watch prime time)tens if not hundreds of millions introducing mobile subscribers to mobile video, for example. I’ve seen Sprint product placements on 24. I’ve seen Shaq on Vcast. That can’t be cheap. I think that a collective effort to build this market and drive consumer awareness and interest up would be welcome.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless