Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Verizon find out where FCC draws the line...

Today it was reported that Verizon settled with the FCC for having blocked tethering apps on Android devices that circumvented the Verizon pricing plan and essentially provided tethering for free.

This is of course good news for users of these Apps but also an indication that the FCC is taking its responsibility of monitoring the carriers seriously. It is especially encouraging that the FCC is takes this kind of position on behalf of users but also the tiny outfits that create the apps (in comparison to the giant Verizon).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Microsoft reboot starts October 26th.

Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface tablet will both launch on October 26th, and will be part of the reboot of the company, together with the expected launch of Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia and other manufacturers within the coming months.

The coming launches, in addition to existing Xbox and Kinect products, are part of an attempt to make Microsoft not only relevant again, but give it a shot at claiming bragging-rights as one of the companies at the forefront of innovation. This comes after what has been billed as a lost decade within the company, where Microsoft seemed overrun by competitors as Google, Apple and Facebook.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

NBC got things backwards with Olympics coverage

Starting with the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London, the wrath of the Twittersphere and bloggers started to rain down on NBC which broadcasts (in a loose interpretation of the word) the games in the US.

The complaints have been many but the main grudge have been that NBC no longer broadcast many of the events live, unless you stream them online. In order to be able to do that you also have to have a paid cable/satellite/fiber subscription bundle expensive enough to include a bunch of NBC channels.

A large portion of these complaints can be ascribed to disappointment among people (like myself) who no longer pay for cable and would want everything to be free and preferably without commercial interruptions. But even if you discount those kind of complaints, I think the wave of frustration is a clear sign that NBC have totally misunderstood the role of broadcast TV vs. online streaming.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Entrepreneurs, get over yourself when dealing with investors!

Steli Efti yesterday wrote this great post about how many entrepreneurs get insecure when dealing with investors, even though they in most other circumstances are very confident in their idea and ability to execute. Read it! It is both fun and true.

I would add to Stelis post that this kind of insecurity often expands into a larger problem in the phase leading up to different funding rounds for a startup, where a lot of choices seem impossible or inevitable based on the premise of getting funded. "If we don't sign this deal or hire this person we will not get fundning!"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Two great reads about the experience of Digg founder Kevin Rose

If you are involved in an IT startup, or thinking about launching one, take some time to read these two articles about Digg founder Kevin Rose. The stories and interviews lists some of the experiences of the Digg team from launch to recent sale.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is the fourth curve the next step for carriers?

Chetan Sharma in a great GigaOM pice recently presented the challenge facing the mobile carriers of today as they are facing more and more competition from Over The Top (OTT) players in every possible area they are present in today.

Chetan argues that if carriers are to stay relevant, once the revenues from providing data access will follow the already dwindling voice and messaging revenues, they have to aggressively move into the OTT space themselves. If not, they will either die or become utilities with low margin operations.

While I agree with this conclusion, I think Chetan may be overestimating the probability of success a strategy like this will have for carriers.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rumors of AT&T charges for FaceTime could be another challenge to FCC Net Neutrality regulations

Rumors that AT&T will introduce special charges for users that want to use FaceTime over 3G have surfaced in the last couple of days. The rumors appeared after Apple released its third beta version of iOS6. For beta testers using an AT&T iPhone, a message appeared when they tried to use FaceTime over 3G. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Does special interest legislation like the DC TSE Act make or break budding startups?

Evan Burfield, a prominent member of the DC startup community, yesterday posted a passionate endorsement of the DC Technology Sector Enhancement Act introduced by disgraced former council chairman Kwame R. Brown.

The TSE Act, which in essence is a special interest tax cut on capital gains for angel investors in the district is currently pending before the city council. The goal is to increase angel investment in technology startups in the district by lowering the local tax on such capital gains from 9% to 3%, thereby undercutting neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland.

While I'm not averse to tax cuts in general, and especially not when I'm part of the special interest group (entrepreneurs) who are supposed to benefit from it, I think it important to first establish that this tax cut actually will have any impact at all on the issues it is supposed to solve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CTIA borrows a page from the banking industry playbook

CTIA, the Washington, DC based lobbying organization for the wireless industry, today released a statement where they questioned the FCC authority to regulate the wireless industry on privacy issues. 

The carrier lobbying organization in essence argues that because much of the personal data stored in and communicated by wireless devices reside in or originate in third party applications over which the carriers have little or no control, there should be no regulation at all. Except voluntary commitments by carriers.

How do you attract tech companies or startups to a city or region?

Yesterday I read this interesting blog post by Ken Archer, editor of Greater Greater Washington, about the challenges of attracting tech companies to a city or region through incentives like tax breaks or subsidies.

Ken focuses on the difficulties of defining what really is a tech company in this day and age when most companies appears to have digital strategies. He comes to the conclusion that companies that innovate are the ones that cities, like Washington, DC should focus on attracting.

I think it can be helpful to look at a recent presentation about startups by Steve Blank where he talked about how different startups work. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Change in mobile handset market makes new entry difficult for Jolla

Last week we could read rumors about Nokia drop-outs Jolla, launching new handsets based on the discarded Nokia/Intel MeeGo OS or some kind of Linux derivative. These rumors stoked predictable excitement among people longing for the good old days of Nokia as well as general interest in the tech community. 

But so much have changed in the past few years in the mobile industry which makes success, on a scale larger than a small dedicated community, for new entrants like Jolla increasingly difficult.

There are two major trends that have contributed to this change.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Maybe" from Ballmer means "If Nokia fails"

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was quoted, saying "Look, we'll see what happens" when asked if Microsoft would build their own Windows Phone 8 handsets.

This most likely means that Microsoft is aware of the possibility that Nokia might fail in staging its comeback.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hard times for specialty hardware. iPhones replace hotel phones. What is next?

Yesterday we could read reports about Opus Hotel in Vancouver replacing their guest room phones with iPhones.

I bet that this to many people sounds like a publicity stunt that makes no business sense. I will explain why this makes perfect sense and how it is part of a larger ongoing trend that will radically change the whole specialty hardware industry.

Why Spectrum Planning and Allocation Matters

Cellular-News writes that a recent GSMA/BCG report states that nations across Asia/Pacific can make GDP gains in the range of $1Trillion through 2020 by harmonizing the adoption of LTE in the 700Mhz band.

The report arrives at this figure by calculating the positive effects on economic growth, jobs and businesses in the region. Government spectrum auction revenue appear to play a very small role in total gains.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Another day, another network sharing agreement

Vodafone Ireland and Hutchinson Whampoa (using brand name 3 for their operator in Ireland) are in talks about combining their wireless networks into a joint venture and consolidating the infrastructure to achieve cost savings and better coverage.

This process of operators deciding to share networks have been going on for years, especially in Europe, but have yet to catch on here in the US. Maybe it is time to revisit this issue for the US carriers?

The lost decade at Microsoft.

Vanity Fair has recently released a preview of an upcoming article about the decline of Microsoft. The preview exposes bureaucracy and destructive internal incentive evaluation systems. It also makes me wonder, what is the right level of "order" in a company?