iPhone 4S and Siri makes big dent in Android sales

Apple with iPhone (running iOS) is the highly vertically integrated establishment that brings just a few types of smartphones to market. Google’s Android is the establishment that works with multiple handset manufacturers to bring an unending list of smartphones to market. In the last year or so, Android phones have become very popular and sometimes even outselling iPhones 2 to 1. However, with the recent introduction of the iPhone 4S and the Siri voice control service, iPhone sales are now neck-to-neck with Android sales, indicating how powerful the iOS 5.0 operating system and the Siri voice command application have become.

According to NPD, iOS devices account for 43 out of every 100 device sales and increasing, while Android devices account for only 47 out of 100 device sales and decreasing.

And this is only data from October/November 2011, a mere few months since the iPhone 4S was launched. The jump in sales-shareof iOS for September, October and November 2011 is astonishing.

Smartphone Sales Share iOS Android 2011-12
Source: NPD

By December and Christmas time, I fully expect iPhone 4S to be outselling Android devices and will probably continue doing so over the next 6 months or till Android comes with a viable competitor to Siri.

The battle for smartphone dominance between Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android continues.


Top devices for watching Video

The Broadband Revolution of the last 15 years was supposed to forever change our media consumption habits. The arrival of mobile or portable form-factors that facilitate viewing video was going to cement that. Broadband has penetrated more than half the population (54 percent of the population has an active mobile broadband subscription in the US, according to the September 2011 Bandwidth Report.

Yet, when it comes to video, the statistics show a different picture (no pun intended) – TV sets are still at the core of our video viewing experience.

The following graph [source: Parks Research] shows the frequency of video consumption by TV, Computer, Tablet or Smartphone. Clearly, people still watch a lot more video on the TV set than on any other form (and more than all of Computer, Tablet, and Smartphone combined). That means, despite all the hoopla about Internet Video and Netflix Streaming and all that, people in the USA still watch more television on a TV-set than on a computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

source: Parks Research

Looks like most people prefer to watch video on that big screen TV rather than on the small viewing area of a computer, laptop, Tablet, or smartphone!!!

3G Tablets losing out to WiFi Tablets

Recently the NPD group reported that 65% of tablet users have a Wi-Fi tablet (as opposed to a cellular tablet). This couldn’t be music to the cellular carriers’ ears.

Here are some reasons why WiFi tablet Sales far outstrip Cellular Tablet sales:

  • The High Cost of cellular data plans & lock-in
  • Availability of Wi-Fi in the majority of locations where tablets are used, providing ‘good enough’ Internet access.
  • The vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, so one could use a Mobile Hotspot instead.
  • There are also many more tablets hitting the market that do not provide cellular connectivity, such as the Kindle Fire.

At the same time, AT&T reports that the majority of Tablet customers purchase a cellular tablet with 3G connectivity

source: NPD group

This is significant, given that AT&T apparently has 70% of the tablet market share among the top U.S. Wireless Carriers.

Source: NPD Group

However, all this means is that the carriers just haven’t figured out a way to effectively sell WiFi enabled tablets.
Then again, if you’re buying a Wi-Fi tablet, there’s hardly a reason to buy from a cellular carrier.

The Tablet market will continue to boom – Android still behind Apple

According to Gartner, worldwide tablet sales will skyrocket to 326 million units. Apple or iOS will still lead the way, followed by an up and coming Android OS tablets. The following chart shows the leading OSs, namely, iOS, Android, Microsoft, and QNX

The following table shows the forecast for all major (and minor) OSs.

Table 1 Worldwide Tablet Sales to End Users by OS
OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
Android 2,512,000 11,020,000 22,875,000 116,444,000
iOS 14,685,000 46,697,000 69,025,000 148,674,000
Microsoft 0 0 4,348,000 34,435,000
QNX 0 3,016,000 6,274,000 26,123,000
MeeGo 179,000 476,000 490,000 197,000
WebOS 0 2,053,000 0 0
Other OS 235,000 375,000 467,000 431,000
Total Market 17,610,000 63,637,000 103,479,000 326,304,000

An afterlife for smartphones

Smartphones are clearly becoming a commonplace phenomenon. In the USA, smart-phones now comprise more than 20% of all cellular phones, and this number is expected to rise to more than 40% in a few years.

What’s most interesting about smartphones is that, unlike feature phones, smartphones can have a useful second life.

Continue reading An afterlife for smartphones

Vonage watch out! T-Mobile Extends Cellphone Service to Home Phones


T-Mobile USA has launched a wired phone service for $10 a month, plus taxes and fees, to its wireless subscribers in the Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth areas. The service, called “Talk Forever Home Phone”, comes with unlimited local and domestic long distance calls. This is a VoIP service that runs over a broadband connection, and in that sense, it is similar to VoIP offerings from the likes of Vonage. Talk Forever Home Phone will likely be available nationally in a few months. It works via a special Wi-Fi wireless router that you must buy, with a two-year contract, for a $50 one-time fee . The router has two phone jacks to connect 2 standard corded or cordless phones.

Continue reading Vonage watch out! T-Mobile Extends Cellphone Service to Home Phones

Will Amazon Kindle a better MVNO model?

amazon_kindle.jpgThe Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) business in the U.S. is hardly making any headlines these days. That’s because some of the biggest MVNO’s have lately kicked the bucket. First, there was Amp’d Mobile where the management engineered a spectacular demise by burning cash and providing service to those who didn’t pay (a cellular sub-prime gamble of sorts). Then there is ESPN Mobile, which bit the dust after several agonizing months of trying to sell a high priced sports-oriented offer that not even loyal fans would bite. These are just two examples that sealed the fate (see related article on Why U.S. MVNO’s will find it hard to survive) of the traditional MVNO model. However, all hope is not lost. The MVNO business can still be successful – for the right innovator.

In steps Amazon into the picture. Amazon has shown time and again that they can come up with a feasible business model or two that users find compelling and easy to use. For example, Amazon revolutionized selling books online and then made is super easy with features such as 1-click checkout. Then there’s that elastic computing cloud, which I think has a lot of potential.

And now, Amazon has come up with its next innovation – an electronic book reader called Kindle that sells for $399 and makes it easy to read and easy to download e-books anywhere, anytime. Kindle can view, select, purchase, and download electronic books over a high-speed cellular network. Users can also purchase a newspaper or subscribe to daily newspapers, magazines, and blogs for a monthly fee. Newspapers are delivered overnight and blogs are updated several times a day.

Amazon isn’t the first to sell an electronic book reader, but its the first to have an electronic book with the following features:

  1. Easy-on-the-eyes E-Ink. The Kindle, like the Sony Reader, has an electrophoretic display from E-Ink that is designed to look like paper. An LCD screen, a popular choice for e-readers and smartphones, causes more eyestrain.
  2. Download e-books anytime, anywhere using a wireless broadband speeds (no need to look for a hotspot)
  3. No need for a wireless subscription (no contracts, no bills, no worries)

What’s interesting here is that there is no wireless/cellular subscription required. Imagine a wireless device that can connect to a high speed cellular network but doesn’t need a subscription? This is just what Amazon has done and perhaps may have opened up a whole new use for mobile data networks. This contrasts in many ways with the iPhone, which requires a cellular contract, a subscription to cellular Broadband service called EDGE, but doesn’t even allow wireless downloading of songs (except via WiFi hot-spots).

The Kindle operates on Sprint Nextel’s 3G cellular network. But user will not see a bill for wireless service – it’s included in the price of the content. The Kindle is “always-on”, that is always connected to Sprint’s 3G EV-DO network (slides down to the slower 1x network when EV-DO is not available). Interestingly, since Sprint EV-DO network was recently upgraded to Rev A, where users typically get download speeds of about 800 Kbytes, e-books should download quickly. My guess is that the device will not roaming on other networks. Users can also turn the radio off, which will come in handy in airplanes, and will extend the battery life from about two days to one week.

Users can also “sideload” purchased e-books onto the Kindle. In any case, every book purchased is backed up on Amazon along with any bookmarks or notes added by the user. I know that sometimes devices can go bad, so this is one of the most important features for me. I’ve always wanted the backup feature with iTunes, but I guess Apple sees things very differently, and they also have to grapple with a messed up Digital Rights Management (DRM) system.

E-books cost about $9.99, while newspaper subscriptions start at $5.99 per month. There is a small music player on the device for background music while reading, but Amazon isn’t selling music over EV-DO, so users will have to sideload their own songs. This is not a great choice (perhaps it will be added later), because Verizon Wireless claims that 95% of song downloads from its VCAST music service is over-the-air (and its priced higher than for sideloading)

I think Amazon has another great idea with Kindle. It has already sold out in the first 5.5 hours. This is going to be another great product and a good boost for Wireless Broadband services.

Qualcomm gets a breather in patent fight against Broadcomm and stay on Ban on importing 3G cellular handsets

Qualcomm got a breather now, and so did a number of its key customers. The Ban on the importation of new 3G handsets containing Qualcomm chips is stayed while an appeals court reviews the merits of the case. The United States International Trade Commission had imposed the ban in June as a remedy to its finding that Qualcomm infringed on a Broadcom patent for power management. While this may be buying time for Qualcomm, it is buying a very important time, because wireless service providers such as Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless typically sell a significant portion of handsets in the holiday season starting October.

Besides Qualcomm, handset manufacturers such as Samsung, Motorola, Sanyo, Kyocera, and LG will benefit by being able to sell 3G new handsets (the ban was limited to new models of 3G handsets). Cellular carriers such as Sprint Nextel and to a lesser extent AT&T will benefit. Verizon Wireless Struck a Deal with Broadcom by paying $6 to Broadcom per handset to avoid the ban, so it’s not bound by the ban on importation of 3G handsets (or the stay of the ban). Sprint Nextel was also relying on handsets that had a “workaround” from Qualcomm that avoided using Broadcom’s patent, although Broadcom was expected to challenge the workaround in court.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit believes that the ban would unjustly harm  Qualcomm customers. The stay of the ban is a major psychological boost after the company’s recent setbacks on the patent infringement case with Broadcom. This will give Qualcomm a much needed breather before seeking a complete reversal of the original infringement finding and the ban.

Soon you may be able to access an ATM from your cellular phone

Diebold and NCR Corporation, leading players in the automated teller machines market, are developing technologies to enable cell phones or PDA’s/Smartphones to transact with an ATM. NCR has been developing technology for linking hand-held communications devices with ATMs since 2001. NCR already uses such technology in Denmark and Singapore.

Over the past 18 months, Diebold has won five U.S. patents for applications that enable mobile devices to interact directly with bank ATMs. The patents involve allowing banking consumers to use their mobile devices to locate and get directions to the nearest ATM, order cash withdrawals remotely, generate electronic checks, transmit wireless payments, and generate various other transactions by linking to an ATM. Diebold claims the technology underlying these patents exceed current mobile banking practices, namely online transactions.

One patent allows mobile phones to interact directly with ATMs and bank systems for cash withdrawals, with protection against card-skimming or personal identification number surfing at ATMs. Another patent allows mobiles to work at checkouts or banks to pay payments via secure electronic checks. A third patent allows bank networks to receive wireless communications from mobile phones for account information. The fourth allows bank ATMs to communicate with mobile devices through a cellular network or other wireless methods. The fifth patent allows users to interact with ATMs through the wireless device’s display and keypad instead of the display and keypad on the ATM.

For one, those not comfortable with entering a PIN code in a public place (ATM) can use a mobile device to enter the PIN. Here’s how it works: First, the mobile device user would receive a one-time code, which would then be entered when arriving at a specified ATM. The user could insert an ATM card and the one-time code, and the ATM would then know to complete the transaction.

A study last year found that people in the United States conduct about 8 billion ATM transactions annually. The Dove 2006 ATM Deployer Study shows that ATMs dispense about $600 billion in cash each year. With close to 200 million handsets in use in the United States, it’s easy to see that there may be a significant overlap between ATM users and mobile phone users.

Diebold has estimated such applications will be widely available within three to five years. I doubt anything mainstream in terms of accessing ATMs from mobile phones will happen soon. But, look out for banks to start testing some of these services, mainly out of security concerns.

European iPhone partners to be out soon

When we first talked about Apple going with T-Mobile as the wireless service provider for the iPhone in Germany, it was just a rumor. Now, T-Mobile, the wireless arm of Deutsche Telekom has confirmed that they have had talks with Apple about selling the iPhone in Germany.

Discussion of the iPhone’s arrival in Europe intensified following reports last week about a deal between Apple and mobile phone operators in three key European markets: Germany’s T-Mobile, France’s Orange SA and Britain’s O2 (UK).

Not that a deal has been confirmed, but Apple is expected to announce its German wireless partner soon. The holiday season, where a significant amount of wireless phones are purchased, is just around the corner, so we can expect a deal to be announced within the next 1.5 months.