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Francisco Kattan

Insights on the Mobile Ecosystem

Archive for the ‘Telco 2.0’ Category

Dynamic Cell-ID: Clever way to Block Google, but will it Backfire?

Location was once a unique asset for the mobile operators.  You wanted to locate someone?  only the mobile operator could find him/her.   A valuable asset indeed, but as we now know most operators missed their opportunity to monetize it.  Location is now being commoditzed and is available freely on many high end handsets, especially those that support GPS or WIFI.  However Google also offers location based on the operators own base stations, and it does this in an aggregated way, across operators and countries.  This service is available on any handset that supports Cell ID APIs (most smart phones and many Java devices). To be fair, operators still have the advantage of offering location across all devices, however.  In addition, operator APIs are network based and don’t require that software be installed on devices which is an advantage for some applications.

How did Google build this database of operator base stations?

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Written by Francisco Kattan

February 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

My Number 1 Wish for Operators

I just participated in a panel discussion representing developer needs from operators.  The panel was moderated by Alan Qualye who kicked off the panel with the question:

If  you could have one wish to make working with a operator easier, what would that wish be?

Having worked with many developers I have many wishes, but my top wish for operators is simply to LISTEN to developers.  And by this, I mean to really listen, prioritize their requirements, and take action.

Only a year ago operators had a virtual monopoly for distribution of mobile applications and developers had to beg to get on deck.   It was difficult to get on deck, it was expensive to get certified on every handset, revenue share was low, and it was difficult to stay on deck because discovery by consumers was difficult.

But the tables have been turned now.  Competition for developers is at an all-time high.   Handset OEMs, OS players, development tool vendors, social networks, game consoles, operators, infra providers are all luring developers.  In fact, many developer programs have even created multimillion dollar funds to subsidize developers for their platform (such as the $10M Open Screen Project Fund my team and I set up for Adobe with Nokia).

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Written by Francisco Kattan

September 1, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Will Operators Miss the Boat with Payments Too?

I just read that Apple is rumored to be developing a digital payment platorm and this prompted me to post this article about another possible missed opportunity for mobile operators I’ve been thinking about.

For the longest time mobile operators have closely guarded important assets such as their customers’ location, messaging, and billing relationship.   As revenue growth from consumers is slowing, the talk in the industry is that operators should leverage these assets to generate revenue from third parties who value them.  For example, an application developer could incorporate location information to differentiate his application from the 1000’s of other apps in the app stores.   Another application could use text messaging for notifications, and a game developer could charge users on the operator’s bill to upgrade to a new level.

This all makes sense and would enable operators to avoid the same commoditization fate that the internet service providers already suffered.   The problem is that operators are not moving fast enough and these capabilities are now becoming available outside of the operator domain:

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Written by Francisco Kattan

August 6, 2009 at 12:58 am

Is BREW Dead? Lessons learned.

A while ago I attended Fierce’s Mobile Operating System Debate webinar and could not help but notice the dismal future of BREW as a platform for mobile application development.  As illustrated on slide 5 (see presentation from webinar referenced above), iGR found that ZERO percent of existing mobile developers surveyed planned to develop for BREW in the future.  We could debate the specifics of the data in the survey, but it is clear that BREW is losing developer mind share rapidly (while Apple, Google and RIM are all gaining share, as confirmed by iGR’s survey).

To make matters worse,  just yesterday Lowell McAdam, Verizon’s CEO, announced that Verizon (BREW’s biggest supporter) will be putting its weight behind the Java platform as part of its new effort to open its network to application developers.   Could this be the final nail in the coffin for BREW?  It’s not clear, but please voice your opinion via the poll below.  In any case, what is most important is to understand the key lessons learned from the BREW experience:

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Written by Francisco Kattan

June 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm

App store galore – friend or foe for the operators?

Once upon a time operator branded app stores were thought to be doing well.  After all, lots of games, screen savers, and ring tones were being downloaded on mass market feature phones.    Qualcomm bragged about its thriving developer community and Verizon’s Get it Now store was a good case study in the industry.

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Written by Francisco Kattan

April 9, 2009 at 12:41 am