The bigger picture in Video – courtesy of Microsoft

The latest issue of the New Scientist has an article on applying photo stitching techniques to video streams from cell phones. Using time stamps and object recognition software, Microsoft researchers have developed a technique that can make a single real-time video stream out of many contributory streams. An example of the technique is below. A couple of things I find fascinating.

  1. This could well revolutionize news gathering. The ability to stitch multiple viewpoints into a single whole at major news events could bring a different perspective to what is really happening.
  2. This further extends that old adage “the best camera is the one you have with you”. The smart-phone with all its features is starting to live up to its promise.
  3. It is unique to the Windows Mobile platform. Uniqueness is something that is proving to be very difficult going forward.

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Keep the good times a rolling ~ AT&T and the iPhone

Recently Merrill Lynch published a white paper on how much the iPhone means to AT&T and the potential effect of AT&T losing their monopoly (maybe as early as mid-2010).broken iPod A lot depends, of course, if there is going to be a CDMA version of the iPhone.

Here is a summary of their analysis and comments.

  • approximately 11.5 million iPhone subscribers in the USA (3Q09)
  • iPhone subscribers comprise 18% of AT&T’s postpaid subscribers
  • the iPhone has driven an 8% uplift in gross add share for AT&T
  • the iPhone has taken market share away form AT&T’s base but at much higher ARPU
  • because there is little churn associated with the iPhone, the overall churn numbers for AT&T have decreased.
  • the iPhone has been the primary driver of data ARPU growth for AT&T.

The M/L’s analysis treats the iPhone as the only game in town, but with the success of Android-based phones (G1, G2 and ‘Droid) finally giving Apple a run for its money, this is not the case. While these phones have approximately 15-20% of the market share of the iPhone, they do have momentum and a catalog of applications that is beginning to rival Apple’s if not in quantity at least in quality.

The App/Map Gap Flap

It should come as no surprise that AT&T has taken Verizon to court over their “There’s a map for that” advertisements. The ad is very clever and plays at several levels – the pun on the Apple ad for the iPhone ‘there is an app for that’ as well as AT&T’s well known capacity issues for data delivery.  There seems to be a general consensus that the ads are successful. (see link)

AT&T recently lost the first round (see link) but has said it will appeal. AT&T’s lawyers will will have to do a lot better than its weak rebuttal ad (link).

What I find interesting in all of this, is how Verizon has turned the discussion from quantity of applications to quality of experience. It may be that the reign of the app was very short lived and a broad application catalog is no longer a differentiator but a necessity.

Verizon has a lot to thank T-Mobile for as it essentially picked up T-Mobile’s marketplace catalog and made it available to its own android phones.

iPhone vs Droid ~ more to the story

With the release of the Motorola ‘Droid’ phone running the Android 2.0 operating system, there has been much talk and chatter on whether this is the long anticipated “iPhone killer”. It could well be, there are a number of impressive features on the Droid such as multi-tasking that are not available on the iPhone. That said, in the long run I think the feature that will make the most difference is the operating system itself.

For the first time, I can as a T-Mobile subscriber with a G1 phone make recommendations on ‘good applications’ to a Verizon subscriber with a Droid phone. The application catalog is no longer tethered to the mobile phone operator. It is the realization of develop once and run on multiple networks (in this case GSM and CDMA).

Droid Phone


2009 Mobile Trends

Came across a comprehensive presentation by Morgan Stanley on Economy & Internet Trends given at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco. To give credit where it is due, I came across the presentation through my participation in the TelcoSphere group on LinkedIn.

The presentation is in two parts, the state of the economy (improving but not out of the woods yet) and a section on Internet Trends.

  1. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think.
  2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near-Term.
  3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.
  4. Mobile in Japan + Desktop Internet Provide Roadmaps for Mobile Growth + Monetization.
  5. 3G Adoption / Trends Vary By Geography.
  6. Carriers in USA / Western Europe Face Surging Network Demand But Uncertain Economics.
  7. Regulators Can Help Advance / Slow Mobile Internet Evolution.
  8. Mobile-Related Share Shifts Will Create / Destroy Material Shareholder Wealth.

There are several excellent graphs that support Morgan Stanley’s position such as this on devices participating in the mobile internet.MorganStanley devices

Couple of points that I picked up from the presentation.

  • The collapse of carrier portals (example used is the UK where the percentage of subscribers accessing a carrier portal went from 57% in 2007 to 22% in 2008). page 46
    It is critical that mobile carriers address this otherwise they will become dumb pipes.
  • Japan represents the future of mobile commerce. The world today (excluding Japan) looks very similar to Japan in 2000. Since then eCommerce, paid applications and advertising have grown from 14% to 33% of a much larger revenue pie. page 49
    I am not so sure about this as I think culture is a big factor in adoption not just technology.
  • Users have a significantly greater propensity to pay when using mobile access compared to desktop (broadband). pages 51-52
    True, but there a lot of free applications and more each day.
  • Due in great part to the iPhone AT&T has seen an almost 5,000% rise in data traffic in the three years up to 2nd Qtr 2009. Yet 42% of iPhone usage happens on Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi may turn out to be the answer for the carrier’s capacity issues. pages 57-58
    This was quite surprising to me, I expected some Wi-Fi usage but 42% is significant.

“Police officers are not delicate flowers.”

Wonderful post from about the cultural difficulties of rolling out new technology, in this case the deployment of 40,000 plus smart phones, such as Blackberrys, to the British Police. Even dixon-of-dock-green though the benefits are easy for everyone to see, basically more time on the beat and less in station, rolling out the innovation has not been easy.

"This is not really a technology project," Hitch added. "The technology is there and in many ways that’s the easy bit – what this is is a people project. This is about cultural change. This is about getting people to work differently. This is about getting people who have never really used a mobile phone for anything other than answering calls and making calls to actually do their day to day job on a small, tiny in some cases, PDA.


"There’s a lot of culture to overcome."

Yet, as a recent survey from  synovate showed, mobile phones are becoming a necessity.

Three quarters of the survey respondents – including 82% of Americans – never leave home without their phones, and 36% of people across the world (42% of Americans) go as far as to say they ‘cannot live without’ their cell phone.

Perhaps more interesting was how the phones were being used. Other than voice and SMS, the most used features were in order

  1. Alarm clock – 67% globally use this regularly / 56% of Americans
  2. Camera – 62% globally / 68% of Americans
  3. Games – 33% globally / 31% of Americans

In terms of services that require 3G.

  • Overall, 17% of respondents use email on their mobile on a regular basis, led by 26% in the US and 25% in the UK.
  • Similarly, an overall 17% use internet browsing, topped by the UK at 31% and the US at 26%.
  • Eleven percent say they social network regularly via mobile, again led by the UK (17%) and the US (15%).

What would Dixon of Dock Green have made of it all?