Monday, June 27, 2011

Open Mobile Summit London -June 27th

By Robert Kempf

The hope for the 3rd ecosystem and partnering for success.

This year’s Open Mobile Summit in London at June 10th was an exciting event with a great line-up of executives from the mobile devices, operator, publishing, banking and content industry. It was again all about the very dynamic changes in the value chain and the implications on monetization points and strategies.

With companies who made a winning bet given the changing industry dynamics, through emerging players trying to find their spot and highly challenged established players a broad range of different perspectives were given. Some of the highlights and trends are summarized below:

Operators: success through partnering. Though there is still high focus on a branded service experience, leveraging and customizing existing solutions including the content is seen as the most promising route forward. This partnering model will allow for a better risk and reward model creating a win:win for operators and service/content providers and will at the same time increase the ability to not only act as a bit pipe for operators .

Nokia: It is all about creating the 3rd ecosystem. Stephen Elop was evangelizing that besides Apple and Android, Nokia sees space for a 3rd major ecosystem called Windows Phone. Though the presentation was excellent and all key ingredients for creating a successful ecosystem where addressed, the analyst community present at Open Mobile Summit was quite pessimistic about the success changes given the planned timing for the first phone launches and the trends in the other major ecosystems around Apple and Android. Also the rumors of Nokia being acquired by Microsoft, Samsung or other players was a discussion point again.

Mobile Payment: Mobile wallet is coming. There was no doubt about mobile wallet being now adopted on a larger scale though there were different estimations in terms of adoption rate. With major operators, financial institutions and core technology providers backing and pushing mobile payment using NFC and other technologies the year 2012 is seen as the inflection point of mass adoption.

Multiscreen: Content portability across screens. The evolution of modern user interface and application frameworks, not only limited to Flash technology or HTML5, will make multi-screen experience a commodity in the near futures. Content will not be optimized for a single screen size, but will support all types of screens and form factors. Support of different MMI methodologies for different types of devices and specifics on screen layout to adopt for the multitude of form factors will required education of developers and further invest in the operating systems.

Mobile Advertising: Going to the next level. As for private TV, advertising is and will remain one of the main monetization points in the connected devices space. The key trend is from a rather dumb placement of ads in applications and web to an increasingly tailored and customized approach of placing ads meeting end user demand. Besides preferences, behavior and position also the dimension of time will be used more and more to trigger commerce.

Operating systems: Apple, Android – that’s it? Surprisingly the discussions outside the Apple camp did focus only on Android and there was not much discussion around QNX/RIM, Symbian, WebOS or Windows Phone. OEMs seem to be quite satisfied with the freedom they have with Android based on the panel discussion with SonyEricsson, Motorola and LGE participation. There was no sense of fears in the OEM community that Google will significantly change the Android licensing model or will restrict OEMs in their freedom to differentiate. Also interesting to note that no other rising star in the mobile operating space was identified – so seems Android will be around for some time still.

Applications: Native versus WebApps again. The native versus Web application discussion will be ongoing forever, as there are many pros and cons for both which should lead to the conclusion that both are needed. Also at the Open Mobile Summit the discussions were along these lines. Though HTML5 and other technologies enrich the capabilities for Web applications and extend the number of native applications that can now be implemented as Web applications, there is still a large space for native implementations especially when it comes to performance and security critical use cases. The trend towards WebApps will continue at the cost of native applications, but there is no sign that native apps will go away soon.

Outside of these main trends the Angry Birds success story presented by their Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka was an entertaining as well as very insightful experience. Besides the very long way they had to go before coding this number one hit, their ability to monetize on Angry Birds outside the mobile games field got quite some attention. Besides t-shirts and toys we will see other gadgets, comics and animated movies for the Angry Birds fans. So it is all about building and monetizing on a brand…

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NFC Technology all set for take off -June 23rd

By Sonali Mishra

The Near Field Communications (NFC) market is just beginning to gain traction and is set to expand rapidly as more and more firms start to embrace this solution. Ignited by support from key wireless players, such as Nokia, Google and mobile operators, global usage of near field communication (NFC) technology in mobile devices is expected to begin an explosive growth phase.

NFC In the Real World- Moving Beyond Payments
Now the question arises what use cases can this technology provide us beyond payments? NFC , puts a chip in devices, like cell phones, that makes it possible to, not only use your phone to make purchases in a store, but ultimately replace a lot of other things you normally carry around in your wallet. NFC-enabled phones have the potential to replace the card for getting into your hotel room, your business card, your public transportation (i.e bus, train) card, concert, sports or other event tickets, your boarding pass for getting on a plane.

NFC tags have already reached a price point where it is feasible to print off batches of NFC stickers that enable users to create special ‘short cuts’ that make their lives easier. For example, when a child gets home from school, he or she could touch an NFC sticker just inside the door that sends an ‘I’m home from school’ message to a parent. Older people with poor sight or suffering from arthritis could have NFC stickers containing friends’ and family members’ phone numbers saved on them – these could be stuck to the corners of photographs of these people and, when touched with an NFC-enabled phone, would initiate a phone call to the right person, without the need to look up phone numbers or use the keypad.

Another key use case is setting up secure connections between devices. For example at Google IO there was a demonstration of using NFC for mobile gaming. When one Android device has launched a game if it touches another NFC Android device it will establish a Bluetooth link and launch the game on the second device thus removing a lot of complexity for the user.

Using a peer to peer scenario, NFC can also be used to sync devices, share mobile apps with your friends (e.g gifting the latest must have game) and transfer photos between cameras, smartphones or tablets.

Another key aspect for NFC is speed. Using NFC simplifies data exchange and for payments can significantly reduce waiting times. This aspect alone is likely to be a key driver of consumer adoption in many markets.

NFC-enabled handset shipments to boom, says IHS iSuppli
The decision by three major US wireless carriers to partner with leading credit card companies on a mobile commerce initiative will boost the market for embedded payment technology in cell phones,helping global shipments of handsets with near field communication (NFC) technology to rise to nearly 550 million units by 2015,according to IHS iSuppli. AT&T,Verizon and T-Mobile recently announced that they would work with Visa and MasterCard on their Isis joint venture,which was established to form a nationwide infrastructure for NFC-enabled mobile payments using mobile handsets in the US. The original Isis JV did not include the two largest US credit card companies.

NFC deployment will be service driven, not a technology push
NFC is a broad and complex ecosystem –new services, new opportunities, intersection of multiple industries. Google is working on both ends of the NFC ecosystem. As highlighted above it has already implemented NFc in it’s mobile OS and plans for further use cases to be developed. Payment, P2P sharing, access and ticketing via NFC phones are the first applications; others, especially for consumer electronics, will follow. Building the NFC ecosystem requires cooperation among the stakeholders and that’s the purpose of NFC forum founded by Philips,Nokia and Sony.
UK's four leading mobile networks Orange, O2, T Mobile and Vodafone have announced plans to create a joint venture company that will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments. Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home. In the near future, it is expected that people will start leaving their wallet at home, and in the midterm their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realizing that ambition.

Clearly NFC is just at the beginning of a journey but it will be a journey that further enriches the consumer experience and one that will also quicken the convergence between the mobile, consumer electronics and automotive industries.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Telematics Update – An Exciting Glimpse In To the Future Of In-Car Entertainment -June 13th

By Andrew Till

Last week I attended the Telematics Update Detroit event focused on the latest developments and trends in the automotive market. It was a great place to take the pulse of the market and to see just how quickly the automotive market is now evolving. Here are a few of my key highlights and takeaways from the event:

The pace of change is accelerating rapidly as the industry moves from talking about connected services to implementing them.
The Human Machine Interface (HMI) challenge is significant and will probably be the biggest challenge for companies bring next generation IVI systems to market. The challenge of delivering a wide range of services without overly complicating the user experience is far from trivial.
Bringing applications in to the in car environment will be a major challenge if driver distraction is to be avoided. Expect controlled / managed “wall gardens” for application deployment certainly to the main in-dash display.
The OS landscape will continue to evolve rapidly with GenIVI, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and Windows Auto 7 all seeking to challenge QNX. However it’s clear QNX has no intent of surrendering it’s market lead and is aggressively driving forward with the development of its OS and the implementation of many new innovations (The next generation experience being demonstrated in a very nice Corvette clearly shows that QNX is not being complacent).
Advances in processor technology and the ability to support multiple independent displays will drive a whole new set, of as yet undefined, services in the car.
While Infotainment is important the traditional telematics solutions for Driver Assistance remain highly important for consumers and amongst the most desired feature – certainly according to data presented in the opening keynote by GartnerGroup.
On-Board navigation solutions are likely to experience a revival, if price points can be managed down, if they are fully integrated with other services within the car.
Expect cloud services to also play a key role moving forwards as they will provide a bridge between in car and out of car experiences for consumers.
It was certainly an exciting show and one appears the rapid changes taking place in the industry. It’s not just the technology that is changing but also the development cycles and the structure of the value chain in order to enable greater innovation and faster times to market (for example QNX highlighted an IVI development that had taken little over a year from start to final delivery). With most of the discussion being about model years 2013 and 2014 it certainly appears that within the next 3-4 years the vast majority of cars will be enabled with both connectivity and advanced entertainment options.

So aside from keeping my children happy this should present a compelling and new market opportunity for application and content vendors to further expand their addressable market as well as ISV who will find new opportunities to leverage developments from other industries in to the automotive market especially as the market starts to embrace the concept of rear screens supporting live connected services that are independent from the main in-dash display.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do you know bitcoin? -June 10th

By Markus Gausling

Today’s blog is maybe a little bit off-topic but seems to be a quite interesting topic anyway. Have you ever heard of bitcoin?
Bitcoin is the „first decentralized digital currency“ [2]) which implements a Peer-to-Peer electronic cash system. It was proposed and initially implemented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 ([3]) and was designed as a system which is based on cryptographic proof rather than on trust. As such there is no need for intermediate trusted third parties and as such transactions are free of charge.
A bitcoin itself is a digital coin that is a created by solving complex mathematical issues. Those problems are solved by a network of computers that have the open source bitcoin software installed. You should not expect to be able to generate bitcoins with a standard PC using the bitcoin software.
Newly generated bitcoins are distributed randomly among the contributors of CPU power in the network, depending on how much CPU power and processing time a network node contributed. The amount of bitcoins that is distributed among the contributors is limited and decreases over time which should prevent inflation and furthermore lead to deflation if bitcoins become more popular. In May 2011 more than 6 million bitcoins exist and it is expected that in 2033 the maximum number of bitcoins is generated.
The process of generating bitcoins itself is called “mining”.

Users can have their bitcoins stored on a computer in a “wallet file” or can have them stored at a “wallet service” provided by a 3rd party. The wallet contains a public and a private key which is used to sign the bitcoin and identify who owns the bitcoin. Personal user data are not stored in the bitcoins and as such transactions with bitcoin are anonymous.
A transactions with a bitcoin is executed between two peers (hence P2P) that have the bitcoin software installed. In the process of a transaction the digital signature of the new owner of the bitcoin is added to the bitcoin and the formerly store signature is removed which means that the bitcoin has changed ownership. Additionally the timestamp of the transaction is added as hash value to the bitcoin.
The transaction is validated by the network and the bitcoin is then stored in the network. Adding the transaction data to a bitcoin and storing this information in the network guarantees that bitcoins cannot be spent multiple times or by users who don’t own them.

Where can I use bitcoins?
Bitcoins are already in use today and are accepted by some organizations such as the Free Software Foundation. Also there are already shops available in the internet that accept bitcoins, e.g. to buy online games, gifts, server space or the like.
There are even web pages available today that exchange bitcoins into real money. The current market value of a bitcoin can be seen at [5].

So what is bitcoin then? Is it just a used nice idea used by some hackers or is this the new ideal global currency which makes transactions more secure, truly global and independent from the influence of banks and governments? Is it even dangerous and will allow anonymous, untraceable and free transactions also for illegal purposes?
Well I don’t know but maybe it is a little bit of all. A number of security experts have analyzed the bitcoin concept and have found no vulnerabilities. Googling for bitcoin results in more than 3.5 million hits and the fact that you can exchange bitcoins into real money shows that this topic has already some focus.

[1] -
[2] weusecoins -
[3] Satoshi Nakamoto - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System -
[4] Wikipedia on bitcoins -
[5] Bitcoin Charts -