Archive by Rich Karpinski

Apple takes its turn in AT&T-Verizon Ad War (Video)

So you didn’t think Apple — whose I’m a Mac ad campaign represents the gold standard of classy yet pointed tech advertising mudslinging — would stay quiet forever in the mobile wars, did you?

For weeks, we’ve seen Verizon and AT&T battle over coverage maps, lost toys and more. Now, Apple has lodged its response, defending AT&T’s network and in particular the ability of the iPhone to keep a call live while a user simultaneously surfs the mobile Web — something Verizon’s network can’t support.

Can you network do that, Apple asks? See the video after the jump.

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AT&T ad hits back at Verizon (sort of) - Video

Verizon Wireless has been somewhat unmerciful in criticizing AT&T’s network and the iPhone in TV commercials rolling out the new Droid phone.

Now, AT&T is hitting back. Check out its new “Postcards” ad (video) after the jump.

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Thirty dollar Android dock trumped by free software

We’ve been cataloging the ways that open mobile is changing the wireless game (see the latest installment in Sarah Reedy’s blog run-up to our upcoming cover story). Add one more: a new free application in the Android store lets Motorola Droid users run the multimedia dock application without having to buy the $30 dock that up to now was required to enable the application.

So much for that accessories market, Motorola : > more

Shoving the broadband genie back in the bottle

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately with service providers — and some key vendors that serve the, such as DPI and policy server providers — about the explosion in data services, particularly mobile services, and the fickle yet demanding nature of customer expectations.

In the U.S. in particular, operators have been very aggressive in launching unlimited data plans while also competing to keep costs low. Which is great for their customers until either 1) they have to later (or clandestinely) institute caps to restrict usage or 2) start raising prices.

Once you’ve let customers taste all-you-can-eat broadband, it’s hard to get that genie back in the bottle (or that YouTube video back up their downstream pipe).

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Why’d this take so long? Twitter pics via MMS

Twitter’s always had a mixed story when it came to SMS, and overall the emergence of mobile apps have made Twitter-to-SMS posting a non-issue for many users.

But what about Twitter-to-MMS links? As services like Twitpic have emerged to let Twitter users attach photos to Twitter messages, they’ve been positioned more as competitors to already slow-to-take off MMS services than anything.

But European operator Orange is trying to change that, announcing a deal with Twitter to explicitly support SMS-to-Twitter updates, as well as enabling Twitter photo sharing via its MMS service.

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Will open mobile break online purchase/activation?

So what happens when a consumer purchases and then tries to get started with a new, more open smartphone device on a new, more open mobile network?

If operators aren’t careful, the answer is: chaos.

And that chaos has the potential to not only result in a painful customer (or worst case scenario ex-customer) experience but substantial call center/support costs as well.More...
We recently talked about this topic with Omar Tellez, executive VP and CMO of Synchronoss, which provides back-office platforms to enable service providers and OEMs to help automate subscriber activation, order management and service provisioning for connected devices.

Synchronoss got a big boost when it won the deal to activate Apple’s iPhone online (and then took a hit when Apple and AT&T pulled activations back into their retail locations).

That was more than a year ago. Since then, Synchronoss not only is still doing some iPhone activations (the vendor does 100% of Apple and AT&T Web site-purchased iPhone applications today) but it’s won more deals, including with Nokia USA and a deal earlier this month with Time Warner Cable.

In the end, everything the company learned in its iPhone dealings “is very relevant to the issues we’re seeing in the market today. Many people divide the wireless space into ‘BI’ and ‘AI’ — before the iPhone and after the iPhone,” said Tellez. “What’s happened in terms of OEMs [like Apple] becoming stronger and many more open initiatives on the operating side of the equation is that the whole ecoystem has changed.”

Before, said Tellez, operators controlled the sales channel and customer experience. Today, device manufacturers and even retailers like Best Buy “are taking a much more aggressive role.”

The newest version of Synchronoss’s ConvergenceNow platform is targeted at just these type of connected device retail — and e-tail — environments and has features not just for service providers but OEMs and retailers as well.

As the open mobile value chain continues to evolve, exactly who controls the purchase, pre-qualification, credit check and other processes will continue to evolve and change as well. Overall, though, “you’ll have more parties involved and more marrying or caching of customer information up front.

All of that leads up to a new kind of service activation, where a combination of operator services and apps and content from a variety of other parties are added to the purchase, activated on the phone and delivered via an entirely new type of customer purchase experience, Tellez said.

“At the end of the day, the learning of the past six months is that when this environment enables more players, and not just the operator, to provide for a customer’s needs,” he said. “It’s a very interesting time in the mobile value chain.”

What Google gets with Gizmo5

As rumored, Google Thursday confirmed its purchase of VoIP firm Gizmo5, instantly adding Skype-like functionality — and an open source bent — to its Google Voice service. Credit TechCrunch for sniffing out the deal earlier this week.

The acquisition as it plays out will likely be used by Google to add more integrated outbound and, in particular, computer-based softphone calling to the Google Voice service, more than ever setting up Google Voice as a PSTN or mobile service replacement rather than just a complement as it is today. more

Why VoIP 2.0 companies are suddenly in play

We’re still in the realm of the rumor mill, but speculation that Google has a deal in hand to acquire Gizmo5 and another rumor today that VoIP widget and backbone player Jajah is mulling through $400 million (!) offers from O2, Cisco and Microsoft seem to point to a coming run on VoIP start-ups.

It remains to be seen if these rumors, let alone this purported trend, come through. But as we’ve reflected in the past (back in September when eBay sold off Skype to investors for $2 billion), the success of mobile apps as a distribution mechanism for mobile VoIP client software, among other developments, seems to have given the VoIP market the push into the mainstream it’s long been hoping for. more

Cisco sees telco hosted mail partners — just not yet

Shortly after the launch by Cisco of a slew of new unified communications and collaborative technologies earlier today, I was able to touch base with a company executive for some additional insights into the service provider impact of its moves.

Cisco emphasized its long-term focus of working closely with service providers and highlighted some new products likely to be delivered with the help of operators.

But perhaps the day’s most interesting new product, a hosted e-mail offering dubbed WebEx Mail that will not only compete but emulate some of the protocols within Microsoft Exchange, will be delivered solely as a cloud service directly by Cisco — at least for the time being. more

Did Google just buy its VoIP network?

TechCrunch is reporting that Google has just acquired VoIP provider Gizmo5, a move that would give it a voice-over-IP infrastructure to add to its Google Talk, Google Voice and Android telecom-oriented technologies.

Essentially, Gizmo5 would give Google a way to more directly integrate those IP-centric services with the PSTN, greatly upping their value.

We haven’t been able to confirm the deal yet, but the potential combo is very interesting and moves Google ever-deeper into the telecom world. more

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