All that’s missing for NFC are the phones

Ahead of an impending near-field communications (NFC) phone onslaught, companies are adding weight to the movement with NFC-enabled applications. This week alone, contactless payment-enabler Inside Contactless and mobile technology company Mobile Distillery teamed up to create a NFC mobile application development platform, and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) venture touchatag announced a collaboration with payment provider Clear2Pay to create a mobile payment framework for mobile operators. more…

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.

more…

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.”

Utah’s Utopia moves forward with user-owned fiber

Utah’s multicity public fiber network, Utopia, is moving forward with a new model in which individual users pay the cost of connecting their homes with fiber.

Late last week, the Brigham City Council approved a $5.5-million plan to extend the wholesale fiber network throughout its streets. The city itself is putting up just $655,384 of that cost, while business and residential customers who want fiber are putting up the rest. more…

Droid really does; becomes fastest selling Android device

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With only one week of Droid sales under its belt, Flurry Analytics’ latest statistics on Verizon Wireless’ (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) exclusive Motorola (NYSE:MOT) Droid suggest VZW’s $100 million integrated marketing campaign paid off. Flurry said 250,000 Droids were sold in week one, compared to 1.6 million iPhone 3G S last June and 60,000 HTC MyTouch 3Gs on T-Mobile (NYSE:DT) in August. more…

Digital Chocolate: The rise and fall – and rise – of mobile gaming

This post is part of a series leading up to an upcoming Connected Planet feature story on open mobile. Road to Open: Read part 1 HERE, part 2 HERE and part 3 HERE.

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Application stores have created interesting dynamics for the mobile gaming market, according to Trip Hawkins, CEO of social gaming pioneer Digital Chocolate. When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced the first iPhone, there was no app store. It killed the game business for AT&T (NYSE:T), he said, because the customers who had been buying games through MEdia Mall had nowhere to go. When the iPhone App Store launched, gaming came back with a vengeance, but for Apple, not AT&T. more…

GIPS brings HD voice to Android

High-definition voice, a relatively nascent technology, is coming to the Android operating system, courtesy of Global IP Solutions (Oslo Børs: GIPS). The company is enabling Android mobile application developers to build voice-over IP-enabled clients with its VoiceEngine Mobile. Free mobile social networking application Nimbuzz will be the first customer to implement the HD technology for free mobile VoIP calls. more…

Ethernet, IP VPNs bright spots in data spending decline

The 2% drop projected this year for the US for wireline business data services market is the first decline In-Stat has seen in more than a decade of covering the sector.

Spending on wireline data services (which doesn’t include managed services such as hosted VoIP in In-Stat’s coverage) should stabilize next year before rebounding, reaching $25 billion by 2012 after dropping to $22.4 billion this year.

“Ethernet Services and IP VPN services are among the lone bright spots in the market,” In-Stat analyst David Lemelin said.

Spending on IP VPN services among small and medium businesses should grow 150% between last year and 2012, In-Stat said. And spending on Ethernet services among healthcare firms should triple in that time.

Ericsson’s Nortel CDMA-LTE acquisition final

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) today officially closed its acquisition of Nortel’s CDMA business and long-term evolution assets, allowing it to assume the mantle of largest telecom equipment vendor in North America.

The acquisition will add 2500 new employees to Ericsson’s ranks, most of them in Nortel’s wireless division HQ in the Dallas area and its R&D facilities in Ottawa, but also in China. They will join Ericsson’s wireless operations in the Dallas area, its San Jose-based IP division (formerly Redback Networks and Entrisphere) and the 6000 Sprint (NYSE:S) employees who will come over to Ericsson as part of its network management outsourcing deal with the CDMA operator. The resulting operations will make North America Ericsson’s largest market, surpassing even Europe in total revenues, as well as make it the largest telecom equipment vendor in the region, surpassing even Franco-American rival Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU)

“We’re now engaged with all of the major operators in North America,” said chief technology officer Hakan Eriksson, who last week announced his plans to relocate to San Jose to head up its IP business and raise Ericsson’s executive profile in the US. “We’ve gone from having a few thousand people in North America to–with the Nortel deal and the Sprint outsourcing contract–having around 14,000 employees. That makes it the largest group in Ericsson outside of Sweden.”

Ericsson paid $1.13 billion for the assets, which Nortel was forced to sell while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Compettor Nokia Siemens Networks (NYSE:NOK, NYSE:SI) made the intial move on Nortel’s assets, bidding $650 million for its CDMA and LTE divisions. A bidding war ensued, however, which Ericsson wound up winning.

SkitterTV sounds off from TelcoTV floor

SkitterTV drew buzz at the TelcoTV show this week thanks to a partnership with Zeugma Systems (for service quality) and a deal that puts its service — a combination of local broadcast TV and Internet video — on the Roku set-top box. Skitter’s president Robert Saunders describes his company’s strategy and some recent developments from the TelcoTV show floor in an interview you can listen to here.

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