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Jeff Kagan is a Tech Analyst and E-Commerce Times columnist with ECT News with 6 million readers and is carried on thousands of web sites.
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Android or Something Completely Different?
Google Fiber: Internet, TV Will Never Be the Same
Verizon: A Changing Company in a Changing Industry
Net Neutrality and the Naked Internet
Introducing the New Microsoft
Cable TV, Wireless Phones and the Great Spectrum Hunt
AT&T Mobility, for Better and for Worse
5:00 AM PT
lot easier to see the best way to handle a PR predicament after it's over than
it is when you're being buffeted by the storm. Right now, Verizon -- which
typically is proactive, if not aggressive, about getting its message out -- is
hunkering down and waiting for the worst to pass. This may allow the company to
minimize its reputation damage -- or it could be a disastrous PR decision.
is on the hot seat. It is at the center of the story about releasing customer
information to the U.S. National Security Agency.
it turns out, there is more than one story here. There is the Verizon story and
the Prism story. While Verizon does make information about every call available
to the NSA, the actual conversation is still private -- for now, at least.
date, Verizon has been quiet as the argument rages. Is quiet what you expect
from the public relations department of any company caught in such a storm? Will
quiet help or hurt Verizon and Verizon Wireless in the long term?
story is much bigger than just Verizon. This is about the U.S. government and
issues like invasion of privacy. It's about whether we crossed that line in the
sand and went too far or are doing the right thing. Yes, there is a larger
debate raging these days.
the best reason for Verizon to stay quiet right now. Quiet keeps the storm away
from its front door. This is a very interesting story to watch. Valuable lessons
can be learned in crisis PR for every company.
Verizon handles this situation wrong, its reputation could be harmed. It is in a
very tricky place -- and this kind of public relations debacle doesn't always
play out as planned.
it takes on a life of its own. While handling a PR storm correctly can help a
company, handling it poorly can be devastating. Often, the devastation does not
result from the original problem but from poor handling of it from a PR
far, we have not heard Verizon or Verizon Wireless make a sound. This is
typically not the way public relations pros would advise a company to go, but
quiet has helped Verizon up to now. There is a difference between ordinary PR
and crisis PR, though. There is more at stake -- and this is the time for crisis
can be argued that Verizon has been handling this PR crisis well by staying
quiet. Since Verizon cannot tell the whole story, it's better off keeping its
mouth shut. So it is keeping quiet for national security reasons as the furor
builds into an intense battle over privacy and politics.
far, the argument is not focused on Verizon. It is focused on privacy and
politics. So the safest position is for Verizon to sit quietly. However, it had
better be ready for a sudden change of the weather.
have learned watching the paths of tornadoes over the last few weeks that storms
change course very quickly. What if that kind of shift should suddenly turn the
focus on Verizon and Verizon Wireless?
big question is whether all of the major U.S. carriers have given up the same
kind of customer data that Verizon has turned over. If so, then the pain for
Verizon will be lower.
if just a few companies are involved and Verizon is one of them, then the
pressure cooker will be turned up. If Verizon is the only company, it could get
that happens, Verizon will have to change PR strategies and hit this problem
head on to save it from larger and longer-term problems like customer and
good news is Verizon and Verizon Wireless seem to be handling this storm well so
far. The bad news is that if the storm changes course, Verizon could be in
story is still young and will play itself out over the next few months at least.
It is a great lesson for every other company to learn the right and wrong way to
handle crisis public relations. There are still privacy and political arguments
to be made.
let's keep our eyes open. School is in session.
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
still very early in the smartphone game. Leadership may change from time to
time. It already has changed once. Five years ago, the leaders were BlackBerry
and Nokia. Then Apple and Google stepped on the stage and stole the show. Now
BlackBerry and Nokia are shadows of their former selves, trying for a comeback.
This marketplace has changed very quickly, and it will likely continue to do so.
have been watching the big guys battle it out for the last few years. Apple's
iOS vs. Google's Android on the operating system side, and Apple's iPhone vs.
Samsung's Galaxy on the handset side. However little attention has been paid to
No. 3. Which company is No. 3? I'll be you don't even know. Yet No. 3 could
transform the industry over the next few years.
seems we've been following the big guys for so long, we forgot about all the
other players. The industry seems to be settling into two parts -- Tier I and
Tier II. There are quite a few Tier II players, and we are just in the early
innings of this game. Leadership in the Tier II space seems to change on a
regular basis. What that says to me is there is not one strong third place
leader yet -- but that could be changing.
whether you ask which company is No. 3 or which company is No. 1 in Tier II,
there are quite a few to consider, both new and existing brands. Let's take a
Firefox OS will soon enter the smartphone space. Foxconn agreed to make a number
of brand new handsets running the Firefox OS. Foxconn is that company in Taiwan
that makes the iPhone and other things Apple. By the way, it also makes
smartphones for a wide variety of companies like Sony, Huawei and ZTE, which
will also be working with Mozilla on devices running the new Firefox OS.
is one of those winners in wireless that very few have ever heard of. Mozilla
chose well. However, while Foxconn is a huge smartphone maker for many brands,
Mozilla's Firefox OS is new and untested. I expect a big coming-out party for
Firefox OS as it breaks into the market later this year on smartphones offered
in Latin America and Europe.
is not competing in the U.S. market yet. I think Mozilla hopes to get a good
running start elsewhere. Whether it will succeed and when it will enter the U.S.
marketplace are the next questions. Let's hope it does.
may soon launch a new line of smartphones running Windows Phone 8. It already
offers a number of Android smartphones. With its Lenovo Reach cloud product, its
customers will have an advantage in that they can store information online
rather than on a hard drive, making data accessible across platforms and
devices. It's just like what Apple is doing with the iCloud and Microsoft with
its cloud. This is a growing segment.
wants to enter the U.S. smartphone market within a year, but it won't be easy to
crack, as there is already plenty of strong competition. It has been very
successful in China and elsewhere, so I expect it will come on strong in this
Windows Phone operating system is on smartphones like the Nokia Lumia. Both
Microsoft and Nokia have been struggling in the smartphone space, not moving the
needle much. Today there are plenty of Lumias on the market, though, and in the
last quarter, the Windows Phone OS suddenly seemed to be catching on.
few months ago, the Windows Phone OS was at roughly 3 percent market share, but
now it's at 5 percent. That's a good jump in just a single quarter. Who is the
real winner? Is it Microsoft or Nokia? The answer is both. Can Microsoft and
Nokia keep it up? Well there is a slice of the customer pie that likes Microsoft
Windows Phone. Perhaps they are the same group who like Windows 8.
these are the people who want a similar experience on their laptop, tablet and
smartphone. Whatever the reason, Microsoft and Nokia are starting to gain some
traction. Let's see if they can keep this up.
and All the Rest
think competition for that No. 3 spot is just between these few companies. There
are others who want to break in and succeed as well. BlackBerry is now back in
the game with its BB10 OS, carving out a niche with its first new devices.
don't know how well it will do compared to the competition, but it may be
holding its own and even growing a bit lately. Many of its existing customers
really like the new tech. I hope that is enough to trigger a long-term growth
are quite a few other devices either here or coming soon from companies like
Sony, Huawei, HTC, ZTE, LG, Motorola, Kyocera and many more.
More the Merrier
marketplace can only benefit from more successful competitors. Success for any
of these companies will be a matter of building strong demand by innovating with
both their technologies and their brands.
all depends on ideas. What's hot today and what's going to be hot tomorrow?
Wireless is changing from a tech business to a fashion business. It will face
the same challenges as fashion retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch with all
the ups and downs in a rapidly changing market.
your eyes open for companies waking up and starting to hustle. Samsung has
soared in the last few months. In the mind of the customer, Samsung has arrived.
company will be next to catch the growth wave? Keep your eyes open, because it
will happen quickly.
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
Lenovo market share in the smartphone segment is nonexistent in the U.S. It's
not even a blip on the radar compared to companies like Apple, Google and
Samsung. However, the future of the industry looks very different. Companies
will start to sell more devices from different segments and connect them all in
their cloud. Leadership may change. There is a real opportunity going forward.
appears Lenovo is getting ready to bring smartphones to the U.S. market. After
acquiring the IBM Thinkpad line of computers, this company has gone from
virtually unknown in the United States to one of the heavy hitters. Now Lenovo
is entering the smartphone business. Will it be successful?
China, Lenovo is a strong brand name. Since its acquisition of the IBM Thinkpad
business, it has been building its brand in the U.S. market as well. The problem
is that the traditional laptop business has softened since the iPad's arrival a
few short years ago, triggering the tablet boom.
a very few PC companies are holding their own. Lenovo is one of them. It is
closing in on the No. 1 laptop marker. What's new? It is also the second-largest
smartphone maker in China. Samsung is No. 1. The PC business has been changing.
Now smartphones will play a role, and companies that can play in multiple
segments stand a much better chance of success.
is building and blending its computer, iPhone and iPad tablet businesses
together under its iCloud. This combining of different industries will be
Apple's key to success. Standalone computer businesses are struggling, because
they only offer one piece of this puzzle.
is like Apple, in that it sells Android-based phones like the Galaxy S4 and
tablets like the Galaxy Tab. It is moving in the cloud direction as well.
move to sell devices in all these categories and blend them together in the
cloud is the future.
brings us to Lenovo. Believe it or not, I think Lenovo may start to look more
like Apple and Samsung going forward, by building out its business in these
different sectors and blending them together under the Lenovo cloud.
will take time -- but it will take time for all competitors in the space to
change -- and now is the time.
new Lenovo smartphone business looks successful so far in China. It is also
expanding to other countries like India, Russia and Indonesia. The United States
looks like it will be one of its next markets within a year.
U.S. market won't be easy -- it never is.
global smartphone market is very tough. Samsung and Apple are the two leading
manufacturers, but many companies are gunning for the No. 3 position. Companies
like BlackBerry, Nokia, Motorola, HTC, LG, Huawei, Sony and several others will
compete fiercely with the new Lenovo smartphone brand.
means success for Lenovo in the smartphone and cloud business is not guaranteed.
However, it does have an interesting mix, and that -- along with its marketing
-- could spell success. Marketing is key.
forward, we can expect to hear much more about the new and expanded Lenovo
universe. It's all about marketing -- creating a brand and image that attracts
we think about the Lenovo brand today, we think about computers like the
Thinkpad. Going forward, if it is successful in expanding its brand identity, we
will think of Lenovo in terms of computers, smartphones and tablets -- all tied
together under the Lenovo cloud. The first thing I would expect to see is brand
names built for these different groups.
wireless business is changing from being tech-oriented to focusing on fashion.
The way we market is changing from emphasis on tech to emphasis on emotion.
Customers have to want the brand. Each and every brand must be a player in this
new world, or it will fail.
Lenovo is successful, its name will take on a new meaning. Will it be? We'll
have to wait and see. However, the senior executives at the company seem to
understand the challenge and the new game.
Lenovo market share in the smartphone segment is nonexistent in the U.S. It's
not even a blip on the radar compared to companies like Apple, Google and
Samsung. However, the future of the industry looks very different. Companies
will start to sell more devices from different segments and connect them all in
their cloud. Leadership may change. There is a real opportunity going forward.
will be very exciting, but it will look very different. We know what the
industry looked like five and 10 years ago and how different it looks today. So
the next question is, what will it look like five and 10 years from now, and who
will lead? That's the big unknown.
last thought: If Lenovo wants to mimic Apple and Samsung, what brand name will
it give its new smartphone? Does ThinkPhone ring any bells?
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
who are mistreated may feel burned because they've lost money or had an
experience ruined, but companies that fail to right wrongs ultimately suffer a
lot more. The loss of one customer can quickly be multiplied many times over.
Customers remember, and they tell their stories, and companies that fail to deal
fairly soon get the worst sort of publicity as a result.
you ever wonder why some companies flourish and grow while others struggle? Why
you love doing business with some but not others? It all has to do with how they
interact with customers. Customer care is crucial for long-term success.
family has been going to the beach every summer for as long as I can remember.
Hilton Head Island in South Carolina has become our favorite destination. We've
stayed at many places on the island, but there are two big brand name hotels:
the Sonesta Resort, formerly the Crown Plaza Hotel; and the Westin. Both are
important to the island, and I want both to succeed. However, there was a big
difference in the way we were treated at these two places.
Have Long Memories
visited several different resorts over the years, and the Sonesta became our
favorite. Its staff always treated us very well. Whenever we needed anything,
they were right there making sure our stay was perfect. The property itself is
both gorgeous and peaceful. It recently got a fresh face, making it even better.
Westin is a different story. Don't get me wrong -- I like Westin. I have stayed
in many of the company's properties for business and pleasure over the years.
Many of those properties are terrific, but when we stayed at the Westin's Hilton
Head resort several years ago, we were very disappointed. Among other things,
our room was not cleaned properly, and the staff did not correct the problem,
despite our requests for help.
line, the Westin on Hilton Head may be OK now, but we may never know. We haven't
been back. Several years have elapsed since our last stay because of the poor
who loses? Westin. We have been back to the island many times, but not to the
Westin -- and when I'm asked for a recommendation, I always say the Sonesta is
that care and that treat customers right will get repeat business. So why don't
they all treat customers right? It's a no-brainer. Yet they don't.
many, I join a health club every few years. I was a member of LA Fitness and was
happy until a recent problem came up that was handled poorly from the customer
point of view. My son wanted to join, so I signed him up as well. Then he was
hired as a fitness counselor there, and he told me his membership would be free
as long as he was a counselor. That's great, I thought -- save a few dollars.
several years. My son is not working there any longer; in fact, he canceled his
membership and joined another club.
fine -- except recently I took a close look at my credit card bill and saw that
LA Fitness was still charging me every month for his membership. I asked my son
about it and he said he hasn't used the club since he canceled his membership
I called LA Fitness to fix the problem and get a refund, but I was told there
was no record of the cancellation request. The club would be happy to cancel the
membership, but it could not offer me a refund, even though its records verified
my son had not been in the club for at least two years. So with the proof in
front of them, and in spite of my customer request, LA Fitness still did not do
the right thing.
line -- the club had been charging my credit card every month for years,
although my son was not even walking through the door. What it should have done
was contact me to bring this to my attention. It didn't -- and when I found out,
a call to its customer service department showed me LA Fitness did not care to
correct the problem, either. So if the club doesn't care about me, then I don't
care to give it my business any longer.
this cost me several thousand dollars, but who lost in the long term? LA
Fitness, of course. I will not only not join again, but also not recommend it
any longer. In fact, I just received a "We Want You Back" email.
Doesn't sound like the marketing department and the customer care department
talk to each other.
about retail? This sector is full of very good and very bad customer service
stories as well.
is one of those warehouse clubs like Sam's Club and BJ's. First, let me admit
that I have a love/hate relationship with Costco. I hate the idea of having to
buy a gigantic box of anything. I hate waiting in long lines to check out. I
hate not having bags to carry my stuff home. And I really hate the process of
leaving the store, because I have to wait in a long line so an employee can
search my cart to make sure I didn't steal something. I always complain to my
wife. Why do so many customers put up with this? I must be missing something.
it's because Costco does several things right as well. The stores are fun, the
prices are good, and its return policy is excellent. Any time you need to return
something, you can. Period. There's no 90-day limit. Costco would rather keep
you happy -- aside from the proctology exam when you leave the store -- and keep
you coming back. It works. Its growth is a direct result of this.
catalog retailers, like LL Bean and Lands End, do a very good job as well. They
respect the customer. They make it easy to shop and order. Order what you want
and return anything for any reason at any time. Period. They make it easy to
shop with them. They take away any impediments to the buying and returning
process. These are companies customers love.
you see the point I am making with all these examples? The lessons to be learned
are clear as day. Companies either makes customers fall in love with them, or
they don't. It all depends on the way the company treats its customers.
like Sonesta and LL Bean that do the right thing and treat their customers the
right way -- with respect -- win in the long term. Companies like LA Fitness and
the Westin on Hilton Head Island lose in customers' eyes.
Customers help spread the word either way -- one way or the other, for better or for worse. So isn't it better to do the right thing, and treat customers with respect, and get long-term benefits from that? Yes, the answer is obvious. Companies that don't -- well, you know who you are, and the ball is in your court.
5:00 AM PT
the industry analyst community is an art form. Ever notice how few people are
artists and can actually create a masterpiece? That's the problem here, in a
nutshell. It's all about communication between the company and the analyst. If
you cannot crack that code, you will not succeed. It is important to talk the
analyst's language. It's a mistake to simply create one canned pitch.
presenting to the technology industry analyst community is so important, why do
most companies do such a poor job?
have participated in more analyst briefings over the last 25 years than I can
remember. Companies all want the same positive result, but they all go about it
very differently. Only a very few are well done and get good results. So what is
the path to success?
Pick of the Week is the brand new Nokia Lumia 928 on Verizon and Lumia
925 on T-Mobile. How do these compare to the original Lumia 920 on AT&T?
the CTIA 2013 wireless show coming next week, this is a good time to consider
how companies can get the biggest bang for their buck when dealing with the
it's important to set some specific goals. Most companies want every analyst to
know about them and talk about them in glowing terms. The only problem is few
understand how to get that result.
be successful, a company must turn the entire process around. It must understand
each analyst individually. How? Come at it from the analyst's perspective. Every
analyst is different. If you line up 10 analysts, you will have 10 different
business models, following 10 different areas, and getting their opinions out in
10 different ways.
important to understand the analyst's business model. Understand what each
analyst does for a living. Some work for larger firms and get paid a salary for
the work they provide. Larger firms have different people doing different
things. The firm collects fees from companies for a variety of services.
analysts are either individual or work for smaller practices. In those cases,
the analyst is often chief cook and bottle washer responsible for providing
services to clients, disseminating information to the marketplace and collecting
term "industry analyst" is a general term that suggests many different
categories. It's important not only to understand what area each analyst
specializes in, but also the way each does business.
there are too many analysts in each industry for a company to have a good
relationship with each, it's a good idea to break the analyst community into two
parts. Companies should appeal to the larger analyst community, while at the
same time forming relationships with key analysts in their sector -- those who
are best known, regularly quoted, and who frequently write about their
industry's competition and trends.
should host an occasional general analyst meeting to reach all analysts. They
are often helpful to bring the entire community up to speed with the same
information at the same time. After the general briefing, private briefings can
be held. They are still part of the larger chaos of an analyst meeting but are a
great way to connect.
it is vital for a company to have excellent communications with the key analysts
who follow it on a regular basis -- the analysts who can help or hurt its
efforts, since they are regularly quoted by the media, write columns, release
statements, publish reports, give speeches and so on.
are the movers and shakers. They can shape opinion. I have learned this small
group is key, because often what the marketplace thinks about a company begins
with what these key people think, say and write.
recap, there are three important ways to interact with the analyst community:
a general meeting for a large group of analysts -- dozens or even hundreds
assembled in the same room. Remember, however, everyone looks for different
things, so each may be interested only in a particular slice of what you have to
individual briefings with analysts flown into the headquarters for a few hours
to meet one-on-one with senior executives that cover the areas they follow.
Smaller briefings for key analysts often are held at higher-quality spots like
Las Vegas or Palm Beach.
waste time. Analysts travel too much and attend too many meetings. So provide
meetings of interest and value. Ask whom the analysts would like to meet with
and what areas they want to focus on. Make sure they get good value out of the
trip. These one-on-one meetings can be most valuable, as long as they are part
of a longer-term relationship.
briefings at trade shows like the upcoming CTIA 2013 in Las Vegas. Now what I am
about to say goes against the groove most companies are in. Most, unfortunately,
host meetings as though the analysts are on a conveyor belt -- saying the same
thing to one after the other, and not really closing the gap with the analyst.
is a reflection of the theory that if you throw enough stuff at the wall,
something will stick. However, the results are generally a waste of time for the
company and the analysts -- and a time-waster is not how any company wants to be
is a more respectful way of doing things that typically has a much better
result. As an analyst, I have little interest in attending dozens of briefings
with strangers. I prefer personal invitations from company executives who really
want to meet with me.
happy to meet with those who want to start a relationship leading to my
following their companies over the long term. The first meeting should simply be
a way to get to know one other. The company learns how the analyst works, and
the analyst considers whether to follow the company. After this first meeting,
if both want to move to the next step, then a second meeting can be set up to
flesh out the details.
I receive countless invitations for briefings from public relations people who
are strangers to me, who are hired to fill the calendar of their clients, and
that's where there interest ends. There is no relationship of any kind with the
executive or the company. I see little value there. The real value comes in
building long-term relationships.
I did not say the analyst community in general -- the general analyst community
is a good starting point. However, a company must make sure it has good quality
relationships with the key analysts who follow it.
one reason or another, analysts' opinions often matter to the marketplace of
consumers, business customers, investors and workers, so it's important to be
successful dealing with this community at large, as well as with every key
analyst in the space.
a company reaches out to key individual analysts, it will achieve a much higher
level of success in reaching its goals -- and isn't that what every company
wants from the analyst community in the first place?
Kagan's Pick of the Week
Pick of the Week is Nokia's addition of the Lumia 928 on Verizon and the
Lumia 925 on T-Mobile. Nokia launched its Lumia family several months ago with
the 920 on AT&T.
Lumia is a great device. Users seem to like it. With the Windows Phone 8
operating system, it is completely different from Apple's iPhone and the many
devices running Google's Android OS.
of the Lumia models has a few unique features, but essentially it's the same
device on different carriers.
have a Lumia 920 from AT&T, which I have been testing over the last few
months. I don't yet have a Lumia 928 or 925. However, it appears the choice will
be which carrier you want to use, not which device.
like this device. It is a third operating system to compete with Google's
Android and Apple's iOS, which account for the majority of market share in the
wireless industry needs more than two competitors. That's why handset
manufacturers like Nokia, BlackBerry, Motorola, HTC, Huawei, Sony and others are
fighting for the No. 3 slot, behind Samsung and Apple. That's the good news. The
bad news is none of them have really broken away from the pack yet.
Nokia Lumia family of phones is a real winner for many users and is worth a
look. Nokia just has to find a way to grow its slice of the pie.
5:00 AM PT
few years, we see breakthroughs in the medical and health community, as well as
in the wireless and telecom industry. We are just in the early stages of a
technology revolution that will help stroke survivors. Visit the iTunes App
Store or Google Play and take a look. Believe it or not, today there are stroke
apps. Yes that's right, there's an app for that -- several of them as a matter
is National Stroke Awareness month. I like to follow the technology advancements
for stroke prevention and treatment -- and the companies making them -- because
I have been a stroke survivor for nine years. We don't realize it on a daily
basis, but things advance as quickly in the medical and health industries as in
wireless and communications. If I had my stroke today rather than nine years
ago, there would be much more help at my fingertips.
stroke occurred in 2004. As advanced as the medical community had become by
then, it was very distant from where it is today. Doctors struggled with too
many questions and offered me very few answers. They simply didn't know. Plus,
they were not counselors, so they weren't able to help me understand my
situation. Things are different now.
wireless and telecom world has changed too. Back then, Apple hadn't come out
with the iPhone, and Google hadn't introduced Android. A cellphone was just a
cellphone -- and there were a lot of Baby Bells that hadn't yet merged.
strokes happen all the time. Since having mine I have learned of many other
survivors among people I already knew. How many do you know? Maybe quite a few.
I have learned of many neighbors, friends and business associates affected by
strokes -- and recovery is a long-term process, taking years.
few years, we see breakthroughs in the medical and health community, as well as
in the wireless and telecom industry, Suddenly these two worlds are working
together to create new apps and solutions for stroke survivors. Things are
example, in 2004, the year I had my stroke, the smartphone revolution had not
yet begun. BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm were the smartphone leaders. There were no
iPhones, and there were no phones running Android. There was no app explosion
yet. At that time, there were only a few hundred apps to choose from, and none
of them addressed stroke prevention or recovery.
things quickly started to change. Apple debuted the iPhone in 2007, and Google
unleashed Android shortly after that. The number of apps started to grow, but in
the early years they were mostly about games. It would be a few years before
anything of medical or health value was created.
smartphones rule the world. More than 50 percent of us have one. There are
nearly a million apps in the iTunes App Store and in Google Play. We've grown
past the initial stage emphasizing games and are seeing apps with serious value
propositions. There is a growing variety of healthcare-related apps, and we are
still just in the very early years.
am currently writing my second book. Stroke
Recovery Stories is filled with stories from stroke survivors to offer
encouragement to others. So if you have recovered from a stroke or know someone
who has, and if you would like to help, I hope you will get in touch with me and
contribute your story to this new book.
are just in the early stages of a technology revolution that will help stroke
survivors. Visit the iTunes App Store or Google Play and take a look. Believe it
or not, today there are stroke apps. Yes that's right, there's an app for that
-- several of them as a matter of fact.
through all these "stroke" apps is key at this early stage. Listed
under "stroke" are stroke recovery apps -- but there are also golfing
apps and other unrelated apps with the word "stroke" in their titles
good app, from the American Heart Association, is Spot
a Stroke F.A.S.T.. It is available at the iTunes App Store.
e-book craze is new and a big help as well. Amazon's Kindle, Barnes &
Noble's Nook and other e-readers make it easy to shop, find what you are looking
for, and download and read a book immediately, without leaving home. In the
world before e-readers, if we wanted a book immediately, we had to go to
bookstore, but they didn't carry a deep selection.
books online is a whole new world. There is a huge selection of existing e-books
about strokes, and there are new ones being published all the time.
is an example of a drug store stepping in to improve healthcare as well. The
shift from retail-only to healthcare consultant is growing rapidly. Before long,
when you visit your local drug store, you'll
likely find a doctor's office right next to the pharmacy counter.
and tablet computers are starting to help doctors and neurologists with stroke
assessment. Using technology like Apple's FaceTime for the iPhone, which is like
a portable video conference app, a doctor can visit with a patient in rural or
remote locations. This improves the chances for early diagnosis and treatment.
Doctors even use medical apps to review brain scans of stroke patients.
State University's Wexner Medical Center is using technology to help stroke
survivors walk again -- one more example of the plethora of tools that are
are other new ways to bring the stroke community together, like stroke walks in
different communities. This is important for a patient's psychological well
being -- it lets survivors know they are not alone. Recovering from a stroke can
be very isolating and lonely.
I had my stroke, this community effort didn't exist. It was frightening. My wife
and I were alone, and we didn't know what to expect. It remained that way for
many painful years.
thanks to all the new technology, education and medical treatments -- and all
the community support -- things are different.
are just beginning to see how the lives of stroke survivors can be improved, and
we are still in the very early days of this revolution. Expect more from
technology and the community to keep improving the lives of survivors.
will occasionally write about exciting new ideas and technologies in this area.
Remember to send me your encouraging thoughts and stories about your stroke
recovery, so I can include them in my new book. Let's help new stroke survivors
see that they will eventually get better and stronger. They just have to work at
it every day.
Nine years ago, we thought we knew quite a bit about the brain and strokes. However compared with today, we were still in the Stone Age. Today we know much more. Just what will we know tomorrow?
5:00 AM PT
BlackBerry and its new management team are missing something important -- and missing this may be very costly to them in the long term. Perhaps they are simply trying to be completely new and different in an effort to reboot. The problem is, all this change is making BlackBerry look and feel unfamiliar to many existing users.
formerly Research In Motion, is under a lot of scrutiny as it pursues its
comeback strategy. An interesting question recently came up having to do with
that effort: Is BlackBerry so busy focusing on growth and the future that it has
forgotten about taking care of customer needs in the present? I'll address this
both as a technology industry analyst and a long time BlackBerry fan.
about BlackBerry is suddenly very different. The new BB10 is both better and
worse than its predecessor. BlackBerry is in transition. However, a transition
should not be about becoming something foreign. It should be an evolution of the
brand and an update of the technology.
is not my company. I am just an observer and user with opinions and desires like
everyone else. BlackBerry can do whatever it wants, of course. However, I do
like the company, and I want it to succeed. After all, it is the oldest
smartphone brand name in the market.
today's market looks very different from just a few years ago. Yesterday,
BlackBerry led. Today Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy lead. However we still
need other successful competitors in the space.
me pose a question: If you see someone you know and like about to be hit by a
bus while crossing the street, would you shout and wave your arms and do what
you could to prevent the accident? That's what I am doing here for BlackBerry.
is BlackBerry today? The users that are left are the core BlackBerry customers.
They may be core customers because they have phones supplied by their company,
but they may have made the choice themselves.
they like something about BlackBerry -- that the device is simple, for example.
Maybe they understand it because they've been long-time users. Maybe they really
like its secure email. Maybe they're hooked on one of the other BlackBerry
features they can't get elsewhere.
years ago, BlackBerry was the strongest brand in the smartphone world. There
were loads of customers and websites where addicted BlackBerry users gathered,
like Crackberry.com. Then suddenly BlackBerry was pushed aside by other brands.
years of delay, BlackBerry 10 was finally introduced and the first handset, the
Z10, was released. Now the second handset, the Q10, is being released -- it has
a physical keypad.
first effort at renewing the company with BB10 is good, but it is not yet great.
Hopefully the Q10 will be successful. I'm getting one shortly.
problem, as I see it, is simple. Management is totally reinventing the entire
BlackBerry experience. While this is good in many ways, it is bad in others. The
new BlackBerry should be a transformational device, giving happy users what they
want. It should introduce them to many new features along the way.
have been a BlackBerry user for many years. Of course, I carry other phones as
well. Think of this as a personality disorder. Yes, I carry too many phones --
an iPhone, several Androids, Nokia with Windows, and more. That's an entirely
me give you an example of the problem I see. I have always liked the BlackBerry
devices, but there was one feature I learned to use and now actually need. As it
turns out, checking Crackberry.com and other BlackBerry sites, it is the same
feature many others use and like as well.
called "MemoPad," and it syncs with Notes on your computer's Microsoft
Outlook software. It let's you keep dozens of notes, and they sync between your
computer and wireless handset so you can take them with you. This is a very
handy, simple and powerful tool that many users really like.
BlackBerry users still use older versions of Outlook software; however, MemoPad
always worked -- until BB10, that is. Previously, this feature was always
supported, and it was one of many key reasons people liked BlackBerry.
fact, this feature is so important to so many users that even though Apple
introduced the iPhone without this functionality, it later added it, based on
user feedback. There is a lesson here somewhere.
even as Apple embraces this MemoPad and Notes feature for the iPhone, BlackBerry
is moving away from it. Fortunately this problem can be remedied quickly and
easily if BlackBerry knows about it.
pull the camera back. The larger question is why didn't BlackBerry executives
make sure all the goodies their customers really liked and used remained,
alongside all the new features?
have contacted the company with this question and have received no response on
this issue. I have looked for an answer and asked many others as well. I have
found no answer. If I am wrong, I hope BlackBerry will do me the courtesy of
letting me know. I'll pass the word along to you as well.
for Core Customers
it seems that BlackBerry is so focused on tomorrow, it is forgetting about
today's customers needs.
a customer, I want the company to succeed. However for it to remain strong, it
must understand and take good care of its customer base.
an analyst, I look at this basic mistake from a big-picture perspective, and I
wonder if it is a sign of things to come for a company so many have loved for so
all want BlackBerry to succeed. It can. One year from today, BlackBerry will
either be stronger or weaker. It all depends on the choices its executives make.
BlackBerry is not the only company dealing with this issue. Others, like Nokia
and Motorola, are struggling as well.
must focus on two areas: One, it must take care of existing customers who like
existing features like MemoPad; and two, it must look to the future with apps
and other technologies that could give it an edge tomorrow.
I have both a brand new BlackBerry Z10 and an older BlackBerry Torch. Want to
know which I prefer and use? The older Torch -- for now, at least. I hope that
changes, but it's really up to BlackBerry.
Soon I'll have the Q10 to take for a test drive, and I will write about it for you as well. Off the cuff, I would guess the Q10 will be more popular because of the keyboard. After all, BlackBerry users love their keyboards.
5:00 AM PT
There are so many ways wireless is touching our lives and changing our world. Today, when we leave the house we must remember our smartphone, car keys and wallet. Tomorrow, we'll only have to remember our smartphone. Everything else will be integrated in that device. That's just one component of the wireless transformation, though. Innovation is surrounding us.
want to thank CTIA for inviting me to be a judge in its annual wireless
competition. The winners will be announced at this year's CTIA 2013 starting May
21 in Las Vegas.
was looking for what's new, earthshaking and transformative, and I was very
impressed with many entries. I think you will be as well.
few years there is an earthquake in the wireless industry -- something new that
redefines and transforms everything. The latest happened six years ago, when the
iPhone and Android were created. Now they lead. The entire smartphone sector has
rapidly grown since then, and technology has advanced at an accelerated pace.
through all the entries started me thinking. Perhaps we don't recognize an
earthshaking technology when it is first introduced. Perhaps in the early
stages, it's just an interesting idea. Great ideas that change the industry take
time to develop. Then suddenly they pop up on everyone's radar, and we think
they're brand new.
the first iPhone came out, we were excited, but the industry had not changed.
Apple still had lots of bugs to work out. There were only a few apps. Wireless
Internet speeds were not fast. Remember, the first iPhone was really very
similar to RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. Apple gave the concept a twist, but the
iPhone didn't change the industry overnight. Neither did Google's Android
operating system when it debuted on the T-Mobile G1. It had plenty of bugs.
over the next couple of years, everything started to come together for these new
and innovative products. The iPhone and Android OS were improved and continued
to advance. Android started showing up on a variety of handsets and networks.
Apps in the marketplace rose from a few hundred, to hundreds of thousands. Both
the iOS platform and Android have more than 800,000 apps available today.
the smartphone market looks completely different from six years ago. It is
fast-growing and innovative. It affects carriers, handset makers and app makers.
However, we didn't think this way about this segment from day one, did we? No,
we watched it develop over several years. So when judging CTIA entries, I needed
to keep that in mind.
-- products and services, including software and hardware, used to deploy
wireless technology in the enterprise;
-- products and services used in the deployment of a wireless network;
Apps -- applications marketed and sold to consumers;
Consumer Electronics -- handsets, Bluetooth accessories and other wirelessly
enabled electronic devices; and
Favorites -- "Online Pick" and "Best in Show."
year that I have attended the CTIA show, I've been overwhelmed with new and
innovative technology. Yet from all of this innovation year after year, only a
few ideas really catch on and change the industry and our lives.
about the current wave of innovation sweeping across the wireless industry. The
wireless business is reaching far beyond traditional wireless services. Sure,
networks are expanding, handset makers are growing, and the number of apps is
increasing, and that's where our brain goes when thinking about the market.
However, many other industries -- including automotive, healthcare and retail --
are taking advantage of wireless innovations as well. This is one of the hottest
new trends, and it will be all we are talking about in coming years.
in this year's competition include automotive, location-based services,
navigation and safe driving. Items include the Chevrolet MyLink; Cobra iRadar
ATOM; Telenav; Siri eyes free integration by General Motors; and the Verizon VZ
Navigator powered by Telecommunications Systems on Windows Phone 8. Doesn't this
remind you of other automotive innovations like the Ford Sync?
include the new HTC One, LG Sprint 4G, Doro PhoneEasy, Blackberry Z10, Samsung
Galaxy S4, Nokia Lumia 920, and Samsung Galaxy Note II.
is key to areas like security, fraud and privacy; green telecom and smart energy
solutions; machine-to-machine communications; sensors; RFID; and NFC. It's
integral to mobile commerce, including payments, banking, shopping and much
wireless is expanding far beyond traditional smartphones. In the healthcare
industry, there are apps that can keep in constant contact with your doctor as
you update your readings throughout the day. Walking into a retail store, you
are recognized and greeted and sent personalized coupons and offers. Passengers
in a car can surf the Web on a dashboard screen or on a screen mounted on the
back of a headrest -- and there's much more.
the network side are companies like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint
Nextel and T-Mobile. Don't forget all the innovative handset and app makers.
Plus I fully expect new handset makers to enter the marketplace, like Lenovo and
others. What, you didn't think Apple and Google would be the only non-wireless
companies to enter and lead the wireless space, did you?
are just in the very early stages in this exciting transformation. There is so
much innovation all around us. All we really have to do is pick a direction and
run. This means there is great opportunity for workers, customers and investors.
annual CTIA show is always one of the most exciting events of the year in the
U.S. wireless industry. Enjoy this year's show. Just keep your eyes open and
your mind clear, and imagine what tomorrow will bring. The real opportunities
will be hiding in plain sight.
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
Dish Network and SoftBank are vying for Sprint not only because of what it has to offer today, but also because of the many new opportunities tomorrow will bring. The wireless industry is undergoing a revolutionary transformation, and companies that want to be on the growth side of the wave are looking for ways to expand their horizons. That's why owning Sprint could be a very big deal for either Dish or SoftBank, and neither is ready to back away.
to countless conversations with reporters, I have developed a crystal clear idea
of why Dish Network and SoftBank want to acquire Sprint Nextel. It has less to
do with wireless carrier ambitions, and much more to do with the future -- being
leaders in a new space that's still largely under the radar.
wireless took off, it is was all about voice calls. Then the industry realized
if it wanted to continue strong growth, it had to be more than just voice. Since
the late 1990s, we've seen a constant progression of wireless data speed and
functionality. Wireless now supports text, Web, images, video, live television
Is in the Wind
every carrier and handset maker has seen the same high levels of growth, but the
industry in general has -- and the future of wireless looks even better than the
past. Sprint Nextel was a rapidly growing company a decade ago. Then it slipped.
It took two CEOs and a variety of changes at the corporate level to first see,
then fix the problem.
Sprint is actually a good quality provider of wireless services, but it hasn't
been able to convince the marketplace of that fact. So it continues to struggle.
By the way, this same thing happened to it in the 1980s and 90s. It took Sprint
forever to get past that problem time. Remember the pin drop commercials?
at the last few years. Six years ago, Apple's iPhone and Google's Android didn't
even exist. Today the industry circles around them -- and the industry keeps
growing, changing and innovating. What will it look like in another five years?
will be very different. Sure, wireless will continue on it's growth path with
smartphones, apps and more, but there are other things in store. Tomorrow is why
companies like Dish and SoftBank want to get their hands on Sprint.
the Action Is
are three big growth segments few are thinking about today:
Companies like Dish could use networks like Sprint's to deliver video and
Internet to customers. That means Dish customers could get a wider array of
services wherever they were.
There are more smartphone innovations to come. Today, we don't leave our homes
without taking three things with us: our smartphone, car keys and wallet. As
smartphones develop, they will be in charge of everything in our lives. Going
forward, we'll just have to remember one thing when we walk out the door -- our
smartphone can unlock and start up a car. Just think about how you do that
today. You carry a key fob in your pocket and simply hit the start button on the
dash. Well the same technology that's in the fob can be in your smartphone. It's
as easy as that. Plus your smartphone will keep you in touch with your car app
to stay up to date so you'll know when it's time for another quart of oil, or an
oil change, or changing other fluids and filters. Plus it wirelessly connects
with the manufacturer , so you can report problems with your car and be notified
of recalls and so on.
addition, you will store all of your personal and ID information in digital
format on your smartphone -- think of an e-DriversLicense, or insurance card and
registration -- and have it automatically updated. Same thing with all your
photos and membership cards.
Other industries need help to go wireless. You may have noticed that both
AT&T and Verizon have been running television commercials about helping
other industries use wireless and wireline networks and technology to innovate
their business models. That's an enormous opportunity for growth in the wireless
industry. This is also a great opportunity for Sprint.
walking into your favorite retail store, and the moment you walk through the
doors, your phone beeps and you receive a friendly greeting. As you walk through
the aisles, you get personalized offers for special sales.
that every time you test your blood, your numbers get sent to your doctor so
your diabetes can be monitored in real-time. Imagine sitting in the back seat of
your parents' car and watching television or surfing the Web on the back of a
headrest. All these things and more are real today, and much more is coming.
This a sampling of the enormous opportunity we are moving toward.
We are just in the very early stages of this new wireless
revolution -- and these are only three examples of what the future holds in
Race Is On
any question as to why Dish Network and SoftBank want to make big moves in this
exciting new marketplace? Many more companies will be interested in taking
advantage of wireless opportunities going forward as well.
opportunity is both for today's wireless marketplace and tomorrow's, which is
much larger than anyone can imagine. We know all the changes the wireless
industry has been through in the last five years with the smartphone revolution.
Well, we are not done. The revolution continues. The question now is what
changes can we expect going forward? How will things be different in the next
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
years ago, lightning struck the wireless industry. Apple launched the iPhone and
Google unveiled Android. These two companies rapidly changed the smartphone
segment and then the entire industry. These are still the early days in this
transformed landscape, and I see no slowdown ahead. Today is much bigger than
yesterday, so what will tomorrow look like?
wireless industry is in the middle of a transformation. That means there are
many new opportunities going forward, but there are many new challenges as well.
Which ideas, companies and sectors will win is the question.
have been a wireless and technology industry analyst for more than 25 years. I
have followed and worked with many companies as they changed the industry -- and
change continues. The annual CTIA conference is coming in May, and the
technology and ideas demonstrated will be simply incredible.
wireless industry looks very different from several years ago. What will it look
like several years ahead?
though the industry is growing, some handset makers and networks have succeeded,
while others have struggled.
has both the iOS operating system and the iPhone. Google is primarily concerned
with the Android operating system. It works with various handset makers like
Samsung. I've heard that Apple and Google dominate roughly 90 percent of the
mobile OS market so far. Not bad for an idea that's only a few years old.
there are numerous companies fighting to lead among handset manufacturers. Who
will be No. 3? Two possibilities are past leaders like Nokia, which is
partnering with Microsoft on a series of devices, and BlackBerry. Currently,
both the Nokia Lumia 920 and the new BlackBerry Z10 are excellent devices. I
have used both and like them.
are very different in design. However, they have not yet broken through to
compete successfully with Apple, Google and Samsung and take big market share --
not yet, anyway.
companies also want to break into a leadership position with handsets, like Sony
with its Xperia, Huawei, HTC, ZTE, LG and others.
the carrier side, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are the strongest
national networks in the U.S. They are also busy expanding into new markets,
helping other industries reinvent themselves. As they grow, they are helping
other industries grow through wireless as well.
Nextel is once again becoming a good carrier. It has put up a valiant fight over
recent years to regain market share, but it is still struggling for growth. Now
it wants to merge with Softbank. If this deal is approved, it may indeed help
Sprint, but with new ownership, it may also become a very different competitor.
has been struggling for growth for years. It is trying to reinvent itself with a
new CEO at the helm. It has introduced innovative new billing plans and is now
selling the iPhone. It is expected to close a merger deal with MetroPCS soon.
hope it can turn things around, because the industry needs large, strong,
national competitors. Its performance has been disappointing in recent years.
Are things getting ready to change?
Spire Wireless is a strong regional wireless carrier with high speeds, popular
phones like the iPhone, and very attractive pricing, which customers love.
Cellular is currently struggling. It is a good company in a weakened position.
The question is will it get back on track in 2013?
the prepaid side, companies like Tracfone have a strong wireless business but
compete for a different segment of the marketplace and do it differently.
you can see, wireless is winning and growing, but that's not true for every
competitor. Remember, however, these companies can change position over the next
few years. There have already been many changes over the last few years and I
expect that to continue.
that's where we are today. What about tomorrow? What will change?
is the exciting part of what I do. I get to talk with and follow the senior
executives of the carriers and gain a pretty good understanding of the direction
of companies and the industry in general.
have talked with quite a few executives for various wireless networks, handset
makers and app makers -- as well as people from other industries, like
automotive, healthcare and more -- who are using wireless to reinvent the way
they do business.
there are three things we don't leave the house without: our wallet, our keys
and our smartphone. Tomorrow we will just have to take the smartphone. That's
right, it will act as our wallet, storing credit card information, driver's
license, photos and the like.
for our keys, the automotive industry has already given us the ability to have a
FOB in our pocket and a push button on the dash to start, so why not just have
that technology in our smartphone? It's coming.
in the smartphone sector are changing. It's not just about the technology any
longer. It's also about show business. It's about marketing, advertising and
public relations. It should be interesting to watch things develop.
recent example: A few weeks ago, Samsung introduced its Galaxy 4 at Radio City
Music Hall in New York City in what may have been the largest, show-biz type
introductory event of all time for the wireless industry. This event raised
Samsung in the mind of the marketplace.
good -- but how will it top that show next time? How will other companies
compete? The bar is continually being raised. How do we top that?!
example is Facebook, which -- like the Apple of six years ago -- is not a
wireless company. Yet it wants to reinvent the wireless business as well. It
recently announced Facebook Home, attracting the kind of media attention that
was unheard of a few short years ago. Check Google for how many stories were
written. You'll be amazed.
Apple, Facebook could indeed change the industry in new and uncertain ways. Be
on the lookout for new opportunities.
expect many other companies to jump into this space going forward. This goes far
beyond this one company and this one launcher -- even beyond more launchers from
customers will like Facebook Home, but others may like it just once in a while.
Some users might like several different launcher home screens from different
means as a next step we have to come up with a way to manage multiple launchers
or customized home screens. Who will develop that? Plus, think about developing
your own personalized launcher. There will be lots of new competitors in this
are other industries that want to use wireless to get a competitive advantage in
the marketplace. All it takes is one established company to come up with an
idea. After a short while, competitors will do the same thing -- until all
competitors have to offer it just to stay in business.
pull the camera back as industry after industry will start to use the wireless
industry to update the business practices. Walk into a retail store, and
technology will greet you and offer you personalized coupons based on past
also is being transformed. You can test your diabetes blood sugar numbers and
send the results directly to your doctor for ongoing management, skipping a
doctor's appointment, thank you, yet getting better care.
smartphone apps developed at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center are
helping stroke survivors walk again. Imagine what else the healthcare industry
has in store.
same thing is happening in the automotive industry. Starting with companies like
Lexus, Cadillac and Mercedes Benz, then Ford and now Chevrolet, this technology
is new and exciting and will change our lives. The innovation wheel is just
starting in industry after industry.
is an opportunity for every industry and also a big-time opportunity for the
wireless industry, which will be at the center of this new universe with
handsets, apps and networks.
why networks like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are plowing the road in
this area. Helping every other industry is a huge growth opportunity for the
big challenge today is bridging the gap -- getting wireless executives and other
industry executives to be able to communicate and understand each other so they
can make these dreams come true. This is harder than you can imagine.
today we are surrounded by plenty of challenges as well as opportunities. Expect
new technologies that we haven't even thought of yet as well.
will continue to grow, delivering new and innovative services to customers, and
working with other industries. Some companies will win and others will struggle,
but wireless in general will grow and remain healthy.
look forward to learning and writing about the innovators and the companies
taking leadership roles going forward. What ideas and technologies will emerge
tomorrow? That's an exciting question. There will be challenges and
opportunities. The race is on whether you are a customer, investor or worker --
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
year ago, Aereo hit the market with one hot idea: a reinvention of the pay
television business. Chairman Barry Diller is the familiar name that lends this
company credibility. However, it has been a slow year for Aereo's growth. Its
plans were thwarted by stumbling blocks. However, many of them may now be
cleared away, thanks to a court ruling earlier this week. If so, what's next for
streams television over the Internet for a fee -- so far only in the New York
City region. Its expected rapid rollout has not happened over the past year.
reason is that Aereo was being sued by various broadcasters. However, the
decision handed down this week from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals looks
good for Aereo. The ruling allows it to partner with pay-TV providers. That
means companies suing Aereo, like Fox, CBS, NBC and 14 other broadcasters, have
to decide whether to take a different route to carry on their fight. Stay tuned.
Aereo is indeed in the clear, it wants to expand, and it looks as though it is
considering partnerships with cable, satellite or telephone company IPTV. There
are quite a few options, as you can imagine. What will come from all of this
CEO Chet Kanojia said Monday's ruling sends a powerful message that consumer
access to free-to-air broadcast television is still meaningful. So what's next?
No partnership agreements have been signed yet because of legal uncertainty.
Could that be behind Aereo now? Could everything now start to change? Perhaps.
has been talking with several competitors lately, exploring partnerships with
major pay-TV distributors and Internet service providers like AT&T and Dish
year ago Chairman Barry Diller said Aereo could expand to 100 cities within the
next year. It missed that one by a long shot. Now Aereo plans to reach 22
markets in 2013. Will that actually happen? Is it getting ready to blaze a trail
hard to know what to expect from this startup. On one hand, without Barry
Diller, this would be just another one-in-a- million shot. On the other hand,
having name recognition to help the company rise above the noise could be the
single point of difference to help it succeed.
will the future bring for Aereo? The good news is Aereo is still a startup, and
it's common for things to get in the way of a rapid rollout. The only question
is, are these things insurmountable or are they just stumbling blocks?
like the idea of Aereo. I want it to succeed. In fact, I want others to succeed
as well. I believe the entire pay-TV industry would benefit from new
competitors. Shaking things up will help reduce costs and raise innovation.
of Aereo like a cable television company that delivers signal over the Web --
very innovative. This is what companies in this space are trying to expand into.
Fortunately, there are plenty of companies that could make a good partner, such
as AT&T, Verizon, Dish, DirectTV, Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. Countless
others, including Amazon and Netflix, could be interested as well.
is Aereo a standalone brand or could it be part of a larger brand? What
direction will it eventually head?
hope this legal stuff is now out of the way for Aereo. That will clear the decks
and we can see if it will fly. Aereo is a very innovative idea, and that is
worth cheering. Barry Diller is the kind of name that can help raise this
company from the noise of countless other competitors trying to find their way
to the top and break out. This is a good idea, and Aereo could make a good
partner to other service providers.
are many reasons Aereo can and should make it. Don't know yet if it will, but
this is an interesting story to follow. We'll just have to keep our eyes on
Aereo and hope for the best.
5:00 AM PT
I really want to like the new BlackBerry Z10. The marketplace needs more competitors. The problem is BlackBerry has been sizzling like crazy, but now that we can see it, well, where's the beef? The best I can say is good first effort at this new design, BlackBerry. It's not enough, but it's a good first effort. Now go and make it better.
the BlackBerry Z10 was first in my hands, I was prepared to write a glowing
review of the new device and operating system. I like BlackBerry. I thought I
was going to be able to write how it was a real competitor to the Apple iPhone
and Samsung Galaxy. I was hoping to be able to say BlackBerry was back.
Unfortunately, I can't -- not yet. The new Z10 is better in some ways and worse
only had this device for a couple of weeks, so I don't yet know all it can do,
but here are my first impressions.
you upgrade to a new version of the iPhone or your favorite Android device,
there is familiarity. It's new, but not all new. It's comfortable. Only when you
move to a completely different handset do you have to relearn the entire
operating system. There is an uncertainty about how to make it work and how to
find all the new features.
is starting life all over again with new handsets, functionality and a brand new
operating system, BlackBerry 10. This is more complicated to understand than
just upgrading your handset to the next new version -- especially when things
don't work right. My BlackBerry Z10 froze from time to time, and I could do
nothing but wait until it decided to work again.
like to talk about the steak and the sizzle. This is how a company should think
to be successful. The old BlackBerry was the steak, but had no sizzle. That was
the reason it quickly fell behind. This remake has the sizzle but not the steak.
Without both, success is not possible. BlackBerry can recover from this though.
big question is, will this change be enough to give customers what they want and
save the company? These first couple of weeks of use show me that this new
BlackBerry, the way it is today, makes that uncertain for the long term.
short term should be good for the company, though, as current BlackBerry users,
starving for something new, will switch out their existing handsets for one of
the new BlackBerry 10 models over the coming year. What's next? Will it win them
over? Will they stay? Does BlackBerry 10 have the long legs it needs for
on the BB10 and Z10 technology as they are today, I would say that for most
users, the answer is no. However, that could change. BlackBerry could update
both and have a great, competitive handset over the next year or two.
neither the iPhone nor any of the Android phones were great when they burst onto
the scene. They won on innovation. Over the years, they improved, caught the
flow, and started to really succeed. Now they are cruising right along and are
the market dominators.
same thing could happen with BlackBerry. Its new OS could have a weak start,
then make corrections and updates and really catch on over the next year.
Whether it will is the question. Can't say -- we'll just have to wait and see
what they do next.
big problem is the marketplace has been waiting so long already, and
expectations were very high. Still, we can wait and hope the new BlackBerry
phones can take the same improvement path as the early iPhone and Android
can be very successful with a strong and growing share, even starting as low as
5 percent of the market. It doesn't have to hit it out of the park, which of
course is what we were all expecting.
Z10 is better than previous versions of BlackBerry in several ways and worse in
others. That will attract many old-time users to upgrade. However, many others
may find staying with the older technology is still better for them. The truth
is, as new and advanced as the new BlackBerry 10 is, the older version is still
better in several ways for many users. It all depends on what your needs are.
old BlackBerry had few crashes and freezes. The newer has many more. This is
something that hopefully can be corrected with updates. The old BlackBerry lets
users sync with Outlook and share information like Memos and Notes. The new
BlackBerry does not -- or I haven't found it yet. The new BlackBerry has voice
recognition, which is a plus, but it does not do as much -- or do it as easily
-- as an iPhone or a top Android phone.
are many interesting new features and apps if you need them. However, compared
to the competition, the number of available apps is relatively small, and that
is one key indicator of success.
Web browser is better but still disappointing. It should sync the Favorites from
your computer browser like the iPhone does -- but it doesn't, so you must create
your own new favorites file. Aside from that, the browser works better than the
previous version in many ways.
is plenty this device does well. However, with limited apps and functionality --
at this stage -- the question is will it be successful? Everyone interested will
ask this question: Is BlackBerry worth it? The cost is roughly the same, but the
features and functionality are not yet up to the same level as the top
BlackBerry, if your goal is to be a strong No. 3, keep improving and you may get
there -- but you are not there yet. You have heavy-duty competitors who aren't
sitting back and handing victory to you.
sure you have both the sizzle and the steak. The race is not over. This is still
the magical time when good operating systems and handsets can carve out their
own niches. Don't be fooled into thinking your new technology is good enough.
It's not today, but it can be. There is an incredible opportunity if you can
crack the code. The market does want you to succeed -- don't let us down.
5:00 AM PT
are big changes afoot in the wireless industry. A year ago Apple was riding
high. Today, it is responding to Samsung's new device with explanatory emails.
That's an amazing change for Apple. Has its position veered from offensive to
defensive? Apple always ignored other companies. Now it is firing off emails and
Galaxy S4 Dims Apple's Glow Talk about attracting attention. As I write this,
there are more than a thousand recent news stories and opinion pieces on the
Google News site about the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4. That's an incredible win
for a company that a few short years ago wasn't well known in the wireless
business. Since Samsung is successfully transforming how the world thinks about
it as a smartphone maker, what can we expect going forward?
Samsung Galaxy S4
I'm reading the cards correctly, we can expect quite a bit. First, let's pull
the camera back and take a look at Samsung from a longer-term historical
perspective. Ten years ago, it was not a strong brand name in the wireless space
at all, but it had a goal.
few years ago -- before the great smartphone rush -- I met several high-level
Samsung senior executives at a small Sprint Nextel event in Las Vegas. At that
time, Samsung was building its brand in the space, but it still was struggling
the last year or so, Samsung really seems to have hit its stride with the Galaxy
S devices. Partnering with Google and using its Android operating system in
wireless phones, Samsung has taken the lead in the space, far outpacing other
handset makers. Samsung is climbing the growth side of the wave I often discuss.
week, at its big event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Samsung blew
the roof off. It has become the leader on the Android side, competing directly
with Apple. In fact, Samsung has Apple in its sights. Samsung is the No. 1
smartphone manufacturer in the world, and it wants to become the No. 1,
best-known brand in the U.S. market as well.
is a threat to Apple, but what can we really expect?
you read the stories, you will find plenty who love Samsung and the new Galaxy
S4. Many think it is the iPhone killer. However, there are just as many who
think it's just another device -- no big deal. It's just another Android phone,
and it will have no effect on the iPhone. The truth may be somewhere in between.
easy to offer an opinion -- everyone has one. However, they are mostly based on
emotion -- individual likes or dislikes. Opinions by themselves really have
little effect on who will win or lose in the marketplace.
what's the answer? Well, there are plenty who like the Samsung Galaxy S4. Then
again, there are also plenty who prefer the Apple iPhone. There are others who
are drawn to the Nokia Lumia powered by Microsoft Windows Phone, or the new
BlackBerry Z10, or any of a great number of devices from Huawei, ZTE, Sony,
Motorola, HTC, LG and more.
about all these options, we can smile because yes, it appears we have the
beginnings of a growing and apparently very healthy and changing market. That is
very good news -- so far, at least.
companies we follow are changing as well. Yesterday we compared the two platform
heavy hitters, Apple's iOS vs. Google's Android. However, while Apple has built
an ecosystem that includes both an operating system and a line of handsets,
Google's smartphone presence comes primarily through its Android OS, which is
installed on many different handsets. Google's own branded smartphones have not
really clicked yet, but that's another story.
thinking about the leaders in this space, we have to decide whether we are
talking about the operating systems or the handsets. The leading operating
systems are Google's Android and Apple's iOS. The leading handset manufacturers
are Apple and Samsung.
Samsung is riding its rapid growth wave on handsets, while Apple may be cresting
-- for now. This is a rapidly changing marketplace, so the leaders may shuffle
from time to time.
on the Defensive
the mobile device market, Apple has never had to counterpunch before. Suddenly
things are changing. Suddenly Apple is acting like the underdog -- very
un-Apple-like. It no longer looks like the formidable leader of a year ago. It
looks like it has taken a few punches and is trying to catch its breath. Samsung
looks like it is gaining ground.
don't let all these theatrics fool you. The fight is not over. Apple will
continue to do strong business, even though its stock price is in the toilet
right now, because its customers love the company. It can recover, of course.
The question is, will it? These waves often play out over several years.
the camera back and looking at the industry in general, it's clear that
consumers want multiple choices. Some want one kind of device, while others want
another. Many users like a smaller device and appreciate the entire Apple
approach. Others like a larger screen and are more in tune with Samsung's
approach. There are countless others who like the other competitive offerings as
the point. That's what we call the beginning of a healthy marketplace and
choice. We want multiple players. We want choice. That will keep innovation
high, prices low, and both customers and investors happy. Don't hope that one
wins and the others lose -- hope they all win. That is good for everyone.
the meantime, expect the battles between Apple and Google, and Apple and Samsung
to continue. Keep your eyes open for two things later this year: One, watch what
Apple does next; two, look for some surprises from smaller competitors. 2013
should be a very interesting year.
5:00 AM PT
Microsoft has made dramatic shifts and changes, and it wants to force everyone into its new space, like it or not. Most users do not like it -- not at this point in time, anyway. Microsoft should be thinking about creating software that allows users to migrate from one version to another at their own pace.
was once rapidly growing like Google and Apple. Then it changed. It became a
very large, but very slow growing company. These days it seems stuck, struggling
to break into other businesses. By the way, the same thing is starting at Apple
growth wave Microsoft rode crested years ago, but it hasn't been able to catch
the next wave. It is still successful, just not rapidly growing in new sectors.
Why? What should it do?
Pick of the Week is LightSquared.
Is it coming back?
Steve Ballmer has been with Microsoft, along with Bill Gates, since the
beginning. He is still excited and visionary. However, the company simply no
longer connects with today's customers for new products and services. There's a
reason for that.
are two parts to Microsoft. One is focused on the Windows operating systems and
software like Office. The other is the innovative part, trying to become
successful in other businesses, like wireless.
you had asked me a year ago, I would have said Microsoft's software side was
strong while its innovation side was not. However, today I have to say both are
missing the mark. Microsoft seems to have lost its ability to connect with users
on both existing and new products.
reason is obvious to me, from both my analyst and customer perspectives.
Microsoft has been trying to succeed in wireless for a decade, without much
success. Recently it partnered with Nokia on Lumia. It is getting better --
however, the marketplace is also continuing to move ahead. That's why it decided
to completely transform its operations and blend its operating systems, software
is the same successful path Apple has taken over the years. The general idea
makes a lot of sense, but the problem is it does not work for Microsoft.
Microsoft is not Apple. Microsoft's customers are not Apple customers.
Apple brand has two meanings. One is for customers who buy and use their
software and devices separately. The other is for customers who buy separate
pieces and want them to sync and work together. Apple has both sides taken care
of, so no one is cut out. Apple delights customers.
Apple updates its software, it doesn't radically reinvent it, the way Microsoft
does. That is another important key.
sees Apple's success and is trying to imitate it. Fine. However, it is changing
too much, too quickly, and not giving customers a chance to catch their breath.
Customers don't have an escape hatch.
segment of the Microsoft customer base likes innovative change. However, a
larger segment takes longer to adapt to it, and those folks are being rudely
ignored. Microsoft does not care about making its customers feel comfortable.
That is another key problem.
sees the threat of a changing industry and thinks it needs to completely
reinvent itself, all at once. That's another problem. It should take a longer
time to give customers the chance to choose this change. Don't make it a single
event -- like it or not.
has always been that way. It always directed. It did not care about the
customer. That is another problem. It always was a problem, but since there was
no real alternative other than Apple, Microsoft didn't suffer. That is changing
now. There are other choices, and those alternatives are increasing.
Different Kind of Change
must change the way it interacts with the industry or it will continue to lose.
The idea of an innovative new product sounds perfect -- however, the changes are
too great for many to adapt quickly. That's the problem. Patience is an
attribute that Microsoft has never had.
some users like new ideas and want change. Some want to use multiple devices and
have them all work together and want an entirely new Windows experience.
the majority of customers are not there yet, and their needs are being ignored.
Those customers would prefer not to have to make such a dramatic change. They
don't want to be forced to spend so much time and energy learning a new software
don't think Microsoft gets it. It doesn't think from the perspective of the
customer -- how much time and aggravation is involved in learning a new
operating system. Microsoft doesn't look at this from the customer perspective
-- only from the investor perspective. That's another problem.
is a basic flaw in Microsoft's thinking. It has always been its problem. Rather
than just tweaking and improving the software, it totally reinvents it every few
years. This requires all of its customers to invest substantial time and energy,
simply to learn how the new software works. Customers are busy. They are
actually unhappy with Microsoft for this very reason.
along with millions of others, have been a Microsoft customer for decades.
However, I don't know if that will continue if I am forced to make such dramatic
changes. All of a sudden there are viable options, and that is the problem for
should give satisfied customers the ability to keep their existing software and
operating systems like XP and Office, and simply pay a small, annual fee to keep
the version current and updated. That would keep everyone happy -- the customers
and Microsoft's investors.
would be innovative and very successful. Why has it never thought of this
before? The reason is it wants to keep growing. It wants to force all its
customers to buy more software.
needs to change its thinking from solely an investment perspective, to a
customer and user perspective. If not, it will suffer.
the big problem for Microsoft going forward. There are two different customer
groups: One wants innovation -- radical change; the other does not. Only one is
being served, and that's why the majority of Microsoft customers feel abused.
the customer base will no longer work, as customers have more choice. The cloud
is changing everything. Google and Apple and others will continue to grow and
eat away at Microsoft unless it begins to understand the problem and change its
thinking. It's that simple.
far, Microsoft is trying to force its entire customer base to jump through
hoops, like it did 20 years ago. That will hurt the company going forward --
both its Windows and Office divisions and its mobile and tablet operations.
is great. However, don't force your customers to innovate on your time frame.
Let them do it on their time frame. Make your customers love you. Don't let them
feel neglected and abused. That is the only way to succeed in a changing
marketplace. Microsoft, you are no longer the only choice in town. The sooner
you realize that the better off you will be.
Pick of the Week is LightSquared.
Is it coming back? Maybe it is.
may be getting ready to see the rebirth of LightSquared -- its second attempt.
Remember its rise and fall a year or so ago? LightSquared was supposed to be a
solution for the wireless data spectrum shortage looming over the smartphone
was the brainchild of hedge fund magnate Phil Falcone, and it sounded like a
solution to the growing wireless problem. Then came the interference with the
GPS industry, causing it to crumble.
thought it was dead and gone. It lost its CEO and CMO. However, word is it is
still around and ready to jump back into the marketplace.
may hear more about LightSquared in the next few weeks. Things are different
this time. It is partnered with another company and a university. I wonder if it
will be as interesting as before? Either way, the industry still needs a
solution to the growing capacity problem.
see. Stay tuned.
5:00 AM PT
are taking over the global mobile device market, with Samsung and Apple elbowing
each other for the top spot. Their competition is far behind, but that doesn't
mean the fight for the No. 3 position won't be fierce. In fact, that may spur
some of the most interesting developments, with manufacturers innovating to draw
consumers to their brands.
about six years ago, the wireless world was pretty predictable. BlackBerry and
Nokia were the leaders, and everything was growing and stable. Then the iPhone
earthquake changed everything. Android soon followed, creating more disruption.
Today the global handset leaders are Samsung and Apple.
the big story in 2013 is who will be No. 3. The competition will be intense.
and Nokia, the leaders a few short years ago, are gearing up for battle to
become No. 3. BlackBerry is rolling out its brand new BB10 devices, like the
Z10, in the next couple of weeks. At the same time, Nokia is pushing its Lumia
phones -- which run Microsoft's Windows Phone OS -- and it looks to be a worthy
Mobility gave me a Nokia Lumia 920 to use, and the operating system is
completely different from any other OS on the market. It's very good -- but very
different. Expect a learning curve, but once you get past that you may love it.
There are many valuable apps loaded up from the start.
new BlackBerry sounds innovative as well. I'll have one in the next week or so
and be able to compare. I'll be looking at how easy it is to use, what's new --
and what's missing.
think the battle is just between BlackBerry and Nokia, though. Sony is
re-entering the smartphone handset space and intends to win the No. 3 spot. It
may have been asleep at the switch for the last few years, but it's back. Now
let's see if the marketplace will recognize it once again. Its strategy to win
customers in different countries with different features sounds promising.
will compete against Huawei Technology and ZTE, which also have their eyes on
No. 3 -- and there's more. Motorola, HTC, LG and others could also make a play.
why I say 2013 will be the year of the battle for No. 3. It will be a wild and
wacky world with marketing, advertising and public relations. New devices from
many of these key players will be introduced in the next few weeks and months.
think BlackBerry, Nokia and Sony will have a relatively good year, at least
compared with the last few. There are many existing customers who want something
new. Who will win in the long term is the question. What will the marketplace
look like over the next few years? The long term may be very different from the
first year -- it always is.
industry changes quickly. Fifteen years ago, the wireless business was analog
voice. Ten years ago, it was digital, and was just about voice, text and email.
Five years ago, Apple's iPhone hit the market and Google then launched its
Android OS. A number of manufacturers offer handsets running Android, but
Samsung leads the pack. Today Samsung and Apple are the world's No. 1 and 2
about the next few years? We are just in the very early innings of this new
smartphone game. The wireless and smartphone industry is one of the most
exciting business sectors on Earth today. It's important to realize, however,
that not every company is doing well. Sure, Samsung and Apple are doing strong
business on the handset side, globally and in the U.S.
Mobility and Verizon Wireless are the dominant U.S. carriers -- but many other
companies are struggling.
believe 2013 will be very interesting and re-set the leadership scoreboard. A
quick look at the Consumer Electronics Show, as well as wireless shows like MWC
and CTIA, makes that very clear. There is a wide assortment of phone makers,
networks, app developers and more -- all competing for attention, market share
and success. Only a few will make the top of the list.
the question is, which company will become No. 3 in 2013? This is going to be a
loud and activity-filled year. The market needs a larger selection of operating
systems -- people want choices. 2013 will be all about choice.
of today, I think Samsung and Apple will hold onto the No. 1 and 2 spots. The
battle for No. 3 is where the action will be this year. So who will win? And
what will the marketplace look like in another five years? Interesting
questions. No one knows yet. The industry can change on a dime. So -- ready,
set, let the games begin.
5:00 AM PT
wants to reinvigorate OnStar, and it chose AT&T Mobility to make that
happen. I have a feeling we are going to see OnStar back on the front page once
again with some very interesting and compelling ideas. It will be expanding
beyond its original emergency road service and security focus to bring a new
world of infotainment to travelers.
years ago, General Motors introduced a groundbreaking service called "OnStar,"
a wireless technology designed to keep drivers safer on the road. Since the
1990s, GM has used the Verizon Wireless network to link cars with OnStar.
it announced this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it's
switching to AT&T Mobility. This is pretty big news -- and what we can
expect going forward may come as a surprise.
switch is not good news for Verizon Wireless, but it is very good news for
AT&T Mobility. It reminds me of the beginning of the iPhone wave six years
ago. When Apple decided to get into the wireless business, it approached Verizon
Wireless, but the carrier said no. AT&T Mobility said yes, and the rest is
started as a way to keep a helpful eye on drivers. It started with providing
emergency road and antitheft services, directions and other information. Now
OnStar wants to rapidly expand. Users will be able to purchase different levels
of service -- from basic protection to navigation, games, movies, television
shows, music, books, newspapers, the Internet and much more.
drivers will not have access to all these goodies, so they can keep their eyes
on the road. These features will be for passengers and kids, of course. When
parked, drivers can enjoy them as well.
Innovation to Come
was an innovative idea before Apple and Google started the smartphone
revolution. During the last few years, however, consumers have gotten used to
holding a great many innovations in their hands, and OnStar has faded into the
background a bit.
users wonder why they need OnStar with the smartphone world clipped to their
belt. True, OnStar is not for everyone. However, as laws governing motorists'
use of cellphones change, the need for a service like OnStar is only growing.
is one key problem when a driver uses a phone. That's why automakers like GM are
working to give customers the connectivity they want while reducing distraction.
Ford Sync, Toyota Entune and Lexus Enform are similar systems.
think we will see quite a bit of OnStar innovation going forward using the
AT&T networks. When you marry the wireless industry, smartphones and 4G data
speeds with OnStar, that generates quite a bit of excitement.
will likely expand its offerings in the direction of infotainment, according to
Glenn Lurie, who runs this part of the business for AT&T Mobility. That
means streaming audio and video, television and movies, Web access and more.
will also let your kids log onto an in-car WiFi network to use their smartphones
and gaming devices. Oh yeah, that's in addition to navigation and emergency
services. Let's see, will it also pour me a fresh cup of Starbucks?
is the direction that AT&T Mobility is heading, according to CEO Ralph de la
Vega: helping other companies and other industries reinvent themselves and take
advantage of the new wireless world, which is one giant opportunity for creative
will be many new services coming from OnStar, and if you pull the camera back
from the carriers themselves, things are going to get pretty exciting. Buckle
up! Here we go.
5:00 AM PT
Today customer service is a black hole that can suck the life out of innovative companies -- unless it is handled properly. That's why when you call customer service, you notice a big gap between the companies that do it right and the ones that don't. When a customer notices, companies either win or lose. So you had better make sure you continue to delight the customer if you want to keep on winning.
you dread calling a company to get customer support? Most of us do. We are on
hold forever and the problem drags on way too long, leaving brand loyalty
companies are solving that problem by partnering with Support.com -- building
customer loyalty, developing a competitive advantage, and turning a profit at
the same time.
Pick of the Week is Google's rumored plan to open a chain of retail
stores, perhaps much like Apple's.
the Customer Service Light
service is the new battleground, and Support.com, which is a young company, has
become the support partner for many well-known brands, including Comcast, Sony,
Time Warner, Symantec, Office Depot, OfficeMax, AOL, Staples and TrendMicro. It
must be doing something right. In fact, if you pay for advanced customer
service, you may already be getting help from Support.com.
that partner with Support.com can charge their customers a few dollars a month
for enhanced service, which increases satisfaction levels and builds brand
loyalty. It's especially effective compared to traditional customer service.
Support.com contacted me for a briefing, it once again opened my eyes to the
customer satisfaction and brand loyalty space. Solutions to some of the problems
I've been complaining and writing about for years became crystal clear. As I
have often noted before, service is an issue that can build or destroy customer
offers many different services to companies in many industries -- yet customers
often are not aware they are talking with someone from a different company.
helps companies create a new revenue stream and deepen their customer's loyalty
through branded services that enhance their experience, the company's senior
management officials told me. My translation: They make customers happy and keep
customers happy, plus earn profit for themselves and the client company at the
Want Instant Gratification
customers call for service, they want a problem solved -- and quickly. There are
two types of customer care, regular and enhanced. With regular treatment, the
customer's experience often starts with a long wait. By the time the problem is
solved, the customer is often cranky, which does not lead to a good
customer care is often handled by separate companies like Support.com. They fill
the role of the customer service experience provider. Their job is not just to
solve the customer problem, but to improve the customer's relationship with the
company -- and earn a profit in the process.
customer who pays a few dollars per month gets a special number to call for
fast, expert help with problems.
this the kind of service every company wants to provide? Of course it is. So why
aren't more of them taking advantage of this improvement? Maybe they think their
own customer service is good enough. Maybe they don't realize the damage that is
occurring to their brand. Who knows?
companies actually do a great job with customer care. Think of the Ritz-Carlton
Hotel company. It projects a carefully crafted image of ladies and gentleman
serving ladies and gentleman. Apple saw the value in that approach -- it sent
its own management through the Ritz training process before opening its retail
Well or Die
you're right -- this is the kind of experience every company should provide.
Customer service was better before the tech explosion created long lines of
confused and unhappy people.
can all remember plenty of good and bad experiences with customer service. It
can help a company either build or destroy brand loyalty and customer
satisfaction. Good customer care cements the relationship with the customer. Bad
care destroys it.
industries -- wireless, cable television, smartphones and tablets -- are
continuing to grow rapidly. Based on that alone, I see this as a long-term
opportunity -- or a threat, depending how you look at it.
care is a young segment with a big upside going forward. It's up to companies to
solve their customer care problems -- and according to Support.com, you can also
create new areas of growth and profitability at the same time.
Pick of the Week is Google's rumored plan to open physical retail stores
-- perhaps just like Apple's -- in your local shopping malls.
it's true, that would be gigantic news for Google customers, workers and the
entire retail environment. Apple Stores pay their workers much more than minimum
wage, and I fully expect the same from Google.
will be able to see, touch and play with all the new smartphones, tablets and
whatever comes next.
stores are doing very well. The funny thing is, Apple executives visited
Ritz-Carlton Hotel training to get up to speed on treating customers in an
exceptional way. They obviously have succeeded.
would Google look like on the retail front? It would likely follow Apple in some
ways and create a new and different experience in other ways. We'll just have to
wait and see.
and Google have already transformed the wireless industry. Are they now about to
transform the retail industry?
5:00 AM PT
Can BlackBerry's new marketing chief Frank Boulben convince consumers and businesses that its new offerings are right for them? Can it solidly capture the No. 3 position in the smartphone market and start to grow again? The question is simple: Is there a future for BlackBerry, or is it a thing of the past? The answer depends on how well it does with a number of things -- particularly marketing.
Boulben is the new chief marketing officer at BlackBerry and he has his hands
full. Did you ever stand in front of a mountain of work and wonder how to get
started? Marketing was one of several key weaknesses before RIM became
BlackBerry. Can Boulben refresh, reinvigorate and save the smartphone maker? No
one yet knows; however, marketing is key -- and Boulben is now center stage.
question is simple: Will the new BlackBerry 10 succeed or fail? No one knows
yet, but the initial devices are being rolled out. There will be many BlackBerry
10 devices rolled out this year, and they will continually be updated. Marketing
is the next key step in this process.
markets like the U.S. have to wait till sometime in March. This timing was
handled poorly. Forcing the customers to wait that long was a mistake. The
excitement created during the launch event will have cooled by then.
it's finally time to throw BlackBerry in the water and see if it can swim. These
new BlackBerry devices have both strengths and weaknesses compared to
competitors. They are not perfect, but then again neither are Apple and Google.
All competitors have different strengths and weaknesses.
may ask, so if the device is ready, what else matters? One word: marketing. Can
BlackBerry become a top marketer? It never was before. It never understood the
importance. Of course, you may say it wasn't important back then -- but a few
years ago, it became critical, and the tank was empty.
that's the question. Is BlackBerry ready, and does it understand marketing? To
tell you the truth, I don't yet know, but I have heard some pros and cons.
have been watching BlackBerry for signs of marketing life. Where is the magic
potion it needs? What I have seen is good progress -- but is it good enough?
Will it wow the marketplace?
hired Frank Boulben last year from LightSquared to head up the marketing
department. At the time, his hire did not get much attention, but today Boulben
may be the single most important factor in whether BlackBerry succeeds.
the last year, I have seen examples of both good and bad, and while BlackBerry
marketing is better than before, the nagging question is simple -- is it enough?
is an example of a BlackBerry mistake. Many users need a feature that BlackBerry
once offered. It lets them synchronize information between an older version of
Microsoft Outlook on their computer with their BlackBerry. On Outlook, the
feature is called "Notes." On the BlackBerry, it's called "Memo
Pad." The problem is the new BlackBerry 10 does not let users do this as
all earlier versions did.
fact, Apple quickly added this feature to the iPhone after the first year or
two. Without this feature, many BlackBerry users who stuck with the smartphone
may have to switch to another device like Apple's iPhone, which still offers it.
is one example of the concern I have for BlackBerry. Does it see the forest or
just the trees?
must update, of course, but it must keep all the features and functionality its
existing users are used to and still need. There are reasons BlackBerry users
have stuck with the company. The new design is great, but it shouldn't lose some
key features. Getting rid of features will carve away user loyalty, and that's
the last thing that needs to happen.
used to be No. 1. Then the iPhone and a slew of Android smartphones entered the
marketplace about six years ago. Now they dominate the market. BlackBerry has
fallen very quickly.
the situation is not really as bad as it sounds. Six years ago, the smartphone
market was tiny compared to today. RIM could still have all the customers it had
back then and be No. 3 today. Still, it has lost plenty of business -- lots of
2013 to be the battle for the No. 3 position. Competitors like Microsoft, Nokia,
Sony and many others will be vying with BlackBerry for that spot.
can BlackBerry's Boulben convince the marketplace that its new offerings are
right for them? Can it solidly capture the No. 3 position and start to grow
again? The question is simple: Is there a future for BlackBerry, or is it a
thing of the past? The answer depends on how well it does with the customer, as
well as with marketing, public relations, media relations, analyst relations and
has developed so many new and exciting features and so much new functionality.
It's really a breath of fresh air. The company has a couple of great new devices
-- and its products will continue to get better over time. What could make
BlackBerry hot is already here.
one concern is that the new BlackBerry may leave off many important features
that existing users like. A bigger concern is whether BlackBerry will be able to
really create a meaningful marketing push, which is something it has never done
before. I'm not sure.
hope so. I want BlackBerry to win. I want the company to be a solid competitor
against Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia and others. I only hope it is ready to
pull out all the stops and make its dream a reality. BlackBerry has to hit this
one out of the park -- a single won't be good enough.
Frank. As they say in baseball, "Batter up!"
Pick of the Week is the Nokia Lumia. There are different versions. The
920 and 820 are available from AT&T Mobility; the 822 from Verizon Wireless;
and the 810 from T-Mobile.
can only talk about the AT&T Mobility version -- the Nokia Lumia 920 --
since that is the unit I've been testing. AT&T passed it out during its analyst
meeting a few months ago.
didn't think that I would like it, but to tell you the truth, this is a very
impressive device and operating system. It's fast, does everything very
smoothly, and has tons of apps. It just works very differently.
have to admit, letting us play with it is the best way to let people really know
about how different, how innovative, and how good this device is. It's very
different from both the iPhone and any of the Android-powered phones on the
makes this device different is the Microsoft Windows 8 interface. The Nokia
Microsoft partnership fits well here. It's another choice of operating systems,
and more choice is always better.
which smartphone is best for you -- an iPhone, an Android or a Lumia? Aha.
That's the million-dollar question. I can't answer that one. That's up to you --
everybody is different.
make matters more confusing, there are other new operating systems entering the
marketplace -- like the BlackBerry 10 later in March. So there will be plenty
more to choose from. That's ultimately good news.
Nokia Lumia 920 using Microsoft Windows 8 is definitely worth your
5:00 AM PT
At the heart of AT&T's strategy to keep pace with consumers' increasing appetite for mobile data is small cell technology. Small cells improve network coverage and capacity in areas that can't be served effectively by traditional cell towers. They use spectrum more efficiently, relieving the burden on wireless networks.
looks as though AT&T Mobility has developed a small cell solution to the
wireless industry's spectrum shortage -- a data capacity problem that will
affect customers of every carrier. AT&T's is not the only solution -- there
will be others as well -- but it is an important one.
wireless industry has been dealing with this ever since the explosion of
smartphones several years ago. The system is increasingly stressed with many
customers using so much wireless data. The problem is spectrum, which provides
the on- and off-ramps to the information superhighway. It's limited. Therefore,
as with any highway, the threat of backups and traffic jams is growing.
it appears AT&T Mobility might have a solution. Small cells can lessen the
effects of an industry-wide capacity shortage. This is exactly the kind of
solution I've been hoping for over the last few years.
cells take the pressure off accessing the wireless Internet, while strengthening
networks at their weak spots. Every network has weak spots, and this is a real
cells are installed in key locations, inside buildings or in busy outdoor areas,
to solve this access problem. They give everyone the ability to connect and use
wireless data devices like smartphones, tablets and notebooks.
data spectrum shortages are a real threat to all wireless carriers, large and
small, including AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, C
Spire Wireless, U.S. Cellular and others. An industry-wide solution must be
Donovan, senior executive vice president at AT&T technology and network
operations, wrote a blog post explaining this breakthrough. AT&T has
successfully tested small deployments in two U.S. Cities, and the devices are
of this success, AT&T is preparing to roll out small cells to more than
40,000 locations by the end of 2015. The focus will be on strategic weak spots
in the network to dramatically improve service and quality.
is not alone. Other wireless networks likely will take this same course. Small
cells are expected to reach a half million units this year, with more growth to
small cell technology won't solve the entire wireless data shortage, it does
offer a real solution that will not only help carriers with their explosive
wireless data needs, but also strengthen signals in all the weak spots that were
a problem in the past.
wireless becomes more important in our lives and to our society, the networks
must get stronger, faster and better -- and with small cells, they will.
5:00 AM PT
Remember the Apple that consistently surprised consumers, the media and Wall Street with innovative products and stellar earnings reports? That Apple has gone the way of the first-generation iPod. Apple's future is in Apple's hands. What will it do next? What will it unveil next? It has been a while since anything really new has come from the company -- it has just presented more versions of the same technology.
a year and a half ago, I asked a simple question: Will Apple Still Be Apple
Without Steve Jobs? At the time, the answer seemed to be a simple
"no." Over the next couple of years, Apple would become just another
competitor, I predicted -- and unfortunately, that's exactly what is now
of Apple as two different companies: One is a consumer electronics company that
still has loads of happy customers; the other is an investment that's
experiencing some performance problems. Customers may get lost in the fog of
marketing la-la-land, but investors focus on the numbers. They simply want to
make money, quarter after quarter.
years ago, Apple struggled. Then Steve Jobs came back, and the company started
hitting the ball out of the park -- first with the iPod, then following with the
iPhone, iPad and iPad mini -- wave after wave of success. During the boom time,
investors saw Apple as a no-lose proposition. The stock kept rising as it
continued to surprise and delight its customers.
years ago, RIM and Nokia were leaders in the wireless handset space. Then Apple
changed the industry. Its touch seemed to turn everything to gold -- it was like
magic. Google also jumped in, and today phones running its Android OS actually
outpace iPhones in sales. With Apple and Google dominating the market, RIM and
Nokia saw their shares quickly erode.
Apple of Fewer Investors' Eyes
Apple is still a strong consumer electronics company, but it's suddenly having
problems on Wall Street. As I have said many times, every company and every
product rides a wave. The wave grows, levels off, then ultimately declines. Some
waves are long and others are short.
always started another wave with new products, even as existing products were
riding high. If nothing had followed the iPod, it would have ridden that wave up
and down again, but it created the iPhone wave, then the iPad wave, and so on.
So the question always asked of Apple was: What's next? After all, there was
always something coming next.
Steve Jobs passed away and Tim Cook took the reins, however, Apple changed, but
it has taken the past year and a half for the truth to settle in. Apple is still
selling loads of devices, and customers still love them. The company is still
strong. In fact, any other company would be drooling over the prospect of such
great revenue and profitability.
problem is simply that Apple is no longer meeting expectations -- which, for
Apple, means consistently blowing away expectations. It seems to have lost the
magic that guaranteed customers would always be delighted and investors would
always make money. Apple has become a victim of its own success, and the shine
is starting to fade.
the last several months, Apple hit a dry patch. It has not been selling devices
in the numbers Wall Street expected, and that is enough to cause investors to
flee. That reaction may not make sense, but Apple isn't allowed to play by
normal market rules. The bar is set higher for Apple than for any other company.
about Apple's future? Can it recapture its spectacular growth and stock
performance? Perhaps, but without the Steve Jobs' magic, it may be that its
growth wave is starting to crest, and it doesn't have another star act to begin
a new one.
will have to change. It will have to start marketing and advertising more. It
will have to start talking to the marketplace in a different way than it has had
to in the past. It will have to start acting like a normal company -- one that
doesn't have an automatic glow. Can it succeed like that? No one knows yet. Many
die-hard supporters say yes. Many others say no.
year from today, we will either be looking at a recovered and thriving Apple, or
the company will be struggling as it is today -- or things could be worse. It
all depends on what Apple has up its sleeve -- and on that, your guess is as
good as mine.
Sounds like the same thing I've been saying about RIM -- which just changed its
name to "BlackBerry" -- and its new BlackBerry 10 OS. I wonder if
there is a connection?
thing is for sure: Apple is a different company from the Apple we knew with
Steve Jobs at the helm. Don't expect the Apple of the past to show up again.
That chapter is over.
like BlackBerry, Microsoft and Nokia are gearing up for a very big battle
against Apple and Google's Android partners this year. Will the industry change
real question is this: Will Apple move forward as a company both consumers and
investors can love? That depends on what Tim Cook has up his sleeve. We'll find
out soon enough.
5:00 AM PT
Today we have a gazillion TV channels, but still only watch the same few we always did -- and it's getting worse. Cable TV companies keep adding more channels every year, and they keep charging more as well. Price has roughly doubled in the last 10 years. So, is Aereo a threat or a catalyst to traditional cable television? Well the answer is both -- depending on which companies you work for or invest in.
what is Aereo all about? Well, it's a brand new idea, a Web TV service. The days
of the US$200 TV bill are numbered, said the CEO of Aereo in an interview with
sounds like a good idea, right? Well, the cable television model is old and
broken, and the need for lower-cost alternatives is growing. The timing may be
right for companies like Aereo to transform cable television the way Apple and
Google changed wireless. Can they succeed?
have always loved to complain about how our cable television companies don't
care. How they charge more every year, yet don't provide more programming we
want to watch. How there are so many channels to flip through, yet there is
never anything good on. How customer care and service leave so much to be
desired. To make matters worse, there are just no low-cost alternatives.
relatively recently, cable television providers like Comcast, Time Warner and
Cox really had no competition, so they grew. Satellite companies like Dish
Network and DirecTV entered the field and chipped away a little bit of their
business. Then local phone companies entered with services like AT&T's
U-verse and Verizon's FiOS. Now it appears Apple and Google are getting ready to
transform television the way they did wireless.
fact, watching television is moving beyond the TV set to our computers, tablets
are now entering the scariest time ever for cable TV company executives. They
lie in bed at night, stare at the ceiling, and wonder how they can continue to
keep their business stable and encourage growth. Many won't. Some will fail.
However, innovation will burst through like a flower in the springtime.
with the old and in with the new. That's the new charge that Aereo wants to
what is Aereo? It is a Web TV service that announced a multi-city expansion at
CES a couple of weeks ago. Barry Diller is one key name backing this new
service. Aereo was in the sites of the cable television industry several months
back, but it won that battle in the courts. Now this innovative service is going
to try to take on the massive cable television world. Will it succeed?
a little like MCI, the long distance company that shook things up in the 1980s.
Aereo wants to do the same today in cable television. Working with MCI as a
consultant really opened my eyes as to what indeed is possible in transforming
industries and competitors. The executives of that company were among the best
and most exciting around.
has the right idea, and the timing is right, but does it have a strong team and
leadership? Does it have creative ideas for marketing and positioning itself in
the marketplace against the heavy hitters? That will make all the difference.
With the Flow
uses a variety of technologies to get all the channels you want to watch. It
uses antennas to capture local TV signals and store the broadcast content in the
cloud. It makes other channels available over the Web. It provides live TV on
smartphones, computers and tablets, in addition to your television, through a
secret ingredient may be its plan to offer lower-cost choices to customers as it
rolls into market after market. This is an important piece of the puzzle for
Aereo. If it can do this, it will put enormous pressure on the main providers
like Comcast to lower its prices as well. Actually, that sounds like what
Comcast did in offering phone service using VoIP. That is in fact what MCI did
to AT&T 30 years ago.
should embrace tech, not fight it, said Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.
wants to expand television, not kill it, he emphasized. Of course, maybe those
are the same words Steve Jobs used when talking to the music industry back in
few young customers are signing up and paying for expensive television from
traditional providers like the cable television industry, Kanojia pointed out.
The market is changing. When the VCR came out, there was the same kind of
concern about it killing television. Yet it created an entirely new era of
innovation and success in the industry. There were winners and losers, but the
may indeed be about to step into a new universe of ideas and products in the
television industry -- at entirely new pricing models. This change will sweep
the industry and affect us all. Many new companies will pressure existing market
leaders. Those that can change can continue to lead. Those that can't will
wither and die the way the long-distance industry did a decade ago.
as Earth-shaking as MCI was, it is no longer around. So what does the near and
long term future hold for the cable television industry and Aereo? Stay tuned.
5:00 AM PT
Today RIM seems to understand there is problem, to a point anyway. It still doesn't see the same crisis investors and analysts do, or at least no one there is admitting to it. Current CEO Thorsten Heins has a strong and positive attitude. That is good from the CEO level. The question is whether he can transform the thinking of the marketplace. I am not yet sure.
of two things will happen with the upcoming launch of the brand new RIM
Blackberry 10. Either it will be a success and help RIM get back on a growth
curve, or it will end up being like the Palm Pre, loved by the media and
analysts yet wanting for sales. Can RIM recover with Blackberry 10? It's
possible. But the company must do two things right.
smartphone market continues to change. Five years ago Blackberry was on top.
Today's leaders are Apple iPhone and Google Android, while RIM has been
struggling to hang on for dear life in the last few years.
let's back up a few years to get a clear understanding of the current market.
Around 2007, the leaders were RIM and Palm, the first two smartphone makers. You
remember Palm, right? It was very popular.
began to struggle due in large part to a lack of marketing. It began to die and
was acquired by HP, which undertook a valiant remake. Everyone seemed to love
it, but that didn't matter. Customers didn't buy, and today Palm is gone.
ruled the smartphone segment alone for a while, which sounded great, but now we
see that having the market to itself didn't help it either. The company never
developed good marketing skills, and when Apple and Google entered, suddenly
transforming the space, RIM struggled to keep its head above water. That's where
it remains today.
there was intense innovation and marketing and RIM simply could not keep up. It
just never learned how. Today, the industry is led by companies that understand
this world of marketing and building a wave.
It a Comeback?
Motorola was dying on the vine after the Razr success, until it made did the
Droid deal with Google and Verizon. Now owned by Google, Motorola Mobility is
much smaller than before, but at least alive. As a side note, it will be
interesting to see what happens next for Motorola with Google ownership.
years ago, I tried to warn RIM's leaders about this problem. I wrote articles,
sent press releases and gave speeches, but they didn't see any problem at that
time. In the last couple years its management seems to be getting a clearer
picture of its problems. The company replaced the CEO and many executives as
well, and has updated its technology with BB10. What about the marketing piece
of the puzzle?
RIM seems to understand there is problem, to a point anyway. It still doesn't
see the same crisis investors and analysts do, or at least no one there is
admitting to it.
CEO Thorsten Heins has a strong and positive attitude. That is good from the CEO
level. The question is whether he can transform the thinking of the marketplace.
I am not yet sure.
are two questions I have that will tell whether RIM will be successful and can
mount a turnaround.
is this brand-new BB10 operating system. Is it innovative and will it get
customers to simply say "WOW?" We'll soon see when it is released end
has RIM learned about marketing and advertising? This is key to its success.
It's the secret sauce. Without it there will be no success. RIM never had it
before. Does it now?
the answer is yes, then BB10 could indeed be a big hit and put RIM back on the
new growth path.
the answer is no, then RIM will stay on the current downward slide of the growth
for No. 3
get me wrong, even if successful, RIM won't become No. 1 or 2. Google and Apple
seem to have a lock on that, for now anyway. But like Motorola , RIM could stop
the losses and start growing again.
marketplace is thirsty for operating systems other than Google Android and Apple
RIM is stronger in other countries than it is in the United States. That may be
why it doesn't see the same crisis we in the U.S. do, but the U.S. market is a
vision of the future for RIM. It will either be on the growth side or the
falling side of the wave, period. Right now, it's still on the falling side.
No. 3 and 4 slots are up for grabs -- and RIM is not the only company vying for
is making a real try for No. 3 with the new Windows 8 operating system and cloud
to manage multiple devices like smartphones, Surface tablets and computers. Many
customers like what Microsoft is doing, but many others don't. It will be
interesting to see what happens next in Redmond.
execs invited me to dinner last year and we discussed their company's future and
the changing industry. That was a great sign they were at least willing to
listen and engage. Did they?
is a battle raging inside RIM. One side may understand the need to change and
update marketing and thinking. Another side may not get it. The question is,
which side will win?
is no longer king of the hill. It has shrunk to about 4 percent market share, so
it will have to fight to come back. It can capture No. 3 if it can get the two
items right, great technology and great marketing. So what are the chances?
side note: as I sit here in Starbucks writing this column, a friend walked up to
me and said he is bringing his mother to the mall this afternoon to trade in her
Blackberry Torch for a brand-new iPhone. I told him I was writing about this
very subject. I even told him to save some money she could by the previous
iPhone 4 series rather than the iPhone 5.
told me, nope, she wants the newest, latest and greatest iPhone. I am sure she
doesn't need it, but Apple has convinced her with its marketing -- and that is
the challenge RIM is up against. Can it meet the challenge? We'll soon see.
5:00 AM PT
We are still early in this cloud revolution, but there are reasons to tread carefully, whether you are an individual saving your personal data and files, or whether you are a company using the cloud to interact with all your employees or customers. There are real benefits and dangers and, you should be aware of them all.
cloud may be the future, but it's not a bed of roses. The Amazon Cloud had a
meltdown on Christmas Eve, affecting many customers who use the service.
Companies that use Amazon as their cloud, their customers and workers were all
affected. What should we learn from this high-profile meltdown?
may be the talk of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, but the
Cloud may not be the panacea they told us it was. Over the last several years,
companies of all types have been steering us into the cloud. The arguments they
offer seem to make sense. However, there is also a dark side, and that side bit
Amazon and its cloud customers in the rear end.
it's important to understand what we mean when we use the term
"cloud." It actually means different things to different people and
companies. It's a larger, more generic term. Then there are sub-sections.
example is when you log on to any retail site like Amazon and sort through its
online catalog to shop. Think of an online version of that giant Montgomery Ward
catalog, but quicker.
type is when you buy books or songs or movies from online sites like Apple,
Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Google. You shop on their online cloud, then store
all your purchases on your separate cloud space, which happens to be on their
another is when you store everything on your wireless device to their cloud like
the Apple iCloud for the iPhone.
another is the cloud service offered by wireless carriers like AT&T Mobility
and Verizon Wireless. This is actually a different type of cloud meant to save
you money or give you a more manageable way to have a wireless cloud for all
your devices, or your family's devices rather than a separate cloud account for
newest example is using cloud services to store your personal data online
instead of on your hard drive on your devices. You simply set up a cloud account
at a company like Apple iCloud, Google Cloud, Microsoft Cloud or Amazon Cloud.
works in many of these cloud spaces, and its serious meltdown on Christmas Eve
had a powerful effect on those who use it.
is one such customer. Millions of Netflix customers from Canada to Brazil were
unable to stream video from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.
outage, along with others, means companies are now rethinking their reliance not
only on Amazon, but also on the whole cloud-computing shebang.
cloud is like medicine. It may solve one problem, but there is always a little
poison in any pill.
story is Amazon servers in Northern Virginia had the problem, and that created
problems and outages for users. Netflix said its outage came from a problem with
AWS, or Amazon Web Services.
also manages the online operations for many companies. That is a growing part of
Amazon that many don't know about, and now it's left with egg on its face.
has not explained what happened, so that says to me either it's management
doesn't know or doesn't want to say yet.
was good for some and horrible for others. Christmas Eve meant lots of companies
were closed, but it also meant many others wanted to use the service to shop,
watch movies and listen to music, and simply could not.
are early in this cloud revolution, but it is important to recognize and discuss
not only how it can improve business, but also the risks involved.
is not the first cloud outage. They seem to occur more often than most realize.
risk could also affect your files and data that you store on the cloud. Imagine
sitting down to use your computer and not being able to access your files. That
is what a cloud problem could mean to a growing number of users who store their
information on the cloud rather than on their device.
are real benefits to the cloud, like storing your data then being able to access
it on a number of devices. Sure this sounds very convenient. But this benefit is
not without risk. Will it be accessible every time you need it?
risk is security. I have written about this before. If others get your password
they can access your data. That's never a good thing. All your data just sitting
there, in the cloud, waiting for the bad guys.
is this outage problem like Amazon had and the suffering its customers
experienced. Outages earlier in the year affected others like Netflix, Pinterest
are still early in this cloud revolution, but there are reasons to tread
carefully, whether you are an individual saving your personal data and files, or
whether you are a company using the cloud to interact with all your employees or
customers. There are real benefits and dangers and, you should be aware of them
what is the solution? Is there a backup for the cloud that you can sign up with
as a corporate or individual customer? I am a protection freak, so maybe a
backup for the backup?
cloud is here to stay, but just realize we are still in the early stages of this
revolution, so caution is advised. There is plenty of good, but don't ignore the
risks. OK, for now, it's back to the drawing board.
5:00 AM PT
What can the cable television industry do to save itself? Its members must play like they are in a competitive industry. They must take care of the customer -- delight the customer. They need to demonstrate to customers that they are dealing with a company that is not trying to assault them, but rather to win their hearts. Success is that simple.
few weeks ago, I read a SmartMoney article titled "10 Things Cable
Companies Won't Tell You." I have to admit it was a real eye-opener. We are
all aware of a few of these items, but to have them all laid out in one piece
was very powerful.
looked at many top cable players such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox,
Cablevision and others. As competition finally starts to enter the picture, it
spelled out some of the areas where the cable television industry falls flat and
even hurts the customer and ultimately itself.
first item: Customers are fed up with the cable television industry. The biggest
cable television companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable were listed among
the top 10 most-hated companies in America for 2012. That says a mouthful right
there, doesn't it?
list continues: Service quality is generally poor. Cable companies aren't an
official monopoly even though they might be the only choice in town. Yet they
continue to raise prices despite the damage it does to their reputation with
customers. Isn't technology supposed to cost less as time goes by?
also talks about how Verizon, which is supposed to be an arch-enemy and
competitor, is actually becoming a partner with the cable television industry.
Rather than promoting Verizon FiOS television, Verizon Wireless is promoting
who call the cable company customer service and say they are considering
canceling and moving to a competitor often get serious discounts to stay put.
Does that mean everything is overpriced?
cable television industry is also quietly introducing limits on how much
Internet data customers can use each month.
and many other items really get you thinking when you consider them all. In a
competitive market when customer care and being the best are important, why is
the cable television industry committing suicide with this behavior?
you listen to the advertising, it sounds like the cable TV world is one of the
best places to be on Earth. So why such a difference between this dreamland and
and a Miss
Telecommunications Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton, was
supposed to usher in a new era of competition. Local and long-distance companies
were going to start to compete. Cable television and telephone companies were
too. So what happened?
new law couldn't keep up with the rapidly changing industry. Suddenly,
long-distance companies were gone. Suddenly, the Baby Bells started to merge --
so did the cable television companies. The Internet and wireless began to grow
rapidly, and they were not even addressed in the new law.
the competition we were supposed to see in the space simply didn't occur.
of the Draw
recently, after 15 years of mergers, the Baby Bells started moving into the
television business with AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS. They both offer
high-speed Internet, television and telephone. The only problem is that they
only offer competition to a portion of the marketplace.
in other areas don't have much choice. That means cable television companies
don't have much competition. That means service quality has no reason to
increase and prices continue to rise rapidly. Not a recipe for success in the
complain about competition, but the threat of losing business also makes them
the best they can be. That means they are much more successful, and that is not
happening in the cable television world today.
what can the cable television industry do to save itself? Its members must play
like they are in a competitive industry. They must take care of the customer --
delight the customer. They need to demonstrate to customers that they are
dealing with a company that is not trying to assault them, but rather to win
is that simple. Can the cable television industry do that, is the question.
my recommendation for the best first step? Comcast and Time Warner Cable should
focus on repairing their customer relationships and getting off the top 10
most-hated company list for 2013. There is no reason to have your customers hate
you. That's a great place to start, don't you think?
that we can talk about next steps.
5:00 AM PT
Many wireless and wireline
networks now participate in the show, from AT&T to Verizon, Sprint, and many
others, including handset and smartphone makers. Then there are plenty of other
companies like app makers as well. Voice used to be the No. 1 use for a wireless
phone, but today it is way down the priority list.
Consumer Electronics Show kicks off Jan. 8 in Las Vegas, and it looks like it
will be another big success. So what will be hot during this year's show? There
are plenty of new ideas that will wow you. Let's take a quick peek at what we
Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, seems very happy with what
he is expecting at this year's CES. The show is maxed out with booths, and the
association is expecting loads of attendees.
is the coming-out party for consumer electronics for the coming year. Now
remember, as an industry analyst, I cover wireless, telecom, Internet,
television and tech in general. Even though these segments are large and
growing, they only add up to one slice of the giant consumer electronics pie.
tell you the truth, like everyone else, I too get lost at this show. As usual, I
have received dozens of requests for briefings from companies who want to meet
with me. However at this point my calendar is full and I am scheduling briefings
after the show. Yes, it's that crazy.
a few years ago, the industry segments I follow played a minor role at the show.
Today it's a different story. Just look at the wireless industry as one example.
you recall, I wrote several weeks ago about the AT&T Mobility analyst
meeting. In that piece I told you they were talking about the new marketplace
opportunities for the company -- how the wireless of tomorrow is not just about
year's CES will put much of that on display, so stop thinking of wireless as
just a way to make a call. Instead think about wireless as the network that
connects us to everything and everyone on the data side of the network.
wireless and wireline networks now participate in the show, from AT&T to
Verizon, Sprint and many others, including handset and smartphone makers. Then
there are plenty of other companies like app makers as well.
used to be the No. 1 use for a wireless phone, but today it is way down the
we used wireless to make a phone call. Today, we connect to wireless data
networks with our smartphones, tablets and computers. We send text messages, get
email, surf the Web, and connect to social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and
Facebook -- and this is just the beginning.
are so many new health and medical apps at CES that help us keep track of
ourselves and send information directly to our doctors so they can keep track of
us too. Our mobile devices also are increasingly how we pay for things, instead
of using a credit card.
we will use these networks to connect us to even more. They will have all our
personal identification in e-format -- like drivers' licenses and ID cards to
get into work or our health club. Our phones will even replace our key fobs so
we can simply press a button to start our cars or open all of our doors.
and telecommunications are going to be the core networks that all this
innovation rides on. Think of it as the highways in this new world.
me give you some examples that we can expect to see at CES this year:
Expect every large-screen, ultra high-definition television set maker to be
there showing what's new. If you think your current HDTV is good, brace yourself
-- you haven't seen anything yet.
Smart cars: This is still very early, but it's a segment that's getting
hot. If you think the technology available to the driver is advanced with
on-screen navigation, live weather maps, and sensing when you are dozing and
nudging you to wake you up, then you should just see what's available to the
back-seat riders. Digital entertainment, games, safety, and of course,
navigation will play a large role.
mHeath: This shows you the advancements in telehealth, fitness tech,
remote health monitoring and more. Apps communicating with your doctors to make
sure they can track your diabetes numbers, blood pressure and how your
medication is working to make sure you stay healthy with real-time care are
among the new developments.
Fitness: This is also playing an increasing role at CES. There are always
many new products every year that let you track your health, fitness and
Mobile apps galore: This gets larger every year. Do you realize that five
years ago we only had a few hundred apps to choose from? Today both Apple and
Google both offer 700,000 apps. That's incredible. Many are just for fun, but
many more are great for healthcare monitoring and communicating with doctors,
tracking your finances and logging the miles on your latest run.
This process makes real products. It is a brand-new area and is very exciting
for both business and consumers.
Smartphones: CES is not a wireless show, but expect to see some of the
real innovation, like flexible screens from Samsung and the Google Nexus
smartphones and tablets.
Tablets, and convertible PCs: You will see an entirely new and different
array of laptops, PCs, tablets and even smartphones. They all do new things.
They all do things differently. And they all communicate with each other and
share information you create on your cloud account.
The cloud: Cloud services will also play an increasingly important role
in this year's show. All of a sudden, you can store your information on your
Apple iCloud, your Google Cloud or your Microsoft Cloud. Expect more to come
from this space. This will be one of the most important and fast-changing parts
of the industry going forward.
Eureka Park TechZone: Expect to see a renewed interest in startups who
will play a larger role again this year at the TechZone which has about 140
tech giants won't be there? Apple. They have their own show.
Windows 8 would be a great addition to CES with its associated cloud, tablets
and wireless smartphones, but rumor is that Microsoft won't participate this
year. Once, it was front and center, but no more. Sort of like Apple, I guess.
TV is a satellite television provider that wants to break into the wireless
industry as well. Will it be at the show this year? What about CTIA in a few
just the tip of the iceberg. There will be plenty of smartphones and tablets on
display, of course, but I only expect the new technology to be on display.
Expect companies to use this technology to show how they can help you do more
things with your mobile apps on your smartphones and tablet computers.
this is a consumer electronics show. Other wireless shows will come later in the
year like CTIA here in Las Vegas, and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They
will be the place to see competing smartphones from Apple, Google, Samsung,
Motorola, Nokia and many more.
CES, expect to see how all these other industries are modernizing and using
wireless and wireline networks to make all their innovations work. After all,
that's how these devices connect and communicate with each other and the cloud.
it looks like another big year at CES. Enjoy!
will if I can keep from getting lost in the massive show -- as usual. I think it
may be time to break out my personal GPS device that I unwrapped yesterday. Do
they even work inside the Las Vegas Convention Center? I'm about to find out.
iPhone, Android or Something
5:00 AM PT
If neither an Apple iPhone nor a
phone running Google's Android holds any interest for you, there are other
choices. Microsoft is trying to carve out a space with its new Windows Phone.
Its cloud lets you store all your stuff and access it on your smartphone,
Surface tablet or laptop. RIM's BlackBerry 10 platform is coming out at the end
of January and has received good feedback so far.
questions: 1) Which is the best smartphone for you -- an Apple iPhone or one
running Google's Android operating system? 2) Which carrier is best for you? A
word to the wise -- choose carefully. Once you start down either path, chances
are you will stay on it. Why? Because these companies are building a new cloud
world. That means whichever you buy -- if you like it -- you will be with for a
is quite a bit to this cloud business. The theory is you can buy one item and
share it on all your devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. Plus,
anything you create can be stored in the cloud. That means the devices can be
simple wireless keyboards and screens.
won't discuss the pros and cons of this new cloud world in this piece. Instead,
here are a few important things you need to know to help you choose between the
iOS or Android platforms. Before you buy tons of apps, make sure you like
whichever system you choose, because you cannot take your apps with you. If you
switch, you'll have to buy apps once again.
are plenty of choices, but the top two smartphones today are Apple's iPhone 5
and Samsung's Galaxy S III, which runs Google's Android. Google's Nexus 4 is
also very good. In fact, there are quite a few Android devices, and that is
largely the difference between these two.
it comes down to this: Is ease of use more important than flexibility? Then get
an iPhone. Or is flexibility so important that you're willing to deal with
something more complicated? Then you might prefer Android. But there's more.
mobile operating systems -- iOS and Android -- offer mostly the same features.
So that is not part of the choice. Even the maps are the same for both, since
Google just released its Maps app for the iPhone last week.
this game started five years ago, the iPhone had the advantage. Today, there are
Android phones that are just as good -- just different. In fact, looking at
sales, the number of Android users is roughly twice the number of iPhone users.
the iPhone, there is little choice. There is much more choice with Android. For
example, Samsung uses Android on a variety of devices. Plus, there are countless
other devices from other makers to choose from.
is good and bad. If you like a vast number of choices, then Google's Android OS
is great. However, if you think that makes the choice too confusing, there is
both are available on most major carriers. Everyone sells handsets that run
Android. Everyone but T-Mobile sells the iPhone, but that will change, as word
is it's coming soon.
and Google both have roughly the same size app store -- the iTunes App Store and
Google Play each have about 700,000 apps.
most apps are available on both, believe it or not, Google Play has apps not
available at the App Store. Apple sends app developers through a very intense
approval process. Many app makers just can't get onto the App Store. Google is
much easier, and that's why there are many Android apps not available at the App
has some unique apps that Google just doesn't, and if they are important to you,
then that will help you make the decision. Generally speaking, all the popular
apps either are already available on Google Play or should be soon.
let you post updates to social sites like Facebook and Twitter without much
work, although Apple has the advantage for ease of use right now. That can
change at any time.
a variety of other unique things customers like to do, including paying for
coffee with their Starbucks app, or letting their customers charge purchases
using a Square app, or boarding a plane with a boarding pass app. The app world
is growing and, in fact, exploding.
iPhone is easier to use. It is a push-here-dummy interface that many users
absolutely love since all this mobile technology can get quite confusing.
Android OS is much more open, letting users have much more control. That can be
good and bad. Much more control -- but much more to learn as well.
Apple limits what you can do, it does keep life simple. Google gives you much
more choice and flexibility, but there's a price to pay with a more confusing
neither an Apple iPhone nor a phone running Google's Android holds any interest
for you, there are other choices. Microsoft is trying to carve out a space with
its new Windows Phone. Its cloud lets you store all your stuff and access it on
your smartphone, Surface tablet or laptop.
BlackBerry 10 platform is coming out at the end of January and has received good
feedback so far.
are even more operating systems and phones out today than I've mentioned here,
and more are coming tomorrow.
is a money saving tip:
you want to save a few hundred dollars buying the phone, look at last year's
model. Typically, when the newest model is introduced, the price of last year's
model is slashed. The phone is the same great device people bought at full price
just weeks ago. So if you want a smartphone for less, this is a definite way to
let's take a look at the carriers. Following is a quick breakdown of each with
their data plans.
Mobility and Verizon Wireless are the two largest voice and high-speed data
networks. They both offer iPhone and Android. They both offer the fastest 4G
services in the most cities -- and that list is growing – and 3G in
the rest. Both offer limited data plans, letting you choose the level you
are excellent services in the U.S., although AT&T uses GSM,
which means you can use it while traveling in many more places around the world.
Nextel is also updating to 4G, but not as quickly as AT&T and Verizon.
That's why it still offers an unlimited plan on its 3G network. It is trying to
partner with Softbank in the next several months, and that's why it is acquiring
So Sprint could change in the near future. It too offers both iPhone and
of the big three, the choice is up to you: speed with AT&T or Verizon, or
unlimited data with Sprint.
typically costs less; however, it also has a slower network. It is trying to
upgrade as fast as possible. It offers Android today -- not yet iPhone -- but a
little birdie tells me it will in the next few months.
Spire Wireless offers both iPhone and Android, and it offers 4G speeds in many
of its largest markets with more to come. Plus it offers unlimited plans. This
is truly a popular mix for the customers in its region.
basically it for choosing the best smartphone and network for you this holiday
season. Which are you going to choose?
12/13/12 5:00 AM PT
Understanding and working with
analysts -- that is, figuring out the way each analyst works -- can make quite a
bit of difference to the end result -- and it's important to keep the end result
in mind. You want to communicate good things about your company to the
you want to or not, you are a player in the industry
analyst game. The reason is simple. Industry analysts, for better or for
worse, are very influential. If you do a good job, you can positively influence
their opinions. If you don't -- or if you are not playing -- then you often
suffer. Either way, you are a player -- so learn to win.
can you win with analysts? First you have to understand their role. This is
where much confusion occurs, because there are so many analysts, and each does
business in a different way. Just as doctors specialize, so do analysts. They
cover different companies, services, technologies and industry segments -- and
they do it in different ways.
have been an industry
analyst for more than 25 years. That's quite a long time to be playing this
game. I have learned quite a bit about this business and would like to share
some of it with you.
I do is both similar to and different from what other industry analysts do.
Generally I follow the tech space, including wireless, telephone, television,
IPTV and the Internet, among other areas of technology. That means I have been
invited to countless industry analyst conferences and individual private
briefings with executives.
only a very few have done a great job of communicating their messages. That is a
gaping opportunity for companies to leverage, if they understand how. The
approach and the relationship are two important factors.
invest time and money trying to win the analyst game in two primary ways: 1) by
holding larger and more general analyst meetings; and 2) by building one-on-one
relationships with a few key analysts. There is plenty of value to be had
through these approaches, but only if they're executed right.
reason is simple. There is a continual dialogue in the industry, and analyst
opinions are part of that dialogue. It is important for companies to be part of
the same dialogue. Like it or not, you and your company are key players in this
game. You can't avoid it, so you had better know how to win.
you read the news, you generally read quotes from one company, then quotes from
a competing company, and finally quotes from a third-party analyst who follows
the business and tries to put things in perspective. This is one part of what an
industry analyst does.
one of the key reasons for you to be engaged in the process rather than letting
the process go on without you. Either way, it will go ahead. Whether you
participate can make a difference in what the world thinks. You must share your
take on things or you will be like a blindfolded driver.
a good quality and ongoing relationship with both the media and the analyst
community can affect the impact and tone of influential news stories and
Styles, Different Approaches
are many different ways analysts share their opinions and put information into
the marketplace. Some use reports or e-books. Some participate in or sponsor
conferences. Others give speeches and have conference call briefings with
retainer clients. There are so many ways.
with the media and providing comments and quotes is another. This is the part I
love doing the most. I learn so much just taking calls from the media,
responding to insightful questions about companies and technologies.
addition to giving daily reporters interviews, I write columns like this one,
put out press releases, and send email commentary to an extensive list of
reporters in the U.S. and around the world.
companies like what analysts have to say. Sometimes they don't. However,
companies generally want to make sure analysts are up to speed on their industry
news. There are many reasons, but only some companies do a good job of this.
are many different models in the industry analyst business. Over time, each
analyst develops a unique style and approach -- which, by the way, often changes
is another point. I can assure you that the good analysts are very busy -- all
day, every day. In addition, following client companies often takes quite a bit
of time. Plus, the more successful, the more value an analyst has -- and the
is important to understand that key industry analysts get more requests for
briefings than they ever have time to accommodate. Many charge non-clients for
phone briefings just to separate the companies that are serious from the ones
that want to brief everyone.
line: Understanding and working with analysts -- that is, figuring out the way
each analyst works -- can make quite a bit of difference to the end result --
and it's important to keep the end result in mind. You want to communicate good
things about your company to the marketplace.
how do you get the industry analyst world to know you and to think highly about
you and share that with the world? Unfortunately, there is not one simple way.
Since each analyst is different, the areas they follow are also different. The
way they run their business is different.
is up to each company to learn the best way to work with each analyst. If you
work with five analysts, then you may have to do it five different ways. The
industry analyst community is wide, but fortunately there really are only a few
key players. Some are larger firms and others are individuals, with the analyst
wearing many hats.
about your industry. Now think which analysts are most influential in your
industry. Which are quoted most often? This is typically a short list. Make your
list. These are the key analysts you need to cultivate. Analysts do things
differently, and they charge differently. It's not as though if you understand
one, you understand them all.
on the analyst, fees come in a variety of different forms, including monthly
retainers, speaking fees, report sales and so on. Explore this with the analysts
some companies do a great job interacting and working with the analyst
community. However, most do not. That is a big opportunity for smart companies.
Don't think that doing business with an analyst means you will get great
coverage. Doing business just allows you the opportunity to tell the story from
your point of view, just as your competitors are doing.
is important to remember that analysts have minds of their own. You cannot
expect positive coverage and reports or comments to the media. There will likely
be things they say that you agree with and like, and other things that you
disagree with and dislike.
you can expect is that if you have a positive and ongoing relationship, an
analyst will at least follow you and listen to your position and your side, and
consider your message when thinking and writing about relevant issues.
it or not, you do play a role in the industry analyst world. That means you play
a role in the result your company sees, positive or negative. That's why it's
important for you to play an active role -- to make sure your messages and
thinking get a fair shake in the marketplace. If not, then your competitors'
thinking may drive influential news stories and commentaries.
is just the tip of the iceberg. Over time, I will share more thoughts and ideas
that can help you better understand the industry analyst's world and get the
most from your analyst briefings and relationships.
5:30 AM PT
Washington has a habit of
protracted negotiation and marginal changes, so it's up to Silicon Valley
leaders to demand that Congress allow the private sector to quickly deliver
breakthroughs in information technology and clean energy while negotiating
fiscal compromises. The potential in technological abundance can give the U.S.
both a rising standard of living and a reduction in dependence on carbon-intense
Politics of Abundance
By Reed Hundt and Blair Levin November 2012 $1.99 e-book available at several
outlets including Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble
duo that led the Clinton-era FCC, Reed Hundt and Blair Levin, recently published
a new new e-book
titled The Politics of Abundance. It looks to the success of the 1990's for
solutions to today's problems.
lay out a framework and a path to regenerate the kind of growth and innovation
we saw during their tenure.
was chairman of the Federal
Communications Commission from 1993 to 1997. Levin was his chief of staff
and oversaw the creation of the National Broadband Plan. He is now a fellow at
the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.
major policy debate revolves around how to return the country's debt-to-GDP
ratio to a sustainable level, Levin writes. The current debate focuses on
reforming taxes and entitlements as the primary levers for accomplishing this
on the lessons learned from the 1990's, the book argues that economic growth is
a better way to achieve the goal. Therefore, the debate should be focused on
developing a growth strategy.
should look to technology to drive that growth, Hundt and Levin say.
the 1990's, the growth of wireless and the Internet helped fuel the surprising
rapidly transitioning government and other public goods and services to the
digital platform and building new power resources, we can similarly fuel a new
cycle of private investment, economic growth and American leadership, argue the
wireless was analog. Voice only. Broadband was just getting started on the
consumer level. There were no high-speed Internet lines at that time. We logged
on by dialing up at achingly slow speeds on our phone lines, tying them up for
hours, but we loved it.
was an innovative and magical time. By the end of that decade, wireless was
transitioning to digital and 1G was born. That started us on our journey to the 4G
we see today. The Internet was speeding up, and carriers were starting to roll
out broadband lines from coast to coast.
and Levin ushered in an incredible era of growth and success, something we would
all like to see once again.
wireless is virtually everywhere, and speeds are increasing all the time. We can
watch television on our handsets and do so much more than we ever imagined back
that is the case, what will be hot in the next 10 years? And that is the point.
can choose cable, satellite, wireless or telepone lines to bring them their
high-speed Internet, and thewy're all getting faster all the time. VoIP is a new
competitive threat to the local telephone service.
can fix the budget and revive the American dream, Hundt and Levin argue. As
families and businesses struggle under the weight of recessionary times, getting
the economy growing again at pre-recession levels is everyone's priority.
book outlines a path that seeks to get us past partisan politics and back on
track. Rather than focusing on limited choices and austerity measures, the key
to real economic growth lies in energy and broadband investments, it argues.
technologies become more efficient over time, every sector of the economy will
benefit from investments that make broadband and energy abundant.
has a habit of protracted negotiation and marginal changes, so it's up to
Silicon Valley leaders to demand that Congress allow the private sector to
quickly deliver breakthroughs in information technology and clean energy while
negotiating fiscal compromises.
potential in technological abundance can give the United States both a high and
rising standard of living and a rapid reduction in dependence on carbon-intense
the economy during the Clinton administration demonstrated, economic growth can
do more to wipe out federal budget deficits than any of the current plans to
increase taxes and cut spending.
Internet- and wireless-driven economic boom of that era led to GDP growth
averaging 4 percent from 1995 to 2000, producing large budget surpluses.
as in the 1990s, a trillion dollars of private investment can drive rapid growth
and productivity. Then the money went primarily into the Internet space; now it
should rebuild the two platforms that underlie it all: what Hundt and Levin call
"the knowledge platform." It's the Internet and everything that rides
knowledge platform must be expanded, they argue, so the United States can lead
the world in the delivery of education, healthcare, public safety and government
services, all from the cloud to broadband-connected devices.
and Levin's solution is for Congress and the president to strike four deals that
in the aggregate are budget-positive:
agreement: Tax carbon-intensive emissions from power plants in return for
reducing the income tax rates that will become effective in January.
Incentive reform: Couple utility reform with corporate tax reform, requiring
states to remove barriers to private sector investment in clean energy and
energy efficiency while increasing other corporate investment incentives.
wave infrastructure financing: Charter a national "electromagnetic wave
bank" that provides long-term financing at low rates for investments in
renewable power, energy efficiency, and next-generation data networks,
capitalized by allowing technology companies to repatriate some of the nearly
US$2 trillion currently kept overseas.
government now: Create a CEO-led Digital Transition Commission, to accelerate
all government services to the digital platforms, resulting in long-term savings
and establishing American leadership in such emerging areas as personalized
education and health.
short, we need to broaden the debate to consider how to take advantages of
trends we see in technology to create a politics of abundance that can create a
higher and rising standard of living for all, write Hundt and Levin. These
proposals would create an era of abundance.
make a very interesting point. Now, the question is: Can we get the right and
the left to put down their swords and start building once again?
5:00 AM PT
When Verizon Wireless and
AT&T Mobility entered this space, they offered similar plans -- but there
was an important difference. AT&T left the choice to the customer, while
Verizon forced new customers to take its new deal. C Spire lets you choose the
plan you think is best for you when you buy a new phone. All of the plans from
AT&T, Verizon and now C Spire cover up to 10 devices.
Spire Wireless is joining AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless in offering
shared data plans for its wireless service. This approach lets customers bundle
all of their mobile devices on one plan.
general, I like the idea, but shared data plans aren't for everyone. All of
these plans are similar, but there are important differences.
is a new way of thinking about wireless data, and many customers like it. C
Spire has Shared Data plans. AT&T offers MobileShare, and Verizon is
promoting its Share Everything plan.
the similarities? The word "share" is the key.
Complicated, Less Costly
world is changing. Ten years ago, our cellphones were just telephones. Five
years ago, smartphones like the iPhone and a slew of Android handsets entered
the picture, and the amount of wireless data we used skyrocketed, thanks to all
people now have multiple devices like tablet computers, laptops and smartphones
-- and each has its own data plan. There's a lot of room for waste with so many
customers who don't have all these devices don't need a shared data plan.
However, if single users have multiple devices, or if everyone in the family has
a device, that's quite a few separate wireless data plans that could be
where these brand new shared plans enter the picture. All of a sudden, you can
see the value in the shared data plan idea. Rather than each device having its
own monthly cost and monthly minimum, all of them can share one plan, and it can
cost you much less.
is the direction the industry has started to head, and I think it will continue
down this path. Group plans and family plans will get stronger.
first wrote about shared data plans from AT&T and Verizon back in July when
they were brand new. Today customers are starting to understand and see the
value, and many are choosing them.
has signed up a quite a large number of customers to its shared data plans so
far, company officials said during its analyst meeting last week. Verizon may
have done the same. Before now, these were the only two carriers to offer shared
Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility entered this space, they offered similar
plans -- but there was an important difference. AT&T left the choice to the
customer, while Verizon forced new customers to take its new deal. C Spire lets
you choose the plan you think is best for you when you buy a new phone.
fact, the new C Spire Shared Data plans are designed for family use, but the
company also offers Choice D and Choice D+ plans for individuals.
of the plans from AT&T, Verizon and now C Spire cover up to 10 devices.
Spire claims to offer an advantage: Its plans let customers share data and and
let them monitor data usage for no extra fee. That means customers can avoid
overages, which C Spire says users will love.
about Sprint Nextel? It has not joined the party yet, but I believe it will. Its
non-shared plan rates are just as attractive as the shared plan rates, it
maintains, so why go down this path?
reason I think Sprint will is simply that if it doesn't, it will lose customers
to the competition. Customer interest in data-sharing plans will continue to
grow. That should be reason enough, don't you think?
C Spire, welcome to the shared wireless data battle. Now there are three
carriers offering this service. Things are starting to get interesting.
10:56 AM PT
AT&T's analyst meeting let us
look at the big picture of both the company and the changing industry. It let us
look at the challenges and opportunities -- and wireless, as we have learned, is
full of both. This little wireless device we all carry with us every day will be
the center of our universe in coming years -- the remote control to our lives.
Of course, that much control in a single device means we'll have to meet
challenges like security and damage control.
this week, I attended the industry analyst meeting for AT&T Mobility in
Atlanta, where the discussion encompassed where the company came from, where it
is today, and where it is heading tomorrow. I found the content both valuable
and enlightening for customers, investors -- and of course, analysts.
I agreed to keep many of the details under my hat, I can share some of what I
of all, let me say these analyst meetings are not often exciting or interesting.
Over the past 25 years, I have been to dozens and can honestly say that even
though they are all important, they are rarely interesting. As an analyst, I
often feel like one of those prospectors panning for gold in the Old West. I
have to sift through hours of presentations, but I always find a nugget or two,
so it's worthwhile.
meeting actually produced more nuggets of gold with less sifting.
Over the Map
Ralph de la Vega started by presenting an overview. He was then joined by John
Dwyer, SVP of customer experience; David Christopher, CMO; and Kris Rinne, SVP
of network technology, among others. They talked about where AT&T is today
and what's coming next, in both the short term and long term.
you have been reading my columns, then you know I like to talk about where we
came from as an industry, where we are today, and where we are heading tomorrow.
So they were talking my language.
of the other things they talked about:
outsiders were predicting that AT&T would lose customers after Verizon and
Sprint started selling Apple's iPhone. That happened in February 2011. However,
it's been nearly two years and AT&T is selling more iPhones, not fewer.
network congestion problems that arose thanks to the iPhone have been solved.
rates are lower than ever.
new Mobile Share Plan lets customers have one wireless data plan for multiple
households are growing at a very rapid pace. In 2010, they accounted for 30
percent of the market. Two years later, they're at 40 percent and still growing.
ISIS, AT&T's mobile payments partnership with T-Mobile and Verizon, lets
consumers use wireless phones like credit cards or cash.
connected car is a huge growth opportunity. Fifty-three percent of new vehicles
-- something like 20 million -- will be connected by 2016. Today it's all about
the front seat, but the rear seat has untapped potential.
is promoting its Digital Life and Mobile Premise Solutions -- and much more.
hired a medical doctor to help craft solutions in the mHealth area. This is a
huge opportunity going forward.
the next five years, we can expect at least 10 times more wireless data usage --
and I would say even that projection is on the low side.
wireless data capacity is continuing to grow. The company is well positioned,
even with long-term spectrum uncertainties. It has already entered many
transactions to acquire spectrum, and it is working on WCS spectrum. Some of
this is awaiting FCC approval. Short-term needs are being met, but the
longer-term spectrum shortage problem needs to be solved. This is big for the
has 30,000 WiFi hotspots around the United States.
will be in every smartphone, and we will use it for mobile payments; to buy
things in vending machines; as a security pass or an eKey to enter buildings;
and much more.
little wireless device we all carry with us every day will be the center of our
universe in coming years -- the remote control to our lives. Of course, that
much control in a single device means we'll have to meet challenges like
security and damage protection as well, but first things first.
was the first carrier with the iPhone. It was the first in many of these new
wireless technology areas, and only a few companies have exploded with growth so
far. Smartphones were around for a decade but didn't explode until about five
years ago. That's the way the marketplace works. It takes a while to get
started, but once it reaches critical mass, it suddenly explodes.
expect similar growth explosions in the coming years, so buckle your seatbelts.
was very interesting to hear that AT&T sees its wireline business being
attacked by new technologies and competitors. That's why it decided to
cannibalize itself -- and it seems to be working. When you pull the camera back
and take a hard look at AT&T Mobility, you see a strong, rapidly growing and
impressive communications company.
that it does everything right -- no company does. However, it is very good to
get a close look at an industry-shaping company. AT&T, Verizon and even
Sprint are going to continue to reshape the entire industry.
speaking this meeting was a great idea. It let us look at the big picture of
both AT&T Mobility and the changing industry. It let us look at the
challenges and opportunities -- and wireless, as we have learned, is full of
forward, the way we think about the wireless industry is not only going to
change, but expand.
5:00 AM PT
During the disaster of Hurricane
Sandy, wireless, telephone and cable television companies generally handled
things quite well, but there were still several outages in certain pockets that
lasted for many days. For those affected customers, consumers and businesses, it
was a disaster. Lesson learned? There is no one single solution that will cover
you 100 percent.
time to time, we receive stark reminders of just how delicate our IT systems
really are. Disaster preparation has risen to the top of the to-do list at many
companies, thanks to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy several weeks ago. How can we
maximize our chances of keeping communications open and data safe?
will present two relatively new ideas you should consider. Whether you are
responsible for a business or a family, these approaches are growing in
popularity and worth a look.
Pick of the Week is RIM. The company is surging with optimistic
expectations for its imminent BlackBerry 10 launch.
Telephony - VoIP
it or not, Internet telephony has come a long way during the last decade and
today is a good solution during a crisis. IP telephony has only been around for
what, a decade or so? But it is starting to get attention as a disaster back-up
plan, as well as for its cost savings and flexibility. When other services fail,
Internet telephony can be a solution. I am not suggesting that any business
cancel its existing services. It's best to keep all of them active. I am simply
saying add Internet telephony-- it can make a difference.
telephone is available from larger companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and
Time Warner. It is also available from smaller IP companies like RingCentral,
which focuses on offering this kind of technology to the small business market.
being able to have control over your communications in a disaster -- to log on
and change how your telephone and other communications are handled. Rather than
having calls directed to storm central, you can simply have them rerouted to
other places in the country with a few clicks on a website.
months ago, I was briefed by the executive team at RingCentral and found their
offering innovative. At that time, there were countless other ways to make a
call, so the company didn't stand out. Then Hurricane Sandy struck, and
RingCentral popped back onto my radar screen as another alternative. Many
companies use Internet telephony as their main communications service. Many also
use it as part of their plan.
the disaster of Hurricane Sandy, wireless, telephone and cable television
companies generally handled things quite well, but there were still several
outages in certain pockets that lasted for many days. For those affected
customers, consumers and businesses, it was a disaster. Lesson learned? There is
no one single solution that will cover you 100 percent. That's why you are
always better having multiple ways to communicate all up and running and all
working together. When one is down, another may be working.
services are making it possible for people and companies to save their data
online rather than in their individual devices. They let them secure their data
online and make it available whenever they can log on from a computer or
Web-connected device. This is what large companies have been using for years.
Now this solution is also available at the small business and consumer level,
and it is redefining the space.
cloud can be used for backing up your data or as an alternative to storing it on
hard drives. It can be for individuals or entire companies. As we increasingly
use tablets, smartphones and computers, the cloud makes more sense. That way, if
a device should be destroyed, stolen or lost, you are not out of business. You
simply log on to your cloud account from any other device, and you have access
to all your data.
are simple backup cloud services, like Carbonite
which continually backup your data on your devices and keep it safe while you
continue to use them and save your info to them.
services store your data when you are using your PC, tablet or smartphone.
Rather than saving to a device hard drive, they save data online to the cloud
account you have set up. Today you can save your information using Apple's
iCloud or Google Drive or Microsoft's Skydrive service. There are other
cloud-storage services available -- like Amazon and Barnes & Noble -- and
many more coming. This is new.
cloud has a dark side as well, however -- security is not perfect. Generally
speaking, cloud services are safe, but hackers break into secure sites all the
Cloud is an idea that has plenty of pluses and minuses, but when it comes to
disaster preparation, it's a big plus.
are two ideas to consider using which can help you through the next disaster and
improve your efficiency. Just remember, natural or man-made disasters happen
suddenly and can be devastating, so don't wait till the next one strikes to make
best solution is to operate both your business and your personal life with
several different technology options to help you stay backed up, online and
protected. That way, if one goes down you still have options.
Pick of the Week is RIM, which is starting to surge with optimistic
expectations for its soon-to-be released BlackBerry 10.
In Motion's BlackBerry was the No. 1 smartphone operating system until Google's
Android OS and Apple's iOS edged it out. RIM has been struggling for several
years trying to stop the bleeding.
have a positive and hopeful soul, so I hope BB10 will be a big hit.
Unfortunately, RIM has been shooting blanks for the last several years, so who
knows at this point?
hope that this new RIM BB10 will be just what the company needs to start growing
must improve on these three areas:
10 must have a new and advanced Web browser that has things like easy zooming
and synchronizing the Favorites from your laptop browser;
also must have valuable and important apps for its users; and
must be able to mount an extended, successful public relations effort.
it can do these three things well, RIM can start its recovery. Let's hope for
the best. BlackBerry 10 is set to launch at the end of January 2013.
5:00 AM PT
As advanced as this OS is, I
predict sales will be soft, at least for a while, like sales of Windows
smartphones. Early adopters will love it, but this is too much of a change for
the average user to deal with quickly. I think Microsoft worries more about
investors than customers, and this is finally coming around and biting the
company in the rear end.
have been taking a closer look at two of the brand-new technologies that are
really shaking up the computer world. One is Microsoft's Windows 8 operating
system with all those funky tiles. The other is the Lenovo Yoga 13 laptop. The
changes are many. Some will think all this change is good, others will not.
Let's look at the good, the bad and the ugly.
start with Windows 8. The good news is, many users will absolutely love this
operating system. The bad news is, many will not.
like Microsoft, but am sorry to say I don't believe Windows 8 will instantly be
the big winner it hopes it will be. Let me explain.
believe Microsoft is taking a risk in the way it is rolling out this new
platform. Sure, it will stop many customers currently thinking of moving to
Apple and may even win a few customers back who previously moved to Apple.
However, I think Microsoft also risks losing customers -- and that is the
you are an early-adopter type, you may love Windows 8. If you always want to
play around with anything new, this is for you. Sure, there are some bugs, but
essentially it's a brand-new and very innovative way to offer Windows. It's cool
does offer a platform that lets your Windows computer, your Surface tablet and
your Microsoft wireless phone all talk together. And in fact you can store your
information on the Microsoft Cloud rather than on an individual device.
that is where you are heading, you will love the concept of Windows 8. It is a
great new competitor to the Apple world and iCloud. In fact, it works well with
touchscreens, something Apple has not even rolled out yet.
took the best of what is on the market today like Cloud and Tiles. This will
help it attract and retain certain users.
has introduced the same kind of touchscreen interface it now has on the Surface
tablet and smartphones. The Microsoft Cloud will become increasingly important
as more customers choose it to store their data rather than saving it to their
8 has a much-improved use of memory, better management of Internet Explorer
memory, much-improved security, and if you use the new tiles format is supposed
to be faster as well.
as advanced as this OS is, I predict sales will be soft, at least for a while,
like sales of Windows smartphones. Early adopters will love it, but this is too
much of a change for the average user to deal with quickly.
think Microsoft worries more about investors than customers, and this is finally
coming around and biting the company in the rear end.
is a revolution for Microsoft, and this is just the beginning. It will be
interesting to see what it will win and lose in the process.
advantage Microsoft for the early-adopter crowd.
the other hand, if you think all this new technology is impressive, but would
prefer to stick with your more familiar operating system like Windows 7 or even
XP, you won't be happy.
is going all-in with Windows 8, forcing all customers into this new segment and
that's the problem. That is a big mistake.
this is so Microsoft -- this is what it has always done. When it was the leader,
it could get away with it. I don't think it can today.
marketplace is changing, and this is suddenly a growing risk. In the past,
Microsoft was the only game in town, so users had to put up with the changes,
like it or not.
though, there are competitors who are changing the game and threatening the
Microsoft hold on the market. Companies like Apple and Google and others
represent a threat to Microsoft in operating systems, Internet browsers and
of this new world, the best strategy for Microsoft would be to both protect the
customer base as well as move into this innovative new area.
lost a great opportunity here. Remember Windows 2000? When the next Windows XP
came, it gave customers the option to use either the new XP mode or the existing
2000 mode in XP that customers already knew. This was a stroke of genius. This
helped users update even if they were not yet ready to switch.
would be my recommendation for Microsoft for every upgrade. Unfortunately,
that's not the path it is taking.
then, it gave customers the ability to hang onto and continue to use whichever
operating system they preferred. Now, apparently, Microsoft doesn't think
customers prefer to make their own choices. This is wrong.
every customer is interested in what is brand-new. Many customers just want to
use their computer systems to run their business and the business of their
lives. They don't like having new questions when the previous operating system
was just fine.
all about building the long-term brand -- something Microsoft doesn't do well.
all that said, I am still impressed with Windows 8. At first I was put off, but
after taking a second look, I am coming around. Just remember this is a totally
different operating system and it's very different from what you are used to.
is following Apple with Windows 8. However, now it looks like Microsoft is
leading with the touchscreen -- for now, anyway. Talking with Apple users, I
find many of them really want a touchscreen. It's interesting to watch how the
balance of power shifts back and forth.
let's take a look at some of the first-generation hardware that has been
introduced to use Windows 8. This is where the rubber meets the road and the
whole world for users changes.
new Lenovo Yoga 13 is something to consider.
does Lenovo call this device "Yoga?" The best way to explain is just
to think about people doing Yoga. They contort themselves into all sorts of
unnatural looking positions don't they? Same here.
you want to use the Lenovo Yoga 13 as a normal laptop, you can do that.
if you want, just like a transformer toy, Yoga can transform into a variety of
different devices from a laptop to a tablet computer to a movie screen, a
presentation screen and more.
and it has a touchscreen as well. Take that, Apple.
a laptop, it looks and feels and works well. However when folded to a tablet, it
is thicker and heavier than most tablets, and the keyboard is on the bottom
exposed to dirt and damage.
carrying one single device is smaller and lighter than carrying several
hard drive on this first-generation device is also very small. Perhaps Lenovo
expects you to use the cloud. That would be fine, but does that mean this device
is really only a cloud machine? Users who don't want to store their stuff on the
cloud should be careful.
still have plenty of questions, but this innovative new Lenovo laptop is a
winner so far. It costs around US$1,000, weighs about 3.3 pounds and is only
0.67 inches thick.
bottom line is, Microsoft Windows 8 and Lenovo Yoga laptop are innovative and
generally very good. However they are different from the traditional computer
experience, so you will have to decide whether the time is right for you.
you prefer the traditional Windows and laptop approach, there is no reason to
if you prefer one device that acts like several, and a new operating system that
ties several devices together under one cloud account, than this is definitely
5:00 AM PT
AT&T plans to upgrade its
wireline network with fiber to reach another 1 million businesses and provide
high-speed Internet to 75 percent of wireline customers. It will also expand
U-verse television and Internet. AT&T plans to build out its 4G LTE
high-speed wireless data services to reach most of the U.S. by the end of 2014.
Doesn't this sound like a great advertising and marketing campaign?
week, AT&T held a meeting for investment analysts. It will increase capital
spending by about 16 percent to US$22 billion a year over the next three years
to upgrade its wireless and wireline networks. As executives discussed the
company's plans, I had an idea. This would be a perfect advertising campaign.
should consider creating an entire marketing and advertising campaign around
these expansion and update plans -- talking about where we've come from, where
we are today, and where we are heading tomorrow. This is something no other
communications company is doing.
Pick of the Week is AT&T's about-face, allowing FaceTime on its
wireless network for all data plans. This is interesting.
and investors need to better understand the changes that are occurring and the
path we are on. This is the kind of move leading companies need to make in order
to remain leading companies. During the meeting, AT&T said it would acquire
more wireless spectrum and use spectrum more efficiently. This is part of its
plan to continually improve mobile Internet connections.
connections are shrinking and wireless is growing. Local phone lines are still
copper connecting to the customer. Wireless is not just about handsets and
smartphones -- it is also about many other industries, such as the automotive
industry, home security and much more.
though they are changing, companies like AT&T can't simply shut down
yesterday's wireline network. Today, roughly 30 percent of the market has given
up wireline altogether and gone wireless, and that number continues to grow.
However, wireline is still important to many customers. This is the industry
transformation we are in the middle of right now.
years ago, telephone companies focused on telephone, but no more. Today the
growth in their business comes from wireless, Internet, IPTV and more. That's
why at last week's meeting, AT&T said that over the next three years it
planned to invest $8 billion to expand wireless and $6 billion to update
wireline for a total of around $14 billion dollars.
course politics always plays a role.
CEO Randall Stephenson told the analyst community that with the U.S.
presidential election behind us, he hoped the government would focus on
resolving the fiscal cliff, which is throttling the country's growth. I hope
President Obama heard him. Actually the president can hear the same thing from
countless CEOs in every industry.
also said AT&T has the opportunity to improve revenue growth and cost
structure for the future, which would create substantial value for shareholders.
plans to upgrade and expand its wireline network with fiber to reach another 1
million business customers and provide high-speed Internet to 75 percent of
wireline customers. It will also expand U-verse television and Internet by
one-third to cover 43 percent of the network by the end of 2015. This is good
news for many other companies as well. These upgrades will help equipment
partners like Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.
Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega said the upgrade will be much deeper than
Verizon's, noting that the automotive industry and home security could become
new billion dollar annual revenue opportunities in the next few years. That's
right -- other industries are using wireless to transform themselves.
also plans to expand its 4G LTE high-speed wireless data services to reach 300
million people -- that is, most of the U.S. -- by the end of 2014.
this sound like a great advertising and marketing campaign? I think this is a
great opportunity for AT&T.
get confused by all the 4G mumbo-jumbo. Remember, all this 4G talk is just part
of the natural growth wave of the wireless industry. It started with 1G, then
2G, 2.5G, 3G and is now moving toward 4G. Coming next are 5G, 6G and so on. This
is all part of a continual upgrade.
the coming new world, regulation will have to be updated. Old regulation
centered around one company having all the copper. Going forward, there are many
competitors -- and they don't have the same restrictions.
companies like AT&T and Verizon should have the same freedom as their
competitors. After all, they are losing local phone lines competing with
wireless and VoIP companies like cable television. Right now, unregulated
competitors like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and others have an unfair advantage.
important to realize that wireline networks are not disappearing. The future may
be all about wireless going forward, but wireless is only wireless until the
customer connects to the network on a cell site. From that point forward, the
call is a wireline call over hard wires. So even if we were totally wireless
today, we would always need national wireline networks carrying voice and data.
also want to make sure that rural areas have access to wireless, Internet and
television, but we have to make sure the solution is financially fair to all
forward, we have to take a fresh look at our changing industry's new technology,
new competition and changed regulations. That's the message we, as an industry,
have to present to customers, investors, regulators, competitors, partners and
Pick of the Week is AT&T's about-face, allowing the
video-conferencing app FaceTime on its wireless network for all data plans. This
will allow customers with an LTE-capable iOS device on a tiered or shared data
plan to use the Apple FaceTime service.
to this, use of the FaceTime app over AT&T's wireless networks was limited
to customers who switched to its new, shared data plans. Others could use it,
but only over a WiFi connection. The reason was simple. AT&T wanted to make
sure customers would continue to get good quality.
the incredible strain on AT&T's network caused by iPhone customers just a
few years ago? That problem has been solved, but FaceTime uses lots of wireless
has more iPhones on its network than any other carrier, so when Apple rolls out
new changes, as it did with iOS 6, they hit AT&T faster and harder than
other networks, said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior EVP of external and
expect AT&T to roll this out over the next two to three months. It has also
begun rolling out several new billing plans designed to allow deaf and
hard-of-hearing customers to use FaceTime. AT&T will continue to gather and
assess the network data on this issue over the next few months, Cicconi said,
and it anticipates expanding the availability of FaceTime.
5:00 AM PT
Sorry to pop your bubble, but
don't think that just because you are bombarded by all the 4G advertising and
marketing that if you sign up with one carrier or another, you will get 4G
speeds everywhere. You won't. That's just advertising. It will actually take
years to get 4G everywhere, and by that time you will be all excited about the
next generation of 5G that will be advertised and marketed.
the United States was not the first to get into the 4G
wireless data game, but today it may be the most aggressive in rolling it out.
The U.S. has more miles of network, more devices, and more subscribers than any
other place on Earth.
you listen to the advertising, it seems every carrier offers 4G, and every
customer uses it. Do you? If so, great. If not, when? You may be surprised.
Pick of the Week is all of the wireless carriers and communications
services affected by Hurricane Sandy. I want to thank every one of them for
working as fast as possible to bring service back to their customers.
Race to 4G
wireless players include companies like Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility,
Sprint Nextel, C Spire Wireless, MetroPCS, U.S. Cellular and Leap Wireless. They
have been installing LTE so quickly that the U.S. now has roughly 55 percent of
the worldwide market. That's amazing.
Wireless has the largest strictly 4G LTE footprint. AT&T Mobility is rushing
to catch up on the 4G LTE side, but also has HSPA+, which provides a fast
Nextel is much farther behind. And where is T-Mobile? It got a very late start,
leaving it even farther behind.
like C Spire Wireless are also rapidly rolling out 4G LTE within their regions.
fact, smartphones have overtaken laptops in terms of WiFi hotspot connections --
globally -- for the first time, according to the recently published global WiFi
hotspot report from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).
rush to 4G is on.
With Plenty of Juice, Please
wireless data networks are not new. Wireless data has been getting faster with
each new generation. It started with the first generation, then a couple years
later 2G, then 3G, and now we are rapidly building out 4G. Then comes 5G, 6G and
beyond. This is the nature of constantly improving wireless data technology,
both in the United States and worldwide.
said, these fast networks aren't bulletproof -- or waterproof, either. They need
a dry environment, and they need power. Just look at the northeast with
Hurricane Sandy last week, and you will see examples. Towers under water. Even
the ones above the water level still need power to operate. When the power is
out, many have batteries that can last a day or two. Unless the batteries are
replaced or recharged, though, the signal then dies -- and not every tower has
as amazing as this technology is, and as much as it has changed our lives, we
have to realize this chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Next Blazing-Fast Thing
though we are ahead of the rest of the world on 4G LTE, we still have a long way
to go. Installing new technology takes several years -- it's not just flipping a
switch. Networks are updated area by area. First, the carriers open up a market
area, like the center of a city. Then they expand the fast network from there.
They do this in city after city, large to small.
why you may have a fast 4G LTE connection at work and a slower 3G connection at
home a few miles away. Different locations within a market area like a city are
often on different parts of the network. If we look at any network, we see
multiple stages of evolution. Parts are on the newest 4G technology. Other parts
are 3G, and other parts are still using 2G technology.
this updating and speeding up of a network takes years and is always occurring.
to pop your bubble, but don't think that just because you are bombarded by all
the 4G advertising and marketing that if you sign up with one carrier or
another, you will get 4G speeds everywhere. You won't. That's just advertising.
It will actually take years to get 4G everywhere, and by that time you will be
all excited about the next generation of 5G that will be advertised and
technology being rolled out in major cities is the first wave. Then that wave
expands coverage within each major market. Next are secondary cities, and then
come smaller towns. All that takes several years. So, congratulations to the
U.S. for being the farthest along in the 4G LTE rollout.
wireless data networks power our smartphones, tablet computers and wireless
laptops, but we still have a long way to go. By the time we get to 4G, we'll
already be changing the subject and focusing on 5G.
to our wireless world.
Pick of the Week is all of the wireless carriers and communications
services, and all their employees, for working so hard to get service back after
Hurricane Sandy. I want to thank every one of them. They have been working as
fast and as hard as they could to bring service back to their customers. It may
not be fast enough for those hard hit, but Sandy was a major storm affecting the
most densely populated segment of the United States, the northeast.
still pretty bad out there. We don't realize how vulnerable we actually are.
When we experience something like this, we realize the weak links that need to
be strengthened. A year from now we will be looking at this storm and its
aftermath from a different perspective -- trying to find ways to keep the power
on and keep everyone connected.
now, people are literally just trying to survive. In the U.S., just trying to
survive. Incredible. It's happening right now. Where are the plans and the help
for everyone? Why should Americans be hungry, thirsty or cold? Haven't we been
through enough big storms to be prepared more quickly?
let's thank all the companies and workers for rushing as fast as they can to fix
what is broken and get us back to normal as quickly as possible. Then let's try
to figure out a way to make sure this never happens again. Even though, sadly,
I'm sure it will. It always does.
5:00 AM PT
No carrier offers high-speed to
all customers in all locations. The industry is undergoing a multi-year upgrade.
So if speed matters to you, then you must find the network that is the fastest
where you spend time. You can't get that information from a television
commercial. You can't get it from a newspaper, magazine, Web or radio
advertisement. You can only get that by testing for yourself.
is Verizon Wireless telling half-truths in its latest advertising campaign? It
does make the company look better than its competitors, but here's the problem:
When customers realize what they're led to believe is only a half truth, they
will be very upset with Verizon.
why risk that damage to the brand and the customer relationship?
Pick of the Week is the debut of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, which
could become Microsoft's next big hurrah if done right. Congratulations,
Question of Trust
is not lying. Still, it is telling only half the truth, and the result leads
customers to believe something that isn't true. Verizon is trying to make
customers think it offers better and faster service. The problem is 4G LTE is
different, but not better. So it's not true.
fact, if customers knew the whole truth, Verizon's ads would have no selling
power. Instead, they would hurt Verizon because they would destroy the trust the
company has built over the years.
am talking about Verizon's latest ad campaign, which has a small group of people
looking at graphs in order to decide which carrier has the best 4G LTE coverage.
TV commercial ends with... Verizon, which is shown as having the best 4G
coverage -- better than all the other carriers combined. The half of that that's
true is also meaningless. Customers want speed. They don't care how a carrier
provides it. Different networks can use different technologies to achieve the
don't think one is better than the other. Customers don't really care what a
technology is called. They want performance -- and Verizon is not the only
carrier to offer performance. However, the way Verizon asks the question, it
sounds as though 4G LTE is the only way, and that's the problem. It is
misleading a marketplace that doesn't know any better.
may be true that Verizon offers more 4G LTE coverage. However, it is also true
that does not matter. All that matters is speed, and other carriers -- like
AT&T, for example -- also offer speed using a combination of technologies
like 4G LTE and HSPA+.
the TV commercials, Verizon seems to win based on how the question is asked.
However, when the whole story is known, both Verizon and AT&T look very
similar, with faster service. In fact, AT&T claims its fast network is
accessible in more locations. Verizon says the same thing. So what is the
customer to believe?
the customer's perspective, what really matters is which network offers the
fastest service where you spend the most time. The bottom line is, if the
network you use has been updated where you spend time, you will have the highest
speed. If not, you won't. Period.
carrier offers high-speed to all customers in all locations. The industry is
undergoing a multi-year upgrade. So if speed matters to you, then you must find
the network that is the fastest where you spend time. You can't get that
information from a television commercial. You can't get it from a newspaper,
magazine, Web or radio advertisement. You can only get that by testing for
inside each market there are strengths and weaknesses, and only a real test by a
real customer will tell the truth. Each carrier has different standards and
speeds, depending where you are standing in their network. Standing across the
street can mean the difference between a 3G and 4G signal.
don't choose based on an ad. Choose based on the service you get where you spend
television ads confuse the situation. They show a chart illustrating how much 4G
LTE coverage each carrier offers. It compares Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
However it only looks at 4G LTE. It does not show other technologies like HPSA+.
half the truth is no way to teach the customer. Rather, it's a way to fool the
customer. I know Verizon. I like Verizon. But I think Verizon is going down the
wrong path. It is playing with fire, and it will get burned. I hope it
recognizes what it is doing and corrects things before it's too late.
Nextel is a different story. It is falling behind in the race to bring
high-speed wireless networks to its customers. But Sprint will catch up some
both AT&T and Verizon offer fast speed and excellent quality wireless data
service in an increasing number of places.
are both rapidly updating their networks to 4G. They are just using different
technologies to do so.
truly hope Verizon stops this before it ruins its reputation in the marketplace.
Pick of the Week is the new Windows
8 operating system and Surface
tablet. A hearty congratulations to Microsoft on what could become its next big
hurrah -- if done right.
be writing more about this in an upcoming column, but this is a big and new step
for Microsoft. Will it be successful? The answer is both yes and no. How much it
wins and how much it loses depends on what it does next. This is a very
innovative new technology that will be the core operating system powering
Microsoft's new adventure into the world of the PCs, tablets, smartphones and
has the potential to win big in this new cloud competition with Apple, Google
and others. The problem is, it is going to force every customer to make this
switch -- even customers who would rather not do so. Many customers want to
switch, but most would prefer to stay put if given the choice. Going forward,
Microsoft should promote and support both its standard Windows and this new
Windows 8, and let customers make the choice.
type of drastic change can be successful when rolled out over time. Let
customers have the choice to stay put or venture into the new. Over time, more
customers will take the leap. However, forcing customers to do something they
don't feel comfortable doing is a sure way of losing business.
have several suggestions that could help if they are open to listening. I'll
spell them out in an upcoming column. For now, let me just say congratulations,
Microsoft. I hope this is as successful as it can be.
5:00 AM PT
few weeks ago, U.S. government officials concluded Huawei and ZTE, two
China-based wireless handset makers, posed a national security threat to the
U.S. That's significant. The U.S. government is aware of the problem today --
but what if something like this should pop up a few years after an acquisition?
Sprint Nextel closes its deal with Japan-based Softbank, then more of the good
old-fashioned American wireless telephone industry will be subject to foreign
control -- three out of the top four wireless carriers in the U.S., in fact,
will have their headquarters overseas.
that a good thing or bad thing? It's all about branding. I'm not sure yet, but
it raises some very interesting questions.
Pick of the Week is Sprint Nextel's addition of RIM's BlackBerry Mobile
Fusion to its mobile device management products for businesses.
Bye, American Pie
Sprint Softbank deal raises questions that go beyond the U.S. telecom
marketplace. If we open our eyes and pull back the camera, we'll see that many
companies and industries in America's economy are being eaten alive, one bite at
a time, by foreign concerns.
we losing the magic ingredients in our good old-fashioned American pie? It looks
like we are -- so is that good or bad?
top four wireless carriers in the U.S. are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and
T-Mobile -- all good old-fashioned, all-American companies, right? Wrong. After
this Sprint deal, AT&T will be the only 100 percent good old-fashioned,
all-American company of the top four.
Wireless is co-owned -- 55 percent by Verizon and 45 percent by UK-based
Vodafone. T-Mobile is 100 percent owned by Germany-based Deutsche Telekom.
Sprint will be 70 percent owned by Japan-based Softbank if this deal goes
fact, there are others: Tracfone, for example, is based in Mexico.
means AT&T Mobility will be the only all-American wireless carrier of the
top four operating in the United States. That's something. This could actually
be a huge marketing opportunity for AT&T.
should be working on a new advertising, marketing and public relations campaign
pointing to that simple fact. You know -- something to do with American flags,
summer picnics, baseball, beer and apple pie. Sounds like I am talking about the
good old Chevy car commercials.
wait, there's more. If we pull back the camera further, we'll see that foreign
companies are taking over more than just wireless. Sure, America still owns
companies like AT&T, Apple, Google, Microsoft, IBM, McDonald's and Ford, but
the U.S. is losing its grip on other companies and other industries.
the beer industry, for example. We used to think of a Bud as another good,
old-fashioned American product and company, right? However Anheuser-Busch, which
brews Budweiser, was acquired a few years ago by InBev, based in Belgium.
American companies acquired by foreign firms include Gerber, 7-Eleven,
Firestone, Frigidaire and Holiday Inn -- to name just a few. Mergers are
frequently cheered by investors, but they often make customers feel uneasy.
Mergers with foreign firms turn the heat up even more.
executives of foreign companies do not understand the U.S. market. If the
company does a good job, however, that uneasiness eventually fades. What does
that mean exactly, going forward? Is that the direction the U.S. should be
that start out looking good can sour over time. If the U.S. government were
unable to protect domestic interests, some of these companies could be downright
few weeks ago, U.S. government officials concluded Huawei and ZTE, two
China-based wireless handset makers, posed a national security threat to the
U.S. That's significant. The U.S. government is aware of the problem today --
but what if something like this should pop up a few years after an acquisition?
U.S. companies are acquired by foreign concerns. Some foreign companies want to
do business in the U.S. -- another ticklish question. Is foreign ownership of
companies and industry sectors operating in the U.S. going to be good or bad for
Americans, short and long term?
have changed. Fifty years ago, America was red, white and blue. However, it has
changed much over the years -- and that wave of change is not over. We are in
the early stages of a wave that is transforming the U.S.
let's take this question to the next step. If America has changed so much over
the last few decades, what will it look like over the next few decades if things
stay on the same course?
get me wrong -- I'm not raising any red flags. I'm just asking questions.
However, not knowing the answers is starting to feel, well, uncomfortable. What
do you think? How do you feel about this transformation?
Pick of the Week is Sprint Nextel's addition of RIM's BlackBerry Mobile
Fusion to its mobile device management products for businesses.
says it is first to offer this as a carrier-billed application. Business
requires help to better manage and secure their wireless smartphones and gear.
With all the new wireless devices being used every year, the risk of losing
corporate data is on the rise.
BlackBerry Mobile Fusion to our portfolio broadens the options we have available
for our customers to meet their varied needs and mobile environments," said
John Dupree, senior VP of business sales at Sprint Nextel.
best part is this: Blackberry Mobile Fusion lets companies manage a variety of
devices -- like Androids, for example -- and not just BlackBerries.
is good news for RIM, which has virtually fallen off the playing field during
the last few years. It's good to see Sprint and RIM working together on this.
Perhaps RIM still has some fighting spirit left.
carriers like AT&T and Verizon also jump in? We'll see.
Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech
analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing
his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25
years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com
5:00 AM PT
The traditional PC business is facing extraordinary pressures. I think the downturn will continue for a while, but then it will level off as the industry finds its new balance. With all this change in the air, Lenovo should be very happy with its performance to date -- and at the same time, very worried about the changing marketplace.
global PC market has a new leader. Lenovo has quietly been fighting and winning
and is now officially No.1 in the PC industry, edging out HP. You would think
things look great for Lenovo. This is a big victory, right?
problem is the traditional PC industry is transforming itself. Can Lenovo remain
No. 1 with smartphones and tablet computers changing and expanding this business
Pick of the Week is C Spire Wireless' launch of the next phase of
Newslink, which delivers personalized news to each customer. Pretty cool.
Slices of Pie
years ago, if you said the name "Lenovo," I am not sure how much of an
impression it would make. Several years ago, however, Lenovo acquired IBM's
personal computer business and started to grow rapidly. Suddenly it was on the
have been a Thinkpad user for more than 20 years, and I can tell you that all
the changes in recent years have not been good. As a customer, I have had my
share of issues since the Lenovo acquisition, but the company has been on a
strong growth trajectory, and from an investor perspective, that is very good.
ranked Lenovo as No. 1
in the PC industry. Based on worldwide shipments, IDC had HP clinging to the top spot -- but by less than 0.5
way, Lenovo seems to be on the rapid growth side of the wave I frequently
discuss, while HP is on the falling side. So congratulations to Lenovo on
attaining this amazing goal.
during the last few years, the PC business has started a significant and
long-term transformation. The PC business is no longer just about desktops and
notebooks. It's expanded, and today it's also about tablets, smartphones,
ultra-portables, smart TVs, cloud computing, and other industry reshaping
traditional PC business seems to be slumping right now -- however, pull the
camera back and you can see a rapidly growing larger industry. What is happening
is simple. The PC industry started with desktops. It was one big slice. Next
came notebooks and laptops -- another slice.
there are so many new slices. New products are reshaping the industry, and more
are coming. So, can Lenovo hang on to the lead in this expanded industry? That
is the question. We are not moving away from traditional computers, but we have
created another few segments in the computer business -- more slices to the pie.
slice will be smaller, but customers will buy multiple devices from multiple
slices, so the marketplace will actually increase. This same effect is occurring
in other industries as well. Yesterday you may have had a laptop, but tomorrow
you will also have a smartphone, tablet, cloud services, smart TVs and more.
is a huge and new opportunity -- not only for Lenovo, but also for every other
company in the space, plus new ones. Microsoft wants to lead with Windows 8.
Intel wants to lead with its chips. Hardware makers like Toshiba, Dell, HP, Asus
and many others are in
the mix. Apple, Google, Samsung and more will play a defining role in this
you can see, there is enormous opportunity and enormous risk as well for all
industry players. So don't be fooled by changing numbers and new segments.
People still love their Thinkpads and desktops to do lots of real work. However,
new devices like tablets and smartphones can fill other needs even better.
good news for customers is that since PCs are slumping right now, they are a
bargain. The PC market has shrunk by roughly 8 percent in the third quarter. So
as the industry reinvents and re-sizes itself, consumers win. Imagine a Thinkpad
for just a bit over US$500. Amazing.
traditional PC business is facing extraordinary pressures. I think the downturn
will continue for a while, but then it will level off as the industry finds its
new balance. With all this change in the air, Lenovo should be very happy with
its performance to date -- and at the same time, very worried about the changing
computer makers will win, and others will lose. The list of winners and losers
will shift in the next few years. Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing seems to
understand that challenge.
the clear leader in global PC of course remains one of Lenovo's aspirations, he
said, but it alsorepresents just one more milestone in its journey as a company.
Its mission is to become the leader in PCs, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs,
cloud computing and enterprise IT.
seems to have a good view of industry changes. That is exactly how companies
like Lenovo need to think.
like HP were always Lenovo competitors, but now the competition has expanded to
include companies like Apple, Google, Samsung, Motorola and more. As RIM and
Nokia have learned the hard way, these companies don't play games.
the industry is not only expanding, but also reinventing itself. This disruption
means leadership could change in the industry.
Roman, chief marketing officer of Lenovo, called its upcoming product release
the single largest marketing launch the company has ever done. That's great for
now, but how the company is preparing for new competition is the bigger
question. So congratulations to Lenovo for winning the No. 1 spot, but that is
just step one of a multistep process.
will be No. 1 going forward, as the industry continues to transform? This is the
question we all want an answer to.
Pick of the Week is C Spire Wireless' launch of the next phase of Newslink,
which delivers personalized news to each customer.
matters to each customer is different. Newslink learns what each customer wants.
It delivers personalized news stories directly to customers' computers, tablets
and smartphones. Pretty cool -- and it's free.
Spire is building its business by giving customers what they want.
this year, C Spire became the first U.S. wireless provider to offer access to
free news content with its Newslink Beta. It now delivers daily, personalized
news based on what matters most to each customer.
more you read and share, the more Newslink learns about you, enabling it to send
more of the stories you are really interested in.
if I can only get it to reply to all my email, THAT would be terrific!
Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech
analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing
his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25
years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com
9:32 AM PT
Softbank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son sees investing in Sprint as an excellent opportunity to drive the mobile Internet revolution in one of the world's largest markets. If the deal closes, it will give Softbank a solid entry into the U.S. Then it's just a question of whether it can use advertising and marketing and public relations to turn Sprint around. The potential is there.
official. Sprint Nextel and Softbank
are getting together. If the deal is approved, Softbank will own 70 percent of
Sprint Nextel. That means this is not really an acquisition. Rather it is an
investment. However, as a majority owner you can expect Softbank to steer the
Sprint ship. That could be great news for the No. 3 U.S. wireless player. We can
expect some changes going forward.
have been following Sprint for decades. This is great news for Sprint Nextel and
for Softbank. Sprint has been struggling in a weak third place. It started when
Sprint was a long-distance company and continued when it got into wireless. This
could give Sprint the financial backing it needs to grow more rapidly.
wants this deal because Japan's wireless marketplace has already matured and is
now slowing, while the U.S. marketplace is still growing rapidly on the wireless
data side. Growth in wireless is not about voice -- it's about wireless data.
is a risk for Softbank as it will go into debt to invest in Sprint. Also, Sprint
has never been a rapidly growing company. Can Softbank shake things up in Kansas
this deal has to be approved. It would be tough enough if it were two U.S. firms
merging. This is a Japanese company merging with a U.S. firm. That is much more
difficult. Regulators have to be concerned with more issues -- like national
security. So we'll have to watch and see.
this deal is approved, it will happen later next year in 2013.
don't expect to see any rapid changes to Sprint Nextel for customers. The
company will remain the same for a while. However, this will allow Sprint to
more rapidly build out its LTE footprint over the next few years. That will be
very helpful to its growth trajectory.
do see this partnership giving Sprint the financial power it needs -- not only
to invest in its network speeds, but also to compete more successfully against
AT&T and Verizon.
at the U.S. wireless marketplace. Some companies are growing and doing strong
business , while others are not. AT&T and Verizon are on the strong growth
side of the wave. Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile have been on the weak side of the
could give Sprint the ability to start growing rapidly like AT&T and
Verizon. That's the good part of this story for Sprint.
hasn't Sprint grown over the years? CEO Dan Hesse brought deals to the board of
directors, but after being burned by the Nextel merger, they basically said no.
Sprint acquired Nextel, the deal made sense -- but that was right when the
wireless marketplace started to change from being a voice business to becoming a
wireless data business, with Apple launching the iPhone and Google introducing
the Android OS.
Speed vs. Unlimited Data
wants Sprint because of the growth potential in wireless data services.
means Sprint will have to invest in and more rapidly bring its network up to
AT&T and Verizon speeds. That is not an overnight issue. It will take time.
AT&T and Verizon have 4G
LTE in many more markets than Sprint does. So that's why Sprint uses its
unlimited plans to attract customers. The marketplace is split into two groups:
those who want speed and those who want unlimited wireless data.
Sprint can more rapidly invest in and increase the speed of its network to match
AT&T and Verizon more closely, will that mean it will eliminate its
for Softbank, Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son sees this as an excellent
opportunity for Softbank to leverage its expertise in smartphones and
next-generation high speed networks, including LTE, to drive the mobile Internet
revolution in one of the world's largest markets.
as you can see, this is big news, but there are still so many questions.
the deal closes, it will give Softbank a solid entry into the U.S. wireless
it's just a question of whether it can invest in the network and use advertising
and marketing and public relations to turn Sprint around. The potential is
Sprint, one thing is certain right now: The world looks much brighter than it
did just a few short days ago. This announcement is good news for Sprint
customers, workers, investors and partners. Let's hope for the best.
Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech
analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing
his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25
years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com
5:00 AM PT
Companies need to be able to negotiate the churning waters with positive messages and growth strategies. Some will work and others will fail. That's life. You can't fail unless you stop trying, and unfortunately that is what we see Sprint doing right now. MetroPCS does not have to be over for Sprint. It could try to acquire the company and fight T-Mobile. There are still possibilities.
next for Sprint Nextel? It has been pondering its future for years and that is
its problem. It doesn't seem to realize it has to take the next step and act.
Pondering is good. You want to make sure you don't make mistakes. However acting
is the next step to realize your dreams, and Sprint doesn't act. It appears that
is one of its big problems.
Pick of the Week is Advanced
Frequency Engineering, which put out a very interesting report earlier this
week that seems to really hurt Sprint's LTE
get me wrong. I like Sprint. I like the management, the workers and the
technology. Sprint could be a great company. So why isn't it?
wireless space is very successful. Just look at both AT&T and Verizon.
However Sprint is not firing on all cylinders. It ponders, yet it doesn't act.
It is not the only company that is missing in wireless. Look at T-Mobile and
many others as well. However, Sprint is No. 3, and should be doing very well.
like a hunter with the animal in its scope -- yet it never pulls the trigger. If
that's what it wants, then fine, but Sprint should be a photographer, not a
hunter. However, as long as it is a wireless company, it must do what it takes
to be successful as a wireless company. Period.
it the fault of the CEO? Dan Hesse was brought in to rebuild Sprint after it
fell off the tracks years ago. Fortunately, he did a great job of stabilizing
Sprint. Unfortunately, it's at a very low level and it just cannot seem to grow.
reminds me of Qwest years ago. It was crashing and burning until it brought in
Richard Notebaert as CEO. He stopped the drop and saved the company -- however,
he was unable to get it growing once again.
it the fault of the board of directors? Every time Hesse brings a deal to the
board, nothing happens. This has been a Sprint board problem for much too long.
So it goofed with Nextel. Big deal. Move on.
why does Sprint not act and build? That is the question everyone has been asking
for years. Sprint now seems camera shy.
said deals were coming in the wireless industry and Sprint would participate in
them. Bravo. That's what we want to hear. However Hesse brought the idea of a
few acquisitions to the Sprint board, and the board said no. That was another
enormous missed opportunity.
understand Sprint's fear of making a wrong decision. It wants to avoid another
Nextel, after all. But mistakes happen. That doesn't mean you stop. That means
you keep going.
every successful company, there are always tons of failures that are forgotten
about for every great idea that succeeds. Just think of all the crap companies
like Apple and Google have brought us over the years. Yet they are still
successful, aren't they? You do remember the first Google Nexus cellphone from
about four years ago, don't you?
bottom line is companies need to be able to negotiate the churning waters with
positive messages and growth strategies. Some will work and others will fail.
That's life. You can't fail unless you stop trying, and unfortunately that is
what we see Sprint doing right now.
does not have to be over for Sprint. It could try to acquire the company and
fight T-Mobile. Or it could let this merger take place and then acquire the new,
larger company. There are still possibilities.
Sprint have the ability to act that way?
acquisition is important to Sprint, because there are very few deals that are
large enough to really impact it. This is it. So, as you can see, the mistakes
of the past can still be corrected if Sprint acts. Will it? That is the question
we all have. We'll see.
Pick of the Week is Advanced Frequency Engineering, which put out a very
interesting report earlier this week that, if true, really pinches Sprint
Nextel's LTE claims. It says there are big differences between Sprint LTE
coverage and its advertised claims. The reporting I have read on this takes
Sprint by surprise.
report said that both AT&T and Verizon did better covering 100 percent in
their tested areas.
testing was done in Atlanta, Dallas, Fort Worth and Kansas City, using Samsung
Galaxy S III LTE handsets and equipment that analyzes spectrum.
testing indicated Sprint LTE service was either not present or not accessible in
75-90 percent of its advertised LTE coverage area.
claims to offer LTE in 19 cities with another 100 on the way in coming months.
This study said Sprint had 15 percent coverage in Atlanta, 10 percent coverage
in Dallas, 20 percent in Fort Worth, and 25 percent in Kansas City.
while Sprint is in those markets, the report says it is barely in those markets.
choice for customers is simple and clear right now: Either choose AT&T or
Verizon for high-speed data, because they have many more cities, or Sprint
Nextel for slower connections but unlimited plans.
lesson here is companies should under-promise and over-deliver. That way you
have happy customers. And isn't that the goal?
5:00 AM PT
Smaller carriers want special status in any spectrum auction. This makes sense, because we always need more, not less, competition. However, both AT&T and Verizon also need more spectrum for their hungry and growing customer bases. This makes just as much sense. So what's the solution? There is limited spectrum, and in the game of musical chairs, there are always losers.
FCC has weighed in on the looming wireless spectrum shortage. The good news is
it looks like it is going to step in with a plan for auctioning off unused
television spectrum to various wireless carriers in the United States. The bad
news is that even though it's only a bandage, it will take years to accomplish.
Pick of the Week is Apple CEO Tim Cook doing the right thing and apologizing
for the Maps screw-up.
are short-term solutions and long-term solutions. This FCC idea is a good
short-term fix -- but we really need a long-term solution.
saga over the last couple years? If that had worked, it would
have been a long-term solution. The company intended to offer wireless spectrum
to carriers. However, here we are -- once again playing the childhood game of
remember musical chairs, right? That's the game where six kids walk around five
chairs until the music stops and they all rush to sit down. There is always one
who is left out. One by one, players are eliminated.
is the same game being played today in the wireless industry. The question here
is which wireless carriers will get more spectrum, and which will be left out?
who are left out will have quality problems, then lose customers, and eventually
cannot let that happen. If a company offers bad service or high prices, that's
one thing. Not enough spectrum is quite another. Remember, more competitors mean
lower prices and better customer service. In fact, more competitors are even
better for AT&T and Verizon since it means they'll be subject to less
the desires of the television industry, the FCC wants to re-allocate its
spectrum because the wireless industry now has a greater need.
does not solve the long-term problem, but it is an effective bandage for a while
-- a short-term solution.
used by wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire,
U.S. Cellular, and many others is limited, and the demand is growing rapidly.
we don't develop real solutions, then every carrier and every customer will face
shortages and quality problems. It's just a matter of time before the wireless
roads slow down and get clogged.
just the next two to three years, the U.S. government expects wireless data
usage will increase thirty-fold. Thirty! Question: Is the way we use spectrum
today in 2012 going to work in 2015? No.
either solve this problem now or face horrendous service problems with wireless
data and calls tomorrow. It's our choice. Unless we fix this problem, every
wireless carrier and customer will be impacted.
off spectrum seemed to make sense years ago. However, the iPhone, Android
phones, and tablets like the iPad are gobbling up record amounts of wireless
data. This is rapidly squeezing the wireless spectrum the carriers use.
in the first step, the U.S. government will ask broadcasters to volunteer and
sell their spectrum. The FCC will then prepare that spectrum for auction.
auctions themselves won't take place until 2014, but that's the process. If we
need more, there will be additional steps, but let's focus on first things
smaller carriers have asked for special status in this auction to keep them
alive and to keep the industry competitive. This makes sense, because we always
need more, not less, competition.
both AT&T and Verizon also need more spectrum for their hungry and growing
customer bases. This makes just as much sense.
what's the solution? Even though there is limited spectrum, we have to make sure
we keep all the wireless carriers healthy and in business.
in the game of musical chairs, there are always losers.
what is the solution? It's easy actually.
access. Sharing spectrum. This is the best solution to keep all the competitors,
keep all the quality, and keep the focus on the customer.
carriers would pool all their spectrum, there would be plenty in every area
around the U.S. No shortages would exist, at least for the foreseeable future.
all carriers could pool their spectrum and have it managed by a third party --
makes sense, and carriers could continue to own their spectrum. All the spectrum
would then be available to every carrier to use. Sounds a lot like that
LightSquared idea -- but on a much larger scale.
would keep all companies healthy and in business. The carriers who own the
spectrum would be compensated for usage, making it fair financially to carriers,
users and owners.
would give every carrier equal access to spectrum, keeping all in a strong
competitive position. Carriers would not compete on spectrum. Instead, they
would compete on customer care, pricing, and things beyond connectivity.
would be healthy for the industry. Customers would be happy, and competitors
would stay in business.
course, major carriers would rather own. I don't blame them. In a perfect world,
owning makes more sense. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. So,
whichever solution we choose, we must recognize that every carrier, large and
small, is in desperate need of more spectrum. It's a question of survival.
want to keep many competitors in the marketplace as well. Competition keeps
pricing low, innovation high and customer service good.
companies could buy into this program as well. They could use this same spectrum
along with the wireless industry, making everyone happy. So, whether we auction
off the cable television spectrum or decide to share, we must do something --
and quickly. And we must make sure all industry competitors survive.
keep our eyes on the right ball to make sure the industry continues to hum along
rather than get stuck in the largest wireless data traffic jam we have ever
getting perilously close to the wireless spectrum cliff, and there is no time to
Pick of the Week is Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology for the Maps screw-up. He did
the right thing, and I want to say congratulations.
apology does not solve the Maps disaster, but it does show Apple seems to
understand users' extreme frustration.
never heard an apology from Steve Jobs. Remember the iPhone antenna screw-up?
This first-time admission from Apple that it is only human and makes mistakes is
refreshing. I like it.
question is, will it be helpful or harmful to Apple going forward? The answer to
that question depends on whom you ask. Everyone seems to think this is a sign of
growing maturity. What does a more mature Apple look like anyway? That is the
question we are all interested in.
5:00 AM PT
The concern for Comcast is that competition is growing rapidly. What is it doing to answer that threat? Its quiet PR over the years has not helped it. The industry is now entering a new era of competition and technology. Think of the marketplace as a pie. Yesterday, it had no slices -- but today is has many slices, and new technology will make even more slices.
has grown and changed so much over the last 15 years that many expect this wave
to continue. It may, but for that to happen Comcast must realize the marketplace
is changing and steer through the upcoming rapids. Can it do that?
Pick of the Week is AT&T's plan to stop texting while driving.
in the 1990s, Comcast was a small cable television company. Back then, its
competition was limited to a couple of newer satellite television companies. It
didn't compete with the local phone companies or Netflix or Amazon. Today it
does -- and competition is heating up.
an analyst, I like to pull the camera back and look at where a company has come
from, consider where it is today, and then look forward.
have worked on a consulting basis with just about every competitor in the space
over the last 25 years, so I understand much of the change that has occurred.
Some companies succeeded while others have not. The industry has been evolving.
Back in the 1980s, there were several different sectors, including local and
long distance telephone, and cable television.
the years, the industry has changed. Long-distance companies faded, other
companies merged, and sectors like wireless, Internet and television grew. Many
times, we tried to bring competition to the cable television industry.
the 1990s, cable television was an industry full of small providers. Then the
Baby Bells introduced a new competitor, called "Americast." At that
time it looked like the local phone companies were going to be in the television
business, competing with the cable TV companies. Then the seven Baby Bells
started merging, and Americast was put on the back burner.
cable television industry at the time was an industry full of many, smaller
service providers. Back in those days, Comcast was just a little company. Back
then, AT&T was enormous, but it was changing as well.
remember in 1999, the long distance giant AT&T was run by CEO Mike
Armstrong, and it acquired Denver-based Telecommunications Inc (TCI), then one
of the largest cable television companies in the United States, run by Leo
this acquisition turned AT&T into the largest cable television company. It
seemed to fit: the largest long-distance giant, the largest wireless company,
and then the largest cable television company. Things went sour pretty quickly,
however. AT&T failed at cable television. In fact, it started to fail at
everything, losing its long-distance consumers to the Baby Bells.
started the unraveling of the old AT&T, and it happened pretty quickly for
what was the world's best-known brand. AT&T sold its TCI cable television
business to Comcast. It spun off its wireless phone business, then called
"AT&T Wireless." Then AT&T was acquired by SBC, about eight
years ago. SBC took the name and now calls itself "at&t." The
acquisition by Comcast changed it from one of the smaller players to the largest
cable television company in the country, overnight.
deal that transformed Comcast was struck thanks to Brian Roberts, the current
CEO. Brian took the helm from his father Ralph Roberts who led the company until
then. That transformed Comcast into a giant, overnight. A small family business
suddenly became an industry-leading giant. But it still had further to grow.
the last few years, Comcast has been a Fortune 100 company with more than 24
million customers and 100,000 employees. It owns various networks and television
stations. It also took majority ownership in NBC Universal.
Comcast is growing and changing -- it is not the same company it was just 15
years ago. I expect to see it continue to grow and to change. In fact, other
companies like Time Warner and Cox also grew.
the good part.
growth has not been painless, however. While Comcast grows and succeeds on many
levels, it struggles on many others. One of several areas where Comcast seems to
have a missing link is public relations and relating to the customer. Comcast
seems to expect the world to understand it and change to accommodate the
company. Is that working?
why it failed at wireless a few years ago. That's why its new brand Xfinity is
struggling today. Like I have told so many CEOs and executives over the years,
if you don't have good public relations, and if you don't tell the marketplace
not only your news, but also your position on your news, then they will fill in
the blanks themselves. And more times than not, you will not be happy with the
Comcast is starting to focus on public relations and brand-building, which is a
great idea and opportunity. The company absolutely needs it. Will it work? It
depends. It has the big box of crayons -- now let's see if it can draw.
question: Why hasn't it taken this path already over the last 10 years? Good
question. I don't know either. Perhaps it's because until the early 2000s,
Comcast never had competition. In fact none of the cable television companies
had competition. But what about the last 10 years?
then, the local phone companies have gotten back into television with their IPTV
service. AT&T uVerse and Verizon FiOS are very heavy hitters, and to this
date, telephone companies have proven to be better marketers than cable TV
addition, satellite television services are now large competitors, and there are
new competitors using the Internet like Netflix and Amazon, which are rapidly
growing and changing the industry. To save money, a growing number of customers
are buying plain old television antennas and getting channels for free. They can
then download other television shows or movies from a variety of services, like
Amazon, and they are happy and pay next to nothing.
competitors are getting ready to pounce into the cable television business with
new breakthroughs as well. Companies like Google and Apple look serious -- and
they have already changed other industries, like wireless.
a strange new partnership, Comcast and Verizon Wireless have gotten together.
Walk into any Verizon store and you may find Comcast cable television products
for sale. This was a result of Comcast selling its wireless spectrum to Verizon
Wireless. So are they partners or competitors? Not sure what will develop. We'll
have to keep our eyes on this one.
good news for Comcast is that cable television companies have grown and gotten
stronger over the last decade. The bad news is that may be changing. The growth
wave may be peaking. We may start to see traditional cable television companies
shrink over the next few years unless they can fix the problem and maintain
concern for Comcast is that competition is growing rapidly. What is it doing to
answer that threat? Its quiet PR over the years has not helped it. The industry
is now entering a new era of competition and technology. Think of the
marketplace as a pie. Yesterday, it had no slices -- but today is has many
slices, and new technology will make even more slices.
some customers don't mind paying more every year for services, but others do.
Many customers want to save money, and Comcast does not help them. Its rates go
up regularly. What ever happened to the a la carte pricing the industry was was
buzzing about a couple of years ago?
new Comcast brand called "Xfinity" launched a year or so ago. It has
not really worked well, because Comcast doesn't understand how to build this new
brand. First you change and update the service; then and only then do you rename
it and reintroduce it.
looking forward, things are both exciting and challenging for Comcast. Which
future path will the company take? Will it continue to grow, or is its wave
cresting? You have to understand what customers think about you and why. You
have to know how they feel about you -- and you have to change and improve that.
then should you invite customers, investors, the media and analysts to follow
along on the journey with a new brand name and identity. One of Comcast's
weakest links is its PR. Over the last decade, it has just not been successful.
this new world of technology, the question is this: Will existing leaders
continue growing, or will they give way to new competitors? I believe Comcast
faces a choice in a changing marketplace. One way will lead to continued strong
growth. If it takes the other way, it will start to fall. Will it understand
what is happening, make the changes, and continue to grow? It's all in the hands
Pick of the Week is AT&T's plan to stop texting while driving. When
this whole idea of don't text while driving began, I thought it was crazy. After
all, we all do so much behind the wheel every day -- from eating burgers to
putting on makeup.
texting is something that we do too often while driving, and ever second your
eyes are not on the road can result in a terrible accident and loss of life.
Thousands of people die every year -- mainly young adults who don't really have
a good feel for driving yet anyway. If you are texting, there is a 23 percent
higher risk of getting into an accident.
I congratulate AT&T for this plan to raise the awareness of everyone.
AT&T is not only running countless ads, but also sending three vehicle
simulators to U.S. colleges to make its point. It has also created a free app
for Android and BlackBerry, called "DriveMode," that automatically
replies to incoming texts with an "I'm driving" message.
fact, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are offering a similar app.
follow this good advice, and save lives. Don't text while you drive.
5:00 AM PT
I don't choose my carrier based on advertising or marketing. I choose based on which gives me the best signal where I spend time. That is something you should consider. The next factor is this: What turns you on? Speed? Unlimited data plan? Many of us would prefer both, but you have to choose -- one or the other.
now that you have a new Apple iPhone, which network is best? Yesterday you
didn't have to think about it, since it was only available on AT&T. Today,
however, it's harder to decide. It's offered by Verizon, Sprint, C Spire and
even a few prepaid carriers. So which carrier is really the best choice for you?
Pick of the Week is AT&T for setting a new iPhone sales record over
the first weekend following the iPhone 5's launch.
the Best Network
are several different factors to consider when choosing your provider -- but
making the right choice may be easier than you think.
yourself a question: Why do you use your current carrier?
it because it's the same carrier as your family and friends and you want to be
part of the group? Is it because you have a phone on someone else's account and
didn't get to choose the carrier? Is it because this is your work account and
it's your company's choice?
just maybe you chose the carrier because it offered the best coverage where you
spend the most time.
of us have a reason for our carrier choice. However, don't assume all carriers
are created equal. They aren't. And don't assume that all carriers offer great
service to every customer. They don't.
are fortunate in one respect -- the iPhone is pretty much the same no matter
which carrier you use. However, the service you get can be very different from
one to another.
you have the freedom to choose your carrier, then it's time to get to work
thinking about which is the best one for you.
kind of user are you? Different carriers tend to have different strengths and
weaknesses. Finding the right carrier for your needs is the primary goal.
Otherwise, your new iPhone may have poor signal strength, and that means it
won't work -- no connection.
are all different. Just because one advertises it is the largest this or has the
most that doesn't mean it is the best for you.
Your Favorite Haunts
of us choose a carrier based on great marketing. We buy a phone and then find
out later that the carrier's signal is weak or nonexistent in some of the places
where we regularly spend time.
all have different strengths and weaknesses. So spend some time to explore which
carrier is the best for you where you spend the most time. It's not only signal
strength; it's the type of network you are connected to. Is it the faster 4G
network? Or is it 3G, which gives you a connection at a slower speed?
best choice for you this year may be different from last year. Sometimes
providers change pricing or strategy . Sometimes the locations where you spend
time change, or you have different needs. Sometimes network upgrade -- or lack
of one -- affects your service.
it or not, I use phones from all the major carriers, but for my daily usage,
only one gives me the best and strongest signal in all of the places I regularly
spend time. The others are good, and I like them all -- but for my primary
phone, my choice is easy.
choice may be simple as well. Make sure you know the strengths and weaknesses of
the different carriers' signals. They are not created equal.
speaking, each of the carriers that offers the iPhone is a major network that
offers great quality.
speaking, I would trust any of them.
don't choose my carrier based on advertising or marketing, though. I choose
based on which gives me the best signal where I spend time. That is something
you should consider.
next factor is this: What turns you on? Speed? Unlimited data plan? Many of us
would prefer both, but you have to choose -- one or the other.
and Verizon offer the fastest speeds in more locations today on their 4G LTE
you have noticed their advertising, both claim to be the fastest. The truth is,
it depends where you are standing when you make the call and what device you
use. Don't pay attention to advertising when choosing your carrier. Base your
decision on tests you carry out where you spend time.
is faster in some places, and Verizon is faster in others. However, both are
very fast, and those top speeds are spreading to more locations every day.
is confusing. Verizon calls its entire network one thing, and AT&T calls its
network different things in different places. So, through claims and
counterclaims, both try to position their network as being the fastest.
both are speedy.
has an advantage over Verizon and Sprint for customers who like to make calls
and surf the Web at the same time. They are the only carrier that supports this.
usage plans are another option. Sprint and C Spire offer unlimited data plans
T-Mobile also has an unlimited plan, but it doesn't sell the iPhone.
Spire is starting to turn on many high-speed 4G LTE markets within its region,
so it will be both fast and unlimited in those markets over the next few months.
This is an advantage for its customers.
prepaid iPhone is coming this season as well.
know all about the postpaid iPhone. That's what you get with the typical plan.
Prepaid, however, is new for the iPhone market.
has it networks like Virgin Mobile (owned by Sprint) and Cricket (owned by Leap)
will get into this new segment.
tell you the truth, I expect to hear of other carriers joining the iPhone parade
as the next few quarters pass, both on the postpaid and prepaid side.
as you can see, choosing the right network for your needs is the most important
part of this iPhone purchase.
iPhone is basically the same device from carrier to carrier. Your decision
should be to find the carrier for you and the best plan as well.
-- signal strength first, then fast or unlimited.
always important to understand which carrier offers the best signal where you
spend time. That can change from year to year, so keep current.
Pick of the Week is AT&T for setting a new sales record for the first
weekend following an iPhone launch.
Monday, AT&T announced that it had set sales records both on the first day
of pre-orders for the iPhone 5 and over the entire first weekend.
you remember when AT&T had exclusive rights to distribute the iPhone in the
thought when it became available from competitors like Verizon, Sprint and C
Spire that AT&T would lose business.
it looks like all that speculation was wrong. AT&T is still selling new
iPhones like crazy.
right, AT&T is not selling fewer iPhones -- it is selling more. In fact, it
is selling quite a few more, breaking all sales records.
it's AT&T's ability to talk and surf at the same time. Maybe it's the
company's huge 4G coverage area. Maybe it's because it doesn't force customers
to switch to shared data plans. There are many reasons, but the fact is,
AT&T is selling more iPhones, not fewer.
shabby. Not shabby at all.
5:00 AM PT
Cablevision is making fun of itself. It recognizes its problems and is working hard to fix them. Customers will chuckle, but will they trust and buy is the question. If the service is actually improved and continually getting better, this might just work. People really don't like dealing with telecommunications, according to Senior EVP Kristin Dolan. In fact, they hate it. I don't know if that is true, but it's not at the top of the list of fun or important things to think about.
recently invested in upgrading its cable television network to improve the
quality of service. Now it is launching a curious marketing and advertising
campaign to let customers know about it.
wants to shine up its Optimum brand. Good idea, but the funny part is, it is
poking fun at itself in the process. Why -- and will it work?
Pick of the Week is C Spire Wireless,
which is launching its 4G LTE network.
of all, if a company makes things better, shouldn't customers be able to figure
this out on their own? Yes, of course -- but that can take a long while.
when Sprint was a long distance company? In the 1990s, it improved the quality
of its networks, but it took customers years to figure it out on their own.
That's why Sprint started to run those "pin drop" commercials,
emphasizing how clear its calls were.
have to give customers a nudge before they'll realize something has changed. So
Cablevision is poking fun at itself by talking about how bad its quality
actually was. It is playing right into the customer's hands for cable
have always complained about the quality and reliability of television service,
and the people they dealt with on the phone or in person.
problem is not just a Cablevision problem, either. Every cable television
company suffers the same problem, whether it is Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner,
Cox, Bright House or any other company in the space.
reason for that has been the lack of threat. There's been no competition. Now
that there is, the cable companies need to shine their dull image in the
marketplace -- which is why Cablevision is doing this.
is going to be spending quite a bit on advertising and marketing to shine its
image and change customer perceptions about the Cablevision and Optimum brands.
fact, Time Warner is beginning its own new marketing campaign. It is trying to
get closer to the customers as well.
this has already been tried, hasn't it? Isn't that why the new Cablevision
Optimum brand and Comcast Xfinity brand were created?
guess the reason they originally took this route was that they hoped these new
brands would steer customers' attention away from the older and more tarnished
Cablevision and Comcast brands.
it work? I guess not. They introduced these new brands before they were ready.
So they are still tweaking the hell out of them, trying to make them work.
of improving service, they just created new brands too soon. Now it looks like
the result is tarnished new brands joining old brands.
Wants to Be Liked
why Cablevision is trying something new. It is being honest with the customer.
Hmmm, that's interesting. Could it work?
have consulted with many companies and listened to their stories. I have to say
this new spin could indeed work, if it is ready.
Dolan is the wife of Cablevision CEO James Dolan. She was promoted at the end of
last year to senior executive vice president of product management and
marketing. Try squeezing that mouthful onto a business card.
had been unhappy with the previous strategy , which was more like "change
the name and hide the strategy." She has been thinking about new ways to
connect with customers.
said this new campaign isn't going to sugarcoat anything but will follow
investment in improved services. Sounds good so far. Has service improved?
FCC said broadband speeds at Cablevision have improved -- a big improvement over
the previous year. That's good news. There is more to do, but it looks like it
is heading on the right path.
hope Cablevision keeps its eye on the ball and continues to improve service, or
this marketing idea will not work either.
what is the new marketing strategy? Simple. Cablevision is making fun of itself.
It says it recognizes its problems and is working hard to fix them.
will chuckle, but will they trust and buy is the question. If the service is
actually improved and continually getting better, this might just work.
really don't like dealing with telecommunications, according to Dolan. In fact,
they hate it. I don't know if that is true, but it's not at the top of the list
of fun or important things to think about.
just wants to get people to like the company. So these ads take a different
twist -- they're humorous.
sum up, the campaign's approach is that Cablevision has technology you won't
spend too much time thinking about, because you have more important things to
think about. Agreed.
it work? I hope so. We'll see. If it does, then it may be an idea worth
considering by other companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Bright House,
Dish Network and DirecTV who also need to reinvent their image in the customer
Pick of the Week is C Spire Wireless, which is launching its 4G LTE
Spire typically offers deeper coverage within its region, and that looks to be
the case this time as well -- more cities with more miles of coverage.
like C Spire's marketing campaign. It is a fresh new idea in the wireless
industry with its PERCs reward program and SCOUT, its personalized tool to
recommend apps, movies, books and music.
the end of October, C Spire 4G LTE will be in 31 markets with more to come.
the end of this year, it will have an additional six markets -- and more to come
5:00 AM PT
Every year at this time, things start to get hot, and this year is no exception. Things are changing. The service provider side of the business will look completely different in the next year or two. The services offered, in many cases, will be new as well. This means great opportunities and great risks. The moves providers make in the next few months will play an important role for them going forward.
Day has come and gone, and now it's time for the big end-of-year season to
begin. Expect lots of new product announcements, starting with the new Apple
iPhone next week.
all about what's new and what's coming next in wireless, telecom, television and
technology. So here's a look at where several top companies stand on the growth
Wave -- which of them are on the growth side, which are not, and what's coming
Pick of the Week is Verizon Wireless, which deserves congratulations.
is the case every year, my phone and email will be ringing off the hook in the
next few months. Each company will try to position itself as a winner in the
marketplace. Make no mistake: The marketplace is changing. That means leadership
may change as well.
in a while, a disruptive company or technology is introduced. It seems to happen
every year -- expect it to happen this year. Only some of today's leaders will
stay leaders. At the same time, new companies will break out.
is the most profitable ever, even though it sold fewer smartphones last quarter.
One reason is it didn't pay wild subsidies on as many smartphones, like the
iPhone. It activated 5.1 million smartphones during the last quarter. That's
down slightly from 5.5 million a year ago.
AT&T is not losing customers. Rather, its customers are hanging onto their
phones longer. AT&T added 320,000 new postpaid customers during the quarter.
More than half of these were new tablet customers, which pay less than
smartphone users. Tablets are hot going forward. As smartphones and tablets
continue to rise, this profitable growth should continue.
and Verizon are the top two networks both in wireless and wireline.
said its wireless business won 1.2 million net subscribers. This is strong
growth, as new subscriptions have slowed across the industry. Verizon should
continue strong growth for its first two years after starting to sell the iPhone,
as contracts expire. After that, its growth should be the same as AT&T.
hundred eighty-eight thousand were postpaid. Profit at Verizon Wireless was also
at its highest point, with average monthly fees for postpaid customers rising
3.7 percent to US$56.13. Verizon and AT&T are the top two networks both in
wireless and wireline.
Nextel is the only competitor of the big three that still offers a popular
unlimited data plan. It has a good 3G network and is upgrading to 4G -- just not
as quickly as Verizon and AT&T.
Sprint has to give customers a reason to buy from it. That's where unlimited
comes into play. Service revenue grows rapidly. The company won 1.5 million
iPhones during the quarter -- the same number as the previous quarter. Remember,
with Sprint speeds are slower -- however, data is unlimited. Sprint is in third
place in wireless.
Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, is not doing as well. It lost 557,000
postpaid customers during the quarter for a net loss of 205,000 customers. This
is a record loss for the company -- not a good sign.
just started selling unlimited data plans again, after moving away from them in
the last year. Last year its unlimited plan slowed after usage crossed a certain
level. This new plan should remain at high speeds. Will it help them compete?
We'll see. T Mobile is in fourth place in wireless.
Cellular is also struggling. It lost a record 48,000 postpaid customers. It won
20,000 prepaid customers during the same period. It ended the quarter with 5.8
million customers. US Cellular is a unit of Telephone Data and Systems.
will it do going forward to start winning again?
is struggling too. It lost around 186,000 customers. It ended the quarter at 9.3
million. It is a provider of prepaid services. First MetroPCS must find out why
it is losing business, and then it must start to grow the company once again. It
has not done so yet.
targets lower-income urban customers with a more basic service. It is starting
to reduce prices on unlimited data. It is growing its 4G data network. The
problem is that it is no longer doing well. Let's hope MetroPCS can turn it
Wireless with Cricket is struggling and lost 289,000 customers last quarter. It
has 5.9 million subscribers. It has not been able to turn the business around
is the third-largest local phone company after Verizon and AT&T. It does not
offer wireless across its region. It acquired Qwest.
local phone business is shrinking, as is the case with AT&T and Verizon. The
difference is that AT&T and Verizon have strong growth in other business
sectors like wireless, while CenturyLink has lost 234,000 local phone lines
during the quarter.
is its growth strategy going forward? It has 14.1 million access lines in the
market. It is the third in the land line space after acquiring Qwest and Embarq,
which was Sprint's local phone business.
is a local phone company as well. Not wireless. It used to be Alltel, but it
split away from the wireless business. It has grown quite a bit through
acquisitions over the last few years. Unfortunately, without acquisitions, there
does not seem to be any growth. It lost 29,000 customers during the quarter. It
has 2.9 million phone lines today.
will Windstream do to keep growth up going forward?
Communications is a smaller local phone business. It lost about 67,000 customers
from the last quarter. It ended the quarter with 3.1 million residential lines.
Once again, it is on the shrinking side of the Wave.
is the largest cable television company, and was always growing and adding
customers. That seems to be slowing. As it is losing cable television customers,
it is adding others -- like 158,000 phone customers using its VoIP service.
cable television business is changing. New competitors and new technologies are
coming in and transforming everything. Big competitors like Google TV and Apple
iTV, as well as Internet television from a variety of competitors, are putting
quite a bit of pressure on Comcast.
they continue to do well going forward? How they will change going forward is
Warner Cable, the second-largest cable television company, added 45,000
residential phone customers.
has 5 million customers across the U.S. Time Warner is losing traditional cable
television business as well. What will its growth strategy be going forward --
and will it work?
are so many more wireless and wireline networks, cable television, IPTV and TV
competitors, smartphone, tablet and handset makers, and so on. This could be a
very busy end of year.
big questions: Who will lead? Who will follow? Why? and What's coming next?
you can see, things are changing. The service provider side of the business will
look completely different in the next year or two. The services offered, in many
cases, will be new as well.
means great opportunities and great risks. The moves providers make in the next
few months will play an important role for them going forward.
every year at this time, things start to get hot. I expect this year will be no
different. Let's keep our eyes on what the networks and handset and tablet
makers do going forward.
investors and the companies themselves will have a helluva time the next few
Pick of the Week is Verizon Wireless, which I congratulate for hitting its 1
million retail mark on it's 1-year-old trade-in program.
you're like me, you bought a number of new wireless phones over the years but
never knew what to do with the old phones. Typically, you tossed them if they
didn't work any longer, or they were left in a desk drawer never to be seen
Wireless has helped to keep the equivalent of 140 tons of waste out of landfills
and 436 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
says this is equal to the amount of electricity it would take to power 49 houses
for one year.
on the other hand, could you power my home for the next year? Summers down here
in Atlanta are hot!
5:00 AM PT
To remain competitive and successful, all carriers need access to all new handsets at the same time. That is fair to all carriers and all customers. It seems that handset makers don't want to tick off the big guys. That's where they sell most of their handsets. But this hurts smaller competitors. The good news is this problem may be very simple to solve.
Spire Wireless vs. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility sounds a lot like
David vs. Goliath. Except this time Goliath holds all cards, making it difficult
for David to compete in the new 4G world. So why do Verizon and AT&T get
smartphones before other carriers, anyway?
system is broken. And if it's not fixed, all smaller companies and consumers are
at risk of paying higher prices, seeing less innovation, giving and receiving
poor customer service, and undergoing more governmental scrutiny -- things I
think we all want to avoid, even Verizon and AT&T.
on the Block
new wireless problem is all about handsets -- who gets them first and why. The
current way of getting handsets to the market may not be illegal, but it is
puts hot new handsets in the hands of Verizon and AT&T first. They don't
complain. It keeps them growing strong because customers chase the new handsets.
This puts significant stress on smaller competitors in the new smartphone world
as they try very hard just to compete.
this new smartphone world every carrier needs access to the same hot new
technology at the same time. Without that, the larger companies get a
that fair? Fixing this is the only way all networks will survive.
and AT&T already have about 70 percent of the U.S. market share. They are
the big dogs in the industry. When they talk, handset makers listen.
it seems handset makers are afraid to treat every carrier equally. Do they fear
selling fewer handsets to the majors if they treat every carrier the same?
this point the majors may not even have to be exerting any pressure, yet they
are still getting the benefits. This is the way the industry has grown over
was not as important a few years ago with regular handsets, but it is today in
the smartphone world.
Rich, Spectrum Poor
are many carriers in the remaining 30 percent of the market. Carriers like
Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, C Spire, U.S.
Wireless with Cricket and others.
getting new smartphone technology quickly is key to every carrier's survival.
Ham, VP of federal regulatory affairs of T-Mobile, says as they transition to
the 4G LTE network, spectrum is a key part of the strategy
and survival of every carrier.
the duty of regulators to ensure we don't end up with a market of spectrum haves
and have-nots, she said.
looking at today's marketplace that seems to be the way we are heading, doesn't
problem is that AT&T and Verizon traditionally get the hot new handsets
first, but why?
is no real reason. And there is no real need. But getting them first is a
competitive advantage they have over every other competitor.
Association is also concerned about this issue, as it represents many
smaller carriers wrestling with the same problem. The RCA has been very active
and concerned trying to make sure the marketplace is healthy going forward.
edge technology is key to success. Without equal access to new tech, companies
struggle. That fights against customer choice and a healthy industry.
a two-part battle. Even if carriers have access to spectrum, they still need new
4G handsets to make it all work and attract customers.
does it take so long for new handsets to reach smaller competitors?
remain competitive and successful, all carriers need access to all new handsets
at the same time. That is fair to all carriers and all customers.
seems that handset makers don't want to tick off the big guys. That's where they
sell most of their handsets. They are the largest. But this hurts smaller
good news is this problem may be very simple to solve.
truth of the matter is customers are not going away. If new handsets are only
available on AT&T and Verizon, that's were they will shop.
if new handsets were simultaneously available on all the networks,then just as
many handsets will be sold among them all.
would choose based on the carrier. Isn't that healthier for the industry?
all the handset makers should need to hear.
Verizon and AT&T may lose a little market share. That's why they won't be
for this approach, but smaller carriers would gain in a fair fight. That would
make the industry stronger.
is a benefit to Verizon and AT&T and every competitor as well. A fair and
competitive marketplace is under less regulatory scrutiny. Everyone should care
should only the big guys get the breaks? What about everyone else?
I want AT&T and Verizon to be winners and remain healthy, but I also want
all the smaller players to be so as well.
and Verizon can stay at the top. They earned it. However, there is no reason to
hobble the smaller competitors. In fact, the big players should hope the smaller
players continue to succeed.
Specter of Regulation
fair approach would keep the government regulators out of the hair of networks
and handset makers. It would let all companies compete on an even footing. It
would keep the industry healthy, and isn't that what we really want?
a competitive environment like wireless, especially as we move from 3G to 4G,
every carrier needs new, next-generation handsets to remain competitive.
we are at a critical juncture as the wireless industry evolves to smartphones
and fast data networks.
have to structure the marketplace correctly going forward or risk having the
U.S. government step in. I think that is something the wireless industry would
prefer not to happen.
the question is simple -- which way is better?
industry problem can be fixed without the government stepping in and it should
be if all the players understand what is at stake.
like C Spire would love to have more new 4G handsets than the few they struggled
to get so far.
Spire has brought this issue to the courts and the FCC asking for help.
is where we stand today. We are at a fork in the road. We must choose the right
path, right now, to ensure a free and open marketplace for every carrier and
handset maker, large and small.
believe the best buying decisions should have more to do with customer care,
network quality, reach and innovation, not who has the newest phones.
makers should focus on delivering new 4G handsets to all carriers at the same
The way the handset market operates must change in this new smartphone world. It's time every competitor has an equal footing. It's time to turn this into a fair fight.
Pick of the Week is T-Mobile's unlimited wireless data plan, which
follows Sprint's and C Spire Wireless'. It starts in September.
recently, all the players in the wireless industry were pretty much in-line. In
recent years, a line has been drawn down the middle, and companies are choosing
which side they will compete in.
must choose if they will be limited or unlimited wireless data, and pre-paid or
are real differences in the market, and carriers who position themselves well
problem is they were not doing well competing with Verizon and AT&T over the
last several years.
have lost more than 1 million net customers in the first half of 2012. They were
on the wrong path, so something had to be done quickly. Some carriers do well,
while others struggle.
like several others, has struggled. Sprint has lost more than a half million
customers over the last year and a half.
the same time, Verizon and AT&T have grown.
commend T-Mobile for making such a bold move, which may turn out to be
successful for them. Let's hope.
hope that by jumping to the unlimited side, things will be better. We'll see,
but if they market and advertise correctly, there is no reason they won't be.
5:00 AM PT
Spectrum crunch? What spectrum crunch? For now things seem fine, right? Don't be fooled. We are in the calm of the center of this wireless data spectrum hurricane. The wireless data spectrum shortage problem is still real, still growing and will still have a negative impact on the entire industry. We must start acting on what's good for the entire industry before it's too late.
did Verizon Wireless just get regulator OK to acquire wireless spectrum from
cable television companies, whereas AT&T got turned down in its attempt to
acquire T-Mobile for the same reason? And why is it still important for
regulators to solve the growing wireless data spectrum crunch?
truth is, we are running out of available wireless data spectrum. The sudden
explosion of smartphones and so many apps is changing the wireless industry.
one hand this is an amazing growth opportunity even as we outrun the wireless
data spectrum we have. On the other hand, this shortage will have a negative
impact on every carrier and every customer who uses apps on smartphones.
now things seem fine, right? Don't be fooled. We are in the calm of the center
of this wireless data spectrum hurricane.
of the Storm
reason the pressure is off of AT&T is because last year the iPhone started
being sold on every major carrier, like Verizon Wireless, Sprint and even C
Spire Wireless. And over the next few years, more carriers will offer the iPhone.
That has created a period of calm.
gives AT&T, and in fact every company, a little breathing room to solve this
brewing crisis, which will come back sooner rather than later.
FCC and United States Department
of Justice said no to the AT&T T Mobile
merger because it was more than just a spectrum deal. It would also take one
major competitor off the playing field.
this point in the wireless industry, after years of acquisitions and mergers,
there are few wireless carriers left.
fact, AT&T and Verizon together already account for 70 percent of the
marketplace. The other 30 percent is split up among a number of other carriers,
like Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire, US Cellular, Tracfone and several others.
the proposed AT&T deal would have done two things. It would give AT&T
spectrum, which likely would have been approved, and it would take T-Mobile off
the competitive playing field, which was why it was not approved.
Verizon acquisition of the cable television wireless spectrum was also sticky.
It was not an acquisition, but still Verizon and Comcast had taken this way too
far. Example: You could walk into a Verizon Wireless store and buy Comcast
arch competitors now playing nice? That is not good for the competitive playing
field. And it would have gotten worse over time.
was one of several important issues that regulators just could not ignore. The
negotiations between Verizon, Comcast, SpectrumCo and the U.S. regulators tried
to iron out these issues.
regulators now say they have done this, so the acquisition of spectrum can
this deal is only about the acquisition of spectrum. It is not an acquisition of
companies. The companies are still in place as always.
that's why Verizon its deal while AT&T did not.
spectrum gives Verizon some wiggle room, but just some.
wireless data spectrum shortage problem is still real, still growing and will
still have a negative impact on the entire industry.
why it's very important for the industry players and U.S. government regulators
to develop a short-term and a longer-term solution to this growing problem.
cannot be ignored or every customer and every carrier will struggle like
AT&T did in the first few years of this iPhone and smartphone revolution.
the solution cannot just be for carriers to acquire spectrum for themselves. In
that case there will be winners and losers, and fewer competitors will have a
serious impact on the competitive playing field, prices and quality.
what solutions have we kicked around lately?
the Lightsquared strategy last year
to be part of the solution? Why can't we have more solutions like that? This
company wanted to build out a national wireless data network and sell access to
all the carriers. Made perfect sense until the whole thing fell apart. Actually,
I don't think AT&T and Verizon even liked the idea, but Sprint, C Spire and
many others did.
about another idea like Lightsquared? Even some kind of industry-wide
partnership. It still makes sense.
are other ideas, like one from a small company I spoke with last week called
"Quantance." It's trying to unclog the wireless data networks by
raising speeds on handsets. It's already testing on two major carriers, one in
the U.S. and another in Europe. Sounds good, but still only part of the
idea I have been talking about is a sure solution, short- or long-term. All
carriers should pool their wireless data spectrum together, and all carriers can
buy access to it. That gives all wireless carriers equal access to spectrum and
the ability to compete.
are so many ideas. We must start acting on what's good for the entire industry
before it's too late.
we want to keep all the wireless carriers in business and competing in this new
wireless data world, they must have access to spectrum. Every competitor, large
and small, national and regional, has to have access to wireless data spectrum.
that or over the next few years all that will be available is just AT&T and
Verizon. Now, if you are an executive from either of those companies, that
sounds great. But if you want a large and healthy industry with many competitors
to keep pricing low, innovation high and customer service good, that is a
while AT&T and Verizon struggle to get as much wireless data spectrum to
meet their rapidly growing needs, we should also pull the camera back, look at
the entire industry, and develop solutions that will benefit every carrier and
is the kind of solution we need today and into tomorrow.
Pick of the Week is Barnes & Noble taking the Nook to Britain. This
is the first time the Nook stepped outside the USA.
will sell the Nook Simple Touch and Simple Touch with glow light. These are the
company's e-readers. This does not include their tablet.
retailers have not been named yet. Barnes & Noble will also be launching the
new website in Britain.
Nook has been a leader in U.S. markets, driving the transformation of the book
industry. It has around a 27 percent market share of the e-book business in the
big competitor is Amazon.com Kindle. It already sells in many countries around
the world, and Amazon just announced it's now selling in India. Since Amazon.com
is successful overseas, I think we can expect Barnes & Noble to be
successful there as well.
means there is a whole new world of opportunity out there for the company.
are a number of smaller competitors as well.
expect the next Nook tablet to be available later this fall.
5:00 AM PT
So why are we playing in this cloud business anyway, since it has all sorts of security dangers? This is the same question we asked about going on the Internet years ago. We adapted. The cloud is the biggest business opportunity we have seen in a long time. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of bad guys looking to break in and steal our stuff. This is a whole new adventure and opportunity for them as well.
does Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak think cloud-based computing
will bring "horrible problems" over the next few years? Apple is one
of many companies driving the cloud revolution with its iCloud. Sounds crazy,
but to tell you the truth I think Woz is correct -- to a point.
Pick of the Week is AT&T Wireless Home Phone, a new AT&T
Mobility wireless service that lets it compete against Verizon and local phone
more we transfer everything to the cloud, the less control we will have over it,
according to Wozniak. That's true -- and that's just one of many issues that
must be resolved before we embrace the cloud.
the camera back to get a good understanding. The cloud story is about the
struggle -- the push and pull between yesterday and tomorrow.
like Apple, Google, AT&T and Verizon are at the forefront of this struggle.
In fact, there are many companies entering this cloud space, including networks,
device makers and Web companies, not to mention pure cloud providers.
the next decade, the cloud will provide an enormous opportunity for growth,
investment, employment and innovation. It will become huge. However, there is
lots of ground that needs to cleared first.
exactly is the cloud? That depends.
you work for a company and store your information online, that's a cloud, and
you've been using it for more than a decade.
the last few years, when you buy books using an Amazon Kindle, Barnes &
Noble Nook, or Apple iPad they are also stored in the cloud. This is relatively
next version is storing your personal information and data in the cloud instead
of on your hard drive. That means storing info online instead of on devices like
your computer, smartphone and tablet.
think of the cloud as the consumer version of what companies have been doing for
an example, with Apple you can store your information on your devices -- like
iPhones, iPads and MacBooks -- or you can store it in the Apple iCloud.
stored on the devices, it is more secure -- but it is not sharable. If stored in
the cloud, it is shareable, but not as secure. It's your choice.
your info is in the cloud, you don't have to back it up. Your device may be
lost, stolen or broken, and your data is always secure on the server. That's
unless there is a server problem. Is it backed up? Some are. Some aren't.
are actually many differences like this that should be considered.
and other cloud operators want you to start storing your stuff online. This is a
big opportunity for them. It builds brand loyalty and reduces the chance you
will leave for a competitor.
you know that in the Terms of Agreement, many cloud companies say you give up
ownership to what you upload to the cloud? That's right.
cloud providers, like Amazon, are adding language to the terms of agreement
saying your data remains your data, but make sure you check before you click
are many areas of concern, but the cloud is the future. It's about saving your
work, photos, email, music, movies and all sorts of data, online.
gives you access to it from all your devices. As long as you have the password,
you have access. Then again, anyone with the password would also have access to
all your stuff. That's another problem. Security.
issues are what Steve Wozniak is warning us about. Woz says the next five years
could be a nightmare.
this is a new and huge opportunity for some companies that want to cash in with
innovative security ideas:
•Lifelock could offer an enhanced warning and
•Symantec Norton, Eset and McAfee can expand their
virus protection software to include the cloud.
•Carriers can juice up their protection as well and use
it in their marketing.
•Security in the cloud is an entire new business
opportunity that will explode with growth.
why are we playing in this cloud business anyway, since it has all sorts of
security dangers? This is the same question we asked about going on the Internet
years ago. We adapted. We bought security software and antivirus protection and
created loads of passwords.
cloud is the biggest business opportunity we have seen in a long time. The
benefits to customers are that they can access all their stuff on any of their
adopters are jumping into the cloud and storing all their stuff online. They
will deal with the initial few years of problems.
we live in a world full of bad guys looking to break in and steal our stuff.
This is a whole new adventure and opportunity for them as well.
the next few years, we will get used to the idea of the cloud. We will use it
more and more. Security will improve after some of these disasters Woz warns
we'll be signed up with various clouds. Then as we get overwhelmed with clouds,
we will join one master cloud and store everything there. It will make our lives
at how AT&T and Verizon have just entered the cloud space with AT&T
Mobile Share Plan and Verizon Share Everything Plan.
can get your own personal cloud being managed by these companies, and you can
connect all your different devices to it. In fact you can include up to 10 of
your family's devices.
purpose is to have one single cloud account instead of a separate account for
each device. This makes sense. Expect this from other carriers as well.
cloud may be the future, but we have a long way to go before we get there.
Today, the early adopters will jump onto the cloud. They will deal with the good
stuff and all the problems.
would suggest that if you are going to use the cloud, start slow. Be very
careful when signing up and using a cloud to store your stuff.
store all your personal and confidential data yet. Get through the perilous next
few years Woz is warning about before you risk all your valued information.
work through the next several years, addressing and changing the way we think of
the cloud, ownership of data, security, and all sorts of other new issues.
the bottom line is Woz is absolutely right. There are major storms building as
the cloud moves in -- privacy, personal information and security problems. But
like it or not, I do believe the cloud is the future.
take this journey in the cloud one step at a time.
Pick of the Week is AT&T Wireless Home Phone, a new AT&T Mobility
lets you replace your home landline phone service with wireless service
connected to your home.
good news is this lets AT&T compete with companies like Verizon, CenturyLink,
Windstream and Frontier to provide local phone service outside its home region.
a very innovative idea that lets AT&T enter new markets.
bad news is this does not let landline AT&T customers switch away from their
wireline service to the wireless service. But we're getting there.
think it should, because AT&T and all local phone companies are losing
landline business to competitors.
may sound crazy, but it would allow AT&T to keep some of the landline
business it is losing every year to competitors. It would just be on the
wireless side of the company.
has a similar offering, Verizon HomeFusion.
has two similar services. Its Cradle Point Router is similar to Verizon's, and
its Sprint Phone Connect is similar to AT&T's.
means that finally, after all these years, AT&T and Verizon will compete,
head to head, with traditional landline phone service, powered wirelessly.
will they think of next?
5:00 AM PT
Sprint has made attempt after attempt to restart its engines, but it has failed to achieve serious growth. The problem is Sprint simply does not know how to tout its wins -- how to get the crowd to back it and get the marketplace to cheer it on. How to get the adrenaline pumping. This is not new --it never did. I have been saying the same things over the last few decades.
both Verizon and AT&T rapidly build out their 4G
networks in preparation for Apple's launch of the next iPhone this fall, Sprint
Nextel is in a very distant third place. The big question is can it keep up?
answer depends on a number of items, including what its customers want most. Do
they want 4G LTE speed? Or do they want Sprint, even though it's on the slower 3G
net? That's the big question.
answer is somewhere in the middle. Some Sprint customers will drift to Verizon
and AT&T. The question is how many? And will this become the next Sprint
Pick of the Week is Sprint's plan to make lemonade out of lemons when
Apple's next iPhone comes out.
the last few decades, I have followed Sprint. I have always liked the people,
the innovation and the technology. However, Verizon and AT&T keep pulling
it fell off the tracks several years ago, Sprint was actually one of the leaders
in wireless. It was always pushing the envelope and regarded as a trendsetter,
innovator and industry leader.
plenty actually. Customer care took a hit. Sprint acquired Nextel. It needed
more wireless spectrum, and it made several efforts to get it before finally
the last decade, Sprint has gone through several CEOs and seems to have lost its
way. Now customer care has improved, but it is closing Nextel, and Clearwire is
has made attempt after attempt to restart its engines, but it has failed to
achieve serious growth.
good news is during the last year or so, it finally seems to have some wind at
its back -- some wind.
people at Sprint work hard, but this gentle breeze is just not the kind of wind
that will help the company grow and compete against Verizon and AT&T.
Rather, it's just enough to stay alive.
recent quarterly report was a mix of good and bad. Generally speaking, the
company seems to be getting a bit stronger, but it looks very different. It's
not only different from AT&T and Verizon, but also different from what
Sprint was -- and that's the good news.
question remains, is Sprint going to be strong enough to successfully compete
against Verizon and AT&T over the next few years?
weak recovery is better than the horror story of the last several years, you
have to wonder where real growth will come from.
what's next for Sprint Nextel?
iPhone is important, but it will not save Sprint, as many once thought.
Sprint desperately needs is to update and strengthen its brand relationship with
customers, workers and investors. It has been fixing the problems, but not the
relationship with customers and investors.
does it let the marketplace know about its accomplishments? How does it build on
relies on advertising, marketing and public relations, of course. Unfortunately,
that's Sprint's weak underbelly.
briefly ran an ad. That was good. But that was it -- and that's the problem.
Spreading the good news is key to success. However, this is something Sprint
just never really grasped.
problem is Sprint simply does not know how to tout its wins -- how to get the
crowd to back it and get the marketplace to cheer it on. How to get the
is not new --it never did. I have been saying the same things over the last few
Dan Hesse is the one who now seems to be turning the Sprint ship around. It's a
very slow recovery, but at least it is heading in the right direction.
Hesse entered the picture Sprint was about to go over the cliff. Fortunately, he
saved the company from that fate -- but unfortunately, the company is still on
the edge and just not growing.
think Hesse wants to do much more but is not permitted to by the Sprint board of
directors. That's a large part of the problem.
has never really done a great job at advertising, marketing and public relations
-- not like AT&T and Verizon have done. Maybe it never understood the
importance of these initiatives in the business world.
is hurting the company today.
is an old saying that describes Sprint: If a tree falls in the forest and no one
is there to hear it, does it make any noise? That's the problem.
Something About the iPhone
Sprint had the chance to sell the iPhone last year, it was in a no-win position.
It either had to take the device at a cost
of billions of dollars, or lose more quickly to Verizon, AT&T and C
is actually part of every carrier's problem in that sense. It is putting the
squeeze on, forcing every wireless network to pay big bucks just to carry the
just like Sprint, carriers don't have a choice.
is what I call "the Apple predicament" -- but that's for an upcoming
brings us back to Sprint's next big problem: A new version of the iPhone will
users are getting ready to wait in long lines to be the first to take advantage
of its new speed and features. The media is jumping in revving up the
marketplace. The next generation 4G LTE network is necessary for these features
and speed, and that is Sprint's problem.
has started offering LTE only in about 15 markets, with nationwide coverage not
expected until the end of 2013. Compare that to the Verizon LTE network already
in 330 markets, and AT&T's in 47.
Verizon and AT&T are on aggressive growth schedules. How can Sprint compete
its plan is to use spectrum currently assigned to Nextel after it shuts down.
Unfortunately, I understand that will not be available until 2014.
is another source of spectrum. Two questions: Is its 4G compatible with the
iPhone? Even if it is, the question remains: Is Clearwire enough to make a
difference to Sprint?
get me wrong. Sprint has plenty of spectrum. That's not the problem. That's its
problem is speed. Its 3G speed is slower than 4G. And with the PR wave from
Verizon and AT&T about speed, and all the articles written about speed, it
becomes the key factor.
the worry Sprint now faces is how to cut down on customer loss to competitors
like AT&T, Verizon and C Spire, due to their faster networks.
is the next real problem.
Sprint is not selling enough iPhones, it will start selling them through its
prepaid Virgin Mobile brand. That's a different network. That will help, but
that will not solve the problem.
how can Sprint get back on the growing side of the wave?
all want Sprint to succeed for its investors, workers, partners and customers.
Heck -- I want to write good stories about the company once again.
come on Sprint, get to it. Update your network's speed. Embrace your PR and
marketing activity. Connect with the marketplace and your customers. Help your
So, what will Sprint do next?
Pick of the Week is Sprint Nextel's plan to turn lemons into lemonade
when the new iPhone hits the market.
good news is that its customers can get unlimited data; the bad news is, it's on
a slower network.
customers are buying the next iPhone, they have a simple choice: Do they want
more speed or unlimited data? We actually want both, but in many cases we have
to make a choice.
customers want speed, and if they are in the updated part of the network, they
can go to Verizon, AT&T or C Spire.
if they want unlimited wireless data, they can choose Sprint Nextel or C Spire.
the way, C Spire Wireless happens to be the only carrier that offers both speed
and unlimited data in its region.
couple of years from now, all carriers should cover a good number of cities with
high-speed data plans. By then, carriers will be preparing to roll out 5G.
Today, however, you have to choose.
question is which carrier is best for you today? Just a reminder -- when
choosing, make sure you have strong signal strength where you spend the most
time. Without that, the iPhone is just a paperweight.
5:00 AM PT
This big bang may not seem like a big deal yet. Hell -- it's only in Kansas City. But you can be assured that every company in this space is looking very closely and measuring its next moves. The next few years could usher in a complete transformation of the traditional cable television model. What's the next step from Google in TV? That's up to today's competitors.
week, Google started selling a very high-speed Internet and television
service in Kansas City. This service stands a good chance of blowing customers'
minds and changing expectations. The question is, will Google get into this
business and compete with cable television and phone companies? Or is it doing
this just to make a point? Only time will tell. Even Google doesn't know yet.
Pick of the Week Comcast Xfinity's much-improved customer service
operation. You'll be surprised. Or maybe you won't.
Broadband the New Dial-Up?
everyone wants or needs that kind of speed today. Tomorrow, however, is a
is how companies like AT&T and Verizon currently offer television. They call
their services uVerse and FiOS respectively, but it is Internet Protocol
Television, or IPTV.
television companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox are at biggest risk. So
are satellite companies like DirecTV and DISH. They do things the way they have
done things for quite a while.
companies like Verizon FiOS and AT&T uVerse are at less risk, but I'll bet
you every provider is watching this Google adventure very closely.
I now expect, going forward, is that speed and interoperability from all
providers will increase.
be telling the kids about the good ol' days when everyone used a phone company
or cable television company to watch TV and surf the Web.
explain how back then there were big companies with slow-as-molasses Internet
service and ordinary television programming that you overpaid for
month-after-month. And as for choice? Huh. Forget-about-it.
when your precious child looks you in the eyes with a perplexed look and says,
is that like Google TV?
the way we watch television and get Internet is about to change. Actually it's
going through a major transformation that most don't yet understand. A few years
ago, the telephone companies joined the battle.
big bang of this new revolution started last week, when Google Fiber went live
in Kansas City.
thought IPTV from the telephone company was a big deal several years ago, but it
was just another competitor in the same space. It didn't change the world -- but
this new Google service just may.
Shot or the Real Deal?
also get a Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote control and can choose between
three packages of service. You can choose Internet, television or both. The most
expensive is about US$120 per month. Reasonably priced.
at today's marketplace. Cable television companies compete against satellite TV
and telephone companies. They offer telephone, television and high-speed
basic differences are cable television companies offer a faster Internet
connection under certain conditions, and telephone companies offer wireless
phones and 60,000 hot spots nationwide in places like Starbucks, McDonalds and
new Google service turns the industry on its head. The big question: Is Google
going to continue on this track and become an Internet service and television
provider? Or is it just trying to make a point here?
think Google had planned on launching this to make a point, but there is an
opportunity here if traditional providers don't act.
is an entirely new business for Google. Today, I think of this as a threat. It's
a warning shot fired across the industry.
pick up your speed, Google says, or we will enter the marketplace on a
nationwide scale and will decimate you.
that happen? Why not? It already has transformed many industries.
Google has its way, the entire industry model is about to be turned on its head
and completely reinvented. The good news is, this is the new model we can expect
not really unusual, either. After all, country after country has faster Internet
service than we do here in the United States. Why?
big bang may not seem like a big deal yet. Hell -- it's only in Kansas City. But
you can be assured that every company in this space is looking very closely and
measuring its next moves.
next few years could usher in a complete transformation of the traditional cable
the next step from Google in TV? That's up to today's competitors.
Dorothy, there is a Wizard of Oz in Kansas City, and in the blink of an eye,
Google intends to transform the way we think about television and broadband.
Pick of the Week is Comcast Xfinity's much improved customer service
experience -- sort of.
to be clear, I am writing this while waiting on hold for the second or third
time, trying to reach a live human being at Comcast. My patience is getting
thinner and thinner.
first time or two, I was told the wait would be in the 10-to-15-minute range.
After 20 minutes, I hung up. After all, I have a life to lead and business to
initial gripe is it keeps interrupting my thinking with commercials. Please give
me the chance to wait in silence so I don't waste so much time.
time I chose to have Comcast call me back. At least I could work while waiting.
I was told it would be in the 26-to-39-minute range. Here's hoping.
let me share a few important customer service tips with Comcast and any other
company that wants to listen.
the phone. Waiting ticks customers off big time, and you lose.
the problem in the first couple of minutes on the first call.
you send a letter saying you are going to do something if the customer doesn't
call, provide a quick way for the customer to reach you -- and answer the phone.
let the customer sit there and simmer. You are only cooking your goose.
a customer chooses to wait on hold, run a commercial or two, then shut up and
let the customer work while waiting.
your customer service hours to seven days a week, 24 hours a day. This is 2012,
you don't have enough operators to handle your customer services calls, hire
make customers punch their way through countless steps just to hear that you are
too busy and would they please call back later. Tell them up front.
is plenty more, but you get the general point, I hope. Think about this from the
customer perspective. Whatever ticks you off also ticks off your customers. You
should try using your own customer service as a customer. You may be very
surprised and disappointed.
television company customer service is actually better than it was. That is
something -- but it's not enough.
playing field is getting more competitive and you will lose unless you provide
the kind of good care customers get with other providers.
judge companies based on the best they have experienced with others. If you are
not up in the top 10 percent, you will lose.
I think Comcast has improved its customer service operations, and while that's a
great start, it still has a long way to go.
wait -- Comcast is finally answering my call. Gotta go. Just for the record, I
waited exactly one hour for a return call. Imagine that. Is that good customer
is a problem only Comcast can fix.
Verizon: A Changing Company in a Changing Industry
5:00 AM PT
Last autumn, Ivan Seidenberg retired. Lowell McAdam became CEO of Verizon and Dan Mead CEO of Verizon Wireless. That's when things started to change. Verizon became different. Why is it that today the company seems less interested in making sure the marketplace understands what it is doing, the direction it is heading, and how it will transform the industry?
watching Verizon and Verizon Wireless over the last few decades I have developed
a respect and admiration for the company. Some of you, however, have noticed how
Verizon is starting to act, well, differently lately. Is something starting to
am writing a book called The
Future of Verizon and Verizon Wireless and have been exploring this
and other questions and have been very surprised myself lately. I'll tell you
Pick of the Week is U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillon singing her new country
hit single: "You'll be satisfied, your calls will survive. Here's a number
-- call someone who cares."
of all, we have to admit Verizon is still strong and growing. Last week, its
quarterly stock report looked good, on the wireless side anyway. Its wireline
and broadband numbers were weaker, but that was expected. So its investors are
obviously still happy -- so far.
about the customers? Could that change things?
I started researching the company, the flavor of the book seemed very positive.
This was the company we all have grown to know and respect over the years.
several things have been happening recently that may be challenging that
position. I hadn't paid as much attention to this until I started adding it all
up. I know Verizon may push back, but what we really need is an explanation, not
have heard from many of you over the last few months, and you may indeed have a
point. Let me explain some of what I have found so far.
have grown up with Verizon as a customer, investor, worker, competitor or
partner. Through the 1990s and 2000s, we knew what it was and what it was
becoming. The name changed, as did the industry, but customers and investors
felt comfortable with the direction of the company as a leader in the changing
wireless and telecom industry.
that time, Verizon was run by CEO Ivan Seidenberg. He had a very clear vision.
Just like baseball hero Babe Ruth, he pointed to the direction he was heading,
and the marketplace followed the home runs that were hit.
autumn, Ivan Seidenberg retired. Lowell McAdam became CEO of Verizon and Dan
Mead CEO of Verizon Wireless.
when things started to change. Verizon became different. Its direction was not
as clear. So is the problem a change in leadership -- or is it the company's
is it that today the company seems less interested in making sure the
marketplace understands what it is doing, the direction it is heading, and how
it will transform the industry?
things have been happening at the company recently. Here are a few examples.
Verizon tried to add a new charge to customers' bills near the end of last year.
It was pulled after significant customer pushback. That was a unique and very
it is partnering with Comcast, its arch competitive enemy. Imagine walking into
a Verizon Wireless store and seeing Comcast services for sale. It used to sell
Verizon FiOS TV. What's up? Is it a competitor or a partner with Comcast?
Customers, investors and regulators don't seem to get it.
Verizon Wireless is trying to acquire spectrum from the cable television
industry. SpectrumCo is owned by companies like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox and
is trying to sell the wireless spectrum it has acquired.
question here is why didn't SpectrumCo put this spectrum up for sale to the
marketplace for the highest price? Does Verizon have plans to further partner
with Comcast, Time Warner and Cox? If this happens, then Verizon may no longer
compete with these companies. It will partner with them instead.
taking away competition good for the marketplace? Regulators don't seem to think
so. So this idea is getting pushback.
the brand new "Share Everything" plan. This was a general rethinking
of the way it charges for wireless data. This had a negative reaction in the
marketplace and is getting pushback.
Is it the idea, or is it Verizon's approach?
to Cook a Frog
new rate plan will significantly raise prices to the overwhelming number of
Verizon customers. They are turning the business model upside down," said
Clark Howard, consumer advocate and radio talk show host on AM WSB in Atlanta.
Share Everything idea is actually a good idea, but it will take the marketplace
a while to figure it out and feel comfortable with it. This may be the way the
entire industry will eventually evolve. It may be beneficial to both customers
and the company. But Verizon has not made the marketplace understand.
week, AT&T Mobility jumped into this same space with its Mobile Share Plan.
AT&T's plan does not force the customer to use this new service. AT&T
lets customers choose either this plan or one of the original plans. Verizon
doesn't. New accounts must use the new plan.
the key difference so far. Verizon had significant pushback, but AT&T was
accepted. Isn't that interesting? It was a difference in the approach.
is not how Verizon used to do things -- it used to take a more gradual approach.
that successfully change things this dramatically do it slowly. They make a
series of smaller changes over time till they get where they want to go.
like dropping a frog in a pot of boiling water. He'll jump out, of course. But
if the water starts out at room temperature and is increased bit-by-bit, the
frog does not jump out and is eventually cooked.
keeps dropping customers into the pot of boiling water. They jump out, and
Verizon doesn't seem to understand why.
that make these kinds of rapid, big changes often get pushback.
the Netflix goof from a year ago? It wanted to change the way customers bought
its services, and it wanted to change the pricing. It didn't give customers a
choice. It just told the marketplace the new prices. Netflix experienced
significant pushback as well, and a year later it is still suffering.
why is Verizon suddenly doing such a poor job in this area? It was always so
good. This is so very un-Verizon-like.
this confusing behavior what we can expect from the company going forward?
see nothing similar from competitors that is making us uncomfortable. That's
good. So this is a Verizon problem.
believe Verizon is still a great company. It is still a leader and innovator. I
like the people who work there and I have met many. If Verizon can solve this
new problem before it hurts them, it can remain a great company going forward.
Let's hope it does that.
bigger question I ask is, does it even understand that it has a problem? I have
not seen any indication that it does.
this is some of what I am writing about in the book -- looking at where the
company came from, where it is today, and where it is heading tomorrow, for
better or for worse. It is a changing company inside a changing industry.
drop me an email and let me know what you think. And share your ideas on this
and other Verizon items of interest.
Pick of the Week is U.S. Cellular CEO Mary Dillon singing her new No. 1
country hit single: "You'll be satisfied, and your calls will survive.
Here's a number -- call someone who cares." This is part of the company's
new brand campaign.
Cellular has been losing subscribers and is trying to figure out how to fix the
problem. Its new TV spots focus on customer service. Interesting. It looks at
the pain of dealing with other carriers. It's about happy customers.
its new "Hello Better" brand campaign may have a customer service
point, the question is does it really matter? Verizon Wireless, AT&T
Mobility, Sprint Nextel and so on are not going anywhere. And they continue to
capture the imagination of the marketplace with everything that is new, even
with customer service issues.
again, all U.S. Cellular has to do is carve a little from here and there to be
successful. So maybe it can do just that.
see. Focusing on customer service may be just the right ticket.
just sit back and enjoy the tunes. Go get 'em, Mary!
5:00 AM PT
and Verizon are the first carriers to offer these plans in the marketplace. I
expect to see every wireless carrier jumping into this space. The approach is
key. Respect the customer -- don't be the director. Give customers the power to
choose and control their own services. Don't take an all-or-nothing,
take-it-or-leave-it approach. If you do, you will lose. Stay on the customer's
side as a partner.
Mobility just announced its shared wireless data plans on Wednesday. Verizon
Wireless did the same thing a few weeks ago. Verizon has been taking a lot of
heat on this topic, but not because it's a bad idea. It's actually a great idea.
The problem is its approach, which I'll discuss. I think AT&T's plan will be
welcomed in the marketplace.
Pick of the Week is the battle Time
Warner Cable, DishTV and DirecTV are finally
waging to reduce our prices.
plan is called "Mobile
Share Plan." Verizon Wireless calls its plan
offers this new service as another choice. One of many. Verizon offers it as the
only choice for new service. If you sign up for a new service, you can choose
the plan you want on AT&T. You don't have that option with Verizon. That is
a very important difference.
don't like being told what they have to do. They like the choice to be theirs.
They want to drive the car -- they don't want to be in the backseat of a bus.
difference will likely give AT&T an advantage. That's why I believe Verizon
will come around, sooner or later. Sure it will be a bit embarrassing, but
that's better than losing business.
goodness for the competitive marketplace right? Good products and services make
their way to the top. If not, customers have the ability to choose the company.
customers like to try whatever is new. Others like things the way they are
today. Change is hard for many. They want to make the change when they want to
make the change. They don't want to be forced to do so. Forcing them creates
customer pushback, which in turn hurts the relationship. And the relationship is
key. Even though both are good services, that is the problem with Verizon's
idea behind these shared wireless data plans is the future. You can put all your
wireless data usage from all your separate devices and accounts into one. That
means your smartphones, tablet computers -- and laptops, and in fact your
family's devices -- can share this plan.
can put up to 10 separate devices on this plan. This makes it so much easier to
manage. It is quite often less expensive as well. I wonder what happens when
there are more than 10 devices? We will get there... trust me.
is important to keep track of your usage so you can make the right choice of
plan. That's why it's important to have a partner in the process. AT&T says
they send messages to the user before they run out of data so they can control
what happens next.
Christopher, the chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility, told me the idea
with this new Mobile Share Plan is to help customers manage all their devices
and to reduce costs. It's about all our separate devices that use wireless data
remember, we are seeing more wireless data devices, not less. This is a very
rapidly growing marketplace. So this type of plan makes enormous sense. We will
need this more as time goes by.
Mobility and Verizon Wireless are the first carriers to offer these plans in the
marketplace. I expect to see every wireless carrier jumping into this space.
approach is key. Respect the customer -- don't be the director. Give customers
the power to choose and control their own services. Don't take an
all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it approach. If you do, you will lose. Stay on
the customer's side as a partner.
way warms the hearts of users and the other pinches them till they scream
"Ouch!" Which makes most sense in a competitive marketplace? You can
direct this kind of change over time, but not all at once.
Pick of the Week is the battle being fought by companies we do business with --
like Time Warner Cable, DishTV and DirecTV -- to reduce the prices we pay for
television. They are finally on our side, and it's about time. Welcome aboard
guys. The struggle is just getting interesting.
have been complaining for years about the price of television. It roughly
doubles every decade. The problem is this is a three-part market. That means the
customer complaints don't matter.
do business with the cable television and satellite television providers, and
these providers do business with the networks. Customers don't do business
directly with the networks. Networks ask for significant increases in revenue
from cable television companies, year after year, and they pass along the price
increases to customers -- and that's the problem.
we had no other choices. Today we do -- and tomorrow we'll have even more.
television service provider should join this fight. The stakes are high, not
just for the customer, but for the companies as well, as competition increases.
we can get television from cable television companies like Comcast, Time Warner
and Cox. We can also get television from satellite companies like DirecTV and
DISH TV. Over the last few years, we've also been able to get it from phone
companies like AT&T uVerse and Verizon FiOS.
who are tired of paying for television can even cancel these services and watch
television over an antenna like the good old days. Today they can get 15 to 25
channels to watch for free since major networks now operate multiple channels.
Then movies and other programming can be downloaded over the Internet for a few
dollars a month.
is a big savings from the US$100-$150 most customers pay for cable television.
this year, we are also expecting both Google and Apple to enter the market.
Could they change the television industry the way they changed the smartphone
business and the music business?
this change is quite a phenomenon. It's all being driven by innovation and the
customer's desire for savings.
cable television companies have started to lose customers. That is the real
reason they are joining the fight. But whatever the reason, this is a good thing
for customers who want to save money. It's the way the market works.
about the rest of the competitors? Is it time to join the fight?
Net Neutrality and the Naked Internet
By Jeff Kagan
07/12/12 5:00 AM PT
Today we have two ways to access the Internet -- telephone or cable television company. What about the naked Internet? We actually have this now from phone companies. The reason you never heard of it is that although carriers are forced to offer it, they don't talk about it in their marketing or advertising. Cable television companies are not required to offer it -- why, I can't tell you. What about publicizing the naked Internet? Would that work? It just might.
Just when we thought this whole Net neutrality thing was over, Verizon threw a little gasoline on the burning embers. The thing is, there are many good points on both sides of the Net neutrality argument. So how can we decide which way to go?
It turns out the best solution may be on the third side.
My Pick of the Week is a new service AT&T Mobility is launching to disable lost or stolen iPhones. I love this idea.
First, Net neutrality. It boils down to the basic decision we need to make as a country. There are three different tracks we can take, and we have to choose one.
One, broadband is just another service from the phone company or cable television company. They control everything, including which sites get the fastest speeds.
Two, broadband is our way to access the Internet so every site gets the same fast speed and customers decide which services they use. This lets customers choose companies other than their telephone and television companies.
The choice is really that simple.
Access providers get a competitive advantage right now -- they can throttle back the speed of competitors. The alternative is all sites having equal speed with the customers getting to choose the companies and services they want to use.
The basic question is who should be in control -- the customer or the provider?
Carriers like Verizon obviously want to retain control. That's the way they've always done things. That's the way they want to continue to do things. It's in their best interests. This is the Internet we all know and understand. Looking at it from their perspective, I can understand their argument completely.
However, customers also want control. After all, this is a service they are paying for -- it's not free. New services are popping up, and customers want the freedom to choose them. Google, Netflix and others are on this side of the argument. Looking at it from their perspective, I can also understand their argument completely.
However, these are two opposing positions, so we simply have to choose one way or the other. If customers get their way, then they can select the competitors they use. If companies get their way, they control this and can use it as a competitive advantage.
In a perfect world, we'd have more choices and this would actually be easy. The marketplace would choose. If customers didn't like one option, they would simply choose another. The loss of customers would be enough to steer most providers where the customers wanted to go.
The problem is this is not a perfect world. We don't have enough choices.
Most customers have only two real options for an Internet connection: the local telephone company or the local cable television company. And both sides take the same position on Net neutrality.
New and innovative companies and services need the Internet to connect with customers and compete with telephone and cable television companies.
Looking at it this way, Net neutrality seems appropriate. Carriers disagree, obviously.
Comcast was throttling down the speed of competitors. Customers and competitors complained. The FCC jumped in, punished Comcast, and set Net neutrality into play.
Now Verizon is weighing in, calling those same FCC rules arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional.
We can all agree with the carriers to a point. After all, we would not want anyone getting in our way -- including the government -- after we had invested billions to build a network.
However, there is more to this decision that that. Ten years ago, when the Internet was still young, this was not important. However as each year passes, new ways do to things are born and the Internet becomes much more important and necessary for every citizen.
It is providing new ways to communicate, get news, information and entertainment.
The way we think of a product changes over time. Remember renting movies from Blockbuster? Now we can either order a movie from Comcast over its network, or we can download a movie over the Internet from a competitor like Netflix. We no longer pace through the aisles of a video rental store.
Competition, innovation and technology are beautiful, right? From a free market perspective, the choice should be in the customer's hands.
The problem is this: New competitors like Netflix cannot become Internet service providers. However, they need the Internet to grow.
Comcast and Verizon, on the other hand, are in both positions. They offer content like Netflix and an Internet connection.
That is the growing conflict.
Perhaps it's time to separate the Internet service provider business into a separate sector so we don't hinder growth.
The FCC weighed in with its Comcast action last year. Now Verizon is jumping in. We know the direction the government is going with this.
So we have a basic choice: Protect carriers' rights to have a competitive advantage but limit growth and innovation in the industry; or change things and allow the market to make its own choices, fueling growth and innovation.
Either way, carriers should make a profit selling access. There is no question about that. However, perhaps it's time to have Internet access become a sector of its own.
Door No. 3
There is another solution -- the third path. The good news is, it's already there -- we just have to follow it.
Today we have two ways to access the Internet -- telephone or cable television company.
What about the naked Internet? We actually have this now from phone companies. The reason you never heard of it is that although carriers are forced to offer it, they don't talk about it in their marketing or advertising.
Cable television companies are not required to offer it -- why, I can't tell you.
What about publicizing the naked Internet as another choice? Would that work? It just might.
Rather than imposing Net neutrality, why not start promoting the naked Internet? Tell cable television companies they also need to make it available to their customers as an option.
Perhaps this simple solution is all we need. The good news is it is already in place with phone companies. Will the cable television companies agree to get involved? Not by choice.
All we have to do is start advertising, marketing and promoting this option. That way, customers can make the choice themselves.
This would give companies like Verizon and Comcast the incentive to be more innovative to keep customers using their Internet.
This would also give other companies like Google and Netflix the incentive to be more innovative and to grow in a competitive marketplace.
If the naked Internet already exists, why hasn't it worked? Simple. Very few know about it. It is not marketed or advertised. Easy solution to this problem right?
So these are the three choices we have today. This is the crux of the Net neutrality dilemma.
Let's make a decision already and let Verizon and Comcast and all the networks, and all the new competitors like Google and Netflix get on with building the business.
It's time to make a decision and unleash the power of the Internet once again.
My Pick of the Week is a service AT&T Mobility has launched to disable lost or stolen iPhones. This is what we have been waiting for!
Add this app to the remote data-wipe app, and both your data and your phone can be unusable should you lose it.
AT&T announced a service that will block iPhones without forcing a device wipe that would erase any unsaved data. That's a separate app.
Contact customer service to get the app. Just remember to use the remote data-wipe app before suspending the device, or all your valuable data will still be there for the bad guys to check out, even though the phone doesn't make calls.
In April, national carriers AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA announced that together with the FCC and police departments, they would create a national database of stolen phones.
The goal is to disable phones and prevent them from being sold on the black market.
Every customer and every carrier should have this feature on every smartphone. This is a great start toward protecting smartphone customers.
Right now, this new feature is available only on the AT&T iPhone.
5:00 AM PT
Since it was created in 2006, Windstream has grown. At that time, it competed only in 16 states; today it is in 48 states. It has 22 data centers and a long-haul fiber network across 115,000 miles. Today this is a strong company with good people in charge. However they need to think outside the box for solutions, and create the next wave to grow on.
has been riding the growth Wave over the last several years. Are things starting
to change? You may recall that a while back I said the company would continue to
look strong as long as acquisitions continued. I asked what would happen when it
slowed? That next chapter may be starting.
Pick of the Week is the new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. It looks
like the best iPhone competitor in the market so far -- that's if Samsung can
get it into the marketplace.
Up the Next Wave
been about a year and a half since I spoke at a Windstream board of directors
meeting. I offered both my congratulations and a pat on the back for stellar
performance, and urged the board to create the next Wave while things were still
that time, the company's stock price has grown, crested and fallen. Today it is
roughly where it was three years ago. It grew from the US$9 level to the $14
level and is now back to around $9. So what's the problem?
advice I gave to Windstream is the same advice I offer to many companies: Even
if you seem to be hot, that's only because you are riding the growth side of the
Wave. Eventually you will crest, then come down the other side. This happens to
asked everyone at the board meeting to develop the next step -- the next Wave.
It is vital to create the next growth Wave before the one you are riding crests.
That's what happened to local phone companies Verizon and AT&T (AT&T
used to be SBC from Texas). They were companies that were riding the local phone
Wave up through the 1990s. Then in the 2000s that wave crested and started
local phone business, in fact, is still shrinking as competitors in the
wireless, cable television and VoIP industries continue to take business away
both Verizon and AT&T saw this eventuality coming and created their next
Wave. They are now on the growth side of new waves in wireless, Internet and
IPTV -- AT&T uVerse and Verizon FiOS. That's why they continue to grow and
be strong. They are thinking in advance.
local phone companies, like Qwest, didn't follow this path, and they struggled.
Qwest was eventually acquired by CenturyLink
and was a much weaker company. This
is a fundamental difference.
key lesson here is to look at the difference between AT&T and Verizon on one
hand, and Qwest on the other.
about Windstream? Is it cresting? If so, it still has time to change course, as
long as it understands and acts now.
is a potential next step, but not every company is successful in this area. Look
at how AT&T, Verizon and Tracfone have done well, and how others -- like
Warner, Cox and Qwest -- have not.
Windstream does have a successful track record in wireless with Alltel -- so is
this a possibility?
Gardner, CEO of Windstream, said a while back that the company had no wireless
plans. It is still focused on the enterprise and broadband, while continuing to
generate industry-leading cash flows.
is fine until its growth crests, and it starts down the other side. Is that
where Windstream is today? And if so, what other possibilities does it have?
are plenty. Just look at what other companies -- like AT&T, Verizon,
Comcast, Time Warner and Cox -- are doing.
are pushing television with IPTV instead of just reselling satellite television.
They are offering security systems for consumers and businesses. There are
plenty of opportunities for the next growth wave that other phone companies are
successfully moving into.
Windstream has to act.
I spoke at that meeting, I saw Windstream enjoying the current growth wave, but
I also saw trouble in the future if it didn't focus on creating the next growth
like the Windstream management. Remember Alltel? It broke up into wireless and
wireline companies. The wireless company was acquired by Verizon Wireless and
the landline company was renamed "Windstream" and started on the path
it had not acquired other companies in recent years, its local phone business
would have been shrinking -- the same as AT&T and Verizon were. This is no
one's fault -- it's happening to the entire local phone market.
this loss was masked by growth through acquisitions. I said when the
acquisitions slowed or stopped, Windstream's shrinking local phone business
would start to poke its head above the water line.
may be starting now. But it's not too late for Windstream.
warning signs are flashing.
wholesale revenue has declined by 6.3 percent, or $15 million, compared to a
year ago. Its consumer lines decreased by 82,000, or 4.1 percent, during the
was due to the effects of competition, said Windstream. No sh*t. That's what I
have been saying for years. Competition is changing both the marketplace and
and Google have completely reinvented the wireless space with the iPhone and the
Android OS. That suddenly put companies like Nokia and RIM on a downward
trajectory, and they are finding it impossible to turn around. Five years ago,
they both led -- something to keep in mind.
revenues for consumers and businesses have risen from 60-68 percent of total
revenues over the last year. Good start, but not yet enough.
it was created in 2006, Windstream has grown. At that time, it competed only in
16 states; today it is in 48 states. It has 22 data centers and a long-haul
fiber network across 115,000 miles.
this is a strong company with good people in charge. However they need to think
outside the box for solutions, and create the next wave to grow on.
have followed countless companies in this same space over the last few decades.
I have seen many companies succeed and many others fail.
I am wrong, but I have seen too many companies that were doing very well
suddenly fall off the cliff. It is not too late yet to act, but from what I see
-- now is the time to act.
what is next for Windstream? Will it follow, AT&T and Verizon, or Qwest/CenturyLink,
RIM and Nokia?
Pick of the Week is the new Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. It looks
like the best iPhone competitor in the market so far. That's if Samsung can get
them in stores for sale.
phones will be available on all the major networks, like AT&T Mobility,
Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, C Spire and U.S. Cellular.
is especially good news for C Spire, since this smartphone will be the first on
iyd new LTE 4G network launching in the next few months.
are being squeezed by Apple and are looking for winning alternatives to the
iPhone. This may be one of them.
new smartphone looks like it will be a hit, when it finally hits the market that
Introducing the New Microsoft
5:00 AM PT
As it moves into the Windows 8 world, Microsoft has a unique opportunity to reinvent itself. One of its strengths is its incredible brand recognition. It has an amazing history with all of us for decades. That is tremendous value if it can see how to use it. If not, it could be a hindrance. So, at this point, Microsoft is going to either get better or get worse, but it won't stay the same.
don't realize it yet, but Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is completely reinventing
itself right before our eyes. It is expanding from software to hardware and even
to the cloud, starting with tablets and wireless smartphones. It is
fundamentally transforming the company we have all known and used for decades.
This path is full of enormous opportunities and challenges.
pull the camera back and take a closer look at where Microsoft is heading. What
kind of company is it changing into? Who will it compete against, and will it be
successful? Whether you are a customer, an investor, a competitor, a partner or
a worker -- this is important.
Pick of the Week is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), which I wish a happy
anniversary. It's been five years since the iPhone was first introduced. It has
ushered in many incredible features, but also some new problems.
New Ball Game
have all known and used Microsoft over the last few decades. It is still strong
and growing on the software side -- from operating systems to Office and
assorted other programs. It is still riding the Wave up, and this is a long
the last decade, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also been trying to break into
the wireless space, but all of its attempts, including its recent partnership
with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) on the Lumia, have so far fallen flat.
is the problem? Microsoft is a good company. It has a huge customer base. It has
an intimate knowledge of what customers want and need. Expanding into wireless
should be a natural fit.
newcomers called Apple and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) have been hitting it out of the
park during the last five years, but Microsoft keeps swinging and missing. Why?
reason is its brand. It needs to be refreshed and updated if it is competing
with newer brands like Google and Apple.
is its marketing. It needs to realize the world has changed during the last
decade, and the wireless world has changed during the last five years. Microsoft
has not updated its marketing in quite a long time.
is its technology. Its phones haven't captured the imagination of the
marketplace, ever. Perhaps they are great, but there has been no angle for the
media or customers to sink their teeth into.
is it only makes the software that powers smartphones and tablets made by other
companies. It doesn't make hardware. So the Microsoft brand value gets lost in
is more, but you get the point.
a customer is shopping, which wins the day? A shared-brand story with
Microsoft's brand diluted among other manufacturers? Or a single, straight and
strong brand story like Apple? It's easy to see the problem when you look at it
from this angle.
seems Microsoft has learned this important marketing lesson. Actually, it is not
the only company with this problem. Google shares this dilemma.
may think Google is bulletproof with its Android phones, but its Android tablet
story is pretty weak and shares some of the same issues as Microsoft.
how can it solve this problem?
at Apple. It keeps hitting the ball out of the park. It doesn't share the brand
story during or after the sale, on software or hardware. It's all Apple.
has spread its brand to envelop an entire new way of thinking: multiple devices
all connected under the Apple iCloud. Whether you like or dislike the idea of
the cloud, this is a helluva success story isn't it?
is Apple hardware or software? It is both, of course. It has a single and strong
brand. Apple has created a powerful platform for growth, and it is working.
in Love Again
is the important lesson for Microsoft, and it finally looks as though Microsoft
is getting it. If it is successful, things could start to get interesting pretty
looked at all the mistakes it made in the wireless space, and all the mistakes
Android made in the tablet space and added it all up.
basic terms, when it comes to the brand, it's all about falling in love isn't
it? It's emotional.
that Microsoft is moving into the Windows 8 world, it has a unique opportunity
to reinvent itself -- to reset.
of Microsoft's strengths is its incredible brand recognition. It has an amazing
history with all of us for decades. That is tremendous value if it can see how
to use it. If not, it could be a hindrance as well.
at this point, Microsoft is going to either get better or get worse, but it
won't stay the same.
Microsoft brand does not resonate with the younger generations anymore -- not
the same as Apple and Google. That's one of its key challenges. How can it solve
at how SBC updated the AT&T (NYSE: T) brand several years ago when it
acquired the company. Microsoft -- this is what you need to do.
and refresh your brand. Describe what you bring to the market. Talk about the
cloud and tying all your devices under it. Help us see the Microsoft world you
see and are trying to build. Whip up a frenzy. Marketing, advertising and public
relations are all key.
or 30 years ago, you really didn't have much competition. Today you battle other
thought shapers like Apple and Google, so your strategy has to be different as
answer the frequently asked question, Steve Ballmer is Microsoft. He was there
since it's founding. There is no reason to think anyone else could do a better
job as long as he is focused on tomorrow, on growth, and can see the new
opportunities and challenges.
company is doing very well. It just needs to expand beyond today's way of
thinking and help us do the same. Microsoft, this is your second coming-out
party. Win or lose, this is it. The world is hoping you hit it out of the park.
Pick of the Week is Apple, which I wish a happy anniversary. The first
iPhone was sold five years ago on June 29, 2007. That single event started a
major rewrite of the wireless industry. We are still just in the early chapters.
first, no one really understood how a non-cellular company like Apple would lead
the wave of change in the wireless industry, but it did. There are more than 200
million iPhones in the market today.
then, Google has also jumped in with Android smartphones and tablets. Now
Microsoft is jumping in.
the wonderful and awful things the industry is now going through have a direct
link back to the Apple iPhone.
iPhone spawned all the features we love, like apps and navigation and Siri --
and all the new problems, like spectrum shortages, slow connections and high
each new version of the iPhone, things are getting better -- and worse.
smartphones have changed our lives. How often do you leave your phone in another
room when you go to sleep? It's always with you, isn't it? Today the average
person won't leave the house without wallet, keys and phone.
leaders -- RIM, with its BlackBerry, and Nokia -- are struggling to survive in
this new smartphone world.
serious problems have also emerged. One I have noticed is all the parents
chatting or texting on their smartphones instead of talking with and paying
attention to their little kids when they are out. That is a waste of special
moments that are lost forever.
smartphones are incredible toys and tools, but they have a dark side as well.
They are addictive. Use them wisely. Don't let them take control of you or your
the Apple iPhone and other smartphones and tablets continue to grow in influence
over our lives, they will continue to add plenty of opportunities and
challenges. Just keep this in mind.
is the five-year anniversary, and this is the time to take a moment and
congratulate Apple on a job well done! Whether you are an Apple customer or a
fan of Google or some other company, this life-changing revolution all started
five years ago.
5:00 AM PT
At this point, Microsoft reminds us of our dear old grandpa. We want it to be successful. It always was, but now it is old and tired. Microsoft has put on some fresh young clothes, but that is not radical enough. Can Microsoft update its brand and image in the marketplace? This is a golden opportunity, but only if Microsoft plays its cards right.
(Nasdaq: MSFT) has introduced another new product. This one is a tablet called
the "Surface." If Microsoft is not careful, it could actually be
successful with this one -- if it plays its cards right, anyway. The Surface
will let Microsoft compete head-to-head with Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad,
Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle, Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS) Nook, and many
more. Will the Surface be a hit or a flop? That depends on Microsoft.
Pick of the Week is the new Barnes & Noble Nook with the integrated
screen light. Finally, I can read in bed!
is important to note that there are more questions about Microsoft's Surface
than answers at this time. The company made the announcement -- a coming-out
party. That means we know very little. The details will follow over the next
it has to be sold and evaluated by customers and the media. Next, we have to see
what customers think. And finally, we have to see what the media does with it.
an industry analyst and consultant, I have followed and worked with many
different companies when they have launched their various products and services.
Some did a great job. Others missed by a mile.
up to Microsoft to set the mood. Right now, this is a blank page. It's not
completely blank, since others are competing in the same space. We are forming
our definition of what the successful model looks like, but no one really knows
what this means from Microsoft's perspective.
the Surface hits the market, customers and the media will weigh in and decide
for themselves --, good or bad. It is crucial that Microsoft create the right
sense about the Surface.
is Microsoft ready to hit it out of the park? There are two different trains of
thought on this.
Schools of Thought
is no -- not based on what we have seen so far with Microsoft's smartphone
efforts. It has tried to break in and be successful for a decade. Apple's iPhone
and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android OS have changed the space, and Microsoft is
having a hard time with its new Lumia and partnership with Nokia (NYSE: NOK).
is yes -- Microsoft seems to be awakening and changing. Look at the attention
the Surface announcement attracted. Look at the new Microsoft retail stores in
shopping malls -- very similar to the Apple stores.
Microsoft looks like it is really trying to be successful in this new and
changing marketplace. On the other hand, its recent rollout of the Lumia phone
in partnership with Nokia still has not worked.
launch of these new Surface tablets is not a guaranteed success by any means,
but it is a possibility -- and that potential is where Microsoft should focus.
is a secret that can put success with the Surface in Microsoft's grasp. In fact,
Microsoft doesn't even have to do anything new here. Here is the secret: Copy
has seen extraordinary success with its range of products and services. However,
many customers are not Apple users. So if Microsoft can simply follow the Apple
model, it can be successful.
may sound easy, but everything has its challenges. This is a big if.
have already heard from countless reporters all asking the same question: Will
Microsoft succeed with its new tablet? I tell the company we want it to, of
course. However, its track record with things beyond Windows over the last
decade has been spotty, at best. I say if this tablet can strike the magic
chord, Microsoft will succeed.
you ask, I firmly believe most want Microsoft to succeed, even if for no other
reason than we don't want the world to be ruled by only two giants, Google and
Apple. We want choice.
is changing in the mind of the consumer. It is becoming a trusted and friendly
place to come home to. It has been with us for decades -- it is our baseline of
thinking in this tech world.
has to continue to change and update, similar to what SBC did when it acquired
the old and tired AT&T (NYSE: T) several years ago. It took the name and
successfully reinvigorated it. The AT&T of today is fresh and young and
what Microsoft needs to do as well, and it has begun with the stores and the
smartphones and tablets. However, this ebb and flow is not fast enough.
Microsoft Must Do
occurs instantly. Then we spend the rest of our time getting used to what's new:
the new company; the new brand; the new image.
addition, Microsoft needs to launch this new Surface tablet in new and different
ways than it has introduced other products -- like wireless smartphones.
it do this? Remember the recently launched Microsoft-Nokia Lumia smartphone?
That was the same old and tired model. It didn't break through the industry
this point, Microsoft reminds us of our dear old grandpa. We want it to be
successful. It always was, but now it is old and tired. Microsoft has put on
some fresh young clothes, but that is not radical enough.
Microsoft update its brand and image in the marketplace? It has several good
examples. It can look at Google as a newcomer. It can look at Apple as a company
that has been around the track and finally struck gold a decade ago. It can look
at AT&T as an example of how to refresh a brand.
about the device itself? Will this be a standalone tablet, or will it be part of
a larger bundle with smartphones, computers and televisions? Will users store
information on the device itself or in the Microsoft cloud?
is a difference. If it is stored on the device itself, it will not be part of a
bundle. If, however, it is stored in the cloud, then it can be accessed and
worked on with a variety of devices. You can start a letter on your computer and
finish it on the tablet.
this is just going to be a standalone and separate device, I think the Surface's
chances of success are much more difficult. If, however, this is part of a
Microsoft cloud, its success is almost ensured.
everyone likes or wants the cloud -- not yet. So perhaps Microsoft could offer
both, but it must offer the cloud. And it must talk about the cloud as the new
space we are all moving too.
must use advertising and marketing and public relations very effectively.
Microsoft do this? Will it? Apple does, and it is very successful. The good news
is Microsoft doesn't have to create anything new. It just has to follow Apple's
Surface has to be incredible. It has to be everything the iPad is and more. Is
Surface has to be part of the Microsoft cloud and a standalone device. Is it?
Surface has to have new, exciting and inspiring marketing, advertising and
public relations. Does it?
Microsoft has to update its tired brand, and turn grandpa into a hot younger
model. Can it?
are some of the key challenges and opportunities that Microsoft faces. If it can
do this, it could have a hit on its hands with the Surface. It just has to
the Surface be successful? We'll see. After years of trials and errors, does
Microsoft now understand what it takes? That is the question. The answer depends
on whether it knows the steps it must take -- simply copy Apple's success in the
tablet space. We'll see.
is a golden opportunity, but only if Microsoft plays its cards right.
Pick of the Week is the new Barnes & Noble Nook with the integrated screen
light. Brilliant idea!
the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook came out, they had lots of
strengths -- but also a few important weak spots that needed fixing as soon as
possible. This solves one big problem.
are basically two versions of each: black and white, and color. The black and
white is more basic and strictly for book reading. It has longer battery life
than the color. The color is more of a tablet computer with a screen you can
read in the dark.
love them all, but the big problem with both the basic black-and-white Nook and
Kindle was they were very difficult to use unless you were in bright light.
Reading in a dimly lit room was very difficult.
Barnes & Noble has introduced a black-and-white Nook with a backlight
solves the problem. I fully expect Amazon to update its Kindle as well. One good
idea deserves another!
competition a beautiful thing?
5:00 AM PT
Sharing spectrum may not the perfect solution, but it is a good solution. It doesn't have to be forever, but it will buy us several more years. The rules of this game have been spelled out by regulators: no more mega-mergers. There are solutions that will work if carriers will finally realize they and we all have a brewing emergency. Shared spectrum is a real solution -- equal access.
all followed AT&T's (NYSE: T) attempt to acquire T-Mobile
last year. That should have been our wake-up call to a growing industry problem:
spectrum shortage. Yet it wasn't.
CEO Randall Stephenson says regulators need to quickly figure out how to get
more spectrum into the hands of wireless operators or the industry will run out.
That is true, and it is a dire warning. We need to act before it's too late.
Pick of the Week is
Verizon's new Uppernet. What the heck is an Uppernet anyway?
Mobility needs more spectrum. Verizon Wireless needs more spectrum. So do Sprint
Nextel (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile. C Spire Wireless, U.S. Cellular, and all the
smaller carriers need it as well.
wrote an opinion piece that appeared in Monday's edition of The Wall Street
Journal. He also spoke at the Telecommunications Industry Association last week.
He is making a clear case that this is an urgent problem -- an industry-wide
problem. He is right.
a potential disaster that is building, and it will impact every carrier and
every smartphone and tablet computer customer
in the next few years.
says demand will surpass supply by next year. That's what the FCC says too. So
what do you think? This problem must be solved -- and before next year.
look at the numbers. Wireless data use is doubling every year, driven by all the
amazing new smartphones and tablet computers, like the iPhone, the Android
phones and the iPad.
is a real screaming problem the wireless industry is suddenly facing. We cannot
solve this problem slowly over the next few years. We need a solution
agree with Stephenson. I have been talking about this continually over the last
I say disaster, let me make myself clear. I am not talking about wireless phones
shutting down and not being able to make phone calls. Actually, making phone
calls may be one of the things you will still be able to do.
all the rest that this shortage will affect. All the apps will slow way down and
many times simply not work. The wireless data portion of the network will
experience significant problems.
that is where all the growth in the industry is coming from. What a dilemma.
about this being like a growing city. Growing cities continually widen their
superhighways so traffic will continue to flow.
smartphones grow in popularity, and as we use more wireless data services, we
need to widen the wireless information highways. That means wireless carriers
need more spectrum. The problem here is that spectrum is limited.
where do we find more spectrum so we can pave new lanes on the nation's wireless
is the problem.
Spectrum and Access for All
a temporary solution, we can look at the spectrum owned by other industries.
Cable television is one example. Another solution is to improve the technology
so we can send more data over existing networks.
those two solutions will only buy us some time -- and only for the carriers
involved. Then they will be back in the same traffic jam. Other carriers won't
have that break at all.
addition, these solutions will take years to implement. That is much too long.
We need solutions today.
there are other solutions? Now is the time to hear them all and make some
decisions going forward.
have suggested a solution: Use the carriers' own spectrum. When they acquired
the spectrum years ago, we didn't have a shortage. Now we do -- so we have to
handle things differently today.
solution is to pool together the spectrum from all carriers. Then let all
carriers buy access to it. The owners will be compensated, and every carrier
will have equal access to the spectrum.
would restore a good balance. Every carrier could continue to thrive. Owners of
the spectrum would profit from this as well. They may not want to do this,
because it gives competitors equal access, but as a country, isn't that best?
would ensure that all competitors would have equal access and continue to
term "equal access" worked once in the industry, back in the 1990s,
and it can work again. When the squeeze is on, ideas that may not have been
considered are all of a sudden real solutions -- and this can be achieved
have weighed in. They don't like mergers between larger wireless carriers
because there have been too many mergers and there are few large carriers at
can point the finger of blame at Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). It created this
bottleneck exactly five years ago when the first iPhone was launched. It's all
about the apps, and features that use spectrum as wireless information highways.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android and all the other smartphones and tablet computers
jumped in as well, including the iPad. Over the last few years, this device
explosion has rapidly grown into a real problem.
had been trying for years to make this dream come true. Yet they were not
prepared for the levels of usage that would result. So perhaps there is enough
blame to go around. The industry just never really understood the problems that
would occur once it became successful.
here we are -- in the midst of a self-made problem. Fine -- scream. Go ahead.
Get it out of your system.
better? Now let's get back to solving this real problem right now, OK?
spectrum may not the perfect solution, but it is a good solution. It doesn't
have to be forever, but it will buy us several more years.
rules of this game have been spelled out by regulators: no more mega-mergers.
are solutions that will work if carriers will finally realize they and we all
have a brewing emergency. Shared spectrum is a real solution -- equal access.
don't have the years it would typically take to go through this process. We need
to clear the deck and all pitch in together to solve this problem before zero
hour, which is coming quickly.
Stephenson is right. If we look back generations, we had some fast builds for
railroads and highways. Congress made those projects a national priority.
need that kind of commitment now. Today is the day to make solving the spectrum
crunch a national priority.
can't wait until we are all crashing and burning, complaining we can't get email
or surf the Web, or use navigation or GPS, or watch TV or movies, or listen to
music, or use any of the hundreds of thousands of apps we Americans are growing
act now -- before it's too late.
Pick of the Week is Verizon's new Uppernet. Never heard of the Uppernet?
I'll tell you a secret. Come here. Closer. I'll whisper in your ear: It's Verizon's
cloud. Yes -- that's it.
this sound like what Verizon did with the Droid brand?
and Verizon Wireless like to compete, but what they really like to do is lead.
What's the best way to lead? Is it to compete head-to-head in a fierce battle
against AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, C Spire and others?
-- not to Verizon. That's too many competitors. What it chooses to do is create,
then lead, in its own subcategory.
when Google's Android hit the streets? Android phones were available from every
carrier. There was nothing special from one carrier to another. It was very
difficult for any carrier to stand out as the best. It was not about the carrier
-- it was about Google.
what did Verizon Wireless do? It changed the rules of the game. It created a new
brand called "Droid." Get it? Android, Droid -- and this worked for
Droid runs Android. It's just the brand name Verizon created that gives it a
marketing advantage. Verizon likes these marketing advantages.
liked the success its wireless company had with the Droid, so it decided to
brand its cloud business, and it's calling it the "Uppernet."
got it. The Uppernet is Verizon's cloud business. Going forward, instead of
Verizon talking about the cloud, it will be talking about the Uppernet -- but
it's all the same thing.
for the cloud, it's not really new -- it just sounds new. It's the network being
used and sold in new ways. Companies store their information on the carrier's
network rather than on their own network or on their own devices.
congratulations Verizon, on once again creating your own segment to be king in.
Will it work? Probably. Droid works, doesn't it?
is not different from other cloud businesses established by competitors in the
space. It's just Verizon's sizzle on top of its steak.
cloud continues to transform the communications and information business. Every
company is getting into this new version of the cloud business. In Verizon's
case, it just happens to be called "the Uppernet."
5:00 AM PT
Zuckerberg knows Facebook has to be successful in the wireless space. He knows
advertising on the smartphone is more difficult than on the computer. He also
knows earnings are key. So why wouldn't he be interested in acquiring Nokia?
Nokia could be acquired for a few billion dollars, which is just loose pocket
change to Facebook. This could represent a winning move for the company if it
does it right.
will acquire Nokia (NYSE: NOK)? It is struggling as the wireless industry
continues to transform itself, and we can expect many changes. The industry
reinvented itself over the last five years, with smartphones like the Apple (Nasdaq:
AAPL) iPhone and the countless devices running Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android,
and it will be just as different five years from today.
Pick of the Week is Sprint (NYSE: S), which deserves some
congratulations. It tied for No. 1 with Verizon in the latest American Customer
Satisfaction Index annual report comparing the four major wireless carriers:
AT&T (NYSE: T) Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.
won the industry top spot from Motorola in the mid-1990s, and it had a long run.
It was the industry leader in wireless handsets for more than a decade. But it
missed the switch to super-smartphones the same way Motorola missed the switch
from analog to digital.
what is the next step for Nokia? Companies change. They travel up and down the
opportunity Wave. Nokia is now on the declining side of that Wave.
Nokia recover on its own? That's a tough question. After all, it has been trying
unsuccessfully over the last few years. Now it is partnering with Microsoft (Nasdaq:
MSFT) on the Lumia.
other options are there for the company? It could be acquired -- but who would
be interested in a wireless handset maker like Nokia?
companies that are top of mind are Microsoft and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) -- either
has been trying to succeed in the wireless space for a decade but has not really
broken through. Its new partnership with Nokia on the Lumia looks like it has
the best chance yet, but it still isn't shaking up the industry.
like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are hoping this Microsoft Nokia
Lumia phone will be a success. This will help them with the crazy economics of
an Apple- and Google-dominated business. When Apple and Google are the two major
players, there is little leverage.
Microsoft and Nokia win with Lumia and punch their way onto the map, it would
provide a third operating system and competitor in the space. Others are also
hoping to punch their way into that space -- like RIM, with its new BlackBerry
10 due later this year.
why I think we can expect carriers to get behind other operating systems as
leads me to the next logical possibility for Nokia: What about Facebook
acquiring it? Think that's crazy? Thing again.
Zuckerberg knows Facebook has to move into -- and be successful in -- the
wireless space. He knows advertising on the smartphone is more difficult than on
the computer. He also knows earnings are key. So why wouldn't he be interested
in acquiring Nokia?
option is that these three companies can agree on some kind of three-way deal.
Imagine a combination of Facebook, Microsoft and Nokia.
first thing they would have to do is rename the company and the product, but
that's another story.
wireless Facebook is an intriguing new idea. Think about it. Wireless is not
what you think about when you think about Facebook. But Facebook is now a public
company, and it needs to take profitability and growth seriously. Will it?
Facebook operate a wireless handset business? No. It would have to keep Nokia
management and people, but this could be a solution for both Facebook and Nokia.
a Facebook smartphone. Just think about the possibilities. Of course, there are
other companies Facebook could consider, including BlackBerry maker Research In
Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM). We'll just have to wait and see what happens next.
could be acquired for a few billion dollars, which is just loose pocket change
to Facebook. On the bright side, this could represent a winning move for the
company if it does it right.
Facebook wireless phone has lots of potential. Some say it is starting too late
to this game. But that's not really a problem. Remember, this smartphone game
was reinvented just five short years ago by Apple and Google.
stage is set for it to reinvent itself all over again. Just look at RIM, with
BlackBerry 10 coming this fall. Just look at the wireless carriers starving for
another successful smartphone and operating system. The timing is right.
thing is for sure: Wireless is necessary for Facebook to continue growing and
also to be profitable. There are no guarantees, but I would not be surprised to
see it go down this route.
it acquires a company like Nokia, or starts from scratch like Apple did, or
works with many handset makers like Google, something will happen next.
big question is simple: Which move will Facebook make next to keep itself on the
growing side of the Wave?
Pick of the Week is Sprint, which I congratulate for tying for No. 1 with
Verizon in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index annual report
comparing the four major wireless carriers: AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless,
Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile.
customers feel a greater sense of loyalty to Sprint, according to the ACSI
survey. This is quite a turnaround for a company that was at the bottom of the
list just a few short years ago.
has had good scores among the top four carriers, but Sprint has not. Now it
looks as though it is coming back.
to CEO Dan Hesse and the entire Sprint Nextel organization on turning this
customer satisfaction ship around.
work is not done yet. There is more to a company than just customer satisfaction
-- but that is one of the important keys.
is moving in the right direction. Well done.
5:00 AM PT
will the industry do next? Who will the leaders be going forward? Which
technology will lead? Which companies should you invest in, and which should you
stay away from? Which should you work for, and which should you give your
business as a customer? There are so many questions today, but few answers.The
only thing for sure is that the television industry is beginning a massive
does the future of TV look like? Is it cable TV, IPTV, Satellite TV, Google (Nasdaq:
GOOG) TV, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTV or something crazy like watching TV over the
airwaves like we used to do? Is it on your television, your computer, tablet,
smartphone or whatever is coming next? Who will be the industry leaders? These
questions and many others were asked at last week's Cable Show 2012 in Boston.
You may be very surprised by some of the answers.
Pick of the Week is Adaptive
Mobile, a company whose mission is to
protect us from problems as wireless networks go 4G.
affects customers, workers, investors, partners and more. The future looks
astounding. However, what industry insiders think will happen and what really
will happen may be two different things.
many of today's leaders don't seem to understand how quickly things can change,
they're being left in the dust. Of course, this has happened before. Just ask
companies like Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and RIM. They were once leaders in the wireless
space. They didn't believe change could happen so fast. Today's leaders are
Apple and Google.
the last decade or two, Waves of change have transformed several industries,
starting with music, then movies, then smartphones, tablet computers, and next
in line is cable television. That's right.
know who the leaders are today. However, we should expect the pay television
industry to transform over the next few years, just like the smartphone wireless
industry did over the last few. In fact, we may not even recognize this industry
in the next few years.
both good and bad, depending whether you are on the growing or falling side of
at today's changing marketplace and taking a peak at what is coming next, I
think it's clear that competition, technology, partnerships, winners and losers
will all be very different a few short years from today.
About TV Everywhere
(Nasdaq: CMCSK) is one of the big players. Of course, it showed incredible
growth and transformation in recent years with acquisitions, telephone, Xfinity
and, of course, now the television side, with NBC.
Comcast is heading into the cloud with TV Everywhere. This is a new frontier.
And it is not alone. This is the direction of the entire industry, including
other cable television companies, telephone and wireless companies.
good part is that these innovative services are unbelievable and
transformational. If you want to, you can do more than ever before.
bad part is if you are happy with your traditional cable television service and
the lower price, you are out of luck. It will be replaced by everything new in
coming years, and it will be very costly. It always is.
to this more expensive model and moving away from a more affordable model may
pinch existing companies with existing models and all the new competition that
is rushing into the marketplace.
Warner (NYSE: TWX), Cox, Bright House and others are all on the same track. The
entire business already looks very different from a few years ago when it was a
plain old cable television industry. Looking forward 10 years, it will look
completely different as well.
addition, suddenly the industry faces real competition from a variety of new
services -- and more competition is coming later this year.
cable television industry, which never had to worry about competition, is now
surrounded, and the volume is only getting louder.
Don't Think Alike
TV started with just a handful of channels at an affordable price. Since cable
TV had no competition, quality was not great, but the cable companies didn't
really care. They didn't have to. Where could you go?
satellite television providers like DISH TV and DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) entered
the fray and carved out a slice of the pie.
local telephone companies started offering their Americast television. That was
put on the back burner when the Wave of Baby Bell mergers started in the late
local telephone companies like AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon are offering their
new IPTV services -- uVerse and FiOS. The marketplace is getting more crowded.
problem is that basic service is disappearing. So are low prices. Every 10
years, the price pretty much doubles.
is causing many customers to search for alternatives, and suddenly there are new
technology alternatives that cost much less.
is going back to the antenna. That's right. When we used to use an antenna, we
only got a few channels. Today every network offers a number of different
channels, so the customer can get
between15 and 20 channels for free, over the air.
to that Internet services like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Hulu and others, and
customers can download movies and other television shows very inexpensively.
television model is growing rapidly. And this is just beginning.
don't all think alike. Think of them as a pie. There's a variety of slices, and
each customer is like one of those slices.
television industry leaders don't seem to get that yet. Whether they will before
they get hurt is the question.
this year, another big change may occur that could transform the entire
Apple and Google transform the television industry the way they transformed the
smartphone industry? Perhaps. The products they're expected to launch will not
represent either company's first attempt. Both are companies that see an
opportunity and want to crack it wide open.
and Crazy Times
battle all of this innovation, the more traditional players are starting to come
up with new and crazy things.
and Verizon Wireless have become partners, for example. That's right. Verizon
Wireless to sell Verizon's FiOS television service in its stores. Suddenly
that's changed. Now it is selling a competitor's cable television service.
isn't Verizon and Verizon Wireless the same company? Nope. Fooled you, didn't
they. They are two completely different companies. When it made sense, they
helped each other out -- but suddenly, they are going into competition with each
that means Verizon Wireless and Verizon will be competitors? That's the way it
looks. Crazy, I know. Wait -- more is coming.
lets you download an app and use your iPhone or iPad as a remote control.
as you can see, the sleepy cable television industry is starting to wake up --
and like the giant in the "Jack and the Beanstalk" story, it is
starting to roar.
will the industry do next? Who will the leaders be going forward? Which
technology will lead? Which companies should you invest in, and which should you
stay away from? Which should you work for, and which should you give your
business as a customer?
are so many questions today, but few answers. What will happen next is anybody's
only thing for sure is that the television industry is beginning a massive
transformation. There will be new competitors and new technologies, and
everything will cost more.
buckle up! The ride has already begun.
Pick of the Week is a company whose mission is to protect you and me as wireless
networks go 4G, exposing us to bad things like viruses on our smartphones and
Mobile protects both wireless networks and users from bad guys on 4G, all-IP
all the wireless carriers -- like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S),
T-Mobile, C Spire and others -- move rapidly into the 4G space, the IP network
becomes more vulnerable to bad guys wanting to wreak their havoc on us.
carriers and users need protection from this nasty online world that's going
like we need virus protection software for our computers -- like Norton, McAfee
or ESET Nod32 -- increasingly, we need the same protection for our mobile
Mobile is based overseas, but I spoke with Cody Bowman, its executive VP of
sales and GM of the Americas, who is based in Texas.
McAfee and other major virus protection companies are weak in the mobile area,
said Bowman. That's the space Adaptive Mobile serves.
is different is that customers don't buy their software and load it on their
phones. Instead, the networks do business with them and can protect all their
users from the network end.
virus protection software, but for 4G wireless networks -- and on the network,
not the device.
4G grows, and as we use more mobile broadband, the need for protection from
spam, malware and viruses also grows.
Mobile is a 7-year-old company and already covers 800 million subscribers to
companies like Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) and Telefonica, said Bowman. Now it wants to
break into the U.S. market.
5:00 AM PT
Sprint's problem today stems in large part from quality problems and customer care issues that are now solved. It can either wait years for customers to figure that out, or it can help customers get it today. My suggestion is simple. Update the brand. Yup. Refresh the brand. The solution is that simple. Yet for Sprint, it may also be that complex, because to tell you the truth, I am not sure Sprint really understands the power of this whole brand thing.
quick look at the wireless industry over the last several years shows wave after
wave of innovation and success. In fact, success has been bigger than anyone's
success does not come to all. Why do some companies, like AT&T (NYSE: T) and
Verizon, seem to hit the ball out of the park, while Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and
T-Mobile keep striking out? And what can they do about it?
Pick of the Week is an interesting trend exemplified by two companies, 8
X 8 and RingCentral.
Nextel has fewer customers and more spectrum per customer
than both Verizon and AT&T, so it should also be growing rapidly
the other hand, Sprint is on its third CEO over the last several years. Dan
Hesse, who is Sprint's current CEO, has made several important improvements with
the service, but it is still struggling compared to the major competitors.
Hesse joined Sprint several years ago, I expected a rapid recovery. That didn't
happen. So what's the problem?
one thing, the economy tanked. Did this cause Sprint to continue struggling? The
economy crashing didn't seem to hurt other companies like AT&T, Verizon,
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), as they rapidly grew in the
wireless space. So I would say no. That was not the problem.
have to give Hesse credit for repairing a broken Sprint. The company's service
has improved since he joined. In fact, the latest American Customer Satisfaction
Index has Sprint in first place, ahead of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon
years ago, Sprint's service ranked last. Today, it is right up there with all
the majors. That number surely means that all carriers are equal in the
marketplace right? They aren't.
what is wrong with Sprint and T-Mobile? Why do they keep swinging and striking
is still trying to recover from a self-inflicted late start joining the
smartphone revolution. It missed the switch to 3G for several years. I waved the
flag, but no one over there paid attention.
is on board now, but it is struggling to catch up to competitors, and it has not
changed or updated its tired brand image in the marketplace either. Those are
its obvious next steps.
what's Sprint's excuse?
has plenty of spectrum. Several years ago, it was one of the most advanced
smartphone carriers in the industry. It led with smartphones and features. It
was the first network to offer phones with cameras -- and, in fact, the next
generation of cameras as well. That was before other carriers finally jumped in.
where did it fall off course?
think Sprint's problem is two parts: One is it's a quiet and timid company
without a bold strategy for growth.
Two, customers have long memories, and Sprint is doing nothing to change that.
is not new. These problems have nagged at Sprint for decades. Unfortunately,
this seems to be the way Sprint is.
has always been too quiet for its own good. I remember speaking at a Sprint
retreat in Texas several years ago, and the executives all understood the
problems, and they were ready to jump in and solve them.
all sounded good at the roundtable, but by the time it came to pulling the
trigger, all they shot were blanks. Being bold just isn't Sprint's style.
the last few years, I have noticed several occasions when CEO Hesse recommended
acquisitions and deals, and the board simply said no.
was the board afraid to pull the trigger? Had it become too gun-shy from recent
years of corporate failure, or has this just been a continual problem over
problem is customers have long memories. Even after Sprint solves a problem, it
takes a while for customers to catch on. So even though it solved the quality
problem, customers will take several years to realize it.
happened to Sprint in the 1990s as well, when it was a long-distance company.
After a while, it solved its quality problems back then as well -- yet it still
took years for customers to realize it and for the company to recover.
eventually had to introduce an ad campaign with the pin drop on television
commercials. Remember that?
problem comes in large part from the quality problems and customer care issues
that are now solved, based on these recent surveys.
if this problem is solved, Sprint should be performing like AT&T and
Verizon. So what's the problem now?
can either wait years for customers to figure it out once again, or it can help
customers get it today.
suggestion is simple. Update the brand. Yup. Refresh the brand. The solution is
that simple. Yet for Sprint, it may also be that complex, because to tell you
the truth, I am not sure Sprint really understands the power of this whole brand
company has to continually refresh and modernize and expand its brand.
Otherwise, the brand gets old and tired. Especially after a significant bout
with problems like Sprint has dealt with over recent years.
have to understand that the problems are behind them now.
AT&T updated its brand a few years ago, after SBC acquired the company and
took the name. At the time, AT&T was the best-known brand in the business,
but the valuable brand was old and tired.
remember getting calls from SBC execs asking whether they should keep the SBC
name or use AT&T after the acquisition. AT&T, of course, I said. That is
the best-known and most valuable brand in the industry -- but freshen it up.
they youth-en-ized it. They turned AT&T into at&t and restructured the
entire brand identity.
AT&T is once again one of the youngest and hippest brands in the business.
Not as hip as, say, Cingular was, but that is another story.
needs to update its brand in a similar way in the mind of the customer. It needs
a refreshed identity -- a youth-en-ized identity. Tell the customer the problems
no longer exist.
did send out an email on Monday pointing to this study. That's good, but that's
it can do this one simple thing, I think it could turn the ship around in
months, rather than waiting years for the marketplace to figure it out on it's
Sprint, what's your next step?
year from now your name could be hot and competitive and youthful and with-it,
and your performance could match that of AT&T and Verizon. Or things can
simply stay on the same slow track. Yawn.
could be your comeback moment. Don't waste it -- use it.
see if Sprint realizes this is the core solution to the problem it has been
wrestling with for years.
better or worse, it is Sprint's choice, after all.
Pick of the Week is something interesting two companies are doing in an
interesting space. You may not have heard about 8X8 and RingCentral yet, but
when RingCentral briefed me, I realized that may be about to change.
companies are vendors in the small- and mid-sized business community, competing
with cable television companies and others offering a VoIP phone service.
offer phone lines. Yup. No big deal, right? But listen to the history and where
they are today.
the 1990s, when a business wanted phone lines, it called the local phone company
-- period. It also had to get a PBX to manage the lines coming into the business
and make them available to all the phones inside. Ah, remember those good ol'
Centrex service started to grow in popularity. That delivered PBX-like phone
lines to a business. These were real phone lines, from a real phone company, but
the equipment was all at the telephone company's central office instead of at
the customer location.
forward to today. This is where smaller VoIP companies like RingCentral and 8X8
calls itself "a PBX in the cloud." Think about it -- these companies
require no hardware. They simply supply phone lines using the Internet. Not
regular phone lines from the phone company, but VoIP lines. In fact this saves
customers money over regular phone lines.
familiar? This is similar to the service you can buy from cable television
companies like Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK), Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and Cox, and
others like Vonage and Skype -- although quality, reliability and price differ
from player to player.
don't use them, so I cannot address quality, but these companies sound like a
good choice to consider in the newer and growing space for the small- and
mid-sized business market.
be following this space and will keep you up-to-speed as it grows in importance.
5:00 AM PT
is a large, global company, so it is not going away soon. However, it is at a
precarious point in its history. During the last 10 years, it was on the growth
side of the Wave I often discuss. Now it is on the falling side of the same
Wave. Can it create the next Wave to ride up on? Going forward, this new product
launch will either be remembered as the moment of RIM's successful rebirth or
another nail in the coffin.
execs have invited me to dinner for an off-the-record discussion. I have asked a
truckload of questions about them over the last few years here in this column
and in media stories. Let me ask you: What are the big questions I should ask
them now? What do you want to know about RIM?
Pick of the Week is DISH TV now being sold in C Spire Wireless stores,
letting you watch television on your TV or wireless device.
Too Much for Granted
it comes to RIM, the big question I want to start with is, how will it turn the
is wondering whether it will recover. Will Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM)
become a hot and growing company once again? Will BlackBerry become the
smartphone on everyone's mind and clipped to everyone's belt once again? Or are
those glory days only seen in the rear view mirror?
years ago when RIM was at it's peak, I issued a warning in several speeches,
columns and press releases. I said at the time that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) had painted a cross on RIM's back. A marketing battle was
about to begin that would leave RIM bloody or worse.
that's exactly what has happened.
pushback to me, limited as it was, simply amounted to disbelief. The company was
convinced it was fine.
and others didn't believe that the king of all things smartphone was about to be
pushed out of the leadership position it had enjoyed for more than a decade. RIM
took too much for granted. It had always been quiet, but now it was getting soft
and old, as Apple and Google were changing the space.
suffered. To make matters worse, it didn't realize it for much too long.
manageament didn't have cutting-edge thinking any longer. The company had never
created the right kind of relationships with the analyst and media community. Of
course, it didn't need to early on, or so it thought. But then the space changed
RIM is in a battle for its very life. Will it recover?
can. And it can recover quickly IF it understands the challenges it faces today
-- and if it can meet them.
has to focus on two areas: One is to upgrade the technology to make it as hot
and desirable as Apple's iPhone and the top-of-the-line smartphones running
Google's Android. Among other things, BlackBerry needs a much better browser
that syncs with favorites on the computer browser.
is to upgrade the brand. BlackBerry is a well-known and trusted brand of
yesterday. It is like dear old grandpa. It needs to be updated and youth-en-ized.
There I go again creating my own words. But you get the point.
Up for Action
RIM is shifting its thinking. It is getting in position to make the attempt.
That is good. Whether it will work is the question.
has a new CEO, Thorsten Heins. It also just brought in Kristain Tear as COO and
Frank Boublen, from LightSquared, as chief marketing officer. Jean Philippe
Bouchard is its director of product marketing.
seems to be gearing up for a big coming-out party later this year. It will have
a new version of BlackBerry software. But will it have tons of new apps so users
who want them will consider RIM in the mix of choices? Will it explain the
benefits to its secure email system?
is a large, global company, so it is not going away soon. However, it is at a
precarious point in its history. During the last 10 years, it was on the growth
side of the Wave I often discuss. Now it is on the falling side of the same
it create the next Wave to ride up on?
forward, this new product launch will either be remembered as the moment of
RIM's successful rebirth or another nail in the coffin.
hope for the best. Customers, investors, partners and workers all hope for
success. The rest is up to RIM. Can it succeed?
Pick of the Week is DISH TV now being sold in C Spire Wireless stores. C
Spire will be promoting DISH TV Everywhere products and DVR technologies.
Clayton, CEO of DISH, says this is about the convergence of wireless and
Meena, President and CEO of C Spire Wireless, says three-screen convergence is
an important element of its personalized services, and DISH will help it
watching live TV anywhere, inside and outside the home, on television or on your
mobile device. This is a win-win-win for DISH, C Spire and their customers.
is in addition to selling the Apple iPhone in its stores. C Spire is punching
its way onto the map.
world sure is changing, isn't it? Remember when we used to be tied to the wall
with our kitchen phone just to have a conversation?
it's wireless, and it blends television with wireless phones, and much more is
the world sure is changing.
5:00 AM PT
If you are not riding the Wave -- like Apple, Google and Samsung -- you get left behind like RIM and Nokia. The formula is as simple and as complicated as that. Today we have a new two-way race in the super smartphone space between Apple's iPhone and Google's Android OS. While this is good, we need better. We need more.
to Samsung on earning the No. 1 position in the wireless smartphone sector. On
the other hand, what is the problem at Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and RIM? What is
happening? What other earthshaking changes can we expect in the wireless space
next? Plenty. We are just getting started. So who and what will lead going
Pick of the Week is the new partnership between Barnes
& Noble (NYSE: BKS) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) on the Nook.
was interviewed on Marketplace radio last week, and Stacey Vanek Smith asked me
about the problems Nokia is now facing and what they needed to do in order to
recover. I expanded the conversation to include BlackBerry maker RIM as well.
These two companies led their segment until a few short years ago, but now they
change quickly -- and this is just the beginning.
change occurred because of the super smartphone Wave that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)
and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) started five years ago with the iPhone and the Android
OS. They have transformed the space. Many are now struggling, while smaller
competitors like Samsung now lead.
of the key reasons many successful companies eventually lose is that the Wave of
innovation passes them by, and they can no longer keep up. That is happening.
reason is they lack good public relations and analyst relations. Look at today's
marketplace. It has completely flipped around. Leaders are now followers, and
new or smaller companies now lead.
the last decade, companies like Nokia and RIM never really had to worry about PR
and analyst relations. Suddenly they do. However, now when they need it, they
realize they don't have the relationships that could be helpful.
feel bad for the men and women struggling behind the scenes at those companies.
However, this is an important lesson for every company. It just comes at a high
price for two great firms.
and Google don't worry about these relationships either. I predict someday they
will have a similar problem. Will they catch on before trouble starts and build
their public relations and analyst relations activity? We'll have to see.
wireless space continues to change. Leaders and technology are both changing. So
what can we expect going forward?
we have to determine what segment we are talking about. We have to realize
wireless has several different sectors, including networks, handset makers,
operating systems, apps and, increasingly, new industries like automotive and
mHealth, which will expand and transform the entire space. There are many
different companies in many different sectors.
sectors are growing, while others are shrinking -- even in a single sector like
handsets. Smartphones are rapidly growing, while regular handsets are not.
and executives need to understand where we are heading and prepare to lead in
that new environment, because things change quickly.
you are not riding the Wave -- like Apple, Google and Samsung -- you get left
behind like RIM and Nokia. The formula is as simple and as complicated as that.
we have a new two-way race in the super smartphone space between Apple's iPhone
and Google's Android OS. While this is good, we need better. We need more.
has tried for more than a decade to enter this wireless space, but it has not
yet rung the bell. Time and again, CEO Steve Ballmer has stood up and given an
exciting presentation of its next-generation smartphone. Despite try after try,
its efforts failed.
Microsoft has teamed with Nokia on the new Lumia smartphone. It is a completely
different operating system from both Apple and Android devices. That is good,
because as popular as they are, the marketplace wants more choice.
is a much more aggressive plan for Microsoft. Will it be successful this time?
spoke with Matt Hamblen, a reporter with Computerworld, who hit the nail on the
head with an article last week discussing how carriers are desperately seeking
to make the Windows phone successful. He talked about how AT&T (NYSE: T) and
Verizon want other smartphones to succeed so they can gain leverage with Apple.
reason is simple. Apple is in such a powerful position in the marketplace that
it thinks it can be arrogant and overcharge carriers just to carry its brand.
Unfortunately, the carriers are paying up.
may be successful for Apple right now, but it puts an enormous stress on the
entire system. Plus, it puts distaste in the mouths of the carriers for Apple
products. Will their capitulation to Apple come back and bite them some day?
Yes, I think it will, unless they are very careful.
why I expect both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless to really promote this
new Microsoft and Nokia Lumia phone.
this is successful ultimately depends on two things. One is the marketing and
public relations. Two is customer acceptance. Will customers get excited over
this new entrant? Many others have tried and failed -- like Palm, for example.
So we will just have to watch and see.
I do see Lumia having a great deal of support in the industry. The reason is
that the exploding smartphone space needs more choices.
addition, what's coming next in wireless is exciting. Industry after industry is
ready to reinvent itself.
exciting as that possibility is, it is not always enough. Just look at the
healthcare industry as an example.
got a call from a Motorola Solutions executive, and we had a great conversation
about the changing future of the mHealth industry. We will be using our own
handheld medical equipment, and it will communicate to our doctors from our
home. In fact, many apps will also turn ordinary smartphones into medical
devices to track diabetes, blood pressure and so on.
Solutions is positioned as a leader in this space, and it plans to be very
important going forward. However, while it is always exciting to talk about
today, the road is not clear. Progress, while happening, is not happening fast
There are too many different industries involved. They all have their own
captains on the bridge, and none of them speak each other's language.
(Nasdaq: QCOM) has been trying to spark a fire in this space for years as well,
with limited success.
is an exciting area, however, and some companies are moving ahead. It is the
Wireless 2012 trade show in New Orleans will be a good place to read between the
lines and see what is coming next.
Largent, who heads the CTIA, says the industry has been changing since it
started. I agree. This year's show should be exciting as it expands beyond the
traditional wireless industry.
to see much more activity in the smartphone space.
to see the Lumia heavily promoted by Microsoft, Nokia, AT&T and Verizon.
to see much more from Samsung now that it is No. 1 in the segment.
to see hardware running RIM BlackBerry 10 hit the marketplace later in the year.
to see wireless start to transform other industries, like mHealth and
the super smartphone race to heat up even more and expand beyond Apple's and
to see other operating systems enter the fray.
other words, expect quite a bit of activity and change in the industry.
industry is full of companies and sectors that are both winning and losing. It
depends what side of the growth Wave they are on. And there are plenty on both
side of the Wave.
fortunes will be made. New ideas will break through and change the industry. At
the same time, some old- time leaders will struggle if they cannot change with
the nature of this business. It's like we are all sitting in a rocket and are
strapped in. Shooting into orbit is a thrill, but it's also a helluva bumpy and
stressful ride. Still, that's our wireless business, isn't it?
Pick of the Week is the new Nook partnership between Barnes & Noble
e-book is one of the most exciting areas of growth in the tech industry. Among
e-readers, the two leaders are Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle and Barnes &
Noble's Nook. I have both, and I think they are two of the best and most
innovative devices. They will continue to change the book publishing industry.
question I always ask is why does Amazon
get the majority of coverage and attention? Perhaps it is because Amazon is an
innovative growth company.
may change now with the Microsoft partnership. Perhaps Barnes & Noble will
be perceived as a real mover and shaker like Amazon.
first Wave will be Microsoft partnering and giving cash to the Nook business.
will also put a Nook app on the home screen of Windows 8. Very good.
may be a Nook version of Windows 8 on the device itself, and much more as these
two companies see a bright future in the partnership. Exceptionally good.
is a good and important company, but while it is very successful in the Windows
and applications space, it just can't seem to make a dent in other areas, like
I noted above, Microsoft's new partnership with Nokia on the Lumia could
jumpstart its engines. We'll have to see what happens next.
deal with Barnes & Noble, while great for the bookseller's Nook business, is
also great for Microsoft. It makes its Windows and other offerings more
innovative and valuable.
could help both companies grow and expand.
congratulations to Barnes & Noble and Microsoft on this partnership. If done
well, it could mean good things for both companies.
5:00 AM PT
The wireless industry is a conduit to help other industries transition to the next generation of marketing. There is a whole new world we are moving into, and that is the exciting part of this year's show. I predict industry after industry will take advantage of this wireless opportunity over the next few years. Mix that with the exploding smartphone and app marketplace, and you can see how wireless is rapidly changing and growing in new areas.
it surprise you if I said the upcoming CTIA Wireless 2012 show will be very
different from those in the past? I've been going to these wireless shows for
more years than I can remember.
few years, the show -- and in fact the entire industry -- changes. This is a
great showplace for what is new and what is coming next in the wireless industry
-- and next month's show should be no exception.
Pick of the Week is C
Spire, for something interesting it's doing for its customers and
about five years ago when there were just a few app booths at CTIA? Today there
are more than you can count. That's because in the last few years, the app
market has exploded from a few hundred to several hundred thousand.
exciting as that is, wireless innovation is moving well beyond the app market.
It is beginning to transform other industries as well. This is one of those
important moments in time when we see the beginnings of a new and innovative
industry taking shape.
an analyst I have covered many different sectors, and wireless has been one of
the most exciting. However this transformation is starting to kick into high
gear and the next few years should completely reinvent the wireless industry.
President and CEO Steve Largent called me and we chatted about next month's CTIA
Wireless 2012 show. He told me about what has changed and what is new, and what
we can expect to see at the show.
automotive industry is really jumping into the wireless opportunity. Both Ford
and Nissan are at this year's show. That's right, cars at the wireless show.
It's starting to sound like the Consumer Electronics Show, isn't it? I expect to
see more every year -- we are just at the beginning of this new wave of
are increasingly adding wireless technology, giving the driver and passenger
both information and entertainment. Commercial vehicles can be tracked and
managed effortlessly once the fleet is properly equipped.
all love GPS and navigation technology. Many of these devices also show live
traffic and weather. But the next-generation devices offer Internet connectivity
and WiFi, so we can surf the Web and even use our smartphones, laptops and
few short years ago, who would have thought this was even possible?
mHealth sector is also exploding, with large and small companies showing off
breakthrough ideas and technology at the show. They are looking for coverage,
partners and investors.
is a brand new industry model that has to crawl before it can walk -- and walk
before it can run. Today we are at the very early stages of this exciting
have received many emails and calls from companies wanting to get on my radar:
app makers, automotive companies, mHealth firms -- and that's in addition to
traditional networks, handset makers, laptop and tablet companies, and so many
are very new and very small. Others are larger companies expanding into these
new areas. Remember, large and successful companies can transform themselves and
become leaders in these new segments.
Atsmon is CEO of iOnRoad in Israel, which has created a driving app similar to
what is available on the dashboard of Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac. No, it is
not as powerful, but it is affordable -- you clip your smartphone to the
dashboard of your car, and it measures the distance to the car in front of you.
It also measures and alerts you to fast or slow lane changes.
is looking to talk with executives of wireless carriers in the United States to
put its app on wireless phones.
years ago, I met Dan Lowden, who was then with Wayport, at a CTIA show. After
Wayport was acquired by AT&T (NYSE: T), Dan joined Digby as VP. He and CEO
David Sidora told me about their company.
is a mobile commerce company. Listen to this: location-based marketing. It helps
retail stores build out their mobile strategies and use e-commerce . So, when
customers walk into a store, they can communicate with the store. They get
special deals and promotions on the screens of their smartphones. Imagine that.
is a great idea that helps retail stores use new wireless technology to build
their brands and get closer to customers in new and exciting ways. Everyone
seems to love it -- the customers and the companies.
soon as customers walk into a store, they are connected. Digby has already
worked with many major brands, including Bed Bath and Beyond, Cabela's, Toys
"R" Us, The Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Wet Seal, Brooks Brothers,
Golfsmith, Orvis, Radio Shack, HP (NYSE: HPQ) and others.
you see how the wireless industry can be considered a conduit to help other
industries transition to the next generation of marketing? There is a whole new
world we are moving into, and that is the exciting part of this year's show.
predict industry after industry will take advantage of this wireless opportunity
over the next few years. Mix that with the exploding smartphone and app
marketplace, and you can see how wireless is rapidly changing and growing in new
CTIA may be a completely different show from what it was a few short years ago
-- but that is true every few years in this fast-changing industry. Don't blink.
You might miss something big.
Pick of the Week is C
Spire, which is doing something new for its customers and its nonc-ustomers.
Spire announced apps last week that bring its personalized rewards program,
called Percs, to life.
waving your phone around to catch points that are floating around. These points
can be used for discounts or to purchase things on the C Spire Percs rewards
a game, and you win points that you cash in for real goodies.
is for both customers and non-customers. Customers win points. Non-customers can
play the game and see what they would have won if they were a customer. Not a
bad way to attract new customers and reward existing customers.
Spire wants this augmented-reality technology to reach out to the customer and
help drive interest in these personalized wireless services and the Percs
rewards program, said Suzy Hays, senior VP for brand management and
see this as a refreshing new way to reach out and build relationships with
5:00 AM PT
While it is true that every company, large and small, is at risk as the market changes, the other side of that coin is great opportunity. Right now, every company faces both enormous risk and enormous opportunity. To lead as the marketplace transforms itself again is a rare opportunity, but that opportunity is here once again.
like 10 years ago, and then again five years ago, the technology industry is
changing. That means companies are enjoying new opportunities and wrestling with
new challenges. Only some will win. I'll offer my perspective as an analyst on
who is winning, who is losing and why. I believe you will find this column both
interesting and valuable.
me explain my angle on this industry. I have been an analyst for more than 25
years. I am also a consultant for many different companies that want me both to
watch and understand them, as well as help them understand the changing
the years, I have worked with many wireless and local and long-distance
telephone companies; cable and satellite television companies, Internet service
providers, mHealth firms, and other assorted tech companies. This mix has helped
me develop a unique insight into changing industry dynamics.
analysts, PR reps and advertising agents regularly keep in touch with me to make
sure I understand the direction they are heading. I try to stay on top of the
shifting ground we call the changing industry as I share my thoughts and
opinions through my speeches, columns and so on.
of all sizes compete to get the attention of analysts and the media. They try to
punch their way into the marketplace in many ways.
company wants to be a leader -- a key player as well as a competitor. That's why
companies generally want analysts and the media to follow them. It helps them
with marketing and building brand awareness. It also helps them understand the
continually shifting sands of the marketplace.
time, we all have learned that some companies and sectors are growing and
healthy, while others are declining. I call this "the Wave." Staying
on the right side of the growth wave is key to every company's good health.
have learned that everyone has an individual barometer for measuring the health
of companies and the industry.
I travel, meet with industry executives and speak at meetings. Some have always
said things are getting better, while others have disagreed. That typically
means some are on the growth side of the wave, while others are on the declining
however, I have been hearing much more consistently good news. Most executives
and companies I have been talking with have expressed that things are getting
stronger. Yes things are different, but they are stronger as well.
personal barometer has been pretty accurate over time. It is based in part on
how many calls I get from executives and companies wanting to get on my radar.
In recent months, my phone and email have been getting busier. Good news?
wanted to know if this was a wider industry trend. Did other analysts see this
same uptick as well? So I asked.
Is at Greater Risk'
Enderle, principal analyst with the Enderle Group, said "most all of the
metrics I'm seeing right now are pointing up. The overall trends are looking
sounds good, but "we are also clearly at the front end of a massive
change," continued Enderle. "We go through these nearly every decade
where the market leaders fall and are replaced by either different companies or
rapidly growing new entries. So from a macro point of view -- better, micro --
everyone is at greater risk during a massive market change."
and I have plenty in common. We both cover tech broadly, talk with the media on
a daily basis, share our opinions, and follow quite a range of companies and
technologies in the space.
have to say that I fully agree with what Rob has said, and want to add one more
it is true that every company, large and small, is at risk as the market
changes, the other side of that coin is great opportunity.
now, every company faces both enormous risk and enormous opportunity. To lead as
the marketplace transforms itself again is a rare opportunity, but that
opportunity is here once again.
an example, just look at how Apple transformed the music industry 10 years ago
with the iPod, then the smartphone business five years with the iPhone, and now
the computer business with the iPad.
TV and Google TV are coming, which will challenge cable TV companies like
Comcast, Time Warner and Cox. They will also challenge competitors like
satellite television and IPTV -- including AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS.
Facebook and countless others are also creating brand new segments.
of these companies started small just a few short years ago and are now giants.
Others have been around for a while but have successfully shifted and have now
same incredible opportunity is upon us once again. Are we ready?
your eyes open for the small companies with great ideas that will start to pop
up out of nowhere trying to punch their way into the marketplace -- or existing
companies changing their strategy and
am. In fact, I am getting many calls from company executives going to the
upcoming CTIA Wireless 2012 show who want to introduce themselves to me.
Access to Information'
the other side of the same coin are companies on the declining side of the wave.
like RIM and Nokia are two examples. Five years ago, they led the wireless
handheld space. Today, they struggle against Google and Apple. The entire
wireless space has completely reinvented itself in just a few short years and is
getting ready to do so again.
years ago, companies like AT&T and Verizon led the growing local phone
business. Now that business is struggling with wireless and VoIP competition.
New competitors like CenturyLink and Windstream are now part of this game as
well. These two names are new to many. Which side of the Wave are they now on?
Will they lead or follow in the transforming industry?
are countless companies we will have to get familiar with as the marketplace
transforms itself once again.
King of Pund-IT Research told me, "I hesitate to roll out an old chestnut
from the dot-com era, but I think we're seeing a convergence of multiple kinds
of data and information across multiple platforms that is having a profound
effect on consumers and businesses.
has happened before," King continued, "as specific technologies like
PCs, laptops, Internet access and broadband became widely available, accessible
and affordable. The key point this time around is how high-speed wireless
technologies are enabling essentially ubiquitous access to information,
are plenty of other analysts I will talk with, like Iain Gillott of iGR, Duncan
Chapple of Lighthouse Analyst Relations, Ray Wang of Constellation Research, and
many more. As I talk with them, I will share their thoughts with you -- so stay
Revolution Is Here
been through several peaks and valleys over the last 25 years, and we'll likely
go through just as many in the next. It's the nature of the beast.
are waking up and jumping onto this new Wave of opportunity. Others will do so
during the next few quarters.
we will see both growing and shrinking sides of the Wave in the marketplace at
the same time. Both sides are still active in the business. So depending on whom
you ask, you may get two completely different opinions on the growth of the
fact, the same company can often participate in both sides of the industry at
once -- like AT&T and Verizon. They compete both in the fast-growing
wireless and Internet and television side and the declining telephone side.
it often depends on whom you ask. Which side of the company do you talk with
when you want to take the temperature of the growing and changing industry?
is part of what I like to discuss with the media so they have a better
understanding of the changing industry. And it is changing.
is an exciting time that happens once a decade. Are you ready? Another
once-in-a-decade opportunity is beginning.
piece of advice: Get ready for the next big revolution that is getting ready to
roll across this industry and transform everything once again. Don't blink. It
has already begun.
Pick of the Week is the rollout of AT&T mHealth Solutions' WellDoc.com
DiabetesManager mobile technology.
wrote about WellDoc.com about a year ago, but now it is working with AT&T
Mobility to bring its new technology to the next level.
pace of these advancements seems slow, but WellDoc.com is heading in the right
DiabetesManager helps members better manage their diabetes health and healthcare
costs. It is the first mobile health solution cleared by the FDA. Check it out.
AT&T, AT&T Mobility and WellDoc.com on this advancement in healthcare
technology. Tomorrow looks even better than today.
Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing
his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25
years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
When wounded soldiers come back from battle with a lost limb, they often say they can still feel their limb. But it is no longer there -- it is one of the tricks the mind plays on us. Could AT&T be suffering from phantom limb syndrome? If so, will this new focus on the Lumia be enough to satisfy it? This is a gamble -- only time will tell.
Lumia may be AT&T's (NYSE: T) biggest wireless handset launch since the
iPhone. This is a big gamble on AT&T's part. If successful, it could stand
tall. It could help reboot Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) in the
wireless business. If unsuccessful then AT&T will have egg on its face. Why
take the risk?
Pick of the Week is US Cellular, as it makes some public relations
changes by hiring Ketchum from Omnicom as its PR agency.
recently gave a speech to a group of industry executives and then consulted with
them, discussing what was coming next. AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia have
started cranking out press releases and turning up the heat on their marketing
engines. They do that well.
is AT&T taking such a risk? I call it the "phantom limb syndrome."
It lost the iPhone exclusivity, and now it has to replace it with something
years ago, there were more carriers -- many have merged, and there are fewer
years ago, smartphones were not being adopted as quickly as they are today.
years ago, the smartphone leaders were RIM's BlackBerry and Palm.
years ago, Nokia was the world's leading handset maker.
lot can change over five years, can't it?
the wireless industry is lead by smartphones.
Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating
system are dominating that space.
smartphone sales are growing so quickly it's impossible for the industry to keep
apps have mushroomed from a few hundred to more than half a million.
some carriers are reaching the limits of their spectrum capacity.
decided to break into the smartphone business several years ago. It approached
Verizon Wireless first. The problem was these two companies both had to be the
captain of the ship, and we all know there cannot be two captains.
next Apple went to AT&T, which loved the idea and inked the deal. AT&T
didn't know what it was in for. It had been quietly building its smartphone
capabilities and had the best selection of devices in the market. AT&T's top
brass thought they were ready.
last five years were both the best and the worst for AT&T -- best for
growth, and worst for quality of service and brand reputation. Things got very
bloody at AT&T.
in the early years, Apple had as few discussions as it could get away with, and
AT&T didn't know what it was up against. AT&T didn't realize it had
stepped through a doorway that would give it the most success and biggest
struggle of its life.
all the customer problems, AT&T still grew as a company and an investment.
Things were so good on the growth side, it had to keep the iPhone exclusivity as
long as possible.
renewing the exclusive iPhone deal, the device became available a few years
later at Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and C Spire.
AT&T has nothing special to set it apart from competitors. It seems lost.
it separation anxiety. It had become addicted to exclusivity like a drug.
what does AT&T do next? It has spent the last few quarters looking at the
next drug of choice.
has built an impressive operation and wants to be back in the spotlight. So it
has settled on the Lumia from Microsoft and Nokia.
Nokia Lumia 900
this is an impressive device, and may help both Microsoft and Nokia dig
themselves out of the hole a bit, is it enough to match the iPhone and Android
an industry, we need more choices. The iPhone is great. So are many of the
Android devices. However, users want more. There are plenty who simply don't
like the iPhone or the Android OS. So there is a market for other operating
systems. There is no doubting that point.
may be the next big hit -- or it may not. It's too early to tell.
question is, should AT&T be focused so much on creating the next iPhone --
substituting a new habit for the one it lost?
and Nokia are big companies and leaders, but they have not yet matched the
marketing excitement of either Apple or Google. They just don't think that way.
wounded soldiers come back from battle with a lost limb, they often say they can
still feel their limb. But it is no longer there -- it is one of the tricks the
mind plays on us.
AT&T be suffering from phantom limb syndrome? If so, will this new focus on
the Lumia be enough to satisfy it? This is a gamble -- only time will tell.
luck, AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia!
Pick of the Week is US Cellular, which is hiring Ketchum from Omnicom as
it's public relations agency. Ketchum has been successfully in this business for
many years, so we could be seeing some new things coming from US Cellular.
Groupe's MSLGroup competed with Ketchum in the final portion.
lot has changed at the company recently. Mary Dillon left McDonald's (NYSE: MCD)
and became president and CEO of US Cellular in spring 2010. And David Kimbell
left PepsiCo and became VP of marketing.
company looks like it has been preparing for some major changes. US Cellular
even turned down the Apple iPhone during its reboot. Could the butterfly be
about to come out of its cocoon?
have an idea for US Cellular, which is based in Chicago. Perhaps one of the
first changes should be to change its name to "US Wireless." After
all, "US Cellular" sounds so last decade.
Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing
his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25
years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
Your Company, Your Product, Your Book
By Jeff Kagan
04/05/12 5:00 AM PT
A book can be a great marketing tool to hand out to customers and prospects as a summary, including several examples of success. You can share a few winning ideas, then deliver a compelling conclusion. And, of course, the last few lines always suggest that the reader or prospect call you if they would like to discuss further. This simple and less aggressive approach to sales is becoming very successful.
Books and e-books are becoming the No. 1 sales and marketing tool for many small and mid-sized businesses. Large companies have successfully used them for years, but they were much more expensive and took much longer to produce. Now print on demand and e-books are transforming the space, allowing every company the same opportunity.
I recently learned this as a number of CEOs have contacted me to discuss writing books for them and their companies. Apparently, as many executives explore this new book opportunity, they realize they need a co-author to help them with the process of writing and then pulling the book together. Many also want a brand-name co-author to add to their marketing cachet. I'll share my ideas about this e-book marketing phenomenon.
As my Pick of the Week, I'll tell you about some very interesting wireless industry news uncovered at the Rural Cellular Association conference in Orlando last week.
Short and Sweet
Some companies are interested in developing a book as a sales tool, and others to help them with positioning. Whatever the reason, as the marketplace gets louder, companies have to find new ways to break through the noise and reach the customer.
Books help companies present themselves to customers in a very authoritative way. They also help executives position themselves as industry thought leaders. After all, not many executives and companies have written a book -- or have a book written about them.
With a book in hand, it is much easier to get in front of prospects or be interviewed by the media, whether that means print, television, radio or the Web.
The process of creating a book has become much easier than it was just a few short years ago.
Then, it took years. You'd have to hire an agent, find a publisher, and write the book. Then you would have to wait for the publisher to edit and publish it. It would take a year or two. Then you would have to purchase thousands of copies at a time to distribute. And you would pray bookstores would be interested as well.
Today, with print-on-demand publishers and e-books, the publishing world has turned completely around.
Within a few short months, you can have a professional book and e-book in the marketplace. That means it can be for sale, and you can also print as many as you want to give away at cost -- meaning a few dollars each.
These are becoming the best marketing tools we have seen in decades.
The old publishing model is still in place, but this new model is rapidly transforming the industry. With your own book, you can promote yourself and your company, and position yourself above the competition.
Many people say that sounds great, but they are not writers. After all, writing takes a unique mindset and talent, right? You have to be able to tell a compelling story.
That's where co-authors and ghostwriters come in. There is a cottage industry of individuals who write on behalf of clients.
Imagine logging onto Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), iTunes or many other websites and finding your book there for sale.
Imagine selling your book and e-book to readers. What a great promotional tool.
Now imagine being able to print copies of your book, at a low cost, to give away to your customers, your prospects, your workers, your investors, your partners, and so on.
Your customers can buy a book from many online bookstores and have it delivered in days. Print on demand let's you sell and print one single hard copy at a time.
Or they can download an e-book instantly and begin reading right away on their Kindle or Nook or iPad or computer or any other e-book reading device.
Your own book helps to raise you above your competition. You will become the industry expert.
Once in a Blue Moon
There are so many reasons to have a book. They are prestigious. They position you as a leader. They separate you from your competition. They let you charge more. They help you increase sales.
In fact, over time, you can write several books to expand your reach. Each can focus on a different aspect of your business. This can position you as one of the top thought leaders in your industry. These books can be included as an impressive addition to your bio, introduction and Web page.
Web pages are good, but they change all the time -- plus, everyone has a Web page.
A book is forever. It has a lasting quality that people still love and respect.
Your book can discuss you, your company, and the changing industry. It can discuss your thought leadership.
Or it can be about sales -- a marketing tool to hand out to customers and prospects as a summary, including several examples of success. You can share a few winning ideas, then deliver a compelling conclusion. And, of course, the last few lines always suggest that the reader or prospect call you if they would like to discuss further.
This simple and less aggressive approach to sales is becoming very successful. You may be the only one of your competitors to take this approach. Or if they are already there, you can join them.
Give your prospects a few good ideas in the pages of your book. Let them try the ideas and see how they work. Then they will call you to buy the other ideas you have to offer by doing business with you.
This is a great approach.
It never made much sense before for small and mid-sized companies, because publishing a book was always much more expensive and difficult.
Today, however, it is much less expensive, much easier and faster -- and it can be a great, and unique, marketing tool.
This is one of those incredible marketing ideas that come around once in a blue moon.
My Pick of the Week is some very interesting wireless industry tidbits uncovered at the Rural Cellular Association conference in Orlando last week.
It seems larger carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are getting exclusive handset deals, and that is locking out other carriers like C Spire and MTPCS/Cellular One.
Both Hu Meena, CEO of C Spire, and Jonathan Foxman, CEO or MTPCS/Cellular One, sat on a panel and discussed several eye-opening industry issues.
AT&T Mobility had a four-year exclusive deal for the Apple iPhone, which kept Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, C Spire and anyone else out of the game. Great for AT&T, but lousy for the rest of the industry. This kind of thing happens every day.
Apparently, smaller carriers get pitched devices by manufacturers. They show interest. That should be all a device maker needs to hear, right? However, instead of inking the deal, the device manufacturer goes to the larger competitors to ask permission to sell to smaller carriers.
So larger competitors have a say in which smaller carriers get to sell which wireless handsets? Is that really happening? Apparently so.
Something seems broken about this model doesn't it? Is this the way we want the industry to operate?
E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a tech analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.
5:00 AM PT
needs a new product and new software, and it needs them yesterday. It needs a
new marketing campaign and an updated brand, and it needs them yesterday. It
needs a breakthrough, sexy and attractive new product, and it has to catch on
like wildfire. Instead, what we see is a process that is taking much too long.
In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) has said it will offer app makers a prototype of the
next smartphone in the BlackBerry 10 line at an upcoming conference in May. Good
news, but is it too little, too late? The phone will not be ready to roll into
the market till late 2012.
ruled during the last decade, but it has fallen way back since the iPhone and
Androids hit the streets a few years ago. In fact, Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone
has passed the BlackBerry not only in the U.S., but also in RIM's home country,
remember warning RIM several years ago, but I was ignored. The company didn't
even admit it had a problem until recently.
now it knows. RIM has changed its top leadership, along with the way it looks at
the very different marketplace and competition.
have been waiting to see another new design, although new designs at RIM have
been disappointing in the last few years.
RIM is getting ready to roll out its next new technology at an upcoming trade
show -- not to customers, but to app developers.
is good, but No. 1, is it taking much too long? And No. 2, will it be worth the
industry continues to change very quickly. And time is everything.
when cable television company Cox got into the cellphone business several years
back? It had a plan to build its own network and partner with others and become
a funny thing happened. Apple and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) jumped in and changed
the wireless business. Cox found itself like a salmon suddenly fighting to swim
upstream, and the floodwaters were suddenly gushing down on it.
withdrew. And it was not only Cox, but also Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSK) and Time
Warner (NYSE: TWX) that failed in the cellphone space.
as good as it once was, is like Austin Powers in the movies. It has lost its
needs a new product and new software, and it needs them yesterday.
needs a new marketing campaign and an updated brand, and it needs them
needs a breakthrough, sexy and attractive new product, and it has to catch on
what we see is a process that is taking much too long.
hope RIM is successful. I like the company. However, it is in the slow lane
driving like your 85-year-old grandma on a highway where younger kids like Apple
and Google are blazing new trails.
has to rebrand itself -- or at least bring its brand into the future like
AT&T (NYSE: T) did.
when SBC acquired AT&T, Bellsouth and Cingular several years back? It wanted
to keep the name "AT&T," but realized it was old and tired.
did it do? It updated the brand.
new logo looks much different, with small letters instead of caps. It updated
the advertising. It did a great job of successfully transforming the company
from an old-fashioned telephone company that was shrinking, to a very large and
very fast-growing wireless company.
what RIM must do, and it must do it now.
is a big company with lots of cash, and it can weather this storm for a while.
However, if the storm persists, RIM cannot last forever.
first reaction to this new BlackBerry 10 from developers will be at the
BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando early in May. RIM will be able to take
the temperature of the attendees and see whether they are moving in the right
direction and quickly enough.
luck, RIM. Stay tuned.
5:00 AM PT
Remember when Microsoft
invested in Apple in the 1990s? It knew that if Apple folded, the U.S.
government would be all over Microsoft like flies on a juicy piece of fruit
rotting in the sunshine. The same thing applies now with Verizon Wireless and
AT&T. If they win this battle over spectrum and other carriers lose
customers and even fold, then suddenly they will be in the crosshairs of the
have watched the wireless industry grow rapidly and change over the last decade.
As we now know, competitors in the industry have suddenly been backed into a
corner with limits to wireless data spectrum and growth. This is a growing
problem and a real challenge that both Verizon Wireless and AT&T (NYSE: T)
have to face. A change in thinking is required to solve this.
Pick of the Week is Google, as it gets ready to enter the tablet market
and compete with Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's
all started a few short years ago with the iPhone. Then came Android. Suddenly
customers were using more wireless data apps. All of a sudden, network usage,
which had been mostly for voice, shifted to become mostly for wireless data.
the next few years, wireless data should account for 97 percent of traffic, with
voice taking up a mere 3 percent.
problem is that current limits on spectrum means there's not enough to carry
initial response of companies like AT&T has been to limit customers'
wireless data access. This is not going over well. Not every carrier is pulling
back, though. Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S), C Spire Wireless and Virgin Mobile still
offer unlimited wireless data plans.
is a disturbing trend for the two largest players.
are two possible solutions.
was suggested Monday in a Wall Street Journal article about new technologies to
better utilize the limited spectrum capacity. This is like putting new lights on
highway entrance ramps to better manage the flow of traffic.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T have their backs against the wall. They have been
using some of these new technologies to handle more wireless data traffic. So
far, so good -- however, this is only a partial and temporary solution.
must see -- and we will see -- more of these kinds of advancements in
is another way to solve the current capacity problems and keep Verizon Wireless
and AT&T out of regulatory crosshairs: All wireless carriers should share
all available spectrum.
easy solution would solve this growing problem for both AT&T and Verizon --
and, in fact, every other wireless carrier as well. All the carriers would pool
their spectrum together and they would all buy access to the pool.
would give every carrier equal access to the wide swath of spectrum. It would
solve the capacity shortage problem, or at least delay its impact by many years.
problem is that neither Verizon Wireless nor AT&T wants to do this. They
should, however, for their own best interests.
when Microsoft invested in Apple in the 1990s? Why did it do that? After all,
Apple was its competitor. Microsoft did that for self-preservation. It knew that
if Apple folded, the U.S. government would be all over Microsoft like flies on a
juicy piece of fruit rotting in the sunshine.
in order to keep the regulators at bay, Microsoft kept breathing life into
same thing applies now with Verizon Wireless and AT&T. If they win this
battle over spectrum and other carriers lose customers and even fold, then
suddenly they will be in the crosshairs of the U.S. government.
know they don't want that.
doesn't work. Customers hate it. That is the wrong path to take.
leaned that the hard way. I heard Clark Howard say AT&T lost 17 million
customers when it recently implemented throttling.
and Verizon have to start thinking in new and different ways. So guys, take your
heads out of the dark areas of your torso and look at the larger industry issues
and work to solve them.
all, doing so is in your best interests.
keep the critical balance in the industry, it is in Verizon's and AT&T's
best interests to make sure they don't put everyone else out of business.
Pick of the Week is Google, which is getting ready to enter the tablet
market in competition with Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes &
Noble's Nook Tablet.
should fire up the marketplace all over again. Will this be a full-fledged
tablet or more like a book reader? Depends on the marketing.
think we can assume there will be a lot more to do than read on this upcoming
Google device. After all, Google is in the Android business and is growing apps
it use the Nexus brand name? If you recall, it started with that name several
years ago when it got into the wireless phone business.
initial effort failed, but the Nexus brand has been making a comeback.
think this new Google tablet is slated to arrive later this year, before the
Cable TV, Wireless Phones and the Great Spectrum Hunt
5:00 AM PT
We have to make some decisions. Do we just want AT&T and Verizon as the two key competitors, or do we want as many as we have today (which, by the way, is fewer than ever before)? Do we want Comcast changing and leading the wireless space as well as cable television? Do we want new innovative technology to change the television space like it has already changed the music and smartphone space?
(Nasdaq: CMCSK) has grown from a small cable television company in the 1990s to
the largest conglomerate in the space, all thanks to Brian Roberts and his
father Ralph Roberts. It was a real bootstrapping, entrepreneurial, family-run
company that did many great things over the years and helped to transform the
it now grown too large? Will Comcast's current growth plans help or hurt the
wireless and television industry? You may be surprised -- it's a little of both.
Pick of the Week is a brand new technology going backward from cable
television to antennas.
has successfully grown over the last decade or two. In fact, it now also owns
NBC Universal, meaning television channels like CNBC and much more.
still wants to continue to grow and shake things up and do things the way it has
always done things in the past. The entrepreneurial bug bites deep. That's the
good part of this story.
that is also the rub. This reminds me of Microsoft 20 years ago. Think back.
a small company grows, we cheer it on. However when it grows too large and
crosses the invisible line in the sand, anything else it does affects not only
the company, but also the entire marketplace. That means consumers, partners,
suppliers, investors and more.
at some point, a company becomes so successful and grows so large it can become
a threat. It changes from being a small company that is succeeding to a large
leader that rules and controls the industry.
is where we are with Comcast today. The game is changing. Like Microsoft,
Comcast is the new company that is both cheered and feared.
the marketplace is changing, and that uncertain future is concerning.
companies can't help or hurt a marketplace. They just grow. But large companies
can cause trouble, and unfortunately often do, even though it's not their
intention. Their desire to grow can interfere with other competitors and the
it or not, at some point companies grow too large and too important and have too
much impact on the marketplace and the economy. That's typically when the
government steps in and tries to control their actions in the future and protect
the industry. Sometimes that works, and other times it doesn't.
the new plan for Comcast to sell its wireless spectrum to Verizon Wireless. In
fact, it is not just Comcast but Time Warner, Cox and the entire SpectrumCo.
at this from Comcast's perspective, the deal makes perfect sense. In fact,
looking at it from Time Warner's, Cox's and Verizon Wireless' perspective, it
all looks good.
trouble comes from the impact on the rest of the industry -- meaning all the
competitors, customers and investors.
burning question is simple: Why was this deal not put out for open bidding?
Comcast and SpectrumCo could have made more money -- especially when large
competitors like AT&T (NYSE: T) and smaller competitors like Sprint Nextel,
C Spire, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, TracFone and MetroPCS would all love a piece
of that pie.
must be a reason that has been agreed to by these parties.
interesting step in this journey involves Verizon Wireless, which will start to
sell Comcast television in its wireless stores. Hmm. Verizon will stop selling
its own Verizon FiOS television and sell its competitor's service instead.
this make sense to you? What does this mean for the future of FiOS? Could
Verizon start backing away from its Internet television plans?
so, this is not a good sign for the competitive marketplace.
this mean a potential Comcast Verizon merger down the road? Crazier things have
happened in the past. Remember when AT&T acquired the cable television
company TCI in the late 1990s? That didn't work out, but it did happen.
later this year, when Apple TV, Google TV and Intel TV are introduced, the
entire television industry will be reinvented, like the music and smartphone
businesses were with the iPod and iPhone and Android.
this current Comcast, Verizon deal would be helpful to these companies, but
would it be harmful to the marketplace? The answer is a little of both,
depending on who is asking.
reason is simple: The wireless marketplace has changed over the last few years.
Four years ago, the Apple iPhone was born. Next Google Android.
in just the last few years, the entire trajectory of the wireless industry has
is no longer about voice or messaging. Today, it's about wireless data. It's
about spectrum. It's about the spectrum shortage that threatens carriers that
don't have it.
why AT&T tried to acquire T-Mobile. It needed spectrum. That's why AT&T
is acquiring spectrum from Qualcomm FloTV.
that's why Verizon Wireless needs this spectrum from Comcast and the cable
are two sides to this. On the side of Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Verizon, the
effort makes sense. They will benefit.
from the other side, it does not make sense. This deal, while helpful to the
companies involved, would be harmful to the industry in general and all the
competitors need access to more spectrum to remain competitive.
reason is simple. Wireless data will continue to grow, and over the next few
short years will account for 97 percent of the usage of wireless phones. Only 3
percent will be used for voice. This is a complete reversal over just a few
see that AT&T and Verizon are grabbing as much as they can, as quickly as it
can. But what about the other carriers? What about the competitive playing
the key point here. This is the key question we have to answer for the health of
what is the answer? We have to make some decisions. Do we just want AT&T and
Verizon as the two key competitors, or do we want as many as we have today
(which, by the way, is fewer than ever before)?
we want Comcast changing and leading the wireless space as well as cable
television? Do we want new innovative technology to change the television space
like it has already changed the music and smartphone space?
consumers, and they say give them choice. They want many competitors, all
offering the same services. That will keep prices low and service high, while
and Verizon Wireless want this deal. Other carriers don't. What's the solution?
have suggested a solution: equal access. Pool all the spectrum together, and let
all wireless carriers pay to have access to it. That will create a level playing
field and benefit everyone.
when we pull back the camera, we see a larger problem. Industry after industry
is reinventing itself. This past decade and the next will transform everything
we think we know about the tools and technologies we use for our personal and
are at a crossroads today.
have to make some hard decisions about the future of the wireless and television
industries. We are quickly running out of wireless data capacity, and the
television industry will be the next to step into the transformation chamber.
have to make a hard decision on the direction of the industry going forward.
is the choice we have before us today.
Pick of the Week is a brand new technology.
out cable television, IPTV and satellite television companies. The TV antenna
you killed off decades ago is coming back.
response to the escalating cost of television, customers are fleeing back to
old-fashioned antenna TV and embracing Internet television.
antenna has come a long way and, in fact, is saving many customers a fortune.
Let me explain.
television customers pay an average of 5-6 percent more, year after year. That
means every 10 years, the price of cable TV doubles. Depending on what you buy,
you could be spending $75 to $150 per month for pay TV.
ago, our choice was either a few broadcast channels or many cable channels.
however, the choice is much different.
has gotten to the point where it is a) cheaper and b) more innovative to try new
you know the major networks now operate multiple channels? That means you can
simply attach a $15 antenna to your television and receive dozens of broadcast
channels for free from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and others, along with the independent
channels in your area.
not unusual to get 40 to 50 channels of broadcast television at no cost. That is
what many pay for with cable television.
right. You may be paying your cable television company or your phone company or
your satellite television company for all these channels you can now get for
if you want to spend some money, you can buy a device to bring pay Internet
television into your home. That will cost about $15 to $20 bucks a month and you
can watch movies and television shows from companies like Netflix, Amazon and
the television world is changing.
far, about 5.1 million homes have moved away from pay television, and the number
is growing quickly. How many homes are there in the U.S.? Maybe a little more
than 100 million, and cable television has only penetrated about two-thirds of
this is already making a big dent.
else to think about -- later this year, expect to see more options from Apple
TV, Google TV and now even Intel TV. Others will likely join this race.
threat is for traditional pay TV services. The opportunity is for all these new
innovative services. And the winner will be the customer and investors in some
of these services. The question is, which ones?