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Jeff Kagan is a Tech Analyst, Consultant and Columnist.
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and T-Mobile Are Gunning for 2014 Recovery
Kagan: What Will AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile Look Like in 2014?
and Verizon May Start to Sweat in 2014
(ERIC) Predicts Rapid Wireless Data Growth
Mystery of the Inscrutably Curved Smartphone Screen
Ready for World War TV
Riding Shotgun as Tesla Drives Into the Future
Should Read Customers' Lips on Windows 8
Are Careening Down the Wrong Wireless Path
Road Will BlackBerry Travel?
Wireless Hits the Ground Running
Industry Opportunities are Changing
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
and T-Mobile Are Gunning for 2014 Recovery
5:00 AM PT
do some companies succeed while others struggle? And what can those who struggle
do to reignite their growth? We see attempts being made both on the wireless
network side and on the handset side. Looking at the network service provider
side, it looks like we may see some real fireworks in 2014 from both Sprint and
T-Mobile. Both companies want to shake things up.
and T-Mobile have had the roughest time during the last several years. At the
same time, both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have been hitting home
runs, year after year. Now it looks like both Sprint and T-Mobile are gearing up
for a recovery in 2014. Three questions: Will they be successful? Will they
impact the industry? Which companies will they take business from?
is one of the fastest-growing and most often-changing industries we have seen.
However, not every company has done well. Within the industry, some companies
have really made the right call, year after year, and seen dramatic growth and
success. At the same time, other companies have struggled.
has happened on both the network side and the handset side of the equation. On
the network side, compare AT&T and Verizon to Sprint and T-Mobile. On the
handset side, compare Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy line to almost any
other handset on the market.
of Sprint was acquired by Softbank several months ago. The company was not doing
well prior to the acquisition. Since then, it has been relatively quiet, but it
looks like it is investing in and will roll out a very high-speed wireless data
network sometime in 2014. It will be faster than both AT&T and Verizon,
Sprint has claimed.
addition, Sprint has more spectrum than any other wireless carrier. What that
means is if it can indeed reinvent its network and its entire wireless
experience while keeping prices lower, it could indeed begin to win customers
back. We have yet to see anything real, but buzz is building.
seems to have awakened from its several-year nap as well. With a new CEO and a
new strategy, T-Mobile has shown limited growth during the last quarter or two.
The question is, can it continue to recover?
seems to believe not only that it will reinvent its own company, but also that
it will change the entire industry. That's a big order.
next the question is, will improvements just help Sprint and T-Mobile with
respect to their own performance, or will it raise the bar and cause other
changes in the industry? Will it impact larger competitors? Which will they win
new business from -- larger or smaller competitors? Will there be changes in
services and billing and in the way people think about wireless?
don't think AT&T and Verizon are shaking in their boots. They are the two
strongest, largest and fastest-growing companies in the space. Recovery will
come in stages, but I am sure their larger competitors think both Sprint and
T-Mobile are worth keeping an eye on.
the wireless industry grows in bursts. Six years ago, there was a burst with the
iPhone and Android. Then a few years ago, there was another burst with tablets
like the iPad and Galaxy Tab.
what is the next burst going to focus on? Will it be another product like the
smartwatch, or will it be helping other industries go wireless? There are plenty
of potential next steps.
companies will lead? What will the market share of each player look like one,
two or three years from today? It sure looks like 2014 will be a year of loud
clamor in the industry. Stay tuned.
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.
See more at: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Sprint-and-T-Mobile-Are-Gunning-for-2014-Recovery-79563.html#sthash.TMhPGslp.dpuf
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.
Kagan: What Will AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile Look Like in 2014?
26, 2013 6:00AM
will be all about change and transformation in the wireless space. AT&T
Mobility (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ)
have been doing very well over the years. However Sprint (S)
and T-Mobile (TMUS) seem to
have fallen off the growth track years ago. But will things change next year?
and Verizon have been riding a pretty long winning streak in wireless. They have
won roughly 70 percent market share at the same time Sprint and T-Mobile have
been losing business.
believe 2014 will be full of new opportunity and change. However if you listen
to the carriers, they say growth will come from different areas.
and Verizon: Growth from New Areas
current leaders, AT&T and Verizon are not only growing their smartphone
business through traditional ways, but I also see growth coming from other
areas. One of those areas is helping other industries like automotive,
healthcare and retail embrace the wireless world and reinvent themselves.
are also other unexplored areas like the smartwatch world. If that segment
becomes as successful as smartphones and tablets, this could represent another
solid growth track for AT&T and Verizon.
of course there is plenty of talk about curved screens. I am not sure yet what
value curved screens will bring. Perhaps it’s a case of building the roads
first. We’ll see.
About Sprint and T-Mobile?
could be one of the more surprising areas of growth and change, with revived
competition coming from number three and four.
are two companies who have not really been vibrant competitors over recent
years. However both seem to be getting ready for a strong 2014.
Rebounding After Softbank Acquisition
has been trying to get their act together and T-Mobile has been trying to
reinvent itself with pre-paid type services and other new ideas.
have one distinct advantage. Sprint has more spectrum than any other wireless
carrier. This is a big advantage if they learn how to use it. Sprint was
recently acquired by Softbank and is presently in the process of also
they are successful in their reinvention, it will give them an advantage in the
competitive playing field. However it is important to recognize that other
competitors are not just sitting around. They are speeding up their connections
it will be interesting to see whether Sprint has a competitive advantage when
they roll this out or not. I hope they can start doing well once again. The
industry can really use several strong competitors.
Can Eventually Compete, But Needs to Recover First
Sprint, T-Mobile is the other wireless carrier to watch. They were crashing and
burning for years. They missed the move from 2G to 3G and fell way behind.
Crashing and burning, T-Mobile hired a new CEO one year ago. He has already made
some very interesting moves and T-Mobile seems to be benefiting.
just reported the second quarter in a row of growth. That was the first time in
a long time. The question is can that continue? The next question is, if so,
where will these customers come from, larger or smaller competitors?
wants to challenge and change the wireless space. They want to change the way we
pay for wireless services. Will they be successful? First things first. Let them
start to recover first. As good as they are doing, they are still a smaller and
remains one of the fastest growing sectors. It is also one of the fastest
changing sectors. That however does not mean every competitor wins. Some win and
and losers can be found on both the network side and the handset side. Just
compare Apple (AAPL) , Google (GOOG) and
Samsung to everyone else and you’ll see what I mean.
the Winners is the Name of the Game
carriers and handset makers will be in the winner’s circle in 2014? That is
the real question. While there is no way to tell yet, I would expect change to
occur. Then again, in wireless, change always occurs.
leaders have the edge. It’s theirs to lose. Other competitors want to win
business from them. So the big winners have a target on their back.
years ago Blackberry (BBRY) and
Nokia (NOK) were the leaders and
smartphones were a smaller segment. Today those companies are struggling, and
Apple, Google and Samsung are the leaders and the market is all about
came the tablets, like the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy. Now the smartwatch is
being launched with several new companies like Samsung, Qualcomm (QCOM) and many others as well.
the real question is, what will this wireless marketplace look like in the next
few years? That innovation will lead? What should we keep alert for? All I can
tell you is that it will be defined by change, and the reinvention of the
wireless marketplace. And next year will look very different than this year.
Kagan +Follow November 26,
- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-what-will-at-t-verizon-sprint-t-mobile-look-like-in-2014#sthash.nKw8ae0f.dpuf
and Verizon May Start to Sweat in 2014
5:00 AM PT
AT&T and Verizon have done well until now in their different business
sectors. Now they are preparing for 2014. What will 2014 look like? What new
technology will we be talking about during the course of the coming year? What
new ideas will begin to take hold? What companies, large or small, will start
making a dent? We'll just have to buckle up for one helluva ride.
and Verizon, the leading telecom service providers in the U.S., are growing in
several different sectors. They offer the widest variety of services, including
wireless, landline telephone, Internet protocol television and high-speed
Internet access. They are also the biggest targets. If 2014 will see lots of
change, how will that impact AT&T, Verizon -- and you?
the 1990s it was a lot easier to discuss these companies, because they were
simple local phone companies. This century, they have changed and grown into
many different areas. They are competing with different companies in different
ways than before.
fact, the entire industry is preparing for new waves of growth. Will AT&T
and Verizon continue to lead? Yes, but things may look different. Some sectors
will continue growing, while others will crest, as local phone lines did. They
were in growth mode until about 10 years ago. Since then, they have been
companies like AT&T and Verizon to companies like Sprint and T-Mobile. Two
rapidly grew, and two struggled. However, both Sprint and T-Mobile now are
preparing for growth. That is a threat to the current leaders.
important to pull back the camera and look at all the sectors AT&T and
Verizon compete in and gauge how well they are doing in each. They currently
have about 70 percent of the marketplace. Going forward, they will remain
strong, growth companies.
they will see strong growth in some sectors and weakness in others -- and they
will face different competitors and challenges in each segment.
one segment is actually declining, though -- local phone service. Its growth
crested around the year 2000, and it has been falling ever since.
and Verizon have started new growth waves over the years, which accounts for
their solid growth today. When you look at these companies you still may want to
call them "local phone companies," but they are growing beyond phone
into television, wireless, Internet and other sectors.
they sell IPTV services, they compete with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox.
the wireless industry, they compete with each other as well as Sprint, T-Mobile,
US Cellular, C-Spire and others.
providing local phone and IP services, they compete with companies like
CenturyLink, Windstream and TW telecom.
sector has its own group of competitors and technologies -- and each requires a
different competitive strategy.
AT&T and Verizon are rapidly growing in their newer business sectors. In
fact, in the markets where AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS compete against
cable television competitors like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox, the
telephone companies have just reached the 50 percent market share mark.
an incredible accomplishment. However, that's only in the markets where they
compete. Cable television still has a much larger footprint, so overall the
cable television companies still are in the lead.
change is coming. AT&T and Verizon are shaking up the cable television
industry with their IPTV services, but the entire TV space is about to be shaken
up by new technology and competitors.
look at what Aereo has started to do. This is a tiny company with an innovative
idea at a lower cost -- and there are plenty more competitors that are potential
change agents as well.
AT&T and Verizon both compete with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox on the
television and Internet side.
compete with Sprint and T-Mobile on the wireless side, and they compete with
every new and innovative idea that comes down the pike, of which there are
plenty on all sides.
and T-Mobile may be getting ready to move. T-Mobile is repairing its bad network
under a new CEO and is starting to grow again.
has been acquired by Softbank and is in the process of building its wireless
capabilities once again. In fact, Sprint is building out the ability to offer
very high-speed wireless data services. Add to that the fact that Sprint has
more wireless data spectrum than both AT&T and Verizon, and you can see the
potential threat that is building in the wireless industry.
else? There's another new wave called "super high-speed Internet."
Google started this in Kansas City and is succeeding. Recently AT&T revealed
its plans to do the same in Austin, Texas, and C-Spire is gearing up to do the
same in Mississippi. These are the very early days in what may become a rapidly
growing and competitive segment.
the Internet gets faster, customers will change from being excited about this
new innovation to expecting it from all providers. When that happens, I expect
to see companies like Verizon and Comcast enter the competition in market after
market, which will change this new segment as well.
too early to tell who will eventually emerge as the industry leaders.
and Verizon are working with other industries like automotive, healthcare and
retail, helping them transform themselves for an increasingly wireless future.
This is another huge new opportunity and growth wave for the industry.
is more, but you get the point. Both AT&T and Verizon have done well until
now in their different business sectors. Now they are preparing for 2014. What
will 2014 look like? What new technology will we be talking about during the
course of the coming year? What new ideas will begin to take hold? What
companies, large or small, will start making a dent?
just have to buckle up for one helluva ride. This industry keeps reinventing
itself. It seems to be a different place every few years. I wonder what we'll be
talking about in 2014 that isn't on the radar yet.
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.
See more at: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/ATT-and-Verizon-May-Start-to-Sweat-in-2014-79481.html#sthash.ozNo2Clb.dpuf
21, 2013 6:00AM
Mentioned: AAPL QCOM
SmartWatch is the newest innovation in the tech industry and it was just
launched a few short months ago by Samsung. Qualcomm (QCOM) is getting ready for
their launch in early December. Many other companies are getting ready to enter
the fray as well. Will the smartwatch be as successful as tablet computers?
Samsung just announced their initial sales numbers, so let’s take a closer
these smartwatches require them to be hooked up to a smartphone, we can safely
assume sales numbers will not exceed smartphone numbers. With that said, how
many smartphone users want a smartwatch?
is a new industry segment. Sure there are other watches that call themselves
smartwatches, but they are not the same type device. They track your steps or
heartbeat while exercising, but they don’t let you check your email, surf the
web or make phone calls.
have just entered the first wave of customer sales. There is no history. The
numbers will change as other competitor’s jump in, technology is compared, and
customers decide whether they need these new devices. So smartwatches will
either be a big success long term, or not. It’s too early to tell at this
first few months of sales reported by Samsung looks promising. Samsung
Electronics said its Galaxy Gear has become the world’s most popular
smartwatch. They said sales were 800,000 since its launch just two months ago.
This sounds good so far. Nothing to blow the doors off, but solid.
it’s important to take this with a grain of salt. Yes, there are other
smartwatches in the marketplace, but they are not connected to the smartphone
and do not deliver what the Galaxy Gear does.
for that reason, it’s important to realize we are starting a new wave of
consumer product. With that said, Samsung is the first and no other company has
launched their smartwatches yet.
when Samsung says its Galaxy Gear has become the world’s most popular
smartwatch, well, of course they are. They are the only company in that space
is in the marketplace for the holiday shopping season, which is important. They
should do well with these devices this season. Then we get to see what customers
think about them. We still want to know whether these will be a hit or not.
these devices really industry changing, life changing, or not? Remember, tablet
computers like the Apple (AAPL) iPad
are successful. However the previous version, the Netbook, which was a smaller
laptop, was not. So we have to wait and see.
is preparing to enter this fray with their Toq smartwatch on Cyber Monday. These
devices obviously have no sales numbers yet, but it will be interesting to see
how well they do in coming months.
real question here is does Qualcomm want to re-enter the product arena or are
they just launching this Toq as a showpiece of what they can do? This could be a
great sales tool for other smartwatch makers. Of course they would have to sell
well to make it all work.
over the next year or two, we will see other companies jumping into the space as
well. This will look very similar to the Netbook wars, and the tablet wars after
that. Who will win early is no guarantee of who will win long term.
will be several different steps over several years. The first step is this
introduction. Customers love the sound of a smartwatch, but most will not buy
first thing. The early adopters will jump right in.
adopters know they have to deal with devices that don’t work perfectly yet,
but then again they have a helluva talking piece on their wrist to show off.
over the coming months, we’ll see the next wave jump in and try the devices,
as smartwatches get stronger and better. We’ll see other companies jump into
the space as well. The marketplace will change several times over the next
several years. Who will lead?
thing we will all be looking for is continued customer interest. Will this be an
ongoing success like the tablet seems to be, or will it come and go like the
all that said, there are still loads of questions. We’ll just have to keep our
eyes on this segment to see whether it is a big success or not. Early on I would
expect there to be lots of excitement and interest. The question is, will it be
long term or not? We’ll just have to wait and see.
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(ERIC) Predicts Rapid Wireless Data Growth
14, 2013 12:35PM
(ERIC) says we should expect rapid changes in wireless, and that
smartphone subscriptions will reach 5.6 billion by 2019. Today we are at 1.9
billion. That will mean different handsets and new areas of growth. So what will
the wireless world look like tomorrow? You may be surprised.
of all it’s important to recognize that Ericsson is in the business. So when
they issue a report that traffic will grow tenfold by the year 2019, and the
device market will explode with growth, we must take that with a grain of salt.
the other hand, I must agree with Ericsson on their prediction. However I would
go further. The future is not just about smartphones. It’s also about
transforming the entire business community to use wireless data to compete in
wireless growth will look very different by 2019. We can expect a vibrant
marketplace, with incredible growth, but things will look very different. Then
again, it has also changed dramatically over the last five years as well.
of the companies that lead the wireless space today won’t in 2019. Many new
companies and technologies that will lead may not even exist yet.
look at the last five years as an example. The Apple
(AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG)
Android started just six years ago and changed the entire smartphone
segment. Before that Blackberry (BBRY) and
that says is it can be impossible to predict what the marketplace will look like
five or ten years out. During the last five years we have seen the entire
wireless space transform both technologies and companies.
what will the industry look like in another five years? We can make predictions,
but we must also be aware that surprises happen all the time. I never assume
anyone knows what the marketplace will look like more than a few years out.
That’s the nature of wireless innovation.
is one of the fastest growing segments in business today. In fact it is also one
of the most often and fastest changing industries we have ever seen, both here
in the US and worldwide.
many areas of the world, the costs and limits of a wired world mean the wireless
network is the only way to communicate. In fact the same may be true right here
in the United States. Just look at how Verizon (VZ)
is not rebuilding in many areas after last year’s Hurricane Sandy.
pretty safe to say some of the wireless carriers will likely continue to be
winners. Look at AT&T Mobility (T)
and Verizon Wireless as an example. Today they account for roughly 70
percent of the marketplace.
they continue this lead? Impossible to say today, but they are both ahead of the
curve so I expect they will at this point.
(S) and T-Mobile (TMUS) are
number three and four. One year ago they were both failing, but things change.
Today they are trying to reinvent themselves.
was acquired by Softbank and is building a very fast wireless Internet.
T-Mobile’s new CEO seems to be breathing new life into their lungs. So over
the next year or two these companies may start to win an increasing amount of
know how the smartphone world and network speeds are rapidly growing. That
won’t stop. But where else will wireless growth come from?
will come from unexpected places. Consider how the wireless industry is helping
industry after industry move forward.
at the automotive industry. It is rapidly moving forward, and it’s not just
Tesla, Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac. It’s also Ford, Chevy, Toyota and Honda.
Actually, one by one all the carmakers are jumping into this wireless data
space. This competitive threat in automotive, is also an enormous opportunity
for the wireless industry going forward.
at healthcare. Wireless data is changing that space as well, both for doctors
and for patients. New devices are transforming the entire space. Not only do
doctors and hospitals use it, but increasingly patients are as well. Smartphone
apps that are real healthcare tools used to link patients to doctors for better
at retail. Walk into a store and you get a welcome text message. It also knows
you, what you purchased before, asks what you are looking for today, and not
only directs you to the place in the store you are looking for, but also sends
you a personalized coupon.
area after area, and industry after industry, this is going to be one of the big
growth areas in wireless in coming years. And we are really just in the very
early days of this new revolution.
what else will we be talking about in coming years as the wireless industry
continues to grow and change everything?
seems to think there is plenty of opportunity going forward. They see lower
priced smartphones enticing new waves of customers, in country after country.
expect mobile subscribers to reach 9.3 billion by 2019. They expect to see the
number of mobile broadband subscribers grow to four times the size of today’s
market, growing to 8 billion, from 2 billion today. They see smartphone
subscribers growing to 5.6 billion, from 1.9 billion today.
also expects the amount of data used by each smartphone to grow to four times
today’s market. Ericsson also expects 90 percent of the world’s population
to be using WSDMA/HSPA technology, and 65 percent to be covered by LTE or Long
Term Evolution by 2019.
we have quite a long way to go to reach those numbers, but growth in wireless
continues. Now that growth with expensive gear is slowing, the less expensive
handsets are starting to sell. This welcomes in new waves of users, worldwide
and they all get hooked on wireless data.
this changing marketplace, it’s important to recognize that some companies and
ideas will succeed, while others will not. Some of today’s leaders will give
way to tomorrow’s leaders. Choosing the right companies and technologies to
invest in is always the challenge.
that said, while this Ericsson study is very interesting and sounds exciting,
take it with a grain of salt. They could be right. Then again, the industry
could go down an entirely different path that we are not even aware of today.
Remember Apple and Google? It happens all the time.
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Mystery of the Inscrutably Curved Smartphone Screen
5:00 AM PT
Privately held businesses don't have to continually rush to do something new so they can sell more this year than last. Public companies need to sell more, year after year, to keep investors happy and stock prices up. If they've maxed out on sales, they had better come up with something else or they are in trouble. Perhaps that's the starting point for interest in these curved screens.
you wish someone had the courage to tell the Emperor he's naked? What am I
talking about? Curved smartphone screens. Think about it -- over the last few
months, there's been a lot of chatter about Apple, Samsung, LG and others
getting ready to launch smartphones with curved screens. Sounds cool, but what
the heck is the point?
writing this I asked several executives in the wireless industry for their
opinion. I thought that I must be missing something. After all, companies are
all excited about offering this, and the media seems excited to write about it.
The problem is they're all saying the same thing: They don't get it either.
makers are lousy at PR. They should do a much better job of explaining what the
heck this is all about. After all, if customers don't get it, and executives
don't get it, and investors don't get it, what's the point?
Are the Curved Apps?
if the handset makers like Apple, Samsung and LG put a curved screen smartphone
in every customer's hands, what will that do? Will it change the experience?
Will the customer be able to do anything different or new? What apps are
screaming for a curved screen?
simple answer is none of them.
the point is coming down the road. The best I can figure is this has something
to do with the future. It's about paving the roads before the cars that need
them are built. You know -- a build it and they will come scenario. That's what
the industry did with the entire smartphone revolution. One step at a time.
smartphones and apps, they explained till they were blue in the face. No one
cared -- not until the first iPhone rolled into the marketplace six years ago,
that why they are still keeping mum about curved screens? Who knows? Curved
screens are not a big deal today, but perhaps this is about preparing for
Up With the Competition
I'll bite. So what's the world going to look like tomorrow? What kind of world
requires curved screens? Anyone? Anyone? Oh no. Now I'm starting to sound like
Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller.
clear is that handset makers are moving rapidly in the same direction, so there
must be a there, there, right? None of them want to be left behind in the dust.
None of them want to occupy a marketplace where competitors with curved handsets
are speeding ahead.
I know. Perhaps it's like the big curved-screen TVs we've been hearing so much
about. If so, perhaps we can look at those and see what is the point and
compare. So... what's the point of these big curved-screen TVs? Back to square
this is a problem with business in the public marketplace. Privately held
businesses don't have to continually rush to do something new so they can sell
more this year than last. Public companies need to sell more, year after year,
to keep investors happy and stock prices up. If they've maxed out on sales, they
had better come up with something else or they are in trouble.
that's the starting point for interest in these curved screens. That was the
point with the entire smartphone revolution right? Everyone had a cellphone. So
how can we earn more? Smartphones and apps, that's how. Is this more of the same
Next New Must-Have Thing
will be interesting ito see how the industry finally starts marketing these
curved screens and how it turns them into something everyone needs. I'll bet
that's exactly what the manufacturers have in mind.
we'll have to keep our eyes open. Let's see who introduces one next and consider
how they could change our lives -- what new features they might bring to the
will the manufacturers finally start telling us about the benefits they will
bring? If they have some secret plan in store for these curved screens, they
should spend some time and money to educate the marketplace -- don't you think?
Just in case you're waiting for someone to say it, allow me. Hey, Emperor! Put your shorts on!
By Jeff Kagan
7, 2013 9:00AM
USA (TMUS) has been earning attention over this last year. Now they are earning
respect with two quarters of growth. This turnaround is in the very early
stages, and has been quite the surprise this year. Why are they suddenly doing
better? One answer is the direction and thinking of their new CEO John Legere.
But can it continue?
let’s take a look back at where T-Mobile comes from. T-Mobile was the number
four competitor until they lost their way several years ago.
years ago the first Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone
and Google Android-runningphones hit the streets and suddenly changed the
iPhone success often overwhelmed AT&T Mobility in those early days. They
were running as fast as they could to keep up with the avalanche of sudden
demand. They were the first carrier to offer the device and ushered in the new
smartphone revolution all carriers now enjoy.
sudden and immense success of the iPhone was the red flare fired to warn all
networks they needed to upgrade their wireless data networks. A wireless data
storm was coming. That wake up call to the industry said the future was all
carriers understood the opportunity. Some did not. Those who didn’t would
suffer for years to come.
that point, smartphones were growing slowly. The leaders were Palm, which
started the revolution in the 1990’s. Then Blackberry (BBRY) joined in. In the beginning neither of these companies were
wireless phones; the first Blackberry was a pager introduced in 1999, andtThe
first Palm was a personal calendar and organizer launched in the mid 1990’s.
fact it was 2003 before they added a wireless phone to their devices. There were
only a few hundred apps and growth was slow, but steady. Now, there are nearly a
demand for wireless data on the networks in that time rose very quickly.
That’s when we saw AT&T (T) and
Verizon Communications (VZ) invest
in bringing their networks up to speed. Today they both have very fast wireless
data networks that can carry enormous amounts of data.
use different technologies to bring speed to market, and their customers are
very happy with both - AT&T uses HSPA+ and LTE, while Verizon uses LTE.
(S) and T-Mobile did not adapt so
well. They did not invest in and deliver a faster signal. That meant neither
really offered the kind of speed customers suddenly wanted.
the last few years since both AT&T and Verizon had the lead in speed, they
won most of the customers. In fact these two carriers account for roughly 70
percent of the market share.
both Sprint and T-Mobile are in the very early stages of a recovery. Sprint was
recently acquired by Softbank and they are busily updating the network. They
have enormous wireless data spectrum at hand. More than any other carrier.
is going through a more immediate transformation ushered in by a new CEO John
Legere, formerly of Global Crossing. Legere joined T-Mobile roughly one year
ago, in late 2012.
is larger than life and let’s his mouth spout off four letter words which
really separates him from other CEO’s. Whatever you think if his approach, he
has punched his way into the spotlight and given T-Mobile a second chance.
a closer look at the last year you can see quite a bit of activity from
T-Mobile. Activity, which has led to a rapid turnaround from the company who was
failing. Now they are starting to stabilize and even show some growth.
has John Legere done for T-Mobile during the last year? Plenty. He stuck his
flag in the ground and changed the direction of the company.
forward T-Mobile is known as the ‘uncarrier’. Legere took a look at the
industry, and even though it has shown rapid growth, there were still areas he
says customers don’t like. He wanted to lower costs. He wanted to transform
first T-Mobile then the entire industry.
changed from a regular post-paid carrier like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and
looks more like a pre-paid carrier. He says this is one way for customers to cut
pay for their phone separate from their monthly service. They pay more for the
device then from other carriers, but they are not under contract for two years.
So bottom line they don’t pay more, they just pay differently. There were
quite a few other changes like acquiring MetroPCS and offering the iPhone.
AT&T and T-Mobile tried to merge a few short years ago, but regulators said
no. They were both too large. At the time, many said T-Mobile was a shadow of
its former self. At the time they were right.
much has changed over the last year. They transformed themselves from a company
who was dying on the vine, to a company with a second chance at life. Suddenly
they are up and running and competing once again.
John Legere jumped in and started pounding on T-Mobile’s chest. They have been
responding. Not bad for just a few months. What will come next? Will T-Mobile
continue its recovery and growth?
T-Mobile network is not as vast or as fast as that of AT&T or Verizon. When
Sprint recovers in the next year or two they may have a spectrum advantage as
well. Yet T-Mobile is still popping up on the radar. They are winning new
just announced their quarterly earnings and showed growth. That’s two quarters
in a row of growth. That is very different. That is very encouraging.
question is will that continue? Is this move up good for the long-term?
depends on what’s next. If they keep growing and keep changing themselves and
the entire industry then the answer could be yes. The next question is, will
they have an impact on the entire industry? It’s too early to tell.
however that T-Mobile, even though they are showing promise, it is still only a
little squirt in an industry of giants. Will they really have an impact on
AT&T and Verizon?
do so, this story would have to look like David vs. Goliath. So for now, let’s
just see whether Legere and T-Mobile can continue their growth and repair their
company. Then we can look out to see if they will change the industry.
Ready for World War TV
5:00 AM PT
and Verizon are now the fifth and sixth largest pay-TV providers in the United
States. They are after Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network.
Generally speaking, in markets where they compete, the phone companies are
winning. However, they don't compete in all markets. That's why cable television
companies still have the overall lead.
and Verizon have quietly been building a strong TV business. In fact, I read
last week that where they offer service, they have almost the same market share
as the cable television company leaders like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox.
That's an incredible accomplishment.
is changing. If you pull the camera back, the entire communications industry --
telephone, wireless, television and the Internet -- is changing. The economics
are changing. New technology and new competitors continue to jump in and change
will lead in tomorrow's marketplace? That's the question.
today's leaders continue to dominate, or will something upset the apple cart?
Before you assume anything, remember that this has happened before -- many
times, in fact. Over the last five years, Apple and Google changed the wireless
space with the iPhone and the Android operating system. Before they arrived on
the scene, BlackBerry and Nokia led -- and before them it was Palm. You remember
Palm, don't you?
can change quickly.
Television Side of the Industry
years ago, cable television was rapidly growing. There were basically two
choices: cable television or one of two satellite television services.
the Internet got faster and technology got better and cable television companies
started offering a VoIP telephone service. That's voice communications over the
Internet. They also tried to offer wireless plans, but that failed. Today, they
offer three services: cable television, VoIP telephone and high-speed Internet.
local phone companies were just entering the television space with IPTV --
basically, television over the Internet. Today phone companies offer four
services: telephone, wireless, television and Internet access.
the cities where they compete with cable television companies, phone companies
have won so much new business they are almost their equals. Why? Do customers
dislike their cable television companies? Or do they really like their phone
companies? Whatever the reason, the market is speaking.
the IPTV world, the big two local phone companies offer AT&T U-verse and
Verizon FiOS. They have both won more than 5 million new television customers so
far. AT&T has 5.3 million, and Verizon has 5.2 million. AT&T is growing
faster than Verizon right now, but both are strong.
and Verizon are the largest competitors to the cable television industry, and
companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox are currently losing market
and Verizon are both upgrading their customers from traditional DSL to new
hybrid fiber copper, using U-verse and FiOS. AT&T today has roughly 9.7
million U-verse Internet subscribers, an increase of 37 percent over the last
year. Verizon also has grown, now claiming 5.9 million FiOS Internet
looks like AT&T has 14.7 million high-speed residential data customers,
which is more than every other player in the U.S. except Comcast. Business
services are also showing strong television and Internet growth.
is Verizon not growing as fast as AT&T? Let me know if you have any thoughts
on this one.
television industry looks very different today than it did a handful of years
ago. Back then, it was a strong business with few competitors. Today there are
many more competitors, and there are new technologies.
shift is a threat to both the cable television companies and the telephone
companies that have the vast majority of customers and lead today. However,
along with the very real threats, there are real opportunities going forward.
Some companies will continue to do strong business and lead. Others will wither
under the pressure.
every leader understands how to continue leading. There are plenty of examples.
Just look at companies like Kodak and BlackBerry.
saw something similar in the late 1990s when Apple transformed the music
industry. Its iPod with music files changed the entire industry, providing an
alternative to the discs we used to buy. The same thing happened in the last
decade with movies. Today we see companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple
growing their movie businesses with files customers can download. At the same
time we see Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores shrivel and die.
same wave of change will pressure today's television industry. That means the
pressure is on both the telephone companies and cable television companies to
maintain their lead. Will today's leaders continue to lead? Or will a new wave
of companies sweep in and transform the television space?
and Verizon are now the fifth and sixth largest pay-TV providers in the United
States. They are after Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network.
Generally speaking, in markets where they compete, the phone companies are
winning. However, they don't compete in all markets. That's why cable television
companies still have the overall lead.
will that change over the next several years? Who else will enter and change the
marketplace? There is one thing I can say for sure: Change is coming. Change
always comes. It redefines. So let's keep our eyes open for the wave of change
that will redefine the industry going forward. Things will get very interesting
from here on out.
Riding Shotgun as Tesla Drives Into the Future
5:00 AM PT
AT&T will benefit by being Tesla's first wireless partner. It will gain a very high-profile stage to roll out its innovations in the automobile sector. Anything a Tesla can do will get tons more ink than anything similar that a GM or Ford can do. Tesla has the spotlight for innovation right now. So AT&T is starting to position itself for the next wave of growth.
do AT&T, Tesla and iPhone work so well together? They don't play it safe.
They all have the guts to drag us kicking and screaming into the future.
AT&T was first to work with Apple on the iPhone, and it is first to work
with Tesla. So what's next?
at all the wireless carriers. AT&T and Verizon are the two largest in the
United States. They account for roughly 70 percent of the market. Although these
two companies are similar in size, they are miles apart in what makes them what
is more timid. It is never first to market. It is a fast follower. True, it
makes fewer mistakes that way, but it never leads the industry in a new
direction. It does not have its hands on the steering wheel. It is not captain
of the ship. When others create a new market segment, Verizon eventually comes
kicking and screaming to the opportunity.
is the company that had the guts to say yes and lead the wireless industry into
the new world of wireless smartphone devices, apps and services. Sure, it took
plenty of arrows, but leaders often do. With true Texas entrepreneurial spirit,
AT&T paved the way for the rest of the industry. True, AT&T had no way
of knowing the kind of future that was coming, but that's the point. It went
back a little more than six years ago, when Apple was getting into the
smartphone business with the iPhone. Since Verizon could not control every
aspect of the Apple universe, it said no. Imagine that. That meant it lost out
on a huge opportunity for growth over the years, as well as a chance to steer
the industry. Who led? AT&T did.
AT&T is taking another step into the unknown with the car maker Tesla.
Electric cars are popping up everywhere from coast to coast and are attracting
quite a bit of attention from buyers, investors and the media.
that reason alone, AT&T will benefit by being Tesla's first wireless partner
-- but wait, there's more.
gives AT&T a very high-profile stage to roll out its innovations in the
automobile sector. Anything a Tesla can do will get tons more ink than anything
similar that a GM or Ford can do. Tesla has the spotlight for innovation right
AT&T is starting to position itself for the next wave of growth -- just as
it rapidly moved into the smartphone space 10 years ago, well before anyone
else, and just as it embraced the iPhone revolution six years ago. Now AT&T
is entering the next wave of growth, partnering with other companies to
revolutionize entire industries. This is happening in healthcare, retail and
has been embracing the high-tech wireless smartphone world in the last few
years, and the trend is growing. Toyota and Lexus let you connect your
smartphone to their cars with the Entune and Enform systems. This lets you get
live traffic on your navigation system, live weather and other Web-based
features directly from your smartphone. The same thing is happening with most
other car makers like GM, Ford, Mercedes, BMW and so on.
on a Limb
still have a lot to learn about this new segment. The good news is you get all
sorts of wireless magic available in your car. The bad news is you use wireless
minutes from your smartphone data plan. We'll figure it out. After all, we are
just in the very early days.
going to be lots of noise in the auto space, so it's going to be harder than
ever to be heard. What's the solution? Partnering with a hot new company that
everyone follows -- like Tesla -- sounds like a great idea. That's exactly where
AT&T has planted itself -- just as it did with Apple years ago.
said, don't think this race is over. It is just the beginning. I fully expect
other carriers to jump in and take advantage of other PR opportunities like this
one in industry after industry.
am very excited to see what will be coming next. Automotive is really being
dragged into the wireless future. It is doing plenty right and wrong, but it is
moving ahead. There are plenty of lessons to learn, but these are just the early
though I have taken plenty of swings at AT&T, along with every other major
competitor in the space over time, I have to admit it is the largest and most
successful risk taker. It is an important player that is successfully ushering
innovative ideas into the smartphone universe.
good news is that AT&T is still very Cingular in its focus. So thanks,
AT&T and Tesla. After all, somebody has to have the guts to drag us into
tomorrow. We're always waiting to see what's coming next -- and there is always
something coming next.
Should Read Customers' Lips on Windows 8
5:00 AM PT
Forcing Windows 8 down everyone's throat will hurt the Microsoft brand, and Nokia smartphones and tablets won't solve this problem. The Windows 8.1 fix doesn't make it any better. For the few customers who like Windows 8, 8.1 makes it a little easier to use. However, for those who don't like Windows 8, there's no improvement. Most customers are not used to and simply don't like tiles.
tasked with deciding which technologies their companies should buy said a year
ago that they didn't think Windows 8 would work for them. Consumers didn't like
it either. It doesn't appear that any of them have changed their minds. The vast
majority of companies and consumers are staying as far away from Windows 8 as
they can. It is too different and confusing in their view. So what's going to
happen next? Can Nokia help?
companies actually would have preferred to stay with Windows XP, but Microsoft
did not give them that option. It put an expiration date on XP, forcing users to
upgrade. The choice is whether to upgrade to the more familiar Windows 7 or the
new and completely different Windows 8?
will choose Windows 8; however, the vast majority will go to Windows 7. That
means the Windows 8 path that Microsoft wants to lead everyone down is just not
agreeable. Will that matter to Microsoft? Of course it should -- but based on
their past behavior, who really knows?
will be changing CEOs soon. Will the new CEO head down the Windows 8 path? If
so, Microsoft will have to pay a steep price.
think Microsoft should focus on both Windows 7 and 8 and let customers choose
which OS they want. To many, Windows 8 is too far out there. Customers can still
get 7, but it's much more difficult to find. It should be as easy as clicking an
will soon be acquired by Microsoft. Will that help? It depends on the direction
the new CEO wants to take.
real problem here is that Microsoft and its customers are not on the same page.
Microsoft wants to change and grow, so it figured the best way would be to
totally reinvent its operating system and tie it in with its tablets and
smartphones. However, customers don't want to have to go through another
users have no interest in investing time and aggravation in trying to understand
the new Windows 8 operating system. They are just fine with Windows 7.
customers, whether business or consumers, have their own lives to live and
businesses to run. They don't have the time to spend getting warmed up to a new
operating system. This would benefit Microsoft -- but it does not the company's
the rub, Microsoft! You are not thinking about your customers -- only yourself.
is up to Microsoft to develop something its customers really want -- something
that will offer new features and functionality; something that will work with
computers, tablets and smartphones; most importantly, something they can use
without any help.
fact, Microsoft should develop a new front end that makes Windows 8 work like
Windows 7. That would be a perfect solution. Let the customer choose which way
they want to use the OS. It would solve the problem altogether.
why the hell doesn't Microsoft just do that?
are confused by Windows 8. Business customers are responsible for training their
workers and keeping them operational. That means their support people will be
overloaded. They see Windows 8 as a train wreck.
have a business to run, and consumers have a life to live. Tthey wonder how
Microsoft has the nerve to put them out like this, once again -- especially when
today there is serious competition trying to win Microsoft customers. Companies
like Google, Apple, and many others have Microsoft in their sights.
message to Microsoft: Wake up and listen to your customers before it's too late.
Give them what they want. Sure, you can create a new operating system if you
want to. However, don't force existing and otherwise happy customers into the
uncomfortable space of having to learn a completely new and different OS.
done a great job over the last few decades. Customers are used to Microsoft
operating systems. Most customers have no desire to change. It's part of the
brand relationship with users.
Microsoft, it's up to you to make each change transparent -- to take care of
your customers; to keep the value of your brand strong. Otherwise, your
customers will have no reason to stay put.
Windows 8 down everyone's throat will hurt the Microsoft brand, and Nokia
smartphones and tablets won't solve this problem.
Windows 8.1 fix doesn't make it any better. For the few customers who like
Windows 8, 8.1 makes it a little easier to use. However, for those who don't
like Windows 8, there's no improvement. Most customers are not used to and
simply don't like tiles. It's not the brand relationship they have with
time for a Coca-Cola New Coke re-do. Admit you screwed up and give customers
what they really want. That's the only real solution. That will make customers
much closer with you on an emotional level.
the very least, let users choose whether they want to use Windows 7 or 8. If you
force them into the Windows 8 box, it will be a very big mistake and could cause
significant customer loss.
the very, very least, put a front end on Windows 8 that works like Windows 7 to
keep your customers happy.
5:00 AM PT
T-Mobile has not only been highlighting how it wants to fill the industry potholes, but it is also poking AT&T Mobility in the ribs at every opportunity. Why would it do this? I think it's because it wants to attract the attention of the media and the marketplace. Yet T-Mobile is now starting to cross over the line of good taste. If it continues, this could harm it.
USA is really trying to shake things up. Now it is offering free, unlimited,
international, wireless data and texts -- something other carriers charge for.
Feature after feature, T-Mobile seems like it is really trying to start on its
recovery path. So is it recovering? Let's take a look.
has been the No. 4 wireless competitor for many years. It still is. However,
after years of holding its own, the company's growth fell off the tracks several
years ago. It missed the jump to smartphones and didn't upgrade to 3G in the
network along with Sprint, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless.
losing tons of customers and revenues, T-Mobile finally realized it made a big
mistake. It woke up. It started investing in upgrading the network to 3G, though
by that time all the competitors were already planning to start their 4G
4G as a golden marketing opportunity, a few years ago T-Mobile jumped on the PR
bandwagon after completely missing the 3G upgrade. It stuck its flag in the
ground and claimed it was the first to start the 4G race. It hoped no one would
remember the truth.
sounded good, but it was heavy on the frosting and light on the cake. Over the
last few years both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility kept growing and
upgrading and today have roughly 70 percent of the market. Sprint fell off the
growth track, but is now rebuilding with the help of Softbank. And T-Mobile,
with all its spit and vinegar, is still struggling for survival.
Gains, Long-Term Pain?
forward to today. T-Mobile has a new CEO and marketing executives. It has been
busy rebuilding and updating the network and offerings. It has also been busy
reinventing what T-Mobile is in the marketplace. In fact, it says it wants to
update the entire industry, not just itself. This sounds great, because as good
as the U.S. wireless marketplace is, there is plenty of room for improvement.
numbers say both AT&T and Verizon plan on reaching 300 million people with
their LTE services. Sprint is planning on reaching 200 million by the end of
2013, with more to come. T-Mobile is planning on reaching 225 million when it is
finally complete. There's no denying that 225 million is a far cry from 300
million. So that's a big weakness for T-Mobile. The weakness is outside of city
often customers want coverage, even if they won't ever use it. While T-Mobile is
fast, its coverage is not as vast. This could get in the way of its growth.
any case, T-Mobile's "uncarrier" position seems to have struck a nerve
with a slice of the consumer pie. It is doing a good job at reinventing itself,
and it is growing once again. I am pleased to finally see this.
the same time, however, while I think what T-Mobile is doing will help it grow
short-term, it is also playing a dangerous game that could bite it in the rear
end down the road.
has not only been highlighting how it wants to fill the industry potholes, but
it is also poking AT&T Mobility in the ribs at every opportunity. Why would
it do this?
think it's because it wants to attract the attention of the media and the
marketplace. Yet T-Mobile is now starting to cross over the line of good taste.
If it continues, this could harm it.
AT&T? T-Mobile thinks AT&T has more unhappy customers. Maybe this came
from five years ago, when AT&T was the only carrier offering the Apple
iPhone and was totally overwhelmed with customer usage demands. No carrier at
that time could have handled the pressure any better, but AT&T caught the
brunt of that storm. However, it's important to remember that even though there
were complaints, customers stayed with AT&T.
AT&T is an excellent quality carrier and does not have to take a back seat
to any other carrier. It has even been winning national awards for customer
satisfaction and quality, placing it at the top of the wireless heap -- even
better than Verizon Wireless in many areas.
than trying to attract media attention at AT&T's expense, T-Mobile should be
focusing on what it is doing to reinvent itself and the entire industry.
should be focused on big ideas like reducing costs and offering innovative
services at no additional charge. It should be putting focus on all the
industry-reshaping things it started to talk about months ago. That would help
it going forward.
I love the wireless industry, there is still plenty that needs to be fixed from
the customer perspective. That's what T-Mobile should focus on. That's what will
get it the good kind of attention it really needs and wants.
future of T-Mobile is in its hands. Everyone hopes it wins, including customers,
workers, investors and partners, but only if it has the right attitude and lifts
the industry up.
Let's hope it gets the message in time.
9:12 AM PT
Quietly regrouping behind the scenes isn't enough. Sprint should regularly be talking to the marketplace. If it doesn't want to tell the whole story due to corporate or competitive secrets, fine -- but it must feed the flames. It must show how it is changing and how it will reinvent itself and perhaps the industry. It's tough to restart a fire after it goes out.
has been holding its breath while under water for a painfully long time. Several
months ago, it surfaced for a gulp of air on news it would be acquired by
Softbank. Since then, I've been listening for the buzz about the new Sprint --
but so far, I'm just hearing crickets.
is a mistake. Investors, customers, workers and competitors know Sprint will
change, but they are uncomfortable not knowing how. They are all anxiously
waiting for some kind of signal.
CEO Masayoshi Son said last week that Sprint investors need patience -- perhaps
up to two years of patience. This is the first signal of things to come. At
least, we know how long we'll have to wait -- but we need more. We need a road
map, of sorts.
today's media-centric world, keeping up the excitement is key to success, but
Sprint has had trouble with this. When the excitement started to build over the
Softbank deal, I hoped the company had learned to build on the sizzle and not
just count on the steak.
There's No Smoke
would hate to see the spark that Sprint and Softbank created die, but the early
signs aren't good. It's not too late, though. After creating the spark, the
companies should fan it till it becomes a small flame, then continually feed the
fire to make sure it continues. This is necessary for success in the marketplace
should regularly be talking to the marketplace. If it doesn't want to tell the
whole story due to corporate or competitive secrets, fine -- but it must feed
the flames. It must show how it is changing and how it will reinvent itself and
perhaps the industry. It's tough to restart a fire after it goes out.
Son has answered some key questions. He has asked for patience. It will take at
least six months for any signs of change to appear, he said. It will take a year
or two for real change to be apparent. For better or worse, Son has created a
time frame that Sprint will now be held to.
resetting our alarms, but we still don't know if there's a there, there. Either
the new Sprint will successfully transform the company -- and perhaps the entire
industry -- or it won't.
for keeping the spark that was created by the merger alive, that's critical from
a public relations and marketing perspective. You are either growing or
shrinking -- and it's important to keep growing.
have been several key executive departures recently. It's good to see Dan Hesse
remain as CEO. However, he has a hell of a job ahead of him -- transforming
Sprint, and keeping the marketing and public relations pumping during the
a lot of enthusiasm for Sprint to succeed. To do that, however, it needs to be a
player. Quietly regrouping behind the scenes isn't enough.
are just the first few pages of the first chapter in the new novel called The
Sprint of Tomorrow! There is still plenty of time. However, it is very important
for Sprint to stir the embers and start smoking before the spark goes out once
Hey Sprint, it would be a shame to blow all the goodwill you've built up over the last year during merger mania. Just share with us -- what will Sprint look like going forward?
Are Careening Down the Wrong Wireless Path
5:00 AM PT
Automakers are reaching out to attract the early adopters in the wireless industry rather than appeal to the majority of customers. Not everyone wants the same thing. Early adopters want new tech even though it's harder to understand and comes with some problems. Others want technology that's familiar. The problem is that automakers are courting only early adopters. This is a costly mistake.
automotive industry has begun to fully embrace wireless technology in recent
years, bringing more to the driver than ever before. However, automotive
companies don't fully understand wireless, and many are making a serious mistake
that could harm their brand and future sales.
made an important discovery this past week. I'd had my 2011 Toyota Highlander
for a couple years, but I had started to get the itch again. However, I really
loved that SUV and especially the navigation system. These days, even if I love
a car, I must also love the navigation system in order to buy.
was looking to get a newer Highlander with the same, great Nav system. A 2013
Highlander was available, but the Nav system was different, and I didn't like
it. That was the first sign of trouble. The earth started to shake under my
brand satisfaction with Toyota.
newer Highlander models have a smaller -- and in my opinion more complicated and
less enjoyable -- navigation system. It does more if you want more, but you need
to have a smartphone connected all the time, and it draws on the data plan. It
no longer gets live traffic from XM Satellite Radio. Instead, it comes via your
a smartphone to use is not a problem for me, since at any point in time I have
countless smartphones that I'm testing. Since the smartphone market is rapidly
growing, it seems logical from the carmakers' perspective to integrate them,
problem with that theory is that today only around 60 percent of us use
smartphones. As with cable television, we may never get to the point where 100
percent use them.
means people who don't use smartphones are left out. Otherwise happy and loyal
Toyota customers who simply don't own a smartphone are ignored. They cannot get
live traffic, weather, news or any other apps they like to use.
like Toyota, which should be competing in an entire marketplace. may really only
be competing for roughly 60 percent of the market -- those who own a smartphone.
Does that make sense?
is ignoring 40 percent of the marketplace -- and to make matters worse, not
everyone who has a smartphone uses an unlimited plan. Those who don't may not
link their phones to the car out of fear of large monthly wireless bills --
bills that didn't exist under the previous plan.
neither AT&T Mobility nor Verizon Wireless offers unlimited data. Would
their customers feel comfortable hooking up and using a ton of minutes and
getting an extra bill at the end of every month? These two carriers cover
roughly 80 percent of the market.
other 20 percent is split between companies like Sprint, T-Mobile and C Spire,
which do offer unlimited plans. While unlimited is good, is 20 percent of the
marketplace really all that companies like Toyota want to pursue?
question is this: Does Toyota understand it is cutting off its nose to spite its
face? It's not just Toyota, either. This is true of every automaker. Does it
make sense to compete in a much smaller marketplace because of this mistake?
This should be an obvious pothole to avoid, so why is Toyota driving right into
get me wrong. I like Toyota. In fact we have three Toyotas right now. I want to
keep buying Toyota, except it is burning its brand bridge with me and with
others. It is running away, since it is ignoring the navigation quandary. Give
customers what they want -- or lose them.
I decided to hold onto my existing Highlander because of the navigation issue.
Toyota missed a new car sale. Plus, I started to think about what other brands I
would consider. There are plenty of other brands -- like Ford, GM, Chevy, Honda
-- plus the luxury brands like Lexus, Mercedes, Cadillac, Acura, Infinity and
many more. This could be disastrous for Toyota -- wait, not just for Toyota, but
for every carmaker trying to build a brand and hang onto customers.
I looked around, it became obvious that many other auto manufacturers were
heading in the same misguided direction. Will they get it before it's too late?
hope this column will be a wakeup call to the automotive industry. You found
this new terrific technology you can use to build your brand. Great. However,
you must continue to give customers what they want to keep them loyal to you.
You cannot market like you did in the past. You must look at how wireless is
marketed. It's very different.
that you are building your brand in this direction and getting drivers more
interested in this kind of technology, you must market differently. One choice
may not be enough any longer. You will lose business unless you can crack this
when I stumbled across the answer. I was getting an oil change and noticed the
Toyota 4Runner SUV in the showroom. This is a similar SUV in size -- and the
good news is the 2013 models offer a choice of two different navigation systems.
One is the traditional Toyota system that I am used to, and the other is the new
Entune system, which requires a smartphone.
two options are very different. The point is some customers want one while
others want the other. Isn't that why computer manufacturers and smartphone
makers create different versions to choose from? Isn't that the same as some
customers wanting cloth and others wanting leather seats and all the other
choices in the automotive industry? Of course it is.
line, this past weekend I traded in the Highlander, which I really loved, and
got a new 4Runner. Hey Toyota, isn't that good news? Of course it is. You sold
another brand new car, which you almost missed out on. You kept me in your
brand. If you want to keep me and all your customers there, you had better wake
up -- and quickly.
is the important lesson to be learned by every carmaker. Give customers choice
and give them what they want, and you'll keep building your brand loyalty.
Don't, and you'll lose.
customers the choices they prefer will let you increase sales. Period.
makes sense to me. The only question is whether this choice will continue or
whether Toyota will go down the single focus path like every other automaker
I and everyone else who buys new cars will buy another new Toyota in the next
couple years will depend on what the company does -- and remember, it's not just
about Toyota, but every carmaker.
is a lesson using Toyota as the example, but every other carmaker should learn
the same lesson. Give customers what they want, and you'll continue building
your brand loyalty with them. Do not, and you'll lose them. Period.
Road Will BlackBerry Travel?
5:00 AM PT
So BlackBerry is going private. The earth may not be shaking under your boots, but for BlackBerry this is huge news. This is one of many different choices the ailing company had, but believe it or not, going private may be the best scenario for BlackBerry at this time. Before it goes this route, though, it is looking for better offers. Shopping around comes with some peril.
write quite a few columns every week and every once in a while something changes
and I have to rewrite. That happened Monday.
BlackBerry news of last Friday was bleak, with a billion-dollar loss and the
cutting of 40 percent of its workforce. It looked as though BlackBerry was
crashing and burning. Even though this was terrible news, I knew it had several
different options. It was up to the company to decide which direction it wanted
to go next.
news surfaced that Fairfax Financial Holdings wanted to acquire BlackBerry and
take it private.
column was already written, outlining the choices ahead for the ailing
smartphone maker -- but when BlackBerry indicated the direction it wanted to go,
I obviously had to revise.
deal is not yet done, though, so BlackBerry is still shopping around. It's sort
of like watching the TV show Shark Tank. The guest has one offer on the table,
but wants to shop it around to the other sharks to get a better deal, while not
losing the first offer. Sometimes it works -- but sometimes all is lost. What
will it be with BlackBerry?
has been trying to reinvent itself over the last few years. It just has not been
successful at it in the public eye. Perhaps if it could do its work hidden from
public scrutiny, things would be better. Perhaps. That would mean it would
really have to understand what the market and its customers really want.
way, BlackBerry will be a much smaller company. So the BlackBerry that we have
grown to know over the last decade or two is simply gone. Its next job is to try
and reinvent itself.
sounds quite a bit like Motorola, doesn't it? Motorola led the handset business
for decades until the late 1990s. Since then, it struggled for more than a
decade. Sure, it had one hit, the Razr, but that was it.
it was a smaller company, it struck a deal with Google and Verizon Wireless and
created the Droid. That was successful, but only for a small segment of the
marketplace. However, it was enough to keep the company in business. Then Google
acquired Motorola, and its future is now as secure as a company can hope for.
we are looking at the early stages of the same kind of transformation with
BlackBerry. Reinventing is always a messy and time-consuming process, best not
done in the glare of the spotlight.
never want to see how the salami is made -- it's a messy process. That's why
reinventing a company should be private. Just ask Michael Dell. This is exactly
what Dell Computer is trying to do.
going private, BlackBerry can spend 100 percent of its time, attention and
energy reinventing itself. After losing a billion dollars and cutting 40 percent
of its workforce, the company will be much smaller and less important.
success still be in the cards for BlackBerry? Perhaps -- if it understands the
will take much more than downsizing and going private. It will take
understanding the changing opportunities of the marketplace. It will require
giving customers what they really want -- existing BlackBerry fans and new
customers as well.
will lead in the race of handset makers and operating systems going forward?
Obviously Apple, Google and Samsung. They currently control the market -- but
the market is huge and always open to something different. BlackBerry and
Microsoft Nokia have tiny slices of the pie, and they're hungry for more.
BlackBerry sees going private as an opportunity, it could do well. It has so far
not excited the marketplace. I have so many ideas to make its existing customers
happy and win new customers -- many industry observers do. Why does BlackBerry
not listen to the market?
BlackBerry will be able to reinvent itself and become a growth company once
again or whether it will just remain a small time competitor going forward is
way, going private and becoming a smaller company is a good place to start and
will ensure that BlackBerry will stick around for a while longer.
Wireless Hits the Ground Running
5:00 AM PT
Aio's launch was one of the most rapid, entrepreneurial rollouts I have seen in the wireless space. While you would have thought anything tied to an industry giant like AT&T would take longer and be slower moving, Aio appears to move at light speed, and that's exactly what a startup needs. This bootstrapping entrepreneurial company seems to have some unique strengths indeed.
week, I met with Aio Wireless, a subsidiary of AT&T. As an industry analyst
for almost 30 years, I have met with my share of companies -- new and old,
growing and struggling. They all want to put on a good front so I'll say nice
things about them. Each has its own special set of opportunities and challenges,
and that's the case with Aio Wireless. However, Aio seems to have four key
Wireless is among the rare set of startups that seem to have their ducks in a
row. It just started doing business a few months ago, so it's a brand spanking
you look at a new company, chaos is always in the air -- and Aio was no
exception. When I stopped by, it was rapidly expanding into the office building
next door. Young, energetic growth was bubbling in the air.
just went national within the last few weeks. Previously, it had services in a
select group of cities. That was smart, since it could iron out the rough edges
before the national rollout. As it begins its nationwide expansion, it is
offering services to any customer in any state in the U.S. Customers can order a
phone and service online or at new stores in a growing number of cities.
rapid rollout can present it's own set of challenges. I always see hiccups
during this period. So far, Aio seems to be handling this pressure well.
is a prepaid wireless carrier. The prepaid market is a rapidly growing force in
the marketplace, with several competitors vying for dominance. T-Mobile USA
offers a prepaid option, as do Tracfone, Straight Talk and others. Major
carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and others also offer a variety of
prepaid plans at their own stores under different brand names.
prepaid carriers don't offer top-of-the-line handsets. However, Aio Wireless
seems to break that mold. One of its key strengths is that it sells a variety of
top devices from four manufacturers -- Apple, Samsung, Nokia and ZTE -- and it
offers some of the newest and hottest from each. However, Aio is not overloaded
with choices. There are roughly a dozen different devices, mostly smartphones.
key strength is that Aio offers three simple plans to choose from. The only
difference is the amount of wireless data. Talk about simple. The average
customer's needs will be met by the lower- or middle-priced plan, both of which
include taxes in their pricing. So the price you see is the price you pay.
Period. I like that.
third key has to do with the quality and reliability of the Aio network. Because
it uses AT&T's network, that base is covered as well. Aio Wireless is a
completely entrepreneurial firm that just happens to be a wholly owned
subsidiary of AT&T. Imagine that.
fourth key is its president, Jennifer Van Buskirk. She was a 12-year AT&T
veteran with an idea and a vision. She brought it to AT&T, and they got
Aio Wireless is owned and supported by one of the largest and most successful
companies in the wireless space -- and in fact, the world -- while at the same
time it's a hot new entrepreneurial startup. Not too shabby, right?
said, the whole company is completely under the direction and control of Van
Buskirk, who has herself transformed from a corporate type to an entrepreneur.
launch was one of the most rapid, entrepreneurial rollouts I have seen in the
wireless space. While you would have thought anything tied to an industry giant
like AT&T would take longer and be slower moving, Aio appears to move at
light speed, and that's exactly what a startup needs.
Van Buskirk leading the company, AT&T as a network and financial partner,
and a great handset lineup, this bootstrapping entrepreneurial company seems to
have some unique strengths indeed.
prepaid market and wireless in general continue to grow and change. Aio Wireless
has a unique opportunity to capture a slice of that pie.
looking forward to following this new company as it faces successes and
challenges in the prepaid sector. The wireless industry grows and changes, and
new companies, ideas and technologies take the place of older ones. It will be
interesting to watch what happens next. Stay tuned.
5:00 AM PT
The Moto X is a solid, high-quality device with a few new and interesting features, thanks to Google. One of the best and most unique features, from my perspective, is that it's made in the USA. The return of some wireless device manufacturing is a good sign. Perhaps if the Moto X is a hit, it will entice other phone makers to manufacture in the U.S., spurring jobs and growth.
X, Motorola's first new handset since being acquired by Google, a true
tech-fashion-forward move. In the past, a new handset offered by Motorola would
get me as excited as watching paint dry, but something is different this time
Motorola Droids sold by Verizon Wireless are fine, but they are available only
for one network, which seriously limits their ability to compete.
runs on smartphones and tablets from many manufacturers. The best and the worst
can have Android. That makes it tough to buy the best quality based on the
Android brand. So users shouldn't pay attention to the Android brand when
considering quality. Instead they should pay attention to the manufacturer and
the device itself.
Moto X is a strong entry into the Google Android ecosystem. It currently is
available from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular. More
carriers will likely join this group.
is a high-quality phone maker. The Moto X has some new features but nothing
ultra-innovative that would blow the doors off expectations. It works well. It
is reliable and dependable. However, it is not really that different from other
top-quality Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Moto X has a long-lasting battery. However, it does not have the most modern,
top-of-the-line processors or the best screen. The iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 are
superior in those respects. I think of the Moto X as a Galaxy lite. However,
this should matter only to the heavy-duty power user. It really won't matter to
the average user.
build of the Moto X feels strong and sturdy -- better than the Samsung Galaxy
S4, which is a great device but feels light and thin.
Moto X is a good size. It's smaller than the S4 -- roughly the same size as the
Apple iPhone 5 but with a larger screen.
has a curved back designed to make it more comfortable in the hand.
has an exclusive arrangement with Motorola to let its customers build their own
devices, choosing all the features like color and design to personalize them.
This is a good indication that tech fashion is going to play a larger role going
me, choosing all the design features was a cool part of the ordering process. My
custom phone was delivered in just a few days.
is no one perfect phone for everyone. Different shapes and sizes make phones
easier or more difficult to hold and use. Some do well with just one hand, while
others require two hands. Some have a flat back and others a rounded back.
Moto X's curved back is not as stable in my hand as the iPhone 5. The Galaxy S4
is the largest device and hardest to hold. You need two hands to work the
device, but then the large screen is nice. The problem is it is not as easy to
hang on to, and when it drops, it can break.
marriage of Google and Motorola has produced a few new and unique features. For
example, you can call out to your phone if you can't find it, and it signals its
whereabouts by making a sound.
can simply twist the phone to engage the camera mode. That way you don't have to
miss a shot just getting the camera started.
Moto X responds to your voice. All you have to say is, "OK Google
Now." It then asks what you want to search for. No typing information into
the keyboard. It's similar to the iPhone's Siri. However, Google Now just
searches Google, while Siri does more. Still, this is a great first step.
of the best and most unique features of the new Moto X, from my perspective, is
that it's made in the USA. The return of some wireless device manufacturing is a
good sign. Perhaps if the Moto X is a hit, it will entice other phone makers to
manufacture in the U.S., spurring jobs and growth.
Moto X is a solid, high-quality device with a few new and interesting features,
thanks to Google. It's customizable, and it's made in the USA. So even though
the Moto X is not a revolutionary new smartphone, it is new enough.
It makes a tech-fashion statement, and it represents a very good effort by both Motorola and Google. It's worth a look.
Kagan Op Ed on CNN.com
needs a Samsung smartwatch anyway?
Jeff Kagan, Special to CNN
4, 2013 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
5:00 AM PT
We can expect many more deals in the wireless space going forward. Some will make sense -- like deals between wireless handset companies -- but others may be a surprise. One possibility could be a company like Microsoft -- which really wants to punch its way into the wireless world in a big way -- getting interested in the acquisition of a wireless network. Stranger things have happened.
seen it happen before. The wave of companies rushing to merge is building once
again. On Monday it was Verizon and Vodafone. Tuesday was Microsoft and Nokia.
Two questions: What will merging do for these companies, and which are next?
reason for companies merging is clear. The wireless world continues to change.
Growth over the next few years will look much different from the last few years.
The most recent wave of growth started six years ago with Apple's iPhone. Then
came Google's Android operating system. Apple and Google transformed the entire
wireless space, convincing consumers to switch from feature phones to super
next wave of growth, which is beginning now, will transform the industry once
led the smartphone space and Nokia was the leader of the feature phone pack
until six years ago. Since then, both companies have lost their dominance.
has not been successful to date. Under CEO Stephen Elop, Nokia managed to stop
its fall, partnering with Microsoft on the Lumia line of smartphones running the
Windows Phone operating system.
may not be growing at the same rate as the iPhone or Android smartphones, but it
is growing -- just slowly. Was it partnering with Microsoft that helped Nokia
stop falling, or was it Elop?
next question is simple: Will the Microsoft-Nokia merger really crank up the
growth engines of the Windows Phone OS, or will it continue to struggle at a
very slow growth rate?
wireless industry looks a lot like the hamburger business with McDonald's,
Burger King and Wendy's slugging it out in the marketplace. In this case,
Microsoft-Nokia is in a distant third for now.
90 percent of the marketplace is owned by Android smartphones and Apple's
iPhones. Microsoft-Nokia accounts for roughly 4 percent. As you can see, there
is quite a big difference. There's a great opportunity for anyone who knows how
to wake up the sleeping giant that is Microsoft.
Nokia deal is one of Steve Ballmer's last big moves as CEO of Microsoft, and it
could put Nokia CEO Stephen Elop at the top of the list of his potential
successors. That may have been another reason for the acquisition.
other big news this week is Verizon's acquisition of Vodafone's stake in Verizon
Wireless. This means Verizon will now be the sole owner of the company. While
this is good news for Verizon, I don't think it will really make a lot of
difference to customers.
said, one thing that I really don't understand is what took Verizon so long?
Waiting has cost it b-b-billions. The two companies formed their partnership a
decade or more ago. Wireless was not as dominant as it is today. Back then, it
was a wireline world.
is now the fastest-growing sector, and regular phone lines are vanishing. Every
year that passes, Verizon Wireless is worth more. It would have cost Verizon
much less if it had done this deal, say, five years ago.
key reason for doing it now is interest rates are starting to rise. A
low-interest rate costs Verizon much less -- so now is the time.
is a good deal for Verizon. The next question is what will it do with complete
ownership? It will be interesting to see if anything new or innovative comes
from this deal that will benefit customers, or whether it will simply make no
impact on the marketplace at all.
next? We can expect many more deals in the wireless space going forward. Some
deals will make sense -- like deals between wireless handset companies -- but
other deals may be a surprise.
possibility could be a company like Microsoft -- which really wants to punch its
way into the wireless world in a big way -- getting interested in the
acquisition of a wireless network. One company in all these businesses? Stranger
things have happened.
keep our eyes on both Verizon Wireless and Microsoft-Nokia -- and in fact, the
rest of the wireless industry -- to see what's coming next.
5:00 AM PT
has lost many key executives over the last several years, which is not good. Its
current executives have been trained in Microsoft thinking: investors first.
This needs to change. It isn't enough for the new CEO alone to understand this
-- the entire organization must change. The genetics of Microsoft must change.
Is that possible? Yes. Whether it will it happen is the question.
8 is the torpedo that sunk Steve Ballmer, the headlines have been screaming. The
news we were all expecting finally arrived last Friday with the announcement
that Steve Ballmer would step down as Microsoft's CEO. Now the question is who
will replace Ballmer -- and will that person be the right choice? I have an
important recommendation for Microsoft in this process.
the company gets this right, it can return to a successful growth track. If not,
it will continue to struggle and flounder as it is doing today.
a word about Ballmer. I have been reading too many complaints. The truth is
Ballmer was one of the keys to growing Microsoft into the giant it is today. He
was hired by Bill Gates in 1980 and became Microsoft's 30th employee. No one can
lead forever. New blood and new thinking are needed -- it's as simple as that.
what's the solution?
think Microsoft and its new CEO should follow the lead of Herb Kelleher, former
CEO of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher always said workers come first. Happy
workers take great care of customers, and that makes shareholders happy. It all
starts with focusing on the worker, which benefits the customer and then the
Microsoft can understand this and can transform its thinking, it can quickly
become a winner in today's marketplace. If it doesn't, well, expect more of the
same. It all depends on whom it chooses for the top spot and whether this
Kelleher idea is embraced.
would be a complete reversal of the way Microsoft has always operated -- the way
it thinks. It has always focused on the investor first. Workers and customers
were lower on the totem pole. That is one key reason for the company's failure
to grow during the last decade. The marketplace has changed -- Microsoft can no
longer dictate terms.
the company change? Can it both choose the right new CEO for the next decade and
change its focus to workers, customers and investors? Yes it can. Will it? That
is the million-dollar question. Does Microsoft understand what I am saying here?
I believe this is the key to whether it succeeds and grows going forward -- or
Microsoft find the right next CEO? That is an important question. Not every CEO
is right or successful. We have seen many who have not turned around their
troubled ships during the last decade or two.
is still struggling under a new CEO. Sprint Nextel has replaced its CEO twice.
Motorola struggled with various CEOs for many years, and Yahoo struggled with
CEO after CEO trying to find a successful path once again.
good news is there are plenty of winning leaders at hot companies like Apple and
Google. Just look at how suddenly Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is winning so far. A
winner like that is what Microsoft needs to find.
new CEO should be very different from Gates or Ballmer, who represent another
era. In today's marketplace, there is growing competition and new technology,
and the marketplace changes on a regular basis. You need to find someone who
understands and lives life at that pace and who understands workers and the
can no longer expect to dictate terms to the marketplace. Look at AT&T, for
example. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, long-distance giant AT&T was
dying until it was acquired by San Antonio, Texas-based SBC. That was the
beginning of the turnaround. After it acquired Cingular and Bellsouth, the
company started to win once again. Now it leads. That's the kind of change
Microsoft needs to go through right now.
the new CEO be found inside Microsoft or come from the outside? Microsoft has
lost many key executives over the last several years, which is not good. Its
current executives have been trained in Microsoft thinking: investors first.
This needs to change.
isn't enough for the new CEO alone to understand this -- the entire organization
must change. The genetics of Microsoft must change. Is that possible? Yes.
Whether it will it happen is the question.
on what we have seen from Microsoft up to now, I would say its chances are not
good -- not at first, anyway. It may need to fail for a while and go through
several CEOs and get kicked around enough to finally understand.
course, it would be nice if it could understand what I am saying now, and get to
work now. Then it could recover quickly, start to win, and lead the industry
though Apple is a huge and rapidly growing company over the last decade or two,
it still focuses on the worker and the customer first. Remember when Apple
customers would line up around the block to get their hands on the next updated
can happen with Microsoft if it takes advantage of this opportunity -- not only
to change the leadership, but also to change the focus of the company, and to
innovate like crazy.
it see what I am saying and seize the opportunity? If so, Microsoft could
transform itself overnight. Wouldn't it be nice to see Microsoft succeed and
grow like Google once again?
future is at stake for Microsoft. Let's hope it makes the right choices going
Industry Opportunities are Changing
5:00 AM PT
smartphone is going to turn into the remote control for everything you do. Today
we don't leave the house without three things: our keys, our wallet and our
smartphone. Tomorrow, it will just be the smartphone. Everything in your wallet
will be in the smartphone, and that device will also open every door and start
every car we own.
wireless industry has grown and changed over time. In fact, there seems to be a
major transformation every few years, and change is starting to occur once
what will wireless look like tomorrow, and how will it grow? Where should
workers, companies and investors look for new opportunities?
second smartphone revolution started six years ago with Apple iPhone and Google
Android. While that segment is still robust, it is also changing. Each year
these devices do more and become more necessary in our lives. The smartphone is
going to turn into the remote control for everything you do.
we don't leave the house without three things: our keys, our wallet and our
smartphone. Tomorrow, it will just be the smartphone. Everything in your wallet
will be in the smartphone, and that device will also open every door and start
every car we own.
News for Customers
second chapter in the smartphone revolution is only 6 years old. Before that
time, Blackberry led and the smartphone industry accounted for roughly 15
percent of the market. Today, the leaders are Apple, Google and Samsung, with
well over 50 percent of the market, and growth is still occurring.
are changing, however. So many of us own smartphones that new sales to new users
are slowing. That means we can expect to see the marketing strategies of the
carriers and handset makers change. Winning business from each other is going to
be more important going forward.
good news for wireless customers. For a carrier or handset maker to win, they
must be good. So expect to see quality and service continually improve.
Advertising and marketing will also move in this direction.
illustration, look at two recent examples: the new Verizon Wireless ad campaign
saying they have better coverage, and AT&T Mobility saying they are winning
many first-place awards from companies like JD Power for customer satisfaction
is the future.
truth is, most carriers offer great service today; who is the best for you
depends on where you are standing when you make the call.
however, is very different -- and it's worth a look. Wireless carriers like
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire and US Cellular will not only grow
their own smartphone business, but they will help transform other industries as
a few examples?
is a real driver, using wireless as a key to its future. For example, Toyota is
expanding its wireless capability with Entune, letting users hook up their
smartphones to get live traffic, weather and Internet access.
means users can get updated information like traffic and weather all the time;
the kids can surf the Web; and Toyota can stay in touch with the driver.
is happening with an increasing number of automotive brands across the board,
including companies like the Ford, GM and Honda brands -- and many others. Also,
the services keep expanding.
and health care is also getting a checkup. Imagine apps on your smartphone to
make an appointment at your doctor's office, get questions answered or to report
daily results on your diabetes blood sugar levels in order to get more timely
are countless ways the health care industry is starting to use wireless to
improve what they do. This is exciting because it will let our doctors be able
to treat us more effectively and share information with other medical personnel.
is another big area. You walk into a store and you are greeted on your
smartphone with a message. "Welcome back, what are you looking for
today?" Then, "Oh, you want to see the television sets? Straight back
and to the right. Any questions?"
can also send wireless coupons to users in or out of the store. This can start
new avenues of electronic dialogue. In fact, you can use other apps to scan the
codes of the items you are considering and check pricing at other nearby stores
as well as on the Web. This can save you time and money.
with this change in retail, however, come some wireless challenges. To wit: I
was shopping in a store for a water filter for my fridge. After finding it I
walked around the store a bit and got the idea to use one of the apps on my
scanned the code from the filter box in my hand and was immediately informed
that it was the best price in the area. That was good -- but if I ordered
through Amazon.com, it would cost less.
few short clicks later, still standing in the store, I was done. It was
delivered in two days at a discount. Amazing. Wireless is changing the retail
environment. Ease of use, innovation and cost savings will continue to put
pressure on existing retail and will continue to change things.
as exciting as this is, retail must change to survive this transformation.
you are an investor, there are many existing companies -- like the wireless
networks and smartphone makers who will continue to experience rapid growth.
of course, will look different than it did in the past few years. Instead, it
will focus on winning business from each other in the wireless industry. The
next few years will reward the early adopters of wireless technology -- until
eventually it becomes a standard cost of doing business, when everybody does the
you are a worker, there are new opportunities being created right now from
carriers and handset makers. There are also wireless opportunities in every
other industry as well, however.
As other industries move into wireless, they realize they don't have a clue
about this new segment, so they need help to become successful.
we are in the very early stages of another wireless revolution that is changing
the way we do everything. Wireless will change not only itself, but countless
other industries as well.
continually ask yourself: If we are in the very early stages of change, how can
you take advantage of this? There are countless opportunities for investors,
workers, wireless companies and every other industry breaking into the field.
your vision to be able to focus on and see them all. As you can see, there is a
great opportunity in wireless, beyond just the smartphone. Some companies will
be successful. Others won't. Picking the winners in advance is always the
at this point, the opportunity is there for traditional wireless companies, and
for helping other industries use wireless to transform themselves.
course, we are also still just in the very early innings of this new game. So
5:00 AM PT
A WOW moment -- if there is one -- will launch Apple's next wave of growth. So it is a very important part of what we are expecting in September. If there is no truly new product -- if this is all about new versions of existing wares -- it will still be good, just not great. What hard-core Apple enthusiasts are hoping for is a reason to line up outside an Apple Store for the next new iThing.
question I have for Apple, from my perspective as an industry
simple: What's your next move? We have watched the company transform the music
space with the iPod, the smartphone space with the iPhone, and the tablet space
with the iPad. However it has not had a breakthrough industry-changing product
in the last few years.
what can we expect from Apple on Sept. 10? Will it hold an industry-reshaping
event, or just present a few tweaks here and there? That's the question on the
minds of millions of technology watchers and Apple fans.
things first. Samsung and Google can make their own noise, and they may take
some of the headline space away from Apple. That looks like their plan, but it
won't affect Apple sales. Apple customers are Apple customers, period. They are
not the type of consumers who would quickly or easily defect from Apple to
said, what can we expect from Apple?
expect Apple to introduce an update to iOS. This will be the familiar operating
system yet different at the same time. It will be a mix of the old interface
with new features. Apple seems to do this well.
new OS will be on the new iPhone and anything else Apple may introduce. It will
also update existing iPhones and iPads -- for the most part. To get some new
features to work, you'll need a new device.
expect Apple to introduce a new size iPhone. It will offer one with a
larger-screen alongside one with the regular-size screen, and the two will sit
side by side on store shelves. The choice will be up to the customers.
may also introduce a lower-cost version of the iPhone, although this is not
certain since customers can always buy last year's version at a discount.
the new iOS will deliver new and exciting features, this is not the WOW moment
we are all hoping for. That's what Apple really needs to get its growth engine
cranked up again.
what will that moment look like? Remember when the first iPhone was introduced?
Remember the first iPad? That's the kind of exciting moment I am talking about.
needs to present something to get the user base excited again and lining up
around the block the night before to be among the first to get this innovation
into their hands.
X factor! That will be the focus of Apple's next growth wave.
will it be? There's been speculation about an iWatch or an iTV or iGoggles. The
truth is, we don't know yet. Looking back at the Apple of the past, it's always
been something we never thought of. It's always been a surprise!
who knows? This WOW moment -- if there is one -- will launch Apple's next wave
of growth. So it is a very important part of what we are expecting from the
there is no truly new product -- if this is all about a new version of iOS and
new sizes of the existing iPhone and the introduction of lower-price models --
it will still be good, just not great.
the question is simply, will this upcoming Apple announcement on Sept. 10 just
be good, or will it be great? Will it cause the marketplace to gasp and cause
lines to form outside Apple stores the night before the next product is released
-- or not?
it even possible for Apple to once again have lines form outside its stores the
night before a new product hits the shelves? I believe the answer is yes, of
course, but only if Apple plays its cards right. There are plenty of hard-core
Apple enthusiasts, and more young people are joining their ranks every day.
Apple needs to recapture the magic of the past. Can it? Can Apple create the
same kind of excitement and sales it had a few short years ago? Either way, I
expect the coming announcement to be good. We'll just have to wait and see if it
5:00 AM PT
It's back-to-school time, and that means wireless stores will be packed with customers buying smartphones and tablets. AT&T and Verizon both base their charges on usage. As far as I can see, only three major carriers still offer unlimited wireless data plans: Sprint, T-Mobile and C Spire. There have been lots of changes in these unlimited plans this year. So which is best for you?
years ago when Apple's iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android first hit
the streets, it seemed that lots of carriers jumped into the unlimited space.
They did this to let customers test drive the wireless data app world and get
hooked -- and customers loved it.
then, both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have dropped their unlimited
plans; they now charge based on usage levels. Still, they remain the two largest
carriers in the U.S. market.
a look at the three major carriers that offer unlimited plans.
Spire Wireless, a regional player in the Southeast, may have started the whole
unlimited craze. It has been offering unlimited plans for many years. If you are
in the C Spire Wireless marketing area, it is definitely worth considering.
Spire has been offering unlimited plans for years -- it started long before
other carriers jumped into the space. That has given it a competitive advantage.
Now, after many carriers have exited the space, C Spire is still going strong.
offers excellent quality, lots of choice, fast 4G speeds in its major markets,
deep coverage -- and it is affordable.
USA has been struggling for years, but under its new CEO, it has been
reinventing itself over the last several quarters. New CEO John Legere from
Global Crossing is starting to shake things up. T-Mobile was always the quiet
company, but it is going through the early stages of what may be a very
recently entered the unlimited space. It is trying to create a new segment in
wireless -- trying to change the economics of the industry.
one thing, it no longer subsidizes phones. So you either pay a few hundred up
front for a new handset, or you can finance the phones and pay monthly. The
monthly service fee is separate. This is a new way of doing business in
wireless, and it's refreshing.
also offers unlimited data, and it is changing. It is reinventing itself now
that it has been acquired by Softbank. We don't yet know what it will look like
in the coming years, but it is taking some steps now to hang on to customers --
like lowering its unlimited plan prices.
may be attractive to you. Just remember, although Sprint is updating its
networks and may look very different in the next few years, today it is still
mostly 3G in a 4G world.
the industry seems to be changing. Carriers are drawing a line down the center
and either offering unlimited plans or not. Don't be fooled into thinking one
side is winning and the other is losing. Rather, they both appear to be winning;
however, each focuses on the needs of different groups of customers -- different
slices of the pie.
the beautiful thing about competition -- it brings choice. This is a clear
differentiator. There are plenty of customers who want one carrier or another.
Then there are other customers who look for certain features, like unlimited
on the locations where you spend time, one carrier often has a stronger signal
than another. The one that is best for you depends on where you spend time --
only you can tell that. Check out a carrier's signal strength wherever you spend
a significant amount of time before you decide to use its service.
more thing: Don't assume the phone that works perfectly at home will work just
as well at your new school, office or location. Remember, it's not likely you'll
find the same signal quality in every place.
I suggest buying a phone just before you travel, and when you get to your destination, check out all of the locations where you'll likely spend time. Make sure you have a good quality connection. All of the major carriers are good companies, but that single point can make the difference between a happy or a frustrated customer, no matter which carrier you choose.
5:00 AM PT
could always count on the ThinkPad T series brand -- until now, that is. Last
week, I purchased a new T430u, and found to my dismay that it's very different
from the traditional T430 -- not what I expected. Neither is bad -- they're just
different. Lenovo's mistake was calling them both "T430." That causes
confusion. That is hurting the ThinkPad brand value.
is a solid brand. So why is Lenovo suddenly screwing up its brand relationship
with customers? We all have our favorites. That's the power of successfully
building a brand. However, in an effort to grow, Lenovo is making a costly
mistake. Rather than creating a distinct new sub-brand category, it is spreading
the existing ThinkPad brand too thin, confusing the customer. That's a recipe
strong brand relationship between the company, the product and the customer is
key to long-term success and growth. In fact, that has been the hallmark of the
successful ThinkPad brand all along. However, Lenovo is now weakening that brand
with its current activity.
get me wrong, I like and have used the ThinkPad line of laptops for decades.
However my brand relationship is weakening as a result of what Lenovo is doing,
and I have heard the same thing from countless others.
IBM owned ThinkPad, it stuck to building a simple and solid brand. If customers
stuck with a particular line of ThinkPads, they always knew what they were
getting, and they loved that. Now they must waste time getting to know a new
seems to be taking the ThinkPad on a different path. This will hurt its
relationships with its customers. So now is the time to correct this issue
before it becomes a problem.
loved simply buying a new ThinkPad and having a zero learning curve. New
ThinkPads were as familiar as previous ones in the same line. Customers stick to
a particular brand because they want to get straight to work. Now, though,
that's changing. Today only some of the T series are the same, while others are
very different. It's getting confusing even sticking with the same model.
I currently own a T430i, which is a more traditional T Series laptop. I have
been buying ThinkPad's T Series for two decades. Sure, there were always changes
-- like a new port here or taking away an old jack there -- but the keyboard,
the light and everything else were familiar. Because I could get right to work,
that comfort level kept me buying the T Series for 20 years.
much of what building a brand identity means. Customers don't want to waste time
learning a new keyboard and feature list. Learning the new version of Windows is
annoying enough, and that is Microsoft's fault. Customers simply want the next
computer to work, so they can get back to work.
week, I purchased a new T430u, which is Lenovo's Ultrabook. Since the model
number was T430, and the Windows version was the same on both machines, I
expected the experience to be exactly the same. I expected both computers to
look and work exactly the same. After all, this was the ThinkPad T430 brand.
That's why I bought the same unit.
it turns out they're two completely different laptops with the same name.
Neither is bad -- they're just different. Lenovo's mistake was calling them both
"T430." That causes confusion. That is hurting the ThinkPad brand
two laptops, while both terrific, should have been called two different model
names and branded differently. The reason is they are different. Had I known the
differences, I would have chosen something else. That's the first time I've had
that impression in all the years I have been a ThinkPad customer.
new Ultrabook is very different from the traditional T430 -- not what I
expected. I have heard this from many others who were looking for a familiar
unit. They had expectations, just like every customer has. They thought buying a
familiar T Series computer would be the same as always. Suddenly it was not.
there is no light at the top of the screen to illuminate the keyboard in the
dark, so you have to have a light overhead to see what you are doing.
the keyboard has a different layout. There are different and fewer buttons and
keys in the T430u. If you want to turn up the volume or the screen backlight, it
is easy on the T430i. There are extra buttons that are easy to find and use.
However, on the T430u there are no such buttons. Instead you must find and press
multiple Function keys. They are very difficult to see in low light.
the keys are in different locations on the keyboard. That means you will
regularly delete something and then have to try and find and restore it.
have struggled with all this and more and have only owned the computer for a few
days. That wastes time and creates aggravation. That's why I purchased the same
model number. I wanted to avoid all this.
could always count on the ThinkPad T series brand -- until now, that is.
Lenovo has more than one Ultrabook on the market. So why doesn't it group them
under a new Ultrabook brand, rather than diluting the value of the existing T
we still love you, so don't blow it. It takes years to build a strong brand
relationship, but only a moment to destroy it. This is your moment. Do the right
thing. It would be a shame to lose happy customers worldwide due to a
5:00 AM PT
Microsoft seems to have
been asleep for years. It still thinks customers will stay even though they have
a lot more choices today. The company needs to wake up. My recommendation is
simple: Offer the new, innovative Windows 8 for touchscreen computers and
tablets; and offer updated versions of 7 and XP. Let users choose what they
want. Then simply charge them an annual fee after a period of time.
the heck is wrong at Microsoft? It may be an important company, but it's an
older company that has definitely lost its way. It can recover but doesn't see
how. The solution seems so obvious from the outside. However, there is a sense
that arrogance is getting in the way of clear thinking. It is keeping Microsoft
from becoming great once again. So what's wrong, and what can it do to recover?
world is continually changing. That means companies and products must change as
well. Unfortunately, Microsoft's thinking has not changed, and that is the
reason for its sour Windows 8 and Surface tablet sales.
companies change well over time. One example is IBM, which led many sectors over
many decades. It understood the changing marketplace and transformed itself
several times. That has kept it at the top, ready to jump on the next wave. Over
the last several decades, its focus evolved from the Selectric typewriter to the
Thinkpad computer to consulting and more. It is still growing and healthy today.
don't change well. Microsoft has never understood that simple winning concept.
Of course it never had to worry about winning over customers in the past. It
didn't have to. There was no real competitor in the past, so it just grew in
spite of itself. Things are different today.
prefers to steer. It thinks that everyone will always follow its lead, because
they did in the past. However the real reason customers followed was simple --
there was no alternative. Things change over time. Today that old thinking no
longer works. Today there is choice, and it is expanding. However, Microsoft
still thinks and operates the same old way. Today that's a recipe for disaster
-- as we are witnessing.
may have had the market share and sheer drive to steer its own path a few
decades ago, but today there is much more competition and choice from companies
and technologies like Apple, Google, Linux, Mozilla and others.
factor is that Microsoft doesn't get better with each update. Think about it.
Customers loved Windows XP. They hated Vista. They liked Windows 7, but today
they really don't like Windows 8. So what does Microsoft do right and wrong?
Simple. It rewrites the entire operating system, creating a new version rather
than just updating it. Sometimes it's a hit -- other times a miss. That's a
mistake, and it has been for a long time.
Microsoft doesn't recognize is that the marketplace has changed, and it is no
longer in the driver's seat. With choice, the customer is in the driver's seat.
While Windows 8 may delight some customers, it turns many off as well.
seems interested only in moving forward -- not in taking care of existing
customers, and that is the mistake. Today customers need to be cultivated
continuously. Otherwise they will start looking to a competitor.
can and should do both. Today many users like Windows 8, but many others would
like to continue using Windows 7 and even XP. That means Microsoft is in a
beautiful position to take care of every kind of customer. Instead, it's
shutting down support of XP next year even though so many customers still prefer
is in a unique and valuable position -- yet it is blowing it. If Microsoft
doesn't earn new income from XP or from 7, why doesn't it simply charge an
annual user fee after a few years of use for customers who want support?
way, it could earn income from multiple operating systems and keep them alive
for users. That would keep customers happy and Microsoft investors happy as
can't Microsoft keep several operating systems current? Its current path is
burning customer relationships.
innovation is important, and I salute Microsoft for thinking outside the box
with Windows 8, which is a new way to use the computer and the tablet. Customers
who want this do actually like it. This is good.
Microsoft has told the rest of its customers who still like and use XP that they
are out of luck. Sorry, folks -- that's it. That is the big mistake. Many
customers don't want to change -- not yet anyway.
puts customers off, and that is the last thing Microsoft should be doing. It is
not coming at this from a position of strength. It is coming at this from a weak
position and forcing customers to change. Doing things this way will just
continue to make things worse for the company.
Bridges, Don't Burn Them
many have used and liked Microsoft Windows for decades, and while they would
have continued to do so going forward if Microsoft continued to meet their
needs, this change to Windows 8 is pushing many away from the Microsoft camp --
and that's the last thing Microsoft needs.
UP, MICROSOFT! Think! Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than
vinegar. Make it easier -- not harder -- to stick with you.
and companies don't have unlimited time to learn new operating systems and get
their people to understand. They would prefer to stay put and simply do their
own business -- not take a how-to-use-the-new-Windows-8 seminar.
my Microsoft recommendation is simple: Offer the new, innovative Windows 8 for
touchscreen computers and tablets; and offer updated versions of 7 and XP. Let
users choose what they want. Then simply charge them an annual fee after a
period of time.
That would solve the Microsoft growth problem, and it would solve the customer acceptance problem. That would put Microsoft back on the growth path with happy and loyal customers. Doesn't that sound better than the path it is currently on? Focus on the customer. Get customers to fall in love with you. Give customers what they want. After all, without customers, where would you be?
5:00 AM PT
I know, I know, carriers prefer to own bands of spectrum rather than share. Tough. That desire is understandable; however, because we have a shortage of spectrum and a growing demand, that solution simply will no longer work. Get over it. To keep competition alive, every carrier, large and small, needs the same access to spectrum. We must be responsible and do the right thing.
have a problem. We don't have enough wireless spectrum to satisfy America's
rapidly growing appetite. That means we'll increasingly have problems connecting
with our smartphones and tablets. This spectrum shortage means we must decide
the best way to use what we do have. So now is the time to draw a line in the
sand and do what we must do -- prepare to share spectrum.
carriers like AT&T and Verizon know about the growing problem. That's why
they have spent years trying to acquire as much spectrum as they can get their
hands on, but they still don't have enough. However, they are better prepared
than smaller carriers like Sprint, T-Mobile, C Spire, U.S. Cellular and many
one hand, the AT&T and Verizon approach makes sense, since they cover
roughly 70 percent of the market. On the other hand, this is not fair to smaller
carriers who also need the same access to grow and compete. After all, we don't
want the marketplace to consist of just two players.
if AT&T and Verizon controlled 100 percent of spectrum, there still would
not be enough for the long term. It's got to do with how many users want access
and how much they use -- not how many carriers provide it. So it seems to me
that auctioning off the remaining spectrum no longer works for this industry.
for One and One for All
spectrum would allow each competitor to have equal access. That means all
customers and all carriers would be satisfied. That means competition would
thrive. That would keep innovation high and prices low. Shouldn't that be part
of what we are working toward?
smartphone users are not paying attention to this growing problem, but limited
wireless spectrum is threatening to clog our wireless Internet.
spent years acquiring as much spectrum as they could from wherever they could
find it. That's why AT&T wanted to merge with T-Mobile. That's why Verizon
acquired the cable television industry spectrum.
U.S. government has always auctioned off spectrum bands to the highest bidder.
However, the process of auctions no longer works for the industry since there is
simply not enough spectrum to go around. So what's the solution?
more users buy smartphones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, and use more
wireless data, we are getting closer to clogging the networks. Once we start to
reach that point, customers will start to have problems with speed and
connections. So must we wait till there is a real problem to wrestle with -- or
can we handle the problem beforehand?
Easy Way or the Hard Way?
know, I know, carriers prefer to own bands of spectrum rather than share. Tough.
That desire is understandable; however, because we have a shortage of spectrum
and a growing demand, that solution simply will no longer work. Get over it.
keep competition alive, every carrier, large and small, needs the same access to
spectrum. We must be responsible and do the right thing -- meaning make sure
there is sufficient spectrum available to every competitor for every customer.
spectrum is not even in the vocabulary of carriers today, but it should be.
Otherwise, we may watch small carriers wither away, and that would not be good
for a competitive industry. If that happened, regulation would increase -- and
carriers don't want that.
why now is the time to come up with a long-term solution to this real and
simple idea to pool all wireless data spectrum into one place seems to be the
best long-term solution to the growing problem. Then let every competitor pay
for access to whatever it needs. This would mean all competitors would have the
same access to the same spectrum. That way the winners would be chosen based on
brand, performance and price. Doesn't that make good sense?
would be compensated for the spectrum they added to the mix. That way it
wouldn't cost them anything -- it could actually be profitable.
much sense as this solution makes, carriers today would still rather own
spectrum. We just have to get past that sticking point in the argument. It would
be great if we could get there BEFORE we start running out of capacity and
customers and carriers start experiencing problems.
all that said, I have watched this industry over nearly 30 years, and my guess
is we will likely wait until the problems begin and the pain is excruciating
before making this move. The big question is will the industry do this on it's
own -- or will the government have to step in to make it happen? It's always
better without the government, but at this point, who knows?
4:45 AM PT
smartphone marketplace is changing. Apple and Samsung have seen their growth
slow. That means the newness wave of this smartphone explosion is ending, and
traditional offerings can play a stronger role again. BlackBerry must focus on
its slice of the pie. Period. It's as simple as that. BlackBerry can be No.1 on
the business and government side of the smartphone space.
is a simple answer to the BlackBerry problem: Rather than trying to become a new
company and address a new market and compete with new competitors, it should
focus on its bread and butter, the business and government communities that
still use its products. If it does this, I believe its recovery will begin
Keys may be a great singer, and she may work as part of the brand identity of
another company, but not for BlackBerry. I believe BlackBerry customers would
relate more to business legends like retired GE CEO Jack Welch or Berkshire
Hathaway's Warren Buffet -- serious people for serious customers.
have always liked BlackBerry. I think it's a great company with a great device
and a great brand, but it is lost right now. It led the smartphone space for
more than a decade without much thought about its image. The brand is just
tired. It needs to be refreshed, like AT&T did last decade.
in the early 2000s when AT&T was shrinking and dying on the vine? It had
lost long-distance customers to the Baby Bells, had spun off its wireless
business, and had sold its cable television business to Comcast. What was left
was a much smaller and weaker business services company.
when San Antonio, Texas-based SBC, under the leadership of CEO Ed Whitacre,
acquired AT&T. After gathering opinions about next steps with the brand, SBC
decided to keep the AT&T name, which was still the strongest in the industry
but had become old and tired. It reinvigorated and youth-enized it.
it acquired Bellsouth and Cingular. Bit by bit, the company grew and expanded to
become a real industry powerhouse. The new AT&T was not only stronger with
better offerings, but also more inclined to talk with customers and give them
what they wanted.
since, AT&T has kept expanding -- updating and refreshing its brand along
the way. AT&T keeps following the same steps today. That's the reason for
what BlackBerry needs to do. It has improved much with BB10, but it has lost
much as well. Customers tell me they are excited to buy the new device, but too
many quickly return them because they are so different.
is much more work to do to repair the company, and there's not a lot of time.
BlackBerry must focus its brand on its core business and government customers.
It should re-think its brand identity and shift away from Alicia Keys and the
youth market toward more traditional business brand names that resonate with its
old RIM didn't have to think about things like marketing, branding and
advertising. BlackBerry's new BB10 looks great, but it goes far beyond what
BlackBerry really is in the minds of its core customer Try Desk.com Start Your
Free Trial Today. Click Here. group.
BlackBerry must talk to its customers again -- and this time, listen better.
Give customers what they want. Business and government customers don't want the
same things that other smartphone users want. They don't need all those consumer
apps that Apple and Google offer. Instead, they simply want a solid business
device that meets and exceeds their needs. They want useful apps and features.
means every BB10 device should do everything the previous versions did. Today
that isn't the case. They should also do new things in new ways -- but that
shouldn't require the company to turn its back on existing customers.
BlackBerry should introduce two different kinds of new devices. One could be the
Q10 and Z10 with their completely new and different user interface and operating
system. Two should be more familiar to existing users of the Bold and Torch.
customers still love those BlackBerry devices. They just want them refreshed
with new features. They don't want to give up existing features they count on.
BB10 has eliminated or changed some of those features, and that is a mistake.
Many users don't want to learn an entire new operating system.
if BlackBerry can simply focus on these key points, it can once again be
should remember that when it was popular and growing, the smartphone marketplace
was only 15 percent of the cellphone market. Today it's around 50 percent. The
number of apps has increased from a few hundred to millions. However, most of
those new users will never be BlackBerry customers. The BlackBerry brand does
nothing for them.
BlackBerry will start by simply focusing on the same 15 percent of the market it
used to, I believe it can be successful once again. If it will listen to its
customers and give them what they want, it can be successful once again.
customers don't want an Apple or Google experience. If they did, they would go
Apple or Google. BlackBerry users want the BlackBerry experience, just a newer
and updated BlackBerry experience.
BlackBerry can understand that simple concept, it can recover very quickly. The
smartphone marketplace is changing. Apple and Samsung have seen their growth
slow. That means the newness wave of this smartphone explosion is ending, and
traditional offerings can play a stronger role again.
must focus on its slice of the pie. Period. It's as simple as that. It shouldn't
try to grab a bigger slice -- not yet. It should simply focus, and it can own
that space once again.
can be No.1 on the business and government side of the smartphone space. Isn't
that much better than being just a tiny and distant player in the larger
Kagan's Pick of the Week - Nokia
Pick of the Week is the just-introduced Nokia Lumia 1020. This is the
next-generation Lumia smartphone that features a 41 megapixel sensor with
PureView camera technology.
exclusively from AT&T Mobility, it features a 4.5 inch AMOLED PureMotion HD+
display made with Gorilla Glass 3 and, which is said to be super sensitive to
touch. It is available in matte black, matte white and matte yellow.
to Nokia for focusing on what may be the best camera in the smartphone world.
this will be enough to save the company is another question. Nokia partnered
with Microsoft, and Windows Phone is a different operating system from Apple's
iOS, Google's Android, BlackBerry and others.
will truly save Nokia is to reinvent and recreate its brand. It had the
strongest brand name in the regular handset business, but when everything went
smartphone six years ago, it lost its position. It has tried many times to
reinvent itself with little success.
know Nokia. I like Nokia. I want Nokia to succeed. However, the company must
understand the importance, the force and the power of the brand. It needs to
focus on reinvigorating the brand.
However, this new Lumia 1020 looks like an excellent device that will make a slice of the consumer pie very happy.
5:00 AM PT
used to lead. Today it is struggling to remain relevant. Its current user group
is comprised of very loyal customers who love everything about BlackBerry. If
that is the case, why would BlackBerry ignore them? If BlackBerry would have
kept all the features that customers loved, plus added more, then I think the
new BB10 operating system and handsets would be a much bigger success.
recent months I have been asked many times whether the brand new BlackBerry 10
operating system Unified Server Monitoring: Free Trial. Click here. and new
handsets like the Z10 and Q10 are hits or misses. The answer is simple: It
depends. It's a matter of what you want and expect. The new BlackBerry handsets
do satisfy a segment of the user base, while they leave others disappointed --
but there's a solution for that.
Pick of the Week is the brand new Nokia Asha 501 smartphone, which is
starting to roll out this week.
Market Needs BlackBerry
Mobility sent me a new Q10 to try out. The device is tight, and it looks and
feels great in the hand. It's a little wide, making it a bit difficult to
operate with one hand, but generally I like it. Email is secure. It does not
freeze like the Z10 did.
new features and apps work great -- much better than the Z10 at launch. The
operating system update may have a lot to do with that. I also think the
keyboard is a big plus. That makes it a BlackBerry.
line -- this Q10 at launch is much better than the Z10 at launch. However, today
both are running on an updated OS and could be the same device, except for a few
things like size of the screen and keyboard.
is a problem, however -- one that is easily remedied if BlackBerry listens to
of all, I want to set the record straight. I like BlackBerry and want the
company to succeed. The industry needs more choices besides iOS vs. Android or
the iPhone vs. the Galaxy. BlackBerry has an incredibly strong brand name, but
it is older and needs refreshing.
said, BlackBerry has to play ball. I have talked with numerous BlackBerry users
and have found a mixed bag of responses. Some love the new BlackBerry and others
wonder what the company is thinking.
users absolutely love the new operating system and devices. If these were the
only customers, I would say BlackBerry is on a solid road to recovery. However,
other longtime BlackBerry users say the new operating system and devices are
missing the mark in a few areas. They like it, but they cannot use it yet.
say it's like there is an entirely new group of engineers who put this new OS
together. They have added lots of new and valuable features and apps, but they
have deleted others that users of older BlackBerry models like and still use --
and this is the mistake.
With the Bathwater
BlackBerry would have kept all the features that customers loved, plus added
more, then I think the new operating system and handsets would be a much bigger
success. The problem is they didn't do that. They deleted and changed features
many users love and need, and then added many new ones.
if you are a BlackBerry user who doesn't want anything from the past, and simply
wants lots of new bells and whistles, then you will love this new technology.
if you really liked and used some of the older BlackBerry features and want to
keep them, plus get all the new ones, you will have to take a very close look to
make sure BB10 still does what you want.
new BB10 may be disappointing to many users for this reason, but this problem
can be quickly corrected -- that is, if BlackBerry is listening to the customer
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example, one feature BlackBerry calls "MemoPad" is not in the new BB10
operating system. Many users need this feature -- so why did BlackBerry leave it
out? Users grumble about this in discussion groups on the BlackBerry and
not every user needs this, but adding it doesn't cost BlackBerry anything, and
it will keep many users happy. Not having this feature -- along with others --
means the old BlackBerry Torch may stay in use for a while longer. Most users
would rather update, but not if it means giving up valuable features they
item discussed is the middle control button that helps you navigate and puts the
cursor right where you want it. It's very helpful when editing documents or
emails. The new BlackBerry devices do not have this feature, so it's now as
difficult to place the cursor with a new BlackBerry as it is with an iPhone or
an Android device.
are just a couple of examples of disappointment on the part of hard-core
BlackBerry addicts. As I write these words, I realize that I will get countless
emails from readers -- some who absolutely love the new devices. Granted, they
have their appeal. However, I will also get countless emails from readers who
are dismayed, and that is my point.
simple solution for BlackBerry would be to keep every feature from the old
operating system to keep existing customers happy, plus add loads of new
features. That would keep BlackBerry relevant for existing users, while bringing
everyone up to speed. The company would not only hang onto market share, but
also grow market share.
Will BlackBerry understand this simple solution? Who knows? As much as BlackBerry says it has changed, it is still the same company in many ways -- for better and for worse.
Kagan's Pick of the Week
Pick of the Week is the brand new Nokia Asha 501 smartphone available
this week in Thailand and Pakistan, and soon India. It will roll out across
Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America next. I'm not
sure when it's expected in the U.S.
is the next generation of Nokia smartphone technology after the Lumia. I haven't
tried one of these, because it's not available in the U.S. yet, but it looks
good and, based on its feature list, it's worth a look.
US$99, this is a lower priced, full-featured smartphone trying to attract the
attention of users who want to pay less and still get the full smartphone
experience. That sounds like a solution that quite a few users worldwide would
be interested in.
colors are one of the best features -- like black and white, cyan, bright red,
yellow and bright green.
5:00 AM PT
brings personalization to search, and the more it learns about your Web surfing
habits, the better it gets at uncovering content of particular interest to you.
That's something none of the Web search giants currently can do, and it's not
only good for content consumers, it's good for content producers. Vu can dig up
and serve their buried treasures.
Digital is a new search tool for the Internet that helps you locate content.
This very interesting startup, which launched just over a month ago, does not
replace traditional search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. It goes beyond
them. You will still use traditional search engines, but Vu finds, organizes and
delivers content users are looking for seamlessly. It seems to fill a need --
and oh yeah, it's free.
Internet is vast, and it's increasingly difficult to find what you are looking
for. Traditional search engines find countless items to sort though. Vu
simplifies the process and brings the news and information you are interested in
right to you.
you visit a site for news and information, you often find one story on a site
but don't even know about similar stories buried on other pages of the same
site. Vu helps users find the needles in the haystack.
Vu, getting the right content to the right people is key. This sounds like a
problem solver both for content providers who want their stuff to be read and
seen, and for consumers who must sort through masses of articles to find the
stories they are interested in.
for Publishers, Good for Readers
symbiotic relationship is what Vu is all about, said founder Wade Smith, who
serves as the company's vice president of operations and development.
watches users' online search behaviors and interests based on their daily
journey through the Web, he said. Vu then takes that personalized knowledge to
each of the sites a user visits and finds and delivers matching news and
content, no matter where it is buried.
goal is to sift through mountains of information and find what a user is looking
for quickly, said Smith, and to present it in an easy-to-use format. The more
content a person consumes, the smarter Vu gets. It learns.
and content providers nationwide seem to love Vu for this very same reason. They
know the problem all too well. As the years pass, their sites get jam-packed.
Unfortunately, users often miss out on much of what would be of interest to
them. Vu aims to reveal their hidden gems for interested readers.
can try Vu by visiting its website at or via a wireless app for iPhone or
Android. In fact, Vu won Editors Choice and Featured App in the iTunes App
Store, and garnered a 4-star+ average rating in customer Try Desk.com Start Your
Free Trial Today. Click Here. reviews. Not bad for a brand new app.
has experienced good progress since its launch, and a positive overall growth
trajectory, said Smith. Besides the tech and business media taking notice of Vu
and its content personalization capabilities, consumers have jumped on board.
has won more than 35,000 "Vuers" who downloaded the Apple iOS or
Android app in just the first few weeks, he noted.
is starting to spread through media, social networking and word of mouth. Vu is
expecting to reach critical mass of more than 90,000 by the end of Q2 said
Smith. The company is focused on end user acquisition.
downloaded the Vu app and found it continually updates as it learns. The company
is adding streams to its mobile app to facilitate deeper, ongoing engagement.
The product gets more refined with each passing week.
is planning to launch a Facebook campaign, Smith said. It is also planning
another external communications push that will further educate media and
consumers about the entire Vu ecosystem and how it can change the way consumers
experience and interact with content on a personal level.
is interesting to watch how a startup builds in today's marketplace. Starting a
new business in the information age is very different from what it used to be.
Understanding the new rules of growth and success, as well as how those rules
have changed over time, makes all the difference.
keep my eyes on Vu, and as time passes, I will update you on how it is growing
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.
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.
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?
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?
Google delivers a very high-speed Internet connect