Return to HOME page; www.jeffkagan.com

Jeff Kagan

Wireless Analyst, Telecom Industry Analyst and Consultant

 

Columns ~ 2015 ~ This Page

Columns 2014- click here

Columns 2013- click here

Columns 2012- click here

Columns 2011- click here

Columns 2010 - click here

 

 

       E-Commerce Times       

logo

 

                                   

Jeff Kagan is an IndustryAnalyst, Consultant and Columnist.

As a nationally and internationally recognized industry analyst Jeff Kagan is also a highly sought commentator, columnist, speaker, author, professional agitator, opinion-ator and provocateur.

 

To learn more about Jeff Kagan visit www.jeffkagan.com

 


COLUMN TITLES (columns below)

 

Jeff Kagan: Can Dan Schulman Grow PayPal?

Smartphones Can't Be Trusted to Run Our Lives

Jeff Kagan: Altice Enters US Cable TV Market

Kagan: Will Dish enter wireless with T-Mobile?

Kagan: As wireless industry evolves, so must carriers

AT&T Spreads Rollover Data Cheer to GoPhone

Jeff Kagan: Why Verizon Acquiring AOL

The Next Big Split in Wireless

Jeff Kagan: New Book, Stroke Recovery Stories

Is Comcast, TWC Dead or Just Sleeping?

Jeff Kagan: Analyst on Google Project Fi Wireless

The Growing Robocall Menace

Jeff Kagan: Solution for Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger

GE Catches the Industrial Internet Wave

Jeff Kagan: What Every CEO Should Focus On

Comcast Joins Ultra-High-Speed Internet Race

Jeff Kagan: Sprint Opening in RadioShack Stores

When Internet Speed Kills Reliability

Jeff Kagan: New Apple iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy

Google Glass Should Stay Gone

Jeff Kagan: Will T-Mobile Wreck Wireless? 

SXSW Runs on Wireless Carriers' Well-Oiled Machines

Jeff Kagan: Not Excited About Apple TV Yet

The Apple Watch Will Take Its Own Sweet Time

Jeff Kagan: Will You Use Google Wireless?

Jeff Kagan: Review of New BlackBerry Classic

Customer Tech Support: Don't Go It Alone

Jeff Kagan: Will Lenovo Grow with Motorola Smartphones?

Xiaomi's One Shot at Success in the US

Jeff Kagan: PlumChoice Offers Tech Support Services

How Eroding Trust Hurts Companies

Jeff Kagan: What Will Sprint Do With RadioShack?

Jeff Kagan: A Two-Minute Warning for CenturyLink

Is T-Mobile Burning Too Hot?

Jeff Kagan: Connected Car and the Internet of Things are Transformational Opportunities

Jeff Kagan: Is Google Ready to Enter Wireless?

AT&T's Iusacell Deal Could Change Mexico

Wireless Data Plans Are on a Roll(over)

Jeff Kagan: CES 2015 is Now All About Wireless

BlackBerry Jingles Its Keys to Recovery

Jeff Kagan: TWC, Comcast Most Unpopular says ACSI

COLUMNS

 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-can-dan-schulman-grow-paypal

Jeff Kagan: Can Dan Schulman Grow PayPal?

By Jeff Kagan 

May 27, 2015 6:58AM   

Tickers Mentioned: EBAY AAPL GOOG SSNNF BBRY NOK 

The countdown has begun. PayPal is about to launch on a new growth path and Dan Schulman is strapped in as the companies new CEO and pilot. So what is the future for the larger e-commerce payment and mobile wallet space? And what is the future for PayPal in that space?

PayPal is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay (EBAY) . The answer to the question is simple. There is no answer to the question. Not yet. While I firmly believe in this is a rapidly growing space, there is no way yet to tell who the leaders will be going forward or what technologies will be introduced in coming years.

Leadership in this rapidly growing and changing space will come from companies who successfully recreate the entire brand experience going forward. PayPal has led in the past, but going forward there are lots of big, brand name competitors stepping up so competition will be intense going forward.

PayPal Done Great Job To Date

PayPal was one of the original companies, which started this entire space. That history will help them going forward, but history is a double-edged sword. It can mean strength, but it can also hold a company back. Nothing stays the same. Everything either moves forward or falls back.

Ecommerce and the mobile wallet have suddenly begun to rapidly moving forward over recent years. All of a sudden there are many big, brand names that are expected to grow and change rapidly in this space.

The new mobile wallet space includes players like Apple Pay (AAPL) , Google Wallet (GOOG) , Samsung LoopPay (SSNNF) , CurrentC, BitCoin and many more which will enter the scene in coming years. In fact we are just in the very early days of this new mobile wallet revolution.

This space may have been with us for the last decade or two, but these companies are reinventing the idea of mobile pay and ecommerce. PayPal may have been there from the beginning, but they now face new and intense competition from these companies and ideas.

PayPal Must Update Their Image and Brand

That means PayPal must update their image and brand in the marketplace. They must lead with innovation going forward. They cannot sit still or this new world will pass them by and leave them behind in the dust.

So who will lead? Right now I would say newcomers are getting the lions share of media attention. Thatís one of the immediate challenges for PayPal. Media attention is one key to leadership and success.

Industry leadership can change in an instant. Remember when Blackberry (BBRY)  and Nokia (NOK)  led the wireless handset space? Today they are struggling while Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy now lead the space.

Companies either grow or shrink. They never stay the same. So PayPal needs to continue to innovate, update and grow. They face new challengers every day.

Thatís the challenge PayPal is facing right now. They need to refresh, update and expand their brand and offerings. The brand is the relationship with the customer. This is one of the most important keys to success going forward.

To win going forward, PayPal must be at the core of the new innovative explosion. They must lead. Thatís the challenge and the opportunity for new CEO Dan Schulman.

The Dan Schulman Challenge

Look at this challenge the same as otherís we have seen in recent years. Example, AT&T (T) had a similar challenge a decade ago when SBC acquired AT&T, BellSouth and Cingular. The new AT&T is a brand new, strong, innovative and growing leader. They did it right.

While PayPal has a strong brand in this space, the marketplace is changing. The question is will they successfully reinvent themselves fortomorrow? Will they be like AT&T or like Blackberry?

Dan Schulman is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I believe he is one of the most talented executives as well. He may be just what PayPal needs at this point in time. He has lead many companies such as Virgin Mobile under Richard Branson before it was acquired by Sprint. He has worked with Symantec and American Express.

What Schulman and PayPal do next will make or break their future. The challenge is real, but so are the opportunities. He has been in the fire and I believe he understands this new challenge. Vision and execution is what is now required.

So I want to say congratulations and success to Dan Schulman and PayPal. We are watching closely and hoping you hit a home run in this growing and changing space. Batter up!

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

 

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          May 27, 2015 6:58AM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-can-dan-schulman-grow-paypal#sthash.aYCg1bEI.dpuf

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Smartphones-Cant-Be-Trusted-to-Run-Our-Lives-82086.html

ANALYSIS

Smartphones Can't Be Trusted to Run Our Lives

If we drop our keys, we can still use them to start our car or open our house, right? If we drop our wallet, we can still pick it up and use everything inside, right? However when anything happens to our delicate smartphone, we are out of luck! And this is the device we are trusting with all our vital information and ability to get into our home or cars? Are we crazy! So what's the solution?

By Jeff Kagan

May 21, 2015 10:11 AM PT

There is so much buzz around the smartphone becoming the remote control for our lives. Enough already! While the promise is enticing, there is a dark side to this story that is never talked about. After reading this, see if you are still convinced.

Don't get me wrong -- I am as excited as everyone else around the future potential for the smartphone. However, something happened to me last week that slapped me in the face and snapped me back to reality.

We've all read the stories about using exciting smartphone apps to let us control everything in our lives. We can lock or unlock our house doors. We can open or close the garage doors. We can arm or disarm our security system. We can turn lights on and off -- all from the smartphone we keep in our pocket.

We can use our smartphone apps to lock and unlock the car doors -- and to start the car, or just turn it on and let it warm up on a cold winter morning from the comfort of our home. We can store our auto insurance card and, someday, our driver's license. We can store credit card information and pay by swiping the smartphone over an electronic reader at the counter.

Today we don't leave the house without our keys, our wallet and our smartphone, but tomorrow the phone is all we'll have to remember.

As compelling as that future sounds, there is dark side to this story. The smartphone is simply too delicate today to be trusted with all these very important parts of our lives.

Stuff Happens

Smartphones are not sturdy. Many things can and do happen that make the smartphone unusable -- and when the smartphone is unusable, so are all these amazing features and apps. The smartphone can go from an amazing remote control to a useless paperweight in the blink of an eye.

In fact, that's what happens countless times, every single day, to users from coast-to-coast in the U.S. and worldwide. That's why handset makers and wireless networks sell insurance for these devices. Insurance makes fixing or replacing a smartphone more affordable, but it does not solve the other problems.

When the phone stops working, we are disconnected from our world. That's the problem.

Last week I lightly dropped my iPhone and it stopped working. Period. End of story. Unusable.

I could not make a call or use an app. I was instantly disconnected from the world. I could not send an email or text, start my car, open my house, use my credit cards or anything else.

I can't begin to explain how isolated I felt. You would never understand unless you had a problem with your smartphone yourself. It's very uncomfortable.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. I knew life without wireless phones. It was no problem. Now, when my smartphone stops working all of a sudden, I feel like a flounder out of water, flopping on a deck.

Dropping a phone is not the only hazard. Phones get stolen all the time. Phones get left behind. The battery runs out. They get wet, or for any one of a million reasons, they simply stop working.

That's right -- no phone lives forever. If you are lucky, you will never have to deal with this. However too many of us are not that lucky.

Don't Hold Your Breath

If we drop our keys, we can still use them to start our car or open our house, right? If we drop our wallet, we can still pick it up and use everything inside, right?

However when anything happens to our delicate smartphone, we are out of luck! And this is the device we are trusting with all our vital information and ability to get into our home or cars? Are we crazy!

So what's the solution? There are many, but they are not happening yet, so we are all still at risk. Smartphone makers like Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, BlackBerry, HTC and countless others should be making their devices bulletproof. Why aren't they?

This is a handset problem -- not a network problem. So networks like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile cannot fix this problem, since they have no control over the handset.

Smartphone makers should be making them shock resistant and water resistant. They should give users a way to track them and find them if they are lost, or shut them off if they are stolen. Carriers and handset makers should think of ways to make the time you are cut off shorter and phone replacement easier.

Bottom line -- smartphones and apps are the future. We can use them as a remote control for our lives. However, if we are actually to trust these devices with our important information, they have to live up to the challenge. Today, they don't.

All the excitement has overwhelmed us -- but the smartphone hardware simply is not ready to take on responsibility for so much of our lives. Not yet, anyway -- and I have a feeling it will be years before it is. 

 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/altice-enters-us-cable-tv-market

Jeff Kagan: Altice Enters US Cable TV Market

By Jeff Kagan

May 20, 2015 1:03PM   

Tickers Mentioned: TWC CMCSA CVC T VZ CTL NFLX AMZN

Get used to a new name in the cable television industry, Altice. This European company has decided to stick its toes in the US cable television marketplace by acquiring Suddenlink Communications. This is yet another sign of a major shakeup that is occurring in the cable TV industry. In fact speculation says they may be interested in Time Warner Cable (TWC)  as well. So what does TV look like going forward?

The US cable television industry has changed and has seen many acquisitions over the last several decades. In the 1990ís, the industry was full of smaller competitors. Then a decade ago, Comcast (CMCSA)  acquired AT&T Broadband who had acquired TCI and became the largest cable television company in the country.

Since that time there have been more mergers, but besides size, the industry hadnít changed much. However over the last several years significant changes have started to occur in the space. Changes, which threaten the traditional cable TV marketplace.

This is something that industry leaders would like to stop, but no one can stop progress.

Threats to Cable TV Marketplace

Suddenly, traditional cable television companies are losing market share. Thatís the first time this has happened, and it is putting enormous pressure on industry leaders like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision (CVC)  and Suddenlink.

The threat of losing market share is one of the key reasons I believe Comcast introduced Xfinity. It lets them create a new way to provide television over multiple channels like the Internet.

They are moving in this direction because new competitors like AT&T Uverse (T) , Verizon FiOS (VZ)  and CenturyLink Prism (CTL)  are eating their lunch. These are IPTV providers of television over the Internet. That opens up plenty of new and innovative services for customers.

In fact these new services have been winning awards regularly for quality and innovation. And there is more. New innovative ideas and companies like Netflix (NFLX) , Amazon.com (AMZN)  and Hulu are also eating traditional cable televisionís lunch.

Cable TV set itself up for failure by not paying attention to the customer over the last several decades. They didnít have to care. They had no competition. So they only cared about the investor, not the customer. This was their key mistake and they are paying the price for it right now.

Last week Comcast once again stressed their commitment to improve their customer care. That sounds great, except thatís the same thing they said several years ago. Apparently it hasnít worked for them yet. I guess itís hard to break old habits.

This customer care problem is not just Comcastís alone. Every cable television company suffers from the same issues, some more than others. Embracing a new way of thinking is apparently very difficult for these large companies.

So what does the future look like for TV? Yesterday we had to come home and sit down with a remote control in hand to watch what we want on the network schedule.

Going forward everything changes. The customer is in control. They get to watch what they want, when they want, on whatever device they want, wherever they are.

Signal will be sent over the wire line or wireless Internet. That means we can watch on our television, or computer or tablet, smartphone or smartwatch. And we can watch anywhere we happen to be, not just at home.

Everything is in the process of changing and reinventing itself in this sector. Thatís exciting. However this is both an opportunity and a risk. Itís an opportunity for new players with big ideas and a risk for traditional players stuck in the past.

Altice Enters US Cable TV Marketplace

This is the world that Altice is entering here in the USA. This is a huge, new opportunity. However, only certain companies will be winners. This is what Altice will focus on going forward.

Congratulations to Altice for throwing their hat into the ring. It will be interesting to see what new kind of ideas and thinking they bring to the table. Will they make other acquisitions? Will they be trying to update the entire cable television space, or just their company?

We can be sure they arenít just going to be doing business as usual.

Success in television going forward has two parts, innovation and customer care. Companies must hit it out of the park in both areas. However one thing is for sure, everything is changing. Doing business the same way will not work.

What will Altice add to the US marketplace? Thatís the question. Keep your eyes open. Weíll just have to wait and see.

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          May 20, 2015 1:03PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/altice-enters-us-cable-tv-market#sthash.hq5nT1r1.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.rcrwireless.com/20150518/carriers/dish-enter-wireless-with-t-mobile

Kagan: Will Dish enter wireless with T-Mobile?

By Jeff Kagan  on May 18, 2015   Carriers

Consumers stream content, whenever, wherever and on whatever device they choose

Dish Network has acquired quite a bit of wireless spectrum. What will CEO Charlie Ergen do with this valuable asset? It sounds like Dish growth will come from wireless and it appears T-Mobile may play a role. However the future is much bigger and different. So letís take a closer look at what Dish may do and if they will be successful.

Dish market share is roughly 14%. It has not really moved in years. Where will growth come from? We have watched Charlie Ergen scoop up wireless data spectrum in recent years and wondered why. Years ago it was less clear, but as the industry changes Dish strategy is becoming crystal clear.

While there has been no announcement yet from Dish, speculation is going wild. And to tell you the truth, it sounds like there is a real potential for Dish to change and enter the wireless universe. After understanding the path, the next question is simple. Will this succeed?

On one hand it seems to make sense. After all it appears that AT&T, a wireless and telecom company, is getting ready to acquire DirecTV. Looking at it from this perspective it might make just as much sense for a satellite television company to grow wirelessly as well.

On the other hand, we have seen Dish Network competitors like cable television companies Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox fall flat on their faces and fail in the wireless world. Wireless is such a rapidly growing and changing space, so that failure simply means these companies didnít understand the rules of wireless success.

So what makes Ergen think Dish can be successful in wireless when his larger competitors fell flat on their faces? The changing direction of the industry has become clearer in recent years. We have watched Netflix change from mailing out DVDís to streaming over the Internet and growing like crazy.

Plus people no longer just watch TV from their home set any longer. They watch over their wireless devices like smartphones, tabletís watches and computers. They watch whatever they want, wherever they are, whenever they want.

Perhaps thatís where T-Mobile USA enters the scene. Could Dish Network and T-Mobile be getting ready to partner on this wireless opportunity?

Perhaps. In recent interviews, Charlie Ergen, CEO of Dish Networks and John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile had glowing remarks to say about each other. If youíve been following this sector, you know how unusual that is.

If this is the Ergen plan, it sounds like a winner so far. The reason is simple: television is changing. The way networks deliver their product must changes as well. Wireless is a key component.

In fact, since the world of television and entertainment is changing, if Dish Network does not change and update itself, it will be relegated to the past.

This is a defining moment for Dish Network.

Remember the wave, which I often talk about? This is a perfect example. The wave grows, then crests, then falls. Traditional television over cable TV or satellite grew for years, but in recent years that growth wave has crested.

This challenges every competitor in the space. They must adapt and continue to grow, or they will crest and begin to fall. The traditional cable television and satellite business has crested. Now the question is whatís next for these industry leaders of yesterday?

New competitors like Telephone Company IPTV are rapidly growing. AT&T Uverse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism are challenging traditional cable television.

Thatís why Comcast is chasing them with their new Xfinity. IPTV is the future whether it is delivered wirelessly or over the wired Internet.

Thatís the challenge that is faced by every competitor in this space. Satellite television is more limited with its technology so it must transform. AT&T is acquiring DirecTV. The next question is about Dish Networkís future.

Remember the wireless world has several different slices. We have been talking about delivering wireless television, but there is also the handset side with smartphones and networks.

Google for instance is successful with their Android operating system, but not with their Nexus phones. Now Google is moving into the network space to sell their own services as an MVNO like Tracfone. Will this be successful?

Not every newcomer to wireless is successful. Just look at both Facebook and Amazon.com with their Fire phone as examples. Wireless is a tough business and has lotís of different slices.

So will Dish be successful in wireless? Thatís the question. Weíll see. However television and smartphones and wireless are all changing and merging and morphing.

This is an enormous opportunity for companies who get it right, and risk for companies who miss.

We have yet to hear any details from Dish Networks. We donít know the details of the services like voice, data and television over the wireless network available to customers anywhere they are. We donít know about partners like possibly T-Mobile.

We donít know anything official. However looking at the changes in the rest of the industry and the changes that Dish needs to make going forward, I think we can make an educated guess they will be entering the wireless industry.

The question is how far? Will they use wireless to expand their television offerings only, or will they also be making voice services and smartphones and wireless Internet available to customers as well.

Will they still just compete in the television space or will their world expand to include wireless, Internet and telephone?

We donít have all the answers yet, or whether Dish will be successful or not yet, but we do know that changes are rewriting all these different industries. We also know that Dish has been successful in the past and we should prepare for them to expand going forward.

Dish Network Netflix T-Mobile

Share. Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest Š LinkedIn Tumblr  Email 

About Author

Jeff Kagan

RCR Wireless News columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst and consultant. Kagan shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for more than 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. Web site www.jeffkagan.com.

 


 

http://www.rcrwireless.com/20150515/carriers/kagan-wireless-growth-wave-changing

Kagan: As wireless industry evolves, so must carriers

By Jeff Kagan

May 15, 2015  

Carriers must reinvent to keep competitive edge

We all focus on the details about growing our business, stomping on our competition and winning going forward. However we donít often stop, pull the camera back, and take a longer-term historical perspective on our changing industry. So letís take a look at where we are today and where we are heading as a wireless industry.

The wave of change is always present. Carriers, handset makers and in fact every company in the wireless space are always looking to grow.

Winners in wireless seem to be entrenched, but we can simply take a look at the last few years to see how the tumultuous wave of change transformed the industry, both on the network side and on the handset side.

I use the term wave, because thatís how I see this industry growing and changing. Every opportunity and every company is either on the growth side of the wave, the cresting side of the wave, or the falling side of the wave.

We have seen this wave theory play itself out, time and time again, in all different industry sectors. As an industry analyst I follow wireless, telecom, television, the Internet and communications technology in general. Each has seen dramatic shifts in leadership over time.

A look at the wireless industry is a great example. There is always so much change that is reinvents the entire industry every five to 10 years.

That means at any time, leaders can fall back and new companies can take the leadership position and change the entire industry. It happens all the time.

In fact every company faces the threat and the opportunity for both ups and downs on an ongoing basis. This is the wave. Being on the growth side is great. However before you crest and start to fall you must create the next growth wave to keep your momentum going.

Every opportunity grows, crests then falls. Itís up to every company to make sure itís always on the growth side of the wave. Companies must continually have updates and innovations or they will suffer when the wave passes on their offerings. They must keep stoking the fire. Keep it hot.

Remember when companies like Motorola, Blackberry and Nokia led in the wireless handset space? Then suddenly a few years ago everything changed. Now the leaders are Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy.

Thatís the kind of threat and opportunity that every company faces, every sector faces, every day.

Look at the networks. We can look at the wire line side as well, but letís take a look just at the wireless side. Every few years the industry reinvented itself. It grew from an analog industry, to digital, to faster and faster digital with 2G, 3G, 4G and now we are talking about 5G.

All four major wireless carriers were doing well before this shift. Then things started to separate over the last decade. AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless continued to update and lead the smartphone and wireless data space.

Sprint and T-Mobile missed that opportunity and struggled for years. Sprint with Nextel and T-Mobile who simply missed the move toward wireless data services.

Now both Sprint and T-Mobile have started to grow once again and that is great for the competitive marketplace. We want to see more, not less, competitors trying to win our business.

The same kind of growth wave happened with long distance, local phone, dial-up Internet, cable television and so on. Today those are yesterdayís businesses. The wave has crested and they are on the falling side of the growth wave.

Traditional local phone service, traditional cable television service, traditional wireless service are all part of a growth wave which has crested and is on the downside.

However some companies continue to do a great job of changing and reinventing themselves and growing, while others struggle.

Just look at the three baby bells as an example. AT&T and Verizon are still growing and still looking for new opportunities. They no longer offer just local phone service, but have expanded.

Now they are providers of not only local and long distance, but also wireless, Internet, television where they compete with cable TV companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox and much more. They have shifted to the hot growth areas of the industry.

In fact both AT&T and Verizon are continuing to expand. AT&T has perhaps the most aggressive plans as they are acquiring DirecTV, Mexican wireless, helping the automotive industry go wireless, healthcare, home security and automation, U-verse TV and much more.

Verizon is also thinking about growth and change with their recent announced acquisition of AOL, their FiOS television and more. And we can expect more, not less as both of these companies rapidly reinvent themselves and create the next big growth wave to ride.

CenturyLink is the third baby bell, however they are less aggressive at change and growth. They are not into wireless, and they are not as aggressive at expanding their Prism TV offering.

CenturyLink is still important as a local phone company, but remember that opportunity has crested on the growth wave and is on the decline. So it will be interesting to watch them going forward.

Even the cable television industry tried to make it in wireless. Companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox tried and failed. They eventually sold their wireless business to Verizon Wireless.

As you can see, the marketplace is full of challanges and opportunities. Some companies are succeeding and others are struggling. Some are on the growth side of the wave, while others have crested and are trying to start their growth engines once again.

Some companies were leaders yesterday and are now followers. Other companies were leaders before and they still are today. Their challenge is to stay there.

These are just some of the stories in the rapidly changing world of wireless. As you can see there are plenty of winners and losers. In order to stay in the winning path you must create the next growth wave before your current growth wave crests and begins to fall.

Itís all about momentum. Every company and every opportunity is on a growth wave. It all depends where you are located on the wave. Are you on the growth side, the cresting side or the falling side?

The next question is what are your plans for tomorrow? Remember you can be number one or two today, but you can quickly be at the bottom of the heap within a few short years if you donít continue to stoke the fire and add new growth waves to your company.

This is the challenge every competitor faces every day. Thatís why some win and others struggle. Keep your eyes on the different growth waves and on each companyís position on that wave to determine whether they will be winning of losing going forward. And remember, that can change over time as the industry continues to change.

So join me each week as we explore the wireless world and everything it touches. Looking a companies and competition and the wave. There are plenty of companies who are going a great job and plenty of others who are struggling. And their leadership position can change at anytime.

Itís happened before and it will most likely happen again.

AT&T Carriers CenturyLink Verizon

Share. Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest Š LinkedIn Tumblr  Email 

About Author

Jeff Kagan

Jeff Kagan  Website

RCR Wireless News columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst and consultant. Kagan shares his colorful perspectives and opinions on the companies and technologies that are transforming the industry he has followed for more than 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/ATT-Spreads-Rollover-Data-Cheer-to-GoPhone-82053.html

ANALYSIS

AT&T Spreads Rollover Data Cheer to GoPhone

Leadership in the wireless industry has changed dramatically over the last decade. On the handset side, BlackBerry and Nokia once ruled, but now it's Apple and Samsung. Leadership can change very quickly. That's the challenge for today's leaders -- and that's one reason underlying AT&T's rollover idea. Customers love it -- so they will remain customers.

By Jeff Kagan

May 14, 2015 9:23 AM PT

AT&T Mobility introduced Rollover Data early this year. The offering is very similar to its successful Rollover Minutes for voice calls, which it began offering a few years ago. The question is, will it be just as successful for data? It looks like the answer is yes, as it is now expanding the perk to GoPhone.

GoPhone is an AT&T Mobility prepaid brand. Prepaid is a rapidly growing wireless segment, and AT&T is determined to be a winner. That's why it has several unique brands, like GoPhone and Cricket, under its master AT&T brand.

Carriers still need to separate their prepaid brands from the universe of other wireless brands competing for your business. That's why they all try to implement attractive customer solutions.

Making Lightning Strike Twice

It's interesting how wireless is becoming a brand and master brand universe for AT&T. Several years ago, before wireless data was a fast-growing segment, wireless voice minutes were how the carriers competed. AT&T introduced its Rollover Minutes, letting customers keep unused minutes and roll them over to the next month.

It was successful, so why not try it with data? I loved the Rollover Data idea when it was launched back in January, but the question was, could AT&T get lightning to strike twice?

So far, it seems that Rollover Data is successful because AT&T is expanding it beyond the Mobile Share Value plans to the GoPhone.

I think GoPhone customers should love Rollover Data. Prepaid customers are focused on reducing costs, and this plan helps them reduce the cost of wireless data services. That's the whole point -- reducing costs to keep users happy.

Wireless Is Changing

This is a great time to stop and take a look at how the industry is growing and changing. Several years ago carriers competed on voice minutes. Today however, they compete on wireless data. Voice is almost a second thought.

The wireless world is a tough place to do business. You not only have to attract new customers, but also must retain your existing customers, who are being courted by the competition. To do that, carriers have been improving the customer experience and offering advanced services and features.

Not every company is successful in the wireless world. Sure, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless keep hitting it out of the park, but for years it seemed Sprint and T-Mobile kept striking out. Now, however, both Sprint and T-Mobile are getting their form back and are growing once again. That's good to see.

However, other companies have flamed out -- like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Facebook and even Amazon -- after struggling to succeed in wireless. They were like shooting stars -- they looked great for a moment, before burning up and fading away into oblivion.

Do It Again

Leadership in the industry has changed dramatically too. On the handset side, BlackBerry and Nokia once ruled, but now it's Apple and Samsung. Leadership can change very quickly. That's the challenge for today's leaders -- and that's one reason underlying AT&T's rollover idea. Customers love it -- so they will remain customers.

Wireless is not a world where the successful can kick back and enjoy their winnings, either on the network side or on the handset side. Wireless is a dog-eat-dog industry where you must stay strong and innovative or you lose.

Success in wireless is based on what you did yesterday. Today the question is, what have you done for me lately?

Wireless carriers deliver lots of different ideas to the marketplace. Some are successful, while others fall flat. AT&T is proving that some great ideas -- updated and reintroduced -- can win for the second time, even in a competitive marketplace.

When you have a great idea that customers love, you might just as well update it and run it again. It seems good ideas can make a comeback. Keep your eyes on the wireless industry. Innovation and change are the hallmarks of this rapidly growing space. 

 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-why-verizon-acquiring-aol

Jeff Kagan: Why Verizon Acquiring AOL

By Jeff Kagan

May 13, 2015 12:52PM   

Tickers Mentioned: VZ AOL T CTL DTV

Now that all the media frenzy is dying down a bit, you may be asking yourself why Verizon (VZ)  would want to acquire AOL (AOL) ? Isnít AOL a name from yesterday? What value could they have for Verizon going forward? The answer is, itís all about keeping the Verizon stock price strong and growing.

The reason for this acquisition has little to do with the AOL of yesterday. Think tomorrow. Verizon is interested in acquiring assets that can help them continue to grow and stay strong to their investors. Itís a simple and as complicated as that.

A large part of the AOL appeal may be their Ad Tech business. AOL has spend plenty of time and energy developing this new area of business.

Companies like Verizon, AT&T (T)  and CenturyLink (CTL)  are the nations three largest local phone companies. They are what is left of the seven baby bells after a wave of mergers over the last decade or two.

The baby bells continued to grow through the 1990ís, but around 2000 they crested and local lines have been falling ever since.

This was the moment, which separated the growing baby bells from those who struggle.

Companies like Verizon and AT&T have continued to change and grow, while CenturyLink has taken a much slower path.

Think back to the late 1990ís. The baby bells were local phone companies, offering local phone lines to business and consumers. They got into long distance, but competitors started to move into phone service as well, like the VoIP services and wireless.

AT&T and Verizon made the right moves. They saw the threat. They evolved. They grew. They became bigger and stronger over the next decade. They moved into wireless, Internet, television and other services. Sure traditional telephone lines continue to shrink, but they grew in the other areas.

Thatís why AT&T and Verizon shareholders are very happy with their growth curve. They may have started out the same as CenturyLink, but today they are on two different paths.

CenturyLink was not as aggressive as AT&T and Verizon. CenturyLink is not into wireless and their television is not as aggressive on the growth track either.

This is why Verizon is interested in AOL. Itís the same reason AT&T is interested in DirecTV (DTV)  and Mexico and assorted other opportunities.

In fact AT&T has been the most aggressive at growth in these new areas. Thatís why Verizon is heading down this same path, although more slowly. They donít want to fall behind.

Who knows whether all these new areas will succeed? However thatís why companies continue to acquire several different companies in several different spaces. Itís like throwing mud against the wall. Some of it will stick and the rest will fall away. What sticks they will grow and build their future on.

Itís a simply concept, but this path has been successful decade after decade. And it will continue to be successful.

The bottom line is both AT&T and Verizon are interested in offering new services and increasing their income to keep their share price high and their shareholders happy. Thatís why Verizon is interested in AOL and their Ad Tech and other areas of success.

Itís really as simple as that. So congratulations VerizonÖ. ScreechÖ Youíve Got Mail!

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

By Jeff Kagan May 13, 2015 12:52PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-why-verizon-acquiring-aol#sthash.4NSrvo19.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/The-Next-Big-Split-in-Wireless-82022.html

ANALYSIS

The Next Big Split in Wireless

The wireless industry will split into two parts. Players like Sprint and T-Mobile will focus on wireless. The other part will be players like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, which will transform other industries and move into new business growth areas, even as they continue to compete in wireless. They have more growth opportunities because they are both wire line and wireless.

By Jeff Kagan

May 7, 2015 9:51 AM PT

The wireless and wire line telecom industry completely reinvents itself every few years, it seems, with radical changes either to handsets or networks. Right now, everything seems to be changing.

Seven years ago, the handset leaders were BlackBerry and Nokia. Today, those companies are struggling to stay on the charts.

Today's handset leaders are Apple and Samsung for hardware, and Apple and Google for operating systems. These three companies have the vast majority of market share, although there are plenty of other brands trying to carve out a niche for themselves as well.

During the last several years, there has been a shift in the wireless industry's network side as well.

Almost a decade ago, the shift toward smartphones began. Then AT&T Mobility struck a deal with Apple to be the first to offer the iPhone. That exclusive deal lasted several years, letting AT&T capture enormous growth.

Around that same time, Google introduced its Android phone on T-Mobile. The first year it flopped, but Google learned and got better year after year. Now it leads on the operating system side. Google still is not successful its own branded handsets, however.

When AT&T's exclusive contract to distribute the iPhone ended, the industry buzz suggested the company would lose significant market share to other carriers like Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

That never happened. It's a feather in AT&T's cap that it kept the vast majority of its customers and has been adding more year after year. In fact, its most recent earnings report shows it is still in growth mode.

The Industry Today

Today, Apple's iPhone, Samsung's Galaxy line and other handsets running Google's Android lead the smartphone space with every wireless carrier in the U.S. market.

During the latest quarter, churn rates -- the rate at which customers leave one network and go to another -- continued to be at historic lows. That's also impressive.

Growth on the wireless data side also been rapid during the last several years. The number of apps used on smartphones has increased rapidly from a few hundred seven years ago, when BlackBerry ruled, to upwards of 2.5 million today, with Google and Apple leading.

So we have seen an enormous growth wave transform the wireless industry for networks, handset makers, app makers and so on. It has been a wild growth bonanza, and it's continuing, although growth rates are slowing since many consumers already have smartphones.

AT&T and Verizon are the two largest and strongest wireless and wire line carriers in the industry today. They are pretty much equal in size and coverage, and both seem to have very happy customers.

Sprint and T-Mobile have had a tougher last seven years. However, during the last year or two, both have shown strong signs of reawakening and growth. If this continues, and there is no reason to think it won't, both Sprint and T-Mobile will continue to get stronger in the marketplace.

Now Google is jumping into the wireless business on the network side as well, as an MVNO. We'll have to wait and see what kind of dent it can make in the industry, if any. Its unveiling a few weeks ago was disappointing, to say the least. Let's hope it gets better as time passes.

Future Growth

Where will future growth come from in the wire line and wireless industry?

Handset makers will continue to improve their designs and hypnotize users. However, what I see coming are evolutionary, not revolutionary, improvements. That said, growth will continue.

Carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile will continue to improve their wireless networks and win more market share, quarter after quarter.

Smaller players like U.S. Cellular, C Spire, Tracfone, and others will continue to grow on the wireless side; however, their growth rates don't seem as robust or their products as innovative as the market leaders.

Google wireless is a question mark.

AT&T and Verizon are where the real changes will come from. So far, it looks like AT&T is more aggressively changing toward a new growth model, but I can't imagine that Verizon won't eventually join in.

Wireless Will Split Into 2

I get the sense that the wireless industry will split into two parts.

One part will be players like Sprint and T-Mobile, which will focus on wireless. The other part will be players like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless, which will transform other industries and move into new business growth areas, even as they continue to compete in wireless.

Here's an example: Wireless traditionally has been mostly a postpaid business. However, in recent years, prepaid has become a rapidly growing segment. Both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have prepaid offerings, but AT&T has turned up the heat by starting AIO Wireless, acquiring Cricket. This is a new, healthy and growing business.

AT&T and Verizon are interested in everything from wireless in Mexico, to acquiring DirecTV to offer satellite television in the U.S., to helping many other industries -- like healthcare, retail, automotive and so on -- transform using wireless.

In fact, for wireless companies in general, the automotive industry is an exciting opportunity. Companies can connect each new car to their wireless networks, letting customers do many new things. Customers can get a WiFi signal for riders in the car, get more detailed traffic and route guidance, as well as news, weather and other information.

On the wire line side of the business, there are also television services, like AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism. There are home automation and alarm systems, and so on.

There is much more, but you see my point. There are many growth opportunities for AT&T and Verizon, because they are both wire line and wireless companies.

AT&T's Master Brand

I believe AT&T will have to focus on branding, since it is moving into other areas of business. The AT&T master brand is key at the top, while other brands have their place underneath.

Any way you slice it, the wireless and wire line industry is healthy, growing and changing. The industry looks very different today compared with 10 years ago -- and it will look just as different 10 years from today. Stay tuned. 

 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/healthcare/jeff-kagan-new-book-stroke-recovery-stories

Jeff Kagan: New Book, Stroke Recovery Stories

By Jeff Kagan  

May 5, 2015 5:49AM   

Tickers Mentioned: AMZN BKS AAPL GOOG MSFT

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Let me tell you a secret. I am a stroke survivor. Itís been more than 10 years since my life changed in the blink of an eye. My recovery took years. However, I consider myself fortunate because I fought my way back. Now I want to help others with their stroke recovery. Thatís why I wrote and published the book, Stroke Recovery Stories.

The full title is, Stroke Recovery Stories: Humorous and Inspiring Stories Told By Stroke Survivors and the People Who Love Them. As you can see, this book was not entirely written by me. Other stroke survivors and a neurologist also write chapters in a very unique and inspiring book.

David Ober, MD, Chief of Neurology at Nyack Hospital wrote the Special Introduction. He tells the reader what everyone involved with stroke needs to know from a medical point of view. You will have a much better understanding of stroke and recovery after reading this chapter.

Next, each chapter is written by a different stroke survivor. Some chapters are written by survivors telling their story while others are written by family and caretakers. Each has itís own unique flavor, lessons and inspiration.

The purpose of this book is to have the reader learn from others. Think of this book like a support session where everyone sitís in a room and gets a chance to tell their story and the lessons they learned in order to help others.

I am very impressed with each chapter and each survivorís story. Some made me laugh and others made me cry, but each taught me something new. This is important whether you are a stroke survivor, caretaker, family or friend.

Visit the American Stroke Association or the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke.

www.strokeassociation.org

www.stroke.org

Stroke Recovery Stories is brand new and was just published last week. It is available on Amazon.com at the Kindle store.

I have learned that Amazon.com Kindle (AMZN) , Barnes & Noble Nook (BKS) , Apple iPad (AAPL)  and others, are a remarkable technology. They give the reader the ability to carry tons of books in a little device. They let the reader buy new books or just browse wherever they are.

They give the author the ability to write, to add and update the material in the eBook on an ongoing basis until they are ready to stop. And when the book is updated, previous customers get the updated material.

You can add pictures and links to the text taking the reader to different places on the web to enhance the experience. Ebooks are an incredible next step in book publishing. While the eBook does not have the same feel as a real book in your hands, you can do so much more that this is truly an amazing technology.

Ever since my book went on sale last week, I have received emails from other stroke survivors who want to tell their story as well. This is an incredible opportunity for any author. I will either add these stories to this book on Kindle, or write a follow up eBook and create a series. And readers who buy at anytime will get the updates as well.

A hard cover edition is also easy and can be created using CreateSpace, an Amazon.com company. CreateSpace helps you create a hard copy book using print on demand technology or POD. There are many POD companies to choose from today.

POD prints a single, real, book at a time and ships it to the reader within days. That means no investment in large quantities of books. That means the author can update the material just like with the eBook.

The world of publishing is completely changing over the last five to 10 years. There is still the traditional book publishing industry, but now there are other slices of the pie as well.

There are many eBook publishers to help you create your book. There are many stores online at places like Amazon.com Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple, Google (GOOG) , Microsoft (MFST)  and more. If you want to be an author, the tools are there for you to get started today.

So remember, May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is something that happens to 750,000 Americanís every year. As large a number as that represents, itís actually much larger than that. If you include the family and friends of each survivor, you can see how millions of Americans are affected every year.

Plus since stroke recovery takes many years, there are tens of millions of Americans who are dealing with it today. And there are many more worldwide. Understanding stroke is important. It impacts so many. And there is still little in the way of real helpful information.

However the good news is stroke survivors can and do recover. They get back to work or change what they do going forward. It can be easier for a young stroke survivor to recover more fully.

The brain is really a miraculous blessing. Like a computer with a bad section on the hard drive, the brain can often re-write itís software to work around the dead spot. It just takes time and effort.

I lived through it. Itís terrible, but itís also truly amazing to watch the body and the brain heal. Stroke was an incredible ride. Donít get me wrong, I have been on this ride once and thatís enough. However what I have learned has changed me, for the better I hope!

So take a look at the free preview on Amazon.com. Remember, stroke can happen to anyone at any time. And when it happens, it instantly changes your life. Donít believe me? I didnít believe it myself, until it happened to me that is.

 

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By Jeff Kagan     May 5, 2015 5:49AM 

 

 

 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Is-Comcast-TWC-Dead-or-Just-Sleeping-81993.html

ANALYSIS

Is Comcast, TWC Dead or Just Sleeping?

The Comcast, TWC deal made sense for the two companies, but not for the industry and not for the customers. The reason is that there is not yet enough competition for high-speed Internet across the country. If over the next several years other companies offer ultra-fast Gigabit-speed Internet services in the vast majority of locations from coast to coast, then the time may be ripe for another try.

By Jeff Kagan

Apr 30, 2015 9:05 AM PT

Now that the Comcast, Time Warner Cable merger deal has failed, what's next? I think it's likely that if Time Warner Cable is still around, the deal might be tried once again in a few years after the industry has transformed itself.

Comcast obviously is still interested in expanding with Time Warner Cable and will try this merger dance again in a few years. This has worked before. Where, you ask? Think about AT&T over the last 10 to 15 years as one example.

A Brief History of AT&T

AT&T was the largest telephone company in the world during the last century. In the 1980s, it spun off the local phone business to seven Baby Bells. Then AT&T the long distance giant competed against MCI and Sprint.

When the Baby Bells started to sell long distance as well as local services, the long distance industry started to fade away.

In the late 1990s Ed Whitacre, CEO of SBC -- the smallest Baby Bell -- tried to acquire AT&T. That attempt failed.

The long distance sector -- and the entire telecom industry -- continued to change, and AT&T eventually became much smaller and less important.

In the early 2000s, Ed Whitacre once again tried to acquire AT&T, and that time was successful. SBC also acquired BellSouth and Cingular, and the entire company took the name "AT&T."

Today, AT&T is one of the largest, strongest and most successful communications companies in the U.S. and, in fact, the world.

Not Enough Players

That is what I think could happen here with Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The marketplace is not ready for this merger today, but perhaps it will be in a few years.

Today the deal made sense for the two companies, but not for the industry and not for the customers. The reason is that there is not yet enough competition for high-speed Internet across the country.

Sure, AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism offer excellent quality television over the Internet using IPTV. Sure, they offer blazing Internet speeds. And sure, companies like AT&T are rolling out their ultra-fast Gigapower Internet service.

However, we are just in the very early stages of this revolution. Today there is little in the way of competition in the vast majority of the United States.

If over the next several years other companies offer ultra-fast Gigabit-speed Internet services in the vast majority of locations from coast to coast, then the time may be ripe for Comcast and Time Warner Cable to try merging once again.

Tomorrow Is Another Day

In the meantime, I fully expect Comcast to continue to improve its core services so it can compete with new threats like AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Google and others for Internet and television.

Of course, Time Warner Cable may not be around a few years from now. I think other companies will be interested in acquiring it now that Comcast has stepped aside. Perhaps Charter or some other company will give it a try.

Mergers and acquisitions will continue in this industry. They have been happening for decades and will continue.

M&A is alive. Many smaller deals will continue to happen. It's just that now, when there are relatively few companies competing, regulators must be careful which deals they approve.

As for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, No. 1 merging with No. 2 was just not right at this time. Tomorrow may be a different story.

 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-analyst-on-google-project-fi-wireless

Jeff Kagan: Analyst on Google Project Fi Wireless

By Jeff Kagan

April 28, 2015 8:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: GOOG WEN SSNNF AAPL T VZ S TMUS WMT FB AMZN CMCSA TWX

As a pretty well known wireless analyst, I've been lucky to get to write about and tell you my thoughts on different new technologies and offerings for the past several years. Last week, Google Project Fi was launched, and to tell you the truth, I am scratching my head with this one. I was expecting something big, but there is no there, there. Nearly every wireless network and handset maker makes sure I am briefed on their strategies and thinking so that I can discuss these strategies with the media, and in my columns. But to tell you the truth, while I like Google Inc. (GOOG) , I just donít get Project Fi.

Remember that great Wendyís (WEN)  television commercial from the 1980ís, where that dear old granny Clara Peller asked, "Whereís the beef?" That same question has been on my mind since Googleís announcement last week.

Whereís the Beef, Google?

I honestly thought Google was going to blow the doors off and try to rewrite the rules of wireless. Similar to the way they changed the field when they introduced the Android operating system for the handset several years ago. That didnít happen.

Should we conclude that maybe Google does not fully understand marketing, advertising and public relations?

Last week's introduction of Google Project Fi was a disappointment. And the mistakes they made will make it harder for them to regroup and be relevant in the marketplace they wanted to change and to own.

The audience was seated, the stage was set, and all Google had to do was WOW the crowd with an industry changing announcement. Weíve been talking and speculating for months about Project Fi. Google should have leveraged that energy and excitement and built on it. This could have been a real event. You would think they would have worked their marketing magic and created a really big splash that would reinvent the way we think about wireless.

Thatís what I, and frankly, everyone else expected. Unfortunately, thatís not what happened. I was expecting something big and transformative, but the first skyrocket turned out to be a dud.

Donít get me wrong - I like Google. I respect what they have done over the last decade, and how they have stuck their foot into many different industries and segments. They are trying to rewrite the traditional rules we have lived by forever. True, sometimes they cross the line, but they also give us so much.

However, when it comes to an announcement of this magnitude, I expected so much more than what we actually got...I think we all did.

The world was watching. Google had an incredible breakout marketing opportunity. They could have redefined the wireless space with this announcement. Thatís what we were expecting, but thatís not what happened.

Where Google Project Fi Missed

One, the price is no better than what is already in the marketplace from a variety of competitors...so there was nothing new here.

Two, the phone they will market is their Nexus device, which has been one of the big sleepers. It does not hold a candle to the Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone or Samsung Electronics Co (SSNNF) Galaxy, which uses the Google Android operating system. This was a disappointment.

So whatís new and different? The biggest deal I can see is that the Google brand is now on a service, not just a handset. That will let Google compete with other wireless networks like AT&T Inc. (T) Mobility, Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ)   Wireless, Sprint Corp (S) , T-Mobile US (TMUS) , Tracfone, Family Mobile from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)  using the T-Mobile network, and so on, not just handset makers like Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

These carriers are all successful. Can Google compete against them?

Google has been trying to win at wireless for years. Their Android operating system is a winner. Their Nexus device is not. So the jury is out on whether Google Project Fi will succeed or fail.

A Brief History of Failure in the Wireless Sector

The Google Nexus handset is designed to make calls and log on to wireless data by first looking for a Wi-Fi signal. If there is no Wi-Fi signal, it will default to either the Sprint or T-Mobile network. While this is interesting and a potential win for Sprint and T-Mobile, itís not the kind of stuff that will help Google sell phones and build market share in this industry.

Remember, other non-wireless companies tried and failed to enter this business as well. Remember Facebook Inc. (FB)  and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) ? Everyone got excited about their entry as well, until they failed and disappeared.

The same thing happened with cable television companies Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) , Time Warner Inc. (TWX)  and Cox, all of which failed to make headway in wireless, and quickly exited the sector.

As you can see, success in wireless is not easy. It has only been achieved by a select few, either on the handset side or the network side. I hope Google is successful, because we can always use more competitors who can shake things up in the marketplace. It keeps us on edge, and keeps innovation flowing, which is good.

However, so far, Google has not done a good job with their entry. And the entry is important...it creates a framework, which the marketplace understands, and allows analysts to judge its success or failure going forward.

Competing Carriers Will Be Watching

Even though Google was not successful with this introduction, I can assure you that all carriers will still be watching closely, just in case. You donít ignore the Google threat. And if they are successful, they could be a threat.

However, so far at least, if this was Googleís opportunity to create a new way of thinking about them and about wireless, I think they missed...big time. There's no there, there. Not yet, anyway.  

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By Jeff Kagan   April 28, 2015 8:00AM 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/The-Growing-Robocall-Menace-81969.html

ANALYSIS

The Growing Robocall Menace

Many VoIP robocalls come from overseas. International robocalling would not have been conceivable over regular phone networks. It would have been prohibitively expensive. However, it now may cost no more to call around the world than across the street. U.S. laws and regulations have absolutely no power over this growing problem. Companies are controlled by their countries' rules and regulations.

By Jeff Kagan

Apr 23, 2015 10:22 AM PT

Automated telephone calls, also known as "robocalls," used to drive me crazy. Then they stopped, and life was quiet, peaceful and beautiful once again, but just for a few short years. Those disturbing calls have started once again, and now they are worse than ever. Why? And how can we stop them?

Robocalls typically are for telemarketing purposes. The calls are placed by automated systems. They may consist of recorded messages, or a real person may get on the line to make a telemarketing pitch once a prospect has picked up.

Sales and marketing phone calls started long before the Internet, email and social sites popped up. In the 1980s and early 1990s, companies would call you every night around dinnertime, often asking you to switch your long distance service. There were dozens of other common sales pitches as well.

Back then, there were countless companies that dialed you on a daily basis as part of their marketing efforts. It was one arrow in their advertising quiver. They never thought about or cared about how it tarnished their image in the marketplace. They just kept dialing away, driving everyone nuts.

Then the Federal Trade Commission started the National Do Not Call Registry -- and surprisingly, it worked. After you signed up, most of the calls stopped. Ahhh. Peace at last.

The Rise of VoIP

After the calls started once again, years later, I thought perhaps the Do Not Call Registry had a time limit, so I signed up once again. However it didn't help. The calls kept coming -- and they got worse every year. Now I get so many crap calls every day I just want to scream! What happened?

The calls in the 1980s and 1990s were made by U.S. companies on U.S. soil using U.S. telephone networks to call people in the U.S. The callers were held to the same legal standards as any other U.S. company and had to follow the rules of the road.

Back then, companies dialed you on regular phone networks and had to pay for every call. So accepting some restrictions also meant reducing costs.

Then VoIP was born -- and peace and quiet died.

Voice over Internet Protocol hit the scene in the late 1990s, allowing voice calls over the Internet rather than a telephone network. The calls were free, and there were no rules. The rules applied to traditional telephone networks, not the Internet.

Back then, VoIP used to let you hook up a speaker and microphone to your computer and make calls. It was rough, and the quality was terrible, but it was fun in those early days.

As the years passed and quality improved, larger companies started getting involved. Today, VoIP is a standard offering from a variety of telephone companies, cable companies and assorted VoIP providers for home and office.

Anything Goes

Now, roughly 20 years later, VoIP technology is far more advanced, and the quality is much better. However, it still is not subject to the same rules and regulation as a telephone network. That means companies can use VoIP to make those annoying robocalls once again -- and they have.

Often, there is no additional cost to make a VoIP call once the equipment is set up. So, while companies saved money in the past by not calling people who were not interested, that is no longer a reason to avoid making a call. So they call.

Many VoIP robocalls come from overseas. International robocalling would not have been conceivable over regular phone networks. It would have been prohibitively expensive. However, it now may cost no more to call around the world than across the street.

U.S. laws and regulations have absolutely no power or control over this growing problem. Calling companies are controlled by their countries' rules and regulations.

That's why robocalls are flaring up once again. So are we out of luck? Is there any solution?

All Hands on Deck

I was a guest on a radio talk show last week, discussing this issue along with Tim Marvin, a grassroots coordinator with the Consumers Union.

There may be some helpful tools, such as NoMoRobo.com.

There are many other tools that companies have invented to solve this problem. However, none has been shown to solve it.

There has to be a solution, doesn't there? Of course, the solution would have to be low or no cost to the end user, and to the companies providing their home phone service as well.

The time is right. The time is now. Come on, somebody. Anybody. Give us a solution! We all want to go back to our quiet and peaceful lives. 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-solution-for-comcast-time-warner-cable-merger

Jeff Kagan: Solution for Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger

By Jeff Kagan 

April 20, 2015 12:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: CMCSA TWC T VZ DTV DISH CTL

As an industry analyst, I have been following the Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) , Time Warner Cable (TWC)  merger since it was announced. After hearing all the different points of view, I have concluded that there is only one real answer...and it may not be what you expect.

Granted, there are real benefits that will come about if these two companies were allowed to merge. Thatís one reason to approve. However, there are also plenty of other areas, which would potentially cause stress to the consumer and to the industry due to lack of competition.

There are multiple ways to look at this potential merger:

ē From an investment point of view, which is how the two companies look at it.

ē From the consumer point of view. Will it bring increased competition, innovation and lower prices?

ē From the industry point of view. Will this merger enhance or harm the industry?

The question today is, "Should regulators approve the merger or not?"

I would say yes, but not today. Perhaps a few years down the road, when the marketplace is ready. Right now, this merger is not ready, because while there are good things that will come from it, there are also potential downsides as well. Regulators must consider all sides, and while good things will happen - like faster Internet and other innovative services, the problem is that there is little or no competition in the majority of America yet. In short, a merger could skew the industry.

Similar Merger...Very Different Market

There was a similar merger request that was denied in the late 1990ís. SBC wanted to acquire AT&T (T) . At that time the telecom marketplace was changing, and the baby bells were strong while the long distance players were weak. So from an investment point of view, this merger made sense.

However, regulators said no, because it did not yet make sense from the marketplace or the consumer point of view. So over the next several years, the telecom marketplace continued to change and grow, and those problems were solved.

In the mid-2000ís, SBC tried once again to acquire AT&T. This time, the merger was approved. SBC took the AT&T name, then acquired BellSouth and Cingular and transformed themselves from the smallest baby bell to quite possibly the largest telecom company in the United States.

The result was spectacular. Today, AT&T is one of the very few largest and strongest companies in the USA. They provide excellent quality and top shelf customer care. This was not only good for AT&T, but also for Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) , the overall telecom industry and all the consumers.

That is what regulators should be focused on today. Regulators should make sure this Comcast, Time Warner Cable merger is a win-win-win for everyone.

So Why Not Approve the Comcast, Time Warner Cable Merger Today?

It appears that the Comcast, Time Warner Cable merger would be good for the companies, so why not approve it? The reason is simple - the average customer still doesn't have choice yet. Satellite TV companies like DirecTV (DTV)  and DISH Network Corp. (DISH)  have carved out a niche over the last couple decades. AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism (CTL)  started rolling out their services in recent years as well.

While these are award-winning services for quality, innovation and price, they are not available everywhere or to every customer yet. Thatís the problem: Timing. In the vast majority of America, the average customer does not have choice yet. Thatís why I donít believe the industry or consumers are ready for a Comcast, Time Warner Merger yet.

Give the new and changing television marketplace a chance to grow and to expand. After several more years, when all customers have a choice, then a merger would make more sense. At that time, it would provide innovation to Time Warner Cable customers without a threat of Comcast having too much power since there are real competitors in this space if the customer is not happy.

Generally speaking, I have no problem with a Comcast, Time Warner Cable merger. As a consumer I use both in two different locations. I can see the benefits of a merger. However I do have a problem with the timing.

Bottom line: Wait on this merger by saying no today. Let the marketplace continue to grow and change, and get to the point where the merger will not only be good for these two companies and their investors, but for the consumers and the marketplace, as well.

Several years from now, just like with SBC and AT&T, when the deal makes sense for every angle, it can be approved.

Until then, we must encourage every competitor to grow and expand - both Comcast and Time Warner Cable should want this as well. That would be in the best interest of the companies, the customers and the marketplace. Eventually, a merger will make sense...just not today.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          April 20, 2015 12:00AM 

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-solution-for-comcast-time-warner-cable-merger#sthash.zEeUaENY.dpuf

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/GE-Catches-the-Industrial-Internet-Wave-81946.html

ANALYSIS

GE Catches the Industrial Internet Wave

The Industrial Internet lets machines communicate over the Internet with their makers. They get software updates and service calls over the Net. It's for machines of all kinds -- from kitchen appliances to factory robots. Just as we have to update our iPhone or Android on a regular basis, we also will have to update our dishwasher or our auto-manufacturing plant equipment.

By Jeff Kagan

Apr 16, 2015 9:15 AM PT

General Electric made some important news last week, when it announced it was leaving the finance industry. It attributed its decision to recent changes that it characterized as less cyclical and more transformational. At the same time, GE is focused on newer ideas like its "Industrial Internet." If it executes this the right way, it could be a blueprint for growth going forward.

The Industrial Internet is an important growth engine opportunity, but most people don't have a clue what it really is. In fact, there are many new competitors, both large and small companies, in this field. They all use different names for the technology.

An Internet for Machines

Any way you slice it, this has the potential to be a very big and fast-growing industry segment. The average person doesn't use it. We use the Internet to surf the Web, get email, send chat messages, watch movies, interact on social networks and more.

Less sexy, but just as important, we can use the Web to connect to a variety of systems -- home management, automobile and healthcare, for example. We can arm our home security system or change the temperatures remotely, communicate with our car -- or our doctor -- and so on.

The Industrial Internet isn't for us -- it's used by machines to connect to their manufacturers and get updates. This segment is going to be huge.

GE owns many other companies and leads in many sectors. When I was young, there was a huge GE plant nearby. Back then, it was considered very large and powerful. However, compared with today, it was a small mom-and-pop operation.

Over the last several decades, GE has grown and changed, and today it is a colossal organization. If GE can't lead in a segment, it is not interested in playing ball -- and GE is changing the game once again.

That's why it is leaving finance. That's also why it is entering the Industrial Internet space. GE is continually reshaping itself for the future and staying on the growth side of the wave I often discuss.

Building Steam

GE also looks at the world like a wave. The wave has several sides: a growth side, a cresting side, and a falling side. GE is interested in the growth side of the wave. When segments crest and fall, GE gets out. When segments are on the growth side however, and when GE thinks it can lead, it is on the radar. This is a winning philosophy.

Finance is no longer on the growth side of the wave. However, the Industrial Internet is early on the growth side, and that's what has captured GE's attention.

This new segment is in its very early stages, although it is on many companies' radar. There is no real leader today, but over the next several years, there will be a great deal of growth that will attract lots of attention from investors and workers.

The Industrial Internet lets machines communicate over the Internet with their makers. They get software updates and service calls over the Net. It's for machines of all kinds -- from kitchen appliances to factory robots.

Going forward, every machine will use software, and software needs to be updated continually. So just as we have to update our iPhone or Android on a regular basis, we also will have to update our dishwasher or our auto-manufacturing plant equipment.

The Industrial Internet -- or whatever you want to call it -- is a very important part of our future. It is a part many consumers may not even know exists, because we don't use it. It will work automatically behind the scenes, keeping everything we have and use in tiptop shape.

So the Industrial Internet is a huge opportunity for GE. It will be very interesting to follow this hidden part of the industry to see what develops over the next several years. It also will be very interesting to see which companies lead in this space going forward.  

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/economy-markets/wall-street/what-every-ceo-should-focus-on

Jeff Kagan: What Every CEO Should Focus On

By Jeff Kagan

April 15, 2015 1:11PM   

A company CEO must balance a variety of different and often conflicting groups including investors, workers and customers. Activist investors are now a growing concern. Focusing on the wrong group, or just one group can leave the company unbalanced and weaker.

The question is, if there are that many different groups all demanding attention, which should a CEO focus on?

This seems to be one of the most important questions every CEO must focus on today as investor activists raise their voices and make increasing demands. My take is simple. If an investor is not happy with the management of a company, they should simply leave and find a company and management team they are happy with.

Serving Multiple Masters

Investors, while very important, should not drive the direction of a company. If a company fails because of bad decisions, then it should be allowed to fail. However if a company succeeds because of good decisions, then they should be allowed to revel in their success and prepare for their future.

Activist investors can play a role, however they donít belong in the driver's seat. All they do is take the eyes of the management team off the real threats and opportunities and put the company at risk.

Years ago, I learned an important answer to the question of what a CEO should focus on from Herb Kelleher, former CEO and co-founder of Southwest Airlines (LUV) . He said the worker should be the top priority, followed by the customer and finally the investor.

That sounds backwards if we continue to focus on the shareholder activism, which seems to been growing stronger in recent years. However, Kelleherís focus is the only true path to long-term success.

While I respect the success of investor activists, they represent a real long-term threat to a company trying to squeeze out short-term profits.

Companies, who first focus on the investor, often search for short-term ways to increase the stock price. This rewards the investor in the short term, but longer term, it can ravage the company and its competitive position.

Companies, who focus on the customer, can have happy customers with regards to the product, but often the workers have a sour taste in their mouth, which can spoil the relationship with the customer. So this should not be the primary focus either.

Companies, who first focus on the worker, create a happier and warmer workforce and environment. This is key. When the worker is treated with respect and they feel important to the success of the company, they try harder to help the company get better and stronger in the marketplace.

When giving speeches to groups of executives and workers, this is part of the message I like to offer. And this part always generates excitement and applause. On one hand it could because the audience is the workforce, but itís also an obvious key to success that many companies simply ignore.

Defining a Successful Company

Iím sure if you think about it, you will come to the same conclusion. There are so many companies out there today. Some are very successful while others struggle. Why are they not all successful? Thatís what a company should be focused on. Not the battle with investors.

Investors shouldnít try and steer the ship. The CEO knows the delicate balance that must be achieved to make sure every different group wins. Investors are just one of those groups.

CEOs must focus on long-term success and growth. They must focus on the right things first and that will vastly improve the chances for great success in the long term.

So CEOs, take a lesson from Kelleher, focus on the workers first, then the customers, then the investors.

 

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com   

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          April 15, 2015 1:11PM 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Comcast-Joins-Ultra-High-Speed-Internet-Race-81922.html

ANALYSIS

Comcast Joins Ultra-High-Speed Internet Race

It looks as though two carriers are really rushing into this space, while others are moving more cautiously. Companies are starting to see this ultra-high-speed Internet service as a key offering of the future. That's why they are testing the waters. Comcast's announcement could be the start of a whole new segment of companies getting into this space -- the cable industry. Which could be next?

By Jeff Kagan

Apr 9, 2015 9:18 AM PT

Comcast has joined the ultra-fast Internet race, starting with the rollout of its Gigabit Pro service. It looks like ultra-high-speed Internet services are really starting to catch on. The trend started a few years ago with Google Fiber and AT&T Gigapower, and it is spreading among carriers and locations from coast to coast.

Comcast's new 2-Gb service is starting in the Atlanta area next month. The company is planning to roll it out to other cities, but it has not yet named them or given a timetable. As for prices, nothing has been announced. Comcast likely will not offer a 1-Gb service at a lower price.

Although Comcast is attempting to drum up some excitement, we know nothing today other than it will be joining the high-speed race in Atlanta. I love to see more companies joining the race, and I welcome Comcast, but it's very frustrating that all of the details are being kept under wraps.

Gigabit-Speed Internet

The Internet has been getting faster and faster, year after year, since the race started in the mid 1990s. Gigabit-speed Internet connections are the next natural step in the evolution of the Net.

As speeds increase, it's important to realize that today's high speeds are far faster than the vast majority of customers need. That said, it is still exciting to watch companies like AT&T, Google and others really turn the dial way up. Now Comcast is joining that race.

Gigabit Internet started a few short years ago. The two leaders today are AT&T U-verse with Gigapower and Google Fiber. They are both very aggressive with current rollouts and both have plans to expand to more cities. There is a there there when you look at AT&T and Google.

A few other companies have entered the space as well, but they are just dipping their toes into the market. They include the No. 3 Baby Bell, CenturyLink, as well as C Spire, whose Fiber to the Home project is bringing ultra-high-speed Internet to a few Mississippi cities.

Verizon recently preannounced its entry into the space as well, with its next-generation Metro Network. It hasn't provided any details yet, however.

So far, it looks as though two carriers are really rushing into this space, while others are moving more cautiously. Companies are starting to see this ultra-high-speed Internet service as a key offering of the future. That's why they are testing the waters.

Comcast's announcement could be the start of a whole new segment of companies getting into this space -- the cable industry. Which could be next? Can we expect Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision, Charter and others?

Speed Difference Won't Matter

Comcast says it will deliver a 2-Gb connection. Google Fiber and AT&T U-verse with Gigapower have been rolling out 1-Gb connections over the last couple of years.

So what's the difference? To tell you the truth, I don't think the average customer will notice the difference. The only few who will are those who need ultra-fast speed for their work -- people like computer engineers, for example, who require tons of bandwidth.

The reason I am sure of this is simple. If there were a threat, then both AT&T and Google would already have jumped up to 2-Gb speed. By the time there is a threat of losing business, all competitors simply will jump to this speed.

Today, I think 2-Gb speed is more about marketing and buzz for Comcast than anything else.

However, faster connections is what this entire industry has been about for the last 20 years. That will not change as we continue to progress -- from dial-up to DSL to ultra-fast 1Gb, 2Gb, 3Gb and beyond.

Customers will be able to choose their favorite provider for ultra-high-speed service. However, we are very early in this new game, and there may be only one carrier offering that speed in your town. You won't have choice in the near term, but it will come.

Tomorrow, all of us will have multiple choices of providers.

So let me offer congratulations to Comcast for jumping in and joining the ultra-high-speed Internet race in the Atlanta market. It will be good for it to get its feet wet, and it will be good for the marketplace to have another competitor.

I hope all competitors are successful in this new space. However, here's a note to Comcast, Verizon, and anyone else wanting to get into this space: Please give us the details, for crying out loud, so we can compare.

As for the other cable television companies -- I think it's past time to dip your toes into the ultra-high- speed water already!  

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-sprint-opening-in-radioshack-stores

Jeff Kagan: Sprint Opening in RadioShack Stores

By Jeff Kagan 

April 7, 2015 8:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: S RSH

Sprint Corp. (S)  is getting ready to open in more than 1,700 RadioShack Corporation (RSH)  stores from coast to coast. Retail is increasingly important to wireless, as users want to see and touch new devices. They want to see how they work and how they look. Thatís why I think this is a big opportunity for Sprint.

As you know, RadioShack is currently in bankruptcy. And Sprint was just approved by the bankruptcy court to move into more than 1,700 RadioShack stores.

This is good news for the third largest wireless carrier. RadioShack of course closed many stores several years ago. Today, they need a really big new retail push, and this could be just what the doctor ordered. This will give Sprint the chance to dramatically increase retail store frontage, virtually overnight.

Not the End for RadioShack

When RadioShack filed for bankruptcy, we thought that was it for this historic but tired brand. However, looking at a picture of new storefront, it looks like they will still be around.

The storefront sign will have a very large word Sprint, and a smaller word RadioShack below. Weíll have to wait and see what the RadioShack portion of these stores will look like. So it does look like RadioShack will survive, but in a smaller form factor.

Sprintís Aggressive Rollout

It looks like Sprint is planning a very aggressive rollout of these new storefronts as a way to energize their sales and customer engagement. I think these new co-branded stores will be very important to Sprint as they work toward a rapid turnaround and growth. In recent months, Sprint has done a good job of punching its way back onto the map. Their latest offer is paying all switching costs for new customers.

Sprint and RadioShack in Each Store

So it sounds like there will be two stores in each location - a Sprint branded space and a RadioShack branded space. Word is that these new stores will launch soon, on April 10. Thatís one very quick turnaround. CEO of Sprint Marcelo Claure has a big job ahead as he looks to reinvigorate the Sprint brand. Claure seems to be hitting the right cords so far with new plans and offers, and this retail expansion with RadioShack stores looks like another potentially strong move for Sprint.

As for RadioShack, Ron Garriques has joined the company and will be leading them through their new jumpstart. Trying to revive a failing brand is a very difficult job. There are no guarantees...all we can do is hope for the best.

If Sprint and RadioShack together can ignite the flames of growth in these retail stores, this could be very beneficial to both of them. However, they are not tied together. One can succeed and the other struggle.

Lucky for Sprint, the company's future does not depend on the success of these stores, but if successful, this will be a big shot in the arm for the wireless carrier.

On the other hand, RadioShack does depend on the success of these stores. Can they reinvigorate their tired, but well-known brand?

What will these stores look like in the next few quarters?

That is the big question. Weíll have to wait and see. Weíll also have to watch how Sprint advertises and markets their new and very large retail presence, what new plans they introduce into the competitive marketplace, and how successfully they compete in the wireless space.

I am looking forward to visiting several stores and writing about what I see and think about them. Letís hope we are all impressed with both the Sprint side and the RadioShack side. That would be the best scenario, since I would like to see them both succeed going forward.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          April 7, 2015 8:00AM  

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com  

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/When-Internet-Speed-Kills-Reliability-81899.html

OPINION

When Internet Speed Kills Reliability

I've had an AT&T DSL connection to the Internet for years, and while it may be boring, it's always on. A faster connection doesn't necessarily make things any better. This illustrates how powerful advertising, marketing and public relations really are. We have been hearing for years that faster is better. We never hear about the problems when service goes down.

By Jeff Kagan

04/02/15 8:52 AM PT

What's more important when it comes to an Internet connection -- quality and reliability, or speed? This is a question I'm pondering as I sip a latte at Starbucks. I have come to the conclusion that while speed is sexy and sells, quality and reliability are more important. See if you agree.

Like countless others, I spend an hour or two every day working in Starbucks -- just me, my latte and my laptop. I have been doing this for enough years that I have become one of the mayors of the neighborhood coffee klatch.

Year after year, I connected to the Internet using the free AT&T service that Starbucks provided. I never had any complaints. It was always on, and it was always fast enough to surf the Web, check email, watch video clips, and listen to music.

Then Starbucks decided to dump AT&T and instead go with Google for high-speed Internet. Things started out pretty well. The speed was faster, and that was impressive.

Slower Service vs. No Service

However there is a problem that has become a real pain in the neck. The Google service doesn't work all the time. When it stops working, I'm stuck without a connection to the Internet.

I don't have to tell you -- losing your connection to the Internet can be very aggravating and even cost you business.

So speed is not everything. You would think so, listening to the commercials for Comcast and Google, but people prefer reliability to speed.

Comcast has a fast Internet connection as well. When it works, it's great. However, I often lose the connection in my home as well. I have to restart the modems and hope for the best. The vast majority of time, when both Comcast and Google go down, they stay down for a while.

It seems once or twice every year I have to unplug the modem, get in the car, drive to a Comcast store and wait in line to swap it out for a new one. Figuring out the problem often takes days.

That's the problem with speed vs. reliability.

Priority Check

I've had an AT&T DSL connection to the Internet for years, and while it may be boring, it's always on. A faster connection doesn't necessarily make things any better.

This illustrates how powerful advertising, marketing and public relations really are. We have been hearing for years that faster is better. We never hear about the problems when service goes down.

If you hear something enough times, you start to believe. Then reality comes back to slap you in the face.

Perhaps some day, every provider will offer speed and reliability. Until then, I prefer to stick with reliability.

Bottom line: When it comes to an Internet connection, the most important factors are connection, quality and reliability. After that comes speed.

Now, back to my latte.  

 

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-new-apple-iphone-vs-samsung-galaxy

Jeff Kagan: New Apple iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy

By Jeff Kagan

March 31, 2015 2:33PM

Tickers Mentioned: AAPL SSNNF GOOG USM T VZ S TMUS

Ever hear of the iPhone 6C? Get ready - the latest rumor is that Apple, Inc. (AAPL) may introduce three new iPhones later this year.

Two of them are newer versions of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. They will likely be called the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. The third is said to be a brand new device, probably called iPhone 6C.

At the same time, we are getting ready to see the new Samsung Galaxy S6 (SSNNF) in the next few weeks. It sure seems like 2015 will be a crazy year in the wireless marketplace.

The iPhone Evolves

Yesterday, the only choice we had in an Apple iPhone was the size of storage capacity. Otherwise, all the iPhones looked and acted the same. Then, two years ago, a new device was introduced called iPhone 5C. This was a lower powered and less costly device for kids or other newcomers. The full strength device was called iPhone 5S.

A few months ago, then, Apple introduced two new size phones with larger screens. The iPhone 6 was thinner with a slightly larger screen. The iPhone 6 Plus was an even larger device with a lager screen. Some love the larger iPhone 6. Some love the even larger iPhone 6 Plus, however they say that while itís easier to see things on a larger screen, talking on the phone is not as comfortable. I know people who actually carry two iPhones, larger and smaller - one for the screen like a small tablet, and one for the phone.

Of course, not everyone wanted a larger phone with a larger screen. Sure, if we could wave a magic wand we could have a smaller device that could be slid open to expand on demand. In reality, though, we have to choose the size of the device we really want.

Unfortunately, as Apple finally acquiesced to those users clamoring for a larger screen, those who prefer the smaller iPhone were left out in the cold...and there are plenty of Apple users shivering right now. This begs the question: Why do companies have to change everything to stay hot, yet leave behind users who liked what they have right now?

iPhone No Longer a "One Size Fits All" Proposition?

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have sold in record numbers, and have helped Apple pass Samsung Galaxy and its Google, Inc. (GOOG) Android operating system once again in the US marketplace.

So the next logical question is will this new iPhone 6C be a smaller version of the iPhone 6 for users who donít want a larger device? Or will the iPhone 6C be an economy version of the iPhone 6 at a lower cost like the original iPhone 5C is? The good news is that Apple has obviously decided their single-size strategy no longer works, as other smartphone makers offer a variety of devices and sizes.

Apple created two new sizes with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but did not take care of users who prefer the original size, so perhaps the new iPhone 6C will correct that mistake. I expect all these new devices will have similar tech features like the fingerprint scanner, electronic wallet, more advanced Apple Pay and Near Field Communications or NFC which will let users exchange information by bringing devices close together.

I donít expect this next version of the iPhone to be a reinvention. It will be better, but not that big a deal (as usual). The big deals come every other year. What about this new iPhone 6C? Apple must give users what they want or risk losing customers. With that said, will it be smaller or will it be more economical? Perhaps Apple will combine these two ideas, or maybe Apple will introduce both, meaning there will be three or four new iPhones within the next six months.

Unfortunately, we wonít know what Apple will introduce until after they pull the curtain back. Donít expect any new iPhone models for sale until the fall. However, Apple could introduce them six months earlier, meaning we could be getting our first chance to see their thinking and their offerings sometime in the next month or two.

So, Apple continues to do strong business, and has won back the leadership position in the United States with the iPhone 6 from a few months ago. Donít expect Samsung to just sit back and continue to take a beating, though.

Samsung's Plan of Attack

The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are expected to be released in the next few weeks. Could this turn things around for Samsung once again? It could indeed.

These devices could be hot sellers as well, since Samsung has spent quite a bit of time fixing what customers didnít like, like the cheap feel of plastic. Plus, I expect them to market these new phones like crazy.

In addition, the competition keeps getting hotter between carriers like AT&T Mobility (T) , Verizon Wireless (VZ) , Sprint Corp. (S) , T-Mobile US (TMUS) , United States Cellular Corp. (USM) and C Spire. Coverage, speed and quality continue to be improved, as these companies continue to compete and win customers from each other.

This year looks like itís shaping up to be another hot and competitive one in wireless - both on the smartphone handset and on the carrier side...it appears 2015 could be a really crazy year in the wireless marketplace.

 

Equities.com columnist Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst and consultant. He shares thoughts on the changing industry, which he's been following for 25 years. He follows what's hot, what's not, why and what's coming next. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com  

 

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Google-Glass-Should-Stay-Gone-81870.html

ANALYSIS

Google Glass Should Stay Gone

Consumers will love Google Glass as long as it's at the experimental level -- it's like the tech in a sci-fi movie. However, when it hits the mainstream, people will think differently. It will become real. People will think not only about the advantages it brings, but also about the things it changes. Privacy is something that definitely will be changed -- quite possibly, eliminated.

By Jeff Kagan

03/26/15 5:00 AM PT

Here we go again. Most everyone who thought Google Glass crossed the privacy line was happy when it appeared the new technology was being shelved. Not so fast. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says Google is not giving up on Glass.

Like everyone else, I love new technology. However sometimes companies and their tech staff cross over the line and don't see it the way the rest of the world sees it. They don't realize what they have done until public outcry clobbers them over the head, like with Google Glass.

Google Glass is a very advanced and incredibly interesting new idea. That's Google's perspective -- and every tech watchers loves to see new thinking.

However, it walks all over personal privacy, and the fact that privacy could be a problem didn't seem to be part of Google's thinking during development. In fact, Google seemed to be stunned by the market pushback against the idea.

Privacy Out the Window

Would you have a private, very personal conversation with someone shouldering a live audio and video camera with the red light staring you in the face? You would know that everything you might say or do would be recorded and possibly broadcast to the world.

That's part of the magic that Google wants to bring to us with Glass -- except that Glass is not as obvious as a camera on someone's shoulder. Why didn't Google see a problem with this? Sure, it's advanced and yes, it's cool, but it crosses privacy line, and that scares a lot of people.

If someone walked up to me wearing Google Glass, I would react the same way I would to someone shouldering a camera. I would politely leave without saying a word. Period.

Do people have to get hurt before we recognize the problem with this new technology?

I may be old-fashioned in some ways, but I am not comfortable giving up 100 percent of my personal privacy. Not in the least. I don't believe anyone is.

If users really understood the personal privacy risk, I believe Google Glass would have seen its last days already.

There are other problems with this technology as well. It could become a driving distraction, potentially causing accidents.

Early users of Google Glass were dubbed "Glassholes." Even so, Google remains interested in many forms of wearable computing devices.

Everyone Is at Risk

Does Google really understand the pushback from the marketplace? I'm not sure. Yes, users will love the new technology as long as it's at the experimental level -- it's like the tech in a sci-fi movie.

However, when it hits the mainstream, people will think differently. It will become real. People will think not only about the advantages it brings, but also about the things it changes. Privacy is something that definitely will be changed -- quite possibly, eliminated.

Just because a company can do something doesn't mean it should do something. Has Google ever thought about the dark side of what its new technology represents?

Maybe some won't mind losing their privacy. I don't understand that, but there are people who just don't care. If Glass impacted them alone, I'd say fine. However, if it's broadly adopted, it will affect everyone who ever comes into contact with someone wearing it.

Glass will make a comeback, unless Google wakes up. I can't see any way to solve the problems that plagued the original Glass. I don't know how Google plans to address the privacy concerns everyone seems to have. I don't know how Google plans to get police departments around the U.S. -- and in fact, the world -- to understand and allow it.

There is much I don't understand about Glass. Sure I still think the technology is big-time WOW. It looks great. However, I don't think there is a way to take out the sting out of losing personal privacy.

Or am I wrong?   

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst and consultant who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-will-t-mobile-wreck-wireless

Jeff Kagan: Will T-Mobile Wreck Wireless?

By Jeff Kagan

March 24, 2015 8:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: TMUS T VZ S USM AAPL GOOG

T-Mobile US (TMUS)  has been doing well on the consumer side over the last year or two. Now they are getting ready to enter the business market. To attract business attention, they will have to lower prices just as they have on the consumer side. That said, is T-Mobile hurting the wireless industry?

German company DeutT_Mobile.jpgsche Telekom AG ($DTE:DE) is two-thirds owner of T-Mobile. DT CEO Timotheus Hottges expressed a disturbing opinion a couple months ago. He said the T-Mobile approach is not sustainable. I think many agree the T-Mobile approach seems to be non-sustainable, but the bigger question is, could it cause problems for the financial health and growth of the entire wireless industry?

Itís bad enough if one company is willing to risk it all. It's quite another if this starts to affect other competitors, and erode the financial picture and long-term viability of an entire industry. One thing we seldom think about is just how large and far reaching the wireless industry really is, and how important this key industry is for the US economy, going forward.

Remember, every coin has two sides. So, itís important to take a longer-term look at what T-Mobile is doing so far on the consumer side, what they intend to do on the business side, and what effect it will have on the wireless marketplace in the USA. T-Mobile is a small competitor. Generally speaking, it has to charge less to attract customers, because it has a smaller network and slower speeds - thatís the growth path they have been on during the last year or two. The wireless marketplace is split into different segments, like a pie is cut into different slices. T-Mobile is targeting customers who need low cost and are willing to give up things like network reach, speed and so on, in many locations.

On this basis, T-Mobile works...as long as customers know they are getting what they pay for. This is the way a competitive industry operates, which is fine. However, many T-Mobile customers donít understand this trade-off.

Every Coin Has Two Sides

Like everyone else, as a consumer, I too am happy with falling prices from the short-term consumer point of view. I mean, who doesnít like to save money? However as a wireless analyst, I understand that companies need to be profitable in order to continue to grow and improve. And if the wireless industry has reduced earnings, their ability to invest in their networks is negatviely affected, eventually hurting the entire industry.

Wireless Carriers Invest Billions of Dollars Every Year

Most people donít realize how much money companies like AT&T Mobility (T) , Verizon Wireless (VZ) , Sprint Corp. (S) and T-Mobile have invested to continually upgrade their networks. Each of those companies invests billions of dollars every year - an incredible investment for the future.

This investment impacts not only these wireless carriers, but countless other companies that they do business with as well. Wireless carriers donít just stick it in the bank and forget about it. They invest it. This investment is helpful to the US economy. Rapid growth in wireless powers the entire industry. That means networks, handset makers and investors, and it also means workers, and the partners and companies they purchase supplies, equipment, hardware and software from.

So, this profitability and continual expansion represents a huge growth engine, which reaches out in far and distant ways to fuel other companies and segments. All that said, profitability in the wireless industry is key to this investment and this strong part of the economy.

Wireless is the Center of the Universe

I believe the wireless industry is the center of this universe going forward. They are the industry that is helping other industries modernize in new ways like healthcare, automotive, retail, and many others. Just look at all the features available to drivers or patients, as an example. This improves the customer or patient experience, and we are just in the very early stages of this new revolution. Continued growth still requires sizable investments - in the range of billions every year, per carrier.

So, keeping the wireless industry strong, growing and getting better costs a lot of money. Thatís why carriers need profits to keep innovation high, and to do that, they need to be profitable. I want to see the largest four competitors continue to do strong business and show growth. I would also love to see smaller competitors like United States Cellular Corp. (USM) , C Spire, Tracfone and many other smaller competitors grow stronger as well.

Growth could be impacted if the industry is not able to continue to invest. As an example, just think about the Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone, Google Inc. (GOOG) Android and Samsung Galaxy. Think about all the extra capacity and features the handset makers and the networks have created in just a few short years.

This is what is at stake. Lower profits mean less to invest, which means less innovation, less capacity and less growth. Also, new players are entering the space all the time. Consider Google, which will enter the wireless wars shortly as an MVNO. What impact will Google have on the industry? I donít know yet, either, but this is another change agent in this industry.

Google has entered the ultra-fast gigabit Internet space. They have entered the wireless handset space with their Android software and their own hardware as well. Now they want to take a step into wireless services. What impact will Google have going forward?

How Successful will T-Mobile Be on the Business Side?

T-Mobile over the last year or two has shown growth on the consumer side by cutting prices. Now they want to expand to business by cutting prices as well.

Consumers realize the trade off. In order to save money by using T-Mobile, they may have to deal with slower speeds and less network coverage in many locations. Now, T-Mobile says they will enter the business space. Business customers must realize the same limitations. If they do, at least any problems will be understood before they start. Today, AT&T and Verizon have almost all the customers in this space. There are other choices, but most business customers have chosen these two for a variety of reasons including network reach, speed and quality.

There is a reason for this. The next question is, will T-Mobile be successful on the business side? To answer that question, think of the marketplace like a pie with slices.

I think the vast majority of business customers will remain with AT&T and Verizon for one simple reason - a company must make sure all their workers have access to the network, and fast speeds wherever they go. They do this so they can sell and serve customers well.

Remember, a wireless phone is no better than a paperweight if the service is not there. Cutting costs is great, but not if it impacts the ability to serve customers well. So I think T-Mobile will likely see some success on the business side with a limited number of small businesses. Typically, this is when the owner is already a T-Mobile customer and likes them in a particular area.

I think the larger and wider spread a company is, the less likely they will be interested in switching from an AT&T or Verizon to T-Mobile for all these reasons. As for price cutsÖas a customer, I thank the industry for cutting my costs. However, as an industry analyst, I believe we need to be very careful about going down this cost-cutting path if we intend to continue to innovate and transform other industries over the next several years.

Have we really thought this through?

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          March 24, 2015 8:00AM 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/SXSW-Runs-on-Wireless-Carriers-Well-Oiled-Machines-81845.html

ANALYSIS

SXSW Runs on Wireless Carriers' Well-Oiled Machines

Wireless is not just another technology. Wireless is the technology that keeps us connected to our world, for both voice and data. At a very basic level, network connectivity is key. Without it, our smartphones are no better than paperweights. That's why it's so important for the major wireless carriers to be able to pull out their big guns as needed.

By Jeff Kagan

03/19/15 12:06 PM PT

At this year's South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals in Austin, Texas, more than 150,000 new people have entered the major wireless carriers' network space. Nearly every one of them has a phone for making voice calls or using the Web. How do wireless carriers handle such a demand surge?

That's one of the big challenges facing AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile. Sometimes they can plan and prepare in advance -- like for SXSW. Other times, things happen suddenly -- a hurricane might strike, for example.

Roll Out the Super COW

AT&T prepared for SXSW. The company ramped up its capacity to handle more than 90,000 attendees, it said at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

AT&T already had enormous capacity in the Austin area, but it doubled it by rolling out its big gun for the first time in Texas. That big gun is its Super COW, or Super Cell on Wheels -- an innovative, sphere-shaped Luneberg Lens developed by AT&T engineers.

The Super COW is a 12-beam antenna providing 10 times the capacity of a traditional single-beam antenna. It sends radio frequencies in various directions, based on how AT&T network engineers set it up, for more efficient cellular usage.

In addition to the Luneberg Lens, AT&T has deployed two traditional-sized COWS in downtown Austin, expanding capacity through rooftop antennas and the deployment of a distributed antenna system, or DAS, at the Austin Convention Center.

AT&T also expanded its WiFi footprint beyond the permanent WiFi Hot Zone along 6th Street to various areas in the conference and festival areas.

Add a COLT and a COW

Verizon basically tripled its existing capacity in the Austin area.

It added its XLTE technology to each of the cell sites serving downtown Austin and the convention center area. It also rolled out a COLT with XLTE technology. Verizon's COLT is a portable cell site on a light truck.

Sprint also prepared by dramatically increasing its capacity in the area. It deployed its own COW to its network, enhancing its 1900 LTE, 800 LTE and 800 Voice capacity on 6th Street and Red River Street.

T-Mobile set up three temporary sites in downtown Austin to handle its additional network demand. It increased backhaul capacity in several downtown areas and modernized two sites inside the Austin Convention Center to deliver better LTE coverage.

Like Magic

Wireless is not just another technology. Wireless is the technology that keeps us connected to our world, for both voice and data. At a very basic level, network connectivity is key.

Without it, our smartphones are no better than paperweights. That's why it's so important for the major wireless carriers to be able to pull out their big guns as needed.

They can prepare in advance for large events, but we see carriers boosting capacity after natural disasters like hurricanes as well, when increased usage and damage to existing cell sites is common for days, weeks or even months.

Their activities go on in the background. We don't realize it, but that's how we stay connected. When we pick up our wireless devices, they just work. 

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

 

 


 

 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/not-excited-about-apple-tv-yet

Jeff Kagan: Not Excited About Apple TV Yet

By Jeff Kagan 

March 18, 2015 1:33PM   

Tickers Mentioned: AAPL DTV DISH CVC CMCSA TWC VZ CTL NFLX AMZN HULU

Apple_TV.jpgSo many people have gotten all excited about Apple TV, the Apple Inc. TV (AAPL) entry into the very crowded television marketplace.

I say, hold your horses. Will Apple TV be a hit? What other television competitors will be winners? What will the entire television marketplace look like, going forward? There are a lot of questions to be answered.

To start, the TV space is changing so much that the consumer is starting to get very confused. All the new competitors and technologies over the last couple years are creating a very chaotic marketplace...and chaos keeps all consumers asided from the few early adopters from jumping in.

The problem is, we are throwing so many new ideas into the mix that it is confusing the customer. Consumers want, and in fact, need simplicity. And that is not what we have today.

Letís take a quick look at how television has changed, and what we can expect going forward.

From Broadcast to Netflix

Television used to be predictable. First, it was broadcast TV. We all got three or four stations over the air, and it seemed miraculous.

Next was cable television, featuring tons of smaller cable TV providers, offering a dozen or more channels. All these smaller cable TV companies started to merge, creating fewer, yet larger competitors, and offering even more channels.

Cable TV was the only game in town, and that lack of competition created a playing field where providers couldnít care less about customer satisfaction. After all, the customer had no other place to go, so why should they care?

That self-made problem saddled the cable TV industry with a heavy weight around their neck going forward, making it very difficult to swim, especially as the marketplace started to see more competition.

Next, Satellite TV entered the marketplace and that was the first pinch of competition cable TV ever had to deal with. These are companies like DISH Network Corp. (DISH)  and DirecTV (DTV)  and they have carved out a successful segment of the marketplace.

Cable TV competitors kept merging and kept getting larger. Today Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) , Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) , Cox Communications ($COX), Cablevision Systems Corporation (CVC)  and others are some of the largest players.

Then, the telephone companies entered the space offering IPTV. This was a new idea to offer television over the Internet. AT&T Inc.  (T)  uVerse, Verizon Communication Inc. (VZ)  FiOS and CenturyLink Inc. (CTL)  are the big three.

While this did not really reduce prices, customers nevertheless really seemed to like it. They have been winning customers over from traditional cable TV over the last several years. We have seen many other companies jump into this space as well with their IPTV services. Telephone company services are a full service comparison to cable TV, so customers generally choose one and say goodbye to the other.

However, these new TV services are generally additional to the core package. These are services like Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) , Amazon.com, Inc.  (AMZN) , HULU ($HULU) and many others.

So this is the chaotic and fast changing world that Apple TV is jumping into. This is much different from the music space, when they launched the iPod, or the wireless space, when they launched the iPhone, or when they launched iPad a few short years ago.

Apple Dives into a Crowded Pool

Apple created the new space in each of these areas. They may not have created the technology, but they took it to the next level, and they found success and leadership within the field.

However, there are already many other competitors in the television space today. That means Apple cannot create the rules going forward for the industry, or perhaps they can, since itís so early in this new space, with no real leader. Weíll have to wait and see.

I think Apple TV will work. However it will not be the only competitor that works and it will not happen all at once. When the Apple iPhone was launched, it did not grow rapidly for a few years. Now that it has been with us for seven or eight years, it seems like the king of the castle. I think Apple TV will take a similar path. Apple will introduce their TV, but it will take some time to catch on. It will be quicker than with the iPod or the iPhone, because they already have a vast marketplace of Apple users ready for the next big thing.

However, like with the iPad tablet, not everyone who has an Apple iPhone will be interested in a tablet or TV for that matter. So why will it take some time? Simply put, the world of TV is changing.

Television's Evolving Landscape

We are now watching TV in many new and different ways compared to a few short years ago. Today, we can watch on our laptops, tablets, smartphones and smartwatches in addition to our televisions. This is thanks to the world of IPTV, and it is only growing. IPTV sends television over the Internet rather than the air or over a cable television network. This can reach devices over the hard wire Internet or the wireless Internet.

This is the world that the telephone company IPTV television service was born into. This is the world that cable television companies like Comcast are moving into with their Xfinity services in order to stay competitive. This is the world that Netflix and many others are using, as well. And this IPTV is the world that Apple TV will use going forward.

Bottom line, the rules of television are changing. That is an opportunity, and it leaves the entire industry wide open for new leadership...something no company has dominated yet. Apple is a heavy hitter with lots of customers, and because of that, I think Apple will become successful with TV. However, TV is seeing lots of new ideas and technologies enter the space and confuse the marketplace. So who will lead? Donít be surprised when I say no one will lead this space for a while. The reason is simple: The consumer is confused with todayís crazy and fast changing television space. So, except for the early adopters, the majority of the television marketplace will be frozen in the headlights, like deer on the road ahead.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          March 18, 2015 1:33PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/not-excited-about-apple-tv-yet#sthash.yMC0rmkV.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/The-Apple-Watch-Will-Take-Its-Own-Sweet-Time-81812.html

ANALYSIS

The Apple Watch Will Take Its Own Sweet Time

The Apple Watch will be a success -- regardless of how many devices sell in the near term. The first generation will have limited apps and features. Both apps and feature sets will increase over time, making the Apple Watch valuable to more users. Whether the Apple Watch ends up dominating the wearable space is still a big unknown, but I don't see everything changing overnight.

By Jeff Kagan

03/12/15 5:00 AM PT

The wearable technology marketplace is already in place and growing. Now, enter the Apple Watch. Although it will speed up growth, this new space will be very different from the iPhone and iPad markets.

Large companies like Google, Samsung and Sony, and smaller companies like FitBit and others have already thrown their hats into the ring and seen limited success. Apple did not create the wearable marketplace, but it has just poured some gasoline onto the growth fire.

Anything introduced by Apple has the potential to upset the status quo and really accelerate market growth. However, that outcome is not guaranteed. Whether customers are as hot for wearables as Apple hopes is still unknown.

Apple's entry will make a difference, but it will not transform the wearable space overnight.

Oh, the Things Apps Can Do

Apple now can chalk up huge wins in the smartphone and tablet markets, but when it launched its first iPhone and iPad, it did not see immediate rapid growth. It took several years to build momentum.

The same thing likely will happen with the Apple Watch. It will be a success -- regardless of how many devices sell in the near term. The first generation will have limited apps and features. Both apps and feature sets will increase over time, making the Apple Watch valuable to more users.

Early adopters will form the vanguard. There is always a core of Apple enthusiasts who are interested in whatever is new, even though they know it won't work as well and won't have as many uses and apps initially as it will down the road.

Over the next year or two, as more companies develop apps, the Apple Watch and the entire wearable segment will grow.

Smartwatch apps can let you check your email or messages. They can let you access the Web, and some let you take or make phone calls. They can monitor some of your vital signs and help keep you up to speed regarding your health.

Wearable technology will let you use a smartwatch instead of a credit card to pay for a coffee at Starbucks -- and make a whole lot of other purchases -- as well as unlock doors or start cars.

Of course, we can do many of those things already with our smartphones. What, then, is unique about the Apple Watch or any other smartwatch?

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Although that question may not be answered immediately, the wearable marketplace will continue to grow, and that growth will undoubtedly be accelerated by the Apple Watch. That said, I don't see everything changing overnight.

After all, Apple did not create the wearable space. It is not the first -- in fact it is rather late. No one company owns the wearable market at this point. It is still wide open for large and small competitors.

Whether the Apple Watch ends up dominating the wearable space is still a big unknown. In the meantime, Apple's entrance is sure to stir interest, which could benefit every player in the market.  

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

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-will-you-use-google-wireless

Jeff Kagan: Will You Use Google Wireless?

By Jeff Kagan

March 10, 2015 5:44PM   

Tickers Mentioned: GOOG T VZ TMUS S AAPL BBRY NOK

Like a particularly aggressive octopus, Google, Inc. ($GOOG) reaches their tentacles into many different industries. For their next trick, Google says they will become a wireless provider. So are you interested in buying a smartphone and monthly service from Google? Here is what you need to know...

Why I Donít see Google Wireless as a Threat to Todayís Wireless World

Google Wireless is no threat to the wireless status quo. Not yet, anyway. Below, I'll explain why I don't see it impacting AT&T Mobility ($T) and Verizon Wireless ($VZ), and how I see the biggest potential winners here being Sprint ($S) and T-Mobile ($TMUS).

What do you think of when you think Google? The first thing that many think of is "search engine." After all, that's what originally made Google a global behemoth over the last decade or so. However, over time Google has been stretching their corporate reach into many other businesses as well.

Google has been successful at some of their ventures, and a failure at others...but they keep reaching. Now they want to expand their wireless reach. They not only want to offer Android to other smartphone makers, as well as their own Nexus smartphone, but they want to offer network services as well. They want to become an MVNO like TracFone, competing with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Google is not new to wireless. They started on the wireless path in two different ways. Roughly seven years ago, with their Android operating system, and their first Nexus smartphone. At that time, Android was a success, but Nexus was a flop. So Google pulled Nexus and continued to grow Android. It worked. Today, Google Android is everywhere.

Since that time, they have tried to make their own Nexus handset work on different occasions, but they simply canít figure out how to start the smartphone growth engines on the device side of the business. Trying to make Nexus work, Google is going to continue throwing ideas against the wall and see what sticks. Then they will start to build on whatever sticks. Their end goal seems to be to take complete leadership over the entire wireless industry.

That means Google wants to continue to be both partners and competitors to the same companies. They want to be a network, an Android OS maker and with Nexus, a smartphone maker.

Has Google Gone Goofy?

To me, this sounds nuts. However, this is the path that Google is taking. Donít all Android competitors realize that they are at risk if Google Nexus becomes successful? If so, why do they continue to partner with Google? Making your competitor stronger seems very nuts...or is bad business, at least.

So one of this industry's unique questions is simple: Is Google a partner and supplier, or are they a competitor? Today, the answer seems to be...both.

Itís like the funny old Saturday Night Live sketch where Chevy Chase, in a pretend Shimmer Floor Wax television commercial asks, "Is it a floor wax or desert topping? Surprise, itís both!" Huh?

In Google lingo, wireless sounds like a big threat, and of course every company in their sites should keep on high alert. However, at this stage, I think this story is more talk than "oomph." After all, what is Google really doing here? Nothing Earth shaking. They are already in the wireless business. They already have Android in handsets from many manufacturers, worldwide. They already have this Nexus device in the marketplace, (and earning a so-so response).

Whatís new is that Google will be an MVNO. They will compete with neworks. But will that really matter? They wonít own their own network, so they donít make up the rules. Perhaps some day they will acquire a network of their own. Perhaps someday they will become a threat...but not today.

Back to the Google Labs?

Remember, Google tries many things, but they are not successful at them all. In fact, Google is only really successful at just a few (like search and Android). Most of the other ideas are innovative and exciting, but donít generally amount to much (*cough*, Google Glass, *cough cough*).

At this initial stage, Google will be doing business with Sprint and T-Mobile as an MVNO. That means whatever business Sprint and T-Mobile lose to Google on the retail side, they can make up on the wholesale side from Google.

So this is not really a risk. In fact, if Google is successful, it may become a real opportunity for both Sprint and T-Mobile.

The next question is, how much business can Google, as a wireless network competitor, actually win from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile? To answer that question, all we have to do is consider what they will be selling. They wonít be selling Apple, Inc. ($AAPL) iPhone. They wonít even be selling Samsung Galaxy with Google Android. No, they will be limited to selling their own, current lackluster Google Nexus device. The same device that has not been able to sell well since it was launched roughly seven years ago.

In other words, Google wants into the wireless business with both their Android operating system and their own Nexus device, but I really donít see anything new or different other than becoming an MVNO. And since they will start by only selling their low selling Nexus device, the chances of Google creating waves are really no more of a threat than ripples in a pond.

Who knows what the future will bring. In the wireless world, things can change quickly. Remember, both Apple iPhone and Google Android did revolutionize the space seven years ago, when BlackBerry Ltd. ($BBRY) and Nokia ($NOK) led.

Because of that, todayís leaders must keep all threats in mind, not just Google.

However, if you blow all the foam off the head of this new Google drink today, all you are left with is a small amount of actual cappuccino called Google Wireless. Sure, it will win some business, but will it really threaten wireless? I donít think so. Not yet, at least. Not by a long shot.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          March 10, 2015 5:44PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-will-you-use-google-wireless#sthash.OSyZIrBZ.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-review-of-new-blackberry-classic

Jeff Kagan: Review of New BlackBerry Classic

By Jeff Kagan

March 2, 2015 8:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: AAPL GOOG T BBRY

The brand new BlackBerry Classic is making its debut this week. AT&T Inc. (T)  Mobility sent me one to test drive. If I had to tell you what I think about this device in one sentence, I would say if you like BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) , you may love this new Classic. But wait, thereís moreÖ

Back to the Future is one of my favorite films. Thatís sort of what it felt like using the new BlackBerry Classic. However, while the movie took you back in time, and everything was as it was, the BlackBerry Classic has lots of familiar features in a familiar handset, but the new BB 10 operating system does let you know you are a long way from 1955 Hill Valley.

Is There A Market for Blackberry Classic?

I have talked with others about their opinions on this device, as well. Many current BlackBerry users seem to love the idea of something new, although they have not actually tried this device yet. Some BlackBerry users who have left the fold say they will take a look. Who knows, BlackBerry might even win a few old customers back!

There does seem to be a market for the device, but these days, size is a significant question. The idea of a new BlackBerry that looks and works like the familiar device they love gets users excited. This is good for BlackBerry - it means there could still be plenty of users who want to carry a BlackBerry...assuming they like the device and the way it works.

I have been using the classic for several days, and found several pros and cons to tell you about. For the record, I have never found a wireless device without pros and cons. Nothing is perfect. So depending what you are looking for, this may be perfect for you, or maybe not.

No smartphone has 100% market share. Even iPhone and Android have less than 50% in most countries. So itís important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer. There is only market share, and that translates into success or failure.

When BlackBerry led the smartphone space, they used BB 7 as their operating system on the Torch and Bold. Next, the iPhone and Android were created and changed the space almost overnight.

The BlackBerry's answer to iPhone and Android was the BB 8 operating system...which was a disaster. Today, BlackBerry is hoping the Classic on the new BB 10 OS is a hit.

BlackBerry Classic Review is a Home Run

I have been using it for several days, and I can honestly say the BlackBerry Classic device I am using is a home run.

Itís a beautiful device. It looks and feels much like the BlackBerry Bold. Itís solid and operates well. It is heavier than the iPhone and Galaxy. On a separate note, if this Classic is like the Bold, could the Torch be getting ready for a comeback as well?

By the way, that classic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard is back. I was a BlackBerry user years ago and I still love that keyboard, although it does cut down on screen size.

The Classic will be very attractive to many current BlackBerry customers who are looking for something new. The screen is more of a square shape, compared to the taller iPhone screen. Itís not too small, but it is different. This screen may be too small for users of larger screened devices. It could be longer, but BlackBerry has chosen to use the real estate for their QWERTY keyboard.

The BB 10 operating system is much better than BB 8. Letís face it: BB 7 may have been a home run, but BB 8 was a complete disaster. BB 10 is an improvement, and works very well. Remember how BB 8 froze and operated slowly from time to time? That, and other issuers were annoying. No such problems with BB 10, so far, at least. It operates very well, although it is very different from BB 7.

BlackBerry is still missing the boat on their Internet browser. This is an area they should have reinvented and reinvigorated the browser. It was always a weak spot, and from what I see, this has not changed.

You may like it, but I prefer the way Apple, Inc. (AAPL)  does it by synching with your computer and copying all your favorites to the device. This and the Google Inc. (GOOG) Chrome browser make using the Internet so much easier for me.

The other weak spot is apps. Blackberry has partnered with Amazon.com on delivering apps. This helps BlackBerry BB 10 to be much better and stronger than BB 8...but there still are not as many apps as on the iPhone or Android. Hopefully that will continue to improve over time.

There are many other things we can discuss, but the bottom line is, this BlackBerry Classic has pros and cons like every smartphone, but for many users, this is a great device.

What This Means for BlackBerry

This means the Classic could help BlackBerry further stabilize their operations and customer base. This could even win back some users who left in recent years.

Will this new BlackBerry Classic be a hit? Weíll have to wait and see...if itís marketed well, I believe it can be a significant hit for the company. The question is, with who? I think many current BlackBerry users are looking for something new. This will help BlackBerry stabilize their customer base.

Then the next question is, will Classic help them grow the customer base? I think the answer to that question is yes, but only to a point.

Then again, BlackBerry has such a low market share today that they could conceivably double it with little effort if the device is a winner. There is plenty of growth room if they strike the right cord in the marketing arena.

Believe it or not, there are users who left BlackBerry because of the disastrous last few years, but who are not really happy with iPhone or Android either. Many are ready to come back for the right device, tighter security and all of BlackBerry strengths.

BlackBerry Classic is Most Secure Device

I think BlackBerry is still the most secure mobile device on the market. That has a lot of value to one slice of the customer pie who needs security. That means business, government and very private consumers. For many people, the security of BlackBerry is still more important than any of Apple or Samsung's bells and whistles.

Not every user needs all the functionality, browser or apps of an iPhone or Android. In fact, many business users would prefer the security provided by a BlackBerry to any other device.

The Choice is Simple

So the choice seems to be simple. Do you want the hottest smartphone with all the apps and features all your friends are using and talking about? Then iPhone or Android make sense. However, if you want a solid, attractive, private and secure smartphone, then BlackBerry may be perfect for you.

I think this BlackBerry Classic will be a hit with this segment of the marketplace. The only question is, how large is that segment? It wonít really impact the marketplace in general, or Apple, Google or Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. in particular, but this could be very good for BlackBerry and their loyal users who have stuck with them this long.

In fact, if BB 10 was launched seven years ago as the first response to Apple and Google, we might not have seen BlackBerry tank like is has over time. Perhaps now that things are getting better and starting to look stronger for the company, they're ready for a comeback. Letís hope, one step at a time.

So if you think you might like BlackBerry, check out this new Classic. It may be just the smartphone you are looking for.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan  March 2, 2015 8:00AM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-review-of-new-blackberry-classic#sthash.Q682Uspu.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Customer-Tech-Support-Dont-Go-It-Alone-81754.html

ANALYSIS

Customer Tech Support: Don't Go It Alone

When a problem with a mobile device occurs, customers call either the equipment maker or the network for help. The worst response they can get is that it's the other guy's problem. That forces customers to go back and forth looking for a solution. It wastes their time and increases their aggravation. The back-and-forth routine loses customers, and it must be avoided at all costs.

By Jeff Kagan

02/26/15 5:00 AM PT

You may have heard of a company called Geek Squad, but what about PlumChoice or SupportSpace? Even if you don't know their names, you may very well be doing business with them right now. Who are they?

PlumChoice, SupportSpace are both relatively small companies that do business with larger companies, providing top-shelf tech support services to customers. This segment of support services is a very interesting, impressive and increasingly important part of the tech world.

Companies in most every industry today deal with technology. Their employees use smartphones, tablets and computers to send messages and data over wireless and wireline networks.

Typically, companies provide their own service and tech support. Sometimes calls are too complicated for general service department staff, however. Those calls are escalated to individuals more experienced with handling complex problems.

Companies have a choice as to how they provide these higher-level support services. Some maintain advanced tech support departments internally, staffed by their own employees.

However, outside companies may be enlisted to handle these problems -- companies like Geek Squad, PlumChoice, SupportSpace and others. Most of these companies are relatively small, but that likely will change over the next several years as more companies need more help providing service to more customers.

It looks as though growth is in the cards for this segment. Companies use these support services to take care of customers who use their products. Companies also use them to take care of customers who are having problems with third-party products.

Who You Gonna Call?

Consider a customer who uses a wireless carrier and has a smartphone like an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, for example.

The user may have purchased both the device and service from a store operated by a carrier like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint or T-Mobile. Alternatively, the customer could have gone to a physical store operated by Apple or Samsung -- or a big box retailer like Best Buy. Perhaps the user placed an order through Amazon or countless other online outlets.

It might be easy for a customer to walk into one store and buy everything, but it can get very complicated for the companies to sell each other's equipment and services.

The same is true of tech support. Who does the customer call with a problem?

The customer generally calls the company that sold the product. If the problem is with the iPhone and they bought it directly from Apple, they are on target. What if the problem is with the network, though? Can Apple help? That's where things get difficult.

As technology becomes increasingly important to every one of us and claims a bigger role in our lives, tech support becomes much more important as well -- and much more complicated.

World-class tech support is the biggest challenge of all -- yet world-class tech support must remain the goal. Customers who are not satisfied won't remain your customers.

Returning to the above example, wireless networks don't manufacture equipment, and equipment makers don't operate a network. So world-class tech support gets tough.

Not My Department

Customers, of course, want their problems solved quickly. When a problem occurs, they call either the equipment maker or the network for help. The worst response they can get is that it's the other guy's problem. That forces customers to go back and forth looking for a solution. It wastes their time and increases their aggravation.

The back-and-forth routine loses customers for both the device and the network. It must be avoided at all costs. All the companies are tied together in providing world-class tech support. Every company has skin in the game.

How can companies take care of customers without shuffling them back and forth? They have a choice. They either set up their own very advanced tech support centers or they do business with outside companies like Geek Squad, PlumChoice, SupportSpace and others.

Geek Squad is a good example. At one time, Best Buy operated its own service department. However, as the customer care job grew in both size and complexity, Best Buy acquired Geek Squad to handle its tech support. Now it's easy for customers to get help, and they love it.

Finding the right company to help your company is a big challenge. Each tech support company specializes in different areas -- like wireless, telecom, smartphones, computers and so on. Each helps different types of companies as well.

Each of these companies focuses on its own little niche in the tech world. However, I see this segment growing over the next decade and beyond as more companies realize they must provide world-class service to keep customers and stay in business.

It may be uncomfortable for a large company to rely on a smaller company for support, but in this case it seems to be working just fine. This space will be very interesting to watch. 

 

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

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-will-lenovo-grow-with-motorola-smartphones

Jeff Kagan: Will Lenovo Grow with Motorola Smartphones?

By Jeff Kagan

February 24, 2015 1:31PM   

Tickers Mentioned: GOOG IBM  MSFT BBRY AAPL KRX

Lenovo Group Limited ($HKG) is one of the computer makers that seems to be bucking the trend.

In recent years they continue to grow while others struggle. Lenovo recently acquired Motorola Mobility from Google, Inc. (GOOG) . Smartphone growth suddenly seems to be a point of interest for Lenovo. So will Motorola be a home run for Lenovo?

Itís still too early to pronounce Lenovo a big winner in smartphones, but so far things are looking pretty good.

A few questions at this early stage:

1. Why did Motorola do so poorly on itís own?

2. Why did Motorola still do so poorly under Google?

3. Why will things be different and better under Lenovo?

4. Do Lenovo and Motorola understand the differences and the importance in Smartphone marketing?

These are interesting questions. Letís take a closer look.

Lenovo is a strong leader in the computing business. Ignoring their big recent goof with privacy and security on many of their computers, they have been doing strong business and showing growth, while other PC makers are struggling.

If they keep their noses clean going forward, I think they will be able to manage this brand value catastrophe that could wipe a company off the map.

Lenovo was a smaller player, but then they acquired the Thinkpad business years ago from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) . They have been growing ever since, even as growth has slowed in the computer industry with smartphones and tablet computers.

To increase growth, Lenovo sees value in offering smartphones and tablets as an addition to their bundle. This makes sense, but very few companies have been successful at this. Lenovo has been selling these devices for a while with a moderate level of success.

Now Lenovo has made an interesting acquisition. They have Motorola under their hood and have every intention of revving their engine to success. While itís too early to offer a prediction, so far, at least they do seem to be on target.

Motorola is a good company with good people and good technology. They were one of the leaders in the wireless revolution. They just lost their way in the 1990ís when the networks changed from analog to digital. At that point, they gave up their number one position to Nokia Corporation ($ADR), which today is owned by Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) .

Today both Nokia and BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) have given up their number one and two positions to Apple, Inc. (AAPL) , Google and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. ($KRX), but thatís an entirely different story.

Motorola's Uphill Climb

Motorola has struggled to remain relevant as the mobile and wireless world marched on. They could not strike gold on their own, so they were spun off and acquired by Google. Google could not resuscitate the company either so they sold it to Lenovo.

Now we are asked to believe that Lenovo will put their magic pads on the quiet chest of Motorola, yell "Clear!," and shock the brand back to life.

Will it work? Thatís the million-dollar question. We wonít have an answer for a while. We have to wait and watch. We have to see what Lenovo does with the brand. We have to see the technology and the marketing in order to have any indication.

So can Motorola be shocked back to life and be a wireless leader once again? The answer is, yes it can. The next question is, will it? That answer is less clear.

Success with a fading and dying brand has happened before. As one example, let me remind you of Apple. Apple was struggling and dying in the 1990ís. They took an investment from Microsoft to stay alive. They got Steve Jobs back as CEO. They stabilized the company, but it still was not the growth monster it is today.

iPhone Changed the Game...Leaving Competitors in the Dust

What caused Apple to become a growth monster? The iPhone. Around seven years ago, the iPhone was introduced and the company exploded with growth. Nothing has been the same ever since.

So yes, success can be had even with a dying and struggling company. And yes, Motorola does have an older and tired, but still valuable brand name. So they have the same kind of chance to be successful once again under Lenovo leadership as Apple had.

The real question is what will Lenovo and Motorola do with that chance? To answer that question we will have to just wait and see. I would love to see Motorola become successful once again. Hell, I would like to see Blackberry and Nokia be successful once again as well.

We can never have too many competing and successful choices in the marketplace with strong and growing companies behind them.

There is no reason this two horse race needs to remains that way. There is no reason why roughly 80 to 90% of the wireless market is owned by Apple, Google and Samsung.

They all can be successful once again. We'll just have to wait and see what Lenovo does with Motorola. Letís hope for the best.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          February 24, 2015 1:31PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-will-lenovo-grow-with-motorola-smartphones#sthash.N4D2eOfo.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Xiaomis-One-Shot-at-Success-in-the-US-81723.html

ANALYSIS

Xiaomi's One Shot at Success in the US

Xiaomi must find a way into the hearts of customers. Otherwise, even the best technology will fail. There is one very important question it must answer: Why should users care about Xiaomi? If it can create an interesting and compelling story, and if it can successfully tell that story to the marketplace through the media and analyst community, then it stands a chance to succeed in the U.S.

By Jeff Kagan

02/19/15 5:00 AM PT

Xiaomi may soon take its first steps into the United States. How will it do? I have some suggestions to offer. If it follows them, its chances of success will increase. If it doesn't, well, it may face the same problems that have dogged Microsoft, BlackBerry, Motorola, HTC and many others.

I have watched many handset makers fail. Wireless in the U.S. is a booming business, but it's not easy to break into the space as a handset maker. Apple's iPhone and Android devices like Samsung's Galaxy line have been big winners to date, claiming roughly 80-90 percent market share.

Well-known competitors like Microsoft, BlackBerry, Motorola, HTC and LG are struggling to hold onto single-digit market share. If these better-known brands can't seem to cut it, what makes Xiaomi think it can?

The Beauty of a Blank Slate

Xiaomi does have one advantage. If it can leverage it correctly, it stands a chance of succeeding in the U.S. marketplace.

What is that advantage? In the U.S., few customers know much about the brand. Ask any smartphone user about Xiaomi, and you likely will find zero brand recognition. The name is unfamiliar. That means Xiaomi has a blank slate.

That blank slate can be golden if it handles its U.S. entrance correctly. Xiaomi has a unique opportunity to create initial awareness. It can put the first strokes of color onto a blank canvas. It can create a fresh new picture of what it represents in the minds of American users.

If it executes well, then it stands a much stronger chance of claiming a segment of the American marketplace. A strong debut can be much more effective than reinventing an existing brand. However, Xiaomi must create a reason for end users to trust an unknown company and to want it to win.

Trust traditionally comes with time and experience. However, early stage trust can be built quickly with words and stories. Then a long-term trust can develop over time. Is Xiaomi ready for the challenge?

The company will get only one shot at this. Once the first impression is made, the die will be cast. Here's what Xiaomi has to do.

First, it must create a hot device -- one that is new and noticeably different from the iPhone or the plethora of Android devices already in the market. Its handset must be attractive to a specific segment of the marketplace. Remember both BlackBerry and Microsoft offer a different OS, but they are not flourishing.

Second, winning over the media and analyst community is key. Xiaomi must challenge existing stories with its own new ideas. If Xiaomi can make a strong enough case for itself, then news stories and commentaries will proliferate. The brand will stand the chance of catching fire.

Something will be written. Either the ideas will be supplied by the company, or the ideas will come from the market. Leaving it up to the market is risky. Without media and analyst interest, Xiaomi's chances of success will dwindle.

Third, Xiaomi must attract the end user. Positive stories are key. They will lend it credibility and help convince users to give the brand a try.

Tug on Heartstrings

Xiaomi will get one shot, and it must get it right. It must conduct all of the elements of its U.S. debut like a symphony. If it can do that well, then Xiaomi will have a chance to carve out a place for itself.

There is one very important question it must answer: Why should users care about Xiaomi? If it can create an interesting and compelling story, and if it can successfully tell that story to the marketplace through the media and analyst community, then it stands a chance to succeed in the U.S. marketplace and the rest of the Americas.

We know the story of Steve Jobs' Apple with over the last few decades. We fell in love with that success story. It plays out like a novel.

That's what Xiaomi must do -- that's how it must compete. It must find a way into the hearts of customers. Otherwise, even the best technology will fail.

The wireless world has turned into a very emotional place. Users buy because brands are hot -- because they connect for one reason or another. They buy for personal reasons.

Xiaomi's biggest challenge today is to get close to the customer. It must develop a story, tell it well, and tell it everywhere. It must create the right kind of image on the blank minds of its potential consumers. It must make sure it hits every single item in this process right on target.

If it does, then maybe, just maybe, it can create a path to success in the American marketplace.

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/Xiaomis-One-Shot-at-Success-in-the-US-81723.html#sthash.ySyGymqW.dpuf

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-plumchoice-offers-tech-support-services

Jeff Kagan: PlumChoice Offers Tech Support Services

By Jeff Kagan

February 17, 2015 1:51PM

PlumChoice.gifI recently found an interesting privately owned company called PlumChoice ($PLUCHOP) that helps their client companies offer top shelf tech support to customers. We all know about the well-known, brand-named companies we do business with. But most customers donít know that these companies often partner with outside tech support firms like PlumChoice to offer a better level of customer care.

PlumChoice recently briefed me about their concept. As technology continues to expand, this is a rapidly growing space. I have just started to look into the company more closely. While I do not yet have a full understanding of the company, customers and services, from what I have seen so far, their service is needed by many companies.

Because of that, the opportunity for growth in this segment looks very strong. I am still only in the early stages of investigating into the company, and this entire segment, but from what I have seen so far, the result is a stronger customer relationship for their client companies. And that is what all companies are, or should be trying to, achieve.

PlumChoice works with their client companies, behind the scenes, helping to improve customer care with advanced tech support.

Imagine you are a customer and you buy a smartphone or tablet or computer, and something goes wrong. You call the company for tech support. Companies attempt to solve the problem, and in the vast majority of cases, they do.

If the problem requires more expertise, companies then transfer the call to their advanced tech support. The next question then becomes: is their advanced tech support inside or outside?

Growth in the Tech Support Space

PlumChoice is an outside company, which partners with the company to offer advanced tech support. This will continue be a growth oriented space for many years to come, as technology continues to get more complicated, and works in tandem with other tech.

Most companies handle the vast majority of their tech support calls on their own. The more complicated calls take an advanced tech support team, either also in house or outside, with a specialist firm.

As we use more technology, and as our technology increasingly works together, the need for services like this is growing, and this growth opportunity is very exciting for the entire segment.

The customer does not realize they are talking to an outside specialist. Companies like PlumChoice identify themselves as the advanced tech support of the company to which you're calling.

Additionally, because there is a fee involved, and because this is shared with the company, this both supports companies like PlumChoice, and turns tech support into a revenue opportunity for the client company, rather than a cost.

As technology continues to grow, expand and merge, I believe this is a space that will continue to grow. As our devices increasingly work together, as they increasingly use cloud services and so on, tech support will get more complicated - and delivering quality service will become more challenging.

Customer Experience is Key

As tech continues to grow, companies must be focused on the customer experience. This is more important as the marketplace gets more complicated and confusing.

Whether companies do business directly with the customer, or whether they partner with another company to better handle the more complicated issues, customer satisfaction has got to be at the front of one's mind.

If the customer is not happy, they will no longer remain your customer. That is the threat and the opportunity - there is no middle ground.

The bottom line goal for every company is to keep the customer happy and quickly solve their problems. By doing this, you can keep customers happy and build the brand.

Whether companies deal directly with the customer or whether they partner with outside tech support firms, customer satisfaction must remain center stage.

As far as the the customer in concerned, they just want their stuff to work...period.

If the company does this well, the customers are happy. They keep existing customers, while winning new customers as well...either on their own, or by working with outside companies.

As I learn more about PlumChoice and this entire segment, I will write more and keep you up to speed. This is a very interesting segment, and an increasingly important one going forward.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan +Follow February 17, 2015 1:51PM

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/jeff-kagan-plumchoice-offers-tech-support-services#sthash.uxMdlf4P.dpuf

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/How-Eroding-Trust-Hurts-Companies-81703.html

OPINION

How Eroding Trust Hurts Companies

Both the selling of personal information for commercial purposes, or break-ins exposing sensitive information to the bad guys are increasingly a risk today. If these problems are not solved, it will eventually hurt the end user, and if companies and industries don't protect users on their own, the government could step in and force them to do the right thing.

By Jeff Kagan

02/12/15 12:13 PM PT

I love all the innovation and trends in the wireless, telecom, television, Internet and tech space. However there is also a big warning light flashing ahead that no one is paying attention to...trust is eroding. Trust is a delicate thing and is being ignored. Innovation is great, but if we don't protect the privacy and personal information of users, they will lose trust and that will bite us in the end.

There are so many examples. Here are three to think about.

One, we learned a few days ago how Samsung Smart TV records its users' voices and they sell that information to advertisers without customer permission or knowledge. They discuss it in the terms and conditions, but who reads that?

I don't know about you, but I cherish my privacy. There are times when I know there is little or no privacy and I watch what I say. However, when I am alone in my home or office, I consider that my safe zone.

That was until Samsung crossed the line. If Samsung is doing it, what other TV manufacturers are doing the same, or worse? Plenty, I fear -- and likely not just from the TV.

Two, Congressman Edward Markey says automobiles sold today contain information systems that can be broken into by hackers. Of course, this information can also be sold by the automobile industry for commercial reasons.

Right now automakers appear to be either unaware of the dire implications, or simply don't care. That's another problem.

Government Intervention

Markey is asking the world's automakers to create mandatory safeguards. He says that today's cars are collecting mountains of sensitive and private information about personal driving habits, locations driven, and history.

Bad guys, or even good guys such as third-party advertisers, would be very interested in getting their hands on this information.

Three, Facebook put a fork in protecting user information a long time ago. They don't hide it, but they still do it. They simply state that if you want to use our service, you have to play by our rules.

Fair enough. However, there is no other Facebook for users to turn to. This is another real problem.

So what's the solution? Should the government proclaim that Facebook's success in owning its segment of the market makes it a monopoly -- and therefore it should be controlled by the government?

This is a problem that companies are creating for themselves. They think it's OK not to pay attention to users' concerns. This sets the stage for dramatic customer action -- and that is the last thing that companies want to deal with.

This is the problem that companies don't realize they are facing by ignoring the end user. Companies that don't take care of their customers, their workers and their partners, eventually pay a very high price.

Companies should work hard to protect users' privacy and information if customers want this.

Simple Solution

The question I have is: Will users ultimately get so upset about how companies are playing fast and loose with their personal data, that they finally push back?

The solution is simple: Leave it up to the customer to choose. Everything should be turned off unless the customer decides it's ok to listen in. Give the customers the pros and cons and let them make the decision.

There will still be plenty who opt in. If so, they can flip a switch and let their personal information out. If not, they can protect themselves.

Simple solution right? Why then, are companies not paying attention yet?

Remember when the word came out that smartphones were able to track a user's location and activity? There was pushback.

However, when customers discovered there was benefit to this, most opted in. Now, many people like getting location-based information and special offers pushed to them. So users are willing to make the tradeoff of privacy for features.

That is what's missing currently. The choice is not given to the end user. Some people are ok being tracked, but others are not. Why don't they count?

I think if the industry keeps pushing ahead with little or no regard to the personal privacy and preferences of its users, it will come back to bite them in the rear end in a variety of ways.

Both the selling of personal information for commercial purposes, or break-ins exposing sensitive information to the bad guys are increasingly a risk today. As Congressman Markey noted on the automotive privacy issue, it's all part of the same ball of wax.

If these problems are not solved, it will eventually hurt the end user, and that will hurt all companies that are blindly playing along. Remember, every coin has two sides.

Of course, if companies and industries don't protect the end users on their own, the government could step in and force them to do the right thing. That's the threat that Congressman Markey represents.

So the bell is ringing. I hope that companies and industries choose to acknowledge the problem and do the right things on their own. One way or another, something will be done.

Wrapping Up

One, the simplest solution is to give the customer the choice to opt in or opt out.

Two, the next solution is to make sure you protect your users from break-ins. Perhaps this is something that can come from these companies themselves, or perhaps it can be a solution similar to the way that Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee protects us.

There is still plenty of work that has to be done, and plenty of conversations that should be had and plans that should be made, but the bottom line is we can no longer ignore this glaring issue.

Either industry must solve these problems or the heavy-handed government will do it for them. The choice seems clear to me. That's the choice we now face.

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/How-Eroding-Trust-Hurts-Companies-81703.html#sthash.2BMckmXC.dpuf

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-what-sprint-will-do-with-radio-shack'

Jeff Kagan: What Will Sprint Do With RadioShack?

By Jeff Kagan 

February 9, 2015 1:34PM   

Tickers Mentioned: S RSH SFTBF TMUS V AAPL T

Sprint (S)  seems to be in the process of reinventing itself. In fact, their latest deal to acquire 1,750 RadioShack Corporation (RSH)  retail stores is just the latest example. So letís pull the camera back and take a longer-term, historical perspective on Sprint. We'll take a look at where Sprint came from, where they are today, and where they appear to be heading tomorrow.

The Sprint of Yesterday

Over the last decade, Sprint has struggled. They said goodbye to their long time CEO, and brought in another who then acquired Nextel. Unfortunately, Nextel was an analog network in an increasingly digital world. As the industry headed down the smartphone path, this deal no longer made sense. Now, Sprint was in worse shape.

Then, several years ago Sprint hired CEO Dan Hesse, who saved and stabilized the company. This was a major accomplishment. Growth, however, was still slow and finances were tight.

The Sprint of Today

A year and a half ago Masayoshi Son CEO of Softbank Corp (SFTBF)  stepped in and acquired the majority of Sprint. Working with Hesse, they tried to acquire T-Mobile USA (TMUS) .

When the acquisition of T-Mobile failed, Masayoshi Son started a rapid transformation of the company. Fortunately, the deep pockets of Son may be just what Sprint needs for a rapid recovery.

He said goodbye to Hesse and brought in new CEO Marcelo Claure last summer. Claure has been making some significant changes and product introductions in the last several months, as he is getting familiar with the intricacies of the wireless industry.

Then, a couple months ago, Claure hired Doug Michelman as Senior VP of Corporate Communications. Michelman came from Visa Inc. (V) .

The Sprint of Tomorrow

So as you can see, Sprint is in the early stages of what appears to be a major reinvention of who they are in the marketplace, to customers, investors and partners.

They have spent the last few years investing in, improving and reinventing the network. They have started to introduce some very popular ideas like their current "Cut Your Bill In Half" campaign. I think we can expect to see many more of these kinds of offerings going forward. Stay tuned.

Sprint Increasing Retail Stores

Now to the RadioShack stores. Retail is a key component for success going forward. We have seen AT&T Mobility redesigning their stores over the course of the last couple years. Apple Inc. (AAPL)  started this push with a new idea for retail design and AT&T (T)  seems to be taking that a step further.

New retail stores today are not regular stores with shelves and cash registers. Instead, they work to foster a warm and friendly environment. You sit down at a table with an advisor and have a conversation. You pay at that table on an Apple iPad and walk out satisfied. This is a new and successful retail strategy.

Retail is going to be increasingly important going forward. To save Sprint, several years ago they shut down so many retail stores. However, now that Sprint is being reinvented, they need to really strengthen their retail arm...because retail is key.

Thatís why their deal with RadioShack last week is so important. Sprint will get their hands on roughly 1,750 RadioShack locations to help them more than double their current retail locations, overnight.

Whatís Next for Sprint

This is a very important step in the Sprint recovery. However just acquiring locations is not enough. They need to update the stores for a modern sensibility, and the entire Sprint retail experience needs to be upgraded - just like at Apple and AT&T Mobility.

New thinking for a new opportunity in a new world of wireless. If Sprint can do this, I think the potential for a very good 2015 and beyond is there.

1,750 stores in prime locations will help Sprint quickly grow their branded distribution. These stores will only sell Sprint and Sprint-branded mobile devices and plans. This added to the indirect dealers and national retail chains are just what Sprint needs right now.

So this sad story at RadioShack is actually great news for Sprint. This will help Sprint quickly and cost effectively increase the number of company owned stores in their nationwide footprint. A key for success.

This is yet another piece of the puzzle in what appears to be a Sprint recovery. I think if you pull back the camera, you can start to see the progress that Sprint is making in their reinvention. It will be very interesting to watch this process continue throughout 2015 and beyond.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-what-sprint-will-do-with-radio-shack#sthash.EkAgbXdH.dpuf

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Will-Motorola-Mobility-be-a-Home-Run-for-Lenovo-81683.html

ANALYSIS

Will Motorola Mobility be a Home Run for Lenovo?

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing says Motorola has doubled its smartphone sales volume from a year ago, selling more then 10 million devices worldwide. Yang says they are very happy with the progress so far. The good news for Lenovo is that the smartphone sector is a large and growing marketplace. The bad news is that the field already has several heavy hitters.

By Jeff Kagan

02/06/15 5:00 AM PT

Lenovo is one computer maker that seems to be bucking the trend. In recent years they've continued to grow while others struggle.

Smartphone growth suddenly seems to be a point of interest for Lenovo, which recently acquired Motorola Mobility from Google. It's still too early to pronounce Lenovo a big winner in smartphones from this acquisition, but to date, things are looking good.

Three Questions

One, why did Motorola do so poorly on its own?

Two, why did Motorola do so poorly under Google's leadership?

Three, why is Motorola finally seeming to do so well under Lenovo's leadership?

These are interesting questions to which there are no clear answers -- yet -- but I will discuss them with you as they become more clear during 2015.

Lenovo is a leader in the computer industry. It was a smaller player before it acquired the Thinkpad line when it purchased IBM's personal computer business in 2005. Lenovo has been doing very strong business ever since -- while overall growth in the computer business has slowed.

Clearly, Lenovo sees value in offering smartphones and tablets. They have been selling these devices for a while with a moderate level of success.

Now, Lenovo has acquired Motorola with every intention of being a leader in the smartphone space as well. So far, they seem to be on target.

Initial Results

Lenovo says they expect the smartphone side of their business to account for roughly 30 percent of revenue in the next 12 months. That sounds amazing, but remember, in this most recent quarter smartphone revenue was already 24 percent. So stretching to 30 percent is good, but not incredible.

How much did Motorola bring to Lenovo's table so far? It's hard to tell this early in the game. This past quarter was Lenovo's first since the acquisition of Motorola and investors had their eyes on this report.

Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing says Motorola has doubled its smartphone sales volume from a year ago, selling more then 10 million devices worldwide. He says they are very happy with the progress so far.

The good news for Lenovo is that the smartphone sector is a large and growing marketplace. The bad news is that the field already has several very successful heavy hitters, like the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Samsung Galaxy, to mention a few.

Although the smartphone business is one juicy target, many other companies have tried and failed.

Lenovo still does not sell smartphones worldwide. It will be interesting to see if they can compete globally.

The company must find new areas of growth beyond computers and since computers work well with tablets and smartphones, they are a natural next step. So far, smartphone growth has outpaced that of tablets.

Bottom Line

If Lenovo can grow their smartphone market share it will benefit their brand value. With Motorola, it appears that Lenovo is stronger.

It is also important to recognize that Lenovo has been successful in the smartphone business, on their own, in recent years as well.

Whether Motorola will make Lenovo stronger or not is a key question. Either way, I would say Lenovo looks like they intend to be a strong player in the smartphone space -- and they seem to be headed in that direction. We'll keep our eyes on them going forward. 

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/Will-Motorola-Mobility-be-a-Home-Run-for-Lenovo-81683.html#sthash.TKSX7L3L.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/investing-strategies/jeff-kagan-centurylink-two-minute-warning

Jeff Kagan: A Two-Minute Warning for CenturyLink

By Jeff Kagan 

February 2, 2015 12:51PM   

Tickers Mentioned: CTL VZ T CMCSA TWC GOOG MSI BBRY

CenturyLink ($CTL) is one of the three largest local telephone companies in the United States. Ongoing growth can be as strong and rapid at we see at AT&T ($T) and Verizon Communications Inc. ($VZ). However, for CenturyLink, that has not been the case...at least so far. Letís take a closer look at the company, and to use a little Super Bowl lingo, issue a two-minute warning.

Rapid Growth Needed to Keep Shareholders Happy

To begin with, I like CenturyLink. I think they have as much rapid growth potential as other successful companies like AT&T and Verizon. However, their slow growth puts them in a weaker position in the marketplace.

What I mean is, if advanced services are not offered quickly enough, CenturyLink customers can and will switch to a competitor. If they do that, investors will not be happy.

That said, I think CenturyLink can grow if they focus on new and advanced services for growth, and not just on acquiring other companies.Thatís the mistake that Windstream has made over time. Windstream is also a good company, with good people and a good network, but they have grown through acquisitions more than new services.

Going forward, customers are demanding new and advanced services. So if a company is only focused on acquiring other companies, and not creating advanced services, they will start to lose business.

Thatís the challenge CenturyLink faces today. I think 2015 is the year that CenturyLink has to have their coming out party. They have spent years growing through acquisitions. They have acquired many competitors like Embarq, Qwest, Savvis and many others. This gives them a much larger customer base to work with, allowing them a much more advanced level of potential service offerings to grow on.

CenturyLink has been too quiet. This has become a very noisy industry. Quiet companies disappear into the woodwork. To be successful, you need to lead the conversation, or at least be part of the conversation. CenturyLink has not, and that must change.

So where is CenturyLink growth coming from today? I would say their growth is still coming more from acquisitions, and less from new services. Thatís the part that must change.

Emulating AT&T and Verizon's Success

Look at the two largest companies in the CenturyLink space: AT&T and Verizon. Ten years ago, both AT&T and Verizon were mostly local phone companies dabbling in other sectors.

Today, local phone service is shrinking, and AT&T and Verizon growth is coming from other advanced services like wireless, Internet, television like Uverse and FiOS over IPTV, the cloud, and other areas as well.

AT&T and Verizon are not sitting still. They are continuing to grow into new areas.

ē Their IPTV like Uverse and FiOS is taking business from the traditional cable television competitors like Comcast Corporation ($CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable Inc.($TWC).

ē Their wireless business is continuing to grow and expand, and is now helping other industries like automotive and healthcare to grow and change, with huge growth opportunities possible.

ē The 1 Gig ultra high speed Internet business is growing, and companies like AT&T Gigapower and Google Fiber from Google Inc. ($GOOG) lead the way.

ē All this and more show why larger competitors like AT&T, Verizon and Google are rapidly growing and changing the expectations of customers.

ē CenturyLink has the same potential for growth. However, they have not been as aggressive or expanded as quickly. Why? They have focused on acquisition rather than internal growth.

That must change, if for no other reason than they will start to lose customers to competitors if they donít.

A company can do what they want. Only themself, their workers and their investors and will pay the price if they make a mistake.

The Need for Continuing Innovation

However, customers are an element that will play a larger role going forward. Innovation and speed and new services are what customers are looking for. And if CenturyLink does not innovate, customers may leave for a competitor who does.

So like it or not CenturyLink, you must be in the rapid innovation space going forward or you will lose. You must also be willing to be center stage and talk about all the change the industry and you and your customers are going through. You must be high profile to win.

That said, I hope to see this company jump in with both feet and really start to compete with advanced new services. I want them to continue to be successful, and a real competitor. However, I have been an industry analyst for more than 25 years. I have worked with, and followed many companies in this space, and surprisingly, I have not heard much from CenturyLink over that time. For me, that raises a red flag - a warning sign. I am concerned for their future growth potential.

Some continue to grow and do strong business. Some continue to create the next wave to grow on.

However, others seem to let the single wave they are riding rise, crest and fall - taking them with it. We have seen this over time with companies like Motorola Solutions Inc. ($MSI), Nokia Corporation ($ADR), Blackberry Ltd. ($BBRY) and others.

I would not like to see the wave pass CenturyLink by in the same way, leaving them adrift in a shrinking marketplace. Now is the time for CenturyLink to come out of its shell. To focus on all these advanced services, to take center stage and attract the attention of the media, analyst and investor community in a positive way.

Itís not too late if they act now. Letís hope they do. This is their two-minute warning.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          February 2, 2015 12:51PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/investing-strategies/jeff-kagan-centurylink-two-minute-warning#sthash.V5j4NDgz.dpuf

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Is-T-Mobile-Burning-Too-Hot-81650.html

ANALYSIS

Is T-Mobile Burning Too Hot?

It's important for companies to develop new waves to continue their corporate growth. However, that does not mean they should overwhelm the marketplace with new ideas on the same product offerings. The bottom line is that T-Mobile is still growing. If it wants to continue to grow, I think it might be time to slow down a bit with its new programs before it starts to confuse the marketplace.

By Jeff Kagan

01/29/15 7:13 AM PT

T-Mobile US strikes again with its new Score offering. Score is like its Jump program for the company's credit-challenged customers.

I like all the activity going on at T-Mobile. It is alive once again. That's the good part. However is it starting to burn too fast and too hot? If so, could it burn itself out?

Jump is T-Mobile's version of similar plans offered by other carriers -- like AT&T Mobility's Next, Verizon Wireless' Edge and Sprint's One Up.

There are so many new ideas in the marketplace today that I don't expect any of them to have a long shelf life. Too many changes to too many plans, with too many names and too many rules, will confuse the marketplace -- and we want to avoid a confused marketplace at all costs.

Score is T-Mobile's version of Jump but for customers with poor or no credit. The phones are not top of the line, but Score does allow for more frequent trade-ins.

How Long Can This Go On?

I like the fact that T-Mobile is rolling out different programs for different slices of its customer pie. The credit-challenged have always had a tougher time, and this will help that group of customers.

T-Mobile has been very busy upsetting the apple cart over the last year or so. It has introduced new services and creative ways to pay for wireless.

That's all good. I think CEO John Legere keeps hitting home runs for his customer base. He may not be changing the entire industry, but he is making a positive impact on T-Mobile US.

What I don't understand as clearly is T-Mobile's plan for ongoing growth. I question how long this success can last.

Apparently, executives at T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom have been wondering the same thing. I read last week that in an interview, a DT executive asked how long a company could go on winning new customers at an unsustainable price.

All that is important to keep in mind as the wireless industry continues to invest billions providing faster and better connections and services. This is an industry that is continually on the growth side of the wave -- and costs a lot of money to stay on the growth side.

As for new offerings, T-Mobile has been rolling them out so fast it keeps its customers' heads spinning. Activity is good, but only to a point -- it can create too much confusion, and that can slow growth. Is T-Mobile reaching that point?

Keep the Waves Coming

It's important for customers and investors to understand the changing marketplace.

Think of this as the growth wave I often discuss -- it grows, then crests and then falls. Companies and products ride the wave. No single wave lasts forever. No single wave grows forever.

The challenge every company has is to stay on the growth side of the wave. When one wave crests, it's very important to create the next growth wave -- either that or your company will start to slow as well.

That's why it's important for companies to continue developing new waves to continue their corporate growth. However, that does not mean they should overwhelm the marketplace with new ideas on the same product offerings.

The bottom line is that T-Mobile is still growing. That's the good news. If it wants to continue to grow, I think it might be time to slow down a bit with its new programs before it starts to confuse the marketplace.

Perhaps it's time for T-Mobile to start thinking about its next growth wave. It should think like Apple with its iPod wave, then its iPhone wave, then its iPad wave. Each was a separate growth wave that let Apple continue to grow and become the size it is today.

Or consider AT&T and Verizon -- how they continue to start wave after wave, from telephone to wireless to Internet to television to connected car and beyond.

Or think about how Sprint is now under new management and is starting its own new growth wave.

All this means more challenge for T-Mobile in 2015 and beyond: new thinking, new ideas, new products, and new waves are always great. However, too many new plans may begin to confuse the marketplace, and that is something T-Mobile should avoid.

An enlightened marketplace is good. A confused marketplace is bad. I want T-Mobile to be successful. Heck, I want all four major wireless carriers to be successful -- I would not like to see them trip over their own feet.

 

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/Is-T-Mobile-Burning-Too-Hot-81650.html#sthash.KC9ZzyPL.dpuf

 


 
 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/connected-car-and-the-internet-of-things-are-transformational-opportunities

Jeff Kagan: Connected Car and the Internet of Things are Transformational Opportunities

By Jeff Kagan 

January 27, 2015 12:59PM   

Tickers Mentioned: AAPL  GOOG MSFT BBRY T VZ S GM F TM

The Connected Car space and the Internet of Things are two of the largest transformational opportunities the industry has ever seen. They will not only transform the wireless and automotive industries, but will also create new jobs, new growth, and new leadership in many other industries as well.

Letís take a look at some of the well-known and lesser-known companies who are taking a very active role in creating this new Connected Car and IoT Space.

First, what kind of companies and industries will play a role in this space?

ē Obviously smartphone, tablet and smartwatch makers like Apple (AAPL)  and Google (GOOG)  have stuck their flags in the ground claiming they will be two of the leading monsters in this new space at least during this first phase. Keep your eyes on Microsoft  Nokia (MSFT) , Blackberry (BBRY)  and many others.

ē Wireless carriers like AT&T Mobility (T) , Verizon Wireless (VZ)  and Sprint (S)  will carry much of the wireless traffic generated between the car and itís maker. They are the networks that tie the user to the provider. They also provide access to their own apps separate from the auto.

ē Car companies like Ford (F) , GM (GM) and Toyota (TM)  are just a few of the auto manufacturers rapidly moving into this space. In fact quite a few carmakers are really starting to turn up the heat on the innovation and offerings.

ē Companies like Kore Telematics are also playing an important role on the business side of this new opportunity.

Do Automakers Have to Pick Sides?

At CES 2015 a few weeks ago in Las Vegas, there was an event, which had several top executives from a variety of firms that are playing an active and early role in this transformational opportunity.

This is about Machine to Machine or M2M, Connected Devices and the IoT. One of the speakers was a top exec from GM saying their company will remain open to a variety of connected car services.

Thatís smart since we are really just in the very early stages of this new opportunity and who knows what direction things will head tomorrow. An example of this transformation is today we connect our cars through our smartphones, but tomorrow technology from Google or Apple may be built into the car itself.

That raises all sorts of new questions like what if you wanted to buy a particular make of car, but they offered Google and you used Apple? Itís important for carmakers to keep this in mind. After all, you donít want to cut yourself off from a large group of customers simply because of wireless standards, do you?

Philip Abram the CIO of General Motors says this is not really a problem. They are just interested in creating a very compelling experience with the Connected Car. They are keeping their options open and are ready to work with many different companies to provide that experience.

That means Apple CarPlay as well as Google, Microsoft, Blackberry and others will be a player in this young and growing connected car space.

Ford has been very active in this space as well. They have been making some significant changes to the carriers and technology they offer customers. Their Sync 3 is no longer provided by Microsoft. Now it is Blackberry QNX instead. Imagine that.

We will be seeing lots of switches in partnerships over the next few years as companies continue to innovate and create new ideas.

The future of the connected car marketplace is what we are talking about here. There was plenty of discussion about this very interesting opportunity.

AT&T Leading the Connected Car Market

John Horn, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Kore Telematics weighed in saying that AT&T Mobility is winning the connected car space today. Also Verizon Telematics and Sprint are players in this new space.

Horn says AT&T makes it easy for customers to use them in their car. And to let customers in cars equipped with AT&T to use their shared data plans associated with their smartphones and tablets.

This is very important especially in this time of early adoption. This is a very big way for companies to work together to provide a seamless and easy experience for customers to use these services. All this advanced technology is very cool and can create a big selling advantage, but if itís too confusing, customers simply wonít use it.

So ease of use is key.

We are still very early into this new connected car experience. It will continue to develop and change over the next several years. Companies can be leaders today and thatís good. The next question is can these same companies continue to be leaders tomorrow?

We see who the leaders are today, but who will the leaders be longer term? Ah, thatís always the question right?

There are so many issues that will change thanks to innovation in technology, changes in regulation, changes in the economic models and plays. These are offered by wireless carriers, handset makers, auto makers and all the smaller companies who have to continue to play together well creating a seamless and efficient experience for the customer.

Stay tuned. There is more to come. This space is just starting to get very interesting.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          January 27, 2015 12:59PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/connected-car-and-the-internet-of-things-are-transformational-opportunities#sthash.Brnu6Ayx.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-google-ready-to-enter-wireless

Jeff Kagan: Is Google Ready to Enter Wireless?

By Jeff Kagan 

January 22, 2015 1:45PM   

Tickers Mentioned: AAPL GOOG T VZ S TMUS FB AMZN CMCSA TWC

Every five to ten years, the wireless industry transforms itself. Eight years ago the Apple Inc. ($AAPL) iPhone and Google Inc. ($GOOG) Android hit the streets and changed the economics of the entire industry. Now Google wants to enter the wireless space in a deal much like Tracfone. So will Google transform the wireless industry next?

This is a very interesting deal, because Google does not typically enter a space unless it intends to transform and lead. So how could Google impact the wireless space in the United States? Letís take a closer look.

Wireless the Google Way

First, Google will not be building out itís own wireless network like AT&T Mobility ($T), Verizon Wireless ($VZ), Sprint ($S) or T-Mobile ($TMUS). Instead, Google will resell the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. This is similar to the way Tracfone resells AT&T Mobility today as an MVNO competitor.

Today, Tracfone is the fifth largest wireless competitor and they are an MVNO reseller.

That said, Google has the opportunity to be as successful as Tracfone - a huge opportunity. The first company to be planting itís boots could indeed be Tracfone if Google will be offering lower priced services in an upscale way.

If Google passes Tracfone, their next goal will likely be to dominate the wireless space in general. That means they will be focused on competing with AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Could Google dominate wireless? Thatís a stretch to say the least, but who knows in this crazy business. If they market well, they could have an impact. "How much of an impact?" is the real question.

A History of Failed Wireless Plays

Other major companies have failed to successfully enter the wireless space. Companies like Comcast Corporation ($CMCSA), Time Warner Cable Inc. ($TWC), Cox Communications Inc. ($COX), Facebook Inc. ($FB) and Amazon.com, Inc. ($AMZN) have all tried and all failed so far. What makes Google think it can succeed in this very tough business?

Itís also important to note that carriers like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile have two sides to their business model: First, they retail services to customers, and they also wholesale services to other networks that compete with them.

So even if Google is wildly successful, that will just make the traditional carriers they do business with wildly successful on their wholesale side...shifting market share and dollars from one column to another. However, the companies could all still remain in a leadership position.

To start with, Google is working with Sprint and T-Mobile, but over time, they could just as easily move between carriers including AT&T and Verizon. This is a big potential opportunity for Sprint and T-Mobile.

That is, if Google is successful. Is this a guarantee? No itís not. Google is a company that likes to throw lots of new ideas against the wall. Only a few actually stick... usually those they start building.

Google's History of Abandoned Projects

Google Health was an example of failure. Google pulled the plug. Google Fiber is another example. They are offering high speed Internet service in a few cities and customers seem to like it. You would think this would be successful and they would rapidly roll this service out to every other city in the United States, right?

Well they are not. They are slowly rolling this service out, and in fact during the last few weeks said they are taking a breather to think things through. Does that mean they are going to continue with Google Fiber? Is this a way for Google to raise the level of interest? Will they change their strategy? Will they exit?

Lotís of questions, but no answers. Google is involved with so many different and exciting ideas, however, only a very few of them are commercially viable at this point.

So whatís the ultimate Google goal here? Is it to really become a wireless competitor? Is it to buy a network if successful? Is it to put pressure on the existing structure to reduce prices to consumers? Is it to increase speeds?

You also have to ask "Why?" Is there a need? Itís not like customers complain about todayís wireless world. Customers are happy with all the innovation and speeds. Sure they would like to save money, but thatís a double-edged sword, as carriers continue to invest billions to bring the advancements users really want.

So the choice is clear: Low cost with little innovation, or higher cost with advanced innovation? There are customers on both sides, and there are competitors on both sides.

Where is the Need for Google in Wireless?

Does Google think they can win with their killer brand? Perhaps. Has Google thought through all the failures from non-wireless companies mentioned earlier?

So Google wants to provide low costs and high innovation. How is that going to work? We donít really have a clue yet. Weíll just have to keep our eyes open and on Google, and see what they actually do next. This potential disruptor is definitely something competitors should be keeping their eyes on.

So weíll just have to wait and see if Google makes a real splash in the wireless marketplace, or if they are a complete and total failure. Stay tuned.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          January 22, 2015 1:45PM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-google-ready-to-enter-wireless#sthash.hzaQy1vv.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/ATTs-Iusacell-Deal-Could-Change-Mexico-81619.html

ANALYSIS

AT&T's Iusacell Deal Could Change Mexico

Joining the wireless worlds of the U.S. and Mexico opens the door for many exciting opportunities. Mexico seems to be waking up to the enormous growth opportunity the wireless industry represents. The timing seems perfect. America Movil has been divesting certain wireless assets to meet new laws created by President PeŮa Nieto. He wants to create more investment, competition and growth in Mexico.

By Jeff Kagan

01/22/15 6:34 AM PT

AT&T recently completed its acquisition of Mexico wireless carrier Iusacell -- so what does that mean for the future of AT&T? The growth potential is enormous, if this is done right.

The first step is over. AT&T has closed the acquisition. It was one of the quickest deals ever, taking roughly two months from start to finish.

The second step is also complete, with AT&T's Thaddeus Arroyo being promoted to CEO of Iusacell.

There will be many more steps ahead as these two companies start to weave their intricate web for growth. There are many questions. We'll just have to wait and see how this develops.

Huge Potential Footprint

Will the companies be able to work together or will they operate independently? Separately, AT&T can continue to grow both. Together, there is a unique opportunity for growth -- creation of the first-ever mobile service area covering both the U.S. and Mexico.

Why the acquisition? Growth. Public companies need to continue to show growth to keep investors happy. This kind of deal should help AT&T accelerate growth. That should keep investors happy.

This was a US$2.5 billion deal -- no small change. AT&T acquired Iusacell's licenses, its retail stores, its network and more than 9 million subscribers. This acquisition gives AT&T a chance to compete for 120 million customers in Mexico.

That's one hell of a foot in the door of the Mexican marketplace. In addition to growth for AT&T, I would say there is an opportunity to transform the Mexican wireless industry as a whole. If so that could transform other parts of the country's economy as well.

If AT&T executes its grand plan to create the first North American mobile service area, it will cover more than 400 million consumers and business customers in the U.S. and Mexico. That is very exciting potential.

Whether these companies remain separate or start to work together, this acquisition can be a big winner. Wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon have been looking for new ways to expand growth outside the U.S. This is the first big move in that direction.

Ripple Effect

Joining the wireless worlds of the U.S. and Mexico opens the door for many exciting opportunities. What this deal can become depends largely on Mexico. Fortunately, Mexico seems to be waking up to the enormous growth opportunity the wireless industry represents.

The timing seems perfect. America Movil has been divesting certain wireless assets to meet new laws created by President PeŮa Nieto. He wants to create more investment, competition and growth in Mexico. That's one huge reason there is so much potential in this deal.

We'll have to wait and see what kind of changes and opportunities it creates. This could mean a real growth partnership between the U.S. and Mexico with regard to calling features, wireless Web and costs.

Bringing wireless calling and the wireless Web to millions more Mexican customers and businesses seems like an enormous growth opportunity, not only for AT&T Mobility, but for Mexico itself.

Competition improves growth for every company. AT&T Mobility has competed and grown in the U.S., where it's up against Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, C Spire, Tracfone and many others.

As AT&T continues to update and offer new services and features at lower prices, it will attract customers. That means other carriers in Mexico will have to update themselves in order to stay competitive.

These are just some of the reasons why AT&T coming to Mexico will bring real competition and real innovation -- two factors that have been missing from that marketplace. That could help transform all of Mexico, not just the wireless industry, one step at a time.

 

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/ATTs-Iusacell-Deal-Could-Change-Mexico-81619.html#sthash.xosMSOnV.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/Wireless-Data-Plans-Are-on-a-Rollover-81585.html

ANALYSIS

Wireless Data Plans Are on a Roll(over)

Some customers are loyal to their brand of wireless service. They will not be looking to change carriers but will still appreciate this program. Other customers will change carriers for what they consider a better offer. So they will spend time and understand the differences between carriers. Then they will make their move. Any way you slice this, rollover data is a great idea.

By Jeff Kagan

01/15/15 6:50 AM PT

Great news: Rollover is back and can save you money. Just in case you haven't heard about it, three wireless carriers have kicked off this new competitive battle with rolling data plans. The good news is rollover data works and saves customers money.

During the last month or so, three wireless carriers have introduced programs in this space: AT&T Mobility Rollover Data; T-Mobile Data Stash; and C Spire Rolling Data.

Regional provider C Spire was the first, at the end of November. AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile jumped in within a few weeks with their offerings. That says to me this is something all three had been planning. They pulled the trigger within weeks of each other.

AT&T Mobility created the whole rollover idea several years ago with its Rollover Minutes program. In fact, AT&T owns the rights to the term "rollover." Think of this like the name "Kleenex" in the tissue business. We all ask for a Kleenex, not a tissue.

Whatever the name, customers will love this idea of rollover data the same way they loved rollover minutes several years ago. Why? Because it saves them money.

Get What You Paid For

Customers don't like to lose what they already paid for but haven't completely used at the end of each month. They also don't like paying additional charges for more data if they run out on the plan they use.

Rollover data lets customers have more control. If they have light wireless data usage one month followed by a heavier month, they can simply use their rollover data rather than having to purchase additional service. No overage fees.

This will not completely solve all wireless plan problems, but it will help save customers money as their usage fluctuates up and down from month to month. That's why I think the marketplace will love this idea.

This won't help customers who run out of wireless data every month. They should consider upping their wireless data limit.

Bottom line, rollover data saves customers money. That's why I think this plan will be another home run.

What does it mean to the wireless carriers themselves? This is a competitive advantage for any carrier that uses it. It will be an attractant. It will help carriers both reduce churn and win new customers.

Because of that, I would think Verizon Wireless, Sprint and U.S. Cellular might jump into the same space as well. However, that is not certain.

Several years ago, AT&T Mobility was very successful with its Rollover Minutes program. I assumed every carrier would follow suit. However, they did not.

Not joining at that time didn't hurt Verizon Wireless. So there is no guarantee that the others will follow. However, since there are already three wireless carriers on board this time, chances are better that others will join. We'll just have to wait and see.

Welcome Changes

I fully expect this new rollover world will continue to change and adjust as competitors shuffle for position. This always happens when a new category emerges. So expect changes in the coming weeks and months.

Changes that tend to make competitors more competitive are always better for the customer -- and they are typically added to the program the customer is already on.

Customers also will benefit from changes to come.

Just last week, C Spire made an adjustment to its offering to sweeten its rolling data pot. I would be surprised if it were the last to do so. That means keep your eyes on AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile as well. You never know what will happen next.

Some customers are loyal to their brand of wireless service. They will not be looking to change carriers but will still appreciate this program.

Other customers will change carriers for what they consider a better offer. So they will spend time and understand the differences between carriers. Then they will make their move.

Here are links to these three carriers' rollover data Web pages. Look around.

AT&T Mobility Rollover Data

T-Mobile Data Stash

C Spire Wireless Rolling Data

Any way you slice this, rollover data is a great idea, and it solves one of the problems wireless users deal with on a monthly basis. I think it will be very successful for AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and C Spire.

Customers will love this the same way they loved the original AT&T Rollover Minutes a few years ago. It will help them reduce their costs, and that is something that interests every user.

 

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/Wireless-Data-Plans-Are-on-a-Rollover-81585.html#sthash.0pprzNso.dpuf

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/ces-2015-is-now-all-about-wireless

Jeff Kagan: CES 2015 is Now All About Wireless

By Jeff Kagan

January 13, 2015 8:00AM   

Tickers Mentioned: T  AAPL GOOG SSNLF VZ S CTL MSFT BBRY CMCSA TWC

If you would have told me a decade ago that CES 2015 would be all about wireless, I would have told you that you were nuts. However, thatís exactly what is happening. Last week's Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, was about many different kinds of consumer electronics that are all connected to the web or the cloud, using wireless and wire line connections.

That means wireless and wire line networks will see big growth in this space moving forward. So will companies who make smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and so on with apps.

I remember a decade ago when there was little or none in the way of wireless technology being shown at CES. Back there were booths selling wireless handsets, but not much more.

Wireless Evolution of Consumer Electronics

Back then AT&T (T)  was the first with their wireless and wire line home. It showcased plenty of new technologies, which by the way, we are all using today. That was back in the days when there was a separate AT&T, Cingular, Bellsouth and SBC. All one company today.

Thatís the kind of excitement I love to follow. Think about it. A decade ago we did not live in a smartphone world. We had no Apple iPhone (AAPL) , Google Android (GOOG)  or Samsung Galaxy (SSNNF) . These names didnít even exist, nor did todayís smartphone space.

A decade ago the consumer electronics industry and the wireless industry were both healthy and rapidly growing, but separate.

Over the last several years all that is changing. Today there are so many new versions of technologies and apps. The wireless data smartphone world is transforming everything.

At the same time, consumer electronics is all merging and blending with the wireless world creating all sorts of new products, new thinking, new growth and excitement.

So if this is what is starting to happen today, what will the CES show of tomorrow look like?

Today, we are in the very early days of transforming the way consumer electronics work. The ability to connect is transforming many industries and we are still in the very early years.

Getting hardware to work well is one of the keys.

Software is another important key. Getting all these consumer electronics devices to work well, work together, and communicate with each other through the web and the cloud.

That is still the weak part of the equation when it comes to consumer electronics. The CES show displays hard gear, but not really software.

Going forward I think software will play an increasingly important role.

Going Beyond Hardware

Perhaps CES will have to reposition itself and its brand. Going forward itís all about the experience. Itís about updated software that lets us have an incredibly rich and new experience.

Perhaps CES will update their brand and name to mean the Consumer Experience Show, or the Consumer Electronics Experience Show. You know, CEES. OK, Iím not in the naming business. But you get the point.

Until recently, we would see consumer electronics companies always introducing us to all sorts of new technology.

Increasingly we are seeing that world blend with the wireless and software letting customers connect to the web or the cloud.

Today, we are seeing these CE companies improving their technology and developing ways for them to communicate with each other and the web using wireless technology.

Tomorrow we will see improved software developed to let different companies communicate better and do more than ever before.

That means today we are in the very early stages of this new Growth Wave. Today companies who are benefiting and growing are in different segments.

ē Wireless networks like AT&T Mobility (T) , Verizon Wireless (VZ)  and Sprint (S) .

ē Wire line networks like AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink (CTL) .

ē Smartphone and handset makers like Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, Samsung Galaxy, Microsoft Nokia (MSFT) , Blackberry (BBRY)  and many others as well.

ē Cloud companies will play a larger and more important role as well. Companies who operate a cloud and see service to other companies, and those who sell cloud gear for companies who want to build this on their own.

ē Plus the rest of the consumer electronics world, which is just beginning to see this new future, which looks much better and growing faster than ever.

Today, we see cable television companies like Comcast (CMCSA)  and Time Warner Cable (TWC)  using wireless to expand and improve the cable television world. They are using apps and wireless networks to let customers watch television on their smartphones or tablets even while away from home.

Today, we see the automotive industry playing a larger role than ever at CES with their consumer electronics flooding the dashboard. They all use wireless networks to provide connectivity to their cloud of services as well.

Today, we see the healthcare industry innovating with wireless technology and communicating between doctors and patients providing improved care.

In fact, industry after industry throughout the consumer electronics space is changing and that is the exciting part. We will remain on the growth side of the wave for many years to come.

Riding the Wireless Growth Wave

Now, itís up to us to determine the companies, technologies and ideas that will be the winners. Not all will be. There will be winners and losers.

Hey, I never said it would be easy. All I said was there would be tremendous growth opportunity for many companies and many technologies for years to come. That is all true.

Choosing the difference between winners and losers remains the hard part.

Tomorrow, we are fortunate that there will be plenty of winners from the wireless and wire line carriers, smartphone and tablet makers.

There will also be winners throughout the consumer electronics space in all industries including retail, automotive, healthcare, televisions and more.

So buckle up, because 2015 will be a hell of a growth year.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By    Jeff Kagan   +Follow          January 13, 2015 8:00AM 

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/technology/ces-2015-is-now-all-about-wireless#sthash.tjJn9yDi.dpuf

 

 


 

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/BlackBerry-Jingles-Its-Keys-to-Recovery-81555.html

ANALYSIS

BlackBerry Jingles Its Keys to Recovery

If BlackBerry can claim the catbird seat of security, it may be able to leverage its strength in light of growing concerns. It must create talking points, expand its brand, and connect with users, the media and analysts. It must shine a light on all the security weaknesses and threats we face every day. It must demonstrate that it is the safest solution. Period.

By Jeff Kagan

01/08/15 6:42 AM PT

BlackBerry has been hurting over the last several years, but recently it's starting to look like the stars may be lining up for recovery. If BlackBerry does make a comeback, it will be a very different company. This time, the focus will be on security -- plus one more important factor.

BlackBerry succeeded years ago. It was the first successful smartphone maker, so its leaders never thought they had to do the basics. They never paid the proper attention to building their brand and interacting with customers, the media or analysts.

They thought their company was bulletproof and would last forever. That was mistake No. 1. Nothing lasts forever without innovation and new waves of growth.

BlackBerry's Wave

BlackBerry was No. 1 in the smartphone space, but it never innovated quickly enough. That's when Apple's iPhone and Google's Android stepped in and changed the sector overnight.

Suddenly, wireless apps grew from a few hundred to more than a million in a few short years. Amazing advancements in technology plus faster network speeds fueled their growth.

This is the world BlackBerry suddenly found itself drowning in.

BlackBerry never really faced competition years ago, with the exception of Palm, so it never saw competitive pressure or the need for rapid innovation.

As a side note, the Palm brand may make a comeback. Keep your eyes on CES this week.

When BlackBerry started to struggle, it frantically changed CEOs twice and strategies several times. It expanded to attract the consumer then contracted to focus on the business space once again. All the while, it kept withering away.

Nothing worked. It reached its peak of growth in 2011. That was just three or four short years ago. Then it started to crash and burn.

This is the Wave I talk about. Companies and ideas grow until they peak -- then they decline. BlackBerry grew until it crested and fell a few years ago. Companies must have more than one growth wave. BlackBerry did not.

However, during the last few months, I have been seeing some interesting and hopeful signs of life once again.

BlackBerry Passport

The BlackBerry Passport is a large, nearly square smartphone. It will have a more limited market, since I don't think most customers are interested in that shape.

However, there are groups that will find it of value -- those who need video and images, like doctors, engineers, researchers and so on. Even though this may not be a mass market winner, it could be successful with one slice of the pie.

This is an opportunity BlackBerry can build on.

BlackBerry Classic

I think the BlackBerry Classic could be a winning device for BlackBerry enthusiasts. It goes back to the form and functionality most BlackBerry users crave. Since the few customers BlackBerry has left must be their core and loyal base, this could be a hit with them.

Not every user wants an iPhone or Android. Many prefer security.

BlackBerry and the Boeing Black

Boeing's Black is a highly secure smartphone for top-secret use by corporations and government agencies. BlackBerry is collaborating on its security -- the phone reportedly will have built-in encryption, be able to communicate over wireless or satellite networks, have a self-destruct feature if tampered with, and more.

Think of Boeing Black as BlackBerry on steroids.

I expect more innovation to come out of BlackBerry as 2015 rolls on.

So the natural question is this: Is the sleeping giant starting to awaken?

BlackBerry's Secret Weapon

Fortunately for BlackBerry, security has become a front-page issue that will be center stage in 2015 and beyond as more digital break-ins occur. Does this mean this is great timing for BlackBerry?

Right now, it may have the strongest security, but I expect to see Apple's iPhone and Android phones like Samsung's Galaxy line getting stronger and more secure as well.

There are two main reasons for this. One, security will be center stage, and everyone will want protection. Two, if the goal is to replace our keys and wallets with phones, they must be secure.

If the smartphone really will become the remote control for our lives, it must be better and more secure than it is today. It must be better, stronger, waterproof and secure.

Focus on Security

Mobile payment systems are coming into their own -- just look at Apple Pay, Google Wallet and CurrentC. This is the direction the industry wants to take going forward.

Recall all the stores and credit cards that have been exposed during the last year. Consider government surveillance. Note how bad guys can cause problems, like with the Sony hack most recently. This is just the beginning.

So, since security is the focus, and since BlackBerry's strength is security, I am starting to think this could be the moment when it begins its recovery -- if it handles it correctly, that is.

If BlackBerry can claim the catbird seat of security, and if it can capture the imagination of consumers, it may be able to leverage its strength in light of growing security concerns.

It must create talking points, expand its brand, and connect with users, the media and analysts. It must shine a light on all the security weaknesses and threats we face every day. It must demonstrate that it is the safest solution. Period.

It never had to do this before. Whether BlackBerry can meet this challenge is the question. Only time will tell.

I'd like BlackBerry to be an up-and-comer and a real mover and shaker during the next stage of smartphone evolution.

However, it's up to BlackBerry, the company that never bothered to keep analysts or the media up to speed. Will that change going forward?

Let's hope for the best and wait and see what happens next. The next step is up to you, BlackBerry.

 

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/BlackBerry-Jingles-Its-Keys-to-Recovery-81555.html#sthash.NheHPHkn.dpuf

 


 

http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-twc-comcast-most-unpopular-says-acsi

Jeff Kagan: TWC, Comcast Most Unpopular says ACSI

By Jeff Kagan

January 5, 2015 1:08PM   

Tickers Mentioned: TWC  CMCSA AAPL GOOG SSNLF BBRY T VZ CTL

The two most unpopular companies in America today are Time Warner Cable, Inc. (TWC)  and Comcast (CMCSA)  according to the latest edition of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. So is the problem with the companies or the entire cable TV industry?

If it was just one company we could think itís just that company's problem. However since itís the top two players in the cable television industry we must assume itís the entire industry. These companies have the majority of customers in the USA. Based on this, other cable TV companies would probably join them on the list if they had larger customer bases.

Donít get me wrong, nothing would make me happier than to report to you how good the cable television industry is doing - how customers love them, how they innovate and inspire, how quickly they are growing, how they are leading the way toward change. Unfortunately thatís not the case, and the fault can be laid directly at the feet of the cable television companies themselves. They have only themselves to blame for their troubles today.

Letís pull the camera back and look at this from a longer-term historic perspective. Letís see where the problem really lies and what can be done about it.

I have been writing about all the flaws in the cable television industry model for years. About the skyrocketing prices and the lack of concern for the customers desires to reduce costs. About how all care is for the investor, not the customer. I had been telling the industry to take better care of the customer because this day was coming quicker than they think. About how customers would have a choice and would leave them. About how these transitionary eras can quickly change an entire industry.

As an example of just how quickly things can change, take a look at the smartphone sector. Once upon a time it was led by Blackberry Limited (BBRY) , but today Apple Inc. (AAPL) , Google Inc. (GOOG)  and Samsung (SSNLF)  lead. Today, Blackberry has a tiny market share. And all this change happened over just the last three years. Four years ago, Blackberry was still roaring.

Something similar is starting to happen to the traditional cable television world as well. They realize this, but donít know how to avoid the problem. In years past, cable television had a monopoly of sorts, so customers had no other place to go. The cable television companies focused on the investor, and let the customer whither in the wind without care or respect.

Cable TV Customers Not Happy

So in cable TV, investors were happy while customers were not. While that was never a problem for the industry in years past, now with new tech and new competition, it is becoming a real problem, and it is impacting the entire cable television industry. It seems the leaders of this industry donít understand how to fix this problem and grow once again.

I think the problem is with the entire cable television industry. The model is broken. Over the last year or two, cable TV is losing market share for the first time to new competitors like AT&T (T) Uverse, Verizon (VZ)  FiOS and CenturyLink (CTL)  Prism.

These companies are selling IPTV, which is like cable television over the Internet. This is a much more efficient model and opens up all sorts of new and innovative possibilities. Customers seem to love the quality, service and innovation of television from telephone companies.

In fact, IPTV seems to be so much better than traditional cable television that companies like Comcast are trying to work with it, as well as with Xfinity. Digitizing the signal and sending it over the Internet letís companies provide television service beyond the customer's home and offer new and better experiences wherever the customer happens to be right now.

Today, because of the Internet, television can follow the customer wherever they go. It can be watched not only at home on TV, but it can also be watched wirelessly using a smartphone, smart watch, tablet, laptop and whatever else will come next. Plus, it can be watched anyplace in the country where there is a wireless signal. Today, users can move their televisions and remain connected wirelessly.

This is a radical shift in the television world. And more changes will continue to occur. In fact, industry after industry is jumping on board very quickly. Just look at healthcare, automotive, retail, sales and so many others.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week will be a great place to witness so much of what is changing and what it coming. That changes the old and traditional cable television model. The cable television industry would prefer everything stay the way it always has been with them in control. Yet, thatís not the real world. You canít stop progress. Just ask Blackberry.

This is the new world that the traditional cable television companies are having a tough time competing in. This is why they are losing market share. This is why traditional cable television must update their technology and their customer relationships.

So how will Cable television survive going forward?

ē Cable TV must improve their customer relationships.

ē Cable TV must update their brand in the customer mind. Today the brand is negative in the customer mind. The reason being that cable TV never cared about this before. Suddenly, they do, so their brand must be updated and their service improved and communicated in the marketplace.

ē Cable TV sees competition and new technology rewriting the rules of their industry. They want to lead the change in that space. They want changes to occur on their timeframe.

This is where they are having trouble because of the path they are on. The path they took of their own choosing over the last few decades. The path where they didnít take care of customers. So today, customers donít like them, and donít trust them.

Customers Donít Like or Trust their Cable TV Provider Today

So cable TV needs to be improved upon. It can be improved, but it will take time. There is no quick fix. They are trying to focus on improving the customer experience and attitude toward them. The time to start is now. There is no time to waste.

Remember the telephone companies were also disliked decades ago, but they saw the writing on the wall and started to care about the customer. So after a while they won this battle. Today customers actually like their telephone company. Unfortunately, cable television's behavior toward the customer over the last few decades is the real problem. They just shot themselves in the foot time after time. The reason was they never cared because they had nothing to lose. Until now, that is.

Customers are smarter than that. Customers remember. And thatís the real problem for the cable television industry today.

I hope they can recover over time because I would like nothing more than to write good stories about cable television going forward. About how they are improving, and about how customers are starting to like them for the first time ever.

This could happen immediately if the cable television industry decided this was the strategy for growth going forward. Today, when I talk about cable television in speeches, you can hear the groans from the audiences. Thatís not good for the industry. I want to hear cheers.

There are good things to talk about today. Unfortunately, these things are being overshadowed by real problems that customers still wrestle with. It will take time. Iíll keep watching and reporting on any improvement or changes in this space. Letís hope for the best. Letís hope the cable television industry can make this a happy new year indeed.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

By Jeff Kagan   +Follow          January 5, 2015 1:08PM   

- See more at: http://www.equities.com/editors-desk/stocks/telecommunication/jeff-kagan-twc-comcast-most-unpopular-says-acsi#sthash.s19mpBNw.dpuf

 

 


Tags:

Technology Industry Analyst  Industry Analysis  Industry Analyst   Columnist  Consulting  Consultant  Keynote Speaker  Speaker  Wireless Analyst  Tech Analyst  Technology Analyst   Telecom Analyst  Cloud Analyst   Principal Analyst  Health Tech Analyst  Commentator  Influencer Relations  Influencer  Influencer Marketing  Influence Marketing  Consultant  Futurist  Key Influencer  

Analysis  Comment  Wireless  Cellular   Wireless Industry  Telecom  Telecommunications   Cable TV  Cable Television  IPTV  Internet   Cloud  IoT Internet of Things  Technology  Telephone  Network Handset  Equipment   smartphone  apps  app    Artificial Intelligence   AI   Connected home   Wearable    Wearable Tech   Wearable Technology    Communications Technology