Friday, September 25, 2009
Nokia Life Tools enabled “We Meet” social networking will not require the user to have any data/GPRS plans for connecting to friends and networking around. The application specifically developed for Indian markets bypasses GPRS connection, which is still a prohibitively costly option in India and allows one to chat/IM through text messages. While IM is available to users through Telcos/ Chat portals, “We Meet” differentiates itself by software “threading” the messages in chronological order, making it easy to follow the conversation. The effect is something like an instant messaging conversation, but at the fraction of the cost and on devices with no data plans. We Meet is also designed to be location-aware. But instead of pricey GPS, which is typically found only in high-end phones, it tracks people’s location via towers. The system works because, in India, operators give cell towers geographic names. even low-end phones can detect the basic vicinity of specified contacts and display the information in the form of a word or phrase. When people move, the location updates. “It’s not a digital map, but it serves the same function.
Nokia is also organizing a mobile texting based marketplace. Called “MoMart” for “mobile mart,” it consists of product listings delivered by text message. Interested buyers would subscribe to the service and specify the goods they want; the program would then push matches directly to their phones. Listings could be text-only or include an image embedded into the message. They could also be targeted to particular areas using cell-tower location technology, enabling buyers and sellers to meet in person. The programs run on Nokia’s Series 40 software platform, giving them a potential audience of hundreds of millions of phones.
Nokia has some experience it can reference. Last November, the company introduced a set of mobile programs called “Life Tools” that provided agricultural information and educational material to people in rural areas. Life Tools routes information to users via text message and was tested in India before being publicly released. However MoMart and WeMeet target urban users and encourage people to communicate with each other, not just consume content pushed to their phones.
Naturally, there’s an end game to all this work. Nokia hopes users will get hooked on doing more with their phones. Consumers who sign up for his apps will be more likely to adopt data plans in the future. When data plans become mass market, these users can easily transition.
Read more: http://www.fiercemobilecontent.com/story/nokia-acquiring-cellity/2009-07-24#ixzz0S2tLiOUy
If one were to believe Nokia Conversations, Social networking is trending to Micro Social networking and that is a trend that Nokia seems to be investing in through its acquisition of PLUM, the micro-social network startup.
Plum will compliment the Nokia’s Social Location services, with the acquired assets becoming part of Nokia’s Services unit. Plum develops and operates a cloud-based social media sharing and messaging service for private groups. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where users can collect hundreds or thousands of friends, Plum targets smaller social bodies. It is suited for families, co-workers, neighborhoods, sports, schools, faith and any other existing social group. Plum is like Facebook for families, but more private and intimate.
Nokia asks a very different question, a thought provoking one in the age of multiplying networking: Is there a fatigue filling in maintaining large networks?
Quoting Nokia Conversations: “Are we reaching a threshold now where we begin cutting back on the size of our social network contacts pool? Or do we keep collecting connections, and is the skill then in the segmenting those people and customizing the sorts of experiences we want to share with some groups and not others? Does the blurring of the lines between the personal and professional in these social spaces require more privacy customization?”
Business logic wise, this is being seen as an effort to expand the Social Location services approach central to its Ovi Store virtual app marketplace. The positioning is different from Facebook type mass networking to individual and restricted network of families. Augmented with Nokia’s impressive device penetration there may be some promise in the story. We will watch the space for more.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Interestingly, in 2008, Nokia purchased Plazes - another location-based service with social networking roots. Plaze offered users the opportunity to share locations and activities with friends while geotagging the sites they like. Dopplr serves a similar purpose; however, friends are meant to meet up while traveling.
If this sounds familiar it's because services like Foursquare and most recently Gowalla have gotten iPhone users into the habit of checking in and leaving tips at their favorite haunts and watering holes.
With Plazes in 2008 and Dopplr in 2009, both serving the same purpose, I wonder how Nokia has visioned its advance in Travel social networking. Admittedly, it does seem to have little of any worth in two acquisitions of same nature without doing much on the first one.
Presenting Om Malik’s reaction to Nokia’s acquisition strategy:
“…Nokia was bereft of direction and purpose. You can also extend that argument to Nokia’s acquisition strategy. The company has been buying up tiny companies, hoping to get a bit of web services magic. Unfortunately, all these acquisitions are like Band-aids applied on a cut carotid artery — they wouldn’t do much good unless Nokia has a platform that’s developed specifically for the mobile Internet.”
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Indian mobile operators added 15.1 million users in August 2009, their second-highest monthly performance ever after 15.6 million that was recorded in March 2009. India had 456.7 million mobile subscribers at the end of August, data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) showed, meaning about 40 percent of India's billion-plus population now has a phone. Total telecom subscriber base increased to 494.17 million at the end of July from 479.07 million a month before.
Tata Teleservices with its Tata CDMA and TATA DoCoMo GSM services recorded the largest number of net subscriber additions. New tariff plans such as per-second billing introduced for GSM customers helped it add a highest-ever 3.4 million subscribers in August.
Bharti Airtel, India's top mobile operator, added 2.8 million users in August to take its base to 108 million. Second-ranked Reliance Communications added 2.1 million to increase its base to 84.1 million.
No. 3 Vodafone Essar, controlled by Vodafone Plc, signed up 2.2 million customers to have 80.9 million.State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the fourth-largest mobile firm, signed up 1.3 million to reach 57.3 million, while fifth-ranked Idea Cellular gained 1.5 million to cross 50 million.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The world of netbooks is becoming increasingly crowded and the party will hit the deck with the iTablet that is scheduled sometime early next year. So long, it is a rat race and Nokia joins the hoard. While there are many views on which way the device evolution is leading upto, my take is that netbooks are just another step in device evolution and this evolution would finally end somewhere in the smartphone space or thereabouts. In that respect, Nokia could have done better getting its smartphone portfolio and user interface in order, rather than descend into the crowded spaces of Netbooks. We will watch how the Booklet with the Nokia tab does for Nokia. If the prices are as indicated, around the $799 range, then this like the N 97 could end up becoming the non starter. Granted that the device looks neat and dapper, but it is only incremental in what it brings to the table not radical enough.
Watch the Nokia Booklet 3G on the following YouTube Videos:
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Lessons from today’s cloud computing value propositions
Taking a look at all this, I’ve come away with five conclusions about the top providers of cloud computing today given their current pricing and feature sets:
- Amazon is currently the lowest cost cloud computing option overall. At least for production applications that need more than 6.5 hours of CPU/day, otherwise GAE (Google Apps Engine) is technically cheaper because it’s free until this usage level. Amazon’s current pricing advantage is entirely due to its reserved instances model. It’s also the provider with the most experience right now and this makes it the one to beat with low prices + maturity. However, expect subscriptions from Azure to give it a run for its money when Microsoft’s cloud platform formally launches in a few months (probably November).
- Windows costs at least 20% more to run in the cloud. Both Microsoft and Amazon offer almost identical pricing for Windows instances while Google App Engine is not even a player in Windows compute clouds. There are undoubtedly cheaper offerings from smaller clouds but they are less likely to be suitable for enterprise use, though certainly there are exceptions.
- Subscriptions will be one of the lock-in models for cloud computing. Pre-pay for your cloud to get the most value and you’ll get great prices. But you’ll be committed to providers for years potentially without a way to leave without stranded investments.
- Better elasticity does not confer major price advantages. GAE is one of the most granular of the cloud computing services, only requiring for you to pay for what you actually use (for example, you have to commit to at least an hour of compute time at a time from Amazon) but does not provide a major cost advantage for large applications.
- You can’t pay more for better uptime and existing SLAs are not sufficient for important business systems. It’s unclear why, given open questions about cloud reliability, why no vendors will offer differentiated service where enterprises can pay more for a better SLA. The best you can get right now is also the worst, or 99.95% uptime. This is about 4 hours of expected but unscheduled downtime a year. For business critical applications, this is still too much. This will end up being an opportunity for other vendors entering the space though I expect the Big 3 listed here will improve their SLAs over time as they mature.