Voice: Breaking free from the telecom business models

It’s very clear that software companies took the lead in innovation around voice communications. The telecom industry is lost in the woods arguing about standards, technology and regulation, while Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, WeChat and numerous startups are focused on new use cases and business model innovation.

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Telco is lost in the woods (again)

Telephony is considered a declining business, despite globally increasing dependence on communications. [tweetable]People are not communicating less – they just attribute less and less value to telephony[/tweetable]. Today, many everyday communication needs are better served by alternatives that don’t fall within the narrow definition of telephony.

We wrote about freeing voice from telephony almost 3 years ago in our Telco Innovation Toolbox. Today I’m excited to see the future of voice unfolding in full force in front of our eyes.

Facebook wants to take over the dialer

Did you notice how Facebook has become increasingly bold in everything related to voice and video services? Messenger’s 600 Million users can call each other using voice and video without leaving the app. Facebook-owned Whatsapp also allows its 800 Million users to speak with each other within the app. The huge scale of Facebook voice services surpasses any telco. Compare that with China Mobile, the number one telecom operator in the word, which had 808 Million subscribers as of January 2015.

Facebook understands that [tweetable]voice is central to human communication and will always remain so[/tweetable]. Therefore the company wants to make sure that people will speak with each other inside the walled gardens of the company’s social networks. Facebook doesn’t look at voice as a revenue source. Voice is a universal need and therefore it is an effective way to attract and engage users. David Marcus, who left the position of PayPal President to run Facebook Messenger, says:

“VOIP is just one way that the company hopes to use the messaging app as a platform for much bigger things, including online payments.”

Google Fi wants to take over the core network

Google trails behind still trying to break through with its Hangout platform. The recently announced Google Fi service is a shot in the direction of reinventing voice and video communications.

So far, most media and blogosphere attention is focused on Google Fi pricing and network switching technology. I believe that these are the least interesting aspects of the Google’s initiative. It’s pretty clear that Google has bigger plans in mind. Google Fi unbundles voice service from the telecom network turning Project Fi into a platform for innovation in communication services. Nick Fox, Google VP of Communications Products writes on the company blog:

“As mobile devices continually improve how you connect to people and information, it’s important that wireless connectivity and communication keep pace and be fast everywhere, easy to use, and accessible to everyone. That’s why today we’re introducing Project Fi, a program to explore this opportunity by introducing new ideas through a fast and easy wireless experience.”

Today Google uses pricing and network switching technology to attract an initial user base and seed Project Fi for the next stage. The next stage will be opening the platform to Google’s huge base of mobile and backend developers, together with an ever-growing number of Android handset makers. This is when Google Fi will become truly interesting allowing Google to “pull an Android” on the core business of telecom operators and create a credible competition to Facebook’s communication services.

Much like Facebook, Google is going into telecom not for wireless plan revenues, but to compete asymmetrically, transferring profits from the telecom industry to its core online ad business.

Twilio wants to take over the telecom API

Twilio has proven that developers have a genuine interest in telecommunication services. The company offers an API platform for programmatic access to voice telephony, SMS and now instant messaging. The company reports that 700,000 developers have already registered to use its platform.

Contrary to the many failed telco attempts at driving revenue with APIs, Twilio proves that telecom developers and APIs can be a good business too. The company is worth over $1 Billion. Twilio chief executive Jeff Lawson says the company hit an annual run rate of $100 million in revenue in 2014, and is adding $1 million in annualized revenue every seven days.

The company actively nurtures its main asset – the ecosystem of developers. Twilio teamed up with three well-known venture capital investors, Bessemer Venture Partners, DFJ and Redpoint Ventures to create a $50 Million investment fund to invest in companies using the Twilio API.

Twilio flourishes where telco failed: creating an attractive business by building a developer ecosystem on top of commodity telecom services. Developers can reinvent point-to-point telephony into thousands of use cases that telcos were unable to realise.

Microsoft wants to take over business services

Microsoft is about to join the fray as well. The first move was replacing Lync with Skype, a still hugely popular VoIP service, as a core of its suite of business communication services. For Microsoft, voice is a way to boost Office – its well-entrenched suite of business tools.

Exciting times ahead

Telephony may be in terminal decline, as most analysts agree. Voice and video will however remain a central part of human communication. These are very exciting times in telecoms for those who understand that [tweetable]”digital” is not a channel, but a new set of business models[/tweetable]. Software companies that use these new business models will use voice communication asymmetrically transferring profits from legacy telephony to their non-telecom business.

Are you safe from digital disruption?

Mobile business models are disrupting just about every industry.

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Mobile carriers felt pretty comfortable, but while they were working on next-generation unified communication suites, companies like WhatsApp, KakaoTalk, Line and WeChat bypassed them at full speed, making their investments irrelevant. In a very short time, those messaging apps amassed hundreds of millions of users each and are now eating away substantial chunks of SMS revenues. At the other side of the mobile telephony industry, leading incumbents like Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola or Microsoft got the rug swept from under them by two unlikely newcomers: a computer vendor (Apple) and an online advertising company (Google).
Continue reading Are you safe from digital disruption?

The Android UI Dilemma: Unify or Differentiate?

[The UI of Android mobile devices is at the epicenter of a conflict between Google and the OEM struggle for differentiation. Guest author Ben Hookway analyses why Google’s UI strategy will be paramount to its proliferation as Android moves to multiple screens]

The Android UI dilemma - unify or differentiate?

The topic of User Interfaces always solicits strong views. It’s a bit like TV – everyone is an expert on it because everyone uses it. Those who have been in the mobile industry a while have seen the tide of UI control flow in and out.

In 2002 operators are demanding custom UIs from handset OEMs in the form of Vodafone Live and Orange SPV. Naturally, most OEMs resist, trying to capture consumer loyalty to the handset, not the network.

[poll id=5]

Three years on, and OEMs are opting to customizing Windows Mobile and Symbian powered handsets rather than creating all-out new UIs. At the same time, network operators are seeing poor returns from UI customization and are dissolving their teams.

With the iPhone big bang in 2007, the UI is back to being the hottest topic in mobile. Post iPhone, almost all tier-1 OEMs are developing their own UI layers, namely HTC Sense, Motorola Blur, Sony Ericsson Rachael, Samsung TouchWiz and LG S-Class. In parallel, network operators are building bigger teams to attempt more control over the UI again; Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile have 100+ person teams working on ‘signature’ applications and UI definition, while the trend seems to have spilled over to the other side of the Atlantic with Verizon and AT&T opening up multi-million software development centers. Behind the scenes there is also a good deal of demand for UI technology and expertise such as TAT’s Cascades and Mentor’s Inflexion products.

The latest development in the UI saga is the rumoured tighter control being exerted by Google on the Gingerbread release of Android. The aim of this appears to be to reduce API fragmentation issues caused by custom OEM UIs and deliver a more consistent UI brand across different manufacturer devices.

This is not going to go down well with Google’s partners. There is a core commercial conflict on how Google wants to take Android forward. Google wants an Apple-like level of control over the device appearance with their Android handset compliance definition encompassing hardware features, software performance, and service bundling (see the recently published CTS and CDD documents).

However the Apple and Google business models could not be more different.

–       Apple controls the semiconductor, hardware, and software make-up of the iPhone all the way to ad services, branding and retail pricing, whereas Google only controls the software.

–       Apple makes its own devices (at a rate of 1 new model per year), whereas Google relies on partner OEMs to produce 100s of new models per year.

–       Apple spends big advertising dollars in communicating a consistent brand experience across products, while Google co-markets its Experience handsets but puts no money (or effort) in partner handsets.

Most importantly, unlike Apple, Google relies on OEM partners to bring these devices to market.

In the OEM world of survival of the fittest and thinning margins, there are two differentiating factors: price and UI. Yet, both of these factors are being constrained; price is continually declining (standing at 100 GBP unsubsidized for Android handsets) thanks to ODMs willing to sacrifice margins; and the UI is apparently being locked down by Google in the Gingerbread release.

The economic model of handset OEMs necessitates UI differentiation and Google is taking that away. For Google to expect Apple-like control on a fundamentally different business model is just unrealistic.

And it’s only getting worse.

Battling across 4 screens
The next battle (if we are not already in it) is going to be about platforms for your whole life – not just your mobile, TV, PC in isolation, but as one joined-up world; Experience Ecosystems made up of multiple screens where experience can easily roam from one screen to the next.

Browsers are already bridging the gap across laptops, phones, tablets TVs and cars, while the ‘app’ paradigm is taking this further.

To have mobile, TV and PC seamlessly join up requires consistency of the user experience. Apple is the obvious role model here. The Mac, iPhone, iPad, all use similar gestures and interactions, come with similar application design guidelines and are connected to the same centralized service cloud of iTunes and MobileMe. Apple is again the role model in creating the first Experience Ecosystem.

In the Android camp, Google recently announced Google TV. A consistent user experience across mobile and TV is going to be not just important but paramount. Don’t be surprised to see mobile handset OEMs to extend use of Android to other consumer electronics from picture frames and DECT phones to set-top boxes and hi-fis.

But how is Google going to achieve this consistency without an Apple-like hardware control? Hardware control gives you complete user experience consistency in terms of UI responsiveness, screen quality and more. In the next release of Android (Gingerbread) the UI is apparently going to be more locked down; an attempt by Google to gain more control without resorting to hardware manufacturing.

Imagine browsing content on your BrandX Android based tablet and then synching it to your BrandX TV set for viewing over the air. Consistency of experience between the 2 devices will be key. The web browser provides this consistency of interaction and is the best lowest-common denominator right now. But the app phenomenon is outperforming the web by leveraging on location, micropayments, personal user information and intuitve discovery. As one of the main engines behind the app phenomenon, Android could well be powering the battle of the smart living room.

The industry tension over the UI customization of Android is not going to go away anytime soon – rather its going to amplify as more and more manufacturers leverage Android in creating smart, connected and differentiated consumer electronics devices.

OEMs need to plan for their differentiated UI to span multiple devices. Having a familiar experience across devices can be a key driver of brand loyalty and is strategically important to each OEM in creating their own Experience Ecosystem. Competitive pressures make this a key pillar of differentiation that cannot be wasted. It cannot be done half-heartedly. There need to be clear benefits to consumers and clear continuity across as many devices as possible. But the benefits of the larger Android community also need to be maintained, for example having unrestricted access to the Android Market and consistent consumer marketing as to the differentiation offered by the OS itself.

Google needs to accept that UI differentiation is a strategic requirement for its partners, offer alternative differentiation strategies or fundamentally change how it brings Android to market.

Question is, does Google see this as a challenge to the proliferation of Android, and if so, what will they do about it?

– Ben

[Ben Hookway is the CEO of Vidiactive, a company bringing web video to TV, using an open and multi-device approach. He consults on user experience technology and trends, having been founder and CEO of Next Device, which was acquired by Mentor Graphics. Get in touch with Ben: ben.hookway (at) vidiactive.com]

Why Adobe Should Change its Mobile Strategy (again)

[Where is Adobe really heading with Flash in mobile? Guest blogger Guilhem Ensuque deconstructs Adobe’s recent AIR and Flash mobile strategy and argues why Adobe should go back to the drawing board]
The article is also available in Chinese.

Seen from the outside, Adobe’s mobile game plan is an extension of the same strategy that took them to near-ubiquity in the desktop browser. It’s about putting the Flash Player everywhere for free and cashing-in on the designer and developer tools – plus distribution and analytics services (see the Omniture acquisition). Adobe bets its mobile future on taking the Flash runtime to a forecasted 50% of smartphones by 2012, according to the company.

This strategy has worked well in the past for Adobe in the browser and desktop space. The mobile business is however a completely different animal – which is why Adobe’s strategy will fail. Here’s why.

The two iterations of Adobe’s mobile strategy
Adobe’s mobile strategy v1 was Flash Lite. It has enjoyed massive deployments – more than 1.2 billion devices to date according to VisionMobile’s 100 million club. From a financial standpoint however, Flash Lite royalties represent less than 1.5% of Adobe’s overall revenue.

More importantly, based on discussion with people familiar with the matter, I would estimate that only ~3% of Adobe’s 1million+ mainstream Flash developers customers have been creating Flash Lite content (although no public data is available).

What’s the lesson here ? It’s that subsidizing the Flash Lite runtime penetration into 40-50% of devices did not translate automatically in developers adoption. From the developer’s point of view, Flash Lite indeed lacked a direct content/apps distribution channel in the pre-App Store and “walled gardens” era. It also had different APIs compared to the “full” Flash, and integrations in OEMs handsets were fragmented.

Adobe’s Mobile Strategy v2 was announced in May 2008 as a complete reset of their Flash Lite strategy, aiming to address these obstacles. With the Open Screen Project (OSP), the mainstream Flash Player (v10) and its sibling the AIR runtime are now at the center of the Flash Platform “galaxy” across all types of terminals – desktop, smartphones, TVs, and more.

With this strategy reset, Adobe is going back to square zero to infiltrate the mobile device market with a consistent runtime. Adobe pledges to waive royalty fees for partner OEMs who are collaborating in the Flash/AIR integration effort on their platforms, ensuring over-the-air updateability and consistency. In addition, OSP partners allow distribution and monetisation of Flash content and AIR apps through their app stores (and also through Adobe’s own Distribution service).

Adobe v2 strategy is in essence a pledge to its key customers – organisations like digital agencies paying for design tools and media outlets paying for flash video delivery servers. A pledge that the Open Screen Project will extend the reach of their current technology and people skills investments to the mobile masses – and succeed where Flash Lite hadn’t before.

Sounds good on paper, but … Continue reading Why Adobe Should Change its Mobile Strategy (again)

The Wintel future for mobile: a wake up call for network operators

[The PC-esque commodisation of the mobile industry has been prophesied many times before, but never before has it become so lucidly clear. Research Director Andreas Constantinou uncovers the dynamics of the mobile industry that will lead to a Wintel future, and the impending disruption to the network business model]

We ‘ve all heard this before. The story of the bit-pipe future for mobile networks/carriers and the threat of Google and Facebook to the mobile industry status quo. But this time the facts are clear; the dice has been cast and is pointing to a Wintel future for the mobile industry. Bear with me – this is a long argument.

The virgin years of mobile
The mobile industry has rapidly evolved through two decades:
– 1990s growth: The 1990s was the decade of unrestrained growth, building up huge empires on thin air (a.k.a. radio spectrum). Operators invested on building networks with worldwide reach, on increasing spectral efficiency (more bits per pipe, setting 2G to 3.5G standards) and snapping up new subscribers
– 2000s competition: The 2000s was the decade of competition, reality check and disillusionment. Operators invested in competing with more complex tarriffs, deeper device subsidies, unique devices (custom or exclusives) and bundling fancy services on the device (from mobile TV to myFaves and social networking).

Next up: survival
The 2010s decade is about survival. It’s no secret that ARPU (average revenue per user) has been dropping for the last few years, and the much-promised data services have failed to deliver. Plus networks are threatened by the establishment of over-the-top services like OEM-own services (Apple App Store, Nokia Ovi, Sony Ericsson PlayNow, RIM Blackberry services), the entry of alternative payment providers (Apple iTunes, Paypal Mobile, Google Checkout), alternative voice providers (Skype, Google Voice) and of course the myriad of social networking services (epitomised by Facebook and Tencent).

So, how are operators differentiating today beyond tariff games?

Investing on device subsidies: Network operators are spending big money to snap high-spending customers away from their competitors; for example investing 300-400 EUR on the top models from RIM, HTC/Google and Apple (case in point: Orange France). The subsidies are recouped back from such customers in around 9 months, but without factoring in the disproportionately high cost to the network, where the cost increases linearly per-MB consumed. All this, for a short-lived advantage, no stickiness to the network. Worse than all – operators are pouring marketing and subsidy investments into the same companies – including Apple, Google and RIM – that aim to commoditise their network.

Selling broadband Internet dongles and mobile WiFi (MiFi) hotspot devices at flat-rate bundles that aim to drive revenues, but at the same time lead to surging network OPEX costs. To appreciate this irony, consider that operator marketing budgets are never linked to the network infrastructure OPEX budgets; and so marketing groups may spend away into fancy deals, while resulting in alarmingly high network costs, especially for network maintenance and upgrades. Operators are investing into the bit-pipe business without knowing how to monetise it.

Customising devices (a favourite pastime of operators) like Vodafone 360 and Orange Signature that aim to deliver own services on the mobile, while limiting the experience to high-end devices. Although 360 has some strategic attributes (locking customer contacts into the network), its execution has been inefficient to say the least with a team of 250 people at Vodafone needed to launch the service (which could have been accomplished with perhaps 50 people in a software startup environment). Operators are pushing Internet brands to the forefront of the customer experience (see Skype promos from Three and Verizon) for a short-lived advantage of customer attraction.

To sum this all up; operators are investing in their demise, pouring money into the same Internet companies that aim to commoditise them into bit-pipes. Worst of all is they ‘re drawn into a inward spiral, a black hole that is near impossible to escape from; as an operator, if you don’t have the latest devices and cheapest tariffs, your competitors will.

The loss of control points
The situation is much more dire, as the current balance of power in the mobile industry is about to be shaken up. Operators control around 70% of the mobile industry pie of $1 trillion, thanks to three very important control points:

device subsidies: operators (with few regional exceptions) pour large marketing budgets into promotions and device subsidies, thereby in effect dictating terms to their handset suppliers. Only Apple has been able to challenge this status quo to date, but on a tiny 2% of the mobile market. Yet, a new disruption is appearing in the form of Android that might extend to well beyond a tiny market share, to significantly drop retail price points and render subsidies meaningless (more on this Wintel phenomenon later).

mobile termination: by design, mobile operators are the exclusive gateway to reaching any specific subscriber. That’s how operators have been able to charge ridiculously high voice and roaming charges (incl. receiver pays model). However, mobile termination is slowly coming under threat as more and more services are being delivered over the network like social networking and VoIP, while flat-rate tariffs for mobile Internet is becoming the norm. Consider that Google might at some point offer free voice calls amongst Android device users. It’s a question of when, not if. But abstracting the service from the underlying network carrier, the service providers assume the mobile termination gateway role, by acting as the service transport across networks and devices.

payment broker: The premium SMS boom is the best example of how operators have leveraged their billing relationship outside their network, charging often 50-60% commission for reverse billing, i.e. the ability to charge users for a ringtone, game or televoting from their mobile phone bill. Yet, Internet players are now carving up their niche into the operator-own game in the form of Apple App Store (no doubt to be transformed into a payment gateway for third parties) followed by Paypal Mobile and Google Checkout.

Wintel and the Google game
A very important change in industry dynamics is underway. Google’s Android has morphed from a feared entrant to a loved ally, with all handset manufacturers (except for Nokia) investing in Android-powered handsets thanks to Android’s low cost of creating a differentiated handset. In parallel, chipset vendors led by Qualcomm and Mediatek are rolling out out-of-the-box solutions that pre-integrate hardware + a software platform + applications (e.g. Android Market), that can be easily differentiated in both plastics and UI.

These out-of-the-box solutions will rapidly decrease in price led by the impending price competition amongst chipset vendors (led by Mediatek exports) and the advancement in silicon manufacturing (with sub-40nm chips squeezing smartphone capabilities in feature-phone price points). Combined with Android (low cost of UI differentiation + bundled apps market so incremental revenue) this should lead to a diversity of Android-powered phone at $100 retail price points in the 3-year horizon. This is a game where Asian mobile and consumer electronics manufacturers will gladly play, by creating low-cost, on-demand phone + service solutions for media brands and operators.

This is the Wintel game of the PC industry, making its appearance in the mobile industry; only the title of ‘Intel-inside’ is still up for grabs. What’s more, with smartphone prices at $100 dollars, the operator subsidies are going to become meaningless, in effect creating a handicap for network operators and a sudden loss of negotiating power. The tables are slowly turning.

What about Symbian and Windows Mobile, you might ask? We believe Symbian will become a Nokia-only operating system (more this on a future post), while Windows Mobile is driven by short-lived motivations today (a fresh UI and an operator interest in it), which can easily be delivered by Android, once UI design and technology firms release customisable layers on top of Android (something that Ocean Observations is hinting to be working on with Brandroid = Brand + Android).

What about Apple, Nokia and RIM; the few tier-0 handset OEMs that have developed vertical propositions (from hardware to services) will still be able to command premium prices; making this so very similar to the PC industry where you can buy an Apple computer at premium price or get the same functionality for half the price in a PC clone.

The shock to the operators will be like the shock that the music industry got when they woke up one day and realised that the Internet has disintermediated their brick & mortar business model.

All is not lost
Operators can still get their act together. It’s rare that operators have invested in long-term strategy – see Orange’s investment in mega-SIMs in 2007 (albeit betting at the wrong standard). And there might be the odd operator that has the conviction and foresight at the management level to achieve such long-term planning. We ‘ve long advocated that operators should platformise (read: Network-as-a-Service) while creating new control points and meaningful brand deliverables – for a brief analysis see our Mobile Megatrends 2010 deck, especially the chapter on ‘new smart pipe strategies at the intersection of brands and consumers’. Or drop us a line.

Comments welcome as always,

– Andreas

MeeGo: Two (M)onkeys don't make a (G)orilla. But they sure make a lot of noise

[What is behind the announcement of Meego operating system by Nokia and Intel? Guest blogger Thucydides Sigs deconstructs what Meego means and its importance to the mobile industry]

How much substance is behind the noise of Nokia’s and Intel’s announcement of Meego? A few points to consider.

Nokia, who feels threatened by Google’s Android and Chrome OS efforts, is putting significant  efforts in order to expand into other device categories and bring its Ovi services to more consumers in more places. So a move that brings Maemo – together with Ovi (and the underlying Web-runtime apps and Qt cross-platform) to Intel chipsets is a straightforward strategic win. It will allow OVI services – such as Maps – to get into non mobile devices, especially Automotive (which has been a strategic focus for Intel) and other connected (but wired – after all power consumption is Intel’s Achilles heel) devices such as home phones.

So is Nokia going to bet it’s future Linux devices on a group of Intel engineers? Nokia is smarter than that: Intel software engineering has never been something to write home about. And Nokia has always been careful in maintaining and winning control over strategic areas. So Nokia will either maintain a parallel internal effort or maintain tight control over the ARM port and the overall MeeGo architecture.

Is MeeGo going to really bring Ovi services & Maemo into the hands of tens of millions more consumers? Well, MeeGo open’s a door, but success will depend on the quality of Maemo and Ovi experience. Maemo v6, due late this year, will be catch-up to where Android and WebOS were half a year ago, and were Apple was a year ago. So it is still one or two years behind the rest of the industry. That said, Maemo does not need to be the best – it needs to be good *enough* for ‘mass market’ consumers, so that combined with Nokia industrial design expertise and marketing power, an “object of desire” can still be delivered.

It’s this consumer “Desire” that brings us to the Ovi Services angle – and the question of how good will Nokia Services offering will be. Studying the NexusOne, it is impressive to see how Google seamlessly connected it’s many service offering – creating a compelling integrated experience. From a photo gallery that is both local and web (Picassa), through Google Voice (low cost calls, transcribed voice messages) and an almost perfect navigation and mapping experience (including turn-by-turn voice instructions and maps). Contacts, Email, Calendaring are the basics that are a must have. And Google is quickly expanding into other services (note the recent Aardvark acquisition and Buzz launch). Yes, MeeGo gives Nokia a vehicle to bring Ovi to some other device segments, but can Ovi compete effectively with Google’s breadth of services?

What about Intel? It has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a software strategy which does not seem to show a clear path to recouping the investment. Moblin, has not been able to ship in any significant volumes, is inferior to either ChromeOS or Android from a software platform perspective, and lacks any kind of services offering (which is why they needed Ovi). If Intel thinks that software is another part of it’s vertically integrated stack that will differentiate the chipsets, then it does not make sense to open it up and make it an open industry initiative. If Intel truly believe that Moblin should be open and used by competing ARM chipset vendors, then what does it gain from spending those hundreds of millions of dollars on the effort?

Open Source: ChromeOS, Android and Maemo are creating a very different software ecosystem then the one Intel got used to with Microsoft in the 90s. None of the software players is going to generate significant revenues on the device side. Intel exec’s might  want to re-read Andy Grove book, step outside the box and ask themselves if their software effort still makes sense in the 2010 industry context.

And while Intel is spending time on building this software strategy, the chipset market is experiencing a disruptive change, shifting from computing power (where good enough performance is delivered by both Intel and ARM), to battery power and mobility where ARM is clearly superior.  It might be better for Intel to focus it’s efforts back on it’s chipset technology and fix its power consumption problems, because when it comes to wireless devices (either within the home or outside, anything that is not tethered to a power cord), their offering is inferior to ARM, and no amount of software will be able to cover this gaping hole.

What about the rest of the chipset industry? Would the other ARM chipset vendors, such as TI, Qualcomm, Broadcom and nVidia follow path and join MeeGo? It’s hard to imagine that any of those companies will want to entrust their software strategy in the hands of Intel: not only is Intel a direct competitor, it software skills leave a lot to be desired, and it’s long term commitment to the space (as outlined above) is not clear. Is Nokia’s involvement enough of a carrot to entice those vendors into MeeGo? Having Maemo running on top of MeeGo will make insertion into Nokia easier, but Maemo is open source and there is nothing holding the chipset vendors from porting Maemo to their chips on their own or with the help of other independent 3rd parties. So we suspect Nokia will give it a modest try, but when it comes to purchasing chips, power, performance and cost will still be the over-riding criteria for Nokia.

So, lots of noise that those two monkeys are making, but little impact. MeeGo seems to be cute (qt) and (h)armless, but not a big industry changer.

– Thucydides

[Thucydides Sigs – a pseudonym – has many years of experience juggling computing constraints, mobile software and consumers needs. With that said, imagine listening to a violin sonata not know who the artist is or who composed it. You end up having to listen more carefully in order to make a judgment. He can be reached at thucydides /dot/ sigs [at] gmail [dot] com]