Mobile Archives — Page 22 of 28


Good bye Europe; hello emerging markets

Posted on December 25, 2011  /  1 Comments

The pendulum swings again. It was around 10 years ago that the great retreat was in full swing, with US and European telcos retreating from emerging markets (and even masking their investments as France Telecom did by making Mauritius Telecom the holding company for its African operations). Now they’re unloading European businesses to go where the action is. France Télécom, led by Stéphane Richard, is shedding assets in Europe, where phone companies are vying for a shrinking pool of new customers amid tightening regulation, to embrace faster-growing markets in Africa and the Middle East. “It makes sense to exit the difficult Swiss market and may give them more flexibility on the cash-flow side,” said Giovanni Montalti, an analyst in London at Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux.
It is not every day that our research gets covered in the Nepali media. That makes it special, when we do get covered. When LIRNEasia started, we fully intended to work in Nepal, a South Asian country with great unrealized potential. We did too, in the first cycle. But even for us, the internal strife proved too much.
The way most governments tax mobile use, the answer would seem to be yes. It is treated like cigarettes, a demerit good that imposes negative externalities on society; and is thus subject to additional taxes. The research reported below examined the question of whether mobile use is addictive (albeit in a different context, that of mobile use while driving) and found that no, it was not addictive: Paul Atchley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, conducted research this year and last to determine whether young adults had enough self-control to postpone responding to a text message if they were offered a reward to do so. The idea was to determine whether the lure of the device was so compelling that it would override a larger reward. The research found that young adults would postpone the text.
Sri Lanka’s Etisalat has been making waves in the broadband space. First it was the App Zone. Then an Android Forum that attracted 2000 applicants. Then the cheapest smartphones in the market, that resulted in 500 sales in two days. Here is the thinking behind all this: Fixed broadband connectivity alone cannot provide the Internet needs of Sri Lanka.
We are not the only ones saying mobile broadband is the future. Nokia Siemens Networks, the equipment joint venture of Nokia and Siemens, said Wednesday that it planned to cut almost a quarter of its work force as it sought to bolster profit in a stagnating market for network gear. The company said it planned to eliminate 17,000 jobs by the end of 2013 in a wide-ranging austerity program to enable Nokia Siemens to refocus on mobile broadband equipment, the fastest-growing segment of the market. The reductions will slash the company’s work force by 23 percent from its current level of 74,000. Report.

Myanmar overtaken by North Korea

Posted on November 22, 2011  /  0 Comments

For the longest time Myanmar was not at the bottom of the world mobile rankings. That was because North Korea had a lock on that slot. Now North Korea has zoomed ahead, according to Reuters. Time for Myanmar to issue a few licenses. Preferably more than one.
We got into roaming because TRAI asked us to. This was just after the SAARC Summit in Colombo in 2008. I thought there’d be more talk about roaming since another SAARC talkfest just ended. But looks like TRAI has decided the neighborhood is not worth the trouble. They want cheap roaming in Europe.
First, you must read Steve Song’s self-described rant. He is a thought leader. Will do anyone good to read his thoughts. What follows is my response: This could be the beginning of a good brawl, so let me first thank Steve for starting the debate right, with some facts wrong and slightly in rant territory. Without these elements one would not get a lively debate.
Until the 1970s, it was customary to ensure seats for specific under-represented castes in the Sri Lankan Cabinet. It was only in 1989 that a non-leading caste politician got elected President. Caste-bloc voting has ceased to be a major factor in elections in at least the Western Province. These progressive changes are catching on in North India, it appears. South India is more progressive in economic and cultural terms, but caste is deeply embedded in the political practices in the South.

Moment of truth for Nokia

Posted on October 24, 2011  /  0 Comments

When we started talking about mobile devices being the primary way that people connect to the Internet, we did not think the transformation would be so difficult for the leading device maker. At a conference in London on Wednesday, Nokia intends to present at least two new phones, one aimed at high-end users and one for the midrange mass market, people with knowledge of the presentation said. Time is not an ally for Nokia in the fast-moving smartphone segment of the mobile market, which now accounts for more than half of all cellphone sales in North America and Western Europe. For Nokia, the decision to abandon its own Symbian operating system in favor of Windows Phone came at a price. Operators quickly reduced their stocks of all Symbian devices, both smartphones and basic phones, hurting Nokia’s bread-and-butter business.
I was too gentle the first time. I thought the UN University was taking a cheap short cut to get publicity in the tough Indian media market. But if people are talking about this comparison of toilets and mobiles one year later, it appears that the cheap shortcut has been effective, more effective than I thought. Mobiles are personal devices; toilets are generally a household amenity. Except in Mukesh Ambani’s house, the number of toilets is generally lower than the number of people living in the house.
I’ve been fascinated by the Sri Lanka Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2009-10, that is just out. The equivalent in the US is based on their census (ours is based on a 22,000 sample). The mobile-only number is stunning. Would be interesting to compare with Finland, and even with Sri Lanka. Twice as many Americans play computer games as do crossword puzzles.

Love at the TOP and BOP

Posted on October 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

So, this NYT opinion piece more or less establishes that the iPhone (or smartphone) is a boyfriend/girlfriend substitute among the rich. That’s not what is relevant for us. Does this love exist only at the TOP? What parts of the brain would be activated if fMRIs were run on the BOP? We wouldn’t know an fMRI if it hit us on the face.
We knew of the use of mobiles to check the authenticity of drugs in Africa, but this is the first we heard of it being used in India. Before buying a Sproxil-verified medication, the consumer scratches off the label to reveal a unique code, then texts it to a free number. Seconds later, a response comes back from Sproxil’s computer servers. If the text message is an approval, the medication is real and the customer buys it. If not, she can report the fake.
Most people are electronically connected to each other and to their governments. This happened in our countries in the past decade. How does this translate into being treated with more respect as a citizen? Almost everyone has experienced the frustration of going to the wrong office; of going to the right office but being told the right official is absent; of finding the right official and being told the documentation is not complete; of having the required documents but not having the payment in the right form, and so on. For those whose language is not Sinhala, there is the added frustration of not being able to communicate, not being able to read the forms.
The US has hundreds of airports. My country has one. I know where things are at that airport, I don’t need apps to guide me. What I’d like to know is where things are in the Asian airports that I frequent, like the maze that goes by the name of Suvannabhoomi or the upstairs section of Terminal 3 in New Delhi. Most likely some kind soul will soon come up with a nice mobile app that I can use to find a decent place to eat or buy a book or whatever.