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Blogwatch: Radiohead vindicated, WiMAX phone pics, and GSM confusion

It’s a generational thing. The moment someone thought up the term ‘3G’, we were in trouble. We started calling GSM 2G and everyone with a new technology started calling it 4G. But it gets worse, as we’ll soon find out. But first, proof at last that the music industry can adapt its business model if it wants too and still make money (rather than moaning and wasting millions of dollars in lawyers fees).

‘You Little Thief’ was a number one for our favourite troubadour turned city gent, Feargal Sharkey, and indeed it sums up the attitude of most of the mighty music industry towards downloaders. But there are musicians out there for whom the music is everything, and are not afraid to change the game plan. So congratulations to Radiohead and their publishers Warner Chappell Music. Last week they finally revealed details of ‘In Rainbows’ album download licensing experiment.

The Music Ally blog reported that Warner Chappell’s Head of Business Affairs Jane Dyball said that the digital publishing income from the first licence (for the Radiohead pay what you want site) alone dwarfed all the band’s previous digital publishing income and made a “material difference” to Warner Chappell UK’s digital income.

The topline figure, though, is that there were three million purchases of In Rainbows, including physical CDs, box-sets, and all downloads – including those from the band’s own website and from other digital music stores. That’s an incredible number, given that their previous three albums sold in the low hundreds of thousands.

• After being made available for free for 3 months the album was no.1 in the UK and in the US

• The physical CD has sold 1.75 million to date and is still top 200 UK & US

• They sold 100k boxsets via W.A.S.T.E.

• Nearing 17 million plays on last.fm

• 1.2 million fans will see the tour

• The digital income from the experiment made a material difference to WCM’s UK digital revenue this year

More insightful comment from the Techdirt website:

Radiohead has been notoriously quiet about it — leading some to falsely assume that the experiment was a failure. CNN even called it one of the dumbest moments in business last year. That seemed ridiculous on its face, as it was quite clear that the experiment was a huge success for Radiohead, even if the band was quiet about the numbers. Some will point out that this experiment isn’t very representative, because Radiohead got a huge boost by being the first high profile band to do this. And that’s absolutely true. But that doesn’t mean the business model doesn’t work at a more reasonable level. Obviously, Radiohead got a big boost from doing something unique and different, but that just gives other bands reasons to look at not just copying Radiohead, but adding more unique offerings themselves. That’s how business models innovate, by trying out new stuff and trying to attract attention. Unfortunately, though, we still have big record labels who think business model innovation is having Congress protect your old business model.

Has The Register spied the world’s first’ WiMax mobile phone? It thinks so, having spotted some photos of a new HTC handset on the web:

Picture of the handset, said to be called the HTC T829, have leaked out and, unless some good-quality Photoshop trickery’s involved, a series of pictures online show the device connected to a wireless network at 13.8Mb/s. This is a wireless speed that far surpasses the connection capabilities of HSDPA 3G, which top out at no more than 7.2Mb/s. Various icons on the mysterious HTC device also appear to show it connected to a network called Yota, Russia’s 802.16 WiMax network that – as of early October – covered central Moscow.

WiMAX, of course, is one of those technologies that certain dumbos insist on calling 4G, when it most plainly is not. But it is a newer technology than 3G, so why not call it 4G? And hence we get to the heart of the problem; by promoting a generational series of evolving mobile technology, we invite confusion and misdirection. Brough Turner on the NMS Communications blog writes that the GSM Association has flunked ‘Branding 101’:

If the GSM vendor community had to sell to consumers or enterprise IT directors, they would fall flat on their faces, because neither the GSM vendors nor the GSM Association (GSMA) have any concept of branding! Today’s email brought the GSMA’s newsletter, Mobile Brandband Weekly Update. Although the newsletter ends with this statement: “Copyright 2008 GSM Association. GSM and the GSM Logo are registered and owned by the GSM”, neither the term ‘GSM’ nor the GSM Logo are used anywhere in this newsletter!

He adds that there are 13 news items, all about 3GSM technology, but that the acronyms GSM and 3GSM never appear. However, HSDPA appears 7 times, HSUPA 4 times, HSPA 6 times, together with EDGE, HSPA Evolved and LTE… He adds:

‘3GSM’ is a good way to talk about 3rd generation GSM, but why actively promote the use of: UMTS, W-CDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE and so on, without also saying GSM or 3GSM? This is massively confusing. What are they thinking? By comparison, consider the brand recognition achieved by the WiFi Alliance. People may mention 802.11b, a, g or even n, but they always do so in the connection with the name WiFi. There is one WiFi brand. The difference of course is that WiFi is sold to individuals and businesses around the world. WiFi vendors can’t afford to get this wrong. Apparently, GSM vendors and the GSM Association can.

More unrest over mobile operators, courtesy of Carlo Longino on the MobHappy blog, who says that US operator Verizon Wireless is doing its best to strangle SMS content:

Verizon Wireless has put the word out that it’s going to start charging 3 cents for every mobile-terminated text message that goes across its network starting November 1, on top of the existing fees it already charges. That “poof!” sound you just heard was the SMS content and marketing business in the US vanishing in a cloud of stupidity. If this charge sticks, it will decimate the commercial SMS business in the United States. Content providers will have to try and suck up the charges, or decide to cut off customers of the country’s second-biggest operator. Neither choice is appealing, and it’s doubtful that very many business plans can adapt to either one.

Even good-old, reliable Symbian comes in for a bashing, over claims that it is no longer sexy (was it ever?). On his personal blog this wee, David Wood (EVP of Research at Symbian, and “DW squared” to his chums) wanted to know why:

I keep running into the “glamour question”. Scott from Mippin raised it again the other day, in a shrewd comment in response to Roger Nolan’s recent analysis “Symbian’s open source challenge”. Scott suggests that one reason for the reduced excitement over Symbian lies “the complexity of Symbian. It is just too complex and developers stay away”. Previously, I’ve offered my own list of “Symbian passion killers” that can hinder developers from becoming fully inspired (and therefore fully productive) about creating software for Symbian OS. As I’ve said before, the plans for “Symbian 2.0” in the wake of the creation of the Symbian Foundation include several important projects to address passion killers. To what extent can Symbian OS become viewed as glamorous and exciting, rather than just some kind of incumbent?

One company that keeps escaping hostile fire is Apple. Say what you like about Jobs’ little outfit, but they sure do have a great following. Last Thursday, Apple announced that all four of the major US television networks are offering primetime programs in high definition on the iTunes Store, which it claims has become the world’s most popular online TV service with over 200 million episodes sold, including more than one million HD episodes purchased since last month.

“We’ve got an incredible Fall 2008 TV lineup with over 70 primetime comedies and dramas, including many of the most popular shows on TV in stunning HD,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of Internet Services. “With over 200 million episodes sold, iTunes customers have proven they love watching television on their computer, iPod, iPhone and TV with Apple TV.”

The iTunes Store digital media catalog now spans over eight million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including 600 in high definition. (via AppleInsider)

And finally, Forget the front desk: Hotels go high tech. A new iPhone app is reviewed on the Mobile Crunch blog. Runtriz, a software firm out of Hollywood, CA, is aiming to bring hotels up to speed. Following a series of quiet test runs at other LA hotels, they’ve debuted a product called “Hotel Evolution” at the Malibu Beach Inn in Malibu, CA. When a guest checks into the hotel, they’re asked if they have an iPhone or iPod Touch. If they do, the hotel staff will load the Runtriz Hotel web application to the device. If they don’t, they’re given a 16gb iPod Touch (with the application pre-loaded, of course) to keep for the duration of their stay.

Once you’ve punched in your room number and security code, all of the hotel’s service offerings are but a click away. Straight from the device’s screen, you can order room service, set a wake up call, request your luggage, dry cleaning, or car (or if you’re going all out, a limo), request linens or toiletries, check your messages, or set your room to “Do Not Disturb”. They also provide information about nearby nightlife, attractions, and shopping … The cost of getting such a system up and running varies on a hotel-by-hotel basis. According to Matt Allard, president of Runtriz, the cost of the first month is generally about double that of the standard monthly fee of $10 per room.

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Monday, 20 October 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. good information thank you

    Comment by madeaw | Wednesday, 29 October 2008


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