CES 2013: The Cloud and Digital Disruption in Marketing

“Technology is a continuum. All the technology that you see in those halls will be in a landfill in 10 years,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, at the CES Brand Matters keynote. “We’re all in this industry because we love disruption.” He and a panel of chief marketing officers talked about how technology has changed marketing, noting the various challenges and opportunities as companies transition over to the cloud. Continue reading CES 2013: The Cloud and Digital Disruption in Marketing

Cisco Launches First Integrated Wireless IPTV Solution

  • Cisco recently launched a wireless IPTV service with AT&T U-verse that features new wireless receivers and wireless access points (WAPs).
  • “Consumers can now rely on wireless technology to deliver high-quality video services throughout the home without the need for cables or wires,” explains the press release. “TV content is sent from the Cisco wireless access point via in-home Wi-Fi to the Cisco wireless receiver next to the TV.”
  • Based on the 802.11n standard, the wireless solution can deliver SD and HD programming to multiple receivers with integrated Wi-Fi, provide interactive services and function as an HD DVR.
  • In addition to enabling consumers to view television anywhere they choose in the home, the “wireless TV solution offers service providers the means for faster service activations and consumer self-installation with easy-to-use Wi-Fi kits…The integrated Wi-Fi receiver also offers service providers the ability to monitor the device’s performance via the network, as the receiver comes equipped with remote diagnostics.”

Carriers May Help Close the Gap for Android Enterprise Adoption

  • While Android has so far trailed Apple in enterprise adoption, GigaOM reports that Motorola’s subsidiary 3LM, “has finally launched its security, management, and remote access platform for Android devices” that will enable:
  • “Device encryption of full memory and SD card data; selective encryption of corporate applications; remote wipe capabilities and whitelist/blacklist of applications; and control applications’ access to corporate resources.”
  • “Enhanced security and control of device, OS, and applications; remote installs of critical enterprise application; device tracking.”
  • “Secure remote access to enterprise resources and device health and status checking.”
  • The post also indicates that AT&T has announced “Toggle,” which allows Android users to separate professional and personal use by creating two different modes. This will help keep personal data private from IT managers.
  • Apple has made gains in the enterprise with iPad and iPhone integration, but this news suggests that “with better management tools that augment what already exists on Android, it may help boost Android’s acceptance in the enterprise…”

Why are Consumers Buying the iPhone 4S and not Waiting for Version 5?

  • Launch day pre-orders for Apple’s iPhone 4S have already reached capacity, according to Verizon, AT&T and Apple. The only remaining model that is available for pre-sale is Sprint’s 32GB model.
  • In just 24 hours, the iPhone 4S pre-orders reportedly beat the one million mark, despite disappointment regarding no announcement yet for the iPhone 5.
  • According to Forbes, people aren’t waiting for the iPhone 5 for five reasons: 1) Users just want the latest technology now and aren’t going to wait; 2) “Many believe that the iPhone 4S really is the iPhone 5” and that Apple simply decided to misname it; 3) Sprint users can now join the iPhone club; 4) The 8 megapixel camera; and 5) “People really need a personal assistant” — while Siri may not be a “revolution,” many consumers are interested in the voice-recognition software.
  • The iPhone 4S will be available on Friday. The new model will be available to purchase in-store on October 14th, but limited supplies ensure that they will sell out as well. Apple itself has already referred to the upcoming launch as “the most successful iPhone launch we’ve ever had.”

Microsoft: Xbox Video Service Features Voice and Motion Controls

  • Microsoft is getting a boatload of new content for its Xbox video service intended to help it serve as a digital media hub. The company has struck deals with Comcast, Verizon, HBO and others.
  • Verizon and Comcast will be joining AT&T’s U-Verse to provide content, although while Verizon will include live video TV and video on demand, Comcast is testing the waters with its VOD library only. HBO Go streaming access will provide HBO original programming and movies from Warner Bros., Fox Searchlight and Universal Studios. Bravo, EPIX and Syfy are among the cable networks that will be available. Xbox’s international content will include the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and LOVEFiLM in the UK; Antena 3, RTVE and Telefonica in Spain; and Televisa in Mexico.
  • But how do you get to the movies, TV shows, games and music that you want? Microsoft hopes you will command your Xbox with voice control, motion control and a Windows smartphone.
  • “This is incremental stuff but it’s still interesting. A source who’s played with the new service says it’s genuinely cool. Just as important, given that Microsoft has sold some 50 million compatible machines, it has (potential) leverage to do some really interesting stuff,” reports All Things D. “This is where Google TV would like to be, and it’s why Google is out pitching content guys for a relaunch this fall.”

Justice Department Memo Tells Which Telecoms Store Data the Longest

  • “People who are upset that Facebook is storing all their information should be really concerned that their cell phone is tracking them everywhere they’ve been… The government has this information because it wants to engage in surveillance,” an ACLU staff attorney said.
  • A newly released Justice Department internal memo reveals the retention policies of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint.
  • Verizon seems the most privacy-friendly, but is the only company that retains text message content. Messages are stored for 5 days; other companies don’t retain message content at all.
  • The retention of “cell-site data” (information of a phone’s movement history based on phone tower usage) varied the most among the four providers.
  • “Verizon keeps that data on a one-year rolling basis; T-Mobile for ‘a year or more;’ Sprint up to two years, and AT&T indefinitely, from July 2008,” reports Gizmodo.
  • Senator Patrick Leahy proposed to alter the Electronic Privacy Communications Act to “protect Americans from warrantless intrusions.”
  • To see your provider’s retention policy, check out the graphic featured in the Gizmodo post.

Insiders Say Sprint Will Offer Unlimited Data Plans for iPhone 5

  • Sprint Nextel will reportedly offer unlimited data service plans for the new iPhone 5, expected to debut next month. This would be attractive to big data users and mark a major difference from rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
  • Sprint has been struggling with its bigger rivals and hopes that adding the iPhone to its lineup will lure new customers. “It’s a competitive disadvantage if your two larger competitors have the iPhone and you don’t,” says Matthew Thornton, an analyst at Avian Securities. “Getting the iPhone closes that gap.”
  • Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, already offers unlimited voice and data for RIM’s BlackBerry and HTC’s Evo customers at $99.99/month.
  • According to Bloomberg: “Apple’s iPhone has proved to be a valuable recruitment tool for rivals: Of the 5.6 million smartphones AT&T sold in the second quarter, the device accounted for 3.6 million. A quarter of the subscribers who bought the iPhone were new to AT&T, the company said.”

Will $700 Prove too Steep a Price for 4G LTE Tablet?

  • The HTC Jetstream tablet (formerly named Puccini), will be available through AT&T beginning this Sunday.
  • Notable features include: a Snapdragon 1.5 GHz dual core processor, front-facing camera, 8-megapixel rear camera, and HTC scribe stylus pen.
  • The Jetstream runs Android 3.1 Honeycomb on a 10.1-inch screen and will be AT&T’s first tablet with real 4G LTE.
  • According to the company press release: “HTC Jetstream is AT&T’s first tablet to showcase the Android 3.1 OS. The brand new operating system was designed from the ground up for devices with larger screens. It improves on Android favorites with new interactive and resizeable widgets plus improved multi-tasking, browsing, notifications, and customization.”
  • However, the $700 price tag, “discounted” with a 2-year contract (and $35/month data plan), may prove off-putting to some consumers.

Justice Department Files Suit to Block T-Mobile Takeover

  • The Justice Department is blocking the proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T, citing the move would result in less competition and higher prices. AT&T said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the suit.
  • The FCC is also reviewing the deal and has “serious concerns” about its impact on competition. The antitrust challenge comes five months after the deal between the second- and fourth-largest cellphone companies in the U.S. was announced.
  • “The lawsuit is the Obama administration’s boldest antitrust challenge to date and the latest evidence of its intention to reinvigorate enforcement after what it says was a lull during the previous administration,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • However, the Justice Department left open the possibility of concessions which could lead to a settlement.

Caps on Mobile Data Plans: No More All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

  • As smartphones gain greater market penetration, and data-intensive applications become more popular, cellular carriers are creating limits on how much data customers can consume, and raising the price of that data.
  • T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon have all phased out their unlimited plans, and introduced tiered plans that charge customers based on how much data they consume. Only Sprint still offers an unlimited data plan.
  • Some developers worry that the caps will stifle innovation of data-intensive applications, and that customers may blame the applications if they go over their limits. This problem is compounded by the fact that consumers have no intuitive sense of how much data a given application may be using.
  • Industry analysts predict that the availability of data will become an increasingly important profit stream for cellular carriers, and a key point of competition between them.

ESPN Takes a New Approach to 3D Production

  • Variety reports that ESPN remains enthusiastic about 3D technology, despite its slow adoption (and AT&T’s recent decision to drop ESPN 3D from its U-Verse TV service).
  • ESPN is pushing its 3D effort by focusing on combining 2D and 3D production (nicknamed “5D”), which the network says brings costs down substantially. 2D/3D production includes slower cutting and more use of robotic cameras. As the production crews gain more experience in shooting sports beyond HD, the equipment, camera placement and general approach continues to improve.
  • “Some innovations created for 3D have even made it over to the 2D side,” reports Variety. “For example, 3D cameras need to be closer to the action than 2D cameras, so the high 50-yard-line shots that are a staple of football coverage are problematic. To get closer, ESPN put a 3D camera on a 22-foot mast on a small vehicle that goes up and down the sideline.”
  • ESPN stands by the technology, explaining that Twitter feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And some play-by-play announcers have even indicated they don’t want to go back to watching 2D.

Cord-Cutting: Record Numbers in Cancelled Pay TV Subscriptions

  • The six largest cable and satellite TV providers lost 580,000 customers in the second quarter. This marks the largest such decline in U.S. history.
  • The number of pay TV subscribers has declined in three of the past five quarters.
  • “Rising prices for pay TV, coupled with growing availability of lower-cost alternatives, add to a toxic mix at a time when disposable income isn’t growing,” explains Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. “For younger demographics, where in many cohorts unemployment is north of 30 percent, and especially for those with limited or no interest in sports, the pay TV equation is almost inarguably getting less attractive.”
  • Netflix and Hulu provide lower cost options. Competition from AT&T and Verizon is also having an effect.
  • Providers are struggling to deal with the trend. Dish, for example, is re-positioning itself away from lower income customers. Instead, the company plans to focus on more expensive offerings to increase average revenue per user.

Unlocked iPhone Could Impact the Subsidized Carrier Model

  • While Apple has been working on the design elegance and overall quality of its iPhone, the existing business model with carrier partners has allowed the company to hide the true cost of the device in two-year contracts. Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 launch may change this model.
  • The company is rumored to be considering a $350 price point for an entry level unlocked iPhone.
  • T-GAAP reports: “The main purpose for such a device is to penetrate China and other regions which are not fond of subsidized programs. If Apple can deliver an unlocked iPhone starting at $350, the impact in China will be stunning, and send U.S. and European carriers scrambling.”
  • If this is the case, consumers would be able to purchase an iPhone from the Apple Store and select any prepaid plan of their choosing (such as an “all-you-can-eat $50 month-to-month T-Mobile or Cricket or Boost plan”).
  • Carriers would most likely push other phones, but it may be too late for that based on consumer demand. Their next move could be lower entry prices for the iPhone.
  • “Plan on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offering two-year contract plans for the iPhone 5 starting at $149,” suggests T-GAAP. “Carriers wil be scrambling to protect a model that has done them so well for the past 15 years. However, Apple is about to pull it all apart with a single product launch.”

Update: Apple Considering a Bid for Hulu Video Service

  • In the latest installment of the ongoing Hulu saga, Bloomberg reports Apple is “considering making a bid” for the online video service.
  • Apple would join Google, Yahoo, AT&T and others who have expressed interest (Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding).
  • With $76 billion in cash and securities, an expected $2 billion bid would not be too difficult for Apple. If so, analysts suggest this would give Apple a leading subscription service that would rival, if not surpass, the Netflix service.
  • “Part of the ecosystem of Apple’s future is to include more video,” said Scott Sutherland, Wedbush Securities analyst (who recommends buying the stock). “It’s something they are focused on.”

Update: Microsoft Drops Out of Auction for Hulu Service

  • Microsoft has reportedly dropped out of the bidding for Hulu and would not continue into a second round, according to “a person with knowledge of the matter.” (Although the individual did not rule out the possibility of Microsoft re-entering in a later round.)
  • Google, Yahoo, AT&T and as many as eight other companies remain interested in the online video service.
  • According to Business Insider, Yahoo is willing to spend up to $2 billion if it can get content rights for the next four or five years.
  • It has been reported that Hulu plans to offer five years of access to content from its media company owners (Disney, News Corp. and Comcast’s NBC Universal), including two years of exclusivity.

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