Surge in High-Tech Devices and Services a Double-Edged Sword for Carriers

iappsU.S. mobile data revenues surpassed $19.4 billion in the first half of 2009, a 31 percent increase over the year-ago period, and data accounted for more than 25 percent of all wireless service revenues, according to the CTIA’s semi-annual industry survey. The report, which was released in conjunction with the kickoff of the International CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference today in San Diego, also noted that text messaging continues to gain traction at a breakneck pace, with Americans sending 4.1 billion messages a day from their phones — nearly doubling SMS activity from the first half of 2008. Read More about Surge in High-Tech Devices and Services a Double-Edged Sword for Carriers

Surprise! iPhone Users Love Their Phones, Hate Their Network

iphones1Bring a magnifying glass if you’re looking for surprises in a new study from CFI Group. The market research firm has just released the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. smartphone users that holds true to form: iPhone users love their devices but hate AT&T’s (s t) network; Verizon Wireless operates a rock-solid network but lacks high-end handsets; and consumers — not business users — are driving growth in the space. Read More about Surprise! iPhone Users Love Their Phones, Hate Their Network

Verizon Talks the Openness Talk, Doesn’t Walk the Openness Walk

verizonlogoVerizon (s vz) Wireless, nearly two years after saying it would offer its network to “any apps, any device,” is moving toward openness with all the haste of a 12-year-old headed to the dentist. The company said today it’s certified fewer than five dozen devices for its 3G network, most of which are “specialized M2M units” — in other words, not the kind of thing you’re going to pick up at Best Buy (s bby). The carrier also announced the imminent launch of Vcast Apps, an initiative designed to allow developers to distribute their wares to Verizon’s customers.
While the talk of openness makes for good public relations, of course, and helps satisfy the requirements set forth by the FCC when Verizon won a chunk of 700 MHz spectrum at auction last year. But today’s press release makes Verizon’s priorities clear: It’s the network, stupid. Read More about Verizon Talks the Openness Talk, Doesn’t Walk the Openness Walk

Vodafone Embarks on Branding Facelift

vodafoneVodafone is hoping that social networks and a new app store can give it a much-needed facelift. The carrier is launching a major marketing offensive for the first time in four years, dropping its “Make the most of now” tagline in favor of “Power to you” and replacing Vodafone Live, its mobile data service, with Vodafone 360, an offering that will integrate offerings such as Facebook and Twitter along with a new app store slated to come online later this year.
Vodafone claims 315 million customers in 31 markets, but its image has accumulated dust as smaller, more nimble operators targeted young users with sexy handsets and services. The operator lost 18 percent of its “better value contract” customers in the last year alone, according to a piece in the Times Online, and is in danger of becoming only the third-largest carrier in the UK — its home market — once Orange and T-Mobile UK exchange vows. Read More about Vodafone Embarks on Branding Facelift

Desperately Seeking Scale, Orange & T-Mobile Merge in UK

orangeOrange will merge with T-Mobile UK in a deal that will see the combined company become the largest player in the UK, with 28.4 million customers and a 37 percent market share. And it likely foreshadows more consolidation as the ultra-competitive wireless market moves from 2G to 3G and beyond, forcing operators to invest heavily in upgrading their networks in order to compete.
The move is all about cutting costs in an effort to better compete with O2 and Vodafone, which have 27 and 25 percent of the UK wireless market, respectively. The merging operators said they plan to spend between $992 million and $1.32 billion over the next five years to integrate their operations, resulting in an annual savings of $736 million or so. The carriers plan to shutter 120 retail locations and eliminate duplicated departments as they consolidate their networks into a single infrastructure supporting both 2G and 3G technologies. Read More about Desperately Seeking Scale, Orange & T-Mobile Merge in UK

Carriers Head Back to School to Find New Customers

The days are getting shorter, the mercury is falling and the kids are headed back to school. And network operators are pouring boatloads of money into marketing campaigns to turn those youngsters into high-end, ARPU-boosting customers.

Your Mobile Carrier Will Sell You for Pennies

Five major UK carriers are banding together to pool customer data so that it can be put into a giant database and then be used to sell advertising, The Register reports today. How long do you think it will take before this “database” idea lands on American shores? First they charge you hundreds of dollars for calls, then they sell you for pennies.

This is no different than, say, Phorm, NebuAd or any of the other tricks being cooked up by service providers in a desperate attempt to recreate Google’s (s goog) business model. In the process, they are playing loose and fast with people’s privacy. Jeez, no wonder people hate their phone companies. 🙂

When placed up against a larger canvas, it seems clear that Internet companies — be they providers of web, broadband or wireless services — have little to no regard for consumer privacy or consumer rights. Giving such efforts fancy names like “behavioral targeting” or “contextual advertising” is merely an attempt to make them more palatable to users. Read More about Your Mobile Carrier Will Sell You for Pennies