Archive for the ‘Wireless’ Category

Venture Capital Dispatch

An inside look from VentureWire at high-tech start-ups and their investors.


The Daily Startup: VCs Buy In to Mobile Game Maker Supercell


Top stories in today’s VentureWire:


dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas


Eager to own a slice of the wildly profitable Finnish mobile game maker Supercell, venture investors have purchased existing shares totaling $130 million at a $770 million valuation. Index Ventures led the deal with participation from Institutional Venture Partners and Atomico. Founded in 2011, SuperCell is currently the highest-grossing iOS game developer with “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day” now bringing in $2.5 million of revenue daily.


Enlighted raised $20 million in Series C funding led by Rockport Capital for its lighting-controls technology, as it operates in a quickly changing market where the price for lighting emitting diodes is declining. The company makes sensors and software that is installed in commercial spaces and that helps decide when to dim lights. A newer application of the technology would also allow the sensors to measure temperature and occupancy, and control not just lighting but also air conditioning.


Also in today’s VentureWire, Reduxio Systems has raised a $9 million Series A round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners and Carmel Ventures. Reduxio is developing storage systems that make use of both flash memory and hard drives…Smart-home startup Zonoff has secured a $3.8 million Series A round for software that makes all kinds of smart-home devices work smoothly together and makes them easier to set up and control…and Crowdtilt has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz to bring a new twist to crowdfunding. Crowdtilt’s apps give groups an easy way to fund their own initiatives, rather than asking for money from strangers online.


(VentureWire is a daily newsletter with comprehensive analysis of all the investments, deals and personnel moves involving startups and their venture backers. For a two-week trial, visit our homepage, scroll to the bottom and click “try for free.”)


Elsewhere around the Web:


Launching mobile game apps is getting expensive. Case in point: ZeptoLab says it will spend about $1 million to launch “Cut the Rope: Time Travel” but it spent almost nothing to promote the first “Cut the Rope” game’s release in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports. What has changed is the mobile games business, which is now so competitive that word-of-mouth marketing is no longer enough.


 Jon Flint, a founder of venture firm Polaris Partners, got into the hair-care business after his stylist suggested that he take a meeting with a colleague in New York who wanted to start a company. Flint and his partners turned to MIT”s Robert Langer to come up with innovative products. Flint talks with WSJ about the company that resulted, Living Proof, which is co-owned by actress Jennifer Aniston.


Silicon Valley startups are increasingly hiring testing companies to vet apps before releasing them to the public, WSJ reports.

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Article from GigaOm.

Zscaler a four-year-old startup that has bootstrapped its business by providing a new form of security designed for a mobile and cloud-dependent workforce, has raised $38 million in first-time financing. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and an unnamed strategic investor.

Zscaler has been fairly successful in its four years building a significant base of clients including Crutchfield Corporation, La-Z-Boy and Telefonica. The company’s software as a service is hosted in more than 100 data centers around the world and essentially protects a company’s web traffic. It does this by routing requests through Zscaler’s software. But there’s no software for users to download on their clients and there’s also no appliance for corporate IT to worry about.

As the cloud and mobility do away with the perimeter model of security where a firewall may prevent harmful traffic from getting in and corporate secrets from getting out, Zscaler is one of several new companies trying to adapt security to a world where there is no perimeter. And even if the corporate IT thought it had a perimeter, the corporation may not own it or have a say in what runs on it. A perfect example of this might be the CEO’s iPad (a aapl).

Zscaler doesn’t solve all problems, but it’s certainly ahead of the pack in thinking about security in a forward-looking way. Other companies trying to address the changes in security required by BYOD and corporate access to the cloud applications are Bromium and CloudPassage. And by waiting to take on venture capital Zscaler’s CEO Jay Chaudhry has joined a select group of established companies who are finally succumbing to the lure of VC cash. For example Qualtrics, a ten-year-old company this year raised $70 million in its first round of outside investment. Another company, Code 42, avoided VC dollars for 11 years before this year raising $52.5 million.

Read more here.

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Gerbsman Partners – Maximizing Enterprise Value – Partial Client List

Gerbsman Partners – Maximizing Enterprise Value

Gerbsman Partners focuses on maximizing enterprise value for stakeholders and shareholders in under-performing, under-capitalized and under-valued companies and their Intellectual Property. Since 2001, Gerbsman Partners has been involved in maximizing value for 68 technology, life science and medical device companies and their Intellectual Property and has restructured/terminated over $795 million of real estate executory contracts and equipment lease/sub-debt obligations. Since inception in 1980, Gerbsman Partners has been involved in over $2.3 billion of financings, restructurings and M&A Transactions.

Gerbsman Partners has offices and strategic alliances in San Francisco, New York, Alexandria, VA/DC, Orange County, Boston, Europe and Israel.

Technology – IP


Emergent Game Technologies Inc – Licensed and supported 3D/game software.

Capital Thinking – Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) platform, a credit and risk management software solution for the financial services industry.

Cesura – Web and on demand business software.

Conformia Software Inc. – Software solutions for highly regulated process industries – Life Science.

deNovis – Enterprise software for government health and health insurance industry.

Gentiae Inc. – Real-time fully automated processing of cardiac safety input and core lab operations. The system offers a comprehensive, real time web portal for sponsor and site access.

Banquet – Interactive sports entertainment.

ID Engines Inc. – Role-based access control (RBAC) across enterprise networks.

InDplay Inc. – Online, B2B video content distribution (monetization) platform, deployed on enterprise-quality software components, served in the SaaS (software-as-a-service) model.

Metreo Inc. – Pricing software for manufacturers and distributors.

Neohapsis Inc. – IT management services platform.

Zone4Play – Interactive game technology.

Roots Web, Inc. – Geneology software.

StreamSearch, Inc. – Multimedia aggregator that has created a unique solution for indexing, locating, promoting, and distributing rich media on the Internet.

Technion University – Technology patents

Teranode Corporation – Business intelligence and lab automation solutions for the Life Science market.

USA Democracy, Inc. – Direct, verifiable, credible communications between elected representatives and their constituents through its non-partisan legislative-based website.

Utility.com, Inc. – Multi-utility eCommerce/eCRM technology, Web-based energy management technology.

Vcommerce, Inc. – Developed, deployed, and operated fully integrated, end-to-end supply chain execution systems and direct fulfillment infrastructure.

Intelectron, Inc. – Commercial lighting technology.

Skunk Technologies – Java based software


Dialpad, Inc. – Web-to-phone service.

Simpler Networks, Inc./Hercules Technology Growth Capital – Telco software – a matrix switch platform that sits within the Telco’s central office (CO) or street cabinets. Developed to allow for universal access to any service, the system’s protocol-transparent design allows it to be placed in front of any existing or future access gear that delivers services over the local loop


Cornice Inc. – Storage and flash controllers.

PhaseMetrics Inc. – Storage systems manufacturer.

Plasmon, Inc. – Data archival storage technology
Networking/Optical Networking

CipherMax, Inc. – Storage networking.

Private Networks, Inc. – Broadband multicast delivery system utilizing digital satellite technology. The technology has universal applicability to many industries for distribution of high-band data and video.

Teak Technologies Inc. – Internet switching and gateway networking products.

Zeus Communications, Inc. – Hardware architecture of 10 Gbps IPSec VPN and firewall in a single board.

Optivia, Inc & Hercules Technology Growth Capital – Optical transport systems.

Princeton Lightwave, Inc. – Optical networking technology

T-Networks, Inc. – Optical networking components.

Transparent Networks, Inc. – Wavelength Selective Switch, a high performance large scale Photonic cross-connect functional prototype, detailed design and simulation validation of a Light Path Exchange with integrated DWDM, an HDTV display mirror array high level design and simulation, proprietary and unique MEMS design and validation engineering tools.

Network Photonics, Inc.


eBiz mobility – Mobile business payment

YPS Software – ASP and software vendor for the PC and mobile phone industries, Mobile Entertainment Centre.

Teleflip – Mobile messaging.


Active Response Group Inc. – On line marketing company.

Akimbo Inc. – Monitizing on line media.

Competition Accessories, Inc. – Online direct marketing.

Gallery Player Inc. – Provider and distributor of high-value, rights managed high definition imagery for high definition televisions.

MeMedia Inc. – Online advertising solutions provider and ad network that delivers contextually and behaviorally targeted advertisements across a multi-modal network of websites and desktop applications.

MyWire Inc. – Paid content and advertising.

NebuAd, Inc. – Online advertising model. Next-generation digital media technology and solutions.

Holographic & Biometric Technology

Aprilis, Inc./Dow Corning – Holographic Data Storage Drives and Biometric Secuirty Systems

NeoScale Inc. – Storage encryption and key management solution for organizations securing information stored on tape and disk media.

Oviso Inc. – Semi conductor manufacturing equipment.

SciCortex, Inc. – Manufacturer of high performance computers.

Medical Device

Cardiovascular, Vascular, Endoscopy

Cardiomind inc. – Stent delivery platform.

OmniSonics Medical Technologies Inc. – Vascular disease IP.

InnerPulse Inc. – Cardiac rhythm management (CRM) medical device company.

Myocor Inc. – Developing innovative cardiac reshaping devices to treat functional mitral regurgitation (FMR) and left ventricular (LV) dysfunction, both of which are significant in the progression of congestive heart failure (CHF).

NDO Surgical, Inc. – Flexible endoscopy technologies that enable surgical procedures through the bodys natural openings.

Viacor Inc. – Cardiac implant device for the treatment of functional mitral regurgitation.

XTENT Inc. – Customizable drug eluting stent systems for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.


Applied Spine Technologies Inc – Screw based dynamic stabilization system validated with Class 1 clinical data

Emphasis Medical Inc. – Endobronchial valves for the treatment of heterogeneous emphysema.

NovaLign Orthopedic Inc. – Long bone fracture, intramedullary nail technology.

Optobionics – Retinal degeneration.

Refractec, Inc – Radiofrequency (RF) device called ViewPoint CK System, used to perform NearVisionSM CK (Conductive Keratoplasty) treatment


Satiety Inc. – Obesity product

Life Science

Pluristem, Inc. – Stem cell research – Israel company

Barnev Inc. – Monitoring Systems, Labor Israel company.

Pegasus Biologics Inc. – Developed and is commercializing a revolutionary bioscaffold comprised of highly organized collagen, sourced from equine pericardium that encourages the healing process by addressing the demands of a challenging biological environment.

Radiant Medical, Inc. – Endovascular therapeutic cooling.

Valentis, Inc. – Biotechnology company with small molecule, antibody, protein, gene and manufacturing assets.

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Article from SFGate.

“AT&T Inc.’s $39 billion deal for T-Mobile USA could improve the company’s cell service in San Francisco, but it may also mean the end to low-cost phone and data plans.

Acquiring T-Mobile’s infrastructure will increase the number of AT&T cell towers in San Francisco by 30 percent, according to spokesman John Britton.

That’s a significant increase to a network known for its dropped calls.

“We’ve got the same network, so they’re very compatible,” Britton said. “They can easily come together and be integrated. It’s going to be good news for customers.”

Both companies’ networks use a technology known as GSM. AT&T said customers of T-Mobile, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, would be able to continue using their existing handsets if the merger is approved.

The company would not say how many cell towers it now has, or how many T-Mobile has in the Bay Area. But it said the acquisition would be crucial in helping it meet the exploding consumer demand for wireless spectrum.

In the past four years, AT&T’s mobile data traffic grew 8,000 percent, the company said. By 2015, it is expected to increase by up to 10 times more.

But AT&T’s expanded network will come at a cost to consumers, advocacy groups warned. T-Mobile’s disappearance from the marketplace would mean that three companies – AT&T, Verizon and Sprint – would own roughly three-quarters of the U.S. mobile market.

And the low-cost plans for which T-Mobile is known will probably disappear if the merger is completed, advocates said.

“This transaction would create a vastly more concentrated market,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, policy director at Media Access Project. “What that translates to is higher prices, less consumer choice and less innovation.”

The proposed acquisition, which would bring AT&T’s U.S. subscriber base to 130 million, is likely to take a year to complete. In a conference call with investors Monday, AT&T executives said they expected the deal would win approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.

U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto, the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, called for oversight hearings on the proposal.

“Competition is essential to promoting a vibrant wireless market, where consumers have a choice in the innovative services and devices available to them,” Eshoo said in a statement.

Customers will not notice any changes in their service until after the merger is completed, AT&T said.

A combined AT&T and T-Mobile would also make the next-generation communication standard, known as LTE, available to 95 percent of American households, or 46.5 million more than were eligible to receive it otherwise, the company said.”

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Article from SFGate.

“It’s been a big couple of weeks in mobile. Verizon Wireless finally got the iPhone. Hewlett-Packard unveiled the first fruits of its Palm purchase last year. Nokia, the world’s biggest maker of handsets, abandoned its once-dominant Symbian mobile software system and demoted itself to a kind of glorified contract manufacturer of Microsoft-powered devices.

The struggle for mobile dominance has entered a new phase. Why would Nokia throw out Symbian, with its 37 percent market share, in favor of software with less than one-seventh of that? Because recently hired Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop is convinced that Microsoft has better odds of going up against the four other mobile powers – Apple, Google, Research In Motion, and HP – and making its new Windows Phone 7 software a center of gravity for the world’s programmers, manufacturers, and consumers.

“The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems,” Elop told investors at a recent London news conference.

Actually, it’s the same game that created the most valuable franchises in tech history, from IBM to Microsoft to Facebook. All successfully established themselves as “platforms,” in which countless entrepreneurs and programmers developed products and applications that gave value to customers and profitability to shareholders – sucking oxygen away from rivals all the while.

Platform leaders

In the 1960s, IBM trounced Sperry and other mainframe manufacturers by creating a soup-to-nuts stack of hardware, software and services.

In PCs, Microsoft erased Apple’s early lead by signing up hardwaremakers to create cheap machines, and software companies to develop Windows versions of everything from word processors to Tetris.

Facebook vanquished social networks such as MySpace by repositioning itself as a platform – a decision that led to the creation of gamemaker Zynga and other app companies that keep Facebook’s 500 million users hanging around.

What’s different this time is scale.

“Mobile is the biggest platform war ever,” said Bill Whyman, an analyst with International Strategy & Investment. More smart phones were sold than PCs in the fourth quarter, and sales should reach $120 billion this year. That doesn’t count billions more in mobile services, ads, and e-commerce.

This war will probably last for some time, too. Unlike with PCs, where the unquestioned victor – Microsoft – quickly emerged and enjoyed years of near monopoly, no one has a divine right to dominance in mobile. Microsoft crushed its competition by forcing people to make a choice. There were far more software applications for PCs, and most didn’t work on Macs. The more Microsoft-powered machines out there, the more people wrote software for them, the more people bought them, and the bigger the whole system became. Economists have a name for that phenomenon: “network effects.”

Appealing products

All cell phones can talk to each other and handle the same websites and e-mail systems, so winning means making products that function more effectively and appealingly. That sums up Apple’s success.

Steve Jobs figured out long ago that when people spend their own money, they’ll pay for something a lot nicer than the unsexy gear the cheapskates in corporate procurement choose. While others competed on price, Apple focused on making its products reliable and easy to use. Once customers buy an iPhone and start investing in iTunes songs and apps, they tend to stick with the system and keep buying – even though there’s no proprietary lock on the proverbial door.

Apple’s huge sales volume makes carriers and suppliers more likely to agree to its terms. The software that powers everything Apple makes – all variations of the Mac operating system OS X – is as intuitive to developers as Angry Birds is to app shoppers.

The result is economic leverage of staggering power. To create a blockbuster, Apple doesn’t need to spend billions on a start-from-scratch moon-shot of a development project. It just needs to tweak a previous hit.

Take the iPad, which is in many ways a large iPod touch. Apple won’t say how much the iPad cost to develop. Consider these numbers, though: In the year that ended Sept. 30, during which Apple introduced the iPad and the iPhone 4, the company spent $1.8 billion on research and development. Over the same period, Apple’s revenue increased by $22.3 billion. Nokia spent three times as much as Apple on R&D – $5.86 billion – and increased revenue by just $1.5 billion. No wonder that Apple, whose share of total global mobile-phone sales is only 4.2 percent, gets more than half the profit generated by the industry, according to research firm Asymco.

Fast-growing Android

Even Google, Apple’s mightiest rival, got only a $5 billion increase in sales on its $3.4 billion R&D budget. It does have plenty to show for its efforts, though: Its Android platform is growing at a blistering pace. In the fourth quarter, according to research firm Canalys, twice as many Android devices shipped as iPhones.

“Google is being far more aggressive in building its platform than Microsoft ever was,” says Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital.

Barring big surprises, the other contenders – RIM, HP, and Microsoft – are in for a slog: too dependent on mobile devices to give up, yet lacking the tools to make much progress. All lost market share in 2010 and have far fewer apps available for their devices.”

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Article from NY Times.

“The DVR rocked the world of television by letting viewers skip commercials and build their own home viewing schedules. Now a handful of Web services and applications are starting to do much the same thing to online publishers.

These tools make it easier for people to read Web articles how, when and where they want, often dispensing with publishers’ carefully arranged layouts and advertisements.

One popular tool, Readability, strips articles to the bare minimum of text and photographs with a single click. But now, Readability wants to give something back to publishers.

On Tuesday, the developers behind the tool will unveil a service that requires a subscription fee of at least $5 a month. The service, also called Readability, plans to distribute 70 percent of that fee to the news outlets and blogs that each subscriber is reading.

For example, if a subscriber is a regular visitor to the gadget blog Gizmodo and the women’s news site The Hairpin over the course of a month, Readability will calculate what percentage of her payment should go to each site and send them checks.

“We were never about stripping ads or being an ad blocker,” said Richard Ziade, who created the original Readability tool as well as the second-generation version. Instead, he said, his team has been wondering: “Can we come up with a mechanism to make the experience of reading on the Web better, but also support content creators and publishers?”

Readability is one of many services experimenting with the future of reading. A wave of applications, including Pulse, Flipboard and My Taptu, are responding to changes in how people prefer to read on the Web, putting articles and blog posts into cleaner or more attractive visual displays.

Nate Weiner, founder of Read It Later, a Web and mobile service that saves articles to be read offline, said there was a larger shift under way, one that mirrors the move to digital from print. Instead of thumbing through the newspaper over breakfast, he said, people like to read articles from many sources on their commutes or in the evening, often using mobile devices.

“People don’t really want to have to be confined to a specific place, time, site or device to read content,” Mr. Weiner said.

Mr. Weiner recently analyzed data from his service, which has three million users, and found that those who owned an iPhone or iPad preferred to save articles for a personalized prime time. IPad reading, in particular, peaks from 8 to 10 p.m.

The glut of updates flowing across the average person’s computer and mobile screens throughout the day, either through social networks or links e-mailed by friends, is also driving the trend.

“If you’re a modern worker, you’re constantly being bombarded with information that you want to read, but that environment is not always the appropriate or best time to read that information,” said Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab, which is affiliated with Harvard.

Mr. Ziade of Readability acknowledged that there were still many things to be ironed out with the new service, including how often to distribute payments and what happens if publishers refuse to accept the collected money.

The company plans to pay them “regardless of their participation,” he said. Should a site refuse the money, the company is considering options like contributing it to a charity or literacy organization.

Mr. Ziade, who is a partner at a consulting company in Manhattan called Arc90, developed Readability as a pet project in March 2009 and released it online for others to use free of charge; the code is available under an open-source license.

Since then Readability has gained traction among users — and among hardware and software makers. Apple now builds it into its Safari browser, Amazon uses it in the Kindle, and it is built into several mobile applications, including Flipboard, Pulse and Reeder. Mr. Ziade said it was difficult to track how many people were using the tool, but thousands of people visit the Readability home page each day.

Though the original Readability tool will remain free, Mr. Ziade hopes to capture a willing audience by simplifying the so-called micropayment model, which has been much discussed but is tricky to execute.

“Asking someone to pay 45 cents to read an article may not be a big deal, but no one wants to deal with that transaction,” he said. Marco Arment, an adviser to Readability and the creator of Instapaper, a service for saving and reading online articles, made a version of his Instapaper app that will essentially be Readability’s mobile component. Mr. Arment said he thought the most likely customers for Readability’s pay service were “online power readers.”

“It’ll be the types who buy print magazines even though the same articles are online for free, just because they want to support the publication,” he said.

“On the Web, it’s not that people aren’t willing to pay small amounts for things; it’s that there is no easy way to pay,” he added. “If a service like Readability comes along and makes it easy, I think people will be willing to pay.”

Services that put Web articles into new contexts for the convenience of readers have ruffled feathers before. Last June, lawyers for The New York Times Company objected to Pulse, an iPad application that collects and presents articles from many Web sites, in part because of the way it displayed Times articles.

A Times Company spokeswoman, Kristin Mason, said Monday that “as the number of apps in the news space continues to grow, we are monitoring and working closely with many of the developers to discuss any concerns we have.”

But Mr. Ziade said he had not heard a single negative reaction during the several dozen meetings he has had with publishers about his new service. He declined to name the publishers.

Mr. Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab said that the interest in these services was driving “an increasing realization among publishers that not all customers are created equal, and some will pay for different experiences without advertisements.”

Jacob Weisberg, the editor in chief of the Slate Group, the online publisher owned by the Washington Post Company, said Slate had not talked to Readability but would “be happy to cash their checks.” Mr. Weisberg added that “if the numbers became meaningful, we’d of course want to negotiate” a deal.

Slate has added an Instapaper save-for-later button to its iPad application. Mr. Weisberg said this required a reader to load the original page before saving it.

“We’re still getting the page views and the ad impressions,” he said. “But certainly over time, as these services develop and start making money, it’s only reasonable they share that money with publishers whose content they’re piggybacking on.”

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By Tony Fish – member of Gerbsman Partners Board of Intellectual and principal at AMF Ventures. Visit his blog at: http://blog.mydigitalfootprint.com


Virtually unlimited mobile usage tariffs means that advertising is perceived as free from the users perspective, as there is no additional cost of bandwidth to the user.  These tariffs have lead to an unprecedented growth in mobile applications and the emergence of  a new eco-system. However,  “all you can eat” pricing models for mobile have become increasingly risky with the advent of new devices and operating systems from Apple and Google.  With the prospect of a return to a pay per something, users may change their view of “free” advertising and this could lead to a change in behaviour, as they will be un-willing to pay for the bandwidth for the advert.  Whilst this may seam ridiculous to anyone who understands, explaining to the user they have the wrong perception or that this is not the reason for a significant monthly bill, could be difficult.  This viewpoint therefore opens the debate; “Could some selfish business decisions be destroying the mobile eco-system that has just been created and what scenarios are worth considering?”

Unlimited Growth

We have all benefitted from the introduction of unlimited mobile tariffs.  Voice, SMS and data usage has exploded.  Economically it made sense to the operator as they had spare capacity and in reality “unlimited” has caps but these caps are set so high that a user was unlikely to reach them.

Mobiles (smart phones) have evolved and today, web site and applications (inc games) for mobile are now built with an advertising model in mind and with this has come the download requirements of, in some simple cases, banner ads to some thing complex such as video and multimedia.  With network improvement, the ability to deliver a near web experience, advances in connection management and now the iPad, users can find it easy to get close to, or pass their “unlimited” data caps.

Mobile applications driven by adverts work and the application method of delivery made up for a number of early shortfalls in network constraints and mobile web browser capability. However, due to the improved experience and performance of the mobile there are now less reasons for a Brand to have a specific mobile version.  However, in this move adverts are also served in full form from the web to the mobile.  This transition will become more important as Apple looks to force applications to use their own iAd serving technology and analytics.  These forced change are likely to speed up the migration from mobile specific application to webapp – just adding a web address and icon to the mobile desktop and also removes the dependence on apps stores as the controlling point.

So what has changed?

Apple launched OS4 with a 7th temple, which is the ability to deliver a fabulous advertising experience as “most of it sucks”.  The move is to deliver emotion and interactivity as this will help the developer community who want to build advertising revenues in exchange for free apps.  This advertising experience does come at a cost – bandwidth. OS4 also introduces background processing (multitasking), “yippee!” says the developer. However this means that the phone can hack thought the battery really quickly and chat to the network constantly.  Pushed updates become streaming.

Changes to the OS and how much data phones require for a great experience mean that the unlimited data package become very attractive to the user and advertiser as they don’t care about bandwidth, developers love it as they can deliver the real time applications and services they want for mobile. However, for the operators who are already struggling with capacity, this becomes a real headache and introduces value chain conflicts.


If the operators choose, and the evidence is currently pointing to this fact, to remove from the market unlimited packages, or such a high cap it is perceived as unlimited and lean back towards some form of pay-by-how-much-you-eat model then there could be some significant changes to the market as the users, device and applications guys try to reduce a swing to a doom loop scenario.

Here’s the crunch.  For those reading this we can find arguments why all of the above is not a concern, however, the issue may not be the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, but from the user perception, it could be very real.  If the user believes that there is a cost, irrespective of reality; they may change behaviour!

The simple newspaper headline that reads “Your paying for advertising” is difficult to counter with the argument that informs a user how big an advert is in bytes and that there is a trade for free services.  If the reason for adverts is interactivity and engagement then a technical explanation may not be that useful or that someone is exploiting your data to sell you more.

Behavioural or targeted adverting depends at some level on understanding the user which is an output from the analysis their data – My Digital Footprint.  If users find that the real monetary cost of sharing that data is too high, it kills the input.  If users find that the real monetary cost of engaging with ads is too high, it kills the value.

Given that eco-systems require trusted players who can balance risk and reward together and be reliant on complex inter-dependences; mobile is no different.  However, it would appear that some of the players are trying to play for themselves rather than the community.

Scenarios to ponder over coffee

  1. Restrictive – in this scenario the user decides to restrict their use and applications to focus on a few that are a priority and will not experiment or discover.  This could have a significant impact on social media tools and applications.
  2. Blockers – in this scenario the user decides that they are unwilling to pay for the bandwidth and introduces a blocker service to prevent their costly bandwidth being used.  This in turn destroys the fee advertising model and an outcome could be that the user ends up paying for applications.
  3. Selective – in this scenario the operator decides to become selective about which handsets can have unlimited (capped) data plans and which handsets are forced to have a PAYG data pricing model.  This forces users into a choice and device manufactures start to work with the operators to produce devices in tune with the network to gain a competitive advantage.
  4. Side-Load – in this scenario PAYG could lead to more applications being downloaded by sideloading on the PC or by WiFi. If so, developers could be affected in ways that are hard to predict. But it may affect apps being advertised on the device.
  5. Doom loop – in this scenario the operator changes the pricing and this in turn creates all the dis-benefits for the advertisers, device guys, applications developers and users.  Mobile slows and mobile operator valuations dive.
  6. Intelligence – in this scenario the middleware and platform companies work with the operators and seek out methods and processes to compress, reduce, focus, profile and select data and services that should use the limited wireless network, that is expensive.  Can data/ ads be cashed locally on the device and selected as needed or side load them using wifi or other alternative networks, or put on hold until bandwidth cost is not an issue.
  7. Advertising pays for the bandwidth – a somewhat difficult scenario to comprehend, but in this scenario the advertiser takes on the cost of the bandwidth.  However this is full of complex conflicts such as – I want to deliver the best ad, but it costs to much.
  8. No change – in reality – this is not a scenario.

Reality check

Those reading this know that ‘most’ mobile advertising is very bandwidth lean, as it a blend of:-

i)  an invitation with the consumer to interact, normally in the form of a banner. The reality being that for most consumers most of the time, this is likely to be negligible in terms of cost across a month.

ii)  a landing page, which they land on if they click on a banner – again negligible.

iii)  call to action at the landing page, which unless it involves rich media (eg video), is also likely to be small in terms of bandwidth

We know that users respond differently to ads and services on a mobile to the web but it is possible that the Apple OS4 interruption of advertising will be heavier on bandwidth, however, over 50% of iPhone ads are viewed over WiFi (2010) probably driven by speed as opposed to cost reasons. One could postulate that this trend would therefore be accelerated with the re-introduction of pay-as-you-go pricing!

All that said, users are users and their perception is how we need to live our business life – from their view point not ours.  Reflecting on the original question; “could consumer ignorance hurt mobile advertising?”, one could say this is the wrong question and it should be “is the mobile eco-system strong enough to defend itself against selfish desires of certain key players?”

If you would like to chat about the opportunities that digital footprint data brings, especially from the perspective of mobile and real time feedback, please contact me at tony.fish@amfventures.com. The book is free on line at http://www.mydigitalfootprint.com/ or you can buy it direct from the publisher at the web site. There is also a summary and a eReader/ Kindle version.

We hope that our Viewpoint improves awareness, raises questions and promotes deliberation over coffee. We will respond to e-mail, text, twitter or blog comments. http://blog.mydigitalfootprint.com

Kind regards,

Tony Fish

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