The Garmin NeverPhone hits the shelves

The Garmin NuviPhone finally hits the shelves in Asia . The device has been nicknamed Neverphone because it was announced at the Mobile World Congress 2008, so nearly 18 months ago. I was on the edge to close a deal with Garmin in 2008 to embed their software in the Toshiba devices when they annonced their Nuviphone. Of course we stopped the discussions as it is not comfortable to compete with one of its suppliers. 😉

This time Garmin has teamed up with Asus to produce it and it comes preloaded with satellite navigation software and maps. Basically is no more than a phone bundled with a satellite navigation software as you can find already many from HTC, Toshiba or other manufacturers. Nothing really new except the brand which is one of the most famous in the PND space.

nuviphone

Garmin Nuviphone

I’m a bit doubtful of Garmin’s approach as their Nuviphone will compete with Operators’ navigation services and Operators control nearly 85% of the handset market in Western Europe.

As the ASP (Average Selling Price) of PND (Portable Navigation Device) is dramatically falling, legacy PND manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom have to adapt and re shape their strategy quickly.

TomTom the other big player in the PNDs is changing its market approach too. After having left the smartphone space in 2008 they are back with the 1st satellite navigation software for the iPhone. It is a very clever move as TomTom is not so strong in North America, where they are struggling behind Garmin.

But the most interesting move from TomTom is their LIVE SERVICES. TomTom is trying to sell connected PND, i.e. PNDs with a 3G SIM Card, and the services directly to the end user. They buy the SIM card and data traffic from the mobile operator at a wholesale price and sell the connectivity and the services embedded in the device. The services encompass:

  • real-time traffic information on motorways and secondary roads
  • fuel prices in real time
  • local search with Google
  • weather, etc.

The challenge is really a test for the whole mobile industry as, if it was to succeed, it would prove that it is possible:

  • to switch a business model from a hardware based to a service based business model
  • to compete with mobile operator in the connected service space which they consider their private backyard

Both 2 things, no other player has been able to do successfully as of today.


The Garmin NeverPhone hits the shelves in Asia

The Garmin NuviPhone finally hits the shelves in Asia http://www.v3.co.uk/v3/news/2246810/garmin-asus-n-vifone-hits-asia. The device has been nicknamed Neverphone because it was announced at the Mobile World Congress 2008, so nearly 18 months ago.

Garmin has teamed up with Asus to produce it and it comes preloaded maps of a region. Basically is no more than a phone bundled with a satellite navigation software as you can find already many from HTC, Toshiba or other manufacturers. Nothing really new except the brand which is one of the most famous in the PND space.

I was on the edge to close a deal with Garmin in 2008 to embed their software in the Toshiba devices when they annonced their Nuviphone. Of course we stopped the discussion as it is not comfortable to compete with one of its suppliers.

As the ASP (average selling price) of PND is dramatically falling, legacy PND manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom have to adapt and re shape their strategy.

TomTom the other big player in the PNDs is changing its market approach too. After having left the smartphone space in 2008 they are back with the 1st satellite navigation software for the iPhone. It is a very good move as TomTom is not so strong in North America, still struggling behind Garmin. But the most interesting move from TomTom is their LIVE SERVICES. TomTom is trying to sell connected PND, i.e. PNDs with a 3G SIM Card, and the services directly to the end user. They buy the SIM card from the mobile operator at a wholesale price and sell the connectivity and the services embedded in the device. The services encompass

real-time traffic information on motorways and secondary roads

fuel prices in real time

local search with Google

weather, etc.

The challenge is really a test for the whole mobile industry as, if it was to succeed, it would prove that it is possible

to switch a business model from a hardware based to a service based business model

to compete with mobile operator in the mobile connected service space

Chrome OS: Filling up the Vacuum created by Microsoft

SMS based software, a new tool to fight poverty

Mobile telecommunication is an extraordinary tool to fight against poverty. I would encourage you to watch is conference from Iqbal Quadir about mobile in Bangladesh. As a kid in rural Bangladesh in 1971, Iqbal Quadir had to walk half a day to another village to get some medicines from a doctor– who was not there. Had he been able to call the doctor, it would have saved him half a day of walking for nothing.

Iqbal Quadir brought the first commercial telecom services to poor areas of Bangladesh with GrameenPhone. His motto could be “connectivity is productivity”. Spend 10’ watching it, it will change dramatically the way you see mobile communication. You’ll start to think that ARPU, OPEX, etc. are not the alpha and omega of Mobile.

I was wondering what could be done further to fight poverty with a mobile phone. I could give away one of my old phone as recommended in Developing Telecoms Watch.

http://developing-telecoms.blogspot.com/2009/05/donate-your-unwanted-cellphones-and-do.html

But I was thinking, OK everyone is enthusiastic about mobile applications these days, but what can be done to fight poverty? I’ve heard of some Nokia applications for the Indian market to give the real crop price to small producers so they aren’t cheated by intermediaries. As poor people in developing countries are often illiterate the best application should be 
 the voice. Therefore the best application should be free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) software at some point. But setting up an IVR in a developing country with poor IT infrastructure would be a nightmare: you need a server, a T0 connectivity, power with not cuts, etc. An IVR is neither a very simple nor a robust solution. But still “connectivity is productivity” and access to the right information helps to fight poverty. SMS is the other bearer which is available everywhere a GSM network is live.

Thanks to Developing Telecom Watch I just bumped into kiwanja.net and its very interesting articles on mobile communications in the rural world

http://www.kiwanja.net/blog/pcworld/

and then discovered Frontline SMS. Frontline SMS (www.frontlinesms.com) is a very simple tool to manage communication within a community by sending /receiving SMS on a laptop. You connect a mobile phone via a USB cable to a laptop with the software and off you go! You need neither an internet connection, nor a T2, nor a server. It can be deployed anywhere in no time.

The beauty of it is, it simple and robust. But the targets of this software are NGOs and communities to conduct surveys, provide weather forecast, Human rights monitoring, etc. How can such a kind of software generate value for the users and revenue for the one running it as a service? The solution should be very a simple SMS software with some billing capabilities, or at least SMS counting. The person running the service would be able to sell SMS information on a regular basis or on demand. The user would then pay for a number of updates by SMS. Coupled with a microcredit service for the laptop and phone acquisition this software would enable people in developing countries to establish a trade. The potential of such technology seems enormous. Just have a look at the forecast of mobile users for India only on Ronnie05 blog : in 2010 there will be 500M mobile users in India only!

http://ronnie05.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/indian-telecom-story-a-billion-mobile-users/

Such SMS based software would be a new tool to fight poverty and to one extend a tool to minimize the digital divide.

What is a smartphone? For a pan-industry new definition

I see you already smiling at my silly question: What is a smartphone? Everybody knows it! It is a phone with advanced capabilities like browsing the internet or push email etc
 But where would you categorize the INQ mobiles with their social networking features? Is a Nokia N96 a smartphone?

The answer depends to who you are talking to.

A commonly accepted definition was that a smartphone is a device running an Open OS. And the definition of an Open OS is an OS which can run on different platform and is independent from a manufacturer like Windows Mobile or Symbian. So if you consider this definition strictly, an iPhone is not a smartphone and BlackBerry neither. A bit tricky isn’t it?

GfK, the sell-out survey company has a very restrictive definition of smartphones. A smartphone is a device which has a touch screen or full QWERTY keyboard for input and an advanced OS.

If you apply the GfK definition you miss nearly half of the market as you are excluding all the 12-key Symbian devices from Nokia. So this is a market of around 12M devices for Western Europe.

A better definition should be a smartphone is a device running an OS which provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) and an Application Store. Then you find in smartphones category devices running Windows Mobile, Symbian, or Android or manufactured by RIM, Apple or Palm for the new Pre. Then you get the full market of ‘intelligent’ device which is around 20M devices in Western Europe and growing steadily. And INQ mobile devices will still be in the feature mobile segment even though they are offering advanced social networking features.

It is high time to share such a definition across the industry, just to avoid spending hours in explaining how you count smartphones and find out where the discrepancies with your colleagues are coming from.

Chrome OS : reasons to hope, reasons to fear

Google just announced that they will release next year Chrome OS, an Operating System dedicated to access the Internet and all the services available on the network. This OS will be based on a Linux kernel and of course on Chrome web browser. It will run on x86 and ARM architectures. There are reasons to rejoice and reasons to be frighten.

Reasons to hope

  1. This OS may create the momentum around Linux that has always missed. The consumer awareness of Linux is very low and Linux is perceived as complex, i.e. an OS for geeks. People will realize with Chrome OS that Linux is mature and supports nearly any hardware without hassle.

  2. Chrome OS seems to be the proper OS which was missing for the ‘smartbook’ segment. The smartbook segment, netbooks based on an ARM processor, was missing a laptop OS: Android was too much smartphone oriented and Microsoft doesn’t want to port any Windows on ARM.

  3. Manufacturers will now consider Linux as a standard platform and drivers will flourish shortening the time between hardware release and Linux drivers availability

Reasons to fear

  1. End user will be bound to the Google experience, backing-up data on Google servers opening even more its personal data to the advertisement giant

  2. Microsoft business model is quite simple, the software has a price tag. The data is your property. In the case of Google, the value is in the analysis of your personal data for advertisers. Hence one can expect to get pinpointed by ads anytime and anywhere.

  3. Google is raiding Open Source softwares to build up its OS. Google needs in return to contribute to the community with some improvements.

And what if your next computer offers you the choice of the OS when booting up?

Telco 2.0

Windows Mobile 7: A Microsoft device dedicated OS?

According to some persistent rumours, Microsoft is offering to selected manufacturers a Microsoft branded smartphone, code name PINK, featuring Windows Mobile 7 for a launch mid 2010. Windows Mobile device manufacturers won’t get access to WM7 and will still continue to offer WM6.5 devices. So customers would have the choice in shops between a, let’s say, Samsung WM6.5 and a brand new Microsoft WM7 device. Weird isn’t it?

One can really wonder about the intend of Microsoft. The rationale behind this is to be found in the extraordinary success of the Palm pre and (again) the iPhone. Both offer an outstanding user experience, no other Open OS devices have achieve so far.

One of the reason may be simple: to offer the best user experience, one needs to have control over the hardware and the software. If the two are managed by 2 different entities you end up with some wobbly experience if not a few regular crashes.

One can expect, that Microsoft will open WM7 to other manufacturers after a few month exclusivity for its own device. If it is the case, Microsoft will surely create an amazing device with a great experience but may jeopardize its relationship with tier 1 manufacturers and push them in the arms of Android…

Microsoft Pink

Apple

Palm

Maemo

Google just announced that they will release next year Chrome OS, an Operating System dedicated to access the Internet and all the services available on the network. This OS will be based on a Linux kernel and of course on Chrome web browser. It will run on x86 and ARM architectures. There are reasons to rejoice and reasons to be frighten.

3 Reasons to hope

  1. This OS may create the momentum around Linux that has always missed. The consumer awareness of Linux is very low and Linux is perceived as complex, i.e. an OS for geeks. People will realize with Chrome OS that Linux is mature and supports nearly any hardware without hassle.

  2. Chrome OS seems to be the proper OS which was missing for the ‘smartbook’ segment. The smartbook segment, netbooks based on an ARM processor, was missing a laptop OS: Android was too much smartphone oriented and Microsoft doesn’t want to port any Windows on ARM. >> see previous post

  3. Manufacturers will now consider Linux as a standard platform and drivers will flourish shortening the time between hardware release and Linux drivers availability

3 Reasons to fear

  1. End user will be bound to the Google experience, backing-up data on Google servers opening even more its personal data to the advertisement giant

  2. Microsoft business model is quite simple, the software has a price tag. The data is your property. In the case of Google, the value is in the analysis of your personal data for advertisers. Hence one can expect to get pinpointed by ads anytime and anywhere.

  3. Google is raiding Open Source softwares to build up its OS. Google needs in return to contribute to the community with some improvements.

And what if your next computer offers you the choice of the OS when booting up? I’m pretty sure Microsoft Windows 7 contract with OEM won’t permit it.

Now, let’s wait more leaks from Google to get the details and make up our minds. Anyway it won’t be a blitz krieg, the new battle for the connected netbook will be long.

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2 thoughts on “The Garmin NeverPhone hits the shelves

  1. Pingback: Donate mobile phone » DONATE-PHONES -

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