An Android phone or a Samsung ?

Samsung has a problem : it depends too much on Android

Google has a problem : it depends too much on Samsung

Android accounts now 70% of smartphone sales and Samsung devices accounts 70% of Android. Google is trying to push other manufacturers not to say it is pushing hard its device device arm Motorola.  On the other side, Samsung is not betting on Windows Phone and has dropped its proprietary Bada platform. So what’s cooking? Samsung will apparently launch a few Tizen phones on the marke thi year.

And what is Tizen? Don”t be mistaken, Tizen is not a Samsung proprietary OS like Bada. Tizen is the merge of Intel efforts (previoulsy Meego) and Operators works (LiMo) in a fully open source initiative. Unlike Android, there won’t be one company in the driving seat but Operators (Vodafone, NTT, Orange,…) and Manufacturers (Intel, Samsung, ZTE, …).

> Tizen association website

We can imagine Samsung will customize its Tizen devices with the same Touchwiz UI it is using on Android. Hence consumers will hardly notice the difference.

Tizen screenshots

Tizen screenshots

Samsung with operator backing sounds very promising. Google seems to have now a bigger problem. Now the question will be on the application side. Will Tizen have enough applications to compete with the other platforms?

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Consolidation times for Mobile Operators

Over the past 15 years mobile operators have mushroomed all over the globe. Any country has at least 4 mobile operators competing with each other.

With a penetration rate of merely 100% in many countries revenue growth is decreasing and reaching a plateau. On the other hand CAPEX are on the rise to invest in more capacity for the data floods and new network technologies like LTE.

Here are a few recent examples :

The only way for the industry is consolidation, to get more users to amortize the investments. That’s the reason why big operators are looking with greedy eyes on small MVNOs and MNOs. But this consolidation wave is a strong trend that will last.

Depressed mobile operator employees

Some of my friends are working at mobile operators, and they all seem depressed. Some of them are still arrogant but depressed 😉

mno employees2

After years of tremendous growth, Mobile operators are at a cross-road. They are under pressure from every side:

  • from regulators on their tariffs,
  • from the states that want to maximize the sale of the new LTE licenses
  • from handset manufacturers / platform vendors on applications and services,
  • from the competition as growth has stalled,

The only adjustment parameter seems to be the headcount. Actually mobile operators have key assets:

  • their customer base
  • their billing
  • the know how to secure a service access

Mobile operators need to accept they cannot compete in the consumer application space because they are too big and too slow. With their assets they can play a key role in our digital life in securing access to our medical records, bank accounts. NFC and M-Health projects are showing the way but many other ideas have to be investigated: checking our ID on-line, etc. The SIM card is the only strong authentication system which every one of us is carrying in his pocket any time.

So mobile operator guys, stop taking pills, a world of opportunities is ahead!

Operators’ pillars: pipe & invoice

Mobile Platform providers have understood the key role operator have still to play in the application business. They are approaching operators to be able to use opetrators’ billing for their application store.

Microsoft started with Windows Mobile 6.5 and now Google is doing the same with Sprint in the US and will expand it to other regions in the coming months.

sprint billing android market

sprint billing on android market

Operators’ key asset beyond the pipe is their billing system. Unfortunately these billing system are most of the time obsolete and bulky, build on Cobol / Mainframe infrastructure.

Operators have here a unique opportunity to have their cut on the application business and get back at the centre of the game. Now it’s a question of IT agility. Usually not their most developed skill.

Apple pushing its integrated model one step forward with SIM Cards?

Apple and Gemalto are said to be working on a SIM card that will enable Apple to sell its subscription bypassing operators.This SIM card will be able to connect to any network in any country. The SIM card will reconfigure itself according to the local settings.

Apple would buy at a wholesale price data and communications and resell it to its customers. The role of the operators would be to provide a network to Apple. Operators won’t have any longer a direct relationship with the customers.

The losers will be the operators and … Gemalto. You can imagine that operators will make Gemalto pay a high price for this treachery.If you have any Gemalto stocks, sell quickly!

Apple will find always an operator to sell them connectivity in every market. What is sure, is that operators will put a lot of money on the table to promote their own Open OS or at least less threatening Open OS lilke Symbian, Android or Windows Phone…