MWC: Same old song

Service providers are still seeking hard cash at the Fira, but no one’s got the hard answers…

Feature phones

  • Although smartphones were still the focus of many discussions, feature phones stole some of the spotlight as a key alternative to drive data usage in emerging markets. In particular, Qualcomm highlighted the importance of enhancing user experience by bringing applications to this device segment through its Brew platform. While a low-end 3G Android smartphone could be sold currently at U$80 (wholesale price) and the adoption of ARM’s Cortex A5 should allow smartphone costs to fall to around US$50, they’ll still have some way to fall to catch up with the cost of 3G feature phones that are already reaching price points of below $30.
  • Nokia highlighted the need for great devices to bring the next billion online. The Finnish manufacturer has committed to the development of feature phones on its platform S40 that will bring its maps, applications and other services to today’s “unconnected”.

Mobile Applications – The same challenge but different approach

  • Telefonica has announced a “success fee” business model that offers revenue share to developers based on the volume of SMS traffic each application is able to generate by leveraging the operator’s SMS API. This transformational model and the potential to drive incremental wholesale revenue via usage of its core services, added particular resonance to this announcement. We’ll await an update of this promising new strategy with much anticipation.


  • Telstra shared its plan to launch LTE on 1800MHz spectrum. Although many other markets, especially in Europe, are seriously considering this frequency, the Australian incumbent has some concerns over fragmentation of the band allocations within its home market. Doffing its hat to the het-net trend that’s dominated the show, Telstra will continue to push HSPA+ aggressively.
  • LightSquared shed further light on its unique LTE wholesale-only value proposition in the USA. When questioned about the USPs of its hybrid cellular/satellite network it cited blanket indoor and outdoor coverage, single digit cost per gigabyte and total openness. Interestingly, LightSquared revealed Qualcomm-funded development of the unique chipset that will be required to support its unusual mix of technologies and bands. Its key challenge will be finding partners to build scale, drive prices down and open up a broad addressable market. As we know, LightSquared is shelling out $7 billion over 8 years to NSN to deploy and manage all radio and core network operations.

In other news, it appears that this year’s must-have booth freebie is a quirky Android shaped pin badge. Uncharitable observers could see the 86 different collectable types as further evidence of fragmentation.

Some quotes from Softbank’s charismatic CEO Masayoshi Son
“I’m a crazy guy who makes crazy bets,”
“Human to machine, machine to machine – [The evolution of the mobile internet] it is not depressing reality, it is exciting reality”.

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