Product Management :: Product Marketing

23 November, 2007

Google mobile objectives: Open Handset Alliance / Android

Google make a huge foray into the mobile arena, by providing a phone operating system for free 'Android'. It has launched Open Handset Alliance as the vehicle to facilitate its penetration into the mobile market.

See Sergry Brin introduce it:

Four handset manufacturers are on board: Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG. Operators?? Sprint, Nextel, T-Mobile, China Mobile, Telefonica and Telecom Italia will sport the Google-powered phones - the first of them will be available late 2008.

This announcement is more than a poke in the eye with significant mobile OS providers such as Microsoft, Research in Motion, Palm and Symbian.

Clearly, everyone is feeling everyone else out with this new offering - 'of course, I'll participate, but I'm not going to jettison any of my existing partnerships that I have nurtured for years'.

I think this strategy is too early for Google - mobile internet isn't what 99% of users require out of a phone at the moment. Another desktop player, MS, took years to gain traction in the mobile sector. Admittedly, this strategy isn't home grown, it came from the acquisition of Android in 2005 - so it will have a better chance than MS, but still...

Google's behemoth is advertising - the mobile industry is a lot more sophisticated and VERY different to the internet. 'Free' isn't word that is trips off the tongue of mobile executives.

I reserve judgment. As I've said before, when people with lots of ammunition are wandering around the battlefield, be careful, they don't have to know too much about what they are doing to be very dangerous.

UPDATE: Here's a biting critique of Google's announcement from a report from Analysys:
As a strategy to bring fundamental change to the mobile industry, Android is way off target.
In reality, a free OS will not be sufficient incentive for major players to write off investments in established software platforms and adopt a platform that offers nothing new from a development perspective.
Manufacturers have a financial liability for their devices, and cannot contemplate the prospect of an open-source OS that could release a virus or trojan into the market. The required investment in OS security and stability would be high, as it has been for Android’s predecessors.
They (members of the Open Handset Alliance) can exploit the publicity if the initiative is successful, and minimise their exposure (as one of several players participating in numerous initiatives) if it fails. In cash terms, partners will invest little in R&D to support this programme.
Ultimately, Google’s primary strategic and revenue objective is to encourage the use of its search engine. If, by backing an OS alliance, Google can expand the scope of its search box placement by cementing relationships with established partners and developing deals with new partners, arguably Android will have done its job.
No surprise that I agree with this viewpoint!

Google opensocial aims to become the social platform glue

At the start of this month, Google released standard set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for building social applications that will work across social networking and other Web sites. So as a developer, write once, integrate with many.

Here are some of the companies that have signed up:, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo,, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, and XING. (Most of these are consumer sites, but some are business sites.)

This could be seen as a face-off between Facebook's platform (representing 50 million active users) vs OpenSocial (which leverages users of existing silioed services which together represent 100 million users). However Google is stressing this is an developer platform (rather than commercial one).

Hello? Identity management standard in another guise??

Nice point from this Gartner analyst in this article:
What's missing, said Valdes, is any common user experience, which he believes is one of the reasons that Facebook has prospered.
Also Facebook represents a trusted brand - with privacy standards & trust, as well as a similar consumer experience. A set of APIs alone doesn't represent that.

10 November, 2007

Pipex reveals UK WiMax plans

Pipex, using the brand Freedom4, announces launch of its WiMax service in the UK, targeted for the end of the year.

Let's be clear here: at this point, you get a receiver the size of a side plate with a toilet roll on top. It allows you to receive a wireless signal (4Mb/s) 500m to 2km (indoors) from the base station; 10km away if you're outdoors. Once you have the signal, you have to pipe it into your PC or Mac or whatever (eg cables or wireless). This Silicon article reports that a USB plug into the back of your PC is coming too - such things do exist. (I'd love the ability to set up my own base station, please?)

Two areas served to date: Warwick, Milton Keynes and Warwick; parts of Manchester coming soon - here's the coverage map.

Clearly, this is complementary to Wi-fi, rather than competitive. Their marketing is aimed at remote access for SMEs:
  • those out-of-towners
  • too far from the exchange to get broadband
  • don't want a phone line.
"Pricing competitive with equivalent fixed line access services." If you've ever had to priced satellite internet access, then this looks like a good deal. But is the market big enough to support this size of initiative??

Google proposes global privacy standard

While Google is leading a charge to create a global privacy standard for how companies protect consumer data.

USA Today story adds some historical colour to the story, by highlighting the fact that Google is struggling with privacy concerns that threatens its purchase Internet ad service DoubleClick for $3.1 billion:
Facing pressure from European regulators, Google got the privacy ball rolling in a new direction earlier this year when it announced plans to regularly remove key pieces of personal information about the search requests stored in its computers.

It then narrowed its time frame for depersonalizing search requests from as long as two years to 18 months — a standard that Microsoft, which runs the third-most-popular search engine, also has adopted.

Yahoo, which operates the second-most-popular search engine, has gone further by promising to scrub personal information within 13 months — a standard Time Warner's AOL also follows.

InterActiveCorp's is going even further by offering its users a tool that will prevent search terms and the Internet addresses of computers from being retained.

Previously, all the search engines had been vague about how long they hold on to the personal information logged from search requests.

TerraNet - peer to peer mobile comms

Swedish company TerraNet has developed the concept of mobile communications with mesh networking concept.

From this BBC report:
The TerraNet technology works using handsets adapted to work as peers that can route data or calls for other phones in the network.

The handsets also serve as nodes between other handsets, extending the reach of the entire system. Each handset has an effective range of about one kilometre.

This collaborative routing of calls means there is no cost to talk between handsets.

When a TerraNet phone is switched on, it begins to look for other phones within range. If it finds them, it starts to connect and extend the radio network.
Note that Ericsson has NOT invested in the company, as the BBC reports, but is funded by private investors - see clarification from TerraNet. However backing from a handset manufacturer would make sense, as it would allow them to bypass mobile operators and increase the value in the handset, not in the network