#mobile

Ryan Knutson and Shalini Ramachandran on the “WifiForward” coalition:

Last year, mobile users in North America consumed an average of about 1.4 gigabytes of data a month, and that number is expected to grow to 9 gigabytes a month by 2018, according to Cisco Systems Inc.

Even more growth is expected over Wi-Fi. About 57% of all mobile data traffic in North America is currently carried by Wi-Fi, and by 2018 that figure is expected to increase to 64%, according to Cisco. All that data congests Wi-Fi networks, too, one of the reasons why WifiForward wants to free up more spectrum.

Did not realize the Wi-Fi numbers were so high — and rising.

A New Glue For A New Kingdom

To me, the most exciting part of the Facebook/WhatsApp deal has nothing to do with the deal itself. Instead, I’m excited about the ramifications of such a deal. And I’m not talking about Facebook or WhatsApp here either. History will ultimately prove that deal genius or folly. But more importantly, I know that a deal like this has other people talking, thinking, and building.

The last group is key, but let me start with the first group. Once the fervor around the deal itself died down, we got a couple of compelling posts from the likes of Benedict Evans and riffing on it, John Lilly. Incidentally, both are now VCs. But neither started out that way, and both have long histories of solid thinking and writing.

Both understand that the Facebook/WhatsApp deal is simply the strongest signal yet that we’ve fully entered a new age in the world of computing where mobile is now the kingdom. And the $19 billion price tag simply shows that there isn’t yet a king.

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The Age Of The Social Network Is Ending

For his story about Secret, a Google Ventures porfolio company that launched today, Mike Isaac asked me the following question:

Just basically curious as to why you’re interested in Secret — why this after we have so many “social” apps — how different, etc.

This seems to be a common question both amongst journalists and investors. And it’s certainly a fair one. If there is indeed an “App Wall”, many of us hit it long ago. But it seems to me that things are shifting once again.

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Serkan Toto relaying information from The Nikkei, claiming Nintendo is going to make the following announcements on Thursday:

But Nintendo will not simply put Mario, Pokemon or other games on smartphones. According to the report, Nintendo plans to use Android and/or iOS devices (not confirmed at this point) to market its console games.

To be more concrete, The Nikkei writes that Nintendo wants to use smartphones to expand its potential user base by spreading information about new game releases, i.e. by using video to introduce future titles. (This will probably happen through some kind of official Nintendo app.)

In addition, Nintendo is said to be planning to put so-called “mini games” on smartphones, playable demos of console games – content that can only be purchased in full on Nintendo hardware. The reasoning here is to give smartphone-only players a taste of the experience without making the actual game available on non-Nintendo devices and convert these users into Nintendo customers.

If this is accurate, it will go absolutely nowhere. And it’s actually even more concerning that Nintendo would consider this a “solution”. But it is in line with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata’s previous comments.

I’m not saying Nintendo needs to port all the games to mobile immediately, but there are certainly better ideas out there. This sounds like a lame marketing ploy, nothing more.

[via @viticci]

Om Malik on the recent movement away from Facebook’s centralized way of doing things:

You can see this cycle through the entire history of the commercial Internet. The original web was so sparse (but also so slow to navigate) that Yahoo was started as a guide of worthwhile sites because it wasn’t easy to flit among web pages. Yahoo’s directory proved popular, and sensing opportunity, the company added all sorts of new features: search, chat, email, stock tickers, sports, news, personals, e-commerce, and photos. By the late 1990s, Yahoo had become the grand aggregator, its pages as cluttered as a Canal Street stall. This created an opening for Google, with its bare-bones home page that held only a search box and company logo. With the rise of broadband, which made it easy to jump around, the web became disaggregated and brought with it focused, functional tools such as Skype and YouTube.

Fast-forward to today and replace ­Yahoo with Facebook. Facebook showed us the value of aggregating all of those small chunks of information, including photos and status updates, that we wanted to consume on the now dynamic and interactive web. That single string of updates, known as News Feed, was a brilliant product that powered the company’s rise from 2006 to 2011. Then along came Instagram and its peers, born for a generation that doesn’t know how to live without an always-on connection. They facilitate new online behaviors that have been invented for a world of touch and mobile. These apps were designed to be great at just one or two things. The tech world had swung back to being simple, lightweight, and fast—at precisely the same time that Facebook feeds were becoming so bloated and complicated.

Yep, it’s cyclical. And this is also why Facebook is now working to unbundle its own services, to distance itself from the cluttered mess it has become — before it’s too late.

Yes, Another Email Rant

I bitch about email. A lot. Very loudly. And very publicly. As a result, I get a lot of people who reach out 1 with some tips on how they best contain the beast. 2

One of the tips that seems to come up most often is managing it as you go, on your mobile device. I of course already do this with Mailbox, but that’s really more about triage and less about taking care of business in real time. What these people usually mean is actually responding to emails as they come in, rather than organizing them to respond to later.

Admittedly, I’m awful at this. But that’s sort of by design.

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Jean-Louis Gassée on the topic of the AT&T CEO bitching about carrier subsidies:

I don’t know if Stephenson is speaking out of cultural deafness or cynicism, but he’s obscuring the point: There is no subsidy. Carriers extend a loan that users pay back as part of the monthly service payment. Like any loan shark, the carrier likes its subscriber to stay indefinitely in debt, to always come back for more, for a new phone and its ever-revolving payments stream.

I was told as much by Verizon. In preparation for this Monday Note, I went to the Palo Alto Verizon store and asked if I could negotiate a lower monthly payment since Verizon doesn’t subsidize my iPhone (for which I had paid full price). Brian, the pit boss, gave me a definite, if not terribly friendly, answer: “No, you should have bought it from us, you would have paid much less (about $400 less) with a 2-year agreement.” My mistake. Verizon wants to be my loan shark.

 Ben Thompson:

Make no mistake – AT&T would rather not give this discount (and that is what makes Stephenson’s remarks duplicitous); until now, smartphone customers spent some number of months paying off their phones with higher bills, and then, once the phone was paid for, postpaid subscribers effectively gave AT&T cash equivalent to their phone’s monthly payoff amount because they didn’t know any better. People who kept phones longer than two years, for example, presuming that ~$20 of every month’s bill was intended for phone payoff, effectively gave AT&T et al. $240 of pure profit in that third year. T-Mobile exposed that, and AT&T is giving some of that money back.

Right, once again we have AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson talking out of his ass. It’s not that the carrier can no longer afford the subsidies on smartphones — these costs are baked into your bill, hence the two-year contract — it’s that the smartphone market is almost saturated (in the U.S.) and others are making it difficult for AT&T to make as much money as they once did while still subsidizing phones.

What jackassery.

I popped into a Three store on a recent trip to the UK. Within minutes, I had a SIM card in my phone with an unlimited data on it for the month. It cost me some ridiculously small amount of money. 

I wish the U.S. had a carrier like this. T-Mobile is trying, but only because they’re in a distant fourth place in a four team race. Otherwise, I’m certain they’d be just as awful as Verizon and AT&T.