Apple and Broadband and General and Policychris on 30 Nov 2008 10:30 am

I recently wrote about the Broadband Opportunity in America and one of my major points was urging policymakers to take a new approach in tackling the Broadband challenge.  Specifically, focusing on the demand side of the problem.

Over the years, in telecom policy discussions, we have always discussed how wireless could be a major factor in enabling folks to reach the web.  When I was at AT&T Wireless, I was proud of our relationship with NTT DoCoMo and had faith that we could replicate much of their success in 3G.  It has taken a few years but the industry has arrived.  Wireless can now offer a reliable link to the internet with devices that consumers demand.

A recent article in PC World highlighted research that showed low-income users were the fastest growing segment of new iPhone users.  The study found that users with income levels of $25,000-$50,000 represented the largest demographic of consumers for the month of August. Continue Reading »

Apple and General and mobile diner videochris on 12 Jun 2008 04:14 pm

Mashable reports that help is on the way for iPhone users… These are big developments in mobile broadcasting and I look forward to watching the mobile media revolution come to life!

On a Mashable note, here’s a Qik video of me interviewing Adam Ostrow (Editor in Chief) who covered the stories above. Adam was in town for a politics and tech conference in DC.

Apple and CTIA and General and Googlechris on 11 Feb 2008 09:39 am

The Mobile World Congress kicks off today in Barcelona and is the place to be in wireless this week. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here in the diner but I know many from our community are at the show and I look forward to hearing their perspectives from Spain.

On that note, Google is showing off the Android platform at the event. I am very jealous and hope there will be some demos at CTIA’s show in Vegas.

As I have mentioned, Google has changed the wireless industry. Whether or not they are successful in the 700 MHz is irrelevant. Google, in many ways (along with Apple), has propelled the whole industry forward – and consumers’ dreams about wireless too.

The next revolution is wireless and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be involved with the industry…

Apple and General and Policy and Verizon Wirelesschris on 23 Jan 2008 07:39 am


Walter Mossberg talking about his iPhone and the Soviet Ministries (in his opinion, the wireless carriers).

As many diners know, I attended a panel discussion on whether the wireless industry needs more regulation in order to spur industry innovation. The panel discussion was sponsored by New America and featured many speakers offering various perspectives on the topic. I was interested to hear Walter Mossberg’s (Wall Street Journal) comments since he wrote – “free my phone” and considering the industry’s move towards openness… Overall, not a great deal of new ground covered.

Mossberg continued to hammer the wireless industry on everything from control to carrier service quality. He stated that “the FCC has spent too much time on HDTV and less time on broadband.” Mossberg is interested in watching the carriers implement the open model into their existing business. Specifically, he’ll be watching (1) certification requirements and (2) pricing on these open networks. The concern is that the certification could be long and the pricing could be a deterrent from adopting the open access network plan. Continue Reading »

Apple and Generalchris on 18 Jan 2008 11:25 am


picture – via blackberry while waiting in a monster line at Apple Store (Tysons Corner, VA)

Enjoy this column from Business Week a few years ago.

Key quote is from a President of a marketing research firm – “I give them two years before they are turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.”

Apple and Cingular and Generalchris on 02 Jul 2007 02:04 pm

The buzz building up to the iPhone launch was unprecedented in the wireless industry.  It reached a climax on Friday night when the product was rolled out.  Besides the touch screen and revolutionary style – the iPhone will change the industry forever.  On that note, I wanted to wait a few days to make some comments because the impact will be incremental but significant.  I believe the benefits for the wireless carriers downstream will outweigh the costs.  However, change is hard and it will take time for some executives to see the opportunity.  The length of the exclusive deal (2 years) with AT&T is about all the time they have. Continue Reading »

Apple and Cingular and General and Verizon Wirelesschris on 21 Apr 2007 10:30 am

Advertising Age reports that Marc Lefar, Cingular’s Chief Marketing Officer, has resigned.

Lefar successfully led the marketing efforts on integrating AT&T Wireless (into Cingular) and has kept the carriers’ perception in the same league as Verizon Wireless.

In any event, I have a few marketing thoughts for AT&T -

(1) Don’t fix it when it’s not broken -

The Cingular brand is powerful and the under-25 demographic has developed an attachment to it. The AT&T brand connects with a demographic that is not going to do much more than use voice and (maybe) text. Data ARPU growth and usage is critical for future wireless success. Developing loyalty with the under-25 demographic will be key to selling more services.

(2) Law of the Ladder –

One of the best marketing books is the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. One of the laws is this one. Basically, consumers see products as rungs on a ladder. Verizon Wireless has a solid network perception in the industry (a top rung). Cingular is a rung below but has made great progress over the years. What was AT&T Wireless’ network perception before it was bought — not good. I think that by going back to AT&T – “Mobility” or “Wireless” takes the brand back in time.

(3) Keep the Orange –

It is clear that the Cingular brand will be shelved. However, AT&T should incorporate some orange on its wireless venture. It has value!

With the iPhone set for release in June, Cingular has generated some incredible buzz for this product. Now is not the time to confuse consumers and junk a successful brand.

Apple and Cingular and General and Verizon Wirelesschris on 11 Apr 2007 08:52 pm

My cellphone became ill in January. I remember the occasion quite well. I was in Baltimore and the Ravens just got beat by the Colts in the playoffs. It was a somber occasion because it marked the second time in my life that the Colts broke my heart (but that is a different story). As I turned my phone on in the cab and my Samsung SCH-a950 started to come to life, a football-shaped black spot appeared on the screen. I didn’t know if my colleague (who is a Colts fan) had somehow sabotaged it or what had happened. Unfortunately, the black spot would not go away and it has appeared sporadically over the last three months (this has made text messages impossible to read). After a valiant three month fight, my phone succomed to this infection (or Colts curse) last week and died. Accordingly, I have been without a phone for almost a week…

Not having a cellphone is very uncool. With regard to work, I often like to show the latest technology to policymakers and staff. I think it is important to demonstrate the innovation that is occuring everyday in wireless – turning on an old brick phone is not an option. On a social level, these gadgets define us and not having a cellphone or explaining that my cellphone recently died is unacceptable. It also annoys your friends who are trying to contact you and being unreachable is unacceptable as well.

I’ll eventually get to the store and buy myself a new gadget. Verizon Wireless’ (they are a client) current inventory is not all that great but I do like the Samsung 990 phone and the quality of the network. It has a 3.2 megapixel camera and shoots video as well…. If my phone could only have just made it to June (AT&T is also a client)….

Apple and General and Sony and VON 2007chris on 04 Apr 2007 04:09 pm

As many of you know, we want to add video to the menu at the mobile diner. We are hoping to have future conversations with tech gurus, policymakers and consumers. One of the many reasons for attending VON was to soak up the expertise of those who are creating great content on the web. On that note, we shot our first interview in HD and it looks great (on the camera). However, uploading and editing the film has been the most frustrating experience known to mankind.

The Sony HDR-SR1 is an amazing camcorder. Most of the functionality on the camera is easy to use. For instance, I like the ease of switiching to video or camera (and it takes great pictures). The problems with this product deal with editing / lack of editing software for the AVCHD format that Sony and Panasonic pioneered.

Problem (1) – If you have a MAC, you are basically out of luck. The AVCHD is not compatible with Apple products (Final Cut Pro, iMovie). Supposedly, you can work around the incompatibility by recording in SD (we have not tried this yet) but that defeats the purpose. I called Sony’s technical support this afternoon and there was no intel about working with Apple or information when software would be available.

Problem (2) – The software that Sony provides is weak. Once you upload the video on the PC, you are highly limited in terms of editing your film (basic video clipping).

Ultimately, I am hopeful that AVCHD editing software will be available soon. Otherwise, Sony should disclose on the box that this camera is not a wise choice for those that want to make or edit films. On a related note, here’s some reviews from Alx Klive and Final Cut producer that provide more technical commentary and suggestions.

Any thoughts?

Update – Unfortunately, no announcement at NAB about a program to edit AVCHD on Apple.  Thus, we bought a Canon HV20 and our Sony has been shelved.

Apple and Generalchris on 07 Feb 2007 06:03 pm

NY State Senator Carl Kruger seeks to free us from our “IPod oblivion.”  The Senator plans to offer legislation that would make it illegal (fine would be $100 or your shuffle) to cross the street while listening to an IPod. 

Enjoy this masterpiece here.

Apple and Cingular and General and SprintNextel and Verizon Wirelesschris on 06 Feb 2007 01:12 pm

I want an IPhone.  I want one bad.  I know a bunch of other people that want IPhones.  In fact, I usually get asked about Apple’s entry into wireless daily.  Accordingly, I really think other manufacturers are doing themselves a disservice by discounting the IPhone (article here).  I think it is just Apple Envy!

The article has comments from a few analysts and other handset manufacturers.  Basically, they say that the “market is saturated” or “everybody has a cell phone already.”  These analysts and manufacturers are missing it.  Here’s a few things I think they are missing –

(1)  People love their cell phones but they are not attached to them or necessarily their provider.  Look at the success of the Motorola Razr.  Folks saw a device they wanted and dumped their phone.  It was the hottest phone in the market last year.  Today, Sprint can’t give them away.  

(2)  “It doesn’t have disruptive features.”  Did the Razr have disruptive features?  Sexy handsets sell!  Not to mention most consumers still are only starting to utilize the other functionality (wireless broadband) in the phone.  Hopefully, the user-friendly nature of the IPhone will grow the use of other applications.

(3)  “It’s not as easy as buying an IPod.”  What so hard about buying a phone?  I think Cingular absolutely will reap benefits (in terms of adding subs and growing data ARPU) from the partnership from Apple.  I think Verizon Wireless will be fine because they have had tremendous success marketing the strength of their network.  Service quality is still marketable and Verizon owns this niche.

My only complaint about the IPhone is I have to wait until June!

Apple and General and SprintNextelchris on 14 Jan 2007 04:49 pm

Kudos to Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post who found some interesting technologies at this year’s Consumer Electronic Show (article here). However, the real problem with the show was it was outshined by the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Rocketboom (last Thursday’s episode) did a great job demonstrating the difference between the shows — watch it here.

Most of the tech coverage and blogosphere focus last week was the hype leading up to Macworld (whether or not there would be an iPhone launch etc.) and about the phone after the Tuesday morning keynote. The news then dominated the mainstream media all week.

I think Apple has served notice to other shows in the same regard. Big is not always better and the same keynote speakers – every other year – are not going to generate buzz. For instance, Bill Gates has been talking about owning the home experience for years. Boring…. Continue Reading »

Apple and GeneralAshley on 10 Jan 2007 11:42 am

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article delineating 12 steps to help Crackberry addicts wean themselves from the need to check their email compulsively.  Some are helpful, if not a bit scary, such as number 3, which recommends that people, “Commit to stop emailing while driving (even at red lights), walking across the street or doing anything that requires careful attention.”  

Then there is number 11, which suggests that, in an attempt to separate your mind from work in the evening, you should “pour a cocktail.”   Is the Crackberry problem really so damaging to our minds and personal relationships that habitual drinking should be viewed as a positive alternative?  If so, Blackberry users and the companies who employ them may be in need of some serious introspection. Continue Reading »

Apple and Cingular and Generalchris on 09 Jan 2007 05:26 pm

Collaboration in this new world of communications will be pivotal to attracting and retaining consumers.  Cingular’s two-year exclusive deal with Apple to offer the iPhone is something special and could help them stay on top (article here).  I also like how Apple partnered with Google and Yahoo on this product.  Specifically, Google (search and maps) and Yahoo (search and IMAP email) services incorporated in the functionality of the phone.

Engadget has some great coverage of the Apple announcement today.  They covered the Jobs keynote all day. 

Check it out…  Let us know what you think?


Apple and Cingular and General and SprintNextel and Verizon Wirelesschris on 08 Jan 2007 06:20 pm

As President Bush prepares to give his State of the Union speech in two weeks, I thought it would be interesting to look at the health of the wireless industry.  On that note, the State of the Wireless Union is strong!

Analysts primarily look at subscriber additions, average revenue per user (ARPU) and penetration rate.  All of these factors are solid.  The industry has over 229 million users, ARPU is stabilizing and data addiction in the United States continues to grow.  As mentioned in this article in the New York Times today, data revenues for Verizon Wireless, Cingular and Sprint each crossed $1 billion a quarter for the first time.  This growth will continue as more people utilize their mobile device to connect to the Internet and 3G is deployed across the country.  With regard to penetration rates, we are over 70 percent in the United States.  This statistic should not cause concern because the value of the customer is increasing and many individuals have multiple devices (for example, many folks carry a phone and a blackberry).  The future for the wireless industry is bright. 

On the horizon, are new players (for instance, Apple) that want to enter this market.  With the emergence of the Internet, the broadband connection is becoming available in the device (WiFi, WiMax or 3G) not necessarily the traditional network operator.  Consumers today value mobility and they have an unprecedented array of choices in how they communicate.  Industry executives that embrace this era of mobility and broadband networks will capture the hearts of consumers and be rewarded in the long run.

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