Thursday, August 31, 2006

Americans and the internet over time

Those hardworking people at the Pew Internet Project have very kindly produced a spreadsheet containing some of the data they've collected about internet usage habits in the US over time. Download it here.

Blogospheric re-entry

Well, mega-uber value readers, I'm back for real now, and hunkered down for a busy autumn, during which I promise to endeavor to post more frequently and interestingly to both this bloglet and the somewhat neglected Chaotica. As I warned before I went away, I knew something major would happen while I was unwired, and indeed there was no shortage of interesting news, most of it predictably coming from outside EuroTelcoLand:

Google/eBay: I don't know how surprising this deal really was, given the click-to-call obsession of the past year and the efforts Google has been making towards achieving universal interoperability with other IM clients. I have for some time been of the suspicion that Skype would be forced at some point to pursue such an arrangement, though the official line has been that interoperability would be driven by user demand, which was reportedly not strong. Then again, what we have here is an agreement to "explore interoperability between Skype and Google Talk via open standards to enable text chat and online presence." Not the whole hog, but a step in an interesting direction. Andy makes an interesting observation about Skype becoming an alternative, communications-centric browser, which I thinks jibes well with some comments made by Niklas Zennstrom at VON Stockholm, to the effect that Skype has value as a conduit/enabler for other applications. This is going to run and run.

I reckon more than one telco music download product team hastily updated their CVs upon the revelation of Universal Music's deal with SpiralFrog. I am skeptical that the formula will work (DRM was made to be cracked, and there is no shortage of WMA conversion software available), but then again if we see another major label jumping on board maybe it will grow teeth. I could go on and on about the fascinating developments around YouTube, Goople, etc., but the point is that telco newsflow continues to be pretty turgid by comparison:
  • While the global VoIM players engage in an ever-changing alliance exercise resembling a game of Twister, on the ropes, in the corner swinging wildly, BT counters with a me-too VoIM client notably not co-branded with Yahoo! (the fine print alone is enough to make the Skype or Gizmo user titter with contempt).
  • If you can imagine what the word "Duh" sounds like heard through a stifled yawn, then you can imagine my reaction to the Vodafone Belgian retreat. This is step one on my long-established roadmap to a slimmer, trimmer Vodafone, and I also expect a Swiss-shaped hole in the global domination map by Christmas. And, once again, despite all the "asset-lite" rhetoric, I fully expect some broadband acquisitions will follow.
  • VDSL T-Day came and went in Germany, with the European Commission using some strong language and also urging a fast-track to naked DSL. Read T-Regs' excellent overview.
  • Dick Notebaert of Qwest wants to protect the hapless consumer from the evils of net neutrality. If anyone can translate his comments into a language I can understand please send your version along.

So, compare and contrast: expansion, risk-taking, innovation versus regulation, retreat and paranoia. God am I glad to be back in EuroTelcoLand!!!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Breaking into the pod

Japanese advertising colossus Dentsu and a partner cyber communications have come up with a technology for audio ad insertion in podcasts without requiring re-edits of the original content. As much as I am fascinated by/contemptuous of advertising, this looks like a really cool idea, especially coming on the same morning that I heard Sir Martin Sorrell speaking once again of the challenges and opportunities to generate higher ROI in more targeted niche marketing strategies.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Where it all comes together

The very worthwhile ITVT blog has an interesting interview with the CEO of the formerly independent Kontiki (now part of Verisign) about how Kontiki (which has partnered with both the BBC and Sky) slots into the Verisign gameplan. Interesting factoid along the way is the claim that Sky by Broadband is doing multiple terabytes of video per day.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Britons with long tails

UK mega-uber-super-duper regulator OFCOM has done it again, releasing today its annual market overview of all things communication. The really sexy bit from the press release:

"The Report reveals striking evidence that a new 'networked generation' is turning away from television, radio and newspapers in favour of online services , including downloadable content - used on multiple devices such as iPods and mobile phones - and participation in online communities.

Television is of declining interest to many 16-24 year olds; on average they watch television for one hour less per day than the average television viewer. Of the television they do watch, an even smaller proportion of their time is spent viewing public service broadcasting channels, down from 74% of total viewing among this age group in 2001 to 58% today. Instead, the internet plays a central role in daily life; more than 70% of 16-24 year old internet users use social networking websites (compared to 41% of all UK internet users) and 37% of 18-24 year olds have contributed to a blog or website message board (compared to 14% of all UK internet users).

The same group also uses mobile phones extensively, on average making seven more calls and sending 42 more texts per week than the wider UK population.

Extensive use of the internet has also influenced 15-24 year olds' consumption of other media. Their radio listening is lower, by an average of 15 minutes a day compared to the wider population; additionally, 27% of those surveyed said they read newspapers less as a consequence of their online usage."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Auction 2.0

I've returned from my brief camping trip (see Flickr badge at right for highlights) to find two interesting posts on the AWS auction, which commences today. Both are well worth reading and absorbing. Harold Feldman gives a lot interesting historical color on the process, and predicts an outcome north of $15bn. Keith McMahon is looking for $30bn. In my humble opinion, both are right on target when they cite the crucial role this auction could play for DirecTV and Echostar in changing the competitive landscape (i.e., breaking the cable/RBOC duopoly), and I am intrigued to see John Malone backing this "third pipe" consortium. The flipside of this situation, which both authors point out, is that Time Warner Cable and Comcast will have huge motivation to bid aggressively, both to thwart the DBS players and establish a degree of independence from Sprint-Nextel. The other three incumbent wireless players (Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile) will all want to hurt one another as well as limit future competitive pressure from upstarts. And I assume that Verizon and Cingular want to see T-Mobile burn up cash, as it needs the spectrum far more than they do. All in all, it promises to be an extremely ugly experience - just what Chaotica loves to see!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Web 2.0 datapoints

This blog has been seriously neglected while I have been dealing with a very intense Q2 reporting season. Must try harder in future.

The ever-industrious folks at have come up with a couple of more interesting research pieces, which will no doubt be of interest to non-Japanese speakers.

First podcasting. Out of the 1,046 people interviewed, 47% claimed to have some familiarity with podcasts (this is up from last year), and nearly 10% had either listened to or produced one. Of this group of 103 podcast users, 68% responded that they listened to content from radio stations or other mainstream media, but 32% responded that they listened to independent content created by individuals. Just under 8% said that they had some experience of producing a podcast. The article almost turns apologetic in tone at this point, citing this c.8% figure as low, but what proportion of the public has ever had experience producing a TV or radio broadcast? I think 8% is actually pretty high. Interestingly, though I guess, I at least, tend to think of podcasts as being portable media, the Japan survey shows that 70% of listening occurs at home. The author also cites apparently sluggish podcast adoption figures in the US, and asks whether podcasting in Japan is "hot or not." The survey shows that 29.3% of respondents said they felt podcasting was becoming more popular, but 28.9% said they felt it wasn't.

Secondly, they attempted to discern how deeply Web 2.0 usage habits have penetrated mainstream internet use in Japan. While a previous survey conducted in May showed that 10% of web users are familiar with social bookmarking, and nearly 4% of respondents claimed to have used it, this survey found that 94% of users still rely on the "Favorites" tab on the browser, and only 0.3% of respondents claimed to use social bookmarking as their primary bookmarking tool. The researchers also attempted to ascertain just how broad web usage is. Asked how many sites they check on a regular basis, two-thirds said between two and five, with only 12% replying "11 or more." Most shocking to proponents and fans of RSS (myself among them), while previous research showed that as much as 17% of web users had some experience with an RSS newsreader, in this survey only 0.6% of respondents claimed to use one as their primary method of monitoring favorite sites, vs. 94% who use the bookmarks saved in the browser.

Back to the UK to wrap up, my friend Neil Fairbrother over at pinged me yesterday with some pretty amazing stats. Check out his account here.