Friday, September 30, 2005
Hardly a coincidence that this is Stevan Harnad's (an evangelical supporter of the open access movement in science publishing) employer. The software and the cource could add to open archiving becoming more standardized, which would reduce the need for traditional journals (if you add in Google Scholar).
- E-Plus introduces Skype (VoIP over cellular, wVoIP)
- A new MVNO from VIVA (MTV, Viacom) launches on E-Plus (Oct 10)
- Sprint introduces exclusive MTV-content for PCS Vision subs
- O2 launches i-mode in the UK (Oct 1)
- Cingular launches push-to-talk over cellular
- BT cuts VoIP BT Communicator) rate 50% (Oct 4)
- AOL launches 'TotalTalk' VoIP (softphone, PSTN also) for non-subs (Oct 4)
- EarthLink intros 'True Voice' VoIP offering
- New FCC deadline for E-911 compliance by VoIP providers: Oct 31
- T-Com introduces flat-rate voice offering 'T-Net' at 40 EUR/mo or 48 for ISDN (Oct 6)
- T-Mobile intros box for converged services over UMTS, with WiFi
- Mobistar (Orange) launches a duoplay cellular/broadband offering in Belgium (mid Oct)
- Vonage to introduce a wVoIP/WiFi handset from UTStarcom
- O2 to announce music strategy (Oct 17)
- Expected ratification of the mobile WiMAX standard, 802.16e (mid Oct)
- WiMAX trial by Telecard in Pakistan, with ZTE
- Philadelphia awards service provider contract for muniwireless WiFi network (Oct 3)
- Tunesian government short lists bidders for 35% of Tunisie Telecom from 14 interested parties (Oct 5)
- MCI to hold AGM on Verizon offer (Oct 6)
- Tele2 seeks to close the Versatel offer (Oct 7)
- FCC votes on VZ/MCI and SBC/AT&T deals (Oct 12)
- ZigBee Alliance Developer's Conference (Oct 1-3, Las Vegas)
- FTTH Council Conference & Expo (Oct 3-6, Las Vegas)
- UWB World 2005 (Oct 18-19, San Jose)
- WiMAX Global Com Forum (Oct 3-6, Madrid)
- WiMAX World Conference & Expo (Oct 26-28, Boston)
- Ethernet Expo 2005 (Oct 12-14, New York)
- ISP CON Fall 2005 (Oct 18-20, Santa Clara)
- EU to decide on use of 2.5-2.7 GHz band (3G and/or BWA)
- Hearings US House Energy & Commerce Committee on new regulations
- Q3 reports: SBC (Oct 20), BellSouth (Oct 25), Verizon (Oct 27)
- Optimal iQ to report on click fraud
- Details of Project Quaero to be announced (DT, Thomson)
- 888.com to start trading in London (Oct 4)
- MSN introduces adCenter (sponsored search) as a beta in the US
- Zeitgeist 2005: The Google Partner Forum (Oct 25-27, Mountain View)
- Q3 reports: Yahoo! (Oct 18), eBay (Oct 19), Google (Oct 20), Amazon.com (Oct 25)
- Nielsen Outdoor to report on Chicago trial
- Wolters Kluwer roadshow (Oct 18, Frankfurt)
- Vivendi hosts an Investor & Analyst Meeting around Universal Music Group (Oct 6, London)
- VNU and IMS will file merger documents to Dutch market authority AFM (Oct/Nov)
- SBS to organize AGM on KKR/Permira offer (Oct 3)
- Liberty Global to close the take-over of Cablecom
- Kabel Deutschland to launch triple play in Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz (mid Oct)
- Sony intros the Location Free Base Station (for place-shifted video)
- EchoStar introduces the 'PocketDish' portable player
- Walt Disney introduces the 'Mix Stick' MP3-player (mid Oct)
- Bob Iger officially starts as Walt Disney new CEO (Oct 1)
- RCUK and Wellcome trust introduce Open Archiving for new grant holders (Oct 1)
- Internet Librarian International 2005 event (Oct 10-11, London)
- SPARC Europe workshop 'Innovation in Scholarly Communication' (Oct 20-22, CERN, Geneva)
- Media Rating Council to propose self-regulation for the US TV viewing market (Oct 15)
- Frankfurter Buchmesse (Oct 19-23)
- 2005 Entertainment & Media Forum (Oct 27-27, Los Angeles)
- Movie releases Fox/Fox Searchlight: In Her Shoes (Oct 7), Separate Lies (Oct 7), Stay (Oct 21
- Movie releases Universal: Two for the Money (Oct 7), Doom (Oct 21), Prime (Oct 28)
- Movie release DreamWorks: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Oct 7)
- Movie release Warner: North Country (Oct 10)
- Movie release Paramount: Elisabethtown (Oct 14)
- Q3 reports: Arbitron (Oct 20), Thomson Corp (Oct 25), Reuters (Oct 27)
Thursday, September 29, 2005
This looks like an interesting move into music (previous deals centered around video). Place-shifting your music. Furthermore, Orb starts to deliver on its promise of making lots of deals. Back in March it said that it was in talks with 18 parties. Making deals seems to me the best way to monetize the company's assets.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
- Google triples its database, but stops reporting the number of web pages included on its site.
- The quality of the MSN search engine (introduced in February and upgraded in July) is disputed. As reported by comScore, MSN lost market share from January to July. A possible merger of MSN and AOL makes lots of sense.
- Yahoo! introduced Instant Search (get suggestions while typing in the search box).
- Google introduced Blog Search.
- Truveo introduced Video Search (based on 'visual analysis')
- Intellext introduces its Watson 2.0 sidebar for desktop + web search, based on artificial intelligence.
- eBay partner SquareTrade launched a Sidebar for comparison shopping, expanded with fraud-detection and anti-phishing.
- MSN introduced adCenter out of beta in France and Singapore. Beta launch next month in the US. The product will gradually replace Yahoo! service, so MSN will no longer have to share revenues from sponsored search.
- Pay-per-call expands the market to small companies without a web site.
- Google experiments with offline placements. Offline adds obviously do not carry links to web sites, but phone numbers instead: pay-per-call again!
- Search for It, a Canadian search engine, developed 'Fraud Print', which they say will allow users to determine the probability that a click is legitimate and enhance RoI.
- Earlier on, iSearchNaked introduced a flat fee model to ban click fraud.
- And before that, Zunch announced 'Click Fraud Detective'.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
I wouldn't give much credence to the unfortunate Forbes story, because the reporter showed no understanding of the DSL chip market. In "For This IPO, Keep Your Chips Off The Table," Reporter Scott Reeves found legitimate risk factors in the IPO including just a handful of customers, the difficulties inherent in advanced chip technology, and downward pressure on prices. Reeves concluded, "you probably don't want to add a small, money-losing company to your portfolio--especially when there are larger, established companies in the sector. Look for Ikanos to deliver a small-to-moderate opening and a so-so first day." The facts are true and relevant, but ignore that the specific VDSL market Ikanos serves is starting to boom. An article in Forbes is enough to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, however, the kind of unpredictable event that makes stock prices so hard to anticipate.
One investor wrote me "Please continue your due diligence immediately and rethink about correcting your recommendation before its too late. ... You are going to cause people to lose money by buying Ikanos stock.” Heck, I didn't recommend anyone investing in Ikanos - this isn't an investment newsletter, period. I reported buzz (there is) and that the price Ikanos is going public at is appropriate. Only well-financed investors, ready to take major risks, should speculate in any company in this industry. I’m not in that position; if I were, I’d probably buy some, because the Ikanos team have done some remarkable engineering and are in an exploding field. They have 90% of a VDSL market that will grow from about $75M this year to what I’m confident will be $200M to $400M in 2007. The logic that inspires Deutsche to upgrade is compelling in many other markets by 2007. Ikanos has 50% gross margins, and would be highly profitable if their r & d were spread over a larger sales base. The gentleman added a comment that is simply inaccurate. “Ikanos does not have the fully compliant VDSL2 standard and therefore is going to have REAL problems real soon! Big companies like Infineon have the real stuff now, and future orders are going to be fully compliant, leaving Metalink and Ikanos in bad shape.” Almost certainly, no one has a fully compliant VDSL2 standard, although at least three vendors have claimed they do. Testing, especially at the invaluable University of New Hampshire labs, will almost surely discover significant issues. Neither the chip vendors nor the carriers have released any results, which leaves me extremely skeptical the details are resolved. For at least the next six months, and probably much longer, VDSL2 will not be interoperable. A carrier will have to buy DSLAMs and modems with the same brand of chip inside. The investor also noted some companies have a patent position in DSL, but Ikanos has their share of those as well.
Don't forget every vendor in this field is facing tough competition. I reported in the same issue that Infineon held a significant advantage in the German market, compatibility with ADSL Annex B, the German ISDN standard. In the issue before, I noted a big Conexant win. I've reported on TI and others aiming at the same market. Metalink's QAM chips lost out in the standards battle, but they've announced a DMT chip for next spring. David Pereg of Metalink tells me it will be a complete redesign, optimized for VDSL2, and offer better performance. I'm reporting below that Marvell has hired one of the key VDSL chip designers. Broadcom is in for sure, and Centillium has just announced. ADI and ST have yet to declare themselves. Aware reports two new licensees who intend to pair VDSL with network processors. The extreme competition is why I've been skeptical about every company in the field. Ikanos is seeking a fair price and has good prospects, but don't even think of this kind of investment unless you're a sophisticated investor in a position to lose every penny.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The purely cellular strategy shows from the HP press release: “No longer confined by Wi-Fi hotspot locations, users can work where they want to, even staying connected in a taxi cab as they head to an airport.” Aimed bluntly at T-Mobile USA, which keeps working on extending its WiFi reach. Whereas Verizon Wireless stresses the reach and mobility of its cellular network, T-Mobile boasts the higher bitrates of WiFi.
I guess both strategies are viable. Technology upgrades are coming for both (EV-DV and 802.11n).
The remainder is a matter of spectrum (capacity), but that issue keeps evolving too. Analogue TV will be shut down (2009?) and spectrum will be auctioned off (at what price?!?) to cellular operators.
Mashboxx will go live in December as a legal file-sharing service. Filtering software will tell whether a file is subject to copyright. If so, the exchange will be blocked, or a fee must be payed. The technology is licensed from Snocap (founded by Shawn Fanning, the man behind the first Napster), which in turn licenses fingerprinting technology from Philips Electronics.
The New York Times takes the story (registration) one step further. I believe illegal P2P file-sharing hasn't died yet, because new services keep popping up. However, a remarkable number of them is engaged in talks to go legal.
Monday, September 19, 2005
- VoIP isn't limited to the world of wired communication. Wireless VoIP, wVoIP, is possible on cellular, WiFi and WiMAX networks.
- The current convergence trends are not losing any steam.
- Broadband wireless access isn't just for data applications, but for voice as well. After all, there is no fundamental difference between voice or data packets. VoIP erodes the voice market in wired, but also in wireless networks (as long as these offer always-on broadband connections).
- Woosh Wireless introduces VoIP over TD-CDMA or VoIP over UMTS TDD: a broadband wireless access technology from IPWireless, in fact a WiMAX competitor.
- Pipex introduces WiMAX, including VoIP over WiMAX, in cooperation with Airspan.
- Calypso launches a dual-mode handset (with Cisco) that enables VoIP over WiFi, and allows you to conduct an ordinary GSM/GPRS call too.
- China Unicom will offer VoIP over cellular, based on BridgePort technology. Earlier E-Plus entered an agreement with Skype.
- Google introduces Google Talk and Microsoft (MSN) acquires Teleo: VoIP over IM or VoIM. Even if this is first and foremost a wired phenomenon, the MSN Messenger is available on cellular networks: MSN has a Chinese joint venture and works with KPN's i-mode. AOL's AIM is available on Virgin Mobile USA.
Good news for the main suppliers in the college market, Thomson Corp and John Wiley, and for school publishers (Reed Elsevier's Harcourt) as well. Pearson and McGraw-Hill are in both markets.
Rodrigo on his blog reports that Yahoo! France wants to buy an ISP. He concludes that it should be Iliad, working under the Free.fr label.
At first sight this may seem an odd combination, comparable to the eBay/Skype deal, but it really isn't. Yahoo! is already involved in web access:
- Yahoo! Japan (Yahoo! 32%, Softbank 41%) offers a complete triple play: Yahoo! BB (broadband), BB Phone (VoIP) and BB Video. It's infrastructure-based.
- Alliances with SBC and Verizon in the VS, Rogers in Canada and BT in England. Yahoo! premium content is free for broadband subs, in exchange for a few bucks per sub per montth (revenue sharing).
- Acquisition of Iliad would follow the Japanese strategy.
Of course you can wonder: where is this supposed to end: cooperate in each country, or buy an ISP outright? And next mobile telephony, to complete the quadruple play?
Friday, September 16, 2005
From taking a quick look, it's not quite clear to me how the company mixes sponsored and algorithmic (if any) results. If it wants to make a dent in the offerings of Google and Yahoo!, it needs a lot more transparancy. Sure, click fraud is a huge problem, but maybe accepting it as a variation on shop lifting (you have to learn to live with it) is better.
This deals with click fraud, but also with the limited (if huge) scope of pay-per-click advertising on Google, Yahoo! etc. Callgen lists the advantages:
- Businesses don't need to have a web site.
- A higher RoI seems inevitable, because web site visits have a much lower conversion rate than somebody taking the trouble of actually picking up the phone.
- No click fraud problems (unless of course a disgruntled former employee or competitor wants to spend time making the call). At a time when a lawsuit is sent back to a state court.
Callgen is "backed by an award-winning ISP and a licensed telecoms provider, both UK-based and supported. (...) The future looks extremely bright for Callgen (...)". Now that sounds an awful lot like Orange/Wanadoo (France Telecom), doesn't it?
With Derk Haank (ex Elsevier) and open access advocate Jan Velterop (ex BioMed Central) among their ranks, this could highlight the differences to Reed Elsevier. Springer partly uses the Open Access publishing model (thanks Stevan Harnad), whereas Elsevier only allows bareboned Open Archiving. It will be very interesting to see more details from Springer (margins, how many authors choose Open Choice over traditional publishing, etc.). Springer charges authors $3,000 for Open Choice publishing (Elsevier acknowledged it would need to charge the same to make it viable - and then chose not to enter the Open Access field - yet!).
There is an interesting article on Open Archiving at the icWales site. Stevan Harnad on his blog discusses the opportunity cost of not fully embracing Open Archiving.
One last detail: I tracked the number of Open Access journals, as listed by the Directory of Open Access Journals. It went form 1525 in April 2005 to 1763 today. Compare that to the number of journals at market leader Elsevier (1800) and runner-up Springer (1250). Of course, many of the renowned titels still reside at traditional publishers.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
This would combine many strengths. Reach and page views will be enormous. Google and Yahoo! will face a much tougher competitor (and possibly News Corp, if it goes on buying stuff).
To name a few strengths: AOL in subscribers (if declining), content, IM and some search (Singingfish); MSN in IM and search.
No doubt there will be lots of questions too. Mail and IM systems are different; AOL works with Google and MSN with Yahoo! for sponsored search (will both cooperations end?).
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Moreover, the existing business, which will be maintained by eBay, is essentially a free business. VoIP is an application, it is supposed to be free; customers pay a flat monthly fee for their always-on broadband connection. Paid services are secondary and carry small margins, especially SkypeOut. Hopefully eBay realises this and respects this culture, unlike its own that it harassed early in 2005 with a relatively steep price rise.
The PayPal part of the rationale looks OK: Skype users will be easily persuaded into using PayPal.
And then the emerging markets side: there is a number of countries, lastly China, that looks at blocking SkypeOut traffic or VoIP in general.
Finally, there is the competition from other VoIP providers, ranging from cable companies and telcos to softphone competitors and adapter competitors (Vonage). But most of all IM providers (MSN, Yahoo!, AOL). They are adding voice and video. Interoperabilty will some day take care of the current walled garden limitations. There may even be a regular phonebook. So who needs Skype?
Monday, September 12, 2005
So now we have three major clouds over the sponsored search business. Besides click fraud, there is also the one-time adjustment that Yahoo! recently adopted. The latter will see to it that an impression is only counted once the full ad is displayed (not when the pages is 'turned' before the full ad builds).
- Click fraud
- Cookie deletion
- Partial ad display
Technological advances may reduce the ad revenue for the majors (Google and Yahoo!, to be followed by MSN and AOL) and their distribution partners. But perhaps we will have to learn to live with these things, pretty much the same way store owners have to deal with shoplifting.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
An Australian judge has outlawed Kazaa, software for P2P file-sharing. It followed in the footsteps of a US court. And in June, the American Supreme Court decided that Grokster is liable for illegal use of its software.
Sharman Networks, owner of Kazaa, will probably appeal because it feels it is not responsible for misconduct of its users. The music publishing industry will most likely claim millions from Sharman.
The Australian court wants to see changes to the Kazaa software. It should filter illegal files (tracks for which no copyright is payed). This is interesting for two reasons:
- This sounds like the Supreme Court's decision against Grokster: the essential part was that Grokster induces people to illegal acts.
- There is a technology capable of filtering. It is called Snocap and was built by Shawn Fanning, co-founder of the old and outlawed Napster (sold to Bertelsmann and subsequently to Roxio, which re-introduced the service and took its name to compete with the likes of iTunes). His first deal is with Mashboxx, a site for legal file-sharing from Wayne Rosso, co-founder of Grokster. Mashboxx is to be launched mid-September and offers Sony BMG and Universal Music content.
Still it seems a tough uphill-battle to get legal file-sharing off the ground. When one site or technology is banned, people flock to the next. CacheLogic calculated Kazaa's market share in June/July to be around 10%. And now even BitTorrent (34%) is overtaken: 51% for eDonkey.
Monday, September 05, 2005
What is new? The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), a non-profit (!) organisation representing publishers of 8,000 journals, opposes the RCUK plan. It fears 'open access' will lead to dramatically lower journal sales, for both commercial and not-for-profit publishers. Also, quality could suffer because peer reviewing may come under pressure. Reed Elsevier joined the ALPSP, according to the Financial Times (subscription). However, a group of seven scientists, among whom Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the world wide web), disagrees with the ALPSP; open access would induce more citations and increased journal sales, they say.
How is this relevant? If the RCUK pushes ahead, which I expect it will, publishers like Elsevier Science have two options: continue the way they do and hope things will blow over, or (partially) adopt open access publishing themselves (like Springer and Blackwell). I believe open archiving poses an equal threat, because of the advent of Google Scholar (which still needs a lot of work). As soon as the majority of grant giving societies adopt open access publishing, scientists will be forced away from prestigious journals like the ones Elsevier Science owns. As of October 1 open access will get a boost from both the RCUK and the Wellcome Trust.
What is open access publishing? Proponents say that scientific research deserves open access (free through the web) because it is funded by government dollars, pounds and euros. Also, widespread citations and the very advancement of science would benefit from open access. Libraries no longer have to pay, but authors (or sponsors) are asked to pay a fee per article. The scientists retain copyright (unlike how it is in traditional publishing). Open archiving is related: the author places his article (usually a not-final version) on a website (repository). The site is either his own, his university’s or it belongs to the sponsor or an open access publisher like BioMed Central. Growth of open access and open archiving threaten traditional publishers because they could be either substituted (if they fail to act) or they will see their margins plummet (if they adopt the new model themselves, partially or wholly).
Friday, September 02, 2005
A striking deal:
- First of its kind.
- Earlier this week E-Plus said all VoIP would be blocked.
- Now that MSN, Yahoo! and Google have IM and VoIM (including PC-to-PSTN calls or working on it), this may prove a good niche for Skype.
- Unclear is how revenues will be shared. Who gets the 1.7 cents a minute? In the fixed world it all goes to Skype.
- 40 EUR/month is better than Verizon Wireless' 60 $/month, but it remains to be seen if this is a good price point. Remember that this is added to any calling plan.
- Will E-Plus also introduce a Skype-enabled handset?
- Can this ever serve as a fixed line replacement? Obviously not at current bit rates; UMTS maximum is 384 Mbps, too frustrating for most (even in Germany). But an upgrade to HSDPA would boost bandwidth at the user end. However, if that in turn would boost usage, the shared nature of cellular technology would limit bit rates (or even cause the network to crash altogether).
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Without a specified date:
- Tele2 will launch its bid for Versatel.
- VNU and IMS Health will file their merger documents at the SEC.
- VNU partner Arbitron will publish results for the Houston Portable People Meter (PPM) trial.
- ITV is nearing the end of its auctioning off of Granada Learning. Pearson is heading the bidding, which should bring in about GBP 80m.
- Commercial launch of BT's convergence product, BT Fusion (VoIP over fixed/Bluetooth/WiFi and cellular)
- TGn Sync and WWiSE will jointly file a draft proposal at the IEEE for the new 802.11n WiFi standard, enabling bit rates of up to 100 Mbps.
- IEEE ratification of the mobile WiMAX standard (802.16e)
- WiMAX trial launch at Austria's WiMAX Telecom
- Warner Bros: movie release 'Corpse Bride'
- Yahoo! will start offering free news clips from CNN and ABC News.
- Relaunch of the MSN Music Store
- A new 'indie' cable channel, the Africa Channel, will launch on Cox.
- Ofcom will publish its concluding statement for the final Telecoms Strategic Review (TSR) (early Sep)
- VoD software providers Veoh ('VeohNet') and PCF ('DTV') will formally launch their products (early Sep)
- Deadline for bids for News Corp's TSL unit (educational supplements in the UK), worth around GBP 250m (first week of Sep)
- Australian parliament on Telstra sale (second week)
- FCC and DoJ are expected to endorse the AT&T takeover by SBC
- Google may settle with Geico (GE) on the use of the Geico name, or continue in court (mid Sep)
- Mashboxx, Wayne Rosso's legal P2P file-sharing site, will launch using Shawn Fanning's Snocap technology for filtering legal files (mid Sep)
- Telegraaf: half year figures and analyst meeting; also launch of a Caribbean edition of its flagship Dutch newspaper (Sep 1)
- Wegener and PCM launch their new dual-branded tabloid newspaper for the Dutch Randstad metropolitan area (Sep 1)
- Brill: 'open house' focused on 'Digital Publishing' (Sep 1)
- The mobile termination (MTA) rate cut of 20% for all three incumbent wireless operators in Italy will come into effect (Sep 1)
- Fox: movie release 'Transporter 2' (Sep 2)
- Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Berlin (Sep 2-5)
- Telekom Malaysia is set to launch a WiMAX network, supported by Intel and Alcatel (Sep 7)
- Light Reading's 'The Future of Telecom - Europe 2005' event (London, Sep 7-8)
- VNU hosts a workshop on IMS Health (Sep 8 in London, Sep 9 in Amsterdam)
- Walt Disney is scheduled to open its newest resort, Hong Kong Disneyland (Sep 12)
- Vivendi Universal: full H1 results (Sep 13)
- Fox Searchlight: movie release 'Separate Lies' (Sep 16)
- Deadline for potential bidders to show interest in Telsim, put up for sale by Turkey, nationalized from the Uzan family in 2004 (Sep 19)
- Fox/Fox Searchlight: movie release 'Roll Bounce' (Sep 23)
- Nethercomm, developer of a 'broadband in gas' (BiG) technology, will host a seminar in Roncho Santa Fe (Sep 23-24)
- Banks can submit offers for doing the Telstra sale (Sep 27)
- National Scholarly Communications Forumin Sydney, theme: Open Access, Open Archives, Open Source (Sep 27)
- FCC deadline for E-911 compliance by VoIP providers (Sep 28)
- Tiscali will release its half year figures under IFRS (Sep 30)
- Deadline for bids for a DTT license in Norway (Sep 30)
- Fox: movie release 'Little Manhattan' (Sep 30)