Wednesday, September 30, 2020

How to regulate near- or quasi-monopolies? (DEVELOPING)

Principles

  • The market creates competition.
  • Competition ...
    • ... creates choice
    • ... lowers prices
    • ... stimulates innovation
    • ... and good customer service.
  • Complicated value chains require competition at every node, i.e. not just at the retail level. It is not enough to check only if retail prices are going up (as per Chicago school).
  • Competition implies negotiating power, meaning there must be an alternative (at both the retail and wholesale markets) and not too high switching costs.
  • In case the market failes: regulation.

The problem

  • Highly concentrated marekt power among US internet majors, China internet majors and a few others.
  • ISPs have no monopoly, but there are near-duopolies. Regulation brought switching costs down.
  • Mobile site owners have no monopoly but switching costs are prohibitively high, creating a quasi-monopoly.
  • Same for MNOs vs. MVNOs, but switching costs are probably manageable. However, being unregulated and data traffic continuing its high growth, MNOs will be less eager to offer wholesale deals in the first place.
  • Internet platforms have near-monopolies (Google Search, Amazon e-commerce, Facebook social media) or near-duopolies (Android/iOS, Google/Facebook digital ads & news). There are alternatives (Bing, DuckDuckGo; Etsy; WT:Social), but are simply used very little.

Gatekeepers or 'structuring platforms' (2-sided businesses in red):

  • ISPs and operators: varying power balance
    • South Korean telcos (paid by consumers and possibly content providers) vs. Netflix et al bring up the case once more ("they are using my pipes for free") for content providers contributing to the cost of broadband access networks. Content providers have the upper hand and telcos can only win if the regulator steps in, because they have no monopoly on internet access.
    • Fox Sports (paid by consumers and operators) vs. Ziggo. Polish investigation: do broadcasters abuse their market power? The content owner has a stronger position than the telco, because Fox's content is unique and Ziggo, as a TV operator, has no monopoly.

    • Passive telco infrastructure owners: power is with the owners; they have an incentive to find new customers to not be getting income from a single customer
      • Sale & lease-back constructions for passive infrastructure (esp. mobile sites) generate cash in the short term, but a huge lock-in and financial risk in the long term (generally after 15 years). Consider all the infrastructure deals from (cash-strapped or heavily indebted) telcos with the likes of Cellnex, InfraVia and others. The line between smart and not so smart is thin, where smart implies a sale of a minority stake (possibly through a spin-off or IPO). Cellnex may not be a monopolist, but the lock-in is huge.
      • Wholesale can be a monopoly (such as KPN NL in fixed) or a near monopoly (when switching costs are prohibitively high, such as in MNOs hosting MVNOs).
    • Internet platforms: quasi-monopolies (and duo-, oligo-), in need of sound negotiations
      • Google and Facebook are paid by advertisers (in cash) and by consumers (in personal data). The value of the personal data is only limited by privacy regulations - which the internet companies are trying to circumvent.
      • Amazon's e-commerce earns money from both consumers and third-party sellers. A clear case for chinese walls (if not bright line regulation i.e. structural separation). Apparently, Amazon is using information from its third-party sellers to support its own brands.
      • Apple (vs. Epic Games) controls the iOS ecosystem through its App Store, whereas Google (esp. with Android 12) allows third-party app stores, besides its own Play Store. Apple demands a 30% fee (dropping to 15% for subscriptions after 1 year). Google's Fundo gets a 20% fee. Bandcamp charges a 15% fee.
      • Amazon Channels is hardly a monopoly. CBS is a happy customer. The fee Amazon takes (if any) is not published.
      • Peacock vs. Roku (paid by consumers and content providers). Peacock has its unique content (quasi monopoly). Roku is not a monopolist, but is a gatekeeper to its user base (quasi monopoly) and as such Peacock doesn't want to pass it by. Apparently, Roku demanded 30% of the ad inventory, but it's unclear how much they ended up with.
      • ACCC vs. Facebook, Google: forced negatiations for the paid use of news snippets from news media (paid by consumers and possibly search engines and news sites), according to the News Media Bargaining Code. Internet services may claim fair use and directing traffic to news media, the ACCC look at it a Neighbouring Rights. The news media (supported by the regulator) thinks the internet services should pay, probably for the simple reason that they make money off of the snippets. In France, a court will decide on whether the regulator has the power to force such negotiations.
    Conflicting forces

    • Free market, abuse of market power, monopoly, duopoly.
    • Allowing competitors to thrive, Prisoner's dilemma.
    • Network effect (the bigger the network becomes, the easier is it to attract new users), winner-takes-all, first-mover advantage, competitor can't enter the market.
    • Lack of antitrust enforcement.
    • The risk of outsourcing distribution to a wholeale monopolist; theaters were split from studios.
    • One-stop shop, lock-in (consumers & businesses become dependent on platform, no option to shop around, platforms set unfair ToS), high switching costs, high entry barrier.
    • Peronal data portability will lower switching costs and thus entry barriers.
    • Economies of scope allow easy expansion into adjacent areas.
    • Two-sided business model, double hats, chinese walls, structural separation
    • Fair use (content)
    • Forcing a company break-up to make the parts become competitors. Case in point: Facebook's acquisition of Instagram. Acquisition only to be allowed if expansion cannot be realised organically. A break-up shouldn't be enforced only to destroy it.
    • There appears to be a level of collusion among the platforms (Google has an unchallenged monopoly in Search, Gmail, Google Docs). But in certain areas they are challenging each other (Amazon in digital ads; Apple in maps; Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram in e-commerce).
    • There's a fundamental (political) choice that everybody needs to make: may my personal data be used to a. Improve the service (Google Search, recommendations), b. Enable targeted advertising. Further: Can personal data by anonimised/pseudonimised? It looks like a and b require converting back to personalised data or otherwise service improvement and targeted advertising doesn't work.
    • Do the 'free' services need to be free? How much would Facebook (see it's reported ARPUs) and Google need to charge for an ad-free service? (See also price differential between tiers with and tiers without ads at VOD providers.) Without use of personal data, no personalisation or service improvement would be possible. hould platforms be forced to offer a data and/or advertiing free tier/variant? Also: are there options for consumers to NOT agree to the ToS and still use the service? There is a risk of ToS becoming some sort of private regulation.
    • Platforms provide great services in exchange for personal data.It makes them as powerful as a state-within-the-state. The political issue being: is that a bad thing?


    Sunday, September 27, 2020

    Epic Games (and Facebook) vs. Apple and Google - the complete chronology (UPDATE Oct. 10)

    200813 Epic Games (= Tim Sweeney >50%, Tencent 40%) sues Apple (App Store) & Google (Play Store) for banning Fortnite from app stores as Fortnite bypassed in-app payment systems from Apple & Google, claims monopolistic behavior (violates Sherman Act & California’s Cartwright Act), claims that Google blocked OnePlus & LG from pre-installing Fortnite launchers on new smartphones

    200814 Spotify and Match Group support Epic; [Apple has monopoly on iOS access for apps through App STore; Google allows sideloading app (not through Play Store) and 3rd party app stores such as Epic's, but erected contractual & technological barriers on distributing apps not through Play Store]

    200814 Apple refused Facebook's request to waive 30% App Store fee for small businesses hosting live events (Facebook Pay instead applies zero fee)

    200817 Apple to terminate Epic Games developer accounts (incl Unreal Engine creation tools) 200828, Epic sues (temporary restraining order) to prevent [see 200813]

    200817 Apple claims Epic asked for special deal

    200825 Epic Games wins temporary restraining order against Apple protecting Unreal Engine and developer accounts (not Fortnite), hearing 200928

    200826 Apple vs Epic Games: Fortnite plans new season 200828, will not be available for Apple users (iOS, macOS), DAU on iOS declined 60%

    200828 Facebook CEO Zuckerberg accuses Apple of monopolistic behavior ("blocks innovation, blocks competition allows Apple to charge monopoly rents")

    200828 Apple closes Epic’s App Store developer account (removing all games beyond ‘Fortnite)

    200908 Apple countersues Epic Games (Fortnite) for breach of contract (over new in-app payments); seeks restitution of all money Fortnite collected through its payment system, permanent injunction banning its external payment mechanism in all apps

    200909 Epic Games claims Apple to disable Sign in with Apple for Fortnite from 200911

    200910 Sign in with Apple continues (infinite extension)

    200917 Fortnite to close on macOS 200923 (no more updates)

    200924 Coalition for App Fairness established by Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group, Proton Technologies, News Media Europe, Basecamp; to pressure for app store regulation

    200925 Apple temporarily waives app store fee for Facebook’s online events until 201231 (in support of small businesses during corona virus lockdown)

    200925 Google updates Play Store guidelines: most apps must use Google's billing service for in-app content downloads, game upgrades, subscriptions

    200930 Apple and Epic Games agree on bench trial by judge (not jury), July 2021

    201009 Judge permanently restrains Apple from blocking Unreal Engine

    Week 39 in Telecoms, Internet, Media

    M&A

    Telecoms

    • Play
      • Iliad acquires 40.2% controlling stake (incl Board majority) from Kenbourne (Novator, 20.1%) and Tollerton (Panos Germanos, 20.1%) at 39.00 PLZ/share; other shareholders: NN/OFE 5.6%, free float 54.%
      • launches public offer: 39.00 PLZ/share cash (100% equity value EUR 2.2b, EV EUR 3.479b = 6.8x EBITDA AL TTM = 9.9x OpFCF TTM pre synergies), premium 39% over 200918
      • acceptance period 201019-201117, settlement & closing 201125
      • to be financed from cash & debt, leverage to rise pro forme from 2.2 to 3.2; to continue spinning off & selling its passive infrastructure
      • 'Through this acquisition, Iliad will cement its position as a pan-European telecom player'
      • Iliad becomes #6 telco in Europe based on mobile subscribers (behind Vodafone, DT, Telefonica, Orange, 3 Group Europe)
      • EU deadline for Iliad offer clearance 201026
    • Telecoms other

    Media

    • Broadcast
      • Discovery: Rumor: considers alliance with Mediaset
    • OTT video, gaming
      • Megogo: Rumor: VEON plans offer, RUB 9b
      • Quibi: WSJ: plans strategy review, may put itself up for sale, raise funds or lit through merger with SPAC
      • Microsoft: Acquires ZeniMax Media (owns Bethesda Softworks: game developer & publisher), $7.5b cash
    • Publishing


    Networks

    HFC

    • Virgin Media trials 2.2 Gb/s (Gig 2) over Docsis 3.1 (by adding second OFDM block) - To expand FTTP to Burgess Hill (14k premises)

    5G


    Services

    Telecoms business market

    • AT&T to provide UDG Healthcare with global SD-WAN (from Cisco)
    • AT&T partners with Microsoft for global IoT connectivity, based on Azure Sphere
    • Microsoft Ignite
      • Launches Azure Communication Services for developers to add voice & video calling, chat, text messages to apps
      • Launches Azure Orbital: cloud-based satellite data processing platform (groundstation-as-a-service), with SES
      • Teams adds features: virtual commutes, meditation breaks, work habits, Together Mode, Dynamic View, Breakout Rooms, recaps, presentation, calling, new devices
    • Smart Profile & Dutch IT-channel report on business market NL (Onderzoek Digitale Mobiliteit): >75% have Digital Workplace strategy
    Telecoms consumer market

    Internet

    Media: video

    • Netflix: originals and content news
    • Walt Disney: Disney+ distr deal with Google for Assistant-enabled devices from Nest (Nest Hub, Nest Hub Max)
    • Samsung: Samsung TV Plus (free AVOD; US; currently on smart TVs) expands to Galaxy smartphones


    Regulatory

    Telecoms: auctions

    Facebook
    Platforms general
    • US DoJ proposes limiting Section 230 (part of Communications Decency Act; protecting platforms from liability over content posted by users, users not protected from copyright violations or certain types of criminal acts) as folow-up to Exec Order [see 200528]: platforms to be transparent about content removals; may be liable for content modified, narrows criteria online platforms must meet to earn liability protections
    • Facebook, YouTube, Twitter partner with Global Alliance for Responsible Media against fake news, hate speech
    • Coalition for App Fairness established by Epic Games, Spotify, Match Group, Proton Technologies, News Media Europe, Basecamp; to pressure for app store regulation - Apple temporarily waives app store fee for Facebook’s online events until 201231 (in support of small businesses during corona virus lockdown) - Google updates Play Store guidelines: most apps must use Google's billing service for in-app content downloads, game upgrades, subscriptions
    • US Senate Commerce Committee plans to issue subpoenas if needed to CEOs of Google, Facebook, Twitter for hearing 201001


    Saturday, September 26, 2020

    Top 3 operators NL: retail and wholesale brands

     


    RetailWholesale
    KPNKPN, XS4ALL, Simyo, Ortel Mobile, Cam IT Solutions, Solcon, InSpark, RoutIT, Yes TelecomT-Mobile, Online, Youfone, Budget, Trined, Kliksafe, Tweak, Fiber, Breedband, Cheap Connect, Jonaz, NetRebel, Helden Van NU, Freedom Internet, Fieber, Plinq, Oxxio, Lebara, Lycamobile, Budget Mobiel, AH Mobiel, Aldi Talk, Hema Telefonie, Jumbo Mobiel, Kruidvat Mobiel, Dean One, Expat Mobile, Helder Telecom, Intercity Technology, SB Business Communicatie, Eilie, L-Mobi, Socia-Telecom
    VodfoneZiggoVodafone, Ziggo, hollandsnieuweBudgetPhone, Emobiel, One Central, Raffel, Redworks, Talpa Mobile
    T-Mobile NLT-Mobile, Ben, Tele2Simpel, Delta Mobiel, Glasnet, SpeakUp, Talpa Mobile, 88 Mobile, Bliep, CheapConnect

    Netflix: all the originals and licensing announcements of Week 39


    Thursday, September 24, 2020

    Amazon Devices & Services event: new Echo, Fire TV eero, Ring devices, new eero security service and cloud gaming service, new AZ1 processor, new Alexa features

    Launches new Echo family of devices, powered by Amazon AZ1 Neural Edge processor (made with MediaTek), with Alexa, Climate Pledge Friendly:
    • Echo ($100; built-in smart home hub, with support for Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy, Amazon Sidewalk)
    • Echo Dot ($50)
    • Echo Dot with clock ($60)
    • Echo Dot Kids Edition ($60 incl 1-yr Amazon Kids+ subscription)
    • Echo Show 10 ($250; with video calls, Alexa Group Calling, Alexa Guard, built-in smart home capabilities include support for Zigbee, BLE, Amazon Sidewalk; motorized base that swivels around automatically whenever you interact with it, keeps you in the frame when on video calls)
    Launches new eero 6 Series mesh Wifi systems, with WiFi 6 (max 75 devices), built-in Zigbee smart home hub, with TrueMesh technology to intelligently route network traffic, automatic software updates:
    • eero Pro 6 (tri-band; $230, 400 or 600 for 1, 2 or 3)
    • eero 6 (dual-band; $130, 200 or 280 for 1, 2 or 3)
    With security services:
    • eero Secure (3 $/mo)
    • eero Secure+ (10 $/mo)
    Launches next-gen Fire TV sticks:
    • Fire TV Stick ($40; 1080p, 60 fp, HDR, Dolby Atmos, Alexa)
    • Fire TV Stick Lite ($30; HD, HDR, Alexa)
    Launches Amazon Luna cloud gaming:
    • Luna cloud gaming service (beta in US; powered by AWS Game Servers, seamless screen handover, apps for Fire TV, PC, Mac, iPhone, Ipad, to add Android; works with Ubisoft and Remedy Entertainment for games)
    • Luna+ game channel (6 $/mo promo; 4K, 60 fps, with game channel with Ubisoft)
    • Luna Controller ($50 promo; with Cloud Direct technology, Alexa)
    Alexa adds features:
    • Reading Sidekick (read books with kids)
    • Alexa Voice Profiles for Kids (automatically recognizes kid’s voice to switch to kid-friendly mode)
    • improvements to conversational & home monitoring capabilities
    • Natural Turn Taking (leverage acoustic, linguistic, visual cues to determine whether a request is directed towards it)
    • Alexa delete everything I ever said (removes all voice snippets associated with an Amazon account)
    • supports group audio & video (max 8; incl Amazon Chime, Zoom)
    • Alexa Care Hub (activity feed that shows when family members interact with smart home devices)
    Ring adds cameras, plans end-to-end encryption for video feeds, launches:
    • Always Home Cam (autonomous drone that can fly around inside the home; 1080p, integrates Ring Alarm)
    • Car Cam ($200; 2 cameras for inside and outside recording, incl Car Alarm; uses WiFi and 4G; pings first responders automatically in the event of serious crash; Traffic Stop triggers cameras via Alexa to start record and store in cloud)
    • Car Alarm ($60; uses Amazon Sidewalk)
    • Car Connect (platform to integrate existing cameras, partners with Tesla)

    Monday, September 21, 2020

    Iliad to acquire Play - what's next?

    Iliad is acquiring Play, the largest MNO in Poland. It secures 40.2% from current shareholders and makes a public offer for the remainder. Iliad also operates in France and Italy and holds a large stake in Eir (Ireland). Founder Xavier Niel (through NJJ) owns operators in Switzerland, Monaco and Cyprus.

    The details:
    • Iliad acquires 40.2% controlling stake (incl Board majority) from Kenbourne (Novator, 20.1%) and Tollerton (Panos Germanos, 20.1%) at 39.00 PLZ/share
    • other shareholders: NN/OFE 5.6%, free float 54.%
    • launches public offer: 39.00 PLZ/share cash (100% equity value EUR 2.2b, EV EUR 3.479b = 6.8x EBITDA AL TTM = 9.9x OpFCF TTM pre synergies), premium 39% over 200918
    • acceptance period 201019-201117, settlement & clsoing 201125
    • to be financed from cash & debt, leverage to rise pro forma from 2.2 to 3.2
    • to continue spinning off & selling its passive infrastructure;
    • 'Through this acquisition, iliad will cement its position as a pan-European telecom player'
    • Iliad becomes #6 telco in Europe based on mobile subscribers (behind Vodafone, DT, Telefonica, Orange, 3 Group Europe)
    More acquisitions appear to be a matter of time. The values Iliad/Niel appears to seek:
    • Mobile centric, with an eye on expanding into fixed.
    • Maverick character.
    • Growth opportunities from either market growth or market share growth.
    • Can do without passive infrastructure.
    • Efficiency, simplicity.
    • Developing hardware and services in-home.
    Candidates:
    • Spain: MasMovil (being acquired currently by private equity)
    • Netherlands: T-Mobile
    • Belgium: Orange
    • 3 Group Europe (CK Hutchison), except 3 Ireland
    • Digi/RCS&RDS
    • PPF

    Sunday, September 20, 2020

    Netflix: all the originals and licensing announcements of Week 38


    Week 38 in Telecoms, Internet, Media

    Corporate

    • United Internet reduces EBITDA 2020 forecast to EUR 1.18b (from EUR 1.266b in 2019) on higher MVNO costs to Telefonica DE (price increases from July 2020 & no price degression as previously) but negotiations ongoing
    • A3 offer from Bredband2
      • SEK 622m, SEK 6 cash + 8 new Bredband2 shares per share (38% premium over 200911)
      • accepted by 72%, 90% acceptance required; EGM 201016, acceptance period 201027 - 201117; to close end 2020
      • combined pro forma 450k fiber lines = 15% share
    • Inwit (TIM, Vodafone): to enter Stoxx Europe 600 index 200921
    • 3 Group Europe (CK Hutchison)
    • AT&T Shareholder update
      • focus on strategic growth: broadband (fiber, 5G), software-based entertainment (HBO Max, AT&T TV), leverage WarnerMedia’s legacy
      • to align operations to support strategy; to optimize returns of business lines that fall outside of focus areas (may lead to further monetization of non-core assets)
      • to bundle wireless services with HBO Max (to support acquisition & retention efforts, to support uptake of higher-ARPU unlimited wireless plans)
      • to add AVOD tier to HBO Max; HBO Max passed YE subs target (36m)
      • target div pay-out 60s (low end), to lower net debt
    • Verizon acquires Tracfone
      • prepaid MVNO, 21m subs, rev 2019 $8.1b, 90k retail locations, 850 employees
      • from America Movil, max $6.90b ($3.125b cash + $3.125b in VZ stock + max $650m cash earn-out), to close 21H2
    • Comcast mobile strategy: 1. MVNO on Verizon, 2. WiFi, 3. Over time own mobile network
    • Spark strategy update 2021-2023
      • focus on established (wireless, broadband, cloud) & future growth markets (IoT, digital health, sport)
      • to reduce plans from 100s to 10s, faster time-to- market (from 4 mo to on-demand), faster on-boarding partners (from 6 mo to 10 days)
      • targets 2023: rev growth, cost reduc NZD 40-50m over 3 yr, customer care interactions -20%, 90% of subs off-copper (to fiber or wireless)
      • removes data cap for FWA over 4G
    • ViacomCBS sells CNET Media Group (CNET, GameSpot, Metacritic, TVGuide.com, Chowhound, Roadshow, ZDNet) to Red Venures, $500m, to close 20Q4
    • Warner Music acquires HipHopDX (news, reviews, commentary website; also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube)
    • Bytedance POTUS Trump approves deal with Oracle
      • To establish TikTok Global as US company, Oracle acquires 12.5%, Walmart 7.5%, Oracle to become TikTok's cloud provider, to hire 25k, to establish $5b education fund (Bytedance denies), from taxes to be paid
      • Bytedance retains 80% of TikTok and control over AI tech powering receommendations
      • TikTok plans IPO in US within 1 yr
      • US delays dowload ban TikTok to 200927, Bytedance sues to block ban
      • District Court SF halts WeChat ban (undermines free speech rights)
    • Mediahuis acquires NDC Mediagroep (600 employees; Leeuwarder Courant, Friesch Dagblad, Dagblad van het Noorden, 7 other newspapers, 40 weekly's
    • EQT acquires Casa.it: real estate classifieds platforms, to close Dec 2020; with this EQT IX 10-15% invested
    • Unity
    • Snowflake
      • IPO price $120; first trade $245, close $253.93
      • Sutter Hill Ventures owned 50m shares (17.4%), Altimeter Capital 36m shares, ICONIQ Capital 34m shares (14%), Redpoint Ventures 22m shares (9%), Sequoia Capital 21m shares (8.6%)


    Branding


    Networks

    • Google Fiber plans 2 Gb/s trial in Nashville & Huntsville Oct 2020 (later in all 19 cities), 100 $/mo (incl WiFi 6 router)
    • Altitude to raise >EUR 500m in equity & debt 20Q4, to invest EUR 2.5b in fiber in FR in 3 yr    
    • Telenet considers XGS-PON in case >2.5 Gb/s is needed
    • Ookla Speedtest Global Index (Aug 20): global average FBB 84/44 Mb/s, MBB 35/11 Mb/s; FBB: Sing #1 (218 Mb/s), HK #2 (206), Romania #3 (175), Thailand #4 (173), CH #5 (171), NL #25 (120); MBB: SK #1 (113), China #2 (111), UAE #3 (111), Qatar #4 (88), China #3 (105), KSA #5 (78), NL #6 (75) 
    • PTS (SE) adds SEK 1.40b to BB subsidies  
    • 5G: 
      • Zain KSA expands to Qurayyat, Ras Tanura, Tabarjal; total 38 cities
      • DISH orders cloud-native core network for SA 5G from Nokia - FCC relaxes deadline for build-out to mid 2023
      • Telefonica ES to expand 5G (3.5 GHz & mmWave) to Abanca-Riazor stadium in A Coruña (home of the Real Club Deportivo football team): live broadcasting of sporting events with automatic production based on edge computing & AI; KissCams, heat maps through AR; multi-camera TV), with cinfo, Ericsson; with occasional 3.5 GHz spectrum leasing from Vodafone ES
      • SmarTone (HK) launches FWA over 5G (Home 5G Broadband Service)
      • EU launches FUDGE-5G (Fully Disintegrated Private Networks for 5G Verticals) innovation initiative for Industry 4.0, Private 5G
      • O2 UK expands 5G to Tyne & Wear, Surrey, Lincoln
      • Verizon trials in-building 5G mmWave solutions from Samsung (small cell), Corning (composite fiber: fiber for data transmission and copper for powering, in one cable) with MEC for hospitals, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, schools, ports, retail stores etc; to support Private 5G
      • Telefonica partners with Rakuten on Open RAN
      • Elisa launches 5G in city #39: Rovaniemi
      • US Cellular demos  extended range 5G NR mmWave, with Ericsson, Qualcomm: >100 Mb/s at >5 km; enables FWA
    • 6G: Radiall paper proposes massive modular 6G mesh networks with tiny antennas
    • DAB: Media Broadcast (= Freenet) plans 2nd DAB+ network (16 channels) in DE via Antennae Deutschland (JV with Absolut Digital): 71 locations, 83% pops coverage (67m), 49m HH (61%), 85% of freeways, broadcasting to start Oct 2020

    Media: video


    Media: music

    • Spotify partners with Songkick (= Warner Music Group) & Ticketmaster to add virtual event listings    
    • Amazon Music adds podcasts in US, UK, DE, Japan (no additional cost, on all tiers, on all devices) with originals from DJ Khaled, Becky G, Will Smith, Dan Patrick, et al
    • Google Nest integrates RadioApp (Commercial Radio Australia)
    • Facebook: Music licensing deals (with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Kobalt Music Group, BMG publishing, Merlin) for Facebook Gaming


    Other services

    • VoIP: Telekom DE launches NIMS (Next Generation IP Multimedia Subsystem) platform: cloudification of fixed telephony (18m lines)
    • IPTV
      • Vodafone RO launches Vodafone TV
      • Bouygues orders Google Ad Manager platform (first in Europe) for addressable TV advertising service - Google Ad Manager launches Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI): insert ads into live events


    Hardware, CPE

    • Google
      • Plans hardware event 200930 to launch Pixel 5 (5G), Pixel 4A (5G), new Chromecast (Chromecast with Google TV, $50, Project Sabrina), new smart speaker
      • Launches Google Series One meeting room kits (touchscreen controller, mic pods, 2 cameras, compute unit, soundbar) for Google Meet (for businesses), from $2700; made by Lenovo
    • Facebook Connect
      • Launches Oculus Quest 2, $300 (64 GB) or $400 (256 GB): standalone, 90 MHz refresh rate; to discontinue Oculus Rift Sspring 2021
      • Adds games & apps for Oculus; launches Oculus Move for Quest: fitness tracker; launches Oculus Link (for Quest) out of beta: to play Rift games on standalone Quest; plans Infinite Office for Quest: virtual office space, with Spatial for virtual meetings
      • Plans smart glasses (Project Aria) 2021 for AR, with EssilorLuxottica (brand Ray-Ban); Facebook Messenger and Portal to suppport AR from 2021 (incl 3rd-party through Spark AR Studio); partners with NYT (AR filters & effects on Instagram) and Smithsonian for AR projects
      • Demos Facebook Horizon (closed beta): metaverse (social VR)
    • Apple event Time Flies
      • Launches 2 new iPads (new iPad Air from $600, with new) Apple Pencil, $130; new iPad gen 8, $330)
      • 2 new Apple Watches (Series 6; with sensor to measure oxygen level and altimeter and U1 locator chip and Family Setup; Series SE from $280; incl 3 mo free Apple Fitness+)
      • New Fitness+ service (workout classes; app for Apple Watch and iPhone; 10 $/mo or 80 $/yr
      • Apple One bundles (Individual: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud storage (50GB) for 15 $/mo; Family: same but 200 GB storage, 20 $/mo for max 6 members, Premier: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud storage, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+ for 30 $/mo for max 6 family members)
      • New A14 Bionic processor (first in new iPad Air, in future for iPhone 12)
      • New iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, tvOS 14 - Spotify objects to Apple One on antitrust grounds (favors Apple Music)
    • Sony to launch PS 5 ($500, EUR 500, GBP 450, JPY 50k) & PS 5 Digital Edition ($400, EUR 400, GBP 360, JPY 40k) 201112
    • 5G


    Regulatory

    • Net neutrality: EU CoJ: zero-rating violates NN regulations
    • Spectrum
      • RTR (AT) ends 5G auction, EUR 202m; Magenta EUR 87m for 90 MHz (2x20 in 700, 20 (+ 10) in 1500, 2x15 in 2100), A1 EUR 66m for 80 MHz (30 in 1500, 2x25 in 2100), 3 AT EUR 50m for 90 MHz (2x10 in 700, 30 in 1500, 2x20 in 2100); 1702 of 2100 communities to be covered by 2027 (Magenta 615, 3 AT 739, A1 349)
      • TRA (UAE) designates 26 GHz spectrum (24.25-27.50) for 5G; to award 1 GHz Sep 2020, more 21Q3

    • Facebook: rumor: FTC plans antitrust suit by end 2020 over dominance in social media (related to relations with app developers and past acquisitions of Instagram & WhatsApp)
    • Self-regulation
      • Facebook launches hub to battle fake news about climate change
      • Twitter: launches info hub to battle misinformation around US presidential elections 2020


    Thursday, September 17, 2020

    Copying TikTok: Instagram (Reels), Snapchat, Spotify (Video Moments), YouTube (Shorts)

    To follow (?):
    • Twitter could expand voice tweets.
    • Pinterest is seeing high growth in video posts.
    • LinkedIn may lend itself for a video elevator pitch.


    Facebook Connect AR event

    Hardware
    • Launches Oculus Quest 2, $300 (64 GB) or $400 (256 GB): standalone, 90 MHz refresh rate; to discontinue Oculus Rift Sspring 2021
    • Plans smart glasses (Project Aria) 2021, with EssilorLuxottica (brand Ray-Ban)
    Services
    • Adds games & apps for Oculus
    • Launches Oculus Move for Quest: fitness tracker
    • Launches Oculus Link for Quest out of beta: to play Rift games on standalone Quest
    • Plans Infinite Office for Quest: virtual office space, with Spatial for virtual meetings
    • Facebook Messenger and Portal to suppport AR from 2021 (incl 3rd-party through Spark AR Studio)
    • Partners with NYT (AR filters & effects on Instagram) and Smithsonian for AR projects
    • Demos Facebook Horizon (closed beta): metaverse, social VR

    Wednesday, September 16, 2020

    Apple Time Flies event: 2 iPads, 2 Watches, 2 services, 1 processor, 4 OSs - no iPhone 12

    Tablets: 2 new iPads
    • iPad Air from $600, with new) Apple Pencil, $130
    • iPad gen 8, $330
    Watches: 2 new Apple Watches
    • Series 6; with sensor to measure oxygen level, altimeter, U1 locator chip, Family Setup
    • Series SE from $280; incl 3 mo free Apple Fitness+
    Services:
    • Fitness+ service: workout classes; app for Apple Watch and iPhone; 10 $/mo or 80 $/yr
    • Apple One bundles
      • Individual: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud storage (50GB) for 15 $/mo
      • Family: same but 200 GB storage, 20 $/mo for max 6 family members
      • Premier: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, 2TB of iCloud storage, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+ for 30 $/mo for max 6 family members
    Processor:
    • A14 Bionic processor (first in new iPad Air, in future for iPhone 12)
    OS:
    • iOS 14
    • iPadOS 14
    • watchOS 7
    • tvOS 14