2013 is going to be an amazing year for mobile and web developers for a number of reasons, but the top one on my list today is the advance in tooling. This isn't simply a turn of the crank adding a few features/functions to the existing state of the art but instead the realization of a growing paradigm shift in how developers (experience creators, to quote my colleague Mike Gualtieri) create software. Today the majority of web and mobile apps are written by developers manually writing source code in text editors or IDEs, but tomorrow's tooling is becoming much more visual in nature. Here are the three tooling areas that excite me looking forward to 2013.
This summer Switzerland’s incumbent carrier, Swisscom, launched a simple but revolutionary new mobile tariff, Natel Infinity. Infinity is a speed-based tariff that comes in the versions XS, S, M, L, and XL, which represent download speeds ranging from 200 kbit/s to 100 Mbit/s. Prices range from CHF59 to CHF169 per month (€49 to €139). Significantly, the tariff throws in unlimited national voice, SMS messaging services, and data usage without any additional charge (XL even comes with unlimited international calls to most destinations and SMS).
The idea is simple: The greater your urge for fast mobile services, the more you pay — irrespective of which apps you use and how you wish to communicate. All that matters is speed. In this respect, Swisscom has replicated for the mobile world a tariff approach that is already fairly common in the fixed-line world. I believe this move by Swisscom is noteworthy in two respects:
It effectively pulls the rug from under the OTT voice and messaging services like WhatsApp and Tango by removing the arbitrage potential created by time- or distance-based pricing schemes.
It brings in line capital spending on and actual demand for network infrastructure capacity.
Earlier this week, in conjunction with ARM Holdings plc’s announcement of the upcoming Cortex A53 and A57, full 64-bit CPU implementations based on the ARM V8 specification, AMD also announced that it would be designing and selling SOC (System On a Chip) products based on this technology in 2014, roughly coinciding with availability of 64-bit parts from ARM and other partners.
This is a major event in the ARM ecosystem. AMD, while much smaller than Intel, is still a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, and for the second largest vendor of x86 chips to also throw its hat into the ARM ecosystem and potentially compete with its own mainstream server and desktop CPU business is an aggressive move on the part of AMD management that carries some risk and much potential advantage.
Reduced to its essentials, what AMD announced (and in some cases hinted at):
Intention to produce A53/A57 SOC modules for multiple server segments. There was no formal statement of intentions regarding tablet/mobile devices, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that AMD wants a piece of this market, and ARM is a way to participate.
The announcement is wider that just the SOC silicon. AMD also hinted at making a range of IP, including its fabric architecture from the SeaMicro architecture, available in the form of “reusable IP blocks.” My interpretation is that it intends to make the fabric, reference architectures, and various SOCs available to its hardware system partners.
For hosted voice service providers and mobile network and fixed-line operators, BT’s launch of a major global IP exchange (GIPX) hub in Singapore could be good news. Set up to meet the demand for growing traffic over its IP Exchange platform, this is the third announcement I’ve seen from telcos in this region in the space of two months — the others being Telstra Global Services and Tata Communications.
BT’s wholesale service enables communications providers to connect VoIP to VoIP and VoIP to traditional voice calls, and runs over its MPLS network — i.e., a private IP network.
I spoke with Beatriz Butsana-Sita, managing director of BT Global Services and Global Telecom Markets, who explained that delivering the GIPX service closer to BT’s wholesale customers in this region serves to minimize their cost to interconnect to BT’s clearinghouse. “GIPX also provides an opening into BT’s platform for advanced IP services that we continue to invest in,” she said.
The telco is also working on a number of developments to further expand the service, such as the ability to support mobile 4G and provide video interoperability between different devices and networks.
The BT GIPX Singapore hub:
Provides a local switch function in the Asia Pacific region. This brings BT’s GIPX service closer to customers’ networks.
Acts as a multiservice GIPX point of presence (PoP). This helps address the growing demand for interconnect services in the region. The services that benefit from and are supported by GIPX include fixed and mobile voice (at a range of qualities, e.g., high-definition voice); fixed, mobile, and wireless data; roaming services; and videoconferencing.
Customer experience horror stories are not quite as inevitable as death and taxes but they are close cousins and we all have a large back catalogue of screw-ups to rant about operatically. That crappy cheese sandwich, the misleading advice about product features or being ushered into an avoidable gargantuan queue by a staff drone. Some of my own frustration exotica include annoyances like harmoniums couriered from India and only good for firewood (or modern art) on arrival in Edinburgh*. Yes, the world is a stage but some brands can look like The Three Stooges on it.
At a briefing last week, I spoke with Tejaswini Tilak, global head of carrier services at Telstra, who updated me on its newly launched mobile operator IPX (IP Exchange) platform. Marketed as the Telstra Global IPX Service, this service aims to enhance international roaming and next-generation mobility services for operators seeking to exchange long-term evolution (LTE) data traffic. The service promises:
An optimized network. Using a single channel, the Telstra Global IPX Service allows mobile operators to optimize their networks to accommodate growing mobile data consumption while providing end users with a consistent customer experience.
Greater efficiency. This is possible as it runs over a private network — Telstra Global’s own managed IP MPLS core network — which can maximize traffic on both legacy and new mobile platforms.
Diameter signaling support. Telstra provides support for diameter signaling, a relatively new protocol that works with core IMS on IP data traffic. Tilak claims that Telstra will be able to set up multiple roaming agreements by acting as a diameter signaling hub and providing interoperability and mediation between different diameter deployments among mobile operators.
Earlier this week I caught up with Discover’s Mike Boush to talk about his keynote at the upcoming eBusiness Forum, where he’ll explore innovations in eBusiness at Discover. Here’s a snippet of our conversation, and a sneak peak of Mike’s session at the event:
Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the last 12 months that you're most excited about?
A: I love what we're doing with partnerships online. It's creating a whole lot of value for customers and, frankly, getting us out of the "must be built at Discover" mentality. It started with an integration with PayPal in order to deliver peer-to-peer payment services. The program leverages PayPal’s huge delivery platform, and customers love it. Then we introduced an integration with Amazon that lets customers pay for their Amazon.com purchases with the cash they earned through our Cashback Bonus rewards program. This really highlights the difference between competitors' "points" programs and our straightforward cash, and the transparency shows just how great our program is. And recently, Google announced our integration of Discover card enrollment into the Google Wallet from our website, which is convenient for customers and helps position us in the mobile payments space. These integrations are just a sample of what we've done, but they become powerful illustration of what we can do when we team up and innovate with other great companies.
Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?
Forrester just released a new report, “The State Of Mobile Technology Adoption.” The report will allow eBusiness professionals to benchmark their annual spending, mobile services, and approach to building mobile services among their peers in North America and Europe.
One of the biggest takeaways from the research is that eBusiness professionals lack the funding they need to build mobile services, integrate mobile services with their back-end infrastructure, and build out teams with the right skills in-house. Consider that:
· 56% of eBusiness professionals spend less than $500K annually on their mobile services.
· Only 24% spend more than $1M – the base level for a good native application and mobile website.
From a technology standpoint:
· 40% are building applications in-house, with 12% licensing a platform to do so.
· 62% are building mobile websites in-house, with 46% relying on their IT team directly.
· 68% have native applications – far more than are using hybrid applications (most of the budgets would have to be here to fund these efforts).
Now that Apple has apologized and the uproar over Mapplegate is starting to subside, it's time to step back and focus on why Apple had to do what it did. The fact is, Apple had to replace Google Maps for three reasons:
iPhone map users are too valuable to leave to Google. According to ComScore, the iPhone users account for 45% of all mobile traffic on Google Maps, with the remaining 55% coming from Android. This means approximately 31 million iPhone users access Google Maps every month. iPhone users also use Google Maps more intensively than Android users. On average, iPhone users spend 75 minutes per month in Google Maps versus 56 minutes per month for Android users. And iPhone users access Google Maps more frequently than Android users, averaging 9.7 million visits daily versus 7.1 million visits for Android users. Given this data, Apple has a vital strategic interest in moving its iPhone users off Google Maps and onto an Apple mapping solution. Doing so not only deprives Google of its best users but also gives Apple the customer base they will need to drive adoption of new location-based services.
Anybody out there who doesn't have a mobile device, raise your hand...just what I thought.
The explosion of mobile phones and apps in the everyday lives of consumers--and agents--is powering big changes in the business of insurance. Heightened customer expectations are getting formed by the changing mobile landscape; new generations of customers; new competitors, and the ferocious pace of mobile tech-enabled innovation that is radically reshaping how customers become informed, purchase, and get service.
In our new report, the first of Forrester's Mobile Insurance Playbook, we examine how mobile forces are driving customer expectations and how customer demands are going to influence new insurance business models.
Consumers are living La Vida Mobile. Mobile is a pervasive element in the daily lives of insurance customers. With more mobile devices available within easy reach, US consumers are tapping into this ready convenience to research, buy, and service their financial needs, including insurance. And how about those Millennial insurance customers? More than one in four told us that they use mobile as their main personal financial channel.
Agents are becoming proficient mobile tool users. The tablet form factor looks almost purpose-built for the needs of agents. From their hi-def displays to fast boot-up and super portability, agents are ardent tablet-ers, and half the agents in an informal survey at the end of last year cited mobile as one of their leading business initiatives.