Vodafone announced thisweek a recommended cash offer to acquire Wayfinder Systems AB. This is not a done deal yet but my first take is:
- Wayfinder like other software vendors really pioneered the market for navigation on mobile phones. Initially, the Swedish company (at that time named Itinerary systems) started in as a R&D project in the mobile phone division of Ericsson in the 90s! It is thus no surprise that Wayfinder recently announced an intensification of its global collaboration on GPS handsets with Sony Ericsson, one of its main clients. Back in July 2007, the company acquired Finnish application provider Navicore.
- According to its interim report (ending September 30th 2008), Wayfinder wanted to focus on a small number of global partners and to planned to reduce costs by 30% in 2009. The company reported close to 2,5M activated user accounts but only 294,000 paying users, who had activated a paid for application in the past 18 months. Vodafone's offering value Wayfinder at around €23M. I am not a financial analyst so I won't comment the cash offer in detail but from an industry perspective, it seems to me:
* this is a small amount of money for a global operator like Vodafone
Following the publication of this article in Moconews, I had a call with Greg Ballard, CEO of mobile gaming company GLU.
Glu is adamant that despite a smaller size than EA Mobile or Gameloft, the company is very well placed in porting games on the balkanized mobile handset market. He righlty pointed out that if smaller in revenues, Glu has a scalable business and claimed to be ahead of its competitors in some regions of the world (n2 after EA in the US and after Gameloft in Latam, n1 in China and Australia). He also made the point that Tetris still represents a significant chunk of EA revenues. Looking back at the Jamdat acquisition in December 2005, I have no other choice than to agree.
So, let me precise that my comment "the larger companies have economies of scales that their smaller rival doesn’t" mainly addresses the smaller players in the mobile gaming industry. Despite consolidation that took place over the last few years, this market is still very fragmented. Also, it is fair to point out that Gameloft's developer/production/porting teams represent close to 90% of the workforce (and thousands of employees). But I am not a financial analyst so I can't really make a call here.
eApple recently released its top downloaded applications on the AppStore since launch in July 08. No mention of the split here between apps downloaded on the iPhone and on the iPod touch.
Top 10 Free Downloads (Overall). My comments in italic
1-Pandora Radio (music, 2 million iPhone subs who spend 90 minutes listening on average) 2-Facebook (social networking) 3-Tap Tap Revenge (game) 4-Shazam (music) 5-Labyrinth Lite Edition (game) 6-Remote (entertaining app) 7-Google Earth (only launched 2 months ago!) 8-Lightsaber Unleashed (cool and fun app, close to a game for Dark Vador fans...) 9-AIM (highlights the strength of AOL Instant Messaging in the US vs Europe) 10-Urbanspoon
Can we please put a moratorium on all the gloomy news? Duke just released a study of CFOs where the key finding is that we're in for at least another 12 months of stagnation. Will someone acknowledge that there is a glimmer of hope in, of all places, at least one part of the retail world which according to conventional wisdom, should just be getting pummeled? I've been maintaining that eCommerce is insulated from the worst of it because there continues to be channel shift because it's just easier to shop online and perhaps most compelling, it's a channel where consumers can easily find the best price for anything they want to buy. I have two sets of datapoints to support this. The first is the Chase Paymentech Pulse Index which captures actual transactions from 25 of the top web merchants. Through Tuesday, December 9, the last 33 days of online shopping have actually been great. In fact, consumers have, when measured on a YOY calendar basis, spent 15% more this year than last year. This is remarkable given that Thanksgiving fell later in November this year and we've had fewer days to build upon the momentum that Black Friday always creates.
The last day of Nokia World, I interviewed Jeremy Belostock, the Head of NFC for Nokia's Device Experiences group.
NFC -- for those of you non-gadget types, like myself -- stands for "near field communication." And it is basically a functionality which allows mobile handsets to have "contactless" communication with other handsets, ear pieces, keyboards, other devices, even with out of home media, product packaging, kiosks, turnstiles, or anything where you can enbed an NFC-smartcard. Think of NFC as a tooll which allows you to use your mobile phone as your subway pass, your credit card, your change at a vending machine, or as a way to interact with media for additional information or promotions.
There are a few hurdles keeping NFC from becoming a mainstream application:
I need to read the Synovate report for myself, and I will look at the next results from Forrester's surveys of Japanese consumers to see if I see the same thing... Can't do that right now, I'm afraid.
I think Jeff is spot on with his view that Japanese Social Computing is often Web1.0 at heart. In particular, I agree with his observation that anonymity and lack of segmentation (trying to cater for the "general population") hold back the possibilities for Social Computing.
Could Japan's fickle consumers decide that SNS was just another fad and "move on"?
Somehow I cannot imagine it. (Move on to what? Long socks and tiramisu?). Is it possible to have a "camel" shaped adoption curve...?
In this morning's opening remarks and keynote sessions, Olli-Pekka Kallasvio introduced the theme for Nokia World and the primary driver of Nokia's: To translate the internet into *your* internet. This means not only enabling customization of sites or content, but of course literally getting any information *you* need to live your life directly into your pocket.
Phrased differently, Nokia wants to put in your hand the power to be more in tune to the world around you.
This week, I join my colleagues Ben Gray, Chris Silva, Simon Yates and Jaap Favier in Barcelona at Nokia World 2008. The event is Nokia's annual showcase to announce new products, demo existing capabilities, and share innovations in mobillity to clients, partners, media, and industry analysts.