Currency of iTunes and Apple

I haven't yet blogged about Apple or iTunes so here it goes ...

Have you recently counted the number of times per week or per day that someone is offering you iTunes? or the chance to win an iPod device?

Today alone, a friend sent me two codes from Mountain Dew bottle caps. Even my friends who don't have an iPod recognize the value and are sending them my way.

By giving Avaya my name and email address (which they obviously already had), I earned 10 iTunes even though I told them I won't be buying any corporate telecom equipment. If I were willing to spend an hour with their sales team, they would give me a Shuffle out right. By filling out a feedback form for a magazine that I once subscribed to, I was offered the chance to win one of five iPods - same offer for filling out a feedback form for a conference that I attended last month. These were just the offers presented to me TODAY.

I think that iTunes has emerged as the premier non-cash give-away. I feel as though I can estimate the value of my feedback by the number of iTunes they give me.

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Home Wi-Fi - It ' s Not Just About Sharing an Internet Connection

Our first home/consumer Wi-Fi consumer survey went "live" on our site today. One of our key findings is that one quarter of home Wi-Fi installations are being used for entertainment purposes (e.g., streaming audio or video). Majority still sharing an Internet connection, but we are starting to see a shift towards more sophisticated networks.

See the report on our site at

Wi-Fi Consumer Survey Report

Wi-Fi Alliance Continues to Push Standardization

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced their Extended EAP program for WPA- and WPA2-Enterprise with certification available as of 4/15/05.

I think it's an important move to continue the certification of Wi-Fi equipment. Overall, 37 percent of respondents to an executive survey stated that Wi-Fi certified hardware was important in the selection of network gear. That was in March 2004 - the number jumped to 46 percent four months later.

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Another Muni Wireless/Wi-Fi Network Announced

Minneapolis is one of the latest large U.S. cities to announce its intentions to support a citywide wireless and fiber network. When I read these articles - and they appear almost daily - , I have more questions than answers. I wonder if this is true of the municipalities themselves.

In the case of Minneapolis, the network will be privately owned and managed. According to our research, this is a solid idea. My question is - if it's privately owned, run, and managed - and it will be profitable, why isn't someone doing this already? or is it the promise of being the city's ISP that tips the balance here?

re selling broadband to residents at $18 to $24 ... this likely adds a second or third competitor to a market where only 10 to 15 percent of the residents don't have access. We're still in the stages of collecting data regarding residents' attitudes towards wireless broadband and what it would take for them to switch. With the information released to date, it's hard to sort out the business model. Stay tuned - our report is due out end of May.

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Google Launches New Local Services to Mobile Apps Product Suite

I received a press release from Google this am regarding local search being available on XHTML-enabled mobile phones. Cool, I thought. I checked the box that my phone came into to see if it was labeled "XHTML-compatible." Couldn't find this label on the box. Then I checked the web site that I refer to on a nearly weekly basis for instructions regarding how to use my phone. I did a search on XHTML there - "no results found."

I decided to forge ahead anyway. I launched the browser, typed in the URL and saved it as a "favorite." Don't ask how many key strokes. Then I attempted to connect to the URL. I received an error message that the application would not work because my phone/browswer combination did not support the application.

So, here I am again. Lots of buzz and press around a newly launched application, but I can't use it. I really thought things were going to get better when I upgraded from my ca year 2000 Star-tac.

I did try the application out on my PC. Not bad - my favorite Thai restaurant was the 6th listing among Thai restaurants in my zip code. Provided a phone number, map, etc.

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Mobile Blogging ... but without my camera phone and photos

Each day there are reminders to me that I live in San Francisco. In some ways they are fun and I'd like to share them with my friends who live back on the east coast. I couldn't manage to capture these experiences with my camera phone and MMS so I'm going to give it a shot here with just text.

I had to wait in line behind a black lab to get a drink at the water fountain in Golden Gate Park this morning. And, yes, the dog was standing on its hind legs drinking from the fountain just as a person would. I would have snapped a photo, but I didn't have my phone with me. Maybe Jobs will integrate a camera into the Shuffle. Or not.

I was enroute to a bar to meet some friends on Friday evening. From the bus window, I saw a girl scout dressed in her uniform pulling a red wagon full of girl scout cookies. She was stopped outside an adult video store just outside of the Castro. She later appeared at the bar. I did have my phone with me, but couldn't do much from a moving bus or in a dark bar ... even with the flash turned on.

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Carriers ' Walls - Won ' t Last as Long as the Incas ' Did

...or even until Verizon launches EVDO in San Francisco? Some estimates in the US already put direct transactions at nearly 25 percent of all content purchases for the cell phone.

Cellular customers in Europe have been buying direct for years. According to my European counterpart, Thomas Husson, nearly 70 percent of ring tones are sold direct. How soon until we see the same business models in the US? Will direct sales be good for the wireless carriers in the long term? I think so. They get 40 to 60 percent of content revenue today in a market that is relatively small. In an indirect market, they are likely to have a cut closer to 20 percent. But, it that's a smaller cut of a much bigger market, then that's not a bad thing.

Buongiorno launched in the US this week with their mobile content offerings under the DirtyHippo brand. A bit hard to imagine "fun" in a name associated with one of the most dangerous animals, but they did $106 million in revenue outside of the States last year - hard to argue that it's not a viable business model.

Thumbplay has had some announcements.

Bango announced on March 14th.

Either these companies don't think there is enough growth in Europe or they think the US market is ready for direct to consumer sales. I think the US market is ready - at least among early adopters.

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Complexities of Content Distribution on Cell Phones

Well, Zuma (Sorrent) is finally available for my LG8000 today. I suggest checking the game out - easy to learn and addictive - at least I find it to be.

zuma.jpg

The "wait" for Zuma provides an illustration of the complexities of content distribution to cell phones. The game was "ready" last year - I think I first saw the game around the time of the CTIA show last October. Zuma was launched at CTIA this spring ca. March 15th. However, it was available on a select few handsets. I've checked a number of times during the past few weeks to see if it is available for my phone. Looked on Verizon's site to see if I could set up an alert. Today as I was browsing, I found it - even listed under "feature" applications - very plain text listing - which I don't quite understand given the rich display technology that the phone has.

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Mobile Video - Admiring the Technological Achievements

I attended a technology event in Palo Alto last night. A friend of mine and I were speaking to a 1948 graduate of MIT. His badge stated that he had been "Course 6." To a recent graduate, this would mean that he had studied either Electrical Engineering or Computer Science. (MIT students speak in numbers when referring to majors, buildings, etc.) My friend asked which of the two majors he had studied.

He replied rather politely, "my dear, in 1948, we didn't have computers - it was just electrical engineering back then."

I couldn't really mock my friend because it really hadn't occurred to me either until he pointed it out to us. Duh.

He then went on to talk about how there were large rooms filled with glass tubes ....

In the mean time, I'm complaining about only getting 12 fps while watching basketball on my mobile phone, wondering when EV-DO will get to San Francisco, and thinking my iPod is really too large to be portable now that I have a Shuffle.

All of these technologies are truly amazing when taken into perspective. I will take more time to admire the technology, and I will stop complaining about 12 fps.

VCast - Exceeded Most of My Expectations

I finally visited an EV-DO city and had the opportunity to trial VCast. At first I couldn't get it to work because there wasn't enough memory available to buffer the content. (I had the phone about one week before heading to CTIA. Since I was unable to view video, I took the opportunity to trial some of the 3D games).

The video experience was good due to the buffering upfront and the ability to switch the screen to landscape. After a couple of days, I was a bit impatient with the buffering process, but it wasn't too bad. Once streaming video can match the quality of this experience, I think this could be a hit. Our consumer surveys show that only one percent of cell phone users have trialed mobile video, but the data also show that interest is much higher. (I have a report due out in a few weeks that will include detailed findings.)

I liked the experience, but I was also curious to see how others would react. Whenever I was near other folks and just hanging around (e.g., lining up for the "A" seating on Southwest airlines), I would turn it on. The reaction from folks around me was "wow, that's pretty cool. Can I get that?" (And, no, they were not all referring to the stuffed moose phone covering - though many of the women were)

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