Amazon have just announced their new tablet – the Kindle Fire HD. This follows on from the Kindle Fire which has rapidly become the second most popular tablet in the world after the iPad according to IDC – despite only be ing sold in the USA! Why is this interesting? Well, finally Apple have a real competitor in the tablet market and, I’m sorry Microsoft but it isn’t the Surface. What makes the Amazon Fire genuinely competitive with the Apple devices is what made the iPad the market dominator that it is today – the accompanying ecosystem. With the Amazon Kindle Fire HD the ecosystem is different – and that is why it is a genuine (and very interesting) challenger in a way that Microsoft, Google or Samsung will never be.
Via LinkedIn I recently came across this really good presentation on the future of mobile. In many respects most of the information in here is nothing new, and won’t surprise anyone who has followed developments in the mobile and end user computing markets over the last year. On the other hand I haven’t seen it all put together so clearly before, and so the presentation is well worth taking a look at.
The term “Sexy Billing” was first coined by Darran Clem of Telesperience (in fact Darran coined the twitter hashtag #sexybilling) in response to this post where Teresa Cottam complains that telecommunications billing wasn’t seen as sexy, but that it should be. At first it just made me laugh. But then I began to think – why was that? I have devoted several years of my life to working on and thinking about billing in telecommunications (and elsewhere) – why would I do that if I didn’t think it was sexy in some respect? What would it mean for billing to be sexy? In fact what does it mean to say that a topic is “sexy”? We don’t mean we are sexually attracted to it (I hope)! Instead, when we say that something like a car is sexy, we mean that it is glamourous, it’s attractive, that when we are involved with it we are filled with a sense of delight. Pondering this, I realised that many of the core aspects of billing aren’t sexy. Those hard issues around rating algorithms, trade-offs between the performance and reliability, processing vast numbers of transactions, integration with the demands of customer relationship management, finance and business intelligence systems are just that – hard, and not intrinsically exciting. However, the experiences that billing gives rise to can be sexy – that is they can be the kind of experiences that customers, management and internal staff want to have and be associated with. Now, they often aren’t sexy – but they could be and should be! So here is my take on what sexy billing might look like.
In my career in telecommunications I have worked across Europe, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. I’ve also spent most of my life in the Asia-Pacific region, and used telecommunications services across various countries. My experience has shown me that telecommunications providers, vendors and professionals need to have a markedly different attitude towards this region. Europe is a considerably more homogeneous region than Asia-Pacific. The OSS and BSS solutions that I was involved in within Europe were remarkably similar in their approach (if not their functionality), whereas the solutions that I worked on in the Asia-Pacific region were radically different in their approach to delivering what was often the same functionality.
This is something of a shameless plug for my friends at Telesperience, but their podcast is one of the few out there about the telecommunications industry, and about BSS/OSS in particular. I am an avid listener of podcasts – basically because it is the only way I can tolerate the boredom of exercise or commuting – but I have really struggled to find any on the subject of telecommunications or the areas of BSS/OSS. Telesperience put out – somewhat irregularly – a great series of podcasts centred on the idea of improving “operational efficiency, commercial agility and a better customer experience” (to quote their tagline) within the telecommunications industry. Topics covered include innovative OSS/BSS vendors, billing, customer experience, business intelligence and personalisation always with the focus on how and why these topics matter to operators whether from the perspective of the bottom line, or through making a difference to end customers. This podcast is highly recommended if you work in this industry and want to hear something more in-depth and thoughtful than the usual vendor PR or industry newsbites.
You can also subscribe to Telesperience through iTunes.
If you know of any other good telecommunications podcasts, let me know by adding a comment below.
This is just a brief post to say that I have been distracted from blogging by recent earthquake related activity. For those who don’t know, there was a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, my hometown, on Tuesday 21 February 2011. I’ve spent a couple of days worrying about and sorting out family related things – thankfully everyone is safe and relatively unscathed. Over those days I have received numerous messages of support from my colleagues, friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere and the twitterverse, which have really meant a lot.
I have also just written a guest article for 160Characters on the use of text messages in the aftermath of the earthquake entitled: SMS vital in dark hours of Christchurch earthquake. If you are interested, go there and check it out! As one of the most significant events in New Zealand’s recent history (or possibly in all of New Zealand’s short history) the earthquake will have many impacts on New Zealand society, business and technology which will no doubt inspire me to write more on the topic.
Recently Teresa Cottam asked me what I thought of the Nokia/Microsoft alliance. A number of people have said it is the marriage of two failures, while a few others think it is an astute business move.
My take on this is that Nokia had to do something radical. They are losing market share to Apple’s iPhone (and probably to Android smartphones too). Their Symbian smartphones were just dreadful – the user experience was horrible and they couldn’t compete with the application functionality offered by Apple through the iTunes AppStore.
Nokia used to be the clear leaders in phone design – their hardware was distinctive, relatively sleek, nice-looking, robust and reliable. Sometime in the mid 2000s things started to go wrong. The hardware started to look old, or the same as everyone else’s. Everyone else caught up with them in terms of the quality of user experience. With the advent of the iPhone Nokia looked like it had really lost its way, and when Android phones started to come out they started to look like the fourth best option (after Blackberries).