Multimedia technology set to open up previously untapped content distribution channels for 2G and 3G operators

Glenayre Messaging, a division of Glenayre Technologies, Inc. and a global leader in providing next-generation messaging solutions and enhanced services, announced today it will unveil Versera Active Messaging, the world’s first interactive voice and video messaging solution, at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, February 13-16, 2006.

Part of the Versera Intelligent Communications Environment (Versera ICE), Active Messaging transforms the voice and video mailbox into a powerful multimedia content and commerce distribution and fulfillment engine.
 
Glenayre’s Versera Active Messaging takes voice and video messaging to a previously unavailable level of interactivity. The new, patent-pending technology of Versera Active Messaging enables operators to insert interactive multimedia application logic directly into a voice or video message, creating an active message that the subscriber accesses through their mailbox.

Unlike earlier generations of voice and video messaging solutions, which only allowed subscribers to listen to or view their content, active messaging enables subscribers to immediately purchase, subscribe, download, provide feedback, tell a friend, or request more information while reviewing the multimedia content delivered to their mailbox.
 
“With consumers in many regions accessing their mailboxes five to 10 times or more per month, the mailbox represents one of the most familiar touch points an operator has,” said Mark Yaphe, Vice President of Product Management for Glenayre Messaging. “Active Messaging unlocks the potential of this touch point by turning it into a new distribution channel: a high-frequency, dynamic channel which drives incremental adoption and purchases of an operator’s content and services.”
 
“The opportunities are compelling,” Yaphe explains. “Imagine a subscriber who has signed up to a ringtone service. Not only can that subscriber opt-in to receive and listen to a weekly top-ten ringtone in their mailbox, but now with Active Messaging they can order it, order the artist’s CD, preview and purchase a video clip of the song, listen to other ringtones by that artist, or send the ringtone advertisement to friends. All while reviewing the ringtone delivered to their mailbox.  Or, consider an invitation to attend a concert or event. The subscriber can not only view a promotional video message of the upcoming event, but now they can immediately purchase tickets to the event, get maps and directions, make travel and hotel arrangements, and find the nearest restaurants.  Engaging subscribers in this new channel, with interactive multimedia content, will inevitably drive greater subscriber reach and more purchases.”
 
Versera Active Messaging will enable operators to launch a large number of highly-targeted and personalized 2G and 3G services and offers without ever having to modify their messaging system, as all of the multimedia application logic is embedded right in the message.  This will enable operators to quickly create compelling campaigns using VoiceXML, either in house or with solution partners, without the traditional costs and delays caused when making changes to a messaging system.  Active Messaging is another clear example of the innovative solutions made possible by Versera ICE’s VoiceXML powered applications.
 
The solution will be demonstrated at Glenayre’s stand (C68, Hall 1) for the first time at 3GSM, where visitors will be able to open an active message, view a promotional music video from an artist and make purchasing decisions.
 

Philips has launched a new multimedia cellular system solution. The Nexperia 7210, aimed at the growing need for high level multimedia devices which can also support dual mode EDGE and WCDMA capability.

The 7210 combines rich entertainment functions with low power consumption, Philips' vp and general manager of Cellular Systems, Jacques Noel told Mobile Europe, and features  advanced audio, video, Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) and FM radio capability for developers of new handsets. The solution also supports UMTS EDGE Dual Transfer Mode (DTM), to support the increasing number of operators who are running a WCDMA/ EDGE (or WEDGE) network.

Noel said that with only 25% baseband processing power required for running the 3G stack, there was plenty of processor space left for supporting hte multimedia applications. This differs from other providers, he claimed, where 90% of the power is required to run the telecoms function, meaning additional and co-processors are need to support other applications.

The integration of native 3G voice and data services into the 2.5G coverage area requires the handset to support DTM on top of the support of UMTS/EDGE technology.

“Supporting UMTS EDGE DTM on a mobile is a fantastic advantage both for 3G operators and for the end-user” said Alan Varghese, principal analyst, ABI Research. “If he moves out from a 3G area, the end-user will be able to switch from 3G to 2.5G, keeping the same level of services from his mobile, talking and being able to share some data with his friends or family, without losing the connection and still at a high data rate. This will definitely increase level of satisfaction and secure operator revenue.”
 

Memova Mobile 2.0 expands data revenue opportunities for mobile operators

Critical Path, a leading provider of messaging software and services, today announced the launch of new multimedia content services for consumers with Memova Mobile 2.0. Building upon its initial release as a consumer mobile email solution, Memova Mobile now enables mobile operators to provide easy, on-the-go access to popular multimedia content, such as news, blogs, sports, music, podcasts and other content. Compatible with any MMS-enabled phone, Memova Mobile 2.0 offers mobile operators immediate opportunities to drive MMS traffic and increase data revenue. Memova Mobile 2.0 will be unveiled at the upcoming 3GSM World Congress, February 13-16 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Most mobile operators have yet to see significant uptake of MMS as a person-to-person messaging service,” said John Delaney, principal analyst, Ovum. “To unlock the potential of MMS in the near term, operators need to focus additionally on the power that MMS has to push content out to end users – content that they are already interested in receiving, and which can form the basis of services that are easy to use, low cost and personalized.”

With Memova Mobile 2.0, popular content with photos, graphics, video and audio, in addition to email messages from existing email accounts (Yahoo!, Gmail and others), can be easily mobilized and pushed to mass-market mobile phones. The solution enables operators to leverage their existing MMS infrastructure to get to market quickly with new services targeted at the large installed base of consumers who already have MMS-capable handsets. With Memova Mobile, consumers can easily set up services, discover available content, and choose which email messages, news, blogs, podcasts and other content they want to receive on their phone. Memova Mobile 2.0 provides a powerful user experience that is:

• Easy – Most consumers do not have to change or upgrade their mobile phone, and the service can be set up with a few simple text messages – there is no software to install or configure. Also, because content is pushed to the phone, user discovery and consumption of content is simplified.

• Personalized – Content feeds can be personalized according to the consumer’s interests, and users can easily allow or block email senders so they get only the Messages that Matter.

• Addictive – Memova Mobile pushes email and content that subscribers already use regularly and also suggests preferences to users – enabling easier discovery of content and encouraging greater personalization and frequent, repeat usage.

• Affordable – Leveraging existing MMS infrastructure, Memova Mobile enables operators to minimize costs and offer competitive pricing to subscribers.

“Through our market research, we consistently see that consumers want mobile multimedia content services, but they need a simple discovery, download and content management experience,” said Donald Dew, CTO, Critical Path. “With the release of 2.0, we’re extending the easy, affordable, personalized and addictive nature of Memova Mobile beyond email to multimedia content, presenting significant new opportunities for operators.”
 
Demonstrations of Memova Mobile 2.0 will be available at 3GSM World Congress in the Critical Path stand – F48, Hall 2.

At the 3GSM World Congress, Appium will perform live demonstrations of the world leading convergent SIP/IMS application platform with applications like Call Hunting, Presence, Virtual Contact Center, and Third Party Call.

“Appium is the only company today that offers a truly convergent, next-generation SIP/IMS Application Server designed and optimised for the mission-critical telecom network environment. We are very proud to be able to perform live demonstrations of real products at the 3GSM World Congress”, explains Keith Miller, CEO of Appium.
 
The Appium solution is truly unique with simultaneous interoperability for multiple networks to facilitate provisioning of legacy services over SIP/IMS. This enables a broad range of new advanced services that combine SIP/IMS multi-media session management with the existing mobile capabilities such as SMS, Multi Media Services, Location Based Services (positioning) or content push. Appium’s solution also enables third party service providers and enterprise customers to easily add services through Telecom Web Services.
 
While the commercial launch of the system will take place later this year, trial systems have already been successfully implemented with selected operators.

The key differentiators of Appium SIP/IMS offering are:
Support for a broad range of SIP/IMS and convergent services
Carrier-grade service platform with very high scalability
SIP/IMS exposure through standard Telecom Web Services
Telecom-optimised Java-based service execution environment
Simultaneous integration with SIP/IMS and legacy networks
Support for seamless service migration to SIP/IMS
 
At the 3GSM World Congress, Kristofer Kimbler, founder of Appium, will also take part in a panel discussion at the conference on “Unlocking the Potential of Mobile Content & Services” arranged by Intel Capital at their Service Delivery Platform Forum on Monday the 13 February.
 
Visit Appium in Hall 2, stand G 96, for live demonstrations or contact us to schedule a meeting while in Barcelona.

Another Blackberry patent dispute, no less

T-Mobile has won a case in which it was accused, along with Research In Motion, of infringing on a patent held by Inpro.

This dispute started when RIM asked the English High Court to revoke an Inrpo patent relating to data conversion and management on the grounds that it was invalid for lack of novelty and obviousness.  Inpro counter-claimed for infringement of its patent and joined T-Mobile into the proceedings.

Mr Justice Pumfrey, who gave judgment,held that all the claims in issue were either obvious or lacking in novelty and revoked Inpro's patent.

A parallel infringement action brought by Inpro in Germany against T-Mobile was defeated last Friday when the German Court in Munich gave a decision invalidating Inpro's German patent.

James Blendis, Legal Director of T-Mobile (UK) said, "We are obviously very pleased with the result."

T-Mobile was represented in the case by Bird & Bird.

"Flext" system basically a bundle

T-Mobile is hailing a new tariff scheme it calls "Flext" as unique, and central to its plans to raise consumer usage and lotalty in the UK market, to which it has committed to invest £1.5 billion over the next two years.

A Flext contract, which is for 18 months, will offer subscribers a certain number or minutes and texts, or any combination of them, for a set monthly fee.

So the £35 per month deal gives 900 minutes of talk time and 1,800 texts, or any combination of them. In other words, a bundle. But T-Mobile says that the bundle substantially reduces costs to the user, taking call costs down to as low as 4p per miniute and texts to below two pence per text in some circumstances.

It also makes the point that bundles reduce bill-shock, and keep run-on rates (the rates people are charged when they execeed their monthly allotment of calls and texts) to a minimum.

A T-Mobile spokesperson said the bundles had had a positive reaction from consumers in market research, and the strategy was part of a campaign to "treat our customers better."

Telefonica Moviles, Vodafone Spain and Amena must open up networks

The European Commission has endorsed the Spanish telecoms regulator, the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones or CMT, in its determination to force Spanish mobile operators to open their networks to third parties.

The mobile operators must listen to "reasonable offers" made by third parties to provide MVNO services over their networks. The CMT has indicated that it will "intervene in the event of conflict". 
 
Among the measures that the CMT proposed to the European Commission to encourage competition in the Spanish mobile telephone market, the CMT is to force the current Spanish mobile operators, Telefónica Móviles, Vodafone and Amena, to allow virtual mobile operators to access their networks. 
 
The European Commission had the authority to veto this measure proposed by the CMT if it deemed it unnecessary.  However, the Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes gave the CMT's proposal her " unqualified support". 

“CMT's measure will increase competition in the Spanish retail mobile telephone market and benefit 40 million Spanish consumers”, Kroes said.

According to CMT retail prices in Spain remain high and are well above EU average. CMT said in its submission to the EC that Telefónica, Vodafone and Amena jointly hold a position of collective dominance on the wholesale market for access and call origination and tacitly agree not to grant access to MVNOs, as any new entrant into the market (such as an MVNO) would bring retail prices down. Hence by not granting access to an MVNO at the wholesale level Telefónica, Vodafone and Amena can effectively prevent competition on the retail market for mobile telephone services and protect prices which are well above European average.

S60 Smart Phones Surge Beyond Two Million Units in 4Q05, Says IDC

According to the latest market data released by IDC, the Western European mobile device market (including standalone handhelds and converged devices) grew by 26% year on year and 32% sequentially in the final quarter of 2005. Total shipments reached 4.5million units in 4Q05 as the relentless growth of Symbian S60 throughout2005 was maintained to drive total mobile device shipments of 13.9 millionunits for the year, compared to 8.9 million units in 2004, representing year-on-year growth of 56%.

However, while record S60 shipments contributed significantly towards market performance in 4Q05, final quarter growth represented the most disappointing year-on-year volume increases of all quarters in 2005 for both converged and handheld device categories.

"With intense competition from rival consumer electronics over the festive period contributing to an abrupt halt in the growth witnessed by the handheld category in 2005, growth was highly reliant on a converged device segment in 4Q05 that itself witnessed disappointing growth outside the consumer-centric Symbian S60 platform," said Jean-Philippe Bouchard, senior
research analyst, IDC European Mobile Devices.

Most significantly, despite growing 31% sequentially the standalone handheld segment suffered negative year-on-year growth of -17% as shipments reached just 839,000 units compared to volumes in excess of a million in the corresponding quarter of 2004.

"Disappointing growth for handhelds in the high volume final quarter has reinforced the belief that GPS bundling in isolation could not maintain positive growth indefinitely despite portfolio refreshes and aggressive price cuts by leading vendors such as HP and Palm," said Geoff Blaber, research analyst, European Mobile Devices. "The multi-application superiority of converged devices and heavily subsidized price points,
combined with aggressively-priced dedicated GPS systems, triggered the decline in 4Q, presenting a bleak outlook for the market in 2006."

With the exception of Acer and Medion, all top 5 handheld vendors suffered negative growth in 4Q05. However, substantial price cuts by HP and Palm to counter the competitive threat from Acer and other low cost Windows Mobile vendors fueled rejuvenation in market share from previous quarters. Palm led the market for the first time since 1Q04, with 23%, and was followed by HP, proving that despite a dominant European preference for Microsoft's OS, demand remains for Palm OS devices positioned in specific segments at
competitive price points.

In contrast to handhelds, converged devices exhibited market growth of 42%, driving shipments of 3.6 million units to push total shipments for 2005 to just under 11 million units, representing year-on-year growth of 80%.

However, growth fell below expectations in the final quarter as major vendors such as Motorola and Sony Ericsson saw a substantial slowdown in shipments as devices such as the MPx220, A1000, and P910i reached the end of their life cycles and the channel was cleared for new launches in the
opening quarter of 2006.

As a consequence, the market continued to be dominated by Nokia S60 shipments as the launch of the N70 further invigorated demand, assisted by extensive 3G service/content promotion by operators in anticipation of the Christmas period. The Finnish vendor consolidated a 76% market share, followed by RIM, which maintained momentum to ship 215,000 units. The prolonged absence of push email capability for Windows Mobile 5.0 combined with the launch of RIM's EDGE-capable 8700 device presents a positive outlook for the Canadian vendor in 2006.

"The release of Windows Mobile 5.0 and the influx of new devices that is fueling promises to invigorate the market in 2006, particularly within the enterprise space," said Andrew Brown, program manager, European Mobile Devices and Computing. "However, Symbian's positioning as an OS and
flexibility to enable low-cost implementation in multimedia or
enterprise-centric devices means Microsoft faces a significant challenge to rival the dominance that Symbian has established to date."

Shortly after settling a patent license with NTP, mobile email software company Visto has decided to file action against Microsoft for alleged misuses of Visto's proprietary technology.

Visto, which is providing the technology behind, amongst others, Vodafone's mobile email service, has alleged that Microsoft has infringed on its patents for providing mobile acces to email and other data.
Visto ceo Brian Bogosian, well known to Mobile Europe readers for his forthright views, delivered a typically stinging attack on Microsoft in a company statement.
“For more than a decade, small, innovative companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have lived in fear of the day Microsoft decides to enter their market,” Bogosian said. “They are a big, powerful, wealthy company, but they have no real growth, even in their most profitable divisions. They want to show investors that they can sustain growth in a new, developing market, like mobile access to email and data, but they cannot be permitted to do that by misappropriating another company's intellectual property.”
“Innovative companies have been pummelled out of existence or into minor players after Microsoft decided to enter their markets,” Bogosian added.
“Netscape and RealNetworks are among the best known examples. Courts around the world have ruled time after time against Microsoft, saying that it has acted either inappropriately or in violation of the law, especially concerning how they have treated competing companies. We will not let that happen to Visto.”
Microsoft offered little public response, other than this formal statement:
“Until we have an opportunity to review this complaint and investigate Visto's allegations, we're not in a position to comment specifically on them. In the meantime, however, we wish to underscore that Microsoft stands behind its products and respects the intellectual property rights of others.”
Company co-founder Daniel Mendez, who developed the disputed technology, said now the mobile email market looks like a banker, companies are trying to cash in on work he developed when the concept was still only that.
“With the recent explosion in smart phone technology and demand for mobile email access, the market has caught up with Visto's original vision,” said Mr. Méndez.
“We worked many long nights over many years and invested heavily to develop and patent our technology at a time when many people thought we were working on future fantasies. Now, when the market potential is obvious to everyone, other companies want to misappropriate the technologies that we invented and to benefit, for free, from our hard work and innovation.”
The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Visto asserts that Microsoft's Windows Mobile 5.0 is "a blatant infringement on Visto's patented technology".
The complaint seeks a permanent injunction that would “prohibit Microsoft from continuing to misappropriate Visto's intellectual property”. The company also seeks monetary damages as compensation for Microsoft's illegal actions.

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