Ringback tone and LBS added to Converged Application Server

Telcordia, which is targeting IMS as its key driver of growht for 2006, has added two applications to its IMS based application server.

The pre-built applications to be added to Telcordia's Maestro IMS range, are for the delivery of ringback tones and location based services.

“The addition of these new applications to our Maestro portfolio underlines Telcordia’s commitment to IMS and to helping operators derive value from all their networks through our Converged Applications Suite,” said Scott Erickson, President, IMS Service Delivery Solutions. “Telcordia is reducing the complexity of rolling out new revenue-generating services and offering operators rapid time to revenue for high-value services. The first two in a series of expanded applications in the Maestro portfolio will provide operators with an extra level of advanced subscriber offerings to help them gain a competitive advantage."

Value added services company Telenity is providing the media management aspect of the ringback tone applications and the applicaitons for the locations base services..

Branded search, messaging, mail on Nokia phons

Yahoo! has signed a deal with Nokia to launch a service called Go Mobile in ten countries across Asia and Europe. Consumers purchasing select Nokia 6630, Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681 and Nokia N70 devices will receive Yahoo! Go Mobile pre-installed.

The story of bringing internet users' online services and personas onto their mobile phones (see Motorola and Google stories below) gained another chapter today when Yahoo! announced a deal with mobile carriers in the US (AT&T and Cingular) and with Nokia in the "international market" (ie the rest of the world) to bring its internet services together in one mobile application.

In the United States, Yahoo! will launch Yahoo! Go Mobile with AT&T companies and Cingular Wireless in three markets and with AT&T and Cingular within the traditional AT&T 13-state local service footprint. The companies also plan a co-branded AT&T Yahoo! Go Mobile service designed to allow new and existing AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet subscribers to take their personalized Internet experience with them on their Cingular Wireless mobile device.

In Europe and Asia the web-client will be installed on "select Nokia 6630, Nokia 6680, Nokia 6681 and Nokia N70 devices."

“Yahoo! Go Mobile is a revolutionary step toward connecting Internet users to their favorite web services on their mobile devices and also making the Internet accessible to millions of consumers around the world who do not have a personal computer,” said Marco Boerries, senior vice president, Connected Life, Yahoo!. “By partnering with AT&T, Cingular and Nokia, Yahoo! has created a truly unique opportunity to launch a new service that is unmatched in the market. We have listened to consumers and are excited to give them what they want – a single way to simply connect to all of their information and content while on the go.”

As well as offering existing internet users the chance to mobilise their services, Yahoo! is also offeringthe ability to register for a new Yahoo! ID directly from a mobile device.

Key features of Yahoo! Go Mobile include Yahoo!'s messaging, mail, search, photo hosting, address book and calendar services, as well as access to news, stock and sports information and games.

"Motorola risks brand dilutions"

Following the announcement at CES
(see below) that Motorola is to integrate Google's search technology into its mobile phones, with the Google icon to appear on some handset home pages, Mike Brady, Senior Director of Business Development at enterprise search expert FAST, has warnd carrier and manufacturers that getting into bed with branded search companies is a risky business.

Providing comment to Mobile Europe, Brady said, "The mobile industry must seriously think through the implications of this development.  Google isn't just a search engine - it's now a global brand right up there with Coca-Cola.  By partnering with Google, Motorola is allowing its own brand to be diluted - it might seem a smart move in the short-term, but this will definitely impede future business models and revenue potential.

"A carrier that doesn't want Google on the handset could instruct Motorola to take it off - but in the event that the carrier doesn't care to control the search brand, Motorola has just lost the opportunity to extend their own brand with eg. "Motorola Search" via a white label search solution.

"The power of the Google brand is beginning to threaten the business models of companies in a myriad of industries.  Mobile operators have to recognise this threat and deploy a search solution that protects their data services revenues from Google, and provides a user experience more closely aligned with the brand and content of their own business."

Possible consolidation could also help Vodafone

Credit Suisse First Boston's (CSFB) Equity Research Group has taken the view that the $1.3 billion purchase by Egyptian operator Orascom of a 19% stake in Hutchison Telecom International raises the prospect of consolidation between the third and fourth mobile operators in Italy.

Hutchison Telecom International (HTI) is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa containing the group's 2G assets. HTI's owner, Hutchison Whampoa, own 3 Italia in its own right. Orascom's controlling shareholder, N Sawiris, owns third Italian operator Wind. CSFB said that both Sariwis and Frank Sixt, cfo of Hutchison Whampoa, confirmed there was now scope for co-operation between the operators, but the research company warned that substantive cooperation may require a full merger under the terms of EU anti-truct law.

CSFB has taken the view before that the best prospects for an upside for Vodafone in Europe would be more consolidation between its rival operators. "We calculate that a 3Italia-Wind merger could lift Vodafone FYMar08E eps by 2.4%, although such upside might be smaller if anti-trust approval required mandated access for MVNOs and/or if the combined 3Italia/Wind competed more aggressively," the bank's research arm said in a statement.

TIM has come under strong pressure from 3Italia, leading it to aggressive competitive plays. A merger could bring about less competitive disruption, CSFB reasoned, returning stability tothe Italian mobile market, which would be good news for Vodafone.

Considering the rationale for the Orascom-HTL deal, CSFB said it was probably too early to view this as the start of HTL's exit strategy from 2G in emerging markets, meaning some real cooperation in Italy is more likely.

"Hutchison Whampoa has a track record of selling its mature 2G assets (it sold Orange to Mannesmann in 1999) and with Orascom holding a right-of-first-refusal over the remaining Hutchison Whampoa shares in HTIL, the deal could provide an exit for Hutchison Whampoa," CSFB said.

"However, with penetration levels in many of HTIL’s markets (not least of which India) relatively low, it would seem early for a long term investor such as Hutchison to sell out. Hutchison may therefore indeed be seeking to co-operate with Orascom over the medium term, raising the real prospect of some kind of agreement in Italy. The timing of this deal, coming ahead of a delayed 3Italia IPO, should also not go unnoticed, although an announcement just before Christmas is not the best time to maximise publicity in the stock market, suggesting the deal has substance."

CSFB said that neither company's debt position would necessarily be an obstacle to merger, although relative valuations would be. 3 Italia values itself at a similar level to Wind, with revenues an estimated 35% that of Wind. Antitrusst issues would also be a possible obstacle to merger.

Majority of 18-34 year olds now use picture messaging

Enpocket, a mobile media company, and Harris Interactive, a market research and consulting company, have unveiled the findings from their latest UK Mobile Media Monitor.

The findings for Q4 2005 show that 36% of mobile owners now use their phones to send and receive picture messages, up from 21% at the same point last year. Over the past year MMS usage levels have increased dramatically in 18-34 age groups, and doubled in all age groups above 34 years old.

33% of males use their phones for this purpose but females are bigger users of MMS, with 40% using the medium to send and share pictures.

Conversely information hungry males are bigger users of the mobile internet (WAP).  38% use WAP compared to 26% of females.  Overall a third of all mobile owners use the channel.  In the younger age groups WAP is now mainstream with 61% of 18-24 year olds and 50% of 25-34 year olds having recently browsed the mobile internet. 

“Mobile as a communications medium is getting richer and a lot more exciting.  Consequently we’re seeing brands committing to long term mobile marketing strategies that encompass MMS and the mobile internet.  The Mobile Media Monitor gives clients a deep insight into the best way to touch different segments of the UK market,” said Mike Baker, President and CEO, Enpocket.

With WAP page impressions approaching 2 billion per month, according to the Mobile Data Association, the Mobile Media Monitor also unveils the most popular types of site on the mobile internet.  Ringtone sites are the most popular with 48% of WAP surfers visiting one or more in the last three months.  41% visited news sites, 36% games sites, 33% sports sites, 31% entertainment sites, 28% weather sites and 6% adult sites.

mFormation buys Aepona's device management business

Predictions that the mobile device management market (MDM) would undergo consolidation this year have been given a boost with the news that mFormation Technologies has today announced it has acquired Aepona (England) Ltd, a subsidiary company of Aepona Group Ltd. Both companies are suppliers of MDM software and services to operators

“Today’s announcement is great news for mFormation, its shareholders and customers. The deal will allow mFormation to extend its global lead in comprehensive MDM solutions by delivering real value to the network operator, enabling them to configure, deploy, support, secure, update, retire services to a variety of market segments including Consumer, Enterprise, SME and SoHo”, said Mark Edwards, chief executive officer and chairman of mFormation Technologies.

 “The acquisition of Aepona’s device management business strengthens our value proposition further to mFormation customers. Going forward we will also be working in partnership with Aepona as it continues to roll-out its Causeway platform to operators worldwide – supporting them with next generation and IMS solutions development.”

Together, mFormation and Aepona deliver MDM solutions to over 20 independent Network Operators, including T-Mobile and Vodafone.

“In order to allow Aepona to focus even more on the rapidly growing Causeway business, the Board decided to divest the Aepona Device Management System subsidiary following a track record of successful divestments to market leaders such as Openwave and LogicaCMG.  We are delighted to have completed this transaction with mFormation, a leader in Mobile Device Management. We look forward to a partnership with mFormation to add value to our customers,” said Gilbert Little, Chairman of Aepona’s Board. 

NetCool developer goes to IT giant

IBM and Micromuse Inc have entered into a definitive agreement for IBM to acquire the equity of Micromuse, a publicly held company based in San Francisco, in an all-cash transaction at a price of approximately $865 million, or $10 per share.  The acquisition is subject to Micromuse shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in the first quarter of the 2006 calendar year.

Micromuse did great business with its NetCool network management and monitoring suite of products, riding the introduction of IP services in fixed line and mobile networks, providing service assurance information to large enterprise and carrier customers. Its acquisition by IBM is a sign of the giant IT services company's continuing move into network OSS and monitoring products and services. NetCool will give IBM a rival to HP's OpenView products.

    

ARMONK, NY and SAN FRANCISCO, CA - 21 Dec 2005:

IBM and Micromuse Inc. (Nasdaq: MUSE) today announced the two companies have entered into a definitive agreement for IBM to acquire the equity of Micromuse Inc., a publicly held company based in San Francisco, in an all-cash transaction at a price of approximately $865 million, or $10 per share.  The acquisition is subject to Micromuse shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in the first quarter of the 2006 calendar year.

Micromuse is a leading provider of network management software used by banks, telecommunications carriers, governments, retailers and other organizations to monitor and manage their sophisticated technology infrastructures. The software helps customers manage increasingly complex IT systems that support the proliferation of voice and video traffic, in addition to data, due to the growing adoption of voice over IP (VoIP), audio and video services delivered over the Internet. The combination of Micromuse’s software and IBM's IT service management technology will provide customers with a comprehensive approach for reducing the complexity of their IT environments, lowering operational costs, and addressing  compliance mandates.

“Today's networks are no longer just pipelines of data -- customers are incorporating data, voice and video into their business operations at an astounding pace," said Al Zollar, General Manager, IBM Tivoli software.  "The proliferation of Internet telephony and video-on-demand are not only changing the way people use information technology, but also how companies manage it.  The addition of new capabilities raises the complexity of today’s networks, which require real-time network and service management.  The combination of Micromuse and IBM Tivoli will help companies manage these sophisticated IT environments, deploy new business service management solutions, and deliver new network-based services to customers, employees and trading partners."

IBM will use Micromuse software to complement its security management software by alerting IT staff about attempted network breaches and strengthen the IT service management capabilities of IBM's Tivoli software portfolio. 

Micromuse reported a 10% year-to-year revenue increase, to $160.8 million, for the fiscal year ended September 2005.

STORY NOW UPDATED WITH MICROSOFT RESPONSE

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

Further to our story below we now have this response from Microsoft. "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.”

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 pummeled 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.”

Company co-founder Daniel Mendez, who developed the disputed technology, said now the mobile email mrket 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".

"Visto's concerns about this market are heightened by Microsoft's recent decision to bundle Windows Mobile 5.0 with their already market-dominating Exchange server software. This method of bundling software has led Microsoft to be prosecuted by competition authorities in the past, and in this case, potentially increases the rate and manner in which their infringement on Visto's patents occurs," Visto said.

Visto's lawsuit specifically alleges that Microsoft has infringed on three patents relating to its mobile access to email and data technology:

U.S. Patent No. 6,085,192 titled, “System And Method For Securely Synchronizing Multiple Copies Of A Workspace Element In A Network”

U.S. Patent No. 6,708,221 titled, “System And Method For Globally And Securely Accessing Unified Information In A Computer Network”

U.S. Patent No. 6,151,606 titled, “System And Method For Using A Workspace Data Manager To Access, Manipulate And Synchronize Network Data”

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.

“We are confident that our country's legal system will uphold the protections provided for in the law. The law protects innovators from corporate predators – large or small –including those with well documented histories of bad corporate behavior,” said Mr. Bogosian.

Radio waves can cross national borders which can present difficult challenges when assigning spectrum in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. For the first time, Ofcom and ComReg have come together to auction spectrum for a license covering all of Ireland.

Ofcom, together with ComReg – the Commission for Communication Regulation in the Republic of Ireland - today announced proposals to award licences to use spectrum frequencies in the band 1785-1805MHz. This marks the first time the two regulators have adopted a coordinated approach to awarding spectrum to benefit businesses and consumers throughout the island of Ireland. 

Ofcom said that spectrum in the 1785-1805MHz band could be used for services such as broadband wireless access (fixed and mobile), digital video links, CCTV, mobile technologies and wireless microphones. The licences are expected to be awarded by auction in 2006.

The regulators think that having a combined license will allow operators to use the spectrum more efficiently and to take advantage of economies of scale across a larger market. It is hope that consumers could have access to identical services that are provided seamlessly on both sides of the border. An integrated award process might also enable cost-effective provision of wireless services to remote border areas and encourage more balanced regional development.

The key elements of the award are:
*        there will be a single licence awarded by ComReg in the Republic of Ireland and another soon after by Ofcom in Northern Ireland;
*        both auctions will be decided by a single round of sealed bids and the winning bidder will pay the second highest price bid;
*        the licences will be technology and application neutral;
*        the Northern Ireland licence will be tradeable and have an indefinite term, with an initial minimum period of 15 years;
*        the reserve price for the Northern Ireland licence will be £50,000.

Following a six-month trial of an Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA) solution, TeliaSonera Denmark is moving to phase two of its trial project — making calls with the Motorola A910 handset over the first 3GPP compliant UMA system in an operational network environment.

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