Tag Archives: mobilecon

New mobile payment push by Verizon takes centerstage at MobileCon

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

As easy as looking in your wallet to see how much cash you have.

Credit cards are simple to use, easy to carry and accepted everywhere. That’s a tough combination to beat, which explains why mobile payment platforms are stalled in the U.S.

“You’ve got to make it incredibly simple,” said Michael Abbott, the CEO of Isis, a mobile payment platform that’s pulled together support from Verizon, American Express and Chase. “The competition is plastic, we’ve got to make plastic obsolete.”

He was speaking to a full house at the opening session at MobileCon today in San Jose. Billed as a keynote, it was really an introduction of the mobile payment ecosystem that Isis is building on the Verizon network. At his side were Dan Schulman, a group president with American Express, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead and James White, the CEO of Jamba Juice, an early adopter of the Isis/Amex/Verizon platform.

“How do you fundamentally change the face of commerce? By becoming more intimate with the customer,” said Shulman. “The holy grail is the data and information around the payment, not the form factor.”

The point of sale technology they’re implementing now is near field communications (NFC), but there was general agreement that it would migrate to something else over time. “Most people are probably overestimating the rate of change for the next three years, and underestimating the rate of change after that,” Abbott said.

One disruptive change they’re aiming at is to lower the cost of transactions for everyone, no matter what their income level. “Its expensive to be poor”, Schulman said, pointing to the fees charged by check cashing and money order companies. “For those who are not in the financial mainstream, it’s incredibly expensive to move your money”.

MobileCon draws more people than purpose in San Jose

by Steve Blum • ,

Same booths, less booze, more schmooze than San Diego.

MobileCon’s last gasp is respectably windy, thanks to the decision to move it to San Jose. For the past few years, it’s bounced between San Francisco and San Diego as attendance, conference quality and buzz steadily spiraled downward. Following a dismal showing in San Diego last year, CTIA decided to combine MobileCon with its spring flagship show into a single event in Las Vegas next September, modestly called Super Mobility Week.

For its final fling, CTIA brought MobileCon to San Jose. The show has always struggled to find a purpose, variously emphasising apps, content and the enterprise market over the years, and settling on an IT theme at the end. You bring in a handful of marquee corporate names, offer a drink or two and hand out a lot of free exhibit floor passes, and you will draw a crowd in Silicon Valley.

The kick-off keynote session was nearly full this afternoon, a stark comparison to last year when maybe a fifth of the seats were occupied. The exhibit floor was better attended when it opened, even though it was largely the same lackluster exhibitors as last year. A morning session on location based services organised by the Wireless Communications Alliance, a local trade group, was standing room only.

But first and foremost, CTIA is a Washington-based trade association that focuses on extracting the maximum political benefits possible, particularly from Congress and the FCC. Putting on a commercial event in Silicon Valley with a few thousand attendees doesn’t do much to advance that core mission.

Nor does it attract the cutting edge entrepreneurs and start-up companies that will drive the mobile industry’s future – they were up at the GigaOm mobile conference in San Francisco today.

See you in Vegas.

Sony sees but doesn’t raise the mobile game

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

Coincidentally, it costs $200.

As the last MobileCon opens in San Jose, Sony announced today that it’s launching three mobile products in the US: the Xperia Z1 and Z Ultra smartphones and its new Smartwatch 2.

I don’t see any Wow! factor. The smart phones are standard, high-end Android devices and the smart watch seems more or less in line with Samsung’s Gear, although the fact that it can be used with any late model Android device (or so they say) and is a hundred bucks cheaper is a competitive advantage.

Sony can survive just fine in the sub–5% mobile market share club. Unlike Blackberry or Nokia (or Apple, for that matter), Sony is a diversified consumer electronics and digital content company. Like LG, it has a relatively small market share across a wide range of products, sectors and industries. Its competitive advantage is its brand. The joke in the consumer electronics industry used to be: what’s Sony worth? 50 bucks per letter.

That was twenty years ago. Back then, Sony could command a $200 premium on mainstream CE products like televisions and satellite receivers, just on the strength of the brand, which was built on a reputation for quality and innovation. These days, Sony isn’t innovating as much and although its quality is still among the best, the membership in that top group has expanded considerably.

Sony’s strategic positioning is against Samsung across a wide range of product lines, of which mobile phones are just one. Unlike major computer and tech companies, like, say, HP, Dell and Microsoft, it’s known all along that it needs to be in the mobile sector and has hung in through thick and thin. Today’s product announcements are more than enough to keep Sony in the game for the coming months.