T-Mobile reported their Q4 2016 results yesterday, and guess what?

Published in BoomBustBlog

Over the last 5 years, I have warned that T-Mobile would start turning up the heat in the US dead beat carrier business (see links below). I call them dead beat carriers because they relied on a virtual duopoly of cash cow cash flows and failed toi innovate. They actually allowed Silicon Value to capitalize on thier apathy, and now they are rlelgated to bg dumb utlitiy pipes in lieu of the lifeblood... the synapses of communication and commerce between all people an businesses. 

Published in BoomBustBlog

 It started in 2012 wiith the article "Deadbeat Carrier Creative Destruction In The Ongoing Mobile Computing Wars". That's when I warned that margins in the carrier space will collapse - just as they did in the cellular handset space, as new business models and the effect if Android start to ripple and reverbrate. My latest article in the series, "The Smallest & Liveliest Of The DeadBeat Carriers Successfully Launched Wireless WMDs" detailed how T-Mobile will throw the gauntlet down and turn the wireless industry on its head - at great risk not just to margins but entire business models. To wit:

There are 4 major national carriers in the US, basically two big ones two smaller ones. The smallest of the 4, T-Mobile, consistently get beat up - losing out on the right to subsidize the iPhone at a loss (like AT&T used to and Sprint still does) and basically losing subscribers. Then they decided to do something about it. They said, "Hey, let's stop being deadbeats!". By changing their pricing plans and eliminating subsidies and instead selling pure access to their virtual pipes (like a carrier is supposed to) combined with actual "real" financing of the hardware (at competitive rates, nonetheless) they essentially committed DeadBeat Carrier Blashphemy. The only issue was, it worked, to the chagrin of the competition - reference:

 Reggie Middleotns Carrier Cost ComparisonReggie Middleotns Carrier Cost Comparison

Reggie Middleotns Carrier Subsidy Cost ComparisonReggie Middleotns Carrier Subsidy Cost Comparison

  As a matter of fact, in Deadbeat Carriers Compete, aka #MarginCompression!!! (exactly ONE year ago), I prognosticated that T-Mobile will kick off a pricing war that will bring about the greatest savings to the wireless consumer it has seen since the birth of the industry. I even went so far as to include and online interactive spreadsheet for readers to analyze their own savings - or potential therefore.

Well, fast forward to today and we get to see if Reggie's thesis is still holding water. From the Street.com in How the Consumer Wins In the Wireless Wars:

Carriers are engaging in a price war in order to win market share, with T-Mobile's "uncarrier" plans really shaking things up. T-Mobile has been aggressively trying to grab market shares by eliminating consumer "pain points," specifically the issue of locking customers into two-year contracts. T-Mobile has been rolling out programs to entice customers to switch their carrier, with the latest three offerings announced in April, where the company under the "Simple Starter," "Tablet Freedom" and "Overage Freedom" - eliminated all domestic overage charges for consumers, even those on legacy plans. T-Mobile had announced in March 2013 its "Simple Choice" plan that offered no annual service contract and low out-of-pocket costs on smartphones.

The company must be doing something right, given its impressive first-quarter subscriber growth of 2.4 million total net customer additions for the three months, making it the "fastest growing wireless company in America," it said in its earnings release last week.

Both Verizon and AT&T are combating T-Mobile by touting payment agreements for customersthat require little to no down payment, more data, and fewer service charges when it comes to multiple phones or being able to pay for the device itself in installments as appealing features to switch over. (Check with your carrier to see the latest offers available.)

That said, it's easy for consumers to get confused by the growing array of options, but it's clear that for once, the consumer is winning since costs associated with smartphones are becoming more transparent and understandable. "This trend, combined with a wider selection of fully functional mid-range and low-end devices, should help win over the undecided consumers but also will shift the growth away from the high end," Kantar stated.

Between the first quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of this year, spending on smartphones on contracts dropped to $93 from $119, while pre-pay spending dropped to $148 from $187, Kantar said.

Now, the mainstream media and sell side analytical community is just a year (or two) late in realizing this, but better late then never, eh? Also from the Street.com we have Why T-Mobile Is Beating AT&T and Verizon:

 T-Mobile US shares were surging 8.1% to $31.67 following news that larger rival Sprint was prepping plans to propose a buyout of the carrier as its impressive subscriber growth for the first-quarter shows that consumers are digging its offerings.

T-Mobile, known for its "Un-carrier" initiatives, has been aggressively trying to grab market share by eliminating consumer "pain points," specifically the issue of locking customers into two-year contracts like Verizon , Sprint and AT&T . T-Mobile has been rolling out programs to entice customers to switch their carrier, with the latest three offerings announced in April, where the company under the "Simple Starter," "Tablet Freedom" and "Overage Freedom" - eliminated all domestic overage charges for consumers, even those on legacy plans. T-Mobile had announced in March 2013 its "Simple Choice" plan that offered no annual service contract and low out-of-pocket costs on smartphones.

The company must be doing something right, given its impressive first-quarter subscriber growth.

T-Mobile reported first-quarter earnings results earlier this morning in which it boasted 2.4 million total net customer additions for the three months, which included more than 1.8 million branded net customer additions, making it the "fastest growing wireless company in America," it said in its earnings release. T-Mobile ended the quarter with 49.1 million customers, it said. On the other hand, the company experienced "record low" churn of 1.5%, down 20 basis points from the fourth quarter and down 40 basis points from the year-earlier period.

...  T-Mobile actually posted a net loss of $151 million, or 19 cents a share, for the three months ending March 31, compared to a profit of $106 million, or 20 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter, according to its quarterly filing. However, revenue at the Bellevue, Wash.-based company rose 47% to $6.87 billion year over year. 

... Adjusted EBITDA came in at $1.1 billion, down 12.2% sequentially, which it attributed to increased equipment sales due to the "significant acceleration in customer growth and the success of its Un-carrier 4.0 - Contract Freedom offer." Adjusted EBITDA margin was 20% compared to 24% in the fourth quarter of 2013.<story_page_break>

... T-Mobile expects branded postpaid net additions between 2.8 million and 3.3 million for the full year and adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $5.6 to $5.8 billion, it said.

Althouth T-Mobile may be hard pressed to replicate that pop in revenues and subscribers, I expect the trend to continue until and unless the other carriers match it in both pricing model and marketing efforts. I doubt they will do this until it is too late. They should, but they won't. That is unfortunate for thier investors for, as T-Mobile is the smallest of the top 4 national carriers, this is Verizon/ATT/Sprint's (in that order) fight to lose!

In addition, as revenue and subscriber rate increases subside, EBITDA may level off as the switching incentive costs amortize. This is not even considering what may happen if an entrepenurial and disruptive force (ex. Google Loon offshoots) appears on the scene.

Published in BoomBustBlog

carrierIQ homepageAbout a month and a half ago, I penned the piece NSA's Greatest Weapon In Surveillance? Outright Ignorance In Tech Consumers. The goal was to attempt to wake up the less than conscious in regards to where and with whom the true threats to privacy and security stem from. Those harping on innovative designs such as Glass as security threats are failing to see the forest due to the massive amount of tree bark in the way. This piece is another attempt at education from my perspective. 

I have been hard on the large US carriers, and for good reason. Barring the smallest (and not by coincidence, the most innovative) of the 4, these guys exemplify the monopolistic behavior that has caused America to fall behind the world on many levels. Basically, from an innovation and financial performance perspective, they're basically deadbeats! Hence, 

One other reason many should be down on the deadbeat carriers is also a very fundamental given, that really shouldn't be given - Privacy! Nearly all of the major carriers use the device that they sold you to snoop on you. US cellular carriers use an app that is basically one of the most widely dispersed spyware apps in this country. It can systematically syphon out location data, keystrokes and other aspects of e-mail and SMS conversations. Don't belive me, this is a quote directly from the vendor of the spyware itself:

Network Operators and device manufacturers determine whether and how they deploy the iQ Agent and what metrics will be gathered and forwarded to the Network Operators.  The iQ Agent receives instructions in the form of a profile, which activates the iQ Agent and defines what available metrics are to be collected and provides instructions on how to pre-process the data prior to uploading. The Embedded iQ Agent is not visible or discoverable by consumers.  Since it is deeply embedded inside the device software, it cannot be deleted by consumers.

In non-nerd, anti-dork English, this says carriers decide what the spyware app and Trojan Horse rips from your device and sends back to the carrier. This spyware/Trojan Horse is purposely hidden and concealed from the owner of the device. As per Wikipedia:

  • Spyware is software that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge and that may send such information to another entity without the consumer's consent, or that asserts control over a computer without the consumer's knowledge.
  • Trojan horse, or Trojan, is a hacking program that is a non-self-replicating type of malware which gains privileged access to the operating system while appearing to perform a desirable function but instead drops a malicious payload, often including a backdoor allowing unauthorized access to the target's computer.[1] These backdoors tend to be invisible to average users, but may cause the computer to run slowly.  

 Here's a YouTube video showing the carrier spyware capturing keystrokes, SMS messages, emails, direct browsing activity, user names and passwords (in clear text, unencrypted) and other types of personal information. It also shows how aggressively the spyware is hidden from the enduser, and if found it is virtually impossible to stop or remove without rooting the phone. First a little Wikipedia background on the video's author:

On November 12, 2011, researcher Trevor Eckhart stated in a post on androidsecuritytest.com[23] that Carrier IQ was logging information such as location without notifying users or allowing them to opt-out,[24] and that the information tracked included detailed keystroke logs,[25] potentially violating US federal law.[26] 

On November 16, 2011, Carrier IQ sent Eckhart a cease and desist letter claiming that he was in copyright infringement by posting Carrier IQ training documents on his website and also making "false allegations."[27][28]Eckhart sought and received the backing of user rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

On November 23, 2011, Carrier IQ backed down and apologized.[29] In the statement of apology, Carrier IQ denied allegations of keystroke logging and other forms of tracking, and offered to work with the EFF.[30]

On November 28, 2011, Eckhart published a YouTube video that demonstrates Carrier IQ software in the act of logging, as plain text, a variety of keystrokes. Included in the demonstration were clear-text captures of passwords to otherwise secure websites, and activities performed when the cellular network was disabled.[31] The video of the demonstration showed Carrier IQ's software processing keystrokes, browser data, and text messages' contents, but there was no indication that the information processed was recorded or transmitted. Carrier IQ responded with the statement, "The metrics and tools we derive are not designed to deliver such information, nor do we have any intention of developing such tools."[32][33] A datasheet for a product called Experience Manager on Carrier IQ's public website clearly states carriers can "Capture a vast array of experience data including screen transitions, button presses, service interactions and anomalies".[34]

If the claims by Eckhart are true, the process of sending usage data is in conflict with Carrier IQ's own privacy policy which states: "When Carrier IQ's products are deployed, data gathering is done in a way where the end user is informed or involved."[35]

According to Wikipedia, IQ Agent (the spyware in question) was first shipped in 2006 on embedded feature phones and has since been implemented on numerous devices and operating systems, including smartphones (Android, RIM,[8] iPhone), USB modems and tablets. It is currently running on over 150 million devices, making it one of the most ubiquitous of spyware packages known to this author.

Here's some more interesting excerpts from said article:

 On December 1, 2011, Carrier IQ issued a "clarification" (reference 1 December 2011: Important Clarification About the Data Received from Mobile Devices) to its November 23 statements: "While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video. For example, we understand whether an SMS was sent accurately, but do not record or transmit the content of the SMS. We know which applications are draining your battery, but do not capture the screen... As a condition of its contracts with operators, Carrier IQ operates exclusively within that framework and under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. The data we gather is transmitted over an encrypted channel and secured within our customers’ networks or in our audited and customer-approved facilities... Carrier IQ acts as an agent for the operators. Each implementation is different and the diagnostic information actually gathered is determined by our customers – the mobile operators. Carrier IQ does not gather any other data from devices. Carrier IQ is the consumer advocate to the mobile operator, explaining what works and what does not work. Three of the main complaints we hear from mobile device users are (1) dropped calls, (2) poor customer service, and (3) having to constantly recharge the device. Our software allows operators to figure out why problems are occurring, why calls are dropped, and how to extend the life of the battery. When a user calls to complain about a problem, our software helps operators’ customer service to more quickly identify the specific issue with the phone."[39]

There has been debate whether Carrier IQ software actually sends the collected data in real time or if it is stored on the phone and only gets read out later. The company clearly states on its web page that its software is able to provide real-time data: "Carrier IQ’s Mobile Service Intelligence solution eliminates guesswork by automatically providing accurate, real-timedata direct from the source – your customers' handsets." (emphasis added).[40]

 

Of course, on the same page I got there clarification (1 December 2011: Important Clarification About the Data Received from Mobile Devicesfrom, you can also find this press release: 19 October 2011: Nielsen and Carrier IQ Form Global Alliance to Measure Mobile Service Quality. The authors at Wikipedia picked this up as well, to wit:

Although the phone manufacturers and carriers by and large say the software is strictly used to monitor its phone systems and not to be used by third parties, a press release on October 19, 2011 touted a partnership with Nielsen Company. The press release said, "Together, they will deliver critical insights into the consumer experience of mobile phone and tablet users worldwide, which adhere to Nielsen’s measurement science and privacy standards. This alliance will leverage Carrier IQ's technology platform to gather actionable intelligence on the performance of mobile devices and networks."[48]

Long story, short (as if it isn't already too late for that), instead of worrying about new Glasses taking a picture of you walking down the street (after 40 other cameras just did the same thing), you should be more focused on all of the info stored (against your will) and ripped from your cellular handset. Even if you were to give ALL of the carriers, and ALL of these spyware companies the benefit of the doubt, the way THIS Trojan horse is put together (client server relationship with complete push/pull capabilities), all the NSA has to do is flip a switch and the'll know what flavor 'snuff great grandma likes to chew! 

Consider yourself warned! I doubt very seriously if this revolution will be televised (or even streamed from Netflix!).

It took me nearly an hour to get this stuff off of my device, and even more time to lock it down. Those who are interested in having this institutional spyware removed from their phones for a fee should contact support [at] boombustblog [dot] com. My son is starting a service that will do it for you, but you will void your warranty as a result of seeking said privacy. Of course, anyone who purchased insurance should be covered anyway, but always read the fine print.

Despite all of this I still believe Tech Is Far And Large The Biggest Thing This Millennium - Lehman, EU Crisis Included. I am actively looking to servce on the boards of tech companies.  Security companies in the mobile space currently have my eye, but I'm looking to advise and serve on the boards of any company in the mobile computing space. For those who don't know me, reference "Who is Reggie Middleton?".

Published in BoomBustBlog

Following up on the many emails, but not so many actual site comments from yesterday's post "Deadbeat Carrier Creative Destruction In The Ongoing Mobile Computing Wars" I bring you hard evidence that there's about to be a massive disruption in the telecomm space. We're not just talking Google Fiber here. The smallest, most upstart of carriers has broken the holy grail and did away with multi-year, hardware subsidizing contracts while at the same time materially boosting its bandwidth, coverage and throughput. This means that the price-gouging competitors are going to fave that Apple thingy, #MarginCompression.

As states in yesterday's post, T-Mobile's subway experience delivers Verizon FiOS speeds via LTE. Well, T-Mobile must have read that post for they turned LTE on in Brooklyn and that's what I'm using to make this very article. It's very fast, very cheap, its opening in more places than many would have thought. What does this mean? It means prices will probably collapse across the board, you know... #MarginCompression. It ain't just Apple, RIMM and Nokia!

For those who don't believe my, I come bearing gifts. First, a pretty charts...

Reggie Middleotns Carrier Cost Comparison

Wait until people realize how much they are actually paying for those "free", subsidized phones... Then things will really get interesting...

Reggie Middleotns Carrier Subsidy Cost Comparison

My next gift is your ability to generate your own chart with your own wasted wireless carrier dollar expenditures. Check it out..

Of course, this doesn't look to good for Microsoft or Intel, for the Android camp is encroaching on the Wintel camp much faster than the Wintel camp is returning the favor. 

I have a lot of thoughts and ideas circling these developments. Institutional and professional subscribers (click here to subscribe) are welcomed to email or call me to discuss this further.

Related articles...

US Cellular Carriers Are At Risk Of Being Marginalized Into Nothingness Unless They Learn To Think Outside The Box... Yesterday

The Death Of The Deadbeat Carriers, Part 2 

This week I opined on Apple, et. al.

Is It Time To Buy Apple As A Valuation Play

What Sell Side Wall Street Doesn't Understand About Apple - It's Not The Leader Of The Post PC World!!!

Published in BoomBustBlog

This is one of those pieces where, after reading it you say "Damn, why didn't I think of that!".. By demonstrating how Google is transforming the telecomm landscape, I may actually save up to $5,700 for at least a quarter of the readers who are perusing this blog. Yes, it's for real, and its a benefit of the "knowlege how" mentality that I described in my previous pieces on education. You'll see where I'm coming from once you get to the long graphic below...

T-Mobile has had a serious problem competing with the big boys of US wireless carriers. They are the only one not to carry the iPhone. This, in my opinion, was a wise move for the subsidy game has been a money loser from the get go, and although the iPhone is still selling like hotcakes, those hotcakes are looking much cooler as Andrioid sales have taken off. Still, T-Mobile doesn't seem content, so it decided to do what most of the carriers should have done a long time ago. T-Mobile is breaking the wireless carrier contract hegemony and offering pure service without the BS. For ANYONE who can count, this makes the decision to go with T-Mobile as brainless a decision as the sneeze is a reflex reaction. Let me count the ways...

Rip Up The Contract & You Reduce The Risk For Both The Carrier & The Consumer. As A Matter Of Fact, Only Fat Margined Hardware Vendors Have Anything To Fear - Oh Yeah, As Well As Those Carriers That Still Rely On Contracts!

The grand disruptor, Google, has been trying to break the grip the carriers have had on the smartphone industry for years, starting with the introduction of the Nexus phone which it sold direct to consumers online. The propeller heads at Google figured they would offer a better product at a lower price and people would simply flock in to buy it. Said propeller heads apparently didn't understand people. They won't always do what's best for them, but they will buy what is sold to them. So this time around, with 3rd (or 4th?) iteration of the Nexus phone, Google has paired with a major carrier in addition to selling it direct. Now, Google sole the last Nexus through Verizon, but Verizon crippled the device in attempt at carrier lock-in - an old school, naive and ultimately self destructive move, in my humble opinion.

Now, T-Mobile will be offering the device (it's already in stores, just not officially selling yet) and will offer it unlocked, off contract, for its original (not inflated like other carriers) price of $299, and with its original capabilities. This device is state of the art, btw, and blows the iPhone 5 out of the water in practically every way. Keep in mind that an iPhone 5 would retail at your local carrier retail store for $200 to $300, subsidized, tied to a 2 year contract. You can buy a far superior device outright for just about the subsidy downpayment of an iPhone.

One of the best devices on the market, approximately  1.5x the device the iPhone 5 is for roughly half the price! $299

Google Now. Amazing Photo Sphere camera. Totally wireless... OR you can pick up a very good Chinese phablet for even less....

ZOPO ZP950 Phablet - 5.7 Inch HD Screen Dual Core 8MP Camera 1GB RAM Android Phone

ZOPO ZP950

Short Description

- 5.7 inch HD screen, 1280*720 pixel display
- 1GB RAM + 4GB ROM
- 1GHz dual-core MTK MT6577 processor
- Support 3G network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 & WCDMA 850/2100 MHz
- 8MP rear camera + 2MP front camera

Price: $279

OR you can pick up a smaller form factor for over $100 less...

Zopo ZP500 Libero ICS SMARTPHONE
These are actually very good devices , without compromise. They are, in my opinion, more desirable in terms of functionality than the iPhone 5. For less than the contract sign up price for an iPhone of ATT/Sprint/Verizon late model phone, you can fully purchase one of these devices and pay for the first month of service - contract free, free to leave the county, and free to change carriers or quiet at will. That's not the gist of it...

A Smart Mentality For Dumb Pipes

 T-Mobile may actually profit where other companies take a loss by eliminating the expensive and risk subsidy/contract trap. In addiion, it will pull head of the pack by recognizing what it is, and being aware of what it is not. T-Mobile, like the other carriers (they just don't know it yet) is a utility. It's a dumb pipe through which Goog;e's customers pump data. It is not a software programmer or development house like Microsoft (so it has finally stopped trying to skin Android), and it is not a transaction company (so it has stopped trying to compete with Google Wallet). It is not a content company (so it does not attempt to compete with Netflix, Amazon or iTunes). Unfortunately, the other carriers haven't realized this yet. As a result, although they are bigger and better funded, the new T-Mobile is posed to change the industry. In recognizing that it is a dumb pipe that should compete on data throughput, volume and quality, it is on the road to creating a new business model of being a smart pipe - just as handset makers moved from dumb phones to smart phones. In order to do that though, they will need a change in mindset.

The Performance Trap: Is LTE Really the next big thing or just a thing carriers use to charge you more?

Verizon, Sprint, Metro PCS (a MVNO reseller) and AT&T all market their 4G LTE services heavily. They also charge accordingly. I purchased a Galaxy 3 LTE phone and ran up a $150 bill within 18 days (that's right, I was just over halfway through the monthly billing cycle), without even trying. I called customer service, and they offered me a $50 credit, but the damage was done. I returned the phone forthwith. T-Mobile offers its HSPDA+ service as 4G, and it is actually quite fast for what is considered an antiquated technology. As excerpted from Fiercewirelss.com and Rootmetrics:

RootMetrics: Average download and upload speeds

To the average user, T-Mobile's speeds will barely noticeable in terms of difference from AT&T. Uploads may be noticeably slower, though. Verizon seems to blow them both out of the water, but there is this real life consideration of cost  real life perofrmance issues that comes into question. With that, the equation changes considerably. The battery life on T-Mobile's HSPDA+ is practically twice that off the same devices running LTE. Until better tech is released, LTE is not a valid all day, battery operated solution IMO. Then there's the issue of cost. Uh Oh!!!!...

Price vs. Performance

Let's look at the monthly cash flows.... Yes! You actually SAVE $5,500 per bi-annual cell phone contract. Read carefully and thank me later... Click to enlarge...

image006 copy copy

I will hold an interactive video chat on this topic at approximately 9:45 am, Friday the 11th in the Valuable Knowledge Community on Google+. I welcome all to attend.

Who ultimately benefits? 

First, you, the consumer. Thsi competition is very good. The second beneficiary also happens to be the one that started this mess in the first place, Google! You see, Google is a data company, and data companies need bandwidth. The more cheap bandwidth you have access to, the more data you will be prompted to move, access, save, search for, request and engage with. The cheaper the hardware, the more hardware you will use. The more advanced the hardware, the more you will do with it. "Do what", you ask? Do data! Do Google! This is what Android is truly all about. This is why its free! This is why Google is poised to take over the (data) world. All of those armchair pundits and silly sell side guys who constantly quip about Google not making money on Android sound similar to those who scream, "But that damn fox is not making a dime on the free trips the chicken taxi is making to the chicken coops!" "'Hens R Us' makes more fare on transporting those chickens to the fox hole than Mr. Fox does!" Yeah! Think about it for a few seconds. That's all it takes in terms of critical thought to comprehend the Google business model. Yes, sometimes it is hard to see that forest with all of the tree bark in the way...

Industry Leading, Subscription Based Google Research

All paying subscribers should download the Google Q1-2012 Valuation Summary, wherein we have updated the valuation numbers for Google using a variety of metrics. Click here to subscribe or upgrade

Google still exhibits the likelihood that they will control mobile computing for the balance of the decade.

Subscription research:

file iconGoogle Final Report 10/08/2010

A couple of bits from our archives...


There are currently 7 Google reports available. Select the "Google Final Report" and click the "Download" button. You will receive a 63 page analysis that looks like this on the cover...

The table of contents outlines how we have broken Google down into distinct businesses and identified both the individual business models and the potential revenue streams, as well as  valuation for each business line.

Page 57 of the analysis shows a sensitivity table which outlines the various scenarios that can come into play and how it will change our outlook and valuation opinion.

Professional/institutional subscribers can actually access a subset of the model that we used to create the sensitivity analysis above to plug in their own assumptions in case they somehow disagree with our assumptions or view points. Click here for the model: Google Valuation Model (pro and institutional). Click here to subscribe or upgrade.

Published in BoomBustBlog

 Yesterday I claimed US Cellular Carriers Are At Risk Of Being Marginalized Into Nothingness Unless They Learn To Think Outside The Box... Yesterday. There are some who allege that the US cellular carrier industry is a government protected triopoly, hence they have no true incentive to innovate. I cry bullshit! The faster, more innovative companies such as Apple are scheming on marginalizing the carriers to the utility status they are role playing as. The self-proclaimed shepherds of global data, Google, are looking to eliminate the need for carriers... Period!

I look at these things from a very analytical, very strategic, and longer term perspective than sell side analysts and many investors. See Analyzing Apple's Q2 Earnings for a recent and fresh look at Apple that you won't see anywhere else, and Cloudy Days Ahead For Google for the same on Google. When others may have rose colored glasses on, I took the lenses out of my glasses out of paranioa for fear of the glass denying my raw access to the visual data:-)

Apple Avoideth

One should be expecting soft sim iPhone coming out in iteration 5 or 6. Why? Because the carriers exercise too much control over Apple's distribution system. Yes, Apple has succeeded in virtually benidng AT&T (among other select carriers) over and sodomizing them for what amounts to the right to sell aan expense sinkhole with the hope of stuffing overpriced data plans down said hole after it was dug, but as the competition heats up with Android carriers are actually starting to push back a little. Gone are the days where Apple can get AT&T to overpay for iPhones then take the risk of reselling them, all the while sharing the data/voice revenue. Now, carriers are actually reading the contracts before signing them. Next thing you know a calculator, then spreadsheet may come into play. uh Oh!!! When carrier start to excersise their muscle as the gatekeepers of the average consumer's limited attention span and easily swayed marketing awareness, they can exert undo control over hardware vendors. Apple is a hardware vendor. So, Apple is apparently actively developing and testing soft SIMs (ex. SIMs that are based in the firmware of the phone versus burned into a physical chip).

What does this mean? It means that you can OTA update your iPhone with a new carriers identifying info on the fly. Layman's terms: You buy your iPhone unlocked from Apple and you can swittch between carriers at  whim. This carrier has a cheaper rate or roaming, simply click icon for carrier A. The same goes next month for carrier B, C or D. No more contracts! No more termination fees! And most importantly, at least to Apple, no more carrier ass kissing and lock in! Search the web for yourself...

  1. Apple: Smaller iPhone, Soft SIM Coming, Says Bloomberg - Tech ...

    Feb 10, 2011 – Apple: Smaller iPhone, Soft SIM Coming, Says Bloomberg ... the iPhone 4 — that may help stem the advances of Google's (GOOG) Android, ...
  2. Buying your Soft-Sim mobile. Who's taking control? Who should get ...

    Sep 14, 2011 – This post talks Sim-free or soft-SIM solutions and implications. At one time it ... When will we tire of Apple or Google being our gatekeepers?
  3. Soft and hard SIMs

    Dec 13, 2010 – So the Apple UICC containing soft SIMs and an SE may not be such a bad ... the NFC interfaces that will be built in by GoogleApple and RIM.
  4. Is Apple About to Cut Out the Carriers? — Tech News and Analysis

    Oct 27, 2010 – It's rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is ...by putting its own SIM inside the iPhone, it could do what Google with its ..... IC radio chips and radio software stacks – in *addition* to the SIM card.
  5. Apple And The 'Soft Sim': Not On The iPhone, But Maybe On the ...

     Nov 22, 2010 – ... reportedly up in arms over Apple's plans to integrate a "soft Sim" into it… ... Hey, Google, you took advantage of that whole Android/iOS war ...
  6. Light Reading Mobile - Jonestown - Apple's 'Soft-SIM': Not Too ...

    Oct 28, 2010 – Apple's 'Soft-SIM': Not Too Useful in US ... definitely save money over time by paying more upfront for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus from Google...

TECHSEMIGURU: Apple: Smaller iPhone, Soft SIM Coming, Says ...

Feb 10, 2011 – Apple: Smaller iPhone, Soft SIM Coming, Says Bloomberg ... th

Google Destroyeth

I have alledged that Google is MASSIVELY undervalued and grossly misunderstood. This is actually a very good thing for Google, for management has demonstrated that they are in this for the long term and the less resistance they get to their Borg-like initiatives, the better. This is probably a good thing for investors as well, for it the market corrects (as it damn well should) astute financial types can pick up massive parts of the future of computing and data at very, very low prices. All it would take is time and realization of reality to accrue significant value appreciation. Many know of Google's Android, Google's search and ad networks, Google's YouTube and TV initatives and Google's cloud offerings, but most are not aware of Google Fiber! The following is taken directly (with my annotations) from Google's Asheville blog:

“Google fiber” is shorthand for the “Google Fiber for Communities” project.

The goal of the project is... 

... to build a fiber optic network – your connection to the Internet, more or less – right to your door.  This network would be different than what you have now in that it would be a lot better and more stable.  It would be, for example, 100x faster than the maximum speeds you have now and it would be open source (think the opposite of a toll road).  It would also be capable of carrying enough stuff so that TV, phone, web would all fit in one connection.  And it would all be very fast. Google has stated that they are willing to spend up to 500 million dollars (probably split among a few spots) and then charge for Internet access at a “competitive rate.”

Like you, I thought Google was a search company. Why do they want to build an experimental network and sell me broadband services?[tweetmeme source="googleavl" only_single=false]

That's right! Google is looking to directly commoditize the broadband carriers, just as they did the news organizations, the online ad agencies, currently doing the smart phone industry... No, Google is not a search engine company, as I have said so often in the The mobile computing wars series. Google is a data company, and as such, anything that has to do with the movement, storage, organization, manipulation, control and intelligence of said data, Google either has their hand prints on it or are reaching for it. May the ignorant, and the slower moving competiion, beware!!! Again, excerpted directly from the Google AVL blog, which is the blog that is detailing Google's buildout of the high speed fiber network to the doorstep in the city of Asheville as well as Kansas City, both of whom competed against many other cities for this privilege. That's right! This is not a pie in the sky initiative, this is something that is being built right now by a company that is not know for taking its time... I  stronly suggest interested parties visit this site after persuing my thoughts on Google, in order to get a clearer view of the BIG PICTURE...

Google_Ashville_blog

1. Google needs lots of data so they can organize it.

Google doesn’t want to be a broadband provider (my opinion), but they do want to manage and organize the world’s data.

That business mandate puts them in direct conflict with anyone who limits the flow of information that Google seeks to manage. Google needs you to take full advantage of your digital connections to the world so that they have a profitable job – with room to grow – making up clever ways to organize your data. The most basic way they do this now is with search. Another is with maps. And so on.

But what if we stopped making so much data? That is exactly what is happening in the U.S. – only we didn’t stop creating data. We just stopped adding the capacity to transmit it, which, from Google’s point of view is the same thing.

2. Our slow-ish broadband network means there is less for Google to organize, potentially capping Google’s growth.

US Broadband: Slow as a turtleIn the U.S, during the last 10 years, broadband companies have been relatively content with their profits, consumers have had only one choice or two choices for service (cable vs dsl), and no outside software has been desirable enough to make everyone want anything different (in the way that the iPod made everyone ditch CDs).

How slow are we?  In 2007, the average advertised bandwidth speed in Japan was 96 Mbps. My Charter connection at home right now is supposed to be 5 Mbps but rarely exceed 3 Mbps. You can see for yourself by comparing broadband costs and bandwidth among countries or examining this article.

Or better yet, test your current connection and see what your bandwidth number really is.

It looks to me like we are somewhere between 15th and 23rd in the world (and falling) in terms of broadband.

This problem is most acute at the so-called “last mile,” which includes the connection from the pole to your house.  Also during the last 10 years the speed and capacity of the backbone, aka the bigger cables between cities, has increased in speed pretty dramatically.  When you read about “dark fiber,” you are often reading about the unused capacity that lies just beyond your yard, past the pole as you head upstream from your cable or phone jack. Not only has your current broadband provider refused to consider alternate technologies like fiber optics, they’ve gone ahead and planned some upgrades that use their existing cable technology in order to appease a part of their customer base.  Those upgrades are detailed in the just released National Broadband plan.  One of the problems with that plan is that it ignores the best technology – fiber optics – which the rest of the world is increasingly using.

3. Google enters the market with a better plan in order to spur competition among existing broadband companies.

Google fiber: fast and competitiveGoogle  wants to shake things up by building something better than what you are used to.  And not just a little bit, either – they want to build an open network with 1) much better speed and service than you have now AND 2) they want to do it using better technology (that’s the fiber part of the project) AND 3) they want to use a different business model than your current provider.  It is a lot to get your head around, I know.  Those three things, taken together, are what make Google’s fiber project so exciting.

"they want to use a different business model than your current provider..." Put plainly in layman's terms, Google will cost shift, and basically provide the high speed broadband for no out of pocket expense in exchange for access to your behavioral data, advertising consumption activity or subsidize the broadband as your corportate and high use neighbors take advantage of cloud services. To make a long story short (if it ain't too late), you'll get cutting edge broadband access for what you would consider free - much like how you get YouTube HD video for free. Where does this leave the big Telcos???? 

The open network is the hardest of the three ideas to grasp, since most people in the U.S. have never had one.  Normally, it would work like the street in front of your house – tax payers pay for it, anyone can use it, and some of those uses allow us to do profitable things.  The open network model is in use in other parts of the world and open networks are quite successful*.  They are usually built, like roads, with at least partial taxpayer funding. In this case, Google is proposing that they pay for the road on Asheville’s behalf.

4. If they wait, they could lose a lot of money.

If they wait, they have less data to manage. This is because the U.S. just released the national Broadband plan, and the plan is not good enough.  The plan settledand accommodated existing industry at the expense of innovation and competition**.  Our new broadband plan does not require or even suggest open networks, it advocates speed increases that are small in relation to what technology allows, and, generally speaking, it keeps the old way of doing business alive and well for the current broadband companies. Google, who had input into the national Broadband plan, no doubt saw this coming and intends for this experiment to help create an alternate path to a better network.

And that’s why, right now, they are running a competition to build a fiber optic network (speed and reliability fixed), to your door (last mile problem fixed), with an open network (competition problem fixed, control shifted back to the customers).  And they will build it with their own money.

-Clark Mackey

    • * Asheville is already one of the few places in the country with a functioning open fiber network – ERC Broadband. Open networks are opposed by your current broadband provider, but strongly supported by some very smart people. One is Vint Cerf who is widely known as father of the Internet
    • ** In the National Broadband Plan, we settled for slower speeds 10 years in the future than some countries have now. Ch 1 page 2. The plan has a goal of 100 Mbps, much slower than Google’s proposed speed of 1000 Mbps.  We accommodated by obfuscating the decision to go away from open networks, allowing current companies to justify exclusive control of the wires because of the high cost of installing them (Ch 4 page 36 and 37).  Roads are expensive too, but I note that we have found ways to build them without requiring tolls at the end of our driveways.

Industry Leading, Subscription Based Google Research

All paying subscribers should download the Google Q1-2012 Valuation Summary, wherein we have updated the valuation numbers for Google using a variety of metrics. Click here to subscribe or upgrade

Google still exhibits the likelihood that they will control mobile computing for the balance of the decade.

Subscription research:

file iconGoogle Final Report 10/08/2010

A couple of bits from our archives...


There are currently 7 Google reports available. Select the "Google Final Report" and click the "Download" button. You will receive a 63 page analysis that looks like this on the cover...

The table of contents outlines how we have broken Google down into distinct businesses and identified both the individual business models and the potential revenue streams, as well as  valuation for each business line.

Page 57 of the analysis shows a sensitivity table which outlines the various scenarios that can come into play and how it will change our outlook and valuation opinion.

Professional/institutional subscribers can actually access a subset of the model that we used to create the sensitivity analysis above to plug in their own assumptions in case they somehow disagree with our assumptions or view points. Click here for the model: Google Valuation Model (pro and institutional). Click here to subscribe or upgrade.

Fresh and Very Accurate Apple Research

For all of those near fanatics who do not subscribe, I suggest you ask a friend who does subscribe to share with you the difference between last month's valuation note target price (page 10 of File Icon Apple Margin & Valuation Note) and the price of Apple today, the day after earnings (click here to subscribe).

As excerpted: 

It is worth noting that the key assumptions that underline the above valuations – (1) iPhone continuing to witness stupendous growth *******  in 2012 and ****** 2013 over a larger base and (2) iPhone margins continue to remain healthy off stable prices and despite increase in material cost – should be keenly watched over the next couple of quarters. 

Then ask them bout the logical argument behind the concern with Apple and the extremely volatile price action of the last few weeks. As stated many times in the past, The BoomBustBlog argument and analysis is solid.

What else is there to the earnings announcement? Well we were absolutely correct in terms of the oncoming margin compression of the the product lines, something that was actually easy to see coming but many refused to admit. Of course, there will be those select few that say, "But wait, the company reported an INCREASE in margins while you said there will be a decrease!". Yes, that's true and both can exist simultaneously.

Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_2Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_2

Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_3Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_3

Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_4Apple_2Q2012_results_analysis_Final_Page_4

 I will discuss nearly all of the stocks in the CNBC stockpicking list above in the next few posts on my way to studios via BoomBustBlog and ZeroHedge. Comments are always welcome. Follow me:

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Published in BoomBustBlog

I just got this from Google...

You are invited to open a free Google Voice account. If you haven't already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!

Here's what it offers:

  • A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call
  • All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email
  • Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS
  • Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more

To learn more about Google Voice before registering, visit: http://www.google.com/voice/about

Please note that Google Voice is only available for sign up in the US.

We hope you enjoy Google Voice,

The Google Voice Team

Published in BoomBustBlog
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:00

Here comes the next paradigm shift in telecomm

I just got this from Google...
You are invited to open a free Google Voice account. If you haven't already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!

Here's what it offers:
  • A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call
  • All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email
  • Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS
  • Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more
To learn more about Google Voice before registering, visit: http://www.google.com/voice/about

Please note that Google Voice is only available for sign up in the US.

We hope you enjoy Google Voice,

The Google Voice Team
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:00

Here comes the next paradigm shift in telecomm

I just got this from Google...
You are invited to open a free Google Voice account. If you haven't already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!

Here's what it offers:
  • A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call
  • All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email
  • Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS
  • Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more
To learn more about Google Voice before registering, visit: http://www.google.com/voice/about

Please note that Google Voice is only available for sign up in the US.

We hope you enjoy Google Voice,

The Google Voice Team