Thursday, September 01, 2005

LBHub TechAlert for September 1, 2005

A German court ruled that Deutsche Telekom should pay Telegate, a telephone-directory service provider, €65.2 million for overcharging for data since the directory market was opened to competition in 1996.

The regional court in Cologne ordered Deutsche Telekom to repay the equivalent of $80.4 million to Telegate for "excessive data costs" and interest since Telegate filed a complaint last December. Deutsche Telekom said it would appeal.

The decision in Cologne comes after a ruling last November by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg that KPN, the largest Dutch phone company, may charge alternative directory service providers for the transfer of data only and not for the cost of collecting it.

Logica profits: LogicaCMG, a British computer-services provider, said first-half profit rose 62 percent to £24.1 million, or $43.5 million, as British sales rose and the company's German unit reported a smaller loss. Sales rose 11 percent to £891.7 million.
The company's units in Britain and the Netherlands are compensating for Germany and France, where the company is heading for a third unprofitable year. LogicaCMG won contracts this year from clients including the British Ministry of Defense and the London Metropolitan Police.

Photo fears: South Korea plans to raise its concerns with the U.S. government about a service offered by Google that displays satellite photos of sites around the world, the president's office said. Recent South Korean newspaper reports have pointed out that Google Earth provides images of the presidential Blue House in Seoul and military bases around the country, which remains technically at war with North Korea.
North Korean sites like the nuclear research facility at Yongbyon are also displayed on the service, which was introduced in June.

Digital Disney: Kudelski, a Swiss provider of security for digital pay television, has set up a joint venture with Walt Disney to develop and market a video-on-demand system for digital television operators worldwide.
Kudelski and Walt Disney Television International said their set-top box system would offer a selection of movies and other television content delivered to its hard drive, as well as the capacity for subscribers to record personal content from existing channels. The system is designed to run on satellite, cable, terrestrial and IP digital video recorder hardware platforms, the companies said.

Italian net loss: FastWeb, the only Italian provider of Internet-based TV and video on demand, said its second-quarter loss widened to €79.6 million from a loss of €45.5 million a year earlier as higher operating expenses and commissions outweighed rises in sales and customers. FastWeb added more than 56,000 clients in the quarter, bringing the total to 598,000 at the end of June. Sales rose 27 percent to €227 million.

Paypal pricing: EBay's PayPal online payment service introduced special pricing for payments of digital goods, like music downloads. The new fees will enable merchants to process payments under $2 at a rate of 5 percent plus 5 cents per transaction, PayPal said.

Traffic alert:, a Pennsylvania-based provider of real-time traffic information, plans to offer shares in an initial public offering and said it hoped to bring in as much as $86.3 million. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq if the offering is approved by regulators.

Flat-panel loss: Quanta Computer, the largest maker of notebook computers in the world, said first-half profit fell 30 percent from a year earlier to 4.15 billion Taiwan dollars, or $126.7 million, because of a loss related to its investment in flat-panel displays.

Mobile India: Bharti Tele-Ventures, Reliance Infocomm and other Indian mobile phone companies are set to increase their subscribers by five times to more than 300 million by the end of 2009, the research firm Gartner estimated. Gartner predicted that revenue from mobile phone services in India would reach $24 billion in 2009.

Fixed-line fall: China Telecom, the largest Chinese fixed-line operator, said its first-half net profit slipped to 14.70 billion yuan, or $1.81 billion, from 14.71 billion yuan a year earlier as costs rose. Revenue rose to 84.02 billion yuan from 80.22 billion yuan.

Google takes aim at Instant Messaging

Last week, the industry was abuzz about Google introducing its Google Talk application, an instant-messaging system designed to interoperate with Jabber and Trillian right away and possibly with other IM networks down the road.

Google's offering will be similar to several other consumer-oriented IM networks in that it will provide conventional IM capabilities in addition to PC-to-PC telephone capabilities. While several IM systems are today interoperable via federated networks, the primary difference with Google Talk is that it will be an open system that is more natively interoperable than many other IM systems.

Early reviews of Google Talk indicate that its interface and capabilities do not really represent a stellar jump forward in terms of usability, features or functions - there is no video chat in the current iteration of Google Talk, for example.

However, I believe that Google Talk has the potential for making a major impact in the IM world. Google has been very aggressive and successful in the markets it has entered. For example, Google is the dominant search engine in use, accounting for 46.2% of online searches conducted in July, according to Nielsen NetRatings; Google Maps, launched in spring 2005, already has 7.2 million users; Gmail is gaining market share among Webmail systems.

I expect Google Talk will also gain market share fairly rapidly because of its ability to interoperate right away with the millions of Jabber and Trillian users and because of the potential for expanding this interoperability to other platforms - not to mention the fact that Google Talk will likely integrate with Google's other Web, e-mail and desktop-based properties.

The success of an IM system is due largely to its "gravity," since the greater the number of users an IM system has, the more likely it is to attract new users. However, our research has shown that, at least in the workplace, the number of IM clients per organization continues to grow. That means that even if someone is already using AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger, there is a strong possibility they will adopt a new IM client, particularly if it's free and offers capabilities that they find desirable. I expect Google Talk to be such a product.

Write: by LuisB 09.2005