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According to ABI Research, the global mobile handset market went into a tailspin in October and November, which will result in a nearly 5% YoY decline in unit shipments in Q4. While 2009 is likely to see more stormy economic weather, there are a few rays of sunshine, it says.
 
"The number of WCDMA and CDMA2000 mobile handsets sold (currently 39% of the total) is expected to exceed 50% in 2009," says ABI Research Asia-Pacific vice president Jake Saunders. "Much of the brunt of the economic downturn will be experienced in the 2G categories. WCDMA handset shipments are projected to grow from 258 million in 2008 to 725 million in 2009. By 2013, more than 67% of all handsets shipped will be 3G/3G+ capable."
 
"Another robust segment is smartphones," adds practice director Kevin Burden. "Smartphones captured 14% of the 2008 market and are expected to grow throughout the challenging period of 2009 and comprise 31% of the market by 2013." Smartphones are among the most coveted pieces of prosumer electronics, says ABI.
 
Cellular modems will also be a high growth sector in 2009, driven largely by USB modems which will account for 80% of the shipment volume. Market volume is expected to increase by more than 55% in the coming year as Asian vendors push forward with low-priced modems, says ABI.
 
Operators have continued to be creative with broadband plans to entice new users, offering options such as a free month with a modem purchase, as well as daily and weekend plans and per MB fees. "For as long as operators aggressively price and promote mobile broadband plans, cellular modems will continue to be a hot category with considerable potential in SOHO and SMB segments," concludes Burden.
 

PageOne, a UK provider of mobile messaging solutions to the public and enterprise sectors, has today announced that it has been chosen by public sector procurement body OGCbuying.solutions as one of the official suppliers for its £170million Mobile Solutions (II) framework agreement, to be launched in January 2009.

OGCbuying.solutions is making a range of mobile voice and data services available to public sector bodies, and PageOne has been chosen as a supplier of mobile messaging solutions.

Chris Jones, CEO at PageOne commented, "PageOne was subjected to a rigorous tender process by OGCbuying.solutions and we are absolutely delighted that our proposal has been accepted and successfully meets the needs of the government agenda. This contract is a significant one for PageOne as it illustrates our commitment to supporting the needs of this key market sector and our desire to continuously innovate our products and services."

AdMob, the mobile advertising marketplace, has launched Download Tracking for iPhone applications, allowing advertisers to accurately monitor App Store conversion rates - clicks on an ad that lead to a completed download of the advertised application - enabling them to precisely measure their return from advertising on AdMob's network. AdMob says it has a reach of more than 8.4 million unique iPhones and iPod Touch devices worldwide, as of December 2008.

"Advertisers have been clamoring to get more detailed information from the iPhone App Store and want to use it to maximize the value of their mobile ad campaigns," said Jason Spero, Vice President and General Manager of North America for AdMob. "AdMob's new iPhone Download Tracking gives advertisers the information they need to accurately assess marketing effectiveness, including the return from advertising spend."

Advertisers can use Download Tracking to view and track multiple applications and drill down to look at conversion rates by specific ad and for specific dates. AdMob says its advertisers are already using this new information to write better ads, calculate their return on ad spend, tune their App Info pages, and develop better pricing strategies.

A limited group of iPhone applications began testing AdMob's Download Tracking in December, and the aggregate data already highlights some interesting trends, says AdMob:

 ·  Free applications have an average conversion rate of 10 percent, significantly higher than the average 1 percent conversion rate for paid applications.
·   Games generally have higher conversion rates than other categories of applications, up to a 100 percent improvement over non-game applications at similar price points.
·   The App Store is an effective distribution platform for free applications. The average acquisition cost for free applications is under $1.00, significantly less than average application download costs on the PC Web.
 
"AdMob's conversion tracking has solved a major problem for TapJoy. Previously we were playing guess-and-check with our TapDefense ad purchases; some ads did better than others and it was hard to know which was which," said Lee Linden, Co-Founder of TapJoy. "With conversion tracking we now know exactly which ads to show, when to show them, and how much we can afford to bid."

"We've had great success with our Urbanspoon application on the iPhone, but it has been challenging to precisely track the success of our mobile marketing efforts," said Ethan Lowry, Co-Founder of Urbanspoon. "AdMob's new conversion tracking allows us to truly analyze our marketing spend and increase the return on our investment for every mobile ad campaign."

Vodafone UK today announced that National Grid has awarded it a three year contract worth over £5m as its sole mobile voice and mobile data network provider in the UK.

National Grid owns the high voltage electricity system in England and Wales and operates the system across the UK. It also owns and operates the high pressure gas transmission system, and four gas distribution networks, delivering gas to 11million homes and businesses in England. The Vodafone service will provide embedded SIMs in laptops and telemetry SIMs – for diagnosing potential issues within the electricity and gas network and mobile broadband devices ensuring field engineers have connectivity and access to company information at all times.

Steve Samways, IS asset and vendor manager, said: “Having completed a comprehensive tender process, Vodafone proved that they could provide us with a robust voice and data services across the UK and demonstrated that they understood the importance of reliable communications for National Grid. We look forward to working with Vodafone for the next three years”

Peter Kelly, Enterprise Director, Vodafone UK, concluded: “We conducted stringent testing to prove our network capabilities could meet and exceed National Grid’s expectations.  We are pleased that a company that is so essential to the UK’s energy supplies is relying on our network to ensure their workforce is mobile and able to operate, safe in the knowledge that we can connect them reliably to the information they need, wherever they are.”

Vyke Communications has announced that it has released a beta version of its Mobile VoIP software and service for Blackberry devices using RIM software, which is available through Vyke's enterprise sales channels.

With the addition of this Blackberry software, Vyke now offers its Mobile VoIP solution on the three most used mobile operating systems in the enterprise market namely Symbian, Windows Mobile and RIM. However, Vyke's Blackberry solution is claimed to be unique as it uses a variation of VoIP which enables users to make VoIP calls over the Vyke network at any time their phone has GSM coverage, not only when the phone is in range of Wi-Fi or 3G mobile data coverage. The software supports most Blackberry devices dating back as far as 2003.

Aaron Powers, Head of Business Development at Vyke, commented: "Having only announced in November our Mobile VoIP software and services for Windows Mobile, we are extremely pleased to be moving so aggressively into the enterprise market sector with the addition of support for RIM devices. With Blackberry's extensive penetration into the enterprise sector, incorporating Vyke's services into its RIM devices means we reach an even wider audience, so a greater number of users can benefit from significantly discounted calls. This is another milestone for Vyke's Mobile VoIP offering."

With many Norwegian internet banking users currently relying on security calculators to log in to their internet banking accounts. EDB, working in collaboration with Norwegian technology company Encap, is now launching a new solution for secure log-in using a mobile phone. The new solution may replace about 3 millions security calculators currently in use in Norway.

"We have recognized that Norwegian banking customers need a secure but simple way to access their internet bank without having to rely on a security code calculator. We have now found a solution that will simplify their everyday use of internet banking", explains Wiljar Nesse of EDB.

 An increasing number of Norwegian banks currently use the BankID system for logging in to their internet banks. BankID uses what is known as two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication uses "something you know" and "something you have" (often termed KNOW and HAVE factors). In practical terms, this normally means using a password and entering a code generated by a security instrument. Until now, banks have only been able to offer their customers security calculators or scratch card codes. These provide a high level of security, but do mean that the customer has to have the relevant security instrument to hand when carrying out authentication.

Norwegian banks are very actively involved in launching a number of new services that require authentication. Examples of this include Mobile Banking and the 3-D Secure security protocol to authenticate card transactions carried out over the internet. These services are in demand by customers, who need to be able to use them wherever they are.

EDB is offering two-factor authentication based on using a mobile handset. The solution is simple to use, and authentication can be carried out from most models of mobile telephones sold in Norway over the last three years. The solution delivers secure authentication using a mobile, which is something that customers will in practice always have available wherever they are. The Norwegian technology company Encap developed the solution, which is now being made available for Norwegian banks in collaboration with EDB. The solution uses the mobile handset's Java platform, and therefore operates regardless of which mobile operator the banking customer uses.
 
Each bank will make its own decision on whether to offer authentication from mobile telephones, and will also decide whether to offer this as an alternative to current solutions or whether it should replace them. One possibility is that internet banking users will be given the choice of which HAVE instrument they wish to use.

Airwide Solutions, a mobile messaging specialist, has today revealed the results of an independent study conducted by comScore M:Metrics on the use of mobile messaging across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The results are claimed to prove that despite warnings of turmoil throughout the global economy, growth in mobile messaging shows no signs of slowing. The study shows that the number of people sending text messages (SMS) across the EU is growing 3.3% year on year, a figure only beaten by MMS which is growing by 9.2%.

According to the research, the UK is faring particularly well with over 25 million text messages sent each day. Growth is driven in particular by people who earn over £30,000 as those sending SMS messages every day is increasing 16.9% year on year. However, the growth in mobile messaging by those earning less than £30,000 is also doing well with almost 4% annual growth of those sending SMS everyday.

France is seeing the second biggest increase with 8.1% more people sending text messages this year than the same period last year. Interestingly the French have also been the most keen to embrace picture messaging with 15.2% more people sending MMS than in 2007 (the biggest increase across Europe).

However, it is not only Europe which is seeing a continued growth in SMS and MMS. Airwide is predicting a worldwide growth in mobile messaging over the next few years, particularly in less economically developed and newly industrialised regions such Asia and Africa where fixed lines are expensive and difficult to set up. It is in these regions, where mobile phones are being used not only as a communications tool but also as a driver for social change, making communications easier, cheaper and much less time-consuming.

In the Western World growth will be fuelled by a combination of mobile operators introducing a greater number of personalised services such as out-of-office, auto-forward and storage/back-up capabilities along with a continued uptake in mobile marketing and advertising - a development which in 2009 will see the introduction of location based mobile advertising.

Jay Seaton, Chief Marketing Office at Airwide Solutions commented: "Whilst an increase in mobile messaging traffic is certainly good news for the industry, it also underlines the need to ensure that an operator's underlying infrastructure is efficient and equipped to support the increase in traffic volumes over the years ahead. With most people now relying on their text and picture messages being delivered instantaneously, mobile operators cannot afford for their infrastructure to become congested. As the volume of messaging increases, they also need to be able to protect their networks and subscribers from potential security threats such as mobile fraud, spam and viruses."

The board of the GSMA, the global body for the mobile industry, has elected Alexander Izosimov, the Group Chief Executive Officer of VimpelCom, as its new Chairman for a two-year term. As Chairman, he will help oversee the strategic direction of the GSMA, which represents more than 750 mobile operators worldwide. Bill Hague, Executive Vice President of AT&T, was elected as Deputy Chairman.
 
Speaking for the board, Rob Conway, CEO and board member, said: "With the election of Mr. Izosimov, we will continue to have the excellence in the chairman's role that was well established by outgoing chair, Craig Ehrlich," a board member of Hutchison Mobile Communications, who had served for seven years with distinction as GSMA Chairman. Mr. Ehrlich will remain on the board.
 
Mr. Conway added: "With his exceptional telecom experience, and understanding of leading international businesses, Mr. Izosimov will enable us to build on that foundation, providing the commercial, strategic and technical insights that will prepare our industry for an era of mass-market mobile broadband services and an increasingly rich mobile lifestyle for its billions of customers."
 
Mr. Izosimov said: "The GSMA board, with its wealth of expertise, intellect and business acumen, is well placed to steer the mobile community through the opportunities and challenges presented by the global economic slowdown, the rise of investment stifling regulation, the release of new spectrum and the convergence of mobile and Internet services. I am looking forward to working with the CEO and the board to ensure that the GSMA remains at the vanguard of our industry."
 
Jon Fredrick Baksaas, the CEO of Telenor,  Dato' Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, Managing Director, President and Group CEO of TM International, and Eduardo Barnetche Girard, Head of International Roaming & International Long Distance at America Moviles, have joined the new 26-member GSMA board, which now includes the CEOs of 14 leading mobile operator groups and represents 69% of global mobile users.

Schaffner EMC, a leading provider of EMI/RFI components and solutions for power quality, and Digi-Key Corporation, an industry leader known for the breadth and availability of its product line, announced today that the companies have entered into a global agreement for the distribution of Schaffner's full line of EMC and power quality products, such as chokes, filters, pulse transformers, and feedthrough components.

Schaffner products, now available on Digi-Key's websites, will be featured in future print catalogs.

Alexander Hagemann, CEO of Schaffner EMC, said, "We needed a distribution partner that matched the requirements of our growing worldwide customer base. Digi-Key's commitment to servicing its international customers, along with its highly efficient internal processes, enables us to quickly integrate our product line into its network and start delivering products to customers around the globe."

Mark Larson, Digi-Key president and COO, noted, "Although our selection of electronic components is extensive, Schaffner's reputation for quality and its EMI/RFI components make this company unique. Designers throughout the automotive, medical, consumer, telecom and other industries we target will benefit from the Schaffner products we now offer."

Vodafone and Last.fm have today announced a collaboration which will bring the Last.fm music experience to Vodafone customers.
 
From today, Vodafone customers throughout Europe and India, Australia and New Zealand will be able to access Last.fm's social networking music features via their mobiles.  The new mobile application includes Last.fm's scrobbling functionality that tracks what users listen to in real-time and builds them an online music profile based on their listening habits.
 
Last.fm is a music entertainment platform, with an active community of over 25 million users in more than 200 countries. Through its Scrobbler system, Last.fm builds a profile of each user's music taste by tracking what they listen to in real-time via their computer and now from their mobile. Last.fm can then use this information to intelligently recommend new music to each user based on their music preferences.
 
Customers who are new to Last.fm can register from their mobile and check out what their friends are listening to.  In addition, customers in Germany will be able to click through directly to the Vodafone Music Store to sample and buy any music recommended by Last.fm.
 
Javier Foncillas, Head of Branded Content at Vodafone Group, says: "Music continues to be a major passion for our customers and that's why Vodafone consistently delivers a superior music experience in a number of different ways to ensure people get the music they want, how and when they want it. With Last.fm, Vodafone continues to pioneer social networking on mobiles, delivering a new, relevant and unique music experience, to millions of customers, across our high speed, reliable network."
 
Martin Stiksel, Last.fm co-founder, says: "It's really exciting to be launching our scrobbling mobile phone application with Vodafone. We're working hard to ensure that the Last.fm experience is available everywhere, from your desktop through hardware to phones, and this is another big step towards that goal."

Telekom Austria Group has announced that the Supervisory Board has appointed Hannes Ametsreiter as a new Board member of the Telekom Austria Group and as new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Fixed Net subsidiary, Telekom Austria TA AG. In addition, the Supervisory Board appointed Walter Goldenits as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Fixed Net subsidiary.

Both Hannes Ametsreiter and Walter Goldenits will assume their new positions on January 1, 2009 for a term of five years. Hannes Ametsreiter will maintain his current assignment as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of mobilkom austria AG in addition to his new CEO function for the Fixed Net subsidiary. Furthermore, the Supervisory Board appointed Hans Tschuden, the Chief Financial Officer, as Vice Chairman of the Management Board of the Telekom Austria Group.

Ametsreiter said about his new position: "The ongoing restructuring measures and our strengthened market approach demonstrate our commitment to reversing the trend in the Fixed Net segment. Based on our unique position in fixed net and mobile communication we are able to succeed in both markets. The positive development over the last year proves that we are on the right track." 

Ametsreiter started his career at Procter & Gamble as international brand assistant manager. In 1996 he began his career in the telecommunications industry by joining the product management of mobilkom austria. Since January 2001 he has been the CMO of mobilkom austria, taking on the additional responsibility for Customer Service in 2002.  Between July 2005 and July 2006 he was CMO of Mobiltel in Bulgaria. In 2007 he was appointed as CMO of the Fixed Net subsidiary. Ametsreiter is also a member of the Board of Directors of Vipnet, Vip mobile, M-Tel, Si.mobil, VELCOM, Paybox Austria, A1 BANK and Omnimedia.
 
The new CTO Goldenits said: "In the last months we have reorganised the technical departments to provide the foundation for the next big step of the Next Generation Networks (NGN) project. Our role as technology platform is to generate and market customer convenience and this is the benchmark against which we want to measure our success. The Fixed Net segment has great potential from a technological perspective, which will enable us to provide our residential and business customers with top products and to differentiate ourselves from our competitors."
 
Goldenits started his career as project manager at Landis&Gyr. In 1998 he joined mobilkom austria AG, where he first developed the billing systems and was then appointed Head of the IT department in 2003. In 2006 Goldenits began to reorganise mobilkom austria IT as a service centre for parts of the mobilkom austria group, and from 2007 to 2008 he took over the position of CTO of Si.mobil. Since September 2008 Goldenits has been responsible for the reorganisation and realignment of the technical departments of Telekom Austria TA AG. 

Taptu, the pure-play mobile search engine, has secured £6.45m in series B funding from its existing investors 3i and Sofinnova investments and has appointed Andreas Bernstrom to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Bernstrom will be part of Taptu's senior management team, responsible for managing the company's commercial growth and formalising Taptu's mobile advertising position, worldwide.

The funding was secured in recognition of the success that Taptu has already achieved both here and in the United States, and to accelerate Taptu's continued growth over the next 12 months.

Bernstrom has over 10 years experience driving growth in digital marketing companies. Previously COO at TradeDoubler, a leading Internet marketing company, Bernstrom expanded and grew the company in 19 markets, managing over 550 staff, and was responsible for driving the product development, marketing, sales and distribution strategies for its search, affiliate and technology products. Before working at TradeDoubler, he worked at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.

Bernstrom said: "With significant funding achieved, in a market where investment is hard to come by, we are poised to become an attractive proposition for marketers and advertisers looking to capitalise on the explosion in mobile web usage - Gartner reveals that mobile data revenues overtook voice revenues for the first time in 2008 and that mobile search will be worth USD 12 Billion by 2013.  We are best placed to offer marketers the most engaging environment in which to reach consumers with carefully targeted, relevant advertising."

Steves Ives CEO and founder of Taptu said: "Taptu has had a stellar year, having won numerous awards including Best Mobile Search provider 2008 at the MEA awards and now achieving Series B funding from our investors Its great timing to bring Andreas on Board.  He brings with him valuable experience that will help us drive Taptu forward as a business and will play an important part in developing our business presence overseas as well as maintaining momentum in the UK."

Oliver Sichel, Partner at Sofinnova Investments says: "With the ever-increasing adoption of the mobile internet, thanks to improved networks and new multimedia handsets, Sofinnova is extremely pleased and proud to continue to support Taptu. We have seen dramatic improvements in the Taptu service and huge growth in users over the last 12 months. Andreas Bernstrom brings with him tremendous experience in helping companies achieve sustained growth."

Astellia, a specialist in optimization systems for the Quality of Service (QoS) and performance of mobile networks, has enhanced its 2G/3G "Handset Profiling" solution. The application helps operators troubleshoot quality-threatening problems due to low performing handsets and choose the best terminals to trigger enhanced mobile voice and data services usage.

According to Astellia, with the increasing number of mobile handsets and the swift development of multimedia contents launched onto the market, it is becoming increasingly important for operators to measure individual performance and ensure that terminals are optimized for high-quality voice calls, streamline web browsing, fast email access and video streaming.

The Astellia Handset Profiling application is currently used by the marketing and procurement teams of many operators worldwide to benchmark mobile handsets and choose the best performing terminals.

"It plays a crucial role in delivering the best Quality of Experience (QoE) to subscribers, increasing service usage and revenues", says Pierre-Yves Pasco, Product Manager, Handset Profiling, at Astellia. "It also gives operators greater negotiation power in dealing with handset manufacturers."

Network operations take full advantage of the application for in-depth troubleshooting purposes and, using Handset Profiling, engineers can rapidly diagnose problems and identify whether the root cause is linked to a low-performing network, handset or application.

Handset Profiling, now available for both 2G and 3G, is based on the Astellia monitoring solution. Non intrusive, it provides a clear picture of how voice and data services are perceived from real handsets' and users' perspective from any point on the network. This contributes to reduce need for active testing and emulating hundreds of handsets. Through a web interface, operators' teams can easily access reliable and precise key performance indicators such as call success rate, download time, speed and throughput for Internet, Wap and MMS.