Former state-owned telecoms incumbents with their reliable cash streams from millions of customers have an enviable position in these turbulent economic times. But don’t think that means they can kick back and catch up on their sunbathing, says France Telecom‘s finance chief Gervais Pellissier. Nor do they have time to explore unlikely mergers and acquisitions, like last year’s $40 billion hostile and ultimately failed bid for Nordic telco group TeliaSonera. This year at France Telecom, owner of the Orange brand, it’s all hands on deck for management to steer the great ship through the crisis. “Even on an aircraft carrier, when the sea is very big, I think everybody works,” Pellissier told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris. ”When the sea is calm in the Mediterranean in the middle of summer, half of the team can tan on the sun deck,” he said. I don’t say this is what we did in 2008… but let’s say we could dedicate some time to such an operation last year that we cannot dedicate this year — it’s impossible.”
from Summit Notebook:
In China, Apple's iPhone commands a strange presence. Perenially "coming out", already widely available on the black market, viewed with trepidation by local telecom players but with undisguised lust by affluent consumers.
Sanford C. Bernstein Toni Sacconaghi thinks the wildly popular device will arrive in the Middle Kingdom before the end of the year, after a long haul of negotiations with state-run telecom carriers keen to control the content to be sold over the gadget.
Some sticking points thus far: Sacconaghi says Chinese typically spend $10-$15 per month on data services -- everything from stock quotes to weather forecasts -- wheareas your typical iPhone user in the developed world now spends $70. That limits the Chinese carriers' ability to subsidize the iPhone. But the analyst thinks that in one to two months Apple may unveil a cheaper version of the device that can lower the cost of the phone to lower-paying Chinese customers.
from Summit Notebook:
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Tuesday and while he wouldn't touch TechCrunch's report about financing and valuation, he did opine about a few of Facebook's Web peers:
On the difference between Facebook and MySpace:
I think MySpace defines themselves as more of a media company and a media portal. A way to see the different content that is going on, or a way for a News Corp parent company to spread content through the network. Facebook has always been more focused on helping people build out their identity, helping people maintain their relationships and communicate really efficiently. We have talked about ourselves as a technology company a lot as opposed to a media company.
On the difference between Facebook and Twitter:
We respect Twitter and we think they are a great company. I think Twitter's focus different is markedly different from Facebook's. They are not really at all about a user's identity. They are more about real time communication. People are sharing more and more information...and on a more frequent basis. If you extend that out then there is a good amount of information that is being shared in real time. That's where a service like Twitter comes in, and that's why that's also one piece of what we want to do. If your friend does something important...there is no reason why you don't want that update immediately. Real time is clearly one of the growing trends but i don't think it's the whole picture.