Sunday, October 11, 2009

That was the week that was

I think I may have confused or annoyed a number of mega-uber value readers with my post on the arrival of the Memphibian blog. Make no mistake, it is not supplanting this humble bloglet, but during the first couple of weeks I had to ensure I had seeded enough content there to give it a life of its own. As in everything, I will strive for balance going forward.

So, among the things I noted but failed to comment on last week, here are the ones I found most interesting:

The Skype and European Directories (a MacQuarie LBO) tie-up looks interesting, and I would expect some of the other directories players to follow suit, if they know what's good for them (the jury is out on that one). However, for me the bigger message in this deal is of how the previous owners of both assets squandered their potential. In the case of Skype, it's ironic that only as the business is sold by eBay does it begin to fulfill some of the potential used as rationale for doing the transaction four years ago. And on the directories side, this deal shows the obvious potential of tying together customer data, advertising, and sponsored telephony - something the telcos didn't seem to contemplate when they owned these directory assets. Now whatever value might be generated with this formula once again accrues to someone else...

A couple of big validations for fiber in the week, with BT capitulating on brownfield FTTP, probably in recognition of the threat posed by Virgin's DOCSIS 3.0 marketing, and Telefonica trumping Vivendi's one-month old bid for Global Village Telecom at a 14% premium, with in-market synergies that Vivendi can't get anywhere near.

The profound and ridiculous ends of the iPhone App spectrum were on display on Friday, with Herman pointing us towards the ludicrous (but entertaining) Gym Babes app, while the HealthMap project's iPhone app has generated 1,000 reports since launch a month ago. As the project team says, "This form of participatory epidemiology may alert the public to valuable disease information before it is reported by the media or public health officials," which is bound to have an inestimable value. All this is fascinating, though if Gartner is right in predicting that Android will eclipse the iPhone juggernaut by 2012 due to its open-source framework and multi-vendor backing, then presumably app developers are going to have to start hedging by developing for both platforms. This despite the fact that I am told repeatedly that investors currently have no time or appetite for anything non-iPhone in nature, and Kleiner Perkins Caulfield have taken a highly directional bet on iPhone hegemony.

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