Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why NetFlix Isn't Coming To Canada

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Netflix, the popular DVD rental by mail service that has transformed itself into the Internet's most popular streaming movie service is now one of the forbidden fruits for Canadians.  Just like Google Voice and Hulu despite popularity south of the 49th parallel is not available in Canada.  While there are Canadian companies seeking to replicate Netflix in Canada, but so far they have stuck to the old DVD's by mail business model. 

Any hyper critical Canadian blames the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for keeping Netflix out of Canada.  It would be easy to the CRTC to consider Netflix to be a foreign programming service that is not licensed by the CRTC to offer service to Canadians.  That would be the way it would be if Netflix was a traditional Cable network, but because Netflix is an online streaming service it faces no opposition from the CRTC.  In 1999 the CRTC declined to regulate the Internet because any attempt to do so would be pointless.  That's why Vonage can offer service to Canadians without a CRTC license.

The big American movie studios are the usual suspects that are still keeping Netflix.  Netflix says that their service is not available because of licensing issues.  The movie studios accept millions of dollars from Netflix to send DVD's and BluRay discs through the US Postal Service or stream across America through the Internet, but when it comes to licensing rights in Canada, movie studios will allow Canadian companies to send movies on discs through Canada Post to Canadians but online streaming in Canada is still off limits. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Are The Potential Suitors For Palm?

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Pioneering maker of PDA's and Smartphones, Palm is seeking to get bought.  There has been speculation about who would be a suitable buyer, since the announcements that sales of the WebOS based pre and pixi smartphones have been disappointing to tech industry observers and investors.  These companies have already been named as potential buyers looking to buy Palm:

Microsoft:  The big boys in Redmond are seen by some as a likely buyer for Palm mostly just to get another smartphone hardware manufacturing asset.  Additionally for Microsoft, buying Palm gets two competing smartphone OS's (Palm OS and Web OS) out of the way in advance of the release of Windows Phone 7 Series at the end of 2010. 

Google:  For the king of search also being the provider of the Andoid operating system, seen by many as the rising star of the cellular industry buying Palm would provide Google with Palm's large library of Patents.  With HTC facing lawsuits from Apple from Apple's claims that HTC's Android handsets violate Apple's patents.  With Google potentially on Apple's lawsuit hit list, owning Palm's patents would give Google some rear end protection.

Apple:  Buying Palm would bring former Apple engineers who worked on development of the iPhone who bolted from Cupertino to join Palm to create WebOS.  Apple would expand their own library of patents to use against the makers of other competing smartphone operating systems.  But that would make Apple a patent troll, not a maker of insanely great products.  Apple wouldn't do that, would they?

Those are the likely suspects but there are other tech companies would benefit from owning Palm and are most likely to be looking at bidding:

Nokia:  Nokia's Symbian OS based smartphones maybe popular in Europe, but has virtually no users in North America.  After Nokia's licencing fee scrap with Qualcomm half a dozen years ago Nokia found themselves vanquished from CDMA carriers.  Buying Palm would give Nokia a Smartphone operating system that have market share in North America and Palm's licensing agreement with Qualcomm wouldn't hurt ether.

Samsung or LG:  The big two from South Korea sell a lot of cells in North America, but attempts to make the leap to Smartphones have fallen flat.  Making WebOS phones for a lower cost, rather than having to buy Windows Mobile or Google's Android would be more attractive for cellular carriers who would not have to spend as much money on subidizing the cost of smartphones.

Amazon:  For one of the Internet's most successful online retailer, selling WebOS Smartphones would be a similar business model as the Kindle, buy content such as e-books and music on a device that people have to buy from Amazon.  Adding smartphones to the Kindle would help Amazon compete against Apple. 

Intel: Smartphones are going to be the largest segment of the devices with CPU's market in the next few years, and so far Intel is on the outside looking in.  Buying Palm would not just give Intel a smartphone hardware business, but an operating system that could be used to spotlight Intel's mobile CPU's

The sale of Palm is expected to happen very quickly, the interesting question is not when Palm will sell, but to who and for what purpose.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Could Sprint Land The CDMA iPhone

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As the rumors of version of Apple's iPhone that runs on CDMA technology are now supported by sightings in manufacturing plants, it has become a foregone conclusion that a CDMA iPhone would automatically be carried by Verizon Wireless.  Nobody who has speculated about the development of a CDMA iPhone has even considered the fact that America's other CDMA carrier, Sprint would be the carrier that provides CDMA iPhones to subscribers. 

Is it worth considering that Steve Jobs would be so spiteful to Verizon for referring to the iPhone as a misfit toy?  It would not be outside the realm of possibility.  For Apple the choice of a carrier for the CDMA iPhone has yet to be made since there was no EV-DO support built into the iPad.  For Apple choosing Sprint over Verizon means getting access to better technology faster.  While Verizon will start the process of deploying an LTE network in the next couple of years, Sprint is deploying WiMax now.  Perhaps Apple is going to wait for the second generation of iPad to put in WiMax support, the service for a WiMax based iPad can only come from one company, Sprint.

Apple's claim to fame is making insanely great tech products. Can Apple afford not to be on Verizon meanwhile being able to create insanely greater iPhones, and iPads on Sprint's network. It's easy to yes they can.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What Canadians Will Need To Know About The iPad

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This past Saturday's launch of Apple's iPad has Canadians asking where's ours.  Apple says that the iPad will be sold in Canada and other countries by the end of April even though they haven't set a date that iPads will be in stores in the Great White North.  Some would be iPad owners are questioning why reason for the delay getting the iPad to Canada.  Likely Apple reserved all the iPads from the first manufacturing run for the American launch. 

For Apple delaying the launching the iPad later in other countries than in the United States allows Apple to make 3G service agreements with cellular carriers that normally provide service to subscribers with iPhones.  In Canada, Apple will have to make agreements with Bell, Rogers and Bell.  In most of Canada, all three carriers will be compatible with the iPad but in Manitoba and Saskatchewan Rogers is the only carrier that will work with the iPad, MTS and Sasktel are not compatible with the iPad. 

One of the abilities that is much hyped by Apple is the e-reading capabilities with their own electronic book store.  Apple needs the three week delay to make agreements with non-American publishing companies to get their books onto the iPad, just like the Kindle before it.

Apple without a doubt will use the international launches of the iPad for marketing purposes to help spur a second wave of buying in the United States.  For what ever reason for delaying the launching iPad in Canada, Apple will benefit in some way.

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