Zynga Owns the Mobile App Gaming Market

Zynga Mobile & Facebook Apps
Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) went public last week raising $1 billion dollars in its IPO at $10 per share.  The company is making money a lot of money through its digital goods sales and clearly has the number one position in the mobile app gaming space.  Zynga has a market cap of $6.5B and will do almost $1 billion dollars in revenue this year while growing like a weed with over 100% growth.  There isn't much that can stop this company from growing except may Facebook and I think it has the potential to be the next huge IPO winner like Google back in 2000 when it went public at $100 per share.  Companies like Microsoft XBox, Play Station and Electronic Arts should be very nervous about their business models which will certainly be challenged in the future by Zynga.

The growth opportunity for Zynga is enormous and their games are incredibly engaging.  For older folks Words with Friends and Poker are most compelling and have a lot of user upside growth remaining.  The iPad and Kindle tablet revolution is making the experience incredible on 7 to 10 inch tablet screens while lying on the coach or in bed.  Most people play the games for free and a small portion of users purchase in game upgrades.  I wouldn't be surprised to see advertising on the game platforms in the coming quarters to boost up per user revenue.

One concern I do have is the enormous pressure to keep users simultaneously connected while playing multi-player games.  I have noticed several times with play Zynga Poker that users drop off due to temporary network data congestion or suddenly entering a cell phone dead zone.  Thankfully its not real money when playing Zynga Poker so if you get disconnected by your cell phone network or Wi-Fi, you probably won't lose sleep over it.  I think Zynga will have to do a better job of notifying gamers about the quality of their connection on the Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G or LTE network.  Today, users have tolerance for drop outs but this may get old if it does not improve in the future.

The following data below shows a ranking of apps and highlights which apps are owned by Zynga.  8 of the top 40 apps, not just games are owned by Zynga.  Thank you to App Data for providing this information.

  CityVille (Zynga)
  CastleVille (Zynga)   
  FarmVille (Zynga)   
  Texas HoldEm Poker(Zynga)   
  Empires & Allies (Zynga)

Dish Network + T-Mobile + Light Squared

I really like the idea of mega merger / distribution deal between Dish Network + T-Mobile + Light Square's GPS spectrum could be a great deal for investors as well as consumers.  A combination merger / distribution deal would finally be an company that might have the ability to compete with Verizon & AT&T which have a combined 180+ million customers.  T-Mobile still has 30 million happy wireless customers in the US which makes it the 4th largest carrier but has a owner Deutsche Telecom who wants to sell and needs spectrum to compete in the future. T-Mobile customers are price sensitive and typically save hundreds of dollars per year on comparable wireless coverage. However, most industry analysts "poo poo" T-Mobile and think the company is dead without new spectrum becoming available or without being purchased another viable entity because of its need for wireless spectrum to compete.  This 

What companies are capable of doing this? Google, Apple, Dish Network, DirectTV or Comcast who have complimentary interests in the TV business. Dish Network recently purchase Sling Box which is a phenomenal product for viewing your home live TV from on your phone. I use Sling Box with Verizon FiOS on my T-Mobile 4G phone currently and love it. Watching and controlling your TV from your phone is a great experience even from the moving car. Especially, when you are grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. 

Is the AT&T + T-Mobile merger about scarcity of spectrum or do they really want T-Mobile price sensitive customers who will likely leave? The spectrum allocation scarcity issue has been wildly mismanaged and created by the FCC. In other countries around the world spectrum is shared and works much better. However, spectrum hoarding has become a business to fend off competition and keep prices artificially high. Thus the reason why the U.S. needs 4 large carriers to keep the industry competitive and price sensitive. Having two CDMA (Verizon & Sprint) and two GSM carriers (AT&T & T-Mobile) is the key to making competition thrive and without this consumers will lose. 

If you are a customer on T-Mobile using their HSPA+ network the experience is quite good if you live in an area that has coverage. The fewer people around you competing for coverage at the tower means the better bandwidth and coverage you have on your phone. As a T-Mobile customer you are competing against 30M people vs AT&T or Verizon who have 90M people. More people = more spectrum required to make all of your data hungry users happy. 

Enter Light Squared into the carrier equation in the last few years which is trying to build out a satellite network that would provide 4G LTE coverage. Light Squared is a dramatically new way of thinking for a telecom industry which seem incessant on resisting change and protecting their turf. The turf they are protection are the billions invested into tradition cell phone tower networks. Light Squared is disrupting the traditional cellular network by deploying 4G LTE coverage via satellite networks. In theory, this means better coverage in remote areas that traditionally not reached by cell phone towers.

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The Coalition To Save GPS Smells Bad

The Coalition To Save GPS Smells Bad

1)  There are too many old school organization members that are trying to protect turf.
2)  The lobbying groups behind the organization have conflicts of interest?
3)  Light Squared paid for spectrum and now they are being prevented to use it?
4)  It seems like the sole purpose of the organization is to destroy a company Light Squared that is doing something very disruptive in the communications space.
5)  Light Squared has no customers yet and has not been tested in the real world.
6)  Please share other reasons this organization might be a fraud below.

Here is how the organization describes itself and you can read more at Saveourgps.org.

Representatives of a wide variety of industries and companies have joined a "Coalition to Save Our GPS" to resolve a serious threat to the reliability and viability of the Global Positioning System (GPS).  A national utility upon which millions of Americans rely every day.
To safeguard GPS, the Coalition seeks a number of remedies from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which recently granted a waiver to a company called LightSquared that allows them to repurpose the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of the GPS. 
LightSquared plans to transmit ground-based radio signals that would be one billion or more times more powerful as received on earth than GPS's low-powered satellite-based signals, potentially causing severe interference impacting millions of GPS receivers - including those used by the federal agencies, state and local governments, first responders, airlines, mariners, civil engineering, construction and surveying, agriculture, and everyday consumers in their cars and on handheld devices. 
Here are some of the member organization trying to block the use of spectrum for to improve cellular coverage in remote areas that don't have cell towers.

Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) Ag Leader Technology AGCO Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) Air Transport Association (ATA) Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) American Petroleum Institute (API) American Car Rental Association (ACRA) American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) American Council of Engineering Companies/Council of Professional Surveyors (ACEC/COPS) American Rental Association (ARA) American Sailing Association (ASA) Associated Society of Agronomy (ASA) Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Association of American Geographers (AAG) Association of American Railroads (AAR) Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) Avidyne Corporation BoatU.S. - The Boat Owners Association of The United States California Land Surveyors Association California Space Authority (CSA) Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) Case New Holland Caterpillar Deere & Company Delta Air Lines Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Equipped to Survive Foundation, Inc. (ETSFI) Esri Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (FEMA) FedEx Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Garmin General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) GROWMARK, Inc. Hemisphere GPS Inside GNSS International Air Transport Association (IATA) Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) Leica Geosystems MACHINE CONTROL Online Magellan GPS Maricopa County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) Mid-Atlantic Aviation Coalition-New Jersey (MAAC-NJ) National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) National Cotton Council of America (NCCA) National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) Networkfleet New World Systems North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA) North Dakota Implement Dealers Association (NDIDA) OmniSTAR Orienteering USA OXBO International Corporation Payment Assurance Technology Association (PATA) PeopleNet PocketGPSWorld.com Ltd Regional Airline Association (RAA) Reinke Mfg. Co. Inc. Southwest Airlines SurveyorConnect The Manitowoc Company, Inc. TomTom Topcon Positioning Systems Trimble UPS USA Rice Federation VERIPOS

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Dish Network + T-Mobile + Light Squared

Carrier IQ Sued in Delaware Federal Court

Apple, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Carrier IQ Sued in Delaware Federal Court in Cell Phone Tracking Software Scandal.  See Press Release here.

WILMINGTON, Del., Dec. 2, 2011- The law firms of Sianni & Straite LLP of Wilmington, DE, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP of Edison, NJ, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. of Red Bank, NJ, have today filed a class action complaint in Federal Court in Wilmington, Delaware related to the unprecedented breach of the digital privacy rights of 150 million cell phone users. The complaint asserts that three cell phone providers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) and four manufacturers of cell phones (HTC, Motorola, Apple and Samsung) violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The carriers and manufacturers were caught last month willfully violating customers' privacy rights in direct violation of federal law. A technology blogger in Connecticut discovered that software designed and sold by California-based Carrier IQ, Inc. was secretly tracking personal and sensitive information of the cell phone users without the consent or knowledge of the users. On Nov. 30, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary said in a letter to Carrier IQ that "these actions may violate federal privacy laws." It added, "this is potentially a very serious matter."

David Straite, one of the attorneys leading the action, noted "this latest revelation of corporate America's brazen disregard for the digital privacy rights of its customers is yet another example of the escalating erosion of liberty in this country. We are hopeful that the courts will allow ordinary customers the opportunity to remedy this outrageous breach." Steve Grygiel, co-counsel for the proposed class, agreed: "anyone who cares at all about their personal privacy, or the broader constitutional right to privacy, ought to care and care a great deal about this case." Barry Eichen added, "today's comment from Larry Lenhart, CEO of Carrier IQ, that his software is somehow good for consumers starkly demonstrates what is at stake."

A copy of the Class Action Complaint in Pacilli v. Carrier IQ, Inc. can be viewed on the Firms' websites at www.siannistraite.com, www.keefebartels.com, and www.njadvocates.com.

Plaintiffs are represented by Sianni & Straite LLP, a Delaware-based litigation firm with a branch office in New York, Keefe Bartels LLC, a New Jersey-based plaintiffs' rights trial law firm, and Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, a leading plaintiffs firm with three offices in New Jersey.

Consumer Reports Cell Service Ratings by City

Does this Consumer Reports survey of 66,000 people have any credibility for a cell phone service shopper? This survey represents a narrow demographic of respondents. Even Consumer Reports states their “Findings might not reflect the general U.S. population.” Also, it is indeed a survey and does not contain any empirical testing of the type that has made Consumer Reports the respected entity it is today.

But the main reason these results are not meaningful, or fair for that matter, is the lack of information regarding smartphone users vs. old school phone users, broken down by the wireless provider being rated. Why is this important? Smartphones demand a much higher quality of service and bandwidth to operate. Even Consumer Reports implies that users who use their wireless devices primarily for talking and texting (non smartphone customers) are easier to please than those who have smartphones, who require more demanding tasks such as web surfing and watching videos.

Consumer Reports does not provide any data as to which providers in the survey were rated by smartphone subscribers vs. non smartphone subscribers. Thus, their results are comparing apples-to-oranges. For example, is it meaningful or fair to compare Provider A who, for example, was rated by customers who primarily use smartphones vs. Provider B, who was rated by customers who primarily use non smartphones? I think not.

Based on my years of running this web site, I can conclude that some wireless providers have a larger percentage of smartphone subscribers than others. These smartphone subscribers are, by nature, sophisticated, demanding and particular. Other providers have a larger percentage of non smartphone subscribers who are typically lower paying, less sophisticated customers who are happy with status quo and using older phones. These customers, of course, would be happier with their service.

My take? Consumer Reports should divulge the percentage of smartphone and non smartphones subs rating each wireless provider. This key information would allow readers to make fair and meaningful comparisons.

Deadcellzones.com surveys an audience of similar size of 60,000 but does so on a monthly basis. Thus we survey an audience that is 10 times larger than consumer reports. DCZ also provide searchable maps with very specific geographic information about coverage problems. Ask yourself which is more useful as a consumer shopping for service in your area?

Carrier IQ Claims to Ignore Personal Info

Connecticut-based systems administrator Carrier IQ has found itself in hot water of late. Gizmodo recently broke the story that revealed how the company tracked information on most Smartphones without users’ knowledge or ability to opt out. This revelation came to light via the YouTube video posted by Android developer Trevor Eckhart which demonstrated that Carrier IQ circumvents web encryption to pick up on passwords, Google queries, and other web activities.

Predictably, wireless customers have been outraged, and carriers themselves have sought to distance themselves from the company. Furthermore, Senator Al Franken sent Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart a stern letter warning of possible legal action and demanding explanation by December 14.

CIQ has recently come to its own defense, however. They are insisting that their intentions are altruistic rather than malevolent. The company released a statement assuring the wireless community that they do not store SMS messages, e-mail, photos, audio, or video recordings. "We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service," they explained. Additionally, CIQ has claimed that the monitoring operations they undertake are totally on the behest of the carriers.

Andrew Coward, CIQ’s VP of Marketing told The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D that, while the software listens for specific, keystrokes to send diagnostic information to the carriers, they are not privy to the actual message.  They claim to ignore your personal information but still have access to it.  

“If there’s a dropped call, the carriers want to know about it,” Coward clarified. “So we record where you were when the call dropped, and the location of the tower being used. … Similarly, if you send an SMS to me and it doesn’t go through, the carriers want to know that, too. And they want to know why — if it’s a problem with your handset or the network.”

Coward also maintained that CIQ does not share the data with any 3rd party operators, and thus consumers have nothing to fear.

Senate Investigation of Carrier IQ Spyware

U.S. Senator Al Franken just sent Carrier IQ a nasty letter. Today Franken fired off a letter to Carrier IQ CEO Larry Lenhart raising questions about the company's practices and demanding answers by December 14.  Earlier this week a story was launched by Gizmodo that Carrier IQ is Secretly Recording your Mobile Phone Actions.

It appears the Carrier IQ software captures a broad swath of extremely sensitive information from users that would appear to have nothing to do with diagnostics—including who they are calling, the contents of the texts they are receiving, the contents of their searches and the websites they visit. These actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This is potentially a very serious matter.  Read the letter below.  Click to enlarge.

Carrier IQ is Secretly Recording Your Phone

If you have a newer Android phone, everything you do is being recorded by hidden software lurking inside. It even circumvents web encryption and grabs everything—including your passwords and Google queries. Worse: it's the handset manufacturers and the carriers who—in the name of "making your user experience better"—install this software without any way for you to opt-out. This YouTube video, recorded by 25-year-old Android developer Trevor Eckhart, shows how it works. This is bad. Really bad.  See details of this article first posted by Gizmodo.


The spying software is developed by a company called Carrier IQ. In their site, the company says they are "the only embedded analytics company to support millions of devices simultaneously, we give Wireless Carriers and Handset Manufacturers unprecedented insight into their customers' mobile experience."

Is this the best way to track user experience, dropped calls and coverage problems?  I think there is a better way and Deadcellzones.com has demonstrated that consumers are capable of reporting problems directly to a web site if given the resources to do it.  Carrier IQ is a well funded VC backed company that tracks billions of anonymously reported coverage problems and dropped calls by passing along this data directly to the carrier.  The receive millions of dollars per year from carriers to track this.  However, does the carrier even do anything with the data despite the reported issues?  Is this the classic "deer in headlights" problems with billions of reception problems reported.  Isn't there a better way to prioritize the problems people are experiencing? How about try crowdsourcing coverage problems from actual customers.  Deadcellzones.com is certainly a model to start thinking about.

Related Stories:
U.S. Senate Investigation of Carrier IQ
Carrier IQ: Mobile Service Intelligence ?'s 

Apple iOS 5.0.1 Brings Life Back to 4S Battery

For anyone who rushed out and purchased a brand new iPhone 4S, they were greeted with several new and innovative features. The new iCloud provides all Apple users a chance to access the company's infrastructure as a service options from any device they own. Siri became the talk of the town when its artificial intelligence capabilities were announced. The camera on the 4S model even got a major upgrade to a professional model.

The one thing that has stifled most anyone from actually using any of these new and exciting services was the major battery life that the new device consumed. When Apple released their latest operating system through iTunes, owners of the new device reported that they were not getting much use out of the device because of the short life span. As reported by Mashable, the bugs and battery life did not only affect the new iPhone 4S, but older devices like the iPad and iPhone 4.

According to the official report from apple as seen on MSNBC's Technolog, the new iOS 5.0.1 upgrade fixes bugs in battery life, allows first generation iPad users to multitask, fixes bugs with documents in the iCloud, and even improves voice recognition on Siri for people with Australian accents.

According to a report on CNN, one of the major reasons for the battery drain on the iOS 5 was the prominence of location based apps and GPS trackers. When users simply turned the options off they experienced better battery life, but didn't receive the full experience of the new operating system and the new iPhone 4S. In order to combat negative publicity, the company decided to offer free cases while it worked on the problem.

As with the launch of any new device, there are always problems associated with the first versions. If still in beta, the iOS 5 bugs would not have been detected by the relatively small testing base. Now with most of the bugs kinked out, normal users can go about using the new managed server hosting, camera, and voice recognition services without fearing they will miss an important call because of a dead battery.

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