Saunders on Canadian data rates

Alec Saunders has written a long post comparing the rates for data plans and carrier revenues internationally called Talking Turkey on Canadian Data. Alec brings out the numbers behind the point that I’ve been making based on instinct for some time now – the problem with exorbitant data rates isn’t just that people WANT more data or somehow deserve it – which is how it’s usually portrayed. The problem with high data rates is actually that the carriers are leaving huge revenues on the table over (it seems) some kind of “we DESERVE to be able to meter every byte” principle. Canadian carriers are not acting in the best interests of consumers or their shareholders by being so intransigent on this issue.

“Social” is now the default – or should be

Thomas Purves has written a great post suggesting – correctly, in my view – that It’s time to take “social” for granted.

Here’s the news. [Social media] is no longer interesting. It’s time is done. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s still vast areas of everyday business, enterprise and government that still need to be beaten severely with the Web2.0 stick (even the Web1.0 stick would still help in some places). Rather, it’s now time to think of socialness and 2.0ness as “business as usual” in the IT industry. The substantive battle is over, this is a mopping up operation. And there’s a ton of rolling up the sleeves and value to unlock left to do in almost any vertical industry.

I’ve been working on crossovers between social media and mobile for over a year now (from time to time – consulting gigs) and from my perspective mobile has already arrived. I think it’s almost irresponsible to consider a “new media” strategy without considering the social and mobile options that can be baked in, and not as some kind of cute bolt-on strategy but integrally to the whole thing.

Twitter Web Traffic Stats

The nice folks at Twitter have started to publish a bit more information than has been available about their usage. Today Biz wrote a post on the Twitter blog about Twitter Web Traffic Around the World which is very interesting.

A couple of interesting things pop out at first glance. First of all, 60% of (web) traffic is non-US in origin. This might seem like a high number, but when we compare that figure to published stats from sites like Facebook, Twitter has a relatively lower number of international users. Secondly, and most interestingly to me, if you eyeball the percentages in terms of the population of each of the “international” countries represented in the top 10, I imagine that Canada would jump right to the top of the list.

Considering that this is just an assessment of web traffic, not overall traffic, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from that relative to mobile usage in Canada (usually said to be very low relative to European countries and others), but unless Twitter’s mobile roots are in fact insignificant compared to web usage, the numbers do suggest that things aren’t quite as bad in Canada as most of the other stats portray.

Shel Israel on Twitter

Late last week Shel Israel wrote an An Open Letter to the Twitter Guys. He’s right on, and his post stands in stark contrast to the chatter a couple of weeks ago that Twitter proves that the only important thing is to aggregate users – leaving aside a biz plan for later.

No one seems to care about mobile Twitter (which seems insane to me), but my 250/week limit was reached in the early evening today – Tuesday. The limit is simply a cost-cutting measure by a company bleeding money on every tweet. The problem for Twitter is that I can easily defect – everyone I get messages from (more or less) is on Facebook, and I can subscribe to their status updates on my mobile – half the time they come from Twitter anyhow.

Part of the problem may be that US companies are backed by US VC – and so they focus primarily on US adoption and usage. The social networking world in general makes that a very dangerous position to take – social network adoption rates are generally lower in the US than most other “rich” countries. A company that is primarily concerned with US results for a US exit will throw the rest of us under the bus pretty quickly.

Twitter is suddenly broken!

…And I’m not referring to the Macworld keynote failure they experienced.

Sometime in the last day or so, Twitter put in place a new policy that effectively breaks the service for everyone outside of the US. Details are available at this Twitter Support page.

Essentially, there’s now a limit of 250 twits via SMS per week. A lot of people don’t seem to care about Twitter via SMS – they call it simply “micro-blogging” whereas the mobile part of it – say, “mobile micro-blogging” has always been THE key distinction between Twitter and, say, a normal link blog or whatever. The mobile experience is at the very core of what Twitter is – so these limits are very much a problem.

The other thing is that the 250 limit is extremely low – I reached it at some point today and I only follow 37 people! I hope they reach a more acceptable resolution to whatever problem they were having with non-US carriers soon – any social networking application that is US-only is pretty much irrelevant.

Update: by the way I know that there has been a limit for a long time in places that don’t have a short code – what’s new is that even places that have a short code – and therefore an agreement with carriers – now have the same limits.

Spectrum News from the US

A couple of days ago we had big news about Canadian wireless spectrum – today, the news is from South of the border in the US. Google has long been rumoured to have been preparing to enter the auction, and today we learn that Google [has confirmed their] Spectrum Bid. The rumour mill will now turn to wild speculation about Google’s intentions for wireless spectrum should they succeed in winning at auction.

Big Wireless News from Industry Canada

Industry Canada divulged plans for the upcoming auction of additional wireless spectrum: Government Opts for More Competition in the Wireless Sector. The good news is that they have set aside a good proportion of the new spectrum to new entrants into the Canadian market, as well as mandating things like shared tower space (for antennas). Hopefully this will put some price pressure on the incumbents in the Canadian wireless industry – Rogers, Telus, and Bell.

Update: Thomas Purves has written a post about this at StartUpNorth which lays out some of the implications of this announcement.

Or, there’s this from Mark Pilgrim

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts).

Amazon launches Kindle

Lots of words today throughout both the blogs and the regular media about Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader that was launched today. It’s a testament to Amazon’s juice that anyone’s paying attention at all – e-book readers in the past have been greeted mostly by crickets.

Is it going to keep our attention? That’s harder to say. It seems that the specs are reasonably interesting – long battery life, decent (though not exceptional) storage capacity, interesting (if fussy) form factor.

Beyond that, there’s a huge differentiator – the built-in EVDO magic means that it can be a standalone device that nevertheless has very good access to a potentially very deep well of material.

The devil, however, is always in the details. To do what Amazon is doing requires pretty heavy DRM and very controlled pathways into (and out of) the device. The main comparison has been to the iPod – but there’s a huge difference (one that Gruber’s Daring Fireball also mentioned): you can’t get your own content in there. Other than high-production-value game consoles (and even those have opened up recently), can you think of a single other successful platform that has been tied to a single content supplier?

On the Internet, content may be king… but we’ve learned in the last 4 years or more that a LOT of that content is going to be my own in some way – my own writing, or at the very least, my own collection (or playlist). Along the long tail, the things that I make myself become just as important to me as the things I can buy, and curating all of that is the primary way of interacting with the long tail. If you assume that the long tail (of text) refers only to things that can be bought… I think it’s a vision of the long tail that might seem reasonable but will confound most users.

I’ve had enough: I canceled my mobile data plan

I just canceled my Rogers data plan. I finally had a come to reality moment, and I decided that a tiny (3Mb) data plan was actually worse than none at all. When you have a tiny plan, you are always conscious of each and every link you click on and email you download – to the point of distraction, really. And since you pay for overages at an even higher rate, a mistake can be costly. In actual practice, what that meant was that I wasn’t using my mobile data at all. So I decided to stop paying the insane service fee Rogers charges – $25 a month. I’d rather save my money than use a premium service whose very design makes it almost unusable.

I would still love to have a data plan, but one that is a lot more useful than Rogers’ current plans. I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance.