Azenby turns 5

This month we celebrate our 5th Birthday. How time flies. It really doesn’t seem like five years have passed since we started Azenby. We’ve certainly been busy, we have worked on over 40 client projects in 26 countries around the world. We have been engaged in almost every sector of the mobile industry helping large and smaller companies alike with a wide range of opportunity and challenges.

We wondered what we should use as our strap-line when we started out and settled on ‘Mobile is our thing.’ It just seemed right then and it still does today. It has worked well for us even though ‘mobile’ today encapsulates an ever widening industry as we move towards the connected world. It won’t all be wireless of course but for sure a lot of it will be and this coupled with IoT all adds up to a collective GDP contribution from the mobile industry of £3.3tn.

The growth in diversity of the wireless industry and the rush into mobile from so many other industry sectors is probably the biggest change we have seen in the 5 years we have been helping clients. Connected living, the connected city, mobile commerce, the dominance of apps, the introduction of new business models – especially from disrupters, the surge from the PC as the tool of choice for accessing the internet to the mobile handset and tablet, have all contributed to completely change the mobile landscape. Few industry observers would disagree that the pace of change in the mobile world is faster now than it has ever been and it shows no evidence of slowing down soon.

We are in an age where the long-standing rules of how Telco business models work are being torn to shreds. Consumers perception of value has shifted subtly from the cost of the connection (the line rental or monthly recurring charge) which were once the bedrock for Telco’s finances, to the content they can access. Content is the driver and customers just want the cheapest connection and factors such as network quality become less relevant. The access scene is increasingly WiFi dominated where the user sees this as being free at the point of use – even when they pay for the broadband behind it. Mobile Operators are well aware of the new challenges and are adopting different tactics to stay relevant to their customers.

At Azenby we have had a bit of a focus on helping MNOs to make radical changes to their network cost base by sharing and merging networks. Indeed, we do regard ourselves as somewhat of RAN share and Network share specialists. We have worked on many projects where MNOs have concluded that sharing expensive infrastructure in part or in whole makes a lot of sense.

We have enjoyed our first five years together and are looking forward to the next five. We wrote a blog recently on the next 25 years of the internet and we certainly do spend a lot our time looking forward and helping our clients find their own path in the highly competitive world of mobile services. But just for once, as a birthday treat, we thought we would take a look back at what was happening in our world 5 years ago when we launched.

April 2012 headlines

What was making the news When Azenby launched?

4G becomes a reality in the UK

Commercial 4G networks were being launched. In the UK EE claimed first mover advantage after it was allowed to re-farm its 1800MHz spectrum. Its local competitors cried foul – naturally!

EE Admits 4G Teething Problems

EE, Britain’s first 4G mobile network, admitted a “teething problem” after it was branded a “rush job” by customers who complained of difficulties obtaining SIM cards, connecting to the network, and dealing with “confusing” customer service systems.

Ah well, it’s not easy being at the bleeding edge! Nonetheless 4G was coming.

Meantime elsewhere in the world 4G was already a reality

In the USA Sprint announced it was launching in 15 US cities but was seen to be playing catch up with Verizon who had expanded to 304 markets and AT&T whom were reportedly the worlds single largest LTE operator with 10m sub’s in Q2. However, T-Mobile were still to launch when Sprint announced.

In Japan NTT DoCoMo announced that LTE sub’s had hit 4 million and that they had added 2 million subs since March 2012.

Whilst other network rollout approaches seem doomed to fail

Wholesale LTE network provider Light Squared struggled to make their business model work in the USA after spectrum interference concerns and a lack of approval for commercial use pushed them to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Network Sharing and consolidation continued to make ground

O2 and Vodafone in the UK announced they would bolster their existing deal from 2009 with a 50/50 JV via Cornerstone Telecoms to build out one consolidated national network grid sharing cell site equipment and backhaul infrastructure at 18,500 locations.

In July Vodafone Ireland and Three Ireland announced a strategic partnership to share physical network and site infrastructure at 2000 locations across the country.

In Denmark the existing joint venture between Telia and Telenor; TT-Netvaerket, won 800MHz spectrum which it said was a ‘major step’ in the build-out of its 4G mobile broadband network.

Tower deals were still continuing to be signed and in October 2012, IHS Africa completed a 284 million USD acquisition of 1,758 mobile network towers in Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, from MTN Group. Under the terms of the acquisition, MTN sold its passive infrastructure to IHS, and then became the main tenant of those towers in a managed network structure. Similarly, Wireless tower operator SBA Communications Corp bought more than 2,300 tower sites and some antenna assets from Mobilitie LLC for circa $1.09 billion

Devices dominated the news as they always have done. Its where the marketing bucks are after all!

Google Nexus 4 Leaked by Carphone Warehouse

The Carphone Warehouse blew the gaff on Google’s planned unveiling of the LG Nexus. The device was expected to be the centrepiece of a Google event in New York in October, when the web giant is also expected to update its Nexus 7 Android tablet.

The Nexus? Hmm, rings a bell!

Retailers line up for Samsung Galaxy S III

Yes, we really were only up to series 3 in the great Samsung Galaxy voyage.

I’ve still got mine.

Nokia Lumia 900 hit by launch bug

Oh dear, a memory management issue evidently. Perhaps a wider management issue inside Nokia?

No one admits to still having one of these

Boeing makes super secure Android phone

A Smartphone built for military officials and it’s the ultimate secure smartphone for all the top-secret goings on of military officials.

Anyone who admits to still having one of these must kill you afterwards, so don’t ask.

Xperia smartphones launched in style

More Xperia magic from Sony who launched the Xperia smartphones in style last week, with an exclusive Labyrinth concert in London. Some funky robot dancing was the highlight of the show

Great phones, so why don’t Sony do better in the marketplace?

BlackBerry Curve 9320 appears online

The company promised to go back to basics, with the BlackBerry Curve 9320 (following another set of disappointing results). It had a QWERTY keyboard. Remember them?

There are still some crackberrys around today who just didn’t want to give up on them. Just not enough of them alas. I have to say I do miss the BB OS though.

LG denies it is ditching Windows Phone

If that headline has said LG confirms it is ditching Windows Phone just think of how much agony LG would have avoided in the subsequent years.

New iPhone 5 touted for June launch

Another embarrassing leak, this time from China, told us that the iPhone 5 was coming soon. Some folks were sceptical saying that the iPhone 4S hasn’t really had a full year to pick up sales. But it could happen. When it does, it could also happen with a radical new design.

Everyone still has their iPhone 5

I think it appropriate to finish the device news with Apple. If anything, their dominance increases. For some, Apple is the mobile industry.

Another bumper quarter for Apple

25 April 2012

35.1 million iPhones sold in the first quarter of 2012. You can probably guess that Apple is doing well with its mobile devices right now, but just how well might stagger you a little. Figures for the first quarter of 2012 have just been published, with Apple confirming sales of 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads in that 90-day period. That brings total sales of iOS devices up to an amazing 365 million. According to Apple, that’s 88% growth for iPhone sales and a 151% increase for the iPad compared to the same period last year. Yes, those sales figures just keep on growing. That could well be down to international growth, with 64% of Apple’s sales now outside the US.

The numbers would be bigger but the same article could be written today.

iPad mini rumoured to launch late 2012

Chinese sources claim six million units being readied. There were rumours that Apple was testing a smaller and cheaper iPad. Did we really need a mini? Doesn’t matter – we bought it anyway.

Outside of the device world a few other things caught our eye.

Instagram launches for Android

Instagram is now available to download for Android devices, meaning it’s no longer an iPhone exclusive.

I think it fair to say that Instagram have also had a pretty good last 5 years.

Google Drive gets an official launch

5GB of free cloud storage for your Android device. The front runner.

O2 Wallet launches in the UK

Barclays Pingit got some competition, in the shape of the O2 Wallet. O2-branded, but available to all mobile users who use iOS, Android, and BlackBerry OS 6 (and above), this is another way of using your mobile phone to pay for goods and transfer cash.

And saving the Best for last

Azenby offers professional services to the mobile World

London – April 2012. A new mobile specialist consulting firm was unveiled in London today when Azenby opened its doors to offer consulting and advisory services to the mobile world. A team of expert practitioners have come together to offer the mobile industry the benefit of their collective 300 years’ experience working at the mobile coalface – albeit at C and VP level.

From small acorns………………

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