Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

The New York Times’ Slant on Location Services

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I’m surprised to read in the New York Times that “location services have not caught on.”

The number of people using location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla remains small, and does not appear to be growing, according to a report published Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Guess we don’t have to worry about a spectrum crisis/crunch.

The survey asked 2,065 adult internet users if they “use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows you to share your location with friends and to find others who are near you.” 5% said yes. In May 2010, that number was 4%. Thus, the Times’ view.

The report also says, however, that the margin of error is +/- 3% for the current number. Pew does not say what the margin of error is from its May survey. Moreover, Pew has no detail on the May survey, in contrast to the current survey, so it is hard to draw a comparison at all. Assuming the May margin of error is the same, a drop from 5% to 4% could instead be an increase from 2% to 7%.

“Location-based services” covers a lot of ground, far beyond social networking, especially in the wireless world. I think Foursquare and Gowalla are more properly called location-based applications.

I’m intrigued by a question Pew uses as a prelude to the above one. They asked 3,001 adults if they use the internet or e-mail. 74% responded yes, compared to 79% in May. Pew has no comment on this, a fairly sharp drop. Kind of like newspaper circulation.

What’s 4G? Whatever you want.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

On October 21 the ITU announced it had deemed two mobile broadband technologies as IMT-Advanced. They’re LTE-Advanced and WirelessMAN-Advanced (WiMAX Release 2 based on IEEE 802.16m). At the same time the ITU called these “true 4G technologies,” leading some in the trade press to say that marketing of some existing services as 4G is misleading.

No entity is the arbiter of the designations 2G, 3G, or 4G. Even the ITU generally uses these terms parenthetically. It recognizes the lack of consensus on their meaning, and does not say others are wrong. The ITU calls the IMT-Advanced technologies “true 4G,” and they are insofar as ITU has a view of 4G and the two technologies are truly consistent with that view.

In some of these articles, Sprint and Clearwire, to name two examples, catch flack for calling their current WiMAX offering 4G. I’d call it 3.5G, but I can’t say they’re wrong. An ABI Research analyst agrees with Sprint and Clearwire; his view is that everything TDMA is 2G, everything CDMA is 3G, and everything OFDMA is 4G, regardless of data rate. It’s a reasonable argument based on backward compatibility, but I’m not ready to agree. If that or something else ends up being the industry consensus, I won’t object.

Below is a comparison found on the ITU website. It’s generally consistent with my view.

Don’t like these classifications? Make your own. Within reason.


UPDATED 11/04/2010

ABI analyst link updated with more current post.