Saturday, November 26, 2005

Save Our Swisscom

I had been working in the telecom industry for nearly one and a half year now. Before I moved to London in June 2005, I have been working in the Swiss mobile telecom industry for one year.

There is currently a big discussion going on in Switzerland about the privatisation of "Swisscom", the former state telecom company "PTT". The Swiss State ist still holder of more than half of the shares and considering getting them in the public market. I pursue this discussion with great interest because since I have been working here in the UK, I became aware of the dimension of the market in the global or at least the European context.

In fact, I believe, the Swisscom, even though the market leader in Switzerland is in a very critical position. Yet it has a lot of liquid funds, a remarkable set of roaming contracts around the world and numerous interesting technological assets such as a notable 3G and EDGE coverage within the country.

But this is soon going to change. The Swiss market is simply too small for a company like Swisscom. The 3 million subscribers are not worth mentioning compared to the numbers of its competitors in Europe: Vodafone 150, Telefonica 145, T-Mobile 70 million subscribers worldwide (just to name three European carriers).

So there are only two options in the long term, eat or being eaten - and for "Swisscom", I only see the latter to apply in the global context. I am sure, this reminds us all of what has happened to the "Swissair" in October 2001. After a couple of backs and forths, the only decent thing that could happen, happened: The swiss public faced the fact that the a corporation like the "Swissair" (or later "Swiss") cannot survive in such an isolated market as Switzerland (Even London alone has a bigger population as entire Switzerland). It needs strong presence in a bigger context: The European market.

So what what will happen to "Swisscom"? First of all, the Swiss State has to get off the business affairs. Managing "Swisscom" and running the company is not the duty of the state. In fact, its mission is to regulate the market. Once the shares are public, it is likely that an european carrier (most likely "Vodafone", as they already hold "Swisscom" shares) invest in "Swisscom", simply because it is a lucrative market to be in. And eventually, the brand "Swisscom" will be completely replaced by the aquirer's brand.

But why is staying independent not an option for "Swisscom"? I believe, that the fact that the telecom market is such a fast paced and technologically driven market, you need a critical size in order to get return on your (research/technology) investments. The UMTS (or 3G) bid was a good example. At a certain point, it will not make sense to invest in the latest technology anymore, particularly if you have "only" 4 million subscribers. There is no room for growth in the Swiss market and bigger companies have more advantages in amortizing their investments.

The big issue that is coming up here is the loss of the identity. It will be painful for the public to adopt the fact, that "Swisscom", as swiss as it sounds, will not longer be a swiss company. Like every other company that hungers for a bigger market than the isolated and encapsulated off-european Swiss market.

But let's wait for the Chinese. They presently already have more than 300 million mobile phone subscribers (shared between two mobile telecom companies!), and the market is growing at a stunning 50 million additional subscribers per year. Maybe "Vodafone" may soon be spelled 声音数据电话.

Friday, November 25, 2005

List of Opensource Software for Mac OS X

This is a really good list of open source software for Mac Os X. Who ever is using a Mac - I can recommend most of those tools. (E.g. Adium, Mplayer, VLC, Handbrake, NeoOffice or Blender are programs I am using.) However, don't forget to donate - as I do. If I find a piece of software really useful, I am happy to show the developer(s) my appreciation by sending them over a couple of bucks via PayPal. Because let's face it: OSS developers too fancy a shiny new computer every once in a while - and nobody gives them away for free.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Microsoft sais: get rid of the MS Internet Explorer!

Going to with a Macintosh using the Microsoft Internet Explorer will get you a "If you are using Internet Explorer for Mac, we recommend that you use another browser to have an optimal experience on MSN." Now this is quite astonishing - Or have you ever heared of a company that advises their clients to use a competitor's product?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lost in Translation

Engrish refers to poorly translated or wrongly used English words in particular in cultures with non-arabic characters such as Japan, China, Korea etc.
On, you can find a couple of nice examples of the Engrish language.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Some Stats About The World

Did you know that...

... India's population is set to grow by 500 million in the next 50 years
... More than half the population of Uganda is under 15
... GDP per head in the United States is more than 400 times that in Ethiopia
... The cities with the highest quality of life are Zurich, Geneva, Vancouver and Vienna
... The countries with most refugees are Pakistan, Iran and Germany
... The countries with the most asylum seekers are the United Kingdom, the United States, France and Germany
... The euro area exports nearly one and a half times more than the United States
... Japan has a current account surplus of over $136bn compared with America's deficit of over $530bn
... Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate; Libya the lowest
... Bangladesh, Haiti and Nigeria are the countries perceived to be most corrupt
... Environmental sustainability is highest in Finland, Norway, Uruguay and lowest in North Korea and Taiwan
... Office rents in London are the highest in the world
... Employment costs for a production worker are highest in Denmark, Norway and Germany
... More than 90% of business software in Vietnam and China is pirated
... Germany has three times more vehicles per km of road than the UK
... Malawi has the highest rate of people injured or killed on the roads
... Life expectancy in Swaziland is under 30

(Source: The Economist, Pocket World in Figures, 2005, I got myself an Economist subscription and got this very interesting booklet as a welcome gift.)