Tech / Telecom news — 5 May 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Good 1Q17 results at Telecom Italia, with +8.5% revenue growth yoy (+2.6% organic) to reach €4.82bn/Q. This was driven by a return to growth in Brazil and by the impressive turnaround of the domestic business, with +230K FBB net adds. And EBITDA, positively affected by cost-cutting programs, was even better (Story)

Video

US PayTV subscribers shrank -2.4% in 1Q17, worst ever annual decline, to reach a total of -6.5m cord-cutters since 2013. Cable in particular lost -762K TV subs vs. -141K last year. Analyst C Moffett links this to the impact of video streaming apps, and claims it is “naive to suggest that we have seen the worst of the trend” (Story)

Snap has signed agreements with most of the major content producers to create video shows for the “Stories” section of the Snapchat app, in vertical format and with 3–5min long durations. They expect to be releasing 2–3 new episodes per day by end of 2017, looking to increase user engagement (and advertising revenues) (Story)

Meanwhile, and in contrast e.g. with Twitter, Facebook seems to have no plans to overspend in live sports rights, even if they recognise that it could help initially attract users to their video tab. This could be related to Facebook interested in using an ad-revenue-share model to pay for content (that sports leagues reject) (Story)

Regulation / Devices

A group of European internet firms, including Spotify, Rocket Internet and Deezer have sent a letter to Brussels complaining about “abuse of privileged position” by Google and Apple, which are said to be using control of 90% of mobile OSs in favour of their own apps. The letter asks for specific ex-ante regulation to avoid this (Story)

But these claims seem to contrast with reality e.g. in China, where the supposed to be monopolistic Apple platform could be suffering a disintermediation by successful Asian app WeChat, that, as shown in this analysis, works as the natural “runtime” for users and would be forcing Apple to differentiate in hardware only (Story)

NETWORK

Verizon will test wireless network equipment from Phazr, a startup vendor that recently came out of stealth mode, to better understand the characteristics of 28 and 39GHz “millimetre wave” spectrum bands, including performance for residential deployments, using Phazr’s patent-pending beamforming tech (Story)

E-COMMERCE

Wal-Mart has patented a system using sensor technologies at consumer products to detect customer behaviours at home, and potentially trigger commercial actions associated to the use of the products (e.g. ordering replacements). This would create lots of privacy issues, and goes even further than previous Amazon initiatives (Story)

Wal-Mart is actually involved in a long-term war with Amazon, which now threatens a space in retail that Wal-Mart still controls, including apparel, fresh food and drugstore items. And they’ve acquired 15-month old Jet.com for $3.3bn, to solve execution problems with e-commerce strategy. But plenty of challenges remain (Story)

FINANCE

Apple is raising more than $20bn in new debt, to finance payouts to shareholders (share buybacks and a dividend increase), even if they have more than $250bn net cash, explicitly signalling the problem of most of this cash (90%) being trapped offshore by the heavy US taxes that (still) would apply if they tried to repatriate (Story)