Are Batteries Improving?

Piquing my curiosity, I’ve been looking at the mAh values for numerous batteries of phones I have previously used.

[table id=2 /]

As you can see from the table above, talk times have generally been increasing over the years. Is that because the battery technology is getting better, probably not and more likely because the software managing the radios have gotten more efficient.

Graphing the ratio between talk time and mAh:

mAh for Phones

The ratio validates that battery consumption for voice has improved. Note, I used the word consumption rather than life since it is software driving this improvement. Also note, that since 2003, 3G radios are standard although for many years and on some devices, voice is still done over the 2G radio which is less power hungry (or at least my understanding).

Maybe a reader will see a more interesting correlation but my analysis draws me to the book Moneyball. If you haven’t read Moneyball, the thesis is that the statistics used in the past to measure the effectiveness of something (ie baseball players in the case of Moneyball) need to adapt over time – meaning that a stat used to measure something 10 years ago may not be relevant today.

Phones are still measured on talk time but this is the fallacy in that voice minute consumption for the first time, is starting to decline in the US. People don’t talk anymore but rather browse the internet or send SMS or use apps. This may even be a double-whammy since it’s not clear whether the platform and OEMs are optimizing for this stat rather than real-life usage patterns?

What do you think should be the new statistic to measuring the battery efficiency of a mobile device? Megabytes downloaded? SMS sent? App usage time? Or maybe based on averages based on personas? Obviously, the challenge with all of this is determining a fair test across different devices and networks.

Over the Air and Emerging Markets

Two weeks ago in London, I presented at Over the Air on Emerging Market Opps. I thought I’d highlight a couple of the case studies here and embed the presentation (that I hastily put together on the plane 🙂

SMS GupShup – I was amazed to learn that this social network of only 2 years, now represents 7-8% of all SMS volume in India – insane! Who says it’s too late to start a social network? Given Orkut’s and Facebook’s strong presence in India, you’d be skeptical that a new social network would be able to make a dent but SMS GupShups unique approach by making SMS the primary interface worked. Users can chat over SMS and subscribe to various SMS content feeds. SMS GupShup generates revenue primarily through SMS ads appended to each message and/or via sponsored SMS messages sent by SMS GupShup groups.

Nokia Comes with Music – Anyone who has ever worked in the music industry knows that the intersection of music and technology has been an up-hill battle in terms of generating revenue. Numerous startups have died at the will of the labels and others live on a shoe-string trying to make their business model work. In any case, most labels/publishers do not generate any revenue in emerging markets let alone many advanced markets. These markets thrive on piracy apparently with micro-economies of shops that can install pirated music onto your phone for a fee. In an attempt to solve this, Nokia launches Comes with Music which basically means if you buy this specific Nokia phone, you get unlimited full-track download which is naturally restricted by the amount of available storage on your device (but you can of course delete and download more). The cost of the unlimited full-track download service is baked into the cost of the device (estimated to be a $50 premium over the same phone without Comes with Music). Nokia takes a portion of this $50 and returns the remainder to the labels/publishers. Fascinating model and no idea how well it’s working and whether ad-supported music streaming will impact full-track download?

Full presentation with many more use cases below:

The real interesting question out of the Over the Air group was weather these solutions were only stop-gaps and not sustainable in the long-term. For example, SMS as the primary interface or as the communication layer makes sense but once data becomes cheaper and more pervasive and smartphones begin to penetrate, users will flock to the mobile web and apps? The counter argument is that these companies will obviously adapt and leverage their brand accordingly.