Here are the top stories in the US and Indian wireless markets this week
Sprint announced its Q1 results earlier this week. Although Sprint lost 75,000 net subscribers during the quarter, there were some huge positives. The biggest one in my opinion, is the not-so-surprising strength in Sprint's prepaid business. During the quarter Sprint added 348,000 net prepaid subscribers. Taking this statistic along with AT&T's and Verizon's steep drop in postpaid subs in the first quarter, clearly points to the emergence of the once-forgotten prepaid segment as a dominant driver of adds in the already mature US wireless industry. This is also bolstered by the fact that Tracfone (a prepaid MVNO in the US, and a subsidiary of America Movil) added 1 Million customers to its base in Q1. I expect Sprint's fortunes to continue improving in the rest of 2010, on the back of the impeding launches of devices like the EVO and to a lesser extent - the BlackBerry Bold 9650 (a Sprint exclusive). Also, it looks like the EVO is closer to launch than ever before. Sprint is reportedly hosting EVO launch events all over the country - like this one in New York City on May 12th.
The only other significant event among carriers this week is that T-Mobile is dropping the 5GB Cap on its mobile broadband card. This has far reaching implications for the industry, especially because all the other majors have been talking up tiered data pricing as a way to manage network congestion. T-Mo's move in the other direction might force others to follow suit, but this is yet to be seen.
The big news among device manufacturers this week is that the Palm saga might finally be over. On Wednesday evening HP and Palm announced that Palm would be sold to HP for $1.2 Billion. HP is betting big on the WebOS and is reportedly planning on introducing WebOS on a host of new and emerging devices like tablets. The CEO of Palm, Jon Rubinstein called this a huge step forward for Palm on his memo to Palm insiders. While I sure hope things work out for Palm and its employees, I for one was saddened by the way things ended for the once storied brand.
HTC is the belle of the ball these days. It continues to crank out hit after hit android devices all over the world. Examples of these devices include the Nexus One, the EVO, Droid Incredible, etc. Its no wonder that HTC is reportedly expecting to see a 36% increase in its sales in Q2, thanks to Android. Also in noteworthy news, in a weird twist of fate, it looks like Microsoft will be collecting royalties on Android phones made by HTC. Imagine that! It is especially ironical considering that Google doesnt make a buck by licensing the OS that it created.
So Apple is turning evil (as if it never was before?). Apple responded to the Gizmodo's great iPhone fourth generation leak by raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home and confiscating his computers. Ok - so it wasnt Apple that raided Jason Chen's house - it was the Silicon Valley cops. Big difference, right? In any case, the raid set the blogosphere afire (free speech, yada, yada) and it even prompted Jon Stewart to create this EXTREMELY funny segment on the Daily Show. If that wasnt enough, Steve Jobs is in the middle of a pissing match with Adobe over enabling Flash on the iPhone. First, Steve Jobs explained why he doesnt want to enable Flash on the iPhone. Adobe responded, and then announced that it would stop developing its iPhone platform. Just when you thought this couldnt get any funnier, Google recently announced that Andoid 2.2 Froyo will support Flash soon. Just goes to prove that geeks with a ton of money are still geeks (angling to make more money) at the end of the day.
Other news this week include:
- There are rumors that Dell might intro a '4G' LTE Phone in Q4 2011. Honestly, I'll take the EVO now :)
- Nokia is continuing its strategy of 'doubling down' on emerging markets. This week, it upped the ante by launching 'Nokia Messaging Mobile Email' service in India. Seriously?
- Moto's back in the black; posts $69M Q1 profit. But that wasnt enough to keep RIM from taking its spot in the top 5 device manufacturers worldwide.
Two quick news-bites here.
- In addition to launching the BlackBerry Bold 9650 and an updated version of the BlackBerry Pearl, RIM launched the Blackberry 6 during WES 2010. Check out a really cool video highlighting posts BlackBerry 6's capabilities here.
- Android Market has finally hit 50,000 apps. There's still a long way to go to catch up to Apple's 200,000, but we're getting there one app at a time.
Here are some miscellaneous bits of data that I thought were interesting
- Facebook believes that the the entire web will be social, and is 'friending' tons of sites out there - with your personal information. Oh and by the way, you are automatically enrolled in this experiemtn. Dont believe me? If you are a Facebook user, go to sites like www.yelp.com, and you will immediately be notified how many of your friends are Yelp users and how you can share your reviews directly with them. And dont even get me started on the "Like" button. Facebook as gotten a lot of flak for this new "Like" feature. The simple explanation for all the hullabaloo is that while you "Like" a page on the net, it is up to the webpage owner to report what the link really is. In other words, while you could be "Liking" a salad recipe you find online, the webpage owner can report that you "Like" Viagra. Take my advice and opt out of these new features - at least till Facebook gets its act together.
- Apparently one quarter of online videos are viewed in primetime. I wonder if this bodes well for Google's "DragonPoint" set top box rumored to be launching soon. I would think so.
- The integration of your car with your cellphone continues. Check out QNX's LTE connected car. Note that QNX was acquired by RIM/BlackBerry earlier this year.
- The tablet market took a couple of major hits this week. First, HP killed its Windows 7 tablet and apparently Microsoft has also killed the Courier. So it looks like the only real contender for the iPad's throne is the JooJoo.
- Here are three really great articles. One is on the global rise of the smartphone, the other on the enormous promise of 'location', and finally one on three successful business models built around content.
The Indian 3G spectrum auction seems to be drawing to a close. After day 17, the price of a pan-India license stood at Rs.93.3 Billion (approximately $2.1 Billion). Here are all the details, examined on a daily basis that should give you a great perspective on the bid progression. After you take a couple of minutes to digest the astronomical prices, read Telecom Circle's analysis (and deck) on the 'fair price' of a 3G license in India.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released the subscriber and market share data for the Indian market (as it stood on March 31st 2010)
- Tata Communications is extending its reach into Russia
- Bharti Airtel recently reported that its Q4 profit fell 8%, and its ARPU fell to Rs.220 (approximately $5). Analysts are predicting that Bharti needs to start moving its data products to continue its growth trajectory.
- Further evidence of the torrid growth in the Indian wireless market - S Tel hits the 1 Million subscriber mark in its three 'C' circles in just 90 days after launch
- GetJar is gaining traction in India. Much like the Sprint/GetJar partnership, this week Reliance Communications & GetJar announced a partnership to rollout a free mobile appstore in India.
Here's something light to end the post with.
Thats all folks! More next week!