First off, I apologize for the delay in my post for the week. I had an extremely busy week last week and I'm just about completing the tasks that I had in my 'to-do' list. So without further ado, here is a recap of the latest happenings in the wireless industry.
- Since growth in the postpaid segment slowing down, it looks like emerging connected devices are all the rage these days. It looks like wireless providers are getting up for this coming data tsunami. Recently, Gerhard Fettweis, Vodafone chair professor told his audience that he expects that there will be 100 billion cellular enabled devices by 2020. Analysts are busy trying to make sense of this trend and unsure at this point whether this opportunity represents service provider nightmare or nirvana
- The other big trend in the US wireless market is the emerging dominance of prepaid. It is a well known fact that postpaid growth is slowing down in the US. AT&T and Verizon's recent quarterly reports provide evidence of this fact. Prepaid on the other hand is growing in leaps and bounds as evidenced by quarterly reports from Sprint, Tracfone and more recently from the quarterly reports of MetroPCS and Leap. Most analysts believe that Sprint is ahead of the pack because the value it brings to the table with its nationwide network and low price point. Sprint is continuing to increase it bets on the prepaid space by announcing enhancements to its Virgin Mobile brand.
- Smartphones: IDC recently reported that the smartphone market grew by 56.7% YOY in 1Q2010. So which smartphone manufacturers benefited most from this spike in growth? None more than Apple. The company saw sales of its iPhone rise 131.6% YOY for a 16.1% share of the global smartphone market. Motorola and HTC too experienced dramatic increases in sales. Motorola rose 91.7% for a market share of 4.2%; HTCSo which smartphone manufacturers benefited most from this spike in growth? None more than Apple (AAPL). The company saw sales of its iPhone rise 131.6 percent year-over-year for a 16.1 percent share of the global smartphone market. Motorola (MOT) and HTC, too, experienced dramatic increases in sales. Motorola’s rose 91.7 percent for a market share of 4.2 percent; HTC’s rose 73.3 percent for a 4.8 percent share rose 73.3% for a 4.8% share. Perhaps one of the reasons for this dramatic increase is how smartphones make it easy for consumers to consume content on their phones. The other notable trend in smartphones this week is how android devices are outselling iPhone's (per NPD). Honestly I don't think this trend is very noteworthy. The iPhone hasn't had a refresh in quite a while and I'm willing to bet that these numbers will change dramatically when the new version of the iPhone arrives in the marketplace sometime in June this year.
- Another worrying trend that seems to be developing is the need for cloud capabilities in the wireless space. Devices like the Palm pre, the iPhone and the plethora of smart devices that we should expect to see in the coming few months or depend on the cloud primarily for data storage. But with access to data dependent on network availability, there is an open question on how quickly you can get your data when you need it. Here is a great article on the need for cloud computing in wireless. And another one on making sense of the cloud from a technical perspective.
- Other soundbites
- In Sprint related news this week, Sprint recently announced that the Nexus One will not be available on the Sprint network. Personally, I do not think this is a significant event especially given the fact that the EVO is expected to be shortly. Sprint also continues to make major strides in the prepaid space. It unveiled new text centric plans this week as well as revealed details about a new brand it plans to launch on the prepaid side in coming weeks. In some disappointing news, Sprint announced that its Android 2.1 upgrades for the HTC Hero and Samsung Moment are delayed further.
- AT&T continues to be in the thick of bad news. A recent research report from ChangeWave Research puts AT&T at the bottom of the heap in customer service satisfaction. The same report also pointed out that AT&T leads the four nationwide carriers in dropped calls. In a puzzling response AT&T continues to deny the results of this research but on the other hand touts network improvements found in the very same survey results
- Verizon's been pretty quiet this week. The only significant news is that Microsoft's new Kin devices launch on the Verizon network this week
- Leap reported results this week and stated that it added 446,000 total net subscribers on its networks in 1Q 2010. That said, ARPU fell dramatically by 10.1% to $37.96, from $42.21 in the year-ago quarter.
- MetroPCS also reported results this week. It had 692,000 total net Subscriber adds in the quarter and its ARPU fell to $39.83, from $40.40 in the year-ago period.
- U.S. Cellular appointed a new CEO this week on the back of weaker subscriber growth.
- Finally, Clearwire continues to make the right noises about joining the LTE bandwagon. However it does not plan to switch to LTE until 2012 at the earliest
- Both Palm and HP have been surprisingly quiet since they announced the purchase agreement few days ago. The rumor mills have therefore gathered steam in their predictions that HP will be releasing a webOS based tablet in Q3. I hope this is true because this would imply that Palm has the opportunity to not only survive but also thrive under HP's leadership.
- As expected, Apple's fortunes are growing everyday. With 1M iPads sold, iPad surpasses the original iPhone's sales numbers. We can only expect the iPad sales numbers to grow on the back of the international launch of the iPad. Nine countries are slated to get the iPad on May 28, and nine more will be added to this list in July. In other Apple related news, Apple announced that it is killing Lala shortly. That is also a lot of excitement about the iAd platform and the new features in the iPhone OS 4.0.
- Nokia's strategy continues to confuse me. On the one hand this stated strategy is to double down on emerging markets, but on the other hand Nokia's CEO has been making the rounds pledging to close the gap on smartphones. While these two goals are not technically in conflict with each other it still makes for a very odd pair.
- This new device from Motorola brought a smile to my face. While I usually do not write about new device launches the RAZR3 is definitely worth a mention. In the new world order consisting primarily of smartphones, I really don't think that the RAZR3 stands a chance but the goodwill surrounding its predecessors might just make this device click. Here are some more details about the RAZR3
- In other news Samsung released the Bada SDK this week
- Android: For starters, here is a great guide to the evolving Android landscape. Other than the previously covered excitement around Android overtaking the iPhone, there wasn't much news this week about Android.
- Microsoft is time to get back into the game with its Kin devices which will be launching on the Verizon network shortly. The blogs are excited about this launch but believe that pricing might hamper adoption. Also, Office 2010, which goes on sale to businesses this week, shows Microsoft putting serious sweat into making the suite work better on the Web and smartphones. I wonder that this is a sign of things to come in Windows Phone 7.
- The e-Reader wars continue. Borders launched the Kobo this week but initial reviews point to a lot of flaws with the device. Amazon on the other hand has launched the 2.5 update to the Kindle. But even after these updates I'm still willing to bet that the iPad blows the Kindle out of the water.
- Location is becoming a pretty significant force in the tech world. This new generation of location aware games are proof of this trend.
- Want to charge your phone 50% faster? Try these new age chargers.
- Want to know what your friends think of your new purchase? Get their feedback before you buy via Bing
- Obopay’s new service will put banks in the mobile payments business
- In some fun news, Facebook recently measured happiness across 22 countries based on users status updates. The findings validate something I have been saying all along -Indians are a happy people! (Indians are third on the list after Americans and Canadians)
- The 3G spectrum auction in India is out of control! Bids have passed the $12 Billion dollar mark, and each winning carrier will now have to pony up at least $3 Billion each for a pan-India license. Also, there is widespread agreement that the "winners" might never fully recover their costs. If this wasn't enough that are reports that wireless carriers will now have to pay more for their existing 2G spectrum
- Mobile number portability has been delayed yet again - for third time!
- Africa is the final frontier in the wireless business and wireless carriers are betting big. Bharti's acquisition of Zain's African assets is seeming to have attracted a lot of attention from wireless carriers the world over. India-based Gemini Communications announced their acquisition of Rosy Blue Wireless, an African WiMAX Co For $20M this week. Also France Telecom's CEO has stated that they are eyeing growth opportunities in Africa
- Here's a great article on Mobile Tariff Models In India. Apparently, two new models that are gaining prominence are Dynamic Pricing & Monthly Fixed Price With Fair Use
- Here's some funny stuff! The Indian Government is planning to develop its own Operating System and anti virus products because it thinks that the commercially available products that it uses today are too susceptible to viruses. This one is bound to end well (sic)
- There's been a spate of earnings announcements this week in India. For starters, Idea cellular announced that its net profit went up by 4.5% in 4Q (ending March 2010); and it announced plans for spending Rs 3,000 Crores in capital expenditures going forward. It also announced that it is not open to dynamic pricing which is a newly emerging pricing mechanism in India. Uninor (a joint venture between India based Unitech and Telenor of Sweden) on the other hand posted losses of over Rs 720 Crores. The company said in an official statement that this loss was driven by costs related to the start up of the business in India. Uninor is also reported to be open to the MVNO business model for a faster roll-out of its services.
- In service level innovation news, Reliance Mobile launched a new VAS called ‘Mobile Jockey’. No one is really sure how this works or what the value add is, but Reliance is continuing to talk it up. Airtel on the other hand is bringing Radio Mirchi (which is a Times brand) to its customers handsets.
- In the US, I have heard of a "do not call" registry. While India has such a registry, it is also planning a 'do call' registry. No marks for guessing what this is. As expected, telemarketers are up in arms against TRAI's plans of implementing this registry.
When that's all folks! I'm on vacation for the next couple of weeks so there will be no updates for me during this time. See you on the other side!