Feature Article

December 08, 2012

Mobility TechZone Week in Review

Here’s an interesting comparison that emerged this week: AT&T, in a bit of revelatory good news, announced that it now anticipates selling at least one million more smartphones than an originally projected 25 million for all of 2012. Apparently its customers like the deals that AT&T is putting on the table – you know, the heavily subsidized deals that require a two year contract but that offer a “feel good” up front price.

Here’s the comparison: T-Mobile very recently announced that starting in 2013, it would no longer subsidize the cost of smartphones, but would in exchange provide lower cost “value” data plans. Some analysts suggest such a move would cost consumers less over the course of a full contract period, while others believe it is likely to backfire on T-Mobile.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves.

While T-Mobile is looking out for the “little guy” with its value plans, it’s billionaire Carlos Slim’s prepaid phone company TracFone that’s now on the radar of California politicians and consumer groups, due to suspicions that Slim is building TracFone out at the expense of poor Mexicans – it doesn’t look to be a pretty picture.

Globally, though the feature phone market is now in decline, the smartphone market continues to grow with unabated enthusiasm, and along with all those new AT&T smartphones that are hitting the market, users will of course continue to look for mobile apps to run on them.

One interesting means of pricing mobile apps falls into the category of “freemium” apps, by which we mean a user can download a “lite” version of a higher priced app – say one for business, or a more premium app that might run into the tens of dollars for a consumer – and then pay of additional functionality as needed. It’s an interesting model that Simon-Kucher & Partners, in a new study, suggests will have great benefits for developers if they choose to deploy it.

Along with smartphone growth, LTE deployments continue to follow similar growth trajectories, with LTE likely hitting one billion subscribers by 2018.

Nokia continues to make news on the financial front – especially relative to cutting costs. The jointly-held Nokia Siemens has decided to sell its fiber optical unit to Marlin Equity, in a deal that may be worth roughly $261 million (at least according to some analysts, although Nokia Siemens itself did not disclose a sale price.)

Meanwhile, Nokia followed through on a move that had been anticipated – selling its Nokia House headquarters building – for $273.6 million. The mighty have certainly fallen on some hard times.

It isn’t just Nokia though. In another major example of this, all four of the once dominant Japanese consumer market players – Sony, Toshiba, Sharp and Panasonic – continue to feel great financial pain, although Toshiba and Sony look to at least be focused on making investments over the next year that they hope will get them back on track. Sharp, meanwhile, is partnering with Qualcomm to build a next-generation LCD panel for smartphones.

It is no secret that international roaming costs continue to rise, and companies continue to grapple with the ways they might do so. One possible way of doing so may be to tap into such new offerings as Voiamo’s new international roaming service, which is focused on such issues.

We’ll lock the week up by noting that Research in Motion (RIM) has now released what it is referring to as its BlackBerry 10 Ready program, which it hopes will help enterprise customers begin to prepare for conversion to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and RIM’s new devices. Good Technology, once a direct competitor to RIM, has launched several new enterprise mobility security products – Good Trust and Good Vault.

Those are the week's mobile musings and highlights. For much more, make sure to scope out Mobility TechZone directly.

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