Well, it's been nine days now since BlackBerry finally officially launched. Away from the hype that naturally followed in its wake, how exactly is BlackBerry doing…really? It's doing quite well to hear CEO Thorsten Heins speak of it. And in fact, all things considered BlackBerry is indeed doing well. However there are a number of critical issues that concern us - some of which suggest the company is not really ready for prime time. Meanwhile, BlackBerry will apparently stop selling its smartphones in Japan.
Japan was never a major component of BlackBerry's subscriber base so it probably doesn't matter for the well-being of the company. More than likely it will look to South America for additional opportunities. This certainly makes sense - the Latin American mobile market is poised for major growth. Mobile provider supply and mobile user demand - an immense and growing hunger for wireless data services - only seems to be getting wider down South.
Another company we wonder about relative to its ability to survive long term is Sprint. Yes, the company is getting a huge cash infusion from Softbank, but even so, is Sprint positioned to remain in and retain its position as the third largest wireless carrier in the United States? We offer some thoughts on this based on Sprint's just released Q4 2012 earnings. The company actually looks to be moving in the right directions. has been a very interesting four months for the company. Here's more good Sprint news -Strategy Analytics, a provider of consulting and advisory services, and market intelligence in emerging technologies, published a study recently indicating that both Sprint and T-Mobile USA are effectively leveraging unlimited data plans to grab market share against giant rivals in the industry.
In addition to unlimited data, there is also much to be gained from offering shared data plans. J.D. Power and Associates has released its semi-annual study of mobile carriers, and has found that carriers with data sharing plans fare much better than those that do not. "The higher levels of satisfaction with shared data plans are partially due to the profile of its customers, particularly the early adopters who changed service offerings once the mobile data share plans were offered," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "For example, not only are customers with shared data plans more loyal than those without a shared data plan, but they also have a more positive perception of their carrier, in addition to spending approximately $30 more per household overall."
On another front entirely, we may soon see the emergence of large scale free public wireless Internet access thanks to the ongoing growing reality of Super Wi-Fi Networks. In addition, it appears to be the case that seamless LTE roaming is becoming a reality. In the last year, Syniverse conducted trials on end-to-end LTE roaming and interconnect capabilities with several mobile service providers around the world. The results? Many mobile SPs are flexing their muscles, demonstrating significant progress with roaming capabilities due to the new protocols implemented.
During its trials, Syniverse was able to paint a clear picture of the challenges currently faced by mobile service providers in seamless LTE interworking. The areas in which there is most difficulty are clearing requirements, signaling and traffic flow. Jeff Gordon, president and CEO of Syniverse, seems confident that LTE roaming will be very solid in 2013: "As end-users grow accustomed to the speeds of LTE, they will increasingly expect access to the same service experience wherever they travel. Syniverse's end-to-end LTE roaming trials have been a critical step to ensure mobile service providers have the real-time experience management capabilities necessary to deliver on these expectations by providing a seamless experience to end users as they roam from one LTE network to another in 2013 and beyond."
Finally, while seamless LTE roaming sounds great, how about the ability to utilize LTE to create hotspots? It turns out that this is just about here as well - AT&T's Unite 4G touchscreen hotspot will soon make its debut. A&T finally announced that it will become available on February 8 and will be for sale at all AT&T stores. For $0.99 cents after signing a new two year contract, or for $20 a month through a mobile share plan, consumers can connect up to 10 devices - smartphones, tablets, laptops with LTE adaptors - to the Unite. If you install one let us know what you think.