Handset Market Goes From Bad to Better

[qi:gigaom_icon_mobile] The global market for handsets in 2009 will shrink 7.5 percent from the prior year, according to a blog post written today by ABI Research. That compares with a prior contraction forecast of 8.1 percent. The firm revised its global handset sales outlook following a better-than-anticipated first half of the year.

And while ABI analyst Kevin Burden expects industry consolidation driven by vendors’ need to support more hardware platforms, operating systems and applications, as well as an overall pressure on profits, he doesn’t see that consolidation taking place until 2010 and beyond. From the post: Read More about Handset Market Goes From Bad to Better

Europe Gets Handset Makers to Agree to Universal Charger

666px-Micro_USB_and_USBNokia (s NOK), Motorola (s MOT), Research in Motion (s RIM), Apple (s aapl) (yes, even Apple) and six other cell phone makers have agreed to a European Commission request to develop a universal charger. The agreement was announced today by the the EC. The new handsets will use Micro-USB connectors, and will be available in Europe beginning next year. The GSM Association had been working on a similar effort to deliver a universal charger by 2012.

Importantly, only data-enabled phones will be able to accept the universal charger, since those are the phones that currently contain Micro-USB ports. While the Micro-USB standard may be replaced by a different one someday, for now having a universal charger will make it easier to replenish phones while on the road. As for reducing waste, I’m less certain that will happen unless cell phone providers stop including a charger with each phone. The EC hopes that the universal charger will spread beyond its borders, which is likely to happen given that the powerful GSM Association is also in favor of such a standard, but perhaps not by 2010.

Our friends at jkOnTheRun are wondering if this standard will make its way to the US? I certainly hope so. 

Micro-USB and USB image courtesy of George Shuklin

Verizon CEO Seidenberg’s Words of Entrepreneurial Wisdom

seidenberg_picIvan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon (s VZ), appeared on “The Charlie Rose Show” yesterday talking about the communication company’s plans for global growth, network neutrality and the role of government. For the record, Verizon plans to build out its wireless business internationally within the next 5-10 years, and about one-third of that growth will be through acquisitions. However according to Seidenberg, any buys will wait until pesky regulatory hurdles such as buying an individual wireless license on a per-country basis are taken care of by regional consolidation.

His position on network neutrality was in line with most carriers. He stressed that Verizon has every right to create and deliver content over its pipes. He also said the role of government was primarily to step back and let the capital markets do their thing, but that if it wanted to boost IT spending by mandating electronic health records, Verizon is cool with that.

But it was Seidenberg’s quote about the need for an executive to always be looking ahead that stuck with me. Read More about Verizon CEO Seidenberg’s Words of Entrepreneurial Wisdom

Global Cell Phone Growth Slowed During Q1

Global revenue growth from mobile phone subscriptions has slowed, according to data released today by research firm Telegeography. The firm notes that the top 20 global service providers generated $251 billion during the first three months of 2009, which was only up 3 percent from the same period last year. Part of the slowed growth was related to market saturation, but Telegeography said it was also tied to the lousy economy, which depressed demand.

India and China, which together accounted for 48 percent of the global growth, were bright spots on the world stage. The U.S. and Canada saw only 2 percent growth, however the U.S. did add 1 million broadband subscribers, demonstrating how wireless data can offer some growth for a carrier in saturated markets. Worldwide broadband subscriber additions during the quarter came in at 14 million. Read More about Global Cell Phone Growth Slowed During Q1

E-Books Are Hot, So Why Did E-Ink Sell for So Little?

The Kindle DX uses E-Ink technology

The Kindle DX uses E-Ink technology

Prime View International, a Taiwanese company that makes an e-readers display part, said today it would purchase E-Ink, a company that provides the digital ink technology in the Amazon Kindle (s amzn) and Sony Reader, (s sony) for $215 million. The two companies have been partners in developing the Sony and Amazon e-reader products, and the deal highlights PVI’s attempt to own the top provider of an essential technology for the growing e-reader market.

And there’s no question the market is growing, with research firm In-Stat noting today that e-readers will grow from almost 1 million shipments in 2008 to 30 million by 2013. PVI quotes data from DisplaySearch noting that the total e-paper market will be $3 billion by 2013, which will be used in e-readers as well as e-textbooks. However, despite optimism about the growth rate for both e-paper and e-ink, the investors who funneled $150 million in Cambridge, Mass.-based E-Ink since its spinout from MIT 12 years ago, don’t seem to have generated a great return on their exit, given the sale price. Investors include Intel Corp. (s intc), Motorola Corp. (s MOT) and Hearst Corp. Read More about E-Books Are Hot, So Why Did E-Ink Sell for So Little?

Cable Operators Mull IPTV As They Roll Out Faster Broadband

motorola-docsis-30-modems-cmts-tx32As cable companies transition to super-fast broadband speeds provided by DOCSIS 3.0, they’re also considering how they can move from providing analog and digital channels via radio frequency the way they do today, and instead transition to an on-demand IPTV model that could offer them more flexibility with their programming options. For consumers, this could mean more channels and even personalized content delivered to their PCs and television, on demand. Read More about Cable Operators Mull IPTV As They Roll Out Faster Broadband

Subsidized Netbooks Go Nationwide at AT&T

Image 1 for post Acer's $99 netbook can actually cost you $1,540. Should you get it?( 2008-12-12 14:27:58) I’m still not sold on the whole netbook subsidy deal, but if you are and you want AT&T (s T) to provide 3G connectivity to your mobile computer, this is good news. In April, the carrier was testing subsidized netbooks in Atlanta as well as my Philadelphia backyard. It must have proved a positive experiment because AT&T is expanding the option nationwide in the near future. The company plans to expand the netbook model choices, but details aren’t available yet.

I don’t really have an issue with the subsidy model; after all, I’ve taken advantage of it time and again with my smartphone purchases. However, those devices are different because people generally have one primary phone that requires data. Yes, there are exceptions to that, but netbooks are different. They’re really intended as companion devices, not primary ones. And I think it’s far more likely for someone to own or use more computers than phones in a given time period. Having the wireless connectivity bundled with a netbook is convenient, but what do you when you want to use a different computer on the road and you’ve left your 3G service behind with your netbook?

The tech-savvy will find ways to use their 3G phone for data service on a computer or they’ll share the 3G connection from their netbook using software. Perhaps they’ll buy one bit of hardware that can easily share the 3G connection with several devices. This notion that each of our “cheap” devices needs its own dedicated costly 3G connection is lost on me personally.

Meraki Makes Its Enterprise Move

[qi:045] Meraki, the wireless access point maker, today sent out emails informing its customers than it’s launching two enterprise access points that can be managed via the web (Meraki, in an attempt to hop on the cloud buzzwagon, calls this a cloud controller). That means Meraki is going to compete with folks like Cisco (s CSCO), Juniper (s JNPR) and Motorola (s MOT) for enterprise business. Meraki says its equipment costs half that off the average setup, which if true, would indeed put pressure on the margins of said competitors.

However, this is Meraki’s second or possibly even third attempt at finding a market for its mesh networking technology. The company has pushed municipal Wi-Fi and is also trying to make a business selling access points to hotels, business districts and apartments interested in Wi-Fi.  It has some cool technology and ideas, but can it transition from selling to municipalities and folks trying to set up local networks, to the enterprise? If it does so, it would make its transition from an open-source, cheap hardware provider to money-making-business complete.

GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

We’re no rating agency here at GigaOM, but Om and I got together this week to figure out our coverage priorities for the coming months — let’s call it a spring cleaning — and decided there are five companies that we’re just not going to spend a lot of time on anymore. Nortel (S NT) , AMD (s AMD), Motorola (s MOT), Vonage (s VG) and Alcatel-Lucent (s ALU) are getting the boot.
We’re making room for five companies that we think deserve a little more attention and/or deeper scrutiny: Qualcomm (s QCOM), MetroPCS (s PCS), Huawei, Juniper Networks (s JNPR) and Clearwire (s CLWR). All but Huawei are public companies, but Huawei is big enough to matter. This isn’t to say there aren’t tens of other companies we plan to cover closely, but since we’ve essentially upgraded a few and downgraded these others, we figured you guys might care to know what we’re thinking. If not, just skip our rationale below: Read More about GigaOM Spring Cleaning: Motorola and Others Hit the Dustbin

Like Facebook or Google, Wireless Carriers Need to Scale

Most in the technology world think about scaling in relation to web sites and data centers, but the carriers operating the world’s wireless networks are worried about scale as well. As they transition to fourth generation (4G) wireless networks, they’re not just thinking about increasing data speeds; they’re also trying to figure out how to deliver more data-consuming new services over their networks in a way that generates more money for them. Otherwise they’re planning to sell your personal data to advertisers to boost their bottom lines. Read More about Like Facebook or Google, Wireless Carriers Need to Scale