Microsoft-Nokia Pact: Logical, But Not Necessarily Appetizing

[qi:083] Updated: The deal expected to be announced between Nokia (s NOK)  and Microsoft (s MSFT) today, which would see Microsoft adapt its Office products for Nokia smartphones, would be is a desperate play. But not nearly desperate enough. The pact, by which Microsoft hopes to boost the fortunes of its Office software (threatened by Google, Linux and smaller companies like Zoho), and Nokia hopes to crank up sales of its smartphones (under siege from Research in Motion’s BlackBerry (s rimm) and the iPhone (s aapl)), is akin to taking two leftovers from your fridge, popping them on a plate and hoping people find the combination appetizing. Perhaps when the two companies hold their conference call today at 11 a.m. ET they’ll at least announce a special sauce to bring this whole mess together.
When it comes to the smartphone market, which is not only growing during the economic downturn, but is allowing Apple and RIM to walk away with 31 percent and 35 percent of the margins in the handset industry, respectively, Nokia needs to do something to protect its margins, if not its market share. Nokia sells a lot of phones, but most of them are cheap and carry low margins. So this deal with Microsoft, designed to appeal to the corporate customer, is clearly Nokia’s attempt to sell more high-end phones to enterprises. Read More about Microsoft-Nokia Pact: Logical, But Not Necessarily Appetizing

RIM Paid $8.3M for Dash: Proof That Hardware Is a Risky Business

dash_express_stock1Research In Motion (s rimm) bought Dash Navigation in May for an undisclosed price, but yesterday an investment adviser did the math and stated on his blog that the BlackBerry maker paid $8.3 million for the navigation company. Davis Freeberg combed through Research In Motion’s SEC filings and its first-quarter fiscal 2010 conference call in June, and laid out his assumption that Dash was purchased for far less than the $42 71 million it raised from venture investors. Does the Dash failure mean doom for all specialty hardware companies hoping to build devices for the web? Are Slacker radios or the Kindle (s amzn) destined to flop? Read More about RIM Paid $8.3M for Dash: Proof That Hardware Is a Risky Business

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

Streaming TV Episodes Coming to Blackberry

RIM (s RIMM) is planning to announce a full-episode television service for BlackBerry users as early as next week at CTIA. The service is part of RIM’s effort to turn itself into an attractive multimedia option for non iPhone users. The streaming videos would most certainly coincide with the release of Blackberry App World. Continue Reading.

MetroPCS Gets BlackBerry Curve

MetroPCS (s PCS) said today it will launch the BlackBerry Curve 8330 (not Om’s latest handset crush) in several markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento, with advance pay plans that range from $30 to $60 a month.  The BlackBerry (s RIMM) is the carrier’s first smart phone.

Last week, MetroPCS COO Tom Keys told us he expected the prepaid carrier to launch a BlackBerry by the second or third quarter of the year. He also told us the carrier would hopefully deploy a Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G wireless network in 2010. Since we’re still on the tail end of the first quarter, it appears they are early with the phone; we can only hope they beat their timing on LTE too.

As data becomes a must-have service on mobile phones, even the regional carriers are adding these services. With Sprint’s (s S) $50 unlimited talk and data plan on its Boost subsidiary, Leap Wireless (s LEAP) offering data cards and MetroPCS pushing a smartphone at cheap prices, the other carriers might feel some pricing pressure. However, I doubt they’ll make rapid reductions in data costs unless customers start defecting in large numbers. No carrier wants to turn the wireless golden goose into just another dumb pipe.

Why T-Mobile’s BlackBerry Curve 8900 is Worth Buying

It’s been almost a month since I broke up with my iPhone and switched to the new T-Mobile BlackBerry Curve 8900. And while I sometimes yearn for my iPhone’s awesome sleekness and its admirable browser, the new BlackBerry Curve is proving to be a worthy and admirable replacement. Instead of boring you with details about the innards of the device, let me stay focused on what matters most to typical BlackBerry owners: usability.

MetroPCS Wants to Deploy LTE in 2010

Prepaid phone company MetroPCS (s PCS) says it hopes to deploy LTE, the next-generation wireless standard, beginning in 2010, according to Tom Keys, chief operating officer of the company. Keys spoke with me at the MetroPCS headquarters today in Richardson, Texas. While he couldn’t lay out a definite time frame for the deployment, he said, “It is our desire to deploy LTE in 2010, probably the latter half.” Read More about MetroPCS Wants to Deploy LTE in 2010

Concept Infinite Phone Eliminates Obsolescence

infinite_phone_6The thought of a smartphone that never has to be replaced is certainly an attractive one.  We’re all guilty of tossing out a phone after a few years, even though it’s still working fine, because the technology has evolved and left our clunker in the dust.  It sure would be nice to have a phone that’s designed from the ground up to be updated in every area so it would always be the “latest and greatest.”

The Infinite concept phone takes that premise and fleshes it out to demonstrate what such a phone would be like.  It also shows in great detail how such a thing could be accomplished, making a phone with every component capable of being upgraded.  They’ve created a sexy-looking phone on top of that upgrade goodness, which is pretty nice.  I have to admit the interface looks a lot like something from HTC.

The designers use components like OLED screens and replaceable circuit boards to create the Infinite (or perpetual) phone.  You can peruse their conceptual drawings and get a good feeling about this concept.  The magnetic dock is a nice touch.

(via Yanko Design)

The Handset Market Is Getting Darwinian

269332The economic downturn knocked the wind out of the handset market in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, resulting in shipments of 1.2 billion handsets for the year and overall growth of just 5.4 percent, according to data released today from ABI Research. And it’s only going to get worse. But economic upheaval isn’t just about huge losses, it’s also a chance to snatch market share. Read More about The Handset Market Is Getting Darwinian