So what will happen to Mobile Hotspots?

When Apple announced the new iPad, it touted that the new iPad will be able to offer “mobile hot spot” like features, allowing you to share your wireless connection with five devices. This prompted folks at Fool.com to ask: did Novatel and Sierra Wireless get Garmin’d?

Novatel’s Big, Fat MiFi Bet

novatel-mifi-2200-4xh-460[digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Novatel_s_Big_Fat_MiFi_Bet]For Novatel, (s nvtl) the maker of cellular modems, the introduction of the MiFi wireless router has added a little shine to a fairly unglamorous business, while also insulating the company from the loss of a major customer during the most recent quarter. But will the MiFi luster last? On its third-quarter conference call yesterday, Novatel executives fielded several questions from analysts about a slow sales cycle and a backlog of the devices at major carriers. If the MiFi is Novatel’s fairy tale goose, the financial community seems to wonder how long it can lay golden eggs. Read More about Novatel’s Big, Fat MiFi Bet

Has the U.S. Wireless Data Boom Stalled?

While the U.S. wireless industry has been ravaged by brutal price wars when it comes to plain-vanilla voice minutes, carriers big and small have managed to turn in profits and show hefty growth, thanks to growing demand for wireless data services. In the fourth quarter, Verizon and AT&T raked in about $6 billion just on wireless data. Taken together, the results were, as Stacey noted in her post last week, making wireless data looks recession-proof. But a week later, we’re not so sure.

Sierra Wireless Deal Signals Shift in Data Cards

Today Sierra Wireless, the maker of wireless data cards agreed to spend about 218 million euros ($274.9 million) buying Wavecom, the maker of machine-to-machine communications chips. For Sierra, the deal gives it the ability to follow the web as it moves from people to machines, providing a new avenue for growth as Sierra sees interest in wireless cards fade.

Even Moms Love Mobile Data Cards

OK, that is a bit over the top! Nielsen Mobile came out with a report that points out that there were 13 million mobile data cards in the U.S. at the end of June 2008. Not a big surprise, since wireless carriers in the U.S. are having a blockbuster year as far as mobile Internet revenues are concerned. The GigaOM Team has about seven of them and uses them for business and filing stuff when on the road. Apparently, so do a lot of people. However, Nielsen points out that there is a change in the making.

….Nielsen’s research reveals that the cards are beginning to play an important role in home and personal Internet access, as well. In fact, 43 percent of mobile data card users report they most often use their data card at home, while 15 percent say they typically use the card at work. Additionally, one in five (21 percent) data card subscribers take advantage of ubiquitous access by heading outdoors and 9 percent use their card while commuting.

An easy explanation would be better price packages and higher speed tiers, thanks to newer 3G technologies. Of the nearly 1,300 mobile data card users Nielsen surveyed, more than 99 percent still kept their wired broadband service: 40 percent of card users also have cable broadband and 34 percent also have DSL in their home. That number can jump to 59 percent, giving wired carriers something to think about.

Maybe the wireless guys need to rethink their wireless broadband plans and bring them forward. For phone companies the prospect of being cannibalized by wireless data connections must be scarier than losing them to voice connections. No wonder they started to limit bandwidth transfers on their connections. (Photo courtesy: Novatel Wireless.)