Arguably two of the most compelling and controversial topics in the wireless industry right now are the future of the wireless network and the Internet of Things. And both of these topics touch on the underlying business case of nearly every company in the industry right now.
According to a detailed report from New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin on wireless carriers in the first quarter, fewer people are buying smartphones. This means that wireless carriers as a group will no longer benefit from millions of people upgrading from a feature phone to a smartphone--those who want smartphones already have them, and those who don't most likely won't buy one anytime soon.
When we meet with companies, we like to look at firms that we think have a great idea, a solid business model and strong financial backing. Our favorites--the top 15--are awarded a Fierce 15 designation and featured prominently in our newsletter. The 2013 Fierce 15 list will make its debut in mid-June.
Sprint Nextel's announcement last week that it had inked a deal with module provider u-blox to be Sprint's preferred module provider for its 2G (1xRTT) CDMA network caught my attention for a few reasons, mainly because it's clearly designed at winning away machine-to-machine business from AT&T Mobility, which plans on shutting down its 2G network by 2017. I think Sprint can steal some of this business, and even though the customers and connections are low-bandwidth and provide low average revenue per user.
Researchers at AT&T Labs for several years have been studying how anonymous mobile phone usage data could help city planners get a better sense of where people live, work and visit--thereby potentially improving traffic congestion, mass transit planning and preparations for major events like parades. The efforts offer a clear look into how wireless carriers can participate in the nebulous but potentially lucrative market for "big data."
This morning Dish Network announced a $25.5 billion unsolicited offer to buy Sprint Nextel, which was followed shortly by the revelation that Verizon Wireless made an unsolicited offer to purchase Clearwire's spectrum license leases in major markets for up to $1.5 billion. Certainly there are pros and cons to all these scenarios but what seems apparent to me is that Dish's bid for Sprint and Verizon's bid for Clearwire will likely put Sprint's future plans in limbo while these deals are evaluated by shareholders, the FCC and the Department of Justice.
The ambition to be a platform is a burning one right now. But not every company can be a platform, and not every company should try.
U.S. wireless operators will be flocking to New Orleans in a couple of weeks to attend the annual Competitive Carriers Expo, which takes place April 17-19 at the New Orleans Marriott. I expect such hot-button topics as incentive auctions, data roaming and IP transition will likely be debated at the conference.
An Amazon smartphone could well be announced tomorrow. I really don't know. I have no insider insight into the company. But what I do know is that Amazon has very little chance of being successful in the smartphone market, if it does decide to enter the business. Here are five reasons Amazon would do well to let the rumors of an Amazon smartphone remain just that: