As 2010 closes, I thought perhaps it would be a good time to see how the editorial team fared with our 2010 wireless industry predictions. (Also, don't forget to check out our predictions for 2011.)
Every year we compile a list of the top things that we think will happen in the coming year. And since we like to be bold in our predictions there's usually a good chance a few of our prognostications will be wildly wrong. Here's how we fared:
2010 Prediction No. 1: Net neutrality will pass, but with exceptions for wireless
Year-end checkup: Correct. In late December, the FCC voted to approve net neutrality rules for wireless and wired networks, but there were some exceptions for wireless. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), T-Mobile USA and other wireless carriers will be barred from blocking services like Google Voice and Skype that compete with their own voice and video offerings, as well as those in which they have an attributable interest. However, wireless carriers will not face the same restrictions wired operators will on blocking Web traffic and other applications--a ban on unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic.
2010 Prediction No. 2: Palm will be purchased by another handset vendor
Year-end checkup: Right--well, sort of. On April 27, Hewlett-Packard stunned the industry by purchasing beleaguered smartphone maker Palm for $1.2 billion. While we predicted that Palm would get purchased, it's a stretch to say that HP is a "handset vendor" in the traditional sense. However, with its acquisition of Palm, HP now moves closer to that status.
2010 Prediction No. 3: Pricing, coverage issues will hinder cable companies' wireless offerings
Year-end checkup: Wrong. Cable companies such as Time Warner and Comcast are still rolling out their mobile WiMAX offerings using Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) network, but there are few details as to how these services are faring with customers. In April, Time Warner said it will offer WiMAX to business customers as well as consumers, and in July it introduced a personal hotspot device called Intelligo. Meanwhile, after several delays, Cox Communications unveiled its long-awaited wireless service in November in three commercial markets, complete with a range of handsets and a variety of pricing plans and services.
2010 Prediction No. 4: Sprint Nextel's 4G leadership will help revive the carrier
Year-end checkup: Correct. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has certainly made a lot of progress with its campaign to establish itself as a leader in 4G, and it appears that turnaround strategy is finally taking hold. The nation's No. 3 carrier reported in the third quarter that it added the most net wireless subscribers in a quarter since 2006. The company also posted its first year-over-year revenue increase in years.
2010 Prediction No. 5: Huawei will get one LTE deal in North America
Year-end checkup: Wrong. Huawei has been steadily building its presence in the equipment vendor market, but it has not signed an LTE deal with a North American operator. Recently, a Huawei executive was quoted as saying the company is maintaining a "long-term view" for both North America and Japan, and is continually looking at how to build stronger relationships with local carriers.
2010 Prediction No. 6: At least one wireless carrier will experiment with usage-based data pricing
Year-end checkup: Right! We nailed this one. AT&T Mobility on June 2 became the first U.S. carrier to institute usage limits on what were previously unlimited smartphone data plans. Executives from the nation's largest carriers have long discussed a move toward tiered, bucketed data pricing scenarios for smartphones, but AT&T (NYSE:T) was the first major U.S. carrier to implement the changes.
2010 Prediction No. 7: Motorola will show some signs of recovery thanks to Android
Year-end checkup: Right. I'm going to agree with FierceWireless columnist and IDC analyst Ramon Llamas who wrote in his recent mid-year checkup that Sanjay Jha deserves credit for helping Motorola deliver a portfolio of Android smartphones that have helped re-establish Motorola (NYSE:MOT) as a wireless phone leader and a smartphone heavyweight.
In the third quarter, Motorola's handset unit posted its first operating profit in more than three years. Motorola's Android smartphone sales beat Wall Street expectations. The handset vendor posted net profit of $109 million, up from $12 million in the year-ago period. Motorola's revenue jumped 13 percent in the quarter to $4.9 billion, the company's first year-over-year revenue increase since the fourth quarter of 2006.
2010 Prediction No. 8: Computer makers' attempts at Android smartphones will flounder
Year-end checkup: Correct. In November, Dell announced that its mobile unit was being folded into Dell's larger operations, an indication that the company was still struggling to crack into the smartphone and tablet markets. Dell's mobile unit posted a $21 million loss in the second quarter. Meanwhile, in late October, Garmin and Asus decided to end their partnership but said they would continue to sell and support the six handsets rolled out since the two firms entered into their strategic alliance in February 2009. Asus also said it would continue to design and produce new devices that will preload Garmin navigation and location-based services.