2008 Wireless Predictions: Mid-year checkup

As we approach the 4th of July holiday weekend, I decided perhaps it was a good time to reflect on the first six months of 2008 and, more specifically, on how FierceWireless is faring with its annual 2008 predictions.

Every year FierceWireless editors compile our list of the top 5 things we think will happen in the coming year. Just to reiterate, these are our predictions and they come from careful analysis of the daily news cycle. We are not privy to any actual deals or inside information. If you want to check back and see the justification for our choices, click here.

So at the mid-year point, here's how we are doing so far:

Prediction No. 1: Helio will go bust.

Mid-year checkup:  On June 27, Virgin Mobile USA acquired Helio for $39 million from EarthLink and SK Telecom for 13 million shares of Virgin Mobile stock.  Helio shuttered its five stores and closed its kiosks. The deal is set to close this quarter.

Prediction No. 2: Leap and MetroPCS will merge.

Mid-year checkup: This prediction has not occurred and we haven't heard any more buzz about the possibility of these two merging. 

Prediction No. 3: Motorola to spin-off its units.

Mid-year checkup: In February Motorola confirmed speculation that it was considering selling off its handset unit  or possibly separating it from the rest of the company. However, the company is having difficulty doing this because of the massive amount of debt that Motorola or the new independent company may have to incur since the mobile-phone business is losing so much money. In addition, Motorola can't seem to find someone to run the handset unit.

Prediction No. 4: Sprint, Clearwire will merge their WiMAX networks.

Mid-year checkup: In May, Sprint and Clearwire announced that they would combine their WiMAX businesses and create a new company, called Clearwire, that would include a $3.2 billion investment from Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity Partners.

Prediction No. 5: Verizon Wireless' Open Access to prove toothless

Mid-year checkup: In late 2007, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said that the carrier would "allow customers to connect any device that meets our minimum technical standards and be activated on our network." In our 2008 prediction, we questioned whether Verizon would be able to meet their customers' and the industry's expectations regarding "opening" its network to any device or application. In June the operator announced that a device has passed the operator's ODI certification process but Verizon has not launched an apps certification effort. Instead it is relying on OEMs to determine whether or not certification is necessary for apps written for their devices.

By my tally, we were correct with predictions No. 1 (Helio) and No. 4 (Sprint and Clearwire) and we were close with prediction No. 3. Of course, this is only a mid-year checkup so we still have six months to see whether the rest of our prognostications prove true.  -Sue

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