Bye Bye Xohm

Bye Bye Xohm

Less than a year after Xohm made its big brand debut at Sprint's Technology Conference, the cryptic name for Sprint's WiMAX network is already dead. Thanks to this morning's big announcement about Sprint and Clearwire combining their WiMAX businesses, Xohm will be relegated to the wireless brand graveyard where it will rest in peace alongside so many other dead brands--Cingular, AirTouch, VoiceStream--to name a few.

Of course, the amazing thing about Xohm is that it was a brand that never even had a product. Just as we were getting accustomed to its weird new-age sound (rhymes with Zone) it has been replaced. Consumers really never had a chance to get familiar with Xohm, it died before it made its commercial debut.  

Thanks to today's merger Xohm will now be the new Clearwire, a much easier to pronounce name that already has some consumer awareness in markets where Clearwire has launched its WiMAX services.

Of course today's news is much bigger than just a brand name. It's about the formation of a new company that will likely revitalize the entire mobile WiMAX ecosystem. To recap: Sprint is merging its Xohm Business unit with Clearwire and heavyweights Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity Partners will invest $3.2 billion in the combined company.

Of course, I'm skeptical whether this hodgepodge of powerful players will be able to pull off such a complex deal. Leadership will be incredibly important. Wireless legend Craig McCaw will be the chairman of the board and he has assembled an impressive group of board members including Brian Roberts of Comcast, Glenn Britt of Time Warner, John Stanton of Trilogy Equity Partners and Dan Hesse of Sprint. It appears to me that McCaw has brought together some of his trusted players from his early days in wireless to be part of this new venture. Stanton (the former head of Western Wireless) and Hesse are old-time McCaw Cellular/AT&T Wireless guys who were known for their innovation and perseverance. Those are two characteristics that this new venture will certainly need in the months ahead. -Sue