Lowenstein’s View: My wireless industry holiday wish list

Mark lowenstein mobile ecosystemsSince you've probably been overloaded with "predictions" columns by now, I thought it might be fun to do something a little different in the spirit of the holidays and year-end. So here goes, my first ever "holiday wish list" of what I'd like from some of the industry's biggest players (not that they've asked!):

Wireless Operators. A "family plan" for data. Let me buy 10 GB a month that can be used on up to 5 devices and across my family. Just like iTunes.

Cisco: A "super box" for the home, combining a really good router/femtocell that helps amplify WiFi for zipping content across screens and also boosts cellular signals and optimizes data.  Bonus gift: have it be a set-top box too, a la Apple TV or Google TV.

FCC: More spectrum, of course. And a promise that dollars raised in spectrum auctions be set used to help get broadband--wired or wireless--into every home in the country, through credits to carriers for building where it might not make the best economic sense and/or subsidies to low-income families.

Qualcomm. The ultimate "re-gift:" your FLO TV spectrum.

Verizon Wireless: Ya know...so the media can have something else to write about.

Nokia: Also, Ya Know...but your gift starts with an "A" instead of an "i".

Sprint: Given your money woes, and the fact that your CFO is leaving, I offer a gift to you: A three-month contract with Larry Summers, Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Sachs, or other economic whiz of your choice to help you figure your way out of way out of your current financial entanglements.

Cable Companies: Justify your investment in Clearwire by offering your broadband customers a "mobile add-on" for broadband on the go: $25 for individuals, $40 for families. Or if you're not serious about wireless, stop keeping Clearwire in purgatory and turn your investment over to someone else. 

T-Mobile: The right name to call something that's better than 3G but not quite 4G.

AT&T: I'll forego the obvious ask for continued network improvements. Instead, since you're the one carrier offering all major smartphone OSs, how about a well articulated marketing message of why one would buy an iPhone vs. a Blackberry, Android device, Windows Mobile, or Tablet A, B, C, or D?

Google. A customer support center, staffed with real human beings, for advice on which of the 10,000 or so types of Android devices is best for me, plus help with all the other Google-related products and services that seem to be launching almost daily.

Best Buy: Hire away some Hooters employees for in-home Geek Squad visits.

Motorola: A signature Android device, rising above Samsung and HTC in hardware design, allowing you to re-capture past StarTac and Razr glories, especially since Verizon might not be your sugar daddy for much longer.

Microsoft. A compelling message (other than the fact that you're Microsoft) about why we really need another phone OS on top of iOS, Android, Blackberry and Symbian.

RIM: The next major portable business productivity device, combining a re-thought messaging framework (e-mail, corporate IM, social networking) and creative solution for content creation. 

Samsung. Sorry, but for about the same price, I'd take one of your flat screen TVs over your smartphones or tablets.

Nortel. Sorry, just wanted to say it, am missin' the name, plus it's easier to say than Huawei.

CTIA: One annual show, not two.

Print Media: A plan to save yourselves: allow print subscribers a digital extension, on any device, free of charge; for electronic subscribers, a reasonable but lower-than-print annual subscription rate, again viewable on any screen, for one charge. 

Broadcast Media: Some form of unity on how you're going to deal with over-the-top, be it Hulu, Apple TV, Google TV, etc. Any alternative to conventional cable/satellite will not be successful unless the bulk of content is available, on a live, on-demand, or time-shifted basis. Sports included.

Content Providers: I ask for better portability across media. Example: if I buy a physical product, like a DVD, how about a redemption key that provides for free or discounted viewing on alternative devices--especially those lacking the ability to accommodate external media (like the iPad). Or if I buy the product digitally, one price allows for viewing on any device.

ISIS and Other M-Commerce Wannabees: Here's a good start--let my phone be the "Fast Lane/EZ Pass" equivalent that will work, contactless, with any toll, parking meter, parking garage, public transportation system, and vending machine in the country.

Starbucks and Panera Bread: Can you please send some of your mood lighting and color tones over to the wireless carriers, so their stores feel less like walking into the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Twitter: Some stock options, priced at the pre-Kleiner valuation. Thank you.

Apple. OK, this is a biggie, but let me do a fireside chat with Steve Jobs at Mobile World Congress or CTIA.

Apple. If you can't come through with request #1, please sell "Genius Bar" name to Google and rename yours "Too Cool for You Bar."

Have a great holiday, a healthy and prosperous 2011, and thanks for your support this year.

Mark Lowenstein, a leading industry analyst, consultant, and commentator, is Managing Director of Mobile Ecosystem.  Click here to subscribe to his free Lens on Wireless monthly newsletter, or follow him on Twitter.

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