Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse emailed an Intel executive to try and smooth over tensions following comments a Nokia executive made last week at an event in San Francisco. Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's head of sales and manufacturing, reportedly compared WiMAX to Betamax, the video format that met its demise when VHS triumphed in the 1970s and 1980s.
"I don't see that WiMAX is taking hold anywhere in a big way," Vanjoki was quoted as saying. "I don't think the future is very promising [for WiMAX]. This is a classic example of industry standards clashing, and somebody comes out as the winner and somebody has to lose. Betamax was there for a long time, but VHS dominated the market. I see exactly the same thing happening here."
Intel, one of WiMAX's strongest proponents and a major investor in WiMAX service provider Clearwire, was apparently angered by the comments, according to a report on the website TheInquirer.net. Hesse is said to have emailed Intel to tell them that Vanjoki called him to deny comparing WiMAX to Betamax. Sprint holds a 51 percent stake in Clearwire.
"He was making general references to how technology winners and losers are chosen, that it's not the best technology that wins, but it's also other issues like the best business model, [and] marketing that determine which standards win and lose," Hesse is quoted as saying in the email. Hesse added that Vanjoki told him that media reports had taken his comments out of context.
"He said the author plugged LTE and WiMAX into his framework," Hesse is quoted as saying. "He was providing a framework of what determines winning and losing standards, and did not opine on which ones will win and lose."
Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Walsh told FierceWireless that the company would not comment on cross-company confidential communications or internal CEO communications. "I do believe his comments were taken out of context," she said, referring to Vanjoki.
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