Here are this week’s interesting stories in the mobile industry…
Within the last week or so, there have been several reports about the smartphone landscape in the US. The actual numbers differ between Nielsen, ComScore, and NPD Group but the trends in all three reports are the same. RIM is still number one but falling.
Apple is remaining flat. Android is growing rapidly. One interesting take away here is that Android’s growth seems to more be at RIM’s expense than Apple’s. Of course, another carrier carrying iPhone may change things going forward.
The Neilsen report shows that 28% of US mobile phone users use a smartphone. Also, of mobile phone purchases over the last six months, 41% were smartphones. There are some interesting graphs in the report.
The Neilsen data is different than the NPD Group’s report which indicate that iPhone has passed RIM with 26%. The same report claims that Android handset outsold iPhone by almost double (9.1MM to 5.5MM) in Q3.
Verizon’s new $15/150MB per month plan is now available. It will be interesting to see if this helps increase smartphone adoption for Verizon.
Verizon better hope the new data plan brings in more users because Verizon was fined $25MM by the FCC for “accidental” data charges. Verizon supposedly collected $52MM in such charges. Big Red has apologized and is reimbursing its customers.
T-Mobile is claiming that they have the nation’s largest 4G network based on the coverage of their HSPA+ network. AT&T is protesting, claiming to have more subscribers covered with HSPA+ than T-Mobile. Of course, AT&T doesn’t have any phones that work with HSPA+, just modems. T-Mobile has two HSPA+ handsets. See MobileCrunch for details.
Speaking of 4G, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) has formally defined what 4G means. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ is not 4G. Then again, neither is Sprint’s WiMAX nor Verizon’s LTE. When you hear a carrier claim 4G, it is really just marketing speak for “faster 3G” network. To be fair, WiMAX and LTE are much closer to 4G than HSPA+ is. HSPA+ will top out performance-wise long before the other technologies. Boy Genius and Gizmodo have good explanations of the 4G.
Despite surging Android shipments, Apple doesn’t seem to be doing too badly. According to IDC, Apple’s sale of 14.1MM iPhones worldwide make it the fourth largest phone manufacturer, pushing RIM into fifth place and Sony-Ericsson out of the top five.
It looks like Apple’s manufacturing has caught up with demand in time for the holidays. Target will start selling the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS in November.
iOS 4.2 Gold Master has been released to developers. This release of iOS supports AirPrint (wireless printing) and AirPlay (push audio and video to other wireless devices). It is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. This is the first version of iOS 4 for the iPad so now the iPad has caught up to where the iPhone was in July.
T-Mobile is selling an iPhone sync cable. Now, why would it be doing that?
Dell’s smartphone play
It looks like Dell is trying to compete with RIM in the corporate smartphone market. Dell is getting publicity for offering their 25K employees the opportunity to swap their company BlackBerry for a new Windows Phone 7 powered Dell Venue Pro, but their real interest is in replacing the RIM back office infrastructure with their own. By doing so, Dell stands to cut their communication costs by a quarter. Dell will soon begin marketing a similar service to other corporations. The profit isn’t in the phones themselves (Dell will supply phones from other manufacturers if requested) but in the network infrastructure to support the devices. See this article in the WSJ for more details.
Windows Phone 7
If you’re itching to be the first on the block with a WP7 device from AT&T, you’ll have to get in a line on the 8th. AT&T is not accepting pre-orders for the devices. Devices will be sold first come, first serve. I guess AT&T wants to get some photo ops of people waiting in line for phones, but I think is rather unlikely.
Facebook had an event this week introducing a new set of mobile APIs to allow third party apps to use their infrastructure.
- Single Sign On allows users to sign onto facebook with a single tap from other apps.
- Location APIs let an app read from the Facebook’s location graph (e.g. which friends are near you?), write to the graph (e.g. check-in), and search the graph (e.g. find things near you).
- Deals. Businesses can publish deals for mobile users. The social element is key to these Deals as there will be a way to share deals with your friends Facebook not making money from deals – its just good for users and businesses who use Facebook.
Expect to see many more Facebook enabled mobile apps and websites in the coming months.
Some other interesting things about Facebook:
- Facebook has 200MM mobile users.
- Despite rumors, Facebook has no plans to market its own phone.
- Facebook does not have an iPad app because (according to Zuckerberg) iPad “isn’t mobile – it’s a computer”.
Speculation has been flying around this week that iPhone 5 will have NFC (near field communications) capabilities. This can be used for a contactless payment solution. Currently, such solutions require a special case with the chip or a sticker to place on the phone. Building it into the phone allows for a software standard to interact with it.
And speaking of mobile commerce rumors, there is speculation that both Apple and Google are looking to make a bid for Boku for its wireless payment solution Paymo. The system is interesting in that you use your phone number to make a payment that goes to your phone bill. Because of the carrier restrictions (including high transaction fees) the system is only in use for small payments such as digital goods within games. The system simplifies purchases by eliminating having to enter all the normal billing information (name, address, credit card, etc.). The way it works is that you enter your phone number to make the purchase. When you receive a text message to confirm, just reply Yes and the transaction shows up on your monthly bill. A good writeup about this can be found here.
PayPal patches a security flaw in its iPhone app. The flaw could let a user’s password to be intercepted when transmitted over wifi.
Another week with a lot of tablet news. 2011 should be a very interesting year in this space!
T-Mobile will offer the Galaxy Tab for $400 with a 2 year contract on Nov 10. With the rate of change in this segment, I think I’d have a hard time buying any tablet with a two year contract.
Acer will unveil a set of tablets in late November. Little details are available other than they will cost $299-$699.
Barnes & Noble introduced a color Nook. The 7″ $249 tablet runs Android. Although not positioned as a general purpose tablet, B&N will release an SDK for apps only for the Nook and will have their own app store.
Sprint’s Dan Hesse is claiming that the popularity of the iPad has created increased sales of Sprint’s wireless hotspot product.
LG’s tablet plans were leaked this week. LG’s 8.9″ tablet will run Android Honeycomb on a dual-core Tegra2 CPU. Look for the device in Q1 2011.
According to a recent study, Apple owns 95.5% of the tablet market. I guess that isn’t too surprising considering there really isn’t any competition out now. It will be interesting to see how that changes next year when a barage of Android tablets hit the market.
Just for Laughs
What does your phone say about you? This nicely sums it up!
And that’s the news… Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!