This Week in Mobile (December 26, 2010)

Here are the interesting things going on in the mobile industry with my usual commentary.

Carriers
Verizon LTE

It is looking like Verizon is going to be showing off LTE handsets at CES in January. There were some subtle signs but HTC has pretty blatantly stated that on January 6 they will be showing off an LTE device, most probably the “Droid Incredible HD”, which is an updated Evo.  Some leaked images of the device have been floating around with a clear 4G LTE indicator in the status bar.  Update:  The device will be called the “Thunderbolt 4G”.

Verizon COO Jon Stratton also mentioned that Motorola  has a 4G handset in the works, but I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.  It would be surprising if they weren’t.  All handset manufacturers must be working on a LTE handset, the question is when they will ship.  The only major manufacturer that will likely NOT ship an LTE handset in 2011 is Apple.

The big open question with LTE handsets are:

  • What will the battery life be with LTE?  Can a user get through a day without needing to recharge?
  • What will be the costs to the consumer?  Sprint is now charging $10 extra per month for WiMax service.  Verizon will undoubtably have a tiered pricing plan but how will it compete?

Net Neutrality

The FCC has put together new net neutrality rules have some implications for wireless carriers.  Specifically wireless providers:

  • cannot block users from accessing any site
  • cannot block Internet calling services
  • must publicly disclose their policies
  • can manage how they deal with network congestion

The second point is interesting as it protects services like Google Voice and Skype, but the last one is the fuzzy one that leaves all kinds of open loopholes.

Tablets

The BlackBerry PlayBook probably won’t ship until at least March.  We know this because RIM said that they expect revenue from the tablet in Q1 of their fiscal year, which starts in March.  Just in time for the iPad 2’s release.  It will be interesting to see how they compete.  I imagine iPlayBook ads will be saying “this is why we’re better than iPad” and iPad ads saying “this is why we’re awesome”.  This is why PlayBook won’t come close to denting Apple’s numbers.

Google

Nexus One owners should expect to see an OTA upgrade to Gingerbread (Android 2.3) in the coming weeks.  All other phones will have to wait until the OEM updates their shells on top of Android which often takes months.

The LG Optimus 2x (formally “Star”) dual-core Android phone looks like its going to find a home with T-Mobile in March.  The specs of this device sound awesome, but I’m still curious about battery life.

Microsoft

Microsoft announced that they have shipped 1.5MM Windows Phone 7 devices worldwide in the first six weeks after release. However, they did not say that they activated that many phones.  It’s unclear how many are actually in users hands or on retailers shelves.

It looks like none of those 1.5MM are Dell’s Venue Pro which Dell has delayed, again!, until 2011.  The Venue Pro was the sexiest of WP7 devices but early units have been plagued with problems.

WP7 on Nokia devices?  A well regarded source of information about all things Nokia is reporting that Nokia will release WP7 devices until they can get their own smartphone OS (Meego) together.  Since Nokia’s new CEO is an ex Microsoft exec, a lot of people are reporting this as credible. I find it unlikely to happen.  Nokia was adamant that they weren’t going to use Android because they didn’t want to be beholden to Google, so why would they want to be tied to Microsoft instead?  Nokia is going through hard times, they just laid off 1800 worldwide, but they are still the largest mobile phone creator in the world by far (we tend to forget that here in the US).  If they want to control their own destiny, which makes sense, they can ride out the time until they have a competitive OS.  Hopefully that won’t be too long though.

Misc

An interesting fact in an Economist article about spreading mobile to poorer nations.

SOMETIME in the next few months, the number of mobile phones in use will exceed 3.3 billion, or half the world’s population. No technology has ever spread faster around the globe: the mobile phone took less than two decades to reach this degree of penetration.

Commerce

Google purchased mobile payments company Zetawire.  Zetawire was an early stage startup focusing on mobile payments but little else is known about them.

Visa released an iPhone app to allow retailers to deliver special offers to Visa cardholders.

And that’s the news…  Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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