There is clearly a lot of positioning going on by AT&T to convince the public and U.S. regulators that its proposed acquisition of rival T Mobile from Deutsche Telecom shouldn’t be viewed as anti-competitive. One certainly might think that when two of the top leaders in any industry join forces.
If you check out the AT&T website, already there is a video of CEO Randall Stephensen discussing, among other things, his respect for regulators. There is a brief presentation of the deal that shows how consolidation has not hurt pricing. to the contrary, prices have come down since consolidation has been underway.
Add a new player to the smartphone market.
Dell unveiled the Aero earlier today and the key question will be what points of differentiation the new phone offers. It will run on Google’s Android software and that means users of this phone will have access to abut 40,000 applications. And it costs $99 if you sign-up for two years with AT&T. That’s the same price for buying the iPhone 3Gs (the older version) and Apple says its iPhone has more than 200,000 apps.
One big difference seems to be that the Dell phone will suport Adobe flash, which powers a lot of internet video. Apple has no plans to incorporate Adobe flash into its phones or tablets.
Research In Motion, the company that makes those devices that people stare at while walking through Manhattan while intermittently bumping into fellow pedestrians, reported fairly strong earnings today – albeit earnings that fell short of what the Wall Street wizards hoped to see. (Revenues grew 35% year over year, and gross margin was up to 45.7% versus 40% a year ago.)
So what was it that got the Wall Street types so worked up?
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on March 30, 2010
Verizon’s new iPhone deal with Apple is a blow to Google and its Android phone ambitions. Given a choice, most consumers would opt for iPhone over Android devices. So, the availability of a new iPhone model at Verizon sales will cut into Android sales at a crucial time — just as Google’s gaining traction in the market. That said, the recent growth in Android phones from the likes of Motorola, Sony Ericsson and HTC suggests Apple shouldn’t take its market dominance for granted. A blend of smart functionality and appealing pricing is all a user needs to opt for an Android-based model over the iPhone. Check out this article from ChannelWeb, and this one; also have a look at an article in PCWorld, which shows that Google’s got big plans for Android.
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on March 26, 2010
Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s new CEO, stopped by the newsroom today. The 44-year-old, lean, long-limbed and full of energy, proved very adept at saying a lot without revealing much. Which is his prerogative, of course, an probably the prudent course albeit disappointing to journalists. What does he think about AT&T’s problems accommodating surging iPhone usage? Vestberg doesn’t talk about competitors. What about the increasing hurdles Western companies in China are encountering? Ericsson’s been in China since 1888, Vestberg says in an artful dodge. How did Deutsche Bank’s downgrade of Ericsson shares sit with him? Vestberg respects Deutsche Bank, “We stand strong in our service offering,” etcetera. Don’t get me wrong: it was an enjoyable encounter and that’s because Vestberg is dynamic and good -natured; he also struck me as creative and flexible. Midway through the interview, his phone (a Sony Ericsson Android model) rang; it was the CFO, a role Vestberg previously held for a few years. Yet Vestberg doesn’t seem obsessed with short-term financials. Indeed, he didn’t know the details of Deutsche’s downgrade – a reassuring sign, in my mind, because the boss of a big telecommunications equipment and services provider needs to think big. The mobile universe is expanding at a phenomenal pace. but it appears we won’t see Ericsson make any jumbo acquisitions any time soon. Vestberg says wireless growth will be “organic” even as Ericsson continues to make smaller purchases in services and multi-media.
Posted by Rick Stine
on December 28, 2009
In a way, you can understand why AT&T did it. The big phone company with exclusive carrier rights for the iPhone has reportedly stopped selling the popular smartphone on its own website in the New York metropolitan area. Several websites have tried to get a straight answer out of the company and have received different reasons – from credit-card fraud to capacity problems. (You can still apparently buy the iPhone from an Apple or AT&T store). For the CNET story, click here. AT&T has acknowledged that heavy iPhone usage on its network has slowed down performance. It may also have led to an increase in dropped calls. So, the thinking may very well be: don’t make existing customers suffer more than they have already.
The only thing slightly dilutive to the embarassment that accrues from realizing I have become way too attached to my BlackBerry device is the firm knowledge I am not alone.
I am confident I am not the only person in the Americas Tuesday night, who upon noticing a too-long delay between receipt of emails, started monkeying with the instrument with increasing amounts of frustration and despair.
I am confident I am not the only person who shut the instrument off, took out the battery, and, when the thing still wouldn’t work, again carried out both procedure. I did eventually go to sleep. No messages from about 730 pm to 230 am U.S. eastern time.
Research in Motion, the company behind BlackBerry, apologized today to users for the email outage, citing technical factors.
As discouraging to the company as no doubt such outages are, they do perversely prove the loyalty and dependence of the customer base. Not bad things for a business.
Today’s WSJ piece about Apple considering launching an internet TV service underscores just how fast the television landscape is changing. Apple is almost certainly on the right track – in fact, it’s a bit late. Hulu (owned by three media firms including our own News Corp.) is already in that space, as is Netflix. In our home, we have a flat-screen TV but no cable television subscription. Instead, our television is hooked up to our computer as a second monitor, and we watch programs from Hulu and others, or borrow DVDs from the public library. We don’t miss real-time TV at all – mainly because we’re not sports aficionados. That said, the upcoming kick-off of American Idol’s new season will be the true test of our family’s TV-less experiment, which began when we moved back to the U.S. last June. While abroad, we always had cable TV and spent too many hours slumped on a couch flipping from one junky show to another. Viewers’ ability to buy the precise programs they want, whenever they want, is the way of the future. Apple, Hulu and Netflix have it right.
Posted by Rick Stine
on December 17, 2009
It started out as a bad day for Research In Motion. The maker of the popular Blackberry SmartPhones had a major crisis on its hands – Blackberry Internet Service users were without service for many hours. These are the non-corporate folks (read consumers) who contract through AT&T and Verizon, for example, to use their Blackberries. And this is just the market RIM has been going after – The Toronto Star said about half of Blackberry owners are consumers and it is the area it sees growth; nearly 80% of its new accounts in the second quarter came from consumers. It’s never great to have a service outage but the timing wasn’t great – the same day the company planned to release third-quarter earnings. After a disappointing second quarter report several months ago, the outage today could have been an ominous sign for skittish investors. But it wasn’t. RIM reported very strong earnings and a nice increase in sales that sent its shares up more than 11% in after-hours trading. The company earned $428.4 million on sales of $3.92 billion. In the 2Q, it disappointed with earnings of $475 million on sales of $3.53 billion. Many were wondering if Apple and its iPhone were stealing grabbing Smartphone share away from RIM. But RIM reported strong new account numbers today as well. It will be interesting to see if this means a slowdown for Apple or rather Smartphones cutting more broadly into traditional handheld phone sales, like those made by LG, Nokia or Motorola. The chart on the next page shows new account growth at RIM.
AT&T Wireless has a problem on its hands. No, it’s not the dropped calls that seem to plague them more than other carriers (there are three areas on my 50-mile drive to work that are dead spots for my AT&T Blackberry phone.) The problem is those damn iPhone users who are using their phones excessively.
That’s at least what the company told Newswires reporter Roger Cheng today. And to fix the problem, AT&T will introduce “incentives” to encourage iPhone users to cutback on their data usage. One solution may be to give users information on how much data they are using. The thinking is that the shockingly high numbers will startle people into lower usage. Not sure I get that one.
Here’s another solution from me – Apple, go ahead and open up competition and let iPhone users choose their carrier rather than just having AT&T. It will spread the usage out, will not have users frustrated with their phones because of dropped calls, and ultimately, competition often leads to better prices for consumers.