There are new developments every day in the mobile and cellular world. Mobile is the “hot” button in almost all electronic products, so mobile developments and business activity dominate the news. And, some recent happenings will have a serious impact on the industry.
Apple Buys Intrinsity
Who the devil is Intrinsity? It’s a small chip-design company based in Austin, Texas, specializing in processors. It designed Samsung’s Hummingbird processor, which is based upon the ARM processor, but Intrinsity modified the design to for higher speeds and lower power consumption. Some people think that this design is the basis for Apple’s A4 processor in the iPad. In any case, it appears that Apple wants to maintain full control over what goes into its products, both hardware and software.
This is a curious purchase given that Apple bought P.A. Semi last year for its processor prowess. But several top people have left that division, so I guess Apple had to do something. Maybe Apple is just trying to keep up with Google, which recently bought Agnilux, another chip-design company peopled with Apple ex-employees who are no doubt working on a super-fast low-power device for Android.
Apple Adds Ads To Apps
You knew it was coming—ads on your cell phone. There have been a few attempts already, but Apple is moving one step further along the path to what could become a blizzard of wireless ads with its new iAd mobile device advertising service. These ads will be part of the apps sold on the iTunes Web site. App developers can choose to include ads, and the incentives may be good enough for some developers to do so. The big news is that Apple’s minimum ad buy is $1 million. Most mobile ads cost in the low hundred-thousand-dollar range. It will be interesting to see who buys these ads and how well they do.
HP Buys Palm
Palm made the very first smart phone as an extension of its highly successful Palm Pilot, and it was a big hit. Then along came the RIM BlackBerry, which knocked Palm out of the running. With the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and all the other dozens of smart-phone contenders, it’s no wonder Palm has been struggling.
Last year, Palm made a valiant effort to get back into the game with its Pre and Pixi models. Despite the fact that these phones are very competitive, they have not sold well. I have played with the Pre phones, and their webOS is a far sight better than some of the other operating-system (OS) presentations out there (see the figure). Yet Palm lost its mojo and the visibility that makes iPhone and BlackBerry the smart-phone leaders.
Continue to next page.
Now along comes HP. It decided to fork over about $1.2 billion for Palm, which will become part of HP’s personal-computer business. HP also will have full access to Palm’s patents, technology, and WebOS software—not a bad deal. Now HP has to turn it into a more viable business. HP already sells some iPaq cell phones, which use the Microsoft Mobile OS, but they aren’t big sellers. And with PC competitor Dell expected to offer some Android phones in the near future, I suppose HP wanted to stay in the game.
With the expected, enormous smart-phone growth and huge volumes, what big player doesn’t want a piece of the action? A new Parks Associates report predicts more than 1 billion smart-phone users by 2014. Maybe with the HP name and cache, the company can convert the Palm phones or successors into successful mobile competitors.
Nagging Net Neutrality
Net neutrality involves the controversial proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the Internet by imposing rules and regulations that will guarantee anyone access to anything at any time. That sounds like a good deal to anyone who hears it. But broadband suppliers and Internet service providers (ISPs) will have to upgrade their networks more quickly and eliminate any controls that attempt to manage massive video and gaming data flows at the expense of other users—and do so without controlling pricing for heavy users.
While net neutrality is mainly applicable to broadband suppliers, it is extremely important to wireless data carriers. With wireless data applications expanding by double-digit rates annually, they’re expecting more and more mobile video, gaming, and other high-speed data apps. If 3G and 4G data suppliers can’t manage their networks, what’s to prevent someone from controlling a network with long, heavy downloads, thereby potentially closing it off to other users?
This new regulation is looming despite the fact that the FCC recently lost a court case against Comcast over this issue. Even though the court told the FCC that it attempted to exceed its authority, the FCC is still hell-bent to add regulation of the Internet to its list of successes. If the FCC decides to reclassify ISPs as telecommunications companies, they will be regulated.
The FCC feels that this reclassification is needed to fulfill some of the promises of its national broadband plan. I wish the FCC would show us why the Internet needs to be regulated. The FCC should give us some specific examples or abuses that require regulation. Or, it should provide details about how regulation will help broadband access, especially mobile wireless.
Wi-Fi Extends Its Reach
Every laptop and netbook has Wi-Fi, so it’s no surprise that it is the number-one way that we connect mobile devices to the Internet. Even though 3G data services from the primary carriers are growing in number and speed, they are small percentage of Wi-Fi mobile users. And with more and more smart phones incorporating Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi phenomenon will only grow.
ABI Research projects that there will be a half-billion Wi-Fi-enabled smart phones, representing 90% of the total sold. On top of that, the Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced its Wi-Fi Direct standard, which lets Wi-Fi users talk directly to one another rather than through an access point. There’s no telling what new smart-phone applications that will bring.