Weekly Wrap - The Bad, the Good and the Recovery
By TheFeature , Fri Aug 01 14:01:35 GMT 2003

Mickey goes mobile, hotspot is hot (again), and much more...


Despite some slightly disappointing financial results from the equipment manufactures in Europe there seems to be the glimmer of a recovery taking place as carriers make money, one wireless company achieves a successful public offering and venture capital returns to the sector.

The wireless widget of the week is mobile instant messaging as Sprint PCS and AOL, Research in Motion and IBM make their very handy but very annoying instant messaging services available on mobile devices, However, if you are looking for a new phone, NEC just launched a new high definition mobile hand set. The 515 will be available from AT& T in the US.

MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators have become all the rage. More specifically, companies such as MTV are building targeted MVNOs which will offer their audience mobile services. The new comers are British Telecom and Disney. Not a bad idea considering the cross marketing opportunities, that is, unless you are a parent.

Telecommunication vendor bellwether Nokia reported second quarter profit of 624 million Euros down 28 percent on the same period last year while German giant Siemens announced that it will pink slip 2,300 or 8 percent of the work force over the next 14 months. However, while the equipment manufactures say it is difficult to make a crust - or in Nokia's case a killing - the carriers are finally beginning to get their house in order.

It seems that equipment manufacturers such as Nokia and Siemens are getting squeezed at both ends as a weak dollar makes their gadgets expensive to consumers and carriers alike. Furthermore, carriers have built out their networks and are tightening the purse strings. Is this the beginning of the end of the Finish reign over the celly? Not likely. While profits dropped unit shipments rose 14 per cent.

Furthermore, AT&T is building out its GSM service. In fact, Ma Bell, is probably at least partly responsible for the largest growth of GSM subscribers - 81 percent - according to EMC since 1997. CDMA took just 13.8 percent.

Hotspot provider iPass took $98 million in its IPO. Somewhat reminiscent of the good old days before the bust shares soured 30 percent on the first day of trading. The company is now valued at over a billion dollars.

Since the VCs can now see the light (and a ton of money) at the end of the tunnel investments are up 14 percent for the second quarter of the year the first increase since 2000. So have they learned their lesson? Not a bit of it. They have, as usual, all invested in the same kinds (WIFI) companies.