Weekly Wrap: Smartphone Gets a Little Smarter
By Carlo Longino, Fri Jul 25 11:53:00 GMT 2003

Rumors swirl about the first major-label MS smartphone, Lucent wins big but losses continue, and more...

The rumor mill was spinning fast this week as speculation mounted that Motorola would later this year release a Microsoft Smartphone-powered device, making it the first top-five manufacturer to do so. It looks like the phone will be produced by Taiwanese contract manufacturer Chi Mei, and pictures of the device circulated on specialist Web sites this week. One story said the phone would be sold by Verizon Wireless in the US and feature a Qualcomm dual-mode GSM/CDMA chipset, also making it the first device to hop both standards. Orange will reportedly sell the device in Europe.

Some more quarterly results came out this week, with Lucent announcing its 13th straight quarterly loss. The company had already abandoned its goal of turning a profit in the current fiscal year, saying it will happen some time in fiscal 2004, which starts in October. The company did, however, announce it had won a USD 1 billion contract from US carrier Sprint to enhance and upgrade its CDMA1x network. Chipmaker Qualcomm also posted its results from the latest quarter this week, posting a profit of USD 191.7 million, compared to a USD 13.8 million loss last year. But the company said it expects to ship only 19 to 21 million chips in the current quarter, when analysts were expecting 21 to 23 million, reflecting slower CDMA growth in India and China and increased competition from the likes of Samsung, Texas Instruments, and Nokia in the CDMA chip market.

Speaking of Nokia, word came this week that the company will ship its N-Gage mobile video game device in the US in October, at an expected price of USD 300. Two online stores, Gamestop and EBgames, are already taking pre-orders.

UK device manufacturer Sendo this week dropped its lawsuit against European carrier Orange, after Orange supplier Texas Instruments licensed the Sendo technology in question. The dispute evidently revolved around a circuit board design, and is separate from Sendo's ongoing suit against Microsoft.

European carrier mmO2 announced its latest results this week, attracting 500,000 new customers in the last quarter, doubling analyst expectations. The company also said it was investigating possibilities to set up a pan-European alliance to counter a similar move by Telefonica Moviles, T-Mobile, Orange, and Telecom Italia Mobile, which of course was a counter itself to Vodafone's ubiquitous presence.

Also in the UK, prime MVNO Virgin Mobile reported its strongest-ever quarter in term of subscriber additions, adding 231,554 net new subscribers in the quarter, a 35% gain over last year and bringing its total number of users to 2.9 million. Funnily enough, UK wireline carrier BT, which spun off its mobile operations as mmO2 a few years back, is looking to get in on the MNVO game, using T-Mobile's network, which of course also powers Virgin Mobile.