Weekly Wrap: Analyze This
By Carlo Longino, Fri Mar 05 09:00:00 GMT 2004

A few analyst reports, well, analyze mobile video, Wi-Fi pricing, mobile operating systems and carrier techno-speak, and more...

Analysts the Yankee Group said this week that while there are some factors currently blocking the uptake of mobile video services, video will be a big business once the obstacles are overcome. There aren't many video-enabled handsets in circulation in Europe, and carriers' current video efforts revolve around streaming and downloaded video rather than more interactive media like video calls. But the firm says that once more handsets are available and more people have them -- making video calls viable -- content creation and sharing will power the mobile video movement.

Another analyst report came out this week blaming carriers' high prices for stifling Wi-Fi hotspot growth in Europe. The Kerton Group says average access charges on the Continent are 4 times that of the US, and while carrier-owned hotpost offer some QoS benefits, the lack of independent providers (and resultant competitive pricing) is hindering the market overall, and in turn, the carriers' revenues.

Mobile browser upstart Opera announced this week that two handsets for the Chinese market would feature its browser, and also have a dedicated Opera-branded button for one-touch access to it. It's a significant announcement for Opera as it's the company's first foray into the massive Chinese market, but also because it's the first time an application developer has waded into the branded button arena, something that's been a point of contention between mobile carriers and handset manufacturers.

Transatlantic carrier T-Mobile has said that integrating Wi-Fi and cellular networks will be a priority, and has committed to combining its resources to create a single multiformat network. T-Mobile has implemented roaming between its US and European hotspots, and will soon offer a combo Wi-Fi/cellular data card.

But is the jargon that T-Mobile and the other operators are using to market their services overwhelming enterprise customers? The Register and IDC seem to think so. An IDC report says that carriers need to sell 3G not as a technology, but as "faster data" that enables specific mobile data cases. Some people seemed to learn this lesson in the consumer market after the WAP debacle, but enterprise IT pros' tech knowledge may not always extend to mobile telecommunications.

Our final analyst report this week is from ARCchart, which gave some predictions for the smartphone OS market that at first glance seemed dire, but really didn't say a whole lot. The report says that the handset market is going to become overtly commoditized, and the entry of PC and PDA makers used to operating in such conditions will shift things in favor of Microsoft. Symbian, though, they admit, will still be the market leader, and Linux won't have an insignificant piece of the pie either.

US carrier Verizon Wireless said this week that its subscribers could now have their calls forwarded to the in-seat phones on the planes of a number of US airlines, and make and receive calls for as little as $10 per month and 10 cents per minute. In-seat phones are rarely used because of their onerous charges ($4 to connect and $4 per minute), and road warriors often grumble about not being able to use their mobiles while in flight, so this seems like a well-made match that could be a key differentiator for Verizon.

NTT DoCoMo's been popping up in the news a lot lately, what with their stake in AT&T Wireless and its takeover. The carrier is now rumored to be pulling out of Hutchison's 3 carrier since it hasn't yet offered i-mode services. Other rumors see the top Japanese carrier bidding for European carrier mmO2. On the home front, DoCoMo has launched a flat-rate data plan to compete with KDDI, who's been adding subscribers to its 1x EV-DO network in far greater numbers than DoCoMo's 3G FOMA network.

Elsewhere on the site this week, Steve Wallage talks about operators' soft 3G launches, Justin Hall fills us in on a small movement in mobile games, Mark Frauenfelder sounds out the future of radar and David Pescovitz asks WHYNET?