Weekly Wrap: Strong Earnings Continue
By Carlo Longino, Fri Apr 30 09:45:00 GMT 2004

Earnings continue to come in from a solid first quarter, device sales figures, and more...


First-quarter earnings season continued this week, with generally positive news coming out of the industry. Carriers Orange, KDDI and Verizon all reported increased subscribers, revenues and profits, though TeliaSonera didn't fare so well. Hardware manufacturers Siemens, NEC and Matsushita all enjoyed strong device sales in the quarter, powering profits at all three.

This week also saw the release of first-quarter sales figures for handsets and PDAs. While the handset market grew 40 percent bigger than in last year's first quarter, Nokia's missteps made it lag the market and cost it 5.7 percent of its market share. It's still the clear leader, with Motorola, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson and LG, respectively, following behind, though all 5 recorded share gains in the quarter.

Sony Ericsson also announced this week that Miles Flint, currently president of marketing at Sony Europe, would take over as president of the JV from Katsumi Ihara in June.

PDA sales continued to slide, off 33 percent from the previous quarter and 12 percent from the year-ago quarter. Sales rose, though, in Europe, either 25 or 33 percent from last year's first quarter, depending on whose numbers you believe. Clearly, smartphones are eating into the PDA market, as their sales rose 83 percent in Europe in the first quarter.

Hard drives in mobile devices could shake things up, unlocking a whole new set of advanced features. But analysts IDC say they're not yet viable, because they're too big, too expensive and use too much power. One feature that's already here is printing direct from mobile devices, and the Mobile Imaging and Printing Consortium said this week that device makers Nokia, Samsung and Siemens were joining it efforts.

Nextel introduced a novel feature this week, saying that when one of its subscribers goes over the amount of minutes allotted in their plan, it would simply bump them up to the next teir and charge them the difference, rather than the onerous overage charges most US carriers favor. Nextel, through its Boost Mobile unit, and other US carriers, are turning attention to teenagers as a growth target, a study said this week.

Elsewhere on the site, David James brings us up to speed on 3G in China, Mark Frauenfelder brings news of a Wi-Fi positioning system and Howard Rheingold talks about wireless cafe culture.