Archive for January 2009
So, you live in NYC (212 and 646 area codes) and say you have a hankering for Subway sandwiches. What are your options? You could walk, wait, order, pay and then eat or you could just text, wait until your order is ready, walk, skip the line, pick your order and don’t worry with the change. Hmm, the second one looks like a breeze.
Well, Subway thinks so too. So, it has introduced a new service called Subway Now that does exactly that. The only catch is that you have to be in NYC for now and also you have to set up your account and select your favorite sandwiches on their special website before using the text service. That certainly is the start in the right direction.
Wall Street Journal, yesterday, reported that Dell is set to enter the smartphone market (subscription required). Dell has been making prototypes based on Android and Windows Mobile platforms for more than a year. The plans are still up in the air and Dell could decide not to enter the market after all. If it does go ahead, the announcement likely to come at the Mobile World Congress next month.
If Delll does decide to enter the market, in my opinion, it should stay for the long haul and innovate to make money.It should also look at some of the Japanese manufacturers, not just look at Apple, as the report suggests. Being just another cell phone provider will not cut it, as Motorola and Palm can attest. Based on Dell’s track record, it will have to be head and shoulders better than in the PC business to survive.
KDDI Au today announced its 2009 spring lineup of 10 new phones. There are some interesting mix in that lineup from a 8.1Mpxl cameraphones from Sony Ericsson and Sharp to Casio’s new touchscreen phone with 5Mpxl camera, to a phone with integrated belt for the athletic, clumsy or forgetful amongst us. However, the most impressive is the Hitachi Wooo Ketai H001 with its 3D screen. This phone uses the 3D LDC technologybuilt by Hitachi and can display both photos and videos in 3D. The phone comes with 3.1 inches screen, 5Mpxl camera, TV tuner microSD card slot and ewallet. All these and other phones are unfortunately only available in Japan and will be released in the next quarter. You can see the gallery of phone (with Japanese text) here.
[Via Akihabara News]
We all know that Apple is working on a new version of iPhone but until now we did not have any evidence. According to MacRumors, the new OS upgrade for the iPhone 3G has revealed a new hardware called iPhone2,1 which is different than iPhone1,2 as the current iPhone model is known. Also, PinchMedia, an advertisement network is reporting that it has served some ads to devices with that product id. If these rumors are true and Apple sticks to its typical release cycle, we can expect to see a new iPhone out in June or July of this year. Let’s hope that it is true and this time around Apple has figured out how to do multi-tasking and cut-and-paste.
[Via Boy Genius Report]
According to some marketing papers that a reader over at TmoNews forum was able to get and photograph, the Samsung Memoir, aka T929, will likely launch on February 25th on the T-Mobile network. We saw part of the phone earlier, but now, we have the full monty. It is targeted towards the 30-45 year old, “family focused amateur photographers”, whatever that means. Also, it will be priced at $299 after $50 Mail-In Rebate. Based on that price-tag, if either T-Mobile or Samsung was hoping to make money, than they better look in the mirror again.
At the Mobile World Congress, next month, General Mobile will launch DSTL1, its first Android-based, dual SIM phone. The phone is still undergoing hardware changes to accomodate Android’s requirement of 5 hardware buttons and also the resolution might be increased if that proves to be an issue. However, the overall specs (listed below) and the ability to have two SIMs with independent standby modes, will prove to be an attractive offer for some consumers.
This phone will ship in Q3 2009, pricing and availability are yet to be announced.
As we all know the US mobile handset market (and most markets worldwide too), is very heavily subsidized by the carriers. That is what allows us the consumer to buy a $500 phone for $199. The carriers have a vested interest in subsidizing the handset, that’s what keeps the customers (both new and old) coming in and paying higher monthly fees. The handset makers too have an interest in getting their handsets out to the consumers cheaply as it impacts their bottom line directly. But all this is at a cost. In Q3 2008, AT&T had to take nearly $1 billion hit to its bottom line due to iPhone subsidies, and that is just for one phone. Surely, the execs at the carriers would be sorely tempted to get rid of these subsidies to improve their bottom line and also reduce the huge debt they carry (nearly 50 to 70% of their assets).
However, before they do, they need to look at the Japanese mobile industry. That should certainly give them a pause. In January 2007, Softbank introduced its ‘White Plan’ which did away with subsidies for the handset in exchange for lower monthly fees. The other two carriers, DoCoMo and KDDI quickly followed suit. Since then, the handset sales in Japan have been down nearly 30%, according to Jeita, the Japanese electronics association. The average handset lifetime has also increased to 3 years.
Also, the Japanese carriers already have a healthy source of revenue other than fees, namely the charges they collect for allowing users to charge their purchases to the phone. In US, there is already a move towards building an alternate source of revenue, namely the application stores for the smartphones. However, those are primarily owned by the handset maker, not the carriers. Carriers have been slow to adopt this strategy and have had limited success with the stores they have launched.
It has to be very tempting for the US carriers to follow suit as DoCoMo is reported to announce an increase in operating profit by 20% due to reduction in subsidies for the period April-Dec 2008. However, if the US carriers followed their Japanese brethren, I believe the handset sales will be down more than 30%, more likely around 44%.
AT&T grumbling about the $900 million subsidies in its conference calls and report was not just a CEO’s vent, it was a balloon floated to test the waters. While the market and handset makers are not ready to see the subsidies go the way of dodo anytime soon, investors are chomping at the bit for that 10cents per share increase to their portfolio. There is a strong likelihood that US carriers will get rid of the subsidies, especially on the high-end phones in two to three years, if not sooner.