A new report from analyst firm New Street Research says that T-Mobile and Sprint will have to merge lest one of them is forced to fold.
According to the report neither Sprint nor T-Mobile can last for too long, saying that both lack the revenue needed to cover fixed costs. The firm also doubts if either carrier can gain enough new revenue, saying both need to raise an additional billion in the next 18 months to stay competitive. “Both companies aren’t independently viable at the same time,” the report says. “We show that there simply isn’t enough revenue in the industry for four carriers to cover their fixed costs unless there is a significant shift in market share.” Remaining competitive, according to the analyst firm, would include buying more spectrum for both carriers.
New Street Research also makes an argument that in other countries such as Greece, the Netherlands, and Austria, consumer prices dropped when the wireless market consolidated to fewer competing carriers. The argument seems to echo Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son’s comments that Sprint would start a “massive price war” if it was allowed to merge with T-Mobile.
The biggest obstacles to that merger, as New Street points out, and most of us know by now, are the FTC and FCC. Neither government agency wants to see the U.S. carrier market shrink to three carriers. And their arguments make sense. From its current position T-Mobile has been able to shake up the industry with its Un-carrier plans. There is a legitimate fear that a combined Sprint/T-Mobile wouldn’t make the moves the current T-Mobile is making.
Maybe if one carrier was on the verge of failing the government agencies would be more receptive to the idea of a merger, but by then it may be too late. New Street says that at that point the merged carrier wouldn’t be able to challenge the AT&T and Verizon duopoly.
The New Street report is fairly depressing in that it makes a fairly reasonable argument for a Sprint/T-Mobile merger. It’s hard to see that merger being great for us as users. Sure, there’s promises of a “massive price war,” and the examples from other countries hint that maybe it would be a good thing, but there’s always a risk that promises won’t be kept and that the U.S. will prove the exception to the rule.
For now we’ll just have to hope that at least one of them can pull in the revenue needed to live and compete against AT&T and Verizon. The question is, which one would you like to see survive if one of them has to fail?
Yuri Iwatani Kane has been one of the more reliable and insightful reporters covering the Apple beat over the years, so her forthcoming book on Apple promises to be an interesting read. Entitled “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs,” it comes out later this month. A bit about Tim Cook’s assumption of power was recently posted in the [#protected_0#]:
Cook proved a methodical and efficient CEO. Unlike Jobs, who seemed to operate on gut, Cook demanded hard numbers on projected cost and profits. Whereas Jobs had reveled in divisiveness, Cook valued collegiality and teamwork. Cook was also more visible and transparent with investors.
Kane makes the case that Cook’s management style is the polar opposite of Steve Jobs. Jobs had a reputation for mercurial behavior, emphasizing intuition and creativity in solving problems and identifying opportunities. Cook, who’s been responsible for developing Apple’s unmatched supply chain, is clearly a quant, driven more by methodology and data analysis.
And contrary to his cool public demeanor, it’s clear that Cook – perhaps by virtue of his keen analytical abilities – comes off to many under his authority as a tough manager.
But the human side of Cook is also on display – his drive for more corporate transparency, his emphasis on charity, and his desire to connect with Apple employees in a way that Jobs was never willing (or perhaps able) to do.
What comes across the most is that Cook is every bit as complex and nuanced a character as his predecessor. He may lack the raw charisma of Steve Jobs, but so does just about everyone else on the planet.
Are you interested in Kane’s new book? What do you think of Cook’s management style and public persona? Sound off in the comments.
Wearable technology just keeps on making the headlines, partly thanks to Samsung’s newly announced Gear 2 and 2 Neo smartwatches. As well as software features and aesthetic designs to get right, we seem to be forgetting that we still need processors to power our wearables. The battle for who will control the potentially huge wearable technology market is well and truly on.
We’ve already hit on the fact that wearable computing requires a new range of power efficient, and above all else, smaller SoCs than you’d find in a smartphone. ARM’s Cortex A and M chips are already well placed to deal with this emerging market segment, and Intel has also started to make a move with its own Quark processor and Edison development board. ARM is already a ways out in front here too, whilst Edison is a bit too large and impractical at the moment. Furthermore, ARM has also spotted another, rather large, flaw with Intel’s technology – it’s too damn hot!
According to a test conducted in ARM’s own labs, the company’s Cortex-A9 processor, the same core which has found its way into a number of dual and quad-core smartphone SoCs, can been seen running at a very cool 28.4oC without any cooling solutions applied. That’s pretty much perfect for something you’re likely to wear on your wrist.
The same can’t be said when it comes to Intel’s turn, its Galileo development board, the predecessor to the new Edison development kit which are both powered by an Intel Quark X1000 chip, reaches a blistering 54.9 oC whilst just being used to turn a light on and off. Ouch!
To be fair to Intel, the board would be slimmed down substantially before being used in any product, and some of the heat is probably being generated by additional bits of hardware on the board, including whatever is converting the mains voltage to 5V (ARM’s chip is just running from a battery). Never the less, ARM raises an excellent point regarding the temperature of our wearable technology. Wearable technology not only necessitates smaller and more power efficient chips, but also SoCs which will run cool when left on for long periods of time, whilst still being able to power all the things we want our smartwatches to do. Talk about a tall order.
Check out the video below for a closer look at ARM’s temperature test, as well as some cool thermal imaging clips (badum tish).
It’s only natural for rivals to take shots at each other, but it’s better when done with good taste and perhaps a pinch of humor and sarcasm. This pair of [#protected_0#] ads for the Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 tries to do just that as it tries to emphasize how Samsung’s bigger or thinner devices are better than Apple‘s.
The first video is much an advertisement for LeBron James as it is for Samsung’s latest S Pen-powered phablet. Here, Samsung touches on a rather contentious subject of screen size, pitting the Galaxy Note 3‘s 5.7 inches against the iPhone 5s’ 4 inches. Users might be on the fence if bigger is indeed better, but Samsung tries to make up for that by boasting of the Galaxy Note 3′s Full HD capabilities. In contrast, the iPhone 5s doesn’t even reach HD resolutions, but in terms of pixel density, it’s practically on par. But of course, what Galaxy Note would be complete without the S Pen, which is another factor in favor of Samsung’s offering.
The second ad goes in the opposite direction and plays on how thin the Galaxy TabPRO 10.1 is, which Samsung is claiming to be thinner than the iPad Air, which in turn is thinner than a pencil. Again the HD quality of the screen is mentioned, though this time the iPad Air is equally capable. But more than that, the Galaxy TabPRO boasts of the new multi-tasking features that debuted in this latest generation of Samsung tablets. Head on to our recent hands-on to see what this prosumer tablet has to offer.
Of course, some users might hold that what Samsung holds to be selling features, like screen size or multi-tasking, might actually be liabilities that users neither want nor need. The good news is that, at least on Android, users will have a choice of device and features.
For 2014, HTC is betting on more devices and a renewed focus on marketing. After “years of development,” the company will launch its first wearable device by the end of the year.
Company executives talked to Bloomberg about the challenges and opportunities awaiting HTC, after a year of falling sales and financial losses. To fix the problems that beset it in 2013, HTC promised to diversify its product range and focus more on marketing. CFO and head of global sales Chang Chialin declared himself “positive and optimistic”, while Chairwoman Wang said the company would finally release a wearable by Christmas.
After “years of development and technical challenges” HTC is positive it solved some of the core problems that affect the wearable user experience, including battery life:
Many years ago, we started looking at smartwatches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems. These are customer-centric problems.
Wang admitted that, despite bold statements from last year, marketing is still not a major preoccupation for HTC: “To tell the truth, we never think marketing is that important — this is really not very good.” The company plans to use its marketing budget smarter, though it won’t necessarily increase spending. Last year, HTC contracted Robert Downey Jr for a billion marketing campaign, with great fanfare and little palpable results.
Finally, CFO Chialin stated HTC is currently fixing its portfolio in the mid- and low-end, segments he says HTC neglected in the past.
If the potential of a [#protected_0#]concerns you, it may be time to start turning the corner. Whether a deal actually happens remains to be seen, but both parties seem open to it. At CES, T-Mobile CEO John Legere commented that the T-Mobile way is here to stay, regardless of any merger. Now, he’s soft-selling it to us by touting the benefits of such a deal.
Legere recently made comments on Bloomberg West that seemed to signal his consolidation that the merger was likely. Rather than discuss the possibility, he was boasting of the benefits any deal between his company and Sprint wold bring to consumers. Rather than discuss customer service or plan benefits, he spoke of the one thing carriers covert more than any other: spectrum.
“If the government wants us to have a competitive environment, you are going to make sure that the duopoly doesn’t use their prowess to crush the little guys and have this sub-1 GHz spectrum be moved all to them” Legere said. He went on to add “We either need more spectrum and capability, a lot more investment, or we need consolidation”. That sounds a lot like a CEO relegating himself to leading a new charge, or at least understanding his company’s place int he big water they find themselves in.
Legere didn’t come right out and say a merger was likely, though. He said there were “multiple versions of consolidation in the industry that are possible ways for us to grow.” He went on to add “from a standpoint of companies consolidating to get better scale, I’m open to looking at options”, but he may not have the choice. Reports put T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom and Sprint’s Softbank in direct talks about a buyout/merger. The FCC, however, has the last word — and they don’t look favorably on three big carriers.
In case you were wondering, you can use your new Mac Pro on its side, [#protected_0#] on Apple’s Knowledgebase. But why would you want to? Read on to find out.
The fan system works both horizontally and vertically, according to Apple, though users are cautioned to accommodate for unrestricted airflow into the base and out the exhaust at the top. Apple also recommends placing them side by side – not end to end – and leaving a gap of several inches between them.
The round shape makes the Mac Pro prone to rolling on its side, obviously, so Apple also recommends securing them. Apple also suggests keeping the I/O port panel – normally oriented on the back of the device – accessible if you lay the Mac Pro on its side.
So Apple has blessed the use of the Mac Pro on its side, but the question is why? In short, Apple is guiding for the use of the Mac Pro in server settings.
The Mac mini remains Apple’s go to solution for workgroup and small business server configurations; you can order a quad-core Mac mini for 9 and get a system that includes an unlimited user license and all the software you need for e-mail, file server, publishing web content and much more.
But the Mac Pro has practical applications for companies looking to build render farms for large-scale visual effects processing, and organizations doing scientific research and other tasks that scale well with the Mac Pro’s parallel processing architecture. The Mac Pro’s Thunderbolt 2 expansion ports can also serve as a direct network bridge, further enhancing the system’s ability to carrying large amounts of data across a network.
We’re still waiting for third parties to unveil specific rank mount gear for the Mac Pro, but I’m willing to bet it’s only a matter of time – probably once the Mac Pro is in more widespread use, once Apple’s manufacturing backlog has been dealt with.
Are you interested in setting up a Mac Pro render farm or some other large-scale installation? Sound off in the comments, I want to hear from you.
Typo, the Ryan Seacrest-backed business responsible for developing the Typo Keyboard attachment designed to work with the iPhone, has responded to a recently-filed lawsuit by BlackBerry, the beleaguered Canadian smartphone manufacturer.
We are aware of the lawsuit that Blackberry filed against Typo Products. Although we respect Blackberry and its intellectual property, we believe that Blackberry’s claims against Typo lack merit and we intend to defend the case vigorously. We are excited about our innovative keyboard design, which is the culmination of years of development and research. The Typo keyboard has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response from the public. We are also looking forward to our product launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week and remain on track to begin shipping pre-orders at the end of January.
While Typo is set to make its official product launch at CES, the company opened its kimono a peek early last month. It’s a slide-out keyboard that attaches to the iPhone 5 and 5s like a case, providing a QWERTY-layout thumbpad.
BlackBerry wasn’t pleased. On Friday the company announced it had filed suit against Typo, calling the design “blatant infringement.”
“…we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,” said BlackBerry’s chief legal officer, Steve Zipperstein.
BlackBerry has a lot of patents for their smartphone keyboard designs, so they’re not blowing smoke, but Typo looks like it’s ready to fight. Should be interesting.
Amazon’s latest press release reads like a litany of sugary good feelings. One million new Prime customers, super quick Mayday response times, and a widely increased media library for all this holiday season. If that’s not enough, the online shopping juggernaut claims that Cyber Monday saw them complete transactions for 426 items per second, or 36.8 million items total.
There are many excitable expletives we can use to respond to those claims. They all lead back to one, which is “wow”. In items sold alone, Amazon impresses, svn on a worldwide scale. They’re also claiming that Prime now has “tens of millions” users, but All Things Daptly points out that a December 2013 estimate from CIRP put them at 16 million as of the end of September, so those “tens” may be just over the crest of 20 million, allowing for the plurality of ‘tens’.
Amazon is also touting they now have “more than 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games” up for grabs, with their TV and Movie catalog growing from 33,000 to 40,000 titles. Their Kindle lineup was a top seller, with Amazon noting the Kindle Fire HD, HDX 7-inch, and HDX 8.9-inch outpacing all other tablets this holiday season. We find that hard to believe, but at the price point they’re offered at, it’s plausible.
Interestingly, Amazon says that over half of their customers went shopping via a mobile device. According to their metrics, customers ordered “more than five toys per second” via mobile between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Consoles like the Xbox One and Playstation 4 sold 1,000 units per minute at their peak. We’re having another “wow” moment.
Amazon also made an interesting comment about limiting Prime memberships during “peak periods” so existing members weren’t affected by the crush of new members. We’re not clear on when a “peak” time for memberships is, or how Amazon would limit them, but it was interesting commentary nonetheless. Unfortunately, they may have been foiled by the UPS/FedEx debacle this year.
Amazon also has some interesting factoids relating sales to other nonsense, like how Eminem album sales relate to actual M&M’s, but it’s all just a fun way to boast a bit about a great holiday shopping season. For the everyday user, the growing media catalog is great, we’d just like to be able to view it on our non-Amazon mobile devices. The continued use of the word “exclusive” in the press release only highlighted how much Amazon covets the Kindle/Prime handshake.
As much as we want triple-A game titles on Android, porting existing games from consoles to mobile devices is no walk in the park. This is the sentiment expressed by game developer and publisher Namco Bandai as it tries to negotiate porting over Dark Souls to mobile platforms.
For what it’s worth, Namco Bandai says it wants to bring the game to mobile. And who really wouldn’t want to bring an award winning game to more users, particularly those who might not own a PlayStation or Xbox console. But a profit-oriented point of view doesn’t really translate to a developer’s perspective. And this is the proverbial wall that Namco Bandai is hitting, with game developer From Software a bit hesitant to make such a commitment.
Here you won’t find the usual reasons about device or version fragmentation that gets thrown around in app development, especially that of Android. Instead, game developers are faced with obstacles that strike at the very heart of the gaming experience. One major concern is that of game controls. According to Namco Bandai, From Software is, at its very soul, a console-oriented studio. The implication is that the controls for Dark Soul are heavily biased towards game controllers, and not touchscreens. While there are definitely game controller accessories for smartphones these days, they are still not common enough to be as ubiquitous as, say, chargers or battery packs. Another, and perhaps deeper consideration is that mobile gaming doesn’t exactly lend itself well to long gaming sessions that require intense focus. A mobile game version would need to be a little bit more casual and have shorter spurts, something that Dark Souls needs to be heavily adjusted for.
The good news is that at least there is the intent and, presumably, the communication to make this idea into a reality. Unfortunately, it will probably take a long while before it bears any fruit that we can get our hands on.