RIM Down Despite Higher Net Adds
By Maisie Ramsay
Shares in Research In Motion (RIM) were down more than 16 percent at one point today after the company said its quarterly earnings would come in at the low end of its prior forecast, even though it saw strong subscriber growth.
RIM now expects fourth-quarter subscriber additions to be more than 20 percent higher than the 2.9 million it had previously forecast. The company attributed the outperformance to new products, lowered channel inventory and strong post-holiday sales.
RIM had record levels of subscriber additions in December and continued to see strong levels after the holiday season. “RIM achieved a very strong start to the holiday buying season and the momentum carried on stronger than expected during the past seven weeks despite a seasonally slower timeframe and the challenging economic environment,” said CEO Jim Balsillie in a statement.
However, RIM expects revenue to be at or near the midpoint of its previously predicted range, with gross margin and earnings per share coming in at the low end of the guidance range.
UBS analyst Maynard Um said that while strong net addition guidance may be better than anticipated, the revenue, gross margin and earnings per share estimates were below expectations, raising questions about pricing pressure. The research firm previously noted that returns of the higher-end Storm may be turning into sales for the older Curve.
RIM expects to report fourth-quarter results on April 2.
Certicom Back in RIM’s Hands
By Wireless Week Staff
Now it looks like Certicom will go to Research In Motion (RIM) after all. VeriSign did not exercise its right to match an offer by RIM, which was $3 (CND) per share versus VeriSign’s $2.10 (CND) per share offer.
The saga has been going on for months. In December, Certicom opposed RIM’s overture to buy it for $1.50 (CDN) per share and sought an injunction, alleging RIM failed to make proper disclosures.
Then it looked as though VeriSign won the bid, offering about 40 percent more than what RIM had offered. Now RIM topped that, and VeriSign is entitled to a $4 million (CND) termination fee.
Certicom provides elliptic curve cryptography used in government communications.
Obama Lobbied Intel CEO on Stimulus
By Marcy Gordon, AP Business Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama lobbied the head of Intel to talk up the more than $800 billion economic recovery package moving through Congress, the chief executive of the world’s biggest chip maker said Tuesday.
Paul Otellini said Obama “encouraged” him in a brief phone call Monday to publicly support the stimulus plan that includes billions in public spending to create jobs as well as for unemployment benefits, food stamps, health care and other programs to help victims of the worst recession in decades.
The legislation cleared the Senate Tuesday afternoon and pointed toward House-Senate negotiations that are expected to be difficult.
In reaching out to Otellini, Obama was touching all bases in his campaign for the stimulus, which he said in a televised news conference Monday night must be enacted to avoid deepening the crisis “as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans.”
Obama lobbied Congress from Florida Tuesday, declaring that Americans are out of patience with Washington gridlock as lawmakers haggle over legislative details.
Otellini said he believed the package has very strong aspects and “I think in the aggregate I do” support it. But he acknowledged that he tends to prefer investment over spending and indicated there were parts of the plan he wouldn’t fully endorse, without providing further details.
“We’re not looking for help,” he told reporters after a speech in which he announced Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel’s plans to spend $7 billion upgrading its factories over the next two years – a sign that the downturn hasn’t extinguished chip makers’ lust for cutting-edge equipment.
But the stimulus plan’s commitment to building infrastructure will help restore economic confidence to lift the country and spark investment by the private sector, Otellini said.
“I don’t see a snapback,” or speedy economic recovery, but it makes sense for Intel to make a $7 billion investment in the face of the downturn, giving the company “a huge competitive advantage,” he said.
Otellini, who first met Obama recently at a dinner in Washington, called the president “very quick” and lauded his ability to poke fun at himself.
Verizon Updates Prepaid Plans
By Monica Alleven
It looks like the industry’s prepaid players are getting some more competition from Verizon Wireless. The nation’s largest carrier today announced new prepaid calling plans, including one with unlimited talk.
The Prepaid Unlimited Talk plan includes no long-term contract and gives customers unlimited calling to anyone on any network for $3.99 daily access charged on the day calls are made and received. The new Prepaid Basic plan is designed for more infrequent wireless users, and with that plan, customers pay 25 cents per minute of talk and 20 cents per text message sent and received.
The prepaid sector has become more competitive as consumers analyze their budgets in a down economy. So far, Verizon Wireless has not been seen as particularly aggressive in the sector, while AT&T promotes its GoPhone and Sprint targets the prepaid sector through its Boost Mobile division. In the last quarter, most of T-Mobile USA’s net additions were prepaid.
Now Verizon Wireless says it will automatically update customers currently on its Prepaid Plus plan with Unlimited Weekend Minutes.
Text, picture and video messaging bundles are available to all prepaid customers with unlimited messaging for $20 per month. For customers who text message to mostly other Verizon Wireless customers, a $10 unlimited in-network option is available that also includes an additional 250 messages to anyone on any network, the carrier says.
New customers can buy the new prepaid plans today at Verizon Wireless Communications Stores and authorized agents; the new plans will be at select major retailers on March 15.
Yesterday, no-contract provider Leap Wireless International/Cricket announced its Mobile Music service.
Loopt Adds AT&T to Carrier Roster
By Monica Alleven
With yesterday’s addition of AT&T, Loopt can boast interoperability for its location service on every major U.S. carrier.
Not surprisingly, more than 50 percent of Loopt’s friend invites are sent between different phones and networks, so having interoperability between operators is key.
A Loopt representative says AT&T will support its launch with a nationwide marketing campaign that will include in-store displays, online advertising and youth marketing activities.
Loopt also says is has surpassed the 1 million registered user mark for its social mapping service.
Nuance Releases Voice Control 2.0
By Andrew Berg
Nuance Communications, a provider of speech solutions, announced the availability of Nuance Voice Control (NVC) 2.0.
NVC is a customizable modular framework that allows operators and handset OEMs to speech enable any feature, application or network service on any mobile device they bring to market, including feature phones.
“What’s new about 2.0 is that it’s especially designed for feature phones,” says Mike Thompson, senior vice president and general manager for Nuance Mobile.
The next generation of NVC integrates VSuite, a command and control application, with Nuance’s Open Voice Search (OVS), Mobile Messaging and the ability to inform and launch any native or third-party mobile application. NVC 2.0 includes speech recognition on the device, seamlessly integrated to speech recognition in the network. Further, NVC 2.0 is platform, operating system and search engine agnostic, allowing operators to reach mass market consumers on a variety of devices.
The suite of speech capabilities includes launching games, voice-activated dialing, free-form Web search, text or e-mail message addressing and dictation, music search, navigation, social media applications and any other feature or service operators and OEMs want to voice enable.
“Our design standard for accuracy is anywhere from 95 to 99 percent,” Thompson says, adding that he believes voice-based applications like NVC 2.0 will drive increased mobile search.
As carriers search for better user interfaces to complement the growing demand for data services, NVC 2.0 finds itself in line with other operator-based voice recognition applications.
Ditech Networks recently launched mStage, a network-based suite of products for mobile carriers that allows the Internet to become part of a voice conversation.
FirstNewsBriefs for Feb. 11, 2009
Companies in the news: Glu Mobile, Sierra Wireless, Qualcomm, Lionsgate, Webalo, Syniverse, Viva Vision, GoTV Networks, DeviceAnywhere, Motorola, Novatel Wireless, Tele Atlas, Aicent, NIC, Continuous Computing, Cavium Networks.
• Glu Mobile reported a 2008 fourth-quarter GAAP net loss of $37.8million compared with a GAAP net loss of $912,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007.
• Sierra Wireless’ fourth-quarter revenue amounted to $132.9 million and net earnings were $34.7 million.
• Qualcomm introduced its second-generation embedded Gobi module, delivering multi-mode 3G mobile Internet access on either HSPA or CDMA2000 EV-DO networks. The Gobi2000 module offers enhancements such as support for additional radio frequencies, increased data speeds, enhanced GPS functionality and support for additional operating systems such as Windows 7. Currently sampling, the Gobi2000 module is expected to be in laptops scheduled for commercial launch in the second half of 2009.
• Lionsgate and Webalo announced an agreement that will enable the studio’s executives to be the first to receive smartphone access to up-to-the-minute figures about box office receipts and other performance data.
• Syniverse Holdings’ net income for the fourth quarter was $17.3 million, a 3.8 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2007. For the year, revenues exceeded $500 million.
• Mobile entertainment provider Viva Vision reports revenue growth of 90 percent in 2008 and a 60 percent spike in subscribers. Viva Vision is the creator of Mobile Entertainment Slideshows, which converts static images into an interactive experience.
• GoTV Networks announced the availability of its premium mobile entertainment channels on the T-Mobile USA G1 handset. G1 users can now access multiple entertainment channels from GoTV.
• DeviceAnywhere is engaged in a partnership with Motorola to launch the new Motorola Virtual Developer Lab, a remote Internet-based testing service designed to reduce the time and resources required to develop, test, monitor and deploy applications and content for Motorola handsets.
• Novatel Wireless introduced the E970D and E960D Expedite Mini Card Embedded Modules, providing OEMs and laptop manufacturers worldwide with a solution to integrate 3G wireless functionality into their product lines.
• Tele Atlas announced the availability of a map database that contains new and adjusted roads based on feedback from map users.
• Aicent has connected its 100th direct international multimedia messaging service (MMS) customer.
• NIC launched Most Wanted, a free iPhone application dedicated to helping families of missing children and law enforcement. The application has averaged 5,000 downloads per day and has broken the top 10 in iTunes’ Free Utility applications in its first three days of availability, according to NIC.
• Continuous Computing is collaborating with Cavium Networks, provider of semiconductor products, in an effort will provide network equipment providers with a combined high-performance solution that can support the range of LTE network elements, from LTE Base Stations to Evolved Packet Core (EPC) devices.