CEO: Palm Focused on Pre Launch
By Monica Alleven
Speaking at a Thomas Weisel Partners conference yesterday, the CEO acknowledged speculation in the media but said no legal action has been taken with regards to Apple. The whole area of patents is a complex one and Palm over the years has built a patent portfolio that is one of the highest rated. “If something does happen there, we do have the portfolio to defend ourselves,” he said.
The former Handspring executive also affirmed that there will be no more Palm OS-based products going forward, focusing instead on the new Web OS featured in the Pre. In addition, the company is about to launch a new Windows Mobile product.
Colligan emphasized the strong relationship the company has built with Sprint, which will be the exclusive U.S. carrier to offer the Pre. There are more Palm users on Sprint’s network than any other.
Colligan didn’t say how long the exclusivity period will last, but he said the hope is that with a successful launch with Sprint, other carriers will take notice. He said the place where exclusivity doesn’t apply is in the rest of the world. “We’ve gotten a lot of carrier interest in the product,” and will continue to work with carriers in North America, Latin America and Europe.
The timeframe for bringing additional carriers on board is 2010, and at some point, he expects a broader product line and additional partners in North America.
He also confirmed the company will offer an over-the-air apps store and said Palm has a huge community of developers. “We are just relentlessly focused” on getting the Pre out the door.
Verizon Picks Up Alltel’s My Circle
By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Verizon Wireless was expected to announce today that subscribers on some qualifying plans will be able to pick five or 10 phone numbers that they can call for free, without drawing down their plan’s minutes.
There is no added charge for the service. It mimics a popular feature called “My Circle” at Alltel, which Verizon Wireless bought in January.
Verizon Wireless’ announcement means that former Alltel customers will be able to keep the feature when they sign up for new plans, and expands the availability to other Verizon Wireless customers.
Verizon Wireless, now the country’s largest cellular carrier, is calling the feature “Friends & Family.” It will be available starting Sunday. Customers on single-line plans starting at $60 per month will get five free numbers, and those on family plans starting at $90 per month for two lines will get 10 free numbers.
Customers will need to sign up for the feature and pick their numbers online.
T-Mobile USA, the fourth-largest carrier, has a similar feature, which it calls “myFaves.”
MCI, which Verizon Communications later bought, had a long-distance plan called “Friends & Family” in the early 1990s.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of New York-based Verizon and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.
Alltel: Competition Still Top of Mind
By Monica Alleven
Even though Verizon Wireless closed on its acquisition of Alltel Wireless last month, you’re still going to see Chad and his advertising cohorts for a while.
That’s because Alltel Wireless still operates in 105 U.S. markets, and it’s business as usual, including remaining competitive, says Paul Bowersock, senior sales and operations leader at Alltel.
The 105 markets were placed in trust and assigned to trustee Stephen Cannon, the same trustee who was involved in AT&T’s acquisition of Dobson Communications and Verizon’s acquisition of Rural Cellular Corporation. But this time, the deal involves 2.2 million customers and markets in 22 states nationwide – a much bigger lot to handle.
The trustee is charged with making sure the markets where Alltel still exists remain competitive until a buyer is found. In many markets, the two main players before the acquisition were Verizon Wireless and Alltel.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T is one potential bidder in the sale of the assets, valued at $3 billion in total. Verizon did not confirm that but told Bloomberg that more than 30 parties have expressed interest in bidding.
Bowersock says what remains of Alltel represents the eighth largest U.S. carrier. About 2,500 people are still employed by Alltel. “Our goal, on top of maintaining competitiveness, is making sure the customer understands we’re still Alltel,” he says.
The customers in the divested markets still have access to the My Circle calling plan and other features from Alltel, which will continue to introduce new handsets and pricing that goes head-to-head with the competition, Bowersock says. And they can expect to see new commercials featuring the Alltel frontman, Chad.
Intercasting Expands Anthem’s Range
By Luke Simpson
Intercasting has launched an upgrade to its Anthem platform, expanding the suite of supported applications to include e-mail, instant messaging and Twitter. The new version also will allow faster data access across carrier networks.
For feature phone users, the platform provides access to applications that would not normally be supported, such as social networking and Anthem’s own app store.
Intercasting is clearly focused on servicing the huge feature phone market, but Founder, Chairman and CEO Shawn Conahan believes that there is a much broader appeal for application developers, carriers and smartphone users. “Developers have been pulling their hair out for years,” he says. “They now write their app in Java script once, and it works across all handsets on all carriers using our platform.”
Conahan’s inspiration for the Anthem app store came in part from Apple. “They showed that when you make it easy for consumers to buy apps, they will.” Sales from Intercasting’s app store form a major part of the company’s business model, along with licensing fees from carriers.
With smartphone users already able to access social networking, e-mail and app stores, Conahan thinks that smartphone carriers will have the most to gain by using Anthem. “It will allow them to offer the same services across all platforms, and the consumer will see the same interface on all handsets, making things easier to find.”
Even with the upgrades to Anthem, Intercasting faces competition from a number of other platforms offering similar services, including UI Evolution’s UIEngine, mFoundry mojax and Everypoint Nemo.
TeleNav to Offer Android Navigation
By Wireless Week Staff
TeleNav is joining the Android bandwagon with the upcoming release of its 3D, turn-by-turn GPS navigation service.
Beginning Feb. 24, T-Mobile G1 customers can get a free 30-day trial by signing up on TeleNav’s Web site. The service costs $9.99 a month for unlimited use after the trial period.
The service includes speech recognition, traffic alerts with rerouting, business listings, gas prices, weather updates and restaurant reviews.
TeleNav expects the GPS Navigator to be available in the Android Market later this year.
Handango Releases Top 10 Lists for 2008
By Andrew Berg
Handango released its top 10 lists for 2008, and Spb Software, a mobile applications developer, took top honors.
Selling at $29.95, Spb Software’s Mobile Shell 2.1.4, a user interface for Windows-based phones, was Handango’s No. 1 downloaded application for 2008.
MobiTV’s streaming television application took second place in the overall category.
Handango’s release includes separate lists for each platform Handango services – RIM, Windows Mobile Professional, Windows Mobile Standard, Palm OS, Symbian and Android – as well as a list that includes the top 10 downloaded applications across all platforms.
The overall top 10 might surprise, with utilities taking all spots, excluding games entirely.
Spb Software took four of 10 spots in the overall category, with its Spb Backup 2.0.1 (a file backup application), Spb Pocket Plus 4.0.2 (a screen plug-in), and Spb Phone Suite 1.3 (a suite of phone features) falling in fourth, fifth and seventh respectively.
Although it didn’t make the overall top 10, the games category continued to experience double-digit growth. Games accounted for 11 percent of top category sales in 2007 and grew to 19 percent of top category sales in 2008. Spb’s Brain Evolution 2.1 took the top spot across all platforms in the games category.
The newest platform offered by Handango, Android, had the lowest average selling price of any platform, with games making up 11 of its top 25 applications. Messaging and games accounted for 60 percent of Android’s top category sales.
FirstNews Briefs for Feb. 12, 2009
Companies in the news: ABI Research, Kirusa, Juniper Networks, Nokia Siemens Networks, Comverse, Immersion, Pantech, The Orchard, TriQuint Semiconductor
• Push-to-talk (PTT) is forecast to find its way into 8.5 percent of the North American market by year-end 2013, but no other world region will even begin to approach that market share, reports ABI Research. That’s because network operators in other world regions have failed to market PTT successfully to business users or have opted to market to consumers, according to ABI.
• Voice SMS solutions provider Kirusa announced the immediate availability of Kirusa Voice SMS Version 5.0, the latest release of its voice SMS product.
• Juniper Networks and Nokia Siemens Networks announced an enhancement to their partnership with plans to deliver an interoperable Carrier Ethernet solution intended to provide resilient access and aggregation for service providers worldwide. The partnership is intended to bring the vision of a unified Carrier Ethernet solution supporting all services on a single network.
• Comverse has launched an end-to-end IMS solution to accelerate the rollout of rich communication services, such as converged messaging, address book management, residential and business voice, presence, visual voicemail, video and prepaid and postpaid billing services.
• Immersion Corporation announced that Pantech has signed a worldwide license agreement to use Immersion haptics (touch feedback) technology in several of its handsets.
• The Orchard has entered into a secured revolving credit arrangement with Peninsula Bank Business Funding, a division of The Private Bank of The Peninsula in Palo Alto, Calif., to fund growth during the 2009 fiscal year.
• Phone components supplier TriQuint Semiconductor reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $33.8 million. The company estimates that first-quarter 2009 revenue will be between $110.0 million and $120.0 million.