A look at some of the big stories in mobile today: AT&T (NYSE: T) has its right of reply to the critics of its proposed T-Mobile USA acquisition; the app developer nemesis Lodsys extends its patent protection to non-wireless web properties; Verizon faces a “small” iPad2 issue, and separately launches a new mobile payment scheme; and more on the legal fights between ZTE and Huawei.
– AT&T: The operator has made a formal response to critics of its proposed merger with T-Mobile USA. In the letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission, the operator dismisses the complaints that this will reduce innovation in the market, and as you would expect it gives a name-check to all the companies, organisations and others that have come out in favor of the union.
What it also emphasises quite heavily is that AT&T cannot meet capacity and network demands on its own.
One example: “Neither [AT&T's $75 million] massive investment, nor piecemeal technology ‘solutions’ can solve the macro-level, system-wide constraints confronting AT&T, and they cannot, alone or together, provide the capacity relief on anything approaching the scale of this transaction, let alone in the same time period. Benefits from T-Mobile cell sites (which are densest in urban centers), cannot be achieved by AT&T on its own…” Makes you wonder how truly doomed both operators might be if this deal ends up dead in the water.
– Lodsys: The bain of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Android app makers is now starting to flex its muscles with non-mobile properties, too. Lodsys, which is currently suing a clutch of app makers for patent infringement, has now sued a further 10 companies. These range from brands like Adidas and Black & Decker; to retail behemoths like Best Buy. As Florian Mueller points out, it looks like this suit is in response to a movement by ForeSee Results, the web monitoring company, to have Lodsys’ patents invalidated in a court in Chicago. Several of the defendents in Lodsys’ suit are clients of ForeSee.
– Verizon Wireless/iPad: A small hiccup in the huge sales we’ve seen for the iPad 2. Reuters (NYSE: TRI) says that Apple has had to recall an “extremely small number” of iPad 2 devices after it was discovered that they had received duplicate MEID codes. These are unique identifiers, similar to serial numbers, that are used to identify a device when it joins a network. Two cannot have the same number.
– Verizon Wireless/mobile payments: It’s not that the industry is still unconvinced about the potential for NFC, but it’s not holding its breath waiting for these solutions to hit the mainstream. In one of the latest moves to adopt a non-NFC payments solution, Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) has signed up with Payfone to launch a new one-click mobile payments service, which either bills directly to a customer’s mobile bill or to a specified credit card. As Dow Jones notes this is not a rejection of Isis, the NFC joint venture with AT&T and T-Mobile USA which is still in the planning stages. Rather this is an expansion of its BilltoMobile service, which has not gained much traction in the market up to now but might get more attention now that so many other players are entering the mobile payments fray.
– ZTE/Huawei: Looks like the frosty relationship between compatriot telecoms vendors ZTE and Huawei is entering the realm of absolute zero. In the latest salvo, ZTE has sued Hauwei in a Chinese court alleging infringement of TD-LTE patents (via Marbridge Consulting).