[qi:053] Given the fast pace of the developments in mobile, it pays to take a step back and review all the big news from the last quarter. At GigaOM Pro (subscription required), we’ve compiled the important news and analysis from the previous three months to help identify the big themes for the sector as we move into the second half of 2009. An overview of that compilation is below.
Economy Continues to Beat Down Forecasts
The global recession continues to place downward pressure on the wireless market. Providers in Asia, Europe and North America alike have so far reported declining revenues as compared to 2008. In the U.S., Sprint said its first-quarter 2009 revenue fell 12 percent from the first quarter of 2008; AT&T said revenue dipped 1 percent.
Battle of the Superphones
AT&T’s relative success is largely due to the iPhone, which continues to dominate the smartphone market in terms of devices sold, data consumed and usage-driving apps. In light of the release of the new 3GS iPhone, Apple is expecting to see a surge in device sales to 7 million by the fourth quarter from roughly 4 million in the second quarter. Meanwhile, In April, the iPhone accounted for 43 percent of mobile web usage and 65 percent of HTML usage.
The iPhone, and AT&T, are facing challenges from other devices, however, such as the Palm Pre, the new Google phone (myTouch) and the BlackBerry Curve, which was the top-selling smartphone in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2009. The Palm Pre launched in the second quarter and quickly became an iPhone competitor. Indeed, Palm is placing a lot of stock in its success. But while the new phone is promising, it’s unclear whether it will be enough to save the struggling Palm.
Netbooks Eat Notebooks
In addition to handset news, netbooks continued to make waves. Sales of these new scaled-down notebooks are in the tens of millions and are taking a big bite out of notebook sales. With such strong sales, there is a great deal of competition heating up in the space, particularly among OS creators as they strive to develop a claim on this uncharted territory.
WiMax and LTE March Forward
Even in the bleak environment, carriers are positioning their 4G strategies, and the battle between LTE and WiMAX continues. WiMAX had a positive quarter, with Clearwire adding Atlanta to the current coverage in Portland, Ore. Additionally, by mid-quarter, Clearwire added 25,000 new subscriptions, and users in Portland, Ore., where the service launched in January, are using twice the bandwidth than those in its pre-WiMAX markets. Intel also made a significant investment — of $43 million — in Japanese communications provider UQ Communications. This is the latest in Intel’s $2 billion investment in WiMAX over the past four years. LTE is also marching forward, and with the DTV conversion finally past, a significant barrier has been removed.
Battles continue to be fought in the mobile market. On the device, carrier and network fronts companies are trying to lay claim to a piece of this rapidly evolving space. The remainder of 2009 promises to lend insight into how it will develop, fleshing out the winners and losers, both in terms of companies and technologies.
A more in-depth look at these trends and others is available in the latest Quarterly Wrap-ups in our four focus areas — Mobile, Green IT, Connected Consumer, and Infrastructure. These quarterly reviews are available to GigaOM Pro subscribers, along with dozens of detailed research briefings and in-depth articles on specific topics in each of these areas. You can subscribe here.