The Mobile Lowdown 03-21-11: Sprint Responds; iOS updates; ZTE


Credit: Sprint

Our look at some of the big stories today in mobile: Sprint (NYSE: S) gives its response to the T-Mobile/AT&T (NYSE: T) deal; another update to iOS from Apple; (NSDQ: AAPL) ZTE speaks out on working on devices running Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft.

— Sprint: It never made a formal, public offer to buy T-Mobile itself, but the number-three mobile carrier in the U.S. is going public on its negative opinion on the deal between T-Mobile and AT&T, with AT&T looking to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion if the regulators approve.

The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, if approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would alter dramatically the structure of the communications industry. AT&T and Verizon are already by far the largest wireless providers. A combined AT&T and T-Mobile would be almost three times the size of Sprint, the third largest wireless competitor. If approved, the merger would result in a wireless industry dominated overwhelmingly by two vertically-integrated companies that control almost 80% of the US wireless post-paid market, as well as the availability and price of key inputs such as backhaul and access needed by other wireless companies to compete. The DOJ and the FCC must decide if this transaction is in the best interest of consumers and the US economy overall, and determine if innovation and robust competition would be impacted adversely and by this dramatic change in the structure of the industry.

Sprint’s strategy remains unchanged. Sprint is generating momentum in the marketplace today and has built a foundation of unique strengths that are resonating with customers. Sprint offers value and simplicity with its Simply Everything and Any Mobile, Anytime offerings, a great device line-up with award winning devices such as the HTC EVO running on America’s favorite 4G network, as well as leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile (NYSE: VM), Boost and Assurance.

iOS updates: It seemed only a few weeks ago that iOS 4.3 started to get rolled out to Apple wireless devices; now it looks like there may be an update on the cards.

According to BGR, the new update will feature “minor bug fixes” such as baseband updates for the 3GS and first-gen iPad; fixing a bug in the memory when reading large files; authentication fixes; issues with recognizing the gyroscope on some apps for the iPad 2; and significantly fixing the jailbreak vulnerability on the iPad 2 (there was a jailbreak released for the device less than a week after it hit the market).

No word on whether the Verizon iPhone would get the iOS update with this latest version (4.3 didn’t go out to Verizon’s CDMA devices).

ZTE: The Chinese mobile equipment and handset maker has been making a name for itself by producing inexpensive Android-based devices, which it sells not only in its home market but in increasing numbers abroad. But it doesn’t look like it will be extending that model to Windows Phone 7 devices for now.

In an interview with the WSJ, Wu Sa, the director of mobile device operations for ZTE in the UK, says that it has been working on WP7, and will continue to do so, but it is not planning to release any devices on the platform until the market looks like it wants it more.

He added that two areas where Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) may need to do more is in the areas of user experience and price — presumably meaning that the fee that ZTE would need to pay to use the OS would mean a higher handset cost for users.

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