Mobile third-quarter 2012: analysis and outlook

1 Summary

Apple stole the spotlight in the third quarter with a fascinating series of both positive and negative headlines. Its iPhone 5 was met with record sales that were nonetheless stymied by supply shortcomings, and its first mobile mapping product was roundly criticized in a development that saw CEO Tim Cook issue an apology. Meanwhile data usage continued to grow, and the nation’s two largest operators added to their already massive hoards of spectrum.

A few other highlights from the quarter include:

  • Amazon continued to pursue the tablet market aggressively with a new line of tablets ranging from an affordable e-reader to an impressive, LTE-enabled version of its Kindle Fire HD.
  • Deutsche Telekom orchestrated a $1.5 billion deal that would merge MetroPCS with its own T-Mobile USA, creating a substantially stronger tier-one operator. But Sprint may be looking to create a bidding war for MetroPCS, and Dish Network’s options for finding a partner in mobile may be narrowing.
  • Microsoft prepared to launch Windows 8 at the peak of the holiday season with the highly anticipated Surface tablet as well as two new handsets from Nokia. But the Lumia 920, a high-end device that will become Nokia’s latest flagship, will be available in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T — a deal that could spell trouble for the Finnish manufacturer, which desperately needs a hit device.

This review discusses these developments and offers other trends and topics to watch in the final quarter of 2012 and into 2013.

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