(Last year, I stretched this process out over several weeks. I’m not sure it accomplished much, other than giving me more posts to create and manage, so this year I’m going to kill it off in one shot. )
Once again, here are the top mobility news stories of the past 12 months. As with last year, I’m going to split them into two groups – those that were just stories, but haven’t (yet?) had a real impact on the industry – and those that are real and meaningful now. In a hopeless attempt to build suspense, I’ll count down to #1, Letterman style…
#10. Changing leadership, changing direction? Last December, Verizon named Lowell McAdam president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. In October of this year, Ralph de la Vega took over as president and CEO of AT&T Mobility. And just this past week, Sprint named Dan Hesse as its new president and CEO. Has anything changed? Not really. Verizon and AT&T continue their Big Bell ways. I’m hoping that, once Hesse has a chance to get the lay of the land, we could see some big changes – but give him a break – it’s still his first week.
#9. 700MHz auction 266 companies have filed to bid on 700MHz spectrum being offered by the U.S. government. In July, the FCC set the rules for the auction, incorporating some demands of open-network proponents, most notably Google. Those rules caused quite a stir in the industry, to say the least, and helped move Google into a very influential position in shaping the future of mobility. But, since the auction won’t happen until this coming January, the jury is still out on what impact the auction will really have.
#8. Verizon and AT&T open their networks In November, Verizon announced that they were opening their wireless network to “any app, any device”. The announcement was met with skepticism by many, but certainly caused a buzz. AT&T responded by claiming to “fling its network wide open”. As Tim O’Reilly noted in the New York Times, these changes don’t represent any move away from Big Bell Dogma. And the AT&T “announcement” really represented no change at the company at all. So, where’s the real news?
#7. Sprint-Clearwire partnership In July, Sprint announced a partnership with Clearwire to jointly build a nationwide WiMax network. At the time, I explained why this really was big news. Unfortunately, the two companies couldn’t come to terms on the final agreement and it fell apart – at least for now.
#6. Android and the Google Phone Google’s moves in mobility definitely were top stories in 2007. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty excited about the promise of open standards in general, and the OHA and Android specifically. For 2007, however, it’s still all promise. We’ll see what 2008 brings.
#5. Release of The Power of Mobility Okay, maybe this was only a top story for me… My first book, The Power of Mobility, was released at the end of September. It reached a top 10 ranking on several Amazon lists in the following weeks before settling into a more modest, but steady sales pattern. If anyone is looking for some holiday reading…
#4. 50% global penetration and more houses have cellphones than landlines This fall, Informa reported that there were 3.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, taking penetration above 50% for the first time ever. Mediamark reported that the number of households with at least one cellphone surpassed those with at least one landline as well, and household spending on mobile has passed spending on landlines. All are pretty significant indicators of the growing importance of mobility in society.
#3. Amazon Kindle Those that regularly read The Law of Mobility know that I’m pretty excited about mobile bandwidth being built into non-telephony products. My prediction is that mobile broadband will become as ubiquitous in everyday items as microprocessors are today. But, as of 2007, good examples of this future reality are hard to find. Kindle, Amazon’s mobile broadband connected eBook reader is one of the first high profile examples to demonstrate the power of mobility in action.
#2. Nokia: Navteq and Ovi In October, Nokia announced a big move – the acquisition of Navteq for $8B. Apparently, Nokia thinks location and navigation are important aspects of the mobility future. Nokia’s other major bombshell of the year was the launch of Ovi, a portal for music and entertainment. Nokia obviously is interested in growing it’s business at the expense of mobile operators, it’s largest customers/partners. This is a risky bet by the company and how it plays out likely will indicate the future power structure of the entire industry.
#1. Apple iPhone In January, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the long-awaited iPhone. The product itself wasn’t available until June, and then only in the U.S. on one carrier’s network. But the hype started immediately. The implications for mobility are manifold. For starters, the product proves that customers make decisions based on factors other than network quality (Edge is pretty painful in this 3G age) and price (customers paid full price for a very expensive product) – in fact, usability and functionality can drive pretty rabid response. Perhaps more significant in the long term, the deals that Apple has been striking with operators around the world threaten to reshape the entire industry. Apple is not only in control of customer activations, but also gets to keep a slice of the wireless service revenues. Unquestionably, the iPhone was the top news story of the year, and real news at that!
Did I miss any stories that you think should’ve been in the top 10?
Now playing: Matthew Thiessen And The Earthquakes – I Hate Christmas Parties