Best and Worst of Times for Wireless/Mobile
The most significant technology-related events of 2001, according to the release, relate to the expansion and launch of next-generation networks around the world: cdma2000 and wideband CDMA in Asia; GPRS in Europe; and GPRS in North America. In 2002, operators will launch more networks. Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, and Leap Wireless recently started selling cdma2000-enabled wireless phones.
On a major scale, Sprint PCS will officially launch the new technology in mid-2002. David Berndt, director of the Yankee Group's Wireless/Mobile Technologies practice, said, "If the CDMA operators can succeed in providing exciting new applications and data services, they will place their GPRS-oriented competitors on the defensive. CDMA operators can leverage cdma2000's one-year lead time (with its Korean launch in 2000)."
On the device front in 2001, Denso, Mitsubishi, and Philips pulled out of the North American wireless phone market. In addition, Ericsson and Sony combined their handset divisions. Berndt believes that "the wireless phone market has too many competitors, and that 2002 will witness more market exits or partnerships. We've also seen too many handset problems. In an effort to launch phones ahead of their competitors, quality control corners have been cut resulting in subsequent recalls.''
Overall, wireless-oriented companies will have difficulty managing over the next 18 months. But everyone should recognize that things will be anything but boring. Those companies that can respond best to the needs of the market will be the survivors.