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3 September 2007

Worth Noting September 3 2007

Microsoft and Cisco have agreed to make their unified communications platforms interoperable, in order not to slow down market growth ‘ even as both giants place massive bets on the convergence of multiple forms of communication and messaging over wired and wireless networks. Control of UC ‘ and whether this is application or network oriented ‘ are key issues that will help decide on the extent of the company’s respective influence over the large enterprise accounts that are their lifeblood. Microsoft will release the commercial version of its core product, Office Communications Server 2007, on October 16, along with the Office Communicator client, an on-screen messaging service, and the next edition of the Live Meeting conferencing product.

Motorola has launched its revamped Q device, the Q Music 9m, with Verizon Wireless, although the operator will continue to offer the older model too. These are the only Motorola smartphones offered by Verizon.

Hitachi claims to have developed a lightweight 3D display that could be adapted for smartphones, although it will be some years before the ‘multiangular pyramid full of mirrors on top of an LCD’ can be squeezed into a mobile format. It currently weights about a kilogram.

Qualcomm paid a lobbyist $740,000 during the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government on patent reform legislation and Broadcom’s infringement case before the ITC. The lobbyist, William Wichteman, works for Covington & Burling. Meanwhile, Sprint Nextel paid Joseph Group LLC $120,000 in the first half of 2007 to lobby the federal government, according to a disclosure form, on issues related to the regulation of spectrum and wireless carriers.

Yahoo! has acquired Actionality, a German mobile advertising technology company, which provides software technology that inserts ads in content on mobile devices, such as games on mobile phones. Actionality claims that its interface has simplified in-game advertising to a 1-click process.

MIPS Technologies, which recently acquired analog and mixed-signal IPR along with Chipidea Microelectronica, is now on the look-out for a DSP core company, according to EETimes. The processor core company aims to broaden its range to create a virtual system on chip geared to the wireless, digital consumer and connectivity markets, and sees the DSP core for data planes as the main missing piece.

Over the next five years, Linux will grow at a faster rate on smartphones than Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian and other operating systems, according to ABI Research.
Adoption of the open source OS will rise at a compound annual growth rate of more than 75% up to 2012, when it will account for nearly 31% of all advanced mobile phones in the market, with 331m Linux handsets shipping in 2012. Key obstacles will be fragmentation of the platform, and Microsoft’s claim that Linux in its generic form infringes on 235 of its patents, ABI said.

China’s Sina has launched five mobile games connected to Nokia’s SNAP Mobile gaming platform. The online media company is distributing the titles 3D Pool Hall, Jellypop, Sudoku and new versions of Link Up and Stone Park to Chinese users through its internet portal. Consumers can download the games and play them twice offline free; continued play and multiplayer features can be purchased in 24-hour increments.

The cellular backhaul market is expected to reach $23bn in value by 2012, according to a new ABI Research study. Backhaul currently accounts for about $14bn in capital expenditure, said the firm, which also found that eastern Europe would replace western Europe as the biggest backhaul spender, followed by the Asia-Pacific region. ‘Today, most networks across the globe are still using T1 for backhaul, but in the next five years there will be a significant migration to Ethernet-based solutions and microwave,’ said the report.

Symbian, which is 47.9% owned by Nokia, saw second quarter shipments of its smartphone operating system rise by 52% year-on-year. It shipped 18.7m units in the three months to the end of June 2007. Revenue grew 7% in the period to £44.35m ($88.9m). According to Symbian’s CEO, Nigel Clifford: ‘It was a good quarter for the smartphone sector, but we grew faster than the market, boosting our market share to 72%.’ The company said that its main growth areas are India and China.

Rumors abounded last week that Microsoft would make a bid for RIM, prompting a boost in the Canadian BlackBerry maker’s share price, but the reports have been widely dismissed by analysts, claiming this would be an over-expensive buy for the benefits Microsoft would gain. RIM has a market capitalization of around $50bn, over one-fifth that of Microsoft.

Following in the recent footsteps of 3, Vodafone is to upgrade its HSDPA network to 7.2Mbps by November in the UK, and has already released three devices for the souped-up system. In June the cellco launched an all-you-can-eat data package for £25 ($50) per month. The operator says it has more than 300,000 mobile broadband customers in its home country, mainly business users, most of whom have HSDPA devices.

According to a report in India’s Economic Times, LG is considering discontinuing CDMA handset sales in the country, citing competition from low cost Chinese phonemakers. According to the report, the manufacturer is looking to focus on high end GSM handsets instead. LG India’s managing director Moon Shin told the newspaper that the company is ‘bleeding in the CDMA market’ and that it will exit the business if it doesn’t make a profit soon.

Mexican-based multinational operator America Movil has agreed to buy wireless operator Oceanic Digital Jamaica. This will be America Movil’s third presence in the Caribbean, having last year purchased Verizon Wireless’ operations in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The GSM Association is recommending that its 700 operator members adopt a new, more efficient approach to exchanging roaming call records by October 1 2008. Working with leading operators and vendors, the GSMA has specified the commercial and technical elements of a globally interoperable system that will enable operators to reduce the time taken to exchange roaming call records from 36 hours after the call was made to four hours or less. The GSMA’s Near Real-Time Roaming Data Exchange initiative is a response to the rapid growth in international travel.

Wireless baseband chipset provider Spreadtrum Communications has entered into a TD-SCDMA strategic partnership with fellow Chinese company ZTE to cooperate in a number of projects designed to improve the functionality of the Chinese 3G system and introduce commercial products. Meanwhile, fixed line operator China Netcom is expected to begin testing TD-SCDMA handsets in the city of Qingdao this month and to begin commercial service by the first quarter of 2008, even though the government has yet to issue licenses.

A new study says that 14% of US households now rely only on cellphone service, surpassing for the first time the percentage (12.3%) that have only a landline and no mobile access.

Following the acquisitions of Alltel, Ramcell, Rural Cellular and Dobson, the next US rural carrier rumoured to be in the firing line is US Cellular, with Sprint Nextel touted as one possible bidder for the company’s 6m user base, as well as a private equity deal similar to that recently concluded for Alltel.

Researchers at Microsoft and Mitsubishi are developing a new pseudo-transparent touchscreen system that lets people type text, click hyperlinks, and navigate maps from both the front and back of a portable device. A semitransparent image of the fingers touching the back of the device is superimposed on the front so that users can see what they’re touching

Qualcomm has entered the top 10 in the global chip industry by revenue, the first fabless company to do so, according to analysts at iSuppli. In the second quarter, Qualcomm rose to ninth position among global semiconductor suppliers, up from thirteenth in the first quarter, with revenues of $1.4bn, overtaking Infineon, Qimonda, Freescale and NEC. NEC and Sony fell out of the top 10. Global semiconductor revenue declined by 3.6% to $63.1bn in the second quarter, according to the report. Intel remained in first place with $7.728bn in sales; Samsung was in second with $4.716bn, despite a large drop in DRAM revenue; while Texas Instruments leapt from fourth to third place with $3.03bn in sales. The rest of the top 10 were Toshiba, STMicro, Renesas, Hynix and NXP in positions four to eight, and Infineon in tenth.

Huawei faces the strong possibility of an unprecedented fine of up to $610m from the Communications Authority of Thailand for the late delivery of a provincial CDMA network. The potential fine is almost three times the project’s value and could wipe out Huawei’s entire profit for 2007. In recent years the company has been reporting yearly profits in the $500m-$700m range.