Much of the world has become saturated with mobile devices. In many places there are more phones than people. However, emerging-market countries aren’t at that point yet, but eventually low handset prices will change things.
In the meantime, mobile operators are working like mad to connect their wireless networks to any and every possible device they possibly can, and not just phones, phablets, tablets, iWatches, or Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glasses.
So, it should not be surprising that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ)‘s longtime contract with General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) as the network supplier for GM’s OnStar service had become targeted by a competitor.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) finally separated GM and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), partners since the 1990s. Starting with the 2015 model year, AT&T will speed up OnStar connections when it hooks that service up with its 4G LTE network.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)’s vice chairman Steve Girsky told an audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, “People may question the need [for connected car services] at first … but it doesn’t take long [for] people to move from ‘I’ll never need that’, to ‘I can’t live without it.'”
Thinking outside the car
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), on the other hand, doesn’t think that locking a car into a particular wireless technology is a smart idea.
“The last thing we want to do is take this smartphone thing that updates every 12-18 months and bolt it into a car with a lifecycle of at least 10 years,” said Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)’s global director of Connected Services Solutions, Doug VanDagen, at a FierceWireless event at the Mobile World Congress.
VanDagen also pointed out that why should people who are already paying for a data connection for their phones have to pay a second fee to access their networks in their cars?
If you can’t outsmart ’em, undersell ’em
Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) brought four new phones to show off to crowds at the Mobile World Congress. But none of them were in the top-of-the-line, mind-blowing, do-everything-but-walk-the-dog-for-you category. And only two of them are so-called smartphones.
What makes these phones stand out are their retail prices. Nokia’s Lumia 720 and 520 both run Windows Phone 8, but at $331 and $185 respectively, they are much more affordable than Nokia’s top of the line 4G LTE Lumia 920, which was introduced last year at $836.
The other two phones are the 301, a feature phone that can stream video and costs $86, and the 105, which can make calls, text, has a radio, and can be used as a flashlight — and which will retail for about $18.
Guess which phone one industry watcher thought was the show stopper?
Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis, told Mobile Tech Today it was the Nokia 105 that got his heart going.
“It’s designed for places like sub-Saharan Africa, India and China, where people are looking for the absolute lowest cost,” he said. “I thought it was, quite frankly, the most exciting product at the show.”