Sprint Committed to $15.5B iPhone Contract in 2011

Earlier this month, Sprint revealed that it sold 1.8 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2011. Now according to Sprint’s 10-K report for the 2011 fiscal year, the carrier revealed that it is betting on subscriber dues to offset an expected 2012 deficit agreement with Apple. Apparently, this called for a minimum order of around $15.5 billion worth of iPhones, according to Barron’s.

What’s interesting is that even though the carrier saw a decline in wireless profits due to the high subsidy cost of carrying the iPhone, the carrier still agreed to purchase $15.5 billion worth of iPhones. By doing so, Sprint looks to make up for the profit loss with the subscriber revenue.

Carriers pay large subsidies to carry the iPhone, and Sprint is currently paying $450 for every unit sold with a two-year contract. In addition to this, the carrier offers “instant savings” by offering unlimited data for any iPhone model. The carrier plans to take a hit in profits early by purchasing and subsidizing the iPhone. Even though this might sound crazy, there might be evidence that their strategy maybe working because last quarter the carrier sold 1.8 million iPhones.


Apple May Have Won the Patent Battle Against Motorola in Germany Already

When it comes to the patent wars, Motorola and Google have been on the receiving end lately. Both Apple and Microsoft made a complaint against Motorola recently, accusing it of misusing standards essential FRAND patents by seeking injunctions against their products in Europe.

Today, Apple won a ruling in a German Court, which enables it to continue selling iPhone and iPad models through its German online store. Motorola had won an initial ruling which empowered it to force Apple to stop selling certain iPhone and iPad models.

The verdict states that since Apple has filed an appeal against the ruling, and made an amended offer to license Motorola’s FRAND patents, any further attempts by Motorola to ban Apple’s products would be a violation of antitrust rules.

The ruling could possibly help Apple’s prospects in its appeal, and force Motorola to grant a license for its standards essential patents to Apple. If that does happen, Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, which was primarily for its patent portfolio, could prove to be a huge failure. It has not only pissed off its Android device partners, but also added a low margin business to its high margin cash cow -search advertising- with almost no product synergies between the two.

Android Seeing More than 850K Device Activations Every Day

Android is growing faster than you can imagine. Just two months ago, Andy Rubin had stated that Google was seeing more than 700k device activations every day. Today, he said that the number of Android device activations per day was now up to 850k. At this rate, Android could easily see more than 1 million activations every day before the end of April.

Rubin also revealed some interesting numbers about Android. There are around 300 million Android devices around the world now, with 12 million on them being Android tablets.

At MWC 2011, there were only around 150,000 apps in the Android Market. That number has more than tripled to 450,000 apps. Android is closing in on the more than 500,000 apps on the iOS App Store.

Another interesting stat – more than 800 different Android devices have been launched to date. The Android stand at MWC 2012 itself showcases more than 100 different Android devices.

Rubin also stated that Google intended to focus on Android tablets in 2012. Until now, Android tablet sales, except those of the Amazon Kindle Fire, have been laughable compared to sales of the Apple iPad.

However, it is rumored that Google plans to launch a Nexus tablet soon, which could possibly give Android a fighting chance against the iPad.

Nokia Becomes Top Windows Phone Maker in Q4 2011

Nokia may have been late in embracing Windows Phone, but it has already become the largest Windows Phone manufacturer, according to the latest report by Strategy Analytics. Around 2.7 million Windows Phone devices were shipped in Q4 2011, of which Nokia accounted for around 0.9 million, or 33%. When Nokia first announced that it would be adopting Windows Phone as it primary smartphone platform, there was a lot of outrage. However, it seems that Nokia may have made the right move.

Windows Phone is expected to gain traction in the coming years, and become one of the top 3 smartphone platforms globally, with Android and iOS. However, for now, its total shipments are only a fraction of the total smartphone shipments. In Q4, Android probably saw more shipments in a week than Windows Phone saw in the entire quarter.

Strategy Analytics also noted that Nokia was grabbing market share from HTC in the Windows Phone segment. HTC is under siege even in the Android segment, where it continues to lose market share to Samsung.

Nokia’s future is now tied almost completely to the success of Windows Phone. If Windows Phone fails to take off, Nokia’s position may be no better than that of the captain of a sinking ship.

T-Mobile USA Blames Lack of iPhone for Customer Loss

You know what’s funny? A carrier blaming customer loss due to the lack of iPhone. I thought the iPhone was harmful for carriers? Last year, T-Mobile revealed that  it had over a million iPhones running on its network. Then earlier this year, T-Mobile started to offer official support for unlocked iPhones. Today, T-Mobile USA announced its earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2011, which revealed a net loss of over 800,000 contract subscribers during the quarter (4Q 2011).

T-Mobile is the only one of the four major U.S. carriers that doesn’t carry the iPhone, which blamed the launch of the iPhone 4S for loss of subscribers. In fact, the carrier mentioned the iPhone by name seven times in its release. Do I sense desperation?

This follows the T-Mobile/AT&T deal not going through. The carrier is now seeking to reposition itself with a “challenger strategy” and start rolling out 4G LTE services more aggressively beginning next year. Apple’s iPhone is not offered on T-Mobile USA because its network’s frequency band is incompatible with current versions of the iPhone. Even though the iPhone can connect to the carrier’s network, it cannot connect to the carrier’s high-speed 3G frequency.

Twitter For iPhone And Android Gets Healthy Updates, Brings Back Swipe Features

The official Twitter apps for iPhone and Android have just received a major refresh, bringing back swipe and other demanding features. Additionally, Twitter has also released a Kindle Fire app on the Amazon app store, while an update to the Barnes and Noble nook store is a work in progress. The Android app is now optimized to perform smoothly in devices running on Ice Cream Sandwich.

The much needed swipe feature introduced in this update, now allows you to swipe through a tweet in order to retweet, reply or favorite it.  You can either swipe or tap and hold to reveal additional interactive options, no need to hop over someone’s Twitter timeline just to reply to a tweet or favorite something.

Here is how the swipe gesture works, in case you are not sure how it works:


After getting nuked over iPhone contact upload issue, Twitter has now updated both mobile apps to notify users that using the “Find friends” feature will upload their contact list on Twitter’s servers. When you navigate to the “Find friends” section under the #Discover tab, Twitter will show the following alert:


“We’ve added a confirmation alert when you select “Find friends”. This notification more clearly and explicitly messages the fact that when you upload your contacts’ email addresses and phone numbers, you can quickly find which of your friends are on Twitter (that is, if they’ve chosen to be discoverable by email or phone number).” – Twitter said in an official blog post.

The iPhone app, has now a huge edge over its Android counterpart, as this update has returned the classic copy and paste of text in tweets. Simply tap and hold to copy all the text of a tweet (including links), which is lifesaving. Talking of Android, I have to repeatedly hit the Share button next to a tweet, select “Messaging” and then copy all the text from my inbox. Then fall back to the Twitter app and paste the copied text as a status – a very time consuming affair. Boring!

There is more, the sharing features of the iPhone app has received more goodness. Now you can retweet, copy, email or select “read it later”, whenever you tap a tweet that contains a hyperlink. Pressing or holding links in a tweet provide similar options, along with the ability to open the link in Safari web brower.  If you’re the type of person who gets three dozen Twitter DM’s every single day, you have one more reason to rejoice.  The iPhone app now houses a neat “Mark all DM’s as read” button in the lower right corner.

As usual, Android users are out of luck.

Sprint Sold 1.8 Million iPhones in 4Q 2011

Just a few weeks ago, AT&T reported that over 80% of the smartphones they sold last quarter were Apple’s iPhone. In addition, Verizon revealed that the iPhone represented 55% of Verizon’s last quarter smartphone sales. Today, Sprint had its earnings call for the fourth quarter of 2011. During the call, the carrier disclosed that it sold a total of 1.8 million iPhones during the quarter.

Even though the number reported is much lesser than AT&T and Verizon, Sprint’s iPhone helped achieve a new record high subscriber base of 55 million customers. See, every carrier needs the iPhone. It helps them grow! In fact, when was the last time you heard an Android phone ever do the same for a carrier? It should also be noted that 40% of Sprint’s iPhone purchasers were new to the carrier. I wonder if this is because of the unlimited data they are offering? AT&T and Verizon don’t offer an unlimited data plan for the iPhone anymore.

The carrier also reported that their earnings margins are being eroded by the upfront subsidies the carrier paid to Apple for the devices. Sprint’s total subsidy payments increased roughly 40% year-over-year and sequentially, reached $1.7 billion.

You know what’s interesting? Carriers will reveal the number of iPhones sold in a quarter, but won’t reveal the same for Android phones. I wonder why…

Halliburton Will Ditch BlackBerry for iOS This Year

Not only are consumers ditching RIM’s BlackBerry and Google’s Android for Apple’s iOS, but many companies’s IT department. Today, Halliburton, based out of Houston, Texas has planned to switch thousands of employees from BlackBerry’s to iPhone and the iOS platform, AppleInsider reports. Hilarious because at one point, business only used to use RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Oh, and not to mention Android’s “winning” too. Incredible on how quickly times have changed. Halliburton is one of the largest energy services companies in the world. The company has operations in over 70 countries and employes over 60,000 people.

“Over the next year, we will begin expanding the use of our mobile technology by transitioning from the BlackBerry (RIM) platform that we currently use to smartphone technology via the iPhone…”

…The move comes after “significant research” into both Apple’s mobile platform and Google’s Android operating system led Halliburton to “determine that the iOS platform offered the best capabilities, controls and security for application development.”

Halliburton’s decision was made after “significant research” into both Apple’s mobile platform and Google’s Android operating system. The company concluded that   the iOS platform offered the best capabilities, controls and security for application development. Wait a minute, shouldn’t an “open” OS win hands down over a closed one? According to the company’s spokeswoman, currently 4,500 Halliburton employees use BlackBerrys. Wow, that’s a lot of iPhones the company will be purchasing!

The company announced this via a company newsletter that was sent out earlier this month. Turns out, Haliburton used BlackBerrys for over 10 years. Ouch! That much be a huge blow to RIM. At one point, RIM dominated the market in the enterprise business, but over the past year its share in the enterprise market has rapidly declined.

iPhone Takes 75% Mobile Phone Profits

Recently, lots of reports regarding the iPhone have been coming out. Just yesterday, it was reported that Apple was the only phone manufacturer to see significant growth last quarter. Today, Asymco’s Horace Dediu, a former Nokia analyst, has published his latest calculations of revenue and profits in the global mobile phone industry. He reveals that Apple has increased its share of the top vendors’ profits to 75%. Now you would think Google’s Android, the “open” platform that is dominating in marketshare would be the platform that would be bringing in the most revenue, but they aren’t.  Mind boggling isn’t? Oh, and guess what, Google’s still not making a dime off Android even to this day. It isn’t about who has marketshare, it about who’s generating the most money. In this case, it is Apple and they continue to dominate.

Apple reached 75% of profit share, nearly 40% of revenue share and 9% of units share.

Apple and Samsung combined for about 91% of profits with RIM third at 3.7%, HTC fourth at 3.0% and Nokia last at 1.8% of a $15 billion total for the quarter.

Asymco iPhone 2011 graph

Copy-cat Samsung followed in second place with 16% of industry profits while no other vendor accounted for more than 4% of profits, while Apple brought in 75% of mobile phone profits with just 9% of units sold. Not bad, I say. Dediu’s anlaysis reports on eight top mobile phone vendors: Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Research in Motion, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson.

Asymco iPhone 2011 - 2

While his report does not include a few major players such as China’s ZTE for which public numbers are not available, his analysis does give a solid picture of the industry. LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson all did not report any significant profits over the last few quarters. Speaking of Motorola, isn’t that the company Google’s acquiring for $12.5B? A company that’s not seeing significant growth!

According to Dediu’s report, Apple has held the top spot in profits for 13 quarters in row since overtaking Nokia.

Apple Has Become the Third Largest Mobile Phone Manufacturer

You know that company declared doomed many times? Yeah, that one. The one named after a fruit. Well, Apple has been moving up the charts in all categories. Just last week, it was reported that Apple had once again become the world’s largest smartphone maker. They dethroned copy-cat Samsung in order to do so.

IDC 4Q 2011 phone estimate
Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales in 4Q11 in Millions of Units (Source: IDC)

Today, research firm IDC revealed its estimates of worldwide mobile phone sales for the fourth quarter of and full-year of 2011. What’s most notable is that that Apple moved past LG to claim third place in the rankings for the first time. Since 2010, Apple was rapidly closing in on LG, but fell back into fifth place behind ZTE during the third quarter since customers held off in anticipation of a new iPhone. Turns out, the phone that nobody wanted (iPhone 4S) was enough to move Apple up in the year’s final quarter and by a large enough margin that it was able to pass LG in full-year numbers as well. LG saw shipments decrease from 30.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 17.7 million phones in the most recent quarter, while Chinese handset maker ZTE had 17.1 million.

IDC 4Q 2011 phones

Just last week, Apple reported a massive blowout quarter and reported that it sold 37.04 million iPhones. In addition, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said “Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline.”