I thought I’d focus on tracking what’s going on in the world of mobile this week, so without further delay, here’s what caught the eye of the mobile Drama 2.0.
Starting on November 1, Verizon Wireless will be tacking on a 3-cent fee to all mobile-terminated messages that are delivered to cell phones on its network. This is in addition to the fees senders of messages already pay.
The company cited increasing costs for the fee. According to Verizon Wireless representative Brenda Raney:
“Just like any business, we reassess our charges to make sure they align with our costs for providing the service and sometimes it becomes necessary to make adjustments.”
As RCRWireless notes, this move “sets a new and potentially major precedent in the text messaging services market.“
The new fee will impact a wide range of companies that provide SMS services, including those that provide SMS-based mobile search, SMS alerts and other applications (like Twitter) to Verizon Wireless customers. It’s worth pointing out that many of these services have low margins to begin with.
The fee will also impact the nascent and much-hyped mobile marketing industry in the United States by increasing the costs of SMS marketing campaigns.
The question now, of course, is whether other carriers will follow Verizon Wireless’ lead. If they do, the economics of participating in the SMS market in the United States will be a whole lot more challenging than they already are.
In theory, it’s easier for a mobile phone manufacturer that originally mastered the corporate market (RIM) to enter the consumer market than it is for a mobile phone manufacturer that originally seduced the consumer market (Apple) to enter the corporate market.
With the introduction of the RIM Storm smartphone, we’ll see if that’s indeed the case.
One look at the Storm and it’s clear – RIM is attempting to compete with Apple’s iPhone head on. Not satisfied with competing at a hardware level only, RIM is even launching an application store to rival Apple’s AppStore.
The Storm offers many of the same features as the iPhone (no physical keypad, an accelerometer, etc.) and offers some features based on iPhone feedback (namely a screen that provides tactile feedback when pressed).
In the United States and the UK, the Storm will be available through Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, respectively.
While RIM’s Blackberry still dominates the corporate smartphone market and the company appears to have demonstrated its competence in building an appealing consumer smartphone, it remains to be seen whether or not RIM will be able to compete with the Apple/iPhone brand.
Interestingly, there’s talk that Microsoft has a “standing offer” to buy RIM at $50 share. RIM’s stock has plunged recently (RIM, of course, is not alone) and the company is now potentially vulnerable to a takeover.
RIM’s shares currently trade at just under $60 as of Thursday’s close and hopefully if Microsoft decides to move aggressively, it can create drama on par with its failed Yahoo takeover bid.
Sue Marek at FierceWireless has an interesting post discussing some of the ways the wireless industry in the United States could be affected by the ongoing economic crisis. Many of the effects felt in the United States could just as easily apply in the rest of the world.
Marek observes that while it’s unlikely consumers will cut their access, cost-cutting could lead consumers to move to less expensive calling plans and to “forego the extra add-ons such as mobile TV, ringtones and even mobile Web packages.“
This would especially hurt mobile content providers who already contend with thin margins.
Marek also notes that the holidays are usually a big time for new mobile phone sales and there’s the possibility that individuals will give less (i.e. cheaper phones over more costly smartphones).
All in all, there’s some interesting food for thought here and yet another example of how the economy at large can impact even the most appealing of industries.
With the recent unveiling of its G1 mobile phone, it won’t be too long before we get the opportunity to see Google’s Android mobile platform in action.
Will it live up to the hype?
David Conway, a product manager for the Android team, has posted information about how Google Maps will work on Android. He even posts a video demonstration of Google Maps on Android in action.
My initial impression: impressive.
While I still have questions about Android, I don’t dismiss the possibility that Google just might answer them. Time will tell.