Posts Tagged ‘Verizon Wireless’

Exclusive: Verizon Wireless Prepares for the iPhone

December 18, 2009

Verizon Wireless Prepares for the iPhone
Verizon Wireless is buttressing its network in the event Apple drops AT&T as the exclusive carrier of its popular smartphone

By Spencer E. Ante

There’s no telling yet whether or when AT&T (T) might lose its position as the sole U.S. carrier of the Apple (AAPL) iPhone. But in the event Apple opts to partner with other mobile-phone service providers, Verizon Wireless says it’s up to the task.

Verizon Wireless has even made upgrades that would make its network more capable of handling extra traffic that would be generated by the iPhone, Verizon Wireless Chief Technology Officer Anthony Melone says in an interview.

“We have put things in place already,” Melone tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “We are prepared to support that traffic.”

AT&T has come under fire for the spotty performance of its network. Vexed by dropped calls and slow download speeds, some consumers say the company was unprepared for the surge in traffic that’s resulted from iPhone use. Verizon Wireless in TV commercials has mocked AT&T’s network coverage, and Melone says his company’s equipment would do a better job catering to the heavy data demands of iPhone customers. “Absolutely, I think we could handle it,” he says.

Read the rest of the BusinessWeek story here.


This is What Verizon’s Largest Marketing Campaign Buys

November 6, 2009

Last Thursday, I went down to Union Square in downtown New York City and ran into Verizon’s marketing juggernaut for its new Droid phone.

The new Motorola device, which was released today to the general public, is being supported by the single largest marketing campaign that Verizon has ever launched for a single device.

So what does all that money buy? Well, lots of glitzy TV commercials but also some cheesy live marketing events. As I got off the train at Union Square, I noticed a long line of about 75 people. The people were waiting to get the chance to play a game in which you could scoop up a Droid phone in one of those boardwalk games with the little hand-operated cranes. All that was missing was a carnival barker shouting into a megaphone with a monkey perched on his shoulder.


Verizon is clearly pulling out all the stops to turn the Droid into a hit. And so far, it seems to be working.

Verizon: Who Needs the iPhone?

October 29, 2009

Verizon: Who Needs the iPhone?
To stay ahead of AT&T and Apple, Verizon is placing a big bet on Android smartphones and other new gadgets

By Spencer E. Ante

Can Verizon Wireless keep its spot as the leading wireless company in the U.S. if it doesn’t have the industry’s hottest phone?

Lowell McAdam, the company’s chief executive, is trying to make the case that it can. Two years ago, Verizon Wireless passed on the chance to become the exclusive U.S. distributor of the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and pushed Apple into the arms of rival AT&T (T). Since then the iPhone has become a megahit, helping AT&T close the gap with Verizon. In the most recent quarter, AT&T added 2 million wireless subscribers, bringing its total to 81.6 million, while Verizon Wireless added 1.2 million, for a total of 89 million.

Now, McAdam is launching a slew of products designed to keep Verizon ahead. In the fourth quarter the company is rolling out its largest new-product lineup ever: 14 devices, vs. half that number a year ago. Among those will be two netbooks and five smartphones, including the Droid phone from Motorola (MOT), a sleek device with a touchscreen and keyboard that runs on Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. The new products are backed by an unusually aggressive marketing campaign. In one TV spot, Verizon takes direct aim at Apple with a series of “iDon’t” quips that explain all the things an iPhone can’t do. “The Droid can compete head to head” with the iPhone, says John Stratton, chief marketing officer of Verizon Wireless.

Check out the rest of my BusinessWeek story here, along with a video of me discussing the Droid launch. We’ve already got 44 comments on the story. Join the fray!

Behind the Droid Lauch: A New Motorola?

October 28, 2009

Who was the big winner of today’s much-hyped Droid launch?

Sure, the warm reception that the new Android-based smartphone is receiving is a big win for all of the parties involved: Verizon Wireless, Motorola and Android-maker Google. (Personally, I was impressed by the phone, and thought it represented a nice package of features, design and functionality.)

And the stock market seemed to agree. Today, Verizon’s stock was up nearly 3% and Motorola’s stock was up 1%, while the Nasdaq tanked nearly 3%. Google fell about 1.5%. And Apple took a hit, falling 2.5%.

[Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton and Motorola co-chief executive Sanjay Jha hold up the new Droid cell phone.]

But I’d venture to say that Motorola was the big winner, if only because the company was in such desperate need of a win. After all, the cell phone biz is a hits-based business. A best-selling product can reverse a company’s fortunes quickly, as Motorola has seen first with its popular StarTAC, and then with the Razr line of devices.

Since Motorola has bet the farm on Android, technologists and investors would have lost a whole lot more confidence in the company’s ability to manage a turnaround if it blew this launch. There was so much at stake with Droid that they had to nail it, or come close to nailing it.

At today’s unveiling at the W Hotel in New York City, Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton went out of his way to pump up the fallen icon. “This is a new Motorola,” said Stratton. “We took a chance, some would say a big risk at this early stage in their turnaround. But I am delighted at the level and quality of work. We will continue to work with Motorola.”

Motorola co-chief executive Sanjay Jha, who seemed nervous at first, grew more comfortable as the event wore on and the media got their hands on the devices. Next year, Jha said Motorola would release at least 20 Android-based handsets. The strategy, he said, is to offer more smartphones for the lower end of the market, as well as selling more devices around the world. “Android is evolving faster than any other platform,” said Jha.

For now, though, Jha was all about the Droid, claiming it was the world’s best current smartphone.

Stratton agreed wit Jha’s assessment, arguing that the Droid could “compete head to head” with the Apple iPhone. But he acknowledged that consumers would be the ultimate judge. “The market will tell us how well we did,” said Stratton.

BW Exclusive: Verizon Wireless: An App Store to Take On Apple

July 23, 2009

Check out the top of my BusinessWeek scoop on Verizon’s new wireless application store.

Verizon Wireless: An App Store to Take On Apple
The carrier is joining with Vodafone, Japan’s SoftBank, and China Mobile to grab a piece of the mobile-software market from the phonemakers

By Spencer E. Ante

In a move that could rattle the wireless industry, Verizon Wireless is gearing up to challenge Apple (AAPL) in the market for software applications that are downloaded to cell phones. Verizon, the top U.S. wireless operator, plans to preview its software store on July 28 and is pouring substantial resources into the effort. But it will be a struggle to catch up to Apple, which has built broad support among software developers and customers in the year since it launched its App Store.

Software apps are all the rage in wireless these days. Customers are flocking to devices such as the iPhone that offer myriad programs, and developers are cooking up software to meet the demand. You can use an iPhone to look for jobs, read golf greens, tune into digital radio, or play games. Juniper Research estimates sales of mobile applications could hit $25 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion this year.

What’s yet to be decided is who will control this market. Wireless carriers have long been the gatekeepers for what people do with their phones. But phonemakers, led by Apple and Research In Motion (RIMM), have grabbed an early lead by creating software stores that are easy for customers to use and profitable for developers. Apple says 100,000 developers have created more than 65,000 iPhone applications so far, and customers have downloaded those applications more than 1.5 billion times. “It is going to be very hard for others to catch up,” boasted Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a July 14 press release.

To get into the game, Verizon is crafting a strategy that’s more open and global than it has ever used in the past. It is teaming up with Vodafone (VOD), Japan’s SoftBank, and China Mobile (CHL) to create a common software foundation. Developers will be able to write applications for the standard, which the carriers are calling the Joint Innovation Lab (JIL). When the store launches in the fall, it could reach as many as 1 billion customers, the combined total for the four operators. “I am not here to bash anybody, but if I could write one application that could touch every iPhone customer or one billion customers, who am I going to write for?” says Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam.

Click here to read the rest of the story, along with a video.

Verizon Wireless CEO Says More Netbooks on the Way In ’09

May 21, 2009

In the tech industry, netbooks are all the rage. So much so that even communications providers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T are jumping on the bandwagon.

In a recent interview, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam told me that the company’s number two priority this year is to broaden the line of devices and applications it offers to consumers. One part of that strategy is make a decent bet on net books. On May 17, Verizon Wireless began selling its first netbook, a Hewlett-Packard 1151NR, discounted to $199 with a two-year data contract starting at $40 a month.

But McAdam says the nation’s largest wireless carrier is signing contracts with other manufacturers, who he declined to name, to offer more netbooks later this year. “I expect we will have four or five more netbooks in the stores by end of the year.”

To learn more about the telecom carriers netbooks play, check out this BusinessWeek story that I worked on with Roger Crockett and Olga Kharif.

Video: New Gear from Apple and Verizon Wireless?

May 3, 2009

I normally would not send out a link to about a story published earlier this week. But since the scoop, New Gear from Apple and Verizon Wireless, continues to draw interest (it popped up again on the most read stories list of BusinessWeek this weekend), I am posting a link to the video commentary I taped for the story.

Click here to see my video commentary on the talks between Verizon Wireless and Apple over potentially distributing to new Apple Devices.

Apple and Verizon in Talks Over New Devices

April 28, 2009

This morning, USA Today wrote a story reporting that Verizon was in talks with Apple about the “possible development of an iPhone for Verizon.”

That story attracted a lot of attention but I think the reporter, whom I respect, got the story wrong.

Here’s my take on what is going on between the two companies. Verizon and Apple are talking but not so much about the existing iPhone. Rather, talks are heating up about Verizon potentially distributing two new Apple devices under development. Here’s the top of the BusinessWeek story that we published around 7pm EST:

Apple, Verizon Wireless Discuss Devices
By Spencer E. Ante and Arik Hesseldahl

Verizon Wireless is warming to the idea of an Apple partnership. Verizon Wireless is in talks with Apple to distribute two new iPhone-like devices, BusinessWeek has learned. Apple has created prototypes of the devices, and discussions reaching back a half-year have involved Apple CEO Steve Jobs, according to two people familiar with the matter.

One device is a smaller, less expensive calling device described by a person who has seen it as an “iPhone lite.” The other is a media pad that would let users listen to music, view photos, and watch high-definition videos, the person says. It would place calls over a Wi-Fi connection. One of these devices may be introduced as early as this summer, one person says.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent Win the Verizon Wireless LTE Sweepstakes; Clearwire Talks Trash

February 18, 2009

The battle for the fourth generation wireless networks is officially on.

At the Mobile World Congress trade show in Bareclona today, Verizon Wireless announced that it has selected Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent to provide the bulk of the telecom equipment for its new fourth-generation wireless network. Verizon also tapped Starent Networks to provide some gear as well. This win can translate into billions of dollars in business over the next few years.

The stocks of all three companies jumped 1.5% today, while the major indexes were flat or down slightly.

There were a few losers as well. The decision is a blow to other equipment suppliers that participated in trials with Verizon and Vodafone but weren’t selected to build the network: Nortel Networks Corp., Motorola Corp., Huawei Technologies Co., and Nokia Siemens Networks, the joint venture between Nokia Corp. and Siemens AG.

Nokia Siemens wasn’t a total loser, though. It got picked to be a supplier for one of the network’s subsystems that will run multimedia applications.

Known as Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, the new technology will give wireless consumers a true broadband experience on their cell phones and handheld devices so they can watch high-quality video and listen to music without delay or interruption.

Verizon plans to offer the so-called LTE network starting in 2010. Field trials of the network in Minneapolis, Columbus, Ohio, Northern New Jersey and Europe have demonstrated download rates of 50 to 60 Mbps.

Verizon’s announcement also spooked investors in Clearwire, which is offering a service on a competing technology called WiMax. Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE deployment uses the company’s recently acquired 700 MHz spectrum. WiMax, which is backed by Sprint, Clearwire and tech industry heavyweights such as Intel and Google.

Clearwire’s stock fell more than 2% on the news, as well as the announcement by Comcast that it took a $600 million write-down on its $1 billion investment in Clearwire.

Clearwire even put out a release in response to the Verizon news, trying to spin a negative into a positive. In the statement, Clearwire made the bold claim that “today, Clearwire customers experience better speeds and bandwidth than what is being described as next year’s LTE networks.”

Let the trash talking begin!

Wireless: The Outlook Gets Murkier for Clearwire

February 9, 2009

BusinessWeek just published my story on what many folks consider broadband’s best hope for injecting more competition in the market for high-speed Internet access.

It’s about Clearwire, the WiMax startup founded by wireless pioneer Craig McCaw. The company has a very bold (and expensive) vision for rolling out fast Internet access through the ether but it’s getting caught up in the credit crunch right now.

Here’s the top of the story:

Last May some of the biggest names in the technology and media business, including Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG), Sprint (S), and Comcast (CMCSA), teamed up to invest $3.2 billion in the startup Clearwire (CLWR). The Kirkland (Wash.) company founded by entrepreneur Craig McCaw had high hopes of shaking up the wireless industry. The idea was that Clearwire would offer an alternative to the two big incumbent U.S. operators, AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless, by rolling out a technology called WiMAX that could provide superfast Internet service for cell phones, laptops, and other devices.

Today, Clearwire is just trying to keep its head above water. Although sales are on track to rise 50% this year, to $230 million, analysts expect the company will lose $715 million. Billions more in losses are projected for the coming years as Clearwire invests heavily to roll out its network. Clearwire needs to raise billions in additional capital in the midst of the worst economic downturn in decades or it will be forced to slow the pace of its rollout and give AT&T and Verizon a chance to gain ground in the race to build next-generation wireless networks.

Clearwire’s stock has plummeted 90% since its peak in mid-2007. The sharp fall has prompted backers to announce write-offs on their investments, including a $950 million charge by Intel, a $355 million charge by Google, and a $350 million charge by Time Warner Cable (TWC). Comcast is expected to follow suit.

Click here to read the rest of the story.