TheTelecomBlog.com’s Top 6 Posts for September 2010

by Jeff Wiener on October 12, 2010

Truth be told, it looks like most companies are thinking twice about competing with Apple’s iPad, instead turning to other lucrative tablet-ready markets, and there’s no question the biggest of these markets is business communications. This past month both Research in Motion and Avaya have unveiled business-oriented tablet devices, set to do battle over providing exhaustive corporate communications tools.

But beyond the business tablet wars, this past month saw the beginning of the end for Nokia’s once popular Symbian, possibly the beginning of the end for RIM, and the emergence of rumours for yet another mobile OS, this one from Facebook. Add to that the ongoing Canadian telecom battle between the established incumbents and the fledgling discount brands and September has given us merely a taste of the major tech and telecom news that will continue to emerge through the end of the year.

1. RIM Introduces its Enterprise-ready “PlayBook”

Desperate for something to go right, Research in Motion unveiled its much heralded tablet device. Contrary to speculation, the device, called the “Playbook,” won’t be a consumer oriented product like the iPad, but will instead focus on integrating the tablet into RIM’s competitive line of business oriented devices instead.

While this device will have to compete with the likes of Avaya and Cisco in the enterprise communication tablet market, RIM’s Playbook stands a way better chance there then against Apple’s iPad. The only downside to this product, it’s not a 3G/4G standalone device, meaning that it was designed to tether to your Blackberry for network access.

Other than that, however, RIM has created what is bound to be one of the go-to business tablets for the next few years. Will it be enough to reverse the company’s fading fortunes though?

2. Avaya Leaps into Tablet Wars

RIM wasn’t the only company looking to corner the untapped enterprise business communications market, as this past month Avaya also unveiled its own tablet offering, the Avaya Desktop Video Device. With its name lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, its no wonder tech analysts immediately started referring to the device as the Avaya Flare, a term the company uses to described the experience of using their tablet.

Regardless of the name, Avaya has equipped this device with its new intuitive and all encompassing communication Flare User Experience, designed to encompass the user in his or her personal workspace and, from there, work with a wide variety of communications and information tools. While it remains to be seen whether this tablet will compete with RIM’s Playbook or Cisco’s Cius, for those already enjoying Avaya’s enterprise services, this tablet will be a much appreciated addition to the company’s portfolio.

3. The Beginning of the End for Symbian?

In the dog-eat-dog mobile world there are winners and there are losers; Nokia’s once semi-popular mobile operating system Symbian is one of the losers. This month not only saw the likes of Sony Ericsson and Samsung cease manufacturing Symbian based phones, Nokia itself publicly stated its intention of focusing on its new joint OS project with computer chip maker Intel named MeeGo, thereby effectively putting Symbian out to pasture.

Strangely enough, however, Nokia changed its tune as the weeks wore on; stating that it fully intends to continue to support Symbian, especially as it is the foundation for Nokia’s latest flagship smartphone, the N8.

But regardless of whether or not Nokia intends to stick with Symbian, it may be the end of the mobile OS as the likes of Android, Apple’s iOS, and the new Windows Phone 7 may just make the market a little too crowded for some of the lesser operating systems.

4. Is Facebook Secretly Developing a Social Networking Phone/OS?

For many people around the world, Facebook encompasses their entire technological existence. They log on, they chat with friends, they update their status, they share pictures, and they log off. It’s simple, fast, and effective. In fact, with 500 million reported users Facebook is the most popular website in history, which also means the company already has a solid consumer base if, say, it wanted to venture into the mobile world.

Leaked reports out of the social networking giant indicate the company may be secretly working on a social networking oriented phone, series of phones, or possibly a customized mobile Facebook operating system. But will obsequious Facebook users be as devoted to a Facebook phone as they are to the social networking site?

It’s certainly doubtful. Unless Facebook’s phone/OS rivals the likes of Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS, it will probably enjoy a relatively short lifespan as a feature phone; enjoyable for some, useless for most.

 5. Will RIM Mirror Palm’s Downfall?

Over the past few months the news has been swirling around Research in Motion’s slumping profits, the continued disinterest in its newest mobile creations, and its lack of innovative creativity. But there has always been something strangely familiar about RIM’s continued downward trend, and then it hit me, we saw Palm go through exactly the same thing over the past few years.

Sure RIM is still moving inventory, selling phones, and making money, but so was Palm right up until the end. The problem with RIM, as it was for Palm, was not a matter of selling phones, but a matter of producing and selling popular phones, ones that could rival the industry’s elite. For Palm, it was this inability that led to slumping North American sales, which invariably translated to a diminished worldwide popularity as well. Are we seeing RIM in the early stages of its own Palm-like collapse? Even with the release of its business oriented Playbook, the answer is still ‘yes.’

 6. Mobilicity Formally Files Complaint against Rogers

As smaller discount brand telecommunications companies look to establish a foothold in the cutthroat Canadian telecom market, it seems like the big boys aren’t taking the extra company very well. In fact, with the emergence of Mobilicity as one of Canada’s fastest growing discount mobile brands, Rogers immediately took steps to run them out of town by marketing its own discount brand Chartr.

Mobilicity, for its part, isn’t taking Roger’s mobile challenge lying down, as it officially levelled a complaint against Rogers for violating Canada’s Competition Act. The problem? It looks like Roger’s Chartr brand was created solely for the reason of driving Mobilicity out of business, and this, my friends, is illegal.

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