I haven’t read anything of Stan Beer‘s in a while:
Zune and Wi-Fi versus iPhone and carriers?
When you hear news that a consortium that includes Microsoft, Google, HP, Dell and Intel, among others has filed to submit a wireless handheld Internet access prototype device developed by Microsoft to the Federal Communications Commission, you know something is up. When you also hear rumours that the device may be based upon a Zune then you suspect a war is brewing and it involves telcos as well.
When Steve Jobs took the stage last month at Macworld to announce Apple’s relationship with Cingular, he acknowledged the huge culture gap between the hip Silicon Valley company and the staid conservative telecommunications carrier.
Later at an iPhone press briefing, Greg Joswiak, VP iPod products at Apple, admitted that if Apple wanted to play in the mobile phone space it had to form relationships with carriers. Yet by giving the iPhone Wi-Fi and full Internet capability, there was a feeling that Apple wanted to keep its foot in two camps. Joswiak acknowledged that Internet access on the iPhone using Wi-Fi was the way to go.
Such is not the case with Microsoft, Google et al. They long ago declared their hand and it’s well and truly on the side of net neutrality.
Thus, talk of a Zune phone or this new prototype device (not a Zune phone according to Microsoft) will not involve a deal with any mobile carrier ala iPhone. More than likely, since Intel, a strong WiMAX supporter, is involved in the consortium, that the device will be WiMAX capable. If so, the first Microsoft phone is likely to be a wireless VoIP device and it is hard to imagine that it will not be at least in part based upon the Zune.
In addition, the device that the Microsoft consortium is putting up to the FCC is intended to make use of the spectrum vacated by US TV stations when they convert to digital by 2009.
All of this is not good news for mobile phone carriers who have only had moderate success in selling their walled garden online mobile offerings to users. The last thing they need to hear is that Microsoft is now going to be playing in the wireless Internet access space or that it may sooner rather than later offer users a wireless VoIP phone.
This probably should be on my other blog. Implications for convergent social networking devices is huge. Plus, there’s a big launch by Microsoft at 3GSM in Barcelona tomorrow and I’m probably going…