Could the big four become the big three? The world of mobile carriers is starting to look like the old auto industry, which saw a slew of mergers and resulted in U.S. dominance for decades. While the analogy ends there, especially as U.S. carriers aren’t about to expand to foreign markets, the choices of carriers could be shrinking.
This week rumors are swirling that Sprint Nextel -already a merger of Sprint and Nextel obviously – could merge with T-Mobile USA next year. According to a Bloomberg News article, Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins thinks there’s a 55 percent chance Sprint will merge with T-Mobile and raised his rating on Sprint to “buy” from “hold.”
But let’s consider a few things. First of all, there still remains a 45 percent chance that Sprint won’t buy T-Mobile USA, which is a subsidiary of German-based T-Mobile International AG. While both Sprint and T-Mobile trail Verizon and AT&T in the United States, the question that must be asked is why would T-Mobile AG give up a foothold in the United States? The answer would be that it would have partial control of a major wireless carrier, akin to Verizon Wireless, which is part owned by Vodafone, as well as Verizon.
The other thing to consider is whether regulators, who are watching the mobile industry very carefully, would even allow such a merger. One aspect of this would be whether the combined company would try to acquire a greater stake in Clearwire, which is already part owned by Sprint and in the process of working on a deal with T-Mobile about 4G services. Thus, I’m left to wonder if a new partnership wouldn’t be made instead of an outright merger. Again, would the regulator let Sprint and T-Mobile merge and then buy up Clearwire?
One thing is certain, the name game and who bought whom and which companies controls stakes in others is just going to continue to get more confusing. One final piece is whether Sprint is moving now after recent word that T-Mobile might get the iPhone over Verizon. At least it never stops being interesting in the world of mobile handsets and mobile carriers!
Interest Growing for Mobile TV
This just in – U.S. consumers are apparently ready for live, local mobile DTV. That’s among the new findings by Magid Media Labs, which found that 88 percent of respondents had some interest in watching TV on their mobile devices, including laptops, netbooks and of course mobile handsets, including smartphones.
And it is no surprise that much of this interest is from the so-called Millennial adults, those aged 18-29. This group is most likely to be early adopters of mobile TV, and have an interest in watching content, including local news.
Some notable findings from the study:
- More than three quarters of respondents (78 percent) said they’d be likely to watch mobile DTV on a portable device.
- Among those with children, 31 percent would let a child watch TV via a mobile device in a car
- Live programming would be very important, with 51 percent saying they’d want a live experience compared to just 18 percent that would prefer on-demand programming instead.
- An advertising model would be accepted, and 49 percent say they would watch commercials
- nd premium content is strong too, with 36 percent saying that they’d pay to watch movies, sports and other programming.
Throughout this year I’ve been watching the development of mobile TV very closely, and given the findings in this report it seems that the third screen and digital TV could finally be ready for prime time in 2010. Stay tuned for more!