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Jury still out on WP v. RIM


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Interview with AT&T's de la Vega on the prospects of which will succeed.





AT&T: ‘Jury Still Out’ on RIM vs. Windows Phone


The race between Microsoft Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) to become the world’s third smartphone platform after Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iOS and Android is still undecided, said Ralph de la Vega, AT&T Inc. (T)’s wireless chief.


“The jury is still out” on what consumers want as an alternative to Apple or the Google Inc. (GOOG) platform, de la Vega, president of AT&T Mobility, said at a press briefing at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.


Nokia Oyj (NOK1V) and BlackBerry maker RIM have both lost market share to iOS and Android over the past two years and turned to new operating systems to try to revive sales. Nokia teamed up with Microsoft and its Windows Phone platform to introduce a new line of Lumia handsets. AT&T will begin selling the high-end Lumia 900 in the coming months.


“I think they’re going to have a winner in the U.S.,” de la Vega said of Nokia. Dallas-based AT&T, the world’s largest phone company by revenue, also sells BlackBerry, iPhone and Android models.


While he doesn’t see Windows replacing the BlackBerry platform, Microsoft (MSFT)’s decisions to develop a consistent look for desktop computers, smartphones and tablet devices gives the Redmond, Washington-based company a unique advantage over Android and BlackBerry, de la Vega said.


‘Game Changer’

“You’ll have the same look and feel on your PC you have on your tablet and smartphone, that’s a game-changer for Microsoft,” he said. “That’s something that some of its competitors don’t have. Android doesn’t have a bunch of Android PCs out there, neither does RIM.”


Apple and Android’s market share in smartphones has surged in recent years, eclipsing RIM and Nokia’s Symbian platform, which it discarded in favor of Windows.


Android’s share jumped to 51 percent in the fourth quarter from 31 percent a year earlier as Apple’s climbed to 24 percent from 16 percent, according to data from researcher Gartner Inc. RIM (RIMM)’s share fell to 8.8 percent from 15 percent, Symbian’s dropped to 12 percent from 32 percent and Microsoft declined to 1.9 percent from 3.4 percent, the data shows.


It’s not clear whether there will be a “big three or big four” and the future will be shaped by what customers want and are willing to pay for, said Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president for emerging devices.


Looking for Spectrum

“The big two have built a phenomenal ecosystem around their OS,” Lurie said today in an interview at AT&T’s ‘Connected House’ showroom at the Mobile World Congress. “The question is who’s going to build that full ecosystem that delivers customers the experience they want for multiple devices. It’s not just the smartphones anymore.”


To acquire more wireless spectrum to meet demand for data- hungry smartphones, AT&T bid last year to buy competitor T- Mobile USA (DTE) Inc. That deal fell apart in December amid U.S. regulators’ concerns that it would harm competition. On Dec.22 the carrier won approval from federal regulators for its $1.93 billion purchase of Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) airwaves.


The search for more spectrum continues today as AT&T is “continuously looking,” de la Vega said. “It’s a worldwide problem, folks don’t realize how fast it’s getting exhausted.”

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I think windows phone will destroy RIM in market share when they release flagship phones on all the carriers instead of the turds they dropped on shelves before Nokia came into the picture.


Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk

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MS is really making a big push for WP to succeed and with Nokia back in the U.S. market, that's not hurting the effort either, but it still has a lot of ground to cover to take the #3 spot. It will be interesting if RIM can make a comeback this fall if its still relevant by then. If it executes well, and the upgrades to the Playbook take hold and BBX10 works flawlessly on a killer designed phone (London) then BB can retain the #3 spot. A lot of "if's" I know.

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Either OS is going to have to come out with some feature that iOS and Android do not have. It would have to be earthshaking to overcome this:




RIM actually owns a quite advanced technology with the QNX operating system and kernel that they bought. The QNX microkernel is a realtime microkernel (unlike the Linux kernel which has some real-time capabilities but have to be patched in separately). It could be argued that the QNX kernel and perhaps Windows CE kernel that drives Windows Phone are the most advanced kernel out of all the operating systems since they have real-time capabilities. Though for LInux they can be patched in. I'm not sure about iOS.


Most phones run an operating system and then additional real-time operating systems (RTOS) for the baseband processors (radios). This is just an educated guess, but I would think the QNX OS, being a real-time OS, could run the entire system including the radios. What advantage would that have? Tighter integration between the operating system and radio, leading to higher performance, perhaps better battery life, cost savings, etc. Reduction of baseband chip(s) with processing handled through the real-time OS on the main core(s), allowing for either smaller phones, more room for other components, cheaper manufacturing, etc. If RIM or Microsoft somehow pulled something like this off, it could be a pretty big play.


Low latency problems are quite apparent in Android. See for example http://code.google.c.../detail?id=3434 . Real-time sound applications like voice transformation apps, synthesizers, virtual pianos, garageband, guitar amps, are simply not possible on Android, yet have been possible on iPhone OS since the original iPhone. So the importance of real-time capabilities, e.g. hard or soft performance guarantees, shouldn't be understated. This type of app may not be important to most people, but to a musician, lack of it is a deal-breaker. Also this type of app is possible on Linux through some kernel patches and the jackd process, so this may not depend so much on a real-time kernel.


That said the programming difficulty of real-time systems is quite complicated especially system wide, and the slower layers like Dalvik VM (Android) and Silverlight (what Windows Phone non-system apps must be written in) are much higher bottlenecks in terms of performance. Also, having the baseband processor in a separate chip allows for easier certification process by the FCC as the chip doesn't have to be re-certified. If it were integrated, presumably the entire phone OS would have to be re-certified each OS update.


This is just an educated guess on my part. I don't know that much about real-time operating systems and baseband so it would be nice if someone more knowledgeable could comment.

Edited by strung
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I agree. QNX is a fantastic OS. Now, can RIM roll out some desirable devices with it? RIM had the corporate and goverment markets but is losing them. I am activating iPhones to replace BBs. It is bizarre because iPhones are not nearly as secure.

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I hope RIM can pull it off. I've messed with a co workers playbook and I find that I like QNX (BB10) more the WP. If RIM can get it to work as it should and get some killer devices that people will buy, I think they will slow down WP adoption, at least in the U.S.

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