The past week saw quite a few developments in the mobile sector. First came a customer survey by ChangeWave that revealed that the new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad’s customer satisfaction levels are actually higher than the previous iPads despite a seemingly good number of concerns raised about the new iPad’s ‘heat issues’. This was followed by a report by Canaccord Genuity which showed that the iPhone 4S continued to reign supreme at all the top three wireless carriers in the U.S., continuing on a trend that was set almost six months ago. Meanwhile, rumors about declining interest levels from potential bidders for Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) made the rounds, crashing RIM’s stock by almost 10% the following day.
Later in the week came news that a consortium of Asian companies formed last year to take on Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) had collapsed, as talks between the various stakeholders in the joint venture fell through. Qualcomm also emerged as an essential key to the Samsung-Apple patent deadlock after Apple claimed that it had secured some of Qualcomm’s as well as Intel’s source code which could prove that it had not infringed on Samsung’s patents.
Concerns about the Apple iPad heating up to alarming levels seem to have little impact on the tablet’s consumer satisfaction ratings, implying that the heating issues are probably a rare occurrence. A market survey by ChangeWave Research revealed that the new iPad’s users seemed more satisfied with the tablet than those using its predecessors. (see iPad Users Still Love The New iPad Despite Overheating Brouhaha) About 82% of the new iPad users said that they were “very satisfied” with the new tablet as opposed to about 74% that had said so about the earlier iPads. Moreover, only 6% of the respondents cited the heating issues to be one of the things they disliked about the iPad.
The iPhone 4S continues to rule the roost at all the major U.S. carriers that have contracts to sell the fast-selling smartphone, ahead of both Samsung and HTC, according to a report released by Canaccord Genuity. (see iPhone 4S Continues To Be The Best-Seller At AT&T, Verizon & Sprint) Checks performed by analysts at Canaccord showed that the iPhone 4S was the best-selling smartphone for March at all the three top U.S. carriers, AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint (NYSE:S), for six consecutive months since launch.
RIM’s shares fell almost 10% in trading Tuesday as speculation about a lack of interest from potential bidders made the rounds. During the last week’s earnings call, new RIM CEO, Thorstein Heins, showed more willingness than his predecessors to address shareholder’s concerns raising the hopes of a stock sale and sending the stock up more than 7% the following day. All those gains and more were wiped out as analysts poured in on concerns that there may not be many buyers left in the market for the Blackberry’s declining business. (see RIM Falls 9.5% On Rumors Of Fewer Exit Options)
From a valuation point of view, RIM does look attractive for a buyout but the company’s recent failures from an innovation standpoint on both the smartphone and tablet fronts imply that there could be more pain in store for the fragile stock with a couple of difficult quarters ahead, at the very least. (see Heins Finally Lays Out A Plan For RIM, But Maybe Too Late)
Meanwhile, Qualcomm had big news coming in from Asia. A group of Asian rivals had came together a few months back to form a joint venture and manufacture their own baseband chipsets. With the emerging Asian markets expected to see an exponential growth in the sales of 3G-capable smartphones in the coming years, this could have been a huge potential threat to Qualcomm. However, now it looks as though the proposed consortium has fallen apart and Qualcomm has one less thing to worry about. (see Asian Mobile Chips Consortium Crumbles As Qualcomm Chases Chinese Growth)
The patent dispute between Apple and Samsung has become more interesting with the entry of two semiconductor giants, Intel and Qualcomm. Apple has announced that it has secured source code from both Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Qualcomm, who provide chips used in the iPhone and the iPad, and this could prove that it has not infringed on Samsung’s patents. (see Qualcomm & Intel Hold The Key To Apple-Samsung Patent Wars) The court hearing, scheduled to begin July 9 and to run through October 12 in an Australian court, will see the two smartphone giants battle out to set a precedent for nearly 30 other infringement lawsuits filed in several countries around the world.