Weekly Mobile Notes: Apple, Nokia and RIM

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The past week saw Nokia (NYSE:NOK) make waves at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), announcing the first Windows Phone to support LTE, the Lumia 900, exclusively on AT&T’s network. Also at the CES was Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) previewed the “2.0″ version of the company’s software running on its PlayBook tablet that it will be released next month. A couple of acquisitions were also announced with Nokia buying Smarterphone AS and Apple (NYSE:AAPL) confirming its Anibot acquisition. The iPhone 4S was supposed to launch in China on January 13th on China Unicom’s (NYSE:CHU) network and could make its way to China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) soon. There are reports Friday morning that Apple is holding off on its 4S launch given the reaction by some angry customers when a flagship store failed to open on time in Beijing.

Nokia

The Finnish handset vendor announced its first LTE-capable Windows Phone at the CES Monday, which it said will be exclusively made available on AT&T in the coming months. (see Nokia Unveils First LTE-Capable Windows Phone on AT&T) Nokia has already launched the Lumia 800 on T-mobile’s network January 11th.

Further, the company revealed later that plans are afoot to launch unique, exclusive devices for other U.S. carriers as well. [1]

We believe this is a good move by Nokia as by doing so, it is taking the pains to address the specific needs of each carrier, thereby fostering stronger ties with them. Moreover, it also gives new carriers a compelling reason to sell a phone that other competing carriers are also selling. Also, the addition of an LTE-capable smartphone in Nokia’s armory gives it just the ammunition it needs to win the approval of the remaining major carriers, Verizon and Sprint, who are also banking on LTE to attract new subscribers. (see Nokia’s New Year Resolution: Spread Carrier Love)

Nokia acquired a Norway-based mobile Operating System developer, Smarterphone AS, recently in a move that will help it address its sliding market share in emerging markets. [2] The acquisition gives Nokia access to Smarterphone’s proprietary software platform that claims to enrich the user experience on feature phones by providing a “highly advanced functionality on very moderate hardware.” With this deal, we should now see its feature phones get a lift in emerging markets. (see Nokia Buys Smarterphone AS; Positive for Emerging Market Penetration)

See our complete analysis for Nokia stock here

Apple

Apple continued to make rapid strides in the Chinese telecom market with the recent announcement that Chinese regulators had approved Apple’s application for a handset that operates on the CDMA2000 network standard, a technology supported by China Telecom. [3] The iPhone 4S debuted January 13th on China Unicom’s network, which has about 36 million 3G subscribers. With China Telecom, Apple could potentially double its addressable market as the third largest wireless carrier in China has about 33 million 3G subscribers.

Apple confirmed Wednesday that it has acquired Israel based technology startup, Anobit Technologies, putting to rest rumors that started about a month back. [4] The deal helps Apple secure access to a proprietary technology that increases the performance of NAND flash memory drives, which have started to increasingly feature in Apple’s products. The technology will enable Apple to just buy low-cost raw NAND flash memory chips from vendors and then supercharge them at minimal added cost. This will therefore help Apple protect its gross margins in an increasingly competitive mobile devices market.

See our complete analysis for Apple stock here

Research in Motion

At the CES held in Las Vegas this week, Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) previewed the “2.0″ version of the company’s software running its PlayBook tablet that will be released next month. [5] The update has some basic features such as e-mail, contacts, and calendar, which were seen missing from the basic PlayBook version that was released last year. The update is still missing some important features such as integration with RIM’s BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger).

See our complete analysis for RIM stock here

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Notes:
  1. Nokia to deliver exclusive U.S. Windows Phone devices to each carrier, FierceWireless, January 10th, 2012 []
  2. Feld Capital Sells Smarterphone to Nokia, Feld Press Release, January 5th, 2012 []
  3. Apple Moves a Step Closer to Offering IPhone to China Telecom Subscribers, Bloomberg citing The China Radio Management Office website as the source, January 10th, 2012 []
  4. Apple Acquires Flash Part Maker Anobit, Bloomberg, January 11th, 2012 []
  5. RIM Previews BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 at CES, Press Release, January 9th, 2012 []
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