[telecom] The Wireless Showdown of 2008

by Devanshu Mehta Nov 30, 2007

Until last year, the wireless space in the United States was fairly dull. The wireless carriers such as Verizon and AT&T owned your house, guarded the doors, sold you the locks, and kept the keys. This year, things started to change.

The megahertz are aligning in the wireless spectrum and fireworks are on the cards. In this corner of our triangular ring, we have Apple Corporation with a phone that rivaled Harry Potter as the news story of the year. In the other corner, we have the old guard?Verizon, AT&T, and others who will fight to protect a business model whose time has passed. Or is it yet to come? In the third corner we have the brash young upstart wannabe, Google as a wireless pretender. Google as a savior of the consumer. Google as the master of eyeballs, of clicks, of searches, of the database of our intentions dressed in rainbow shorts.

The referee for tonight is Mr. Kevin Martin of the Federal Communications Commission, the indirect representative of the people, that unpredictable arbiter of all that is digital, all that is analog, all that travels over wires, over the air, through the series of tubes.

In the audience, we have many friends, many enemies, and we have us. In the back of the arena, dressed in suits from the last century, we have other cellular device manufacturers. We can see that they are not quite sure who to put their money on, but that fear is what has prevented them from getting a shot at the title themselves. The fear of disturbing the status quo is what keeps them in the shadows. There we see Motorola whisper to Nokia, ?What if Apple wins?? To which Nokia suggests an even more sinister possibility, ?What if Apple loses??

In the audience we also have software developers, web developers, and entrepreneurs of all stripes, but few of them are paying attention to the fight. They?re a cynical bunch. They?ve seen this fight before.

That leaves us. We sit in silence, in the dark. Nobody seems to ask our opinion, though we?ve paid good money for our seats. And we?ve paid good money to make each of these players worth more than many nations. We?re not sure who to root for. We fear change and we suffer from chronic apathy?maybe the old guard should win? We love to root for the underdog?maybe Rocky ?Google? Balboa should knock the others out in the last round? But we?re a sucker for a pretty face?that gorgeous Apple and her svelte design?could we say no to her? Of course, we?re not even sure we can trust the referee.

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