And welcome to a special edition of our Thursday column, Worst of the Week. As 2008 draws to a close and we take stock of all the changes that have happened in the wireless industry, we can’t help but wonder how things will look a year from now. So here are some predictions for the coming year. We hope you enjoy it!
(P.S.: This is our third year of predictions. Here are the predictions for 2007 and here are the predictions for 2008. As you can see, it’s like Nostradamus or something.)
And without further ado:
1. We get sued and fired for wasting everyone’s time with this inane Worst of the Week column. Good grief.
2. Just about everyone else in the world gets fired too, thanks to the current economic meltdown. After food shortages and the resulting worldwide chaos wipe out half of the nation’s population, a much thinner wireless industry returns to building touchscreen phones that don’t work very well.
3. Sprint Nextel’s stock drops to $-0.01, allowing that weird guy down the street to buy the entire company. He turns it into the world’s most successful beer-delivery service, and Dan Hesse retires a happy man.
4. MediaFLO finally acknowledges that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for traditional TV broadcasts on their handsets and, in desperation, launches MobiHO, a 24/7 wireless porn channel. The offering is a runaway hit on multimedia-friendly handsets, and shares of parent company Qualcomm shoot through the roof.
5. Following Apple’s withdrawal from Macworld, Apple fanboys around the world begin roaming the streets asking random people to say “And one more thing…” just to give them a sense of purpose. This eventually leads to many stalking Justin Long (the “Mac” guy from the Apple commercials) like he was the second coming of The Beatles, thereby forcing Long into hiding at Steve Jobs’ reinforced bunker, located somewhere in the hills outside Las Vegas. (This is the same location where Howard Hughes, Walt Disney and Elvis currently reside.) Eventually these once “normal” people turn into pseudo-zombies and begin viciously attacking employees at Apple retail stores hoping to glean additional “Genius Bar” power by eating their succulent brains.
6. Consumer-advocate groups quit hassling wireless carriers over their early-termination fees and instead set their sites on the real problem: $4 ringtones. After intense lobbying, the FCC rules that charging $4 for a ringtone is completely ridiculous, based on the fact that there are dozens of Web sites and a growing number of phones that allow you to create your own, free ringtones. Eventually, the ringtone industry is sued en masse for breech of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and other legal stuff for everything except their underwear. Seriously, $4? For 20 seconds of a song? Seriously?
7. AT&T acquires T-Mobile, creating AT&T&T-Mobile. Separately, Verizon acquires Sprint Nextel to create Verizoprintextel. AT&T&T-Mobile and Verizoprintextel each accuse the other of misleading commercials about the speed of their LTE networks, an argument that escalates into a costly legal battle and, finally, an all-out war. Meanwhile, Clearwire scores the lion’s share of the wireless market thanks to its not-stupid company name. And then, um. Google buys everybody. Or something.
8. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin files another proposal to auction the AWS-3 bands, this time with the stipulation that the winner must offer free service on Sundays, Tuesdays and holidays, and that users must carry their phones only in their left front pocket. Violators will be electrocuted.
9. The Razr makes a comeback.
10. In a moment of weakness sometime during his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama lurches for his Blackberry, which has been shut down by the White House for security reasons and sits nostalgically idle on his presidential dresser. The familiar feel of the gadget in his hand and the comforting act of scrolling for e-mail messages that don’t exist will assuage his anxiety. That and a quick smoke on the sly.
10. GPS-enabled mobile marketing applications will explode for the first half of 2009, but the recession will shockingly force Starbucks to shutter its outlets nationwide. The lack of a viable “Starbucks scenario” – the tired concept that sees a consumer receive a mobile coupon for a cup of coffee as he or she passes the store – forces the shut-down of dozens of mobile startups that have based their businesses on just such a model.
11. Apple launches the iCoholicPhone, a combination flask/3G device inspired by the iPint application. The handset finally finds an appreciative audience among the homeless when AT&T subscribers become fed up with network glitches and toss their gadgets into the gutter.
OK! Enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this Worst of the Week column. And now, some extras:
–The one good think about the iPhone can be viewed here.
–Now, normally Nokia seems like a smart company. The people who work there are generally intelligent. However, somehow a press release with this title got through: “People Would Rather Lose Their Car Than Their Mobile Phone.”
–A new service from Talkster promises to let “anyone, anywhere in the world place free international calls from PC-to-phone to more than 35 countries.” However, there’s just one catch: “Once connected, you will have 10 seconds to tell your friend to call you right back on their Talkster number for you, while you stay on hold and wait for them to dial in.” Sounds like a winner.
–Firefly Mobile put out a press release about their deals for the holidays. The obvious reaction: Holy cow, that company is still in business??!?!
Worst of the Week: Predictions for 2009