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#TBT: Lights, camera phone, T-Mo; ’03’s most-wanted phone features; Moto jettisons Symbian … this week in 2003

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Lights, camera phone, T-Mo

T-Mobile USA Inc. will continue its innovative marketing campaign with five simultaneous music concerts across the country, all in an effort to help sell its camera phones, messaging features and other advanced services. T-Mobile’s upcoming concerts are part of the wireless industry’s attempt to drum up interest for advanced wireless services. Indeed, T-Mobile’s latest marketing effort comes on the heels of its previous contest aimed at promoting its camera phones, an event carrier executives describe as generating a “ton of traffic.” Earlier this year T-Mobile held its See, Send, Share contest, asking camera-phone users to send in their best pictures. The winner scored a free trip with his friends with his entry of a picture of a police officer writing him a ticket while he was on the way to pay off a previous ticket. Nick Saidiner, T-Mobile’s director of product marketing, said the See, Send, Share contest was partly an effort to move the industry beyond just the novelty of a camera phone. “What we’ve always tried to push was that it’s not just about taking a picture, it’s about taking and sending a picture,” he said. “There’s a communication aspect, not just the novelty of it.” … Read more

Verizon Wireless settles class action suit over call charging

WASHINGTON-A Michigan state judge has approved a settlement of a class-action suit against Verizon Wireless entitling about 2 million mobile-phone users in the Detroit area to free airtime and other compensation. The 1999 lawsuit alleged Verizon Wireless improperly charged subscribers for calls made from mobile phones and landline phones. The settlement agreed to yesterday by Judge Kaye Tertzag covers subscribers back to 1993. Class members will be given a choice of free wireless minutes, a long-distance calling card or the option of switching to a Verizon Wireless plan that does not include the landline fee at issue. The dollar value of the settlement is unclear. … Read more

Motorola makes cuts in its chip division

AUSTIN, Texas-Motorola Inc. said it cut 200 jobs in its semiconductor division as part of its effort to cut costs and move back to profitability. “It was a tough day,” said Amy Halm, spokesperson for Motorola, explaining that the layoffs affected workers in Austin, Phoenix and Chicago. The company had indicated in its second-quarter earnings call that it would downsize in response to market challenges. She said the workers will receive severance and assistance in their job searches. In addition, another chip company, Intersil Corp., said it is cutting 8 percent of its staff, or about 130 jobs, to meet operating targets. The cuts are in addition to the 300 employees in its wireless unit who went to work for GlobespanVirata. … Read more

Intel plans facilities in China, South Korea

Intel Corp. this week announced plans to build a $375 million assembly and test plant in western China’s Sichuan province and a research and development center for digital home and wireless communications in South Korea. The company said the plant will create 675 jobs, expected to be filled locally, and is scheduled to open in 2005. According to reports, the company plans to invest $200 million initially in the plant with another $175 million to follow. “China is a huge market for Intel,” said Wee Theng Tang, president of Intel China. “The west China market is an important part of the overall equation as well. So it supports our agenda to put a site there that supports our business objective, which is growing the market and supporting the growth.” According to a statement, the South Korean R&D center will concentrate on developing technologies for the digital home and wireless solutions. Projects will include ultra-wideband wireless technology and WiMax last-mile wireless broadband. Craig Barrett, Intel chief executive officer, discussed plans for the South Korean R&D center as he visited the country on the final leg of a four-nation Asian tour. Earlier this week, Intel also said it would open a communications chip design center in Taiwan that eventually would employ up to 60 people. … Read more

Nokia offers its first CDMA phone in China

BEIJING-Nokia introduced its first CDMA phone for the Chinese market, the 2280, during a signing ceremony between Nokia, operator China Unicom and China Putian, the exclusive distributor for the Nokia 2280 in China. The phone is expected to be available early next month. “Nokia has an established reputation and a leading brand in the GSM market,” said Shang Bin, vice president of China Unicom. “We are pleased to see that Nokia has launched its first CDMA phone in China using its own CDMA chipset, indicating a strong commitment on Nokia’s part. We warmly welcome Nokia’s entry in the Chinese CDMA market.” The 2280 includes messaging features, voice dialing and games. … Read more

’03’s most-wanted phone features: Photo messaging, PTT

Wireless customers unhappy with their carriers’ customer care are more likely to switch service providers, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2003 Wireless Customer Care Performance Study. The group found that 26 percent of those who rated their latest customer-care experience as below average are “definitely” or “probably” likely to switch from their current carrier in the next year, while just 7 percent of those who experienced above-average customer care are likely to switch. J.D. Power said 55 percent of wireless users have contacted customer care in the past year-76 percent by phone, 21 percent at a retail store and 3 percent via e-mail or Internet. Nextel Communications Inc. and Verizon Wireless ranked highest in overall customer care, with T-Mobile USA Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and Cingular Wireless L.L.C. all also ranking above the industry average. Alltel and Sprint PCS were below the industry average. J.D. Power emphasized carriers should minimize the number of contacts necessary to solve a problem and reduce time on hold, which averages more than five minutes. J.D. Power’s study was based on the experiences of 16,800 wireless users who judged customer service based on service representative interaction (44 percent), resolution contact frequency (31 percent), ARS processing/navigation (13 percent) and hold time duration (12 percent). As far as services offered, wireless users most desire photo messaging and push-to-talk, according to a separate consumer survey from Zelos Group. Nearly half of the 1,300 survey respondents said they would seek an integrated digital camera in their next mobile phones. Of the consumers who subscribe to carriers other than Nextel, the only provider of push-to-talk service at the time of the survey, 40 percent expressed an interest in using the service, and of those, 45 percent ranked it as the feature that is of most interest. … Read more

Texters say: Give us phones that also play music!

SAN DIEGO-Wireless consumers who use text messaging represent a target market for the music industry, according to research from SMS.ac Inc., a mobile community that includes approximately 10 million registered users from more than 200 countries. According to a recent poll, 80.1 percent of 36,584 respondents said they would like to use their mobile phones as portable music players. In a separate poll, 84.4 percent of 38,266 respondents said they expect to have this capability on mobile phones in the future. Further, 60.2 percent of 35,476 members said they would be more likely to attend a concert if they could receive sample music, information and special offers on their mobile phones. … Read more

Motorola exits Symbian JV

Despite just releasing a phone based on the Symbian operating system, Motorola Inc. said it will exit the OS venture. Nokia Corp. said it and Psion plc have begun procedures with Motorola to transfer Motorola’s shares in Symbian to Nokia and Psion. Once the transaction is completed, Nokia would increase its shareholding from about 19 percent to 32 percent, and Psion would increase its Symbian ownership to about 31 percent. Nokia said the transfer would not affect Motorola’s existing licensing arrangement with Symbian. Nokia said the transaction values Symbian at about $470 million. Motorola said it would continue to support the Symbian OS for specific customer and business needs, such as its third-generation devices. “However, our primary software focus for the mass market will stay centered on Java, which is also supported by Symbian,” said Scott Durchslag, corporate vice president of Motorola’s Personal Communications Sector. “We believe Java is what ultimately provides our customers worldwide with the most optimized and differentiated mobile experiences.” Nokia, Motorola, Psion, Siemens AG, L.M. Ericsson, Panasonic and Samsung formed Symbian in 1998 to develop an OS for advanced smart phones. The company is just beginning to see the first major fruits of its labor, with Symbian reporting last week that Symbian OS unit shipments grew in the first half of the year to 2.68 million from 230,000 in the same period last year. Its royalty revenue increased to $16.2 million in the first half of 2003 from $2.4 million in the same half last year. Motorola has been looking at options outside of Symbian for months. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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