Monday, October 20, 2008

Oct-Nov Surprises for Mobile Warriors?

October surprises in an election are about last minute developments on the political, economic, or international stages that can change the course of history.  And elections.

Osama bin Laden may be found and brought to justice.  The DOW and housing recovering by the end of the week.  That would help Senator McCain.  Or should the polls narrow, Senator Obama may take actually change his middle name to "Steve" as he said at last week's fundraiser for the New York Archdiocese.

What about an October surprise for mobile warriors?  Perhaps even November?  Here some areas I think we want to watch out:

  • Wireless providers - change plans to reflect the economic reality and to retain users from poaching other competitors with special mobile devices like the iPhone with ATT and smartphones like Storm with Verizon.  Most vulnerable here is Sprint of the Big Four.  T-Mobile is now armed with the G1.  That'll help a bit.  Not much I think.  Perhaps we might see another $10 knocked off the unlimited talk plan or more minutes for the rest of the folks.  I don't think we'll see anything happen with the texting plan, although that might help with the texting class action lawsuit the Four are embroiled in right now.  Surprises are possible.  
  • Blackberry Bold.  ATT had a launch party for the Bold.  Except the Bold was not invited.  We might see it this week.  Pricing?  $199 will be more in line with fellow ATT device, the iPhone 3G.  This reminds me of a gymnastic competition.  You've got team competition:  ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint going at it.  Then you've got the individual events.  Bold and the iPhone, on the same team, but going for the Gold.  Anyway, no surprise likely here.  
  • Blackberry Storm.  Despite the iPhone success of late, I don't know how the momentum will hold up.  Lots of competition out there.  Not exactly like the MP3 market.  When people think smartphone, they still think Blackberries.  And they're still the one to beat as far as I'm concerned.  This Holidays, it won't be so much about BB versus the iPhone but BB versus BB.  More specifically, Storm versus Bold.  If you're in the market for a BB, you have to chose between the Storm, Curve, and the Bold.  Flip, manybe.  Ultimately, it's Storm with its new touch interface or Bold with its traditional QWERTY layout.  Storm will only need to compete not with the iPhone on price but with Bold.  The only surprise may be the price.  $99 would put an awful lot of press on the iPhone.  
  • Nokia.  N-series with multi-touch?  No surprises here.  I'm hoping someone will pick up the N96 and provide subsidy but doesn't look like it's gonna happen.  The 5800 is cool except it doesn't have anything new except for the music subscription.  The surprise from Nokia more on the gaming front.  
  • Windows Mobile.  None.  
  • MP3 market.  None.
  • Android.  None.  G1.  That's it.  
  • Gaming market.  DSi and PSP 3000.  No surprises here.  We already know we won't be seeing the DSi outside of Japan this winter.  The Holiday line-up from Nintendo and Sony are done as far as portable gaming is concerned.  Both items are still hot but I think it's possible someone will lower the price.  I think surprises are possible with bundles.  New colors.  Could be wishful thinking on my part.  Nokia could pull something out but it's remote.  Maybe a new N-800 series with more serious gaming capability.  Okay, not really.
  • Apple surprises.  Alright.  I'll continue after you stop laughing.  Apple is due to refresh the iMac and the Pro desktop line-up.  But seriously, there could be a surprise.  the Mac mini has been left for dead.  Look, the Apple TV may be a "hobby" but the Mac mini is the experiment gone wrong and Apple doesn't know what to do with it.  Given the lack of progress that we can see public with it, I'm willing to bet serious money that the mini may emerge as something that has both tradtional Mac functions and Apple TV's hackability and connectivity.  Sell it for the same price, put it together with the new Nvidia chipset, and you'll get yourself one of the hottest computer this Holiday.  Make sure you're willing to pay for this.  Surprise from Apple?  A remote one though.  This is definitely wishful thinking on my part. But it's not like we haven't seen it happen before.  Apple TV came out of nowhere if you recall.  Oh, one more thing:  no "Bricks", netbooks, or tablets.  But I hope I'm wrong!
  • Netbooks.  Those morning, is advertising the Aspire One from Acer for $310.  Retail for $500.  Despite the hotness of the computing category, competition is fierce.  Surprise?  Price drops!  Otherwise, hardware changes like to remain cosmetic or static.
Surprises?  I've got one more.  Subsidies.  With wallets thinning and getting lighter, tech giants will need to get shoppers more of a reason to go out this Holiday Seasons.  Subsidies to lock them into data, wireless, or other services to lower the initial cost of electronics could go beyond traditional handsets.  

So, I like to hear your October surprise.

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