Thursday, April 4, 2013

Morning Brief: Qualcomm strikes deal with MLB Advanced Media to look at WiFi issues at ballparks; French Telcom chief worries about effect of economy on cellphone sales; T-Mobile, though, sees progress in customer acquisitions

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. has struck a deal to begin working with MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, to "survey, plan and optimize mobile network connectivity for fans at supported MLB ballparks" the two entities announced this morning. As part of the deal, Qualcomm has been named the official technology partner of MLBAM.

Qualcomm's role will be to make an assessment of the connectivity issues and quality within MLB ballparks, looking at WiFi and 3G/4G availability, testing connectivity.

"Mobile data traffic is exploding, particularly in high-traffic areas such as Major League Baseball ballparks," said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm. "Qualcomm has been preparing for an astounding 1000x increase in data demand, and we are leading the charge with MLBAM to provide passionate baseball fans with access to digital content, resulting in unparalleled in-ballpark experiences."

Austerity and a poor economy seem to effecting consumer behavior in France, according to Stephane Richard, chief executive at France Telecom SA. In a Businessweek article written by Scott Moritz and Marie Mawad, Richard says that French cellphone buyers na users are becoming more frugal, threatening the sales of phones such as Apple's iPhone.

"There are fewer early adopters, and probably with the next release of the iPhone this will be evident," Richard said. "Selling a phone for $600 is getting more and more difficult."

"Customers are more focused on price"” Richard told Businessweek. "Except for a few hundred thousand people who will buy the latest iPhone -- except for that category of people -- the majority of the market will be difficult."

Richard also said that French Telecom will soon be changing its name to Orange, the name of the familiar company it acquired in 2000.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., T-Mobile may be on the verge of a turnaround. The carrier that finds itself far behind its competitors reported yesterday that it had grown its user base by 579,000 customers.

These results display positive momentum and the first positive branded growth in four years," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in the company's earnings announcement. "We have made material progress in stabilizing our branded business in Q1, which provides a solid foundation to build on with the new Un-carrier customer offers we launched last week across America."

T-Mobile has garnered attention by announcing that it would be changing the way it charges for cellphones and service, allowing customers to buy unsubsidized phones, and to eliminate the two-year contract.

"It was a Steve Jobs moment: when somebody got so fed up with the shoddy way some business is being run (say, phone design or selling music) that he reinvented it, disruptively," NYT columnist David Pogue wrote of the move yesterday.