Tuesday, October 26, 2004

IPWireless/Atmel tie-up - it's a small world

Last week, while all eyes were on the Geek Woodstock (or Altamont, depending on your point of view) known as VON, IPWireless announced a partnership with US chipmaker Atmel (http://www.ipwireless.com/news/press_101904a.html) to produce a UMTS-TDD VoIP (how's that for acronyms?) handset. We knew handsets were definitely in the pipeline for IPWireless (our understanding of the roadmap was Q1 2005), and it's good to see this coming through apparently right on time. What makes this release particularly interesting is that there is an unnamed OEM mentioned in the press release, and one of Atmel's OEMs is none other than Atonics of Taiwan (http://www.atonics.com.tw/company.htm), with whom Peerio signed a development agreement last week. Given Peerio's recent successes in striking agreements with a variety of players in the telecom food chain, is it a stretch to think that we might see the "C'est Peerio" logo on some very robust mobile hardware in the not-to-distant future?

This is just the sort of development that should have mobile bulls reviewing their revenue assumptions. To date, much of the market seems to have dismissed VoIP as a primarily fixed-line phenomenon, or at best, one that was trapped in the wireless ghetto of the Wi-Fi hotspot. As my mobile/Southern Europe colleague Jacqueline Millan noted in her recent initiation note on mmO2, despite apparently rampant competition in the UK and German markets, there is really very, very little differentiation in pricing between the mobile players in the consumer space at present. And make no mistake about it, the players with 3G licenses need to carefully manage voice pricing as subscribers ramp up on the new platforms.

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