BetaMax is an interesting technology for Nokia to compare WiMAX to because both technologies end in the last three letters but does it go farther? After all, many will tell you BetaMax was superior to VHS in picture quality, tape wear, system design and convenience of use. Interestingly though LTE is a newer standard and borrowed many ideas from WiMAX and can be considered superior in a number of ways.
Most importantly though is device support. Mobile broadband is in extreme demand and gadgets like smartphones are more important than ever. Without solid devices, can a new wireless standard take off? But then again there are so many companies that could come out with WiMAX devices; Nokia’s absence doesn’t mean the market is dead. For example if Apple entered the market, Nokia’s management would be having conference calls about this issue that same day and they would probably change their tune.
But until this happens – and I doubt it will, Nokia is adding healthy amounts of FUD on the WiMAX market and to be honest, there is likely no other equipment manufacturer in a better position to read global wireless trends.
It is worth mentioning however that Nokia’s comments and pulling out of the WiMAX market may lead to a more sophisticated conclusion. More specifically, WiMAX will likely make it in poorer nations such as India, Africa, etc. Coincidentally these areas will require low-margin devices and perhaps Nokia is factoring this into their future business plan. After all, it may not make sense to focus on markets where you make a few euros per device.
Still, I don’t recall a time when so many were aligned against any technology. Especially when the technology – in this case WiMAX is already up and running and being compared to little more than a paper standard in LTE.
Here is another problem. I don’t want to point to any associations in particular but logic dictates when you get attacked, you formulate a response and then put said plan into action.
When Las Vegas was attacked by President Obama, Las Vegas countered with ads about how Vegas is a great destination for events – low cost, easy to get to, etc. Moreover the Mayor of Las Vegas even penned a response to Obama with the facts about this oasis in a desert location. On the lighter side when Borat relieved himself comically on the image of Kazakhstan, they took out ads to tell us how great the nation was.
The point is where are the ads for WiMAX? In the absence of any positive comments about the technology, what do you think equipment providers, carriers and investors will do? They will pull WiMAX investment and make Nokia’s comments self-fulfilling. And that is too bad because competition is a good thing.
And what is the deal with WiMAX vendors in general? They seem to do no marketing at all to push the standard they depend on so much. WiMAX vendors forgot they not only needed to build products but also focus on building and protecting the market which will purchase these products. In other words industry marketing. These vendors did not position their market and now someone else did it for them.
In fact if I think quickly as to who the strongest and most vocal proponent is of WiMAX, it is likely Carl Ford, the person who has partnered with my parent company TMC to launch the 4G Wireless Evolution conference.
But then again, if LTE does indeed become the single wireless broadband standard, we will see device prices driven even lower which will be great for consumers and perhaps even good for equipment manufacturers.