As seen with Qualcomm‘s (NASDAQ:QCOM) fiscal Q4 results, the company continues to benefit from the mobile revolution. Revenues spiked by 18% and earnings were up by 20%.
Yet the mobile industry can be tough to crack. Just look at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Despite its enormous resources, the company has struggled to get traction.
But Microsoft has not given up and is now pushing its Windows Phone 8 operating system.
So will it be enough this time? To see, I interviewed Dave Fraser, who is the CEO of Devicescape. His company manages the largest virtual network of hotspots worldwide and has the backing of leading venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, August Capital, JAFCO Ventures and Enterprise Partners.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Will Windows Phone 8 make a difference?
A: Although Microsoft is late to the party, there is certainly room in the smartphone arena for a strong third player – and WP8 looks to be making a positive impression on consumers. Clearly, Microsoft is looking to build out important differentiators as well as leveraging its strengths in the PC market and Xbox gaming. We admire Microsoft for creating ‘Data Sense’ to help consumers lower the cost of data in their monthly plans. This technology is a win-win for both consumers and mobile operators: consumers get access to the best live mapping of high-quality amenity WiFi through our licensing arrangement while carriers gain customer loyalty through an enhanced user experience and lower overall costs.
Q: Will Microsoft create its own phone?
A: We can’t speak on behalf of Microsoft so it’s complete speculation on our part, but it would not be too much of a surprise. Sometimes it’s important to drive the market with a reference implementation which shows the complete vision to consumers and raises the bar on the ecosystem as a whole. Google does that with its Nexus brand and Microsoft has essentially done exactly this with Surface. We really like Microsoft’s new retail stores and all of the energy around WP8 and Surface – it’s a perfect way for consumers to try out this differentiated platform.
Q. Describe the role of WiFi in solving bandwidth limitations?
A: The demand for data on smartphones and tablets continues to outpace expectations and has led to tremendous capacity challenges for the mobile operators. To manage this demand, operators are combining small cells with their large scale infrastructure, which have the advantage of serving a smaller group of customers nearby. WiFi is an extremely popular small cell technology which is highly familiar and massively deployed in homes, businesses, and increasingly in public space. Operators are moving toward using the resources of all available networks (Hetnets of 3G, 4G and WiFi) to deliver the best possible service. Where we are headed as a company and where the industry is headed is to a service where the end-user selects their profile for high quality or low cost connections. And then our curated virtual network of over 11 million amenity-based WiFi hotspots and commercial hotspots does the rest – it connects the consumer to the right network at the right time and delivers the best possible user experience.
Q: What about app development for WP8?
A: There has been much speculation about Microsoft being late into developing mobile technologies and whether app developers will embrace WP8 versus focusing on iOS and Android. It seems very likely that Microsoft will drive additional differentiation with their own apps – such as Data Sense – but we should also bear in mind that Microsoft is making a common development environment across all their platforms, including PC with Windows 8, and Surface. That approach alone should make it easier for developers to justify the investment for a much larger market.