Android on WiMax in 2009?
A new analyst report from ThinkEquity LLC suggests that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android devices could arrive on the Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) network sometime in 2009, backing up recent comments about the platform by the operator's CEO, Ben Wolff.
The Clearwire head told Unstrung at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment confab that he was expecting devices using the open-source operating system to be launched onto the Clearwire network in the coming years. Wolff just didn't know exactly when that would be. (See CTIA: Clearwire Talks Android & More.)
ThinkPanmure analyst Neeraj Singhania writes in a new research note that launches should be expected sometime next year:
We believe Clearwire will benefit greatly from strong acceptance of Android platforms. Directly, we understand that Clearwire is working with several manufacturers and application developers on Android-based products for its network, likely for 2009 launch. We believe that there are likely several efforts under way that are beyond Clearwire's purview that will be launched on their network, given its open nature.
Google unveiled the first Android phone, the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) G1, yesterday in New York City. The $179 smartphone will be offered for sale through T-Mobile US Inc. on Oct. 22. (See Slideshow: Switching On Android.)
The possible 2009 launch-date raises an intriguing question, however: Exactly what type of devices could vendors offer over the Clearwire WiMax networks? They may not be mobile phones in the traditional sense.
This is because Wolff said earlier this month that he is not expecting to deploy mobile voice-over-IP on the "new" Clearwire network until 2010. "I don't think you'll see us offer mobile VOIP before 2010, largely driven by the footprint we have," he told Unstrung.
ThinkPanmure is now expecting Clearwire partner Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) to launch its first mobile WiMax market in Baltimore on Oct. 8.
"The biggest concern from the developer perspective is the size of the near-term WiMax network, which will be steadily addressed by the Sprint Xohm-Clearwire merger, and the rapid fire launches of Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, Portland, Atlanta, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, Boston, Dallas, and Philadelphia, plus the 2009 conversion of Clearwire's current Expedience [pre-WiMax] markets covering 16.6M US PoPs," writes Singhania.
Android development partner PacketVideo Corp. has already been clear, however, that the platform should be thought of as more than just a handset or two. Joel Espelien, PacketVideo's vice president of strategy, told Unstrung last week that four out of the world's top five phone OEMs are working on Android devices and that a number of different types of devices could be expected -- from smartphones to dedicated photo and video gadgets.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung