New Rounds of Acquisitions, Agreements and Hires Foretell ICT Impact

in Blog, Dell, Intel, MARAVEDIS, Motorola, Noki, 4G, LTE

Following up on last week’s article about the slate of activity that will take place around the launch of LTE before the end of 2010, a fresh barrage of news has rolled forward. M&A, partnership agreements and extensions, and notable hires put meat on the bones as players prepare to take the field in the new game of ICT (Information and Communications Technologies).

From the perspective of a technologist, the pace of development has to be viewed as a decade long progression of enabling manufacturing and design capabilities, and what has often been a glacial pace of standards consensus building and development. The development of LTE and WiMAX, the pioneers of the 4G advanced standard technology framework, has been pursued for over eight years on the shoulders of previous precedents. However, the pace of regulatory changes and licensing, business formation and commercial activity in preparation for transformation of compounding segments of the new industry is now coming to a crescendo. The pending storm of 4G/ICT is still on the horizon but the clouds are clearly visible and the lightning strikes not far distant.

We are now witnessing the next stage of industry consolidations, agreements, and market repositioning, which would have been visionary a few years ago but now seem obviously necessary. A few years back the major infrastructure suppliers went through a series of reorganizations and acquisitions based on the theme that their businesses would be reshaped to deliver comprehensive services or include ‘applications enablement’ for operators, enterprises and users. Thus, all the majors have grown, partnered and acquired their way into providing wireless and integrated IP networking infrastructure, software, and services and network management support. The mantra of total cost of ownership has developed into cradle to the grave comprehensive capabilities that help free operators and third party suppliers to integrate more easily into the future of cloud 4G/ICT.

For the most part, the industry should be congratulated for seizing the need to change to meet new opportunities and challenges while still basking in the ongoing success of 2G-3.5G wireless proliferation (now approaching 5 billion mobile handset subscribers and relatively undaunted by the economic pitfalls of an information age society still mired in industrial age mores and economics). 

The activity falls within several business segments with the intertwining thread that they are all directed towards delivering products into the emerging cloud 4G converged ICT industries. These include acquisitions in IC companies and related intellectual property including access to patents, security software that increasingly will be made part of core operating systems environments that touch from embedded devices to large server farms, and management repositioning to focus on enterprise and government market needs that can help differentiate device and equipment suppliers as well thought out total solutions providers.

Here is a run-down on some of the latest moves:

This shows the expectation that LTE will dominate public safety markets, pushing WiMAX and proprietary wireless systems into a role of niche player in what was once perceived sacred turf. We think LTE will consolidate most activity in public safety and much of the monitoring and other security related markets over time.

IT and networking companies have heated up the battles over network storage companies in recent weeks. This is the tip of the iceberg of companies that are developing distributed network storage servers, routers that will increasingly be positioned intra-cell as well as inter-cell in wireless networks as well as their traditional role in wired networks.

We suspect that this will not be the last IT firm to acquire additional storage product areas. We know of notable startups pursuing, some headed by respected industry leaders, who are nearing the stage of market entry.

As most know, Intel agreed to pay over US$8 billion to acquire McAfee to spearhead close integration of security into every level of device and server ICT environments. In prior meetings, Intel has suggested that security must be made both a transparent and effective requisite.

  • Intel to Acquire Infineon's Wireless Solutions Business.

While we continue to hear bane thinking that Intel had pursued WiMAX to little avail, we are not at all surprised to see the company moving, with a well-deserved degree of respect from the participants, to acquire additional semiconductor capabilities. Notable are the capabilities acquired from Infineon, Nokia, and developed on their own turf to deliver lower power, multiple-mode wireless across many bands of spectrum. 

To summarize the list of headlines, anybody who is anybody in the IT and software industries have been staging developments in cloud versions of applications suites and hosted cloud services. Just as Google is slated to roll out enhanced enterprise services, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle and a host of others prepare to bring next generations of hosted and cloud supported broadband anywhere services.

While many articles and analysts have put emphasis in Nokia’s hiring of Stephen Elop on efforts to regain market share in WebPhones from the new icon of the industry, Apple, we see this move as a message that Nokia is ready ‘to do business’ in a different light. Stephen comes from Microsoft as the former President of the Business unit and brings a wealth of experience in addressing needs of enterprise leaders in software solutions. From a perspective of ‘what’s missing’, we see that Elop may help craft Nokia devices to fit as part of an integrated whole to deliver the services envelope, all centered of course, around cloud 4G/ICT enabled transport and applications. In a world that is already seeing corrosion of pricing at all levels of mobile devices, including high-end Smart/WebPhones, the obvious move for Nokia is the tract they have set upon: delivering comprehensive solutions not just commodity hardware devices. 

MARAVEDIS is a leading analyst firm focusing on disruptive technologies including smart networks using WiMAX, IEEE, and 3GPP/LTE. Maravedis works with system and service providers, vendors, regulators, and institutional investors. Learn more at www.maravedis-bwa.com

Author: Robert Syputa, Senior Analyst and Advisor

 

 

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