As I write remarks for an upcoming speech on the state of the wireless industry and the direction is it growing in, it’s good to take a step back and look at this from a longer-term perspective. The wireless industry changes its growth path every decade. The next change wave is beginning and this time there are several different areas of growth. One of them are new competitors and services like Google (GOOGL) Project Fi, Comcast (CMCSA) Xfinity Mobile, Charter (CHTR) wireless and Siyata (SIM:CA) Mobile.
The last change wave was 10 years ago with Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Google Android like Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy. That growth wave lasted a decade and started with Google Android OS and Apple iPhone iOS. These were introduced to the wireless marketplace around the same time and we saw incredible growth in the smartphones, apps and usage. And that same level of change and growth continues.
Google Android, Pixel 2, Project Fi, Apple iPhone
This time that world is expanding. First, let’s take a look at Google in wireless. Android is the OS on many handsets like the Samsung Galaxy. Google is also in the handset business with smartphones like the Pixel and new Pixel 2. Plus, they are now in the services side with Google Project Fi, which resells T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) as an MVNO.
You can see the importance of growth in the world of wireless for Google. To date, of all these areas, Android OS is the most successful. However, Google is trying to be successful on the handset and services side of the business as well.
Apple iPhone iOS was also introduced ten years ago. They have been very successful although their growth path is different. We have seen innovation change the smartphone space over the last decade. We have seen the app market explode. We have seen many other industries start or change with wireless. Companies like FitBit (FIT), Uber, Lyft and many others.
Cable TV in Wireless, Comcast Xfinity Mobile, Charter
The cable television industry tried wireless several years ago and failed. They pulled out quickly. This year both Comcast and Charter announced their re-entry into wireless. Comcast Xfinity Mobile sells hot devices like iPhone and Android and so far over the last few months sound happy with their performance. Charter will enter the wireless space in 2018.
I don’t see cable television changing the marketplace conditions in wireless. They won’t be marketplace leaders challenging AT&T (T) Mobility, Verizon (VZ) Wireless, T-Mobile or Sprint, but they seem to be happy with the market share they are earning. They are using wireless as a tool to stabilize their traditional cable television market share. This is a good plan for them if it works.
Siyata Mobile Push-to-Talk on Android Smartphone
Siyata Mobile is something new to wireless in the US marketplace. They will start up here in the next few quarters. They are the only handset maker to offer a Push-to-Talk service on an Android handset. Yes, PTT is making a comeback.
If you recall, PTT was very popular in certain industries when Nextel ruled. There were other smaller players as well in this slice of the wireless marketplace. I used this service and loved it. You were just a push button away from anyone you were connected to.
Then the marketplace changed from analog to digital and Nextel was acquired by Sprint at a time when they let new opportunities slip through their fingers. Because of Sprint mistakes back then, Nextel quickly faded away. That left many users, industries and groups without a PTT handset and service.
Executives at Siyata Mobile saw the need for PTT services for commercial fleets like busses, first responders, military, trains, taxis, police, oil, gas, mining and other sectors. Executives from these industries encouraged Siyata in order to get PTT once again.
Push-To-Talk is a valuable and needed wireless service for many different industries and sectors. In layman’s terms, it’s like a walkie-talkie that operates on the nationwide wireless network. So, companies in various industries can keep in instant touch with their work force or an individual all around the country with the push of a button.
The new version of PTT by Siyata Mobile is digital and it’s on a Google Android smartphone handset. So, users can have an Android smartphone they are familiar with, and have PTT service as well.
AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint
So, as you can see, wireless is an amazing, rapidly growing and constantly changing industry. I’ve been following this industry for more than 30 years and am continually amazed by all the innovation.
Twenty years ago, there were countless smaller networks. Today, there are fewer, larger networks. Twenty years ago, wireless was analog. Today, it’s digital, and continually getting faster as we are getting ready to move from 4G to 5G.
Twenty years ago, the handset leader was Motorola with the StarTac. Ten years ago, handset leaders were Nokia and Blackberry. Today, handset leaders are Apple iPhone and Google Android. Leadership in wireless is continually challenged and often changes.
What’s Coming Tomorrow in Wireless?
What about tomorrow? What’s coming? Who will lead? What new technologies will capture the imagination? These are some of the exciting questions being asked by competitors on the network side, handset side and app side of the industry. These are the questions being asked by consumers and business customers. And wireless will continue to welcome other industries as they use the technology to grow themselves.
Wireless has continued to grow and to change, countless times over the last several decades. And that transformation wave continues as we move into the next generation of wireless. Growth will come from many different areas as wireless expands into every industry going forward. We know what wireless looked like a decade ago. We know what wireless looks like today. Just imagine what wireless will look like going forward.
Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected] His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan.