TelstraClear calls it quits; PalmWindows

Voicing what we've all known for donkey's, TelstraClear head honcho Alan Freeth announced this week that the telco would give up its futile quest to make money as a leech on Telecom's monopoly.

Top Stories

- TelstraClear calls it quits

- PalmWindows

- OpenOffice 2.0 goes RC1

It runs on FreeBSD, Mac OS, Linux distributions and Sun Solaris – and Windows. Also, it probably does just about everything Microsoft Office does, at least for normal people. It's the free Open Office 2.0, now as release candidate 1 and in need of testing to find and iron out whatever bugs remain.

- Get your copy from openoffice.org

Apropos OOO:

- US state finalizes plans to phase out Office

- TelstraClear calls it quits

Voicing what we’ve all known for donkey’s, TelstraClear head honcho Alan Freeth announced this week that the telco would give up its futile quest to make money as a leech on Telecom’s monopoly.

The withdrawal from competing with Telecom is a one-eighty turn if you remember last year, when TelstraClear CEO Rosemary Howard wheeled out the then minister in charge, Paul Swain, to announce a residential telecommunications service based on very low margins – two percent for voice lines – but one which she assumed the government would improve the terms for.

At the launch, Swain pointed out to me that unlike other countries embarking upon the road to telco privatisation, New Zealand decided that no regulation of the incumbent was necessary. Quite rightly, Swain said that the current Labour government was hamstrung by this. However, Swain also said that the existing Telecommunications Act was working well and pointed to TelstraClear reselling residential phone services as evidence of it.

Well, it’s been a year now and the “wholesale” terms still suck. The New Zealand telco regulator is still obsessing about petty service details instead of pushing ahead with creating an environment that would encourage competition, innovation - and lower prices.

I can only speculate that the government is keeping a weary eye on Australia where Freeth’s boss at Telstra, Sol Trujillo, is presiding over a share-price freefall currently because investors aren’t keen on buying into a telco dinosaur that has to compete with nimbler players.

ACC alone has $176 million invested in Telecom, whose shares totally dominate trading on the NZ stock exchange. We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating… Telecom is now too big for the government to touch.

- No end in sight for TelstraClear

- Telstra sinking

- Wikipedia entry for Telecom New Zealand

(Ed - we'd like to point to Peter Griffin's column in the Harold (ahhhh) today but sadly, Peter's "premium" now and we run on unleaded. Sorry about that)

The New Zealand Treasury has estimated the economic loss from Telecom's monopoly to be in the region of $50–$250 million a year. Another study commissioned in 1998 by rival company Clear (now TelstraClear) estimated that the loss was $400 million a year.”

PalmWindows

Déjà vu, end of an era, we’ve seen it all before. Palm, the company that created the handheld computing market has been assimilated by the Microsoft Borg. I was told last year by a gleeful Microsoftie that Palm would release a device running Windows Mobile in 2005 some time and … here it is.

Next in Microsoft’s crosshairs — Research in Motion, or RIM, makers of the Blackberry handhelds. These are popular with enterprise customers, and I’m told that Microsofties are to officially froth at the mouth if ever they see a Blackberry. Must test that out on some of the New Zealand Microsofties actually.

For the next generation of Crackberries, RIM has turned to chip giant Intel for new CPUs. Some observers see that at as RIM looking for an ally to survive the onslaught of the Redmond orcs. It’s true that Intel would want to have more than one handheld operating system vendor in the market, so as not to be cornered by Microsoft. However, at the same time, how many Windows Mobile devices run on something else than Intel CPUs?

RIM meanwhile is seen as falling behind in the handheld market, after the huge initial success with the Blackberry. People now expect a fully-fledged internet experience in their hands, but is Intel betting on the wrong horse with the RIM collaboration?

The mobile network technology RIM will build into the new Blackberries is a bolt-on for GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) called Enhanced Data rates for Global Evolution or EDGE. Good grief, I’ve complained about mobile communications acronyms before, but that one really takes the biscuit. Anyway, EDGE sits between 2G and 3G, providing speeds up to 384kbit/s under ideal circumstances in other words, few users will obtain anything like that speed, ever.

EDGE has already been deployed by GSM operators around the world, but it’s hardly the blistering fast network technology required to make Blackberries the choice of handheld internetizens. There’s no point for Vodafone New Zealand to order these Blackberries for its customers for instance, as the global telco giant has decided to go with the UMTS 3G network instead.

New Windows Mobile devices however, are going to use the faster UMTS and CDMA-2000/EV-DO technologies, given them an … err, edge over new Blackberries. Intel’s “Hermon” chip works with UMTS too, however, and RIM would be wise to head straight for that technology if it wants to survive.

- Windows-based Treo could be coming

- The Palm Treo 700w

- Kill the Crackberry!

- RIM agrees to use Intel's Hermon mobile chip

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