2006: The year of broadband, PSP and PS3
Were we on the money?
Here's one we missed. We said that both News Corp and EchoStar will come up with a triple play during 2006. Well News Corp did, in the UK where it bought Easynet, but it didn't in the US, where it is set to sell off its interest in DirecTV to John Malone's Liberty Media.
EchoStar has yet to make the move either. The mystery has been why?
DirecTV was tipped to offer a merged broadband return path with EchoStar using the Clearwire WiMAX network, but neither have publicly announced such a deal. DirecTV probably held back while it negotiated with Liberty Media, and EchoStar perhaps believes that it will be acquired by one of the major US telcos, and didn't want to go down a route that it would have to unravel.
Perhaps this year then these two will build out a return path and a triple play.
We also said that this time Microsoft IPTV would launch on time, that it its new scheduled delivery, since the set top chip makers had been set back around nine months, would be met, and more or less it has.
We also said that initially it would sell very few and have no immediate effect on telco financial numbers and that's certainly true. In fact, that will continue to be true throughout 2007. We also predicted that at least one Tier 1 US telco CEO would leave office, well we didn't mean the CEOs of Nextel, Bellsouth and AT&T through acquisition, we meant through clear corporate failure.
That trend has probably been delayed by all the mergers and Wall Street giving the dramatically reduced number of players a chance to gel, but US Telcos still have challenges that will trip them up, but most likely under the next US presidential administration now.
We also predicted that Sony's stock market value would not rise above $40bn all year, while Apple's would remain above this number all year, peaking in March when Steve Job's share options vested.
We almost hit this prediction, but Sony's market value actually rose as high as $52bn at one point, but that was misguided and very temporary and it spent most of the year around $40bn and is currently $43.5bn.
Right now Apple is currently valued at just under $75bn, a record, and went as low as $44bn during July. One major peak was actually in February in plenty of time for Steve Jobs' share options to vest, but anticipation of the iPhone has recently rocketed the share value back up again. When we first started covering Apple during 2003 its share valuation was under $10bn.
We got the whole game console thing quite wrong saying that the PS3 would outsell the Xbox 360 in a ratio of two to one, in territories where it ships, constrained only by parts availability. Well, it was certainly parts constrained when it launched. PS3s, despite an unreasonably high price, have sold out wherever they have been delivered, and this week Sony said that it would meet its ambition to ship two million devices by the end of the calendar year and six million by the end of its own financial year in March.
But that won't see Sony's shipment rate double the Xbox, and this will now not happen until parts are fluid, and that means the difficult to make Blu-ray drives, so sometime around the second half of 2007.
But with the PSP, Sony has outstripped Microsoft and its Xbox considerably, while both of them have been surprised at the lively showing of the Nintendo Wii, which has taken games markets by storm, making up more than 50 per cent of sales in the past month or two.
We said that dual mode Wi-Fi cellular handsets would be out in 2006, but would sell in low numbers during the first year as operators struggled with the marketing message.
That's more or less on the money, and the message is more easily sent to the enterprise community than to consumers, and it will take all of 2007 for this market to warm up, but warm up it will.