Greg's Bite: Sprint, hot iPads, Google's 1 Gig fiber 
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Greg's Bite: Sprint, hot iPads, Google's 1 Gig fiber 

By Greg Mills

Dear readers, I have been busy writing a textbook on the process of invention using the new Apple App "iBooks Author" and have been spreading my tech articles around with various publishers.  When I read things about Apple that bug me, I sit down a write about it ... therapy of sorts. When that happens, my friends at MacNews and MacTech lend me a soap box to express my views.

Recently Sprint, the ugly duckling of the US cell phone industry,  has come under fire from the market due to Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett cutting Sprint's stock potential due to the high risk of bankruptcy. Moffett figures there is a 50-50 chance the iPhone deal with Apple will actually be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Sprint admitted they were betting the farm on the iPhone deal. The more iPhones they sell, the more financing they need until the new accounts go into the black.

Moffitt recounts the long laundry list of major mistakes Sprint management has made over the last few years. From the poorly conceived Nextel merger to the LightSquared and ClearWire WiMAX disasters. The price of Sprint stock has been stuck in the US$2 to $3 range for the last six months. At current valuation of the stock on the New York Exchange, Sprint's market cap is valued at about $8 billion.

That is less than half the value of the iPhone deal Sprint made with Apple. Ironically, if Sprint goes under, Apple might be the single biggest creditor. What if Apple got Sprint outright in a bankruptcy proceeding? Remember the profit alone, on all those iPhone Apple sold Sprint, is greater than the entire market cap for the Sprint Corporation.

I have been advocating since last fall that Apple ought to buy Sprint outright, kill the Sprint brand name and launch "Apple Mobility."  Sprint's wireless network needs work and a major investment in 4G technology, but they own spectrum and assets that would allow Apple to put a world class cell phone company together.  That would support the broad range of Apple's ever more mobile devices. AT&T and Verizon would cry foul, but they are always crying the blues about something anyway.

If Apple gets Sprint at the $2.50 a share range, that the stock would double to $5 overnight is not inconceivable. That overnight investment would effectively give Apple a national cellular carrier for free. Apple has long envisioned various forms of marketing cellular services. What better way to invest some of that cash?

The problems at Sprint are mostly located in the boardroom of the company. I strongly advise Apple to fire everyone but the janitors and to take a hard look at them. I would suggest Apple bribe Tony Fadell to take over Sprint and make it a fitting company asset within the Apple business culture.  

Hot iPads? Give Apple a break. When you pack twice the battery and have twice the power consumption as the iPad 2 in the same form factor, any idiot would expect the new iPad to run a bit hotter.  I do think the new iPad takes a bit longer to charge due to the greater capacity of the larger battery. It is being charged with the same wattage brick as the iPad 1 and 2. That ,also, is basic physics. The USB format power supply maxes out at 10 Watts.  

The new iPad is nothing short of amazing, so don't let some Microsoft or Android fan steer you wrong. Apple sold three million of the new iPads in four days. Even PC fans are admitting that there is nothing even close to matching Apple's new tablet. I think Apple CEO Tim Cook is being very conservative in projecting the soon coming eclipse of the PC. The PC age is over, except for the crying at Microsoft, HP and Dell's campuses.  

I got my new iPad last Friday from a haggard and bewildered UPS driver who told me his division had 20 iPads per truck going out that one day, with 300 trucks in the fleet. Do the math. Kansas City has a quite a few Apple fans who bought iPads on line for first day delivery.  

My new iPad is absolutely stunning and is a big step up from iPad 1, which my daughter has claimed as her birthright. The screen resolution is breathtaking. It is like going from regular TV to full HDTV. The Verizon 4G network iPad is very fast compared to my MacBook Pro running on cable modem/WiFi.  

The Google 1 Gig Fiber Internet project seems to be slowly developing here in Kansas City, Kansas. Interestingly, Chattanooga, Tennessee, is the only other existing 1 Gig fiber Onternet service in the whole country. Their 1 Gig Internet business  has floundered fiscally due to the $350 per month they charge for full speed service. While a lot of people opted for the slower, dumbed down speeds sold at a lower price point, the full 1 Gig service has been sold to only nine residents and 18 businesses, according to my research. Adoption of the state-of-the-art service has been very limited due to pricing. Also, the lack of apps that actually require 1 Gig can be counted on one hand.

The business model of tiered service plans with various price points and speeds is not the approach Google is planning to offer. Google plans to give everyone access to the full 1 Gig internet, instead of slowing down connections for cheaper service.   

Working out access to telephone poles to actually string the fiber has been reported as the most recent cause of delay in implementing Google's new high speed service here in Kansas City.  It has also leaked out that Goole plans to offer bundled cable TV and phone service as well as Internet.  

The other utilities are forcing their way onto Google's fiber network in exchange for access to their utility poles. This all promises to offer residents of Kansas City access to a broad array of state-of-the-art digital services at competitive prices.  Google is the deep pocket that can make all this happen.

Perhaps in light of the recent privacy breeches Google ought to consider a new ethical mantra: "don't be completely evil."  

That is Greg's Bite.


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