Kindle change reflects new world of mobile


The financial blow to Sprint may not be huge, as it's still providing indirectly purchased bandwidth to users of the older device. But AT&T's entirely logical move may be a sign of what's to come for proponents of mobile systems other than the dominant one. The GSM Association last year claimed there were more than 3 billion GSM connections in the world. There were just over 500 million CDMA subscribers worldwide in the middle of this year, according to the CDMA Development Group.

"The long-term outlook for CDMA for these types of solutions is pretty gray," said Yankee Group analyst Phil Marshall. "Consumer electronics is all about scale. It's all about the mass market."

Sprint is likely to face a similar challenge with the next generation of mobile technologies, as it rolls out a network through Clearwire based on WiMax technology while AT&T, Verizon and many other large service providers around the world gear up for LTE, Marshall said. LTE is backed by the GSM Association, the same organization behind GSM and HSPA.

There may still be room for less widely used systems in business-to-business applications such as monitoring and meter reading, because the devices involved rely less on high volume and low price, he added.

But in at least one respect, mobile operators are at a disadvantage with "connected devices" such as the Kindle. Because consumers don't have a direct relationship with the carrier, providers of devices or the content delivered to them can switch without fear of alienating users.