Apple is losing influence over the telecommunications industry, according to a senior exec at Swedish operator TeliaSonera.
Tommy Ljunggren, SVP and head of system development for mobility services at the operator, told Telecoms.com that, due to its decision not to embrace LTE and a recent apparent slowdown in its pace of innovation, Apple’s importance to the market is now the subject of much debate within the industry.
“If you asked me two years ago I would have said Apple would be very important. But now it will be a bad mistake not to include LTE in the iPhone 5 as otherwise they will really be run over by the others,” he said.
He added that competitors are quickly catching up with Apple, and that the company’s supremacy in the handset space is coming into question. Rivals Google and RIM have been busy in recent days, both announcing new operating systems. Google recently unveiled its Android 4.0 mobile OS on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset, while RIM announced its BBX mobile platform; a hybrid of the BlackBerry platform and its QNX operating system for handsets and tablets.
Apple, meanwhile, launched the iPhone 4S this month, which despite selling four million units in the first three days of launch, received a lukewarm reception from critics, who were expecting a new device built from the ground up; an ‘iPhone 5’ that would support LTE. The launch did herald the latest update to the iOS platform however, which is dubbed iOS 5.
“[Apple] are not unique enough and there is disappointment over the 4S – it was too small step for them,” said Ljunggren.
“So I don’t think Apple will decide if LTE will fly or not. My expectation is that in 2013/14 we will really see low-end smartphones having LTE as well. The big question is what frequency bands they will put in for smartphones.
Ljunggren also admitted that there are no LTE enabled smartphones currently supported by TeliaSonera, and said that he expects that to change early 2012. He added that when the operator begins to support LTE handsets, “they will be true LTE smartphones – not the ones that the US has right now with two radios.”
“These drain the batteries flat very quickly as they have one LTE terminal for data and a CDMA voice terminal. It’s basically a dongle and phone that they glue together. They work – just not for long!”
Ljunggren said that we will eventually see “mature” LTE smartphones and tablets but that the volumes will likely not be there for a number of years.