A Foolish Week of Telecom

The iPhone 5 launch on Wednesday, Sept. 12, is sure to be the most important event for tech investors this year. The Motley Fool will be hosting a live chat where our top tech analysts will answer your questions and break down what the announcement means for Apple and tech investors everywhere. Be sure to swing by Fool.com at 12:45 p.m. ET next Wednesday for all your coverage of Apple's next big announcement.

This week's unveiling of Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) latest smartphones was underwhelming, according to one analyst's research note. Mike Genovese of MKM Partners called the event "tepid" and the phones "me too" devices.

And Deutsche Bank was definitely pessimistic on the Finnish company's chances of gaining a larger slice of the smartphone pie: "Nokia's new Windows Phone 8 devices will unlikely alter its muted smartphone market share trajectory in an ever more competitive smartphone market."

The fifth coming
By "ever more competitive smartphone market," I'm sure what is meant is the expected introduction next week (Sept. 12) of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) fifth major iteration of the iPhone. Other than the approach of Facebook's (Nasdaq: FB  ) IPO, it's hard to imagine any event getting more attention than the launching of a new iDevice.

The feverish publicity over the iPhone 5 intro has produced this bit of hyperventilation: As many as 10 million iPhone 5s would be sold with days of its release. That's according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Verizon to the rescue
One bit of good news for Nokia was that Verizon let The Wall Street Journal in on this important tidbit: The carrier will increase its Windows Phone 8 lineup and has a relationship (details not yet revealed) with Nokia. At the moment, Nokia is the face of Windows Phone handsets, but Samsung, the South Korean electronics goliath, has announced that it, too, will be producing Windows Phone 8 devices.

Fire when ready ... at Apple
Speaking of mobile device introductions, Amazon.com held forth this week, unveiling five devices , including a new Kindle Fire, which, at 8.9 inches, is close to the size of Apple's iPad. It will go on sale in November at $299. Apple's cheapest iPad sells for $499.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made the point at the event that it's not all about hardware. "We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices," he said. "People don't want gadgets anymore. They want services ... that improve over time."

The sun will come up tomorrow
Moody's Investors Service raised its head, took a look around, and said it believes the U.S. wireless industry is in good shape. So Moody's tore off the industry's "stable" label and replaced it with one that says "positive."

Why the upgrade? For one thing, Moody's expects the combined free cash flow for the nine carriers the agency watches to rise almost 11%. On top of that, churn, or the rate at which customers leave a carrier, should stay at a low rate. That's because prices at the carriers are stable ... for the moment, at least.

Not surprisingly, the two companies in the strongest position, according to Moody's, are the largest, AT&T and Verizon. Smaller carriers, such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) , MetroPCS, and Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) , will continue to battle for market share in the shadows of the two giants.

Some spectrum relief?
Congress wants broadcasters to give up their unused UHF spectrum for the good of the mobile-carrier community. So it has asked the Federal Communications Commission to come up with some rules by which those wireless frequencies could be auctioned off.

But if you're a carrier panting for more spectrum, don't hold your breath. The FCC doesn't expect to finish with the rule-making until the middle of 2013 and won't hold the actual auction until 2014.

Viruses, botnets, and ransomware -- oh, my!
McAfee Labs, the computer-security company now owned by Intel, has released a new threat report, and the conclusion is not comforting. The number of malware samples McAfee discovers each day approaches 100,000. At that rate, the number will "almost certainly" rise to 100 million malware samples in the next quarter. There are currently 90 million malware samples.

Malware threats to mobile devices, according to the report, are "drive-by downloads," "ransomware," and the use of Twitter to control botnets.

Ransomware essentially kidnaps a user's files until the owner pays off the scofflaws. Drive-by downloading refers to a user enticed by a piece of malware into downloading unwanted files. A botnet turns a device into a node of an unwanted network used to spread even more malware.

McAfee says Android phones and tablets are the most-hit mobile platforms.

The excitement building up over next week's expected introduction of Apple's iPhone 5 underscores the effect Apple has on the whole tech world. To get the full scoop on one of the preeminent names in technology today, grab your copy of the Fool's new premium report on Apple. It comes with a full year of updates, as well as an overview of the must-know opportunities and threats for every Apple investor.

Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of Nokia and AT&T. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Facebook and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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