A Foolish Week of Telecom

Perhaps it's not yet time to write Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) obituary.

Though it did lose its crown as king of the world's cell phone makers to Samsung several quarters ago, it is holding onto second place with a 21% market share versus the South Korean company's 26%, according to ABI Research. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) is No. 3 at 7%.

Another portent of un-doom for Nokia is its top-of-the-line Lumia 920 smartphone becoming an actual wanted item: selling out on Amazon.com, on back-order at AT&T (NYSE: T  ) for some colors, sold out in black, and out of stock at some retailers in Germany and Austria.

Nokia's good news has been reflected in its stock price jumping 33% between Nov. 14 and Nov. 23 to a six-month high of $3.56.

A T-Mobile iPhone?
Despite T-Mobile USA's COO Jim Ailing last week indicating the "economies" of offering the iPhone were not yet right for his company, Merrill Lynch analyst Scott Craig reported in a note that "speculation is heightening" that parent company Deutsche Telecom will confirm a deal with Apple next week.

Whether or not such a potential deal would help T-Mobile's bottom line, it would likely slow down its subscriber losses. "We recognize that [not having the iPhone] has been a point of churn for us," Alling said at a conference in Barcelona.

iPhone 5, Android killer?
Driven by strong iPhone 5 sales over the last 12 weeks, Apple's iOS has knocked Google's Android from its place as the most popular mobile operating system in the U.S., according to analysis and research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The score now stands at iOS 48.1%, Android 46.7%.

This definitely bucks the global trend. Market research company The NPD Group found Android's third-quarter market share grew to 68.1%, versus the iOS share shrinking to 16.9%.

The last time iOS pulled ahead of Android was after Apple released the iPhone 4S in 2011.

On the other hand, even though Apple kept its lead in tablet sales during the third quarter, its tablet market share fell 14%, according to ABI Research. Android-powered tablets have been nibbling away at the edge Apple has held for 10 straight quarters since it first launched the iPad. Apple now has a 55% share. Android tablets are now up to 44%.

A Microsoft confession
Speaking of tablets, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) CEO Steve Ballmer swallowed hard and told shareholders at the company's annual meeting this week that moving into the tablet arena was something "maybe we should have done ... earlier."

That acknowledgement came in response to a shareholder pointing out that 10 years earlier then-CEO Bill Gates displayed a tablet and called it "the future of computing."

"Maybe if we had started innovating then, which is what we really did with Surface ... Maybe that tablet shift would have been sooner," said Ballmer.

At the same Microsoft meeting, Steve Ballmer threw out this bone: Windows Phone sales have quadrupled over the last year. But that claim raises this question: four times what?

You see, Microsoft hasn't given out actual Windows Phone sales figures to use as a benchmark. So, as a worthwhile metric, well, it's not.

Sprint's push-to-spend more plan
Sprint Nextel
's (NYSE: S  ) message to those push-to-talk iDEN network subscribers leftover from its ill-conceived 2005 $36 billion Nextel acquisition is this: don't let the door hit you in the back.

To show how much Sprint has appreciated those subscribers' patronage, the carrier is giving them the opportunity to pay an extra $10 a month for the privilege of staying on the iDEN network. Sprint plans to shut iDEN down by the end of next June.

To avoid the extra fee, all the customers have to do is switch to Sprint's new CDMA push-to-talk network. Of course, they'll have to buy new handsets, too.

A road map to embarrassment
Apple's Maps app mishap has claimed a second victim. According to The New York Times, which spoke to people knowledgeable of the matter but who wanted to remain anonymous, Richard Williamson, the senior manager in charge of Apple's mobile mapping service, was fired just before Thanksgiving.

The mapping program, which comes bundled in iOS 6, the operating system that runs the iPhone 5, was so full of problems that Apple CEO Tim Cook felt compelled to make a rare public apology.

"We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better," Cook said in a statement last September.

The first executive to be dismissed as a result of the map app failure was Scott Forstall, the man who ran software development for the iPad and the iPhone. As reported by the NYT, Forstall thought the mapping problems were exaggerated and refused to sign an apology, apparently the one that Cook eventually made.

Despite the recent mapping embarrassment, there is absolutely no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


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