A Foolish Week of Telecom

Samsung is still the top mobile phone seller in the U.S., and its market share has increased to boot, according to technology analysis company comScore. But as its slice of the market increased from 25.7% in August to 26.9% by November's end, it did not take growth away from second-place Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , which saw its market share increase from 17.1% to 18.5%.

Instead, both Samsung's and Apple's market share grew at the expense of LG, Motorola, and HTC, each with percentage point drops of 0.7, 0.8, and 0.4, respectively.

As far as most popular smartphone operating systems go, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android is still No. 1, having gained 1.1 percentage points to 53.7%, and No. 2 Apple's iOS share grew 0.7 percentage points to 35%.

Research In Motion's (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) OS was No. 3 at 7.3%, then came Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows Phone OS at 3%, and Nokia's (NYSE: NOK  ) Symbian OS at only 0.5%.

LTE phones do not mean immediate LTE profits
Just because 103 million 4G LTE mobile devices shipped worldwide last year – as counted by ABI Research -- doesn't mean each of those devices will be soon shoving data through a 4G LTE wireless network pipeline.

As much as mobile operators want to see their data revenues increase as quickly as the fast wireless broadband connections can move that data over the airwaves, subscribers seem to be more concerned with having the latest handsets than with fully using those devices' speed potential.

In the early days of wireless broadband, customers who upgraded their 2G devices to 3G could be counted on to also upgrade their subscriptions, but that is just not happening -- at least not yet.

"But carriers should not be panicking -- [the sales are] seeding the market with 4G handsets," said Jake Saunders of ABI Research. "New sign-ups and conversion of 3G subscribers with LTE-capable handsets should gather pace in 2013 and 2014."

There should be "785 million LTE subscribers by 2017, up from 58 million at the end of 2012," said Saunders.

New York state vs. Qualcomm
Qualcomm
(NASDAQ: QCOM  ) may find itself the unintended means by which the Citizens United Supreme Court decision could be rendered at least partially moot.

That decision made it possible for corporations and unions to donate unlimited amounts of money to politicians and political groups. The recipients of those donations then were not obligated to make public the names of the donors.

The New York state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, is suing Qualcomm to make public its records of political spending. DiNapoli is sole trustee of the New York state pension fund, which is one of the country's largest public institutional investors and a major Qualcomm investor.

DiNapoli filed the lawsuit after Qualcomm refused the pension fund's request for it to disclose its political spending.

"It really gets to the heart of the question of transparency," DiNapoli told The New York Times. "How is a corporation spending money in the political process and how does that impact shareholder value?"

A U.K. way to sell iPhones
Why should a wireless carrier have to keep subsidizing the price of high-end smartphones? Why not just take an iPhone, say, traded in by a subscriber wanting the latest generation handset, clean it up a bit, and then offer it at discounted price to new subscribers?

For the New Year, Vodafone's (NASDAQ: VOD  ) U.K. unit is doing just that. Its "Nearly New" promotion offers a used iPhone 4 at a price of $250 to prepay customers, making it much cheaper than the price for a new iPhone.

Perhaps Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) , AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) could use such a scheme to reduce their own subsidy costs.

You say potato
Apple says App Store, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) says AppStore. Oh, let's call the whole thing off, says U.S. Judge Phyllis Hamilton.

Apple had sued Amazon over the online retailer's use of the term "AppStore." Too close, Apple said, to its own "App Store" brand. But Judge Hamilton dismissed Apple's request for a summary judgment against Amazon's use of the term.

Contrary to Apple's claim that Amazon's AppStore would cause confusion in the minds of consumers between Apple's and Amazon's services, the judge said:

"There is no evidence that a consumer who accesses the Amazon Appstore would expect that it would be identical to the Apple App Store, particularly given that the Apple App Store sells apps solely for Apple devices, while the Amazon Appstore sells apps solely for Android and Kindle devices."

That doesn't put an end to Apple's lawsuit against Amazon. There will still be a trial to be held in August.

Worst wireless city in the U.S.?
Researchers from RootMetrics, after visiting 75 metropolitan areas around the country, taking data speed tests for both 4G and 3G networks, have come up with the city that has the slowest download speeds.

First, it should be noted that RootMetrics used average speeds from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Nextel, Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP  ) , MetroPCS (NYSE: TMUS  ) , and T-Mobile USA for their testing.

Drum roll...

The winner is... Buffalo, N.Y.!

Happy New Year, Buffalonians!

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