Google and Apple are eyeing 4G LTE patents that will become available from Nortel as part of its bankruptcy filing. The rivals would improve their respective Android and iOS platforms.
Google and Apple are believed to be gunning for some of the more than 4,000
patents Nortel is auctioning off for its bankruptcy filing, a J.P
Morgan analyst said in a research note.
The patents Google and Apple would be most interested in obtaining are
related to 4G wireless communications, also known as Long Term Evolution, or
LTE in industry parlance.
4G networks are far faster than the current 3G networks, which means
carriers can offer consumers smartphones that enable more powerful
applications. This affords considerable opportunities for smartphone makers,
Google and Apple, which are streaking up the smartphone charts in the Unites
States, want LTE technologies to build out their own mobile software
capabilities for their respective Android and iOS
These companies would improve OS capabilities to deliver more powerful
applications for gaming, communications and social networking. Google declined
to comment for this story.
J.P. Morgan analyst Rod Hall, who said Google and Apple's
interest in Nortel's LTE patents is bad news for Nokia, Motorola and Research In
"Given the strong cash positions of AAPL [Apple] and GOOG [Google] and
the relatively limited patent portfolios of both, we are concerned that prices
could get bid up," Hall wrote. "We believe embattled vendors like NOK
[Nokia], MOT [Motorola] and RIMM [RIM] might find it difficult to cede these
patents without a fight."
Verizon Wireless launched
its LTE network Dec. 5 and is currently the only U.S.
carrier with a 4G LTE network on the market.
Phones capable of 4G data speeds are expected to launch in mid-2011. HTC
CEO Peter Chou confirmed
as much for his company Dec. 15.
Gleacher & Co. analyst Mark McKechnie tested Verizon's LTE network and
found that the 4G network yielded 11M bps to 22M bps of downstream data and 7M
bps to 15M bps of upstream data. Noting that faster networks provide a
"tailwind for the overall smartphone industry," he added:
"We still view the two major ecosystems-AAPL and Android-as the leaders
in tablets and smartphones, as strong ecosystems will take advantage of the
improved capabilities and adapt to 4G with a breadth of products."
Apple, for example, could leverage Verizon's LTE network to launch its
popular iPhone, he said.