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T-Mobile CEO says the company is still open to a merger

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April 29, 2015

T-Mobile CEO John Legere says the company is still open to a merger, and this time it is looking to some of the larger cable U.S. TV players as a possible partner. During an earnings call yesterday, Legere said that consolidation of the wireless industry was inevitable, and that we now need to get used to that reality sooner rather than later.

"It's not a matter of if but when," Legere added. "I still reiterate that in 5 years or less, we will probably think it's funny that we thought about the industry structure as the four major wireless carriers, but basically that's what it is."

On that note, Legere said that T-Mobile and the cable players were complementary to each other.

"You simply need to think about the cable industry and players like us as not competitors but potential industry partners, and alternatives for each other in the future," he added.

Legere made the comments in response to a question about whether the FCC's recent blocking of the Comcast-Time Warner merger had affected how he thinks about the industry's consolidation.

After AT&T's failed attempt to acquire T-Mobile a while back, Softbank and Sprint made an attempt for T-Mobile as well.

Sprint finally abandoned its bid as well, after wireless industry regulators came out firmly against narrowing the field to just three major carriers in the United States.

Legere pointed to Google's recent foray into the wireless service provider market with Project Fi as an indication that the industry is clearly diversifying.

AT&T's CEO said that as the border line between fixed and wireless broadband begins to blur there is broader set of potential partnerships, more integration and more mergers that the U.S. could be looking at, noting that the market "will see consolidation of a much broader set."

In other mobile news

It's now official: after about 18 months of rumors, the Apple Watch finally begins shipping today. Steve Jobs would have been proud.

On this important date, mobile app developers and companies of all sizes are scrambling together to be the first apps popping up on those small 1.32 inch displays.

The app store for the Apple Watch, which opened just yesterday, already has 3,000 apps, and it's increasing rapidly according to some observers.

That pales in comparison to the 1.2 million mobile apps the App Store contained as of last summer, but the volume of Watch apps will quickly expand, it is largely expected.

Some of the first apps for the Watch are from travel companies like PriceLine and Expedia. Analysts believe those types of apps could see a boost in relevance from Apple’s new device.

According to Strategy Analytics, travel apps represent a higher percentage of early Watch applications than more dominant categories like gaming, meaning those apps could benefit from early launches into a less crowded market and from a closer relationship to the 'ideal' primary purpose of a smartwatch.

“As a direct result, lesser utilized and downloaded categories which are focused on lifestyle improvement will be in direct alignment with the Apple Watch's use case and see increased usage and reliance as a result,” according to Strategy Analytics.

It helps that the Apple Watch is off to a roaring start. Carl Howe, principal at Think Big Analytics and former Yankee Group analyst, estimates the Apple Watch will ship more than 3 million units and see more than $2 billion in revenue in the first two weeks.

He sees those sales figures go up on the strength of strong demand for the higher priced Apple Watch edition.

With the Watch just starting to reach some consumers in larger numbers, the device’s app store has yet to generate a top charts section.

But Watch apps to get early preferential placement in the store include Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Shazam and Amazon.

In other mobile news

Funds stored in Google Wallet are now insured by the government. According to a report from Yahoo Finance, money stored in Google's Wallet is FDIC insured up to $250,000.

The news should help appease fraud concerns from consumers and wireless users that are leery in using the service without any form of protection.

While Google's user agreement says that money balances are not FDIC-insured, a Google spokesperson has confirmed for Yahoo that the company's policy was changed today.

Google is apparently holding Wallet funds in multiple FDIC-insured banks. In the event that anything were to happen to one of those financial institutions, the funds would be safe, the FDIC says.

News that Google is insuring Wallet users' funds is significant, as competing services such as PayPal and Venmo do not offer any FDIC insurance, and don't plan any in the foreseeable future.

In other mobile news

"But the FCC has chosen to subjugate the Internet to government-controlled public utility regulations from the 1930s. These regulations not only have no place in the 21st century economy, but will chill innovation and investment. We are challenging the FCC's misguided net neutrality order for these reasons and because we believe it could lead to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers," it added.

The FCC also stated at the time that it passed the rules in March that it was confident they could withstand a legal challenge.

In the meantime, Republicans in Congress continue to threaten legislation that would override the rules.

However, the proposed "resolution of disapproval" is going nowhere since it would require President Barack Obama to sign it, and he was a vocal proponent for the new rules.

His refusal to approve the resolution would require a 67 percent minimum vote in both houses of Congress to override it, which Democrats will probably never allow.

In other mobile news

In its annual mobile breach investigations report, Verizon suggests that the threat of mobile malware for smartphones and tablets is a lot less than the providers of mobile security products would have us believe.

Contrary to several claims from companies like Lookout and a few others that provide mobile security solutions and who have for years warned us about the rapid and massive growth of mobile malware, Verizon found virtually no iOS malware for iPhones or iPads in the data it examined from Verizon mobile customers in 2014, and virtually no Android malware either.

But Verizon's report did make a few eyebrows go up in surprise, nevertheless.

“We’re seeing that some of the exploits just aren’t happening,” said Bryan Sartin, head of Verizon’s risk team in a phone call today discussing the company’s annual Breach Investigations Report.

As you might guess, Verizon’s annual report card is rarely optimistic, and this year was mostly no different-- one major finding of the report suggests that the time it takes for hackers to get into a system and siphon data is just a few minutes.

But this mobile malware finding serves as an unexpected bright spot. In a section of the report titled, “I’ve got 99 problems and mobile isn’t even 1 percent of them,” Verizon says that, although it found hundreds of thousands of malware infections for mobile devices, most of them were simply annoying adware programs. The really big mobile threats didn’t materialize.

“The reality was that, when we talk about really truly malicious code, it was really 0.03 percent of Android devices per week,” Sartin said during the press call.

“That’s almost nothing.” And the Android malware they did find far outnumbered any that targeted iOS devices.

And although Verizon’s dataset was rather limited, it involved just six months worth of data from Verizon Wireless customers and the tens of millions of devices they use to connect to the Verizon network.

The authors of the report note that their findings are nevertheless consistent with the analysis of other forensic companies like FireEye who also say that mobile devices just don’t show up in their forensic investigations.

“This report is filled with thousands of stories of data loss, as it has been for several years already, and rarely do those stories include a smartphone,” the Verizon authors allege.

Despite the fact that serious security vulnerabilities have been found in mobile devices over the years, Verizon found little evidence that attackers were actually releasing exploits to attack them.

But this also means that companies have an opportunity to stay ahead of mobile attackers if they act now to secure and monitor their devices before the mobile attacks begin happen.

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Source: Apple.

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