Wednesday, June 4, 2008

WiMax Stays in the Spotlight

The WiMax drumbeat continued this week, signaling enduring interest among media, business and global standards organizations. Intel, the most vocal corporate proponent of the new standard, argues that WiMax has clear benefits in emerging markets, where the majority of the population is unconnected and there are fewer barriers from legacy systems. The company recently announced they would be making strategic investments in India-based WiMax firms and they are omnipresent at the 2008 WiMax Expo, which kicked off Monday in Taipei. At the Expo, hardware manufacturers are showing off WiMax-capable devices, such as a newer, larger version of Asus’ popular Eee PC.

As WiMax becomes more prevalent and begins to connect emerging markets previously underserved by DSL and cable services, there will be increasing opportunities for convergence of information and communication technologies. WiMax (with one foot in both IT and telecommunications), 3G-capable laptops, voice-over-IP, and other hybrid technologies represent both a convergence of technologies and of the value chains that deliver them. The convergence of products and distribution invites new players into the value chain, creating competition for revenues.

Companies with large, diverse product and service portfolios (e.g., HP, IBM, Sony) would do well to monitor converging technologies and capitalize on the opportunities presented when value chains overlap or merge. MNCs are well equipped to pursue these new business lines through acquisitions of smaller, nimbler companies or through internal growth. By diversifying their roles and broadening their control of the value chain in emerging markets, MNCs can benefit from entirely new revenue streams, making it easier to weather ongoing changes in global markets.

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