RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Motricity’s $135 million plan of the mobile infrastructure business from InfoSpace announced earlier week is all about the convergence of data, voice, TV, movies and music on your mobile device, says the company’s top executive.
First, a couple of statistics that the world is embracing mobile devices and content faster than a cable Internet connection can deliver data:
• A recent survey from mobile device maker Ericsson estimates one third of wireless customers will be watching mobile TV as soon as next year.
• As of October 17, CITA, the wireless telecommunications trade association, reported more than 245 million wireless subscribers in the U.S. ALONE.
And don’t for a second believe that Motricity Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Wuerch doesn’t see visions of Google in his dreams.
Egad, what a nightmare – unless Google offers a few billion dollars to cash out your, your shareholders and all your employees with golden parachutes.
In an illuminating interview with the mobile industry Web site FierceWireless on Thursday, Wuerch described the InfoSpace acquisition as “all about convergence” of content on mobile devices – not just phones. And he also made sure to mention he sees Google as a potential competitor. Google, after all, is apparently going to make a big bid for wireless spectrum that goes on sale from the FCC next year. And rumors persist Google is developing its own phone.
Should Google be planning a big wireless play with its terabytes of data and billions in cash, companies such as Motricity will need allies. And Wuerch has a big one – billionaire Carl Icahn. He not only invested $50 million in Durham-based Motricity earlier this year and then added an undisclosed amount to finance the InfoSpace buy.
Here, in my view anyway, are the crucial paragraphs in the FierceWireless interview, with Wuerch speaking to FierceWireless Editor-in-Chief Sue Marek:
“We are focused every day on convergence. Where we are today is going to be very different from where we are tomorrow. Convergence is a big subject inside of our company. What is happening with broadband? What is happening with the TV? What is happening with the cell phone? As we see all of these converging we are spending our time and attention there. In the past we looked at competition in almost a myopic way. But that is changing. When we are talking about where the market is going–with advertising and search and different types of media that will be harnessed–you have to think about companies from a competitive standpoint like Ericsson, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. I’d be naive to not mention Google. Those are all companies that I believe we will see in a competitive environment in the future.
“That’s one reason for this transaction. Scale matters. We have created scale. Once this acquisition closes, I believe we will have the strongest employee base, management team and understanding of mobile data and mobile content in the business.”
Once the deal closes in the next 90 days or so, Wuerch may sleep better knowing he has scaled up.