Continuing from our headline story last week, the FCC this week announced an official Notice of Inquiry to “ensure that competition in the mobile wireless market continues to bring substantial benefits to American consumers”.  As we’ve been reporting, there have been several high-profile issues catching the attention of the FCC but the breaking point seemed to be the Apple/AT&T/Google Voice fiasco.  Prior to releasing this Notice of Inquiry, the FCC requested and received details from Apple, AT&T and Google as to their roles in the rejection of the Google Voice app in the Apple app store.  Seems like the FCC means business, although as I said last week, I doubt anything formal will come out to of the investigation. 

Obviously the carriers are not too scared since AT&T made another poor customer service decision by announcing that they will require all new smartphone purchases to be accompanied by a data plan after Sept. 6.  AT&T claims they want to protect consumers and provide better customer satisfaction by eliminating fluctuating and unpredictable data charges.  Hmm… what about the consumers that just want a “cool” phone but won’t actually use the data services extensively?  Or even better, if AT&T really cares for its consumers, then why not just charge consumers as they use data and cap the fees at $30 per month if they exceed nominal usage.  It always baffles me when businesses make decisions purely based on profit and try to spin it as a customer-value decision.  Dear selfish business owners: the consumer isn’t stupid, so just tell the truth; at least you’ll have our respect.

While the FCC investigates the US carriers, our favorite handset manufacturers continue to jockey for market share.  This week the big news was from RIM who made a bold (no pun intended) move to focus on the consumer market buying Torch Mobile and its Webkit-based browser.  Finally BlackBerry users can drop their iPhone/Palm/Android-envy and get fun slide, pop-up, rotational transitions!  In all seriousness, this is a great move by BlackBerry and shows that they want to keep their title as the fastest growing company.

Apple not to be outdone by RIM is on a charge to increase their worldwide market share and will finally take the iPhone to China to capture part of the world’s biggest mobile market.  I am curious to see how the Chinese consumers react to the iPhone but I’m sure it will be a huge success with the Apple marketing machine creating hype.  But what I’m really curious about is if the consumers will keep their iPhones long-term or revert back to the already smaller, more advanced phones available in the Asian market. 

And finally Google continues their full force push into the mobile handset market.  With HTC and Samsung already announcing multiple Android-based phones this year and multiple carriers approving the phones, Google is well-positioned to gain consumer market share.  Now it seems, Motorola wants to jump on the bandwagon and are rumored to be working on an Android-based phone.  This is all goodness for Google since it gives them another vendor who gives them an opportunity to gain market share (every little bit matters).  With all these vendors and phones, I don’t think there is going to be the 1 “killer” Android-based phone but instead Google will win by numbers.  Android will provide consumers with a common OS and user interface but let them choose their own form factor.  Sound familiar? Reminds me of the PC market …

As always, here are this week’s other articles, stories or report I thought you would find interesting:

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