Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) wrapped up its 2009 WiMax rollout ahead of schedule today, announcing commercial launches in Seattle and Honolulu. Encouraged by the momentum, the WiMax provider has also put a deadline on its plans for WiMax smartphone introductions – CEO Bill Morrow told MocoNews today that WiMax smartphones would be on the market by Christmas of 2010.
A lack of devices has been one of Clearwire’s biggest roadblocks in making WiMax more than a niche play. Morrow said that while the company is currently focused on laptops and data cards, it will add WiMax-enabled smartphones to its line-up in the second half of next year – maybe not the summer, but definitely before Christmas, he said. Clearwire investor and wholesale partner Sprint has also promised dual-mode 3G/4G phones next year.
Clearwire won’t be subsidizing the cost of its WiMax devices, meaning that WiMax-capable equipment could cost anywhere from $450 to $1,000, as well as lack some of the capabilities of today’s smartphone, according to research today from Pikes & Fischer. Despite the limitations of the smartphones, the report also predicted that Clearwire will grow its WiMAX customer base in the US to about 600,000 by the end of 2010 and will generate revenues upwards of $580 billion.
At September’s 4G World, Morrow outlined his vision of the features of WiMax smartphones in a keynote address. He imagined it as similar to a computer – highlighted by 1 Ghz processor, high-definition video, 3D imaging and 64 gigabytes of internal memory. He said it would also include mobile VoIP and voice and object reorganization. Most importantly – of course – Morrow said WiMax smartphones would harness the speed and power of the 4G broadband connection, enabling them to do things, such as cloud computing, smartphones can’t today.