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Thursday, November 29, 2007, 04:10 pm PT (07:10 pm ET)

Verizon's 4G choice and the iPhone; Dell shipments slump in Q3

Verizon's decision to use Long Term Evolution for its fourth-generation wireless will have a long-term effect on the US cellular industry. Also, Dell has traded spaces and finds itself struggling to grow sales, according to an iSuppli report.

Verizon's 4G to share same technology as AT&T

For the first time since the company's founding in 2000, Verizon Wireless will share the same base network technology as its largest rival AT&T, the carrier has revealed on Thursday while confirming future plans for its service.

Known as LTE for short, Long Term Evolution will replace the 3G (third-generation) networks of both carriers and will deliver downloads as quick as 100 megabits per second while cutting back on latency and supporting more users for every cell tower, making it easier to deploy than 3G in the process. To date, Verizon has used the competing CDMA standard and its accompanying EVDO data access, which are incompatible with AT&T's GSM network

The similarity virtually ensures greater network compatibility between the companies' cellular services in the future. A subscriber to AT&T with an LTE phone could roam to Verizon's network or vice versa, while customers of either provider will have the choice of bringing their unlocked devices with them if they switch providers. Vodafone's eventual European network will also support the same format, Verizon says.

While potentially impressive, Verizon cautions that its 4G network is still distant: early trials begin in 2008, hinting at an actual commercial deployment in 2009 or later. AT&T's exclusivity deal with the iPhone may also prevent some eventual 4G iPhones from switching to Verizon on an official basis. The Apple handset itself is also currently limited to AT&T's 2G EDGE service and will only reach 3G next year.

Rivals feed on Dell's PC marketshare misfortune, says report

The Round Rock, Texas-based computer builder is facing assaults on all fronts from PC vendors ready to take advantage of its mistakes, iSuppli said on Thursday.

Dell's computer shipments increased in the third quarter by just 1.5 percent compared to the same season a year ago, well behind other top-tier PC makers. The company shipped just 100,000 more systems than in summer 2006 and tumbled from a 16.3 percent marketshare of all PCs shipped worldwide to 14.6 percent.

The company's lackluster performance is largely due to sluggish sales channels that haven't yet adapted to the company's renewed PC-centric strategy.

Other companies have been eager to pounce on this fact, according to the researchers. Both first-place HP and fourth-place Acer are pushing Dell out of its familiar position at the top of the charts as they both put most of their attention on the more popular notebook business and have been much more successful at controlling their sales channels. Each grew substantially over the last year, with HP climbing from 16.5 percent to 19.2 percent year-over-year and Acer soaring from 5.4 to 7.9 percent — a 68 percent leap in marketshare that will only get stronger once Acer finishes acquiring Gateway within coming months.

Lenovo occupies third place at 8.1 percent while Toshiba is fifth with an unspecified share, iSuppli adds. Companies below the marker, including Apple, are not mentioned.

The downturn for Dell is proving increasingly ironic for its namesake chief executive Michael Dell, who infamously suggested in October 1997 that he would shut down Apple and give back the money to shareholders at a time when Dell was triumphant and Apple was considered near death. The tone of the iSuppli report appears to echo this sentiment when it summarizes the effect of competition upon Dell ten years later.

"Dude, you're getting Dell's marketshare," iSuppli says.