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Wireless is Still the Hottest Sector in Tech

Had every intention of starting the week focused on Thursday's long-awaited Vista release from Microsoft to corporate customers. Funny how news gets in the way of news!

Palm announces after the bell Monday a revenue and earnings shortfall and the delay of its new, flagship Treo 750. As soon as the news hit the wires, I scrambled to our set in Palo Alto. Trying to get some information, scrambling for the details. My producer Michelle Eprem found analyst Pablo Perez-Fernandez of G-Square in Geneva of all places. He and I talked during the commercial break, and then I was on! It was an adrenaline rush, as it always is, with breaking news. Got it out, got it right, and then I was done.

We followed the story Tuesday because of news overnight from Nokia, issuing its own revenue and profit margin warning. Yikes! Two major players in wireless with warnings kind of makes you wonder: is the hottest sector in tech cruising for a slowdown? Or is there some disconnect between them and everyone else?

Seems it's the latter. Analysts say Palm's problems continue operational challenges the company has been dealing with; for Nokia, there was just no way the company could match this year's 21% growth next year too.

But look at Research in Motion! This was a $60 stock in August. Now it's close to $140! Its Pearl handset is selling like crazy, and I'm getting word that there's at least two cool Blackberry handsets in the pipeline to be released over the next two quarters. Early reviews from those who've seen them seem to be very positive indeed.

And then there's the big wildcard: will Apple enter the fray with its iPhone? Piper's Gene Munster has been beating this drum for months, and now it seems the rest of Wall Street is following his lead. Conventional wisdom is that Apple unveils the device in January, post-CES at Apple's San Francisco love-fest Macworld. That way, the company can capitalize on advertising on the 'American Idol debut,' or even the Super Bowl. But my sources say don't bet on it, at least at Macworld, which typically focuses on all things Mac, and computers, not other Apple products like iPod. Who knows what Jobs has up his trademarked black sleeve? Anything can happen, but I'd be surprised.

All this should tell you that despite Palm's and Nokia's issues, wireless is hardly dead, or even dying. It remains one of the most robust sub-sectors in tech and with mobile music and mobile video, will remain so in 2007.

And to prove the point, I'm filing this blog on my Blackberry!

Hope you come back soon...

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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