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Happy New Year December 31, 2008

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Well, as we celebrate the last few moments of 2008, wish you the very best in 2009. May you do well on all front, do good work, and stay in touch. We will be back with some interesting survey results later this week.

My thanks to all our colleagues, readers, clients, friends, and well wishers for making 2008 a great year for us.

Stay safe, celebrate, and get ready for one of the most interesting years of our lifetimes.

Chetan Sharma Consulting in the news in 2008

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As we say goodbye to 2008 and ring in the new year, here are some of the articles and news items we contributed to in 2008. Thanks to all who reached out.


WIRED – The Next Netbook Trend: Cellphone-Like Contract Deals

FierceMobileContent – 2008 Year in Review: The mobile data pendulum swings to the US

Nikkei Electronics – Smartphones Trigger Rapid Expansion of the U.S.Mobile Communication Device Market

TMCNet – US Wireless Data Prospects in 2009: Up, Down or Flat?

Investor’s Business Daily – Will Wireless Provider’s Data Growth Engine Sputter?


CNN Money – The iPhone and the Ensuing Wireless Broadband Boom

GigaOM – Handset Market Decline May Soon Affect Carriers

FierceMobileContent – US Mobile Data Revenues Increase to $8.8B in Q3

Washington Post – Data Revenue Growth Nearly Offsets Plunge in Voice Revenues

CNN Money – How the Recession Will Affect Data Spending

Telecoms Europe – US mobile market sees rising data use

Unified Communications – New Must Read Book on Wireless Broadband


Wireless Week – Data Complicates OSS

Moconews – Mobile Advertising is More About Action and Marketing; Less About CPMs

Moconews – Carriers Invest in start-ups to avoid becoming dumb pipes

IEEE ComSoc – ComSoc/Wiley Book of the Month

GigaOM – Carriers spend billions on networks and millions to dress them up


FierceMobileContent – Mobile Data now 20% of worldwide operator revenues

GigaOM – Will the Google Phone give T-Mobile USA a boost?

Mobilize – The Carrier Panel: Strategies to Keep Mobile Data Growing

Mobilize – Signals from the near future: The Mobile Guru Panel


GigaOM – Data Shows That 3G Still has Room to Grow

GigaOM – More Proof that the Internet Will Save Wireless Carriers

Cellular-News – US Data Market Grew 40% in Q2 08

FierceWireless – US mobile data market grew 40% in Q2 08

PiTech – Interview with Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India

MarketEdge with Larry Weber – Mobile Advertising


San Jose Mercury News – IPhone 3G ready for global debut

The News Journal – iPhone 3G expected to lure early birds

San Jose Mercury News – IPhone 3G has business appeal

MIT Technology Review – Why Helio didn’t connect?


WIRED – Google’s Open Source Android Phone Will Free the Wireless Web

International Journal of Mobile Marketing – A Five Point Measurement Framework for Mobile Advertising

Brandweek – Did AT&T make the right call with Apple’s iPhone?

NY Times – Apple aims for the masses with a cheaper iPhone

Time – The next frontier for iPhone

San Jose Mercury News – New iPhone unveiled today?

GigaOM – Is 3G Ready for the iPhone Stress Test?


NY Times – The guessing game has begun on the next iPhone

AdWeek – Mobile without mistakes: Lessons from the early days of the Internet

Milestone Group – Mobile Advertising Measurement


PiTech – Interview with Padmasree Warrior

CTIA Wireless Wave – Moving Targets: Mobile Marketing Reaches Consumers on Their Terms

Online Center for Media Studies – Mobile Advertising

WTIA – Mobile Data – The State of the Union

Barron’s – Personalized promotions: sending the right ads to your phone

Brandweek – Mobile Marketing – Fantasy vs. Reality


Strategic News Service – Mobile Advertising – from captious optimism to contextual nirvana

MSearchGroove – Mobile Advertising Book Podcast


GigaOM – What can wireless operators learn from politics?

BusinessWeek – A warm welcome for Android

GigaOM – The Operators vs. the Media Brands

Mobile Broadband Computing – New Report December 28, 2008

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I rarely recommend reports as very few are original, thorough, and hype-free to justify a recommendation. However, am happy to suggest “Mobile Broadband Computing – Device Market Forecasts & Business Model Scenarios” by Dean Bubley. If you are looking to rely on some accurate forecasts (ok, as accurate they can be) or trying to understand the market, this report should help you get a better grip on the market and the numbers. I have followed Dean’s thinking and he presents a very clear-cut view of how things are with a critical lens.

More details here.


2009 Events

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Here are some of the events I will be participating in starting Jan 09.

On the 18th (Jan), I am heading to beautiful Vancouver BC to participate in the Leadership Summit at the Annual Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit that brings some of the noted executives in the mobile industry for an afternoon of pondering and contemplation. On 19th, I will participate in the day long conference on mobile. I participated in last year’s event and enjoyed it. In fact, launched our Mobile Advertising book at this event, so fond memories.

On 27th Jan, will be going south to Palo Alto to first mingle with the staff at PARC (XEROX) and then moderate a panel on “Location Based Advertising” for the Wireless Communications Alliance (WCA) SIG for LBS. We will be finalizing the program early Jan so stay tuned, should be a great discussion.

Then at CTIA in early April, will be joining my friend and colleague from across the pond – Ajit Jaokar to participate in the discussion on the BRIC markets. Conference agenda is shaping up well. More details to come.

Later in April, Ajit is also putting together “Mobile Web Mega Trends” Conference series with the first one being in Singapore. More details as they become available. Be sure to check them out.

The survey says

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The votes are in and tallied. We are preparing the final report for release this week. As usual, very interesting feedback, some surprises. Our thanks to everyone who participated.

A sample:


2008 – year in review December 26, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,European Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

2008 has been a great year for the mobile industry with several key milestones. We will be detailing them in an another post. For this one, just wanted to look back and see how we did in our last year’s predictions survey where we invited the industry insiders to predict the events that will shape the industry this year. The full discussion is here.

We will be presenting our 2009 findings next week. For now, let’s briefly look at the year that was:

1. Will Google introduce a Google Branded Phone in 2008?

Will it? Won’t it? 44.5% gave it a 75% or higher chance of happening while 40% thought it ain’t happening. GPhone is a temptation Google will find hard to resist though a lot will depend on how various initiatives and partnerships shape-up on the ground. In any case, expect another major announcement in the next 2-3 months.

Google did announce the G1 and it launched in Sept. Even though it was launched by T-Mobile USA, in the industry it was known as the Google Phone with Google logo prominently embedded on the phone. Look for several Android launches in 2009.

2. Will Google play to win in the 700MHz Spectrum Auction?

Google has played the spectrum chess game effectively. Almost 50% respondents gave it a 75% or higher chance of Google winning the bid. Though expectations are high, Google is unlikely to play to win. Services business is not their cup of tea, they could still fund the Clearwire-Sprint deal but that investment can be spent differently to get better end-results, i.e. mobile ad revenue.

Google has been pretty savvy with its mobile strategy pushing the ecosystem to its tune. We didn’t think that Google was in it for the win, it just wanted to muddy the waters a bit to makes things interesting. As predicted, it also invested in the Clearwire deal.

3. Will Microsoft launch its own mobile phone?

Unless Google comes out with GPhone, Microsoft will stay content with its operator distribution strategy. 63% of respondents gave it less than a 25% chance of Microsoft releasing their own phone. If GPhone comes out and gets some traction, expect Microsoft to get its “fast follower” strategy into high gear.

Our panel didn’t give Mphone much of a chance. Will it happen 2009? well, probability just got higher.

4. Will Mobile Payments get traction in North America and Western Europe?

Only 9% thought it is a sure bet for 2008. True mobile commerce hasn’t really started in the western world. While there are significant movements, 2008 will just be a “lay the groundwork” year for mobile payments.

We didn’t think so. Groundwork was laid but not much real traction.

5. Will WiMAX regroup from its setbacks?

Only 35% gave it a 75% or higher chance (of WiMAX resurrecting itself esp. in the US in 2008). A lot depends on how Mr. Hesse deals with Sprint’s WiMAX business. Indications are there will be a deal with Clearwire to off-load the risks via some external investment (Google?).

The Clearwire deal did happen and as predicted Sprint decided to offload the business with the help of external investments. The success of the venture is still an open question.

6. Will Helio survive 2008?

Almost 70% respondents thought Helio won’t make it. Given the flameout of some of the prominent new-generation MVNOs, it is hard to see how Helio will see 2009. It will all come down to how persistent is SK Telecom. Earthlink doesn’t have the bank balance to keep funding this initiative.

Writing was on the wall and our panelists called it out explicitly.

7. Will Verizon truly open-up its garden for third-party visitations?

Only 5% thought it is a sure bet for 2008. Verizon’s open posturing was more to ward off any regulators and to improve its image. There is unlikely to be any meaningful progress on this front this year.

“Open” was one of the biggest buzzwords of the year. For Verizon, it was more of a posturing game.

8. Will 2008 be the inflection year for Mobile Advertising?

42% gave Mobile Advertising a 75% or higher chance for rapid growth. Market will mature, more consolidation, some privacy gaffes but overall things are looking up for mobile advertising.

While the market matured a lot, consolidation didn’t really take place this year, perhaps in 2009.

9. Will Femto-Cells gain any significant momentum in 2008?

It will be an introduction and experimentation year, so no significant traction is expected. Over 52% thought Femto-Cells will be just a buzz word in 2008.

It was primarily a buzz word with Sprint launching Femto Cells and T-Mobile pushing hard on the @Home strategy. Given the pressure on the 3G networks, Femtocells will become an integral part of the carrier strategies in 2009.

10. Will Nokia be able to extract iPhone-style rev-share from carriers in 2008?

Less than 20% thought Nokia will be able to do an Apple when it comes to rev-share arrangements. For OEMs, going direct to the consumers was considered treachery to the sacrosanct relationship with the operators. Until Apple showed up with iPhone. Now, Nokia is putting its services strategy in motion and is building a direct relationship with the consumers worldwide and it has a good shot at pulling it off though it will be a long haul.

Well, Nokia didn’t and Apple backed off their rev-share scheme coming back to the tried and tested model of the subsidy model.

11. Will Palm survive 2008?

Only 8% gave it a 100% chance of surviving 08 as an independent entity. It will be difficult for Palm to stay in a status-quo mode. They desperately need a hit device that can give them some breathing room.  Given all the operational and strategic problems the company is having, a sale is likely.

This is probably the only prediction that we got wrong though we came pretty close. Palm is still struggling and in spite of the $100M investment late in the year and the announcement of Nova coming up at CES, the company is still struggling. It has got some breathing room but desperately needs a hit, a big hit.

12. Will iPhone truly open up?

Over 45% thought iPhone won’t open-up in any meaningful way. Apple has built-up one of the most profitable closed empires in the digital world. Are they about open things up? While the iPhone SDK is scheduled for early 08, don’t hold your breath on accessing the critical native APIs.

Well, “Openness” is in the eyes of the beholder. The Appstore has been a super hit and has become a standard for the industry such that everyone is rushing to copy the model. Apple opened up but lot of work still needs to be done.

13. Will there be more unsubsidized devices introduced in the US market in 2008?

Almost 49% thought we are likely to see another unsubsidized device in the US market this year. Nokia is looking to go direct and some GSM handset manufacturers are likely to entertain the idea of testing the market with unsubsidized devices.

The Apple model changed and that was pretty much the death knell to the unsubsidized device model in the US.

14. Will Mobile TV move the needle in 2008?

Almost 70% thought mobile TV won’t make much of a difference in 08.Though AT&T is slated to introduce MediaFLO to join Verizon in the Mobile TV services market, lack of devices and better pricing models will hinder wide adoption in 2008. However, downloadable video and VOD content will experience significant growth.

Mobile TV suffers from highpricenditis and users stayed away as expected.

15. Will Android make a dent in handset shipments in 2008?

Only 15% gave it a more than 75% chance this year. It is going to take some time for Android plans to mature and materialize. Don’t see any material impact in 08.

1M+. Enough for the buzz but not making any material dent into the market share. 2009 could be different.

2009 Mobile Industry Survey December 21, 2008

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We have been getting great feedback to our annual survey for next year’s hot topics in the mobile industry. Executives from around the world and across the value chain have chimed in. Below is the general break-up of the respondents so far. If you have been waiting for the last minute entry, this week is your last. We will be closing the survey by end of this week.

Please click here to start responding.

We will have results and winners of the book draw early next year.



Will Nova save Palm? December 15, 2008

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Perhaps its last chance

Mark Anderson’s Tech Prediction for 2009

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Recession December 10, 2008

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Request for Participation: 2009 Mobile Industry Predictions December 9, 2008

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2009 is upon us. We are doing our annual Mobile Industry Predictions survey (20 questions) to gather insights from the collective brain trust – our readers, friends and colleagues around the globe. I am hoping you will help us out by giving us your thoughts and insights. You can answer any or all questions. All answers are kept confidential. Last year’s survey results here.

If you leave your email address, we will enter you in the drawing for winning a signed copy of one of our three books released in 2008.


Mobile Advertising by Chetan Sharma, Joe Herzog, and Victor Melfi, John Wiley & Sons

Wireless Broadband by Vern Fotheringham and Chetan Sharma, IEEE Press and John Wiley & Sons

Enterprise Mobility: Applications, Technologies, and Strategies, IOS Press

We will share the results during the first week of 2009.

Please click here to start responding. If the link doesn’t work for you, please let us know.

Survey ends Dec 28th.

The questions are:

1. Will we see a pull-back in mobile data spending globally?

2. Will we see a pull-back in mobile data spending in the US?

3. Will Android handset sales exceed iPhone’s in 2009?

4. Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who will be the most open of them all?

5. Will Apple launch new iPhone models in 2009?

6. Will Mobile Advertising see a rise in ad-spend in 2009?

7. Will India and China launch nationwide 3G in 2009?

8. Will Mobile Payments get any traction in North America and Western Europe?

9. Will Microsoft launch its own mobile phone?

10. Will Clearwire meet the 1.3 million subscriber target in 2009?

11. Will Mobile Open Source mitigate fragmentation?

12. Will cable companies make a major play in wireless in 2009?

13. Will Microsoft buy RIM?

14. Will Obama’s administration have a major impact on network neutrality and open networks debate?

15. Will carriers start launching Apple/Android style appstores?

16. Will Microsoft make windows mobile free to OEMs?

17. Will the smartphone penetration hit the inflection point in the western markets?

18. Will UMA/Femtocells cement their place in the mobile ecosystem?

19. Will consumer privacy and data security rise to be one of the important issues of 2009?

20. Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2009?

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested or has something to say.

Thanks and Have a safe and wonderful holiday.

For a prosperous and strong 2009.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

LTE vs. WiMAX – Seminar by Vern Fotheringham December 8, 2008

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My co-author and friend Vern Fotheringham is giving his LTE vs WiMAX workshop at LTE Americas Congress today

LTE versus WiMax – Are These Technologies Purely Competitive or Potentially Complimentary?

Workshop Leader
Vern Fotheringham

I couldn’t join in but I think people at the conference will find it quite enlightening. Vern is a fun and an engaging speaker with oodles of knowledge.

Now it’s Nokia’s turn December 2, 2008

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to challenge its friendly rival – the iPhone with N97. The device looks pretty sharp and easy to use. it is sleek and appealing. The problem might be the price of the device – currently at almost $700 w/o subsidies. We know that $200 is the bar set by iPhone and other smartphones have been in the same range ever since. Even with subsidies, N97 will probably be in the $300-$400 range, not a mass-market price. Will it meet the fate of the Nokia Communicator or will Nokia throw in some subsidy dollars to bring the device down to the competing levels.

Also, Nokia as usual will be targeting Europe first and US probably won’t see the device until 12-18 months later, clearly a missed opportunity. They need to learn from Apple how to launch devices and capture the buzz and momentum. N97 looks like a serious challenge thus far to iPhone but other factors might thwart its success.

More on the launch here

Mumbai is burning December 1, 2008

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It wasn’t the start of the 4 day holiday weekend anyone expected. I was just catching up on my daily news on Thursday morning when the SAJA email came through about the Mumbai attacks (they did a great job covering the attacks from the get go). The next three days, I was catching up on TV, Twitter, Web, Phone, and any other means possible. In the early hours, it was hard to figure out what was going on with sketchy reports. The tweet onslaught helped in finding the appropriate links to go fetch a new development but steady and reliable reporting was missing. Of course, emotions of sadness and anger were playing football in my head. As soon as I learned about the attack, I started getting in touch with my friends who live in Mumbai, a close friend works for the Indian railways. By coincidence, he was in his office at the VT railway station when the attack took place but fortunately, he was not in harms way.

The massacre that occurred in those early moments and the chaos that ensued left me paralyzed and stunned. Why does this keep happening and is there any end to this madness? Will politicians ever have the will to resolve this once and for all? There are two main sources of all terrorism today – one country funds and the other country trains. You take them out and you would have solved a significant portion of the equation. Of course, we need to bottom of the problem itself if we are going to tackle this enormous challenge. While the resilient city will rebound and everyone but the families of the ones lost will move on, until the next city gets hit.

Perhaps, Suketu Mehta, a professor of journalism at NYU and author of “Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found”  put it the best in his column “What they hate about Mumbai” in NY Times

Mumbai is all about dhandha, or transaction. From the street food vendor squatting on a sidewalk, fiercely guarding his little business, to the tycoons and their dreams of acquiring Hollywood, this city understands money and has no guilt about the getting and spending of it. I once asked a Muslim man living in a shack without indoor plumbing what kept him in the city. “Mumbai is a golden songbird,” he said. It flies quick and sly, and you’ll have to work hard to catch it, but if you do, a fabulous fortune will open up for you. The executives who congregated in the Taj Mahal hotel were chasing this golden songbird. The terrorists want to kill the songbird.

But the best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever. Dream of making a good home for all Mumbaikars, not just the denizens of $500-a-night hotel rooms. Dream not just of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai or Shah Rukh Khan, but of clean running water, humane mass transit, better toilets, a responsive government. Make a killing not in God’s name but in the stock market, and then turn up the forbidden music and dance; work hard and party harder.

If the rest of the world wants to help, it should run toward the explosion. It should fly to Mumbai, and spend money. Where else are you going to be safe? New York? London? Madrid?

So I’m booking flights to Mumbai. I’m going to go get a beer at the Leopold, stroll over to the Taj for samosas at the Sea Lounge, and watch a Bollywood movie at the Metro. Stimulus doesn’t have to be just economic.

In the coming days and months, we all will be searching for answers – the whys and hows of this terrible tragedy. There is plenty of blame to go around but it can’t console the affected. My condolences to the families who suffered. May peace be with the ones who lost for no fault of theirs, esp. the brave men and women who put their lives to save others.

In the meantime, I will be trying to figure out my next trip to Mumbai.