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What do operator earnings tell us? January 30, 2009

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

AT&T and Verizon reported pretty good mobile business earnings earlier this month. Total combined AT&T and VZ accounted for $6.1B in data revenues which is a darn good growth. We have been saying that mobile data segment seems to be weathering the downturn well (at least so far) and these numbers prove that. We still have Sprint and TMO to give us the final numbers but it is looking like we will be awfully close to our yearly projections. As we predicted, both AT&T and Verizon exceeded $10B in data revenues for the year for the first time.

Full US market analysis will be out after T-Mobile reports earnings on Feb 27.

In the meantime, DoCoMo and KDDI in Japan reported solid mobile data earnings. DoCoMo became the first operator to exceed $4B in data earnings in a quarter while KDDI inched towards $3B.

Our global analysis will also be available in March.

Event Recap: PNWS (Vancouver) and Location Based Advertising (PARC)

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,Indian Wireless Market,IP Strategy,Location Based Services,Mergers and Acquisitions,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Search,Patent Strategy,Speaking Engagements,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments


My event calendar this year started like last year – with a trip to Vancouver to attend Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit (PNWS) – the best wireless conference in Canada (18 and 19 Jan) . The weather was clear and sunny for a change, the drive beautiful, and the views from the conference rooms just drop-dead-gorgeous. The first day was Leadership summit where over 50+ C-level executives participated in discussing the state of affairs in the wireless industry and how to respond to the slumping economy.

Canada seems to be hit much harder than US by the slumping economy especially eastern Canada with the likes of Nortel struggling to survive.There were several interesting presentations and discussions. Some of the comments that stood out –

Steve Morley (former VP Qualcomm) – Qualcomm didn’t have any patents, any strategy, any product plan, any VC money but had a good group of people who figured things out. So, entrepreneurs shouldn’t feel disheartened and go with their dreams. The things that will get traction are – productivity tools, things that provide comfort, social connection tools, and simplifiers.

Wang Jing (Chair TD-SCDMA Forum, China) The ultimate battleground is LTE, TD-SCDMA is just a stepping stone to 4G. The mobile data market won’t pick up for the next 2 years

Laurence Dunbar (Partner, Fasken Martineau) Regulations can create new opportunities for new players and incumbents alike but it is important to understand the implications

Howard Donaldson (VP Disney) – It is very important to capture IP to maximize returns

I also moderated a panel on Global Opportunity – where are the opportunities and how to capture them. It is clear that certain segments are getting hit hard like Infrastructure and handsets, operators are also cutting back. Consumer data spending is still strong in the North American market as was evident form the strong AT&T and Verizon Q4 numbers. China and India are finally going 3G and some of the biggest contracts will be doled out.

China is pursuing a three technology strategy with China Mobile with TD-SCDMA, China Telecom with CDMA2000, and China Unicom with WCDMA. On the TD-SCDMA, China is trying to attract traditional OEMs to supplement Chinese OEMs but will the big boys invest in a technology that might not too long? To avail international opportunities, one has to understand the local market perfectly before jumping in. Despite the nuclear winter, there are new opportunities surfacing in various parts of the globe.

Next day, the full conference was in full flow with 6 interesting and diverse keynote addresses and panel discussion. Soundbites (courtesy PNWS)

During the session on Mobile Advertising, I presented my thoughts on the state of affairs of the mobile advertising ecosystem

I also wrote a small piece for the PNWS newsletter (below) based on our annual mobile predictions survey.

The best guesses for 2009
It’s that time of year again; time for predictions and forecasts for the year ahead. Chetan Sharma gives you some ideas based on the annual mobile survey conducted by Chetan Sharma Consulting with industry execs. Don’t miss Chetan live at PNWS where he will give you the inside track on mobile advertising and give you some insight on what consumers are thinking.

Thanks to Michael Bidu for inviting me to participate.

Earlier this week, I headed down to Palo Alto to moderate a panel on Location Based Advertising being hosted by the Wireless Communication Alliance LBS SIG at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)

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Being involved in the wireless industry for almost 15 years, I used to follow the works of the legendary Mark Weiser, founder of the Ubiquitous Computing (UC) group at PARC and father of Ubiquitous Computing in general. His works and words have inspired many in the industry including me.

In fact, in 1999, when I was picking a name for our wireless practice at Luminant, Ubiquitous Computing was on the top of my list but I found myself explaining it the industry. We gradually changed to Pervasive Computing (which was also chosen by IBM around that time). People still found it hard to grasp the meaning, so I reluctantly changed (IBM also started de-emphasizing PvC) it to “wireless practice.”

Anyway, it was an absolute thrill and an honor to interact with the folks at UC at PARC and moderate a panel at PARC. There is so much computing history at PARC that even the walls seem to whisper UC.

The panelists were

— Brian Levin, Useful Networks
— Ujjal Kolhi, RhythmNewMedia
— Ilan Zorman, AdYouNet
— Blair Swedeen, Placecast
— David Turner, NAVTEQ

presenting different points of view regarding LBA. These guys have been around the block with location and advertising so it was a good spirited discussion. I have great respect for Ujjal (before Rhythm, he used to be CMO of Airtouch responsible for $250M/yr advertising budget), he has good insights into how advertising is bought and sold. Unlike the other panelists, Ujjal wasn’t particularly bullish on the LBA opportunity in terms of size and scale and thought it will be at best a niche play.

David talked about some interesting campaigns they have been launching on portable navigation devices from Garmin. Blair and Ilan talked about the differences with online targeting and how location targeting can improve performance. Brian from Useful Networks (I like the tag line – we take the BS out of LBS, neat!) gave some information about their European trials. Their role as location aggregator is being received well and they will have some numbers to announce next month in Barcelona.

Privacy was a common theme for the panelists, something that has to be done right or else the industry risks the regulatory hammer. We covered quite a bit in a short amount of time, yet there was still so much to discuss.

Thanks to Kurt Partridge for inviting me to help out with the event.

International Patents January 28, 2009

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For the first time a Chinese firm has the most filed application in a year (Source: Economist)

Location Based Advertising

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Speaking at XEROX PARC yesterday on Location Based Advertising. More on the panel discussion later in the week

Carnival over at January 26, 2009

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VoIP Survivor. Tsahi Levent-Levi does a good job of assimilating week’s best post.

Mobile Peer Finalists announced

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I had the privilege to participate as the judge of 42 nominees (short listed from 163 startups). The 20 finalists are:



Congrats and good luck.

The Q4 Death March January 22, 2009

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As expected Q4 numbers are ugly, perhaps, even more so than everyone estimated. Apple seems to be the only company that has thus far weathered the storm. Rumors of big Microsoft layoffs had been percolating around for a while but the 5000 number was still surprising to some. There is a lot of overlap in functions and positions, so it is a good time to pare things down, that’s why you didn’t see a cut-back in products. Google like Intel took the timely write-off. Sony-Ericsson despite a good quarter is cutting back. Nokia sales have slid by double digits. LG overtook Motorola (though final numbers to be confirmed).

What does this mean to the mobile data market? we don’t know yet. we are expecting some negative impact but overall there still should be decent growth. How much? we will find out in the next 2-3 weeks as carrier earnings start to pour in. However, as we said before, Q1 numbers will be the real indicator of the state of the economy, so until April, we will be sort of guessing.

Location Based Advertising: 2009 and Beyond

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We have finalized our terrific panel for the discussion on location based advertising. It should be an engaging discussion on one of the hottest topics in the industry. Hope to see some of you there

January 27th 2009 — Networking @ 4:00pm, Panel @ 4:30pm – 6:00pm

WCA LBS SIG presents Location-Based Advertising : 2009 and Beyond
Venue: Palo Alto Research Center, Palo Alto CA

With better support in the newest smartphones for positioning, the opportunity for Location-Based Advertising is bigger than ever before. Will 2009 be the year it finally takes off? Find out on January 27th. The Wireless Communication Alliance’s Location-Based Services SIG will host a panel in which industry leaders will talk about technology, measurement, payment models, and the future of location-based advertising.

Moderating the panel is Chetan Sharma, President of Chetan Sharma Consulting and one of the leading strategists in the mobile industry. Chetan has served as an advisor to senior executive management of several Fortune 100 companies in the wireless space, and is the author or co-author of five best-selling books on wireless including Mobile Advertising: Supercharge Your Brand in the Exploding Wireless Market (John Wiley, 2008), which has become the industry reference on the subject.

— Brian Levin, Useful Networks
— Ujjal Kolhi, RhythmNewMedia
— Ilan Zorman, AdYouNet
— Blair Swedeen, Placecast
— David Turner, NAVTEQ

Brian Levin, Useful Networks

Mr. Levin is CEO and co-founder of Useful Networks, a mobile

technology company creating Location Based Services for mobile

consumers.  Useful Networks is a subsidiary of Liberty Media.

Prior to Useful Networks, Brian was co-founder and CEO of

Mobliss, a wireless media and marketing company.  He serves on

the Board of Directors of the Cellular Telecommunications

Industry Association (CTIA) and the Mobile Marketing Association


Ujjal Kolhi, RhythmNewMedia

Ujjal Kohli, CEO of Rhythm NewMedia, is an entrepreneur in the

mobile advertising industry with an extensive background in

the wireless industry. Working with 60+ media companies and

50+ top name brand advertisers, Rhythm is number one in mobile

video advertising. Ujjal brings a unique perspective from both

the on and off deck worlds, recently launching vSNAX Videos, a

free entertainment app for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch that

showcases Rhythm’s services for media and operator partners

including ad sales, ad serving, mobile site design, video

serving, application development, and hosting & management.

Previously, Ujjal was EVP of Marketing & Sales for AirTouch

Cellular, a $3.5 Billion revenue wireless carrier. Ujjal holds

a B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi), an

MS from the University of Rochester and an MBA from Harvard

Business School.

Blair Swedeen, 1020 Placecast

Blair has more than nine years of experience across product

and business development in the LBS, digital content and

software areas. At 1020 Placecast, Blair is responsible for

responsible for 1020’s marketing and business development

activities with ISPs, web publishers, mobile application

providers and other distribution partners. Prior to joining

1020 Placecast, Blair founded Partenza Consulting, a strategy

and business development consultancy advising leading players

and investors in the LBS industry. Before Partenza, Blair had

overall responsibility for the Internet/Wireless product line

at NAVTEQ and launched the company’s mobile content product


David Turner, Navteq

David is Technical Product Manager responsible for the

technical roadmap and architecture of the NAVTEQ

LocationPointâ„¢ location-based advertising services.  David

joined Navteq in 2006, and prior to moving into location

based advertising he led the design and development of

NAVTEQ’s Traffic.com Voice and Mobile Products.   Before

joining Navteq, David worked for Reuters developing

brokerage web sites.  David has over 15 years of experience

in technology development and over 10 years of experience in

Project Management.   David has a B.S. in Computer

Engineering from Lehigh University and an M.S. in Computer

Engineering from Villanova University.

Ilan Zorman, AdYouNet

Ilan has more than 15 years of expertise in location

monetization models and local advertising in particular.  A

serial entrepreneur, Ilan has been on the founding teams of

numerous companies including Nexus Telecom (Metro-Location

services, NASDAQ), Wireless OnLine (smart antennas), AppStream

(enterprise software), and ComMagine (UMA – Cellular/WiFi).  At

present, Ilan is the founder and CEO of AdYouNet, an internet

platform for web direct marketing.

Cost: $10 at the door.

Directions/Map to Palo Alto Research Center

View Map

Mobile Monday Mobile Peer Awards MWC Barcelona January 20, 2009

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The MobileMonday Mobile Peer Awards Barcelona are among the most influential events in the mobile industry and, with over 1000 attendants, the point of reference in startup innovation during the Mobile World Congress.

163 startups participated and 42 nominees were selected by their respective chapters. An international Jury will now select the 20 finalists to present at the Peer Awards event in Barcelona. The finalists chosen to present in Barcelona will be announced on January 26. I will be one of the judges looking at the various entries.

The startups nominated by the MobileMonday chapters to compete for the Mobile Peer Awards in Barcelona are:

* 7syntax – MobileMonday Portugal
* Addict Digital Media – Mobile Monday Buenos Aires
* aka-aki networks GmbH – MobileMonday Berlin
* Anaeko – MobileMonday Belfast
* Aradiom – MobileMonday Istanbul
* Babajob.com – MobileMonday Bangalore
* Beabloo – MobileMonday Barcelona
* Big in Japan Inc. – MobileMonday Dallas
* bioLocate – MobileMonday Jakarta
* CIDWAY – MobileMonday Geneva
* Cirius Technologies, Inc. – MobileMonday Los Angeles
* Crave Mobile – MobileMonday Philadelphia
* Creador Estudio Interactivo C.A. – MobileMonday Caracas
* Dial2Do – MobileMonday Dublin
* Dialy – Mobile Monday Maroc
* DPGroup >> Product: SINDYK – MobileMonday Bogota
* Fortumo – MobileMonday Estonia
* fring – MobileMonday Tel Aviv
* Getjar Networks – MobileMonday Lithuania
* iKen Solutions – MobileMonday Mumbai
* Keynetik – MobileMonday Washington DC
* Liquid Air Lab GmbH / adplace.com – MobileMonday Frankfurt
* Mob4Hire – MobileMonday Vancouver
* Mobintech A/S – MobileMonday Copenhagen
* mobiSiteGalore – MobileMonday Chennai
* MocoSpace – Mobile Monday Boston
* Nimbuzz B.V. – Mobile Monday Amsterdam
* Orbster GmbH – MobileMonday Munich
* Oxynade – MobileMonday Brussels
* Palringo – MobileMonday London
* rmbrME – MobileMonday New York
* Secusmart GmbH – MobileMonday Dusseldorf
* Smaato Inc. – MobileMonday Hamburg
* Soonr – MobileMonday Silicon Valley
* Tellmewhere – MobileMonday Paris
* Unkasoft Advergaming – MobileMonday Madrid
* Wapalta – MobileMonday St. Petersburg
* Wapja.net – MobileMonday Sao Paulo
* WorldMate, Inc. – MobileMonday Atlanta
* Xumii – MobileMonday Sydney

* NOTE Helsinki and Stockholm nominations pending

The jury selecting the 20 finalists out of the 42 chapter nominees to present at the Peer Awards event in Barcelona are:

* Andrea Trasatti – Director of Device Intiatives mTLD
* Steve Kennedy – Mobile Industry Review
* Guillaume Lautour – Partner agfpe.com
* Chetan Sharma – President of Chetan Sharma Consulting
* Larry Berkin – Vice President, ecosystem & corporate business development for ACCESS
* Gary Cohen – Principal – Mobility Practice / Milestone Group
* Kim Lennox – experience design lead at Adaptive Path
* Jennifer Grenz – Vice President Products and Marketing at ShoZu
* Felix Petersen – co-founder of plazes.com
* Bastian Lehmann – VP Product Development at AditOn
* Jouko Ahvenainen – Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of Xtract Ltd.
* Roberto Bonanzinga – Partner Balderton Capital
* Pat Phelan – C.E.0 MAXroam
* Ajit Joakar – Open Gardens
* Alfredo Morresi – Code Sniper Funambol, Inc
* Raimo van der Klein – SPRXmobile
* Volker Hirsch – EVP Corporate Development for Connect 2 Media
* Jonathan Greene – Athmasphere
* Albert Cuesta – IT and mobility analyst

The need for the broadband stimulus package

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,Carriers,Japan Wireless Market,Mobile Applications,Mobile Ecosystem,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

As we get ready to witness history today with Obama’s inauguration, Vern and I wrote a piece on the need for renewed emphasis on broadband to revitalize the economy. Our 2c to forward the discussion.


The need for the broadband stimulus package

Vern Fotheringham and Chetan Sharma

Broadband Communications IF Properly Conceived, Incentivized and Deployed Can Lead to the Revitalization of the American Economy and Our Global Competitiveness

There is an urgent need to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure in the United States, if the new administration intends to restart the engine of commerce that has empowered our nation to prosper for so long. Over the past few decades, we have slipped onto a slippery slope of public policies that have confused the pseudo value of trading financial instruments with the actual creation of new wealth that refreshes and expands the foundation of our economy. Our attention shifted from incentivizing those who actually create wealth, to rewarding those who simply trade existing assets.

Regardless of how many times asset backed securities, or for that matter obsolete telecom infrastructure, can be repackaged, and creatively revalued into an ever-increasing spiral of pseudo financial gains, the value of the underlying assets are finite, and often eroding in value. It is essential to the restoration of the American dream, that the new administration immediately address ways to restore the core drivers of the US economy, which have been eroded to a point of imminent disaster. Our leaders have failed to protect our nation’s engine of innovation through a cascade of policies that have literally strangled the “goose that lays the golden eggs.”

Key initiatives such as Education, Healthcare, and Emergency Response all require affordable broadband availability to modernize archaic systems and processes. Our kids shouldn’t be penalized in comparison to children in other countries who are benefiting from real-time access to education and information 24×7. With global access to the best minds and teachers becoming available via the Internet, the expense and inefficiencies of traditional educational institutions are soon in for a major challenge from the virtual realms of the broadband Internet versus the physical benefits available to students’ physical attendance in a campus setting.

As far as healthcare is concerned, broadband availability becomes ever more important in the global society in which the end-points of any solution can be anywhere. In an interconnected world, for example, healthcare delivery will be much more decentralized and distributed. Our senior citizens should not have to haul themselves up to the hospital every time they have a question or concern.

The ability for emergency service providers of all types will benefit from the seamless interconnection of their wireless broadband networks. Our first responders should have as much information about the crisis they are expected to tackle in real-time. All this requires a high-speed flow of information, access, and intelligence that most of our existing infrastructure is simply incapable of supporting.

Broadband policies and the extension of U.S. international competitiveness is a topic that affects all political camps equally. We challenge our politicians, regulators, financiers, carriers, vendors, and the consuming public to pay very close attention to how we balance the public policy issues and the sometimes-painful business impacts that are expected. Too heavy a hand in any one dimension of the debates will surely have negative impacts on overall progress. How the pains and the gains are shared and distributed across all boundaries of the industry and its publics will determine our ultimate success, or alternatively, just subject us to a muddled mess that ultimately penalizes everyone, as we lose our competitive advantages as a global leader and innovator.

Will the United States regain its position as a world leader in advanced telecommunications, or will it slowly but surely slip into the role of a tired old economy, past its prime and slipping into its declining years? The potential to do damage is real, and the potential for the United States to lose its position as a world leader is also real and imminent.

We will all enjoy the benefits of the broadband future, yet there is much work to be done, with many regulatory and technical battles still to be fought over exactly how to bring these services into being. We will get the future we deserve, on the basis of our courage and wisdom in how we balance massive, highly disruptive change, without destroying much of the value created in the narrowband and wideband eras, which have enormously benefited our society at large, and each of us personally, as we move forward into the broadband era. However, it will only be from the hindsight of the future that our generation of pioneers will be judged for our wisdom, competence, and creativity in solving the numerous financial, regulatory, and technical challenges facing the creation of the universal information society on a truly national scale.

Vern Fotheringham and Chetan Sharma are co-authors of “Wireless Broadband: Conflict and Convergence” (IEEE Press/John Wiley, Nov 2008)

Busy news day January 14, 2009

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As expected, Nortel filed for bankruptcy. Not so expected, Steve Jobs taking the medical leave. It is hard to imagine Apple w/o Steve though health should be his first priority and he is rightly taking the time off to be away from constant pestering by the media. But, one has to ask the question – has the company plateaued?

No so clear – what does Carol mean to Yahoo? Is WinMo on its way out?

Mobile Web Megatrends January 13, 2009

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A note from Ajit on Mobile Web Megatrends. Stay tuned for more …


MWM Logo


Firstly, We wish you a Happy New Year
We (Ajit Jaokar, Larry Lockhart and in partnership with Chetan Sharma) have launched Mobile Web Megatrends and we would like to extend an invitation for you to join the site.

The Mobile Web Megatrends site extends the conference that was launched at the University of Berkeley in California last year. Since then we have evolved the site and the conference, with the next event going global in Singapore April 2009.
The videos from the Berkeley event are now live, and starting in mid January, we will launch our free fortnightly/ biweekly newsletter covering the latest Mobile Web trends. This will be our unique viewpoint but we also encourage suggested links for consideration. Ajit also plans to post draft chapters from forthcoming books – starting with the book Implementing Mobile Web 2.0 – which is on the site now.
Thus, you get a bi-weekly analysis on the latest developments and trends within the Mobile Web  Free videos and draft copies of Ajit’s forthcoming books, all completely free.

Chetan Sharma and Ajit are also creating a report called Mobile Web Megatrends where we model the uptake of key technologies, members can get a discount on this report when it launches.

Why focus on the Mobile Web and it’s related ecosystem?
For many of us economically, the last year was difficult .. and the next year may be more so .. and we all know that the mobile and telecoms industry cannot be immune to these global trends ..

Yet, the Economist sounds an optimistic note with the prediction that – from the world’s poorest countries to the very richest, the demand for mobile phones will not be derailed by tougher economic times.  Another reason for optimism is – much of what we as an industry have been predicting for the last few years (like location based services) is finally becoming mainstream. The recession does not really impact that trend.

Nonetheless, it will be a time to look at technologies and trends which are already mainstream and do not require additional significant investment to get started.
One of these is the Mobile Web

As we saw at the Mobile Web Megatrends conference, the ‘Mobile Web’ has become more complex – and includes many elements like Offline processing (Google Gears), APIs (GSMA Network APIs, OMTP Bondi etc), Cloud computing and many other ideas. Going forward, we expect that the Mobile Web will be an even more exciting place as these trends evolve to become mainstream.

This blog gives a complete taxonomy of the Mobile Web we are considering for Mobile Web Megatrends: Mobile Web Ecosystem – taxonomy
This year promises to be even more significant with Device manufacturers like Nokia introducing innovative services like image based mobile search applications , LG introducing the first 3G+HSDPA phone , the definition of the ‘Web’ extending to the SIM with Smart card web server technologies and so on.

And all this as the true impact of Android will be fully felt in 2009
Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds. The benefits of Mobile Web Megatrends include

  Click Here To Register!

Many thanks and Kind Regards
                        Ajit, Larry and Chetan

Biggest News out of CES January 12, 2009

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well the first of the grand slam of conferences is over and the biggest news was of course the introduction of Pre by a rejuvenated Palm. While the initial reviews are pretty good and they have done a pretty decent job of putting together the device, will it save them in the long run or are they just setting themselves up for an acquisition later this year or next remains to be seen.

Microsoft also made news with Windows 7 and it making it available to public. I really hope it is not as horrible as Vista. Generally, I am among the first one to upgrade and try out new s/w but Vista gave me pause.

Not much else from a conf down in size and energy.

Next over to Barcelona for MWC.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit Next week

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The PNWS is shaping up to be a great event.

In case, you haven’t registered yet (and are in the pacific northwest area), it will be a good idea. The event starts with a Leadership Summit on Sunday which is an invite only forum for 50 CEOs, presidents, CFOs, CTOs and visionaries from small and large successful wireless companies as well as decision makers from government and academia from Canada, US, UK, China, and other parts of the world. I will be moderating a panel on “Global Opportunities” with

Dr. Wang Jing (Secretary General, TD-SCDMA Forum, China)

Tony Fish (Co-founder, AMF Ventures, UK) 

Laurence Dunbar (Partner, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Canada)

There will be a report published on the days proceedings, so will have more to share later on.

Next day, I will participate on the panel on Mobile Advertising and Consumer Insights, presenting mobile advertising trends in 2009 and then going in the roundtable moderated by our friend Michael Bidu, Executive Director of WINBC, the man behind this event. Other panelists will be:

Olivier Vincent, CEO, Canpages (http://www.canpages.ca)

Simon Backer, CEO, Wireless Image (http://www.wireless-image.com)  

Gowri Shankar, SVP Sales and Business Development, SinglePoint (http://www.gosinglepoint.com )

Looking forward to an engaging couple of days.

Changing of the guard January 10, 2009

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At the completion of the acquisition of Alltel, Verizon is now the #1 operator in the US passing its friendly rival AT&T in the race to accumulate the most subscriptions.

Buye-buye DRM January 6, 2009

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In our book “Mobile Advertising,” we noted that days of DRM are numbered. Today, Apple announced that they are going DRM-free. DRM hasn’t worked in the past and creates unnecessary friction for the user.

Carnival of the Mobilists January 4, 2009

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The first COM is being hosted by Helen Keegan at Technokitten. Our predictions survey is one of the posts of the week. Many great posts listed as well. Good way to start your year and start the dialog. Thanks Helen.

You say Netbooks, I say Smartphones, You say Computer, I say Devices January 2, 2009

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There is a debate raging in the industry that is blurring the lines between different classes of devices with the most prominent one being RIM CEO calling Storm a netbook. Clearly, phones and smartphones are attractive computing platforms but we shouldn’t get too carried away and try to force functionality of one platform onto another. Each class of device is good for something and it will attract a demographic who find that device perfect to accomplish a certain set of tasks but you won’t see mainstream crunching a 10 page report on iPhone or a kid streaming hundreds of TXT messages from a laptop or a blackberry addict opening up HP Pavilion dv9000 to check and send short responses. Of course, the blurring will take place and industry should continue to innovate and add feature and functionality but calling a platform that it is not prematurely helps no one .. the marketing will fall flat. Remember WAP in 2000.

Predictions survey is the top presentation

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The Mobile Industry Predictions Survey is the top presentation of the first day of the year over at Slideshare.

Mobile Industry Predictions 2009 January 1, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,CTIA,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Gaming,Indian Wireless Market,Infrastructure,Intellectual Property,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,M&A,Mergers and Acquisitions,Microsoft Mobile,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile TV,Mobile Usability,Mobile Users,Mobile Wallet,Music Player,MVNO,Privacy,Speaking Engagements,Strategy,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

Mobile Industry Predictions 2009


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First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous 2009.

Before we get into what’s to come, let’s do a quick wrap-up of the year that was.

While 2007 was remembered as “the year of the iPhone,” in 2008, though iPhone and Appstore again dominated the headlines as “Touch” became the new black, iPhone shared the spotlight with Android and the resurgent RIM. The deafening roar of “Openness” that started to bubble up during Q407 permeated the ecosystem in 2008. Responding to the iPhone, OEMs raced to introduce Touch phones – Instinct, Armani, Storm, N2, Glimmer, Vu, G1, Diamond, Dare, N97, 5800, and others.

Apple reached its 10M goal a full quarter early and Gphone’s 1M number was impressive. The Clearwire deal was consummated though it meanders through the clouds of uncertainty. Blyk continued to defy expectations. We made significant headway in energizing the mobile advertising sub segment but the tough problems of privacy, education, control, fragmentation, and user experience remain. LBS picked up steam and mobility started to get into the alternate consumer device universe which with the help of Amazon kindle and PNDs have started a new chain of AORTA devices.

In terms of actual numbers, the mobile industry exceeded 1 Trillion USD in revenues for the first time with services revenue making up 80% of the mix and 20% being contributed by infrastructure, handsets, and misc. Several operators are now exceeding $2B/quarter in data revenues.

Several subscription milestones throughout the year: 50% penetration, almost 4B worldwide, 600M China, 300M India. India and China both added more than 100M subs in 2008. As expected, 3G crossed the inflection point in the western markets (30%+ penetration) while in Korea and Japan, it was getting hard to find people without 3G (85%+ penetration). Mobile web penetration is above 25% and is becoming quite significant.

Thanks to the iPhone, we seem to have settled on sub-$200 smartphones with race to $150 and $100 on the cards. Flat-rate data subscriptions went above 10% in the western markets. Over 20% of the global service revenues are not dependent on data while non-SMS revenues surged past 40%. With the advent of Femto and UMA, we might see a new front in the battle for the digital home, esp. as bundling and quad-play offers become common place and convergence starts to take different shapes, forms, and business models. Carriers are starting to worry about mobile data usage and looking for alternate strategies and business models. Chinese OEMs started to become more dominant and started to win some major accounts. Don’t be surprised by a major acquisition by them in 09.

Among other events of significance: Mobile TV continued to suffer from highpricendititis, Helio shut down, China and India delayed 3G, WM got updated as MS got behind, Yahoo cemented some impressive operator deals as GYM got more active in mobile, Microsoft entangled Yahoo in a mating dance, Mobile Open got into the industry physce, 700 MHz auction drama ensued, Beijing Olympics rocked, SMS handed the presidency to Obama, Whitespaces and FCC tangled, LTE dominated, UMB died, Admob exponentiated, M&A slowed, IP scuffles continued, over 1.2B new devices shipped, Nokia sold more than 100M devices in each quarter, Samsung surged, Motorola pondered, AT&T iJoyed, Vodafone said Namaste India, US edged past Japan in mobile data revenues, DoCoMo continued to dominate the mobile data revenues rankings, India edged past US in total mobile subscribers, Mobile Facebook spread, Twitter tweeped, Symbian went open source, Sequoia panicked, INQ launched, Economy tanked, WalMart started selling iPhone, Palm got a lifeline, Change was in the air.

We covered these is much detail in our regular industry research notes, books, whitepapers, blog posts, speeches, panels, and more. Look forward to continuing the conversation this year.

2009 will also be a pretty eventful year from several perspectives: business models, user experience and expectations, ecosystem posturing, disruption, and friction. How are things going to shape up? What will be hot and what will fade into oblivion? How will competition shape up the new sub-segments?

We put some of the questions to our colleagues in the industry. We were able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments. This survey is different from some of the others in the sense that industry movers and shakers participate. Executives and insiders (n=200) from leading mobile companies across the value chain and around the world opined to help us see what 2009 might bring.

Six names were randomly drawn for one of our three books released in 2008 (Mobile Advertising, Enterprise Mobility and Wireless Broadband)

The winners are:

  1. Akio Orii, CFO and VP, Toyota

  2. Declan Carew, New Product Strategy Manager, Vodafone

  3. Helen Keegan, Consultant, Beep Marketing

  4. Rich Begert, CEO, Singlepoint, and

  5. Russ McGuire, VP, Sprint Nextel

  6. Jonathan Ebinger, General Partner, Blue Run Ventures

Congrats and Thank You.

Now onto the survey results.  The makeup of the respondents below:



Will we see a pull-back in mobile data spending globally/in the US?


The wireless data industry has been somewhat unharmed so far (though OEMs and Infrastructure providers are bearing the brunt of the economic storm). Flat rate pricing, smartphones, 3G networks, better UX are all helping in the continued surge of mobile data consumption and hence revenues. Most expect that though we might see some scaling back in mobile data spending, overall, the growth will continue. The global markets will be slightly better off than the US.

Will Android handset sales exceed iPhone’s in 2009?


The overwhelming majority thought that iPhone will continue to dominate Android in 2009 though 2010 could be a different story. Android has had a good start and if the number of handsets keep on increasing with more carriers carrying it in more countries, Android might not exceed but can come awfully close.

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


“OPEN” was the biggest buzzword of 2008 though it means different things to different people. Almost everyone thinks, Google is likely to set the agenda on “open” for others to follow.

Will Apple launch new iPhone models in 2009?


The answer is yes but will they be just minor upgrades or shake-the-market new models. With Android, Nokia, and RIM breathing down its neck, Apple will need more than just upgrades to maintain the limelight.

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


There might be some slow down but mobile advertising ad-spend will keep on increasing. Targeting capability is increasing and CPMs are coming down making for a more efficient mobile channel for advertising. In our own work, we have seen brands fall into two camps: one who are scaling down on inefficient channels like print and radio and moving money into digital including mobile and the others who don’t have quite the appetite for mobile and want to keep investing in channels that they are most familiar with.

Will India and China launch nationwide 3G in 2009?


After many years of delay, the two powerhouses set to launch 3G in 2009. China with TD-SCDMA/WCDMA and India with WCDMA are set to doll out some of the largest contracts seen in the industry.

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


The plans for mobile payments launch will get pulled back a bit due to the economic crisis. Limited rollouts and trials to continue. Some progress will be made in international mobile remittances.

Will Microsoft launch its own mobile phone?


Will they, Won’t they? How can they not? The probability increased from last year for an Mphone coming to a store near you. But, with the boeingification of Microsoft, it is hard to get any decisions to the market quickly.

Will Clearwire meet the 1.3 million subscriber target in 2009?


The economic climate might force slow-down of expansion and thus the optimistic subscriber forecasts could be impacted.

Will Mobile Open Source mitigate fragmentation?


Not a clear cut answer. Depends on how other versions of Android phones do in the market and if the application development remains a challenge across the Android and Symbian family of devices.

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


Quad-Play is the name of the game. Cable companies have invested half-heartedly thus far. 2009 might be the year they move in aggressively.

Will Microsoft buy RIM?


RIM has become too big and powerful to be consumed by Microsoft easily but desperate times call for desperate measures.

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


Not a priority for now. No high expectations, just regular bureaucratic grind.

Will carriers start launching Apple/Android style appstores?


Opinions remain divided. I think most are tempted to build but will outsource the development.

Will Microsoft make windows mobile free to OEMs?


Android (and to some extent Symbian) has pushed Microsoft in a corner. Will it preempt the demise of its pricing strategy? Reduction in price might be the safest bet at this time.

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


We are getting to that inflection point. 2009 seems to be the year with major implications for the ecosystem.

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


As 3G networks get burdened by data usage, carriers will look to making UMA and Femtocells as a critical piece of their network strategy

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


Privacy? What Privacy? Another celebrity mishap might pull this issue to the front burner.

Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2009?

There were many. Sampling – Microsoft will not buy Yahoo. US Cellular will not be sold. Global economy will not recover in 2009. LTE won’t be commercially deployed. India and China will struggle to get substantial progress with 3G. Motorola will not breakup. Nortel will not disappear. 2009 won’t be the year of mobile advertising.

It is hard to cover the mobile industry in 20 questions. As pointed out by our panelists, there are a number of other issues and opportunities that will help shape our ecosystem – monetization of social networks, the fight for mobile advertising dollars, continued impact of globalization, security and privacy, NFC, IMS, VoIP, enterprise apps beyond email, battery improvements, new interaction modalities, health risks of RF radiation, OpenSocial, GF/FB Connect, Comes with Music, Mobile Widgets, Mobile 3.0, LTE, MIDs, Off-portal, Embedded Mobile, M2M, and others.

However, be rest assured, we will be tracking these and much more throughout the year and sharing them through various channels.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year. We are clearly living in “interesting times” with never a dull moment in our dynamic industry. It has been a terrific year for us here at Chetan Sharma Consulting and we are looking forward to 2009 and seeing many of you along the way.

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this note are our clients.