Mobile Industry 1H 2010 Assessment July 8, 2010Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Gaming, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Event, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Partnership, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Usability, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , trackback
Mobile Industry 1H 2010 Assessment
As the mobile world approaches the 5 billion subscription landmark, it is time to do a half yearly assessment of 2010. We will have our official Q2 2010 analysis for the US market in Aug and the global analysis for 1H 2010 in Sept after all the numbers are in. In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to take a stock of the first 6 months, the ensuing trends and what they mean for the long-term.
Mobile Ecosystem has become much more complex
In case you didn’t notice, the competitive landscape has changed significantly over the last 6-12 months. The fine line between partners and competitors can get obliterated in a quarter. Apple is competing with Cisco, Comcast is going after AT&T’s business, Visa and Verizon want to be the payment channel of choice, Amazon is gunning for Microsoft’s enterprise business, Kodak is competing with Yahoo, so on and so forth. One product launch, one acquisition, can change the game in an instant. And this is only the beginning.
Network evolution: more capacity, more bandwidth, tremendous usage
We have covered this topic in detail in our paper - Managing growth and profits in the Yottabyte era. As we had predicted, the tiering of pricing plan has started in the US which is actually a good thing. It will force some discipline and technology innovation to solve the longer-term problem of network congestion. While AT&T got things in motion, market forces will take care of the right pricing and GB levels in the coming months. Data consumption on TeliaSonera and Clearwire’s network is a good indicator of what’s to come with 3-4x the usage compared to its counterparts.
New sources of revenue: mobile advertising, commerce, and more
Regular readers know that we have been bullish on the mobile advertising space for a long time. Over the last 6 months or so, some of the pieces are coming together though significant amount of work remains. Sergio Zyman, former CMO of Coca Cola once said “There is only one rule: advertising must sell.” And nothing will sell better than mobile. Period. While North America and Western Europe have been slow to wake up to the mobile commerce opportunities, in Japan, it is already a multi-billion dollar industry. Several trials are underway that are going to help open up the western market in the next 12 months for significant opportunities. In fact, the pie for the mobile services will keep on growing bigger but so will the number of players who want a piece of it. This will set up an interesting tug-of-war for the next couple of years
It’s the iPhone, dude!
Just when the competitors think they are all caught up with Apple, Steve Jobs and co. releases a new product that raises the bar further. Google, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola have done well in emulating Apple while Microsoft and Nokia have fallen behind. The embarrassing launch and demise of KIN is a example of how confused things are for some of the players. While both Microsoft and Nokia are capable for mounting good comebacks, it will take more than an org change and a sprinkle of holy water. Android will easily outsell iPhone just by the law of arithmetic but Apple’s secret weapon is iTunes. With over 150M billing relationships, it has fostered a great apps ecosystem that others will find hard to replicate entirely. While some point to Apple’s tiny marketshare, wall street looks at the fat margins - rewarding Apple by making it the most valuable technology company surpassing Microsoft in a major tech tremor. Google has run the mobile chess game with great acumen so far. Despite the Nexus experiment, the explosion of the superphone category has gone according to the plan. Overall, most of the western operators are selling smartphones at 50%+ levels each quarter.
Always On Real-Time Access
The always-connected vision of the late Mark Weiser is finally approaching some realization. Mobile is so perfectly suited for cloud computing. The younger generation is growing with the expectation that they can get access to any content from any device anywhere. The constraints and friction that doesn’t allow them to do that is just not acceptable. As such, the mobile industry is scrambling to provide tools and technologies that help the digerati access content at will. All this has to be designed and developed against the current network, content, and device constraints and evolution paths. Whether it is access to music or movies for a 15 year old or availability of the entire corporate knowledgebase, information will need to be available at a touch of a button. Companies big and small are investing in the infrastructure and software tools to make this happen. We are likely to see some interesting launches in the next 12 months.
Battle for the analytical mind - data, context and intelligence drives everything
Many people don’t realize that the battle for the consumer of 2015-2020 has already begun. The company that has the best understanding about the most consumers will have a pole position in the mobile ecosystem. Players like Google, Apple, Amazon, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, China Mobile, Disney, AT&T, Vodafone, Motorola, and others are amassing a lot of information on individuals. Besides Google and Apple, Facebook has quietly become one of the most important players in the mobile ecosystem with its phenomenal reach across many countries, tremendous stickiness of the app, and innovative onboarding process of the carriers. Of course, data is a double edged sword - it can provide enormous benefits to consumers in terms of intelligence, experience, and engagement and can also prove to be problematic when privacy and data breaches happen. In fact, that will be one of the tightest ropes many including the regulators will have to walk this decade - figuring out what they call in Swedish - logam - the right balance.
Apps vs. the Web
Recently, the ecosystem has been more enamored with the apps vs. the web debate than the early departure of Brazil and Argentina from the world cup. It is rather a silly debate. As we mentioned in our apps economy paper, both worlds will coexist for a long time. What matters for the developers is the “reach” of a certain platform or technology and the “cost” and “potential” of that reach. For the user, the only thing that matters is what’s available on “their” device. Obviously, the capabilities of the mobile browser will grow over time and it will make more sense to build certain category of applications for the web vs. on the native platforms but developers live and die in the present.
Internet of Things
Nokia took the leadership stance of announcing that all of their smartphones by the next year will have NFC. You can expect pretty much all major OEMs following the same trend which means that hundreds of millions of devices will be equipped with a chipset that will enable new experiences, applications and services. Though we still need to do a lot of work to complete the end-to-end ecosystem, we are getting close. Further, all major carriers have created separate units to address the M2M and emerging devices opportunity. iPad showed what’s possible - it fundamentally created a new leisure computing category. Also, iPad (and similar form factor devices) will find good usage in the enterprise as well. Pretty soon, it will be hard to imagine a computing device without the communication capability. Operators will have to release pricing plans to accommodate such an evolution.
Nurturing ecosystems - fight for the developer mindshare
It is good to be a developer in 2010. The success of many players goes through developersville. The love fest won’t last forever though, it will depend on how vibrant the various ecosystems become and how profitable individual developer shops are over the course of time. One thing Microsoft did very well with the windows empire was to create a web of partners and developers who were incented to use the tools and develop for the platform. In a more fragmented world of mobile, things are a bit complicated. Developers don’t have time or the energy to go after the newest, shiniest toy, what matters in the end is the “cost” to develop, “reach/distribution” of the platform, and “potential” of the reach. Players who don’t consciously make an effort to make developers thrive in their ecosystem will see their developer efforts collapse like house of cards. While the media attention is squarely on iOS and Android, we are not heading down the duopoly path as the dynamics of the mobile ecosystem are significantly different from that of the PC. RIM, Nokia, Samsung and others will do well, the fight is over the relative rankings in the pecking order.
Shifts in the revenue sand dunes
By the end of 2010, the global ondeck revenues will be overtaken by the offdeck revenues. As the smartphone penetration grows, it is less likely that the user will purchase VAS from the operator. While the carrier gets a healthy access revenue of $15-40 or more/month, the VAS business is shrinking for many. Some operators are trying to extract some value but are likely to follow T-Mobile’s path and give up on the smartphone appstore eventually. On the featurephones and probably low-tier smartphones, operator do have a role to play but perhaps some of it can be outsourced to other appstore providers so that they can focus on higher-margin services. We are going to see a readjusting of the appstores again in the next 12-24 months with the weaker ones whittling away from the landscape.
New experiences - display, interaction and commerce
The man-machine interaction took a significant leap with the introduction of the iPhone. Now the touch-interface is embedded in our evolutionary genes. There is significant work going into accomplishing more with less friction with the help of new interfaces and experiences that can like trying out a new outfit in front of a mirror - at home or in the store and with a flick of finger - choose the color, purchase it, and get it shipped. The amount of time it takes to “accomplish any given task” is going to reduce dramatically. With the help of contextual sensors, extreme personalization, and brainiac software, we will take automation to a new level. This will lead to new experiences that will enable more commerce, social interaction and participation, and general awareness and intelligence about every day things. Examples like Kinect, Augmented Reality, Projection displays are just the start of the decade when the display and interaction paradigms will be fundamentally redefined.
Reallocation of revenues - winners and losers are decided in reallocation
If we take a look at the spending habits of the US consumers on “access and communication services” which includes the spending on Telephone, Cable, Internet, and Cell phones, the total “access” spending over the course of last decade has been consistently around 4% of the total personal income per capita. However, the share of each of the services has been changing steadily. Telephone used to have 65% share of the spending but is going to be below 30% by end of 2010. Others have been climbing at the expense of telephone revenues, especially the cellphones which since 2007 command the highest share. So, the overall spending has stayed constant while there has been significant reallocation of spending. Similarly, within cell phone services, data has gone from being less than 1% of the overall revenues to over 35% in 2010 and is going to be more than 50% of the overall revenue mix by early 2013. Mobile operators will need to figure out how to manage these reallocation undercurrents and maintain the overall life time value of the customer. It will come from re-architecting of the business and technology practices as well through the introduction of new services.
Mobile takes off in Verticals
Mobile has become a full-fledged computing platform and other industries are taking notice. There is significant work going on in the mHealth, mRetail, mCommerce, mEducation, mEnergy, and others to keep things busy for the next few years. There are some really innovative startups focused on making use of the computing power that the device affords and turn them into full-fledged medical instruments. Add the communication bit and you can see the revolution happening in front of your eyes. The impact on saving lives and quality of health care will be tremendous - worldwide. The regulators and the legacy players will need to keep up. As we mentioned before, the NFC wave is coming and if all goes well, it will change the retail experience. Stay tuned.
(Mobile) World is flat
There is a significant readjusting of players going on right now with some of the Asian players flexing their muscles for dominant share of the market. Competition is driving more M&A, the gravity of the mobile data world is slowly shifting from Japan and Korea to the US with Verizon overtaking the long time leader NTT DoCoMo in terms of quarterly mobile data revenues. India’s Bharti became the number 5 operator after completing the acquisition of Zain. On the device front, Samsung and LG have been ferocious in their pursuit of marketshare and have been rewarded well by their performance esp. in the North American market. HTC has undergone metamorphosis and has become a serious competitor. Many non-traditional brands like Dell, Garmin, HP, Cisco are also flexing their muscles in the space that has become the computing battleground. On the infrastructure front, ZTE and Huawei are going to make life difficult for some of the players. We can expect the big “M&As” to continue as the industry consolidates around the top 3 players in different markets and sectors. The local skirmishes will spill into the global arena. North American operators have been curiously silent on the global front. Being the most lucrative mobile market probably has something to do with it but we can expect some of the bigger players to go shopping in the coming days.
The much-awaited national broadband plan was finally unveiled earlier this year. The current FCC has done a good job of engaging the industry and informing the citizens, better than its predecessors. It is also taking a deeper interest in setting up guidelines for the industry. The Comcast ruling was a setback but FCC is moving ahead with its plans. It will be interesting to see the execution details and how things pan out over the course of this decade. Similarly, regulatory agencies in other nations are acutely aware of the role broadband plays in nations economy and competitiveness and what they need to do keep their country on track. The mad scramble for more spectrum is underway. FTC is also keeping a close eye on the mobile industry for privacy related violations. If someone has any doubts of how much regulators are likely to get involved in this matter should read through the settlement between the FTC and Twitter.
Scenario Analysis - more changes in the next 10 years than in the previous 100
Despite all the commotion, the excitement, and the turbulence in the ecosystem, the trajectory of the winners and losers is not set. Like the Chaos theory, a lot depends on how the dynamic elements of the mobile universe effect and react to changes. Players will do well to have strategies in place per scenario so they can adapt quickly and keep the mother ship in the right direction. We can expect more changes in the next 10 years than in the previous 100. The triggers for various scenarios will vary - regulatory, competitive, technology, business model, consumer adoption, economic - each of these can have an impact on how a trend becomes the fact of life.
To discuss all these trends and more, we are putting together a unique Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit and are fortunate to have the company of some of the sharpest minds in the industry, folks who both have the vision to shape the evolution and the authority to invest billions of dollars this decade to make things happen. Hope to see you in Seattle on Sept 8th.
First 25 readers to use the discount code FUTBOL get $200 off the regular price.
Abhi Ingle, VP, AT&T; Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio; Anand Chandrasekhar, SVP & GM, Intel; Bob Azzi, SVP - Network, Sprint Nextel; Chamath Palihapitiya, VP - Growth, Mobile, Intl, Facebook; Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype; Danny Bowman,President, Sprint Nextel; David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures; Dr. Boris Nikolic, Sr. Program Officer, Global Health & Discovery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow & Director, User Experience, Intel; Dr. Greg Brandenberg,CEO, Columbia Basin Health Association; Dr. Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante; Dr. Suzanne Clough, Chief Medical Officer, WellDoc; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T; Hank Skorny, SVP, Media Mobile Cloud Computing, Real Networks; Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp; Joe Sims, Lead Partner - Digital Convergence , Booz & Company; Jon Stross, VP & GM - Babycenter, Johnson & Johnson; Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave; Krishna Vedati, SVP & GM - Mobile, AT&T Interactive; Lirong Shi, President, ZTE; Louis Gump, VP Mobile, CNN; Mario Queiroz, VP - Product Management - Android, Google; Mark Selby, VP, Nokia; Matt Bross,CTO and Vice Chairman, Huawei; Michael Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire;Neville Ray, Chief Network Officer, T-Mobile ; Omar Javaid, CEO, BBDO; Paul Palmieri, Founder and CEO, Millennial Media; Rob Glaser, Chairman, Real Networks and Partner, Accel;Sean Cai, VP - Advanced Technology, ZTE; Stephen David, Former CIO, Proctor & Gamble;Subba Rao, CEO, TataDoCoMo; Takayuki Hoshuyama, CEO D2 Communications; Tony Lewis, VP, Verizon; Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent
Each panel discussion will involve luminaries/experts on specific topics, for e.g.
M2M/Internet of Things
Danny Bowman, President, Sprint
Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio
Tony Lewis, VP, Verizon Wireless
Mark Selby, VP, Nokia
Evolution of Communication/ Engagement
Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype
Chamath Palihapitiya, VP - Mobile, Facebook
Mario Queiroz, VP - Android, Google
David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures
The size of the panel will be small and the time duration long so we can delve deep into the issues and questions. For more details, please visit http://www.mobilefutureforward.com
Your feedback is always welcome.
Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this paper are our clients.