US Mobile Market Update – 2015 March 9, 2016

Posted by chetan in : 4G,4th Wave,5G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Connected Intelligence Era,IoE,IoT,Mobile 2016,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Smart Cities,Smart Phones,The Golden Age of Mobile,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update – 2015


Highlights of the US Mobile Market 2015

· The overall mobile market expanded by 18% increase in revenues.

· Mobile data revenues increased by 17% YoY and now contribute 72% of the overall service revenues. In terms of data contribution, US is catching up with Japan which has been a leader in data % since the iMode days.

· For the first time in its history of the US market, the service revenues declined.

· For 2015, the voice revenues declined by 24%, messaging revenues declined by 18%, tablets saw the dip by 18%, handsets saw an increase of 5%, access revenues by 23% and 4th wave services dominated with an increase of 60%.

· The Capex contracted for a second year in a row.

· Device revenues are now 21% of the overall.

· EBITDA and Net Income saw double digit gains indicating operators are running a much tighter ship than before.

· Churn is at historic lows. Despite all the commotion in the market, 7% fewer customers churned in 2015.

· After falling sharply in 2014, the data prices remained pretty stable throughout the year.

· Mobile data traffic grew again with per sub smartphone consumption at 3.9 GB/user/mo (see note below on data traffic)

· In the first 10 weeks of Binge-on, T-Mobile users chomped away 34 PB of data for free or what was the entire year’s worth of data traffic on T-Mobile’s network in 2010. T-Mobile experienced a net traffic reduction of 10-15% but given that consumers are consuming 3x than before, overall traffic will rise again.

· AT&T added 4 million cars to their network. While postpaid business has its challenges, the connected devices business showed significant strength in 2015.

· Verizon’s IoT/Telematics accounted for $690M in 2015 and is likely to cross the $1B mark in 2016 making US the hotbed for Connected Intelligence activities, growth, and continued experimentation.

· Apple again dominated the device market with over 45% revenue share, 81% profits share with only 16%-unit share.

· Android ecosystem revenues grew by 5% but the profits declined by 2%

· There were more tablets added to the network than phones in 2015. Cars outperformed M2M by a good margin.

· T-Mobile edged past Verizon in postpaid netadds, AT&T was ahead in Prepaid, Verizon in Connected devices, Sprint in wholesale, and Verizon overall had the most netadds in 2015.

· AT&T and Verizon on average made $16 per sub/mo, T-Mobile turned into positive territory with $1 profit/sub/mo while Sprint stayed in negative territory with a loss of $0.55 per sub/mo.

· The valuation of Uber surpassed the combined market cap of T-Mobile and Sprint.

What to expect in 2016? Questions for 2016.

· We expect the overall US mobile market to pass the half a trillion-dollar mark in 2016.

· US will cross 400M in subscriptions in 2016.

· After the pause of dropping data prices in 2015, we could see intense price wars in 2016.

· The upcoming auction could be the big story of the year.

· What new 5G test results will be announced and will industry converge on some 5G standards ahead of the 2019 deadline?

· Will Comcast MVNO follow Google-Fi as a niche endeavor or does it have elements to fundamentally impact the market. 2016 will hopefully answer the question about the future of WiFi-first network strategy.

· Will the upcoming eSim integration in devices go far enough to disrupt the market?

· Will IoT gain sufficient steam to justify the forecasts?

· Can Android OEMs turn around the decline in profits in 2016?

· Can iPhone7 boost Apple’s growth numbers in 2016?

· Will the service revenue decline in the US reverse itself or are we seeing the start of the decline in revenues in the industry?

· Autonomous driving was a big story last year; what progress are we going to make in 2016? How will Uber shape the autonomous driving business models?

· AT&T and Verizon have bet big on video. How will the respective strategies pan out in 2016?

· The Apple-FBI is going to be one of the most watched cases in the world. Whichever way the final ruling lands has huge implications for the tech industry and consumers.

We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the future of the mobile industry at our 7th annual mobile executive summit Mobile Future Forward in Sept 2016. Hope you can join us.

Service Revenue Decline, what does 2016 hold in store?

The overall service revenue, postpaid revenue, overall and postpaid ARPU all declined. In general, the net-service revenue decline is not a good sign if it is market induced. In Europe, we saw net-revenue declines but the impact of the economic crisis was a big factor in determining the trajectory. After the economy has improved, we have seen the net revenue in effected countries rise again. In the US, the net-revenue decline is more market induced. The calculation of service revenue is a bit more complicated because device revenues are no longer part of the mix and as customers are weaning off the contracts, we have to adjust the service revenue for this accounting change. If we take the accounting distortion into account, service revenue is still in the positive growth territory but in terms of how operators report service revenues, this was the first year the category saw a decline. Regardless of the accounting distortions, there is continuous pressure on the postpaid revenues which is what is impacting the overall numbers.

Given the competitive state of the market, we might see further service revenue declines in 2016. The reversal might come down to consolidation in the industry in 2017 and beyond. The pressure on the revenues has had a positive impact though – operators are running far tighter ships than before. The net income surged in 2016.

The licensed vs. unlicensed: frenemies

Comcast is expected to launch its WiFi first MVNO with Verizon fairly this year. Google Fi hasn’t been a roaring success, perhaps it was never designed to be. Given that WiFi is carrying 75-80% of the traffic, it is easy to make the business case for a national WiFi operator. Companies like Republic Wireless have shown that this can be done. Keeping aside some of the technical challenges with WiFi, there are two major business challenges with the WiFi strategy. First, even with the rise of WiFi usage, the cellular usage hasn’t slowed down. Cellular data usage is still growing 60-70% YoY. As such, consumers will have to rely on cellular when they are out and about which means the economics comes down to the wholesale rate the MVNO has for cellular. The second big problem is the lack of handset choices. For consumers, handset choice is paramount. They want both iOS and Android devices to go with their data plans. WiFi operators generally have limited handsets. Over time this will change but to have a WiFi network of scale, economics, choice, and pricing are critical. By contract, cellular operators will always have a leg-up on the MVNOs unless access regulations are in place which of course are nowhere in sight.

Seeing the success of WiFi, FCC has rightly made more unlicensed spectrum available and it will be interesting to see how the ecosystem around 3.5GHz and other bands develop. This in light of what’s happening in the higher bands of cm and mmwave for 5G deployments. Technologies and business models that take into account benefits and drawbacks of both types of spectrum bands across a different uses cases will win out in the end. Despite advances, WiFi calling still has quality issues so the need for traditional networks is not going away anytime soon.

M&A 2016

As we mentioned last year, the service provider M&A window for 2016 pretty much closed late 2015 given the upcoming auctions and the presidential cycle.  There might still be some cross border opportunities but for any major transactions, it is better to wait it out to have a reasonable chance of success.

IoT Revenue Streams and what it means for the ecosystem

Service provider IoT revenue passed the important $1B mark back in 2013. So far it is tracking the growth of the early days of mobile data. However, they are different curves influenced by different factors. Mobile data was relatively an easier curve to climb as the revenues went up as more data handsets came online. The sales, business case, and ROI was straight forward. IoT is a bit more complicated as it across multiple vertical areas and it is not just about the data network, it is about the complete solution. The sales cycle and execution strategy is different and requires patience and resilience.

AT&T already had an active IoT developer program. Verizon introduced its ThingSpace platform to the developers last year. It is already selling complete IoT solutions in energy, transportation, security, and several other industry segments. As we mentioned before, Verizon is on track to crack the billion-dollar mark in IoT this year. For trivia buffs, Verizon passed the billion-dollar mark in mobile data revenues back in 2004 which at the time made only 5%of the overall wireless revenues for the operator.

We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the IoT Opportunity at our upcoming Mobile Breakfast Series in April and May.

Mobile data growth – Correcting the Cisco Numbers

Mobile data consumption (cellular) continues to grow as devices and networks continue to improve. There are 13 countries now with at least 1GB/mo/sub consumption. US is amongst the top three. At the end of 2015, the average consumption per sub in the US was at 3.9 GB/mo/sub.

Earlier this quarter, Cisco released its annual VNI report that forecasts data consumption and growth around the world. However, they did something very unusual this time, they pulled back their “factual numbers” by 36% for the US market. Based on our research which is corroborated by the data from the sources, Cisco’s numbers are low. Given that a lot of policy papers use these numbers as an input, we thought it will be worthwhile providing the reasonable estimates for data growth in the US market. These estimates match well with the data growth numbers in the Ericsson report.

Our estimates are that the US data consumption last year was close to 10.9 Exabytes. Ericsson reported approximately 10.5 Exabytes. Cisco adjusted its numbers from 9.2 Exabytes to 6 Exabytes.

Android vs. iOS: The fight for profit continues

Amongst the prominent Android OEMs, HTC, Sony, LG, and Lenovo all lost money in their device business in 2015. This again highlights the difficulty in differentiating on an open platform. Some of these players might give up on their handset business in 2016. Apple again dominated with 81% of the profit share, 45% of the revenue share, with only 16% of the unit share. Samsung’s profitability improved a bit but it continues to face challenges both on the top and bottom end of the spectrum.

4th Wave Revenues

5 years ago, we put forth the theory of 4th wave to explain the upcoming changes in the mobile ecosystem. For the most part, the industry changes and tribulations have tracked the 4th wave curves. Last year, voice revenues fell down by 23%, messaging revenues declined by 18%, while data revenues grew by 23%. 4th wave revenues which now dominate the ecosystem now grew by a 60% YoY. We will have more analysis of the state of the 4th wave ecosystem later in the year.

In its Q4 15 earnings call, Verizon laid out its 3-Tier strategy which is similar to the 4th wave digital strategy we have been working on with many operators around the globe since 2011 (see paper and slides for details). Without moving up the stack, eventually, operators will run out of the data steam that is powering their revenues today.

Regulations for the new age

Some of the regulations in the communications space are over a 100-year-old. Communications itself has drastically changed though the principle of transferring the bits from point A to B remains the same. T-Mobile reported that 50% of its voice calls are are on VoLTE. IP messaging is many times the SMS global volume. Gradually, almost all voice and messaging will be on the IP layer – voice and messaging will just become apps on the data layer. So pretending and regulating these services as if it were 2000 doesn’t help. An ideal strategy for consideration should be that the IP layer gets regulated for fair pricing, competition, and consumer good while everything on the top of the IP layer gets regulated on a “same service, same rules” principle. The interconnection between apps to deliver services like connection to PSTN, E911, etc. can be addressed by fair market pricing principles. VR is going to become the next communication platform; IP messaging the next application development and commerce platform. To keep the regulatory regime simple and in with the times, by focusing on the access layer, one can guarantee that whatever takes place on the top has the opportunity to grow as the market desires. Similarly, data rules across all apps and services on top of the IP layer should be the same irrespective of the provider. This market shift is required to make the market more competitive and fair.

Connected Devices – Resetting the target

The 50B number by 2020 has gotten into the industry lexicon since 2010 when Ericsson first suggested that we are likely to reach this target by the end of the decade. Others picked up the number and either copied it or even went further by suggesting even 75B+ numbers. By the middle of this decade, it looks unlikely, we will hit 50B. Our research shows that we were at approximately 16B last year. It is tall order to make up 34B in 5 years. Given the new evidence and assumptions, Ericsson also revised its estimates down to 28B by 2021 (the 2020 number is just over 25B). 25B+ is still an excellent target and something the industry can be proud of. The 50B number still gets thrown around a lot by vendors and media. We will be better off as an industry if we adjust the forecasts based on ground realities and not unnecessarily hype things.

Apple – what’s next? Mastering the narrative

Apple’s profit in Q4 were the highest recorded in the history of mankind. Let that sink in for a minute. Its $18B in profit on $76B revenue was truly astonishing. Yet, the markets were disappointed. What gives? First, the markets care about growth more than they care about the size of the profits or revenue. If the growth number matches or exceeds the expectations, the stock price responds positively otherwise it moves in the other direction. Second, for the first time since 2003, Apple issued a negative guidance on sales.

The unwritten narrative for Apple’s success has been around the iPhone juggernaut. Now that the high-end market for smartphones is starting to saturate, Apple needs a new narrative that can tie to growth. Apple took a shot at it by releasing some new details around services revenue. In any other company, this would have been received very well. With Apple, expectations of the market are supersized so it is not clear if the pivot towards services will help reshape the basic narrative around Apple’s growth.

Connected Consumer

· On average, each US household spent approximately $3800 on access and devices in 2015.

· Roughly 80% or $3000 of the US household spend went to access of services such as cellular voice, mobile data, cable, landline voice, and broadband internet.

· Roughly 20% or $800 of the US household spend went to devices such as computers, smartphones, feature phones, wearables, tablets, e-readers, connected cars, drones, robots, connected home, and other connected devices.

· 41% of the household access spend went to cellular phones (for voice and data services).

· As a standalone category, mobile data is the biggest category approaching $1000 in yearly household spend.

· In the last 5 years, mobile data spend has risen the most and landline voice has declined the most. Cellular voice spend has also gone down while cable and broadband spend have seen relatively modest uptick.

· In devices, smartphone is by far the biggest spend category. Consumers spend almost 3x on smartphones than they spend on personal computers. Smartphones accounted for more than 50% of the US household connected spend in 2015.

· New categories such as wearables, connected cars, drones/robotics, and connected homes have started to make a tangible impact on consumer spend.

· US consumers spent more on wearables than feature phones in 2015.

· Chetan Sharma Consulting conducted its annual Connected Consumer survey of 1000 US households. The results confirmed the ongoing increase in the number of connected devices/household.

Quad Moves

AT&T is integrating its DirectTV acquisition. Verizon acquired AOL and launched Go90. Similar moves are afoot in Europe and other regions. Regular readers won’t be surprised. Video is a key offering for many service providers and by bundling quad plays, operators can further lower the churn. Content will continue to play a big role in how various offerings get bundled. The traditional cable bundle is being pulled apart in favor of more al carte OTT offerings. Media companies will have to figure out how they play in the new converged world. The ones that have been sitting on the sidelines will have to make some moves in the wireless ecosystem to stay relevant in the long-term.

The Upcoming 5G wars?

5G is gaining steam. All the major players have outline their preliminary plans to do trials on 5G (code word for we don’t want to be perceived as being behind). However, there is some real progress being made in short-range ecosystem of 5G. As I noted, in my MWC note, some of the demos coming out of the labs are exciting. In the US, Verizon’s announcement last year took folks by surprise. By Q1 16, both AT&T and T-Mobile announcement their version of 5G trials. Verizon was out with the first batch of results from its experiments indicating 10Gbps throughput at short-distances. Given the momentum behind cm/mm wave, it is possible that some consensus is built around the spectrum bands by country (and not wait till WRC 19) to get the device ecosystem going.

A lot is still unknown about 5G, specifically, what will be the economics of 5G and the business case for new capex and ROI. We hope to explore this topic in more detail in the coming months.

Our paper on 5G covers the past, present, and future of the network evolution.

What to expect in the coming months?

2015 was a tremendous year for mobile industry thus far as it becomes omnipresence in every industry. We saw some massive moves, astounding acquisitions, and interesting strategic endeavors. The final quarter which is typically the biggest in terms of revenue will lay the foundation for an exciting 2016.

As usual, we will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2015 and 2015 US wireless market is:

Service Revenues

· The US mobile data services revenues in Q4 2015 increased 3% QoQ and 16% YoY.

· After crossing the $100B in data revenues for two straight years, the US market is set for another excellent mobile data services year though some slowdown has started to occur as predicted by our 4th wave thesis.

· Verizon and AT&T dominated the quarter accounting for 69% of the mobile data services revenue and had 67% of the subscription base.

· Verizon and AT&T are at #2 & #3 global mobile data revenue ranking respectively in Q4 2015. Sprint and T-Mobile also maintained their rankings in the top 10 global mobile data operators.


· The Overall ARPU fell by 2.2%. 

· Data contribution to the overall revenues is now at 72%.

· After a minor blip of positive growth in postpaid ARPU by T-Mobile and AT&T earlier this year, all operators saw declines in postpaid ARPU in Q4 with Sprint showing the sharpest decline with 18% change YoY.


· The US market increased its net-adds to 6.7M. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all added approx. 2M or more subs. Sprint also showed positive net-adds though at a fraction of the top 3.

· Verizon again led in postpaid net-adds though a bulk of the net-adds are coming from tablets.

· AT&T has approximately 7M connected cars on their network – probably the highest of any mobile operator in the world.

4th Wave Progress

· The number of players making $250M/quarter on mobile continues to increase rapidly and these aren’t your traditional wireless players. For example, Mobile is now contributing 80% (up from 30% in Q1 2013) to Facebook’s quarterly revenues. Even traditional players like Hertz, Sears, and Starbucks are generating meaningful revenues from mobile. There are now dozens of such players and the list is just growing. (for more discussion on the topic please see: “Mobile 4th Wave: Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars”)

· The cloud and security segments have also gained significant traction with incumbents as well as startups launching new initiatives and technologies.

· Verizon reported $200 million revenue from M2M and Telematics. At the current run-rate, this will be a billion dollar business by 2016. The current annualized run rate is $800M.

Connected Devices

· Connected devices (non-phones) accounted for almost 66% of the net-adds in Q4 2015. This means that while there is a healthy smartphone sales pipeline, it is for the existing subs and as such net-adds for the phone business is tapering off and we can expect that new net-adds will continue to be dominated by the connected devices segment.


· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting almost 97% of the devices sold in Q4 2015. The feature phone category is practically becoming extinct in the US market.

· The smartphone penetration in the US is now at 83%.

· Verizon continues to sell more LTE smartphones as its LTE sub tally rose to 84M making it the #2 LTE operator behind China Mobile which has more than three times the LTE subs. Other three operators are also deep into their LTE deployments. Verizon reported that 90% of its total data traffic is on the LTE network now, clearly the fastest technology transitions we have seen in the US wireless industry.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in April 2016.

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

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations March 3, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave,Applications,Big Data,Hetnets,Internet of Things,IoE,IoT,LTE Broadcast,Mobile World Congress,NFV,SDN,Smart Cities,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wearables,Wi-Fi,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations

Last week all mobile roads led to Barcelona for the annual industry get-together. Many of the discussions at MWC were through the lens of previous week’s blockbuster deal of Facebook/Whatsapp. The deal touches upon many of the technology and business trends up-and-down the mobile stack.

According to industry sources, the first 3GSM had a grand total of 72 attendees cobbled together by self-interest and coaxing. Fast-forward to 2014, and the show has become the most dominant show on the planet, reporting over 80K attendees from around the globe. Perhaps, it is an indication of the improving economy and the fact that we are firmly on the 4th wave impacting every industry vertical.

This note presents the summary of the observations and discussions from the show.

The deal everyone was talking about

The news that everyone was talking about and dissecting was the one that Facebook struck with Whatsapp in a blockbuster announcement few days ago. For folks who were looking primarily from the financial metrics couldn’t come to grips with the magnitude of the deal. However, as I mentioned on CNBC, the deal has to be understood from the point of view of strategic moat for Facebook. Additionally, when the street measures the company by the number of active users, at $130/user, the deal was a bargain. Having said that, there is whack-a-mole element to this strategy. It takes enormous courage to strike such a deal but if you look it from a strategic point of view, Facebook could have easily spent $25B to secure their future in the short-term. The cost of not acting is much higher.

Connecting the unconnected

Connecting the unconnected was by far the biggest theme of the show. From Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote to the launch of $25 devices from Mozilla, there was concerted discussion around how to increase the 3.5B consumers to 5-6B. The business models were hotly debated both in public and private meetings. How does this get funded? Clearly, cheaper devices, lower infrastructure costs, lower application delivery models are key, but how do you onboard these users is one the biggest challenges of the next 5 years.


The emergence of the 4th wave and the competitive dynamics in the markets has put tremendous pressure on the operating margins of the operators. In order to compete and make the organization more nimble and future-ready, one has to tackle the problem on multiple front – reduce the number of resources required to accomplish the tasks, get rid of the network architecture that is limiting and controlled by proprietary interfaces and vendors, drastically reduce the cost of operations, and enable the API layers for quick service creation and deployment. As a result of this pressure and desire to change, SDN and NFV took more prominence this year compared to the past and operators are urgently moving to cloud-based infrastructure. AT&T’s CTO John Donovan emphasized the need to work with startups and more nimble/innovative players than the incumbents to reduce cost and introduce new services quickly (this paper on the subject is worth the read).

5G – 5GPPP and NGMN

While 4G has been the fastest network technology in the history and we are seeing deployments around the world, industry has officially set its sight on defining 5G. A couple of prominent efforts were announced at MWC – 5GPPP led by the Europeans and NGMN – an operator led initiative. A couple of things will have to be worked out as industry bodies look to define 5G and its use cases. While there is politics and jostling to get an advantage, someone will have to harmonize the definitions and requirements. And more importantly, the discussions of 5G should involve the leading OTT players given that 5G will be applications-led network technology.

Ecosystem value shifts

There are significant value shifts that are taking place in the ecosystem. The value is shifting to the upper layers of the stack. This is what is defining the current turbulence, which is exciting to many and depressing for some. Regulators are caught in the middle unable to understand the OTT landscape and design policies that work for the overall growth of the industry that drive the investments, innovation, and GDP growth. We are likely to see the overall pie grow but the tremendous value creation and destruction within the confines of this growth.


MWC picked up where CES left off in wearables. There were many more players who launched watches with different flavors and price point. Industry is also getting conscious of the design elements is what is going to drive the industry. On a larger scale, the industry is waiting for Apple to release its version of wearables and watches, create awareness, and hope that the rising tide lifts all. Huawei, Motorola, Sony, and others announced watches to the market in 2014 without any information on pricing or availability dates. As we mentioned in our CES summary, the wearables market is likely to split into the commoditized layer and the fashion segment.

Galaxy S5

MWC was light on any major device launches except for S5 from Samsung who announced the device in a low-key press conference. There were some other interesting concepts introduced like Yotaphone with an e-ink interface on the back and the privacy-infused-Blackphone. The display is one area, which could bring in new form-factors and use cases as industry gets saturated with existing designs.


IoT is going through its hype cycle right now. IoE takes the notion even to a next level. Everyone wants to make things connected but how will this all pan out, what are “real” use cases? Who bears the cost of the additional BOM? What form of connectivity is required? How do you unify the underlying platform so IoT is exposed as an opportunity to the developers? There are still more questions than there are answers. The most ambitious practical initiative is from GE, which is looking ways to improve its operations using sensors in a significant way. Intel, Cisco, AT&T, Telefonica, Ericsson, Google, Facebook, and many others are all contributing to defining what this connected world will look like in a few years.

I moderated a couple of panels on the role of network APIs in the IoT world. There was significant interest in the developer community on how to tap into this emerging opportunity.

The connected universe will generate opportunities for many players especially the chip manufacturers. Qualcomm has had a dominant role in the chipset space for sometime and continues to operate from its high perch but market is seeing credible solutions and traction from Mediatek who is attacking the market at the bottom end and Intel, which is taking a more performance-centric strategy.

We will be conducting two in-depth sessions on IoT in the coming months. IoT Americas in Seattle (March 18th) with AT&T, Samsung, and adidas and IoT Europe in London (June 17th) with Telefonica and Intel.

Smart Cities

There was a lot of talk about Smart Cities and by extension Smart Nations. However, we haven’t settled on a set of operating models to fund such initiatives. Smaller nations have a better chance to execute on the vision. Countries that have the political breed, regulators, and the industry in sync will see quicker progress than the ones mired by constant election cycles and lackadaisical regulatory regimes. Japan, Korea, Australia, Israel, Spain are a the forefront of what a “Smart City” means and more importantly how will these initiatives will get funded.

Connected Cars

This year connected cars feel more real with imminent launches and data become a key selling point for the OEMs. The primary use cases are safety, diagnostics, and navigation. Next come entertainment and the larger developer ecosystem. Business models vacillate between the kindle model (of embedded connectivity) to shared data plans (attach your cars to the data plan you already have). We are likely to see much activity, deals, and progress in 2014 as the likes of Ford and GM have become regular fixtures at MWC.

Carrier-Aggregation and Hetnets

Carrier aggregation (CA) and Wi-Fi-cellular integration is not new. Vendors and operators have been talking about it for sometime. Most of the LTE operators are in the process of implementing CA to boost the bandwidth and gain more efficiency out of their spectrum assets. Integration with Wi-Fi also gives a boost though there are some enhancements needed to fully utilize Wi-Fi. KT perhaps had the most impressive demo with 3 CA demonstrating speeds of 400-600 Mbps. In a country where 100 Mbps is commonplace, it is no surprise that Korea is pushing the boundaries with LTE.

Network investments – $1.7 Trillion in the next five years

All the progress that has been on the mobile economy has been on the back of trillions of dollars of investment over the last couple of decades. With declining margins, how long do operators continue to invest and at what pace? What’s the margin profile they are willing to live with? What’s the role of government in building out the infrastructure when high-speed mobile networks are concerned? Japan, Korea, Israel have all based their competitiveness on connected broadband world. Can others follow? The impact of Whatsapp launching voice services and Netflix/Comcast deal were hotly debated in the hallways. It is one thing to put out national broadband plans and it is entirely another reality to have an execution path to deliver on the plan. The broadband investment has much far reaching implications than most people and governments realize.

Move towards data-only plans

As we have chronicled in our 4th wave series papers, the past revenue curves of voice and SMS though still generating significant revenues are on their way out. We will be transitioning slowly but surely to the “data-only” world where consumers pay for data packages and voice and SMS are just IP apps on the network being offered by the operator or other 3rd parties.

LTE broadcast

While the industry still has the Mediaflo hangover, LTE broadcast seems to be gaining more traction as more operators are committing to trials and experimentation. The business model (for generating new revenue) still stays elusive.

OTT regulations

The cacophony of OTT regulations is increasing. Faced with OTT impact on their core business, operators are asking regulators to take a broader look at how communications is regulated. Most of the regulators seem incapable or unwilling. There is an urgent need to overhaul the policy framework worldwide and more harmonization is needed so that the developers are not constantly looking at a moving target. However, it feels like the current tools are inadequate to keep with the times. Nations who get what it means to be “digitized” are investing and positioning their respective countries for greater competitive position for the next decade while others will be forced to fight the cycles of unemployment, sluggish growth, and widespread apathy.

Big data – data is the resource that feeds the economic engine and industry growth

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk about using data to fuel new industries and business models. While we are having pertinent debates about security and privacy, the opportunity to use data for greater efficiency and new revenue streams is no more academic. Companies who have gone through the investment of collecting and streamlining the data sources from not only their internal operations but also partners and the developer ecosystem are going to reap better rewards in the long-term. All this is to have an unfair competitive advantage in the “battle of context” which is going to get played out for the second half of this decade. However, big data is also raising big questions about security and privacy.

Security and Privacy

The requirement for tighter end-to-end security and regulators involvement in managing privacy is becoming very important especially in Europe. Given the pervasiveness of Android, it remains the favorite target of the hackers and the frequency of attacks has seen an enormous increase over the last 12 months. The Snowden effect is having tangible impact on US businesses in Europe and elsewhere and given that mobile is platform of choice, many governments are trying to figure out how to regulate security and privacy.

Nokia’s love affair with Android

The fact that Nokia announced more Android devices than those on the Windows OS pretty much sums up the conundrum Microsoft is in today. Nokia’s recognition that Android is a ticket to recognition proved that its Windows-only strategy had been flawed all along. Had it chosen a dual Android/Windows strategy at the outset, Nokia’s history could have been different and the company might have not seen such destruction in value. In any case, the Android device roadmap was prepared primarily to seal the Microsoft deal so we don’t expect any major Android handsets on Microsoft’s roadmap.

Best Booth – Ericsson

Best Party – Siris Capital

Your feedback is always welcome

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in March 2014. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in April 2014.

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

2013 – The year in mobile December 23, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G,4th Wave,Applications,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Connected Devices,Devices,Disruption,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Fourth Wave,Intellectual Property,IP Strategy,Mergers and Acquisitions,Mobile 2013,Mobile Applications,Mobile Future Forward,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 40 comments

Mobile Predictions 2014 Survey: We launched our annual mobile predictions survey for 2014 last week. For all of you have already contributed – many thanks! Rest – will appreciate you filling out the short survey and helping us in analyzing 2014. We even have prizes J. We will have the full analysis from the survey during first week of January.

2013 – The year in mobile

Just like there is no “year of electric cars” or “year of razor blades” or “year of the Greek yogurt,” there is no “year of mobile” or “year of this or that.” However, as we have seen over the 30+ years of mobile evolution, the next year is better than the previous one and so on and so forth. So, 2013 ends in the long tradition and continuum of human endeavor to make significant progress in multiple mobile dimensions and make an impact on individuals and societies alike. 2013 proved that connectivity has become the core of our fabric and we are entering the “connected intelligence era” that will enable the Golden Age of Mobile.

In no particular order, here were some highlights of mobile 2013:

Number of mobile subscriptions ~ humans: the total number of mobile subscriptions got tantalizing close to the number of humans on the planet. Next year, we will go past the milestone but it shows the pervasiveness and strength of the mobile technology that it has become the basic part of our Maslow’s hierarchy.

More data please: As smartphones approach the 2B mark, the data appetite of consumers showed no signs of abating. In Sweden, the mobile broadband subs are consuming over 7GB/mo. In the US, some Android devices are consuming over 4 GB/mo on average. Operators will need to continue to refine their pricing and margin models as the demand for more spectrum will continue.

The dominance of Samsung and Apple: The tussles in the device segment has all the intrigue and juxtaposition of a Shakespearean drama and the ups and downs of a Pavarotti’s masterpiece. Through sheer muscle tenacity and the execution speed of Usain Bolt, Samsung was able to firmly dominate 2013 despite Apple’s grip on the high-end smartphone market. These two account for almost 50% of the smartphone shipments and almost all of the profits in the space. Apple continued to set the tone for the market with the launches of new iPhones and iPads. Though iOS trails Android in raw deployment, it trounces it in consumer usage. It is also remarkable how quickly consumers upgrade to the latest iOS in stark contrast with the Android fragmentation. Apple finally got access to the big Chinese market.

The disappearance of the legacy device brands: Nokia, Motorola, and RIM were dominant players a few years ago but Apple ensured the smartphone script is rewritten. They all made serious strategic errors one after another and while Nokia and Motorola have found new families to host their aspirations, their story should be a reminder of the turbulent cycles of the device business and that the complacency virus spares no one. The rise of the local OEMs should keep everyone on their toes in 2014.

Android juggernaut: In 2013, Android continued to create distance with Apple in terms of downloads, easily going past the mind boggling 1 billion milestone. Android has changed the industry for the better. While there is trouble in the house, Android will continue to play a major role in the device and app ecosystem in 2014.

The growth of OTT Services: As we discussed in our 4th wave paper earlier this year, OTT Services will be the biggest growth segment for the next decade. In 2013, the segment grew 50% ahead of any other telecom segment. Young IP messaging stalwarts fundamentally altered the messaging landscape with Whatsapp performing exceptionally. SMS usage and revenue numbers were impacted worldwide.

The digital revenue streams are very distributed with diverse players such as Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, Expedia, Uber, Pandora, Amazon, AT&T, Telefonica, Verizon, DoCoMo, Netflix, China Mobile, Rovio, Square, Softbank, Ebay, Hertz, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In our work with players around the world this year, it is clear that there is significant energy and application in mining the opportunities on the 4th wave. With nascent efforts in Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia to moonshots in the US and Europe, mobile is rewriting the rules in virtually every industry. Fasten your seat belts for another fast paced year in 2014.

Post-PC beat PC+: Apple expertly wrote the post-PC narrative and while the PC+ crowd has a legit argument, perception is often reality and there in no doubt that from here on out, the industry will be talking about the post-PC world in one voice. Even Microsoft will grudgingly admit to the transition and likely shift its strategy accordingly. As we wrote long time ago, Tablets have fundamentally altered the computing paradigm. In our SMB research released earlier this year, it was clear that smartphones and tablets are the tools of choice for the enterprise and that is not only altering the device business but also the software landscape. Mobile broadband, the cloud, and the applications are altering the enterprises – big and small. Microsoft should take solace from a tough year of progress. Blackberry is practically done and Microsoft has established itself as the distant but a viable third mobile ecosystem. Had it not been for a series of strategic mistakes, Microsoft might have made better inroads in 2013.

LTE launches: LTE is the fastest growing generation of cellular technology in the history. With over 250 networks launched, the desire to launch IP networks quickly is on top of the agenda. US leads with all major operators having substantial LTE deployments but other nations are fast catching up. While there has been quite a bit of focus on LTE, WiFi has been emerging as the white knight and its importance only grew in 2013 with 60-70% of the mobile data traffic being carried by WiFi networks in most of the countries. It might lead to some interesting business models in the coming years. 5G entered the industry lexicon.

M&As: It is natural for fast growing and competitive industries to consolidate. 2013 wasn’t any different. There were some blockbuster and expected M&As: Microsoft acquired Nokia, Softbank surprised with Sprint/Clearwire acquisition, Verizon finally got hold of its destiny from Vodafone. As we have eluded to several times in our past research notes, we expect the global M&A to continue with several block buster deals slated for 2014. Stay tuned.

Patent wars: In maturing markets, patent wars are the unfortunate part of the ongoing battle for dominance. Mobile saw its share of patent wars. With roughly quarter of the USPTO grants becoming mobile related, it shouldn’t come as a surprise though.

Regulatory tussles: Regulators are generally always behind in understanding a fast growing industry. It was clear in 2013, that the convergence of the computing and communications world has left the regulatory world woefully short of expertise and imagination. Governments around the world will do better by hiring folks from the industry to get a grip of the fast-paced every-changing dynamics of the mobile world as the very competitiveness of a nation depends on it. From spectrum to privacy, from competition to commerce, regulators need to get up to speed on unexpected trajectories of the new world.

Security and Privacy: From Snowden revelations to industrial espionage, from credit card data loss to enterprise security, the security and privacy of mobile data, applications, networks, and devices became front and center of the security and privacy debate.

Operator disruption plays: In the telecom space, the #4 player generally doesn’t have a big impact on the overall mechanics of the industry. However, when it has nothing to lose, it can provide a potent dose of disruption to the market. Free in France and T-Mobile in the US were examples of that this year. In France, by offering cheap mobile data services at low margins, the newcomer altered the economics of the segment tumbling the incumbent revenues by 10%. In the US, through a series of financial and marketing maneuvers, T-Mobile was able to alter its net-add trajectory and had meaningful sub gains for the first time in three years. Also, for the first time, T-Mobile forced the top three to react to its moves and not the other way around. It also inspired other smaller players in other countries to rethink their strategies.

Connected devices: The promise of M2M and connected devices has been there for some time. Internet of Things has morphed into the gimmicky Internet of Everything. While the hockey stick curve hasn’t arrived yet, there was plenty to celebrate with the introductions of Google Glasses, wearables, smart watches, connected autos, glamorous thermostats, winking light bulbs, home security and energy management solutions and much more. GE is spending billions for its “industrial Internet” initiative. A nice platform has been set for continued feverish growth and product introductions in 2014.

Mobile’s impact on commerce: Mobile is changing every industry but its impact on commerce is particularly notable. In the 2013 holiday season (according to IBM), mobile made 17% of the online sales increasing over 55% from 2012. Tablet users spent $126/order.

Meteoric rise of mobile apps: In 2010, we evaluated the impact mobile apps will have on the industry. Much of the growth has been expected, however the players who lead in revenue and downloads have fluctuated across the various platforms. In 2013, Google started to match Apple in downloads though Apple easily wins in the revenues category and thus still remains more attractive to the developers though the gap is closing.

There was much more – Twitter IPO, Surface, Moto X, spectrum scandals, Facebook’s love for mobile, Google mobile advertising dominance, the rise of the Chinese OEMs, decline of HTC, and several other events captivated our attention.

I am positive that 2014 is going to be another terrific year for mobile. The progress and surprises will come from all quarters. New players will emerge, new business models will take hold, and we will make significant progress. I am also sure that you all will do your part in shaping the mobile cosmos.

Would love to hear from you. How was your 2013? And what are you looking to do in 2014 that will change the mobile world? Please be sure to fill out our annual predictions survey for 2014.

With best wishes for an outstanding 2014.

Yours truly

Chetan Sharma

New Research Paper: The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud May 6, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,4th Wave,AORTA,Applications,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Connected Devices,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Ecosystem,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud

– A collaboration between Chetan Sharma Consulting and AT&T


Download pdf (1.5 MB)


In 2013, the US mobile data revenues will exceed $90 billion accounting for over 165% growth in the last 5 years. This makes US the biggest market for mobile data solutions and services. The smartphone penetration in the US went past 50% by mid-2012. The number of applications available to consumer has quadrupled in just the last two years. While the growth in the smartphone segment has been quite impressive, the tablet adoption rate has been the highest in the consumer electronics history. The advent of mobile broadband, powerful computing devices, reliable cloud services and applications have changed the computing landscape forever.

At the same time, the Consumerization of IT is changing the face of the enterprise architecture as well. This is felt more acutely in the small-and-medium business (SMB) segment. US is also the biggest enterprise market in the world and the SMB segment represents the more agile and technology-savvy of the ecosystem. In fact, we think it is a leading indicator of how technologies are going to be adopted in the enterprise ecosystem, what trends will prove to be disruptive, which vertical segments will embrace efficiency, and most importantly, how should we think about the ever-changing landscape as we look towards rest of the decade.

Small businesses are at the heart of the US economic engine. They represent roughly 45% of the non-farm GDP. Every administration, every president focuses on small business growth and job creation. Given the importance of small businesses to the economy, it is worthwhile to look at how their technology needs are changing. Additionally, it is important to understand how they are adopting technology and the impact it is having on their productivity, competitiveness, and efficiency. The technology adoption is also putting some of the traditional industry segments at risk while creating several new growth areas.

To understand the impact of mobile broadband, devices, and cloud applications, we conducted a survey of eighty SMB companies of different shapes and sizes across the US serving different verticals constituting over ten thousand employees. We also looked at the data from over twelve thousand companies in the SMB segment and over twenty thousand larger enterprises. Additionally, we conducted a series of interviews to better understand the motivations, requirements, and feedback of these companies. These companies have been in business for twenty years on average with over two years of experience with mobile data solutions. By understanding how they use and benefit from mobile data solutions, we can better identify the course of enterprise mobility in the US and around the world.

Some interesting findings:

· Small and medium businesses are leading indicators of technology adoption. As referenced in this paper, SMB smartphone and tablet penetration is more than 90 and 65 percent respectively; whereas national smartphone and tablet penetration is roughly 55 and 22 percent. 

· Mobile First to Mobile Only. Last year, we proposed that we will start moving from mobile first to mobile only economy. We said that we are approaching a pivot point wherein the mobile first doctrine is going to move to mobile only. We are starting to see strong evidence of that shift. In our survey, roughly 30% of the SMBs are transitioning from desktops/notebooks to smartphones/tablets. Business software and solutions are being transformed by the use of smartphones and tablets. With this shift, we’ve seen the emergence of a generation of app developers focusing primarily on the mobile app platform.

· Mobile broadband, cloud, and apps are providing real and tangible ROI. The SMBs in the survey saw an average savings of 40 minutes per worker per day, which translates into significant impact on profits over the course of the year.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

Abhi Ingle – The Mobile Cloud Connected Enterprise

Posted by chetan in : 4G,4th Wave,Applications,Enterprise Mobility,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

image mffbook2011_s

The following piece is excerpted from the 2011 Mobile Future Forward Book – Connected Universe. Unlimited Opportunities. It was written by Abhi Ingle, then VP, Advanced Mobility Solutions at AT&T and now VP of Innovation and Head of Foundry  at AT&T

Technology and Structural Change

An observation of the technology industry reveals three broad trends having a visible impact on business today. First, mobile computing devices continue to add computing capacity and new capabilities at an exponential rate of growth (Figure 1a and 1b). (Moore’s Law is still very much in effect and shows no signs of slowing). Second, wireline and wireless connectivity is being migrated to a flat, high-speed internet protocol architecture providing the ability for the stack of services to be disaggregated. This allows applications to run seamlessly across multiple devices simultaneously in stationary, nomadic and mobile scenarios. Third, the explosion of cloud computing in terms of infrastructures, platforms and applications continues to develop and is now gaining acceptance in mainstream scenarios, both consumer and business (Figure 2).

image image

Figure 1a and 1b: New Uses for Computing (Source: IDC) and New Model of Computing Innovation (Source: 2011. Intel Investor Meeting).


Figure 2: AT&T Mobile Data Volumes Up 8,000% Over Four Years (Source: 2011. AT&T).

Amplifying the impact of these technological changes is a sea-change in technology purchasing, evaluation and consumption in the marketplace. Technology purchasing–previously a top-down IT-driven process–has now morphed in to a bottom-up consumer-driven phenomenon. Alternately referred to as the “consumerization of IT” or the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement, it is having a tremendous influence on business IT, effectively redefining where and how technology decisions are made. (Ted Schadler (Forrester Research) and Josh Bernoff (Forrester Research) have written Empowered, an entire book dedicated to this trend alone).

Any of these advances taken individually is an exciting evolution, but the opportunity presented by the combination of these technologies and trends taken together is revolutionary. This troika of technological advancements and industry trends can be viewed through two lenses, either as an incredible opportunity or an insurmountable challenge.

This dichotomous view is understandable. There are formidable obstacles as companies realize that they may have to reengineer twenty years of PC-centric architecture to contend with multiple connected devices, multiple computing platforms and multiple applications (which may or may not run on all of the same platforms). It can be an overwhelming task even for the most forward-thinking organizations. We choose to view this as a rare opportunity for businesses agile enough to harness these trends to make dramatic business improvements by transforming classic enterprise IT architectures to real-time, business process driven, cloud-based mobile architectures. A systemic phased approach with the right partners can make this a manageable and self-funding transformation.

We find the three technology changes referenced earlier to be mutually reinforcing. For example, the advent of powerful smartphones, tablets and connected devices changes the computing paradigm to be one in which there are many devices per person. Having several devices inherently leads to the necessity to have data and applications accessible by multiple devices simultaneously.

What is the phenomenon ideally suited for housing applications allowing access from multiple end points? The cloud! And, of course, all of this would not work if all of these devices were not always on and connected through incredibly fast flat IP networks (wireless and wireline). The business network is, in fact, the most mature virtualized element, secure MPLS-based connectivity which increasingly forms the core of enterprise connectivity today was the original “cloud or virtualized” service. The virtualization of data centers, servers, storage, processing power and the XaaS phenomenon is taking the other elements towards the same evolution as the network, in effect creating a virtualized or cloud fabric in which network, processing, storage and software can flex to the needs of the enterprise on a dynamic basis (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Cascading Waves of Innovation (Source: 2011. AT&T).

Much has been written about the technologies involved in this change, but surprisingly little about a business framework that can fully take advantage of these changes. Capitalizing on this opportunity will require a holistic framework encompassing people, processes, assets (Figure 4) and linkages between the three in an architecture that provides the enterprise with the ability to sense, analyze and respond in real-time (Figure 5).


Figure 4: Framework for a Real-Time Event Driven Enterprise. (Source: 2011. AT&T).


Figure 5: Sense, Analyze, Respond Relationship. (Source: 2011. AT&T).

Consider two companies we have worked with recently on extreme ends of the spectrum. The first, a large beverage distribution company, with a history of successfully implementing progressive mobility solutions, wanted to retain its competitive advantage.

The second, a 20-person company providing specialized healthcare supplies, with no automation, sought to capitalize on creating a real-time enterprise which they could never have afforded prior to these technological changes. Both of these companies have dramatically transformed their business processes around the concept of the real-time enterprise in which people, process and assets are always connected and can be optimized on the go.


Figure 6: Beverage distribution company scenario illustrates real-time demand and supply adaptation (Source: 2011 AT&T).

To understand how the beverage distribution company is thinking about the future and how they can capitalize on the technology changes, visualize this scenario:

A large group of bicycle riders are out on a long ride on their bicycles on a hot day and require a sports drink to rehydrate (Figure 6, Illustration A). Those of you familiar with road biking will recall that the form fitting lycra outfits that most road bikers wear typically limit what one can carry. Imagine that on the bicycle’s handlebar (where in the past a GPS device would have resided) is instead a sled for the rider’s mobile smartphone, GPS and near field communications, where he or she can use an application to locate the nearest drink machine (Figure 6, Illustration B) and get directions to it (Figure 6, Illustration C).

Once there, the rider can use his or her mobile device to pay for and receive a drink using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The process is repeated for the entire group of bikers, depleting the machine of all the sport drinks (Figure 6, Illustration D). In a non-real time world, the company would fail its’ consumer at the moment of truth – it would direct thirsty riders to an empty machine. But in our real-time connected world, the connected vending machine has already signaled its status to the cloud, has been taken off the database before the next set of riders would see, and they are automatically directed to the next closest machine.

Simultaneously, cloud based analytics ensure that “restock work orders” are routed to all supply trucks in the area (Figure 6, Illustration E). (All trucks are equipped with automated vehicle location technologies that are continuously connected). Each supply truck driver has a handheld device to receive the alert and the ability to accept a restocking order and go refill the depleted machine. As soon as this is done the vending machine resignals its status and is immediately shown on the next dynamic search a consumer makes. Imagine the efficiencies and revenue maximization as a result of these real-time interactions!

One could even imagine correlating this cycle to the weather/temperature or time of day to drive even further efficiencies. Clearly, not everything outlined in this scenario has been implemented to date, but by preparing for the future, this company is systemically transforming its business processes and moving to a real-time mobile IT architecture.

Now let’s take a look at the small twenty person specialized health supplies company harnessing these technology trends to completely revise the operations of their company around a mobile, real- time cloud delivered core.


Figure 7: Rehabilitation Company Specializing in Wheelchairs (Source: 2011 AT&T).
(ProntoForms is a trademark of TrueContext Corporation.)

The Scenario Prior to Transformation: The company– a privately owned corporation–supplies custom wheelchairs to customers. The company operated primarily via paper forms requiring extensive calling back and forth using basic phones and a classic company reception system despite the fact that the company could not afford to keep the company phone line staffed around the clock. The company also owned two delivery vans to pick up and deliver wheelchairs the company was either servicing or supplying. Since the company could not afford any more vans, multiple calls to these vans to ensure on time delivery and pickup was critical.

The AT&T Mobility Applications Consultant who called upon this company soon realized the company was too small to either host, manage or support any onsite software or even deploy and maintain PCs. The answer was delivering four applications through the cloud direct to smartphones (in this case iPhones) and to specialized tracking devices. What follows is a summary of the 4 different solutions and the problems they addressed. (Refer to Figure 7 for the following).

Solution #1: The company’s wheelchair technicians used paper forms for everything they did; surveying customers about their needs, taking down specs or noting repairs delivered. This equated to three different forms over four pages in length. Each day field technicians filled out the forms and turned them in. Then they were formally entered/rekeyed at the end of every day. This was a time consuming effort with frequent errors and inaccuracies that had to be found, corrected, and re-entered.

The company was transitioned to a cloud delivered, mobile forms solution. The Pronto Forms Solution delivered by AT&T converted a paper intensive environment into a highly efficient method of capturing data. The forms were automated on iPhones for the field technicians and eliminated all the paperwork and rekeying steps, cutting the previous process time by approximately 75% per form. The information is also available online as soon as the technician fills out the form.

Solution #2: As previously mentioned, this company has two vans on the road constantly making deliveries. But the owner has no visibility as to current vehicle location, if they are on schedule, and if the miles driven are valid.

The TeleNav Vehicle Tracker from AT&T, a vehicle tracking solution involving a box that can be attached to the van and a cloud delivered portal provides visibility of corporate vehicles at all times. This ensures the vehicles whereabouts, if the driver is on schedule, and how far the vehicles have been driven. All this leads to better customer service, better image, and increased safety, security, and business stability.

Solution #3: The owner often needed to send out communication blasts to employees to see if someone could fulfill a particular task when they were short staffed in one department, but the owner and employees were only able to receive messages from customers on a 1:1 basis, slowing communication down. The implementation of AT&T Enterprise Paging allowed the owner to send one message to all employees via a simple text messaging portal and confirm receipt/delivery of messages.

Solution #4: After-hours management of the business was practically non-existent since the company was so small, yet their customers were dependent on their wheelchairs and needed the ability to reach someone in the company immediately.

AT&T Office@Hand, a cloud delivered PBX to the smartphone with a very simple web GUI, provided the customer with the ability to better manage and control after-hours service. It unifies employees in a business-on-one-phone system and includes auto-receptionist, multiple extensions, voicemail, call handling, faxing, and other features. The owner can assign a receptionist, a “sales, technician or repair” department on the fly depending on which employees are available.

The bottom line: The company was able to accomplish with $99 smartphones and asset tracking devices and a monthly software subscription fee of <$500, what would have previously involved buying $800-$1000 PCs , tens of thousands of dollars of enterprise software, a PBX system and an IT person to deploy and manage the software and communications. The difference is startling! Contrast capital and OPEX running into $200,000 vs. a CAPEX of <$1500 and monthly subscription fees of <$500 for the software. Even better, all of this is delivered by one company (AT&T) with a simple monthly bill that includes: Voice charges, data charges and applications charges all as one consolidated bill with one point of contact. This scenario even 3-4 years ago was unimaginable prior to the convergence of the three technology trends. It is the ultimate democratization of technology.

Changing Roles for Everyone In the Value Chain

The trends that we outlined above have profound implications for everyone involved in the technology delivery, evaluation, implementation and support chain. Consider the two examples outlined above. Each of these involved solutions comprised of innovative applications that live in the cloud and are delivered to smartphones or “always on connected devices” and paid for via subscription models.

Consider my own company, AT&T. Many of you are likely surprised that the role AT&T is playing in a rapidly evolving market such as this, and many of you might be skeptical of the need/value /competency of AT&T to play such a role, and rightfully so.

To illustrate my position, I would ask anyone who is curious to conduct a simple experiment. While inside of Apple’s App Store or the Android Market, type in “business application” and stand back as you compile thousands of results. How does a small company determine which application is right for them? How does a small company perform the due diligence to determine which platforms each application will run on, and on which models provided by which service providers? How does a business support, manage and develop to these platforms? Finally, try to find application providers able to provide enterprise billing as opposed to a consumer centric credit card only option.

We came to the conclusion that AT&T needed to adapt to the times by morphing our role to provide solutions to help businesses harness the mobile cloud phenomenon. As a supplier of mobile hardware, virtual private networks and data centers which can serve up mobile applications, we are uniquely qualified to deliver integrated solutions to customers.

But the change from delivering monolithic communication products to a collaborative enterprise partnering with dozens of hardware and software providers is not easy. It requires a significant transformation. First, in our people; hiring and training Mobile Application Consultants, ecosystem managers and vertical specialists. Second, in our process; moving from a product sale architected, managed and supported by AT&T, to a complex solution assembled across many different participants and supported through partnerships. And third, in our assets; from managing a network to a fixed set of devices, to managing a network that connects virtual private mobile application clouds to millions of smartphones, tablets and connected end points.

We felt we had no choice but to make this journey to stay relevant in the brave new world of mobile IT, cloud platforms and connected devices. The AT&T objective is, in effect, to help businesses master the melding of communications and computing together by knitting a series of ecosystem partnerships and providing a platform for other companies to innovate on via hardware and software and services. We believe we can simplify the process of harnessing technology for many business segments and serve as a broad distribution channel for small innovative companies (such as the types of companies showcased in the examples provided earlier) that struggle with brand, distribution and enterprise billing.

Given the far reaching impact of these changes, we believe it is important for all participants in the value chain to rethink their role, assets, people and partnerships for the years to come. Provided below is a quick synopsis of practical implications and considerations for different participants.

Changing Role of the CIO and the Enterprise IT Department

As outlined, in the Advisory Board Article (The Space Race – The Competitive Implications of Next-Generation IT Architecture, Research Summary, The Research Board. June 2010) on the changing role of the CIO, dramatic changes are occurring in the IT department as well. In effect, many companies have gone from having IT departments that DO things (own and drive projects) to an IT department that MANAGES things (potentially working with outside service providers).

This change has an influence on the balance of power between IT departments and Line-of-Business (LOB) departments. In some cases LOB departments find themselves in the unique situation of no longer requiring the assistance of IT and go directly to an external service provider (supplanting the internal IT department). In these cases, the IT department finds itself in the unique situation of having to compete against other service providers as an alternate provider. Enterprise IT should ask themselves if their highest value is in buying piece parts and spend time integrating these solutions or developing them in-house? Or does it make more sense to turn your department into high value business process analysis groups supplemented by strong architects who can put the various solution providers together?

The answer for each company will vary, but there is little doubt that a journey towards the latter is necessary. This may warrant changing hiring profiles to shift from maintenance and integration talent to personnel with strong architecture, business analysis and skills in user interfaces and experiences.

1) Software Providers: Consider how software is going to be delivered in the future. Do you stick with shrink wrapped software or begin delivering software over the cloud? Should you do that yourself or partner with others to do that? Who should the partners be? Should the cloud be private or public? Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, for the larger companies such as SAP, it may make sense to build out their own cloud as well as partner with service providers like AT&T. For the smaller companies, they need to also consider the value of distribution, brand, billing and support services in addition to just the cost/capital to build out the cloud.

2) Hardware Suppliers: The success of the iPhone and iPad, tightly integrated mobile platforms and hardware, has every hardware manufacturer wondering if they need to also provide an end-to-end controlled experience. HP has clearly chosen to go down that path with the purchase of Palm/WebOS. Dell on the other hand has bet on a loose coupling with Android and Windows Phone 7. Nokia on the other hand has tightly coupled itself to Windows Phone 7 while Samsung and HTC continue to play across both. How far do hardware manufacturers go down the route of content/application services? How far into systems integration and services do they extend without alienating their downstream channels? How does the entire PC ecosystem transition the set of support, management and application services from the WINTEL era to the post PC, multi-OS environment? These are important issues that the established hardware ecosystem is dealing with even now.

3) Systems Integrators: As hardware and software players forward integrate, is it enough to ally with purely software providers to build “practices” or does it make more sense to ally with new emerging or established service providers? Is there a way for Systems Integrators to move upstream and focus on complex custom application development and service/change management (which most service providers will have little appetite for) and leave the simpler pre-packaged and configured applications to be delivered directly by software providers and/or service providers?

4) Service Providers: Does one move up the value chain and become an integrated supplier of cloud, application and mobile computing service or do you strip away complexity and focus purely on providing bandwidth? What is the set of systems integration and software relationship needed to accomplish this? What is the set of cloud/network APIs that will need to be opened up to truly build a platform on which an ecosystem can build and thrive on and act as a pull through for the infrastructure services? Again, as with all other players in the value chain, the answer will be different depending on the scale, scope and ambitions of the service provider.

Whichever path the companies in the value chain pick, they must all remember the familiar dictum of “adapt or die”. The list of companies throughout many different industries that were unable to adapt to changes in innovation is long. Consider some companies that were considered “unsinkable”: One invented the instant film camera (among many other camera-based devices) that was on the market from 1948 through 2008, or the computer company that employed over 33,000 and had revenues of over $3B in the 1980s, or the airline that was a cultural icon of the 20th century and shaped the international airline industry… All utterly dominated their respective markets for extended periods of time, then failed to either recognize change, or adjust to it, and ended up perishing.

The current force of technology change is powerful enough that if Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley is to be believed, we are in the middle of a significant evolution in computing. She calls it the “5th wave” (Figure 8).


Figure 8: The 5th Wave of Computing (Source: Morgan Stanley).

One can debate whether it is the 3rd, 4th or 5th wave, but the historical shift in market position and innovation that have accompanied every such wave, one thing we can all agree upon is that the only constant will be change itself. I hope that companies will seize upon this opportunity to unleash an era that we will look back on as the ultimate democratization of computing and connectivity.

At this time of uncertainty, it is edifying to remember a quote from the 35th President of the United States:

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
– John F. Kennedy

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Cloud, SDN, and the art of mobile computing March 25, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,Big Data,Mobile Applications,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Cloud Computing,Privacy,Security,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Mobile Breakfast Series entered its 5th year of operation this week with our first event of the year in Seattle. The topic of discussion was Cloud, SDN, and the art of mobile computing.

2012 has been an incredible year for mobile. Despite the global economic doldrums, mobile is a $1.5 trillion economy with new entrants, new disruptions, new devices, technologies, networks, etc. One of the major shifts is in how the revenue is generated for the industry. Mobile operators around the world capture over 85% of the industry’s profits. However, if you take a look at the top 5 global players by profits – it is China Mobile, Apple, Verizon, AT&T and DoCoMo. Still dominated by service providers but Apple wasn’t on the list 2 years back. So, how will the list look like 5 years from now?

There is a clear shift going on what I call “the fourth wave” i.e. industry’s new revenues are going to come from services and solutions. And mobile operators are not silent participants on this wave. Players like Verizon, AT&T, Telefonica, and DoCoMo are going toe-to-toe with the OTT or Internet players. If you remember the early 2000s, mobile data wasn’t even registering on the revenue scale; 10 years ago mobile data revenues were less than $1 billion per year in the US. Last year, we reported $79 billion, this year it will grow to $90 billion. In fact, we might see a shift where data revenues > voice revenues this year in the US. It has already happened in Japan, over 65% revenue coming from data. But what happens when data saturates, the revenue is going to come from fourth wave services and solutions. You will start to see operators break out revenues from digital services.

So, the question is what those services are – cloud is on top of the list, big data and analytics is on the top of that list? How are these going to be supported – by LTE network, buy SDN enabled network infrastructure? To discuss all of this we assembled a great panel.

Mitch Lewis, Vice President, Juniper Networks

Biju Nair,  EVP and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of Synchronoss

Randy Wagner, Executive Director, B2B Sales and Marketing, Verizon Wireless

Louis Brun, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy, Guavus

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Before we began, Mitch Lewis gave a talk on “Seven Leadership Principles From Everest” .. yes, you read it right, Everest. Mitch has not only climbed Everest but each of the 7 highest peaks on the 7 continents. If that were not enough, he has run 7 marathons on these continents as well. It was indeed a thrill and a privilege to host my friend Mitch and have him talk about his experiences and the lessons from a dream that he accomplished over the course of 8 years. Just a phenomenal achievement.

Below is his presentation and a video from his talk. Enjoy and get motivated.




We could have just stopped there 🙂

But we had plenty to discuss on the state of mobile cloud computing and the emergence of SDN.


Below is the summary of the discussion:

Cloud Computing


Privacy and Security

Big Data

As usual, it was a lively discussion and with the added presentation from Mitch, a memorable one indeed. Mobile cloud has become a layer of computing just like security or connectivity. This fundamental capability has led to a thousand new companies looking to move the art of computing a bit forward. Software Defined Networking is slated to disrupt the infrastructure in a big way, provide more flexibility to service providers and developers to create even more compelling services and user experiences.

We also announced the date of our 2013 Mobile Future Forward. On Sept 10th this year, leaders of the mobile industry will gather in Seattle to brainstorm the future of mobile. As usual, it is going to be a delight to host the best and brightest. So mark your calendars, make your plans, and we hope to see you there later this year. More news to come in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all those who attended and thanks to Synchronoss for being our series partner.


US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2012 November 12, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,Infrastructure,LTE,M&A,Mergers and Acquisitions,Messaging,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile OEMs,Mobile Operators,Mobile Payments,Mobile Traffic,Privacy,Security,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2012




The US mobile data market grew 3% Q/Q and 17% Y/Y to reach $19.9B in Q3 2012. Data is now almost 43% of the US mobile industry service revenues. For the year 2012, the market is on track for mobile data revenues in the US market to reach our initial estimate of $80 billion.

Largely due to the strong postpaid performance by Verizon, the US operators added a net of 2.4M new subscribers. Sprint and T-Mobile saw further postpaid declines. For T-Mobile, Q3 marked the nine straight quarters of postpaid losses.

The quarter also saw a couple of block-buster operator M&As that took many in the industry by surprise. T-Mobile found a soul mate in MetroPCS while Softbank showed up at the altar for Sprint. Once the mergers are executed, Sprint is likely to emerge as the stronger of the two.

The two horse OS race got a new participant entry last month – Windows 8. Microsoft and its partners launched a worldwide campaign for a chance to compete. Microsoft also made a splash with the first computing device in its history – Surface. Both got a mixed reception from the market. We will find out how consumers will react in the Q4 numbers. Of all the OEMs, Q4 will be the most critical for Nokia who is running out of runway in its turnaround effort.

Despite setbacks in the IP battles, Samsung continued its march of being the undisputed unit leader in mobile device space. After displacing Nokia in Q1 2012, it continued to dominate in units shipped in Q3 2012. However, Apple dominates both the smartphone revenues and more importantly just crushes the competition on device profits. It has only 6% of the global unit shipment share but over 70% profit share. In tablets, Apple completely dominates the landscape in both shipments and revenue. In fact, 95% of the profits in the tablet segment go to Apple with the remaining ecosystem fighting for the crumbs. Apple has the complete stronghold on the supply chain and has sucked out the oxygen from the OEM world.

Amazon hasn’t been shy about its ambitions in the mobile space. While the world awaits an Amazon smartphone, the company launched a slew of tablets to compete primarily with Google though its eyes are on Apple. Apple also launched iPad mini a mid-tier tablet to ward of threats coming from the bottom tier of the market.

As we mentioned it in our last update, smartphones are now past the 50% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for over 75% of the devices sold in Q3 2012.

While the US penetration of smartphones is over 50% as we reported last quarter, the 50% of the sub base is concentrated in only 30% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth left in the marketplace.

In terms of Y/Y growth, Connected Devices segment grew 19%, Prepaid 10%, Wholesale 6%, and Postpaid was flat. The connected devices segment picked up some growth after two straight quarters of sub-5% performance growth (Q/Q).

Verizon and AT&T maintained their top positions in the global rankings by mobile data revenues. A survey of the entire ecosystem shows that the US companies dominate the top 5 rankings of profit share. China Mobile leads the industry with Apple, Verizon, AT&T, and NTT DoCoMo completing the rankings.

Postpaid Doldrums and evolution of metrics – ARPU to ARPA to AMPA

The US market has added roughly 400K postpaid subs in the last two quarters. Verizon has added 2.4M, AT&T 400K, and Sprint and T-Mobile have lost a million each. Clearly, Verizon’s performance is far superior to its competitor and its relentless focus on postpaid has yielded significant benefits. Typically, the postpaid ARPU is roughly 2-3 times that of a prepaid subscriber. So, while other operators have been adding prepaid subs, the improvement to the bottom line has been tepid especially for Sprint and T-Mobile. Sprint’s losses have been primarily due to the bleeding of the Nextel customers. The iDEN network should turn off sometime next year and the continuous loss of overall postpaid subs might stop. T-Mobile faces a deeper challenge. Its net-revenue has declined in every quarter since Q4 2008, which is 15 straight quarters of revenue decline. In fact, its current revenue levels is at the Q2 2006 levels – that was six years ago. Though the company has done a terrific job upgrading the network to HSPA+ and doing blocking and tackling until it upgrades to LTE to come at par with its peers, the continuous bleeding of the postpaid subs needs a new strategy. Metro PCS helps gain new subs and spectrum but doesn’t help with postpaid. In fact, one can expect that the churn will rise as consumers migrate from Metro to T-Mobile. 2013 will be a critical transition year for the company as it tries to compete with its larger competitors. Just being a “value” provider is the race to the bottom.

We have been advocating shared data plans to create more consumer demand for over two years. When I talked to CNBC earlier this year (Jan), I said that in all likelihood the family data plans will be introduced in the US market in 2012. I discussed this more with Bloomberg and USA Today and suggested that most likely Verizon will launch them first. Verizon and AT&T launched the shared data plans this summer with AT&T getting the benefit of launching it second. New types of plans also evolved the decades-old operator metric of ARPU to ARPA (Average Revenue Per Account) given that we are seeing a strong influx of multiple devices per individual/household. Verizon was first to transition and we expect others might introduce new matrices to measure progress and performance. AMPA (Average Margin Per Account) will also become an important metric in the coming days, first internally, and then for the markets.

Messaging Decline

Most western markets have seen the net revenue in the messaging segment decline. The US market has resisted the decline thus far. In Q3 2012, for the first time, there was a decline in both the total number of messages as well as the total messaging revenue in the market. It might be early to say if the decline has begun or the market segment will sputter along before the decline takes place. As we had outlined in our fourth wave paper, once the market segment reaches the 70-90% penetration mark, the decline begins and we might be seeing the start of the decline in messaging revenue. The decline is primarily due to the rise in IP messaging and operators have been slow to evolve their strategies in the segment.

Operator’s Dilemma (And Opportunity): The Fourth Wave

In our paper “Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave” earlier this year, I proposed that we need a new framework to think about the next generation of revenue opportunities. The fourth curve opportunities are massive but require a different skillset and strategic approach that the past three curves. We are starting to see operators becoming more focused and aggressive. It is being widely adopted in the operator community around the world and some operators have started to break out the 4th wave revenues in their financials. We will have more discussion about how things are shaping up in future research papers.

AT&T has been better prepared in the US market and has embraced the ride on the fourth curve. It is investing in the areas of Digital Life, Mobile Premise Solutions, Mobile Payments, and Connected Vehicles. We discussed the subject at length in our recently concluded annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward.

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

Just when you thought the prospects of any major operator M&A slowed down due to the impending US election, T-Mobile announced its acquisition of Metro PCS giving it more spectrum, access to public markets, a good chunk of subscriber base to become a more competitive number 4. Sprint and Softbank followed the announcement with an absolutely brilliant maneuver. Sun Tzu would have been proud. It provides Sprint access to capital, economies of scale, and becomes a much stronger number 3, and a global telecom player with scale and ambition. There have been some interesting twists and turns but as we have stated before, the US market competitive equilibrium will be complete when Sprint and T-Mobile get together at some point down the road.As outlined in our research paper on the subject, market forces find their way to get to 3 dominant operators that compete for attention and revenues, rest becomes noise. While the regulators might scoff at the idea, the inevitable market forces will find their way around.

Connected Devices

In Q3 2012, we released some research around connected devices. If we just look at the active connected devices which can connect to the Internet directly either by wireless or wired means, either using cellular or WLAN, the total number of connected devices in the globe just crossed the 10 billion mark which means that the connected device to human ratio is now 1.3.

More details available here.

Device ecosystem

Windows 8 arrival – Sept was a big month in Microsoft’s attempt to regain its lost mobile decade. It went from a dominant position to virtually zilch coinciding with the remarkable ascend of iOS and Android. To make any device sell – one needs good and competitive device, distribution channel and marketing muscle, and brand loyalty. I think Windows 8 is genuinely good, is different, and for the first time can stand with its peers (obviously it needs to build a robust apps portfolio and a stronger developer ecosystem).

In the past, while operators, OEMs, and Microsoft announced significant advertising spend, it had almost negligible impact on sales. The actual $ amount spend was tepid, operators didn’t want to be guinea pigs just to prop up a third ecosystem. With Windows 8, things might get better. We can see many more awareness campaigns, more OEMs are launching some quality devices, and operators are warming up to the idea as well. The brand loyalty index for Microsoft Mobile is fairly low and it will take a heavy lift and a few billion dollars of advertising spend to move the needle. The good news is that the devices are shipping and it is not thanksgiving yet.

However, Nokia, once propped at every Windows Phone rally isn’t getting any special love from Microsoft anymore (in public) and it has become one of the many OEMs on the conveyer belt. Its ability to differentiate itself enough in Q4 will decide its 2013.

Last week, Qualcomm eclipsed Intel in market cap marking another milestone in the progression of the mobile ecosystem.

Surface, mini, and the tablet market

Apple launched the iPad mini for some of the same principles that Microsoft launched Surface. It is better to be cannibalized by self than by the enemy. Microsoft saw the notebook market shrink and needed a product to stem the bleeding while Apple saw Amazon and Google attack the bottom tier with a different model that poses a credible threat. Tablet market is indeed fundamentally altering computing in many ways. The changing landscape of computing also has impact on the ecosystem and the application development environment. Developers flock to platform reach, ease of access to the marketplace, and the basic economics of a viable business model. Windows a percentage of computing platform is shrinking which threats not only the platform but also Microsoft’s other software franchises. Surface is classic blocking and tackling to provide a jolt to the shifting ecosystem. With iPad mini, Apple is attempting to lock the mid-top tier of the tablet market and daring its competitors to just play in the bottom tier that leaves no profit on the hardware and revenue stream from services for a very select few.

Apple is getting a lot of grief for its maps app. While the strategic decision to take control of a key application was spot on, it faltered on communications. The half-baked endeavor was nowhere close to being the “best mapping app.”

Infrastructure segment faces a tough road ahead

The infrastructure segment of the wireless industry is facing turbulent and interesting times. The business model for many vendors hasn’t evolved much in the last few years and some of the disruptive forces are bound to have a deep impact on the segment. ALU is facing serious headwinds and will need to figure out its strategic options going forward. Ericsson’s margins are under pressure but more interestingly its services and support revenue exceeded its hardware revenue for the first time. Huawei and ZTE reported decline in revenues but they are making gains in the infrastructure markets outside US and in handsets in the US market. Until Premier Xi Jinping and President Obama sort out their geopolitical differences, the Chinese vendors remain shutout of the US infrastructure market.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2013 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. Players who firmly attach themselves to the 4th wave will reap benefits while the ones who miss it will see their fortunes dwindle.

As usual, we will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q3 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

· The US Wireless data service revenues grew 3% Q/Q and 17% Y/Y to $19.9B in Q3 2012. For the year 2012, we are forecasting that mobile data revenues in the US market will reach $80 billion.



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2013. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Mar 2013.

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

Mobile Future Forward 2012 Update – Connected Universe. Monetizing Opportunities. June 25, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA,Applications,European Wireless Market,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile OEMs,Mobile Operators,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment


Hope all’s well. Just a quick update on how the program is shaping up.

We have been working steadily on our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward (Sept 10th in Seattle) and I am very pleased to announce the preliminary program. We will provide an update as we continue to refine the program and announce more speakers. As you know, our programs are deep in content and high on participant caliber. Each year we strive to bring together some of the leading thinkers and doers from around the world to brainstorm the future of mobile. As we like to call it – it is a mobile boot camp with the brightest brains in mobile.

I am delighted to be partnering with some of the leading players in the mobile ecosystem: Intel, Ericsson, Synchronoss, and Tekelec.

Steve Elfman, President, Sprint will give us an update on the state of the wireless industry – the opportunities and the investment areas. Glenn Lurie, President, Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships at AT&T Mobility will provide us with a glimpse into the world of emerging devices and opportunities. Both Steve and Glenn are mobile industry veterans with decades of experience and their perspective will be invaluable for our Mobile Future Forward community.

Mobile commerce has been a hot topic lately. We have two terrific speakers – Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile at Mastercard Worldwide and Antonio Benjamin, Global CTO at Citi to lay the roadmap of the mobile commerce ecosystem evolution.

When it comes to retail, brands, and technology, there are not many people with deeper insights than Stephen David, former CIO of Procter & Gamble. He is a highly sought-after advisor to global brands around the world. I have had the good fortune to work with him in the past and his grasp on how wireless is going to disrupt retail is just brilliant. We are delighted to have him back to have a conversation about mobile, brands, retail, and IT.

As you can see below, we have an outstanding group of executives who are responsible for changing the industry every day. Their viewpoints and commentary will be invaluable. The Mobile Future Forward team, our esteemed partners, our fantastic speakers and our engaged community are really looking forward to Sept 10th.

Confirmed Speakers

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

· Renee James, SVP, Software and Services Group, Intel

· Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless

· Michael Bayle, SVP and GM, ESPN Mobile

· Martin Fichter, President, HTC

· Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint

· Bobby Morrison, President, Verizon Wireless

· Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox

· Stephen David, former CIO, Procter & Gamble

· Ed Cantwell, SVP, West Wireless Health Institute

· Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Twitter

.. More to come

· Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile, Mastercard Worldwide

· Antonio Benjamin, Global CTO, Citi

· Biju Nair, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Synchronoss

· Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel

· Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp Digital Media

· Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks

· Tim Chang, Partner, Mayfield

· Vish Nandlall, CTO and EVP, Ericsson

· Carlos Domingo, President and CEO, Telefonica R&D

· Kevin Packingham, SVP – Product Innovation, Samsung

· Frank Meehan, Executive, Horizons Ventures

· Oke Okaro, Global Head of Mobile, Bloomberg

Discussion Topics

· Looking back from Mobile 2020 – the last 10 years

· The fight for developers – Apps, APIs, and Dollars

· Will Privacy get in the way of mobile growth?

· PostPC era and the tablets – commerce, engagement, and consumption

· Quantified Self. Quantified Enterprise – how to benefit from big data?

· Gamification of Everything – How to reinvent business models and revenue streams

· When will Mobile Commerce eclipse Ecommerce? And How?

· Mobile Broadband – LTE is here and now. What’s Next?

· Mobile Competitive Policy – Balancing competitiveness, consumer interests, policy, and innovation

· nScreen Connected Consumer – Expectations, Solution roadmap, and Revenue flows

· Operators vs. OTT – Competition, Co-opetition, and the new landscape. Measuring the seismic shifts.

· Big (Mobile) Data – Collection, Management and Use of Data

· Mobile Cloud Computing – Innovation, Competition, and Business Models

· Mobile CIO Prism – Disruption in the enterprise. Opportunities for growth and cost reductions

· Managing networking growth in the Yottabyte Era – strategies to tame signaling and data tsunamis

· Mobile Platforms and Ecosystems – The Cycles and the Eternal Debate

· Mobile Security – BYOD, Hacking, Protecting, and Monetization

· Emerging Markets, Emerging Opportunities

· Battle for the Home – Devices, Apps, Networks

· Retail channel transformation – how are we going to shop and who makes money?

I hope you will join us in what is shaping up to be an exceptional gathering of the mobile minds. Registration is open now. Early bird will expire July 10th. The last two events were sold out so be sure to grab your seat to one of the most anticipated mobile gathering of the year.


Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Atlanta – Connected Devices, Cloud, and Consumer June 24, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,Connected Devices,European Wireless Market,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Devices,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

We started doing Mobile Breakfast Series in Seattle back in 2009 and after hosting10 straight events, it was time to expand the wings and explore other cities. The first stop in this journey was Atlanta and we worked closely with our partners at “Wireless Technology Forum” to make it a successful event last friday. I also had the good fortune of participating in WTF’s event the night before. Both events focused on Connected Devices and their impact on the consumer, the ecosystem and the value-chains thus making it a “connected week” in Atlanta.







As I mentioned, the night before the event, I had the opportunity to present and moderate a panel on Connected Devices with Glenn Lurie, President of Emerging Enterprises at AT&T and Jeff Smith, CTO at Numerex. Both are movers and shakers in the space and it was such a pleasure meeting with many WTF members and interacting with the top-notch panelists. The event was recorded and is available on WTF’s Youtube Channel.

We hosted the Atlanta Mobile Breakfast Series Event in Atlanta at the Commerce Club of Atlanta which has beautiful views of the Atlanta area.

There is an old Chinese saying, “When the wind of change blows, some build walls others build windmills.” Our industry is going through tremendous change; it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that the tectonic plates are moving and moving fast. The motion is being forced both by the economic conditions but also the technology and business progress. I have been around the industry long enough but it still amazes me – the stuff that’s in the pipeline and how quickly consumers absorb it.

The topic of our discussion was Connected Devices, the Cloud, and the Consumer. With connected devices, I am referring to the broad availability of devices that are connected to data networks – so they include smartphones, tablets, connected auto but also wellness devices like fitbit, energy meters, dog collars, medical devices, etc. as of last year, the subscription penetration was at 6B, next year, we will have more connections than people on this planet. In another 5-7 years, we might touch 20 Billion sensors on the planet. So you can see the growth is going to be astronomical.

Another phenomenon is that of cloud. If a startup mentions Cloud in their presentation to a VC, the valuation doubles, you say mobile, and it quadruples. I don’t know how many of you are a fan of Mark Weisier, the Xerox Parc researcher who pioneered what became “always on, always connected” tagline of pervasive computing. It was more than 20 years ago, we finally are seeing that with the help of broadband networks, amazing devices, and open business models, information is truly available at the fingertips.

The third leg of our discussion was the consumer – their appetite for new and the latest is creating this tremendous opportunity that is shaping their behavior and expectations.

We had an awesome panel to discuss things in detail. First I discussed the topic with David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer at AT&T Mobility. As most of you might be aware, AT&T is leading not only the US but the globe in their efforts to bring connected solutions to the market. I work around the world with top operators, and I can tell you there is no exciting place in mobile right now than right here in the US of A. US is leading in innovation, technology, and business model. We had lost touch after 1G and US truly teaching rest of the world how to do 4G right. David has a terrific background – a product and operationally driven CMO at one of the world’s biggest mobile operator and it was a delight to have him on the panel.

I have known both Biju Nair and Louis Gump for sometime – several decades of mobile expertise. Louis is with CNN, has been running their mobile efforts which are top-notch. He is a recognized leader in the mobile advertising space and given that CNN’s properties span across multiple screens, he has really great insights as to how consumers behave across n-screens.

Biju is a hard core technologist, has been working at solutions that make Louis’ stuff work across networks and devices. Many of you might not know but Synchronoss where Biju is the Chief Strategy Officer and Products EVP, powers online activation at AT&T. If you bought the iPhone over the last few years at AT&T, there is a good chance your order was processed by Synchronoss.

Highlights from the discussion below:

The team at Chetan Sharma Consulting really enjoyed taking the Breakfast Series to Atlanta. My thanks to the terrific team at WTF for their support and to the Atlanta Mobile Community for making the event so successful. Finally, the event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our series partner – Synchronoss.

As you might be aware, our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward is going to be on Sept 10th. Registration is open. We are likely to sell out so grab your tickets early.

Next Stop – London for our first venture across the pond. On June 29th, we host the discussion on Operator/OTT – The way forward with Telefonica, Orange, Rebtel, and Horizons Ventures. Read Frank Meehan’s pre-event interview about the topic here.

Operators and OTT – The Way Forward – London

Operator traditional revenue streams are under threat esp. voice and messaging. Access margins will continue to stay under pressure. OTT players are coming in fast and furious and it is not just the big ones like Google but also players like Whatsapp, Voxer, Viber and others. How do operators play in the new landscape – lessen the decline of their traditional revenues while investing in new areas that improve their overall margins and revenues. Do they play the role of an enabler, a utility player, or become the OTT player themselves? In a software-driven world, how do they stay nimble? On the flip side, what are some things that operators can provide to the OTT players that make them successful, take them to the market quickly and maintain a long-term healthy and mutually-beneficial partnership? Operators still generate 70% of the global mobile industry revenues, so they are an important part of the chain but how do they ensure they have an equally relevant share in the profits. The panel will discuss how operators and OTT players think about the challenges and the opportunities, the competition and the coopetition.

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Operators/OTT – The Way Forward June 8, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA,Applications,Carnival of Mobilists,Connected Devices,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,OTT,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,VoIP,Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

June is the Mobile Breakfast Series Month with 3 programs planned in 3 cities across 2 continents. We kicked things off with the first one earlier today in Seattle. The topic of discussion was Operators and OTT – The Way Forward.

We also announced our fall program of Mobile Future Forward. More about that later.



There is an old Chinese saying, “When the wind of change blows, some build walls others build windmills” Our industry is going through tremendous change; it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that the tectonic plates are moving, in some places quite violently. The motion is being forced both by the economic conditions but also by the technology and business progress. I have been around the industry long enough but it still amazes me – the stuff that’s in the pipeline and how quickly consumers absorb it.

The topic of our discussion was Operators and OTT or Over the Top. These are services like Skype, Youtube, Amazon video, HBO, etc. things that go over the network. I wanted to broaden the discussion to another acronym – VAS or value added services – both for the consumer segment and the enterprise segment. These will be simple things like address backup or CRM applications to more sophisticated supply chain management, in-store location targeting, advertising etc. To discuss this we have an absolutely brilliant panel representing various parts of the value chain.

RealNetworks has been the Kevin Bacon of startups in Seattle. Thanks to the people Rob Glaser hired, RN has done a better job at spawning up new ideas that your bigger cousins in town. Rob is well known for his pioneering work in giving Internet its voice (in the words of Kara Swisher in the 1998 article for WSJ). But lately, Rob has been busy with Sidecar – a next generation communication app that does more things than messaging and voice. If you haven’t tried, please do so.

Mary Jesse is one of the most distinguished engineers in WA State going back from the McCaw days, VP of Eng at AT&T, CTO of RadioFrame and now CoFounder and CEO of an enterprise communications company called Ivytalk. Again, if you haven’t tried it out, please do so.

Michael Shim was with Yahoo before Groupon and Yahoo was one of the true pioneers in the mobile space and now at Groupon he is seeing the new opportunities on the VAS, payments, and commerce. It will be great to get his view of how Groupon thinks about the space.

Have you tried T-Mobile’s Bobsled? Well, Alex Samano is the man and energy behind this service and T-Mobile is one of the few operators globally who are taking this OTT opportunity head-on. At TMO, he has been involved some really interesting initiatives like @home and wifi calling.

Last but not the least, Abhi Ingle from AT&T who heads up the mobile enterprise business. The industry has been talking about enterprise mobility for ages but his team generates more revenue than majority of the industry players combined. Did you know that AT&T is one of the biggest app developer on the planet? I bet you didn’t know that.

Operator traditional revenue streams are under threat esp. voice and messaging. Access margins will continue to stay under pressure. OTT players are coming in fast and furious and it is not just the big ones like Google but also players like Whatsapp, Voxer, Viber and others. How do operators play in the new landscape – lessen the decline of their traditional revenues while investing in new areas that improve their overall margins and revenues. Do they play the role of an enabler, a utility player, or become the OTT player themselves? In a software-driven world, how do they stay nimble? On the flip side, what are some things that operators can provide to the OTT players that make them successful, take them to the market quickly and maintain a long-term healthy and mutually-beneficial partnership? Operators still generate 70% of the global mobile industry revenues, so they are an important part of the chain but how do they ensure they have an equally relevant share in the profits. The panel discussed how operators and OTT players think about the challenges and the opportunities, the competition and the coopetition.

Some highlights from the discussion:

Our next breakfast event is in Atlanta on Connected Devices on June 22nd. Then we revisit the Operator/OTT discussion again from the European point of view in London on June 29th. Tell your colleagues and friends about it. They will thank you for that.

US Wireless Market Update Q4 2011 and 2011 March 19, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,BRIC,China,Connected Devices,Indian Wireless Market,LTE,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Payments,Mobile Search,Mobile Wallet,Networks,Patent Strategy,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

US Wireless Market Update Q4 2011 and 2011


The US market generated $67 billion in mobile data revenues in 2011 accounting for 39% of the overall revenues for the country. The mobile data market grew 4% Q/Q and 19% Y/Y to reach $18.6B for the quarter. For the year 2012, we are forecasting that mobile data revenues in the US market will reach $80 billion.

The US market accounts for 5% of the subscriber base but 17% of the global service revenues and 21% of the global mobile data revenues. It also accounts for 40% for the global smartphone sales.

If the Martians landed on earth in early 2012, they will conclude the following: there are only 3 things certain on earth – death, taxes, and the direction of Apple’s stock price. Apple had a monster quarter with record sales of iPhone and iPad not only in the US but also around the world. Apple sold over 93M smartphones outpacing its nearest rival Samsung by a good distance. Its share of the profits is more than rest of the OEMs combined. Its stratospheric rise is legendary by any measure. Today Apple eclipsed the combined market cap of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Think about that for a minute. In 6-12 months, you could probably add Facebook to the equation as well. The question on rivals’ mind is when will Apple stop defying gravity. Until then, better be a fast follower.

Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting for 65% of the devices sold in Q4 2011. US Operators are averaging 80% of their postpaid sales as smartphones with Android dominating though iPhone leads in mindshare. The Obama administration formally placed featurephones on the endangered species list but either chamber is unlikely to pass any resolution to save it.

Nokia launched its Lumia series of devices with good acclaim however it remains to be seen if it will be able to win back the customers in big numbers in 2012.

The Post-PC Era

Ever since the iPad came into being, the chants of the post-pc mantra are getting louder. But what is it? Is it just the untethered devices? Isn’t iPad a person computer too? What about the smartphones? They have more horse power than my first few PCs combined. Is the personal computing morphing into something else or is there a clear delineation between the Mesozoic era and the new tomorrow? While we in the industry get obsessed by these minutiae, what do the real consumers think about it? Clearly, tablets are selling better than the PCs (as our previous research has shown) both in units as well as the revenue. But so did the laptops compared to the desktops.

So, does the miniaturization of a screen and improving computing power represents a big shift or is this just an evolution of personal computing. Consumers rarely think about what computing era they are in. Between the time they wake and go back to bed at night, there are a series of tasks they have to accomplish. The technology is their companion to accomplish them, from keeping calendars to creating corporate presentations to sending messages to watching TV for entertainment to socializing with family and friends.. the list seems endless. Often times, the time is too short. Technology finds a way to give the time back to us by reducing the distance between the tasks as well as compressing the duration.

As I have said before, nothing collapses time and distance like mobile. Tablets, particularly, iPad and the smartphones, if seen through the eyes of the year 2000 make us superhumans providing us capability to process several tasks in parallel. We can even direct the computing device to figure things out while we sleep. Computing is morphing into a true companion, a wily butler who just knows what’s needed next. Being untethered to a desk makes us more productive. Taking the computing evolution further – what if we can create a desktop environment wherever we are instead going to a desk. For my work setup, I have 4 or 5 screens running at the same time and it does help. It is hard to see tablets in their current incarnation competing with that task environment. However, it does allow us to collapse the desktop and take it with us.

Tablet+Network+Cloud is an enormously powerful value proposition. It should be noted that apps and services on the mobile platform are defining the desktop environment now.

For the enterprise worker, many of the day-to-day tasks don’t really need the real-estate of 3 big monitors; we can easily accomplish a lot with a smartphone or better yet the tablet. As such, we are seeing corporations de-investing in desktops and laptops and moving this investment into tablets, smartphones, apps and make their work force more nimble and competitive. This also means, apps that used to be written for Windows will be predominantly written on iOS and Android, at least for the near-term. Microsoft has a strong offering in 8 and the fact that it will work across the three screens gives it some chips to play in the new world. Whether we call it a post-pc era or the computing continuum doesn’t seem that relevant. What matters most is the set of tools that help us accomplish the tasks at hand on a daily basis. The shift is tectonic in nature, and it is creating winners and losers at an incredibly fast pace. However, my sense is that we are finally entering into the ambient computing era where the computing capability is all around us, something that Mark Weiser of Xerox PARC envisioned more than 20 years ago and something we imagined growing up with the original Star Trek.

We will be dealing with multiple connected devices which share a common identity, cloud, media, security layer, and most importantly the apps and services. The traditional PC won’t disappear but our reliance on one single machine for creation or consumption will continue to dissipate. We will have scores of radios around us, multiple objects that can think and communicate from cereal boxes to security alarms; from windows to fabric shirts; from tables to automobiles; it feels more like the connected era – where objects with brains and energy are connected to create an unprecedented universe of intelligence and productivity. This will indeed impact purchasing behavior and the commerce flow. The social and computing interactions are more intimate, have more purpose, and are available everywhere. The work-life boundaries only exist in one’s mind. A business can be started with an app on a smartphone, anywhere serving to any consumer on the planet. The impact on productivity, the shrinking human capital needed for a set of tasks, corporate and nation’s competitiveness is significant.

In many developing nations, the PC era never arrived. They jumped right into the mobile computing era. They have always lived in the post-PC era. The implications are profound.

More than anything else, the old guard is having a tough time adjusting to the new computing paradigm. HP, Dell, and others have tried but failed thus far to either launch a decent tablet or a smartphone. While Apple invented the new computing paradigm only Samsung has been able to stand up as a worthy rival. The success of a vertically integrated success strategy has seduced Microsoft and Google to the doorstep of a vertical strategy. Will they cross the chasm remains to be seen. Much depends on how Nokia performs for Microsoft and how long can Android juggernaut keeps growing for Google. Then, of course, there are Amazon and Facebook who are attacking the market from a services angle. With a strong entry of the likes of Huawei and ZTE, players caught in the middle are struggling for a viable long-term path to success.

The engagement model with the computing resources is undergoing significant evolution as well. Keyboard and mouse seem relics of a bygone era. We are falling in love with gesture computing combined with a myriad of input and intelligence techniques. Data processing at the speed of light is the new competitive advantage at all computing layers.

In every shift, winners and losers are created. The ones who fail to recognize and adapt become the relic of the historical past duly replaced by the new creators and implementers. If we look at the US household IT spend, over 50% of that spend now goes to mobile. The life time value will increase for players who can tie experiences together across multiple screens in a seamless fashion. This will enable them to not only capture the device revenue but also the commerce and services revenue built on top of it.

The battle for the consumer wallet is being fought on Apple’s turf; it is the one driving the industry narrative and the agenda for its competitors and the ecosystem at large. Am pretty sure we will stop using computer to define computing. Interesting times indeed.


In any other year, the AT&T and T-Mobile merger would have likely gone through. The interconnection of policy, politics, and private enterprise was on vivid display last year. The failure of the merger forced Deutsche Telekom to resort to the only second viable option – to take the plunge and invest in the US market. Whether 4 competitors can survive 3 years from now is still questionable. Given that DOJ and FCC have set the precedent, the only way a major M&A can take place in the US service provider segment in the near term is if one of the tier 2 operators falters Q/Q. We still believe in our thesis as outlined in our research paper “Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets” last year that the US market can’t support 4 large operators and we are likely to see further M&A activity in the sector before too long.

Mobile Data Growth – The Gigabyte Generation

Mobile data traffic growth continued unabated doubling again for the 8th straight year. We expect the mobile consumption to double again in 2012. Data now constitutes over 85% of the mobile traffic in the US. Approximately 30% of the smartphone users average more than 1GB/mo. As new devices and new network technology roll-out keep pace in 2012, the data traffic will grow at the expected pace. The signaling traffic is expected to grow in even faster. Stay tuned for our research paper in the Yottabyte series of papers on the topic later this year.

Mobile Patents Landscape

2011 was the most active year for mobile patents in terms of disputes. All the major players were active in filing and protecting their turf for the future battles. IBM topped the industry in the most number of mobile patents granted in 2011 in the US followed by Samsung and Microsoft. The rest of the top 10 in order included Sony, Qualcomm, LG, Ericsson, Panasonic, Broadcom and RIM. Of the major players, Nokia occupied #12, Intel #13, Apple #16, Motorola #21, and Google #23 spot in the top 50 ranking. Amongst the mobile operators, Sprint was the leader with 323 patents granted in 2011. We have more research coming out later in the year that shows the relative patent strength of the various mobile players.

Connected Universe, Monetizing Opportunities

While 2011 was the year of figuring what the opportunities are in the new connected era, 2012 is starting to focus on how to monetize those opportunities. That will be the theme of our Mobile Future Forward Thought-leadership summit in Sept. More details to come. Almost all the vertical industries are benefiting from the connected devices and ubiquity of broadband networks – security, health, retail, utility, transportation, entertainment, and others. We will take a deep dive into the issues, the best case studies, the opportunities, and the players.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2012 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems.

As usual, we will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2011 and full year 2011 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Global Update

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in May 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

Mobile World Congress 2012 Recap March 6, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,Connected Devices,LTE,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Payments,Mobile World Congress,MWC,US Wireless Market,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Mobile World Congress 2012 Recap

The mobile industry had its biggest industry show last week in Barcelona. Going by the attendee numbers, the global economy seems to have rebounded though riots on the streets indicated tough time for Spain ahead. While there weren’t any blockbuster announcements, there was plenty to chew on. LTE, Connected Devices, Mobile Commerce, Privacy, WiFi offload, small cells, platform wars, mobile money, RCS, Connected Home, NFC, Cloud, and HTML5 had their share of debates and discussions. This note summarizes my observations from the show.

China passes the 1B mark – As we noted in our research piece last month “A Tale of Two Mobile Markets – China and India,” China crossed the 1B subscription mark this past weekend (Economist did a piece based on our research as well). In the last ten years, China has become the 2nd largest economy in the world behind the US while India which crossed the 900M mark last month is edging past Japan to be the #3. Given that mobile will have a central role in the ICT evolution of global markets and economies, what happens in the mobile markets of China and India will influence rest of the world.

Convergence of three screens – One of the fascinating trend is the convergence of the desktop, tablets, and smartphones at the OS/Apps layer with Apple, Microsoft, and Google being the three major pillars. Each has its strength in a given segment though Apple has the most mindshare across all three. Microsoft dominates the desktop world with over 90% share, Apple dominates the tablet world with over 60% share and runs a close second to Google on the smartphone segment. As I mentioned to the New York Times, this has significant implications on commerce, distribution, and life time value of the customer.

Operators vs. OTT – Round 2 – Mobile World Congress Keynotes started with two of the most prominent mobile operators proclaiming that the industry has significant challenges in the form of OTT providers commoditizing their revenue streams without any significant investment of their own into the network. Both Franco Bernabe, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia and Li Yue, President of China Mobile painted a gloomy picture and how operators need to focus on fundamentals if they were to survive the ever growing pressure on the margins. Some like KPN and SMART are seeing deterioration of their business fundamentals. However, there are some good case studies of success as discussed in my GigaOM column. I also discussed the subject in my paper released last month “Mobile Internet 3.0: How Operators can become service innovators and drive profitability” A number of operators announced their support for Joyn – the face of RCS services. The Operator/OTT story will be one of the most fascinating ones to watch in the coming months.

Mobile payments and commerce – There is significant activity in the mobile payments space but activity shouldn’t be confused for progress. Number of announcements with actual product offerings or roadmap is limited. There are some interesting case studies that are emerging however, like the one in Czech Republic where operators are collaborating with the banks to lower the commission and share the proceeds. That’s the primary way the operator model is going to work. Financial guys have protected their turf very well. And now retailers are forming their union. There has been too much focus on NFC payments rather than NFC as a platform for doing other things besides payments. As I said to the New York Times, “It will take a long time.”

Mobile Cloud – The discussion of Mobile Cloud has moved to Smart Cloud. From devices to the network to the apps, all elements of the chain are looking for the cloud to drive efficiencies in cost and performance.

Mobile Security – Mobile Security has emerged as one of the key opportunity areas for the ecosystem. Given that mobile devices are multiplying like gremlins, it is time to reign in the security. Both consumers and enterprise customers will benefit from a safety net that can protect customers from loss of data, viruses, targeted attacks, and malware. You can expect a number of offerings in this space over the course of this year.

Intel is serious about Mobile – Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel said at the launch event that they are introducing mobile technology at twice the pace of Moore’s law and is a clear statement that Intel is serious about mobile. Intel announced Orange, Lava, ZTE, and Visa as their new partners (in addition to previously announced Motorola and Lenovo) for their mobile chipset platform (smartphones and tablets). While the industry watchers are waiting for one of the big shoe to drop (the likes of Samsung, HTC, Nokia), Intel is making steady progress and the devices are blazing fast especially for 1080p video. Partners are all looking for mass-market devices (read sub-$50 after subsidy) within the next 2-4 months.

Managing Signaling traffic – While the data capacity issues get discussed a lot, signaling traffic and the problems they cause don’t get the same treatment. However, it is very clear that management of signaling traffic will remain quite important. Many of the applications are atrocious when it comes to signaling efficiency for e.g. I saw one of the mapping apps at Procera’s booth which requested connection for every single tile on the map, every time the map was rendered, so one map view could generate over a dozen signaling requests. So far, a lot of attention has been on policy management of data traffic, we better start paying attention to policy management of signaling traffic.

LTE/WiFi – Infrastructure providers and operators are looking to tighten the bond between LTE and WiFi such that the traffic can be policy managed at a granular level by application type so that based on the real-time traffic conditions, traffic can be optimized and routed accordingly.  Alcatel-Lucent with its LightRadio technology and SK Telecom were some of the players demoing the concept.

Traffic Onloading – Most vendors and operators talk about traffic offloading, but Wim Sweldens, President of Alcatel-Lucent Wireless division had much to say about traffic onloading. Even at the show, WiFi offload was being discussed along with LTE in the same sentence. With traffic, operators are also offloading the customer, he said – exposing the customer to potential security problems and perhaps loss of revenue opportunities during that session. With Light Radio WiFi®, operators will be able to more intelligently onboard the customer to their network and provide the same level of service and security as they do with their cellular network. Wim suggested that this is a good marriage between the radio and the IP world to give the best to customer while preserving the value for the operators. My discussion with Wim in this GigaOM column has more details. I will have more research coming out on the subject later in the year.

GAMAF moves – While Eric Schmidt will argue Microsoft isn’t in the mix; the platform world in mobile revolves around the furious five – GAMAF. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Amongst the five, Google had the biggest presence at the show while Apple and Amazon were just there to scout talent, deals, and competition. Amazon and Facebook lack an OS to go with their ambitions and are pinning their hopes on HTML5. Amazon has thus far used Google’s efforts to its advantage and done a better job in some areas. MWC12 was coming out party for Facebook Mobile. Microsoft is making steady progress with 8 and hoping that it will prove to be its lucky number.

Empire strikes back – Microsoft and Nokia have been making steady progress in their quest to regain market share that stands decimated by previous strategic errors. While it is going to take unforeseen amount of time to make up for the lost market value, Nokia’s product line looks good, operators seem to provide a helping hand in creating the third viable ecosystem. Microsoft has been scrambling to get Windows 8 ready for the market so it can launch tablets and tie the three screens together. Things finally are coming together. Though a number of things can still go wrong, the two work horses are moving in the right direction. However, the biggest question still is whether consumers will give them a chance or not?

Facebook – HTML5 R Us – Facebook has been a bit tentative in mobile over the last few years but is making a concerted effort in building its strategy around HTML5. It is also doing this by rallying partners from across the ecosystem. With its massive reach, it will be a significant player in mobile, commerce, and advertising.

Connected Home – One of my favorite MWC things to do is to visit the Connected Home to see how close we are getting to the reality of connected home. AT&T and other partners showcased some of their latest technologies in home automation and the remote monitoring and home automation platform is almost ready for prime time. AT&T expects the Digital Life platform to be available later this year.

Devices – There were a number of devices launched at the show. HTC got going first with HTC One. The most significant part of the announcement was the distribution deal with 140+ operators. They are going to have a good Q2. Sony, LG, ZTE, Huawei also announced their lineup. Nokia’s pureview stood out for me with its incredible new camera technology (even though it was built on Symbian). Apple, you can finish your Lytro acquisition now. Samsung feverishly pushed its Galaxy Note.

The Untouchables – With Apple launching its LTE iPad on March 7th, the non-Apple tablet market is pretty much frozen. While there were some new tablets launched at the show, an opportunity to change the game likely won’t occur until Microsoft comes out with 8 or Google springs in a surprise. Amazon will continue to sell Kindle Fire but it is hardly making a dent to Apple’s trajectory. Apple is so far ahead of its competitors in the top tier of this key emerging segment that you might as well classify the company as the untouchables.

HyperLocal on a Global Scale – Hyperlocal targeting has been around for some time, one can do polygon targeting meaning draw a polygon of the area where the advertiser wants to target the users. The advantage is that the ads are specific and more context-aware and hence the rate of engagement is higher. Advertisers get better leads and are quite useful for time sensitive campaigns. However, the capability is generally limited to certain regions or countries. Millennial Media extended their dev platform – mMedia allows developers and advertisers to do hyperlocal targeting on a global scale. 

Privacy – There was a lot of discussion on privacy. Everyone has an opinion but not necessarily a good solution. Everyone wants to be guardian of consumer data but don’t want to be held responsible for breaches. This pretty much means regulators are going to move in and it will be hard to predict the impact.

Retailers in mobile – Some of the retailers seem frozen in Mesozoic era and can’t seem to free themselves of their archaic strategies. They realize something is wrong but can’t bring them to change how they drive commerce. There is still a lot of focus on driving traffic to the stores rather than driving commerce to the stores.

Mobile Health and Wellness – Developed countries are driving mobile wellness and developing countries are driving mobile health.

2012 is going to be another fast-paced roller coaster for the mobile industry. Looking forward to a terrific year ahead.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Mar 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

A Tale of Two Mobile Markets – China and India February 22, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,BRIC,China,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,International Trade,IP,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Next weekend, on March 3rd around noon China Standard Time to be precise, China will sign up its one billionth mobile subscription. India in the meantime, crossed the 900 million subscription mark in Feb. Roughly an year ago, India was adding subscribers at historically record pace of approximately 20 million subscriptions per month (that translates into a new Australian market every month) while China continued at its steady pace of 8-12 million net-adds per month. In Q1 2011, data indicated India might actually edge out China to reach the first billion landmark. Then, the market collapsed due to the intense competition, the pervasive corruption, and the accounting gimmicks.

In 2011, the global GDP growth was 2.7% according to the World Bank. While the OECD countries saw only modest gains (1.7%), China (9.1%) and India (6.5%) accounted for a good percentage of the global growth. Buoyed by the rising disposable income, the middle class in the two biggest countries are spending more than ever before.

All of the top 6 global operators by subscriptions are from China and India. Collectively, they account for 27% of the global mobile subscriptions and 12% of the global service revenues. In 2011, India added 141 million subscriptions while China netted 133 million.

Having worked in both of these markets over the last decade, I have always seen China and India as two of the most dynamic mobile markets in the world. They might seem similar on surface but are quite different underneath. Both represent vast human resources and the biggest middle class with buying power. However, their competitive landscape is vastly different. On our Competitive Index (CI) scale of global markets, they are on the extreme ends of the revenue and subscriber concentration indices. China is one of the least competitive mobile markets and India is by far the most competitive mobile market in the world.

In China, China Mobile monopolizes the market with over 66% of the market. Regulators are trying to boost the other two operators China Unicom and China Telecom but have a lot of work left on their plate. India on the other hand is a hot cauldron of intense competition, too much competition if you ask the operators. There are 5 operators with roughly 100 million or more subscriptions with the Bharti Airtel at number 1 but with less than 20% market share.

China’s mobile journey began in the early nineties with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications providing the telecom services as China Telecom. In 1994, under pressure, China Unicom was introduced to the market but was largely a failure. Later in 1999, China Telecom was split into three businesses with China Mobile becoming the mobile arm. Recently, when the 3G licenses were granted, market was segmented into its current form with China Mobile still leading the pack by a good distance.

China’s overall growth for the past decade has been pretty steady staying between 8-12 million net-adds per month. Remarkably, the ARPU has stayed fairly consistent at around $10. Data revenue started growing significantly in the last 3-4 years. China Mobile has been the number one operator by the number of subscriptions, the total revenue, and the market cap for many years now (it is more valuable than Google). In data revenues, China Mobile has consistently ranked in the top 5 for the last 5 years.

India started its mobile journey late towards the end of the last decade but after a series of market reforms and introduction of new players like Reliance in early 2000s, market caught fire. The lack of landline infrastructure, the declining $/min costs aided by the burgeoning middle class meant the market was ripe for explosive expansion. In 2005, India was roughly 300 million subscriptions behind China but its per month net-adds has been inching up steadily and by Q2 2007, India caught up with China in net-adds.

While China’s mobile market growth continued at a steady pace, the Indian market leaped into high gear, breaking records month-after-month and came tantalizingly close to China in Q2 2011 with only 55 million separating the two at the time. However, by then, the market retreat had already started. As we outlined in our Competition and Evolution of Mobile Markets research paper last year, the market composition and the intense competitive landscape was unsustainable. The cost to acquire a new subscriber started to become unbearably high. The rapid customer acquisition at any cost started to have a significant impact on operator profitability.

Also, the heavy burden of regulatory levies meant that the regulatory charges are approximately 20-25% in India whereas in China they are negligible. This meant, virtually all the operators started veering towards the dangerous negative margin territory in 2011-12. Additionally, the pervasive corruption reared its ugly head and a number of key players got caught up in the spectrum auction scandal. The bottom line is that the market is going to stay in the state of “mess” for the next few quarters as it tries to clean things up and plan the next phase of growth and momentum. It can take solace from the fact that the open free market and legal framework is still attractive to the mobile ecosystem. The fact that Vodafone won the $2 billion tax case should inspire confidence in the market.

Not surprisingly, the intense competition had a significant toll on the overall ARPU in India. While China’s ARPU stayed constant at $10 for much of the decade and its data % increased to 27% in 2011, India’s ARPU plummeted from $11 in 2005 to $3 in 2011. Players like Reliance boast a subscriber base of 150 million but the ARPU is < $2 leading to a meager 3.7% profit margin. However, many of the Indian operators are a part of the big conglomerates so it is easier to absorb and hide the declining financials. Regulators must realize that the industry can stay healthy only if its players remain financially viable. One has to look at mobile growth holistically. They must abolish outdates policies, rationalize the exorbitant levies, liberalize the market further and outline long-term spectrum policy without delay.

It is fairly easy to be fooled and seduced by the large numbers. However, these markets are not for the faint hearted. After the pleasantries are over, the unsuspecting and the unprepared will get chewed and spat out in no time. The feeble IP regimes make it even more problematic. But, it is 37% of humanity we are talking about. Markets are still attractive but one needs a strategic focus, strong local partners, and iron clad teeth to take a bite of these markets. Even established players can exhibit extreme naiveté in understanding the rules of the game.

Regulators in both markets face key decisions on a number of vectors – 4G spectrum, competition, FDI, IP, broadband plan, and policies on a number of fronts. Both countries have similar long-term goals but are inefficient in terms of regulations and capital allocation (they are not unique in this respect, even more advanced markets like the US have their share of quirks in the regulatory framework) needed for the next phase of market and revenue growth.

India is likely to cross its billionth mark by early 2013. The market will go through significant restructuring and self-correction over the course of next two years. China will look to expand its 3G and 4G markets and bring broadband to the masses. The smartphone and data usage is on the rise laying the foundation for the future transformation.

China has been the bolder of the two. By deft coordination and shrewd strategy, the likes of Huawei and ZTE have shaken its western rivals in their boots while protecting its local turf. India has been content with the services business though it is starting to ramp up its manufacturing and R&D capabilities. Indian operators have had better success at spreading their wings, investing in foreign markets and collaborating with foreign operators. China is somewhat closed but disciplined. India is mostly open but waffling.

In the last ten years, China has become the 2nd largest economy in the world behind the US while India will edge past Japan to become #3. Given that mobile will have a central role in the ICT evolution of global markets particularly in the developing nations, what happens in the mobile markets of China and India will influence rest of the world. (I just finished up a project for UN in this area, more to come).

So, congratulations to China for the significant milestone and to India for its tremendous growth.

The future of mobile data applications and services in China and India is extremely bright albeit tortuous.

Tighten your seatbelts and enjoy the journey.

Your comments are always welcome.



2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2012

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2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey

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First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012. My thanks to all who participated in our 2012 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an insider’s view of trends.

2011 was a terrific year for the mobile industry. With all its ups and down, consumers embraced devices, applications, services, and technology with more gusto than ever before. In the waning hours of 2011, we crossed the 6 billion subscriptions milestone. While the first billion took 19 years, this last billion only took 15 months.

Smartphones are selling like hot cakes. We estimate that by the end of Q4 2011, over 60% of the devices sold in the US were smartphones and over 30% of the global sales were for the evolved brethren of the primordial featurephones. Sparked by insatiable consumer demand for mobile data, LTE and HSPA+ networks are sprouting all over the planet with US leading the charge for broadband deployment.

Our annual survey is a way for us to engage our community on the trends for the next year. We put some of the pressing questions to our colleagues and industry leaders. We are able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments, some tangible shifts, and get a sense of what’s to come. Executives, developers, and insiders (n=150) from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and around the world participated to help see what 2012 might bring to keep us on our toes. What makes this survey unique is that it draws upon the collective wisdom of folks who are at the center of the mobile evolution.

Fifteen names were randomly drawn for the limited edition of the Mobile Future Forward 2011 book. The winners are:

  1. Tor Bjorn Minde, Head of Ericsson Labs, Ericsson

  2. Sunder Somasundaram, Industry Solutions Practice Director, AT&T

  3. C. Enrique Ortiz, Mobile Technologist, About Mobility

  4. Russell Buckley, CMO, Eagle Eye

  5. Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks

  6. John Foster, President, ZED USA

  7. Angel Luis Saez, Sr. Director, Orange Spain

  8. Dilip Mistry, Senior Director, Microsoft Asia

  9. Phyllis Reuther, Advanced Analytics Lab, Sprint

  10. Gene Keenan, VP of Mobile, Isobar

  11. Elizabeth Day, Director of Finance, Trilogy International

  12. Alan Cole, Research Staff Member, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

  13. X J Wang, VP – GM China, Vesta Corp

  14. Michelle Lee, Director, SK Telecom

  15. Hemant Chandak, Sr. Analyst, Cisco Systems

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year. It has been a terrific year for us at Chetan Sharma Consulting and we are looking forward to an engaging and productive 2012.

Be well, do good work, and stay in touch.

Thanks and with warm wishes,

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

Now onto the 2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results.


1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2011?


Android had a spectacular rise in 2011 around the globe. Android OEMs collectively shipped the most number of devices and while margins shrank, they were able to put a united front to iOS. 2011 will always be remembered for the passing away of the industry transformer Steve Jobs. His work directly or indirectly touched billions of souls around the planet, many times over – something rarest of human beings are able to achieve in their life time. Regulatory tussles and significant increase in IP disputes also occupied the headlines. Amazon announced its intention for the mobile space with the launch of Kindle Fire.

2. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2012?


As we look towards 2012, our panel voted for the continued growth of mobile data as the biggest story followed by Amazon’s entry into the mobile space. Some key questions for the year are: Will Microsoft/Nokia devices will make any meaningful progress? Will RIM survive the year? How does Google manage the fragmentation, decline in margins (for the OEMs), and the IP issues? Will any high-profile security and privacy mishaps lead to more regulatory entanglements? Facebook IPO and its mobile ambitions? How do operators manage the data demand? Which M&As will capture industry’s attention? Will Apple continue to dominate on both smartphone and tablet front? What does Apple do with mobile payments? and much more. Clearly, it is going to be a terrific year.

3. Who will be the most open player in the mobile ecosystem in 2012?


File this in the “perception is reality” folder. Despite all the criticism, Google has maintained its strong position as the most open player in the mobile industry.

4. What applications will define 4G?


Still looking for a killer-4G app? Video, cloud computing, and access will continue to drive 4G demand and growth.

5. What will be the breakthrough category in mobile in 2012?


For a second year in a row, the panel voted for mobile payments and mobile commerce as the top two category that will find their voice. Mobile advertising has become mainstream so it lost its ranking in the top 3.

6. What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2012?


Apps preferences vary by regions depending on a whole range of factors. Messaging and Commerce are the top two categories for the developing world while consumers in the developed nations are likely to gravitate towards commerce and location based services.

7. Which will be the most dominant (unit sales) tablet platform in 2 years?


iOS and Android will dominate the tablet landscape for the next 24 months. A late entry by Windows 8 tablets could make a dent but don’t count on it.

8. Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2012?


2011 had its fair share of block-buster acquisitions, some successful while others were not. Our panel expects Microsoft and Google to continue making the biggest acquisitions.

9. How will the "Apps vs. Mobile Web" debate shape up in 2012?


It seems like the pendulum is swinging towards the mobile web though hybrid solutions are likely to stay with us for a long time.

10. Who will define the mobile payment/commerce space?


The financial companies safely locked in the mobile payments space and while the value chain is fairly complicated and definition confusion abounds, the likes of Visa, Operators and Google will continue to drive the payments/commerce space.

11. Which solutions will gain the most traction for managing mobile data broadband consumption?


Managing data growth and margins drives all strategies at mobile operators these days which in turns drives the value chain. 4G, tiered pricing, and mobile offload continue to be the top solutions if one has the spectrum that is.

12. Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2012?


Messaging, access, apps, and advertising are the four broad categories that drive mobile data revenues around the world. The developing markets rely on messaging while the developed markets are increasingly looking to access as their dominant form of revenue generation.

13. What will help mobile cloud computing gain traction in 2012?


Mobile cloud computing will continue to be defined by enterprise, storage, and media needs.

14. Which enterprise segment will mobile impact the most?


Best buy is becoming the next Circuit City. Other retailers will follow unless they can successful reinvent themselves. Health is more regulatory driven so the progress will be slow though it is ripe for a complete overhaul and developing nations are moving much faster in this space.

15. What will be the dominant revenue model for apps in 2012?


In-app revenue model made good strides in 2011 but the combination of the various available revenue models will be the norm for most application developers.

16. What mode of mobile payments will get traction in North America and Western Europe in 2012?


2011 was the year to set the ground work for growth in the mobile payments space. Given the investment and focus, we are likely to see more movement and consumer involvement in 2012 with proximity based solutions and commerce of physical goods on mobile.

17. What will be the most successful non-mobile-phone category in 2012?


Tablets dominate. Period.

18. Which of the following are likely to happen in the near future?


The is a significant shift in computing taking place right in front of our eyes wherein tablets are replacing laptops and even desktops in the enterprise. European operators have been experiencing tough times while some of the Asian operators are flush with cash, they might make their move in 2012 though regulatory hurdles might prove to be an issue. 33% of the nations will have elections in 2012, maybe which will move mobile voting to the forefront in some nations. Our panel thought there is a better chance of humans discovering water on another planet than rise of another significant mobile OS.

19. Which areas will feel the most impact from Regulators in 2012?


Net-neutrality and market competitiveness will keep the regulators busy in 2012.

20. Who was the mobile person of the year?


Clearly, Steve Jobs was an easy choice but who will replace him 2012? Jeff Bezos has an early lead followed by Andy Rubin and Mark Zuckerberg. Angry Birds representing the developer community will be in for another terrific year. Other honorable mentions were Tim Cook, Paul Jacobs, Sanjiv Ahuja, Dan Hesse, and Glenn Lurie.

A lot to look forward to in the New Year. My thanks to all who participated and we hope you found it useful as you embark on your journey for a successful 2012.

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

US Wireless Data Market Update Q3 2011 December 12, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,Carnival of Mobilists,Carriers,CTIA,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Event,Mobile Future,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Payments,Mobile Search,Mobile Traffic,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 5 comments

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The US mobile market continued its blistering pace of growth and ecosystem restructuring. While China and India lay claim to the fastest growing markets on the planet, the many of the meaningful and impactful trends are originating out of the US market with software at the epicenter of creation, growth, change, evolution, and destruction.

The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 21% Y/Y to reach $17B in mobile data service revenues in Q3 2011 and is on course to increase Y/Y by 22% to $67B in 2011.

As predicted, Samsung overtook Apple as the leading smartphone OEM. However, Apple will continue to dominate profit share for the foreseeable future.

Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting for 57% of the devices sold in Q3 2011. Operators are averaging 70% of their postpaid sales as smartphones with Android dominating though iPhone leads in mindshare. The featurephone as a device species is on the verge of extinction.

Mobile Ecosystem Complexity

As expected, Amazon entered the mobile tablet space with a killer value proposition – $200 for a tablet, something the market sorely needed. While other OEMs tried to compete with Apple on performance (and have been retreating from the market one by one), Amazon is entering the battle on its own turf – a hardware platform built on Android with a slew of services to underwrite the device discount. Incumbent OEMs just can’t compete with that strategy without a complete rethink of their product strategy. What happens when Amazon’s strategy migrates to handsets? While Kindle Fire is not a serious threat to Apple iPad, and the current version has a lot of deficiencies, Amazon has carved out a nice market for itself that will continue to grow in the coming days. In some sense, with its tight integration of commerce, cloud, and advertising, it has out-maneuvered even Google.

Amazon’s impact will be felt by many others in 2012 as its strategy becomes more apparent. Retailers will be facing the brunt of the wave that Amazon represents i.e. etailers supplanting physical retailers. Don’t be surprised if Amazon purses Apple like stores to showcase its merchandize and puts a dagger at the heart of retail.

Google has done a masterful job of shepherding Android through the turbulent platform waters and make it the dominant mobile platform in terms of shipments.

Microsoft and Nokia finally introduced the Windows devices and it has at least given them a fighting chance in 2012, though a far more competitive offering would be needed to make any significant market share or revenue share inroads. Microsoft’s Xbox/Kinect integration remains its best card for 2012.

In a severe case of corporate schizophrenia, HP first launched webOS devices, then backed away, then thought of re-launching only to give it away to open source. Similarly, RIM faces critical test in 2012 and all its hopes are pinned on the new OS that is expected to come to the market sometime next year.

Mobile is changing the way we spend

It is very clear that mobile will be at the center of the human evolution for years to come. Mobile collapses time and distance and as such impacts every facet of our lives. While we have come to know the mobile phone as a communications device, their role in our daily lives has been expanding. From checking emails, paying for tickets, sending money transfers, taking pictures of your kids, watching soccer World Cup live, checking commodity pricing, to emergency response to mHealth (mobile Health), mobile devices have become an essential tool to help us navigate our day.

Mobile also plays a key role in how we go about the most basic transaction in a given day that keeps the economy humming – spend. We discussed this and more in the paper “How Mobile Will Change The Way We Spend”  that was released last quarter.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2012 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems.

As usual, we will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q3 2011 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Global Update

Mobile Future Forward

Our annual mobile thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward was a grand success. Our thanks to all those who attended as well as to the speakers, sponsors, and well-wishers for making it happen. Planning for 2012 summit are underway and we will keep you posted as plans develop.

More information at

Mobile Predictions Survey 2012

As is the tradition, we are running our annual Mobile Predictions Survey for 2012. Will appreciate your input in understanding the trends and news stories that will make 2012 another big year in mobile. Winners of the survey get our fabulous limited edition Mobile Future Forward 2011 book that contains 19 essays from the global leaders in the mobile industry. (Mobile Predictions Survey Results for 2011 here)

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

US Wireless Market Update Q2 2011 August 18, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,Connected Devices,Enterprise Mobility,Intellectual Property,IP,IP Strategy,Mergers and Acquisitions,Mobile Applications,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Payments,Patent Strategy,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

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US Mobile Data Market Update Q1 2011


If Confucius was alive, he would have said, “We live in interesting times.” 2011 is proving to be the blockbuster deal year. After Microsoft/Nokia, AT&T/T-Mobile, Microsoft/Skype, Google made the $4*π billion play for Motorola and raised the stakes in the mobile ecosystem warfare. The ecosystem has entered into a phase that Sun Tzu and Chanakya would have loved to operate in.

In other news, the US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 22% Y/Y to reach $16.2B in mobile data service revenues in Q2 2011 and is on course to increase Y/Y by 22% to $67B in 2011.

US unseated Philippines as the king of TXT messaging with almost 664 messages/sub/month. Philippines is seeing a sharp decline in per user messaging thanks to Facebook and app messaging.

Apple overtook Nokia as the dominant smartphone OEM though Samsung is right behind and is likely to overtake Apple later this year. However, Apple will continue to dominate profit share for the foreseeable future.

Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting for 55% of the devices sold in Q2 2011. Operators are averaging 70% of their postpaid sales as smartphones with Android dominating though iPhone leads in mindshare. The featurephone as a device species is on the verge of extinction. By Christmas, 90% of the US postpaid device sales could be smartphones.

Platform Moves

I am a Platform, therefore I am. Everything and everyone wants to be a platform that developers can build upon. The big 4 – Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are having good success with frequent upgrades and rollouts. Consumers gravitate towards ecOSystems and the richness of the product offerings not specific OSes. OS is just a means to an end. However, the more developers you get excited about the platform, the more the ecosystem thrives and it becomes a virtuous circle. Companies left without the dancing partners need to ensure that they are not the one left standing when the music stops.

While a lot of attention has been focused on Apple and Google skirmishes, Amazon has been quietly tinkering with some interesting products – advertising enabled Kindle, the upcoming tablets and handsets, Android based appstores, mobile payments, distribution giant, cloud, and so on and so forth. Facebook with its nearly 800M friends can unleash several “billion dollar” features that can shake up different mobile microcosms.

In the meantime, Microsoft is trying to find a way to get back into the mobile market. Microsoft’s Xbox franchise gives it something unique and compelling. Their success might depend on how well they are able to integrate and tell a compelling story to the consumers. The upcoming Christmas quarter will be a critical test. RIM and HP don’t have much of an ecosystem to matter in the larger scheme of things. They can be successful in their own ways but attaining a leadership position remains significantly challenging.

AT&T/T-Mobile merger

AT&T’s proposed merger of T-Mobile continued to keep the regulators busy for the quarter. Earlier this year, we published a first of its kind in-depth study on competition in mobile markets –“Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets – A Study of Competition in Global Mobile Markets”. The paper presents analysis and an in-depth analytical framework to study the competitive landscape in the global mobile markets. Our research shows that an effective equilibrium point for the top three market share in a given country to be around 46%:29%:18% respectively. We expect that once all is said and done, we will end up in the vicinity of this equation.

Patent Warfare

On the eve of Android launch, I mentioned to one of the journalist to watch for some IP fireworks in about 3 years. For those of us who have been deeply involved in the mobile IP space, the IP events of 2011 have been largely predictable though the valuations have gone through the roof.

Over the last 15 years, I have seen patents and IP in the mobile space from all angles from authoring patents to testifying in ITC cases and pretty much everything in between. In the last six months, patents have become an essential tool for competitive strategy in the mobile device space. See our analysis on the major players with the number of granted patents in Europe and US (slide 13).

To paraphrase the oracle of Omaha, “Only when the litigation tide comes in do you discover who’s been swimming without protection.”

Mobile is changing the way we spend

It is very clear that mobile will be at the center of human evolution for years to come. Mobile collapses time and distance and as such impacts every facet of our lives. While we have come to know the mobile phone as a communications device, their role in our daily lives has been expanding. From checking emails, paying for tickets, sending money transfers, taking pictures of your kids, watching soccer World Cup live, checking commodity pricing, to emergency response to mHealth (mobile Health), mobile devices have become an essential tool to help us navigate our day.

Mobile also plays a key role in how we go about the most basic transaction in a given day that keeps the economy humming – spend. We discussed this and more in the paper “How Mobile Will Change The Way We Spend”  that was released earlier this month.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating rest of the year in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. We are likely to see a few more blockbuster marriage proposals before the year is out.

We are going to be discussing the ins and outs of how the industry is going to evolve in the next decade in our Sept 12th mobile thought leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward which is bringing exceptional industry thought-leaders, inventors, and doers to brainstorm, discuss, and debate what’s next.

Hope you can join us.

As usual, we will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q2 2011 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Global Update

Mobile Future Forward

We will be discussing the global mobile ecosystem – the challenges and the opportunities at our annual mobile thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward – brought to you in partnership with our terrific partners – Qualcomm, Millennial Media, Real Networks, AT&T Interactive, Synchronoss Technologies, OpenMarket, Ericsson, and Openwave. Hope to see you in Seattle on Sept 12th.

Some of the distinguished guests include:

Abhi Ingle, VP, AT&T; Biju Nair, Chief Strategy Officer, Synchronoss Technologies; Bob Borchers, Partner, Opus Capital; Bobby Morrison, President – PNW, Verizon Wireless; Braxton Woodham, Head of Product Development, AVOS; Danny Bowman, President, Sprint; David Messenger, EVP, Head of Online/Mobile, American Express; Gibu Thomas, SVP – Mobile Walmart; Erik Moremo, SVP, FOX; Glenn Lurie, President, Emerging Devices, Resale & Partnerships, AT&T Mobility; Hank Skorny, CSO, Real Networks; Jana Messerschmidt, Sr. Director, Twitter; Jay Emmet, GM, OpenMarket; Jason MacKenzie, President, Global Sales and Marketing, HTC; Jerry Batt, CIO, PulteGroup; Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave; Ken Wirth, President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless; Kris Rinne, SVP – Networks/Architecture, AT&T; Mark Rolston, Chief Creative Officer, Frog Design; Manoj Leelanivas, EVP & GM, Juniper Networks; Michael Wolf, VP, GigaOM; Mikael Back, VP – Products, Ericsson; Naoki Aoyagi, CEO, GREE USA; Paul Palmieri, CEO, Millennial Media; Rob Glaser, Partner, Accel; Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, LightSquared; Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint; Steve Mollenkopf, EVP/Group President, Qualcomm; Suja Chandrasekaran, CIO, Timberland; Will Hsu, CPO, AT&T Interactive.

More information at

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Nov 2011. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

Mobile Future Forward – Connected Universe. Unlimited Opportunities July 27, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 4G,AORTA,Applications,Connected Devices,Mobile Applications,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

The theme of Mobile Future Forward this year is Connected Universe. Unlimited Opportunities. As a long time reader, you know the very foundation of this blog is depicted in its name – AORTA – Always On Real-Time Access. Since my early days in the mobile world, I longed for a time when connectivity became ubiquitous. In fact, even in my early books in 2000 (Wireless Internet Enterprise Applications) and 2002 (Wireless Data Services with Dr. Yasuhisa Nakamura, CTO, NTT DoCoMo), I had extensively talked about the connected universe. We are finally approaching that vision. To talk about this in more depth, we have the two distinguished leaders who are at the center of it all – Glenn Lurie, President – Emerging Devices, Resale & Partnership at AT&T Mobility and Danny Bowman, President – Connected Devices at Sprint.

Connected Universe. Unlimited Opportunities.

The connected devices segment is the fastest growing category of the market and is also the most profitable due to higher margins. Connected devices are impacting a rethink in virtually all key verticals – healthcare, housing, travel, entertainment, communication, energy, and others. It is also disrupting the traditional value chains and revenue models. Which segments are yielding the highest ROI? Does computing fundamentally change forever or are connected devices just a part of the PC hub? How does M2M fit into the world of smartphones and tablets? How are businesses and solution providers taking advantage of the growing connected universe? What’s most important for the consumer and what are their expectations on design, pricing, and connectivity? From connected cars to wireless pill bottles, our world is going to change forever. Meet the leaders who are shaping the growing connected devices ecosystem to get insights that will inform your strategy and decide your future revenue streams.

Glenn Lurie, President – Emerging Devices, Resale  & Partnerships , AT&T Mobility

Danny Bowman, President – Connected Devices, Sprint

Mobile Future Forward – Disruption is in the air July 25, 2011

Posted by chetan in : AORTA,Applications,Devices,Disruption,Mobile Future Forward,Networks , add a comment

As you know, Mobile Future Forward is fast approaching and we are very excited about the thought-leaders and attendees who are participating. One of the first panel discussion is going to be on the disruptive forces in the ecosystem, from network to devices to applications.

Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO of LightSquared and Jason MacKenzie, President, HTC Americas are going to the headline the panel. Sanjeev and Jason are both industry veterans and have a great sense of the disruptive forces needed to take the industry to a different level.

Sanjiv Ahuja is the chairman and CEO of LightSquared.

In 2007 Sanjiv founded Augere, a company delivering affordable, genuine wireless broadband to underserved customers in developing markets such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. He is also the founder and chairman of Eaton Telecom, a telecommunications infrastructure company with a presence in 12 African countries.

From 2004 until 2007, Sanjiv was chief executive officer of Orange.

Jason Mackenzie, President, HTC North America and Latin America
Previously vice president of HTC North America, Jason Mackenzie has been promoted to president of HTC North America and Latin America. As president, Mackenzie will continue to drive HTC’s strategy and market growth in North America and Latin America where he has contributed to HTC’s strong performance. As one of HTC’s founding North American members in 2005, Mackenzie has led HTC’s strong growth in North America.

Disruption is in the Air

Disruption is the fundamental tenet of progress. Whether it is the technologies, the business models, the players or the alliances, disruptive forces are essential in making things better for the consumer and the larger ecosystem. Is 4G a game change? What does the wholesale business model do to the data economics? Is the halving of the device lifecycle good or bad? Who manages the customer and where does the value shift? Meet the two leaders who are working to disrupt the mobile industry.

Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, LightSquared

Jason MacKenzie, President, HTC Americas

We look forward to seeing you on Sept 12th.