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2014 CES Observations January 12, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, US Wireless Market, Wearables, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

2014 CES Observations

International CES is not an event where game-changers are launched but it is a celebration of technology and gadgets. It is a good place to understand what is on its way to hope (many if not most of the products never make it to the market), hype (“innovation” was the most used word for defining pretty much anything, second year in a row), and commoditization (how many body tracker does the world need?). It is a place for like-minded people to congregate and pontificate, to do deals, to validate their roadmaps, spy on competitors, meet new partners and suppliers, and just get warmed-up for the year ahead. CES is a good place to get a sense of where the investments might flow this year.

Here is the summary of our observations from 2014 CES:

The big numbers – CEA expects the overall consumer electronics market to grow 2-3% in 2014 to $208 billion. The new growth areas are connected devices, tablets, wellness devices, connected auto, 3D printers, etc. Smart watch sales are expected to double in revenues in 2014. The wearables are expected to grow 25%. At CES, clearly, the connected universe was in full display in all its current glory. It was a mix of some new ideas, incremental improvements from last year, and innovators from all walks of life getting into the value chain.

Wearables – It was no surprise that wearables were one of the highlights of the show. The good news is that the barrier to entry is fairly low. The bad news is that the barrier to entry is fairly low. The space is going to get commoditized very quickly and it is likely going to get stratified into two major buckets – really cheap $10-20 wearables (if one can have < $50 smartphone, there is no real reason for a common wearable to be > $100 given that the components are fairly standard and algorithms are well understood. The other bucket will be high-end fashion driven wearables. Companies that can afford to get some classy designers involved and get good retail distribution are going to cater to the “jewelry” conscious market. The big winners are obviously the component folks who don’t really care who wins as long as there are many players in the pond. Wearables might congregate around natural islands of geography, distribution, and ecosystems. Intel’s keynote was focused almost entirely on wearables.

Connected Auto – There were announcements in the connected auto space. This year things matured a bit with more investments flowing in. AT&T and Google announced their respective platforms for connected auto. While there are significant opportunities in the space, it is still quite fragmented and as such less appeal for the wider developer population.

Robotics – While we are still ways away from the household robotic butler, tiny robots are becoming very sophisticated. Robotics has been around for ages but the connected environment gives them their soul. Toys, games, entertainment, emergency verticals, etc. are natural categories.  Unlike the wearables segment, robotics is less commoditized but has lesser overall mass appeal.

Sponsored data – Maybe sponsored data rubs some folks the wrong way but alternate data monetization models are needed in the market. AT&T announced their sponsored data platform. There are already numerous examples of sponsored data all around us across the world. In fact, in some regions, sponsored data will become a key ingredient of the overall mobile data strategy. There are several other alternate sponsored data models that will benefit users and markets should be encouraged to explore them. If it is indeed a bad idea, the market will take care of itself.

US mobile industry – While I work around the globe and there are some fascinating markets with new developments, US is by far the most interesting mobile market right now.  Not only does it have the most innovation going on, the competitive dynamics make it a great study for the students of the industry. T-Mobile, having decided on the value strategy is disrupting the market dramatically from the pricing structure point of view. Just like Free in France changed the market within 12 months, T-Mobile is doing the same in the US. They pre-announced their Q4 numbers at CES and they are stunning. 1.6M net-adds, 900K postpaid adds. For the year, they added 4.4M subs. To understand how dramatic of a reversal this is one has to only look at 2012 numbers – 2M postpaid losses compared to 2M postpaid gains in 2013. US industry has never seen such reversal in a short amount of time. Fasten your seat belts, 2014 is going to be a fascinating ride.

Healthcare connected devices – This super category of the wearables is something that is actually quite interesting and can be quite lucrative if you get it right. Sensors that can alert of impending heart attack or food poisoning or help manage diabetes and cancer by understanding the markets inside the body are revolutionary. If we get the price points to manageable levels, the impact on global health is going to be astounding and unprecedented. Of course, regulations and a moribund industry stands in the way.

Curved TV – The 3D TVs were a big flop. Consumers really didn’t warm up to the idea. The curved TV introduced by Samsung won lot of accolades and it was indeed a good experience if you find the right spot to view the screen in front of you. The 4Ks were out in full force as well with Vizio even touting one for under $1K. it is another matter that the UHD content doesn’t really exist in any meaningful way to while there was buzz, there might be little biz on the cards in the short term.

3D Printing – We all appreciate the potential for 3D printing - it is enormous. However, the impact could surprise us. With printers coming down in price to below $500, it is becoming more affordable and could really unleash the creativity of individuals of all shapes and sizes.

Smart Home – There is lot of activity and some real dollars flowing into the segment. AT&T has had some good success with their Digital Life rollout and it is generating new ARPU and increasing LTV of the customers. Additionally, startups are coming out with specific improvements around security, energy, entertainment, appliances, communication, and other related areas.

Disconnect between data and security – There is so much data emanating out of the wearables and the personal IoT devices that NSA or the hackers don’t really have to worry about the lack of data. Given the massive breach at Target, it is time for regulators to step in and work with the industry to formulate some basic guidelines on data protection. It should be unacceptable that these incidents are increasing in audacity and frequency.

Virtual Reality – Oculus VR was one the biggest hits at CES. The marriage of gaming and VR is a natural one and whoever tried the space-age headset at CES seemed immersed into an experience previously unexplored.

Best Booth – Samsung again took the honors

Best Booth Engagement – GoPro has some loyal fans

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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, IP Strategy, Intellectual Property, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile 2013, Mobile Applications, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 15 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

US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013 June 20, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, 4th Wave, AORTA, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Infrastructure Providers, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Patents, OTT, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

 US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013

http://chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq12013.htm 

Summary

The US mobile data market grew 2% Q/Q and 14% Y/Y to reach $21 billion in mobile data revenues. Data is now almost 45% of the US mobile industry service revenues and as we had forecasted a few years back, the cross-over point of 50% might occur later this year. For the year 2013, we are expecting $90 Billion in mobile data service revenues for the US market.

For the quarter, the market added a paltry 1.1 million new connections, a decline of 60% from Q1 2012. It was the lowest net-adds Q4 quarter in the US mobile history (barring the early days of tepid growth). The postpaid category added only 200K subs largely on the back of Verizon’s 677K net-adds.

AT&T sold more iPhones but Verizon sold more smartphones. With T-Mobile joining the iPhone bandwagon, iOS lead in the US market is likely to continue.

T-Mobile continued to lose their postpaid subs for the 11th straight quarter. Sprint also lost over half a million postpaid subs primarily due to the Nextel business. Once Nextel is sunsetted mid-2013 for good, we can expect a pick-up of net-postpaid subs at Sprint.

The see-saw battle between Softbank and Dish for Sprint/Clearwire continued as expected but as expected Softbank is likely to prevail when it is all said and done. After completing the Metro acquisition, T-Mobile started to integrate the 8M+ base into the company. We can expect that the next round of M&A will continue once we are done with the Sprint decision.

As we mentioned in our previous updates, smartphones are now past the 50% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for almost 85% of the devices sold in Q1 2013. Apple led the smartphone sales amongst the top 4 operators with 50% share for the quarter. While the US penetration of smartphones is over 50%, the 50% of the sub base is concentrated in only 30% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth in the marketplace.

In terms of Q/Q growth, Connected Devices segment grew 17%, Wholesale 5%, Prepaid 4%, and Postpaid was flat.

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.

What really drives mobile device performance?

Will a 3rd mobile ecosystem emerge this year? Is it necessary? Specifically, what problem does it solve? What factors influence the purchase behavior of the consumer? And can OEMs change their strategy to impact sales? Why have Microsoft and Nokia not been able to make a dent in the trajectory despite having a compelling OS, range of devices, consumer-friendly price-points, better distribution, and increased level of advertising dollars? Will Blackberry be able to recover? Why hasn’t HTC One been able sell in similar numbers as the Galaxy S4 despite being better by most accounts? What will it take for LG to increase share? Can Motorola stay relevant? Can new entrants disrupt the waters? Can ZTE and Huawei come from the bottom and disrupt the top players? Will Apple and Samsung be able to protect their position on the top?

These questions have been a matter of intense debate in the media and in the ecosystem. We try to address these questions in some detail in our recent paper “What Really Drives Mobile Device Performance?” As I mentioned to the New York Times, it is no longer good enough to have a great product, an OEM needs to perform well across multiple variables.

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

It is evident that there is a subtle shift from devices/access to services/solutions. In our paper on the topic Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave, 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 skill set and strategic approach than the past three curves. 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 be discussing fourth wave in much more detail at our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward with the incredible leaders who are making billion dollar decisions every day.

OTT impact on legacy businesses and models

In the last 12 months, Whatsapp moved around more messages than all the mobile operators combined in any country and that includes US and China. US and China collectively have approximately 1.5 billion subscriptions. Whatsapp with its 200M base has moved more messages in the last 12 months than all the operators in both US and China combined. Ok, let that sink in for a few minutes. For a significantly small fraction of the cost, Whatsapp moves around more messages than every single telecom operator on the planet. Of course, Whatsapp makes a tiny fraction of the revenue compared to the operators. What Whatsapp and similar players lack in ubiquity and interoperability, they make it up by being the commodity utility provider at a low cost to the consumer. The notion of designing by a standards committee above the IP layer is just no longer needed in majority of the cases. Once you have the IP connection, consumers will gravitate towards innovative solutions and be willing to fragment their communication behavior across multiple apps. SMS will stay relevant for the foreseeable future but the growth is in IP communication. We will also see more cooperation between the IP app players and the operators as they find common strategic grounds.

We will see the same impact of IP and mobility on the various verticals like Retail, Energy, Education, Entertainment, Travel, etc. Some operators have been preparing for this shift and going outside their traditional products and services to launch services like AT&T’s Digital Life to address opportunities in the home, Verizon’s efforts in health and public safety and Sprint’s steps in mobile advertising and analytics.

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

The M&A game continued with intense frenzy in the ecosystem. T-Mobile completed the Metro acquisition which gives it more heft and scale to compete as a value-player. However, the real drama has been going on with the Softbank and Sprint merger with Dish playing the role of the spoiler. Our original thesis has been that Softbank is a better fit than Dish and Dish’s strategic intention might actually be T-Mobile not Sprint. It was a masterful decoy to raise the cost and pain for Softbank and Sprint. It is likely to be all sorted out in the next few weeks.

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.

Operators with better balance sheets will also look for global expansion especially in Europe where economic impact on the telcom operators has been severe, however the M&A efforts will be complicated by respective governments desire to keep control of the national infrastructure provider.

The Patent Battles

In 2012, Samsung had a strong showing not only in the market place but also in the patents area. It edged past Nokia to become the overall mobile patents leader in the industry. IBM and Microsoft also improved their rankings. Nokia, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent slid in rankings. Motorola dropped out of top 10. Not surprisingly, companies who have been around for a while especially in the infrastructure and the platform space lead the overall mobile patents. Samsung has been fiercely building its patent portfolio in both Europe and the US and the efforts have paid off as it has built a significant portfolio and a formidable lead that is likely to serve it well in the coming years.

A more startling observation is the mobile patent grants as a percentage of the total patent grants in a given year have risen significantly for the US market indicating the importance innovators attach to mobile in their business. In the US, one out of every five patent granted in 2012 was related to mobile. Less than a decade ago, this number was less than 10%. The European market has seen lower growth relative to the US market. Roughly one out of every ten patents granted in Europe are mobile related.

Samsung was the leader in the mobile patents granted in 2012 in the US and that propelled the company to the top ranking in overall patents (1996-2013). Samsung was followed by IBM, Sony, Microsoft, RIM, LG, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Panasonic, Alcatel-Lucent, and Nokia for the top 10 companies by mobile patent grants in 2012. The top 5 categories for patents grants in the US for 2012 were Telecommunications, Digital Multiplexing, Digital Processing – Data Transfer, Digital Processing – Financial, and Digital Processing – Databases. The top 5 filers of mobile patents in the US were IBM, Microsoft, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Sony. Apple made it to top 10 for the first time on the strength of its patents filed in the computer graphics processing category.

For more detailed analysis, please refer our research paper on the subject – Mobile Patents Landscape – An In-Depth Quantitative Analysis.

SMB leading indicator of mobile adoption

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. In our paper “The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud,” we explored how mobile is transforming the SMBs. The main conclusions were: a) SMB segment is a leading indicator of technology adoption and we can learn a great deal about the broader trends by understanding how SMBs adopt technology b) there are tangible gains in productivity – on average SMB workers save 40 minutes per worker per day which translates into significant impact on profits and c) there is a tangible impact on computing, enterprise software and services as the business processes are shifting towards iOS and Android.

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. We are gearing up for our annual Mobile Brainstorm Summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th, 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 Q1 2013 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Shared Data Plans

Applications and Services

OTT and the impact on legacy services

Handsets

Mobile Data Growth

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be discussing a number of issues raised in this research update at our annual mobile executive thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th in Seattle. Thought-leaders include: Biju Nair, EVP and CSO, Synchronoss; Curtis Kopf, VP – Customer Innovation, Alaska Airlines; Danny Bowman, Chief Sales and Operating Officer, Samsung; David Small, Chief Platform Officer, Verizon Enterprise Solutions; Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox Networks; Fay Arjomandi, CEO - Vodafone Xone, President/Chairman – Vodafone Americas Foundation; Geeta Nayyar, Chief Medical Information Officer, AT&T; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T Wireless; Hank Skorny, VP and GM – Software Services, Intel; Henning Schulzrinne, CTO, FCC; Jef Holove, CEO, Basis; Jude Buckley, President – Mobility, Best Buy Co; Kevin Packingham, Chief Product Officer, Samsung; Manish Jha, GM – Mobile, NFL; Marianne Marck, SVP – Consumer Products, Starbucks; Marios Zenios, VP – Uconnect, Chrysler Group; Matt Carter, President – Emerging Solutions, Sprint; Raj Toleti, CTO, Patient Point; Ralph de la Vega, CEO, AT&T Wireless; Rowland Shaw, VP - Strategy, Ericsson; Stephen David, former CIO, P&G; Steve Elfman, President, Sprint; Terry Myerson, Corporate Vice President – Mobile, Microsoft; Tracy Isacke, Head, Telefonica Digital Americas

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 August 2013. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in July 2013.

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

New Research: What (Really) Drives Mobile Device Market Performance? June 12, 2013

Posted by chetan in : Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Devices, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

What (Really) Drives Mobile Device Market Performance?

- A Mobile Future Forward Series Research Paper

http://chetansharma.com/What_Drives_Mobile_Device_Market_Performance.htm

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Introduction

The computing landscape has drastically changed over the last five years. Consumers are increasingly seeking connected devices with majority of them being mobile. In fact, due to the aggressive buying habits of the US consumer, the overall computing landscape in terms of quarterly sales has unquestionably tilted towards smartphones and tablets. While Apple wasn’t the first one to launch the smartphone, its iPhone completely changed the market dynamics. Google’s Android and Samsung have also ridden the tidal wave perfectly. The US market has been ground zero in the battle of the mobile ecosystems, the war of computing platforms, and quarter-over-quarter sales hand-to-hand combat.

During the 2008-2010 timeframe, it was obvious that the gap between the iPhone and rival offerings was tremendous. The user interface, ease of use, and just the quality of product design won consumers over. Microsoft to its own admission completely misread the shifting landscape and paid dearly. Its once dominant share of computing (95%) was cut into less than half in a matter of four years. The disruption from iOS and Android was so intense that Microsoft had to go back to the drawing board. Microsoft wasn’t alone in being complacent. Once proud leaders of the mobile smartphone era – Nokia and RIM were in denial for a long time of the changing market. They did end up launching pretty credible offerings in 2012-2013 but were clearly late by half-a-decade. LG who once used to go toe-to-toe with Samsung in all major markets just couldn’t keep up with the frantic pace of innovation and product cycles and its weak structural beams gave up under stress. HTC, once the Android darling of the industry, had several mis-steps and hasn’t been able to recover ever since despite launching some great devices.

Given the massive shifts in the computing landscape, it will be instructive to understand “What really drives device market performance?” What factors influence the purchase behavior of the consumer? And can OEMs change their strategy to impact sales? Why have Microsoft and Nokia not been able to make a dent in the trajectory despite having a compelling OS, range of devices, consumer-friendly price-points, better distribution, and increased level of advertising dollars? Will Blackberry be able to recover? Why hasn’t HTC One been able sell in similar numbers as the Galaxy S4 despite being better by most accounts? What will it take for LG to increase share? Can Motorola stay relevant? Can new entrants disrupt the waters? Can ZTE and Huawei come from the bottom and disrupt the top players? Will Apple and Samsung be able to protect their position on the top?

We have tried to address these questions using a framework that looks at the complicated equation of market performance. It is based on subjective assessment but it is informed by data on some of the key variables that impact device sales. The model is applicable to tablet sales as well. It gives us a reference model that can provide an understanding of the shortcomings of certain OEMs relative to others.

By honing in on the model, and with real-time inputs to the model, one can also get a fair assessment of the future device sales. However, sales is just one metric to consider. One has to also look at revenue and profits along with the competitive positioning in the marketplace to truly assess the “market performance” of the player. Having a strong unit share position in the market place is desirable but not a necessary condition to have a strong market performance in a given market. The size of the revenues and profits matter a great deal as well. Similarly, how a company manages and maintains its competitive advantage is very critical. From 2007-2011, Nokia had a dominant unit share but its competitive roadmap looked terrible and the market recognized that. Similarly, Blackberry (then RIM) was the dominant smartphone player of 2008-2009 but it was pretty clear that it is going to end up at a significant disadvantage if it didn’t change its ways in responding to the iPhone.

The mobile market is far from static, it has changed dramatically over the last ten years and it will change again in the next ten. However, the factors that drive market performance are likely to stay consistent.

The paper is primarily focused on the US market; however, model can be adapted for any region or country provided that enough reliable data is available to feed the model. Using the model and our understanding of the industry, we will try to answer the questions raised in this introduction and discuss the most important question of them all – What really drives device market performance?

Download from Mobile Future Forward website

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 June 2013. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in July 2013.

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

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

http://www.chetansharma.com/ABCs_of_SMB_Transformation.htm

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Download pdf (1.5 MB)

Introduction

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.

2013 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 2, 2013

Posted by chetan in : Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, European Wireless Market, IP Strategy, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Predictions, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013. My thanks to all who participated in our 2013 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an insider’s view of the trends and predictions for the New Year.

2012 was a terrific year for the mobile industry. Mobile data continued to drive most of the mobile growth around the world. Mobile also started impacting every major vertical industry around the globe. In fact, mobile has become so ingrained in the fabric of business productivity and social interaction that it is not longer the new growth engine, it has become the engine.

The competitive dynamics stayed quite vibrant in 2012. We saw epic battles in the markets as well as in the courts. 2012 also saw the PC value chain struggling for relevance while the smartphones and tablets unit sales captured all the attention and headlines.

As we peer into 2013, we will see the total number of cellular subscriptions eclipsing humans on the planet. The connected device made steady progress. Anything that should be connected is being connected - creating a web of new opportunities and challenges.

LTE has become the fastest deployed cellular technology in the approximately 35 year history of the industry. Broadband combined with connected devices and applications are changing the way we live, we interact with others, do business, and consume information.

The European economic crisis impacted many players especially the large telcos, making the transition to digital ever more urgent. As voice and messaging revenue curves decline and access revenue approaches its high mark in the next few years, investment in the fourth curve becomes critical for all players.

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=200) from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and from around the world participated to help see what 2013 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. The survey provides a view of how they see the upcoming year for mobile.

30 names were randomly drawn for the limited edition of the Mobile Future Forward 2012 book. The winners are:

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year.

Be well, do good work, stay in touch, and stay away from Triskaidekaphobiacs.

Thanks and with warm wishes,

Chetan

2013_2

What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2012?

2012 was a spectacular year for smartphones. Smartphones in most western nations are now over 80% of the devices sold every quarter. China will soon become the biggest market by unit volume and the rest of the world is catching up fast as we see sub-$50 Android devices flood the market. Apple vs. Samsung has become akin to Lakers vs. Celtics of the eighties or the India vs. Pakistan rivalry in cricket. The passion and intense competition between the two super powers was clearly the headline of the year. That pushed the Android vs. iOS tussles as the subheading for 2012. As we enter into 2013, the legacy computing aka PC players will need to reinvent themselves or expect substantial decline in their fortunes.

2013_3

  1. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2013?

2013_4

The role of mobile data in industry’s growth has been cemented by the insatiable appetite for higher speeds, more apps, and social interaction and is expected to continue at a feverish pace as LTE roles out around the world and the developing world catches up. We are likely to see the Apple and Google rivalry intensify. One is a master of hardware and the other of software. Both have their Achilles heel and much is at stake in the coming year. Many expect Microsoft’s Windows to make progress to lay claim to become a viable 3rd ecosystem. 2013 will try to answer that question.

Who will be the most open player in the mobile ecosystem in 2013?

2013_5

Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile ecosystem?

2013_6

Many in the industry talk about Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon as the most important platform players in the business today. However, when it comes to mobile, in addition to the defacto top-two, our survey picks Samsung as number three by a good margin. Samsung has become a strong player in the digital ecosystem that commands attention and respect. The top 10-15 global operators play a strong role in the mobile ecosystem and collectively edged out Amazon and others for the number four spot. Facebook and Microsoft while strong in the desktop world have a lot to prove to be considered a top tier player in mobile.

What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2013?

2013_7

Our industry seems fascinated with the potential of mobile payments and voted it to be the top mobile applications and services category for 2013. Given the importance of Cloud in all apps/services, it is no surprise that it is part of the top 2. Mobile Commerce, Big data, and connected devices rounded up the top 5.

What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2013?

2013_8

There are regional variations when it comes to the popularity and revenue potential of mobile applications. Messaging, mobile commerce, and social dominate the developing world while location based services replaces messaging in the developed world as the key mobile application. Mobile health and gaming made a strong show in both regions.

Which will be the most dominant tablet platform in 2 years?

2013_9

So far, iOS has dominated the tablet landscape. With iPad, Apple has effectively carved out the mid-high tier of the tablet space. Android players are losing or barely making any revenue from this device category. Windows tablets are priced so high that it is trying to compete with laptops rather than the tablets. Our panel expects Android to catch-up in unit sales and iOS to dominate the revenues by good margins. Windows is likely to stay a marginal player.

Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2013?

2013_10

Microsoft and Google both have big cash balanced to make some sizable acquisitions in 2013. Microsoft lacks traction and attention and will try to make a move but which player can give them an edge? Apple also needs to beef up its software operations significantly but doesn’t have the history of big acquisitions. Operators are also looking to become OTT players themselves and might make moves to shore up their strategic interests. Many participants think that Nokia and RIM have seen their final year as an independent entity.

How will the "Apps vs. Mobile Web" debate shape up in 2013?

2013_11 

In 2012, many expected the resurgence of “mobile web” but it hasn’t panned out that way. Google has doubled up on apps, Facebook realized HTML5 isn’t going to cut it, and the expectations pendulum swung back to the apps and might stay there for 2013.

Who will dominate the mobile payment/commerce space?

2013_12

Three years ago, mobile payments/commerce seemed to be the “blue ocean” opportunity but financial guys have firmly protected their turf, at least for now. Hopes were high for operator led initiatives but the enthusiasm has tapered off. Startups like Square are doing more to disrupt the payments space than some of the established players. The only exception is PayPal, which has so far been able to create good distance with the competitors. Microsoft has surprisingly been absent in a critical space.

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

2013_13

4G, mobile offload, and tiered pricing have been most effective in managing the costs of mobile data consumption though spectrum has garnered more of the noise share.

Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2013?

2013_14

Access dominates the developed world while messaging has the lion share in the developing world. We will see access becoming the dominant category in the emerging markets fairly soon.

Which European operator is likely to emerge stronger from the current economic climate?

2013_15

European operators have been battered by struggling economy and regulatory changes. Many are rethinking their strategy, shedding off assets, and just trying to keep their head above water. The leaner operations and refocused strategic direction might help them recover better when the economy improves. While our global panel picked Vodafone to have the strongest recovery, our European panel picked Telefonica to emerge stronger.

When will mobile commerce be greater than ecommerce?

2013_16

A majority of the panel thinks that mobile commerce will eclipse ecommerce in revenues generated by 2015 in North America and Asia and by 2020 for the rest of the world. There are already strong signs that commerce is shifting from online to mobile.

The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year - 2012 and 2013?

2013_17

Apple continues to produce the most desirable devices. iPhone and iPad dwarf everything else and easily was the company with the most successful gadget in 2012. However, the panel expects Samsung to best its rival in 2013. Google and Amazon might mount a credible challenge but their chances of producing something truly dominating remain low.

Which platform has a credible shot at becoming a viable and durable 3rd ecosystem in mobile?

2013_18

Windows 8 phones finally launched in 2012. The design is solid, the OEM support is growing, the number of apps are rising and while it is still a long ways to becoming a credible 3rd ecosystem, it has the best shot at becoming one. The only rival seems the HTML5-based OS initiatives. The application developer community actually voted for HTML5 over Windows as the 3rd ecosystem that has some chance of competing with iOS and Android which completely dominate in revenues and unit sales respectively.

Mobile company of the year - 2012 and 2013?

2013_19

Samsung eclipsed Nokia and Apple to become the most dominating device player in unit volume in almost all major markets. The speed with which it is churning out devices has pretty much crushed the rest of the Android ecosystem and is going head-to-head with Apple. For this performance, the panel voted Samsung to be the mobile company of the year for both 2012 and 2013 with Apple and Google close behind.

Which of the following are likely to happen in 2013?

2013_20

The rumor chamber is ablaze with the possibilities of Apple TV, smartphones from Amazon and Microsoft, and data-only plans to make their appearance in 2013. Square and Twitter could be the hot acquisitions of the year though Twitter is likely to chose IPO glory. Will Samsung fork Android? Will Sprint and T-Mobile merge? Will European operators get acquired? These are some of the questions that are likely to keep the media on their toes this year.

Which operator is best positioned for the digital world?

2013_21

As we outlined in our research paper “Operator’s Dilemma: The Fourth Wave,” the business of being a mobile operator is at a critical juncture and operators are investing heavily into creating the digital business. AT&T, Verizon, NTT DoCoMo, Softbank, and Telefonica are already generating billions of dollars from these initiatives and lead the operator contingent in the digital world.

Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?

2013_22

In the past, Steve Jobs was consistently the person of the year in mobile. In 2012, Tim Cook effectively managed to produce record profits for the investors and navigated Apple to keep its “most valuable enterprise” title intact for the year. Apple is still the company on top of the hill. JK Shin of Samsung was voted number two for 2012. For 2013, the landscape changed. Our panel overwhelmingly voted Jeff Bezos to impress us the most in 2013. Amazon has done a good job disrupting the device model and with its strong commerce expertise, it is looking to take on both Google and Apple at the same time. Andy Rubin of Google with the 1 billion Android units milestone coming up this year will be a good contender for the title as well.

There were several other leaders who impressed in 2012 e.g. Paul Jacobs (eclipsing Intel in market cap), Jack Dorsey (disrupting the mobile payments market with Square), Masayoshi Son (for Sprint acquisition and global ambitions), Dan Hesse (for navigating Sprint through rough waters), Glenn Lurie and Matthew Key (for leading the digital transformation of the two giants – AT&T and Telefonica respectively), Rhen Zhengfei (for making Huawei into a dominating infrastructure provider), Lowell McAdam (for making Verizon the number 1 mobile data operator in the world) and Ralph de la Vega (for making AT&T the number 2 ahead of NTT DoCoMo).

All in all, a great collection of thoughts and comments. Thanks again to everyone who participated. Have a great 2013.

Connected Consumer 2012 September 13, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, Connected Devices, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Connected Consumer 2012

http://www.chetansharma.com/connectedconsumer.htm

 

We just concluded another successful Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit on Monday. The theme of the summit was Connected Universe. Monetizing Opportunities. During my opening, I discussed some results from the research we just completed on Connected Devices. This note summarizes the findings.

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.

· 70% of the connected devices use some form of wireless connection.

· In the US, roughly 80% of the devices use some form of wireless connection.

· For the US Household survey, we asked 1014 HHs about the number of connected devices in their households.

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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 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Oct 2012.

US Wireless Market Update – Q2 2012 August 13, 2012

Posted by chetan in : Connected Devices, Enterprise Mobility, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

US Wireless Market Update Q2 2012

http://chetansharma.com/USmarketupdateQ22012.htm
Summary

The US mobile data market grew 5% Q/Q and 19% Y/Y to reach $19.3B in Q2 2012. Data is now almost 42% 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.

The US operators reversed the postpaid decline in last quarter to add almost 400K postpaid subs largely due to the strong performance of Verizon Wireless. Sprint and T-Mobile saw further postpaid declines. For T-Mobile, Q2 marked the eight straight quarters of postpaid losses.

In terms of Y/Y growth, Connected Devices segment grew 21%, Prepaid 12%, Wholesale 4%, and Postpaid was flat. AT&T, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon are number one respectively in these categories. The connected devices segment has been an area of growth for the industry but for the second straight quarter, the Q/Q growth fell below 5%. This is largely driven by lower growth in the M2M segment.

Driven largely by the economy, the prepaid subscriptions went past 100 M for the first time in the US market. Given that the revenue from new subscribers has fallen below the 5% mark for the first time, the revenue growth will be primarily driven by services to the existing subscriber base. The new revenue will be dominated by data access revenues for the next couple of years.

As has been obvious for some time, the device ecosystem has become a two horse race – iOS and Android. Apple and Samsung. Google’s acquisition of Motorola finally closed and everyone is watching as to what comes next. Amazon showed off its ambition with Kindle Fire and is now getting ready to launch a new set of devices in time for the holiday season. Apple launches its iPhone 5 with LTE and gives some more polish to iOS next month. Microsoft will start selling its Surface tablet in a matter of weeks. The only one left out of the launching musical chairs is RIM which has pushed out its launch into 2013. 

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 Q2 2012. However, Apple dominates both the device 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, 97% 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.

Nokia’s Lumia launch in Q2 fizzled in the US and elsewhere. It will get another shot at glory and perhaps its last with the Windows 8 launch in Sept.

If we exclude the M2M subscriptions and just look at the human subscriptions, the smartphone penetration went past 50% for the first time in the US market. Smartphone sales continued at a brisk pace crossing the 70% mark (of the devices sold) in Q2 2012.

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.

Zuned Out

Apple launched iPod in 2001. During the early days, Microsoft ignored it until it realized it better start paying attention to the growing phenom. It asked its suppliers to build them a Microsoft iPod. One by one, they all failed. Depressed and frustrated, it took matters in its own hand and introduced Zune in 2006, full five years after the first iPod came into the market. By that time, Apple had already sold 66M units and still hadn’t hit its peak. As is customary, Microsoft took another few iterations to get it right. By the time a competitive product came out, it didn’t matter. The main reason was that the customers were Zuned Out. They had already made their choice, invested their time and money into a platform and it will take more than a crowbar to move them onto something new. Microsoft retired Zune in 2011

Fast forward to 2007. iPhone came out. Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and others dismissed it and more importantly failed to understand and acknowledge its impact. Their corporate schizophrenia is well documented. Microsoft wisely realized that it can’t just keep paring down the mothership OS for mobile and took time to rewrite it. The new OS was actually good and well designed, it was quite fresh. iOS and Android would do well to borrow some ideas from it to enhance the user experience. However, Microsoft’s partners by this time were more enamored with Android. So in Nokia, Microsoft found a partner who can help shine the light on its new shiny OS. By the time initial credible versions of the new windows OS started to ship, Apple had already shipped over 200M units of iPhone. By the time RIM ships devices with the new OS (if it gets to that point), Apple would have shipped over 300M units. Consumers have already invested their time and money into platforms and ecosystems. Will Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM get a second chance or will they be Zuned Out?

Then came the iPad that completely took Microsoft by surprise. It pioneered the concept a decade earlier but was completely outflanked by the wily Apple. Zune wasn’t significant to Microsoft’s core business. It had ignored mobile as well for the better part of the decade as it didn’t disturb the Office and Windows PC franchises. But tablets are different. Apple singlehandedly created a new category in 2010 and has dominated it ever since. It is altering the basic notion of computing. Enterprises are dumping their PCs and moving to iPad. We have seen that in our work as well. All of a sudden, there is a direct threat to Microsoft’s core business. This time the implications are very serious. It can no longer afford a misstep. So, instead of letting partners produce mediocre products that have no chance of success in the market, Microsoft is taking the matters in its own hands early on and produce something that on surface looks a pretty compelling product. If it can get the pricing right, it can make a dent and be a contender in the new computing landscape. It can use its products, distribution power, developer ecosystem, and the bank balance to alter the scales. But Apple has a big lead. By the time Surface comes out, Apple would have sold over 100M iPads. If Microsoft executes, maybe there is a chance to not get Zuned Out this time around. If it fails, the company itself might be Zuned Out in due course along with many of its longtime partners.

In the theory of market entry, fast follower is actually a smart strategy. Microsoft was a master at it. However the strategy has its limitations. Against an agile and ruthless competitor like Apple or Google, you better be a really fast follower (Samsung) else time starts to work against you. A slow follower strategy only works if you have something truly innovative (iPhone) or the incumbents are asleep at the switch (Xbox) or the business model is disruptive (Netflix). Also, the fast follower strategy is only sustainable when you are adept at anticipating competitor’s future chess plays.

Shared Data Plans

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. While it is a great start, to be truly effective, some of the fees need to be reduced or completely eliminated.

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

While the European operators are feeling the heat from the OTT players (which is further compounded by an abysmal economy), the impact on the US operator revenues hasn’t been significant, yet. Last quarter we released our Mobile Future Forward Research 2012 Paper that took an in-depth look at the evolving landscape. The first of its kind study looks at the revenue curves over the course of the mobile history and discusses the need to invest in the fourth curve. The paper results were discussed in WSJ, The Economist, GigaOM, Seattle Times, and many other fine publications around the globe. The fourth curve will define the fate of many providers. Earlier this year, we discussed the topic in-depth in our Seattle and London forums and we will go even deeper into the subject at our annual brainstorm - Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th with all major participants.

mCommerce > eCommerce: Mobile First to Mobile Only

In the last couple of years, the realization in the industry set in that mobile is going to reallydominate the world. Very quickly, we are at another pivot point wherein the mobile first doctrine is going to move to mobile only. It is not that the desktop world will disappear into oblivion. Far from it. But, the investments, strategy, and execution will be driven by mobile. As we said in our global research update earlier this year, in 3-5 years, with few exceptions, if a company is not doing majority of its digital business on mobile, it is going to be irrelevant. There are already several data points to support the theory. Leading apps and services like Facebook, Twitter, Pandora are already operating in the world where mobile is driving majority of their user engagement. Expedia, Fandango and others are seeing the early signs of migration into the mobile dominated world. Starting soon we will start to see businesses with mCommerce Revenues > eCommerce Revenues.

Postpaid Doldrums

The prepaid subscriber base exceeded 100M in the US for the first time. As postpaid growth sputters, prepaid is picking up the net-adds. So, the question emerges, where will the net-sub and net-revenue growth going to come from in the next few years. The smartphone penetration in the US is at 50% (excluding M2M), so the significant opportunities are in the upgrades and non-data to data conversion. Family data plans (see above) will help in bolstering data revenues as well. Multiple devices/consumer will increase the sub penetration which is at 110%.

Mobile Data Growth – The Gigabyte Generation

The overall data consumption in the US market in 2012 is expected to exceed 2000 Petabytes or 2 Exabytes. Since the advent of the iPhone five years ago, the US market has seen triple digit growth in mobile data consumption. In 2012, we expect the mobile data growth to be around 80%. This has largely been driven by the introduction of data tiers, the use of WiFi offload, more developer education, throttling in some instances, and some compression and offloading solutions. However, as LTE becomes more widespread in the US, we expect the traffic growth to pick up again.

Market Consolidation

Even though the regulators have indicated their distaste for big mergers, it hasn’t stopped the industry to play the M&A speculation parlor game. Except for a few impossible scenarios, all sorts of deals are being contemplated. The market economics is clearly crying out for more consolidations. The smaller M&As won’t move the needle and bigger M&A are not going to be on the table until we get into a new calendar year.

New Revenue

At the turn of the century, roughly 15% of the service provider revenue came from new subscribers. By the end of the year, we expect this will drop down to 3%. This means that the new revenue will have to come from a) converting non-data to data subs and b) launching new services in different verticals for the existing subs.

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 on Sept 10th. 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. We are assembling industries who’s who to help you figure out where the industry is headed next.

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 Q2 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

Mobile Data Growth

Global Update

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be discussing a number of issues raised in this report in our annual mobile executive thought-leadership summit - Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th in Seattle. Confirmed speakers include: Abhi Ingle, VP, Advanced Solutions, AT&T; Antonio Benjamin, Global CTO, Citi; Brad Duea, SVP – Products, T-Mobile; Biju Nair, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Synchronoss; Bobby Morrison – President, Verizon; Carlos Domingo, President and CEO, Telefonica R&D; Dan Deeney, Partner, New Venture Partners; Dave Whalen, VP/GM, Intel; Ed Cantwell, SVP, West Wireless Health Institute; Erik Ekudden, Head of Strategy, Ericsson; Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox; Frank Meehan, Executive, Horizons Ventures; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T Mobility; Gus Hunt, CTO, CIA; Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel; Houk Reed, VP, Tekelec; Jana Messerschmidt, VP, Twitter; Jeff Smith, CTO, Numerex; Kevin Fitchard, Senior Reporter, GigaOM; Kevin Packingham, SVP – Product Innovation, Samsung; Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks; Mark Anderson, CEO, Future in Review; Mark Young, VP – Mobile and Connected Devices, NBC Universal; Michael Bayle, SVP and GM, ESPN Mobile; Mike Woodward, President - Americas, HTC; Neville Ray, Chief Network Officer, T-Mobile; Nick Wingfield, Reporter, New York Times; Oke Okaro, Global Head of Mobile, Bloomberg; Renee James, SVP, Software and Services Group, Intel; Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint; Stephen David, former CIO, Proctor & Gamble; Steve Elfman, President, Sprint; Todd Simpson, Chief Innovation Officer, Mozilla; Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless.

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 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Oct 2012.

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

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

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, 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.

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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.

Announcing Mobile Future Forward 2012 June 13, 2012

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

Greetings,

I hope you are enjoying the advent of summer.

We have been working steadily on our fall mobile executive summit – Mobile Future Forward 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 ecosystem: Intel, Ericsson, and Synchronoss.

Renee James, Senior Vice President of Software and Services at Intel will be giving an opening keynote. Renee is leading the charge that is making Intel a software powerhouse. It will be great to get her perspective how the trends are shaping up-and-down the innovation stack.

Dr. Vish Nandlall, CTO of Ericsson will be leading a fascinating panel discussion with some terrific industry leaders – Mobile in 2020: the last 10 years. I have had a chance to interact with him in the past and he will be a great person to help us visualize the back from the future journey.

As you can see below, we have an outstanding group of executives who are responsible for changing the industry every day. Their insights 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

· Stephen David, former CIO, Proctor & Gamble

.. More to come

· Mung Ki Woo, Head of Mobile, Mastercard Worldwide

· 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

Topic Discussions

· 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 June 22nd.

Thanks.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

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, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, 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.

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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.

New Research: US Mobile Data Market Update Q1 2012 May 21, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, Connected Devices, Infrastructure, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Data Market Update Q1 2012

http://www.chetansharma.com/USmarketupdateQ12012.htm

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Summary

The US mobile data market grew 6% Q/Q and 21% Y/Y to reach $18.7B in Q1 2012. Data is now over 40% of the US mobile industry service revenue. For the year 2012, we are forecasting that mobile data revenues in the US market will reach $80 billion.

For the first time in the history of the industry, the US operators had a net decline in postpaid subs. The top 7 operators lost a combined 52K postpaid subs. In overall net-adds, Sprint bested both of its bigger rivals for the first time since Q1 2002. That was exactly a decade ago when Cingular and Nextel brands were still around, before Google IPO and before Zuckerberg enrolled into Harvard. In fact, Sprint is the only US operator that has added more than 1 million subs every quarter since Q4 2010. However, most of these net-adds are coming from prepaid and wholesale segments. If we look at the net-adds over the last 4 quarters, AT&T comes out on top by a distance. In terms of postpaid net-adds only, Verizon is the clear leader during the same time period.

In terms of Y/Y growth, Connected Devices segment grew 23%, Prepaid 15%, Wholesale 10%, and Postpaid 1%. AT&T, Sprint, Sprint, and Verizon are number one respectively in these categories.

One-third of US consumers don’t use landline phones. The wireless only US population went past 100M subs in Q1 2012. Mobile will continue to increase its share of the household IT budget and thus improving the overall revenue picture. However, there will be fierce battle for the prized postpaid subs that have been slowly migrating to prepaid as a result of the economic doldrums. It is quite possible, they will come back but predicting the reverse migration is tough.

Q1 2012 will also be remembered for Samsung’s ascend to the top of the hill ending Nokia’s 14 year run. In terms of unit sales, it dominates the overall unit shipments and also the more lucrative smartphone segment. However, Apple dominates both the device revenues and more importantly just crushes the competition on device profits. It has only 8% of the global unit shipment share but over 70% profit share.

Apple has the complete stronghold on the supply chain and has sucked out the oxygen from the OEM world. Samsung for its part has done a credible job at keeping pace and in being competitive. As expected, the Chinese OEMs – ZTE and Huawei (and some new ones that you will hear about in the next few quarters) are coming on strong from the bottom. This means, the players caught in the middle face perilous times.

AT&T edged past NTT DoCoMo to become number two in global mobile data revenues rankings for the first time. Now top positions in the global rankings are occupied by the US operators.

Smartphone sales continued at a brisk pace accounting for almost 70% of the devices sold in Q1 2012.

Operator and OTT – The way forward

We are at a critical juncture of the industry evolution. The OTT phenomenon is shifting the tectonic plates at a rapid pace. What seemed like a minor irritant only a few quarters back is become a nuisance virus that is eating away the core. Some operators have gone into panic mode while others have stepped back, assessed the situation, embraced it, and will try to exploit the opportunity. The truth of the matter is that the two biggest apps – voice and messaging didn’t really evolve a period of two decades. When the last big invention was interoperability and that too a decade ago, you know things are ripe for disruption. Thanks to the availability of always-on IP networks, new and nimble players are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. It is not that some of these concepts haven’t been around for a while. RCS has been around for the last 5 years and this year there has been some tangible progress. However, while the world waits for interop and wide availability, startups can offer similar and in most cases, better services now. They can iterate rapidly and reach scale at much faster pace. We are in software-defined world after all. Smarter operators are launching their own OTT services while nodding at the standards implementations.

It is such a critical topic for the industry that we are devoting two Mobile Breakfast Series events to this topic. The first in Seattle on June 7th with AT&T, T-Mobile, Groupon, Ivycorp, and Sidecar and the second in London on June 29th with Telefonica, Orange, Rebtel, and Horizons Ventures. We will also be delving deep into the subject at our annual mobile brainstorming summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th in Seattle.

Mobile First to Mobile Only

Couple of years, the realization in the industry set in that mobile is going to really dominate the world. Senior executives like Eric Schmidt at Google started to preach the gospel. Very quickly, we are at another pivot point wherein the mobile first doctrine is going to move to mobile only. It is not that the desktop world will disappear into oblivion. Far from it. But, the investments, strategy, and execution will be driven by mobile. As we said in our global research update last month, in 3-5 years, with few exceptions, if a company is not doing majority of its digital business on mobile, it is going to be irrelevant. There are already several data points to support the theory. Leading apps and services like Facebook, Twitter, Pandora are already operating in the world where mobile is driving majority of their user engagement. Expedia, Fandango and others are seeing the early signs of migration into the mobile dominated world.

Postpaid Doldrums

For the first time in the history of the industry, the US operators had a net decline in postpaid subs. This is because of the shift to prepaid in recent times as well as the increased competition for the last few potential postpaid subs. So, the question emerges, where will the net-sub and net-revenue growth going to come from in the next few years. The smartphone penetration in the US was at 43% as of Q1 2012 so the significant opportunities are in the upgrades and non-data to data conversion. Family data plans (see below) will help in bolstering data revenues as well. Multiple devices/consumer will increase the sub penetration which is at 110%.

Family data plans

We have been big advocates of family data plans for the last 2 years and they are finally coming to the US market in the next few months if not weeks. Like gravity, it’s inevitable. Consumers want simplicity and common sense. Family data plans doesn’t necessarily mean that all family members will be forced onto a single data plan but rather the consumers given the opportunity to combine data usage under the same umbrella if they wanted to. If all in the family are heavy data users, initially, some of the data tiers might not make sense but for the vast majority, there are always going to be devices or family members who don’t need a separate full-fledged data usage plan.

When I talked to CNBC earlier this year (Jan), I said that there is a 90%+ probability that the family data plans will be introduced in the US market in 2012. I discussed this more with Bloomberg andUSA Today last week. Verizon and AT&T have been preparing the media and the consumers for this eventuality. Once one operator opens the door, expect rest to follow. Our Atlanta Mobile Breakfast Series will touch upon this topic during the discussion on Connected Devices, the Cloud, and the Consumer (with AT&T, Synchronoss, and CNN).

Mobile Data Growth – The Gigabyte Generation

The smartphone data consumption at some operators in the US is averaging close to 800 MB/mo. As we move into the 1GB range along with the family data plans getting introduced shortly, you can expect the data tiers to get bigger both in GBs and $. 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. As new devices and new network technology roll-outs continued in 2012, the data traffic will grow at the expected pace. The signaling traffic is growing at even a faster pace, 3 times in some cases. Stay tuned for our research paper in the Yottabyte paper series on the topic later this year.

Platform wars

Now that Google’s Motorola deal is approved in China and Facebook’s stellar IPO is behind us, we are going to witness a contentious platform battle between the fab five. Google is preparing to get deeper into handset business while Amazon and Facebook are tinkering with their own handsets. Microsoft is banking on the Lumia success and the release of Windows 8 and its impact on the ecosystem will be closely monitored. Samsung is putting some resources behind Tizen to hedge its bets in case things go south with its current partnerships. The platform narrative is still being defined by Apple which has the commanding mindshare of the developers, operators, and the profits. Follow the money and the puzzle unravels in front of your eyes.

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.

Market Consolidation

The AT&T-T-Mobile merger might not have gone through but that doesn’t stop industry to play the M&A speculation parlor game. Except for a few impossible scenarios, all sorts of deals are being contemplated. The market economics is clearly crying out for more consolidations. However, in an election year, there is an uneasy uncertainty that is gripping the market. The smaller M&As won’t move the needle and bigger M&A are not going to be on the table until we get into a new calendar year.

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. We are assembling industries who’s who to help you figure out where the industry is headed next.

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 Q1 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

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 Aug 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Nov 2012.

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

Mobile Breakfast Series – How Mobile is Impacting Media, Commerce, and Consumer Behavior April 3, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, Connected Devices, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

We entered our 4th year of running Mobile Breakfast Series and hosted 2012’s first Mobile Breakfast Series on March 28th. The topic of discussion was “How Mobile is Impacting Media, Commerce, and Consumer Behavior.”

First of all my thanks to our series partner: OpenMarket and Synchronoss Technologies. Both of them have been great partner to this series and I very much appreciate their support.

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Before I get into the details of the panel discussion, a few announcements about the upcoming events. We are planning on hosting MBS events in Atlanta and London this summer and need your assistance in getting the word out. On June 22nd, we will be in Atlanta to host a fireside chat with David Christopher, CMO, AT&T Mobility. The following week, we will be in London and in partnership with O2 UK, we will have some great discussion about the future of the Operator/OTT tussle in the ecosystem.

Our fall summit – Mobile Future Forward is scheduled for Sept 10th later this year and we are making good progress in setting up the agenda and the topics of discussion, already have some terrific speakers lined up. The theme is to connected universe, monetizing opportunities. We will open up the registration late April, so, keep an eye for that.

We released our yearly update on the US market earlier this month and you might have noted that 40% of the service revenues are now coming from mobile data. In Japan, this figure is getting close to 60%.

If you look at the consumer IT spend – mobile now occupies 50% of that budget and it is increasing. More than 35% households in the US are mobile only. More than 90% of the devices sold last quarter in the US were smartphones. Mobile influences 30-50% of our commerce transactions. In 2009, ESPN noted that their mobile web traffic is exceeding desktop traffic, now most brands have noted that they are already there or within the next 12-18 months mobile will be the majority traffic owner.

The impact of mobile is even more profound in developing countries. The first billion mobile subs took 250 months, the last billion took only 15 months to 6 billion and we will reach 7 billion in 12 months. Mpesa, kenya’s mobile payment now drives 20% of the country’s GDP. In Bhutan, where I spent some last quarter, mobile is the only way to deliver health care to remote areas. Earlier this month, China surpassed a billion subscribers. The opportunities are literally endless. In 2002, I had the good fortune of writing a book with then CTO of NTT DoCoMo, Dr. Yasuhisa Nakamura and he used to say – mobile networks need become omnipresent like air – clearly he didn’t have to pay for roaming data charges. Mark Weiser, from XEROX PARC, one of my heroes, considered the godfather of pervasive computing who first articulated the concept of everywhere, anytime computing back in the eighties and early nineties would have been proud to see the progress we have made.

Mobile is disrupting many industries – two of the most prominent being media and commerce and it is all driven by how consumers perceive the value of mobility, how they interact with content and devices, and how their consumer behavior is shaped over time. To discuss all of that, we had a great panel.

Michael Bayle, Senior Vice President and General Manager, ESPN Mobile. Michael Bayle is Senior Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Mobile. A former Yahoo! and Microsoft executive, Bayle develops and manages all aspects of ESPN’s mobile strategy and execution, including content production, programming and publishing on every ESPN Mobile platform.  He reports to John Kosner, Senior Vice President and General Manager of ESPN Digital and Print Media. Before ESPN, he did stints at Amobee, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

Len Jordan, Managing Director, Madrona. Len joined Madrona in January 2010 and is actively pursuing opportunities to lead new investments.  He currently serves on the boards of Cedexis, MaxPoint Interactive, and Zapd on behalf of Madrona. Len has served on the boards of ten early-stage companies and on behalf of Frazier Technology Ventures currently serves on the boards of Control4, DSIQ, Medio, and Wetpaint. Prior to joining Frazier Technology Ventures as a General Partner in 2004 Len spent 16 years in the software industry.  He most recently served as a senior vice president at RealNetworks.

Megan Tweed, VP, Media, Razorfish. Megan brings bleeding-edge media strategy and planning innovation to clients like Best Buy, Weight Watchers, and Nike. She is a leading agency and industry voice on the benefits of holistic, platform-agnostic planning and measurement across all viable platforms. Before Razorfish, Megan spent time at Carat and UniversalMcCann working on key global accounts.

Vik Pavate, VP of Business Development, Kovio. Vikram Pavate joined Kovio in 2002 with extensive experience in business development, product management and strategic planning. As vice president of business development, he is responsible for Kovio’s corporate strategy, business development, product management and marketing, OEM relationships and strategic joint development and technology alliances.

We touched upon a range of topics, players, issues, and opportunities. Below is the summary of the discussion:

Always, great to moderate a panel with terrific speakers. MBS audience is top-notch as well. Great questions and follow-up. That’s why it is so much fun putting these together. The next MBS event in Seattle will be on June 7th. Hope to see you there.

Until then, do good work and keep in touch.

thanks

Chetan

Bonus: Some ESPN stats that will rattle your mind

ESPN Mobile enjoyed a record-setting month in March, with new highs for mobile web and app usage, as well as video content and alerts.  ESPN mobile web and apps served an average minute audience of 103,000 in March, with an average of 5.1 million daily unique visitors (an increase of 22 percent over March 2011) and 3.1 billion total minutes for the month. ESPN apps in March had 3.6 million average daily uniques (up 125 percent over March 2011) and 1.5 billion minutes (up from 595 million in March 2011).

ESPN Mobile delivered 45 million video starts in March, including 24.6 million from mobile web and 19 million from the ESPN ScoreCenter handset and table apps, both record highs for a single month.  In addition, ESPN delivered 1.5 billion alerts in March, also a record high for any month.

(Source: ESPN)

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

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, 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

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/USmarketupdate2011.htm

Summary

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.

Competition

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

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

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, MWC, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Payments, Mobile World Congress, 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.

Mobile Internet 3.0: How Operators Can Become Service Innovators and Drive Profitability February 23, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, China, Connected Devices, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Health, Security, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

MI3s

Mobile Internet 3.0

How Operators Can Become Service Innovators and Drive Profitability

Sponsored by Juniper Networks

Download PDF

The mobile ecosystem is going through significant shifts in consumer behavior, the value-chain alignment, and the strategies required in managing the profitability of the service business. Operators around the world are experiencing tremendous mobile data growth. While the mobile data revenues are increasing, the margins are decreasing for many operators. As the percentage of the smartphones on the network increases, the data business is primarily becoming an access business which is difficult to sustain over the long-haul.

Additionally, it is becoming clear that the long-term value will be in the portfolio of value-added services (VAS). As we slowly migrate into the Mobile Internet 3.0 world where mobile data becomes the primary source of service revenues, operators have a fundamental choice to make – either learn to live with the utility business that pushes the margins downwards by 30-50% or selectively compete and/or collaborate with the OTT (over the top) players where they can offer compelling solutions and packages to their customer base and beyond.

Operators who are fully able to grasp the changes occurring in the ecosystem and are willing to refocus will position themselves for higher profitability in the coming years.

A fundamental rethink of the network and the business models is required. Rather than leaving all the VAS business to others, operators should look at ways to launch new services, to micro-segmented consumer base, to enable APIs and services that the developer ecosystem can build on, and to look at the core network to enable incremental revenue streams.

The pace at which the new services are launched needs to accelerate and the marginal cost of the introduction needs to go down significantly. By architecting the “network as a platform,” operators will have more flexibility in deploying an open and programmable network that not only provides operational efficiencies and insights but also paves the way for new generation of services such as mobile cloud, mobile security, health care, and identity management.

The paper looks at the global trends in mobile data and the need for new approaches to operator services that can help increase the mobile data margins and help operators play a more decisive and enabling role in the mobile ecosystem. The paper provides an operator blueprint for succeeding in the Mobile Internet 3.0 era by discussing the operating principles and the long tail of VAS. Several strategies and application areas are analyzed that can help operators in building a viable VAS strategy and sustainable profit streams.

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.

2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Connected Devices, Disruption, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, IP Strategy, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Payments, Mobile Search, Mobile Traffic, Networks, Patent Strategies, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 12 comments

2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey

http://www.chetansharma.com/MobilePredictions2012.htm

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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.

Thanks

Chetan Sharma

Now onto the 2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results.

2012Survey-a

1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2011?

 2012Survey1

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?

 2012Survey2

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?

 2012Survey3

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?

 2012Survey5

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?

2012Survey5

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?

 2012Survey6

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?

 2012Survey7

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?

 2012Survey8

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?

 2012Survey9

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?

 2012Survey10

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?

 2012Survey11

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?

 2012Survey12

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?

 2012Survey13

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

14. Which enterprise segment will mobile impact the most?

 2012Survey14

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?

 2012Survey15

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?

 2012Survey16

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?

 2012Survey17

Tablets dominate. Period.

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

 2012Survey18

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?

 2012Survey19

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

20. Who was the mobile person of the year?

 2012Survey20

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.

Mobile Breakfast Series – Mobile 2012: Trends and Opportunities December 15, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Connected Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Privacy, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

We held our 8th Mobile Breakfast Series event earlier today. As is the tradition, we delved into discussing the trends and opportunities for the coming year. As usual it was a sold out crowd with terrific panelists representing different parts of the value chain.

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2011 has been a fascinating year – with all the mergers, sky rocketing data growth especially in the US market. 2011 will also be remembered for the passing away of Steve Jobs, the man who helped change the global mobile industry over the course of the last four years. Locally, lots happening – Microsoft/Nokia alliance is launching new devices, Amazon has entered the mobile space with both feet, mobile gaming remains hot, and on a broader scale, we are going through the process of mobilification of everything.

Mark Anderson, CEO of Strategic News Service. I have known Mark for over 15 years now as one of the early subscribers to his wonderful newsletter. My good friend and coauthor Joe Herzog introduce me to Mark and since then I have been influenced by his writing. If you follow my blog, the name AORTA or Always On Real Time Access was coined by Mark in the late nineties and he generously allowed me to use it. Mark has also been writing about the carry-along-PC aka tablets for sometime and won the bet with bet with Michael Dell on the growth of this sector. He just finished off his annual predictions for 2012, so we had a lot to talk about.

Laura Marriott is CEO of Neomedia which is doing some pioneering work in the mobile barcode/mobile marketing space. But she is more famous for her work at the Mobile Marketing Association where she helped grow the industry and the association to make it a thriving enterprise.

Satya Mallya is Director at Orange. For those of you don’t know Orange is one of the top European Operators but he is based in the silicon valley working on some cool projects. He has been in the telecom space for almost 20 years working at Bell Labs, Octel and two startups

Brian Fling is CEO of pinchZoom a mobile agency that helps big brands like BBC, Paypal, Delta and others understand mobile design and development. He is passionate about mobile user experience, has spoken and written extensively about the subject.

Jay Emmet is GM OpenMarket, SVP, Amdocs and knows the messaging, commerce space on the back of his hand. Very successful stints at mblox, ATG and others. Knows the operator world really well and has been straddling both the on-deck/off-deck world for a long time.

We touched on a range of subjects from IP to platforms, from privacy/security to mobile commerce and payments, from Microsoft to Amazon .. and so on and so forth. Below is the summary of the discussion:

It was a joy to moderate this terrific panel that kept audience glued to their seats till the very end. Thanks all for coming. We have some terrific events planned for 2012, Stay Tuned.

Until then, Wish you and yours a very happy and stress-free holiday season and enormously successful and prosperous 2012.

And don’t forget to fill out our Annual Mobile Predictions Survey for 2012. There are prizes for 10 lucky winners.

ps. As I mentioned in the opening, WA state dept has a wonderful program to help startup with their travel to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next year. Details here. Startups should check it out.

New Paper: Managing Growth and Profits of Connected Devices September 6, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, Connected Devices, Devices, Disruption, Mobile Applications, Mobile Future Forward, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

connecteddevices_s

http://www.chetansharma.com/connecteddevices.htm

Paper is sponsored by Synchronoss Technologies

Mobile industry is the most dynamic global industry today. The connected mobile universe touches more than 4.5 billion consumers on the planet and these devices have effectively become an integral part of our daily lives. The pace of innovation and product introduction has also accelerated. The lifecycle of mobile network technologies, devices, applications is shrinking rapidly. While the 1G cycle lasted almost 20 years, the 2G cycle shrank to approximately 15 years. Though many countries are still launching 3G, the expected span for 3G in the US is likely to be 10 years. Similarly, on the device front, the average replacement cycles have decreased from over 24 months to less than 12 months in many mobile markets and demographic segments.

Mobility is also getting ingrained in the everyday objects, which make up for a fundamental reassessment of how things are done across industries in almost every region of the world. It is not just the phones and the data cards that are being enabled by the broadband connectivity but also the everyday electronic devices such as the tablets, eReaders, automobiles, picture frames, and cameras.

It is fairly apparent that mobile data is driving the growth in most developed nations. While voice is a stronger component in the developing nations today, it is the demand for mobile data and the lure of data revenues that is even forcing countries like China and India to embrace 4G at a much faster pace than they did 3G. The impact of data services is reflected in the operator financials. In Japan, Softbank became the first major operator to have more revenues come from data than voice. Others are following. In the US, over 37% of the revenues are coming from data services and the data revenues will account for over 50% of the revenues by early 2013.

The changing dynamics of the industry poses some serious questions about the supply-chain, product and service introduction cycles for the operators and the OEMs, and the management of the cost structure and margins of the business. If these elements are not effectively managed, both the competitiveness and the ROI of the products will be severely impacted.  Solutions to these problems must be repeatable, future-proof and –upgradeable, and cost effective, else the solutions won’t scale at the pace needed to manage the growth.

Participants in the ecosystem must identify cost reduction opportunities and streamline operations to take out limitations driven by legacy and drive convenience and seamless user experience for the consumer. Only then can the product introductions be sped up and the desire to maximize profits come to fruition. In this paper, we look at the issues and opportunities around connected devices and the solutions and strategies that will make the ecosystem more vibrant, scalable and sustainable.

Download the paper (1MB)

Of course, we will be discussing this topic in great detail at the Mobile Future Forward summit next week where the central theme is “Connected Universe. Unlimited Opportunities” I will be interviewing Glenn Lurie, President AT&T and Danny Bowman, President, Sprint on this very subject.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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, IP, IP Strategy, Intellectual Property, 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

 

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq22011.htm

Download PDF (32 pages, 2 MB)

US Mobile Data Market Update Q1 2011

Summary

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

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

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 http://www.mobilefutureforward.com

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

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.