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Global Wireless Data Market Update - 1H 2009 September 21, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, MVNO, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 6 comments

Global Wireless Data Market Update - 1H 2009

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Executive Summary

The Global Wireless Markets continued to grow rapidly especially in India and China where the carriers (together) are adding around 20M new subscriptions every month. China crossed the 700M subscriptions mark in July while India’s total went past 450 in Aug. Overall, the global subscriptions penetration is above 64%. During 2009, services revenues further tilted towards data services, increasing 21% from 2008 EOY.

The overall global mobile revenues (including equipment) for the year are expected to stay flat as the impact of recession was felt in many geographies in the first half of 2009. While countries like US, Japan, China, and India showed very little signs of pullback, most of Europe (except France) and the developing world are expected to experience a decline in overall service revenues in 2009. For the first time, mobile data contributes approximately quarter or 25% of the total global service revenues. Additionally, except for India, all major markets have their data contribution percentages above 10%.

For some leading operators, data is now contributing over 40% of the overall revenues. However increase in data ARPU is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU for most operators. From the true and tested SMS messaging to the new services such as Mobile Advertising, Social Networking, Commerce, Mobile Wallet, and others, different services helped in adding billions to the revenues generated in 2009. US continues to lead Japan and China in total mobile data revenues by a healthy margin.

NTT DoCoMo continues to dominate the carrier ranking in terms of mobile data service revenues, however, Verizon Wireless which became #2 replacing China Mobile is slowly edging towards the #1 spot and is likely to overtake DoCoMo within the next few quarters.

The velocity with which the smartphones are being introduced into the market, one wonders if in five years, we will be using the moniker to describe devices and if the "dumbness" in the device market will be practically eliminated. Led by Apple’s Appstore success, significant investments are pouring into the appstore world. In parallel, the debate over apps vs. mobile web is intensifying. The implications of the transition will be significant on the ecosystem on many levels.

Though 4G as a standard hasn’t been defined yet, the discussions around LTE (and to some extent WiMAX) grew intense and started climbing the slippery slope of the hype curve. Many prominent operators have come out in support of LTE with Verizon being the most aggressive in launching their next generation network in 2010.

Chetan Sharma Consulting conducted its semiannual study on the global mobile data industry. We studied wireless data trends in over 40 major countries - from developed and mature markets such as Japan, Korea, UK, and Italy to hyper growth markets such as China and India.

This note summarizes the findings from the research with added insights from our work in various global markets.

Impact of Global Recession

Service Revenues

ARPU

Mobile Data Traffic

Subscriptions

Others

As usual, 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 2009. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in March 2010.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q2 2009 August 8, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Usability, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Usability, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q2 2009

Download: PPT | PDF

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 7% Q/Q and 30% Y/Y to exceed $10.6B in mobile data service revenues and thus exceeded $10B for the second straight quarter. As we mentioned in our Q1 2009 research note, given the strong growth in data revenues shown by the top carriers and the increase in service revenues overall, the worst is over for the US mobile industry. In summary, the recession has been all but a tiny blip in its growth trend and the US mobile market has weathered the downward spiral in economy better than its counterparts in other developed nations. Of course, recession doesn’t treat all players equally, so, some have had a negative impact and will need more resources and effective strategies to claw back to the their previous market position.

The US subscription penetration was approximately 90.4% at the end of Q209. The current rate of net-adds (subscription) is approximately 3 every second (compared to a net gain in population of one person every 10 seconds). While the flailing economy hit certain segments of the wireless ecosystem hard esp. the infrastructure and handset segments, consumers haven’t really pulled back on the mobile data overall spending. Additionally, the CAPEX spending will stay strong in 2009 given the activity around 3G/4G deployments and trials. As expected, there was an increase of prepaid subscribers which dropped the overall revenues for some of the carriers.

As we mentioned in our last two research notes that this time around, the fate of the US mobile industry is more closely tied to the overall economy compared to the previous recessions. As the consumer sentiment improved over the last 3-4 months along with better than expected Q1-2 2009 earnings from corporations, the mobile industry is back on track. While the structural flaws in various industry segments remain, and the economy is a crisis away from the double dip, the outlook for the remainder of 2009 remains bright and we are expecting the overall data revenues to now increase by 32% compared to 2008 with a record-setting Q4.

US Wireless Industry in Recession - The light at the end of the tunnel is indeed not from the oncoming train

Note: For a detailed discussion of the US wireless industry in recessions, please see 2008 US Wireless Market Update.

Q2 2009 reported a much better 1% decline (compared to 6.4% in Q1). On an yearly basis, the GDP is expected to change by 3.2% for 2009 and the service revenues are expected to  account for 1.13% of the US economy by year-end.

As mentioned in the previous reports, while in the past, the recession hardly impacted the wireless industry, this time around; it is going to be more tied to the recession. In the past couple of months, the consumer sentiment has improved and the Q109 earnings have been better than expected. While there are still many structural flaws in the financial and housing industries and the unemployment is at a 25 year high of 9.4% (though it dropped in July from 9.5% in June), consumers are feeling better about the economy and their own prospects in it.

So, what does this mean? Well, the markets can still be volatile, but overall the market seems to be feeling better about the economy than it was in February. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index though retreated from June is at a healthy 46.6.

Given that consumer sentiment is improving, it is clear that the US mobile data market is all but back from the recession. While some segments within the mobile industry might be suffering, there has been an increase in spending overall.

What to expect in the coming months?

We noted in our Q3 2008 note that we will get a better picture of the impact of the recession on the wireless industry in Q109 as it was the first full quarter after the seasonal holiday quarter. There are two micro trends that are clear. First, as expected, due to the high unemployment, the data card segment took a hit. It is starting to recover in due course as more of the workforce comes back over in the next 18 months.

Also, as expected, there was a shift from postpaid to prepaid in some user segments. For example, for T-Mobile, prepaid constituted 82% of the net-adds in Q209 up from 61% in Q109 and 21% in Q208. It is not clear if the good times will bring back the prepaid subscribers to the postpaid realm or like the consumers who are canceling their landline connections and moving to mobile, these customers will get used to savings and the prepaid lifestyle. The fight for the low-end customer is also having an impact on the traditional prepaid players and the price pressure is reducing their margins.

It is quite likely that 50-60% of such consumers don’t go back to postpaid thus permanently lowering the ARPU base for such customers and carriers who have experienced more postpaid to prepaid shift will have to make up for the lost revenues elsewhere.

The landline replacement by Mobile trend continued now reaching almost 24% by Q209. Messaging continues to grow. The messaging volume was up 15% and messaging revenue was up 11% QoQ. The data access (excluding data card) including flat rate data plan subscriptions have also show significant strength lately. In addition to smartphones, we are also seeing increased mobile data activity amongst feature phone users. With its expanding 3G network, T-Mobile like its peers has started to benefit from smartphone penetration reaching to 6% of its subscriber base. Overall, the US market will exceed 25% penetration of smartphones in Q3 2009.

The increased use of smartphones and datacards is putting a pressure on carrier networks and accelerating their strategies to deploy LTE/WiMAX. We estimate that by end of 2009, the US mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 400 petabytes, up 193% from 2008. To truly tackle the problem head-on, operators will need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to manage their traffic more effectively. We discuss mobile data traffic in much more detail in our paper “Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era.” (I will be giving keynotes on the subject at the Mobile Innovation Week in Sept and at the ISACA meeting in Oct)

The positive factors are helping negate the negative factors and given the strength of 3G and smartphone adoption, the increase in activity on the appstores front, and in general, a better awareness of mobile data services and applications amongst consumers, any decline due to the loss of data card revenue and postpaid transition to prepaid accounts has been taken care off. In particular, Verizon and AT&T have done really well. Smartphones remain a bright spot, which in turn has a direct positive impact on the data revenues. Even with the decline in handset sales, smartphone segment will continue to increase in 2009 accounting for almost 30% of the overall device shipments.

There is also a concerted effort underway to move beyond the traditional subscriptions and expand the mobile universe to wireless-enable other consumer devices (What did your refrigerator say to your microwave while you were gone?).

Coming back to the 2009 forecasts, we are raising our estimates for the mobile data service revenues to $45B for the year. 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 Q209 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 11-12, 17-18)

ARPU (Slides 13-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-17)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Misc.

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 Oct 2009. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Sept 2009.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Should you have any questions about navigating or understanding the economic and competitive icebergs, please feel free to drop us a line.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q1 2009 May 11, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Networks, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q1 2009

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http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq109.htm

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 32% from Q108 to reach $10B in mobile data service revenues. It marked the first time the US market has crossed the $10B milestone. Given the strong growth in data revenues shown by the top carriers and the increase in service revenues overall, it appears that at least for the time being that the worst is over for the mobile industry. In summary, the recession has been all but a tiny blip (from the service revenue perspective) in its growth trend and the US mobile market has weathered the downward spiral in economy better than its counterparts in other developing nations.

The US subscription penetration went passed 90%. While the flailing economy hit certain segments of the wireless ecosystem hard esp. the infrastructure and handset segments, consumers haven’t really pulled back on the mobile data overall spending. Additionally, the CAPEX spending will stay strong in 2009 given the activity around 3G/4G deployments and trials. As expected, the data card subscriptions were hit the hardest and there was an increase of prepaid subscribers which dropped the overall revenues for some of the carriers.

As we mentioned in our last research note that this time around, the fate of the US mobile industry is more closely tied to the overall economy compared to the previous recessions. As the consumer sentiment improved over the last couple of months along with better than expected Q1 2009 earnings from corporations, the mobile industry seems to be back on track. While the structural flaws in various industry segments remain, and the economy is a crisis away from the double dip, the outlook for the remainder of 2009 remains bright and we are expecting the overall data revenues to now increase by 24% compared to 2008.

US Wireless Industry in Recession - The light at the end of the tunnel might not be of the oncoming train

Note: For a detailed discussion of the US wireless industry in recessions, please see 2008 US Wireless Market Update.

The % GDP change dropped from 4.8% in 2007 to 2.3% in 2008. Q4 2008 reported a drop by 6.2% QoQ in one of the sharpest declines in the last quarter century. Q1 2009 reported a 6.1% decline. On an yearly basis, the GDP is expected to change by 3.2% for 2009 and the service revenues are expected to  account for 1.13% of the US economy by year-end.

As mentioned in the previous report, while in the past, the recession hardly impacted the wireless industry, this time around; it is going to be more tied to the recession. In the past couple of months, the consumer sentiment has improved and the Q109 earnings have been better than expected. While there are still many structural flaws in the financial and housing industries and the unemployment is at a 25 year high of 8.9%, consumers are feeling better about the economy and their own prospects in it. Most companies are being optimistic but cautious.

So, what does this mean? Well, the markets can still be volatile, but overall the market seems to be feeling better about the economy than it was in February. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index experienced a significant jump to 39 (relative scale of 100) from being at an all-time low of 25 in February.

Given that consumer sentiment is improving, it appears that US mobile data market is all but back from the recession. While some segments within the mobile industry might be suffering, there has been an increase in spending overall.

What to expect in the coming months?

We noted in our Q3 2008 note that we will get a better picture of the impact of the recession on the wireless industry in Q109 as it was the first full quarter after the seasonal holiday quarter. There are two micro trends that are clear. First, as expected, due to the high unemployment, the data card segment took a hit. It will recover in due course as more of the workforce comes back over in the next 18 months.

Also, as expected, there was a shift from postpaid to prepaid in some user segments. For example, for T-Mobile, prepaid constituted 61% of the net-adds in Q109 up from 57% in Q408 and 25% in Q108. It is not clear if the good times will bring back the prepaid subscribers to the postpaid realm or like the consumers who are canceling their landline connections and moving to mobile, these customers will get used to savings and the prepaid lifestyle.

It is quite likely that 50-60% of such consumers don’t go back to postpaid thus permanently lowering the ARPU base for such customers and carriers who have experienced more postpaid to prepaid shift will have to make up for the lost revenues someplace else (or maybe they can hire Oprah to send a tweet to her followers to upgrade to Postpaid. It will crash the system but increase the ARPU).

Rising unemployment continues to accelerate another trend - landline replacement by Mobile which reached almost 22% by Q109 (of course this benefits the mobile industry). This trend is irreversible and requires fresh thinking.

Messaging continues to grow. The messaging volume jumped 27% and messaging revenue was up 7% QoQ. The data access (excluding data card) including flat rate data plan subscriptions have also show significant strength lately. In addition to smartphones, we are also seeing increased mobile data activity amongst feature phone users.

The positive factors are helping negate the negative factors and given the strength of 3G and smartphone adoption, the increase in activity on the appstores front, and in general, a better awareness of mobile data services and applications amongst consumers, any decline due to the loss of data card revenue and postpaid transition to prepaid accounts has been taken care off. In particular, Verizon and AT&T have done really well. Smartphones remain a bright spot, which in turn has a direct positive impact on the data revenues. Even with the decline in handset sales, smartphone segment will continue to increase in 2009 accounting for almost 30% of the overall device shipments.

We are likely to see continued price and margin pressure on subscription plans and as a result, voice ARPU will continue its downward trend and data ARPU will become a more prominent factor of the ARPU mix by the end of 2009 reaching over 30% of the service revenues.

This will lead to new business and pricing models for e.g. some will find the low flat rate pricing untenable in the long-run without a fundamental rethink of the network and business architecture.

Coming back to the 2009 forecasts, we are raising our estimates for the mobile data service revenues to $42B for the year. 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 Q109 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 11, 18)

ARPU (Slides 12-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-17)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Misc.

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Aug 2009. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Sept 2009.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Should you have any questions about navigating or understanding the economic and competitive icebergs, please feel free to drop us a line.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Carnival of Mobilists #169 April 12, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, CTIA, European Wireless Market, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Speaking Engagements, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 8 comments

Last week at CTIA in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to meet many of my friends and colleagues, old and new. Such events remind us that it is the people you associate with that makes our industry vibrant and exciting. This week, it is my pleasure to showcase and celebrate the thinking and work of my friends, many of whom I have known for many years. Most have written important books for our industry and others have at least a tome in them.

Picture Tomi T Ahonen 3G Strategy Consultant, his book Services for UMTS out in March 2002My PhotoMe

 

Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media: Cellphone, cameraphone, iPhone, smartphoneProduct DetailsCover image for product 0470239530

In no particular order, they are:

First up is Ajit Jaokar, co-author of recent book “Social Media Marketing,” discussing an important issue of opening up the carrier network. He writes an in-depth post on how telecom companies should be thinking about open as we get into the 4G era. Very Interesting commentary.

Tomi Ahonen is one of the most prolific writers I have come across in the wireless industry. He has written more words than many read in a lifetime. Off late, our industry has been wondering if they will ever be able to monetize mobile social networking. Tomi in his usual flair points through case studies and examples, a way forward. Also, checkout his indispensable Pearls series.

At CTIA (BRIC event), I was impressed with the discussion of Zeebo by Mike Yuen at Qualcomm. Martin Sauter, author of Beyond 3G, an important book of the evolving ecosystem, writes about Zeebo: Gaming for the next billion.

Russ Buckley, a tireless advocate of Mobile Advertising and all things mobile pens a very interesting piece by tweaking George Orwell’s classic “1984.” Pour your tea and dive into the post.

Judy Breck, author of several books including the latest - Intertwingle, is the energy behind the Carnival who keeps all of us straight. She is also a big proponent of learning and education. A big cheer for her. She talks about Russ Buckley’s post on the new Sprint’s commercial.

Lately, our industry has been consumed by 4G. Volker Hirsch takes a look at how 4G might influence the mobile gaming environment.

Ernest Doku of Omio.com also writes about the theme that Ajit picked up - Should networks fear Skype?

James Cooper at mjelly summarizes the key iPhone app stats.

Andrew Grill, a great evangelist for the mobile advertising industry discusses the recent survey by KPMG which has some key insights into the mobile ad market.

Barbara Ballard, author of Designing the Mobile User Experience and an important voice of reason in the mobile industry writes about her latest initiative on mobile SEO. Check it out and contribute.

Tam Hanna looks at the Symbian ecosystem from a developer’s point of view.

James Pearce of dotMobi raises some interesting thoughts regarding mobile maps.

My own 2c to the conversation is in the form of my CTIA 2009 Roundup.

You can catch many of the the colleagues listed above at the upcoming Future Technologies Conference on April 24th.

Finally,  a shout-out to our friends at MOMO Amsterdam. They host some of the best MOMO events anywhere in the world and have a great line-up coming up on June 1.

I will encourage you to add these blogs to your RSS feed, follow these guys on twitter, chase them at conferences, and call upon them when in doubt.

Next carnival is going to be hosted at TamsBlackberry. Be sure to create and submit your best posts.

Until next time, best wishes.

CTIA 2009 Roundup April 6, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, IP, Indian Wireless Market, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

CTIA 2009 Roundup

http://www.chetansharma.com/ctia2009.htm

CTIA 2009 in Pictures

ctia09

CTIA provided a boost to the Las Vegas economy by hosting the 2009 International CTIA in the sin city. Prior to the show, we knew that the attendance will be down due to the economy and it was clear from day 1 that it will be a less busy event. Attendance was probably down 30-40%, Exhibitors seemed down by a good percentage as well with many opting for meeting rooms instead or skipping the show altogether. The big double story compounds were downgraded to smaller fields. Samsung and LG didn’t plaster the town with massive banners, taxis weren’t covered in advertisements. It was not all bad though, the probability of being trampled by humans reduced, taxi lines were shorter (though no less annoying) and the quality of the show was still pretty good. We had a jam packed schedule. This note summarizes the observations from the show.

Numbers CTIA released its semi-annual numbers. For 2008: 270M subscribers, $148 billion in service revenues, $32 billion in data revenues (just for reference, this is more than the total global Hollywood box-office revenue which came in at $28B), 2.2 trillion in MOU, 1 trillion TXT messages. You can checkout our annual US data market analysis which was released last month here.

Etech Contest – Prior to the event, CTIA invited us to judge the Emerging Technology Contest. It was fun reviewing the various entries. The award winners are announced here. Congrats to all.

My CTIA started early with a couple of sessions at the pre-conference event - BRIC Mobile Market Summit. The quality of the discussion was pretty good. I gave a talk on the Opportunities in the Indian and Chinese mobile markets and discussed where the opportunities in these two fastest growing markets as well as dispel some myths that engulf most companies.

After that, I joined the panel with other experts in the industry to have a lengthy discussion of the trends and opportunities in these markets including Latin America.

Unfortunately, our workshop on “Monetizing Mobile User Generated Content” got canceled due to low attendance or maybe folks are just not interested in monetizing these days. I will be discussing some of the similar themes in my talk at the NAB Show (MES) in Vegas on 22nd April. I will also be moderating a panel on Innovations in Mobile Experiences.

If interested, clients of Chetan Sharma Consulting can request the slides from any of the talks.

Themes: The main themes of the conference were: Broadband (primarily around 4G and LTE with sprinkles of WiMAX) and data usage, Green, Mobile Health, Appstores, Rich Communication and Social Networking.

Broadband

4G – My first 4G project was back in 2003 for NTT DoCoMo when 4G didn’t even enter industry’s vernacular. Most operators were figuring out their 3G strategies. Six years hence, we have come a long way. Broadband, 4G, and LTE were the core themes of the conference and there was visible progress from the last CTIA with more test results, actual devices, and real demos. While the current reports suggest that some form of deployment will take place in 2010, we don’t expect the “real” commercial deployments before 2011, LTE voice will even take longer. So, where does this leave WiMAX. With each passing day, the role of WiMAX as a niche technology is affirmed. The backhaul bottleneck problem is also becoming prominent and the enhancement of backhaul is behind the RF infrastructure to provide any substantive improvements in data throughputs at least in the near future.

I will be moderating a panel on 4G at Future in Review (FiRE) conference considered by Economist the best Tech conference on the planet (panelists include executives from Telstra, Qualcomm, Clearwire, and others) to get delve deeper into the evolution of 4G.

The Broadband Stimulus – Many companies are eying the $8B broadband stimulus package. The process of how they are going to be granted seems chaotic with unintended consequences. My feeling is that it is a lost opportunity. Instead of just looking at incremental enhancements, US could have been bold and improved existing and new broadband deployments by over 50-60 times.  (More discussion here)

Mobile Health

Keynotes – I thought Dr. Eric Topol, Director, Scripps gave perhaps the most effective keynote addresses in recent memory. Keynotes are generally a drab affair. Instead of inspiring through vision many put the audience to sleep with their product announcements. Dr. Topol’s speech was so rich in content, his words were filled with such passion, and his articulation was so inspiring that most entrepreneurs in the room were energized to make a difference. I commend CTIA for inviting him. He is joining Qualcomm’s Don Jones (a fierce proponent of mHealth) and others to form the first ever Wireless Health Institute in San Diego. Expect some really cool stuff to come out of them. However, to be most effective, health institutions need to get on board with the program starting with the simplest of things like “txt messages.” Come on folks, move into the 21st century!

Health – For the first time, there was significant discussion on mobile’s impact on the health care industry. My masters is in Biomedical Engineering so it is great to see the marriage between the two industries. I strongly believe if we can get past some of the bureaucratic nonsense, mobile can have a significant lasting impact on the quality of life and healthcare in both the developing and developed nations. Some of the stuff is really amazing (iBrain, iPill, iShoe, you get the picture). I will have more discussion on the subject in the coming days.  

Applications and Services

You say appstore, I say appworld, you say market, I say marketplace – I have been working on appstores for so long that I can’t help but be amused by the recent frenzy of appstores sprouting like mushrooms. I think overall it is good for the industry as each of the providers will push each other in areas of innovation and pricing models thus opening up the industry for developers and consumers. However, the fragmentation also increases as a result and something has to give because developer’s attention and resources are finite. There aren’t many companies who can pull-off a successful developer program (this is one area where Microsoft has some advantage because of significant experience in cultivating developers). Apple’s model has already forced carriers to accelerate their short-term and long-term strategies. T-Mobile USA saw the writing on the wall earlier than most and is further along in its plans. Current implementations are still quite primitive with much potential for improvement.

Rich Communication – Talked to some companies (Aylus, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, etc.) about rich communication services that integrate various experiences on the mobile device including chat, voice, data, social networking, video, etc., onto a single screen. The user experience is enhanced leading to newer sources of revenues for operators.

Netbooks also seem to be on operator roadmaps with 33% of these devices expected to be sold through the carrier channels in 3 years. Will Nokia and Motorola get active in this space? Or will the new entrants use netbooks to enter the phone market? Inspired by Kindle, many players are getting bolder and investing in application specific devices (a trend we wrote about in our mobile advertising book last year). Examples: a cool new wireless video game console – Zeebo being launched in Brazil and nuvifone being launched by Garmin and Asus.

Mobile Social Networking – Some interesting social networking features and functions are coming down the line. I am convinced that carriers need to treat social networking as a core service rather than a bolt on application. I almost wrote a book “The Facebook Effect” but 3 books in a year were too many so taking a break for now. (Maybe the next one will be “The Twitter Effect”).

Mobile Advertising – Though we have been involved with several mobile advertising projects, at the show, it felt the segment excitement was quite flat and many companies are struggling to stay in business. The consolidation hasn’t come yet but things are likely to start changing in the next few months. I also think that industry needs to start thinking about much more compelling and engaging closed-loop creative experiences rather than just impressions. Also, third party verification is needed (who is going to step up?). Finally, the role of the mediation layer is becoming important. The real substantive announcement came before CTIA with four major US operators agreeing to collaborate on best practices. Kudos to MMA for orchestrating the agreement.

Green

Green is the new black – With so much focus on cleantech and global warming, vendors are stepping up and making a dent in the carbon put out by the industry. There were some really cool solar chargeable devices as well as applications that keep the users green-aware. Being green is a competitive advantage.

Miscellaneous

Devices – The quality of devices that coming out keeps getting better. Stuff coming out from Samsung, LG, and INQ is pretty darn cool (Motorola, Nokia, Palm have some good stuff coming out as well). There were some neat concept phones on display as well (I know, I know, we are ways out but I think we will see some of these come to light sooner than we think). I thought one of the coolest new device was from LG – GD900 with transparent keypad. Samsung’s DLNA and AMOLED based devices were also quite good. They were also showing the WiMAX Smartphone Mondi. ZTE is also planning to enter the US market in a big way. While new Androids were hard to spot, several of them are scheduled to be released in the next few months.

NTT DoCoMo – Each CTIA, I love spending time in DoCoMo’s booth as they are always at the cutting edge of what’s to come. Downloading your digital key to your handset to open your hotel room by waving your phone, controlling every piece of equipment in your home via your cell phone, i-concier: your friendly on-screen butler, separable phones were some of the highlights.

Best booth: Most Creative – SpinVox, Most Hip – LG

Interesting companies – While it is difficult to meet each of the upcoming startups, couple of companies caught our attention: Waze out of Israel with its crowd-sourcing based approach to real-time traffic information and Kovio with its ability to lower the cost of printed silicon.

3G connection – My 3G connection was so good throughout the show that I didn’t need to lug my laptop around and did 100% of my communications for 3 days from my phone.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks

Chetan

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

CTIA 2009 in Pictures

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, CTIA, Devices, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

 

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Understanding the wireless opportunities in the world’s top two markets - China and India March 23, 2009

Posted by chetan in : BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, IP, IP Strategy, Indian Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

The first time I spoke on the topic of Opportunities in the BRIC Mobile Markets in a conference setting was back in the summer of 2006 in Moscow at the inaugural Interop conference. At the time, BRIC mobile markets were just emerging to be a big force. Net adds in the four countries amounted to 159M in 2005, in 2008, just India and China exceeded 212M. In the first two months of this year, India alone has added over 28M subscriptions. We were amongst the first ones to forecast this tremendous growth that was going to shake up the global mobile markets.

We summarized our observations in the special report for the Wireless World magazine.

bric-conf

Fast forward 3 years. I am putting together another presentation on the subject focused on India and China and the mobile opportunities in these markets. Interesting enough, some of the basics remain the same, and they have more to do with Business 101 than anything else.

The lure of a billion subscribers is quite tempting but these markets are not for the faint-hearted. If you go in without understanding the markets and how business is done, you will be spit out of the market in no time. The fate is similar for big and powerful players like Vodafone to small startups you may have never heard from. Companies like Real Networks who have had success worldwide learned the hard way that these markets are no walk in the park.

Here are some of the factors, IMHO, that any company needs to keep in mind before spending too much energy in these markets. They are:

Understand the market by spending time on the ground: Many a times, companies think they can enter the market from a distance, parachute some executives, and things will fall in place. Rarely are things that simple. One must spend time in the markets with potential customers, suppliers, partners, analysts, and others to get a “real” grip of the market.

Perseverance: The customers in India and China can wear you down and if you have the enough strength to last long, you are likely to be rewarded. That’s one of the reasons, even some of the stronger players didn’t succeed but smaller players like Venturi Wireless (Disclosure: VW is a client of ours) have done well with carriers in these markets.

Build Relationships: Relationships and trust matters more in Asia than in the western markets. If you have spent enough time building relationships with key companies, suppliers, individuals, it might take a long time, but in the end, that’s are what is likely to pay off.

IP Protection: IP has a different meaning in these markets. It is not enough to just file patents, technology must also be protected or else the probability of it being copied are high.

Hire local: To be successful, it is rare that you can manage and operate from afar. It is not only inefficient, it is also a risky proposition. You have to be close to the customer. Hiring local talent who understands how business is done and when “yes” actually means “yes” is critically important.

I will be discussing these and other areas in my talk at the BRIC Mobile Markets conference at CTIA on 31st March.

US Wireless Data Market Update Q408 and 2008 March 2, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Middleware, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Search, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update Q408 and 2008

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http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdate2008.htm

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market continued to ignore the recession doldrums in Q4 2008 and grew 7.3% Q/Q and 38.7% from Q407 to reach $9.4B in mobile data services revenues. In 2008, the mobile data services revenues reached our original estimate of $34B. Even as the global industry crossed 4B in subscriptions and $1T in total revenues, the nervousness due to the current recession has been palpable. While the flailing economy has started to hit hard on the wireless data ecosystem esp. the infrastructure and handsets segments, consumers haven’t really pulled back on mobile data spending overall, just yet. There are sub-segments within mobile data revenue stream that are starting to feel the pinch like data card subscriptions and downloadables. Also, in an event of a longer recession, the fate of the US mobile industry will be more closely tied to the overall economy this time compared to the previous recessions.

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US Wireless Industry in Recession - A collision of two perfect storms

Back in 2005, we published a paper titled “3G - Hitting the Mass Market” in which we presented the case for an explosive market growth in the US market riding on the back of 3G and posited that by 2009, US will become the leading nation in terms of the number of 3G subscribers. As of 2008, US crossed 100M 3G subscribers catapulting ahead of all industrialized nations in terms of total subscribers (% penetration was around 40%). The paper was based on our work in various markets and study of diffusion trends in the global markets. That study became the subject of several articles and cover stories and was one of the central documents (including our testimony in the case and a report to the President) referred to in one of the most prominent wireless industry cases in front of the US International Trade Commission. Our basic thesis was simple - once you have the favorable ecosystem factors in place, the market is ripe for explosive growth.

2008 was a key year for growth in the mobile data services adoption in the US market. The confluence of 3G, better devices and the smartphones, and the applications ecosystem set the stage for tremendous growth. We already saw signs of significant user adoption and the market grew 7-9% QoQ each quarter in 2008. From almost being in the bottom-most square in 2005 (in our 9-box ARPU charts), US market gained strength to find itself amongst the leaders by the end of 2008 (more on this in our Global Wireless Data Market update for 2008 coming out later this month). At mid-2008 point, 2009 looked to be another year of growth and adoption.

However, the current recession is not your parent’s recession. The problems with the economy are so deep and its impact on the consumer spending and sentiment is so massive that most economists are scrambling to make sense of it. Nobody really has a firm grip on how to fix the current mess because a recession of this magnitude complicated by a globalized economy hasn’t occurred before, so there is no playbook to lean on. We might get lucky and things could turn around in a couple of quarters but things could also take a turn for the worst that might take many more quarters to recover. Markets are incredibly volatile and so are the consumers. All consumer confidence indices are down to their worst ratings ever (The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was down to 25 (on a relative scale of 100) to reach yet another all-time low in February (index began in 1967)).

So, we stand at the junction of two perfect storms - one that has the promise of an incredible surf to take the mobile industry to new heights while the other is hell bent on destroying everything in its path. Will the growth surf be strong enough to absorb the economic tidal wave? or will it set us back in time? or will we end up somewhere in between?

The answer lies in how quickly the consumer sentiment and market psychology improves and stays consistently positive over a period of 3-6 months. If the situation improves in the next 1-2 quarters, the recession will be all but a blip in the overall US mobile data market historic charts. If however, this downward spiral continues and the confidence in the markets is not restored, consumers will start cutting some of the discretionary mobile data spending, even cutting down some family lines, and downgrading of mobile plans (including data) at an accelerated rate. If it is the latter, we are in for a fundamental reset of the economy as Steve Ballmer eloquently outlined in his talk to the Democratic Caucus in Feb.

Impact on the US Wireless Industry during Recessions (Slides 11 and 12)

The current recession is not the first one that the US wireless industry has faced but it is quite different this time around. The first one came in 1990 and lasted for one year and the second came amidst the dot-com bubble and terrorist attacks in 2001 and lasted for two years. Historically and logically, GDP and consumer spend is closely correlated. When the economy contracts, so does the consumer spending. A look into the income elasticity of demand indicates a change in consumer mobile services demand as a result of drop or change in consumer income. Different patterns of consumer demand emerge in different countries depending on the state of the industry during the specific downturn.

To put things in perspective, US represents 21% of the global economy and the US services revenue represents 1.1% of the US economy as of 2008. In access of 70% of the US economy is linked to consumer consumption so you can see the tight linkage between the GDP and the consumer spending (the US consumer spending alone is more than the economies of China and India combined).

If we compare the US GDP data to the mobile services revenues and subscriber data, there is some correlation during recessions i.e. service revenues contract but the state of the industry was quite different around on previous occasions. The % change in mobile services revenues and subscriptions went down with the drop in GDP in both instances and recovered as the GDP pulled back after the recession. During the first recession, mobile was a niche service. By 2001, mobile had passed the inflection point on to become a mass-market phenomenon but data services market was largely non-existent. By 2008, the US mobile market had matured with high-degree of subscriber penetration and mobile data had become a healthy and vibrant industry.

Let’s look at how the mobile industry behaved in the various recessionary periods over the past two decades.

1990-1991 The % GDP change (GDP compared to previous year) dropped from 5.8% in 1990 to 3.3% in 1991. The mobile services revenues % change dropped from 36% to 26% over the same time period, the subscriber % growth dropped from 51% to 43%. Subscriber penetration at the end of 1990 was around 3%. Given the smaller base, the drop in mobile numbers can be partially attributed to the fact that as the % subscriber penetration grows the % change numbers come down anyway. In 1992, when % GDP jumped to 5.7%, the % change in mobile services revenues and total subscribers jumped to 46% and 37% respectively, thus quickly reversing the downward trend.

2001-2003 The % GDP change dropped from 5.9% in 2000 to 3.2% in 2001. Over the same period, % change in mobile services revenues dropped from 31% to 24% and % change in total subscribers dropped from 27% to 17%. However, as you would see in slide 11, these numbers have been slowly dropping regardless of the recession as the subscriber and revenue base grew. The subscriber penetration in 2000 was 39%.

2007- The % GDP change dropped from 4.8% in 2007 to 2.3% in 2008. Q4 2008 reported a drop by 6.2% QoQ in one of the sharpest declines in the last quarter century. The nature of this recession is quite different as well. While the previous recessions were limited to certain segments of the overall economy, the current recession has touched almost all sectors with a vengeance. The subscriber penetration at the end of 2008 was 89%. The overall ARPU stayed pretty steady around $50 between 2001 and 2008, while data ARPU became a growing component of the overall mobile services revenue.

What to expect in the coming months?

As we noted in our Q3 2008 note, in some sense, the Christmas quarter might have masked some of the microtrends within the mobile data segment of the industry though Europe started to feel the pinch in Q4. If one looks deeper into the sub segments, as we contemplated in our Q3 research note, it is clear that the layoffs are having an impact on the data card revenues (which account for approx. 10-12% of the overall mobile data revenues in the US) as the enterprises are dropping access cards with employees. Downloadables revenues were down from some segments of the user base as discretionary spending tightens.

Also, there was a shift from postpaid to prepaid in some user segments. For example, for T-Mobile, prepaid constituted 57% of the net-adds in Q408 sharply up from 23% in Q407 (though Suncom subscriber base probably has something to do with it). Rising unemployment has accelerated another trend - landline replacement by Mobile which reached almost 20% by Q408 (of course this benefits the mobile industry). This trend is irreversible unless new experiences can be introduced.

Messaging continues to grow. The messaging volume jumped 15% and messaging revenue was up 5.5% QoQ. The data access (excluding data card) including flat rate data plan subscriptions have also showed significant strength offlate. In addition to smartphones, we are also seeing increased mobile data activity amongst feature phone users.

The key question is - will the increase in the mobile data subscriber base nullify the loss in data subscriptions? and the answer seems to be - likely yes. But, if the job losses continue at the current rate, we will start to see flattening of data revenues in Q109 for some operators and a gradual decline over the course of the year. We have already started to see infrastructure (operators are slowing down 3G/4G investment) and device segments (replacement cycles are getting longer) getting hit pretty hard. Smartphones remain a bright spot, which in turn has a direct positive impact on the data revenues. Even with the decline in handset sales, smartphone segment will continue to increase in 2009 accounting for almost 30% of the overall device shipments.

As we eluded to earlier, another factor at play is the growth in 3G and smartphone penetration in the US market, both of which have been responsible for increasing the usage and hence the data revenues. At the end of Q408, 3G penetration was approximately 40% and the data penetration had reached 60%. Smartphone penetration has been inching up as well. In fact, all the service providers and OEMs have been targeting sub-$200 price point, which seems to be a good sweet spot for consumer adoption. The above two factors have also been helping negate any cancellations or downgrading of data plans.

We are likely to see continued price and margin pressure on subscription plans and as a result, voice ARPU will continue its downward trend and data ARPU will become a more prominent factor of the overall ARPU mix by the end of 2009. The longer the recession lasts, the more permanent the shift in voice ARPU becomes. Customer retention will edge customer acquisition. Same would be true with the consumer behavior and expectations. This will lead to new business and pricing models for e.g. some will find the low flat rate pricing untenable in the long-run without a fundamental rethink of the network and business architecture.

The percentage contribution to the overall ARPU from data reached almost 25% in 2008 and is likely to exceed 30% by the end of 2009. For the first time since 1998, the voice ARPU dip below $40 in the US.

During the last downturn, the likes of Google emerged. These players didn’t have much to do with the mobile market at the time but have gradually put their indelible stamp on the future of the industry. It is almost certain that new media and telecom models will emerge as a result of the current crises with new players shaping the next decade of the mobile industry.

Whether this recession invites regulatory intervention remains to be seen. Government can encourage mobile adoption by reducing taxes and fees on mobile services, avoiding unnecessary regulations, making more spectrum readily available, increasing competition, investing and incentivizing in mobile broadband.

Also, will the industry price or innovate its way out of this recession? The short-term knee-jerk reaction is to generally lean on price-differentiation but innovative services and business models can lay the ground work for a more sustainable differentiation and long-term benefits from new services adoption.

Coming back to the 2008 forecasts, our estimate of the mobile data revenues was spot on. The annual mobile data services revenue stood at $34B. 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. Q109 numbers will give us a better insight into the impact of the current recession on the US mobile industry and the global markets at large.

The bottom line is that in an event of a long and deep recession (i.e. beyond 2009), which I am afraid seems to be the case, the fate of the US mobile industry will be more closely tied to the overall economy this time compared to the previous recessions. If the consumer and market sentiment improves within the next 3-6 months, the mobile data industry will continue its rapid growth. Despite a difficult environment, we expect the mobile data services revenues to grow by at least 15% YOY in 2009.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q408 and 2008 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 14 , 21, 22)

ARPU (Slides15-18)

Subscribers (Slides 19-20)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Misc. (Slide 23)

Preliminary Global Update (Slides 21-22)

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, future research reports, and articles. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in March 2009 and the next US Wireless Data Market update will be issued in May 2009.

To the 1% of you who have made it this far, thanks very much for your time and attention.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Should you need assistance in navigating or understanding the economic and competitive icebergs, please feel free to drop us a line.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Mobile Industry Predictions 2009 January 1, 2009

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

Mobile Industry Predictions 2009

http://www.chetansharma.com/MobilePredictions2009.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The winners are:

  1. Akio Orii, CFO and VP, Toyota

  2. Declan Carew, New Product Strategy Manager, Vodafone

  3. Helen Keegan, Consultant, Beep Marketing

  4. Rich Begert, CEO, Singlepoint, and

  5. Russ McGuire, VP, Sprint Nextel

  6. Jonathan Ebinger, General Partner, Blue Run Ventures

Congrats and Thank You.

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

survey1

survey2

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

survey3

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

Will Android handset sales exceed iPhone’s in 2009?

survey4

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

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

survey6

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

Will Apple launch new iPhone models in 2009?

survey5

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

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

survey7

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

Will India and China launch nationwide 3G in 2009?

survey8

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

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

survey9

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

Will Microsoft launch its own mobile phone?

survey10

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

Will Clearwire meet the 1.3 million subscriber target in 2009?

survey13

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

Will Mobile Open Source mitigate fragmentation?

survey14

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

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

survey15

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

Will Microsoft buy RIM?

survey11

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

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

survey16

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

Will carriers start launching Apple/Android style appstores?

survey17

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

Will Microsoft make windows mobile free to OEMs?

survey12

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

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

survey18

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

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

survey20

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

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

survey19

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

Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2009?

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

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

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

2009 Events December 28, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carnival of the Mobilists #141 September 15, 2008

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, CTIA, Carriers, European Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Welcome back to Always On Real-Time Access or AORTA. Last week, folks in the industry were busy with several events including CTIA, TC50, DEMO, Mobile Web Strategies, and many others. Here are the gems from the week.

Anthony Hand at Hand Interactive educates us about the screen capture techniques on various phones. Quite Handy.

James Cooper at MJelly opines on “Why South Africa is leading the mobile Internet revolution” Good insights, data, and case studies.

Tsahi Levent-Levi at VoIP Survivor posts an interview with a TD-SCDMA chipset vendor and their launch in the Chinese market during the Olympic games.

Martin Sauter at Mobile Society and author of Communications Systems for Mobile questions the use of Narrow band codecs for SIP to SIP calls.

John Boxall at Handi Mobility writes about Python S60 Bluetooth Console on Mac OSX using pictures.

Igor Faletski at Mobscure discusses some guidelines for supplying context indicators in mobile applications.

Ram Krishnan at Mobile Broadband Blog discusses mobile broadband pricing.

Carlos Enrique Ortiz points that “one click” interactions are necessary for barcodes and NFC to take off. He also has pictures from MobileWidget Camp in Austin.

Andrew Grill of London Calling talks about the Blogloc service that enables users to post their location.

My contribution to the carnival - CTIA IT and Entertainment 2008 roundup.

Finally, my vote for the best post of the week goes to Ajit Jaokar at Open Gardens who discusses cloud computing in “Cloud or Fog? The battle for supremacy in the cloud is not a dogfight but will be fought in the trenches.

Next week, hop over to Next Generation Mobile Content hosted by Ofir Leitner for #142 COM. Until then, happy reading.

CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2008 Roundup September 12, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Usability, Privacy, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2008 Roundup

http://www.chetansharma.com/ctiawirelessit2008.htm

CTIA in pictures

San Francisco hosted the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2008 show earlier this week. In addition, there were some pre-show events like Billboard’s Mobile Entertainment Live and Mobile Web Strategies. This note summarizes our impressions from the week.

First, Let’s do the numbers CTIA released its mid-year survey results. Bob Roche and John-Paul Edgette at CTIA do a great service to the industry by compiling 6-month of useful data and making it available at each CTIA. In Summary -  262.7M subs, $14.78B in data revenues accounting for 20.3% service revenues, 75B TXT messages/month. We released our US Mobile Data Update for Q208 last month, Global Update coming later this month.

Overall Impression – This year’s show was one of the dullest in recent memory, devoid of any buzz, energy, or announcements. Maybe it was due to the 50,000 other events happening the same week (many in San Francisco). Or maybe, Bernanke’s congressional testimony is playing out in the wireless industry. Or maybe it is just conference-fatigue.

My week started early as I had the honor of giving a keynote address to a group of influential executives at major international operators and agencies worldwide at a well-organized private event. The topic was “US Mobile Advertising: Today and Tomorrow.” We delved into what’s working and what’s not and what will it take to get the industry to the next level, which players are likely to succeed and why?

Next day, I split my time between Mobile Entertainment Live organized by BillBoard and Mobile Web Strategies chaired by our friend Ajit Jaokar. While most of it was rehash of previous events, presentation by Jouko Ahvenainen of Xtract was probably the standout for me where he talked in detail about the importance of “analytics” and “intelligence” in advertising and social media. One of the interesting announcements/discussion was from Nokia regarding “Comes w/ Music” to be launched in UK next month - music subscription is bundled with the device as long as the device is from Nokia. Reliance Entertainment also announced its aggressive push into the US market.

Trip down the memory lane US Wireless Industry is celebrating 25 years of existence. Steve Largent invited Craig McCaw and John Stanton to reminiscence about the good old days - $4000 phones, hundreds of dollars of monthly bills, no roaming, 30 min talk time, obligatory 100 lbs bricksters. Craig emphasized on innovation while Stanton accurately put his finger on the big picture – US operators aren’t thinking like global companies or the media companies and can’t succeed in the new economy over the long haul. Spot On, John.

My first job was with a company that wrote the billing software for McCaw Communications in the early nineties (at that time, I was writing code for fraud prevention using RF fingerprinting for GTE, Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Nynex, Airtouch, and the likes .. those were the days)

Open is in the Air With each CTIA over the last 18 months, carriers’ embrace of “Openness” is getting tighter and more nuanced. It is amazing how competitive threat can help disrupt the status-quo. While the keynote session sounded very scripted, each of the 3 CEOs from T-Mobile (Dotson), Sprint Nextel (Hesse), and Verizon (Lowell) are putting in place their “Open” Strategy (the current no. 1 operator was MIA). T-Mobile is launching an Apple-like App-Store next week with 50-50% rev-share which goes up to 30-70% in favor of the app developer but advertising is allowed (unlike iPhone Appstore). Streaming is also not allowed. Tricia at Moconews has more details. The balance between open network, customer care cost, and application performance can be a tricky one and everyone is tiptoeing the boiling waters carefully.

My favorite quips:

Hesse – “We have opened the network, Knock yourself out”

Lowell – “Our definition of open is irrelevant, it is what the customer wants”

Dotson – “Walled garden is a thing of the past”

It should be noted that two of the biggest success stories in the industry - iPhone and Blackberry are closed systems. Everything boils down to user-experience and value. We shouldn’t lose sight of that in the Open debate.

Yahoo’s oneConnect Marco Boerries, EVP, Yahoo! (read the piece he wrote for our Mobile Advertising book here) gave a keynote second CTIA running. These guys aren’t distracted by the Microsoft acquisition drama and remain the bright spot in an otherwise flailing organization. Over the past few months, they keep on refining their distribution and monetization strategy but they do need to attract droves of developers to make the initiative successful. Marco announced the launch of “Blueprint” – a framework for building mobile Internet apps and services. The trick is of course to attract developers. AOL is also pursuing a similar strategy.

Mobile Advertising There was a lot of discussion around mobile advertising each day with some new players emerging. Companies like Hipcricket (and many many others) are making real progress but I get a sense of “being stuck” from some of the players. Maybe, it is a function of the economy, or perhaps – fragmentation, lack of education, metrics, is keeping the industry from opening up.

CTIA released a whitepaper on 2D bar code scanning. Good to see some progress but the big question is – who takes the initiative to spend marketing dollars to educate the consumers and to make 2D bar codes pervasive in the US.

Carriers are getting more active in pursuing their mobile advertising strategies but I still see some fundamental missteps. Keep an eye on some of the work we will release later in the year to help guide the discussion, hopefully, in the right direction.

Mobile Social Networking Lot of discussion around mobile social networking (infact too much at times, even the mobile email player Visto considers itself a social networking company now), mobile only social networking, monetization challenges and opportunities. Most of the players are just aggressively focused on building an audience as quickly as possible. The monetization strategies include advertising, value added services, app store. Verizon and ATT announced their social networking strategies (built on the back of Intercasting’s platform) which essentially focus on social networking aggregation. This keeps them pretty safe and relevant. Current monetization model is that of subscription and maybe advertising down the road. For mobile only players the models varies from advertising heavy (Mocospace) to VAS heavy (mig33).

M2M The percentage of M2M companies in the mix increased compared to last time. For the first time I saw, carrier booths in M2M pavilion which was quite interesting. They clearly see this is a growing segment.

Smartphone Mania Devices like iPhone and Instinct are accounting for a disproportionately high share of the mobile download business now. And if data services is the only growth engine, why worry about launching sub-ARM9 devices, the economics is pointing towards cheaper smartphones on a fast network, it doesn’t make sense to port to 50 other devices when 80% of the revenue will come from a small subset of the devices.

For those of you attended the show, hopefully, it warmed you up for a really great mobile event being organized by GigaOM – Mobilize. Some terrific set of speakers and panels. I will be moderating two excellent panels (details below).

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q2 2008 August 10, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Usability, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

 

 

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http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq208.htm

The US wireless data market grew 40% in Q208 compared to Q207 to reach $8.2B in data revenues. The total for 2008 stands at $15.7B for the first six months, 38% higher than the total for the same time period in 2007. The news of Alltel acquisition, iPhone 3G, and the flat rate pricing wars dominated the news. Though the infatuation for iPhone was a few degrees lower, Apple managed to keep the device front and center of the news cycles. US again exceeded Japan in mobile data service revenues for the quarter and the market is on track to reach $34B in data revenues for 2008.

Global update

          More details in our worldwide wireless data market update in our Global Wireless Data Market Update Sept 2008.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

New Paper: Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018 July 11, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, MVNO, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018

Bellagio, Italy. July 13 - Aug 1, 2008

This project has been made possible by the generous funding from THE UNITED
NATIONS FOUNDATION

ehealth_connection_cov

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UNFpaper-s

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/UNF-MobileServicesEvolution.htm

This weekend in Bellagio, Italy begins a 4 week long dialogue on the subject of eHealth. The Conference - Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partnerships, Local solutions is being organized by the eminent Rockefeller Foundation. It will bring in experts and organizations from around the world to discuss, share, develop, agree on solutions going forward. Each week deals with a different nuance of the eHealth framework. This will allow for an in-depth study and discussion. Full conference info here.

Week 3 deals with mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine being organized by The UN Foundation, Vodafone Group Foundation, and the Telemedicine Society of India. As part of this conference The Rockefeller Foundation and its partners have released a series of white papers on various subjects. I was asked by The UN Foundation to look into the potential Mobile Services Evolution going forward and how a platform could be developed that will enable a number of applications focused on enterprise, health, public safety and associated sub-segments. While it is difficult to predict with any precision what might happen 10 years from now, one can try to understand the evolution of technologies, business models and their interrelated ecosystems and see the impact on various vertical segments where we use technology to solve some basic problems. Most of the time, technology itself doesn’t cut it, it requires partnerships, collapsing of the bureaucracy, innovative funding means, and just the burning desire to make a difference that matter the most. I strongly believe in Mobile’s central role in a number of social and public services. Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018 is a small effort to forward that discussion.

Abstract

Over the last 10 years, the progress made in the global mobile industry has been truly stunning. Mobile device ownership has gone from being a luxury item to necessity as the feverish rate of adoption has spread mobile technologies into every corner of the world. As we look into the next 10 years, it is certain that the mobile phone will be used for much more than just voice communications. There is an opportunity for private institutions and public enterprises to build a vision of cohesive mobile services platform that enables and engages the masses to both fundamentally enhance the quality of their daily existence as well as lead to new opportunities globally. This paper takes a look at the potential evolution of mobile technology and services over the course of the next 10 years and discusses an M-Services framework for building and deploying diverse mobile services. The paper also looks into the challenges of such an endeavor and steps that will be needed to achieve the vision.

Table of Content

 

Abstract 3
Introduction 4
Mobile device: The Remote control of our lives 5
Mobile Technology Evolution 2008-2018 7
Deployment and adoption of mobile technologies in the developing countries 9
Mobile Services Platform 10
What does it take to make it happen? 15
Conclusions and Recommendations 18

 

Download Complete Paper - PDF

Thanks to THE UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION for making this work possible. I will be presenting the paper at the conference later this month.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks

Chetan Sharma

CTIA Wireless Wave - Moving Targets April 21, 2008

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, ARPU, CTIA, Carriers, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

The Wireless Wave article on Mobile Advertising is online now

cover_spring2008

Moving Targets: Mobile Marketing Reaches Consumers on Their Terms
                                                                                 By Lynn Thorne

Imagine youre about to meet a blind date for drinks. On the way to the restaurant you realize youre short on cash. You dont know your way around the city too well how will you find the nearest ATM? The answer is as convenient as glancing at your cell phone.

Or youre driving to meet a new client and you have just enough time to make the meeting. Suddenly your phone sounds an alert letting you know theres a traffic jam ahead just in time for you to take an alternate route and arrive on time.

Perhaps you live in an area where severe weather outbreaks are the norm. You get a message on your phone urging you to take cover, as you are smack in the path of an oncoming twister. Did a concerned co-worker call you with the warning? No, The Weather Channel Interactive sent you an urgent message on your handset.

To some these stories sound like science fiction, but to a growing number of those in the know, these are the proven, and very real abilities of mobile marketing and advertising. And while consumers have been using SMS, or short messaging service, for years, the future of mobile is about to take off faster than you can text ASAP.

Wide Open World
Mobile marketing and mobile advertising have been flourishing in other parts of the world since the early part of this century. In Japan, for instance, two factors uniquely helped the explosive growth of this industry: networks and teamwork. Ironically, those same two factors are part of what has delayed mobile commerce in the U.S.

The penetration of broadband wireless, which is 70 to 80 percent in Japan, is only about 20 percent in the U.S., says to industry analyst Chetan Sharma,president of CSC, a consulting and advisory firm helping companies in the mobile and voice communications sector. Sharma points out that in Japan and Korea, mobile carriers and the advertising industry have collaborated and joined ventures to form companies to address mobile marketing and advertising. But in the U.S., Sharma says, carriers have their own strategy, and advertisers have their own strategy. Theyre not working together.

Yet the U.S. is the biggest advertising market in the world, and it appears that the nation is on the verge of a mobile marketing breakthrough. Sharma claims it is only a matter of time before the country comes into its own in the m-commerce arena. A lot of the problems existing today will be solved because advertisers are eager to reach consumers. Even though Japan and Korea got started with mobile advertising before the U.S., the aggressiveness of the advertisers pursuing it is greater in this country.

Applications
M-commerce has innumerable uses, some of which havent even been thought of yet. However, it is already being used in some fascinating ways. Roughly half of the mobile consumers in Korea and Japan use their phones like a credit card of sorts. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology enables them to pay for purchases by waving their cell phone over a contactless reader at retailers. They can even download coupons to their phones and then forward the discounts to other users in their networks.

While that technology hasnt yet reached America, U.S. users are benefitting from mobile marketing in myriad ways. For example, Crisp Wireless partners with media entertainment companies like USA Today to enable them to build a mobile presence through advertising. USA Today, one of the pioneers of delivering traditional newspaper content in a mobile platform, launched its initial site in December of 2005. Boris Fridman, CEO of Crisp Wireless, calls it nothing short of the perfect mobile destination. Fridman explains why: They started building this significant consumer audience, and advertisers started paying attention to it. Theyve done a tremendous job at understanding that mobile Internet would become a driver for advertising dollars. For USA Today, it is no longer an experiment; it is clearly a significant business opportunity.

AOL, another early adopter, has capitalized on the mobile commerce opportunity as well. In 2007, the company updated its portal for a richer user interface, including AOL mobile search, City Guide, access to AIM (the largest ing the platforms available, AOL has concen-trated on making mobile simple for consumers.

We do things that make accessing our services easier, not necessarily making the mobile phone easier to use, says Jason Gruber, director of Mobile and Telecommunications for AOL. Some examples include getting MapQuest information on the desktop transferred to a phone with a send to cell functionality, where the user enjoys one-click access to MapQuest details. AOL was the first to introduce an I.M. forwarding service, so messages sent to a users desktop can be forwarded to his or her handset. So its not only at the application level where were constantly making adjustments to the portal, but were really responding to the consumer base, [making sure] that the services consumers are comfortable with on the desktop can really work in the mobile space in an easy and fast way thats relevant, says Gruber.

Location-based service, in concert with GPS, enables companies to provide a context to their content. The Weather Channel Interactive, for example, has more than 35 million unique online users each month. It can deliver current conditions, expert forecasts, and relevant lifestyle content for 98,000 locations worldwide, so consumers in California are getting information that is specific to the west coast, while Michigan residents can be apprised of impending lake effect snows.

Since the younger generation drives a lot of the growth of mobile marketing, MTV is enjoying phenomenal increases in its mobile platforms. Greg Clayman, executive vice president of Digital Distribution and Business Development, Global Digital Media of MTV, says video is a prime example. Were doing five million mobile video clips a month in the U.S. That is nearly double what they were last year. Beyond video clips, MTVs mobile inventory includes linear video service, with clips of mobile video with DSE, and live programming of Comedy Central and Nickelodeon on V-cast.

The applications benefit the marketer as well as the consumer because ads can be much more user-specific. With browser-based advertising, ZIP codes are themain way to reach a particular audience segment. With mobile mar-keting and advertising, advertisers can utilize mobile instant messaging community) and information like gender, income, and other MapQuest, among others. Beyond imply maklimited profile data all provided to wireless carriers by the user to truly target the consumers most likely to respond.

Challenges and Solutions
It is easy to envision mobile marketing and advertising as an extension of the Internet, and in many ways, it is. However, there are fundamental differences that will affect the success of this new channel.

For example, advertisers cannot just expect the same ad to work on a PC and a mobile device. The huge difference in screen sizes means most ads wont translate from one entity to another. Keyboard capabilities are also vastly different between computers and handsets.

AOLs Gruber points out another challenge: fragmentation. The application or service that we develop for a very simple low-end phone on one network may behave very differently and function differently than what exists on a very high-end phone. To combat this problem, AOL has announced a client version of My Mobile that will make implementing AOL services on a mobile device a lot easier, no matter what kind of handset or carrier is used.

Chetan Sharma says search-based advertising has to change for mobile marketing to succeed. On mobile devices, you have limited real estate. People are looking for answers, not thousands of facts. It becomes tricky in terms of how you figure out what the intent of the user is, so there is not so much room for error in mobile as there is for the Internet.

There is also the challenge of demographics: plenty of industry research points to the younger generations as being the main mobile users. However, todays device is not your teens mobile phone.

Over the past few years, Newsweek, USA Today, Car and Driver, Elle, and many other traditional media companies that dont necessarily appeal to the very young have launched mobile destinations, says Fridman. They appeal to a much broader audience.

Louis Gump, vice president of Mobile at The Weather Channel Interactive, says the age limitations arent real. There is a myth in the industry that everyone who uses their device for something other than talking on it is about 22 years old with a backpack. If you look at the demos, based on some of the research, what youll see is that the majority of the audience that uses wireless data is actually in the 25-34, and 35-44 demo with tails on either side. Its a very attractive audience with millions of people who are in multiple demographic areas.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles is the consumers themselves. Will they balk at the idea of advertising on their mobile devices as being too intrusive? Clayman predicts acceptance.
As the mobile online experience begins to look more like the Web were accustomed to, consumers expect a certain degree of advertising. As long as it is something that is actually useful, people will think, I see ads when Im online or when Im watching TV so theres no reason I shouldnt see them on my phone as well.

Besides, Clayman points out, consumers are already paying for the content they get on their mobile devices. Ads can help offset the increasing costs. If a carrier has video clips the consumer pays for that, and if you want to double the amount of content consumers can get, youve got limited options. Either the carrier can pay for it and lose money, or they can charge consumers more. Mobile advertising in general can subsidize that.

Would people be willing to pay more for their mobile services instead of seeing ads on their devices? Probably not, but experts say they will likely accept some advertising in exchange for reduced-cost service. If they are able to decide what kind of ads they get and when they get them, consumers will be more willing to accept [mobile advertising], says Sharma.

Growing Pains and Plans
Experts agree that for mobile marketing and advertising to be as successful as possible, the user must be in control. Gump says careful planning is key.

From a consumer-facing standpoint, we have an opportunity as media companies, wire-less carriers, and other service providers in the industry, to get this right. We need to put the customer first. From an industry standpoint, we need to think about how our actions today will affect where were going to be 10 years from now and act accordingly.

Analyst Sharma agrees. We need to make sure that the market matures correctly and that the business models are ironed out before the market becomes too big. Its a journey of cautious optimism to contextual nirvana.

That journey, while in its infancy, is well underway. As companies branch out and try new forms of mobile marketing everything from American Idols interactive audience voting via text message to The Weather Channel Interactives use of location-based services the industry is poised to take off.
This is just the beginning, says Fridman. There are about 40 million consumers that visit mobile sites monthly, which represents about 15 percent of the subscriber base. But every month that audience continues to grow. This is an incredible growth opportunity for companies who want to reach the consumers, because that number will only continue to go up.

And those companies are taking notice. Ive seen an uptake in the integration of mobile advertising by the brands and the agencies in the marketplace that has really impressed me, Gruber says. The way those budgets have grown, the way the brands are coming back for repeat business … Im really looking forward to 2008 being a breakout year for mobile marketing and mobile advertising.

CTIA Wireless 2008 Roundup April 4, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

CTIA Wireless 2008 Roundup

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

The Sin City hosted CTIA Wireless 2008 earlier this week. On Wednesday morning, just before leaving for the convention center, I caught some portion of Ben Bernankes congressional testimony on the US economy woes. Few minutes later, strolling the show floor, talking to various companies, and hearing the keynotes, it seemed like I was on a different planet. Either someone failed to deliver the memo or the wireless industry is resilient enough to weather the turmoil in the financial and housing markets with some ease. The show was bigger with more attendees, the booths were returning to their glamorous heydays of the past, and the general buzz and energy at the show all seem to indicate the industry is going to do just fine and is primed for further growth. The general themes were around open network and access, user experience, and bandwidth.

This note summarizes our impressions from the show.

CTIA Wireless in Pictures

First lets do the numbers: CTIA released their semi-annual statistics on the US market. In summary: For 2007, $23B in data revenues, 2 trillion in MOU, $139B in total service revenues, 48B txt messages/month. (We released our US Market and Global Market updates last month)

Keynotes: In terms of style, Sir Richard Branson stole the show with his pompous exuberance and pep talk (the talk of imaginary flight to Mars was hilarious; investors in Microgin and Viroo must be upset). For substance, Marco Boerries, President, Yahoo Mobile gave a nice compact overview of Yahoo initiatives and products in the market which are pretty darn good. (Marco wrote an opinion piece for our Mobile Advertising Book The future of Advertising is in the Consumers Pockets). Yahoo has sewn together a number of deals worldwide that gives them a potential reach of over 600M users.

Vodafone is one operator which has been quite vocal in stating its positions on future infrastructure roadmap and data opportunities. Arun Sarin is probably the only CEO of major global operator who has publicly stated that Mobile Advertising will constitute a significant portion of their revenues in the coming days (Aruns point person on the initiative Richard Saggers also wrote an opinion piece for our book Opportunities for Mobile Advertising. Let me know if you are interested in reading these two opinion pieces).

Microsofts Robbie Bach had the tough task of following the Branson-fest. He announced the arrival of a full-blown browser (finally!) for windows mobile. Also, the new windows mobile device from Sony Ericsson (Xperia) looks pretty darn cool. FCC Chairman Martin announced the rejection of Skype petition on the carterphone principle (to Skypes dismay, it was not an April fools joke). Clearly, the definition of open is in the eye of the beholder. It means different things to different people. It has also been clear from the various activities and keynotes that the industry is trying its utmost to remain a Self-regulated industry and stay away from the clutches of eager politicians.

Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless conducted a panel with CEOs from Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Nortel and probed them on the 4G migration path, trends in applications and services, and contrasts in adoption and introduction of new technology in various parts of the world. Final day was marked by what is now becoming a trend - keynotes from politicians. This time around Sen. Edwards and Sen. Thompson graced the podium.

Mobile Advertising: In talking with numerous players in the value chain from small developers to large operators to ad networks to media companies, the impression was that things have matured over the last six months. It was gratifying to hear that some companies are adopting strategies and recommendations we propose in our book. Still, some of the basic problems remain majority of the inventory remain unsold indicating weak demand, CPM rates are still over-rated though they are starting to come down, and fragmentation continues to remain an issue.

The good news is that the size of the mobile campaign budgets are getting bigger with several seven figure RFPs floating around. While some companies are still trying to throw a lot at the wall in the hope that something sticks, others are maturing as companies and are more focused in their positioning and product roadmaps. Integration of various channels is starting to appear on the horizon and the integration with the publishers is becoming tighter. The issue of measurement and auditing standards remains a big issue and unfortunately not much progress to report. There are carrier initiatives and various industry bodies are taking the challenge to rally the ecosystem, but, frankly, consolidation of such efforts is necessary, we cant afford yet another layer of fragmentation in an already complex ecosystem.

We were interviewed on Mobile Advertising prior to the show by several publications. Some of the articles were published this week to coincide with CTIA

Wireless Wave (CTIA) Moving Targets: Mobile marketing reaches consumers on their terms by Lynn Thorne

BrandWeek Mobile Marketing Fantasy vs. Reality by Ken Hein

Wall Street Journal Personalized promotions: Sending the right ads to your phone Peggy Anne Salz

NFC: There were many more NFC-enabled devices on display this time and vendors were talking and demoing NFC and Biometrics based payment solutions. While there are handsets on the roadmap, this market is still very nascent in North America and Western Europe.

Inspiration: The inspiration for new and creative services still comes (at least for yours truly) from Japan (and Korea). I love spending time in DoCoMos booth for it gives a glimpse into whats to come. No other company better understands the development of devices, services and applications that overlay on lifestyles than DoCoMo (e.g. a wellness handset that is a pedometer, heart rate monitor, body and bad breath monitor and yes, you can make voice calls too). They view wireless air-interfaces as nothing more than enablers to solutions that enhance daily lives. Various device manufacturers also displayed some really cool devices. The quality and diversity of handsets that have been introduced into the global markets over the last four quarters is just astonishing. The cycle of innovation and time-to-market keeps on accelerating.

Femto Cells: A number of players like Airwalk, Airvana, and others are bringing Femto cell solutions to the market and carriers are starting to pull this into their strategy as well and look forward to deployments beyond the trials.

4G: LTE vs. WiMAX (vs. UMB): Since the decision of Vodafone and Verizon to support LTE, UMB has been disappearing from the discussion. The 4G discussion is convulsing around LTE and WiMAX now (though Nortel did indicate its support TD-SCDMA as a 4G candidate). Without a doubt the operator community is rallying behind LTE and there might be an opportunity to finally converge to a single standard (havent we seen this movie before) but frankly, the advances in silicon to integrate multiple radios has made the standards debate less relevant. WiMAX has forced acceleration of LTE standardization process but is starting to lose its time (and cost) advantage. All eyes are on Sprints XOHM business rollouts in the coming days and months.

Accessories: I have never seen so many accessory and reseller outfits at a CTIA show. Business must be booming.

Best Booth: Thought there were several good layouts, LG and Samsung continue to impress with their creativity and art of marketing.

Developer and Publisher woes: Along with John Philips (Astraware) and Peter Baldwin (Cellmania), I helped facilitate a few developer session at the Mobile Jam Session organized by WIP. The issues of distribution, discovery, and monetization remain challenging for the small developers worldwide. Even with million user base, they are finding it difficult to monetize but we did discuss a number of success stories. The core elements of success that emerged from the discussion were: choosing the right market, embedding viral component into everything you throw out there, there is no room for mediocrity, and personalizing and customizing go a long way to get traction. An interesting tidbit: the number of page views for mobile MySpace app is a magnitude higher on off-deck vs. ondeck. Several of the companies are trying mobile advertising with varying degrees of success. After spending 4 hours with the developers, I sat on a carrier panel discussing mobile advertising. The contrast between the two worlds was so apparent. Clearly, more needs to be done to help both sides understand each other a bit better.

Green CTIA: There is a stronger emphasis on recycling and contributing to save the environment. The show itself is a big resource hog, so every bit helps.

Alternate Mobile Devices: The universe of alternate devices is expanding. Companies are buying wholesale data packages from the operators and integrating broadband chipsets into hardware to do digital signage (ICG), M2M (Sensorlogic), PND and much more. The definition of being mobile keeps on changing.

On Being Open: Obviously, given the recent activity around openness, getting a penny for each time the word was uttered by a speaker would have paid off for a lifetime of CTIA trips. While talk is cheap, demonstrable progress is being made by the likes Yahoo, Apple (btw, 3G iPhone is on its way), and AOL.

Another MVNO experiences turmoil: Movida - a Spanish focused MVNO which has garnered almost 300K subs filed for chapter 11.

Voice is becoming mainstream: With the product launches from Nuance, SpinVox, Vlingo, Jott, Yahoo, and many others, voice based navigation and its tighter integration with data services is becoming mainstream.

Where are the opportunities? Last week, I was moderating a panel with executives from AOL Mobile, T-Mobile, Motricity, and Formotus and the themes that emerged were around platform play, user experience, and productivity. At CTIA, in addition to these areas, there was a lot of discussion around social networking (though the market is being saturated with the MoSo noise). It is also clear that we are moving into the phase of aggregation of fragmentation with initiatives from Yahoo, AOL, and Google dominating the landscape.

Home Screen Effect: I have been talking about using the home screen for driving data usage for the last 8 years. I think we will see good innovation this year on that front starting with Yahoos One Platform. There are several other initiatives in the works where operators and OEMs will be deploying frameworks and technologies to bring information to a click-less idle screen environment.

Overall, no major news but industry stays vibrant, healthy, and exciting.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

Global Wireless Data Market Update 2007 March 27, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Networks, Partnership, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 8 comments

Global Wireless Data Market Update 2007

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http://www.chetansharma.com/globalmarketupdate2007.htm

As you read this End of Year (EOY) 2007 Global Wireless Data Market update this week, somewhere in India, a new subscription will catapult India over the US as the number 2 global wireless market. 2007 was a banner year for global wireless data market. The global service revenues for the year touched $700 billion, the data service revenues were more than $120 billion, China signed its 500 millionth subscription, and both India (in feb 08) and the US crossed the 250 million subscription mark. 2007 continued to enhance mobile datas role in the operator ecosystem with approx 17% of the revenue is coming from data services.

For some leading operators, data is now contributing up to 35% of the revenues however increase in data ARPU is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU. From the true and tested SMS messaging to new services such as Mobile TV, Enterprise apps, and others, different services helped in adding billions to the revenues generated for 2007. Japan and Korea remain the envy of the global markets and the countries to study and learn from w.r.t. new services and applications. The US market has been steadily making strong comeback and for the first time exceeded Japan in service revenue generated from mobile data.

Chetan Sharma Consulting conducted its semiannual study on the global mobile data industry. We studied wireless data trends in over 40 major countries - from developed and mature markets such as Japan, Korea, UK, and Italy to hyper growth markets such as China and India. This note summarizes the findings from the research.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

Carnival of the Mobilists #114 March 9, 2008

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Usability, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 8 comments

COM returns to AORTA. Welcome.

Over the past couple of quarters, the mobile industry has been pretty active with a series of initiatives, milestones, and launches and our fellow Mobilists from around the world bring you the analysis, insights, and commentary of the major events, new initiatives, gaffes and goofs, startup action and much more.

The best from the last week are:

Since June 07, Apple has been capturing the headlines like no other company in the ecosystem. Michael Mace at MobileOpportunity gives a thoughtful analysis of Apple’s iPhone SDK. Abhishek Tiwari and Tricia Duryee (at Moconews) also look at iPhone’s SDK and wonder if Apple is the new carrier? More SDK analysis by Gbor Trk.

Ajit Jaokar, author and the yeoman at OpenGardens writes another insightful post, this time on “The significance of Google Gears on mobile devices” follow-up from this one.

Russell Buckley at Mobhappy talks about the “Uniqueness of the Mobile Channel” especially from an advertising perspective. Jamie Wells of Mobilestance which focuses on the US Mobile Marketing Perspectives provides insights into Buzzd, a company founded by Nihal Mehta of ipsh! fame. Nihal is well-versed with the mobile market and Jamie’s interview gives information on this new startup.

Peggy Salz at MSearchGroove provides some insightful commentary on the state of mobile search, mobile advertising and social media. She has a good podcast with Kate Edwards, CEO of Jentro Technologies.

Andreas Constantinou at Vision Mobile does a couple of brilliant posts on summarizing “Learnings from the MWC 08″ and lists his 10 predictions for MWC 09. Be sure to check out the Mobile Megatrends presentation as well.

Martin Sauter, author and curator of WirelessMoves opines on the overhyped battle between WiMAX and LTE. Media and analysts need some fights to keep things interesting :-)

Dean Bubley at Disruptive Analysis in his usual analytical style makes the case for dismantling the control over the SIM card and by association, the SIM distributors.

Dennis Bournique of WAP Review provides a detailed review of WebClip2Go a content clipping service for your mobile devices.

Paul Ruppert - the Zenmaestro at Mobile Messaging 2.0 ponders on “what it means to be mobile?”

David Cushman at Fast Future writes about Microblogging and how twitter is enticing him into getting his iPhone.

Finally, some details on the Mobile Jam Session at m-trends. It is being hosted by Caroline Lewko and Rudy De Waele at CTIA in Vegas on March 31st.

Be sure to participate next time. Andrew Grill hosts the next Carnival. Send in your entries to mobilists at gmail dot com. Until next time, happy mobile daze ahead.

Book Review: The History of Wireless February 11, 2008

Posted by chetan in : BRIC, CTIA, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

The History of Wireless: How Creative Minds Produced Technology for the Masses

The History of Wireless: How Creative Minds Produced Technology for the Masses by Ira Brodsky, Telescope Books

Last week a colleague of mine, Ira Brodsky sent me his latest book on the history of the wireless industry and i must say i was hooked on to it until i was done. It is a brilliant book especially for us industry junkies and technology history buffs. Ira has done a superb job of mining vivid details about the history, personalities of the major actors in the drama of the evolution of the wireless industry - starting from Luigi Galvani’s frog experiments back in 1781to the most recent advances in broadband wireless, this books transports you to a front row experience of the how the industry grew, each discovery made, each opportunity missed, and how each of the genius inventors over the past 200+ years through determination and foresight brought us the current day wireless industry. I wish the book was available when i was studying science and electrical engineering in school. The terms volt, faraday, ohm, hertz, etc would have had a different meaning.

We often don’t think about how “true” inventions were made in the wireless industry and take things for granted, in fact the art of original scientific inventions seems to be an endangered species these days. The details of this book are so stunning and Ira has written such a readable book that you feel like you are a fly on the wall while Galvani, Franklin, Faraday, Volta, Maxwell, Hertz, Morse, Bell, Marconi, Edison, Bose, Sarnoff, Galvin, Ericsson, Viterbi, and others were doing their thing.

The book is effective not only in capturing the history so beautifully but for drawing the lessons from successes and failures of inventors and companies. For today’s entrepreneurs there are words of wisdom and inspiration.

CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2007 Roundup October 28, 2007

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Partnership, Privacy, Smart Phones, Strategy, US Wireless Market, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 5 comments

cid:image001.jpg@01C81817.0F453F50

http://www.chetansharma.com/ctiaoct07.htm

The early morning full moon over the San Francisco bay was much more inspiring than any gizmos or gimmicks at the annual CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment show. Maybe it is the conference fatigue setting in but the scaled back event failed to gather steam and one had to rely on alternate sources to get a sense of where things are headed in the next 6-12 months. This note summarizes the observations and commentary from the show.

First lets do the numbers. CTIA released its mid-year data survey for the year. In summary, as of June 2007 - 243M subs, $67.9B in revenues (first 6 months), $10.5B in data revenues for the year accounting for 15.5% of the total service revenue, MOU exceeded 1 Trillion minutes, 1B TXT messages daily. These numbers were in line with the numbers we reported back in Aug.

Keynotes - The central theme that tied the three keynotes was Be Open, Do Good Work, and Rest will take care of itself. The keynotes from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook, and Atish Gude, Sprint Nextel emphasized the need to have an open platform for innovation, applications, and services. Havent we been down this lane before?

Steve started by taking a page out of our (upcoming) book, literally (page 243 to be exact) and describing a vision where mobile device becomes the remote control of your life for both workstyle and lifestyle. Too often we focus on separating out personal vs. professional but our lives are so intertwined that one minute you are setting up a doctors appointment and the next minute closing a sale. Companies that focus on managing the experience start to finish (waking to sleeping) independent of everything else will be the ones that dominate these turf wars. Microsofts big announcement was the release of device management server that includes mobile devices in addition to the desktop world (but it is limited to windows mobile devices only, Open?). Microsoft has been making impressive strides in occupying its place in the mobile ecosystem. Though windows mobile and battery life dont go together, the fact that they are deployed with 160 operators in 55 countries, shipping 20M devices/year places them at a significant advantage in the coming days.

Facebooks Moskovitz made the plea for openness of networks, devices, and applications to enable the social networking phenomenon on mobile. The fact that Microsoft and Facebook were doing the keynotes on the eve of strategic investment wasnt a coincidence. Dustin brought out the elderly statesman Mike Lazaridis to announce the facebook app for Blackberry smartphones. The interesting thing was how the app was introduced - Facebook chose RIM and RIM chose T-Mobile for this app. Device manufacturers are surely getting bolder. Facebook extended its platform to mobile. Getting social networking apps on mobile is a no-brainer. In fact, the coming enhancements with Presence, IMS, Broadband, Profiling, Location, can make mobile social network a society of its own.

I thought the most forceful case for openness was delivered by Atish Gude, SVP of the XOHM (WiMAX) initiative at Sprint Nextel. In fact, it was exactly along the lines of our recommendations for the operators in our book. Atish talked about openness across network, devices, content, and applications to deliver a great customer experience. Operators focus on delivering the intelligent network by focusing on QoS, Network elements like Presence and Location, Security, and Consistency of throughput and performance and leave the innovation in applications and services on the ecosystem who know how best to exploit the medium. His definition of device expanded beyond the mobile phone into consumer electronics and appliances which is a smart way of looking at things. However, vision is one thing and execution is another. Will Sprint be able to deliver on this vision in a timely fashion amidst quarterly Wall Street pressure is going to define the industry more than any of the hoopla of 700MHz.

Enterprise MIA - One of the personalities was clearly missing from the show. Yes, there was an enterprise pavilion but nothing new and different surfaced. Microsofts late foray into the device management space was the only worthwhile news that emerged.

LBS - The LBS industry proudly presented its posterchilds TeleAtlas, Navteq, TeleNav, and others. Their imposing presence on the show floor and in some of the sessions was palpable. I have been working in or following this space since 1995 and it finally feels that there is going to be some activity in this space after years of posturing, delays, and hype. However, the true value of location cant be unlocked unless it truly becomes open for the application and service developers. The delivery of coordinates for every request is not cheap so some form of business model or technical break through is needed to make the use pervasive. Some of the newer players displaying their wares were Telmap, locr, and earthcomber.

Mobile Advertising - It is great to see the progress over the last 12 months. The distribution, inventory, and ad networks are all improving and size of the campaigns are starting to reach six figures on average. Some of the working demos I saw were really compelling and some unique solutions are going to be introduced in the market in the next six months. Though the space is still nascent, some trends have started to emerge - companies who are focused on solving the problem end-to-end from strategy to execution to understanding the results are separating themselves from the plethora of technology providers in the space. There is tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in the metrics and auditing space in addition to the integration of silos.

WiMAX picks up steam On the heels of WiMAX being declared as part of the IMT-2000 family, WiMAX is slated to gather momentum though a lot still depends on carriers like Sprint to deploy nationwide networks and device manufacturers like Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung to bring cheap devices to the market. Nevertheless, Ciscos acquisition of Navini, Beceems deal with NEC and others are signs of positive movement in this sector.

Mobile Video a dying market? Already? Only a couple of CTIAs ago, Mobile video took the event by storm only to find defending itself as a viable business in a short span of time. The video quality has improved significantly but the business models have not.

Entering the US market - US remains one of the most attractive market for mobile data but very few overseas firm succeed. One of the big European brands Zed is making an aggressive and impressive push into the US market and is expecting up to 30% (or $150M) of its revenues coming from the US market in the next 12 months. They have developed a good platform for interactive games that tie the experience across mobile and online really well. EA and the likes should take notice.

Open - not in my backyard The keynotes were in sharp contrast with some of the carrier panels. One of them seemed to be the replay of a session I attended in 2001 or was it 1997. Eerie.

Presence, IMS - The discussion around presence and IMS is intensifying. Demos are getting better and the coordination between carriers to standardize and interoperate is improving but we still have a long way to go.

Coolest gadget - NeuroSky filled the void of a gadget less show by showcasing its mind-over-matter technology. Using brainwaves which are detected by a sensor attached to your head, it allows the user to move, push, and float objects by just concentrating on them. Remember The Matrix. Now, if you throw in Philips amBX and Microvisions PicoP, your cell phone becomes this gaming platform that takes the die-hards to the transcendental state of nirvana.

iPhone continues to dominate the talk - iPhone continues to set the tone of discussion in the industry. Since July, there has hardly been a mobile conference worth its salt that hasnt had a session on impact of iPhone. There hasnt been a mobile device like this one and it shows. Attendees proudly fiddled with their iPhones in public and were eager to discuss their experience and forecasts.

US vs. Europe - There was quite a bit of us vs. them discussion. CTIAs Wireless Wave magazine started the discussion by its cover story article The Continental Divide (for which we were interviewed). It was soon covered by the likes of WSJ (Walt Mossberg - Free My Phone), GigaOM (How far behind is the US vs. Europe?), Steve Largent (Largent to Mossberg .. Wish you were here in San Francisco), and others. As I say in the article - the picture is more complicated .. and one needs to take a holistic view. This topic is crying for a detailed study.

MCommerce - Behind closed doors there is a lot of discussion on MCommerce and how to enable phone to become the wallet of choice (this will be music to the ears to my colleagues in Japan and Korea). Some new and interesting models are starting to appear. One is from Mobilians, a company that has had good success in South Korea and is now setting its sight on the US market. Their focus is to use the phone to enable payment of online and offline goods. In Korea, Mobilians is registering 7M transactions/ month and over $1B in goods sold/year with up to $250 items (which appear on the carrier bill). This is a totally untapped space for the carrier and is a threat to the credit card companies especially for the low cost items where the 2%+20-25c fee drives up the effective rate for the merchant. A tier-1 carrier is also looking to firm up its mCommerce strategy in the next few weeks. It should be noted that some of the smaller regional carriers who survive due to laser focus customer service are testing and rolling out innovative solutions ahead of their bigger peers. For e.g. CellularSouth launched picture application (with Ontela) and after their successful trials with NFC based payments is looking into launching WirelessWallet. Similarly, some others are in the process of getting some LBS, Mobile Search, and Mobile Advertising solutions in the next quarter or so.

Misc

AOL Mobile re-launched its mobile suite of products. It has a good suite of assets and the company is starting to integrate and enhance the user experience.

More M&A activities are expected in the mobile advertising space in the next 6-12 months as startups use every advantage to maximize the returns before the big boys catch-up.

There was hardly any mention of the gPhone or the zPhone.

Verizon and Sprint are boosting the holiday season lineups to counter the onslaught of iPhone with similar looking phones.

Becker - a 60 year old company which launched the first ever car radio showed off its Traffic Assist unit which had a good user interface and free real-time traffic info for life.

M2M players such as Telit and Numerex showed their solutions in the machine-to-machine communications space.

Talkster talked about its free global calls in exchange of listening to ads.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma