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2013 – The year in mobile December 23, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, Applications, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Devices, Disruption, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Fourth Wave, IP Strategy, Intellectual Property, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile 2013, Mobile Applications, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 15 comments

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

2013 – The year in mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With best wishes for an outstanding 2014.

Yours truly

Chetan Sharma

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

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

What (Really) Drives Mobile Device Market Performance?

- A Mobile Future Forward Series Research Paper

http://chetansharma.com/What_Drives_Mobile_Device_Market_Performance.htm

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Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download from Mobile Future Forward website

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

US Wireless Market Q4 2011 and 2011 – Addendum March 26, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, Devices, Tablets, US Wireless Market, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Last week, we issued our quarterly update on the US market. Wanted to expand on and clarify a statistic we mentioned in the update. We reported that “90% of the tablets use WiFi only.” For our analysis, we looked at the overall cumulative tablet base in the US and not the specific sales numbers for a given year or quarter.

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I wanted to provide some more details behind those numbers. 90% of the tablets using WiFi only doesn’t mean that 90% of the tablets SOLD are WiFi only. What we were saying was that by the end of 2011, roughly 90% of the tablets (which are a combination of WiFi only tablets like the Kindle Fire or the Samsung Galaxy or the Apple iPad and WiFi+Cellular tablets like the Samsung Galaxy, the Motorola Xoom, and the Apple iPad) were using WiFi only to connect to the network. Some of these tablets are also using MiFi and tethering capabilities of their devices to connect to the cellular network as well.

So, how does the overall tablet landscape in the US breakdown by connectivity type. As indicated in the figure below over 62% of the tablets in the US are WiFi only. Another 25% are WiFi+Cellular but are not activated by the consumer so the total WiFi tablets in use as of Q4 2011 were roughly 87% of the mix. These included tablets such as Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet along with traditional tablets such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy. A small percentage of these users connect these users to the cellular network via MiFi and tethering options as well.

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This also means that roughly one third of the tablets with cellular connections were activated as of Q4 2011. Since customers go in-and-out of the prepaid tablet contracts, the actual number of tablets that have had a cellular connection at some point in time is obviously larger. In general, the churn is low as consumers who get hooked onto the cellular connectivity outside the WiFi zone don’t want to give it up.

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Another important point is that this distribution is not uniform across all operators either in the US or abroad. Overseas, some operators have launched family data plans where users can attach multiple devices to a single data plan just like they do for voice plans. Canadian operator Rogers launched family data plans wherein family can share 1-2 GB/mo across multiple devices. Orange Austria, France, and Spain offer two devices per data plan that includes unlimited WiFi and 2GB shared data across both devices. Vodafone Ireland offers shared mobile broadband for business users with 5GB limit shared across unlimited users. The cost for this plan is $10/connection/month with additional 5GB for $14.

Also, operators who offer more flexibility in their data plans by providing daily or weekly passes (like AT&T and Verizon provide for laptops and netbooks ) or even hourly data plans (more prevalent in developing countries) will see more traction with the tablet consumers.

Finally, another barrier to greater cellular tablet adoption is the cost difference between WiFi only and WiFi+Cellular tablets. Clearly, iPad rules the tablet market right now and the price difference between the two classes of devices is $129, enough to dissuade a segment of the tablet loving population. As the price of HSPA+ and LTE modules come down further, the difference in price between the two classes of devices is likely to go away.

US remains the leading nation in terms of tablet use and as the pricing plans mature across all the operators and the OEM costs go down, we will see majority of the consumers using cellular connectivity in the market.

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

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

MI3s

Mobile Internet 3.0

How Operators Can Become Service Innovators and Drive Profitability

Sponsored by Juniper Networks

Download PDF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

connecteddevices_s

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

Paper is sponsored by Synchronoss Technologies

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

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

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

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

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

Download the paper (1MB)

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

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

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

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

Sanjiv Ahuja is the chairman and CEO of LightSquared.

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

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

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

Disruption is in the Air

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

Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, LightSquared

Jason MacKenzie, President, HTC Americas

We look forward to seeing you on Sept 12th.

State of the Global Mobile Industry – Half Yearly Assessment 2011 July 7, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Connected Devices, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, IP, IP Strategy, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Mergers and Acquisitions, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Event, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Payments, Mobile Search, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Networks, Partnership, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Patents, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, Student Paper Contest, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 6 comments

 

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/globalmobileupdate1H2011.htm

Download PDF (56 pages, 3 MB)

The big picture

The global mobile industry is the most vibrant and fastest growing industry. We expect the total revenue in the industry to touch approximately $1.3 Trillion in 2011 with mobile data representing 24% of the mix. Global Mobile Data revenues are expected to eclipse $300 Billion for the first time in 2011. It is also the first year in which non-messaging data revenues will make up the majority of the overall global data revenues at 53%.

We expect the total number of subscriptions to exceed 6 billion by the end of 2011. The first 1 billion took over 20 years and this last one is going to take only 15 months. The primary growth drivers are India and China which are cumulatively adding 75M new subs every quarter. Indian and China are also entangled in the race to the billion. At the end of Q2 2011, China was ahead by 50M but India is adding subscriptions at faster rate and is likely to eclipse China before Q2 2012. By then, both nations are expected to exceed 1 Billion in total subscriptions making up 31% of the global subscriptions.

In Q1 2011, US became the first major market to exceed the 50% mark in smartphone sales. The global figure stands at approximately 26%. Some operators expect 90% of their devices sales to be smartphones by the end of the year. In terms of the actual smartphone penetration, we expect the US market to eclipse the 50% mark in 2012.

China leads in the number of subs but US dominates in both total and data revenue. A number of emerging nations are now in top 10 – Brazil, India, Russia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico while once dominant – Korea, UK, Italy, Germany have dropped off or slipped in rankings.

The number of mobile operators with more than $1B in data revenues will increase to 47 in 2011. This number was only at 13 in 2005.

Japan continues to be the leader in mobile data with NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and Softbank Japan ahead of the pack in terms of mobile data revenue and data as a % of total ARPU. In 2011, it became the first major market to have more than 50% of its mobile revenue from data services. Next, Australia and the US have made good inroads in the last two years. In fact, if we look at the overall data revenue, US is much further ahead than any nation due to the size of the market.

While India has the highest subscriber growth rate in the world right now, the revenue generating opportunity remain down right anemic compared to other major markets with average dropping down to $3.50 in overall ARPU. Even with significant subscriber base, there is going to be a general lack of opportunity in the market for the next couple of years relative to other markets.

Mobile Trends for 2011

1.Total Global Subscriptions to hit 6 Billion

–India and China racing to a billion a piece

2.Total Global Mobile Revenues to hit $1.3 Trillion, almost 2% of Global GDP

–Top 10 operators control 43% of the global mobile revenues

3.Total Global Mobile Data Revenues to eclipse $300 Billion

–Non-messaging data now owns 53% of the global mobile data revenues

4.Mobile Devices are now exceeding traditional computers in unit sales + revenue

–Majority of the device sales in the US are now smartphones. Device Replacement is shrinking

5.Mobile Broadband (4G) is being deployed at a faster rate than previous generations

–Over 1 Billion broadband connections by 2011

6.Global Mobile Apps revenue has shifted to off-deck

–The decline is directly proportional to the increase in smartphone penetration by region

7.All major markets are consolidating with the top 3 players at 85% of the market

–Regulators will have to be more prudent and proactive about managing competitiveness and growth

8.Mobile Data Traffic will be 95% of the global mobile traffic by 2015

–Many countries are facing spectrum exhaust in the next 5 years

9.Connected device segment is growing at the fastest pace

–Operators will have to quickly adapt their strategies to stay relevant in this segment

10.Several multi-billion dollar opportunity segments are emerging

–Mobile Advertising, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Wellness, Mobile Games, and Mobile Cloud Computing to name a few

11.Mobile Ecosystem has become very dynamic and unpredictable

–Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook have become the most important revenue generating mobile platforms

12. There will be more changes in the next 10 years than in the previous 100

– The value chains will keep disrupting every 12-24 months by the new players and business models

13. Intellectual Property has become a key component of long-term product strategy

– Top 20 control 1/3rd of the overall mobile patent pool

Devices

Apple has had the tablet space to itself. Thus far the response from the competitors has been tepid esp. on the pricing dimension. Apple has had such a mastery over the supply-chain and months ahead of the competition that by the time they figure out details, Apple already locks up the pricing advantage for the cycle. OEMs try to catch-up on the features but can’t do on the margins. OEMs can grow the pie by bringing products at a better price points that helps attract different demographics to the mix. Microsoft can make good inroads into the space with its Win8 tablet release in 2012 but it will be again in a catch-up mode as the iOS ecosystem will be even more robust by then. The cheaper Android tablets will do well in the market. As expected, tablets will pretty much eliminate the need for netbooks and are starting to eat into the desktop/laptop revenue.

Nokia and RIM are under severe market scrutiny as investors and developers leave in droves. Lack of product planning and execution has left their market share in disarray. Nokia’s valuation has been cut into half while the newcomer HTC edged past the industry giant in a remarkable story of the year. Nokia’s release of N9 shows the engineering and creative design depth but a lot is riding on the first generation of Nokia Windows Phones. While the market hasn’t shown much appetite for Windows phone thus far, a good family of devices might be able to slow the loss trajectory and position the combined team for the up-for-grabs 3rd spot in the ecosystem. HP’s acquisition of Palm is finally bringing some new products to the market but the lack of an effective ecosystem means lack of traction in 2011. Given that the computing is shifting to mobile devices, we can expect some of the weaker desktop/laptop players will exit the industry.

Tablets are primarily being used in the WiFi mode because the primary use case is indoors and WiFi gives a better (and cheaper) user experience. Once operators start to roll out user-friendly family data plans across multiple devices, we can expect the cellular activation go higher but will still be dominated by WiFi overall.

The number of connected devices per subscriber and per family will continue to increase over the course of this decade. As the cost structure and margin profile for these devices will be different, we are likely to measure performance of various operators using margin analysis for e.g. while the ARPU for connected devices is 5-10 times lower than the postpaid subscribers, the margins are typically higher due to lower costs of sales, marketing, support, and subsidy. As such the overall impact is dilutive ARPU but higher margins. So, instead of focusing on just the ARPU, the efficiency of operators will be measured in how well they maintain average margin per user (AMPU) and average margin per connection (AMPC).

Managing the data growth

As a result of the data tsunami, there are two types of opportunities that are being created, one that take advantage of the data being generated in a way that enhances the user experience and provides value and the other in technologies that help manage the traffic data that will continue to grow exponentially.

To be able to stay ahead of the demand, significant planning needs to go in to deal with the bits and bytes that are already exploding. New technical and business solutions will be needed to manage the growth and profit from the services. Relying on only one solution won’t be an effective strategy to manage rising data demand. A holistic approach to managing data traffic is needed and our analysis shows that the cost structure can be reduced by more than half if a suite of solutions are deployed vs. a single dimensional approach and thus bringing the hockey stick curves of data cost more in line with the revenues and thus preserving the margins.

The decision making process within the operator organizations will need to be streamlined as well. Operators should also consider creating a senior post which focuses on both the cost side and the solution side so they can devise and institute a sustainable long-term policy and keep the margins healthy.

Competitive landscape

The Rule of Three is evident in all major markets. While the percentage market share might vary, on an average, the top 3 control 93% of the market in an given nation. It doesn’t matter if the market is defined by “controlled regulation” like in China, Korea, and Japan or if it is “open market” driven in markets such as the US, UK, and India. Eventually, only top 3 operators control the majority of the market. There are niches that others occupy but they are largely irrelevant to the overall structure and functioning of the mobile market.

Markets such as US and India experienced similar competitive environment in their hyper-growth phase. For the US, this phase was in the nineties-mid-2000s while India has been experiencing the similar environment in the last 3-4 years. In both cases, at the start there are 5-6 players with no more than 25% market share but higher than 10% of the mix but gradually the market forces enable consolidation. Over a period of 18 years, US is settling into a “top 3” operator market. India’s brutal price wars are going to trigger the consolidation in the next 12-24 months and will eventually settle into a structure similar to other markets.

The competitive equilibrium point in the mobile industry seems to when the market shares of the top 3 are 46%:29%:18% respectively with the remaining 7% being allocated to the niche operators. To achieve some semblance of equilibrium in the market the top operator shouldn’t have more than 50% of the market share and the number three player shouldn’t have less than 20%. This helps create enough balance in the market to derive maximum value for the consumer.

Mobile operators will face some hard choices in developing and protecting the role they want to play in a given region and the ecosystem at-large. The strategy they choose will have a direct impact on the expected EBITDA margins, investment required over the long-haul, how investors view them, and on the competitive landscape of the country. Given, the fast pace of globalization, new rules and trends might emerge over the course of this decade that further define “communications” and “computing” as we know it.

Apps and Services

As expected, mobile commerce and payment discussions are dominating the ecosystem. There is clearly a lot of investment and marketing dollars being spent. However, the traditional payments networks are largely intact. The new opportunities are being built on top of the existing payment platforms with convenience (Square) and offers and advertising (Google Wallet, ISIS, Groupon). Beyond payments, mobile is getting ingrained into every vertical and every facet of our lives – from healthcare to education, from energy to entertainment, from communication to socialization. And we are in the early innings of figuring out the business models, ecosystem leaders, user behavior, regulatory needs, and the overall impact on society.

Ecosystem Dynamics

It is very clear that the ecosystem dynamics can change very quickly, one just can’t take the competitive and friendly forces for granted. In the past, the silos and segments were clearly defined with little overlap. However, over the course of last couple of years, players have been migrating and surfing in segments across the board - from Apple to Visa, from P&G to AT&T, from Facebook to Time Warner, from Google to Best Buy, every company wants to capture the mindshare and piece of the consumer’s pocketbook. The fine line between partners and competitors can get obliterated in a quarter. Apple is competing with Cisco, Comcast is going after AT&T’s business, Visa and Verizon want to be the payment channel of choice, Amazon is gunning for Microsoft’s enterprise business. One product launch, one acquisition, can change the game in an instant.  And this is only the beginning.

Mobile is fundamentally reshaping how we as consumers spend from housing and healthcare to entertainment and travel, from food and drinks to communication and transportation. Mobile not only influences purchase behavior but also post purchase opinions. When the share button is literally a second away, consumers are willingly sharing more information than ever before. Mobile is thus helping close the nirvana gap for brands and advertisers who seek to connect advertising to actual transactions. The long-term battle is however for owning the context of the users. Having the best knowledge about the user to help drive the transaction is the simply the most valuable currency of commerce.

Mobile Future Forward

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

Some of the distinguished guests include:

Abhi Ingle, VP – Advanced Mobility, AT&T Wireless; Amit Gupta, SVP and CTO, INQMobile; Bob Gessel, VP/Head of Technology and Network Strategy, Ericsson; Braxton Woodham, Head of Engineering, AVOS; Carlos Domingo, CEO, Telefonica; Charlie Herrin, SVP - Products and Technology, Comcast; Dale Nitschke, former President, Target; Danny Bowman, President - Connected Devices, Sprint Nextel; David Messenger, EVP, Head - Online/Mobile, American Express; Erik Moreno, SVP, Fox; Gibu Thomas, SVP - Online/Mobile, Walmart; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T Wireless; Hank Skorny, Chief Strategy Officer, Real Networks; Janet Schijns, VP, Verizon Wireless; Jason McKenzie, President, HTC-Americas; Jay Emmet, GM, OpenMarket; Jeremiah Zinn, EVP, MTV; Jerry Batt, CIO, PulteGroup; John SanGiovanni, Cofounder, Zumobi; Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave; Ken Wirth, President, Alcatel Lucent Wireless; Kris Rinne, SVP - Networks, AT&T Wireless; Mark Rolston, Chief Creative Officer, Frog Design; Matt Oommen, President, Reliance Communications; Mikael Back, VP of Products and Portfolio Management, Ericsson; Mike Mulica, President, Synchronoss Technologies; Paul Palmieri, CEO, Millennial Media; Prof. Cliff Nass, Human Computer Interaction, Stanford University; Rob Glaser, Partner, Accel; Sanjiv Ahuja, CEO, LightSquared; Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint; Steve Mollenkopf, EVP and Group President, Qualcomm; Subba Rao, former CEO, Tata DoCoMo; Suja Chandrasekaran, CIO, Timberland; Will Hsu, Chief Product Officer, AT&T Interactive

More information at http://www.mobilefutureforward.com

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks and have a great 2H 2011.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

New Research: Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets April 28, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Gaming, General, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Networks, Patents, Privacy, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets

A Study of Competition in Global Mobile Markets

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http://chetansharma.com/mobilecompetition.htm

Over the course of the last decade, mobile communications has become an essential part of the global fabric of evolution. With almost 70% global subscription penetration as of 2010, mobility is being embedded into almost every facet of our lives. Mobility is also spreading across verticals whether it is m-pesa in Kenya or SMS based counterfeit medicine detection in Ghana or paying for your coffee using your NFC enabled mobile phone in a Tokyo café or watching the cricket world cup broadcast while hiking the Yangtze river near Tibet. Consumers expect access to information everywhere they are and the ecosystem is responding with continued innovation, which has become extremely critical in managing the competitiveness of nations.

It is also apparent that some of the innovation and market dynamics has been evidenced by the competitiveness of these markets at different levels – network, devices, and services. While the market entry conditions into the devices and software services markets have gone through significant overhaul this last decade, the competitiveness framework of the mobile networks has been more structured and controlled in many instances.

Given the importance of the mobile network infrastructure to every nation’s competitiveness, security, and productivity, it is useful to understand how the “competitive mobile markets” are formed. In theory, the perfectly competitive markets are in the best interest of the consumers as they provide the best value given the competitive dynamics and the equilibrium provides good checks and balances for the ecosystem.

The global mobile networks have shown a remarkable adherence to the “Rule of Three” which states that in any mature industry, 3 top players dominate the market. Sometimes it has been dictated by the regulators and in other instances by the markets. Some markets like in Europe have settled into a state of equilibrium while other hyper growth markets like India are shuffling to find the right balance.

The elements of globalization are also shaping how mobile network operators grow. The regulators and the political class are increasingly looking at mobile networks as national assets and any foreign ownership generally goes through tremendous scrutiny.

Having worked in major mobile markets around the world, we have been intrigued by the framework  for a competitive market and this is the theme we explore in this working paper. Having the front row seat in an industry that is growing stupendously has given us some unique perspective on the competitive forces at work in the mobile space. We studied the competitive landscape in 40 top mobile markets around the globe.

This paper presents the analysis and an in-depth analytical framework to study the competitive landscape in the global mobile markets.

Download Paper (45 pages, 2MB)

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

Mobile Breakfast Series – The Universe of Connected Devices

Posted by chetan in : Carriers, Connected Devices, Devices, European Wireless Market, Mobile Applications, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Earlier this month, we hosted our 6th Mobile Breakfast Series Event in Seattle at the picturesque Columbia Tower Club. The topic is something that has been occupying everyone’s attention lately with some terrific growth numbers.

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We were doing some math earlier this year and the chart above illustrates how fast the mobile ecosystem is subsuming the computing ecosystem as they become one and the same.

As you might have noted in our 2010 US market update, connected devices is the highest growing category in the market at 55%. It is creating new revenue streams and enabling new verticals to get mobilized. It is also disrupting the traditional ecosystems. This made it a perfect time to discuss the topic in-depth.

Our panelists were:

Tyler Davidson, VP, Amdocs

Martin Fichter, VP - Product Management Americas, HTC

Mike Mulica, President and Head of Strategy, Synchronoss Technologies

Ilja Laurs, Founder and CEO, Getjar

Erik Kling, Director - M2M, Vodafone Global Enterprise Group

Wilson Rothman, Deputy Technology and Science Editor, MSNBC.com (moderator)

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As always, we try to bring players across the ecosystem to have a good discussion from multiple angles. Our panel didn’t disappoint.

First a bit about the panelists to give you some background on their viewpoints. Erik Kling is deep into M2M and Vodafone is pursuing a very aggressive M2M strategy worldwide with some smart value proposition to the enterprises. That can put some of the domestic operators at a disadvantage. Tyler Davidson focuses his energy on managing customers but also thinks deeply about the management of media in the connected world. The rage of apps is carrying from smartphones to tablets and other connected devices as well and Ilja Laurs knows a thing or two about apps – running the largest independent app store and being quite successful at it.

HTC just crossed Nokia in revenues which was just unthinkable even last year. HTC has run a very effective strategy in devices and Martin Fichter is one of the guys who is making things happen in the US market. If you have an iPhone, you have been touched by Synchronoss Technologies. They activate the iOS and other devices. A billion $ company you might have never heard of. Mike Mulica has deep experience in the mobile space and is driving the strategy of connected devices and related software forward. Last but not the least, our moderator Wilson Rothman has been covering gadgets most of his adult life and is a darn good moderator.

The highlights of the discussion was as follows:

We also announced that our annual thought-leadership summit on mobile - “Mobile Future Forward” will take place on Sept 12th in Seattle. We have some terrific speakers lined up which lead to some fabulous discussion. Stay tuned for more information early May.

My utmost thanks to David Smith, SVP at Enterprise Ireland for his notes from the event. It helped refresh my memory and pointed out things that I had missed amidst running around.

Thanks all for coming and making it a successful outing. Our next Mobile Breakfast Series is going to be on Mobile Commerce and Payments in late June. Stay Tuned for details.

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2010 November 7, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, CTIA, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Intellectual Property, Location Based Services, MVNO, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Event, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2010

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32010.htm

Download PPT

Download PDF

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 7% Q/Q and 25% Y/Y to exceed $14B in mobile data service revenues in Q3 2010 - on track to meet (and most likely exceed) our initial estimate of $54B for the year.

Sprint had a second straight positive net-add quarter. T-Mobile also reversed its losses and had a net-positive quarter though postpaid additions were down for both the carriers. 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year with some big M&As on the cards. The launch of 4G networks provides an opportunity to realign the industry.

The US subscription penetration crossed 96% at the end of Q3 2010. If we take out the demographics of 5 yrs and younger, the mobile penetration is now past 101%. While the traditional net-adds have been slowing, the “connected device” segment is picking up so much that AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint added more connected devices than postpaid subs in Q3 2010. Given the slow postpaid growth, operators are fiercely competing in prepaid, enterprise, connected devices, and M2M segments.

The role of connected devices

In the connected device category, tablets led almost singlehandedly by the iPad is taking away the lion share of the revenues. The whole category is catching up speed in the US with 12% growth Q/Q much higher than in the postpaid segment which has trickled down to 1% Q/Q growth by Q3 2010.

We expect that in less than 5 years, the connected devices category will generate more revenue for the operators than the entire prepaid segment in the US. While today, connected devices represent only 3% of the quarterly data revenues, this segment didn’t really exist a few months ago and will keep on gaining strength every year for the foreseeable future.

In terms of financials, the addition of connected devices units and revenues to the mix masks the tremendous growth in smartphone related data revenues. For example, T-Mobile lost 360K postpaid subs but added 300K connected devices for a net loss of 60K subscriptions. Because of lower ARPU, Connected devices have a dilutive impact on the revenues and ARPU so the overall ARPU for postpaid segment for T-Mobile was $52 instead of $55.

iPad literally created a new category and rest of the industry is scrambling to respond. Some just want to follow Apple’s trail to cash in while others don’t want to competing head-to-head with Apple so they are launching smaller sized units. There will be others who will launch devices at every inch increments just to see what sticks. However you might slice and dice the market, the segment is here to stay and as we had mentioned before, Netbooks will take a hit as the category was the creature of a falling economy and with a viable alternate, the need for Netbooks diminishes.

Mobile Data Consumption

Data traffic continued to increase across all networks. There are some superphones that are routinely average more than 1 GB/mo, superphones as a category is averaging 700-800 MB/mo. By the end of 2010, we expect the average US consumption to be approximately 325 MB/mo up 112% from 2009. This puts US right behind Sweden in the top two by per capita mobile data consumption. While the US lags Japan and Korea in 3G penetration by a distance, due to higher penetration of smartphones and datacards, the consumption is much higher than its Asian counterparts. Given that it is also becoming the largest deployment base for HSPA+ and LTE, most of the cutting edge research in areas of data management and experimentation with policy, regulations, strategy, and business models is taking place in the networks of the US operators and keenly watched by players across the global ecosystem.

As we had forecasted, the tiered pricing structure for mobile broadband expanded further with Verizon and T-Mobile following AT&T in deploying policy management strategies for controlling data margins. We will see the pricing evolve over the next 2-4 quarters as the US mobile ecosystem adjusts to the new realities and strategies for mobile data consumption.

What to expect in the coming months?

Kids of the now generation are growing with connected electronics that is fundamentally altering the behaviors and expectations of interaction, communication, consumption, and monetization.

Microsoft launched its much anticipated Windows Phone 7 in a bid to recapture the mind- and unit-share. By taking a different UI route, it actually has a shot to be a viable third option to iPhone and Android and pushing RIM from the top 3.

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2011 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. We are going to be discussing the ins and outs of how the  industry is going to evolve in the next decade in our Sept 15th event – Mobile Future Forward which is bringing exceptional industry thought-leaders, inventors, and doers to brainstorm, discuss, and debate what’s next. More details to come. We will also be discussing the trends and opportunities in our Dec Mobile Breakfast Series event.

US is also leading the way in smartphone sales. In Q3 2010, 47% of the devices sold in the US were smartphones compared to 24% globally. The fast pace of device introduction has catapulted the agile players like Samsung and HTC to the forefront while others like LG and Sony Ericsson have lost ground. By focusing singularly on Android and by broadening the device portfolio, Motorola has written a great comeback script.

The pace of product introduction is accelerating with each quarter. Devices of all shapes and sizes are coming into the market literally every week. Players are having to re-evaluate their businesses and long-term strategies. There are several players whose future is at stake (to put it mildly). The competition has grown fierce and companies are finding it hard to take ideas from R&D to products in market in a short amount of time.

While 2010 started quite active on the regulatory front as the national broadband plan was unveiled in March little substantive progress has been made w.r.t. the spectrum, net-neutrality, and other broadband related issues.

To start planning for 4G, 5G, and beyond, US should think about rolling a 50 year broadband plan. While more spectrum is always helpful, will we have all the spectrum we need in 2050? or do we need to invent new technologies and business models that use spectrum more wisely? This topic will keep the industry occupied for some time to come.

ITU christened LTE-A and Wireless MAN-Advanced as the “official” 4G technologies but the marketing departments cared less.  (We will be releasing the next edition of our “State of the “Mobile” Broadband Nation” in the coming months.

As we had mentioned last year, the mobile data traffic kept on growing disproportional to the revenues. A series of solutions have come into the market from players big and small. We released the second edition of our in-depth research paper on data growth - "Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era"  earlier this year.

Finally, operators are starting to diversify more aggressively than in the past. AT&T’s mobile enterprise business is a leading indicator of this trend. Their focus by verticals has yielded new revenue streams and positioning them to become a one-stop shop for devices, access, and services in the enterprise market.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q3 2010 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 7, 17)

ARPU (Slides 8-11)

Subscribers (Slides 12-15)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Data Traffic (Slide 16)

· As we noted in our previous updates, the data traffic is now significantly more than the voice traffic. By end of 2010, we expect the average US consumer was consuming approximately 325 MB/mo up 112% in 12 months. The good news is that there are several solutions available and are being invented that will help manage the data growth starting with the tiered pricing plans.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Mar 2011. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Dec 2010. Be sure to participate in our annual mobile industry predictions survey coming out in Dec 2010.

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

Announcing Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit June 14, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Gaming, General, IP, IP Strategy, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Event, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Music Player, Networks, Partnership, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Patents, Privacy, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Usability, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

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You have seen some hints of the project that we have been working on for sometime. We are proud to announce “Mobile Future Forward” Executive summit to be held in Seattle on Sept 8th, 2010.

Registration is Open Now. Early Bird expires June 30th 2010.

MFF is a gathering of some of the most brilliant minds in the mobile industry. The goal is to look at how mobile is likely to evolve over the course of this decade. We couldn’t have done this without the tremendous support of our excellent sponsors who are paving the way in their respective segments.

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The speaker list includes the who’s who of the mobile industry:

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Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

Subba Rao, CEO, TataDoCoMo,

Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire

Louis Gump, VP Mobile, CNN,

Paul Palmieri, Founder and CEO, Millennial Media

Dr. Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante

Abhi Ingle, VP, AT&T Wireless

Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave

Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio

Stephen David, Former CIO, Proctor & Gamble

Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow, User Experience, Intel

Hank Skorny, SVP, Real Networks

Jon Stross, VP & GM - Babycenter, Johnson & Johnson

Dr. Suzanne Sysko, Chief Medical Officer, WellDoc

Dr. Boris Nikolic, Sr. Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Krishna Vedati, SVP & GM - Mobile, AT&T Interactive

Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype

Russ McGuire, VP, Sprint Nextel

Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp

David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures

Anand Chandrasekhar, SVP and GM, Intel

Chamath Palihapitiya, VP Growth/Mobile, Facebook

Rob Glaser, Chairman, Real Networks

Wim Sweldens, President – Wireless Division, Alcatel Lucent

Takayuki Hoshuyama, CEO, D2 Communications

Neville Ray, SVP, T-Mobile

Bob Azzi, SVP—Networks, Sprint Nextel

Mario Queiroz, VP—Android, Google

Matt Bross, Global CTO, Huawei

We will be covering the following topics in detail:

You can read more about what you can expect at the executive summit in the following whitepaper.

Mobile Future Forward Paper

I hope to see you there.

Chetan Sharma

Chief Curator

Mobile Future Forward

New Research Paper: Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era 2nd Edition June 2, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, Federal, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Patent Strategies, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

 

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Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era

The year 2010 will be remembered for many milestones. One of them clearly will be the significant migration from voice to data services and revenues. In Q1 2010, the number three operator in Japan - Softbank Mobile reported 55% of its service revenues coming from data thus becoming the first major operator to have more revenues from data services than from voice. Over the course of the rest of the year, other operators like NTT DoCoMo will take this data leap as well.

US, the nation with the most mobile data service revenues went past $14 Billion in quarterly mobile data revenues and is expected to go past the $50 Billion mark for the year in 2010. The subscription penetration in the US is well over 94% and the mobile data usage is on the rise.

While the rate of new subscription addition has slowed down, the pace of innovation is going very strong. Just like Japan, other major economies will slowly transition from a voice-centric universe to the one where voice is just another application on the all-IP network. Operators will make significant transition from voice to data, from making calls to getting lost in applications and from voice communications to multimedia communications. Helped by the ever expanding wireless broadband networks, and release of hit devices every week, and the consumer’s insatiable appetite for information and content has brought us to the surge of a data tsunami that will shake the industry to its core.

With everything moving to digital, information repositories across the web are almost doubling every day moving rapidly to the yottabyte (YB) era. The information, the desire and the capability to consume oodles of data is increasing exponentially. As a result the traffic – both wireline and wireless is also increasing at a predictably fast rate.

In 2009, the global yearly mobile data traffic reached a new milestone – 1 Exabyte (EB) or 1 Million Terabytes (TB). In the US, the data traffic is growing so fast that we are likely to exceed the 1 EB barrier in 2010. By 2016-17, the global yearly mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 1 Zettabyte (ZB) or 1000 Exabytes. How does the industry go about managing such growth in a profitable manner when the cost of supporting such traffic will increase exponentially? Will the move to LTE offer some respite?

This paper is the second edition of the “Managing Profits and Growth in the Yottabyte Era” research paper. It discusses the research and analysis done by Chetan Sharma Consulting on the growth of mobile data traffic in over 45 countries (with a detailed look at the US market) and how the ecosystem can apply some strategies to manage growth and profits.

We have built detailed models to estimate the rise of mobile data network traffic and to understand as to how the margin per bit can be maintained. Over the course of the last year, we have worked with several global players in the ecosystem to deploy effective strategies and solutions. This paper also draws from this experience on the ground.

Download Paper

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Data Market Update – Q1 2010 May 16, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Gaming, General, IP Strategy, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Wallet, Networks, Partnership, Patent Strategies, Patents, Privacy, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 5 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update – Q1 2010

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq12010.htm

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 22% Y/Y to exceed $12.5B in mobile data service revenues in Q1 2010 - on track so far to our initial estimate of $54B for the year.

In a significant milestone that went largely unnoticed, Verizon Wireless edged past NTT DoCoMo - the decade old leader in mobile data revenues to become the biggest mobile data operator by data revenues. Helped by its 93M subscriber base and high ARPU, the Verizon juggernaut is steamrolling. Rest of the 3 top US operators also occupy leading positions amongst the top 10 global mobile data operators.

The US subscription penetration was approximately 94% at the end of Q1 2010. If we take out the demographics of 5 yrs and younger, the mobile penetration is now past 100%. While the traditional net-adds have been slowing, the “connected device” segment is picking up so much so that both AT&T and Verizon added more connected devices than postpaid subs in Q1 2010. Given the slow postpaid growth in, operators are fiercely competing in prepaid, enterprise, connected devices, and M2M segments.

Data traffic continued to increase across all networks. US has become ground zero for mobile broadband consumption and data traffic management evolution. While it lags Japan and Korea in 3G penetration by a distance, due to higher penetration of smartphones and datacards, the consumption is much higher than its Asian counterparts. Given that it is also becoming the largest deployment base for HSPA+, LTE and WiMAX, most of the cutting edge research in terms of data management and experimentation with policy, regulations, strategy, and business models is taking place in the networks of the US operators and keenly watched by players across the global ecosystem.

We are starting to see the inevitable changes in broadband pricing starting with T-Mobile and MetroPCS. Over the course of this year, we are likely to see newer pricing models that tie usage to pricing and add multiple devices to a single data bucket.

The fabled iPad landed in the market and it is a winner. Apple’s latest gizmo has created a new user experience category of casual and couch computing that will foster growth in the connected device space. Kids of the now generation are growing with connected electronics that is fundamentally altering the behaviors and expectations of interaction, communication, consumption, and monetization.

Privacy brouhaha has been brewing for some time and the polity class is getting interested in stepping in. If people are really serious about tackling privacy, OEMs and carriers should build a physical/soft privacy button on the device with 3-5 levels (just like for the ringer volume) that allows users to open/close privacy across all applications and services with the touch of a button. All apps and services should adhere to the principle via APIs. The other mistake companies make about privacy is by treating everyone the same. Privacy is about the perception of control and transparency. If it is given back to the consumer, they are likely to engage more and have a more positive impact on revenue streams that are likely to flow.

In an another global milestone, Softbank became the first major operator to have more service revenues from data services than voice services. In Q1 2010, 55% of its service revenues were attributed to data services. (While Smart and Globe have been reporting 50%+ revenues from data services for a long time, the total revenues are not at scale with the leading global operators. Incidentally, for the first time in many years, the data revenue % slipped below 50% for the both operators in Q1). Based on current projections, US is likely to cross the 50% data revenue threshold in late 2012 or early 2013. NTT DoCoMo is next in line to cross the 50% mark this year.

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating period in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. We are going to be discussing the ins and outs of how the industry is going to evolve in the next decade in our Sept 8th event – Mobile Future Forward which is bringing leading industry thought-leaders, inventors, and doers to brainstorm, discuss, and debate what’s next. Hope you can join the discussion.

What to expect in the coming months?

The pace of product introduction is accelerating with each quarter. Devices of all shapes and sizes are coming into the market. Players are having to re-evaluate their businesses and long-term strategies. Several new impressive handsets got introduced during the course of 1H of 2010. iPad finally launched and even the next generation iPhone walked into a bar.

Microsoft announced its comeback with the W7 launch though the time it is taking to launch is making partners nervous. The change in UI was refreshing though the inability for the OEMs to differentiate is not winning friends. HP acquired Palm in attempt to become relevant again in the mobile device space. Some other players missed out in buying an attractive IP portfolio. It has been an action packed 2010 thus far and we can expect more of the same for the remainder of the year.

2010 has also been active on the regulatory front as the national broadband plan was unveiled in March (our thoughts on the plan). The Comcast ruling delivered a blow to the FCC and any directives or policies will hardly have any impact on the ecosystem in the short-term.

With the looming spectrum shortage, regulatory bodies can have a significant impact on the competitiveness of a nation. Many countries in South America have imposed unnecessary spectrum caps. Others are behind in sorting out their spectrum allocations. The industry and regulators need to work hand-in-hand to make progress beyond speeches and paperwork.

To start planning for 4G, 5G, and beyond, US should think about rolling a 50 year broadband plan. While more spectrum is always helpful, will we have all the spectrum we need in 2050? or do we need to invent new technologies and business models that use spectrum more wisely? This topic will keep the industry occupied for some time to come. (Former FCC Chairman, Kevin Martin headlined our Mobile Breakfast Series event in March and discussed the Spectrum Crises. Our June 10th event is bringing CEOs of some of the most innovative mobile startups to discuss the ecosystem)

2010 is also the year of network rollouts. T-Mobile has been rolling out HSPA+ at an impressive rate, Clearwire has been expanding the network so fast that it has become the biggest construction company in the US, Verizon is betting big on LTE and AT&T has been adding backhaul, upgrading to HSPA+ and planning for LTE all at once. Even the smaller carriers like MetroPCS are looking for competitive advantage with quicker LTE launch and beat others by carrying the first LTE smartphone. (We will be releasing the next edition of our “State of the “Mobile” Broadband Nation” paper later this year)

As we had mentioned last year, the mobile data traffic kept on growing disproportional to the revenues. A series of solutions have come into the market from players big and small. We will be releasing the second edition of our in-depth research paper on data growth - "Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era" later this month.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q1 2010 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 7, 16)

ARPU (Slides 8-11)

Subscribers (Slides 12-14)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Open

Data Traffic (Slide 15)

· As we noted in our last update, the data traffic is now significantly more than the voice traffic. The good news is that there are several solutions that available and are being invented that will help manage the data growth. The question is how fast will the operators deploy some of these solutions.

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Aug 2010. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Sept 2010.

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.

Global Mobile Data Market Update 2009 March 31, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Gaming, General, IP, IP Strategy, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, 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 Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Music Player, Networks, Partnership, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Patents, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, Storage, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Usability, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

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Executive Summary

The Global Wireless Markets continued to grow rapidly especially in India and China where the carriers (combined) are adding almost 30M new subscriptions every month. Amongst the two, India is outpacing China 2:1. China touched 750M subscriptions while India crossed 525M by the end of 2009. With 4.6B subscriptions, the global subscriptions penetration was above 68%.

The global mobile data revenues reached $220B and mobile data now contributes 26% of the overall global mobile service revenues.

As expected, the overall global mobile revenues stayed pretty flat for the year at around $1.1 trillion as many regions were hit by the recession and the competition pushed the ARPU lower for many operators. While the countries like US, Japan, China, and India showed very little signs of pullback, most of Europe and the developing world experienced a decline in overall service revenues in 2009. All the major markets have their data contribution percentages above 10% now.

For some of the leading operators, data is now contributing almost 50% of the overall revenues. However, the increase in data ARPU is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU for most operators. NTT DoCoMo continues to dominate the carrier ranking in terms of the mobile data service revenues, Verizon Wireless which became #2 replacing China Mobile and is slowly edging towards the #1 spot and is likely to overtake DoCoMo within the next few quarters.

Though 4G as a standard hasn’t been defined yet, the discussions around LTE and WiMAX deployments grew intense. Telia Sonera became the first operator to commercially launch LTE. At CTIA, Sprint/HTC became the first players to launch a WiMAX smartphone and MetroPCS/Samsung took the honors for the LTE smartphone.

2009 also marked the year when the global data traffic (monthly) exceeded the global voice traffic. In the US, the yearly mobile data traffic exceeded the voice traffic for the first time.

We are also entering the phase of global mega-mergers in telecom. Bharti Airtel of India just acquired Kuwait-based Zain Group to become the 5th largest telecom group in the world (at the end of 2009, it was #9). There are now 14 telecom groups with 100M or more subscriptions. While China Mobile’s ARPU is 1/5th of its western counterparts, it operates its business at higher margin, around 51%. There are a number of global players mainly in Europe and Asia who have mastered the art of running lean operations and if they have good bank balance they are going to go shopping in the days ahead.

From the revenue perspective, the $50 billion revenue club is more exclusive with China Mobile, Vodafone, AT&T Mobility, and Verizon Wireless as its sole members.

As we sit at the cusp of the iPad era, there is a bigger transformation taking place and that is of the connected consumer electronic devices (CEDs). Few years from now, most popular CEDs will have connectivity. We are also approaching the start of phase where pricing of access will start to morph - we will see the introduction of family data plans (something we have been advocating for some time), ability to connect multiple devices to the same GB plan, more granular use plans (per session/day/week/mo/yr etc, roll-over GBs anyone?). As the number of connected devices/consumer increases, we will start worrying about Average Margin Per User (AMPU) or Average Margin Per Connection (AMPC) because ARPU won’t quite capture the dynamics of the industry.

Exciting times indeed.

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

  • Telecom in general fared better than other industries. In some regions, it hardly caused a tremor. However, in most nations, the impact was felt by the operators. Amongst the 40 major operators we studied, SK Telecom, 3 Australia, KTF, T-Mobile Netherlands, Rogers, Softbank Japan, Singtel, Vodafone Italy, T-Mobile Germany, 3 Sweden, Telstra, China Unicom, and Vodafone Germany experienced increase in both the data ARPU and the overall ARPU during 2009. Some of increase was due to the fluctuation in international currencies e.g. Korea.

  • Looking at the data at a country level, most nations noted a decline in overall ARPU. Only Venezuela, Pakistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Australia, and Poland showed positive increase in ARPU since 2008.

  • Rule of Three is kicking in most markets with smaller players having to consider the M&A option to remain viable. T-Mobile/Orange, Bharti/Zain tie-ups are just the start of that process. We are likely to see many international mergers in 2010 and beyond as power in the mobile ecosystem self-adjusts.

  • 5 new players joined the 100M subscriptions club. The new members are: Bharti Airtel (India), MTN Group (South Africa), Orascom (Egypt), Etisalat (UAE), and MTS (Russia). The top 9 telecom groups in the world are: China Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, America Movil, Telenor, T-Mobile, China Unicom, TeliaSonera, and Orange.

Service Revenues

  • US extended its lead over Japan as the most valuable mobile data market in service revenue with US adding $44.56B vs. $32.5B for Japan in 2009. China with $20.3B was ranked number 3. US registered the highest growth amongst the top 3 with over 40% increase from EOY 2008 levels followed by Japan and China.
  • The top 10 nations by service revenues are: US, China, Japan, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Brazil, Spain, and India.
  • The top 10 nations by data service revenues are: US, Japan, China, UK, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Spain, and Korea.
  • NTT DoCoMo continues to dominate the wireless data revenues rankings with over $16B in data services revenue in 2009. Almost 46% of its overall revenue now comes from data services. DoCoMo also crossed the 95% 3G mark.
  • NTT DoCoMo was followed by Verizon Wireless, China Mobile, AT&T, KDDI, Sprint Nextel, Softbank Mobile, T-Mobile USA, O2 UK, and China Unicom to round up the top 10 operators by wireless data service revenues.
  • Each of the top 5 carriers exceeded $10B in yearly mobile data service revenues in 2009
  • Data revenues for the top 10 operators now account for almost 43% of the global mobile data revenues.
  • The biggest jump in data revenues was experienced by Verizon, Softbank, and AT&T. DoCoMo saw an 11% increase for the year.
  • Most of the operators in the developed nations are contemplating future strategies to boost data revenues such that the decline in voice revenues is at least compensated for. There are very few operators who have experienced increase in overall ARPU.
  • China reported approximately $20.3B in data revenues for 2009 and the percentage contribution from data services is around 32%, data ARPU is around $3.2. For India, data ARPU continues to stay below $0.50 as most of the new adds are voice only subscribers and there is continued price pressure in the market.
  • China Mobile remains the most valuable telecom operator with over $195B in market cap. It is followed by Vodafone at around $122B. Telecom groups in mature markets are under enormous pressure to either come up with a global expansion strategy or accelerate their existing plans.
  • In 2009, SMS’s vice like grip on data revenues continues to loosen a bit with many carriers seeing an increase in non-SMS data revenues. On an average, Japan and Korea have over 70-75% of their revenue coming from non-SMS data applications, US around 50-60%, and Western Europe around 20-40%.
  • NTT DoCoMo has been at the cutting edge of the mobile data evolution by creating new markets. They are exploring new technologies and social experiments ahead of almost anybody else in the market. Our long history with the Japanese and Korean markets has taught us that while the individual strategies in each market will differ, one should study the trends, technologies, and ecosystem dynamics in these markets to get a sense of what’s coming.

· From the revenue perspective, the $50 billion revenue club has limited membership with China Mobile, Vodafone, AT&T Mobility, and Verizon Wireless as its sole members.

ARPU

  • Most of the major operators around the world have double digit percentage contribution to their overall ARPU from data services. Operators like DoCoMo, and Softbank are over 46%. KDDI, 3 Australia, 3 Italy, 3 UK, Vodafone UK, O2 UK, Telstra, and 3 Sweden exceeded 35% and many others are on the verge of crossing the 30% mark.
  • NTT DoCoMo reported the highest data ARPU for the year while Rogers took away the honors for the highest overall ARPU. Other notable percentage increases in ARPU were from 3 Italy, SK Telecom, KTF, T-Mobile Germany, 3 Sweden, and T-Mobile Austria. The Japanese operators saw a decline in ARPU by 3%.
  • The biggest percentage contribution by data ARPU has been consistently registered (since mid 2002) by two Philippines carriers – Smart Communications and Globe Telecom with over 53% (or $2) contribution coming from the data services.
  • Softbank of Japan looks set to be the first major operator (outside of Philippines) with more revenues coming from data services than voice.

Mobile Data Traffic

  • We have been calling attention to the tremendous increase in mobile data traffic for some time. The discussion has hit mainstream and many operators are scrambling to nail-down their short-term and long-term strategies to manage the data traffic growth in their networks. See our paper on the subject "Managing growth and profits in the Yottabyte era." The recommendations discussed in the paper are slowly being adopted by various vendors and operators worldwide.
  • The global mobile data traffic exceeded an Exabyte for the first time in 2009. In fact, the data usage is growing so fast that this year, the two territories experiencing the most growth - North America and Western Europe are both going to exceed an Exabyte in mobile data traffic.
  • 2009 also marked the year when the global data traffic (monthly) exceeded the global voice traffic.
  • For many of the superphone heavy operators, devices like iPhone and Android account for more than 50% of their total data traffic.
  • 2010 will mark the first year when the total number of mobile broadband connections will exceed the total number of fixed broadband connections.

For more mobile data traffic analysis, please stay tuned for the second edition of our Yottabyte research

Subscriptions

  • India continues to be the hottest market on the planet in terms of net-adds with (again) a world record-setting month in Jan 2010 with 19.9 million net adds. To give you a perspective, this is almost 1.5 times  the number of subscribers US added in the whole year. It is like adding a Canadian wireless market every month. For the year 2009, India added 177 million subs vs. 106 million for China. Combined, one year of growth in these two market is equivalent to the size of the third largest market - the US, to date. Making money on the net-adds is a different proposition all together (more discussion on the international market in our global market update later this month)
  • Thanks to the explosive growth in the emerging markets, the global mobile market went past 4.6B in 2009 and is likely to cross the 5B mark in 2010. The global mobile subscriptions now represent over 68% of human population on planet earth.
  • China crossed the 700M subscription mark in July while India’s total went past 500 in Nov. In the meantime, US crossed the 90% subscriptions mark in 2009.
  • In the last 10 years, the growth patterns in the mobile industry have completely reversed. In 1998, the developed world accounted for 76% of the subscriber base, in 2008; the percentages have flipped with developing world now accounting for 76% of the subscriber base and are likely to increase to 85% by 2018.
  • The top 10 nations by subscriptions are: China, India, US, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Pakistan and Italy.
  • China Mobile became the first operator (and likely to be the only one for a very long time) to cross the 500M mark. It remains the #1 carrier in terms of the total number of subscriptions followed by Vodafone. Telefonica, América Móvil, Telenor, T-Mobile, China Unicom, TeliaSonera, Orange, and Bharti Airtel round up the top 10 largest telecom groups in the world.

Mobile Apps

· The total number of app downloads in 2009 reached 7 billion resulting in approximately $4.1B in revenues 12% of which was from mobile advertising.

· The number of non-carrier appstores jumped to 38 from 8 in the previous year.

· While Asia had the highest percentage of the download share, North America had the highest share of the apps revenue accounting for over 50% of the total revenue.

· The paid ASP in 2009 was approximately $1.9 and the advertising revenue generated from the free applications was approximately $0.09/user/app/year

For a more detailed analysis of the mobile apps market, please see our paper “Sizing the Global Mobile Apps Market”

Others

  • Messaging still accounts for the lion-share of data service revenues. However, other services such as Mobile Music, Mobile TV and video streaming, Voice navigation, PNDs, Mobile Games, IMS, LBS, Mobile advertising, and others have gradually chipped away the share from messaging. Alternate devices with wholesale cellular agreements are also flooding the market. In Japan, Mobile Commerce is expected to do much better than Mobile Advertising. Though not much talked about, enterprise applications are also being adopted widely esp. in North America as more workers become mobile and corporations seek efficiencies in their operations and supply-chain.
  • Nokia dominated the year as usual but the revenue share is shrinking and so is the lucrative smartphone share. Apple, RIM, and Google are relentlessly attacking the top tier while Samsung, LG, and others giving a tough fight for the bottom tier. We see a new middle tier emerging that has the form factor of a featurephone and functionality of a smartphone. The smartphone category is getting further split into regular qwerty smartphones like Blackberry and the touch and full browser based superphones like the iPhone and Droid.
  • The year was dominated by several blockbuster device launches like the iPhone 3GS.
  • Next few years will be big for infrastructure providers as many countries both developed and developing get into upgrading their infrastructure.
  • Willcom, the small Japanese carrier that started the flat-rate unlimited phenomenon filed for bankruptcy last month.
  • In the US, the increase in messaging volume catapulted US as the number one texting nation by messages/user/month going past the long-time leader Philippines.
  • Deployment of 3.5G technologies is in full swing. However, it is the discussion of 4G that is occupying the headlines, even though 4G hasn’t been fully defined yet and the current candidates for 4G are nowhere near the performance goals of 4G (150Mbps/50+Mbps). Many larger operators have laid out their plans for deploying LTE starting this year.
  • We are also seeing regulators playing an active role in making the markets competitive and attractive in the long-term.

· The velocity with which the smartphones are being introduced into the market esp. the western markets, 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.

2010 will be a critical year on many fronts. 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 May 2010. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be released in Sept 2010.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

CTIA Roundup 2010 March 26, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Gaming, General, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, MVNO, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Patent Strategy, Patents, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

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CTIA hosted its annual networking party in Vegas. I can appreciate what Bill Murray must have felt like in ground hog day for sometimes I can’t tell which year we are in at CTIA.  Of course, things are moving forward with all the advances and services but the messaging and value props reappear from the dead. In any case, it is always good to reconnect with colleagues and wander around on the show floor to get the pulse of the industry. The highlight of the show was the release of the HTC Evo 4G device by Sprint to mark the entry of the first WiMax smartphone. Not to be outdone, Samsung announced SCH-r900 (who comes up with these names) - the first LTE handset to be launched later this year on the Metro PCS network. Like at the Mobile World Congress, it was clear that industry is courting the “developers”  though few have figured out how to help them with a healthy revenue stream. There was a lot of discussion on 4G, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Web vs. Apps, Femtocells, Smart Driving Solutions (it had its own pavilion), HSPA+, A/V Reality, Spectrum, Congestion management, National Broadband Plan, Taxi lines, and more. This note summarizes the observations and opinions from the event, discussions, and briefings.

My trip started early as I was moderating a panel on Mobile Advertising at the packed Mobile Web and Apps World forum. I am finding that the pre-shows generally have better attendance than sessions during the show. MTV’s Joe Lalley mentioned that the number of RFPs that require mobile advertising as a component have grown 3-4 times in the last 6-12 months. One of the areas that has been lagging is the “industry consensus on metrics” as without consistent numbers across all ad networks and service providers, many in the advertising industry will stay on the fence or will work with only select players in the ecosystem. Gary Schwartz, who is on IAB’s Mobile Marketing Committee updated on the collaboration done between IAB and MMA and we should be seeing some of the work soon. To some extent the story of mobile advertising is playing out exactly as we had imagined in our Mobile Advertising book and once many of the pieces are in place, the use of mobile in advertising will become so pervasive that we will wonder what took so long. And as I mentioned before, Apple could help redefine mobile advertising.

It is good that CTIA is thinking of some diversity when designing their keynotes. Iñaki Urdangarín, René Obersmann, Padmasree Warrior, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, James Cameron, and Biz Stone were a welcome change not that there is anything wrong with other speakers. It is better to look at the industry from multiple angles. However, the lack of developers on the stage was acutely felt. The consistent message across all keynotes was: tremendous growth ahead and we are barely scratching the surface. That was hardly in doubt, the question is who benefits from it and who goes home.

T-Mobile announced the launch of its HSPA+ upgrade along with many smartphones to launched soon. Per Cole Brodman, CTO, T-Mobile US, this makes T-Mobile the US operator with the fastest network (did you know T-Mobile has more cellsites than Verizon?). With WiMAX and LTE smartphones coming in the next few months, we can expect a good tussle for mindshare. However, as the FCC quoted in its National Broadband Plan from our paper  “State of The (Mobile) Broadband Union” - there is a difference in advertised vs. actual speeds especially on smartphones. We will be doing some more research on the topic later this year.

The highlight of the show was Sprint’s release of the “mother of all smartphones” (from the spec point of view)- the HTC EVO 4G. Consider this: 1GHz processor, 8/1.3MP camera, 720p HDvideo, HDMI out, Hotspot capability (upto 8 devices), 3-6 Mbps (wimax)/.6-1.4 Mbps(evdo), 1GB ROM, 4.3” capacitive display, etc. Full specs here. Of course, the pricing and street performance will determine its success but clearly a milestone for the industry. The device came to the market earlier than most expected and will let the competitive fervor to go up a notch.

A couple of days later, Samsung announced its SCH-r900 (who comes up with these names) - the first LTE handset to be launched later this year on the Metro PCS network. Had it been on Verizon or AT&T, it would have gotten more attention. In any case, Metro PCS is trying to cement its place for the bragging rights. We can expect a number of new LTE smartphones coming into the market early next year. Voice and actual performance are still an open question.

Congestion management remains a big issue for the industry. I was glad to hear that the industry is coming around to the realization that “a holistic approach” is required to solving the problem, something we first outlined in our widely referenced paper “Managing Growth and Profitability in the Yottabyte Era.” Ralph de la Vega, speaking in his capacity as the Chairman of the CTIA and executive at AT&T embraced the principles of a sustainable model - complementary technologies, application efficiencies, network efficiencies, and available spectrum. We should add pricing efficiencies into the mix as well. Chetan Sharma Consulting will be releasing an update to the Yottabyte paper in the next couple of months, so stay tuned.

There was clearly a lot of focus on developers and attempts at giving them more voice and attention. As I alluded to in my talk on the appstore ecosystem at last CTIA, the various appstores need to focus on how to make their ecosystems more vibrant and profitable for the developers, else, we will start seeing them drop like dead flies in the not so distant future. A week prior to the CTIA, we released our research on the appstore economy which was well received. While a number of developers had booths at CTIA, there was no useful traffic. Better forums were organized WIP Connector and OMS.

With the imminent arrival of iPad next week, there was plenty of discussion and display of eReaders/tablets and how it might drive another category. While we won’t see the iPhonesque like sales numbers, it is clearly an exciting introduction to couch computing. I will have more to say on the subject once I get my hands on the device next month. It is also quite apparent that the category of extending the display beyond the device is going to take shape this decade. The interactions and content doesn’t need to be in the confines of the small display. 3D video also surfaced as something many players are working on.

Video was touted as the killer app for 4G though I wondered who will be the hunter and the hunted. I remember the same argument for 3G and mobile video went from the darling of the show to a pariah that no one wanted to touch in a matter of two years. Is video over cellular really the best use of resources? Am sure, the debate will continue for the foreseeable future.

Activity in the mHealth segment is picking up. It was mentioned several times in the various keynotes as well as the number of startups tackling the capture and processing of medical data is increasing. One of them was Mobisante which presented on a VC panel I moderated. They are building a low-cost ultrasound imaging device that uses smartphones.

Some of the other news worthy items were:

We will be discussing many of the future topics in much more detail at our upcoming conference “Mobile Future Forward.” More details to come.

Thanks

Chetan Sharma

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

New Whitepaper: Mobile VoIP – Approaching the Tipping Point February 17, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, India, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, 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 Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Patent Strategy, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

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

Mobile VoIP - Approaching the Tipping Point

Sponsored by Skype

This paper is a collaboration with Ajit Jaokar (FutureText) in London

Over the course of the last decade, mobile devices have become the most ubiquitous consumer electronic devices ever invented. Even in the poorest of the nations, mobile phones have evolved from being a luxury to an indispensible necessity. The paradigm of communication itself has undergone a significant transformation from just voice to multimode interaction. The trend is also discernable in the revenue numbers from the advanced mobile markets where voice revenue per user have been declining over the course of the last decade while most of the growth is coming from mobile data services. Mobile data services have evolved significantly from simple text messaging to multimode communication involving text, VoIP (voice over IP), video, and other forms of messaging and social networking interactions.

As we head into the next decade, the competitive landscape is going to change from year to year and sometimes even quarter to quarter. For major service providers, competition is no longer just from an operator who provides voice and data services but any company that captures the communication value chain. It is no longer sufficient to rely on voice revenues but providers need to think communications in a much more holistic form. Once the transport layer becomes all-IP in a given network, voice is nothing but another application that will work and interact with other applications in tandem often in real-time. The fear of cannibalization are unwarranted as our research shows that by offering consumers comprehensive services, the lifetime value of customers can be increased, churn can be reduced, and the overall value proposition of the operator increases tremendously.

The forces of technology, business models, consumer expectations, regulatory regimes, competition, and collaboration will help define the communication landscape of the next  ten years. This paper will take a look at the evolution of the Internet, mobile broadband, and mobile communication and how consumer behavior and expectations have changed. Next, the emergence and the role of VoIP is discussed in further detail before we delve into the intricacies of communication economics to dispel some myths and layout the framework for how operators should approach the new communications world.

Given the embrace by major tier-one operators, we believe that mobile VoIP is on the verge of becoming an integral part of the communications framework. This acceptance represents a tipping point in the evolution of mobile VoIP. The ecosystem participants who embrace and collaborate to provide a holistic and comprehensive communication solutions stand to benefit the most.

Download Paper (pdf)

New Whitepaper: Role of Optical Wireless Broadband in the Evolving Mobile Ecosystem January 27, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Location Based Services, M&A, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

Role of Optical Wireless Broadband in the Evolving Mobile Ecosystem

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

Sponsored by Skyfiber

These are exciting times in the wireless industry. The innovation in technology, services, and business models is driving the global industry to new heights. While the global markets were feeling the pain of a brutal recession, the wireless industry for the most part sidestepped the crisis, especially the US and Asian markets. In the US, 2009 was a banner year for the mobile data services and applications. Each of the four quarters exceeded $10 billion in mobile data services revenue and the subscription penetration was approximately 93% by the end of the year.

The mobile industry is going through significant transition from being voice-centric to data-centric, from consumers spending 90% of their time talking to 80% of the time spending on mobile data and games. The main drivers of such an evolution are: better devices like the iPhone, Droid, Pre, Bold, etc., higher capacity networks such as WCDMA, HSPA+, and EV-DO Rev A, flat rate data pricing, and a heightened consumer awareness of mobile applications and services. This has boosted both the consumer engagement and the revenues from data services.

However, this increased usage comes at a cost. As users are becoming accustomed to an always-on, always-connected world of mobile, they are consuming tremendous amount of data that is putting significant burden on the networks especially the backhaul. Further, as the need for the bandwidth rises exponentially, we are approaching what FCC’s Chairman Genachowski termed as “a looming spectrum crisis.” In light of such infrastructure challenges, the industry needs to think outside-the-spectrum-box and think long-term else we will be in a perpetual cycle of crises. Traditional transmission technologies like Fiber and Microwave will benefit from complimentary technologies such as Optical Wireless Broadband (OWB), which enhances the operator’s toolbox to build out efficient broadband connectivity.

This paper discusses the mobile data growth, the backhaul demands, and the looming spectrum crisis in more detail. Further, the paper discusses the requirements for backhaul to support next generation traffic and the role of new technologies such as Optical Wireless Broadband to provide backhaul capacity solutions that are both economical as well as future-proof.

Download Paper (pdf)

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Gaming, General, IP, IP Strategy, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, 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 Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Music Player, Networks, Partnership, Patent Strategies, Patent Strategy, Patents, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Speech Recognition, Storage, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Uncategorized, Unified Messaging, Usability, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 6 comments

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey

http://www.chetansharma.com/MobilePredictions2010.htm

Mobile Predictions Survey (pdf)

Mobile Predictions Survey (ppt)

First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010. Thanks to all who participated in our 2010 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. We have found it is the best way to think about the trends coming our way.

Before we dive into the survey results, let’s do a quick wrap-up of the year that was. Well, since we  just completed one heck of a mobile decade, let’s do a quick jog down the memory lane.

The Last Decade: 2000-2009

Each new decade brings its own consumer and technology trends. During the 2000s mobile cemented its place in the global society fabric, the use of mobility became addictive and pervasive, to be without mobile seemed a curse and innovation blossomed and took user expectations to new heights.

decadeglobal

From a pure statistical point of view, the global mobile subscription penetration grew from 12% in 2000 to approximately 68% in 2009 - phenomenal by any measure. The overall revenues grew over 400%, the data revenue grew 32,600% and the total subscriptions grew 563%. NTT DoCoMo paved the way with the i-mode launch in 1999 and they were the operator to emulate throughout the last decade, leading every single year in data revenues, in new application and service revenue sources, and in innovation and risk taking. They tried to export the success to other regions with little reward but DoCoMo clearly led the industry in taking mobile devices where they have never gone before.

China and India were late to the party but during the second half of the decade caught up with the western world and eventually surpassed all nations becoming number one and two nations by subscriptions respectively. In 2006, China Mobile became the most valuable operator passing Vodafone.

Mobile devices went significant transformation as well. From the early Bluetooth, camera, and music phones to the iPhones, the Storms, and the Androids, the industry was transformed by the introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. While Bluetooth, sleek designs, camera phone defined the first half of the decade, the second half was all about the applications and the mobile web. While Nokia dominated the entire decade in terms of the sales and profits, having missed the touch revolution, it leaves the decade a bit battered and a bit behind playing catch-up to the newcomers who profoundly disturbed the status quo.

decadeoem

Razr carried Motorola through 2006 when its global share peaked but was left to reinvent itself during the second half. It seems to have redeemed itself with the successful launch of Droid and upcoming Android devices. While many in the industry predicted RIM’s demise, the company has only gotten stronger and is looking good for the 2010s. The emergence of Samsung and LG as strong players in the mobile ecosystem was also a big story of the decade with Samsung increasing its share by 380% and LG by 575% becoming the number 2 and 3 players respectively.

While Microsoft’s Windows Mobile had an early start and the enterprise market share, it lost its way through several missteps and is on dialysis as we enter the new decade. One shouldn’t count WM out though but there is a lot of work to be done before it can capture the imagination of the ecosystem which has been sequestered away by iPhone and Android.

While many new application areas were introduced during 2000s, none was able to displace SMS as the leading app category by usage and revenues. However, it’s relative share has started to come down especially in North America and Western Europe.

As data usage grew, so did the data traffic bringing many data networks to their knees. We expect the data traffic consumption to only accelerate. Many people are underestimating the growth rates (as they did previously) and the strain the increase in consumption will put on the unprepared networks. Projector phones will take media  consumption to a new level. Data management is going to be big business in the 2010s.

Overall, the mobile industry became a trillion dollar industry in 2008 and the data revenues are increasing in almost all regions. Voice is being commoditized at fast pace and that has put the traditional economics and ecosystem wealth distribution in topsy-turvy.

decadeus

The US market also experienced tremendous growth with mobile data service revenues climbing 21,327% and becoming a mainstay in the mobile economy. In 2008 it crossed Japan as the most valuable mobile data market. US was late in adopting SMS but caught fire once American Idol started using it and even played a good role in the 2008 Presidential election in showcasing the power of mobile. Verizon started the decade being the number one operator and after trading places with Cingular and ATT grabbed the title back in 2009 (after the Alltel acquisition) to become the most dominant carrier in North America. Many smaller players competed by being innovative with Cincinnati Bell launching the fist UMA device, Sprint the first mobile eReader, and TMO launched the hotspot business which has now become an essential component of an operator strategy going forward.

Mobile is also replacing landline at a much faster pace than expected and within the first half of the new decade, we will have majority of the users using mobile vs. landline. Just like the last decade, this one starts with a new standard deployment of LTE that will keep operators and vendors busy throughout the decade. However, a lot of the developing markets will still be deploying 3G during the first half of the decade.

Infrastructure providers suffered the most in the decade bookended by the two recessions. Consolidation of giants (Alcatel Lucent, Nokia Siemens), bankruptcies of the famous (Nortel), and uprising of the upstarts (Huawei) pretty much defined the decade for the segment. Ericsson and Huawei enter the new decade from a strong position and looking to dominate the global markets.

The last decade was also marked by some prominent IP battles such as RIM vs. NTP, Qualcomm vs. Broadcom, Sony Ericsson vs. Samsung, Upaid vs. Satyam etc. (disclaimer: we worked on some of these cases and testified as an expert)

Here is our “subjective” list of movers and shakers of the last decade

2000-2009

2010-2019

Operator of the Decade

NTT DoCoMo

DCM led the way in almost all new category of apps and services. Its data service revenue was highest in each of the last 10 years

DCM will continue to lead along with KDDI and SKT. However, it might be the carriers with tremendous scale who will have the calling cards in the new decade. Watch for China Mobile, Vodafone/Verizon, Telefonica, Orange, Bharti, Unicom, Singtel

OEM of the Decade

Nokia

Nokia dominated in sales and revenues in each of the 10 years and while the last couple of years took some shine off its glorious past, the company nevertheless came out ahead

RIM, Apple, Nokia, Samsung

Smartphone OEM of the Decade

Apple

Smartphones as we know them were introduced by RIM but Apple defined the category and the subsequent ecosystem

This space will be very competitive with Apple still the gold standard to beat

Infrastructure Provider of the Decade

Ericsson

Its prime rivals struggled to stay afloat while Ericsson grabbed most of the revenues from infrastructure contracts and is very well positioned for the next decade

Ericsson is joined by Huawei as the two top infrastructure provider with Huawei giving tough competition for LTE contracts. ZTE and other Chinese infrastructure providers will also replace some of the incumbents

Nation that led in mobile data

Japan

This is a no brainer. Japan led with Korea a close second. Finland, UK also impressed

US, China, and India are well positioned to make an impression but most likely during the second half. Japan will still be a major player

Device of the decade

iPhone followed by Razr

iPhone impressed with form and function while Razr with its global sales making it a top selling device of all times

The field might get more crowded as all OEMs focusing on the smartphone category. However, OEMs who also focus on the 90% of the market w/o smartphones might win the top prize

The year 2009

Apple continued to dominate the headlines for the third straight year - whether it was the launch of 3GS or the upcoming introduction of the fabled tablet. Google too kept the ecosystem active. It has executed on its mobile strategy with brilliant acumen though causing significant consternation amongst its partners who it needs to be successful. It has been often misunderstood by competitors, regulators, and partners. Often, they have focused on Google’s tactics vs. its strategy. Look for these two players to be very aggressive as they try to fight for the mantle and the mindshare.

While Nokia leads the OEM space by a good distance, its momentum in the smartphone space left a lot of question marks. Motorola made a credible comeback with Cliq and Droid. Samsung and LG continued to innovate and expanded on their share of shipments and revenues.

India outpaced China in net-adds and crossed 500M though it is still quite behind China’s 750M. The M&A and the consolidation process became active in Asia with several of the big regional operators looking to flex muscles in the international markets. After several delays, China started deploying 3G while India again fumbled and postponed its 3G auction.

US mobile data market continued its pace in 2009 with each of the four quarters exceeding $10B in data service revenues. The gap between the top two operators and the rest grew to be the biggest in the decade and the industry weathered the recession with ease. There was a clear shift towards prepaid especially for Sprint, T-Mobile, and the tier 2/3 operators.

2009 was also defined by significant activity on the application front. With Facebook eclipsing 100M subscribers and Appstore exceeding 2.5B downloads, sky is the limit.

The year also saw an unprecedented growth in mobile data consumption. As we had predicted, for some of the networks, the growth proved to be a double-edged sword. Many in the industry are banking on LTE to help relieve the pain but will be surprised that depending solely on the upgrade strategy will not be enough. Declaring spectrum as a looming crisis, FCC also started tinkering with the mobile industry and the broadband plan.

Japan exceeded 90% in 3G penetration while US subscriptions ventured into the 90% territory. Most of western Europe is way past 130%.

All in all, a terrific year considering that we went through one of the worst recessions in a generation. As we bid goodbye to the last decade, Nexus One and iTablet only serve to whet our appetite of what’s to come.

On a personal note, we started our consulting practice this last decade as we were coming out of the bubble recession and have been fortunate to work with some of the brightest brains and companies in the global ecosystem. We also had a chance to work on some key initiatives that impacted the ecosystem in profound ways. Many thanks to our clients, colleagues, friends, and readers. We will be involved with many new initiatives over the next decade and are looking forward to the conversations through the research notes, books, speeches, panels, whitepapers, blog posts, facebook and twitter feeds, and more.

Thanks and Happy New Year. May the upcoming decade leave you happier, healthier, and more successful than the previous one.

As we eluded to earlier, 2010 will 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 it includes industry movers and shakers participation. Executives and insiders (n=150) from leading mobile companies across the value chain and around the world opined to help us see what 2010 might bring.

11 names were randomly drawn for 3 special prizes. The winners are:

  1. Claire Boonstra, Cofounder, Layar- INQMobile 3G Chat device

  2. Michael Libes, CTO, GroundTruth - Open Mobile Book

  3. Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile, Facebook - Open Mobile Book

  4. Subba Rao, CEO, TataDoCoMo - Open Mobile Book

  5. Saumil Gandhi, Product Manager, Microsoft - Open Mobile Book

  6. Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Connected Planet - Open Mobile Book

  7. Mike Vanderwoude, VP & GM, Cincinnati Bell Wireless - 2010 Mobile Almanac

  8. Pinney Colton, VP, GfK - 2010 Mobile Almanac

  9. Tim Chang, Principal, Norwest Ventures - 2010 Mobile Almanac

  10. Laura Marriott, President - 2010 Mobile Almanac

  11. Asha Vellaikal, Director, Orange - 2010 Mobile Almanac

Thanks to INQMobile and my friend Ajit Jaokar for contributing the prize gifts.

Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2010?

There were many. Sampling - Verizon iPhone, Microsoft Phone, Sprint will not be bought, Femtocells won’t gain traction, RCS will not happen, Google will not enter handset market directly, iPhone won’t lose steam, Android won’t bring coherence, NFC won’t take off, WiMAX won’t disappear, Nokia won’t bounce back, Palm won’t die, “Year of Mobile” noise won’t subside, carriers won’t be delegated as dumb-pipes.

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, augmented reality, 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, Mobile 3.0, LTE, single purpose devices, 3G in India, Bada, app vs web, developer turmoil, featurephones, smart grids, M2M, Chrome, etc.

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 the next decade and seeing many of you along the way.

We hope you enjoyed gaining from the collective wisdom. Your feedback is always welcome.

Be well, Do Cool Work, Stay in touch.

Thanks.

With warm wishes,

Chetan Sharma

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

Now onto the 2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results

The panel comprised of movers and shakers from around the world

survey2_10 survey1_10

What will be the biggest stories of 2010?

survey3_10

Jan seems to be the Google Phone vs. Apple Tablet matchup. Our panel though voted for the continued growth in mobile data as the top story.

Have we recovered from the recession? (Please select one)

survey4_10

Majority thought we are out of it though some might still feel the pinch

Who will be the most open player in the mobile ecosystem in 2010? (Please select one)

survey5_10

Google has done a great job at maintaining its image as THE open leader

Will Android handset sales exceed iPhone’s in 2010? (Please select one)

survey6_10

Despite Androids coming in droves, iPhone will still be the king of the hill

When will we see tiered pricing plans for smartphones in the US from tier 1 operators? (Please select one)

survey7_10

There are indications that this might happen sooner rather than later

What will happen to the mobile prepaid subscriber base in the US? (Please select one)

survey8_10

Prepaid made a strong comeback in 2009 and a good majority thought that the trend is likely to continue

By how much will the mobile advertising ad-spend increase in 2010? (Please select one)

survey9_10

Mobile Advertising was the only advertising segment with positive growth last year so it is no surprise that folks expect it to more than double this year

What will be the impact of the FCC’s national broadband plan on the mobile industry in 2010? (Please select one)

survey10_10

Not much is expected from the various rulings that might come this year with most expecting the courts to have the final word.

Who will be the mobile comeback story of 2010?

survey12_10

Having bet its future on Android, Motorola was voted as the comeback kid of 2010

What will be the impact of Google Phone?

survey13_10

It’s pretty clear, Google and Apple are duking it out for the developer mindshare. Google wins in either case.

Which areas will feel the most impact from FCC?

 survey11_10

Net neutrality is the area where they will have the most impact

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

survey14_10

While only a holistic approach can provide complete relief, tiered mobile data pricing might have the most impact

When will the carrier-branded appstores lose steam? (Please select one)

survey15_10

Most expect carrier-branded appstores to be a thing of the past in 2010

What will help mobile cloud computing gain traction in 2010?

survey16_10

Mobile cloud computing is gaining steam and the reason is storage and media

What will be the most successful non-mobile-phone category in 2010? (Please select one)

survey17_10

Netbooks seem to be the strongest category followed by eReaders, Tablet, and M2M

What will be the breakthrough category in mobile in 2010? (Please select one)

survey18_10

Mobile Advertising and Mobile Payments share the top honors

By the end of 2010, which will have more subscribers? (Please select one)

survey19_10

LTE might have the momentum but WiMAX has the subscribers

How will Netbooks do through the operator channel? (Please select one)

survey20_10

No major impact from the operator channel

Which standards will gain traction?

survey21_10

No major impact from the standards

What mode of mobile payments will get any traction in North America and Western Europe in 2010?

survey22_10

The category will expand in different ways with more items being charged on the operator bill

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2009 November 9, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, European Wireless Market, IP Strategy, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Networks, Partnership, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Usability, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 5 comments

 

Download PPT | PDF

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 27% Y/Y to exceed $11.3B in mobile data service revenues and thus exceeded $10B for the third straight quarter. As we mentioned in our Q1 2009 research note, given the strong growth in data revenues and overall service revenues, the worst is over for the US mobile industry. The US market touched 25% penetration of smartphones in Q3 2009, a new milestone.

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 has stayed 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. The US subscription penetration was approximately 91.3% at the end of Q3 2009.

As we mentioned in our last three 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 two quarters along with better than expected Q1-3 2009 earnings from corporations, the mobile industry is back on track. While the structural flaws in various industry segments remain, the outlook for the Q4 2009 and 2010 remains bright and we are expecting the overall data revenues to now increase by over 30% compared to 2008 with a record-setting Q4.

Q3 2009 reported a 3.5% increase in GDP compared to the 1% decline in Q2 and 6.4% decline in Q1, thus marking the official (technical) end of the recession. 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. Note: For a detailed discussion of the US wireless industry in recessions, please see 2008 US Wireless Market Update.

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 47.7.

What to expect in the coming months?

The high unemployment has slowed the growth in the data card segment but the smartphone consumers have more than picked up the slack. Also, as expected, there was a shift from postpaid to prepaid in some user segments. For example, for T-Mobile, prepaid accounts for almost 20% of their customer base compared to 17% from an year ago. 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.

In fact, the churning in the last few quarters has distanced the top two (AT&T and Verizon) and the next two (Sprint and T-Mobile) by the biggest gap in the history of the industry. By the end of 2009, this gap will rise to 36% compared to 28% at the end of 2008 and 21% in 2002.The "Rest" category has essentially diminished from the market dropping from a dominant 43% market share in 2002 to 12% in 2009.

The trend of the landline replacement by Mobile continued in Q3 2009, now reaching almost 25%. In the third quarter, messaging growth slowed down. The messaging volume was up only 4% and messaging revenues were up 3% QoQ. 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 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." We will have more on this subject in the coming days (You can also read our RCR Wireless columns on the subject - Defining Mobile Broadband and Solutions for the Broadband World).

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q3 2009 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 11-12, 17, 19)

ARPU (Slides 13-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-18)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Policy and Regulations

· Q3 also marked the start of an intense FCC scrutiny of the wireless industry. In outlining the four key principles of a) looming crisis of spectrum shortage b) removal of red tape c) enforce net-neutrality and d) open Internet, things have already started to change in the US Wireless Industry. Google has played the game of Armadaian tactics with Kasparovian acumen. The impact of the codified principles (and the subsequent court battles) can have a significant impact on not only the US wireless industry but the global ecosystem as well.

Open

· While there has been much consternation around the word "Open," one is hard pressed to find a consistent definition what it might actually mean. One could provide access to one API and declare themselves an open heretic while others could end up opening up their business more than needed and yet be accused of being closed. Clearly, the degree to openness is in the eye of the recipient. There is no black and white, just shades of grey and that’s where the battles will be won and lost. In the end, it is all about "access" to the market and the "freedom" to earn profits. Rest is noise.

· It is worth debating as to what can be mandated to be open, do the rules apply just to the operators and OEMs, or we should extend the courtesy to software platforms, search indices, aggregated user profiles, billing engines, etc.

· It is also becoming obvious that we need to redefine the device categories. Featurephones are no longer dumb terminals, many empower the users with smartphone functionality. Devices like iPhone, Droid, Pre no longer fit the smartphone stereotype, they need a separate category for themselves - appphones, ddhmvcs (data devices that happen to make voice calls), platformdevices, mobilecomputers, geniusdevices, agilechips, astuteconceirge, you get the point.

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 Feb 2009. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Mar 2010.

Watch out for our end of the year survey and commentary on global wireless markets and trends for 2010.

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.

CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Roundup 2009 October 12, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Federal, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Networks, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

ctia 042ctia 041IMG_0777ctia 031IMG_0775ctia 019ctia 018ctia 017ctia 016ctia 014ctia 013ctia 009

CTIA San Diego Roundup

San Diego is a casual town so this year’s CTIA fit nicely with an equally casual show, that felt more like a networking party sprinkled with some striking keynotes and engaging sessions. However, the biggest tremors were felt a day before the event started with Verizon getting in bed with Google and AT&T embracing VoIP with open arms. FCC’s curiosity into the wireless world has yielded more action in 3 months than many years combined before. I was drawn more to the policy debate and the implications to the wireless industry in the US and to the rest of the world. There was intense discussion on appstores and their place in the future, mobile advertising and its maturity, enhancing retail experience, accelerated growth in mobile health in recent times, and of course the tremendous growth in the US wireless data market but if you already knew that. This note summarizes the observations and opinions from the event, discussions, and briefings.

A friend of mine at the FCC invited me to the FCC Broadband Field Hearing occurring simultaneously with the CTIA at the University of San Diego. I am glad I went. The first panel was on the App Ecosystem with a diverse panel of industry verticals – rural, public safety, health care, environment, air quality, health care complimented by the discussion of the iPhone and its impact on the mobile industry. Chairman Julius Genachowski is to iPhone what President Obama was to Blackberry. He described his love for the apps with tender affection.

I am finding that the whole process of broadband planning to be quite interesting. The proceedings have been open and participatory, interest and feedback has been intense, and the principles have been clearly stated. This helped with a broader question that my CTO team for the FiREGlobal panel (to be held on Oct 15th) is addressing. We are tasked with a unique challenge of coming up with technology solutions for better civic discourse and our team consists of experts in the public and private enterprise to give a set of recommendations. We are currently under intense discussions and will unveil our suggestions on thursday. Stay Tuned.

Coming back to the FCC talk, Julius described four key principles:

  1. Most importantly he described the spectrum shortage as a looming crisis and that additional spectrum capacity is needed to handle the demand of data traffic from data cards and smartphones (something we have illustrated in detail in our paper - "Managing growth and profits in the Yottabyte era")
  2. Removing red tape to allow wireless carriers to build their network faster, for example, the work with cell towers
  3. Codify and enforce net-neutrality policies
  4. Operate more openly

While 1) and 2) have been discussed in the industry for some time, it is the mention of 3) and 4) that has changed industry in more ways than one. AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega took the stage after the Chairman and gave a spirited defense of the industry that requires no regulation. Frankly, the mere mention of the word "open" has had quite an impact on the industry in last 3 months. (I will be moderating two panels at the upcoming Open Mobile Summit on "What open means to apps providers" and "Apps in the cloud" in Nov, 2009)

Of course, as always, it is from the details that the devil flexes it muscles. How FCC will end up defining "open," "net neutrality," "network management" and other key items will determine the course of the industry. I wrote a piece that appeared in RCR Wireless “Defining Mobile Broadband” that outlined some of the same principles but from an operator strategy point of view suggested a much broader strategic imperative of building intelligent platform to survive long-term. The recommendations we made in our Yottabyte paper are being adopted and discussed much more openly since it was released in July. Due to significant interest, we will some follow-up research on the topic in the coming days, so stay tuned. I will be giving a ISACA luncheon keynote on the topic on Oct 20th. Of course, our Mobile Breakfast Series panel on mobile broadband will delve into the details of the broadband ecosystem on Dec 4th. Be sure to register.

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Each year our small community in Issaquah, WA celebrates a festival “Salmon Days.” As I was strolling around the hatchery, it helped me prepare for my talk on the Appstore ecosystem. The fish traveling upstream has several parallels to the developers trying to make in the 80,000 db appond. So, I focused my talk on how the ecosystem needs to come together urgently to build the fish ladder to give more developers a chance to make it to the next level to create a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem. While Microsoft’s mobile strategy is disarray right now, they are one of the few companies who understand the caring and feeding of the developer ecosystem (another one is Ebay). If the ecosystem focuses primarily on their profits and margins, the rich ecosystem might be at a risk of collapsing.

I discussed several factors that can help foster a healthier ecosystem starting with fish ladder. If you are interested in the presentation, please drop me a line. There was pretty good discussion from some experienced and successful developers. The emergence of appstore mania has been a double-edged sword. Developers are back in demand but their attention is finite and they are forced to allocate resources accordingly. I was also surprised to find out about the level of piracy and counterfeit goods in the appstore and how little is being done to protect legitimate developers. Some of the ladder factors I discussed were: greater revenue share, connection with investors, iTunes and carrier billing, location and presence, user profile and context, reports and analytics, $0 signup and certification, better search and discovery, social interaction and virality, flexible payment and billing models, better networks and devices, reduced fragmentation, more open APIs and marketing dollars. If you are interested, drop me a line and I will send you the ppt.

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I also had a chance to moderate a panel on Mobile Advertising and the current state of affairs. While mobile advertising is the only advertising sector that has shown growth this year, it is not breaking out to stand on its own. Large media companies are primarily looking mobile as a complimentary channel though they are clearly enamored by its potential. Lack of clear, uniform, auditable metrics is another issue though various industry bodies have been working together and some guidelines are expected to be released next quarter.

Overall, the show felt like a sponsored networking party with hardly any new announcements, the show floor was easier on the feet, the attendance was down again. However, the hallway conversations and running into friends and colleagues from the distant past is always priceless. The only newsworthy highlight for me was the emergence of mobile healthcare and mobile retail as separate categories at CTIA. There is clearly much potential and interest in these areas. We will have more on these topics in the coming months.

Some of the news worth items were:

It was great catching-up with friends and colleagues. Looking forward to the next one.