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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

Download PPT (2.6 MB)

Download PDF (3.6 MB)

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

wordlectia3

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.

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2010

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

010_10

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.

What will we learn from Gustav? September 1, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, Federal, Mobile Ecosystem, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Stephen Morton/Getty Images (NYTimes)

Thankfully, Gustav won’t be as devastating as Katrina was. The lessons from the previous disaster forced the authorities to put together better evacuation plans, infrastructure contingencies, and better planning in general. Citizens also understood the gravity of the situation better having been there once before in the recent past.

From a technology perspective, there is still a lot that can be done, esp. where mobile can play a significant role in making the organization and communication in crisis better.

As I argued in my United Nations Foundation paper for the eHealth Summit in Bellagio, Italy, mobile can be used in the following ways:

As we have seen over the past many years, no country, whether in advanced state of development or in an emerging state of evolution, is immune to natural and man-made disasters. Mobile will have a significant impact on how we detect, monitor, respond, and analyze small and large-scale disasters. One of the areas where mobile will have the most significant impact is emergency response. The always-on capability of mobile will allow a channel of communication with the populace in an emergency situation. The channel can not only be used to inform but also be used to guide the affected in a very personalized way and in the process save millions of lives. Mobile will have an impact in the following areas of public safety:

Early detection – Just like life-threatening diseases, the chances of survival from a disaster are the greatest if it is detected very early. To gain an upper hand on the crises, the command-center must be in the position to take inputs from a variety of sources – humans, machines, sensors through a variety of channels – mobile, emails, phone calls, etc. By using such an infrastructure of early detection, many serious crises could be averted lowering the human cost.

Data gathering – the biggest impediment in effective command-control during an emergency is lack of data. Command centers are often operating in the dark without any real-time feeds that can help them prioritize and direct resources effectively. By placing various sensors in the impacted area as well as using the available cellular connections as sensor objects, officials will have a much better grasp on “situational awareness”[i] that can have significant impact on planning and execution of a strategy. For example, by having the data inputs of GIS, GPS, wind flow field, temperature, humidity, fuel load, topology, satellite imagery, citizen response, traffic status, evacuation response, etc., first responders in a case of a fire-event can be better prepared to get a quick grasp of the situation and respond appropriately.

Modeling and predicting disasters – Disasters don’t announce their arrival. As such, significant effort must be put in to model and predict behavior of an emergency from disease epidemic to terrorist attacks to wildfires to earthquakes. How are you going to direct an evacuation plan? How would you inform all affected citizens? What if the sensor networks fail? How does one feed the modeled data into a real-time emergency response?

Guidance in Emergency Response – The effectiveness of response is determined by how rapid it is and how good is the communication. By coordinating well with the application platforms and operators, command centers can issue very specific guidance and information to the end-users so that they know exactly what to do, which route to take, how to contact the authorities, etc. The guidance platform is not only for the end-users but will also be used by the authorities as well to coordinate their response by tracking their assets and resources, providing up-to-the-second status, and most important, based on real-time modeling, what to expect in the next few minutes and hours to come.


[i] Some of the ideas discussed in this section were developed during discussions at Future in Review 2008 conference. www.futureinreview.com.

CTIA, MES, MECCA Fall 2006 Roundup September 18, 2006

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, CTIA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, Federal, Gaming, General, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Microsoft Mobile, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Networks, Partnership, Patents, Smart Phones, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Los Angeles was the venue for the annual CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment 2006. Pre-show events included Mobile Entertainment Summit (Chetan Sharma Consulting was a research partner) and MECCA. This note summarizes the observations and commentary from the above shows.

First lets do the numbers. Just before CTIA, M:Metrics released some numbers from their most recent survey. Amongst the western nations, US has just over 5% 3G penetration with UK leading the way at 11.4%. Spain and France are at 8.9% and 7.9% respectively. In the US, Verizon is ahead with over 17% 3G subscriber penetration followed by Sprint at 6%. CTIA also released their survey numbers. 12.5 billion messages in the month of June 2006, up 71% from 7.3 billion messages in June 2005. There was 70% growth in service data revenues. You probably already knew most of the above after reading our research notes here and here, weeks and months ahead of the mainstream media.

MES and MECCA. The central theme from both the shows was community and advertising. The buzz shifted from Mobile Search, Mobile TV, and IMS during the last couple of shows to Mobile Advertising. The prospective lifecycle of product development goes like this build community (whether it is around user generated content, games, artists, bands or other) and monetize the community by advertising. The permutation and combination of the business models are: free application and/or free content, subscription, earn credits for watching ads, more credits for feedback/surveys, etc. Companies who are able to build a large mobile community (at least 5-10M active users) and gather some specific demographic data become hot property of the moment. It is important to note that the mindset for an exit strategy for companies in the social media and user generated content space has changed a bit. Instead of getting acquired by software or computing companies like Google and Yahoo (yes, yes, they are media companies as well) to traditional Media companies like FOX and HBO. This was quite apparent in a number of discussions I had with the executives from new media content companies.

Enterprise focus, Finally!. I have been involved in the mobile enterprise space since 1999 and have been coming to the CTIA for a number of years. The fall show is supposedly about dual personalities of Entertainment and Enterprise. For the first time it felt that the Enterprise side was given its due respect and was on an equal footing to its sibling personality - the glamorous, the attention-seeking Entertainment. CTIA started the conference with an Enterprise panel discussion (of course after the surprise Governator keynote). Though the discussion was too high-level to provide any key insights, CIOs confirmed what is well known now that the spending on wireless-data related projects is going up significantly. A surprise revelation was that Chinas growth in enterprise solution is among the highest in the world. It is all about productivity and ROI. Companies are also looking to outsource their IT operations related to wireless devices. Handset guys are coming out with Enterprise targeted devices though we are still in the very early stage development of the cycle. Throwing an email client on the device doesnt make it an enterprise device. Email client is a given in all new handsets now. When will we start seeing embedded enterprise apps? Mobile web services clients and frameworks?

Its an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad world. Mobile advertising is clearly the buzz of the moment. Everyone wants to build an ad-supported model and also build their own ad network. Currently, most of the talk is around simple rotation of ads or tying ads to the category the user is interacting with. Not much attention on demographics, profiles, or context. Thats where the big impact and value will come into play. Currently, carriers sit on goldmine of user data that is begging to be leveraged for enhancing user experience. Unexpectedly, they sit on a big opportunity that will start to change the advertising industry over the course of the next 5 years. To see where things are going, we just need to look at trends in Japan and Korea. It was interesting that in almost all of the mobile advertising discussions, nobody talked about the elephant that was not in the room - Google, trendsetter in monetizing content. Also, missing were the agencies and their perspective. I have looked at this space quite a bit over the last two years and while agencies are excited about the prospect, they are not ready to jump yet. It will be quite entertaining to watch the new-generation media companies compete/collaborate with the carriers. For the next 3 years or so, carriers will still have an upper hand and if they execute it right, could dominate the space for a long time to come. People also talked about different types of ads IVR, Voice, Interstitials, banner, in-game, before-and-after, etc. Of course, click-to-call or click-to-action are going to be an especially important ingredient of this game. Sprint Nextel and Enpocket announced their mobile advertising program. AmpD also announced mobile advertising plans with Rhythm New Media. Bango launched its Ad initiative as well. Virgin mobiles Ad program Earn Airtime in Your Spare Time is innovative. They are truly in tune with their subscribers.

FMC. Kyocera had some trial handsets that supported WiFi/VoWiFi. One could theoretically make VoIP calls and download content over WiFi but will carriers allow it and how long will they resist. Non-traditional carriers like the MVNOs and the cable operators are very interested in exploring bundling offers. Sprint also announced EV-DO Rev A data cards that provide data rates up to 400-600kpbs. Cingular announced that they will have a majority of the top 100 markets deployed with UMTS/HSDPA by year-end. However, the choice of handsets is still missing and as such adoption for Cingular is behind schedule.

4G. While, we are just starting with 3G (except Japan and Korea), seven of the wireless industrys leading carriers have joined forces to develop a common vision for the future of mobile networks technology. Members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks initiative include China Mobile, KPN, NTT DoCoMo Inc., Orange, Sprint Nextel Corp., T-Mobile and Vodafone. The group said it has created a set of requirements for a future wide area mobile broadband network designed to offer enhanced customer benefits by delivering competitive broadband performance alongside high levels of interoperability. In plainer terms, the NGMN appears to be devising a roadmap for interoperable 4G networks. You can sense the arm-wrestling to come. 4G could end up having some serious IPR issues if all major patent-holders dont participate. The 3GPP licensing regime has been a failure, industry needs to be proactive, dedicate resources to the problem and get is solved to the extent it can.

Telematics. The number of firms talking about telematics or navigation on the phone or devices for your car increased quite a bit. Navteq, TeleAtlas, TeleNav, Inrix, Pharos, Kore, Teydo, and many others displayed their wares. On the consumer side, navigation is getting embedded into Local search apps which are enhancing the user experience quite a bit. FindIt and Google Maps are two examples. There were enterprise focused solutions from Tierravision, LiveCargo and @Road.

WiMax. Spent sometime with Lars Johnsson, VP at Beceem Communications talking about the prospect of WiMax worldwide. Clearly, Intel and Clearwires announcement has reenergized the industry and taken some uncertainty out. Lars is extremely knowledgeable person on everything WiMax. He co-founded Flarion which got sold to Qualcomm last year. It looks like the benefits of 802.16e will render 802.16d useless in short order. e provides better link capacity, Forward Error Correction, power efficiencies, and optimization. The cost of building a WiMax modem is lower than the WCDMA counterpart. A number of cable and wireline players are looking for triple-play offerings. Beceem has strong partnerships with OEMs worldwide and is actively involved in several trials in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, India, and US. The biggest challenges are around interoperability (as always) and quick resolution of IPR issues. From an application perspectives, gaming companies are the ones watching it closely. Also, automobile media player vendors are interested in using WiMax for Broadcast video. Tropos believes that Mesh technology will continue to have relevance in a WiMax-enabled world as the practical ranges of base stations wont exceed 5-10miles.

M&A. Some major M&A news at the show Real acquiring WiderThan for $365M, Lucent acquiring Mobilitec for undisclosed amount, and FOX acquiring 51% stake in Jamba for $188M. This follows Sybases acquisition of Mobile365 last week for $400M. There are several factors at play. Clearly, some segments of the industry that have matured are facing price pressure and hence consolidation. Media companies are also realizing the potential and dont want to miss out or get behind the curve so acquiring companies that have traction, not necessarily the best technology. Some of the valuations just dont make sense but I guess some over-exuberance is to be expected at this time.

Handset launches. You might have missed the announcement; there was no Steve Jobs, no iPhone release. Pearl was probably the highlight of the show though plans had been leaked in the media sometime back. RIM has Razresque aspirations from the device. The big three didnt have anything interesting. Nokia launched E62 (thankfully, taking a cue from Motorola, they are getting rid of their number scheme), however it is missing 3G and WiFi support of its European cousin E61. Kyocera had some interesting devices as discussed above. Sprint launched two EV-DO Rev A data cards from Pantech and Sierra Wireless. Cingular announced a $150 HTC Smartphone. Linux handsets are also on the rise. Obigo/Teleca had some nice tools/products for mobile Linux Browser, IM, Media and Email client. The user experience was quite nice.

Mobile TV/video. At the last two shows, Mobile video and Mobile TV were all the rage. The solutions seem to have matured though uncertainty of its success remains (primarily around time-horizon to success). There are too many providers in the space offering solutions from individual codecs to end-to-end solutions, do-it-yourself toolkits (Nexage) to user-generated video solutions (ComVu, Juicecaster ComVus one click mobile broadcast capability was pretty good) to niche demographics (Viva Vision is getting good traction in the Latino market). Various pieces of the mobile video puzzle have been commoditized, now, it is all about packaging. There were a number of Mediaflo handsets on display as well. The quality of Broadcast is really good. I saw some Broadcast TV services in Seoul earlier this year and the user experience is pretty good. My partner watched the entire South Korea soccer world cup game on his mobile device as he wasnt near a TV. Once the market gets seeded with enough phones and service pricing settles to mass-market scale, we can expect good adoption rate for such services. Imagination Technologies out of UK showed some innovative SoC (System on Chip) solutions targeting Mobile Broadcast video. Some new names in the space are QuickPlay, Picsel (nice user experience), and Convisual. Expect some consolidation in this space over the next 12 months.

The ecosystem friction. The mobile data ecosystem tension is bubbling up. Carriers want control (some more than others) so that they can manage user experience and minimize customer support calls. Content companies want to bypass the carrier and go direct to the consumer. This was also evident in the Walt Mossbergs grilling of the carriers as well as other conversations with participants in the value chain. Things are improving but not at the pace everyone would like it to be. Clearly, ecosystem only proliferates if it is allowed to make money. If certain sections of the chain get strangled, holes start to develop which pollutes the system.

User experience. Didnt see much progress on the UX front. Saw a cool implementation from FAST for Optus in Australia where they used search technology to populate the Active Screen with user preferred content. Optus has been using this offering to entice users to 3G as it is not available on lower bandwidth network and is apparently having good success. Add context and some multimedia and it becomes very very compelling. It is one area that hasnt been exploited that much yet. In the US Cingulars MediaNet implementation uses the same concept but is more browser-based. In different sessions, carriers agonized over limited shelf space and mountain of content. Thats why man invented mobile search. The concept of deck is very limiting. Content needs to get exposed via search whether it is post-query or pre-populated dashboard based on context and preference.

Test equipment Whether it is entertainment or enterprise, very little attention is given to testing and monitoring data applications and services. Keynote launched a really useful product offering (Mobile Device Perspective) that enables developers to test their app from distance on a live network and live devices and control it through manual steps or automation. Currently, such testing is done by flying a team of testers, test, and optimize. This offering can reduce the cost of such operations. I took a look at their R&D and test setup and found it quite compelling. TestQuest also showed a product along the same lines though it is more of a platform play than a service offering.

MVNOs. There is a realization that MVNO business is hard. The unrealistic expectations for customer growth are being recalibrated. It is still a viable business model but one has to give time and execute like a carrier. Virgin Mobile noted that it requires at least 2M subs before a nationwide MVNO (in the US) will cross the line from red to black.

IMS. Talked to Lucent and NMS about their pre-IMS solutions. NMS was displaying a technology around P2P mobile video sharing while talking (though the tasks happened in time-slice mode). Lucent had a solution extensions which converged PBX and Mobility. An example would be you dial a 4 digit extension on your mobile phone that connects you to the other party as if you dialed it from your desktop phone. BUT, networks arent there yet and devices will arrive a bit later. In the interim, companies are looking to stimulate the simulated IMS experience.

Funding news. Several funding news from the show, the one that caught my eye was $10m for Bubble Motion in VoiceSMS (funded by Sequoia Capital). It should be noted that there is prior art in this space and the likelihood that the company is infringing on somebodys patents are high.

Coolest gadget. MyVus media viewer

Coolest booth. Infospaces Tony Hawk show was probably the most exciting thing happening on the show floor. Watching the masters go swing-swong had the crowd go wild with ooohs and aaahs.

Misc. News.

Your comments are always welcome.

CTIA and Mobile Entertainment Summit Roundup April 10, 2006

Posted by Chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, Federal, General, Infrastructure, International Trade, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Content, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Wallet, Partnership, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Usability , add a comment

My week started with a presentation on “US Wireless Market: Trends, Technologies, and Opportunities” to the CTIA-bound Japanese delegation that included very knowledgeable executives from NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Kyocera, Mitsubishi, Base, MCPC, Vodafone, and Willcom. During networking, had some interesting conversations with our Japanese friends regarding content business, UMA, WiMax, 4G, and new business models.

Spent next three days attending Mobile Entertainment Summit (April 4th; Chetan Sharma Consulting was research partner for the event) and CTIA (April 5-7th), talking to companies, looking at demos, visiting with colleagues and friends, and just absorbing the atmosphere and distilling things down to “what does this mean?” Below is the summary of key observations, thoughts, and digressions.

General atmosphere – As expected, the show grew bigger in terms of attendees (over 40K) and exhibitors marked by return of double story booths, glitz, and million dollar marketing budgets. Samsung and LG clearly were dueling it out for the most recognized brand out there trying to out-do each other in invoking a subliminal conversation with the customers. There was tremendous excitement at the opportunities, fear of missing it out, and yearning for figuring things out to ride the wave.

Booth of the show award is a tie between LG and Motorola with Samsung close behind. Honorable mentions: Philips, Lucent, and Siemens.

Typically, the main CTIA show focuses a lot on infrastructure, middleware, network, and handsets. This time, it was also about applications. There are readjustments going on in the value chain and with the looming consolidation wave, the rubric cubes will be rearranged in several sub segments. Wireless email had already starting shifting that way even though we are below 10% penetration.

Convergence was a big theme of the show. Consulting firms Deloitte and PwC released their reports on the subject and every major infrastructure player was talking about the impact of Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC). Convergence across PSTN, Cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth, Cordless Telephony Profile (CTP), Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) were all discussed in some detail. From a consumer point of view, it comes down to how fast the network is upgraded to provide the functionality and the number of devices in the market to take advantage of the feature-set at reasonable prices. Until then, it is just talk.

Positioning – Several companies are coming around to what DoCoMo taught us about i-mode. It was all about – improving the life experiences of customers. Nokia’s tag line changed from “voice goes mobile” to “life goes mobile” and “work goes mobile”. MTV expresses itself as a “content experience” company. Microsoft is all about “Discover, Innovate, Deliver” while Motorola wants to produce “must do” experiences.

Mobile TV is another area that is priming up for some consolidation as various components are commoditized (esp. for Unicast). It is not that, we are done with the innovation in this segment, in fact, we are only getting started, however, the drive will come from how the video content is packaged with other pieces of content and applications and made more interactive with humans and machines. The number of companies in the space almost doubled since last show (Ortiva, VectorMax, Snell & Wilcox, NMS, Nexage, Vimio). Everyone agrees that MobiTV has a huge advantage. It is a good case study of “first mover advantage”. It will be interesting to see if they can build on their success and compete effectively against broadcast solutions. Broadcast is the future of MobileTV. Mediaflo rocks. Key questions are: can the carriers get the business model right at launch that promotes usage and will the political and regulatory climate foster Mediaflo growth in light of DVB-H (Modeo in US) and DMB. Japan, Korea, and US are fertile ground for this battle. Qualcomm is working on Mediaflo as well as DVB-H chipsets. Slingbox was also showing their place-shift mobile video solution. It will be interesting to see how carriers block-and-tackle this one.

AORTA and 3G revisited – Since the article “3G – Hitting the Mass Market”, the tipping point assessment has been validated by several other analysts. In US and Europe, 3G deployments will start hitting critical mass in the first half of 2007 and we are getting closer to the vision of Always-On Real-Time Access (AORTA).

Mobile Search – During last couple of CTIA shows, mobile search has been an upcoming thing. During the last six months, 3 of the top 5 carriers have launched mobile search solutions with some incredible returns and actual impact on the bottom-line. Some branded solutions have also been launched and various business models are being tested. One can feel the tension between carrier-branded search and solutions from the likes of Google, and Yahoo. Who can build a better mouse-trap? Will carriers cede control and help non-carrier solutions with carrier-resident data? Feature-set is straightforward. Question is what customer data can one use to enhance the user-experience. If carriers are smart about it, they will work with white-label vendors such as Infospace (also Medio, Jumptap, etc.) to develop some really neat analytics that feeds back into user experience. Voice search solutions are also becoming more prominent. In the last 6 months, Voicebox, Voicesignal, Promptu, and V-enable have announced voice search solutions.

User Interface is getting better – Players in the value chain are paying more and more attention to the user-experience. As predicted, MVNOs are having an impact on how device manufacturers and carriers think about customization. Amp’D, ESPN, Disney, and Helio all have custom clients. Rather than relegating the user experience on device browser and archaic transcoding solutions, these MVNOs want to provide a controlled and immersive user experience. With 2nd tier device guys eager to do what-ever-it-takes to make the user experience attractive, mainstream device manufacturers and carriers will need to get their acts together in a hurry. Verizon’s announcement (about using Flash) is recognition of this trend. Also, there were some apps with really cool UIs from startups such as DSI.

Community and User-generated content – There was tremendous activity in the mobile community and user-generated content space, from blogs and SMS to video and music content around community networks. Indeed, it is all about communities and user-generated content plays an incredibly important role in it. Though we have seen significant amount of growth in ringtones, graphics market, this will explode when UGC (including music, video) is put into the mix. This has been validated by multiple data points, the newest one being from 3 in Europe through seemetv service. How quickly will carriers embrace this so that the poor schmuck with 10 goofy videos with no technical capability gets to put their content for sharing, for barter, or for sale. Companies such as Intercasting, Juicewireless, AirG, SMS.ac, Bango, Blogstar, Helio (Myspace) are coming at the opportunity from different angles.

MVNO launches Since last CTIA, ESPN Mobile and Amp’D have launched. This CTIA marked the launch of Disney Mobile and the concept resonated with most attendees esp. folks who have kids. They also got their handset strategy right by pricing it for mass consumption. Service will become available in June. Helio is supposed to launch around the same time. In the meantime, Vegas started taking bets on which MVNO will be the first to fold. As I have discussed in prior articles, MVNOs have clearly raised the bar on user experience and will continue to push the envelope. The willingness of Asian manufacturers to customize at a frantically rapid pace is going to put pressure on the big boys and is already having an impact on their strategy and roadmaps.

Enterprise – Though there were a couple of Enterprise pavilions, the substance was pretty light. Revenue potential of enterprise solutions is equally big if not bigger than the consumer segment, yet it fails to get attention beyond mobile email which itself is becoming a commodity play. It should be noted that there were a couple of vendors that are trying out new approaches to the consumer email such as using MMS for email (Memova).

Mobile Diagnostics and Performance measurement – With the advent of 3G and numerous data apps, the impact on network storage and performance is enormous but is often not talked about. The amount of bytes generated in 3G networks is many times more than 2G and 2.5G networks. As such, the networks need to be planned and monitored appropriately. Testing and simulation of applications, services, and handsets also become more important. Companies such as Vallent, EMC, Keynote, Schema, and Argogroup are looking at the problem from different angles.

4G – Though no body in the industry agrees what it is, some semblance of “Beyond 3G” solutions started showing up at the show from IMT-Advanced solutions from DoCoMo (1Gbps) to WiMax pavilion. Samsung had the WiBro gear at the show – handsets and infrastructure – very cool to see things end-to-end. WiBro trials are ongoing in Korea and we are likely to learn a lot from the results that will help decision makers in the WiMax segment. However, we are still a long ways away (2008) before we see any meaningful mass market penetration for mobile WiMax (There are a number of trials going on around the world from DoCoMo, Willcom, Softbank, KDDI, Sprint, SKT, and KT). It should be noted that US spectrum auction is slated to start June 29th, 2006. It will be interesting to see who ends up with what esp. Clearwire and if any of the non-traditional players such as Google, Disney, DirecTV, and Microsoft make a run for it.

Near Field Communications (NFC) – DoCoMo has had success with FeliCa (Sony’s technology) launch in Japan. Things are increasingly looking bright for NFC-based solutions (mobile wallet, venue check-in, authentication, etc). Mastercard is running some trials on East coast. Cingular has been running some trials in Atlanta area using Nokia phones with Philips NFC technology. In addition to contactless payment capability, NFC-equipped phone can also read data from compatible tags, opening new content discovery avenues. The biggest challenge is of course getting the required infrastructure in place and endorsement or participation by at least one or two major retailers such as Starbucks or McDonalds. Many companies from Philips to smaller players such as MobilyT had neat NFC prototypes. Paypal also launched its mobile payment solution. Many companies are looking to bypass carrier billing so they have more control – it will be an interesting battle to watch.

M2M – With most major western markets reaching saturation, focus has been shifting to M2M applications and device-to-device networking. In addition to the big players such as Siemens, Motorola, and Phillips, newer players such as Esmertec were discussing the potential and applications.

Chinese presence – In the CTIA roundup one year back, I noted “Chinese are coming”. If there was any doubt, it was pretty clear from this show that Chinese wireless players are going to be significant force to reckon with. They are already making an impact in markets outside China, such as in India, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Booths and showcases from ZTE, UTStarcom, and Huawei rivaled their western counterparts. Noticeably, several software and SI Indian firms also had presence at the show.

Handset business will continue to be brutal. Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Nokia all had a good line up of new handsets. Chinese manufacturers such as Techfaith wireless and Amoi also had some sleek handsets on display (Amoi even had knock-offs of Razr and iPod phone)

Mobile Advertising – Not much substantive progress since last time, except for more talk, and more companies popping up. The concepts and business models are starting to get more serious discussions from carriers, content providers, aggregators, and advertisers. Some interesting ad performance tools are also coming up (Integrated Media Measurement Inc.). It comes down to who has the relationship with the customer, what’s the depth of consumer profile information, and the trust-level established with the customers. ActionEngine’s MSNBC launch, new startups Rhythm NewMedia and VibesMedia, and Free DA (supported by Ads) were among the highlights in this area.

Location Based Services – I remember working on LBS solutions back in 97-98 timeframe and the technology was going to change the world (in the US). Largely due to FCC’s inability to enforce its own rulings, we didn’t see much progress for a number of years. Though Nextel has been providing LBS in the enterprise sector, it was only recently with Sprint opening up its APIs for selected developers that we are seeing some LBS based apps for the consumer sector e.g. FindIt. Disney Mobile is also making location a key feature of its offering for kid-tracker types of apps.

Microsoft dominance starts – It has taken a number of years, but shift is noticeable now. With smart phones penetration increasing, Microsoft is starting to dominate the high-end market. A good percentage of new smart phones are running MS software though Linux is also making some inroads in this market (DoCoMo, China). If the battery power issues can be resolved and the OS moves into the sub-$200 market, it will accelerate MS’s dominance of handsets. There was also talk about Opensource OS for mobile devices.

Open gardens – Pretty soon, being “open” will be considered a competitive advantage. At the two extremes are T-Mobile International (which gave up and opened up its greenhouse to the likes of Google) and Verizon (which might be one of the last ones to open up its nursery). Then we have carriers such as Cingular who are slowly but surely opening up access and getting closer to the i-mode model (e.g. recent Myspace announcement)

Misc.Impatica was showing their solution of running PowerPoint from blackberry. Pretty slick and easy. Another interesting app I learned about was that of using SIM as a token generator for authentication. This can be really handy for corporate security.

Later this week, I am leaving for Korea to meet with some really smart guys in the wireless industry and experience the wireless broadband capital of the world first hand.

Your comments are always welcome.

Copyright, 2006 Chetan Sharma Consulting. All Rights Reserved

FCW Wireless Security/RFID Conference Roundup March 1, 2006

Posted by Chetan in : 4G, Enterprise Mobility, Federal, Infrastructure, Speaking Engagements , 1 comment so far

Once or twice a year, I get a chance to look at wireless issues in the federal sector, hear and talk to CIOs and executives of various government agencies such as DHS, DOD, GSA etc. It provides a unique view into a different world that is both impressive and befuddling at the same time. Though there are similarities to the Enterprise Mobility segment, it is a difference universe where things are driven by mandates and missions, directives and discourses. While there is a sense of urgency, there is also stifling bureaucracy and ineptitude.

I made my annual pilgrimage to Federal Computer Weekly’s (FCW) Wireless Security and RFID Conference in Washington DC earlier this week (courtesy of Compubahn). Also, spent some time at an event on Capitol Hill hearing some of the CIOs and their underlings on their future IT plans. At the conference, I got an opportunity to moderate a very knowledgeable panel on wireless security matters. We will get to the panel discussion a bit later.

I think it is quite relevant to discuss federal wireless related issues within the enterprise context as there are several lessons to be drawn it can help various organizations who are going through some of the similar challenges or are simply unaware of the problems they have. The most fundamental problem that most agencies (and by the same token most companies) have is lack of a coherent and detailed wireless security policies that considers “all” wireless devices whether they are operating within a WLAN that is controlled by the entity or for the device that is using a foreign network to access internal resources or for the device that is not connected yet but has significant and sensitive information stored on the device. How do you manage these devices? What if the device gets lost or hacked? Is the data encrypted? Does the data that gets copied on the SD card encrypted? How is the policy enforced? Can you use the same policy enforcer that you use for LAN on wide range of devices - PDAs, Symbian phones, BREW devices, etc. What’s the policy on Bluetooth? Do you permit Bluetooth devices in your enterprise? (in some agencies, Bluetooth enabled devices are not procured at all) Are you aware that there is no encryption? What ports get disabled and when? There are plenty of questions but no clear answer. For government, a good starting point is DOD wireless security policy (8100.2). Any enterprise who hasn’t really laid out their wireless policy could benefit from the same as well.

However, the policy needs to be laid out with plans that take into account scenarios 2-5 years from now. The reality today will get outdated really fast and for sure before your current implementation gets done. Once you have the policy, then what? Well, Audit and Enforce it.

One of the keynotes was given by Ron McKenzie who is the point person for American Red Cross IT and wireless implementation (disaster and rescue response units deal with wireless technology and related applications all the time) and reports to SVP and CIO Steve Cooper. He discussed the challenges that Katrina posed to the operations, logistics and IT. The main technology used are Satellite, 2way radios, and Cellular. The main applications are registration, family linking, bringing shelters online, and connecting with financial institutions to issue cards. One of the biggest challenge is scaling up and down of operations. As we are painfully aware - Katrina was a shameful disaster of significant magnitude. One of the basic problem was that communication (ok, so it is not that basic) was woefully lacking. Wireless industry clearly responded well but we could do more. The initiative really needs to come from Red Cross. Ron was looking for feedback from the industry as how they can improve their solutions and processes to better address emergency needs and minimize discomfort and chaos. I bet there are a number of people reading this who have great ideas or experiences that can help in pushing the dialog further. Red Cross is planning to finalize its “lessons learned” booklet by July 06 and thus prepare a process plan that can be replicated in the event of similar or worse disasters in the future. You can help. If you have ideas on emergency preparedness and execution, please send them along and I will compile and pass them on to Ron who has promised to give good consideration to all proposals. A few months back, Tsunami in SE Asia created damage and destruction of epic proportions. I always wonder as to how can the technology be applied to reduce the impact of natural disasters or make rescue and recovery operations more tenable. But, it is clearly not the technology that is a challenge but the people who use (or don’t use) it to streamline the processes. With Satellite, WWAN, WLAN, WPAN technologies, there isn’t a place on earth that can’t have connectivity for communication or data exchange.

One of the more telling problems (and I see this echoed in the commercial world as well) is the lack of user input into solutions or product roadmaps. There are plenty of vendors who are touting cutting-edge solutions to various agencies but they are selling to buyers and not users who typically are busy doing the real work.

My wireless security panel “Technology Fundamentals for End-to-End Security” constituted of Sumit Deshpande, VP, Wireless, CA (Computer Associates), Dean Knuth, National Manager, Northrop Grumman, and Jeff Watts, Sr. Engineer, Smartronix. These guys have dealt with very strict security requirements for most of major agencies esp. DOD. I asked the panel “Is security a technology issue?” Answer was an emphatic NO. Security is a process in which technology plays an important role. Education, training, awareness, audit, and enforcement are as or more critical than the technology implementation of whatever solution you might have. Bruce Schneier explains this in his books and articles better than anyone else.

There has been a lot of talk about 802.11i (WPA2) standard which is supposed to be a lot more secure than current WPA/Tkip implementations. Device management and device security is an important issue that is mostly overlooked. The other aspect that is hardly considered is that there is more to security than just LAN/WLAN - WWAN and WPAN powered devices all need to be managed if security is a concern. Though it hasn’t been a big issue yet, wireless security issues will become important for Sarbanes Oxley compliance as well. How does company keep track of corporate SMS/IM/data on wireless devices? Can it be audited? What are the risks? What are controls in place? Another point to remember - though FIPS 140-2 is becoming the norm for encryption, the certification process is arduous, so plan accordingly.

Amid the discussion about security, one can also go overboard in cases where information being transmitted or stored isn’t sensitive and security provisions only help in alienating the user and they get fed up of the steps required, reduced speeds and investment goes by the way side. Security to some extent is also a balancing act of user convenience and corporate priorities.

There seems to be a trend that CIOs of various agencies are coming from the industry these days. I think a great trend but there are many agencies that lack leadership and initiative and still rely on the big consulting companies to run their shop.

RFID - A good overview report can be downloaded free of cost here

Though there are a lot of privacy and security concerns (just like for Bluetooth), consider the following:

2005 2010 2015
RFID Tag Pricing $0.23 $0.06 $0.01
Number of RFID Tags in Use 6.3 million 80 billion 10 trillion
Growth of overall RFID market $3 billion $10 billion $25 billion

Source: IDTechEx (2005)

RFID (and similar WPAN technologies) are going to be pervasive. Applications range from logistics to defense. Though I have been skeptical, human implants are also showing up. Recently a senior executive at one of the biggest software company I was working with told me that I am underestimating the growth in RFID implants in mobile workers in the next 5-10 years. Maybe there is a point, time will tell.

Also, ran into Iridium booth. I thought the company evaporated after their spectacular flameout but they are still hanging their hat and focusing on government, public safety, and on workers that require remote coverage.

My colleague and friend Sunil Jain raised a few interesting questions recently. Right now there are vendors like Symantec who license and manage security and policy on desktops and laptops and then you have vendors such as Pointsec, Mobile Armor, Credent and host of others who focus solely on the wireless device space. With the two worlds converging rapidly, how soon before an enterprise asks Symantec to add a few hundred licenses to their agreement to cover mobile devices as well. Do the (now) niche players get gobbled up by the big boys? or would the reverse be true? Likewise, how do you extend your HP Openview, CA Unicenter, BMC Patrol, or IBM Tivoli to do wireless device management as well. Also, whose responsibility is security anyway? OS Vendor, Handset guys, Network or carrier, enterprise (consumer?). And along the same lines, should security be handled at the network or at the device level? Gartner advocates network level protection. They contemplate that mobile world shouldn’t follow the PC deployments of anti-virus and other risk mitigation tools but rather network should have these services and only go to devices as a last resort. I think both are required, because there are is so much that can happen in a disconnected (from the enterprise but still connected) mode.

For most new technologies or products, security is generally an after-thought. We as an industry need to get better at designing systems, protocols, and technologies with security built-in rather than going through the alphabet soups of new versions to patch-up the mess.

Another area that is gaining traction is the concept of Managed Security. Security is getting complicated and so companies rather than deploying staff are interested in outsourcing device management and security of their mobile assets. Would you do it?

Finally, there are several other interesting federal initiatives like Location Specific Digital Signature (LSDS) and WiMax development work with Intel, Integration of RFID with WLAN, Biometrics, Locating users using WLAN/WPAN. These will trickle into the commercial sectors in the next 2-3 years.

Your comments are always welcome.