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US Mobile Market Update – Q2 2014 August 7, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Fourth Wave, Mobile Applications, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Patents, Wearables, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update – Q2 2014



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The US mobile services revenues in Q2 2014 declined marginally by over $200M. The mobile data services revenue however continued to increase and is on track to exceed the $100B mark in mobile data services revenue. Data contribution to the overall revenues is now at 55%.

T-Mobile continued to outperform its competitors in net-adds. T-Mobile has almost recovered all its postpaid losses that started back in Q3 2009 and continued till Q1 2013. It should move into the positive territory next quarter. T-Mobile also crossed the 50M sub mark and is now within a striking distance of Sprint and could become the number 3 operator in the country before early 2015.

AT&T registered the lowest postpaid churn in its history at 0.86. For the industry buffs, the US record is held by Verizon which recorded the churn of 0.84 in Q2 2012. The world record is held by NTT DoCoMo for its churn of 0.44 in Q2 2010. In general, Japanese have the most loyal customer base in the world.

The net-adds in the US market is now primarily driven by connected devices (tablets and m2m). 84% of the net-adds in Q2 2014 were from the non-phone category. Tablets are driving the connected devices segment with 70% share. The net-effect has been that while the overall subscriber count has increased, there has been a negative impact on the ARPU which declined by 2.27%. All operators saw their ARPU decline.

Smartphone penetration increased to 70% and roughly 93% of the devices sold now are smartphones. Android beat iOS handedly in the quarter. For the first time, Verizon sold more iPhones than AT&T.

M&A Season

From 2005 to almost 2008, the combined entity of Sprint and T-Mobile would have been the #1 operator in the US. Up until 2004, the “Others” were collectively the number #1 operator in the US. However, through a series of acquisitions, exclusive device deals, and just better business performance, Verizon and AT&T have dominated the mobile landscape in the US since 2007. Now, AT&T and Verizon are tied at the top while the market awaits the question mark on how the #3 will shape up. Iliad provided some market entertainment that kept media scratching its head with its offer to buy T-Mobile last week. It was an unattractive proposition as it doesn’t fundamentally offer to alter the US market structure. There are other global operators who are eying T-Mobile as a way to enter the lucrative US market. It might all come down to how desperate is DT to offload T-Mobile.

Yesterday, Sprint abandoned its pursuit of T-Mobile and probably saved itself a couple of billion dollars of break-up fee. The regulatory hurdle in the current environment of mega-mergers was just too high to overcome at this time.

So, will there be further consolidation in the mobile industry? Short answer is – Yes. The only question is about the timing. As we noted in the last note, T-Mobile has complicated things by being successful in the short-term. A third player with 30% market share will of course be better but T-Mobile has been able to change the market by being the fourth at 15%.

Is Windows Phone getting Zuned Out of the Market?

In 2012, we described “Zuned Out” as a phenomenon wherein the market punishes the player (even incumbents and dominant ones) for late entry into the market. The fast follower strategy that had served Microsoft so well for a couple of decades is no longer a useful framework for competing. Either one needs to be a “really fast follower” like Samsung (though they did invent the big-screen device segment that Apple is now following) or a trend setter like Apple/Google to have some command of the control points in the ecosystem.

Google was tempted by the lure of the device business and to some extent was forced to buy Motorola. It took 10 quarters to realize that the device business is a different beast, that there was a DNA mismatch, but the exercise did provide some key business insights to the management team. Google shed the device business and kept its partners happy. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia followed a similar pattern. Nokia threatened to go Android and Microsoft had no choice but to acquire the beleaguered company that has been just devastated since it picked up Windows as its primary OS. It was clearly a mistake both by Nokia first and Microsoft after that. The new CEO (to his credit) shed a good part of the business in a mere 3 quarters (a clear admission of a mistake). While the impending decimation of the once vaunted Finnish brand was very obvious, the bigger question in front of Microsoft is “what to do with Nokia that’s remaining?” The current plan is to continue churning out the Lumia devices at different price points and see what happens.

As is well known, Microsoft is very strong in the enterprise and in the cloud. Will the new “productivity and platforms” strategy look at the market facts and focus on where the company can be a player and invent new categories and experiences? Or will it focus on just chasing the competitors that have infatuated it over the last decade? Productivity is more than Office and Platforms have moved to iOS/Android. The “core” of the computing market is very different from what it used to be.

The market share of the windows devices in the US last quarter was 1.3%. Globally, it fared marginally better at 2.7%. Granted that in some countries, Windows is starting to approach double digit market share, even Microsoft admits its mobile strategy is in shambles. After being in the US market for more than 2 years with billions spent in marketing and distribution, 1.3% share is nothing to write home about. Microsoft can get better traction in markets where new-subs are entering the ecosystem vs. replacement markets like the US. However, what market is telling us is that despite the blood, sweat, and tears that have been spent over the past few quarters, there is little appetite or need for another platform.

Also, there is this issue of competing with your partners – Microsoft outperforms its ecosystem partners by a distance. I wrote at the launch of the new windows OS that is was a fresh approach, the OS is very well designed and the devices coming out a quite good. However, the current data indicates that unless something changes drastically, windows phones might be on the verge of being “zuned out” of the market. And just like Zune, the fault will lie not in the product or the distribution or the marketing but rather in the timing of the market entry. Microsoft might be better off giving up on its device dream and just focus on services on top of the platforms that dominate. It might be time for hermit crab strategy.

IBM-Apple deal

Intuitively, we have known for a while that the application development environment was moving from windows to iOS and Android. In 2012, we actually measured that shift and found that SMBs were moving to the new platforms in droves. The paper concluded:

“We believe that the SMB segment is a leading indicator of how larger enterprises and consumers in general will adopt mobile data solutions to enhance productivity and reduce costs.”

Fast forward 2 years. Last month, IBM and Apple announced their historic deal that woke up lot of people in the enterprise world. Apple is just looking to find a more efficient channel into the enterprise to sell iOS devices but IBM’s embrace means that the investment in iOS UX and app infrastructure will start to move more directly. Given that IBM is positioned well in all important enterprises across all industry verticals is a big coup for Apple. It also demonstrably indicates the shift from Windows to iOS and Android as the computing platform of choice.

Amazon phone

Amazon phone has been talked about for more than three years. It finally arrived but disappointed. While there were some interesting tech innovations seamed together to provide some differentiation, without any service pricing innovation (and the fact that it is only available on one operator), its fate seems similar to that of the Facebook phone.

Unraveling of Nokia

The mobile (more broadly digital) markets continuously remind us how brutal can the markets be if one is not quick enough to adjust strategies. As the old saying goes, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Motorola was founded in 1928 and only a skeleton of the old glorious days remain as a subsidiary of Lenovo. An 80+ year old firm disappeared very quickly.

In the case of Nokia, the decomposition was even more stunning. A company founded in 1865 had 40%+ of the phone market only 7 years ago, employed tens of thousands of employees around the globe. After the latest round of rightsizing, only a few thousand remain (at least for the short term). Blackberry experienced a similar slide downwards. The cycle of complacency spares no one. The bigger the host, the more lethal the complacency virus is. This decomposition process is actually healthy for the ecosystem. Though the process is traumatic for those who are in the middle of it, it lays the fertile ground for new ideas and startups to germinate, and the cycle continues.

The bifurcation of the wearables market

After visiting the show floor at CES in January, we noted that “The space is going to get commoditized very quickly and it is likely going to get stratified into two major buckets – really cheap $10-20 wearables. The other bucket will be high-end fashion driven wearables.”

Last month, Xiaomi released a $13 tracker and Apple is expected to announce its wearable next month. The mid-market will mostly disappear.

What to expect in the coming months?

2014 has had an excellent start and rest of the year is looking great with a slew of announcements and activities planned for the rest of the year. We have already seen some massive moves, astounding acquisitions, and interesting strategic moves.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q2 2014 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Shared Data Plans

4th Wave Progress

Connected Devices


Mobile Patents/IP

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

We will be discussing many of the ecosystem and technology issues, opportunities and challenges for the coming years in our annual mobile executive summit Mobile Future Forward on Sept 24th in Seattle. Some of the confirmed speakers are: Bill Ruh, VP, GE; Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook; Erik Moreno, SVP, Fox Networks; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T; Steve Mills, CIO, Motorola Mobility; Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel; Dr. John Saw, CNO, Sprint; JD Howard, VP/GM, Lenovo; Dave Webb, CIO, Equifax; Dr. Hassan Ahmed, CEO, Affirmed Networks; Mark Fernandez, Managing Partner, Sierra Ventures; Ujjal Kohli, Founder, Rhythm NewMedia; Vik Kathuria, Global Chief Media Officer, Razorfish; Erin Kienast, SVP, Starcom Worldwide; Josh Will, Senior Category Manager, Best Buy; Steve Elfman, President, Sprint; Paul McNamara, VP, Ericsson; Matt Grob, EVP/CTO, Qualcomm; Julie Woods-Moss, CMO, CEO of Nextgen Business, Tata Communications; David Richter, VP, Uber; Paul Brody, VP & Mobile Practice Leader, IBM; Mathew Oommen, President, Reliance ; Andreas Gal, CTO, Mozilla; Chris Putnam, SVP, Synchronoss; Fareed Adib, Global Head of Telecom Partnerships, Google; Brian Angiolet, SVP – Consumer Product Innovation, Verizon; Sharath Dorbala, Head of Mobile Financial Services, Amdocs; Rajeev Tankha, Senior Director – Applications, Oracle; Andy Chu, VP – mCommerce, Sears Holdings; Philip Fasano, EVP and CIO, Kaiser Permanente; Erik Ekudden, SVP, Ericsson, and many more to come. We hope to see you there for the brainstorm.

Mobile Patents Landscape–An In-Depth Quantitative Analysis April 20, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Mobile Patents, Patent Strategies, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Mobile Patents Landscape - 3rd Edition - 2014




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· The study looked at over 7 million patents granted in the US and Europe. The analysis focused on the patents granted to 65 technology companies in the mobile space.

· The gap between the number of mobile patents granted in the US vs. Europe widened again. US now accounts for roughly 76% of the mobile patents granted in the two jurisdictions.

· US companies comprise of 50% of the top 50 list followed by Japan, China, and South Korea.

· By the end of 2013, approximately 25% of all granted patents in the US were mobile related. In 2001, the percentage was 5%. In Europe, roughly 10% of the patents granted were mobile related.

· Samsung was again the leader in mobile patents granted in 2013 in the US and worldwide. Samsung was followed by IBM, Qualcomm, RIM, LG, Sony, Microsoft, Ericsson, Google, and AT&T for the top 10 companies by mobile patent grants in 2013.

· Google made an entry into the top 10 overall mobile patents list for the first time. AT&T did the same for the mobile patents granted in 2013.

· Despite dwindling market fortunes, RIM continues a healthy patents grant rate and appears in several top 10 categories.

· US Mobile Operators dominate the top 10 operator rankings: Patent top 10 Rankings: AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint, Verizon, Telecom Italia, Swisscom, T-Mobile, Orange, SK Telecom, and TeliaSonera.

· Mobile Infrastructure Patent top 10 Rankings: Samsung, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Qualcomm, LG, Intel, Siemens, Fujitsu, NEC, and Panasonic.

· Mobile OEM Patent top 10 Rankings: Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, Google, LG, RIM, Siemens, Fujitsu, and Panasonic.

· The top 5 categories for patents grants in the US for 2013 were Telecommunications, Digital Multiplexing, Digital Processing – Data Transfer, Digital Processing – Financial, and Computer Graphics.

· The top

· The top 10 filers of mobile patents in the US were IBM, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson, Google, LG, Intel and Apple. It was the first time that Samsung, Microsoft, Google and Apple showed up in the top 10 patent filers list together.

· Facebook’s mobile patent filings increased by 177% YoY.

· Due to the ongoing work in the LTE/LTE-A space, the Multiplex Communications category saw the highest jump in patent filings in 2013.


The value of Intellectual Property (IP) have been debated since the days of Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. In 1624, The Statute of Monopolies passed as the first statutory expression of English patent law. Patent systems evolved from there and helped lay the foundations of the patent system that we are familiar with today. In any given industry, IP forms the core basis of technology, the competition evolves and its protection becomes paramount to not only its inventors but also to the geographical boundaries of operations.

In a knowledge economy, the very competitiveness and durability of the nation’s economy depends on how well the framework of IP and patents works in the country and the steps it takes to avoid theft and misuse of the laws while enforcing the rules and regulations on the books. IP has been an integral part of the economic engine of the western world for many decades if not centuries. Over the past two decades, nations and corporations have competed on the creation, funding, execution, and protection of the new ideas.

Mobile’s role in transforming industries and countries is being appreciated in every corner of the planet – whether it’s streets of Thimpu or high rises of Hong Kong, whether it is the hustle-bustle of Cupertino or a relaxed afternoon in Paris, mobile forms the connective tissue of the global society. As mobile devices have moved from being a luxury good to becoming an everyday necessity, innovation in various segments of the industry has accelerated the reach and impact of mobile technology worldwide. Mobile is also levelling the playing field, increasing the opportunities for entrepreneurs far and wide. A dreamer in Nairobi has as good a shot at success as anyone else in the west.

All the innovation and economic activity has also increased the patent activity around the world. While US, Europe, and Japan remain the overall leaders in patents both in quantity and quality; China’s is at the top in terms of growth rate. In 2013, China’s patent applications grew 15.6% compared to the US at 10.8%. Amongst the top 5 filers in 2013, ZTE and Huawei are from China.

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2013, the number of patents granted grew over 62% by the end of 2012 for the same time period. The numbers of foreign filings are now in the majority for both the applications filed as well as the patents granted.

As we look into the mobile related patents, the growth is much more striking. The number of mobile related patents that were granted by the USPTO and the EPO increased significantly over the course of last decade. The US market saw a 449% increase while the European market saw a 105% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that in 2013, roughly quarter of all patents granted in the US were mobile related. This grew from around 2% in 1991 and 5% in 2001. In Europe, roughly 10% of the patents granted are now related to mobile.

Chetan Sharma Consulting analyzed over 7 million patents granted by the USPTO and EPO over the last two decades to understand how mobile has become a key enabler for all technology companies. Furthermore, we looked at patent granted to the top 65 technology companies who are active in the mobile space to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses in the mobile patents landscape. This study is third in the series that does an in-depth quantitative analysis of the mobile patents landscape.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013 June 20, 2013

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

 US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What really drives mobile device performance?

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

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

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

It is evident that there is a subtle shift from devices/access to services/solutions. In our paper on the topic Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave, I proposed that we need a new framework to think about the next generation of revenue opportunities. The fourth curve opportunities are massive but require a different skill set and strategic approach than the past three curves. It is being widely adopted in the operator community around the world and some operators have started to break out the 4th wave revenues in their financials.

We will be discussing fourth wave in much more detail at our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward with the incredible leaders who are making billion dollar decisions every day.

OTT impact on legacy businesses and models

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

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

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

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

There have been some interesting twists and turns but as we have stated before, the US market competitive equilibrium will be complete when Sprint and T-Mobile get together at some point down the road. As outlined in our research paper on the subject, market forces find their way to get to 3 dominant operators that compete for attention and revenues, rest becomes noise. While the regulators might scoff at the idea, the inevitable market forces will find their way around.

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

The Patent Battles

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

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

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

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

SMB leading indicator of mobile adoption

Small businesses are at the heart of the US economic engine. They represent roughly 45% of the non-farm GDP. Every administration, every president focuses on small business growth and job creation. In our paper “The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud,” we explored how mobile is transforming the SMBs. The main conclusions were: a) SMB segment is a leading indicator of technology adoption and we can learn a great deal about the broader trends by understanding how SMBs adopt technology b) there are tangible gains in productivity – on average SMB workers save 40 minutes per worker per day which translates into significant impact on profits and c) there is a tangible impact on computing, enterprise software and services as the business processes are shifting towards iOS and Android.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2013 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. Players who firmly attach themselves to the 4th wave will reap benefits while the ones who miss it will see their fortunes dwindle. We are gearing up for our annual Mobile Brainstorm Summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th, hope you can join us.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q1 2013 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Shared Data Plans

Applications and Services

OTT and the impact on legacy services


Mobile Data Growth

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in August 2013. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in July 2013.

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

Global Mobile Market Update 2012 (Annual Edition) April 30, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, BRIC, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Operators, Mobile Patents, Mobile Payments, Patent Strategy, US Wireless Market, VoIP, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 7 comments


Global Mobile Market Update


State of the Global Mobile Union - 2012

  1. Total Global Mobile Revenues to hit $1.5 Trillion in 2012, over 2% of Global GDP

– Top 10 operators control 42% of the global data mobile revenues

  1. Mobile Services Revenue exceeded $1 Trillion for the first time in 2011

– The number of mobile operators with > $1 Billion in yearly data revenues will touch 50 in 2012

  1. Total Global Mobile Data Revenues went past $300 Billion in 2011

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

  1. Mobile Operator Profits have more than doubled over the last 10 years.

– However, the wealth is not divided evenly. Asia’s share has tripled at the expense of Europe whose profit share has declined by 50%

  1. Total Global Subscriptions to exceed 7 Billion in early 2013

– China exceeds 1 Billion, India 950 Million. Subscriber growth is in Asia, Revenue growth is in Asia+North America

  1. China and India represent 27% of subscriptions but only 12% of the global service revenues

– US represents only 6% of the subscriptions but 21% of the global service revenues, 26% of the data revenues, and 27% of the global CAPEX

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

– 70% of the device sales in the US are now smartphones. Device Replacement cycle is shrinking

  1. Samsung and Apple now account for 50% of the smartphone unit share and 90% of the profit share

– Difficult environment for other OEMs esp. when ZTE and Huawei are coming strong from the bottom. It will be difficult for pure play device OEMs to survive long-term

  1. Tablets (iPads) has created a new computing paradigm that is having a significant impact on commerce, content consumption, and developer investments

– Apple will continue to dominate the segment and iOS will be the leading OS for the segment. Amazon, ZTE, Huawei, to chip away at the sub-$200 tier.

  1. Mobile Broadband (4G) is being deployed at a faster rate than previous generations, first time data is leading the charge

– Over 1.5 Billion broadband connections by 2012

  1. Global Mobile Apps revenue has completely (and irreversibly) tilted to off-deck

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

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

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

  1. Mobile data traffic 2x YOY in most markets. Mobile Data will be 95% of the global mobile traffic by 2015

– Many countries are facing spectrum exhaust in the next 2-3 years (in certain markets)

  1. Mobile Signaling takes up 2x the resources as Mobile Data Traffic

– Signaling traffic is growing faster than the data traffic on broadband networks

  1. Connected device segment is growing at the fastest pace in the western markets

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

  1. Several multi-billion dollar opportunity segments are emerging

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

  1. Mobile Ecosystem has become very dynamic and unpredictable

– The 5 Platform Amigos – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook dominate though the first two have the real power

  1. Mobile Operator Revenue is under pressure from OTT Players

– OTT Share of the Global Mobile Revenues increased to 4%

  1. OTT players forcing operators to up their game

– Operators are partnering, launching their own OTT apps, increasing tariffs to manage the margins

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

– 21% of all patents granted in US are mobile related. Top 20 control 1/3rd of the overall mobile patent pool

  1. Mobile Patent Rankings: US – IBM, Microsoft, Nokia. Europe – Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Samsung. Overall – Nokia, Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent

– OEMs – Nokia, Samsung, Sony. Service Providers – AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint

  1. In 3-5 years, with few exceptions, if a company is not doing majority of its digital business on mobile, it is going to be irrelevant

– Majority (by a good margin) of the consumer interactions with brands will be on mobile

  1. Mobile has become the single most important digital channel for engaging consumers and it shows

– In the US, mobile revenues were > all Ecommerce And > Music, ISP, Hollywood, and Cable revenues combined

  1. We have entered the mobile 3.0 era where “data” is all that matters and it disrupts the value chains

– Data will drive majority of the network growth, Contextual data will drive majority of the VAS growth

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

– The value chains will keep disrupting every 12-18 months by the new players and business models. Several verticals are already getting redefined e.g. retail, health, education, etc.

The Big Picture

The global mobile industry is the most vibrant and fastest growing industry. We expect the total revenue in the industry to touch approximately $1.5 Trillion in 2012 with mobile data representing 28% of the mix. Mobile data services revenue stood at 33%. Global Mobile Data revenues eclipsed $300 Billion for the first time in 2011. It is also the first year in which non-messaging data revenues will make up the majority of the overall global data revenues at 53%.

By the end of 2011, the global subscriptions exceeded 6 Billion. The first 1 billion took over 20 years and this last one took only 15 months. The primary growth drivers are India and China which are cumulatively adding 75M new subs every quarter. China became the first country to eclipse the 1 billion mark in March 2012. India is likely to arrive at the milestone by early 2013.

Smartphones are driving tremendous growth around the globe. Amongst the major markets, US leads with 69% sales. The global figure stands at approximately 32%. Some operators expect 90-95% of their device sales to be smartphones in 2012. In terms of the actual smartphone penetration, we expect the US market to eclipse the 50% mark in 2012.

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

Global Mobile Data Growth

Japan continues to be the leader in mobile data with NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and Softbank Japan ahead of the pack in terms of mobile data revenue and data as a % of total ARPU. Country average is now at 60%.

Next, Australia and the US have made good inroads in the last two years. In fact, if we look at the overall data revenue, US is much further ahead than any other nation due to the size of the market.

While India has the highest subscriber growth rate in the world right now, the revenue generating opportunity remain down right anemic compared to other major markets with average dropping down to $2.50 in overall ARPU. Even with significant subscriber base, there is going to be a general lack of opportunity in the market for the next couple of years relative to other markets.

Devices – Changing Landscape

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

Apple and Samsung are strong on the top. Huawei and ZTE are coming up strong from the bottom. The middle tier players will have a tough time going forward.

It will be difficult for pureplay device OEMs to survive long-term.

Nokia and RIM are under severe market scrutiny as investors and developers leave in droves. Lack of product planning and execution has left their market share in disarray. Nokia’s valuation has been cut into half. Nokia’s release of N9 shows the engineering and creative design depth but a lot is riding on the first generation of Nokia Windows Phones (Lumia). While the market hasn’t shown much appetite for Windows phone thus far, a good family of devices might be able to slow the loss trajectory and position the combined team for the up-for-grabs 3rd spot in the ecosystem. Given that the computing is shifting to mobile devices, we can expect some of the weaker desktop/laptop players will exit the industry.

Majority of the tablet use is in the WiFi mode because the primary use case is indoors and WiFi gives a better (and cheaper) user experience. However, of the users who use cellular, the churn is low. Once operators start to roll out user-friendly family data plans across multiple devices, we can expect the cellular activation go higher (e.g. Rogers, Vodafone Spain) but will still be dominated by WiFi overall.

Mobile VAS and OTT – The Big Picture

• The traditional operator revenue streams of

– Voice – declining and under threat from VoIP

– Messaging – flattening/declining and under threat from IP messaging

– Access – rising but margins are shrinking fast

– VAS – declining in proportion to the growth of smartphones

• Operators are fighting back with

– Voice – launching their own VoIP apps e.g. Bobsled from T-Mobile, partnering with VoIP players e.g. Skype integration, charging for VoIP apps e.g. TeliaSonera €6/month

– Messaging – launching their own IP messaging apps e.g. Huddle from AT&T, partnering with IP messaging players e.g. Whatsapp partnership

– Access – Tiering

– VAS – launch their own VAS apps and industry vertical apps and services

Managing Mobile Data Traffic and Profits

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

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

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

Mobile Intellectual Property

• The IP tussles are playing out as expected

• Players with strong IP portfolios will be able to command better negotiating positions, new revenue streams, competitive positioning over the long-term

• On average mobile companies file patents 1.7 times more in the US vs. Europe

• Mobile Patent Leaders in US: IBM, Microsoft, Nokia

• Mobile Patent Leaders in Europe: Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Samsung

• Mobile Patent Leaders in Infrastructure: Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson

• Mobile Patent Leaders in Devices: Nokia, Samsung, Sony

• Mobile Patent Leaders in Service Providers: AT&T, NTT DoCoMo, Sprint

• Top 20 control 1/3rd of the total mobile communications patent pool

Mobile Competitive Dynamics

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

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

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

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

Key Industry Micro-Milestones

  1. Apple captures 70% of mobile device profits – defies gravity, obliterates competition
  2. Apple mobile appstore downloads exceed 25 Billion, 100 Million on Mac – can you spell domination
  3. Samsung ends Nokia’s 14 year reign as the device king – brutal execution
  4. Android 300M activations – Juggernaut
  5. Paypal does $7B in mobile transaction volume
  6. Square does $5B in commerce transaction volume
  7. Google > $5B in mobile revenues
  8. Microsoft revenues from Android > Windows Mobile
  9. Pandora’s 70% usage is on mobile, Twitter’s 60% of the usage is on mobile – heading towards a mobile-dominant world
  10. Facebook Instagram Acquisition $1B – Mobile only acquisition to beef up mobile strategy
  11. Angry Birds approaches a billion downloads
  12. ESPN does 3.1 billion minutes on mobile in 3/12 – Mobile is where the action is
  13. Skype traffic over 150 billion minutes – OTT pressure
  14. KPN messaging volumes decline 15% YOY – OTT pressure
  15. Mobile Security threats grow 7x in last two years, Android threats up 3000% – Mobile IS IT
  16. Cisco BYOD ratio – 70% (up 52% in 2011) - BYOD is creating new opportunities for vendors
  17. US data traffic over 130 quadrillion bytes/month in 2011 – Data traffic 2X YOY, welcome to the yottabyte era
  18. Fandango sells quarter of its ticket on mobile – commerce is happening
  19. Expedia does > $1B in mobile commerce – see above
  20. Microsoft Nokia Multi-Billion partnership – It takes two to tango
  21. Lightsquared fails – Keep your friends close, enemies closer
  22. Google Motorola $12.5B – IP becomes key to strategy
  23. Nortel Patent acquisition $4.5B – IP becomes key to strategy
  24. AT&T/T-Mobile Failure – DOJ/FCC put down the gavel
  25. 40% of Kenya’s GDP comes from mobile money – impact of mobile is pervasive
  26. Millennial Media IPO at $2B – first public market validation of the mobile advertising space
  27. HP gives up on Palm – Competition forces Corporate Schizophrenia

What to expect in 2H 2012

• More Tiering, faster pace of change of plans. More options, family data plans

• Cost reduction is as important as revenue generation. More players will align their value-chains and cost structures

• Facebook IPO is probably going to be the single biggest event in the technology industry in the next few months.

• Radios will start connecting the digital world with the physical world with significant disruption opportunity

• Mobile Payment Networks will remain intact for the near future as the ecosystem largely focuses on building value on top of the existing exchange platforms

• The intersection of Social, Location, Identity, and Gaming is creating new opportunities

• With connectivity becoming pervasive, mobile will fundamentally start to alter the legacy infrastructure – retail, health, education, energy, computing, travel, entertainment

• Significant tablet adoption in the enterprise directly impacting the traditional computer manufacturers

• Both HTML5 and Apps will continue to grow, the relevancy to any given application will depend on the reach and economics requirements. HTML5 is not going to replace Apps.

• Mobile data growth will double again in 2012. Significant opportunities in managed and understanding of mobile data growth

• Regulators will need to evolve to keep up with the trend to keep their nation globally competitive

• More IP scuffles before licensing settlements

• Consolidation of weaker players, more global M&A

• Significant progress in emerging areas like mHealth, mPayments will come from the developing world while the western countries get mired in regulatory and legacy mess

• Several players face challenging times ahead and 2012 will be critical in their turn around sojourn.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

Mobile Patents Landscape – An In-depth Quantitative Analysis April 17, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, European Wireless Market, Infrastructure Providers, Intellectual Property, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile OEMs, Mobile Operators, Mobile Patents, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment





In April 2012, in its report on Intellectual Property, the US Patent Office (USPTO) concluded that the entire US economy relies on some form of IP, because virtually every industry either produces or uses it. The foreword of the report said,

“Innovation protected by IP rights is key to creating new jobs and growing exports. Innovation has a positive pervasive effect on the entire economy, and its benefits flow both upstream and downstream to every sector of the U.S. economy. Intellectual property is not just the final product of workers and companies—every job in some way, produces, supplies, consumes or relies on innovation, creativity, and commercial distinctiveness. Protecting our ideas and IP promotes innovative, open, and competitive markets, and helps ensure that the U.S. private sector remains America’s innovation engine.”

Intellectual property has been an integral part of the economic engine of the western world for many decades if not centuries. Over the past two decades, nations and corporations have competed on the creation, funding, execution, and protection of the new ideas. Increasingly, the role of mobile devices, networks, and applications has become an important component of the growth story worldwide.

To say that the mobile devices have become the remote control of our lives would be an understatement. Mobile phones stay attached to us almost 24 hours a day. From waking us up in the morning to keeping us connected and entertained, from speeding up a commerce transaction to being a trusted advisor; mobile is fundamentally changed how we as consumers behave and how societies and cultures evolve over time. As a result, there has been a big influx of investment and innovation over the last decade. This surge of activity has also translated into increased number of patent filings in the two major jurisdictions of US and Europe. Even the developing countries like China and India have seen a significant increase in patent activity in the country. In fact, in terms of filings, China’s share of the global patent grants has increased from 0.8% in 1996 to 15% in 2010 placing it third behind Japan and the US and well ahead of Korea and Europe.

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2011, the number of applications reached over 535,000 growing by almost 54% from a decade ago. Similarly, the number of patents granted grew 35% to 224,505 by the end of 2011. The numbers of foreign filings are now in the majority for both the applications filed as well as the patents granted. In Europe, similar trends were observed where the EPO (European Patent Office) patent grants increased by 46%.

The number of mobile related patents that were granted by the USPTO and the EPO increased significantly over the course of last decade. The US market saw a 390% increase while the European market saw a 173% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that as of Q1 2012, over 21% of the patents granted by the USPTO now are mobile related. This grew from around 2% in 1991 and 5% in 2011. In Europe, roughly 9% of the patents granted are related to mobile.

Chetan Sharma Consulting analyzed almost 7 million patents granted by the USPTO and EPO over the last two decades to understand how mobile has become a key enabler for all technology companies. Furthermore, we looked at patent granted to the top 65 technology companies who are active in the mobile space to understand their relative strengths and weaknesses in the mobile patent landscape. In a first of its kind study, the paper presents and discusses these findings in more detail.

Read the full paper

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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