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

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

 

 

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

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The big picture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mobile Trends for 2011

1.Total Global Subscriptions to hit 6 Billion

–India and China racing to a billion a piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Over 1 Billion broadband connections by 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.Connected device segment is growing at the fastest pace

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

10.Several multi-billion dollar opportunity segments are emerging

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

11.Mobile Ecosystem has become very dynamic and unpredictable

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

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

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

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

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

Devices

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

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

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

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

Managing the data growth

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

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

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

Competitive landscape

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

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

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

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

Apps and Services

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

Ecosystem Dynamics

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

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

Mobile Future Forward

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

Some of the distinguished guests include:

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks and have a great 2H 2011.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

US Mobile Data Market Update Q4 2010 and 2010 February 28, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Event, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Networks, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Data Market Update Q4 2010 and 2010

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdate2010.htm

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The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 23% Y/Y to reach $14.8B in mobile data service revenues in Q4 2010. The final tally for the 2010 year was $55B and we expect this to increase by 22% to $67B in 2011.

The US mobile subscriptions officially crossed the 100% penetration mark in Q4 2010.

Of all the segments, the connected device category registered the highest growth at 55% while the postpaid subscriptions grew by only 3% for the calendar year. Connected devices (including tablets, M2M, telematics, eReaders, etc.) now account for 7% of the base.

A significant shift

2010 marked the milestone of the start of a new computing and communications era. For the first time in the US, the smartphones shipments exceeded the traditional computer segments (that consists of desktops, notebooks and netbooks). In 2011, the smartphone segment along with the connected devices (tablets and eReaders) will not only exceed the computer segment in unit shipment but more importantly in the overall revenues as well. Of course, these categories are merging and the lines are blurring but it is good to take stock of the transition which will create new ecosystems and decimate the old ones over the course of this decade.

The evolution of connected devices

The connected devices category is the fastest growing segment of the market and while the ARPUs are low, due to higher margins this segment will prove to be the most profitable in the coming years. By the end of 2011, connected devices will be commanding double digit market share. However, not all sub-segments are going to be successful in the operator channel until multi-device data pricing plans are introduced. Most of the tablets and eReaders can work well with only WiFi most of the times. Monthly data plans make sense for enterprise users but not for consumers who might use these devices occasionally. As such tablets will be more successful in direct and traditional retail channels.

Operators who start to bundle multiple devices by single data plans and data buckets are going to see a better yield in this category (We will be discussing the connected devices universe in our upcoming Mobile Breakfast Series event in April).

Similarly, OEMs who rely on the operators for sell-through of tablets/eReaders will see low volumes vs. players who have more diverse distribution channels (Apple and HP). We do expect multi-device or family data plans to start being introduced in the US market in 2011.

As we had mentioned in our last research note, iPad (and other tablets) are making Netbooks irrelevant. In fact, tablets are starting to eat into the laptop category as well. As expected, the device has been a hit with many enterprises with mobile workers. Many enterprises are giving out iPads to their workforce instead of laptops or Netbooks.

At CES 2011, hundreds of tablets were introduced. While the total number of releases was noteworthy, we expect iPad to dominate the space in 2011 as competitors will find it hard to compete across all dimensions - price, performance, ecosystem, distribution, and brand power.

Mobile Data Consumption

Mobile data consumption continued to grow across all networks increasing 2-5 times on major US networks. Many of the superphones introduced in 2H10 are clocking 1-1.5GB/mo average. The average data consumption in the US at the end of 2010 was 350 MB/mo. Thus, while the data revenues for the year increased 23%, the mobile data traffic grew 132%.

The significant rise in the smartphones sales and usage in the US market (over 50% devices sold in the US in 2010 were smartphones almost twice the global average) means that by the end of 2011, in the US, the smartphones will consume more data than the data cards for the first time. We also expect US to become the number 1 nation in mobile data consumption this year edging out Sweden. A detailed treatment of the subject can be found in our "Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era"  paper. Another research update on the topic will be released in 1H11.

The center of gravity has shifted back to the US

As I mentioned in my Time magazine interview earlier this month, there is no question that the center of gravity of the mobile market has shifted back to the US. The Nokia-Microsoft announcement was a wake-up call to many in the industry who were in denial. The innovation is happening all around the world and in many areas other countries are years ahead. The markets are growing faster in India, China, and elsewhere. However, the coordinates of what’s next have clearly changed in the last three years. The software innovation and the next generation network launches in the US are laying the foundation of a solid mobile decade.

US is also the most dominant market in terms of revenue generation for the industry. While the US represents less than 6% of the subscription base, it accounts for over 21% of the data revenues with Verizon Wireless becoming the number one mobile data operator in 2010 edging past the decade long leader NTT DoCoMo. AT&T also went past China Mobile to gain its current number three ranking. By the end of 2013, the US market will account for 25% of the global mobile data services revenues  (We will have a detailed analysis of the global markets in our upcoming research note in march).

Nokia-Microsoft partnership

Nokia’s market problem can be summed up thusly - “While Nokia sold 10 times more devices than Apple in 2010, its market cap is 1/10th that of Apple.” It has been clear for some time that things had to change at Nokia.

Weeks leading up to the Mobile World Congress were rampant with curiosity of who will Nokia marry to continue its next phase of device journey. The multi-billion dollar offering from Microsoft proved too hard to resist for Nokia. This news completely dominated the MWC chatter and the topic comes up invariably in many conversations since then. One has to give points to Nokia for decisiveness and for moving quickly under the pressure.

It is also indisputable that the deal is a significant win for Microsoft who has been looking to come back into the game. However, impact on Nokia remains uncertain. While there were risks with Android, going with Win7 is not an assured path to resurrection either. It all comes down to execution. Can the troops be rallied to produce a slew of competitive devices quickly that consumers and operators will find attractive?

Microsoft understands developers better than most and the two companies can bring in tremendous scale and complementary toolsets to attack the market. Nokia has significant talent and it’s a proud company but jumping into the shark-infested cold waters miles away from the shore will require all the stamina, good weather, and skill it can muster to make landfall before thanksgiving.

MeeGo is likely to go back into Intel’s camp and might look interesting to the likes of LG, Samsung and even Motorola though creating a new ecosystem is a tall order. Never a dull moment in the industry, is there?

Impact of iPhone on AT&T

It finally happened. The Verizon iPhone has kept the media busy for the last 3.5 years. It was quite an anticlimactic moment when the device finally came to the 2nd operator in the US. It was inevitable that one of the longest exclusive relationship in the wireless world will come to an end. The  iPhone singlehandedly turned around AT&T relative to Verizon in the net-adds race. For 10 quarters leading up to Q2 2007, AT&T was adding less net-adds compared to Verizon, in fact the cumulative net-add loss was 3.7 million subs on an average of 374,000 subs per quarter. As soon as the iPhone was launched in Q2 2007, AT&T started adding more net-adds compared to Verizon with the 14 quarter cumulative net-add difference close to 6 million subs on an average of 426,000 subs per quarter.

What to expect in the coming months?

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

Android and iOS are completely dominating the developer and ecosystem mindshare and the race to become a viable 3rd option is on. Operators would love to see another competitive force emerge in the market.

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

US is also leading the way in smartphone sales. In Q4 2010, 48% of the devices sold in the US were smartphones compared to 25% globally. The fast pace of device introduction has catapulted the agile players like Samsung and HTC to the forefront while others like LG and Sony Ericsson have lost ground. By singularly focusing on Android, Motorola did quite well in 2010 but 2011 is going to be challenging.

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

While 2010 started quite active on the regulatory front as the national broadband plan was unveiled in March little substantive progress has been made w.r.t. the spectrum, net-neutrality, and other broadband related issues. The matter has swiftly moved to courts where it will take months before anything useful comes out.

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

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2010 and 2010 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

Data Traffic

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

New White Paper: The Promise of Mobile Advertising February 2, 2011

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, Carriers, Middleware, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Privacy, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

ATTadpaper1_s

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

Commissioned by AT&T Interactive

Executive Summary

The world of advertising is changing at a dizzying pace. New media are transforming advertising, and consumer expectations have changed accordingly. In this dynamic environment, no communications platform holds more promise than the mobile device.

Mobile platforms present a unique opportunity to reinvent advertising. With mobile, the perception of advertising will shift from interruptive broadcast messages to targeted information services of real value to consumers and positive interactions that have an immediate top-line impact.

Advertisers care about two basic metrics – reach and purity. They want to communicate with as many people as possible (reach) and they want to reach the most accurately targeted audience possible (purity). In the past, advertisers have tried to compensate for a lack of purity by casting a wider net, spending inefficiently and often failing to reach their target audience.

With mobile, advertisers can deliver the right information to the right target at the most opportune time; delight the consumer with instant gratification; complete transactions and measure direct correlations between advertising, transactions, and return on advertising (ROA). With the power of real-time metrics in hand, advertisers can scientifically design, measure, and alter their campaigns and deploy strategies for one-to-one relationship building with customers.

Mobile is having a significant impact on local advertising. The attributes of immediacy, location, always-on connectivity, user profile and segmentation, and the viral nature of the medium make mobile the best channel for local advertisers to engage potential customers.

Download full paper.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Announcing Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit June 14, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

Subba Rao, CEO, TataDoCoMo,

Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire

Louis Gump, VP Mobile, CNN,

Paul Palmieri, Founder and CEO, Millennial Media

Dr. Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante

Abhi Ingle, VP, AT&T Wireless

Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave

Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio

Stephen David, Former CIO, Proctor & Gamble

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

Hank Skorny, SVP, Real Networks

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

Dr. Suzanne Sysko, Chief Medical Officer, WellDoc

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

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

Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype

Russ McGuire, VP, Sprint Nextel

Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp

David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures

Anand Chandrasekhar, SVP and GM, Intel

Chamath Palihapitiya, VP Growth/Mobile, Facebook

Rob Glaser, Chairman, Real Networks

Wim Sweldens, President – Wireless Division, Alcatel Lucent

Takayuki Hoshuyama, CEO, D2 Communications

Neville Ray, SVP, T-Mobile

Bob Azzi, SVP—Networks, Sprint Nextel

Mario Queiroz, VP—Android, Google

Matt Bross, Global CTO, Huawei

We will be covering the following topics in detail:

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

Mobile Future Forward Paper

I hope to see you there.

Chetan Sharma

Chief Curator

Mobile Future Forward

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

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

 

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Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Paper

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

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

US Wireless Data Market Update – Q1 2010

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

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service Revenues (Slides 7, 16)

ARPU (Slides 8-11)

Subscribers (Slides 12-14)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Open

Data Traffic (Slide 15)

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Global Mobile Data Market Update 2009 March 31, 2010

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

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Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exciting times indeed.

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

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

Impact of Global Recession

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

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

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

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

Service Revenues

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

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

ARPU

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

Mobile Data Traffic

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

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

Subscriptions

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

Mobile Apps

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

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

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

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

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

Others

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

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

2010 will be a critical year on many fronts. As usual, we will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in May 2010. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be released in Sept 2010.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

CTIA Roundup 2010 March 26, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the other news worthy items were:

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

Thanks

Chetan Sharma

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

New Research: Sizing up the Global Mobile Apps Market March 17, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, CTIA, Carriers, European Wireless Market, Gaming, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Partnership, Smart Phones, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 7 comments

Sizing up the Global Mobile Apps Market

mobileapps_s

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

Industry Study Commissioned by Getjar

Executive Summary

Mobile applications (apps) have been around since the late nineties and the apps stores have been available for a quite some time as well. Operators have been offering content and applications on their appstores for most of the last decade. But it wasn’t until the launch of Apple Appstore that the appsworld started to blossom in earnest. First, it fundamentally changed the revenue model in favor of the developers which has become the current defacto standard (70/30) in the mobile apps business. Second, it brought more developers into the ecosystem as it fostered the notion of focusing on just 1-2 platforms rather than the entire device ecosystem to be relevant. Third, the time-to-market equation changed for developers so that they can get the application from conception to market in a fraction of a time of what was possible in the past. Finally, the importance of a seamless end-to-end user experience to increase usage and monetization became a core principle in the mobile apps space.

While Apple has played a significant role in reenergizing the mobile apps space by bringing more consumers and developers into the ecosystem, there is significant activity outside the iPhone or smartphones space that is often not discussed. The purpose of this research study is to take a holistic look at the mobile apps space across all platforms and on a global basis to get a sense of the size of the mobile apps market and the direction it is headed.

The overall mobile apps downloads are expected to increase from over 7 billion in 2009 to almost 50 billion by 2012 growing at the rate of 92% CAGR. The revenue from mobile apps which includes both paid downloads and revenue from advertising and virtual goods is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012 at the rate of 62% CAGR. Though ondeck (operator managed) mobile apps sales exceeded those from offdeck in 2009, by 2012, offdeck is expected to hold the lion share of the mobile apps revenue.

The dynamics of the app market are quite different in emerging nations where to effectively monetize the significant app momentum (app downloads/active user and growth rates in some of these countries exceed those from the western markets, irrespective of the device type), creative strategies are needed to attract new consumers and different business models will be required to make the regional ecosystems viable.

Overall, by enhancing discovery, improving user experience, dropping price barriers, and increasing developer revenue share, the apps ecosystem can continue to prosper. The paper presents the results of the study in more detail as well discusses the future of mobile apps and how the app economy is likely to evolve.

Download full paper

My thanks to Getjar for supporting the research.

Thanks

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Data Market Update: Q4 2009 and 2009 March 2, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, IP Strategy, Indian Wireless Market, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Location Based Services, Messaging, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Music Player, Smart Phones, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Usability, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q4 2009 and 2009

Download PPT | PDF

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdate2009.htm

Executive Summary

The US wireless data market grew 5% Q/Q and 24% Y/Y to exceed $11.8B in mobile data service revenues and thus exceeded $10B for each of the four quarters in 2009. For the calendar year 2009, the overall mobile data revenues for the US market grew 29% ending at $44 billion for the year (1% shy of our $44.5 billion estimate). For the calendar year 2010, we expect a 20% increase in mobile data service revenues accounting for over $53 billion in service revenues.

Verizon Wireless edged past China Mobile to become the second biggest mobile data operator by revenues.

The US subscription penetration was approximately 92% at the end of 2009. If we take out the demographics of 5 yrs and younger, the mobile penetration is 99%.

The messaging volume increased 7% from last quarter catapulting US as the number one texting nation by messages/user/month going past the long-time leader Philippines.

For the first time in the history of the US wireless industry, the data traffic exceeded voice traffic for the full calendar year. With almost 400 terabytes of data traffic, it exceeded voice traffic by a significant margin. We expect that the ratio between the two traffic sources is going to double in 2010.

Apple continued its iTunes juggernaut and if measured by billing relationships (of course not all accounts are mobile) Apple is  now the 10th largest mobile operator in the world.

Q4 2009 reported a 5.9% increase in GDP compared to the 3.5% increase in Q3 when the recession technically ended. While the overall economy is sputtering towards growth, wireless industry in the US remains vibrant as is evident by the increase in revenues and net-adds which jumped more than 5 million for the first time in 2 years.

What to expect in the coming months?

Christmas quarter generally yields best results of the year. Though the US mobile industry came out pretty unscathed from the recession, it will benefit from the improving economy. As such we expect the US mobile data service revenues to gain 20% to reach $53 billion in 2010. Mobile data will continue to be the engine of growth for the ecosystem providing at least 33% of the overall service revenues by the end of 2010.

The furious cycle of device releases is accelerating and one wonders if the longevity of each device is starting to shrink as even the hit devices like Droid and Nexus One are not allowed enough room to fully capitalize on their initial momentum. The app economy has been expanding as well. Part strategic, part hysteria, everyone is jumping into the pool to tap into the app river to pull in some revenues or use it more strategically to sell more devices, services, or advertising. (Stay tuned for more research on the subject in the coming days)

Microsoft is attempting a comeback with its 7 series devices though the delay in handset release as well as the lack of backward compatibility gives enough time for competitors to plan their moves. We are glad to see the industry going past the “PC like icons” for mobile phones (something we have advocating for more than 10 years, most recently in our paper “The Untapped Mobile Data Opportunity.” This will enhance user experience and help in extracting true value out of the mobile devices.

From the various announcements this year, we can expect an action packed 2010. However, it will be also an year of shakeouts with several key M&A transactions that will winnow down the competitive landscape in many segments.

Q1 2010 will also be important from the regulatory point of view with the national broadband plan being unveiled later this month. With the looming spectrum shortage, regulatory bodies can have a significant impact on the competitiveness of a nation. For example, in India, regulators haven’t been able to get their acts together for the past 3-4 years and its citizens continue to suffer from 2G. Similarly, many countries in South America have imposed unnecessary spectrum caps. 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 will be headlining our Mobile Breakfast Series event on March 10th to discuss the Spectrum Crises).

2010 will also be the year of network expansion with HSPA+, WiMAX, and LTE all coming into play in the US. As we had anticipated last year, the mobile data traffic kept on growing disproportional to the revenues. At the end of 2009, the US mobile data traffic was almost 400 petabytes, up 193% from 2008. To truly tackle the problem head-on, industry will need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to manage their traffic more effectively. We discussed mobile data traffic in much more detail in our popular paper "Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era." We will be issuing an update later this quarter so stay tuned.

It is also good to see the mobile industry expanding into vertical segments like Health and Retail. More discussion to come on these topics.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2009 and 2009 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 8, 17)

ARPU (Slides 9-12)

Subscribers (Slides 13-15)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Policy and Regulations

Open

Data Traffic (Slide 16)

· For the first time in the history of the US wireless industry, the data traffic exceeded voice traffic for the whole calendar year. With almost 400 terabytes of data traffic, it exceeded voice traffic by a significant margin. We expect that the ratio between the two traffic sources is going to double in 2010.

Misc.

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

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

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carnival of Mobilists, Carriers, Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, India, Intellectual Property, Japan Wireless Market, M&A, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Traffic, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Patent Strategy, Privacy, Smart Phones, Speech Recognition, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, VoIP, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

clip_image002

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

Mobile VoIP - Approaching the Tipping Point

Sponsored by Skype

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

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

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

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

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

Download Paper (pdf)

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2010

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

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey

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

Mobile Predictions Survey (pdf)

Mobile Predictions Survey (ppt)

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

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

The Last Decade: 2000-2009

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

decadeglobal

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

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

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

decadeoem

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

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

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

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

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

decadeus

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

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

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

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

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

2000-2009

2010-2019

Operator of the Decade

NTT DoCoMo

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

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

OEM of the Decade

Nokia

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

RIM, Apple, Nokia, Samsung

Smartphone OEM of the Decade

Apple

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

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

Infrastructure Provider of the Decade

Ericsson

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

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

Nation that led in mobile data

Japan

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

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

Device of the decade

iPhone followed by Razr

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

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

The year 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we eluded to earlier, 2010 will be a pretty eventful year from several perspectives: business models, user experience and expectations, ecosystem posturing, disruption, and friction. How are things going to shape up? What will be hot and what will fade into oblivion? How will competition shape up the new sub-segments?

We put some of the questions to our colleagues in the industry. We were able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments. This survey is different from some of the others in the sense that it includes industry movers and shakers participation. Executives and insiders (n=150) from leading mobile companies across the value chain and around the world opined to help us see what 2010 might bring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Laura Marriott, President - 2010 Mobile Almanac

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

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

Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2010?

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

It is hard to cover the mobile industry in 20 questions. As pointed out by our panelists, there are a number of other issues and opportunities that will help shape our ecosystem - monetization of social networks, augmented reality, the fight for mobile advertising dollars, continued impact of globalization, security and privacy, NFC, IMS, VoIP, enterprise apps beyond email, battery improvements, new interaction modalities, health risks of RF radiation, Mobile 3.0, LTE, single purpose devices, 3G in India, Bada, app vs web, developer turmoil, featurephones, smart grids, M2M, Chrome, etc.

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

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

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

Be well, Do Cool Work, Stay in touch.

Thanks.

With warm wishes,

Chetan Sharma

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

Now onto the 2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results

The panel comprised of movers and shakers from around the world

survey2_10 survey1_10

What will be the biggest stories of 2010?

survey3_10

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

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

survey4_10

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

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

survey5_10

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

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

survey6_10

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

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

survey7_10

There are indications that this might happen sooner rather than later

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

survey8_10

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

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

survey9_10

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

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

survey10_10

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

Who will be the mobile comeback story of 2010?

survey12_10

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

What will be the impact of Google Phone?

survey13_10

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

Which areas will feel the most impact from FCC?

 survey11_10

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

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

survey14_10

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

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

survey15_10

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

What will help mobile cloud computing gain traction in 2010?

survey16_10

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

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

survey17_10

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

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

survey18_10

Mobile Advertising and Mobile Payments share the top honors

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

survey19_10

LTE might have the momentum but WiMAX has the subscribers

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

survey20_10

No major impact from the operator channel

Which standards will gain traction?

survey21_10

No major impact from the standards

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

survey22_10

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

New Whitepaper: The Untapped Mobile Data Opportunity December 16, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, General, IP, IP Strategy, India, Indian Wireless Market, Infrastructure, Intellectual Property, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Networks, Smart Phones, Speech Recognition, Storage, US Wireless Market, Unified Messaging, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

UntappedMobile_s

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

The Untapped Mobile Data Opportunity

Sponsored by INQMobile

The last two years in the global mobile market have been truly sensational. Over 1 billion new subscriptions added, over 2 billion new devices sold, and over $300 billion in mobile data revenues. The number of new iconic devices each quarter is on the rise, the consumer engagement is at an all time high and the new startups and entrepreneurs are brimming with ideas and new products. Devices like the iPhone, Storm, Hero, INQ1, Mytouch, Cliq, Droid, N97 and others have captured the imagination of the media like never before. The smartphones or the integrated devices now account for approximately 9% of the global market. However, what’s often lost in the smartphone euphoria is the remaining 91% of the market and the significant opportunity of data-enabling these customers.

Operators who have focused on data services as their core service have benefited with high data Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). As we quickly transition into the hyper growth phase of mobile data services, players who are designing affordable devices and services with "mobile data" in mind are the ones who will benefit from a higher uptick in adoption and sustainable consumer loyalty. However, as operators have migrated from 2G to 3G, many have missed an opportunity to customize or introduce new services that take advantage of devices being mobile, interactive, and always available.

Traditionally, there has been a big gulf between the functionality of featurephones and the smartphones; however, there is an emerging category of devices that will provide the functionality of a smartphone for the price of a feature phone. Though the average selling price or the ASP of the smartphone has been dropping, the price is still high for a significant majority of the global subscriber base. Consumers who are looking for a sub $50 device still want to the access applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Google search, and make VoIP calls, etc.

In this paper, we will look at the opportunity to attract the 91% of the global user base into the mobile data ecosystem. We will quantify the opportunity, examine what this opportunity means to the mobile value chain specifically to the mobile operators and discuss the success factors to accelerate the migration of non-active data users into the data realm.

Download Paper (660 KB)

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2009 November 9, 2009

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

 

Download PPT | PDF

Executive Summary

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

While the flailing economy hit certain segments of the wireless ecosystem hard esp. the infrastructure and handset segments, consumers haven’t really pulled back on the mobile data overall spending. Additionally, the CAPEX spending has stayed strong in 2009 given the activity around 3G/4G deployments and trials. As expected, there was an increase of prepaid subscribers which dropped the overall revenues for some of the carriers. The US subscription penetration was approximately 91.3% at the end of Q3 2009.

As we mentioned in our last three research notes that this time around, the fate of the US mobile industry is more closely tied to the overall economy compared to the previous recessions. As the consumer sentiment improved over the last two quarters along with better than expected Q1-3 2009 earnings from corporations, the mobile industry is back on track. While the structural flaws in various industry segments remain, the outlook for the Q4 2009 and 2010 remains bright and we are expecting the overall data revenues to now increase by over 30% compared to 2008 with a record-setting Q4.

Q3 2009 reported a 3.5% increase in GDP compared to the 1% decline in Q2 and 6.4% decline in Q1, thus marking the official (technical) end of the recession. The GDP is expected to change by 3.2% for 2009 and the service revenues are expected to  account for 1.13% of the US economy by year-end. Note: For a detailed discussion of the US wireless industry in recessions, please see 2008 US Wireless Market Update.

So, what does this mean? Well, the markets can still be volatile, but overall the market seems to be feeling better about the economy than it was in February. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index though retreated from June is at a healthy 47.7.

What to expect in the coming months?

The high unemployment has slowed the growth in the data card segment but the smartphone consumers have more than picked up the slack. Also, as expected, there was a shift from postpaid to prepaid in some user segments. For example, for T-Mobile, prepaid accounts for almost 20% of their customer base compared to 17% from an year ago. The fight for the low-end customer is also having an impact on the traditional prepaid players and the price pressure is reducing their margins. It is quite likely that 50-60% of such consumers don’t go back to postpaid thus permanently lowering the ARPU base for such customers and carriers who have experienced more postpaid to prepaid shift will have to make up for the lost revenues elsewhere.

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

The trend of the landline replacement by Mobile continued in Q3 2009, now reaching almost 25%. In the third quarter, messaging growth slowed down. The messaging volume was up only 4% and messaging revenues were up 3% QoQ. With its expanding 3G network, T-Mobile like its peers has started to benefit from smartphone penetration reaching to 6% of its subscriber base. Overall, The increased use of smartphones and datacards is putting a pressure on carrier networks and accelerating their strategies to deploy LTE/WiMAX. We estimate that by end of 2009, the US mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 400 petabytes, up 193% from 2008. To truly tackle the problem head-on, operators will need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to manage their traffic more effectively. We discuss mobile data traffic in much more detail in our paper "Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era." We will have more on this subject in the coming days (You can also read our RCR Wireless columns on the subject - Defining Mobile Broadband and Solutions for the Broadband World).

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

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

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

ARPU (Slides 13-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-18)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Policy and Regulations

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

Open

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

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

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

Misc.

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, and articles. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2009. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Mar 2010.

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Roundup 2009 October 12, 2009

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

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

CTIA San Diego Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

024_24

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.

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

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

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q2 2009

Download: PPT | PDF

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming back to the 2009 forecasts, we are raising our estimates for the mobile data service revenues to $45B for the year. We will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q209 US wireless data market is:

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

ARPU (Slides 13-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-17)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Misc.

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

New WhitePaper: Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era July 14, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Indian Wireless Market, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, MVNO, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Networks, Smart Phones, Speaking Engagements, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era

yottabyte_cover_s

Executive Summary

In Q1 2009, the US market exceeded $10B in quarterly mobile data service revenues for the first time. The subscription penetration in the US is well past 90% and the mobile data usage is on the rise. While the rate of new subscriptions has slowed, the pace of innovation is going very strong. It is quite apparent that the mobile industry is going through a 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 quarter, and 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.

yb1

As everything moves to digital, information repositories across the web are almost doubling every day moving rapidly to the yottabyte (YB) era. The information and 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 will reach a new milestone – 1 Exabyte(EB) or 1 Million Terabytes (TB).By 2016-17, the global yearly mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 1 Zettabyte (ZB) or 1000 Exabytes. By 2014, in the US alone, the total yearly mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 40 EB. How do you go about managing such growth in a profitable manner when the cost of supporting such traffic will increase exponentially despite the move to 4G? Will the move to LTE offer some respite?

This paper discusses the analysis done by Chetan Sharma Consulting on the growth of mobile data traffic in the US market and how the ecosystem can apply some strategies to manage growth and profits. We built detailed models to estimate the rise of mobile data network traffic and discuss some solutions to handle such growth in this paper.

Download Paper

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 paper are our clients.

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

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

US Wireless Data Market Update - Q1 2009

Download PPT (2.8MB)

Download PDF (1.8MB)

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

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coming back to the 2009 forecasts, we are raising our estimates for the mobile data service revenues to $42B for the year. We will be keeping a very close eye on the micro- and macro-trends and reporting on the market on a regular basis in various private and public settings.

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q109 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues (Slides 11, 18)

ARPU (Slides 12-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-17)

Applications and Services

Handsets

Misc.

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Global Wireless Data Market Update - 2008 April 28, 2009

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, BRIC, Carriers, European Wireless Market, India, Indian Wireless Market, International Trade, Japan Wireless Market, Location Based Services, M&A, MVNO, Microsoft Mobile, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Content, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Entertainment, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Search, Mobile TV, Mobile Usability, Mobile Users, Mobile Wallet, Music Player, Networks, Strategy, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

Global Wireless Data Market Update - 2008

Download PPT (1.9MB)

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http://www.chetansharma.com/globalmarketupdate2008.htm

Executive Summary

The Global Wireless Markets continued to grow rapidly especially in India and China where the carriers (together) are adding over 20M new subscriptions every month. India crossed the 400M subscription mark this month while China whizzed past 650M in Q109. Overall, the global subscriptions penetration edged past 60%. During 2008, revenues further tilted towards data services, increasing 17% from 2007 EOY. The overall global mobile revenues (including equipment) for the year reached the 1 Trillion dollar landmark in 2008, with over $830 billion attributed to services revenues. Data revenues now account for over 20% of the global service revenues.

For some leading operators, data is now contributing close to 40% of the overall revenues. However increase in data ARPU is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU for most operators. From the true and tested SMS messaging to the new services such as Mobile Advertising, Social Networking, Commerce, Mobile Wallet, and others, different services helped in adding billions to the revenues generated in 2008. The US market expanded its lead over Japan in mobile data service revenues for the year and is unlikely to cede ground in the months to come.

The success of Apple’s Appstore (1B downloads in 9M across 37M devices is not surprising but still impressive, look for another growth bump in July) led to appstore mania across the ecosystem with every major player in the ecosystem holding ambitions for Applesque success leading to healthy competition and hopefully more innovation. Google’s Android also kept the industry chatter on the high with a slew of new devices slated for 2009. The ease of use of applications developed for G1 on the new devices will define Android’s role in the ecosystem. If successful, it will decimate the weaker ones from the equation going forward.

WiMAX vs. LTE debate took over the EV-DO vs. WCDMA talk and while the majority of the industry is consolidating around LTE; open-platform advocates are watching the arrival of WiMAX with great interest. However, the down economy is delaying the establishment of Clearwire’s nationwide footprint.

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.

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscriptions

Others

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks.

Chetan Sharma

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

Ps. We will have an update on the impact of recession on the mobile industry in our US Q109 update next month.

CTIA 2009 Roundup April 6, 2009

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

CTIA 2009 Roundup

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

CTIA 2009 in Pictures

ctia09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broadband

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

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

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

Mobile Health

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

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

Applications and Services

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

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

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

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

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

Green

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

Miscellaneous

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

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

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

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Thanks

Chetan

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