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US Mobile Market Update – 2015 March 9, 2016

Posted by chetan in : 4G,4th Wave,5G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Connected Intelligence Era,IoE,IoT,Mobile 2016,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Future Forward,Smart Cities,Smart Phones,The Golden Age of Mobile,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update – 2015



Highlights of the US Mobile Market 2015

· The overall mobile market expanded by 18% increase in revenues.

· Mobile data revenues increased by 17% YoY and now contribute 72% of the overall service revenues. In terms of data contribution, US is catching up with Japan which has been a leader in data % since the iMode days.

· For the first time in its history of the US market, the service revenues declined.

· For 2015, the voice revenues declined by 24%, messaging revenues declined by 18%, tablets saw the dip by 18%, handsets saw an increase of 5%, access revenues by 23% and 4th wave services dominated with an increase of 60%.

· The Capex contracted for a second year in a row.

· Device revenues are now 21% of the overall.

· EBITDA and Net Income saw double digit gains indicating operators are running a much tighter ship than before.

· Churn is at historic lows. Despite all the commotion in the market, 7% fewer customers churned in 2015.

· After falling sharply in 2014, the data prices remained pretty stable throughout the year.

· Mobile data traffic grew again with per sub smartphone consumption at 3.9 GB/user/mo (see note below on data traffic)

· In the first 10 weeks of Binge-on, T-Mobile users chomped away 34 PB of data for free or what was the entire year’s worth of data traffic on T-Mobile’s network in 2010. T-Mobile experienced a net traffic reduction of 10-15% but given that consumers are consuming 3x than before, overall traffic will rise again.

· AT&T added 4 million cars to their network. While postpaid business has its challenges, the connected devices business showed significant strength in 2015.

· Verizon’s IoT/Telematics accounted for $690M in 2015 and is likely to cross the $1B mark in 2016 making US the hotbed for Connected Intelligence activities, growth, and continued experimentation.

· Apple again dominated the device market with over 45% revenue share, 81% profits share with only 16%-unit share.

· Android ecosystem revenues grew by 5% but the profits declined by 2%

· There were more tablets added to the network than phones in 2015. Cars outperformed M2M by a good margin.

· T-Mobile edged past Verizon in postpaid netadds, AT&T was ahead in Prepaid, Verizon in Connected devices, Sprint in wholesale, and Verizon overall had the most netadds in 2015.

· AT&T and Verizon on average made $16 per sub/mo, T-Mobile turned into positive territory with $1 profit/sub/mo while Sprint stayed in negative territory with a loss of $0.55 per sub/mo.

· The valuation of Uber surpassed the combined market cap of T-Mobile and Sprint.

What to expect in 2016? Questions for 2016.

· We expect the overall US mobile market to pass the half a trillion-dollar mark in 2016.

· US will cross 400M in subscriptions in 2016.

· After the pause of dropping data prices in 2015, we could see intense price wars in 2016.

· The upcoming auction could be the big story of the year.

· What new 5G test results will be announced and will industry converge on some 5G standards ahead of the 2019 deadline?

· Will Comcast MVNO follow Google-Fi as a niche endeavor or does it have elements to fundamentally impact the market. 2016 will hopefully answer the question about the future of WiFi-first network strategy.

· Will the upcoming eSim integration in devices go far enough to disrupt the market?

· Will IoT gain sufficient steam to justify the forecasts?

· Can Android OEMs turn around the decline in profits in 2016?

· Can iPhone7 boost Apple’s growth numbers in 2016?

· Will the service revenue decline in the US reverse itself or are we seeing the start of the decline in revenues in the industry?

· Autonomous driving was a big story last year; what progress are we going to make in 2016? How will Uber shape the autonomous driving business models?

· AT&T and Verizon have bet big on video. How will the respective strategies pan out in 2016?

· The Apple-FBI is going to be one of the most watched cases in the world. Whichever way the final ruling lands has huge implications for the tech industry and consumers.

We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the future of the mobile industry at our 7th annual mobile executive summit Mobile Future Forward in Sept 2016. Hope you can join us.

Service Revenue Decline, what does 2016 hold in store?

The overall service revenue, postpaid revenue, overall and postpaid ARPU all declined. In general, the net-service revenue decline is not a good sign if it is market induced. In Europe, we saw net-revenue declines but the impact of the economic crisis was a big factor in determining the trajectory. After the economy has improved, we have seen the net revenue in effected countries rise again. In the US, the net-revenue decline is more market induced. The calculation of service revenue is a bit more complicated because device revenues are no longer part of the mix and as customers are weaning off the contracts, we have to adjust the service revenue for this accounting change. If we take the accounting distortion into account, service revenue is still in the positive growth territory but in terms of how operators report service revenues, this was the first year the category saw a decline. Regardless of the accounting distortions, there is continuous pressure on the postpaid revenues which is what is impacting the overall numbers.

Given the competitive state of the market, we might see further service revenue declines in 2016. The reversal might come down to consolidation in the industry in 2017 and beyond. The pressure on the revenues has had a positive impact though – operators are running far tighter ships than before. The net income surged in 2016.

The licensed vs. unlicensed: frenemies

Comcast is expected to launch its WiFi first MVNO with Verizon fairly this year. Google Fi hasn’t been a roaring success, perhaps it was never designed to be. Given that WiFi is carrying 75-80% of the traffic, it is easy to make the business case for a national WiFi operator. Companies like Republic Wireless have shown that this can be done. Keeping aside some of the technical challenges with WiFi, there are two major business challenges with the WiFi strategy. First, even with the rise of WiFi usage, the cellular usage hasn’t slowed down. Cellular data usage is still growing 60-70% YoY. As such, consumers will have to rely on cellular when they are out and about which means the economics comes down to the wholesale rate the MVNO has for cellular. The second big problem is the lack of handset choices. For consumers, handset choice is paramount. They want both iOS and Android devices to go with their data plans. WiFi operators generally have limited handsets. Over time this will change but to have a WiFi network of scale, economics, choice, and pricing are critical. By contract, cellular operators will always have a leg-up on the MVNOs unless access regulations are in place which of course are nowhere in sight.

Seeing the success of WiFi, FCC has rightly made more unlicensed spectrum available and it will be interesting to see how the ecosystem around 3.5GHz and other bands develop. This in light of what’s happening in the higher bands of cm and mmwave for 5G deployments. Technologies and business models that take into account benefits and drawbacks of both types of spectrum bands across a different uses cases will win out in the end. Despite advances, WiFi calling still has quality issues so the need for traditional networks is not going away anytime soon.

M&A 2016

As we mentioned last year, the service provider M&A window for 2016 pretty much closed late 2015 given the upcoming auctions and the presidential cycle.  There might still be some cross border opportunities but for any major transactions, it is better to wait it out to have a reasonable chance of success.

IoT Revenue Streams and what it means for the ecosystem

Service provider IoT revenue passed the important $1B mark back in 2013. So far it is tracking the growth of the early days of mobile data. However, they are different curves influenced by different factors. Mobile data was relatively an easier curve to climb as the revenues went up as more data handsets came online. The sales, business case, and ROI was straight forward. IoT is a bit more complicated as it across multiple vertical areas and it is not just about the data network, it is about the complete solution. The sales cycle and execution strategy is different and requires patience and resilience.

AT&T already had an active IoT developer program. Verizon introduced its ThingSpace platform to the developers last year. It is already selling complete IoT solutions in energy, transportation, security, and several other industry segments. As we mentioned before, Verizon is on track to crack the billion-dollar mark in IoT this year. For trivia buffs, Verizon passed the billion-dollar mark in mobile data revenues back in 2004 which at the time made only 5%of the overall wireless revenues for the operator.

We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the IoT Opportunity at our upcoming Mobile Breakfast Series in April and May.

Mobile data growth – Correcting the Cisco Numbers

Mobile data consumption (cellular) continues to grow as devices and networks continue to improve. There are 13 countries now with at least 1GB/mo/sub consumption. US is amongst the top three. At the end of 2015, the average consumption per sub in the US was at 3.9 GB/mo/sub.

Earlier this quarter, Cisco released its annual VNI report that forecasts data consumption and growth around the world. However, they did something very unusual this time, they pulled back their “factual numbers” by 36% for the US market. Based on our research which is corroborated by the data from the sources, Cisco’s numbers are low. Given that a lot of policy papers use these numbers as an input, we thought it will be worthwhile providing the reasonable estimates for data growth in the US market. These estimates match well with the data growth numbers in the Ericsson report.

Our estimates are that the US data consumption last year was close to 10.9 Exabytes. Ericsson reported approximately 10.5 Exabytes. Cisco adjusted its numbers from 9.2 Exabytes to 6 Exabytes.

Android vs. iOS: The fight for profit continues

Amongst the prominent Android OEMs, HTC, Sony, LG, and Lenovo all lost money in their device business in 2015. This again highlights the difficulty in differentiating on an open platform. Some of these players might give up on their handset business in 2016. Apple again dominated with 81% of the profit share, 45% of the revenue share, with only 16% of the unit share. Samsung’s profitability improved a bit but it continues to face challenges both on the top and bottom end of the spectrum.

4th Wave Revenues

5 years ago, we put forth the theory of 4th wave to explain the upcoming changes in the mobile ecosystem. For the most part, the industry changes and tribulations have tracked the 4th wave curves. Last year, voice revenues fell down by 23%, messaging revenues declined by 18%, while data revenues grew by 23%. 4th wave revenues which now dominate the ecosystem now grew by a 60% YoY. We will have more analysis of the state of the 4th wave ecosystem later in the year.

In its Q4 15 earnings call, Verizon laid out its 3-Tier strategy which is similar to the 4th wave digital strategy we have been working on with many operators around the globe since 2011 (see paper and slides for details). Without moving up the stack, eventually, operators will run out of the data steam that is powering their revenues today.

Regulations for the new age

Some of the regulations in the communications space are over a 100-year-old. Communications itself has drastically changed though the principle of transferring the bits from point A to B remains the same. T-Mobile reported that 50% of its voice calls are are on VoLTE. IP messaging is many times the SMS global volume. Gradually, almost all voice and messaging will be on the IP layer – voice and messaging will just become apps on the data layer. So pretending and regulating these services as if it were 2000 doesn’t help. An ideal strategy for consideration should be that the IP layer gets regulated for fair pricing, competition, and consumer good while everything on the top of the IP layer gets regulated on a “same service, same rules” principle. The interconnection between apps to deliver services like connection to PSTN, E911, etc. can be addressed by fair market pricing principles. VR is going to become the next communication platform; IP messaging the next application development and commerce platform. To keep the regulatory regime simple and in with the times, by focusing on the access layer, one can guarantee that whatever takes place on the top has the opportunity to grow as the market desires. Similarly, data rules across all apps and services on top of the IP layer should be the same irrespective of the provider. This market shift is required to make the market more competitive and fair.

Connected Devices – Resetting the target

The 50B number by 2020 has gotten into the industry lexicon since 2010 when Ericsson first suggested that we are likely to reach this target by the end of the decade. Others picked up the number and either copied it or even went further by suggesting even 75B+ numbers. By the middle of this decade, it looks unlikely, we will hit 50B. Our research shows that we were at approximately 16B last year. It is tall order to make up 34B in 5 years. Given the new evidence and assumptions, Ericsson also revised its estimates down to 28B by 2021 (the 2020 number is just over 25B). 25B+ is still an excellent target and something the industry can be proud of. The 50B number still gets thrown around a lot by vendors and media. We will be better off as an industry if we adjust the forecasts based on ground realities and not unnecessarily hype things.

Apple – what’s next? Mastering the narrative

Apple’s profit in Q4 were the highest recorded in the history of mankind. Let that sink in for a minute. Its $18B in profit on $76B revenue was truly astonishing. Yet, the markets were disappointed. What gives? First, the markets care about growth more than they care about the size of the profits or revenue. If the growth number matches or exceeds the expectations, the stock price responds positively otherwise it moves in the other direction. Second, for the first time since 2003, Apple issued a negative guidance on sales.

The unwritten narrative for Apple’s success has been around the iPhone juggernaut. Now that the high-end market for smartphones is starting to saturate, Apple needs a new narrative that can tie to growth. Apple took a shot at it by releasing some new details around services revenue. In any other company, this would have been received very well. With Apple, expectations of the market are supersized so it is not clear if the pivot towards services will help reshape the basic narrative around Apple’s growth.

Connected Consumer

· On average, each US household spent approximately $3800 on access and devices in 2015.

· Roughly 80% or $3000 of the US household spend went to access of services such as cellular voice, mobile data, cable, landline voice, and broadband internet.

· Roughly 20% or $800 of the US household spend went to devices such as computers, smartphones, feature phones, wearables, tablets, e-readers, connected cars, drones, robots, connected home, and other connected devices.

· 41% of the household access spend went to cellular phones (for voice and data services).

· As a standalone category, mobile data is the biggest category approaching $1000 in yearly household spend.

· In the last 5 years, mobile data spend has risen the most and landline voice has declined the most. Cellular voice spend has also gone down while cable and broadband spend have seen relatively modest uptick.

· In devices, smartphone is by far the biggest spend category. Consumers spend almost 3x on smartphones than they spend on personal computers. Smartphones accounted for more than 50% of the US household connected spend in 2015.

· New categories such as wearables, connected cars, drones/robotics, and connected homes have started to make a tangible impact on consumer spend.

· US consumers spent more on wearables than feature phones in 2015.

· Chetan Sharma Consulting conducted its annual Connected Consumer survey of 1000 US households. The results confirmed the ongoing increase in the number of connected devices/household.

Quad Moves

AT&T is integrating its DirectTV acquisition. Verizon acquired AOL and launched Go90. Similar moves are afoot in Europe and other regions. Regular readers won’t be surprised. Video is a key offering for many service providers and by bundling quad plays, operators can further lower the churn. Content will continue to play a big role in how various offerings get bundled. The traditional cable bundle is being pulled apart in favor of more al carte OTT offerings. Media companies will have to figure out how they play in the new converged world. The ones that have been sitting on the sidelines will have to make some moves in the wireless ecosystem to stay relevant in the long-term.

The Upcoming 5G wars?

5G is gaining steam. All the major players have outline their preliminary plans to do trials on 5G (code word for we don’t want to be perceived as being behind). However, there is some real progress being made in short-range ecosystem of 5G. As I noted, in my MWC note, some of the demos coming out of the labs are exciting. In the US, Verizon’s announcement last year took folks by surprise. By Q1 16, both AT&T and T-Mobile announcement their version of 5G trials. Verizon was out with the first batch of results from its experiments indicating 10Gbps throughput at short-distances. Given the momentum behind cm/mm wave, it is possible that some consensus is built around the spectrum bands by country (and not wait till WRC 19) to get the device ecosystem going.

A lot is still unknown about 5G, specifically, what will be the economics of 5G and the business case for new capex and ROI. We hope to explore this topic in more detail in the coming months.

Our paper on 5G covers the past, present, and future of the network evolution.

What to expect in the coming months?

2015 was a tremendous year for mobile industry thus far as it becomes omnipresence in every industry. We saw some massive moves, astounding acquisitions, and interesting strategic endeavors. The final quarter which is typically the biggest in terms of revenue will lay the foundation for an exciting 2016.

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 2015 and 2015 US wireless market is:

Service Revenues

· The US mobile data services revenues in Q4 2015 increased 3% QoQ and 16% YoY.

· After crossing the $100B in data revenues for two straight years, the US market is set for another excellent mobile data services year though some slowdown has started to occur as predicted by our 4th wave thesis.

· Verizon and AT&T dominated the quarter accounting for 69% of the mobile data services revenue and had 67% of the subscription base.

· Verizon and AT&T are at #2 & #3 global mobile data revenue ranking respectively in Q4 2015. Sprint and T-Mobile also maintained their rankings in the top 10 global mobile data operators.


· The Overall ARPU fell by 2.2%. 

· Data contribution to the overall revenues is now at 72%.

· After a minor blip of positive growth in postpaid ARPU by T-Mobile and AT&T earlier this year, all operators saw declines in postpaid ARPU in Q4 with Sprint showing the sharpest decline with 18% change YoY.


· The US market increased its net-adds to 6.7M. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile all added approx. 2M or more subs. Sprint also showed positive net-adds though at a fraction of the top 3.

· Verizon again led in postpaid net-adds though a bulk of the net-adds are coming from tablets.

· AT&T has approximately 7M connected cars on their network – probably the highest of any mobile operator in the world.

4th Wave Progress

· The number of players making $250M/quarter on mobile continues to increase rapidly and these aren’t your traditional wireless players. For example, Mobile is now contributing 80% (up from 30% in Q1 2013) to Facebook’s quarterly revenues. Even traditional players like Hertz, Sears, and Starbucks are generating meaningful revenues from mobile. There are now dozens of such players and the list is just growing. (for more discussion on the topic please see: “Mobile 4th Wave: Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars”)

· The cloud and security segments have also gained significant traction with incumbents as well as startups launching new initiatives and technologies.

· Verizon reported $200 million revenue from M2M and Telematics. At the current run-rate, this will be a billion dollar business by 2016. The current annualized run rate is $800M.

Connected Devices

· Connected devices (non-phones) accounted for almost 66% of the net-adds in Q4 2015. This means that while there is a healthy smartphone sales pipeline, it is for the existing subs and as such net-adds for the phone business is tapering off and we can expect that new net-adds will continue to be dominated by the connected devices segment.


· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting almost 97% of the devices sold in Q4 2015. The feature phone category is practically becoming extinct in the US market.

· The smartphone penetration in the US is now at 83%.

· Verizon continues to sell more LTE smartphones as its LTE sub tally rose to 84M making it the #2 LTE operator behind China Mobile which has more than three times the LTE subs. Other three operators are also deep into their LTE deployments. Verizon reported that 90% of its total data traffic is on the LTE network now, clearly the fastest technology transitions we have seen in the US wireless industry.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in April 2016.

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

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations March 3, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave,Applications,Big Data,Hetnets,Internet of Things,IoE,IoT,LTE Broadcast,Mobile World Congress,NFV,SDN,Smart Cities,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wearables,Wi-Fi,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations

Last week all mobile roads led to Barcelona for the annual industry get-together. Many of the discussions at MWC were through the lens of previous week’s blockbuster deal of Facebook/Whatsapp. The deal touches upon many of the technology and business trends up-and-down the mobile stack.

According to industry sources, the first 3GSM had a grand total of 72 attendees cobbled together by self-interest and coaxing. Fast-forward to 2014, and the show has become the most dominant show on the planet, reporting over 80K attendees from around the globe. Perhaps, it is an indication of the improving economy and the fact that we are firmly on the 4th wave impacting every industry vertical.

This note presents the summary of the observations and discussions from the show.

The deal everyone was talking about

The news that everyone was talking about and dissecting was the one that Facebook struck with Whatsapp in a blockbuster announcement few days ago. For folks who were looking primarily from the financial metrics couldn’t come to grips with the magnitude of the deal. However, as I mentioned on CNBC, the deal has to be understood from the point of view of strategic moat for Facebook. Additionally, when the street measures the company by the number of active users, at $130/user, the deal was a bargain. Having said that, there is whack-a-mole element to this strategy. It takes enormous courage to strike such a deal but if you look it from a strategic point of view, Facebook could have easily spent $25B to secure their future in the short-term. The cost of not acting is much higher.

Connecting the unconnected

Connecting the unconnected was by far the biggest theme of the show. From Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote to the launch of $25 devices from Mozilla, there was concerted discussion around how to increase the 3.5B consumers to 5-6B. The business models were hotly debated both in public and private meetings. How does this get funded? Clearly, cheaper devices, lower infrastructure costs, lower application delivery models are key, but how do you onboard these users is one the biggest challenges of the next 5 years.


The emergence of the 4th wave and the competitive dynamics in the markets has put tremendous pressure on the operating margins of the operators. In order to compete and make the organization more nimble and future-ready, one has to tackle the problem on multiple front – reduce the number of resources required to accomplish the tasks, get rid of the network architecture that is limiting and controlled by proprietary interfaces and vendors, drastically reduce the cost of operations, and enable the API layers for quick service creation and deployment. As a result of this pressure and desire to change, SDN and NFV took more prominence this year compared to the past and operators are urgently moving to cloud-based infrastructure. AT&T’s CTO John Donovan emphasized the need to work with startups and more nimble/innovative players than the incumbents to reduce cost and introduce new services quickly (this paper on the subject is worth the read).

5G – 5GPPP and NGMN

While 4G has been the fastest network technology in the history and we are seeing deployments around the world, industry has officially set its sight on defining 5G. A couple of prominent efforts were announced at MWC – 5GPPP led by the Europeans and NGMN – an operator led initiative. A couple of things will have to be worked out as industry bodies look to define 5G and its use cases. While there is politics and jostling to get an advantage, someone will have to harmonize the definitions and requirements. And more importantly, the discussions of 5G should involve the leading OTT players given that 5G will be applications-led network technology.

Ecosystem value shifts

There are significant value shifts that are taking place in the ecosystem. The value is shifting to the upper layers of the stack. This is what is defining the current turbulence, which is exciting to many and depressing for some. Regulators are caught in the middle unable to understand the OTT landscape and design policies that work for the overall growth of the industry that drive the investments, innovation, and GDP growth. We are likely to see the overall pie grow but the tremendous value creation and destruction within the confines of this growth.


MWC picked up where CES left off in wearables. There were many more players who launched watches with different flavors and price point. Industry is also getting conscious of the design elements is what is going to drive the industry. On a larger scale, the industry is waiting for Apple to release its version of wearables and watches, create awareness, and hope that the rising tide lifts all. Huawei, Motorola, Sony, and others announced watches to the market in 2014 without any information on pricing or availability dates. As we mentioned in our CES summary, the wearables market is likely to split into the commoditized layer and the fashion segment.

Galaxy S5

MWC was light on any major device launches except for S5 from Samsung who announced the device in a low-key press conference. There were some other interesting concepts introduced like Yotaphone with an e-ink interface on the back and the privacy-infused-Blackphone. The display is one area, which could bring in new form-factors and use cases as industry gets saturated with existing designs.


IoT is going through its hype cycle right now. IoE takes the notion even to a next level. Everyone wants to make things connected but how will this all pan out, what are “real” use cases? Who bears the cost of the additional BOM? What form of connectivity is required? How do you unify the underlying platform so IoT is exposed as an opportunity to the developers? There are still more questions than there are answers. The most ambitious practical initiative is from GE, which is looking ways to improve its operations using sensors in a significant way. Intel, Cisco, AT&T, Telefonica, Ericsson, Google, Facebook, and many others are all contributing to defining what this connected world will look like in a few years.

I moderated a couple of panels on the role of network APIs in the IoT world. There was significant interest in the developer community on how to tap into this emerging opportunity.

The connected universe will generate opportunities for many players especially the chip manufacturers. Qualcomm has had a dominant role in the chipset space for sometime and continues to operate from its high perch but market is seeing credible solutions and traction from Mediatek who is attacking the market at the bottom end and Intel, which is taking a more performance-centric strategy.

We will be conducting two in-depth sessions on IoT in the coming months. IoT Americas in Seattle (March 18th) with AT&T, Samsung, and adidas and IoT Europe in London (June 17th) with Telefonica and Intel.

Smart Cities

There was a lot of talk about Smart Cities and by extension Smart Nations. However, we haven’t settled on a set of operating models to fund such initiatives. Smaller nations have a better chance to execute on the vision. Countries that have the political breed, regulators, and the industry in sync will see quicker progress than the ones mired by constant election cycles and lackadaisical regulatory regimes. Japan, Korea, Australia, Israel, Spain are a the forefront of what a “Smart City” means and more importantly how will these initiatives will get funded.

Connected Cars

This year connected cars feel more real with imminent launches and data become a key selling point for the OEMs. The primary use cases are safety, diagnostics, and navigation. Next come entertainment and the larger developer ecosystem. Business models vacillate between the kindle model (of embedded connectivity) to shared data plans (attach your cars to the data plan you already have). We are likely to see much activity, deals, and progress in 2014 as the likes of Ford and GM have become regular fixtures at MWC.

Carrier-Aggregation and Hetnets

Carrier aggregation (CA) and Wi-Fi-cellular integration is not new. Vendors and operators have been talking about it for sometime. Most of the LTE operators are in the process of implementing CA to boost the bandwidth and gain more efficiency out of their spectrum assets. Integration with Wi-Fi also gives a boost though there are some enhancements needed to fully utilize Wi-Fi. KT perhaps had the most impressive demo with 3 CA demonstrating speeds of 400-600 Mbps. In a country where 100 Mbps is commonplace, it is no surprise that Korea is pushing the boundaries with LTE.

Network investments – $1.7 Trillion in the next five years

All the progress that has been on the mobile economy has been on the back of trillions of dollars of investment over the last couple of decades. With declining margins, how long do operators continue to invest and at what pace? What’s the margin profile they are willing to live with? What’s the role of government in building out the infrastructure when high-speed mobile networks are concerned? Japan, Korea, Israel have all based their competitiveness on connected broadband world. Can others follow? The impact of Whatsapp launching voice services and Netflix/Comcast deal were hotly debated in the hallways. It is one thing to put out national broadband plans and it is entirely another reality to have an execution path to deliver on the plan. The broadband investment has much far reaching implications than most people and governments realize.

Move towards data-only plans

As we have chronicled in our 4th wave series papers, the past revenue curves of voice and SMS though still generating significant revenues are on their way out. We will be transitioning slowly but surely to the “data-only” world where consumers pay for data packages and voice and SMS are just IP apps on the network being offered by the operator or other 3rd parties.

LTE broadcast

While the industry still has the Mediaflo hangover, LTE broadcast seems to be gaining more traction as more operators are committing to trials and experimentation. The business model (for generating new revenue) still stays elusive.

OTT regulations

The cacophony of OTT regulations is increasing. Faced with OTT impact on their core business, operators are asking regulators to take a broader look at how communications is regulated. Most of the regulators seem incapable or unwilling. There is an urgent need to overhaul the policy framework worldwide and more harmonization is needed so that the developers are not constantly looking at a moving target. However, it feels like the current tools are inadequate to keep with the times. Nations who get what it means to be “digitized” are investing and positioning their respective countries for greater competitive position for the next decade while others will be forced to fight the cycles of unemployment, sluggish growth, and widespread apathy.

Big data – data is the resource that feeds the economic engine and industry growth

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk about using data to fuel new industries and business models. While we are having pertinent debates about security and privacy, the opportunity to use data for greater efficiency and new revenue streams is no more academic. Companies who have gone through the investment of collecting and streamlining the data sources from not only their internal operations but also partners and the developer ecosystem are going to reap better rewards in the long-term. All this is to have an unfair competitive advantage in the “battle of context” which is going to get played out for the second half of this decade. However, big data is also raising big questions about security and privacy.

Security and Privacy

The requirement for tighter end-to-end security and regulators involvement in managing privacy is becoming very important especially in Europe. Given the pervasiveness of Android, it remains the favorite target of the hackers and the frequency of attacks has seen an enormous increase over the last 12 months. The Snowden effect is having tangible impact on US businesses in Europe and elsewhere and given that mobile is platform of choice, many governments are trying to figure out how to regulate security and privacy.

Nokia’s love affair with Android

The fact that Nokia announced more Android devices than those on the Windows OS pretty much sums up the conundrum Microsoft is in today. Nokia’s recognition that Android is a ticket to recognition proved that its Windows-only strategy had been flawed all along. Had it chosen a dual Android/Windows strategy at the outset, Nokia’s history could have been different and the company might have not seen such destruction in value. In any case, the Android device roadmap was prepared primarily to seal the Microsoft deal so we don’t expect any major Android handsets on Microsoft’s roadmap.

Best Booth – Ericsson

Best Party – Siris Capital

Your feedback is always welcome

Chetan Sharma

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

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

US Wireless Market Update Q2 2013 August 13, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave,ARPU,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Mobile Applications,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Future Forward,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update Q2 2013



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The US mobile data market grew 4% Q/Q and 14% Y/Y to reach $21 billion in mobile data revenues. Data is now 46% of the US mobile industry service revenues and as we had forecasted a few years back, the cross-over point of 50% might occur later this year. For the year 2013, we are expecting $90 Billion in mobile data service revenues for the US market.

For the quarter, the market added a paltry 139K new connections, a decline of 95% from Q2 2012. It was the lowest net-adds quarter in the US mobile history (barring the early days of tepid growth). The biggest reason was the sun setting of the Nextel brand which was finally laid to rest after the grand experiment of 2004 went wrong.

However, the story of the quarter was the resurgence of T-Mobile which roared back with an industry leading net-add quarter, something it did last when George Bush was still the president. Not only that, the growth was on the back of postpaid net-adds, something it hasn’t done in 12 quarters. The merger with Metro has helped boost the subscriber count and the revenue numbers. However, the growth came at a cost with shrinking margins and lower overall ARPU.

AT&T sold more iPhones but Verizon sold more smartphones. Given the lack of new devices from Apple and some good ones from competitors, Android edged past iOS for the US smartphone market share for the quarter primarily coming from the Samsung success with the Galaxy brand. Nokia launched some new devices focused on cameras, Motorola/Google made its first foray into the smartphone world after the merger with MotoX. However, the market awaits the next iPhone which is going to be released next month.

The Sprint-Softbank-Dish drama finally ended and as expected Softbank got a hold of both Sprint and Clearwire though at a higher price which was the plan all along. With this merger behind, all eyes are squarely focused on T-Mobile as to who makes the bid for 4th ranked operator in the next 6-12 months.

Smartphones are now past the 60% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for almost 87% of the devices sold in Q2 2013. Apple led the smartphone sales amongst the top 4 operators with 42% share for the quarter. While the US penetration of smartphones is 60%, the 60% of the sub base is concentrated in only 35% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth in the marketplace.

Is the smartphone growth over?

There has been some speculation in the market that the smartphone growth in the US market is over. In the US, roughly 240M subscribers have 335M mobile subscriptions. Out of those 240 subs, roughly 145M have smartphones (many of them have two or more). These days newborns get an iPhone on their arrival as a welcome gift, but if we take out the 0-5 age group, we are left with 293M potential subs. This means the potential market for smartphones at this point in time is 148M subs who don’t have a smartphone (obviously, there will always be folks who just don’t want any wireless phone – smartphone or otherwise but the size of that group is shrinking). Add to the upgrade cycle which averages between 18-20 months in the US, the market for smartphone growth remains pretty healthy.

The global market is even more fertile. The emerging markets are quite price sensitive and the low-cost Android devices are rushing to fill the void. If Apple cares about market share, it will have to figure out a strategy to address the void in its portfolio.

The success factor of mobile devices and OEMs is not determined just by product but several other factors as outlined in our recent paper “What Really Drives Mobile Device Performance?” As I mentioned to the New York Times, it is no longer good enough to have a great product, an OEM needs to perform well across multiple variables. CNBC also referenced the research in one of their segments.

Predictably, Microsoft’s Surface RT made a dismal impact on the market. The fundamental strategy was flawed and it was surprising that so many OEMs fell for it.

Blackberry, Nokia, HTC, each once proud leader of the smartphone ecosystem is struggling. Can they come back? In this market, you don’t get too many chances and too many years to turn the ship around. Once the customer loyalty is lost, it is very hard to get it back because there are hungry competitors ready to take your spot. Blackberry and Nokia are a perfect case study for management schools. The cycle of complacency spares no one.

A more likely scenario for some of these players might be some form of M&A transaction. As we alluded to in our paper, Lenovo is the dark horse of mobile and while there are others like HP and Sony who are looking to, reenergize the market, and Huawei and ZTE inching-up every quarter, Lenovo seems better positioned to make an acquisition and make a run for the top 3 spot. But, it will have to make a decisive move and go global with its strategy quickly else as we know the mobile market doesn’t wait for no one.

In terms of Q/Q growth, Connected Devices segment grew 13%, Wholesale 1%, Postpaid 2%, and Prepaid 1%.

The disappearing Tier-2s

In our previous update, we suggested that the market for tier-2s in the US is practically over. The reason was pretty simple – there is no growth left for them. Given the postpaid saturation, the big guys are also focusing heavily on the prepaid segment leaving the tier-2s vulnerable. MetroPCS was first to go followed by Leap (acquired by AT&T, transaction is not complete yet). The next big shakeup in the industry will be the acquisition or the merger with T-Mobile. Like we suggested in our paper “Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets” in 2011, rule of 3 will ultimately prevail in the US market. We will be discussing the subject in the more detail at our Mobile Future Forward Summit next month.

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

It is evident that there is a subtle shift from devices/access to services/solutions. In our paper on the topic “Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave”, I proposed that we need a new framework to think about the next generation of revenue opportunities. The fourth curve opportunities are massive but require a different skill set and strategic approach than the past three curves. As predicted, we are starting to see the impact of the 4th wave on a global scale and some operators have started to break out the 4th wave revenues in their financials. Operators with better balance sheets will also look for global expansion especially in Europe where economic impact on the telcom operators has been severe, however the M&A efforts will be complicated by respective governments desire to keep control of the national infrastructure provider.

The incumbent operators in Canada are getting really nervous about the potential entry of Verizon into the market that hasn’t seen any “real” competition in years.

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

OTT impact on legacy businesses and models

We will see the same impact of IP and mobility on the various verticals like Retail, Energy, Education, Entertainment, Travel, etc. Some operators have been preparing for this shift and going outside their traditional products and services to launch services like AT&T’s Digital Life to address opportunities in the home, Verizon’s efforts in health and public safety and Sprint’s steps in mobile advertising and analytics. Overseas operators such as Telefonica, Vodafone, Tata, and others are looking to make inroads into the US mobile 4th wave market.

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q2 2013 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Shared Data Plans

· Shared data plans launched by Verizon and AT&T saw positive results. The tablet and other device attachment rate has gone up by 60%.

· Shared data plans are working so well for AT&T that most of its postpaid growth is coming from tablets. In the last 4 quarters, postpaid tablets accounted for over 72% of the net-adds.

· Shared data plans moved tablet session based consumers to postpaid tablet plans with more predictable revenue stream. The $10 surcharge for every device is still an inhibitor for many consumers. Over time, we expect this fee to go away to bring in many more consumers experience data services across devices other than their smartphones.

Applications and Services

· The market is seeing a lot of activity in the mobile commerce and payment services as well as in various industry verticals like healthcare, retail, and education. We will be discussing how mobile is changing all the vertical industries at our fall summit Mobile Future Forward where industry leaders in each of these vertical segments will convene to share their experiences and expectations.

OTT and the impact on legacy services

· In the last 12 months, Whatsapp has moved around more messages than all the mobile operators in the US and China combined. Those of you who have read our Fourth Wave paper shouldn’t be surprised by this shift.


· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting to almost 87% of the devices sold in Q2 2013.

4th Wave Solutions

· There were several launches of digital services by the operators but the most prominent has been the Digital Life home security and automation service launched by AT&T.

· There are other instances of companies revving up their mobile revenue base. Facebook is on its way to cross the 50% threshold, Pandora is at 60%, and Twitter is close to 50%. Starbucks and Expedia are doing well in their respective verticals. There are several mobile-only players that are eating up the revenue from traditional players who haven’t been quick to move into mobile.

· Google and Apple are ahead of the pack when it comes to raw revenue. We will have more details on the subject in our upcoming research sequel, “Mobile 4th Wave: The Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars.”

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be discussing a number of issues raised in this research update at our annual mobile executive thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 10th in Seattle. Thought-leaders include:

· Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO, AT&T Mobility

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox Networks

· Danny Bowman, Chief Sales and Operating Officer, Samsung

· Terry Myerson, EVP – Operating Systems, Microsoft

· Julie-Woods Moss, CEO – NextGen Business, CMO, Tata Communications

· Jef Holove, CEO, Basis

· Geeta Nayyar, Chief Medical Officer, AT&T

· Rowland Shaw, VP – Strategy, Ericsson

· Andrew Stalbow, EVP, Rovio

· Raj Toleti, President, Patient Point

· Manish Jha, GM – Mobile, NFL

· Drew Patterson, CEO, Room77

· Dr. Avideh Zakhor, Professor, UC Berkeley

· Rick Osterloh, SVP – Products, Motorola – Google

· Jeff Warren, VP – Mobile, Expedia

· Mark Anderson, CEO, SNS

· Doug Suriano, VP – Communications, Oracle

.. More to come

· Stephen David, former CIO, P&G

· Yung Kim, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Korea Telecom

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T Mobility

· Jude Buckley, President – Mobility, Best Buy

· David Small, Chief Platform Officer, Verizon Enterprise Solutions

· Tracy Isacke, Head of Americas, Telefonica Digital

· Marianne Marck, SVP – Consumer Facing Technology, Starbucks

· Henning Schulzrinne, CTO, FCC

· Fay Arjomandi, Global Lead, Vodafone Xone

· Biju Nair, EVP and CSO, Synchronoss

· Hank Skorny, VP/GM – Software Services, Intel

· Curtis Kopf, VP – Customer Innovation, Alaska Airlines

· Matt Carter, President – Emerging Solutions, Sprint

· Joost Schreve, VP – Mobile, Tripadvisor

· Rod Randall, Partner, Siris Capital

· Chris Koopmans, VP and GM – Cloud, Citrix ByteMobile

· Wim Sweldens, former President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless

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

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

US Mobile Market Update Q4 2012 and full year 2012 March 13, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,4th Wave,AORTA,Chetan Sharma Consulting,Intellectual Property,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Future Forward,Patent Strategy,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment



The US mobile data market grew 3% Q/Q and 15% Y/Y to cross $20B for the first time in Q412. Data is now almost 44% of the US mobile industry service revenues and as we had forecasted a few years back, the cross-over point of 50% might occur later this year. For the year 2012, the market ended up with $79 Billion in data revenues much higher than any other market. The overall mobile services revenue were $182 Billion. For the year 2013, we are expecting $90 Billion in mobile data service revenues for the US market.

For the year, the market added 9 million new connections, a decline of 56% from 2012. The postpaid category suffered a 97% decline despite Verizon and AT&T collectively adding 6.3M postpaid subs. Sprint and T-Mobile collectively lost over 3.3M postpaid subs in 2012.

The last year T-Mobile had Y/Y positive postpaid net-adds growth, George Bush was still the president, Facebook was in diapers, and Pinterest wasn’t even born yet. T-Mobile suffered its tenth straight quarter of postpaid declines. Cumulatively, in the last fifteen quarters, while Verizon and AT&T have added 15M and 8M postpaid subs respectively, Sprint and T-Mobile have lost approximately 4.7M each. Once Nextel is sunsetted for good (it is down to 2.1M subs), we can expect a pick-up of net-postpaid subs at Sprint.

2012 saw a couple of block-buster operator M&As that took many in the industry by surprise. T-Mobile found a soul mate in MetroPCS while Softbank showed up at the altar for Sprint. T-Mobile is adopting the challenger role while Sprint that of a disruptor.

As we mentioned in our previous update, smartphones are now past the 50% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for over 90% of the devices sold in Q4 2012. Apple led the smartphone sales amongst the top 4 operators with 51% share for the year. While the US penetration of smartphones is over 50% as we reported last year, the 50% of the sub base is concentrated in only 30% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth left in the marketplace.

In terms of Y/Y growth, Connected Devices segment grew 12%, Wholesale 9%, Prepaid 6%, and Postpaid was flat. The connected devices segment only grew 1% in Q4 2012 Q/Q.

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

Race for the 3rd ecosystem

2013 might help define the 3rd ecosystem or at least separate wannabes from the true contenders. While iOS and Android duel out on the top (with iOS ahead in the US market), there is fight for the distant #3. Windows made a grand entry in Q4 but the sales have disappointed. Blackberry is hoping its Q/Z10s will do the trick and help revive its fortune or at least boost the asking price.

Last quarter, Microsoft and its partners launched a worldwide campaign for a chance to compete. It went from a dominant position to virtually zilch coinciding with the remarkable ascend of iOS and Android. To make any device sell – one needs good and competitive device, distribution channel and marketing muscle, and brand loyalty. I think Windows 8 is genuinely good, is different, and for the first time can stand with its peers (obviously it needs to build a robust apps portfolio and a stronger developer ecosystem).

In the past, while operators, OEMs, and Microsoft announced significant advertising spend, it had almost negligible impact on sales. The actual $ amount spend was tepid, operators didn’t want to be guinea pigs just to prop up a third ecosystem. With Windows 8, things might get better. We can see many more awareness campaigns, more OEMs are launching some quality devices, and operators are warming up to the idea as well. The brand loyalty index for Microsoft Mobile is fairly low and it will take a heavy lift and a few billion dollars of advertising spend to move the needle. The good news is that the devices are shipping at all price points.

Microsoft also made a splash with the first computing device in its history – Surface. Both got a mixed reception from the market. In the US, Nokia is selling 80% of the windows volume making the future of the two companies inextricably tied together. Can the windows ecosystem thrive without Samsung’s support?

Additionally, there has been movement with other OSs like Firefox, Tizen, Jolla, and Ubuntu.

Apple’s dominated 2012 – what’s next?

For 2012, Apple dominated the device sales accounting for 51% of the smartphone sales amongst the top four mobile operators. In Q4, its share rose to 59% of the sales on the back of a successful iPhone 5 launch. AT&T sold a record 8.6M units followed by Verizon’s 6.2M. For the year, AT&T sold a record 21.3M iPhones. So, while globally, Android dominates iOS more than 2:1, the US subsidy model has helped Apple keep its lead from Android. But, will it last? Enough ink has been spilt to answer that question. Undoubtedly, Samsung and others have caught up Apple on device specs and ease of use, even created new categories that Apple didn’t foresee, but, Apple is still the player to beat in 2013. Apple has clearly exposed its Achilles heel – software and services. It will take some heavy lifting to gain back confidence and momentum.

Samsung’s rise

The rise of Samsung and its domination of the Android ecosystem was clearly one of the most captivating stories of 2012. Samsung is making more revenue from Android than rest of the ecosystem put together. Samsung is firing on all cylinders, works better with its distribution partners, and has the bank balance to fight toe-to-toe for its share of the market. It is also in the unique position of having good perch in all the three major screens – mobile, laptops, and TV. But, software and services is also a weak spot for the company. How quickly it beefs up its offerings and how ambitious it is in providing end-to-end solutions will determine its competitiveness in the next 24 months.

Despite setbacks in the IP battles, Samsung continued its march of being the undisputed unit leader in mobile device space. After displacing Nokia in Q1 2012, it continued to dominate in units shipped in 2012. However, Apple dominates both the smartphone revenues and more importantly just crushes the competition on device profits. It has only 6% of the global unit shipment share but over 70% profit share. In tablets, Apple completely dominates the landscape in both shipments and revenue. In fact, 95% of the profits in the tablet segment go to Apple with the remaining ecosystem fighting for the crumbs.

The Fourth Wave has arrived – the shift towards services

If you attended the AT&T developer summit and Verizon keynote at CES this January, you might have noticed the subtle shift from devices/access to services/solutions. In our paper on the topic “Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave”, I proposed that we need a new framework to think about the next generation of revenue opportunities. The fourth curve opportunities are massive but require a different skill set and strategic approach than the past three curves. It is being widely adopted in the operator community around the world and some operators have started to break out the 4th wave revenues in their financials. We will have more discussion about how things are shaping on the fourth wave in future research papers.

The Patent Battles

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

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

We will have a more detailed analysis of the patent landscape of the mobile industry later this month.

The vanishing Tier-2s

The so called Tier-2s in the US market are practically done. For the year 2012, the top 4 Tier-2 operators suffered a drastic 77% decline in net-adds. Combined they added a measly 366K subscriptions. One of the reasons is that the tier-1s are now squarely focused on the prepaid market as a growth engine. Sprint has had a long history in the segment with brands like Boost and Virgin. T-Mobile’s has retooled itself to go after the prepaid and wholesale opportunities. Additionally, the top 2 have also been launching attractive plans for the prepaid segment. That’s why the top 4 added ten times the prepaid subs compared to the next 4 operators. With Metro gone and Clearwire on the blocks, we expect the Tier-2s to lose their relevancy in the market.

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

Just when you thought the prospects of any major operator M&A slowed down due to the impending US election, T-Mobile announced its acquisition of Metro PCS giving it more spectrum, access to public markets, a good chunk of subscriber base to become a more competitive number 4. Sprint and Softbank followed the announcement with an absolutely brilliant maneuver. It provides Sprint access to capital, economies of scale, and becomes a much stronger number 3, and a global telecom player with scale and ambition. The T-Mobile-Metro merger has been approved by the FCC and we expect Sprint merger to go through as well.

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

Surface, mini, and the tablet market

Apple launched the iPad mini in 2012 for some of the same principles that Microsoft launched Surface. It is better to be cannibalized by self than by the enemy. Microsoft saw the notebook market shrink and needed a product to stem the bleeding while Apple saw Amazon and Google attack the bottom tier with a different model that poses a credible threat. Tablet market is indeed fundamentally altering computing in many ways. The changing landscape of computing also has impact on the ecosystem and the application development environment. Developers flock to platform reach, ease of access to the marketplace, and the basic economics of a viable business model. Windows as a percentage of computing platforms is shrinking drastically which threats not only the platform but also Microsoft’s other software franchises. Surface is classic blocking and tackling to provide a jolt to the shifting ecosystem. Surface RT was an expected disaster but Surface Pro will see takers in the corporate world. With iPad mini, Apple is attempting to lock the mid-top tier of the tablet market and daring its competitors to just play in the bottom tier that leaves no profit on the hardware and revenue stream from services for a very select few.

2012 – US Highlights and Milestones

2012 provided enough drama and suspense for the year, good enough for a hit Spielberg flick. Here were some of the highlights from the US market:

· Samsung went past Nokia to become the world’s biggest OEM by unit volume

· Qualcomm eclipsed Intel in market cap marking another milestone in the progression of the mobile ecosystem.

· Verizon sold 29M smartphones (with half of them being LTE) and AT&T sold 10.2M in Q4 – all US records.

· Shared data plans were introduced by Verizon and AT&T which have been viewed by the consumers favorably.

· The focus of operator metrics is changing from ARPU to ARPA to AMPA.

· After dealing with the AT&T-T-Mobile merger in 2011, the regulators were back to work with the T-Mobile-MetroPCS and Softbank-Sprint mergers.

· Verizon and AT&T Wireless became the top two mobile operators globally by mobile data revenues.

· US market saw its first decline in both messaging revenues and volumes.

· Smartphones penetration eclipsed the 50% mark.

· Over 42M tablets were sold in the US with more than half being iPads. Globally, Apple went past 100M iPads in cumulative sales making it the fastest computing platform.

· mCommerce started to eclipse eCommerce for some companies.

· Amazon made a splash with its Kindle line of tablets, the sales have been steady. Google’s Nexus devices also got good traction.

· The average number of connected devices per household was over five.

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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 2012 and full year 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Intellectual Property/Patents

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

US Wireless Market Update Q4 2011 and 2011 March 19, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,Applications,ARPU,BRIC,China,Connected Devices,Indian Wireless Market,LTE,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Cloud Computing,Mobile Commerce,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Payments,Mobile Search,Mobile Wallet,Networks,Patent Strategy,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

US Wireless Market Update Q4 2011 and 2011




The US market generated $67 billion in mobile data revenues in 2011 accounting for 39% of the overall revenues for the country. The mobile data market grew 4% Q/Q and 19% Y/Y to reach $18.6B for the quarter. For the year 2012, we are forecasting that mobile data revenues in the US market will reach $80 billion.

The US market accounts for 5% of the subscriber base but 17% of the global service revenues and 21% of the global mobile data revenues. It also accounts for 40% for the global smartphone sales.

If the Martians landed on earth in early 2012, they will conclude the following: there are only 3 things certain on earth – death, taxes, and the direction of Apple’s stock price. Apple had a monster quarter with record sales of iPhone and iPad not only in the US but also around the world. Apple sold over 93M smartphones outpacing its nearest rival Samsung by a good distance. Its share of the profits is more than rest of the OEMs combined. Its stratospheric rise is legendary by any measure. Today Apple eclipsed the combined market cap of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Think about that for a minute. In 6-12 months, you could probably add Facebook to the equation as well. The question on rivals’ mind is when will Apple stop defying gravity. Until then, better be a fast follower.

Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting for 65% of the devices sold in Q4 2011. US Operators are averaging 80% of their postpaid sales as smartphones with Android dominating though iPhone leads in mindshare. The Obama administration formally placed featurephones on the endangered species list but either chamber is unlikely to pass any resolution to save it.

Nokia launched its Lumia series of devices with good acclaim however it remains to be seen if it will be able to win back the customers in big numbers in 2012.

The Post-PC Era

Ever since the iPad came into being, the chants of the post-pc mantra are getting louder. But what is it? Is it just the untethered devices? Isn’t iPad a person computer too? What about the smartphones? They have more horse power than my first few PCs combined. Is the personal computing morphing into something else or is there a clear delineation between the Mesozoic era and the new tomorrow? While we in the industry get obsessed by these minutiae, what do the real consumers think about it? Clearly, tablets are selling better than the PCs (as our previous research has shown) both in units as well as the revenue. But so did the laptops compared to the desktops.

So, does the miniaturization of a screen and improving computing power represents a big shift or is this just an evolution of personal computing. Consumers rarely think about what computing era they are in. Between the time they wake and go back to bed at night, there are a series of tasks they have to accomplish. The technology is their companion to accomplish them, from keeping calendars to creating corporate presentations to sending messages to watching TV for entertainment to socializing with family and friends.. the list seems endless. Often times, the time is too short. Technology finds a way to give the time back to us by reducing the distance between the tasks as well as compressing the duration.

As I have said before, nothing collapses time and distance like mobile. Tablets, particularly, iPad and the smartphones, if seen through the eyes of the year 2000 make us superhumans providing us capability to process several tasks in parallel. We can even direct the computing device to figure things out while we sleep. Computing is morphing into a true companion, a wily butler who just knows what’s needed next. Being untethered to a desk makes us more productive. Taking the computing evolution further – what if we can create a desktop environment wherever we are instead going to a desk. For my work setup, I have 4 or 5 screens running at the same time and it does help. It is hard to see tablets in their current incarnation competing with that task environment. However, it does allow us to collapse the desktop and take it with us.

Tablet+Network+Cloud is an enormously powerful value proposition. It should be noted that apps and services on the mobile platform are defining the desktop environment now.

For the enterprise worker, many of the day-to-day tasks don’t really need the real-estate of 3 big monitors; we can easily accomplish a lot with a smartphone or better yet the tablet. As such, we are seeing corporations de-investing in desktops and laptops and moving this investment into tablets, smartphones, apps and make their work force more nimble and competitive. This also means, apps that used to be written for Windows will be predominantly written on iOS and Android, at least for the near-term. Microsoft has a strong offering in 8 and the fact that it will work across the three screens gives it some chips to play in the new world. Whether we call it a post-pc era or the computing continuum doesn’t seem that relevant. What matters most is the set of tools that help us accomplish the tasks at hand on a daily basis. The shift is tectonic in nature, and it is creating winners and losers at an incredibly fast pace. However, my sense is that we are finally entering into the ambient computing era where the computing capability is all around us, something that Mark Weiser of Xerox PARC envisioned more than 20 years ago and something we imagined growing up with the original Star Trek.

We will be dealing with multiple connected devices which share a common identity, cloud, media, security layer, and most importantly the apps and services. The traditional PC won’t disappear but our reliance on one single machine for creation or consumption will continue to dissipate. We will have scores of radios around us, multiple objects that can think and communicate from cereal boxes to security alarms; from windows to fabric shirts; from tables to automobiles; it feels more like the connected era – where objects with brains and energy are connected to create an unprecedented universe of intelligence and productivity. This will indeed impact purchasing behavior and the commerce flow. The social and computing interactions are more intimate, have more purpose, and are available everywhere. The work-life boundaries only exist in one’s mind. A business can be started with an app on a smartphone, anywhere serving to any consumer on the planet. The impact on productivity, the shrinking human capital needed for a set of tasks, corporate and nation’s competitiveness is significant.

In many developing nations, the PC era never arrived. They jumped right into the mobile computing era. They have always lived in the post-PC era. The implications are profound.

More than anything else, the old guard is having a tough time adjusting to the new computing paradigm. HP, Dell, and others have tried but failed thus far to either launch a decent tablet or a smartphone. While Apple invented the new computing paradigm only Samsung has been able to stand up as a worthy rival. The success of a vertically integrated success strategy has seduced Microsoft and Google to the doorstep of a vertical strategy. Will they cross the chasm remains to be seen. Much depends on how Nokia performs for Microsoft and how long can Android juggernaut keeps growing for Google. Then, of course, there are Amazon and Facebook who are attacking the market from a services angle. With a strong entry of the likes of Huawei and ZTE, players caught in the middle are struggling for a viable long-term path to success.

The engagement model with the computing resources is undergoing significant evolution as well. Keyboard and mouse seem relics of a bygone era. We are falling in love with gesture computing combined with a myriad of input and intelligence techniques. Data processing at the speed of light is the new competitive advantage at all computing layers.

In every shift, winners and losers are created. The ones who fail to recognize and adapt become the relic of the historical past duly replaced by the new creators and implementers. If we look at the US household IT spend, over 50% of that spend now goes to mobile. The life time value will increase for players who can tie experiences together across multiple screens in a seamless fashion. This will enable them to not only capture the device revenue but also the commerce and services revenue built on top of it.

The battle for the consumer wallet is being fought on Apple’s turf; it is the one driving the industry narrative and the agenda for its competitors and the ecosystem at large. Am pretty sure we will stop using computer to define computing. Interesting times indeed.


In any other year, the AT&T and T-Mobile merger would have likely gone through. The interconnection of policy, politics, and private enterprise was on vivid display last year. The failure of the merger forced Deutsche Telekom to resort to the only second viable option – to take the plunge and invest in the US market. Whether 4 competitors can survive 3 years from now is still questionable. Given that DOJ and FCC have set the precedent, the only way a major M&A can take place in the US service provider segment in the near term is if one of the tier 2 operators falters Q/Q. We still believe in our thesis as outlined in our research paper “Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets” last year that the US market can’t support 4 large operators and we are likely to see further M&A activity in the sector before too long.

Mobile Data Growth – The Gigabyte Generation

Mobile data traffic growth continued unabated doubling again for the 8th straight year. We expect the mobile consumption to double again in 2012. Data now constitutes over 85% of the mobile traffic in the US. Approximately 30% of the smartphone users average more than 1GB/mo. As new devices and new network technology roll-out keep pace in 2012, the data traffic will grow at the expected pace. The signaling traffic is expected to grow in even faster. Stay tuned for our research paper in the Yottabyte series of papers on the topic later this year.

Mobile Patents Landscape

2011 was the most active year for mobile patents in terms of disputes. All the major players were active in filing and protecting their turf for the future battles. IBM topped the industry in the most number of mobile patents granted in 2011 in the US followed by Samsung and Microsoft. The rest of the top 10 in order included Sony, Qualcomm, LG, Ericsson, Panasonic, Broadcom and RIM. Of the major players, Nokia occupied #12, Intel #13, Apple #16, Motorola #21, and Google #23 spot in the top 50 ranking. Amongst the mobile operators, Sprint was the leader with 323 patents granted in 2011. We have more research coming out later in the year that shows the relative patent strength of the various mobile players.

Connected Universe, Monetizing Opportunities

While 2011 was the year of figuring what the opportunities are in the new connected era, 2012 is starting to focus on how to monetize those opportunities. That will be the theme of our Mobile Future Forward Thought-leadership summit in Sept. More details to come. Almost all the vertical industries are benefiting from the connected devices and ubiquity of broadband networks – security, health, retail, utility, transportation, entertainment, and others. We will take a deep dive into the issues, the best case studies, the opportunities, and the players.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2012 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems.

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 2011 and full year 2011 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues



Applications and Services


Mobile Data Growth

Global Update

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

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

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


Mobile Internet 3.0

How Operators Can Become Service Innovators and Drive Profitability

Sponsored by Juniper Networks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2012

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2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey


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First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012. My thanks to all who participated in our 2012 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an insider’s view of trends.

2011 was a terrific year for the mobile industry. With all its ups and down, consumers embraced devices, applications, services, and technology with more gusto than ever before. In the waning hours of 2011, we crossed the 6 billion subscriptions milestone. While the first billion took 19 years, this last billion only took 15 months.

Smartphones are selling like hot cakes. We estimate that by the end of Q4 2011, over 60% of the devices sold in the US were smartphones and over 30% of the global sales were for the evolved brethren of the primordial featurephones. Sparked by insatiable consumer demand for mobile data, LTE and HSPA+ networks are sprouting all over the planet with US leading the charge for broadband deployment.

Our annual survey is a way for us to engage our community on the trends for the next year. We put some of the pressing questions to our colleagues and industry leaders. We are able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments, some tangible shifts, and get a sense of what’s to come. Executives, developers, and insiders (n=150) from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and around the world participated to help see what 2012 might bring to keep us on our toes. What makes this survey unique is that it draws upon the collective wisdom of folks who are at the center of the mobile evolution.

Fifteen names were randomly drawn for the limited edition of the Mobile Future Forward 2011 book. The winners are:

  1. Tor Bjorn Minde, Head of Ericsson Labs, Ericsson

  2. Sunder Somasundaram, Industry Solutions Practice Director, AT&T

  3. C. Enrique Ortiz, Mobile Technologist, About Mobility

  4. Russell Buckley, CMO, Eagle Eye

  5. Marianne Marck, VP – Engineering, Starbucks

  6. John Foster, President, ZED USA

  7. Angel Luis Saez, Sr. Director, Orange Spain

  8. Dilip Mistry, Senior Director, Microsoft Asia

  9. Phyllis Reuther, Advanced Analytics Lab, Sprint

  10. Gene Keenan, VP of Mobile, Isobar

  11. Elizabeth Day, Director of Finance, Trilogy International

  12. Alan Cole, Research Staff Member, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

  13. X J Wang, VP – GM China, Vesta Corp

  14. Michelle Lee, Director, SK Telecom

  15. Hemant Chandak, Sr. Analyst, Cisco Systems

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year. It has been a terrific year for us at Chetan Sharma Consulting and we are looking forward to an engaging and productive 2012.

Be well, do good work, and stay in touch.

Thanks and with warm wishes,

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

Now onto the 2012 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results.


1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2011?


Android had a spectacular rise in 2011 around the globe. Android OEMs collectively shipped the most number of devices and while margins shrank, they were able to put a united front to iOS. 2011 will always be remembered for the passing away of the industry transformer Steve Jobs. His work directly or indirectly touched billions of souls around the planet, many times over – something rarest of human beings are able to achieve in their life time. Regulatory tussles and significant increase in IP disputes also occupied the headlines. Amazon announced its intention for the mobile space with the launch of Kindle Fire.

2. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2012?


As we look towards 2012, our panel voted for the continued growth of mobile data as the biggest story followed by Amazon’s entry into the mobile space. Some key questions for the year are: Will Microsoft/Nokia devices will make any meaningful progress? Will RIM survive the year? How does Google manage the fragmentation, decline in margins (for the OEMs), and the IP issues? Will any high-profile security and privacy mishaps lead to more regulatory entanglements? Facebook IPO and its mobile ambitions? How do operators manage the data demand? Which M&As will capture industry’s attention? Will Apple continue to dominate on both smartphone and tablet front? What does Apple do with mobile payments? and much more. Clearly, it is going to be a terrific year.

3. Who will be the most open player in the mobile ecosystem in 2012?


File this in the “perception is reality” folder. Despite all the criticism, Google has maintained its strong position as the most open player in the mobile industry.

4. What applications will define 4G?


Still looking for a killer-4G app? Video, cloud computing, and access will continue to drive 4G demand and growth.

5. What will be the breakthrough category in mobile in 2012?


For a second year in a row, the panel voted for mobile payments and mobile commerce as the top two category that will find their voice. Mobile advertising has become mainstream so it lost its ranking in the top 3.

6. What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2012?


Apps preferences vary by regions depending on a whole range of factors. Messaging and Commerce are the top two categories for the developing world while consumers in the developed nations are likely to gravitate towards commerce and location based services.

7. Which will be the most dominant (unit sales) tablet platform in 2 years?


iOS and Android will dominate the tablet landscape for the next 24 months. A late entry by Windows 8 tablets could make a dent but don’t count on it.

8. Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2012?


2011 had its fair share of block-buster acquisitions, some successful while others were not. Our panel expects Microsoft and Google to continue making the biggest acquisitions.

9. How will the "Apps vs. Mobile Web" debate shape up in 2012?


It seems like the pendulum is swinging towards the mobile web though hybrid solutions are likely to stay with us for a long time.

10. Who will define the mobile payment/commerce space?


The financial companies safely locked in the mobile payments space and while the value chain is fairly complicated and definition confusion abounds, the likes of Visa, Operators and Google will continue to drive the payments/commerce space.

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


Managing data growth and margins drives all strategies at mobile operators these days which in turns drives the value chain. 4G, tiered pricing, and mobile offload continue to be the top solutions if one has the spectrum that is.

12. Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2012?


Messaging, access, apps, and advertising are the four broad categories that drive mobile data revenues around the world. The developing markets rely on messaging while the developed markets are increasingly looking to access as their dominant form of revenue generation.

13. What will help mobile cloud computing gain traction in 2012?


Mobile cloud computing will continue to be defined by enterprise, storage, and media needs.

14. Which enterprise segment will mobile impact the most?


Best buy is becoming the next Circuit City. Other retailers will follow unless they can successful reinvent themselves. Health is more regulatory driven so the progress will be slow though it is ripe for a complete overhaul and developing nations are moving much faster in this space.

15. What will be the dominant revenue model for apps in 2012?


In-app revenue model made good strides in 2011 but the combination of the various available revenue models will be the norm for most application developers.

16. What mode of mobile payments will get traction in North America and Western Europe in 2012?


2011 was the year to set the ground work for growth in the mobile payments space. Given the investment and focus, we are likely to see more movement and consumer involvement in 2012 with proximity based solutions and commerce of physical goods on mobile.

17. What will be the most successful non-mobile-phone category in 2012?


Tablets dominate. Period.

18. Which of the following are likely to happen in the near future?


The is a significant shift in computing taking place right in front of our eyes wherein tablets are replacing laptops and even desktops in the enterprise. European operators have been experiencing tough times while some of the Asian operators are flush with cash, they might make their move in 2012 though regulatory hurdles might prove to be an issue. 33% of the nations will have elections in 2012, maybe which will move mobile voting to the forefront in some nations. Our panel thought there is a better chance of humans discovering water on another planet than rise of another significant mobile OS.

19. Which areas will feel the most impact from Regulators in 2012?


Net-neutrality and market competitiveness will keep the regulators busy in 2012.

20. Who was the mobile person of the year?


Clearly, Steve Jobs was an easy choice but who will replace him 2012? Jeff Bezos has an early lead followed by Andy Rubin and Mark Zuckerberg. Angry Birds representing the developer community will be in for another terrific year. Other honorable mentions were Tim Cook, Paul Jacobs, Sanjiv Ahuja, Dan Hesse, and Glenn Lurie.

A lot to look forward to in the New Year. My thanks to all who participated and we hope you found it useful as you embark on your journey for a successful 2012.

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 2012. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will be issued in Apr 2012.

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

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

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



Paper is sponsored by Synchronoss Technologies

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

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

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

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

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

Download the paper (1MB)

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

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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

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

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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


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.

Mobile Breakfast Series – Mobile Commerce and Payments June 29, 2011

Posted by chetan in : Mobile Breakfast Series,Mobile Payments,Mobile Wallet,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

We held our 7th Mobile Breakfast Series Event earlier today. The topic of discussion was “Mobile Commerce and Payments.”


The killer views of the Olympics and the Sound


Mark Young did a great job moderating the panel


The panel expertly delved into the intricacies of the mobile commerce/payments opportunity


The 2011 Mobile Breakfast Series is sponsored by Amdocs. A big thank you for the support.

At the end of every year, we do a forecast survey. In the last survey, Mobile Payments and Commerce were considered the top two categories for growth in 2011. Given the activities thus far – Google Wallet, ISIS, number of startups – Payfone, BilltoMobile, existing players like OpenMarket, financial guys across the board – past few months have been full of significant activity. The mobile commerce developments are right behind the AT&T/T-Mobile proposed merger and Microsoft/Nokia partnership in terms of news coverage.

I remember back in 2001/2, I was writing my 2nd book with my good friend and co-author Nakamura-san who was CTO at NTT DoCoMo and while doing some work for DoCoMo and AT&T, we were exploring ways the mobile device will be used for commerce not only for digital goods but also for physical things. MCommerce has been around for the better part of the last 12 years in some form and fashion, in fact today it is a multi-billion dollar market already. Mobile payments are in different states of maturity and experimentation depending on the region. Do you know the value of US payment distribution – $75 Trillion out of which only 5% is based on cards which accounts for almost $3-4 trillion Total Transaction Value. Paypal is expected to process $4B in mobile payments this year generating over $70M in mobile payments revenue.

OpenMarket processes a significant amount of mcommerce business in the US today. As you will hear from the panelists, they are starting to see good traction from merchants and things are moving from digital to physical. However, things are very complicated – it is a highly regulated segment and changes don’t come every so often. The payment networks are from pre-Internet era and yet they maintain their complete dominance of the ecosystem. So, this sets up a very interesting next few quarters and a perfect time for us at Mobile Breakfast Series to assemble a stellar panel to unwind the realities of the evolving landscape.

Our panelists were:

Mark Young, VP – Strategy, NBC Universal and Digital Networks (moderator)

Rodger Desai, Founder and CEO, Payfone

Jim Greenwell, President & CEO, BilltoMobile

Andrew Lorentz, Partner, Davis Wright Tremaine

Michael Goo, VP – Mobile Strategy, T-Mobile

Joe Megibow, VP – Mobile and E-Commerce Optimization, Expedia

Mark has been involved in mobile for a long time and has been at the center of commerce on mobile since the ringtone days at Moviso. Rodger and Payfone have been in the news lately for some raising money and some key partners like Verizon and American Express. BilltoMobile has been involved in mobile payments first in Korea (under Danal) and lately in the US with all the operators for doing payments. Payments is a heavily regulated industry so players in the ecosystem need to have a firm grasp on regulatory winds to ensure their future revenues. Andrew with his deep background in the space was perfectly suited to bring up to speed with pending and existing rules. ISIS has been in the news throughout the year and Michael Goo has been representing T-Mobile to help define the operator strategy in payments. Expedia is one of the largest ecommerce companies and they are seeing some tremendous growth in mcommerce. Joe is right in the middle of all the craziness and his analytical mindset gave audience some great insights.

As i mentioned, mcommerce is not new but mobile web and apps infrastructure along with new methods of interactivity like the NFC are making things simpler for the consumers that it is moving from novelty to convenience to actual dollars.

The panel was just full of great insights and nuggets. The highlights of the discussion was as follows:

The panel was full of key insights that impact strategy in this space. I was thankful for the speakers to have made the time, especially the ones who traveled great distances to be with us to share their insights.

Next, our focus moves to our annual mobile thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 12th in Seattle. It is shaping up really nicely with some terrific speakers. You can take a look at the info here.

The goal of the event is to look a bit into the future 2-5 years out and see what’s on the horizon. We are deep into the planning stages of preparing another successful event. I want to thank our partners of this initiative – Qualcomm, Ericsson, AT&T, Openwave, Millennial Media, Real Networks, and Synchronoss Technologies.

Hope you can join us. It will be worth your while.

Until then, enjoy the summer.

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

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

Competition and the Evolution of Mobile Markets

A Study of Competition in Global Mobile Markets



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Paper (45 pages, 2MB)

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

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


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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



Applications and Services


Data Traffic

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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



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.


Chetan Sharma

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

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2010 November 7, 2010

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

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2010


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Executive Summary

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

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

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

The role of connected devices

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

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

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

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

Mobile Data Consumption

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service Revenues (Slides 7, 17)

ARPU (Slides 8-11)

Subscribers (Slides 12-15)

Applications and Services


Data Traffic (Slide 16)

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

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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

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

Mobile Future Forward 2010 Summit Summary September 20, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,BRIC,Carriers,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Event,Mobile Future,Mobile Future Forward,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile Traffic,Mobile Wallet,Networks,Partnership,Patents,Privacy,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Student Paper Contest,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far


Summit Summary

In proud partnership with

Amdocs, Millennial Media, Real Networks, ZTE, Clearwire, Ericsson, Openmarket, Bango, Intel, Openwave, Wavefront, and Department of Commerce


Download as pdf

Earlier this month, Chetan Sharma Consulting hosted its first mobile thought leadership executive summit – Mobile Future Forward. The sold-out event attracted leaders from the global mobile industry across the ecosystem to discuss and debate the future of mobile. This note summarizes the various discussions from the summit.

Some of the key themes discussed by the speakers and panelists were:

1. The Mobile Ecosystem is becoming more complex and competitive by the day

2. Broadband is exploding around the globe, Nation’s competitiveness and prosperity is being defined by the quality and depth of Broadband

3. Mobile Device is becoming central to our existence

4. Understand the user, generational usage patterns, geographical differences and customs

5. Communication modes are evolving and morphing rapidly

6. Emerging Devices are taking the lion of share of growth in some western markets

7. Given the devices and networks, content, media, services are moving to the cloud

8. New experiences are being introduced that will impact monetization and interaction with computing and technology

9. World is becoming flatter by the day

10. Mobile as a platform is booming and several industry verticals are exploding

11. Context and Analytics are key currency for tomorrow

12. There is significant reallocation of revenues underway

13. The fight for developer mind share is getting intense


As technologists, we get too enamored with the technical details and specs but what’s most important is how can technologies be applied to make lives of every day consumers better. If a new solution or a service only benefits or thrills a few, it is destined to miss the mass market. No one understands the mass market better than Procter & Gamble, and no company in the world touches more consumers with more products than Procter & Gamble (with over 40-50 billion items per year). Technology plays a central role in how P&G thinks about engaging consumers. Last year, I had the privilege of spending some time with Steve David, our first keynote speaker. His understanding of the interplay between technology and consumer interaction and behavior is very deep and his enthusiasm for using technology to change the world infectious. Steve spent over 30 years at P&G , the final assignment as P&G’s CIO responsible for their Internet Strategy.

Steve laid out the case for Advocacy being the new measure of marketing. It has a lasting impact on the brand, the sales, and the relationship with the consumer. Companies who have a better understanding of the customer via sophisticated analytics and can quickly take the solutions and products that consumer want and need gain long-term competitive advantage. Insights from the market must be processed in real-time that can empower decision making at every level of the company. And mobile is central to this strategic shift. Mobile is being used to attack the counterfeit problem worldwide, in formulating personal recommendations as trust in brands erodes, in collecting analytics, and engaging interactions with products and services using NFC, etc. Steve ended with the old Chinese proverb, “When the wind changes direction, there are those who build walls and there are others who build wind mills.” What are you going to build?


Fred Devereux, President, AT&T West in his address on “The Next Big Thing” honed in on the emerging connected devices ecosystem and how AT&T is retooling itself to take advantage of the boom. The AT&T Emerging Devices organization is setup to behave and operate like a startup with hundreds of devices being approved in a short amount of time. The new generation of connected devices range from eReaders, PNDs, Telematics, Cameras, Camcorders, Picture Frames, Tablets, Tracking Devices, Gaming Devices, and Smart Meters. While the ARPU of these connection is low, the margins are high due to negligible overhead in operations, sales, and marketing. The importance of this category is evident from the research data we reported in our last quarterly report which indicated that there are more connected devices being added than postpaid net-adds and operators are starting to list them as separate line items in their financial statements. Fred also discussed AT&T’s plans to deploy LTE in 2011-.


Dr. Genevieve Bell, Fellow at Intel is one of the most fascinating anthropologists out there with an acute sense of technology evolution and how humans react and adapt to changes around them and how technology needs to adapt to humans and their needs in different habitats. She had some interesting stats from her research e.g. the household sizes vary significantly by countries – India has only 5% of the households as single-person households while France and Germany have over one third households as single-person. Boomers will represent more than half of the population of China, Japan, and EU by 2012. These demographic shifts have significant impact on how technology is used and how media is consumed. The keynote was filled with priceless anecdotes and research items that informed and gave the technologists something to think about and that the technologists are not the proxy for rest of the population. Her book “Telling Techno-Cultural Tales” is being published by MIT Press and is coming out next year. So, be on the lookout for that.

Mobile Advertising is in the news lately in the US. About 11 years ago, a young man named Takayuki Hoshuyama was making waves in the mobile advertising space. In 1999, he helped found D2Communications – a successful joint venture between the largest advertising firm in Japan – Dentsu and the largest and one of the most innovative operator on the planet – NTT DoCoMo. He was one of the original members of the Mobile Advertising Team for the i-mode service 11 years ago. In June, he was appointed CEO of D2C. Hoshuyama-san talked about the future of mobile advertising. Japanese mobile ad market is over $1B (though it represents only 1.7% of the overall ad spent) and with the advent of 4G/LTE the opportunities are enormous. Display outscores Search by 3:1 in ad revenues. Mobile is some embedded in Japanese culture that it is just assumed just like my good friend and coauthor Dr. Yasuhisa Nakamura, then CTO of NTT DoCoMo wrote back in 2002 in our book “the wireless infrastructure will become indistinguishable from air i.e. omnipresent”


Hoshuyama-san also talked about the evolving role of the operators in the ecosystem with some of them focused on becoming the cloud service providers and broadcasters.


After the keynotes, we shifted to panel discussions. The first one dealt with the disruptive forces in the ecosystem with Mike Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire, Lixin Cheng, CEO, ZTE USA, and Subba Rao, CEO, Tata DoCoMo – three leaders who are disrupting the status quo. All three agreed that the openness of Android will make it the most dominant OS in the coming years. Lixin talked about how the infrastructure business is becoming a software business with SDR design of technology standards and evolution. He also suggested that we as an ecosystem need to simplify the business models and the consumer purchasing process of bandwidth and connectivity before the connected device revolution takes significant hold. India is the fastest growing market but the ARPU levels are 1/10th of what they are in the US. Given that the market just spent over $100B on the 3G auction, the investment recovery model is unclear and the market is ripe for a big shakeout. Telenor, having lost over half a billion dollars is desperate to get out of the market. The pains of globalization are showing up in other regions as well. Mike mentioned the high average data consumption at Clearwire (currently at 7 GB/mo) – clearly a precursor of what’s to come (our research shows the national average was 230 MB/mo as of Q2 2010). In terms of new technology areas, the panel was interested in products that help with spectrum efficiency, reducing the cost structure, and in improving the battery performance.

As part of the Mobile Future Forward Initiative, we had also worked on two other projects:

· The Mobile Future Forward Book that consisted of thought provoking essays on the future of mobile from the speakers of the summit and

· The global student paper contest that invited the papers form university students from the around the world

It required enormous collaboration with the folks around the globe in a very short amount of time. We are very proud of the outcome.

Mobile Future Forward Book

The second project related to a limited edition book by Chetan Sharma Consulting (published by Futuretext) exclusively for the event. Some of these summit speakers put their insights and ideas on paper that resulted in this book. We are very grateful to the authors (and their respective organizations) who carved out time from their busy schedules to pen some really insightful commentary on how they see the mobile industry evolve both holistically and in the various segments of the ecosystem. While the views are quite diverse and bring together perspectives from different angles, everyone agrees, 2010-2020 will be one heck of a time period for innovation.



The book has the following pieces:

1. The Next 10 Years – 15 Trends That Matter – Chetan Sharma

2. Sustainability in a Mobile World – Stephen David

3. Managing The Mobile Data Explosion – Wim Sweldens

4. Show Me The Money! – Brian Shepherd

5. Mobility Revolutionizing Every Product, Service, and Process – Russ McGuire

6. How Constant Connection Is Changing Our World – Ken Denman

7. 4G: The Next Big Thing – Mike Sievert

8. The Untapped Potential of Mobile Advertising and Marketing – Takayuki Hoshuyama

9. Mobile Operators are at the Center of Mobile Advertising – Krishna Vedati

10. Mobile Challenges – Three Imperatives in the Changing Game – Russ Shaw

11. Interacting With Everyday Things – Amir Mashkoori

12. In The End, It’ll All Go Through “Browse and Buy” – Anil Malhotra

13. The Future of Mobile: 5 Trends That Matter Most – Jay Emmet

14. India’s Mobile Future Forward – Subba Rao

15. Cellphone As The New Computing Platform – Sailesh Chutani

16. What 5 billion Phones Could Mean for Health Literacy – Jon Stross

17. Privacy: From Compliance To Competitive Advantage – Sarla Sharma

18. Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era – Chetan Sharma

We will be giving out some copies of the book during our Annual Predictions Survey in Dec, so be on the lookout for that participation request.

Student Paper Contest

Despite, the summer recess, we received an a very positive response from students around the globe. The top six entries went through rigorous scrutiny of our judges:

1. Pankaj Kedia, Head of Mobile Ecosystems, Intel

2. Subba Rao, CEO, Tata DoCoMo

3. Len Barlik, VP, Sprint Nextel

4. Jeff Giard, Director, Clearwire

5. Paul Palmieri, CEO, Millennial Media

6. Matt Oommen, CTO, Sprint Nextel

7. Paul Struthers, Head of Regional Marketing, Amdocs

The top two students were Lun Huang and Smruthi Pariccha and they were invited to join us for the event and receive their prizes.

The final ranking was as follows:

1. UWB Based on Multi-Band MC-CDMA and Magnetic Near-Field –Lun Huang, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, US

2. Ubiquitous Peer Proximity Awareness in Mobile Environments –Smruti Parichha, Dept of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, Riverside, US

As a mobile strategist, I get to see some of the cool technologies before they hit the market. For the demo this year, we selected Microvision’s cool projection technology where you can interact with the projected screen in thin air by waving hands. Yes, you got it. You had to be there to see it. It was shown for the first time to the general public and we are thankful to Selvan Vishwanathan and Andrew Rosen, the two engineers (and their colleagues) behind this exciting emerging technology that will expand the horizons of mobile interactivity and media engagement.

The afternoon sessions started delving into specific topics and details that were touched upon at the high level during the morning sessions. Each of the panels had an absolutely stellar cast who are deeply engaged in defining the mobile ecosystem right now.


Network and Mobile Data Evolution 2010-2015

Wim Sweldens, President – Wireless Division, Alcatel-Lucent,

Neville Ray, Chief Network Officer, T-Mobile,

Bob Azzi, Senior Vice President, Sprint,

Matt Bross, CTO and Vice Chairman, Huawei

Sean Cai, Vice President – Advanced Wireless Technology, ZTE,

Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave (moderator)

There is a big debate about network evolution – how fast does LTE need to come to the market? Will LTE be enough to help with the data tsunami. The consensus was a resounding No but LTE brings in some key capabilities like an all-IP network that enables new capabilities for multimedia applications and services, lowers the per bit cost, and reduces latency for superior user experience. Of course, the RAN is only part of the story, the backhaul needs to get upgraded as well to handle the load. The panel also emphasized simplicity in services without making things burdensome for the consumer with new technology. The other area of concern is of course the spectrum. Will there be ever enough spectrum? The issue is more acute for some operators. Finally, the focus need not to be on the bandwidth or the latency, from a user’s point of view, it is always about the services and things they can do with more bandwidth and lower latency.


Future of Content, Engagement, and Monetization

Louis Gump, Vice President – Mobile, CNN,

Omar Javaid, Vice President, Converged Media, Motorola (moderator),

Paul Palmieri, CEO, Millennial Media,

Rob Glaser, Chairman, Real Networks and Partner, Accel

Superphones and smartphones have changed the landscape for content, engagement and monetization. Superphones are most open and it is reflected in the results, more engagement and higher app usage. Apple/Android have also put US back in the leadership role when it comes to devices. CNN has seen high degree of non duplicated reach and reach is king when it comes to mobile advertising. The ad platforms are going into the next stage of evolution with more multimedia, better monetization opportunities, and higher value for the consumer. For content providers, ads can’t be the only strategy to generate revenue, subscriptions and/or micro transactions need to be part of the equation as well.


The Balance of Privacy and Monetization from Consumer Data

Krishna Vedati, Senior Vice President, AT&T Interactive,

Chris Murphy, Head of Digital Strategy, adidas

Dr. Nitin Shah, CEO, Feeva,

John Giere, Senior Vice President, Openwave,

Jeremy Lockhorn, Vice President – Emerging Media, Razorfish (moderator)

It is a complex issue and our insightful panel talked through the intricacies and the balance of monetizing using consumer data while meeting user’s expectations on privacy. One has to give something of value to the consumer before they trade up. Advertisers like adidas want to move from 1-2-many to 1-2-1 relationship with the consumer that increases the volume and quality of the transactions. The valuable variables to track are location, propensity to buy, past actions, traffic inputs, etc. Discovery and recommendations also become important part of the whole process. Of course, regulators are eager to jump in as well. It will be one of the key issues defining the industry landscape over the next 5 years.


mHealth – The Impact on Society and Global Health

Dr. Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante (moderator)

Jon Stross, General Manager and VP, Babycenter.com

Tim Wood, Director, Grameen Foundation

Greg Brandenberg, CEO, Columbia Basin Health Association

Dr. Suzanne Clough, Chief Medical Officer, Welldoc

mHealth is one of those areas which has been talked about for a long time and where mobile is starting to have a truly disruptive run at the industry. While the regulations and the dinosaur health care industry have been slow to adapt, there are a number of innovative companies like Welldoc, Babycenter.com, Mobisante, and others who are forcing rethink and change in the status quo. Greg’s CBHA is forced to think differently and has looked to technology to solve their challenges. Serving in the rural areas of WA state, his team has been testing out new solutions such as cell phone based ultrasound system from Mobisante that is 1/10th the cost of what GE sells for. It is much more portable and flexible and works well with the field work force. Tim’s Grameen Foundation is similarly leading the charge in nations like Ghana where mobile has been used to solve real-life health issues. Jon’s Babycenter has been expanding in other regions and increasing revenues at the same time. However, the test results and trials can still take inordinate amount of time (it was 3 years for one of the trials). The opportunity is immense but regulators, healthcare industry, pharma giants, and the rest are starting to come to grips with the role that mobile can play in transforming lives and P&Ls.


Mobile Cloud Computing – At the Tipping Point?

Hank Skorny, Senior Vice President – Media Cloud Computing, Real Networks

Brian Shepherd, President – Mobile Services and Marketing, Amdocs

Marianne Marck, Senior Vice President, BlueNile

Mike Wolf, Vice President – Research, GigaOM (moderator)

Erez Yarkoni, Chief Information Officer, T-Mobile

Cloud is changing IT and cloud is going to change mobile media. It helps take out some of the complexities of media consumption, management, and sharing for the consumers and provides a lower cost structures for the media companies. There are opportunities for operators to provide cloud based services at many levels – storage, media, billing, bandwidth, profile, analytics, network intelligence and so on and so forth. Some are easier to implement while others requires more investment and change in DNA. From a developer’s perspective, cloud based services will be ideal to increase reach but we are not there yet as the capabilities of the browser are not comparable to the native environment on platforms like iOS and Android. Better user experience is essential and developers won’t compromise.


Evolution of Communication and Social Interaction

Mario Queiroz, Vice President – Product Management, Google

David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures

Robin Schofeld, Principal, Booz&Co (moderator)

Erick Tseng, Head of Mobile, Facebook

Pankaj Kedia, Head of Mobile Ecosystems, Intel

The panel delved into how the communication ecosystems might evolve. While there is discussion about open and closed (too much at times), it is about executing on a strategy that touches the most number of consumers. The closed gardens of Apple is quite dominating and so is the evolving Android ecosystem which is relatively open. At the end of the day, developers are looking to make a buck with the least amount of resources and reach the most of amount of users. Cloud based communications services are about to change the landscape in a big way. Google and Facebook both have had good successes and both suggested that we are just getting started and more innovation is going to come in the form of personalization and social interaction. Operators while ceding some of the communication territory can still have a viable broadband business. As far as social on mobile is concerned, we are still in the early days with lots of opportunities to enhance and engage.


Internet of Things – Emerging Ecosystems

Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio

Danny Bowman, President – Integrated Solutions Group, Sprint

Mark Selby, Vice President – Industry Collaboration, Nokia

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Abhi Ingle, Vice President – Industry & Mobility Application Solutions, AT&T

Peter Koo, Vice President, Ericsson

The fact that there are more mobile phones than toothbrush brings home the point of the pervasiveness of mobile around the globe. The panel gave several examples of how “connectedness” is spreading across other electronic devices as well e.g. in Netherlands, 30K home care workers are equipped with NFC enabled devices which help interact with the patients (opens the door as well) without the need for paperwork, the records, helps with navigation. Overall result – happier workers, higher efficiency, and reduced carbon emission. The mobility for “connected devices” will try to leverage all RF radios as needed – 3G, 4G, Bluetooth, WiFi, Zigby, etc. Digital signage is emerging as a new area for consumer interaction and information. Some of the industries are on the verge of significant change – e.g. insurance where car insurance rates are given based on driving habits learned via telemetry vs. the old actuary table based rating systems. NFC is also enabling a lot of commerce opportunities by bringing the online world together with the physical world. However, as the ecosystem evolves, we need to also worry about QoS, security, and reliability concerns that various vertical industries have. Of course, the net-neutrality debate impacts the evolution. There are several scenarios where prioritization of data traffic is essential in emergency situations (ambulance transmission, fire fighting, etc.).


At the Intersection of Gaming, Social, and Commerce

Tim Chang, Partner, NVP (moderator)

Prashant Fuloria, Director – Facebook Credits, Facebook

David Marcus, CEO, Zong

Andrew Lacy, Senior Vice President, Disney Games

Alex Tokman, CEO, Microvision

Micro transactions is the new currency that scales up to billions of dollars in gaming and social networking. Free drives interest and the core 2-5% drive the revenues. If you ask for payment up front, virality component fizzles and the longevity declines. iTunes has been the gold standard for payments, carrier billing is starting to shape up and it will benefit the developers. HTML5+ in theory makes sense and is nice enhancement but the app experience is compelling for users. Discovery continues to be the sore spot and the burning opportunity. Whichever platform and mode of operation helps developers make more money, that’s where the momentum will shift. Today it is the iPhone but rival models are starting to pop up.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped in making Mobile Future Forward successful especially the sponsors (Amdocs, Millennial Media, Real Networks, ZTE, Clearwire, Ericsson, OpenMarket, Bango, Intel, Openwave, Wavefront, and Department of Commerce), participants, the moderators, and the speakers. Thanks to Caroline Lewko and David Smith for taking good notes. Planning for Mobile Future Forward 2011 is underway. Until then, best wishes and good luck in your pursuits, and we hope to see you next year. Thank You.

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Mobile Future Forward – Student Paper Contest Results Announced August 15, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Event,Mobile Future,Mobile Future Forward,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Student Paper Contest,US Wireless Market,VoIP,Wi-Fi,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far





On behalf of the Mobile Future Forward team, Intel – the contest sponsors, and the esteem panel of Judges from the mobile industry, I would like to thank all the students who participated in our inaugural “Student Paper Contest.” Despite the summer recess and only one month of preparation time, we got an overwhelmingly positive response from students in 9 different countries across Asia, Europe, and North America.

We very much appreciate the time and energy the students put in producing some exceptional papers that are indicative of their potential in the mobile space in the coming days.

We went through a rigorous selection process and our elite jury panel helped us pick and rank the top 6 papers. The contest judges were:

1. Pankaj Kedia, Head of Mobile Ecosystems, Intel

2. Subba Rao, CEO, Tata DoCoMo

3. Len Barlik, VP, Sprint Nextel

4. Jeff Giard, Director, Clearwire

5. Paul Palmieri, CEO, Millennial Media

6. Matt Oommen, CTO, Sprint Nextel

7. Paul Struthers, Head of Regional Marketing, Amdocs

The final ranking of the papers was as follows:

1. UWB Based on Multi-Band MC-CDMA and Magnetic Near-Field – Lun Huang, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, US

2. Ubiquitous Peer Proximity Awareness in Mobile Environments – Smruti Parichha, Dept of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, Riverside, US

3. Ubiquitous Augmented Reality – Anna Maria Ksiezopolska, Institute of System Level Integration – iSLI, University of Edinburgh, UK

4. Mobile Communications & Accessibility for Blind Users – M Kazi M. Yakoob, Chan Naseeb, and Hafiz Qasim, Politecnico di Milano, Italy

5. Mobile Future – Free CPU Everywhere – Ren C. Luo and CJ Chi, Intelligent Robot and Automation Lab, EE Dept, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

6. Serving the Poor Farmers by Mobile Agricultural Information: Quality of Service Assessment to Empower Rural Bangladesh – Mohammed Upal, Graduate School of Management, International University of Japan, Japan

Lun Huang and Smruti Parichha are being invited to meet with the senior executives in the mobile industry and attend the Mobile Future Forward conference. Rest of the authors in the top 6 will receive a book on mobile computing.

Abstracts of the winning papers are:

UWB Based on Multi-Band MC-CDMA and Magnetic Near-Field – Lun Huang, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, US

Since the FCC opened up the spectrum for Ultra Wide Band (UWB) operation in the 3.1 to 10.6 GHz range, several standards have been proposed to realize moderate and high rate short-range communication systems. Under the WiMedia and Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) umbrella [1][2], industry incorporated UWB as the technology to achieve high data rates up to 480Mbps for certain applications, such as wireless USB v2.0 and Laptop to HDTV audio/video extenders. In this paper, a novel UWB based on Affine Orthogonal Transform MC-CDMA and Magnetic near-field is introduced. The proposed new scheme is capable of improving the spectrum and power efficiency while provide good wireless link quality.

Ubiquitous Peer Proximity Awareness in Mobile Environments – Smruti Parichha, Dept of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, Riverside, US

This paper proposes the idea of enabling all WiFi capable consumer devices with the knowledge of the locations of peer devices in their network neighborhood. We will use the term “peer-proximity awareness” to describe the ability to discover locations of peers and update this knowledge with changes in the network neighborhood. GPS functionality enables a device to locate its own coordinates in outdoor environments. Peer-proximity awareness is meant to provide knowledge of the location of peer devices with respect to itself in indoor environments, where mobile wireless devices are extensively used, but GPS capability is of little help. The accuracy in peer-proximity awareness is intended to be a few meters, or even sub-meter level, depending on the application. We will focus on extremely interesting applications that can leverage peer proximity awareness and show that it has great potential in the future of the mobile market.

Congrats to the winners and everyone who contributed to the process.

Thanks to all the students and their academic institutions for participating. I am sure our paths will cross again.

Best wishes for their successful academic and professional careers.

Mobile Industry 1H 2010 Assessment July 8, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,BRIC,Carnival of Mobilists,Carriers,CTIA,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Gaming,Indian Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,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 TV,MVNO,Partnership,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Strategy,US Wireless Market,Usability,VoIP,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Mobile Industry 1H 2010 Assessment


As the mobile world approaches the 5 billion subscription landmark, it is time to do a half yearly assessment of 2010. We will have our official Q2 2010 analysis for the US market in Aug and the global analysis for 1H 2010 in Sept after all the numbers are in. In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to take a stock of the first 6 months, the ensuing trends and what they mean for the long-term.

Mobile Ecosystem has become much more complex

In case you didn’t notice, the competitive landscape has changed significantly over the last 6-12 months. 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, Kodak is competing with Yahoo, so on and so forth. One product launch, one acquisition, can change the game in an instant.  And this is only the beginning.

Network evolution: more capacity, more bandwidth, tremendous usage

We have covered this topic in detail in our paper – Managing growth and profits in the Yottabyte era. As we had predicted, the tiering of pricing plan has started in the US which is actually a good thing. It will force some discipline and technology innovation to solve the longer-term problem of network congestion. While AT&T got things in motion, market forces will take care of the right pricing and GB levels in the coming months. Data consumption on TeliaSonera and Clearwire’s network is a good indicator of what’s to come with 3-4x the usage compared to its counterparts.

New sources of revenue: mobile advertising, commerce, and more

Regular readers know that we have been bullish on the mobile advertising space for a long time. Over the last 6 months or so, some of the pieces are coming together though significant amount of work remains. Sergio Zyman, former CMO of Coca Cola once said “There is only one rule: advertising must sell.” And nothing will sell better than mobile. Period. While North America and Western Europe have been slow to wake up to the mobile commerce opportunities, in Japan, it is already a multi-billion dollar industry. Several trials are underway that are going to help open up the western market in the next 12 months for significant opportunities. In fact, the pie for the mobile services will keep on growing bigger but so will the number of players who want a piece of it. This will set up an interesting tug-of-war for the next couple of years

It’s the iPhone, dude!

Just when the competitors think they are all caught up with Apple,  Steve Jobs and co. releases a new product that raises the bar further. Google, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola have done well in emulating Apple while Microsoft and Nokia have fallen behind. The embarrassing launch and demise of KIN is a example of how confused things are for some of the players. While both Microsoft and Nokia are capable for mounting good comebacks, it will take more than an org change and a sprinkle of holy water. Android will easily outsell iPhone just by the law of arithmetic but Apple’s secret weapon is iTunes. With over 150M billing relationships, it has fostered a great apps ecosystem that others will find hard to replicate entirely. While some point to Apple’s tiny marketshare, wall street looks at the fat margins – rewarding Apple by making it the most valuable technology company surpassing Microsoft in a major tech tremor. Google has run the mobile chess game with great acumen so far. Despite the Nexus experiment, the explosion of the superphone category has gone according to the plan. Overall, most of the western operators are selling smartphones at 50%+ levels each quarter.

Always On Real-Time Access

The always-connected vision of the late Mark Weiser is finally approaching some realization. Mobile is so perfectly suited for cloud computing. The younger generation is growing with the expectation that they can get access to any content from any device anywhere. The constraints and friction that doesn’t allow them to do that is just not acceptable. As such, the mobile industry is scrambling to provide tools and technologies that help the digerati access content at will. All this has to be designed and developed against the current network, content, and device constraints and evolution paths. Whether it is access to music or movies for a 15 year old or availability of the entire corporate knowledgebase, information will need to be available at a touch of a button. Companies big and small are investing in the infrastructure and software tools to make this happen. We are likely to see some interesting launches in the next 12 months.

Battle for the analytical mind – data, context and intelligence drives everything

Many people don’t realize that the battle for the consumer of 2015-2020 has already begun. The company that has the best understanding about the most consumers will have a pole position in the mobile ecosystem. Players like Google, Apple, Amazon, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, China Mobile, Disney, AT&T, Vodafone, Motorola, and others are amassing a lot of information on individuals. Besides Google and Apple, Facebook has quietly become one of the most important players in the mobile ecosystem with its phenomenal reach across many countries, tremendous stickiness of the app, and innovative onboarding process of the carriers. Of course, data is a double edged sword – it can provide enormous benefits to consumers in terms of intelligence, experience, and engagement and can also prove to be problematic when privacy and data breaches happen. In fact, that will be one of the tightest ropes many including the regulators will have to walk this decade – figuring out what they call in Swedish – logamthe right balance.

Apps vs. the Web

Recently, the ecosystem has been more enamored with the apps vs. the web debate than the early departure of Brazil and Argentina from the world cup. It is rather a silly debate. As we mentioned in our apps economy paper, both worlds will coexist for a long time. What matters for the developers is the “reach” of a certain platform or technology and the “cost” and “potential” of that reach. For the user, the only thing that matters is what’s available on “their” device. Obviously, the capabilities of the mobile browser will grow over time and it will make more sense to build certain category of applications for the web vs. on the native platforms but developers live and die in the present.

Internet of Things

Nokia took the leadership stance of announcing that all of their smartphones by the next year will have NFC. You can expect pretty much all major OEMs following the same trend which means that hundreds of millions of devices will be equipped with a chipset that will enable new experiences, applications and services. Though we still need to do a lot of work to complete the end-to-end ecosystem, we are getting close. Further, all major carriers have created separate units to address the M2M and emerging devices opportunity. iPad showed what’s possible – it fundamentally created a new leisure computing category. Also, iPad (and similar form factor devices) will find good usage in the enterprise as well. Pretty soon, it will be hard to imagine a computing device without the communication capability. Operators will have to release pricing plans to accommodate such an evolution.

Nurturing ecosystems – fight for the developer mindshare

It is good to be a developer in 2010. The success of many players goes through developersville. The love fest won’t last forever though, it will depend on how vibrant the various ecosystems become and how profitable individual developer shops are over the course of time. One thing Microsoft did very well with the windows empire was to create a web of partners and developers who were incented to use the tools and develop for the platform. In a more fragmented world of mobile, things are a bit complicated. Developers don’t have time or the energy to go after the newest, shiniest toy, what matters in the end is the “cost” to develop, “reach/distribution” of the platform, and “potential” of the reach. Players who don’t consciously make an effort to make developers thrive in their ecosystem will see their developer efforts collapse like house of cards. While the media attention is squarely on iOS and Android, we are not heading down the duopoly path as the dynamics of the mobile ecosystem are significantly different from that of the PC. RIM, Nokia, Samsung and others will do well, the fight is over the relative rankings in the pecking order.

Shifts in the revenue sand dunes

By the end of 2010, the global ondeck revenues will be overtaken by the offdeck revenues. As the smartphone penetration grows, it is less likely that the user will purchase VAS from the operator. While the carrier gets a healthy access revenue of $15-40 or more/month, the VAS business is shrinking for many. Some operators are trying to extract some value but are likely to follow T-Mobile’s path and give up on the smartphone appstore eventually. On the featurephones and probably low-tier smartphones, operator do have a role to play but perhaps some of it can be outsourced to other appstore providers so that they can focus on higher-margin services. We are going to see a readjusting of the appstores again in the next 12-24 months with the weaker ones whittling away from the landscape.

New experiences – display, interaction and commerce

The man-machine interaction took a significant leap with the introduction of the iPhone. Now the touch-interface is embedded in our evolutionary genes. There is significant work going into accomplishing more with less friction with the help of new interfaces and experiences that can like trying out a new outfit in front of a mirror – at home or in the store and with a flick of finger – choose the color, purchase it, and get it shipped. The amount of time it takes to “accomplish any given task” is going to reduce dramatically. With the help of contextual sensors, extreme personalization, and brainiac software, we will take automation to a new level. This will lead to new experiences that will enable more commerce, social interaction and participation, and general awareness and intelligence about every day things. Examples like Kinect, Augmented Reality, Projection displays are just the start of the decade when the display and interaction paradigms will be fundamentally redefined.

Reallocation of revenues – winners and losers are decided in reallocation

If we take a look at the spending habits of the US consumers on “access and communication services” which includes the spending on Telephone, Cable, Internet, and Cell phones, the total “access” spending over the course of last decade has been consistently around 4% of the total personal income per capita. However, the share of each of the services has been changing steadily. Telephone used to have 65% share of the spending but is going to be below 30% by end of 2010. Others have been climbing at the expense of telephone revenues, especially the cellphones which since 2007 command the highest share. So, the overall spending has stayed constant while there has been significant reallocation of spending. Similarly, within cell phone services, data has gone from being less than 1% of the overall revenues to over 35% in 2010 and is going to be more than 50% of the overall revenue mix by early 2013. Mobile operators will need to figure out how to manage these reallocation undercurrents and maintain the overall life time value of the customer. It will come from re-architecting of the business and technology practices as well through the introduction of new services.

Mobile takes off in Verticals

Mobile has become a full-fledged computing platform and other industries are taking notice. There is significant work going on in the mHealth, mRetail, mCommerce, mEducation, mEnergy, and others to keep things busy for the next few years. There are some really innovative startups focused on making use of the computing power that the device affords and turn them into full-fledged medical instruments. Add the communication bit and you can see the revolution happening in front of your eyes. The impact on saving lives and quality of health care will be tremendous – worldwide. The regulators and the legacy players will need to keep up. As we mentioned before, the NFC wave is coming and if all goes well, it will change the retail experience. Stay tuned.

(Mobile) World is flat

There is a significant readjusting of players going on right now with some of the Asian players flexing their muscles for dominant share of the market. Competition is driving more M&A, the gravity of the mobile data world is slowly shifting from Japan and Korea to the US with Verizon overtaking the long time leader NTT DoCoMo in terms of quarterly mobile data revenues. India’s Bharti became the number 5 operator after completing the acquisition of Zain. On the device front, Samsung and LG have been ferocious in their pursuit of marketshare and have been rewarded well by their performance esp. in the North American market. HTC has undergone metamorphosis and has become a serious competitor. Many non-traditional brands like Dell, Garmin, HP, Cisco are also flexing their muscles in the space that has become the computing battleground. On the infrastructure front, ZTE and Huawei are going to make life difficult for some of the players. We can expect the big “M&As” to continue as the industry consolidates around the top 3 players in different markets and sectors. The local skirmishes will spill into the global arena. North American operators have been curiously silent on the global front. Being the most lucrative mobile market probably has something to do with it  but we can expect some of the bigger players to go shopping in the coming days.

Regulatory Excursions

The much-awaited national broadband plan was finally unveiled earlier this year. The current FCC has done a good job of engaging the industry and informing the citizens, better than its predecessors. It is also taking a deeper interest in setting up guidelines for the industry. The Comcast ruling was a setback but FCC is moving ahead with its plans. It will be interesting to see the execution details and how things pan out over the course of this decade. Similarly, regulatory agencies in other nations are acutely aware of the role broadband plays in nations economy and competitiveness and what they need to do keep their country on track. The mad scramble for more spectrum is underway. FTC is also keeping a close eye on the mobile industry for privacy related violations. If someone has any doubts of how much regulators are likely to get involved in this matter should read through the settlement between the FTC and Twitter.

Scenario Analysis – more changes in the next 10 years than in the previous 100

Despite all the commotion, the excitement, and the turbulence in the ecosystem, the trajectory of the winners and losers is not set. Like the Chaos theory, a lot depends on how the dynamic elements of the mobile universe effect and react to changes.  Players will do well to have strategies in place per scenario so they can adapt quickly and keep the mother ship in the right direction. We can expect more changes in the next 10 years than in the previous 100. The triggers for various scenarios will vary – regulatory, competitive, technology, business model, consumer adoption, economic – each of these can have an impact on how a trend becomes the fact of life.

To discuss all these trends and more, we are putting together a unique Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit and are fortunate to have the company of some of the sharpest minds in the industry, folks who both have the vision to shape the evolution and the authority to invest billions of dollars this decade to make things happen. Hope to see you in Seattle on Sept 8th.

First 25 readers to use the discount code FUTBOL get $200 off the regular price.

Abhi Ingle, VP, AT&T; Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio; Anand Chandrasekhar, SVP & GM, Intel; Bob Azzi, SVP – Network, Sprint Nextel; Chamath Palihapitiya, VP – Growth, Mobile, Intl, Facebook; Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype; Danny Bowman,President, Sprint Nextel; David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures; Dr. Boris Nikolic, Sr. Program Officer, Global Health & Discovery, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow & Director, User Experience, Intel; Dr. Greg Brandenberg,CEO, Columbia Basin Health Association; Dr. Sailesh Chutani, CEO, Mobisante; Dr. Suzanne Clough, Chief Medical Officer, WellDoc; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T; Hank Skorny, SVP, Media Mobile Cloud Computing, Real Networks; Jack Kennedy, EVP, News Corp; Joe Sims, Lead Partner – Digital Convergence , Booz & Company; Jon Stross, VP & GM – Babycenter, Johnson & Johnson; Ken Denman, CEO, Openwave; Krishna Vedati, SVP & GM – Mobile, AT&T Interactive; Lirong Shi, President, ZTE; Louis Gump, VP Mobile, CNN; Mario Queiroz, VP – Product Management – Android, Google; Mark Selby, VP, Nokia; Matt Bross,CTO and Vice Chairman, Huawei; Michael Sievert, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearwire;Neville Ray, Chief Network Officer, T-Mobile ; Omar Javaid, CEO, BBDO; Paul Palmieri, Founder and CEO, Millennial Media; Rob Glaser, Chairman, Real Networks and Partner, Accel;Sean Cai, VP – Advanced Technology, ZTE; Stephen David, Former CIO, Proctor & Gamble;Subba Rao, CEO, TataDoCoMo; Takayuki Hoshuyama, CEO D2 Communications; Tony Lewis, VP, Verizon; Wim Sweldens, President, Alcatel-Lucent

Each panel discussion will involve luminaries/experts on specific topics, for e.g.

M2M/Internet of Things

Danny Bowman, President, Sprint

Amir Mashkoori, CEO, Kovio

Tony Lewis, VP, Verizon Wireless

Mark Selby, VP, Nokia

Evolution of Communication/ Engagement

Christopher Dean, Chief Strategy Officer, Skype

Chamath Palihapitiya, VP – Mobile, Facebook

Mario Queiroz, VP – Android, Google

David Weiden, General Partner, Khosla Ventures

The size of the panel will be small and the time duration long so we can delve deep into the issues and questions. For more details, please visit http://www.mobilefutureforward.com

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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

Mobile Breakfast Series – Startup Nation Roundup June 11, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Privacy,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

With the fourth Mobile Breakfast Series event yesterday, we completed one full year of hosting the popular quarterly event and each one has been sold out. Thanks to the outstanding speakers and an engaged audience, the program has grown since its inception last Sept. Thanks also to our wonderful sponsors – Motricity, OpenMarket, Openwave, WDSGlobal, and Clearwire for supporting the program throughout the year.

Also, thanks to our attendees. Proud of the quality of attendees we are able to attract. Over 250 companies have attended the event over the past one year.


The 4th MBS event was held at Columbia Club in Seattle which offers one of the best views in the country.


Our focus for this event was Startups in the Mobile Industry. We wanted to take a pulse of the innovation, competition, turbulence, opportunities in the mobile ecosystem through the eyes of 8 brilliant CEOs who are focused on different segments of the value chain and different segments and business models.

The startup DNA is quite unique to the US. While great ideas and technologies can come from anywhere, no country celebrates the risk-taking, failures, and successes of startups like the US. The entrepreneurial spirit burns bright and that’s what keeps the pace of innovation in the mobile industry at an all time high. I have witnessed that first hand in working with startup executives from the inception of the idea at the back of a napkin to multi-million dollar exits to shattering of dreams due to changing dynamics or strategic errors or just dumb luck. What’s most fascinating and inspiring is that these guys just get up and keep going. Obviously, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, some folks just can’t take the sensation of a plunge and the unknown. The event was to highlight and celebrate the successes of these startup companies.

The one thing that trips most of the startups is how do you “scale” in terms of transactions, users, or revenues. The startups at MBS have a keen understanding of that. They are ambitious, focused, and disruptive.


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The participants were:

Mike McSherry – CEO, Swype

Swpe is reinventing how consumers interact with mobile devices. Founded by Cliff Kushler, the inventor of T9 that has ended in billions of devices, the company is looking to repeat the success by getting onto billions of devices over the course of next few years. Quite an astonishing feat if they are able to pull it off. They have had good success with the OEMs who have also become strategic investors. The management team has navigated the waters very well w/o raising any VC money.

Paul Palmieri – CEO Millennial Media

Millennial Media is known for its mobile ad network which is the biggest independent ad network. MM deals with billions of ad impressions across devices and Paul has grown the company from the early days in 2006 by keeping the focus on technology, the team, advertisers, and publishers. They seem to be well positioned to take advantage of the current turbulence in the mobile advertising market. Will have more on it at a later date.

Dr. Sailesh Chutani – CEO Mobisante

Many people don’t realize that “mobile devices” represent a computing platform that can start to do amazing things. Mobisante is trying to take advantage of that by using the platform to provide a cheap ultrasound solution. This can be enormously disruptive and beneficial. Hundreds of people die every day because they don’t get diagnosed properly or on time. With a device like what Mobisante is developing, can you imagine the number of lives saved, the improvement in the quality of life, and the health care cost savings.

Paul Griff – CEO Root Wireless

Root Wireless has a unique value proposition – collecting network and device data to help consumers make informed decisions. “True” network data is really not available to the consumers, Root Wireless is changing that by turning the data on its head and making it useful to the consumers.

Kevin Foreman, CEO, PointInside

Location is red-hot, it has become an integral layer over which all content/transactions reside. While most of location players have justifiably focused on the outdoor position location, indoor location is still a challenge esp. in malls and airports, one has to still rely on kiosks and paper maps. PointInside is try to change that by providing a framework to create an indoor location platform that can be licensed and used to create transaction opportunities While SMS has been around for a generation, in the US, it really took off since the American Idol debuted. But have we done all we can with SMS?

Derek Spratt, CEO, Mobidia

Mobile data network issues have dominated the headlines for the last 18 months. We have discussed the topic in detail in our Yottabyte paper. I was intrigued by Mobidia’s approach to managing congestion, the technology can be used in all forms of network and allows operators to free capacity. Mobidia and Derek demonstrate their resilience as a startup in the infrastructure business which is very capital intensive and the sales cycles are measured in years but once you get cemented into the core, you are good to go. The journey is clearly not for the faint hearted. Derek has been shepherding the turbulent waters well.

Scott Kveton, CEO, Urbanairship

Urbanairship is exploited the push messaging phenomenon on startphones with over 470M notifications to 27M devices and 500K storefront transactions. They are also doing some clever rich media messaging and the model is transaction based so it can scale really well

John Lauer, CEO, Zipwhip

Zipwhip has an interesting application that sends SMS to both the device as well as the desktop so you can txt directly from the desktop. They have already gotten traction with some key carrier customers. There is no reason SMS has to be constrained to the device.

This group of brilliant entrepreneurs was ably supported by Bill Bryant, Managing Partner, DFJ and a well known investor in pacific northwest, Jeff Giard who has been a key supporter for us throughout the year and is Director at Clearwire, and Peter Wilson who has had successful stints at Accenture, Microsoft, and Google and now is on the entrepreneurial road himself.

The first panel was moderated by Olga Kharif, Senior writer at Businessweek who through her incisive questioning gets to the heart of the story. The panel touched on various aspects of the mobile ecosystem. Swype is focused on working the carriers and OEMs while Millennial sees diminished role for the operators. Out of the 10 billion impressions, around 100 million are from ondeck. The role of operators in the US with respect to media and content has slipped away as more smartphones came into the market, something we wrote about it in Mobile Advertising book in 2007. The situation is generally not black or white. There are areas for operators to innovate and be dominant while in others it is just hard to compete due to the changing circumstances and the entry of new players. Root Wireless was surprised by the open approach operators have taken to their offering by participating and collaborating in data analysis that can benefit all in the ecosystem.

One of the areas of exploration was – how do startups survive in the turbulent waters – by adapting as fast as they can to the changing dynamics and by having solid IP and unique value proposition. Swype has been developing the technology since 2001 and has multiple patents. Millennial devised a key server side technology to differentiate. Mobisante while new is tapping into a specific vertical and Root Wireless is trying out a new approach to measurement and performance analysis.

One of the other issue that startups face is that of expansion, which markets should they go after. Kevin mentioned that they are turning down six figure checks to keep the focus on their business – a very hard thing to do as a startup (turning down money that is). Millennial is more focused on the western markets because that’s where the advertising money is. Mobisante is likely to go after the rural market first because the need for their offering is the most in those areas.

On the hot topic of privacy, Paul from Root noted that there is a generational gap. He has been astonished how little the younger demographics care about privacy. They are easily willing to trade value for privacy. In terms of how the ecosystem is shaking up Paul from MM expected RIM and Amazon to come up with some interesting offerings in the coming days.

I hope this gives you a flavor of the event. You can also read Tricia Duryee’s column at moconews.

My thanks to all who attended, esp the speakers.

Our next event is Mobile Future Forward which has a stellar roster of speakers. If the future of mobile keeps you up at night, you wouldn’t want to miss this event. These guys personally are responsible for managing billions of dollars worth of investment and operations and their insights will be valuable. We will have more on that in the near future.


Be sure to check it out and register early as the Early bird expires on June 30th and 30% of the spots are already taken.

The quarterly event will resume in Dec 2010.

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 Traffic,Mobile TV,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



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.


Chetan Sharma

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

Global Mobile Data Market Update 2009 March 31, 2010

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


  • 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


  • 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”


  • 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.


Chetan Sharma

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