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CTIA Roundup 2010 March 26, 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,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Messaging,Microsoft Mobile,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Traffic,Mobile Usability,MVNO,Patent Strategy,Patents,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Strategy,US Wireless Market,VoIP,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the other news worthy items were:

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


Chetan Sharma

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

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

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

Sizing up the Global Mobile Apps Market



Industry Study Commissioned by Getjar

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

Download full paper

My thanks to Getjar for supporting the research.


Chetan Sharma

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

Mobile Breakfast Series Event Roundup March 12, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,Carriers,CTIA,European Wireless Market,International Trade,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Middleware,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Traffic,Music Player,MVNO,Privacy,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,US Wireless Market,VoIP,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

Wednesday Morning we hosted the third edition (sold out) of the Mobile Breakfast Series and were grateful for the time and insights from two outstanding speakers. Thanks to our sponsors for the support: Motricity, Openwave, WDSGlobal, and Clearwire

First up was Kevin Martin, former FCC Chairman and current co-chair of the communications practice and partner at the leading law firm of Patton Boggs in Washington DC.

Second speaker was Rob Glaser, Chairman and Founder, Real Networks. This was his first public appearance since he stepped down as CEO of Real Networks.

Kevin talked about the National Broadband Plan that is going to be released this coming tuesday and Rob opined on the opportunities in mobile. I had the good fortune of asking and moderating the Q&A after the initial presentation.

Summary of his comments:

Rob’s talk (embedded below) was about the opportunities created by the introduction of smartphone/superphones over the next 34 years.

Opportunities are:

and of course challenges are:

In summary,

After the intense 30 minute talk that the sold out crowd tried to absorb as much as possible, I asked him what Real would do if he were starting today. And there was a similar question from Andy Kleitsch from Billing Revolution about advise to startups. Here is some of what he had to say (courtesy: Techflash)

On the question of vertical vs. horizontal integration (question from Tricia Duryee of Moconews), he had this to say (courtsey: Techflash)

His presentation below:

We also announced the June 10th event that will all about Mobile Startups. Registration is open. It should be a great discussion with startup CEOs.

Also, announced the Sept 8th event which is of the long-form (day long) – Mobile Future Forward. Great speakers and useful discussion. Stay tuned for more details. We are working feverishly on the details.

Many thanks to our generous sponsors who believe in the vision behind the MFF event – Real Networks and Millennial Media. Your support is much appreciated.


Finally, a personal thanks to all those of you who helped out. You know who you are. We are a pretty lean operation and need assistance from our friends to make every event successful and useful to the mobile community.

Overall, we had as much fun hosting the event as we had in preparing for it. Please let us know your feedback.

Some pictures from the event:

304 307 316 324

328 332

334 336 344 343 341 338

Some additional coverage of the event by some of the most outstanding reporters in the industry – Seattle Times, Techflash, Moconews, GigaOM, and PC World. Thanks.











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

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,International Trade,IP Strategy,Location Based Services,Messaging,Microsoft Mobile,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,Smart Phones,Strategy,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Usability,VoIP,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

US Wireless Data Market Update – Q4 2009 and 2009

Download PPT | PDF


Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

Q1 2010 will also be important from the regulatory point of view with the national broadband plan being unveiled later this month. With the looming spectrum shortage, regulatory bodies can have a significant impact on the competitiveness of a nation. For example, in India, regulators haven’t been able to get their acts together for the past 3-4 years and its citizens continue to suffer from 2G. Similarly, many countries in South America have imposed unnecessary spectrum caps. The industry and regulators need to work hand-in-hand to make progress beyond speeches and paperwork.

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

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

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

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

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

Service Revenues (Slides 8, 17)

ARPU (Slides 9-12)

Subscribers (Slides 13-15)

Applications and Services


Policy and Regulations


Data Traffic (Slide 16)

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


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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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


Chetan Sharma

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

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

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



Mobile VoIP – Approaching the Tipping Point

Sponsored by Skype

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

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

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

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

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

Download Paper (pdf)

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 3, 2010

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,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,Uncategorized,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Usability,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 6 comments

2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey


Mobile Predictions Survey (pdf)

Mobile Predictions Survey (ppt)

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

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

The Last Decade: 2000-2009

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



Operator of the Decade


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

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

OEM of the Decade


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

RIM, Apple, Nokia, Samsung

Smartphone OEM of the Decade


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

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

Infrastructure Provider of the Decade


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

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

Nation that led in mobile data


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

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

Device of the decade

iPhone followed by Razr

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

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

The year 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. Laura Marriott, President – 2010 Mobile Almanac

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

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

Despite conventional wisdom, what will not happen in 2010?

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

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

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

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

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

Be well, Do Cool Work, Stay in touch.


With warm wishes,

Chetan Sharma

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

Now onto the 2010 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey Results

The panel comprised of movers and shakers from around the world

survey2_10 survey1_10

What will be the biggest stories of 2010?


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


There are indications that this might happen sooner rather than later

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


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

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


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

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


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

Who will be the mobile comeback story of 2010?


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

What will be the impact of Google Phone?


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

Which areas will feel the most impact from FCC?


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

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


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

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


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

What will help mobile cloud computing gain traction in 2010?


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

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


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

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


Mobile Advertising and Mobile Payments share the top honors

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


LTE might have the momentum but WiMAX has the subscribers

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


No major impact from the operator channel

Which standards will gain traction?


No major impact from the standards

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


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

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

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The Untapped Mobile Data Opportunity

Sponsored by INQMobile

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

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

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

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

Download Paper (660 KB)

CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Roundup 2009 October 12, 2009

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CTIA San Diego Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Some of the news worth items were:

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

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

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US Wireless Data Market Update – Q2 2009

Download: PPT | PDF

Executive Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARPU (Slides 13-15)

Subscribers (Slides 16-17)

Applications and Services



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

Your feedback is always welcome.

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


Chetan Sharma

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

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

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Managing Growth and Profits in the Yottabyte Era


Executive Summary

In Q1 2009, the US market exceeded $10B in quarterly mobile data service revenues for the first time. The subscription penetration in the US is well past 90% and the mobile data usage is on the rise. While the rate of new subscriptions has slowed, the pace of innovation is going very strong. It is quite apparent that the mobile industry is going through a significant transition from voice to data, from making calls to getting lost in applications and from voice communications to multimedia communications. Helped by the ever expanding wireless broadband networks, and release of hit devices every quarter, and consumer’s insatiable appetite for information and content has brought us to the surge of a data tsunami that will shake the industry to its core.


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

In 2009, the global yearly mobile data traffic will reach a new milestone – 1 Exabyte(EB) or 1 Million Terabytes (TB).By 2016-17, the global yearly mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 1 Zettabyte (ZB) or 1000 Exabytes. By 2014, in the US alone, the total yearly mobile data traffic is likely to exceed 40 EB. How do you go about managing such growth in a profitable manner when the cost of supporting such traffic will increase exponentially despite the move to 4G? Will the move to LTE offer some respite?

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

Download Paper

Your feedback is always welcome.

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


Chetan Sharma

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

Recap of "Tomorrow’s Wireless Future" November 20, 2008

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Tomorrow’s Wireless Future

One of the reasons I love what I do is that I get a chance to work with really smart people around the world on some cutting-edge projects. Additionally, I get the opportunity to interview some of the brightest minds in the industry. This year has been particularly rewarding. I probably did close to 25 events which were a mix of keynote addresses, panel moderation, panel participation, university lectures, and other speeches. Add in the 20+ client project visits and it all translates into more than a trip every other week to the SeaTac airport. My suitcase has been permanently positioned at the doorstep in my house.

Earlier this week, I had the distinct honor of moderating a panel of some of the most eminent senior wireless research scientists and CEOs of wireless companies from Finland where we explored the future of the wireless landscape from user interface to reduction in carbon footprint to privacy and security issues and much more.


Also, had the privilege to do a Q&A session with Dr. Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel Corporation after his keynote address. This note summarizes the topics discussed during the “Tomorrow’s Wireless World” event.

Many people might not be aware but the City of Oulu in the central part of Finland is a leading epicenter of wireless activities with many major industry players setting up shops for doing R&D work. In fact, it is quite likely that one of the companies out of Oulu has had an impact in some way on the mobile phone you have in your pocket (and we are not including Nokia).


The topic of our panel was “Your Wireless Future” – a broad topic that is always difficult to cover in 60 minutes or less. My illustrious panel included (from R to L):

· Prof. Juha Röning, Head of the Dept. Electrical and Information Engineering, Oulu University. A leading edge research center, many companies in Oulu have been spun out of this department

· Markus Asplund, VP, Sesca Technologies. A major services firm in the mobile industry

· Ari Pouttu, Director of Center of Wireless Communications, University of Oulu. A leading research center in doing work in access technologies.

· David Chartier, CEO, Codenomicon. A major player in the network security space. Their tools are used for hardening their products by companies such as Cisco, Apple, IBM, Nokia, and others.

· Craig O’Connell, Sr. Manager, Elektrobit. Working with pretty much all OEMs around the world

· Dr. Jussi Paakkari, VP, R&D ICT, VTT. Doing some cutting edge research in the area of network protocols, security, access, machine vision systems, and much more

· Purnima Kochikar, Director, Software and Services. Nokia. Well, you know Nokia

I started by asking the panelists about what in their view have been some of the defining trends over the last 12 months. Summary of answers – iPhone; android; move towards full mobile browser; browser will reduce fragmentation and more innovation will happen on this front; with the rise of smartphones, security and privacy have become an issue,

Some other salient points (read issues and opportunities) from the discussion:

· It is forecasted (by WWWRF) that in another 10 years, we will have 1000 radios per every subscriber. That would translate into few trillion nodes around us. The level of complexity and carbon footprint will be enormous. One has to figure out a way to address both.

· City of Oulu has first of a kind experiment with NFC where the technology has been embedded in day-to-day life from home, school, train station, restaurant, probably every object in the city. Pretty interesting experiment that will lead to interesting use cases and technology implementations.

· There are so many protocols being integrated into the device that hackers are targeting not only the data but the protocol weaknesses to gain access. IT finally starting to address smartphone issue in their networks.

· The role of Cognitive radio and SDRs will gain prominence as more access technologies get introduced.

· In a ubiquitous environment with finite spectrum, “sensing” technologies will have a great role in optimization. Sense and do the best for the consumer, the device, and the network. Hyper connectivity will become the norm.

· In addition to touch, gesture and face recognition will add to a better multimodal experience.

· Mobile payments is coming and going to make a big impact. We have to of course sort out the business models.

· 3Cs of mobile – convergence, context, and community (Nokia’s Mantra).

· The very business of R&D has changed significantly with corporations choosing to outsource R&D and the cycle of concept to market launch has shrunk from 6 years or more to 12-18 months.

· More innovation will come from integration of existing technologies rather than some big breakthrough.

· Demand for bandwidth will keep growing.

· Significant opportunities in medicine, enterprise, and other industry verticals.

· In developing countries, while consumers are willing to pay for expensive devices, they don’t have any appetite for expensive service plans.

Some discussion points from Craig’s speech and our Q&A session:

· World will go to free MIPS and free baud (computing and communications). What happens then?

· Moore’s law is good for another 15 years based on 5 generation of future chipsets that they have in the labs. And it will probably keep going after that.

· Awareness of context really important.

· Many types of devices will proliferate including MIDs, education devices, some designed specifically for special purpose (medical monitors) and geographies (emerging markets).

· Global challenges are education, health, computing, and communication.

· In the developed world, wireless technology can help reduce the cost which is increasing at the rate of $200B/year and in the developing world, technology can help provide access to health care.

· Convenience and access trumps security concerns.

· Areas of opportunities – Telemedicine, education, economic development, governance, energy and environment.

· This is Craig’s 11th recession. Principle to tackle has been the same every time. You cannot save your way out of recession. You can only innovate out of a recession. Intel R&D budgets will remain the same.

· Innovation is key to surviving and competing in the global economy, now more so than ever.

· The fact that so much can be done in these tiny piece of electronics is just amazing and the drive to do better and more using technology keeps him going, keeps him inspired.

Craig is passionate about education and innovation and he serves on more global committees than he would care to admit. His work outside of Intel has been equally impactful.

It should be noted that the Matti Pennanen, Mayor of Oulu who also graced the event with his presence is a technologist at heart and understands the role of innovation in the growth and strengthening of their economy. How many tech-savvy Mayors do we have in other countries? I thought so. I have noticed similar trends in Korea, Ireland, and Israel. They all have something in common – great early education system and maniacal focus on innovation and desire to succeed. It was great chatting with Mayor Matti about technology trends and opportunities. In this global economy, politicians better become tech-savvy really fast or they won’t be serving their constituents well. Cities, states, and countries need to start thinking like startups and compete for every dollar.

My thanks to my friends Victor Vurpillat and Brenda Fox at Global Connexus and Pauliina Pikkujämsä at Oulu Innovation for inviting me to participate in the discussion.

Image Courtesy: Global Connexus

Global Wireless Data Market Update – 1H 2008 September 28, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,BRIC,Carriers,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Gaming,Indian Wireless Market,IP Strategy,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Messaging,Microsoft Mobile,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile TV,Mobile Usability,Mobile Users,Mobile Wallet,Music Player,MVNO,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far


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Global Wireless Markets continued to grow rapidly especially in India and China where the carriers are adding over 9M new subscriptions every month. India crossed the 300M subscription mark in Aug while China whizzed past 600M in September. Overall, the global subscriptions penetration edged past 50%. During the 1H 2008, revenues further tilted towards data services. The overall global mobile revenues (including equipment) for the year are likely to reach the 1 Trillion dollar landmark later this year (enough to bailout an economy or two), with approximately $800 billion attributed to service revenues. Data revenues now account for almost 20% of the global service revenues.

For some leading operators, data is now contributing close to 40% of the revenues however increase in data ARPU is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU for most operators. From the true and tested SMS messaging to the new services such as Mobile Advertising, Social Networking, Commerce, Mobile Wallet, and others, different services helped in adding billions to the revenues generated for 1H 2008. Japan remains the envy of the global markets and the nation to study and learn from w.r.t. new services and applications. The US market expanded its lead over Japan in mobile data service revenues for the year and is unlikely to cede ground in the months to come.

Buoyed by the global launch of iPhone, Apple is likely to eclipse the 10M goal in Q308. Its App-Store launch along with Android’s imminent arrival dominated the news. Other manufacturers also introduced challengers to iPhone, most notably, Instinct by Samsung on the Sprint network which has also been quite successful in getting users to engage in data services.

WiMAX vs. LTE debate took over the EV-DO vs. WCDMA chatter and while majority of the industry is consolidating around LTE; open-platform advocates are watching the arrival of WiMAX in the US with great interest. Google, Sprint, Motorola, TWC, Comcast and others put new life into the experiment called Clearwire.

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.

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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

New Book: Enterprise Mobility: Applications, Technologies and Strategies August 24, 2008

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Enterprise Mobility: Applications, Technologies and Strategies

IOS Press

Chapter Contribution

“Enterprise mobile product strategy using scenario planning”


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Each year, we work on strategies and product plans for our clients around the world that end up touching millions of consumers worldwide and do behind-the-scenes research, due-diligence, and analysis work on several critical deals and transactions that move our industry forward. But, rarely do we talk or write about them, due to obvious reasons.

However, last year, I got an opportunity to briefly write about some of the strategy work. On the request of Dr. Basole at Georgia Tech, my colleague Sami Muneer (Sr. Director, Enabling Solutions at SAP – responsible for all things mobile) and I drew from some of the long-term strategy and product planning work we had done for SAP to put together a paper on “Enterprise mobile product strategy using scenario planning.” SAP is the leading global enterprise player and their view of the world is both comprehensive and long-term. It was a privilege to work with their global team on the project.

Our paper is being published as a chapter in the just released book “Enterprise Mobility: Applications, Technologies and Strategies” (IOS Press, Amsterdam. 272 pages, Editor R. Basole, 2008) as part of The Tennenbaum Institute Series on Enterprise Systems. The chapter is also being published in the special issue of peer-reviewed International Knowledge Systems Management (IKSM) journal published by Georgia Tech.

The book is a collection of 13 chapters from academics and practitioners in enterprise mobility. I often use scenario planning techniques when doing long-term strategic assessment and forecasting. In this chapter, we hope to provide a framework for scenario planning in mobile that can go across verticals, applications, and services.

You can download the chapter here.

IKSM is making available all the chapters online (for free) if you register for a free one year subscription.

For those interested in reading the paper copy can order the book here.

Book Introduction

As the number of enterprises using mobile ICT increases, it becomes imperative to have a more complete understanding of what value and impact enterprise mobility has, what drives and enables it, and in what ways it can and will transform the nature and practices of work, organizational cultures, business processes, supply chains, enterprises, and potentially entire markets. Enterprise mobility is therefore a topic of great interest to both scholars and practitioners. Enterprise Mobility: Researching a new paradigm aims to contribute to and extend both our theoretical and practical understanding of enterprise mobility by exploring the necessary strategic, technological, and economic considerations, adoption and implementation motivators and inhibitors, usage contexts, social implications, human-centered design issues, support requirements, and transformative impacts. The main objective is to discuss applications, technologies, strategies, theories, frameworks, contexts, case studies, and analyses that provide insights into the growing reality of enterprise mobility for scholars and practicing managers. This volume contains thirteen articles from leading scholars and practitioners and includes an examination of the changing nature of work, work practices, and the work environment; a discussion of critical enablers of enterprise mobility; authors exploring strategic considerations; and insightful case studies of enterprise mobility across multiple domains. Together, the articles explore enterprise mobility across the entire continuum.

Enterprise mobile product strategy using scenario planning

Author(s): Sami Muneer and Chetan Sharma

The Mobile industry is changing at a rapid pace and so is the behavior of enterprise workforce which uses mobile technologies. When planning for a long-term product roadmap, one has to consider a myriad of evolution trends and forecasts to determine the probable list of product functionality and their introduction timing in the lifecycle of the product. One has to look at the technology trends by market, the competitive landscape, and the mobile worker adoption trends. However, one can only come up with a prioritized list of capabilities by taking into context the company’s own core competencies, skill sets, and overall mission. This paper looks at how mobile product companies can use scenario-planning methodology to formulate their product strategy and roadmap.

The listing of the chapters is as follows:

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

US Wireless Data Market Update – Q2 2008 August 10, 2008

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The US wireless data market grew 40% in Q208 compared to Q207 to reach $8.2B in data revenues. The total for 2008 stands at $15.7B for the first six months, 38% higher than the total for the same time period in 2007. The news of Alltel acquisition, iPhone 3G, and the flat rate pricing wars dominated the news. Though the infatuation for iPhone was a few degrees lower, Apple managed to keep the device front and center of the news cycles. US again exceeded Japan in mobile data service revenues for the quarter and the market is on track to reach $34B in data revenues for 2008.

Global update

          More details in our worldwide wireless data market update in our Global Wireless Data Market Update Sept 2008.

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

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

Interview with Ravi Venkatesan – Chairman, Microsoft India August 5, 2008

Posted by chetan in : BRIC,Enterprise Mobility,Indian Wireless Market,Mergers and Acquisitions,Microsoft Mobile,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

Innovating from, for and with India is our mantra.

PiTech is the premier technology magazine for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) alums and community. I had the opportunity to interview Ravi Venkatesan – Chairman, Microsoft India for the July 2008 issue of PiTech that celebrates 50 years of IIT Bombay. Below is the interview in its entirety.

You can read the entire issue here.



Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt. Ltd.

Ravi Venkatesan, Chairman, Microsoft India is responsible for Microsoft’s marketing, operational and business development efforts in the country. In partnership with the leaders of Microsoft’s other business units, Venkatesan provides a single point of leadership for the company, playing an integral role in defining Microsoft’s relationship with policy makers, customers and business partners across Microsoft’s six distinct business units in India namely: Microsoft Corporation India (Pvt) Ltd, the Marketing Subsidiary, Microsoft India Development Center, Microsoft Global Technical Support Centre, Microsoft Global Development Center India, Microsoft Global Services India and Microsoft Research India.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Venkatesan worked for over seventeen years with Cummins Inc, a US-based designer, manufacturer and distributor of engines and related technologies. He served in various leadership capacities at Cummins including Chairman of Cummins India Limited and Managing Director of Tata Cummins Limited, a joint venture between Cummins Inc. and Tata Motors. His biggest contribution at Cummins was leading the transformation of Cummins in India into the leading provider of power solutions and the largest manufacturer of automotive engines in the country.

Venkatesan has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (1985), an MS in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University (1986) and a MBA from Harvard University (1992) where he was a Baker Scholar. Ravi was awarded Purdue University’s Outstanding  Industrial  Engineer  award  for  the  year 2000  and  the Distinguished  Alumnus  award  by  the  Indian  Institute  of Technology in  2003.

Venkatesan is a member of the Executive Council of NASSCOM, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a Director on the Board of Thermax Ltd and a member of the Advisory Council of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and IIIT-Bangalore. He has contributed frequently to the Harvard Business Review and some of his articles include, “Strategic Sourcing – to Make or Not to Make” and “The Strategy that Wouldn’t Travel.”

His interests include reading, travel, classical music and philanthropy.

~ ~ ~

What are some of the problems that our industry hasn’t solved? What’s holding us back?

At first, in many ways India is the centre of the IT world today and the credit only goes to the huge amount of talent that we have. However, for all the expertise that we have in IT, there is a huge underserved market in India.

The IT uptake in the domestic market has been limited. With all the challenges that lie ahead of us as a nation, are it access to education, or market access for small business or even transparency and accountability in governance, technology has the potential to solve these but we have never really applied ourselves to it. We have largely focused our energies on the global market.

The fact remains, for India to continue the economic growth it has seen in the last three years, it is imperative for us to work towards addressing these issues.

What are the key ingredients of a strategy to outsmart competition?

The only way to stay ahead in the game is to focus on the customer. You have to hear and concentrate on the spoken and unspoken needs of consumer. Take for instance the success Apple has enjoyed with iPod. It’s not a technological innovation but a brilliant execution of an innate need of a customer, connecting the device and the online music service, which had never been clearly articulated. Much like the Walkman a few decades ago. Or X Box live. We realized people were not looking to just enjoy the game in their living rooms but also wanted to play with the best of the best, whoever they may be and anywhere they may be. And in addressing that need, we were able to close the gap on Sony.

How can technology companies better understand the needs of customers?

If we can balance the obsession with our products with an obsession for our customers and really listen to them, and listen to them not only before the sale but even post the sale, it will make all the difference.

Simplistic as it may sound, it all boils down to be less internally focused and ensure our people are walking in the shoes of our customers.

How do you see PC computing evolving over the next 5-10 years?

If you look at the emerging new world of work and lifestyle, an always connected environment where users want to access data from wherever and at any time, one can safely talk about the emergence of non PC devices as the center piece of the digital era.

Likewise as technology is increasingly deployed for the next five billion and we think about enabling people in various scenarios, one will have to innovate to enable access for them. That will lead to evolution in the modality of interaction.

For instance, we will need to address issues of language and literacy, which means changes in text user interfaces, vision and speech recognition. Essentially, the devices will be more intelligent. Not only will they recognize our voice, but they’ll recognize our intent, take intelligent actions and follow commands. This means display technology will also have to evolve quite dramatically Concepts like surface computing, automotive computing and mobile computing will really become a big-big phenomenon.

Another interesting dimension will be the integration of TV software & PC software for connected-home consumer experiences across devices. IPTV will become pervasive with the integration of end-to-end multimedia and video solutions.

Needless to say, all of this will be accompanied by a fundamental re-architecting of the microprocessor. As per Moore’s law, multi-core computers will play a vital role in ushering in supercomputing.

What are some of the key “big-picture” initiatives at Microsoft?

As we all know, there are Two India’s. One is the global corporate India which is every bit as sophisticated as any other company globally. As productive, efficient and technology savvy as anyone else. And we see ourselves as partners to them and in their growth.

Then there is the other India, to be precise 2/3rd of it which is at the risk of being left behind. Ironically at one level technology can be the divider. But it is also pretty much the most significant bridge to ensure an inclusive socio economic growth for the underserved India.

Over the last couple of years the focus has intensified in three areas and is aligned with the overall national agenda:

At first Investment in human capital both by way of education and skills has been and will continue to be a key focus area. IT is key, both as a subject of study and as the key facilitator in providing affordable access to education and skills.

Secondly, as we work towards addressing the unique scenarios of our country, it is obvious we and the entire ecosystem will need to innovate. We have to create a relevant enabling environment and that requires innovation at all levels.

Last but not the least it is important to sustain the current growth of the Indian economy and create appropriate jobs and opportunities for the growing young population of our country. Again IT plays a dual role of both as a facilitator and a key provider.

And in this commitment to realize the “Unlimited Potential”, we run several initiatives in the country such as:

Project Shiksha for accelerating IT literacy and enhancing the classroom environment among government schools across the country. We have already covered over 1,10,000 school teachers and impacted the lives of over 4 million students.

Project Bhasha for promoting local language computing wherein we have tried to break down one of the barriers by providing local language interface packs for Microsoft products in 14 Indian languages.

Project Jyoti which provides lifelong learning for adults in rural communities especially women through Community Technology Learning Centers. Run in partnership with NGOs we have already impacted the lives of several women who in many instances have now become bread earners for their families or simply gained social esteem and confidence and are leading examples for women’s empowerment in their communities.

Project Vikas to enhance the global competitiveness of the SMEs by IT enablement. Run in partnership with the national manufacturing council it entails a five year action plan to help the Indian SMEs address their ‘soft’ challenges of market access, knowledge networks and enablement of supply chain linkages in the cluster ecosystem. We have successfully seen the first phase of deployment in three sectors: Tripur (textiles), Pune (auto components) and Ahmedabad (pharmaceuticals)

In addition to all the innovative work we do at our own business units, we also work with the Indian SI, ISV and developer community to build a robust software product ecosystem in India. We are engaged with them to support them on quality, technology roadmap, business skills and mentoring, venture capital funding and provide all the end to end tools to become commercially successful. It is towards our quest of ‘Made in India’ software.

But at all times we are aware of the need to deliver affordable PC solutions and that is central to our India mission of building a digitally inclusive society. So over and above the special licensing for the government and academic community, we have in place a ‘Good-Better-Best’ segment approach. Essentially, different SKUs with different levels of functionality and therefore differentiated prices. Good example is Windows Vista Starter Edition, specially designed to spur PC usage in India it is the lowest cost Microsoft offering available today.

Or innovative models of delivery, such as the “pay-as-you-go” business model enabled by our flex go technology. It uses the familiarity and flexibility of prepaid mobile phones and applies it to personal computer, bringing down the entry barrier of costs for PC ownership.

Like I have said before, Innovation is key. Innovation in product, business models, solutions and services.

What technology (ies) is Microsoft building specifically for India?

India is the only subsidiary outside of the US where Microsoft has an end-to-end presence of its entire product lifecycle right from research to product development to support. The large talent pool is naturally empathetic to the needs and problems of our fellow citizens. Therefore we can explore various technology, tools, solutions and services which are relevant not just to India but all emerging markets. As a result we are ‘Inspired by India’ we therefore we ‘Innovate for India’.

Take the example of Microsoft Research India. It is one of the premier industrial research labs globally and as of March 2007, MSR India had already published more than 60 papers in leading international journals and conferences. While it focuses in areas including Cryptography, Security, Digital Geographics, Mobility and Multilingual Systems, it is the work they do for Emerging Markets is very heart warming.

Take MultiPoint – a simple yet powerful technology which will enable multiple children to share a single PC using multiple mice. For the purposes of primary education, it can multiply the benefit of a single computer by three, four, five, or more.

Equally inspiring is Digital StudyHall (DSH), an independent research project primarily supported by Microsoft Research, which aims to overcome both the problems of staff shortage and availability of standardized study material among underserved communities.

Simply put, it records and distributes DVDs of subject classes led by India’s best grassroots teachers. Underserved areas can access the DSH database via DVDs, while areas that are more developed will be able to access the content via the Internet.

Some other areas it is working on and very relevant to scenarios like India is Text Free User Interface to overcome the language barrier or the Split Screen UIs to multiply benefits for small businesses.

The Microsoft development centre which does end to end product development for Microsoft globally and contributes significantly to all our products, is also incubating technologies which will make computing more, far more intuitive and integrated with entertainment and therefore more compelling and more affordable.

How does India help Microsoft in the Asian markets, Global markets?

India is amongst the fastest growing markets for Microsoft both from a talent perspective and from a market perspective and it’s no surprise that we are contributing significantly to the revenues and product innovation at Microsoft corp. Our contributions are immense.

Microsoft Research, with over 50 people, is one of the premier industrial research labs globally and as of March 2007, MSR India had already published more than 60 papers in leading international journals and conferences. It focuses in six areas including Cryptography, Security, and Algorithms; Digital Geographics; Mobility Networks, and Systems, Multilingual Systems, rigorous software engineering and emerging markets and is committed to advancing the state of the art computer science research in India. It partners with a number of educational and research institutions in India and abroad to push forward the boundaries of scientific research.

The Microsoft India Development Center (MSIDC) at Hyderabad is fully integrated with the key product families of Microsoft and is the second largest MS software development center outside Redmond. It has more than 1300 employees working on over 50 products and technologies for the global Microsoft portfolio.

Team here have end-to-end responsibility on projects and cover all aspects of software development – Development, Testing and Program Management. Teams work collaboratively with Redmond on future releases of products and are constantly innovating to enhance the user experience. MSIDC is a leader in creating intellectual property from India and has filed for over 130 patents in the last two years.

The Global technical support centre, Microsoft IT and the Global consulting and services centre are also based out of India and are supporting global customers for Microsoft and contributing significantly to Microsoft revenues.

Innovating from, for and with India is our mantra.

New Paper: Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018 July 11, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,CTIA,Intellectual Property,Japan Wireless Market,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,MVNO,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018

Bellagio, Italy. July 13 – Aug 1, 2008

This project has been made possible by the generous funding from THE UNITED


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This weekend in Bellagio, Italy begins a 4 week long dialogue on the subject of eHealth. The Conference – Making the eHealth Connection: Global Partnerships, Local solutions is being organized by the eminent Rockefeller Foundation. It will bring in experts and organizations from around the world to discuss, share, develop, agree on solutions going forward. Each week deals with a different nuance of the eHealth framework. This will allow for an in-depth study and discussion. Full conference info here.

Week 3 deals with mHealth and Mobile Telemedicine being organized by The UN Foundation, Vodafone Group Foundation, and the Telemedicine Society of India. As part of this conference The Rockefeller Foundation and its partners have released a series of white papers on various subjects. I was asked by The UN Foundation to look into the potential Mobile Services Evolution going forward and how a platform could be developed that will enable a number of applications focused on enterprise, health, public safety and associated sub-segments. While it is difficult to predict with any precision what might happen 10 years from now, one can try to understand the evolution of technologies, business models and their interrelated ecosystems and see the impact on various vertical segments where we use technology to solve some basic problems. Most of the time, technology itself doesn’t cut it, it requires partnerships, collapsing of the bureaucracy, innovative funding means, and just the burning desire to make a difference that matter the most. I strongly believe in Mobile’s central role in a number of social and public services. Mobile Services Evolution 2008-2018 is a small effort to forward that discussion.


Over the last 10 years, the progress made in the global mobile industry has been truly stunning. Mobile device ownership has gone from being a luxury item to necessity as the feverish rate of adoption has spread mobile technologies into every corner of the world. As we look into the next 10 years, it is certain that the mobile phone will be used for much more than just voice communications. There is an opportunity for private institutions and public enterprises to build a vision of cohesive mobile services platform that enables and engages the masses to both fundamentally enhance the quality of their daily existence as well as lead to new opportunities globally. This paper takes a look at the potential evolution of mobile technology and services over the course of the next 10 years and discusses an M-Services framework for building and deploying diverse mobile services. The paper also looks into the challenges of such an endeavor and steps that will be needed to achieve the vision.

Table of Content


Abstract 3
Introduction 4
Mobile device: The Remote control of our lives 5
Mobile Technology Evolution 2008-2018 7
Deployment and adoption of mobile technologies in the developing countries 9
Mobile Services Platform 10
What does it take to make it happen? 15
Conclusions and Recommendations 18


Download Complete Paper – PDF

Thanks to THE UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION for making this work possible. I will be presenting the paper at the conference later this month.

Your feedback is always welcome.


Chetan Sharma

NY Times Article: Apple Aims for the Masses With a Cheaper iPhone June 10, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,Carriers,Smart Phones,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

This article by John Markoff appears in today’s NY Times. I think Apple has done a pretty good job with the 3G iPhone launch. Steve Jobs is quite pragmatic and adjusts his strategy based on real data. Changing

the business model and pricing is testament to that.


Kimberly White/Reuters

Images from a Major League Baseball game were shown on an iPhone during Steven P. Jobs’s speech on Monday, when he revealed a new model of the phone, priced as low as $199.

Apple Aims for the Masses With a Cheaper iPhone



Published: June 10, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Steven P. Jobs, chief executive of Apple, introduced a new cheaper iPhone model that navigates the Internet more quickly, expanded its distribution overseas and displayed a range of new applications and services in order to establish Apple as a major player in the cellphone industry.

Apple, the maker of consumer electronics and computer equipment, had set a goal of selling 10 million iPhones in 2008, which would establish it as one of the major smartphone makers in the less than two years since it began shipping the original iPhone. Apple has sold six million phones globally since its introduction.

Analysts said that Mr. Jobs, one of the world’s best product marketers, had largely accomplished what he set out to do and they welcomed the moves he outlined in a presentation before software developers on Monday.

“This is the phone that has changed phones forever,” Mr. Jobs said.

Mr. Jobs said the new iPhone 3G, to be available in the United States through AT&T beginning on July 11, will sell for $199 for the 8-gigabyte model and $299 for a 16-gigabyte model. He said the biggest barrier to people buying the phone had been price.

Analysts and industry executives said they believed the lower prices would bring in new consumers who had been put off by its $399 price. “The price is clearly correct,” said Mike McGuire, a research vice president at Gartner, a market research firm based in San Jose, Calif.

As widely anticipated, the phone will run on so-called 3G wireless networks that allow much faster Internet connections than the original iPhone. During a 110-minute presentation, Mr. Jobs went to some lengths to compare the speed of the new iPhone 3G to the current phone and to rival phones like the Nokia N95 and the Palm Treo 750. He called downloads “amazingly zippy.”

The phone, sleeker than the original, will also have built-in Global Positioning System capability to allow location-based services. It will also have a longer battery life in some cases, five hours for talking on the 3G network and 24 hours for playing music on the phone.

The announcements came on the opening day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, where several developers showed off software that turned the iPhone into a game console and a musical instrument. Others demonstrated programs that used the phone’s ability to locate its users on a map.

At one point during his demonstration, Mr. Jobs showed a tracking feature making it possible to watch on a Google map as an iPhone user drove down Lombard Street, the twisty tourist attraction in San Francisco.

Mr. Jobs also indirectly challenged Microsoft with a mobile Web service call MobileMe, intended to permit a user to synchronize a phone, calendar and contact information on the iPhone and multiple devices including PCs and other iPhones. The service, which will costs $99 a year and comes with 20 gigabytes of data storage, is similar to a service offered by Microsoft.

Apple’s obstacle in offering the new service is that its competitors, like Google, offer similar services for less. Google offers 10 gigabytes of e-mail storage for $20 a year.

Apple announced that it would begin selling the iPhone in 70 countries this summer; the current phone is being sold in six countries.

“Given the feature set, ecosystem partners, launch countries and the pricing of the iPhone, they are likely to hit the 10 million mark by September-October,” said Chetan Sharma, an independent consultant on the wireless data communications industry.

The company, based in Cupertino, Calif., announced on Monday in a regulatory filing that it would sell the 3G phones under different business arrangements in the United States. In the past, Apple shared service plan revenue with AT&T and other cellular firms. The second-generation iPhone will be sold without the recurring revenue streams and without the exclusivity arrangements it was previously able to command.

While trying to convince cellular carriers around the world that they should carry the iPhone, Apple realized that it needed to change the financial deal that it had with the carriers in the first six countries.

“We’ve changed our business model, from getting a cut of the future revenues to just a more traditional model,” Mr. Jobs said in an interview on Monday. “That’s enabled us to roll out around the world much faster.”

AT&T said it would subsidize the phones to attract consumers. Under the plan, unlimited iPhone 3G data plans for consumers will be available for $30 a month, in addition to voice plans starting at $40. Business users will be charged $45 a month for data.

By giving back the revenue to the carriers, which they may use for subsidies, Apple is hoping to dramatically increase its volume, as well as sell more Macintosh computers to iPhone users.

“It’s not about the iPhone,” said Charles Wolf, a financial analyst at Needham & Company. “There’s a tradeoff that Apple is making. The iPhone halo effect will be far more powerful than the iPod halo effect was. It’s going to stimulate Mac sales among iPhone users.”

Damon Darlin contributed reporting.

CTIA Wireless 2008 Roundup April 4, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,CTIA,Devices,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,International Trade,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,M&A,Mergers and Acquisitions,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile TV,MVNO,Smart Phones,Speaking Engagements,Speech Recognition,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 3 comments

CTIA Wireless 2008 Roundup


The Sin City hosted CTIA Wireless 2008 earlier this week. On Wednesday morning, just before leaving for the convention center, I caught some portion of Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony on the US economy woes. Few minutes later, strolling the show floor, talking to various companies, and hearing the keynotes, it seemed like I was on a different planet. Either someone failed to deliver the memo or the wireless industry is resilient enough to weather the turmoil in the financial and housing markets with some ease. The show was bigger with more attendees, the booths were returning to their glamorous heydays of the past, and the general buzz and energy at the show all seem to indicate the industry is going to do just fine and is primed for further growth. The general themes were around open network and access, user experience, and bandwidth.

This note summarizes our impressions from the show.

CTIA Wireless in Pictures

First let’s do the numbers: CTIA released their semi-annual statistics on the US market. In summary: For 2007, $23B in data revenues, 2 trillion in MOU, $139B in total service revenues, 48B txt messages/month. (We released our US Market and Global Market updates last month)

Keynotes: In terms of style, Sir Richard Branson stole the show with his pompous exuberance and pep talk (the talk of imaginary flight to Mars was hilarious; investors in Microgin and Viroo must be upset). For substance, Marco Boerries, President, Yahoo Mobile gave a nice compact overview of Yahoo initiatives and products in the market which are pretty darn good. (Marco wrote an opinion piece for our Mobile Advertising Book – “The future of Advertising is in the Consumers’ Pockets”). Yahoo has sewn together a number of deals worldwide that gives them a potential reach of over 600M users.

Vodafone is one operator which has been quite vocal in stating its positions on future infrastructure roadmap and data opportunities. Arun Sarin is probably the only CEO of major global operator who has publicly stated that Mobile Advertising will constitute a significant portion of their revenues in the coming days (Arun’s point person on the initiative Richard Saggers also wrote an opinion piece for our book “Opportunities for Mobile Advertising.” Let me know if you are interested in reading these two opinion pieces).

Microsoft’s Robbie Bach had the tough task of following the Branson-fest. He announced the arrival of a full-blown browser (finally!) for windows mobile. Also, the new windows mobile device from Sony Ericsson (Xperia) looks pretty darn cool. FCC Chairman Martin announced the rejection of Skype petition on the carterphone principle (to Skype’s dismay, it was not an April fool’s joke). Clearly, the definition of “open” is in the eye of the beholder. It means different things to different people. It has also been clear from the various activities and keynotes that the industry is trying its utmost to remain a “Self-regulated” industry and stay away from the clutches of eager politicians.

Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless conducted a panel with CEOs from Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Nortel and probed them on the 4G migration path, trends in applications and services, and contrasts in adoption and introduction of new technology in various parts of the world. Final day was marked by what is now becoming a trend – keynotes from politicians. This time around Sen. Edwards and Sen. Thompson graced the podium.

Mobile Advertising: In talking with numerous players in the value chain from small developers to large operators to ad networks to media companies, the impression was that things have matured over the last six months. It was gratifying to hear that some companies are adopting strategies and recommendations we propose in our book. Still, some of the basic problems remain – majority of the inventory remain unsold indicating weak demand, CPM rates are still over-rated though they are starting to come down, and fragmentation continues to remain an issue.

The good news is that the size of the mobile campaign budgets are getting bigger with several seven figure RFPs floating around. While some companies are still trying to throw a lot at the wall in the hope that something sticks, others are maturing as companies and are more focused in their positioning and product roadmaps. Integration of various channels is starting to appear on the horizon and the integration with the publishers is becoming tighter. The issue of measurement and auditing standards remains a big issue and unfortunately not much progress to report. There are carrier initiatives and various industry bodies are taking the challenge to rally the ecosystem, but, frankly, consolidation of such efforts is necessary, we can’t afford yet another layer of fragmentation in an already complex ecosystem.

We were interviewed on Mobile Advertising prior to the show by several publications. Some of the articles were published this week to coincide with CTIA

Wireless Wave (CTIA)Moving Targets: Mobile marketing reaches consumers on their terms by Lynn Thorne

BrandWeekMobile Marketing – Fantasy vs. Reality by Ken Hein

Wall Street JournalPersonalized promotions: Sending the right ads to your phone – Peggy Anne Salz

NFC: There were many more NFC-enabled devices on display this time and vendors were talking and demoing NFC and Biometrics based payment solutions. While there are handsets on the roadmap, this market is still very nascent in North America and Western Europe.

Inspiration: The inspiration for new and creative services still comes (at least for yours truly) from Japan (and Korea). I love spending time in DoCoMo’s booth for it gives a glimpse into what’s to come. No other company better understands the development of devices, services and applications that overlay on lifestyles than DoCoMo (e.g. a wellness handset that is a pedometer, heart rate monitor, body and bad breath monitor and yes, you can make voice calls too). They view wireless air-interfaces as nothing more than enablers to solutions that enhance daily lives. Various device manufacturers also displayed some really cool devices. The quality and diversity of handsets that have been introduced into the global markets over the last four quarters is just astonishing. The cycle of innovation and time-to-market keeps on accelerating.

Femto Cells: A number of players like Airwalk, Airvana, and others are bringing Femto cell solutions to the market and carriers are starting to pull this into their strategy as well and look forward to deployments beyond the trials.

4G: LTE vs. WiMAX (vs. UMB): Since the decision of Vodafone and Verizon to support LTE, UMB has been disappearing from the discussion. The 4G discussion is convulsing around LTE and WiMAX now (though Nortel did indicate its support TD-SCDMA as a 4G candidate). Without a doubt the operator community is rallying behind LTE and there might be an opportunity to finally converge to a single standard (haven’t we seen this movie before) but frankly, the advances in silicon to integrate multiple radios has made the standards debate less relevant. WiMAX has forced acceleration of LTE standardization process but is starting to lose its time (and cost) advantage. All eyes are on Sprint’s XOHM business rollouts in the coming days and months.

Accessories: I have never seen so many accessory and reseller outfits at a CTIA show. Business must be booming.

Best Booth: Thought there were several good layouts, LG and Samsung continue to impress with their creativity and “art of marketing.”

Developer and Publisher woes: Along with John Philips (Astraware) and Peter Baldwin (Cellmania), I helped facilitate a few developer session at the Mobile Jam Session organized by WIP. The issues of distribution, discovery, and monetization remain challenging for the small developers worldwide. Even with million user base, they are finding it difficult to monetize but we did discuss a number of success stories. The core elements of success that emerged from the discussion were: choosing the right market, embedding viral component into everything you throw out there, there is no room for mediocrity, and personalizing and customizing go a long way to get traction. An interesting tidbit: the number of page views for mobile MySpace app is a magnitude higher on off-deck vs. ondeck. Several of the companies are trying mobile advertising with varying degrees of success. After spending 4 hours with the developers, I sat on a carrier panel discussing mobile advertising. The contrast between the two worlds was so apparent. Clearly, more needs to be done to help both sides understand each other a bit better.

Green CTIA: There is a stronger emphasis on recycling and contributing to save the environment. The show itself is a big resource hog, so every bit helps.

Alternate Mobile Devices: The universe of alternate devices is expanding. Companies are buying wholesale data packages from the operators and integrating broadband chipsets into hardware to do digital signage (ICG), M2M (Sensorlogic), PND and much more. The definition of being “mobile” keeps on changing.

On Being “Open”: Obviously, given the recent activity around openness, getting a penny for each time the word was uttered by a speaker would have paid off for a lifetime of CTIA trips. While talk is cheap, demonstrable progress is being made by the likes Yahoo, Apple (btw, 3G iPhone is on its way), and AOL.

Another MVNO experiences turmoil: Movida – a Spanish focused MVNO which has garnered almost 300K subs filed for chapter 11.

Voice is becoming mainstream: With the product launches from Nuance, SpinVox, Vlingo, Jott, Yahoo, and many others, voice based navigation and its tighter integration with data services is becoming mainstream.

Where are the opportunities? Last week, I was moderating a panel with executives from AOL Mobile, T-Mobile, Motricity, and Formotus and the themes that emerged were around platform play, user experience, and productivity. At CTIA, in addition to these areas, there was a lot of discussion around social networking (though the market is being saturated with the MoSo noise). It is also clear that we are moving into the phase of “aggregation of fragmentation” with initiatives from Yahoo, AOL, and Google dominating the landscape.

Home Screen Effect: I have been talking about using the home screen for driving data usage for the last 8 years. I think we will see good innovation this year on that front starting with Yahoo’s One Platform. There are several other initiatives in the works where operators and OEMs will be deploying frameworks and technologies to bring information to a “click-less” idle screen environment.

Overall, no major news but industry stays vibrant, healthy, and exciting.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

US Wireless Market Update – 4Q07 and 2007 March 10, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,AORTA,BRIC,Carriers,Devices,European Wireless Market,India,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,M&A,Mergers and Acquisitions,Microsoft Mobile,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Mobile TV,Mobile Usability,MVNO,Smart Phones,Strategy,US Wireless Market,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

US Wireless Market Update – 4Q07 and 2007

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The US wireless data market grew 55% in 2007 ending the year with $24.5 billion in data services revenues with 4Q yielding $6.9B. 2007 also saw significant industry milestones like: iPhone launch, US crossing 250 million subscriptions, 3G penetration in the US touching 25% subscriber base, consternation around 700 MHz spectrum auction, MediaFLO launch, Android launch, Nokia crossing 40% market share, WiMAX and Femto Cell trials, and much more. US almost equaled Japan in mobile data service revenues for the year (rounding error and currency fluctuation difference). With several significant launches coming up in 2008, US remains one of the most attractive wireless data markets.

Global update

          More details in our worldwide wireless data market update coming out later this month.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

Mobile Industry Predictions – 2008 January 1, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,BRIC,Carriers,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,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 TV,Mobile Usability,MVNO,Privacy,Smart Phones,Speech Recognition,Unified Messaging,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 9 comments

I never think of future, it comes soon enough – Albert Einstein

First things first. Wish you a very happy and successful 2008.

Before we look at what’s to come, let’s do a quick wrap-up of the year that was.

2007 will clearly be remembered as “the year of iPhone.” While there were several other “events/trends of interest” through-out the year, nothing captured the imagination of the world like the iPhone. It was significant for another big reason – it had a profound impact on the business model and ecosystem dynamics. Q4 2007 was also significant for the deafening roar that resonated around “Openness”.

Steve Ballmer exclaimed mobile to be the next battleground while Eric Schmidt pondered why mobile phones are not free (subsidized by Google ads of course).

Google played its chess game effectively and though it is unlikely to play to win the 700 MHz auction or even if they do win would be able to do anything substantive in the short-term, they did, however, with Android and spectrum gambit, force some of the regulation-wary operators to take a stance on openness. Nokia is putting together a brilliant services strategy that looks to connect directly to the consumer. Competition and coopitition will have a different meaning going forward.

Things were looking positive for WiMAX until the end of the year when Clearwire was left standing on its own. It will look towards Google, Sprint, Motorola, and others to rescue its fate.

Mobile Advertising was hailed as a great savior of mobile content and mobile revenues in general. Blyk even launched an advertising-based MVNO. We made significant headway in energizing the sub segment but the tough problems of privacy, education, control, fragmentation, and user experience remain. LBS picked up steam and mobility started to get into the alternate consumer device universe.

In terms of actual dollars, mobile data market continued its steady growth with substantial shifts in revenue towards non-SMS data applications and services. Several operators are doing $2B/quarter+ in data revenues. Several subscription milestones throughout the year: 3B worldwide, 500M China, 250M US, 225M India. 3G continued to inch towards mass-market in western markets (20-25% penetration) while in Korea and Japan, it was getting hard to find people without 3G (70%+ penetration).

Among other events of significance: Cincinnati Bell and T-Mobile launched UMA devices, Motorola lost its Mojo, Amp’D and Disney Mobile shut down, MediaFLO launched, mCommerce initiatives took hold, China continued to delay 3G, WM got updated, Yahoo cemented some impressive operator deals as GYM got more active in mobile, UMPC fizzled, Mobile Web 2.0 got into the industry physce, LTE got embraced worldwide, M&A galored, IP scuffles continued, Muni projects went into coma, and DRM-adorned content became a thing of the past.

2008 will be a pretty eventful year from several perspectives: business models, user experience and expectations, ecosystem posturing, disruption, and friction. How are things going to shape up? What will be hot and what will fade into oblivion? How will competition shape up the new sub-segments? We put some of the questions to our colleagues in the industry. This survey was a bit different in the sense that the movers and shakers (and folks from the companies discussed here) and industry insiders participated. We were able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments. Participants (n=196) were folks from across the mobile value chain and from around the world.

Many thanks to everyone who participated.


(click for larger image)

Three names were drawn for a copy of our upcoming book “Mobile Advertising” (co-authored with Joe Herzog and Victor Melfi, John Wiley & Sons, 432 pages, Feb 2008).

The winners are:

  1. David Cushman, Director, Emap

  2. Larry Shapiro, VP, Disney, and

  3. Keith Kostuch, SVP, Alltel

Congrats and Thank you.

Now onto the survey analysis.

Figures above and below summarize the responses. We requested respondents to rate the probability of an event happening in 2008 on a scale 1 to 5. 1 being “Not a chance” to 5 being “100% probability” The figure above summarizes the overall probability of the event happening. The figure below provides the breakdown of responses.


1. Will Google introduce a Google Branded Phone in 2008?

Will it? Won’t it? 44.5% gave it a 75% or higher chance of happening while 40% thought it ain’t happening. GPhone is a temptation Google will find hard to resist though a lot will depend on how various initiatives and partnerships shape-up on the ground. In any case, expect another major announcement in the next 2-3 months.

2. Will Google play to win in the 700MHz Spectrum Auction?

Google has played the spectrum chess game effectively. Almost 50% respondents gave it a 75% or higher chance of Google winning the bid. Though expectations are high, Google is unlikely to play to win. Services business is not their cup of tea, they could still fund the Clearwire-Sprint deal but that investment can be spent differently to get better end-results, i.e. mobile ad revenue.

3. Will Microsoft launch its own mobile phone?

Unless Google comes out with GPhone, Microsoft will stay content with its operator distribution strategy. 63% of respondents gave it less than a 25% chance of Microsoft releasing their own phone. If GPhone comes out and gets some traction, expect Microsoft to get its “fast follower” strategy into high gear.

4. Will Mobile Payments get traction in North America and Western Europe?

Only 9% thought it is a sure bet for 2008. True mobile commerce hasn’t really started in the western world. While there are significant movements, 2008 will just be a “lay the groundwork” year for mobile payments.

5. Will WiMAX regroup from its setbacks?

Only 35% gave it a 75% or higher chance (of WiMAX resurrecting itself esp. in the US in 2008). A lot depends on how Mr. Hesse deals with Sprint’s WiMAX business. Indications are there will be a deal with Clearwire to off-load the risks via some external investment (Google?).

6. Will Helio survive 2008?

Almost 70% respondents thought Helio won’t make it. Given the flameout of some of the prominent new-generation MVNOs, it is hard to see how Helio will see 2009. It will all come down to how persistent is SK Telecom. Earthlink doesn’t have the bank balance to keep funding this initiative.

7. Will Verizon truly open-up its garden for third-party visitations?

Only 5% thought it is a sure bet for 2008. Verizon’s open posturing was more to ward off any regulators and to improve its image. There is unlikely to be any meaningful progress on this front this year.

8. Will 2008 be the inflection year for Mobile Advertising?

42% gave Mobile Advertising a 75% or higher chance for rapid growth. Market will mature, more consolidation, some privacy gaffes but overall things are looking up for mobile advertising.

9. Will Femto-Cells gain any significant momentum in 2008?

It will be an introduction and experimentation year, so no significant traction is expected. Over 52% thought Femto-Cells will be just a buzz word in 2008.

10. Will Nokia be able to extract iPhone-style rev-share from carriers in 2008?

Less than 20% thought Nokia will be able to do an Apple when it comes to rev-share arrangements. For OEMs, going direct to the consumers was considered treachery to the sacrosanct relationship with the operators. Until Apple showed up with iPhone. Now, Nokia is putting its services strategy in motion and is building a direct relationship with the consumers worldwide and it has a good shot at pulling it off though it will be a long haul.

11. Will Palm survive 2008?

Only 8% gave it a 100% chance of surviving 08 as an independent entity. It will be difficult for Palm to stay in a status-quo mode. They desperately need a hit device that can give them some breathing room.  Given all the operational and strategic problems the company is having, a sale is likely.

12. Will iPhone truly open up?

Over 45% thought iPhone won’t open-up in any meaningful way. Apple has built-up one of the most profitable closed empires in the digital world. Are they about open things up? While the iPhone SDK is scheduled for early 08, don’t hold your breath on accessing the critical native APIs.

13. Will there be more unsubsidized devices introduced in the US market in 2008?

Almost 49% thought we are likely to see another unsubsidized device in the US market this year. Nokia is looking to go direct and some GSM handset manufacturers are likely to entertain the idea of testing the market with unsubsidized devices.

14. Will Mobile TV move the needle in 2008?

Almost 70% thought mobile TV won’t make much of a difference in 08.Though AT&T is slated to introduce MediaFLO to join Verizon in the Mobile TV services market, lack of devices and better pricing models will hinder wide adoption in 2008. However, downloadable video and VOD content will experience significant growth.

15. Will Android make a dent in handset shipments in 2008?

Only 15% gave it a more than 75% chance this year. It is going to take some time for Android plans to mature and materialize. Don’t see any material impact in 08.

Of course, 15 questions can’t cover the whole industry. As pointed out our respondents, there are a number of other issues and opportunities that will shape the ecosystem – Rise of Facebook as social networking OS for mobile (social networking as a whole starts to go mobile), LBS beyond navigation, Rev-share shuffles, Chinese OEM start to become prominent in the western world, China and India continue to dominate in net-adds, Mobile device security becomes a nightmare for corporate IT, Consumers wake up to mobile privacy snafus and risks, Will Android spread its tentacles beyond nicheosphere, 3G iPhone, Does China Olympics hold any surprises for the mobile industry? Launch of projection handsets, NFC handsets, IMS .. and much much more ..

All in all, consternation and debate will continue into 2008. We will analyze, dissect, and report as events unfold in the new year.

Look forward to the continuing dialogue and meeting with you in person.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma