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Vancouver Mobile Breakfast Series Recap: Mobile Commerce and Payments April 16, 2015

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Mobile 2015, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Future Forward, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

We hosted our second event of the year in Vancouver (our first in Canada) earlier this week and had a great time. I have been going to Vancouver for 20+ years and have been thinking about doing something north of the border. It is also one of my favorite cities in the world. By strange coincidence, all 3 of our MBS cities outside Seattle have been Olympic cities – Atlanta, London, and now Vancouver. I guess we will have to go to Beijing or Seoul next.

With the help of my good friend Pankaj Agarwal and his team at Optimus Information and Wavefront, we were able to plan out a sold-out event. We continued the theme of Mobile Commerce and Payments given that it is such a hot topic right now and brought together three startup CEOs who are right in the middle of the action.

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The mobile ecosystem is evolving exactly we envisioned it in our 4th wave paper in 2012. The 4th wave is becoming the most dominant portion of the revenue stream as was witnessed from the revenue results in 2014 in the US.

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As I have said before in various public forums, one of the metrics I use to track progress in any segment is the number of $1B businesses being created each year. In 2012, there were only 9 companies mostly large enterprises like AT&T, Apple, Google, and Amazon that had > $1B digital businesses. However, in 2014, this number jumped to 37 with several new entrants – from known brands like Twitter, Walmart, and Xiaomi but several companies unknown to the western world like WeChat, FlipKart, Otto Group, GungHo, Suning Appliance, and others. While most of the concentration of digital wealth in the US, China is emerging very strongly as a player to reckon with. In fact, how China and US companies interact and play will perhaps define the next 10 years. While other economies like India, EU will play a role, I find China and US to be the most fascinating.

The speakers were:

Sam Gadodia, CEO & Co-Founder, Lotusflare

Sam co-founded LotusFlare with couple of his colleagues from Facebook with the objective to make mobile internet more accessible across the globe. Prior to LotusFlare, Sam worked at facebook and worked with Mobile Operators’ on SMS, Zero rating and other initiatives to drive growth on FB mobile app. Before this, Sam built and scaled TeleSign, one of the leaders in mobile authentication and verification space. Sam also co-founded and successfully built Global eProcure, a leading SaaS based SCM analytics Company with operation spanning from North America to Asia. While at Global eProcure, he received the Stevie award and was named by American Business Awards as Best Operation Executive.

Michael Gokturk, CEO & Founder, Payfirma

Michael Gokturk is the kind of entrepreneur who takes a company public in 3 years then launches a new business 3 days later. In 2011, Michael founded Payfirma with the goal of disrupting the highly competitive payments market by creating a solution to merge online, in-store and mobile payments. He has since grown Payfirma from the first company to introduce mobile payments in Canada into one of the top multichannel payment platforms. Before Payfirma, Michael founded and was the CEO of Versapay. A payments company specializing in point of sale systems and electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP).

Ajay Hans, CEO and Co-Founder, Mobetize

Ajay Hans, Founder of Alligato Inc. and Co-Founder of Mobetize Corp brings over 15 years of diverse experience in the development, marketing and implementation of complex billing and payment related software technologies dedicated for MNO’s and MVNO’s. Ajay has overseen Mobetizes’ strategic vision and tactical execution since inception. He has held senior executive positions with leading telecom software technology companies where he successfully implemented solutions for brands including SaskTel, Sprint and AT&T.

Chetan Sharma, CEO and Founder, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

The three panelists are involved in advertising, payments, and commerce working with all parts of the value chain – banks, operators, startups, credit card companies, retailers, etc. We had a very interesting discussion that covered a breadth of topics.

The salient points of the session were:

In summary, mobile commerce remains a hot area and we are approaching a tipping point wherein mobile commerce dominates ecommerce in all parts of the world. I really enjoyed the moderation and questions from the audience. My thanks to Optimus Information and Wavefront for being our partners for the event. and thanks to the Vancouver mobile community for embracing us with open arms.

Our next event is going to be in our annual mobile summit – Mobile Future Forward on Sept 29th in Seattle. Stay tuned for announcements and details.

Mobile Patents Landscape - An In-Depth Quantitative Analysis - 4th Ed - 2015 April 1, 2015

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 5G, Intellectual Property, Mobile Patents, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Mobile Patents Landscape 2015

- Fourth Edition

http://www.chetansharma.com/MobilePatentsLandscape_2015.htm

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Highlights

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

· The gap between the number of mobile patents granted in the US vs. Europe widened again. US now accounts for roughly 79% of the mobile patents granted in the two jurisdictions.

· US companies comprise of 48% of the top 50 list followed by Japan, China, and South Korea.

· By the end of 2014, over 26% of all granted patents in the US were mobile related. In 2001, the percentage was 5%. In Europe, roughly 10% of the patents granted were mobile related.

· IBM recaptured its top spot from Samsung to become the leader in mobile patents granted in 2014 in the US while Samsung dominated Europe. Samsung still dominates the overall rankings. Samsung was followed by IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Nokia, Google, Alcatel-Lucent, and Blackbery for the top 10 companies by mobile patent grants in 2014.

· Google was number 5 in mobile patent grants in 2014. Apple was behind at number 8.

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

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

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

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

· The top 5 categories for patents grants in the US for 2014 were Digital Multiplexing, Telecommunications, Digital Processing – Data Transfer, Digital Processing – Financial, and Computer Graphics.

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

· Some of the Chinese companies started to increase their filings substantially. Notable amongst them are: Alibaba, Xiaomi, Mediatek, and Huawei.

· Huawei appeared in the top 10 rankings in Europe for the first time.

· Information security category saw the highest jump in patent filings in 2014.

Introduction

The idea of Intellectual Property (IP) is as old as the debates Aristotle used to have about philosophy and society. All mature civilizations and societies come to appreciate the value in preserving the IP created by its citizen and give the rights to the benefits that such IP creates. IP is enshrined in laws and principles of doing trade and business. It is also how nations outmuscle each other over long periods of time to become dominant economies.

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

Mobile is first computing based technology that will encompass the entire human race and then some. In 2014, the number of cellular connections went past the human population. Additionally, the rise of IoT and Wi-Fi-led usage has meant that the use-cases for mobile and the impact it can have across verticals have exploded. Mobile has outgrown its own universe and now expanded to segments such as health, industrial, retail, education, agriculture, and more. As such, the intellectual property being generated has become very mobile centric. In 2014, the US crossed a major milestone, more than a quarter of the overall patents that were granted had something to do with mobile.

Mobile expertise and by extension the IP is being developed by more companies around the globe beyond the traditional ecosystem players such as Samsung, IBM, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Ericsson. Billion dollar mobile companies are emerging from India, China, and Europe. Africa and Latin America are not far behind. As expected, mobile has removed the artificial boundaries of time and distance and empowered developers across regions. Mobile is also leveling the playing field, increasing the opportunities for entrepreneurs far and wide. A dreamer in Nairobi has as good a shot at success as anyone else in the west.

All the innovation and economic activity has also increased the patent activity around the world. While US remains the leader in terms of overall quality and quantity. China and its companies are starting to flex some muscles on the big stage. In 2014, China went past the European leaders Germany, France to become the 3rdplayer behind US and Japan to file the number of patent applications. While US, Europe, and Japan remain the overall leaders in patents both in quantity and quality; China’s is at the top in terms of growth rate. Amongst the top 3 filers, Huawei and ZTE are from China (Qualcomm was the third player on the list).

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2014, the number of patents granted grew over 8% by the end of 2014 for the same time period. The numbers of foreign filings are now in the majority for both the applications filed as well as the patents granted.

As we look into the mobile related patents, the growth is much more striking. The number of mobile related patents that were granted by the USPTO and the EPO increased significantly over the course of last decade. The US market saw a 440% increase while the European market saw a 71% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that in 2014, for the first time, over a quarter of all patents granted in the US were mobile related. This grew from around 2% in 1991 and 5% in 2001. In Europe, roughly 9% of the patents granted are now related to mobile. Europe saw a decline of 4% in mobile patents in contrast of 16% growth in the US market.

It is also interesting to note that a number of new Asian companies like Mediatek, Alibaba, and Xiaomi have stepped up their IP efforts and substantially increased the filings in the US.

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in May 2015.

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

Mobile World Congress 2015 Recap March 9, 2015

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, 5G, Connected Intelligence Era, Emerging Markets, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Mobile World Congress, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Mobile World Congress 2015 Recap

Barcelona hosted its 10th edition of MWC last week. The beautiful weather in a lovely city provided the perfect setup to pontificate about the future direction of the mobile industry. This note presents the summary of the discussions and the observations from the show.

For a second year in a row, Mark Zuckerberg was the highlight of the show. The crowd and the buzz for his panel was probably more than for rest of the keynotes combined. Last year, Mark introduced the project, this year it was about the progress report. The operators look at Internet players with deep suspicion. The goal of getting more folks online is a shared objective in the industry but there is tension around the business model and the mechanics. Executives from Telenor, Bharti Airtel, and Millicom shared their experience (mostly positive) and the impact it has had on their data growth and revenues. All were cautiously optimistic.

One thing that will help the operators is to look at Internet players a bit differently and it requires a mental shift. Just like operators work with and compete against other service providers, they can find common grounds for collaboration in some areas and in other segments they will of course compete but having a one-track mind will detrimental to their progress. On the flip side, Internet players should appreciate the competitive dynamics in the market, the financial metrics that drives the business and the work to deliver a more customized partnership – something the Internet players are not that accustomed to. The Internet segment does a better job of managing coopetition than the telecom sector.

Probably the second most watched keynote was from Sundar Pichai. Rumors of a Google MVNO have been around for many months. The plans to launch the “nexus of networks” were discussed. Additionally, Sundar discussed how project Loon and project Titan could be used to provide the Internet backbone. The connectivity projects are nice science experiments at this stage but the MVNO project could have some implications depending on how far Google wants to take it. Will it be the Rokr project for Google or something more? Only time will tell.

Just like it has been for many years, Apple was at the center of many discussions at the show. In carefully orchestrated leaks, there was a steady flow of the news on Apple Watch. It will set the competitive bar for the segment and help everyone figure out their place in the market. Folks were deeply divided on the likelihood of success. Battery life might end up being the key-determining factor. There was also a lot of discussion around the news reports on Apple Pay fraud issues.

For the first 3 generations, technical guys were in charge of the wireless technology Gs. With 4G, the marketing department took over and it looks like they are not ready to relinquish their position anytime soon. The hype around 5G was at its highest at the show. In the last 3 months, every major entity has had something to say about what 5G should be and what will it enable. There is also a tussle for who gets to lead the industry on 5G.

Europe is anxious to regain the mantle it lost after GSM. But there is a big problem. The 4G penetration in Europe won’t even get past 50% until 2020, the investment wouldn’t have been recovered by then. Someone bring out the econ 101 book, please! It seems like 5G is going to revolve around mmWave spectrum and technologies (very few see a new interface coming) but this has massive capex and opex implications in addition to the practical implications of millions of nodes to deliver the desired throughput. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t continue to work on pushing the boundaries and take leadership position in developing the standards and use cases. However, from a deployment point of view, we need a filter of reality.

Also, the industry is getting ahead of itself. Keep the marketing guys in the barn, settle on the definition, the how, the use cases, and then figure out the technical and marketing roadmap. (there was plenty of talk about pre-5G as well). Of course, one can achieve 10 Gbps today but mostly under impractical configurations. What’s also troubling is that the Internet players are not part of the standards process. Matt Grob, CTO of Qualcomm responding to a question about the timeline for getting 5M 5G subs suggested we might get there by 2022. As a reference, 4G reached the 5M mark in 2010. KT CEO gave a delightful presentation of 5G optimism. A number of position papers were released – fun reading for geeks if you are into these long reads. We will be releasing our own thoughts on 5G later this month expanding on piece we explored earlier this year.

All eyes were on FCC Chairman Wheeler after the landmark ruling last month. There was no new news per say but the topic was hotly discussed and debated in public and private forums. While the journey is just starting, the world is looking to see how things will end-up. As I mentioned to the WSJ, no country wants to be viewed backwards and whatever happens in the US market will have implications worldwide over the next decade and beyond. I also get the sense that we don’t quite understand the impact of unintended consequences. For e.g. there are several use cases like transportation, medical, financial, etc. where prioritization is required. Voice has been prioritized for ages and will be in the future. 5G will have different prioritization schemes depending on the radio, the applications, and the requirements. Ideally, you want the application to request a prioritization level. It is hard to justify that a moisture sensor in a sprinkler should get the same prioritization as the x-ray going over the wires. Prioritization exists in all forms of access and embedded in the way of life for good reasons. It is not quite clear what will be allowed and what will be dealt on a case-by-case basis. Maybe all this is taken care of in the ruling. Hopefully, the 300+ page tome will answer some of these questions.

The best phone launch belonged to Samsung. Learning from past mistakes, it was a no-nonsense presentation. The S6 edge looks sleek and beautiful, the camera is remarkable. However, for the purists the lack of the SD card and the removable battery is troubling. The price point for the highest end might go past $1K. It is unlikely that S6 will steal share away from i6 but it will probably take it away from other Android OEMs and will see a nice revenue bump in the 2nd half of the year. It might help stabilize the severe decline in profits from 2014. Samsung Pay puts Android on the mobile payments map as well. There were device launches from Nokia, HTC, and others but nothing captured the attention of the show. Orange/Mozilla came out with a unique offering of a 35 Euro package that includes a decent smartphone, 6 month of 500MB/mo, unlimited voice and messaging. It will be launched in the African markets to get more people transition over to smartphones and data services.

The current money in IoT is clearly in the industrial projects. IoT is a great enabler to re-architect business processes, revenue streams, business models, companies, and industries. While industrial IoT didn’t make a splash, in conversations with folks, there are all sorts of projects being done around the globe and there is serious money being spent. One project can sometimes account for the entire consumer IoT revenue stream. Accenture/Intel had some cool demonstrations to tell the story. Lot of work is going into IoT driven factories, buildings, and the supply-chain.

Consumer IoT didn’t make a big splash like it did at CES in January. There were no drones, robots, or humanoids running around. A number of OEMs came out with watches and sensor bands – nothing that will take the industry by storm. Huawei probably gets the vote for the best watch launch at MWC. In general, for the current stream of connected watches, the technical specs have triumphed the fashion specs. Can Apple change the equation this year?

In case, it wasn’t clear to some – AT&T is undergoing a significant transformation into becoming an international solutions provider – it was apparent from the show. In the European show, AT&T had the best presence amongst its peers. European operator landscape is dominated by the quad-play moves and consolidation. As usual, the Koreans and the Japanese impress with their quirky art of storytelling. Using a robot to emphasize low 5G latency by SK Telecom was my favorite. AT&T has been signing up the most number of connected car contracts and the numbers are starting to impact the financials in a material way. A select group of the operators are showing meaningful revenues from the 4th wave.

VR helps tell a good story. Several companies used VR headsets (mostly Oculus and Samsung) to have attendees experience their product, services or vision. Ericsson had a cool setup to remotely controlled excavator thousands of miles away. Will VR enter the boardrooms? Quite likely.

After a slow start, LTE-U is gaining quite a bit of traction. Qualcomm’s efforts are bearing fruit and we should be seeing some deployments in 2016. The Wi-Fi ecosystem has expressed concerns but nothing that can’t be overcome. Most of tier-1 operators in the western markets have some form of SDN/NFV initiatives in place. AT&T’s Donovan announced that they have already 5% coverage and are on track to reach 75% by 2020.

Security and privacy continue to be hot topic in the post-snowden era especially in Europe. Regulations are also tightening up. EU wants much stronger privacy regulations. European operators want harmonization of privacy regulation between operators and the Internet players. IoT multiplies the attack nodes and it has serious implications for both enterprise and consumer domains.

Few M&A transactions during the week got the attention of the industry. The biggest one was from Freescale and NXP who announced a mammoth $40B merger. Then Mavenir got acquired by Mitel for $560M. HP acquired Aruba to boost the Wi-Fi business and paid a premium at $3B.

Other items of interest were 3D biometric fingerprints (Qualcomm), autonomous cars in 2016 (Nissan), zero rating (Wikipedia), B2B $1B revenues (Ooredoo), sub-$50 devices (Android, Mozilla), Windows 10 (Microsoft), 100M mobile money users (GSMA), 5G Holograms (KT), Smart Home Air Service (Conway), Lighting as a Service (Philips), Resiliency and Fault-Tolerant SDN/NFV layer (Stratus), 6G (DoCoMo), Runcible (Monohm), Selfie’d Journalists (they were everywhere), Wireless charging furniture (Ikea), MoDe Electric Bike (Ford), Connected carry-on (Bluesmart), and more

Best launch – Samsung S6. Well executed. Generated lot of interest from media and partners.

Best booth – Ericsson. They have really mastered the art of storytelling through physical and digital assets.

Best parties – Siris Capital and Qualcomm

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward.

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

US Mobile Market Update Q4 2014 and 2014 February 23, 2015

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, 5G, AORTA, ARPU, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Connected Intelligence Era, Devices, European Wireless Market, Fourth Wave, Internet of Things, IoE, IoT, LTE, Mobile Applications, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Devices, Mobile Future Forward, Technology Cycles, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Wi-Fi, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update Q4 2014 and 2014

 

Summary

The US mobile market continues to be the biggest market by revenue and 2014 was a key transition year for the industry. The overall market grew 21% to almost $400B. Voice revenues declined by 15%, messaging by 16%, and tablets by 4%. The biggest winners were the 4th wave/OTT services which grew by 92%. Access revenues increased by 32%, handsets by 11%, and wearables by 150%. Verizon, AT&T, and Apple were the top 3 players by revenue (from the US market).

Last Jan, we had estimated $108 Billion in mobile data revenues for the market and the revenues ended spot on at $108B making US the first market to surpass the $100B mark. We are forecasting that the mobile data service revenues will increase by 22% to $132 Billion in 2015. Verizon will become the first operator to generate more than $50B from data services in 2015.

Verizon became the second operator after China Mobile to cross the milestone of 100 Million postpaid subs. After acquiring lusacell and Nextel Mexico (still pending), AT&T became the biggest North American operator with over 131 million subs. In 2014, US also crossed the 350 million subscription mark.

The average mobile data consumption (cellular) crossed 2GB/mo in 2014. In the US, it took roughly 20 years to reach the 1GB/user/mo mark. However, the second GB mark has been reached in less than 4 quarters. An entire year’s worth of mobile data traffic in 2007 is now reached in less than 100 hours.

From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. It is having an impact on the industry financials which might help clear the way to further M&A in the US market.

The intense competition amongst the operators meant a whopping 20% rise in OPEX QoQ and a 1% decline in CAPEX YoY. The income stayed flat while EBITDA grew modestly at 3%.

In our 4th series of papers, we had postulated for years that the 4th wave revenues will become bigger than any of the previous curves. This finally happened in 2014 in the US market with the revenues from the 4th wave applications and services built on top of the IP access layer surpassed both voice and data revenues. The operator share of the US mobile industry revenues fell below 50% for the first time since the birth of the industry.

Smartphone penetration increased to 75% and roughly 95% of the devices sold now are smartphones.

The Android OEM ecosystem suffered its first major profit decline in 2014 - the profits dropped precipitously by 44%. iOS revenues increased by 31%. The difference in profits between the two major ecosystems is now $33 Billion – the highest it has ever been.

Apple broke more records in a single quarter than most athletes break in their lifetime. The amount of revenues and profits generated by a rectangular screen sent everyone in a tizzy. To get a sense of the scale, consider this – Apple’s iPhone generated more revenue than revenues generated by entire portfolio of products from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. Add in Macs and Tablets and you can mix a dozen more companies in the mix. The laser focus on quality and the benefit of the brand loyalty and aspiration catapulted into the business stratosphere that few can even dream of reaching.

Apple also introduced two new products late last year – Watch and Apple Pay. While it is too early to figure out the overall impact of Apple Watch (it clearly will put some Swiss Watchmakers out of business), Apple Pay appears to be more disruptive. Apple’s classic approach of embracing the ecosystem and thinking end-to-end might finally disrupt the otherwise staid financial sector. Apple Pay is already seeing significant traction and the financial industry is nervously promoting the service. Rumors of Apple Car will keep media on its toes for the next few years.

4th wave services continue to grow at a very past face around the globe. At least 37 companies generated a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.

The difference between Sprint and T-Mobile number of subs is less than a million now – the narrowest it has ever been. Like we suggested mid-last year, T-Mobile is likely to become the number three operator in a matter of weeks now. This is more or less just a symbolic event with the transfer of bragging rights.

T-Mobile accounted for over 40% of the overall net-adds for the year with Verizon coming in second at 30%. After having a lack-luster year in 2013, the operators doubled the net-adds in 2014 with connected devices driving most of the growth.

Race To The Bottom?

The mobile data traffic has been doubling YoY in the US. The consumption is clearly growing with the introduction of new devices, network upgrades, and application enhancements. Operators are seeing tremendous pressure on data pricing due to the competitive environment. EBITDA declined for the second straight quarter.

From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in the first 9 months of 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. It is having an impact on the industry financials which might help clear the way to further M&A in the US market.

Is Android in trouble?

Samsung suffered one of the biggest mobile revenue and profit declines in its history. As the dominant leader of the Android ecosystem, it is caught in the middle of two major trends that ironically enough Samsung had influenced. The bigger screen phone segment that Samsung seeded has become the fastest growing segment in smartphones. Apple following Samsung into the segment meant that it took away the single biggest differentiating factor and as such a serious impact on its high-end line. The lower end which yields higher volumes but much smaller ASP has attracted hordes of local developers in China, India, and Russia who have better logistics and operational advantage. Many of these players are becoming successful. To damage Samsung, they all don’t need to be successful, just enough to be in the market to sway the market. As such, Samsung has seen its share dwindle in the two biggest emerging markets.

Much of the current situation has been predictable for some time. While Samsung has ridden the smartphone wave masterfully, it hasn’t been able to build a platform moat, something that helps fundamentally differentiate its products in the sea of Android devices around the planet. They are not in a Blackberry or Nokia panic situation yet as some in the media have surmised. But, they need to figure a way out of the middle band. Unlike Nokia or Blackberry who were blinded by their success and ignorance, Samsung has shown it is a more nimble competitor. Samsung’s R&D and marketing is also second to none. Its diversified portfolio also helps in cushioning the drop in the phone segment. Historically, OEMs with such sharp revenue declines haven’t been able to arrest the decline. Can Samsung do it? Samsung is launching Galaxy 6 at MWC this weekend.

Given that Samsung controls most of Android ecosystem profits, the Android ecosystem suffered a 44% decline in profits. The woes of OEMs such as Sony, Motorola, and others also contributed to the decline. We can expect some of the Android OEMs leaving the device business altogether.

Operator M&A

In his classic book, “Competition in Telecommunications,” Nobel Laureate Jean Tirole wrote, “With digital technology, telecommunications, cable TV, broadcasting, and computers have become a single industry, which will be a critical element of our economies’ backbone. With the impending opening of competition, industrial restructuring is progressing at a fast pace.” The book was written almost 15 years ago. As I have written before, the computing and communications industries are merging into one and that collision is generating ripple effects some of which we are starting to understand (more on the Connected Intelligence Era trends here)

One of the implications of the 4th wave evolution is that there will be fewer mobile operators in the world. As we have argued in the papers, many of the smaller players just won’t be able to keep up and compete. AT&T acquired Mexican operator Iusacell (it also made the bid for Nextel Mexico) which made AT&T a clear leader in North America with almost 131 Million subscriptions. As we mentioned in our 4th wave series of papers, the number of operators will continue to shrink with fewer global operators who will seek to combine wireless and wireline assets to strengthen their moat. It is quite likely that US Cellular will be acquired in 2015.

Net-Neutrality Debates

After a blockbuster spectrum auction, FCC is looking to put its stamp on the future of the Internet by proposing net-neutrality rules later this week. President Obama decisively tilted FCC’s position on the subject. However, this is not a done deal yet. The legal and political apparatus is likely to react quite strongly to the ruling and we are in for a tough fight on this one. Other governments and regulators are also keenly watching the debate and the final ruling. Dish ended up acquiring a bulk of the spectrum wares. Is this a precursor of their wireless moves or was this just old-fashioned asset hoarding?

4th Wave Revenues

For the first time, US operators revealed some of their 4th wave (digital) services metrics publicly. Verizon reported $585 million in 2014 up 45% from a year ago. At the current run-rate, this will be a billion dollar business by 2016. AT&T reported 2.8M connected car connections and 140K home security connections. The connected car segment is clearly on its way to becoming a billion+ dollar business for AT&T. Connected cars accounted for 62% of the connected devices for AT&T.

Globally, 37 companies generated a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.

The Upcoming 5G wars?

I started my career when 1G was all the rage. My first 4G project was back in 2002. By some measures, we are already behind on the 5G discussions. In general, it takes 7-10 years before the standards are finalized and then the network technology lasts for approximately 20 years before a market moves onto the next generation of technology. US led in the growth of 1G (AMPS, TACS) followed by Europe on 2G (GSM, CDMA). Japan took the leadership role with 3G (WCDMA, EVDO) and US wrestled it back on 4G (LTE). Japan and EU are determined to lead on 5G and have been making very public statements and R&D investments about their ambitions on 5G. Japan of course has a very clear goal of having 5G by Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Am sure some operator(s) somewhere will jump the gun and start calling LTE-A+ as 5G around 2017-18 or sooner. You can expect a lot of activities both in public and private on 5G as companies and governments try to figure out a way to claim the 5G leadership mantle.

We have a 5G paper coming out in March. You can read the summary here – 5G: The history of the future.

Apple Pay

Mobile Payments has long infatuated mankind. Many players with deep pockets have invested in the segment but in truth, the market was waiting for Apple to show up and show up it did with the launch of Apple Pay. In an ambitious orchestration of the financial supply chain, Apple introduced a simple payment proposition. The basic strategy is for commerce to flow through iOS. The institutions are even paying a share of the transaction to Apple which previous payment explorers are watching in utter disbelief. Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready for iTunes 2.0.

What to expect in the coming months?

2014 was a tremendous year for the mobile as it becomes omnipresence in every industry. We saw some massive moves, astounding acquisitions, and interesting strategic endeavors. 2015 promises to be an exciting year for the industry as well.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2014 and 2014 US wireless data market is:

Overall Industry Revenues

· The overall market grew 21% to almost $400B.

· Voice revenues declined by 15%, messaging by 16%, and tablets by 4%.

· The biggest winners were the 4th wave/OTT services which grew by 92%.

· Access revenues increased by 32%, handsets by 11%, and wearables by 150%.

Service Revenues

· The US mobile data services revenues in Q4 2014 increased 3% and crossed the $25B market for the first time.

· The mobile data services revenue crossed the $100B mark in mobile data services revenue to become the first country to generate $100B from mobile data services.

· Verizon and AT&T dominated the quarter accounting for 70% of the mobile data services revenue and had 68% of the subscription base.

· Verizon and AT&T are at #2 & #3 global mobile data revenue ranking respectively in Q4 2014. Sprint and T-Mobile also maintained their rankings in the top 10 global mobile data operators.

ARPU

· The Overall ARPU fell by 2.57%. 

· Data contribution to the overall revenues is now at 60%.

· The postpaid ARPU continues to decline for all operators with AT&T and T-Mobile experiencing double digit losses for the year.

Subscribers

· The US market had the best net-add year in the last 7 years.

· The US operators added 20M new subscriptions with T-Mobile leading the pack at 40%.

· Verizon’s tablet net-adds accounted for almost 50% of the overall tablets that were added in Q4. Verizon has caught up with AT&T on the tablet front.

· T-Mobile’s postpaid continued to see the positive growth for the seventh straight quarter. It has recovered all its losses that began in Q3 2009 and is now growing in the positive territory.

Shared Data Plans

· Shared data plans launched by Verizon and AT&T have been quite successful. The attachment rates have increased tremendously over the course of 2013-14 with more consumers opting for cellular tablets and connected devices. 61% of postpaid accounts at Verizon are now on shared plans. For AT&T, the number is even higher at 70%.

· Some more granular data plans for tablets have also spurred interest as the cellular broadband is becoming available on demand vs. expensive on premise Wi-Fi solutions.

· 52% of AT&T’s postpaid accounts are on 10GB+ plans.

4th Wave Progress

· The number of players making $250M/quarter on mobile continues to increase rapidly and these aren’t your traditional wireless players. For example, Mobile is now contributing 69% (up from 30% in Q1 2013) to Facebook’s quarterly revenues. Latest addition to the club is Twitter which is now doing 88% in mobile (of the total advertising revenue) up from 60% in 2013. Even traditional players like Hertz, Sears, and Starbucks are generating meaningful revenues from mobile. There are now dozens of such players and the list is just growing. (for more discussion on the topic please see: “Mobile 4th Wave: Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars”)

· In 2014, we are also seeing continued investments from the operators especially AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in non-traditional segments like home security, healthcare, insurance, automotive, enterprise mobility, advertising, and security, and others. Collectively, this is already a multi-billion dollar business in the US.

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

· Verizon reported $585 million in 2014 up 45% from a year ago. At the current run-rate, this will be a billion dollar business by 2016.

· AT&T reported 2.8M connected car connections and 140K home security connections. The connected car segment is clearly on its way to becoming a billion+ dollar business for AT&T. Connected cars accounted for 62% of the connected devices for AT&T.

Connected Devices

· Connected devices (non-phones) accounted for almost 52% of the net-adds in Q4 2014. This means that while there is a healthy smartphone sales pipeline, it is for the existing subs and as such net-adds for the phone business is tapering off and we can expect that new net-adds will continue to be dominated by the connected devices segment.

· For AT&T, Connected cars started to form a significant base of the connected devices segment with 62% of the new connections in the segment coming from cars.

Handsets 

· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting almost 95% of the devices sold in Q4 2014. Within the next two years, the feature phone category will practically be extinct in the US market.

· The smartphone penetration in the US is now at 75%.

· After ceding the lead to Android for the last three straight quarters, iOS roared back to reclaim the lead with 54% share of the smartphones sold. For the year though, Android edged out iOS.

· Verizon continues to sell more LTE smartphones as its LTE sub tally rose to 67M making it the leading LTE operator in the world (this year China Mobile will overtake Verizon to become the number 1 LTE operator by subscriptions). Other three operators are also deep into their LTE deployments. Verizon reported that 84% of its total data traffic is on the LTE network now, clearly the fastest technology transitions we have seen in the US wireless industry.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in May 2015.

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

Mobile Breakfast Series–The Future of Mobile Commerce/Payments January 30, 2015

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , add a comment

Greetings,

In 2014, Mobile Commerce is going to generate over $100 billion+ in revenue. Mobile Commerce already accounts for over 12% of the digital commerce in the US. This is the revenue that didn’t exist a few years ago. We will talk to executives who are driving mobile commerce and who are powering the technology behind these billion dollar initiatives. Digital only retailers are likely to take 75% of the mobile commerce revenue share. How are the traditional players reacting to the threat and the opportunities? How does the difference in behavior on smartphones and tablets impact commerce? As we move into the Connected Intelligence Era, how will commerce change in both the physical and the digital worlds? How will Apple Pay transform the financial industry? We will tackle some of the thorniest questions in front of our industry.

Sam Liang, CEO and founder of Alohar Mobile (Alibaba)

Prat Vemana, VP – Mobile and Commerce, Staples

Sebastien Taveau, VP and Chief Developer Evangelist, MasterCard

Chetan Sharma, CEO, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

We will explore the mobile commerce opportunities and shifts in the ecosystem in detail across the globe. You don’t want to miss this one.

Registration: http://www.mobilebreakfastseries.com/register.html

Venue: Columbia Tower Club, 701 5th Ave #7500, Seattle, WA 98104

Date: Feb 17th 7:30 – 10:30am

Look forward to seeing you soon.

Regards,

Chetan

CES Observations 2015 January 16, 2015

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, 5G, CES, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Intelligence Era, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

CES 2015 Observations

International CES – the annual gadget fest is a cauldron of hopes and aspirations of big and small entrepreneurs, crazy and whacky ideas, the place where roadmaps are laid bare – some obliterated by the time the show is over while others benefit from the infusion of interest and inspiration. The promise of the Connected Intelligence Era was in full display last week in Vegas where the faithful converge to get a glimpse of what’s to come. More than anything else it is the time to meet friends and colleagues that provide much more insights than any of the booths, launches, and press conferences could disseminate.

Here is the summary of our observations from 2015 CES.

Transcendence – Coincidentally my trip started by watching Transcendence – a story about the metamorphosis of man and machine. It was interesting to view the show from this angle and try to connect the dots of the future.

First, let’s do the numbers – CEA expects the overall electronics market to grow by 3% primarily because of growth in the new category of connected and emerging devices (also includes 4K Ultra HDTV) which are likely to reach $11 billion in revenue in the US market.

Connected Intelligence Landscape – CES lay bare the evolution of the connected intelligence landscape. Millions of end-points are propping up that communicate and interact in ways unexpected. We are all grapple with what it means to progress of technology and humanity and how can we harness the power of “connectivity” and “intelligence.” Some things are moving forward at a much faster pace for e.g. autonomous vehicles, self-watering plants, cancer detecting pills are all examples of connected computing and actionable intelligence. Selfie sticks – not so much.

The IoT Show – If CEA had switched its name to the “The IoT Show,” it won’t be too far off for all the major discussions at the show were around the promise of IoT. The number of companies having something to do with IoT grew manifold this year. Though nothing significant has emerged from the level tricks and trinkets, the overarching theme is that one will see hundreds of these floating around each consumer to prepare an aura of information and intelligence around them that anticipates problems, provides guidance, and keeps them from getting into trouble. But where is the money? As usual, it seems pretty clear that the money will be in the tools and components and not the actual end points. Big winners will be the component suppliers and software players who can tie all of the complexity together in an easy to use human language and interface. There is probably more money in battery packs right now than IoT sensors.

Wearables – Humankind’s first rendezvous with a wearable was back in 1286 in Italy when the Dominican friar figured out the art of making glasses. More progress has been made in this segment in the last 12 months than all the centuries’ prior. In my last year’s CES note, I surmised that the market will segment into high-end luxury (Apple, etc.) and low-end commodity (Chinese OEMs). This theory is unraveling in front of our eyes. Apple is due for its Apple watch splash this quarter and the Chinese are flooding the market. For every $150 fitbit, there was a $20 identical unit from a Shenzhen vendor. For every $200 basis watch, there was an identical watch for a fraction of the cost. Obviously, the Chinese firms need distribution to the western markets and it is not an easy problem to solve. On top of that zero marketing and brand loyalty means there is an opportunity for someone to step in a distribution platform and make a killing.

The value is in the intelligence – As I outlined in my Connected Intelligence paper, the “sensing” part of the ecosystem is going to be commodity. Any new performance enhancements will last only a few months if not days so the value has to be built beyond “sensing” and in “making sense of the data” part. The two big aggregation islands at the OS layers are obviously Android and iOS but there is room for someone to congregate these data points in hubs that control a home or an office, an airport or the mall. Historically, each new wave brings in its own set of aggregation pods – windows for PCs and Android/iOS for smartphones. So, it is likely we will see new plays in the IoT space.

Ma, the Robot is home now – the Robots are getting real in how they interact with humans that some of the science fiction movies look very real today. The Japanese are leading the way with robots and what can be done with them especially in the consumer environment.

Handsets – Just when we thought the market for > $5K mobile handsets was over, Lamborghini launches a $6.5K handset. One sale to an unsuspecting Saudi sheikh has been confirmed. For the rest of us, the market stays flooded with innumerable choices. As I mentioned in my year-end update, the Chinese OEMs control over 40% of the smartphone market now. It is going to be over 50% this year and strolling the show floor you can see why. The market is getting flooded with cheap Android devices. With some really good-looking Android smartphones at $25, the ability to charge more uniformly around the world is virtually gone. I even saw some Samsung look-alikes with 14K gold for only $120. You can’t tell the difference between the brands.

Autonomous Cars – Last year’s show was about connected cars. This year we moved to very possibility of autonomous cars. It is quite likely that a kid born this decade might never need a driver’s license. Thanks to the market push by Google and Tesla, this segment is moving incredibly and excitingly fast and we are going to see some fascinating science fiction concepts come to life over the course of the next 5 years. Regulations obviously need to be figured out but this train is moving so fast that we better get on board. On the operator front, AT&T continues to corner the US market with OEM deals.

3D printing – Is there anything you can’t print with 3D printers – organs, food, rockets, fuel – you name it, you got it. But will you?

Connected Home – Continuing the theme of IoT, connected home innovators were in full display mode. Solutions are starting to come together though they are still cumbersome, work only in silos, battery life is a problem, security is iffy, and the pricing is not attractive just yet for it to be a mass market but slowly and steadily we are cracking the code.

Healthcare – The CES highlight for me was to attend the talk by Dr. Eric Topol (if you haven’t read his new book, do so now). He is a great champion of technology transforming the health care system and as a result changing the doctor-patient relationship forever and for good. As he mentioned in his address, the healthcare profession hasn’t been challenged since the 200 BC. He listed an endless stream of companies who are changing how various aspects of health and wellness gets measured and analyzed that lays bare the futility of today’s healthcare system.

Security and privacy – Last year, we released paper on “IoT Data Privacy Framework.” FTC seems to agree with many of the arguments and concepts laid out in the paper for connected device privacy and security. The agency is expected to release its recommendations in a paper later this year. In general, security continues to be a hot topic with every keynote addressing it. Even President Obama is expected to make cyber security as one of the key themes of this year’s state of the union address.

Dish $20 – Probably the biggest surprise of the show came from the most unlikeliest quarters of the industry. Dish announced a $20 service that provides basic set of channels + the prized ESPN channel. Consumers are likely to switch in droves to accelerate the cord-cutting trend.

TV – What will be a CES show without some TV splash? 3D TVs have been a flop but consumers still crave for high-res and slim designs. Samsung, LG, Sony, and others continue to impress with new designs however pixel based strategy is getting old.

Samsung’s strategy – Samsung has taken the expected hit in the second half of 2014. At CES, some of the early elements of a strategy could be sensed out from the tea leaves – Tizen led IoT strategy, convergence of Samsung products glued by common interfaces, and rethink of the smartphone product lines around the globe. The company still needs to do a better job of telling its story.

Virtual Reality – There are many more players jumping into the VR space after the spectacular rise of Occulus last year.

Enterprise – A well-organized AT&T developer summit kicks off CES every year. As you might have gathered from my past writings, the new mobile money is flowing into the enterprises. Vertical industries and players who serve them are utilizing mobility, IoT, and cloud to change how they design their own business processes and instruments, manage their employees and engage with the customers. I am always impressed with what developers are able to come up with during Hackathons. It is surprising that the governments and corporations around the world don’t invest more in bringing entrepreneurs under a common umbrella to see the possibilities. AT&T also opened up its digital life platform for partners in the ecosystem.

Coolest keynote – Intel – Brian Krzanich excelled in driving home his three points around computing unleashed, intelligence, and wearable revolution. The new Realsense technology can expand the use cases from desktops to drones. Diamler’s Zetsche also scored points for bringing a cool looking autonomous concept car on the stage.

Overall, CES is a good show to sense the pulse of the industry at the start of the year and catch-up with colleagues who provide real insights into what’s going to be important.

Have a fabulous 2015

Chetan Sharma

Request for input–Annual Mobile Predictions Survey 2015 December 8, 2014

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Dear friends,

Trust that the end of a fabulous mobile year is treating you well. Wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and best wishes for a terrific 2015.

As is the tradition, we are doing our 8th Annual Mobile Predictions Survey for 2015. I would like to request your input in the process. We rely on our community and colleagues to help us understand the trends for the upcoming year.

The survey is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N26NKZT

The questions are:

1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2014?

2. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2015?

3. Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile ecosystem?

4. What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2015?

5. What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2015?

6. What is likely to happen in the wearables category in 2015?

7. Who will dominate the mobile payment/commerce space?

8. Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2015?

9. Who is doing the most interesting work in the IoT space?

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

11. Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2015?

12. When will mobile commerce be greater than ecommerce?

13. The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year - 2014 and 2015?

14. Mobile company of the year - 2014 and 2015?

15. Automation and Digitization of industries will lead to?

16. Which of the following are likely to happen in 2015?

17. Which operator is best positioned for the digital world?

18. What category will be impacted the most by mobile in the next 5 years?

19. Which segments are likely to get disintermediated the most by algorithms in the next 5 years?

20. Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?

As an incentive, we will be giving away 10 copies of our exclusive edition Mobile Future Forward 2014 book (Connected Intelligence Era: Golden Age of Mobile) that is a collection of essays and interviews from some of the most influential mobile executives on the future of mobile.

Deadline: Dec 29th. Results will be released in early January.

Thanks and see you in 2015.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

US Mobile Market Update – Q3 2014 November 10, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, 5G, AORTA, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Intelligence Era, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Ecosystem, Technology Cycles, The Golden Age of Mobile, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update – Q3 2014

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32014.htm

Download

Summary

The US mobile data services revenue exceeded $25B for the first time and increased 23% YoY and 7% QoQ. The US market will easily exceed the $100B mark in data revenues in 2014 thus becoming the first nation to do so.

Verizon became the second operator after China Mobile to cross the milestone of 100 Million postpaid subs.

The average mobile data consumption (cellular) crossed 2GB/mo. In the US, it took roughly 20 years to reach the 1GB/user/mo mark. However, the second GB mark has been reached in less than 4 quarters. An entire year’s worth of mobile data traffic in 2007 is now reached in less than 100 hours.

From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in the first 9 months of 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. It is having an impact on the industry financials which might help clear the way to further M&A in the US market.

Smartphone penetration increased to 72% and roughly 93% of the devices sold now are smartphones.

Samsung suffered one of the biggest mobile revenue and profit declines in its history. As the dominant leader of the Android ecosystem, it is caught in the middle of two major trends that ironically enough Samsung had influenced.

After a relatively quiet year, Apple had a blockbuster quarter with new product introductions. The expected bigger screen device arrived and was an instant big hit. It is going to do really well in Q4. The 6+ was in severe short supply and in Q3, the ratio of 6:6+ was 10:1 in the US market.

Apple also introduced two new products – Watch and Apple Pay. While it is too early to figure out the overall impact of Apple Watch (it clearly will put some Swiss Watchmakers out of business), Apple Pay appears to more disruptive. Apple’s classic approach of embracing the ecosystem and thinking end-to-end might finally disrupt the otherwise staid financial sector.

4th wave services continue to grow at a very past face around the globe. We expect 37 companies to be generating a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.

T-Mobile recovered all of its postpaid losses since Q3 2009. At its peak, T-Mobile had cumulatively lost almost 5 million subscribers. However, in the last 4 quarters, the 4th place operator has added over 4.5M subs to recover in a dramatic fashion. Sprint on the other hand lost postpaid subs for the 11th straight quarter.

Due to its strong performance, T-Mobile has narrowed the gap with Sprint to roughly 1M subs. As expected, Sprint launched a series of price cuts to counter T-Mobile’s uncarrier moves to recapture the value share of the market. The Sept and Oct numbers show that Sprint has improved its performance but will it be enough to maintain its #3 spot that it has had forever?

The US market had the best net-add quarter in a decade and probably the 2nd best quarter in the history of the US wireless market.

The net-adds rebounded strongly in Q3 2014 on the back of strong performances by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The ratio of non-phone to phone net-adds was 1.66. 62% of net-adds were connected devices.

Race To The Bottom?

The mobile data traffic has been doubling YoY in the US. The consumption is clearly growing with the introduction of new devices, network upgrades, and application enhancements. Operators are seeing tremendous pressure on data pricing due to the competitive environment. EBITDA declined for the second straight quarter.

From 2010 to 2013, the data pricing declined by only single digits YoY. However, in the first 9 months of 2014, the data pricing has plummeted by 77%. It is having an impact on the industry financials which might help clear the way to further M&A in the US market.

Samsung – Can It Rediscover Its Mojo?

Samsung suffered one of the biggest mobile revenue and profit declines in its history. As the dominant leader of the Android ecosystem, it is caught in the middle of two major trends that ironically enough Samsung had influenced. The bigger screen phone segment that Samsung seeded has become the fastest growing segment in smartphones. Apple following Samsung into the segment meant that it took away the single biggest differentiating factor and as such a serious impact on its high-end line. The lower end which yields higher volumes but much smaller ASP has attracted hordes of local developers in China, India, and Russia who have better logistics and operational advantage. Many of these players are becoming successful. To damage Samsung, they all don’t need to be successful, just enough to be in the market to sway the market. As such, Samsung has seen its share dwindle in the two biggest emerging markets.

Much of the current situation has been predictable for some time. While Samsung has ridden the smartphone wave masterfully, it hasn’t been able to build a platform moat, something that helps fundamentally differentiate its products in the sea of Android devices around the planet. They are not in a Blackberry or Nokia panic situation yet as some in the media have surmised. But, they need to figure a way out of the middle band. Unlike Nokia or Blackberry who were blinded by their success and ignorance, Samsung has shown it is a more nimble competitor. Samsung’s R&D and marketing is also second to none. Its diversified portfolio also helps in cushioning the drop in the phone segment. Historically, OEMs with such sharp revenue declines haven’t been able to arrest the decline. Can Samsung do it?

Operator M&A

In his classic book, “Competition in Telecommunications,” Nobel Laureate Jean Tirole wrote, “With digital technology, telecommunications, cable TV, broadcasting, and computers have become a single industry, which will be a critical element of our economies’ backbone. With the impending opening of competition, industrial restructuring is progressing at a fast pace.” The book was written almost 15 years ago. As I have written before, the computing and communications industries are merging into one and that collision is generating ripple effects some of which we are starting to understand (more on theConnected Intelligence Era trends here)

As expected Iliad gave up its dream of acquiring T-Mobile. The deal never made sense and had no market merit. This has left DT scratching for other options. The most likely scenario is that Sprint and T-Mobile try to get married in 2017 again or the FCC/DOJ have a change of heart due to declining financial performance of the two players. Another possibility is America Movil getting into the fray. And finally, some cable companies are likely to flex their muscles at an opportune time.

AT&T acquired Mexican operator Iusacell last week. If approved (and there is little reason why it won’t), it will make AT&T a clear leader in North America with almost 127 Million subscriptions. As we mentioned in our 4th wave series of papers, the number of operators will continue to shrink with fewer global operators who will seek to combine wireless and wireline assets to strengthen their moat. Perhaps, US Cellular should sharpen its pencil.

4th Wave Revenues

For the first time, US operators revealed some of their 4th wave (digital) services metrics publicly. Verizon reported $150M revenues from M2M and Telematics. At the current run-rate, this will be a billion dollar business by early 2016. AT&T reported 2M connected car connections and 140K home security connections. The connected car segment is clearly on its way to becoming a billion+ dollar business for AT&T. Sprint is also quite active on the 4th wave front but hasn’t shared any details yet.

Globally, we expect 37 companies to be generating a billion dollar or more from 4th wave services in 2014 – a 311% jump from 2012.

Microsoft Freemium Moves

First it was the OS, Now it is the Office portfolio – Microsoft is leaving no sacred cow unturned in order to gain relevancy in mobile. However, it seems that for the Office apps, Microsoft is essentially doing what it did for Windows Mobile i.e. just pare down the desktop OS for mobile. It never worked. The Office apps on competitive platform is a good strategy but they are still the pared down versions of the desktop app. As such, while people are downloading these apps out of curiosity, they are really not using them. However, the recent moves do indicate a willingness to rethink the business models, the platforms, and the distribution models which is a good start.

Amazon’s Mobile Aspirations

While Amazon is the biggest mobile commerce player in the world by a distance, its hardware aspirations have failed to impress. As expected, the Fire Phone was a complete dud. As we explained previously, it never had a shot. It was Zuned out of the market in record time (Facebook Phone probably holds the world record but Fire Phone wasn’t too far behind). A product without any substantial differentiation doesn’t stand a chance in this crowded market. While Kindle tablets had a tempting price point that made them relatively successful, Fire Phone failed across all dimensions. Software mistakes can be iterated upon. Hardware mistakes show up on the balance sheet.

In the meantime, Amazon is poised to have a blockbuster mobile commerce quarter to make it one of the most dominant players on the 4th wave.

The Upcoming 5G wars?

I started my career when 1G was all the rage. My first 4G project was back in 2002. By some measures, we are already behind on the 5G discussions. In general, it takes 7-10 years before the standards are finalized and then the network technology lasts for approximately 20 years before a market moves onto the next generation of technology. US led in the growth of 1G (AMPS, TACS) followed by Europe on 2G (GSM, CDMA). Japan took the leadership role with 3G (WCDMA, EVDO) and US wrestled it back on 4G (LTE). Japan and EU are determined to lead on 5G and have been making very public statements and R&D investments about their ambitions on 5G. Japan of course has a very clear goal of having 5G by Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Am sure some operator(s) somewhere will jump the gun and start calling LTE-A+ as 5G around 2017-18 or sooner. You can expect a lot of activities both in public and private on 5G as companies and governments try to figure out a way to claim the 5G leadership mantle.

Apple Watch

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

Earlier in the year, Xiaomi released a $13 tracker and Apple announced its new product in almost 5 years – the Apple Watch. The mid-market will be under tremendous stress.

Apple Pay

Mobile Payments has long infatuated mankind. Many players with deep pockets have invested in the segment but in truth, the market was waiting for Apple to show up and show up it did with the launch of Apple Pay. In an ambitious orchestration of the financial supply chain, Apple introduced a simple payment proposition. The basic strategy is for commerce to flow through iOS. The institutions are even paying a share of the transaction to Apple which previous payment explorers are watching in utter disbelief. Ladies and Gentlemen, get ready for iTunes 2.0.

What to expect in the coming months?

2014 has been a tremendous year for the mobile as it becomes omnipresence in every industry. We have already seen some massive moves, astounding acquisitions, and interesting strategic endeavors.

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q3 2014 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

· The US mobile data services revenues in Q3 2014 increased 7% and crossed the $25B market for the first time.

· The mobile data services revenue is on track to exceed the $100B mark in mobile data services revenue to become the first country to generate $100B from mobile data services.

· Verizon and AT&T dominated the quarter accounting for 70% of the mobile data services revenue and had 68% of the subscription base.

· Verizon and AT&T are at #2 & #3 global mobile data revenue ranking respectively in Q3 2014. Sprint and T-Mobile also maintained their rankings in the top 10 global mobile data operators.

ARPU

· The Overall ARPU rebounded to increase by $0.08. 

· Data contribution to the overall revenues is now at 58%.

Subscribers

· The US market had the best net-add quarter in a decade and probably the 2nd best quarter in the history of the US wireless market.

· The US operators added 6.3M new customers with T-Mobile leading the pack.

· 62% of the net-adds in Q3 2014 were from the non-phone category. The net-effect has been that while overall subscriber count has increased, there has been a negative impact on the ARPU. 

· Verizon’s tablet net-adds soared accounting for almost 71% of the overall tablets that were added in Q3. Verizon has caught up with AT&T on the tablet front.

· T-Mobile’s postpaid continued to see the positive growth for the sixth straight quarter. It has almost recovered all its losses that began in Q3 2009.

Shared Data Plans

· Shared data plans launched by Verizon and AT&T have been quite successful. The attachment rates have increased tremendously over the course of 2013-14 with more consumers opting for cellular tablets and connected devices. 57% of postpaid accounts at Verizon are now on shared plans. For AT&T, the number is even higher at 62%.

· Some more granular data plans for tablets have also spurred interest as the cellular broadband is becoming available on demand vs. expensive on premise Wi-Fi solutions.

· 50% of AT&T’s postpaid accounts are on 10GB+ plans.

4th Wave Progress

· The number of players making $250M/quarter on mobile continues to increase rapidly and these aren’t your traditional wireless players. For example, Mobile is now contributing 66% (up from 30% in Q1 2013) to Facebook’s quarterly revenues. Latest addition to the club is Twitter which is now doing 85% in mobile (of the total advertising revenue) up from 60% in 2013. Even traditional players like Hertz, Sears, and Starbucks are generating meaningful revenues from mobile. There are now dozens of such players and the list is just growing. (for more discussion on the topic please see: “Mobile 4th Wave: Evolution of the Next Trillion Dollars”)

· In 2014, we are also seeing continued investments from the operators especially AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in non-traditional segments like home security, healthcare, insurance, automotive, enterprise mobility, advertising, and security, and others. Collectively, this is already a multi-billion dollar business in the US.

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

Connected Devices

· Connected devices (non-phones) accounted for almost 62% of the net-adds in Q3 2014. This means that while there is a healthy smartphone sales pipeline, it is for the existing subs and as such net-adds for the phone business is tapering off and we can expect that new net-adds will continue to be dominated by the connected devices segment.

· Tablets form 70% of the connected devices sold.

· QoQ, the non-phone segment grew 30%.

Handsets 

· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting almost 93% of the devices sold in Q3 2014. Within the next two years, the feature phone category will practically be extinct in the US market.

· The smartphone penetration in the US is now at 72%.

· Android again outperformed iOS by a good margin. iOS is likely to bounce back in Q4.

· While it is fairly clear that Windows will acquire the #3 spot behind iOS and Android, the journey to a substantial and competitive market share is still ways off. It renewed its entry into the battlefield with Windows phone last year but sales have been poor. While Microsoft has made steady progress in other regions, in the US, it’s not gaining any traction and its share remains at a measly 1-3%. (Read our paper to get more insights into why Windows hasn’t been able to make a dent so far).

· Verizon continues to sell more LTE smartphones as its LTE sub tally rose to 59M making it the leading LTE operator in the world (next year China Mobile will overtake Verizon to become the number 1 LTE operator by subscriptions). Other three operators are also deep into their LTE deployments. Verizon reported that 79% of its total data traffic is on the LTE network now, clearly the fastest technology transitions we have seen in the US wireless industry.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless data sector in our blog, twitter feeds, future research reports, articles, and our annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward. The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in Feb 2015.

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

Mobile Future Forward: Q&A with Dev Gandhi, CEO of moBack September 5, 2014

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Mobile Applications are the lifeblood of the mobile economy. However, scaling the app from the early prototypes to an app that serves millions can be daunting. A number of players have come out with tools to assist the app developer community. We caught up with Dev Gandhi, CEO of moBack to ask about the state of the mobile app world.

MFF: What are some of the most common problems you see with the mobile app backend infrastructure?

DG: The most common mobile app backend infrastructure problems are:

- Implementing core services such as data persistence, push notifications, maps integration, social integration, analytics, etc.

- Building scalable infrastructure such as virtualization, storage, security layers, etc.

- Writing application business logic.

The main challenge for app companies is to to build these three layers within the project’s scheduled budget and time frame.

App developers can either build all three layers on their own by investing in business logic development, core services, and infrastructure dev ops or opt for third party cloud based service providers such as Amazon, thus saving cost and development time.

Infrastructure service providers such as Amazon only solve infrastructure issues while some service providers only provide core services.

moBack provides both core services as well as scalable infrastructure thus helping app developers focus solely on app development business logic.

MFF: Are app companies trying to do too much on their own? What APIs have proven to be most used and why?

DG: Yes, app companies need to build not only applications but also manage backend services and IT infrastructure. They need to invest in app developers, IT/Dev Ops engineers and hardware infrastructure.

Commonly used APIs are data persistence, analytics, push notifications, social sharing, and maps/geocoding. Most app companies leverage these core service APIs to build their apps.

MFF: What is the business model for the APIs?

DG: APIs are typically provided on a freemium model. App companies can sign up for a free account and start paying later based on usage (number of calls, bandwidth, and storage). This provides app companies a great way to scale without investing too much upfront.

MFF: Majority of the apps are not used after download. How can developers keep their users engaged for a long time?

DG: App companies need to think about various aspects of an application life cycle during design phase:

- App discovery (improving app downloads)

- App engagement (improving long-term app usage)

Application artifacts such as social sharing, gamification, push notifications and mobile messaging help increase engagement.

MFF: In this day and age of constant security threats, how does a developer keep the data secure and maintain user privacy?

DG: Data security and user privacy is usually an after thought when it comes to app design, in turn making apps vulnerable and exposed to security threats. It’s better to incorporate security and user privacy elements in an application design and architecture. Key elements to consider are:

- Using PKI infrastructure to encrypt both data at motion and data at rest.

- Anonymize user data for analytics and reporting purposes thus addressing user privacy concerns.

- Build ACL based privileges allowing granular access to administrators.

- Fine grained logging helps detect security infractions.

- Run security audits (penetration tests, etc.) during QA phase and fix exposed vulnerabilities.

- Apply security patches as early as possible.

Partner Event: FierceWireless: 5G and IoT

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Are you in Las Vegas for Super Mobility Week? Our partner FierceWireless will host the first panel The 5G Roadmap: How Do We Plan For Tomorrow’s Wireless Networks? on Tuesday, September 9 at 7am.

Sue Marek will moderate the panel

· Kristin Rinne, SVP, Network Technologies, AT&T Labs

· Mike Haberman, VP, Network Support, Verizon Wireless

· Arun Bhikshesvaran, VP of Marketing & CMO, Ericsson

· Aicha Evans, VP, Platform Engineering Group, Intel

· Chris Pearson, President, 4G Americas

On Wednesday, September 10, at Mike Dano will moderate a discussion on the Internet of Things: Uncovering the Top Growth Segments. His panel will be comprised of industry executives including:

· Chris Penrose, SVP Emerging Devices, AT&T Mobility

· Matt Thompson, GM, Developer Evangelism, Microsoft

· Alec Saunders, VP, Cloud Business, BlackBerry and member of the Industrial Internet Consortium

· Larry Zibrik, VP of Market Development, Sierra Wireless

· John Horn, President, RacoWireless

They will discuss the market segments where IoT technologies are blossoming now, and explore where the next opportunities may lie.

Both events are part of the official CTIA program. You may add these events to your existing show pass through the CTIA Web site.

There are just a few seats left at each event. Register today before they’re gone!

Mobile Future Forward: Enterprise Mobility: IBM July 24, 2014

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Last week Apple and IBM announced their historic Enterprise Mobility deal. Microsoft in a series of memos and presentations this month declared that it is essentially betting the company on redefining productivity. In one of the hottest mobile segments – IoT – Enterprises are the ones who are driving the most revenue and tangible value. Enterprise mobility is getting redefined in so many respects – from the use of sensors to drive tactical decisions, from securing a global and mobile workforce, from creating collaborative moments of productivity, from putting true “analysis” and “data” at the fingertips of managers and field engineers, that it will see a complete transformation of what the world thinks of enterprise mobility. We saw some of these trends coming in our work with AT&T last year.

The Apple/IBM deal can have a significant impact on how enterprises use devices and think of applications. We are fortunate to have Paul Brody, VP and Mobile Practice Leader at IBM, one of the leaders who was behind this deal from day 1, to talk about how enterprises worldwide are thinking about mobility, workflows, operations, ROI, and business models. Paul has a deep global understanding of the enterprise challenges and has the experience of coming up with solutions. He joins a stellar cast of leaders to discuss the present and the future of enterprise mobility.

Rethinking Enterprise Mobility

· Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook

· Steve Mills, CIO, Motorola Mobility

· Dave Webb, CIO, Equifax

· Paul Brody, VP/Mobile Practice Leader, IBM

· Mark Fernandez, Managing Partner, Sierra Ventures (moderator)

We at Chetan Sharma Consulting are deeply involved in these changes and use our global mobile executive brainstorm forum to kick-off another year of ideas, networking, and industry collaboration. Our work on the 4th wave has shaped strategies of players around the world and we continue to strive to bring you the best of “global mobile thinking” at Mobile Future Forward.

When: Sept 24th in Seattle.

Registration (Summer Saver Expires 7/25 – Friday)

We are excited to partner with the industry leaders and thank them for their ongoing support: Ericsson, Intel, Oracle, Qualcomm, Synchronoss, and Tata Communications.

Some of the confirmed industry leaders are:

· Dan Hesse, CEO, Sprint

· Bill Ruh, VP, GE

· Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook

· Erik Moreno, SVP, Fox Networks

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T

· Steve Mills, CIO, Motorola Mobility

· Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel

· Dr. John Saw, CNO, Sprint

· JD Howard, VP/GM, Lenovo

· Dave Webb, CIO, Equifax

· Dr. Hassan Ahmed, CEO, Affirmed Networks

· Mark Fernandez, Managing Partner, Sierra Ventures

· Ujjal Kohli, Founder, Rhythm NewMedia

· Vik Kathuria, Global Chief Media Officer, Razorfish

· Erin Kienast, SVP, Starcom Worldwide

· Josh Will, Senior Category Manager, Best Buy

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Jason Hoffman, VP, Ericsson

· Matt Grob, EVP/CTO, Qualcomm

· Julie Woods-Moss, CMO, CEO of Nextgen Business, Tata Communications

· David Richter, VP, Uber

· Paul Brody, VP & Mobile Practice Leader, IBM

.. more to come

We will be announcing new speakers and partners through the course of the summer and look forward to seeing you in September.

Thanks

Mobile Breakfast Series - Q&A with Prof. Mischa Dohler, cofounder Worldsensing June 12, 2014

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We are really looking forward to seeing many of you next Tuesday. Here is the final installment of the Q&A series with our speakers. Prof. Dohler has been looking at the IoT space for a long time as a researcher, entrepreneur, and an academic.

We caught up with Prof. Dohler to get a preview of our upcoming Mobile Breakfast Series event in London on June 17th.

You have looked at the IoT opportunity both as an academic as well as an entrepreneur. What’s your sense of the opportunity? Are we beyond IoT being a theoretical exercise?

IoT was a dream 25 years ago with the first DARPA projects; it started to migrate from an interesting academic exercise to industrial innovation via standards work/etc. about 15 years ago; and has become commercial reality some 5 years ago. The potential market is enormous, the problem is that the market has not fully developed yet. This will require time and money. IoT is thus an enormous opportunity today, yes!

You have done quite a bit of work in the Smart Cities space? How does the implementation impact the common man? How should governments think about funding such initiatives? Does it offer any significant competitive advantage to the city?

The problems of Smart Cities today had been summarized in a recent blog of mine under https://connect.innovateuk.org/web/design-sig/article-view/-/blogs/designing-smart-cities-in-2013.

It boils down to "smart" (ie IoT, Big Data, etc.) not properly synch’ing with "city" (i.e. infrastructure providers, etc). Despite the enormous potential of bringing smartness into cities, very little is visible today. The problem with the uptake is that the market is not developed yet, which means that innovative companies have to survive long sales cycles, etc., etc. Difficult times, still!

If you look 5-10 years out, what are some of the exciting developments in R&D that we will start seeing in real-life?

The most exciting thing for me would be if wireless finally really became invisible - and I hope by 2020 we won’t have to stress out which technology we use to connect our IoT devices. Another exciting area is the combination with robotics since the IoT would allow us to collect data; Big Data process it; and robotics act on it - and thereby close the data cycle.

The IoT space is quite fragmented right now. Will that hinder progress? Where will the value lie in the value-chain?

The value currently is in the verticals, and with some specific industries, such as health, transport, construction, and oil/gas. Once these verticals have expanded, the horizontals will start to become important because one can leverage the true Big Data value by cross correlating data sets which each individual vertical cannot do.

Venue: Telefonica, 20 Air Street, London, W1B 5AN London, UK

When: June 17th. Breakfast and Registration: 8-9am, Panel Discussion: 9-10:30am, Networking: 10:30-11:30am

Registration

Internet of Things: Exploring the next big thing in mobile

Prof. Mischa Dohler, King’s College, London and Cofounder, Worldsensing

Dominik Fromm, GM – Mobility Services, BMW

Carlos de otto Morera, CEO, Thinking Things, Telefonica

Raine Bergstrom, VP and GM, Intel

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Look forward to seeing you next week.

US Mobile Market Update – Q1 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, AORTA, ARPU, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update – Q1 2014

Summary

The US mobile data service revenues grew 4% Q/Q and 23% Y/Y to $25.9B in Q1 2014. In 2014, we expect US to become the first country to cross the $100B mark in mobile data services revenue. We have also started to see digital services appear in the revenue maps as more companies rely on mobile to generate their revenues.

With the acquisition of Leap, AT&T has virtually tied Verizon for market share at 34%.

T-Mobile continued to impress with 66% share of the net-adds. Even Verizon felt the heat in Q1 resulting in a subpar performance. Smartphone penetration increased to 68% and roughly 93% of the devices sold now are smartphones.

M&A Season

FCC must have cancelled all summer vacations for its staff as it is going to have a busy summer. As expected, Comcast made a bid for Time Warner and AT&T for DirectTV. Encouraged by the M&A season, Softbank is going to make a run for T-Mobile and pop the question to the FCC – so what do you think?

This in addition to the net-neutrality religious wars that have been triggered.

So, how will this all end-up?

It’s complicated.

The basic problem is that the communications and computing worlds have collided and nobody told the politicians. One can’t develop a policy framework in vacuum. It has to synchronize with the real world and with the facts on the ground. In my travels around the globe, I find that some of the most underdeveloped countries have better policy framework than some of the developed nations. Obviously, they don’t have the legacy to work with but they are more progressive in terms of national competitiveness and creation of jobs as the central underpinning of their framework.

As we noted in our 2011 research paper, “Competition and the Evolution of the mobile markets,” the mobile markets gravitate towards three player composition. Over time, every market approaches this equilibrium. We looked at the world’s top 36 markets and the average HHI (Herfindahl-Hirschman Index) for these markets is 0.344. If we just look at the developed markets, the HHI is 0.327. The US market HHI stands at a relatively lower number of 0.25 which is right at the cusp of what DOJ calls heavily concentrated and moderately concentrated markets. In fact, 30 of the 36 markets are over this line and that includes pretty much every developed market except UK.

If and when Softbank proposes the T-Mobile merger, the HHI will increase to 0.28 and will clearly cross the DOJ marker of heavily concentrated markets. For contrast, the cable industry is at 0.13 HHI. Clearly, just looking at HHI is inadequate and misleading as we showed in our paper back in 2011.

In heavy Capex industries, it is natural to have consolidation. It allows more efficient deployment of the capital or else everyone gets bloodied in the turf war as is evident in Indian mobile market which is on the verge of a major restructure.

In the last 20 years, the share of top 3 operators has grown from roughly 40% to 80%. The number of mobile subscriptions have grown 14x during the same time period.

So, will there be further consolidation in the mobile industry? Short answer is – Yes. The only thing up for debate is whether it happens in this administration or the next. As we said in the last note, T-Mobile has complicated things by being successful in the short-term. A third player with 30% market share will of course be better but T-Mobile has been able to change the market by being the fourth at 14%.

FCC’s dilemma is that it can’t evaluate these proposed mergers in isolation and Congress hasn’t done a good job of clearly defining FCC’s authority.

It is going to be an interesting summer for sure.

What’s next for Microsoft?

With a new CEO at the helm, Microsoft made some key (albeit late) changes to its strategy: Office for non-windows devices, zero-rating the OS licensing fees, doubling down on the enterprise class Surface. In light of the plummeting PC sales, Microsoft is trying to figure out its place in the post-PC world. Surface 3 is good device but there are also significant hurdles. Having failed to stem the tide of iPad and Android tablets, Microsoft seems to be focusing on the high-end by trying to change the discussion around the wisdom of carrying multiple devices.

One of the basic problem that the current strategy faces is that of articulating a valid value proposition. On the pricing axis, it doesn’t make a dent. MacBook Air is still the best notebook around and iPad is still the best tablet and you can get both of them for $1500 while a comparable Surface configuration will set you back $1200-1300, a drop of less than 20%. The reason Kindle and other sub $200 tablets got some traction was that the price difference was 60%. It forced Apple to reconsider and launch the mini to secure the mid-tier.

However, it is smart of Microsoft to fight the battle on the top end in the enterprise where their biggest strength lies rather than in the low-mid tier consumer segment which is nothing but a bloodbath for new OEMs.

The mobile ecosystem will clearly benefit from a stronger Microsoft but it has to address some key strategic questions for its partners and customers. It has started to shed some legacy constraints, is getting some product thinking behind its strategy, and is becoming more open which is a good start.

About that Google Car

The autonomous car that Google showcased earlier this week is probably the most interesting technology development in the last couple of years (in addition to whatever Elon Musk does). Given that going from point A and point B is so central to our civilization, a rethink of how it should be done is going to have profound effect on not only the existing value chains and industries but more fundamentally, how humans organize themselves as social beings. There are a number of exciting and terrifying (for some) questions in front of us – how quickly will autonomous cars become the norm in major markets – 5 years? 15 years? What does this do to the driver segment? Auto sales? Cost of transportation? Design and investment of infrastructure? Privacy and security of data? Mobile network infrastructure to support a radical societal architecture? Will tech companies become car OEMs? Should they? How quickly will the regulators catch-up? Months? Years? Decades?

I do think Google car is a perfect embodiment of the connected intelligence era and this is going to have such profound implications that we haven’t yet built a model to grasp its impact (more to come on this topic).

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q1 2014 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Shared Data Plans

4th Wave Progress

Connected Devices

· Connected devices (non-phones) accounted for almost 50% of the net-adds in Q1 2014. This means that while there is a healthy smartphone sales pipeline, it is for the existing subs and as such net-adds for the phone business is tapering off and we can expect that new net-adds will continue to be dominated by the connected devices segment.

· Tablets form 63% of the connected devices sold.

· YOY, the connected devices segment grew 23%.

We hosted our IoT Americas session last quarter with Verizon, Ericsson, Samsung, and adidas and are planning our IoT Europe panel with Telefonica, BMW, Intel, and Worldsensing in London on June 17th.

Handsets 

· Smartphones continued to be sold at a brisk pace accounting almost 93% of the devices sold in Q1 2014. Within the next two years, the feature phone category will practically be extinct in the US market.

· The smartphone penetration in the US is now 68%.

· Android had its best showing in the US market with 54% share of the quarter. Q2 is expected to strong as well.

· While it is fairly clear that Windows will acquire the #3 spot behind iOS and Android, the journey to a substantial and competitive market share is still ways off. It renewed its entry into the battlefield with Windows phone last year but sales have been poor. While Microsoft has made steady progress in other regions, in the US, it’s not gaining any traction and its share remains at a measly 3%. (Read our paper to get more insights into why Windows hasn’t been able to make a dent so far).

· Verizon continues to sell more LTE smartphones as its LTE sub tally rose to 48M making it the leading LTE operator in the world. Other three operators are also deep into their LTE deployments. Expect the “fastest network” marketing to continue for at least another seven quarters. Verizon reported that 73% of its total data traffic is on the LTE network now, clearly the fastest technology transitions we have seen in the US wireless industry.

· Mobile operators also announced their VoLTE launches.

· Verizon and AT&T sell more iPhones than Android while the reverse is true for T-Mobile (by a big margin) and Sprint. There is always a beauty contest amongst operators as to who sold more iPhones. AT&T again bested its rivals by selling roughly 36% of the iPhones in the US.

Mobile Patents/IP

· 24% of the patents granted by the USPTO were mobile related. Samsung, IBM, Microsoft, Sony, and Ericsson make the top 5 patent players in mobile. We will have more details in our coming paper on Mobile Patents Landscape next month.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

We will be discussing many of the ecosystem and technology issues, opportunities and challenges for the coming years in our annual mobile executive summit Mobile Future Forward on Sept 24th in Seattle. Some of the confirmed speakers are Dan Hesse, CEO, Sprint; Tim Campos, CIO, Facebook; Ben Fried, CIO, Google; JD Howard, GM and VP, Lenovo; Erik Moreno, SVP, Fox Networks; Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T; Steve Mills, CIO, Motorola Mobility; Mark Fernandez, Partner, Sierra Ventures; Dave Webb, CIO, Equifax; John Saw, CNO, Sprint; Hank Skorny, VP/GM, Intel; Hassan Ahmed, CEO, Affirmed, and many more to come. We hope to see you there for the brainstorm.

Mobile Breakfast Series–London–June 17th May 14, 2014

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I am excited to add Professor Mischa Dohler of King’s College in London to the program. Prof. Dohler is a distinguished researcher and an entrepreneur and is focused on IoT, Smart Cities, and 5G. His work has been referenced by PM Cameron at CeBIT

The topic of discussion will be “Internet of Things: Exploring the next big thing in mobile.” Internet of Things (IoT) has been hailed as the next big thing in the mobile industry. As connections from objects and things interconnect with existing and new end points, the networked effect can provide tremendous opportunities, reshape existing processes, user experiences, and expectations. But, really, how real is IoT? and what will it take to reach the billions of dollars promised? Will it fundamentally alter how we do things? We are starting to see signs of tremendous progress. GE is investing $4B+ into its version of IoT – the industrial Internet and it is making the difference in operations and machine learning. Connected consumer gadgets are enabling us to lead healthier lives, work more efficiently, and manage our time more effectively.

Venue: Telefonica, 20 Air Street, London, W1B 5AN London, UK

When: Breakfast and Registration: 8-9am, Panel Discussion: 9-10:30am, Networking: 10:30-11:30am

Registration (limited seats) Early Bird expires next week

We have an exciting panel planned with some leading experts on the subject:

Prof. Mischa Dohler, King’s College, London and Cofounder, Worldsensing

Dominik Fromm, GM – Mobility Services, BMW

Francisco Jariego, Director – Industrial IoT, Telefonica

Raine Bergstrom, GM – IoT, Intel

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Dominik Fromm is responsible for expanding BMW Group’s Mobility Services in the United Kingdom under the BMW, MINI and BMW i brands. Francisco is responsible for the Industrial IoT projects including Smart Cities for Telefonica. Raine is a mobile industry veteran and is driving Intel’s investment in IoT and related services.

Look forward to seeing you in June.

Mobile Breakfast Series: London: June 17th: Internet of Things April 20, 2014

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , add a comment

I am excited to announce our 2nd London Mobile Breakfast Series event in partnership with Telefonica on June 17th. The topic of discussion will be “Internet of Things: Exploring the next big thing in mobile.” Internet of Things (IoT) has been hailed as the next big thing in the mobile industry. As connections from objects and things interconnect with existing and new end points, the networked effect can provide tremendous opportunities, reshape existing processes, user experiences, and expectations. But, really, how real is IoT? and what will it take to reach the billions of dollars promised? Will it fundamentally alter how we do things? We are starting to see signs of tremendous progress. GE is investing $4B+ into its version of IoT – the industrial Internet and it is making the difference in operations and machine learning. Connected consumer gadgets are enabling us to lead healthier lives, work more efficiently, and manage our time more effectively.

We have an exciting panel planned with some leading experts on the subject:

Dominik Fromm, GM – Mobility Services, BMW

Francisco Jariego, Director – Industrial IoT, Telefonica

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

.. more speakers to be announced

Dominik Fromm is responsible for expanding BMW Group’s Mobility Services in the United Kingdom under the BMW, MINI and BMW i brands. Francisco is responsible for the Industrial IoT projects including Smart Cities for Telefonica.

Venue: Telefonica, 20 Air Street, London, W1B 5AN London, UK

When: Breakfast and Registration: 8-9am, Panel Discussion: 9-10:30am, Networking: 10:30-11:30am

Registration (limited seats)

Look forward to seeing you in June.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma

Mobile Patents Landscape–An In-Depth Quantitative Analysis

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

Mobile Patents Landscape - 3rd Edition - 2014

http://www.chetansharma.com/MobilePatentsLandscape_2014.htm

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Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· The top

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

Mobile Breakfast Series: Internet of Things March 23, 2014

Posted by chetan in : Internet of Things, IoE, IoT, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Internet of Things: Exploring the next big thing in mobile

We hosted our first Mobile Breakfast Series of the year at Columbia Tower Club last week and the topic was Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is the hottest thing in the mobile industry right now with investment pouring in from all sides. Our expert panel took a deeper look into the opportunities, the hype, and the challenges in the evolving mobile segment. Mobile Breakfast Series works to bring you the current thoughts, expert brains, and probing questions about the main issues of the day.

Internet of Things (IoT) has been hailed as the next big thing in the mobile industry. As connections from objects and things interconnect with existing and new end points, the networked effect can provide tremendous opportunities; reshape existing processes, user experiences, and expectations. But, really, how real is IoT and what will it take to reach the billions of dollars promised. Will it fundamentally alter how we do things? We are starting to see signs of tremendous progress. GE is investing $4B+ into its version of IoT – the industrial Internet and it is making the difference in operations and machine learning. Connected consumers’ gadgets are enabling us to lead healthier lives, work more efficiently, and manage our time more effectively.

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We had a superstar panel discussing the IoT evolution from different angles.

Bobby Morrison, President, Verizon PNW has his ears to the ground as he works with his customers big and small on using mobile to solve real-world problem that improves productivity and financial performance. Verizon is one the top digital operators in the world who understands the implications of the 4th wave and is investing appropriately.

Tim Moss, SVP, Ericsson was one the key guys behind the analysis that led to the 50 Billion connected devices paper in 2011. He has 20+ years of experience in the industry and worked across many verticals so has a real deep understanding how mobile can be incorporated in various industries.

Chris Murphy, Director, Brand Communications and Digital Marketing, adidas US is close to the consumers as to what matters most. Companies like adidas don’t introduce technology in their products for the sake of technology. Each mistake can be costly if it is not well thought out. It doesn’t mean that are constantly tinkering at the edges. His team has been introducing new concepts and new ways to engage the consumer throughout their

Shankar Chandran, VP, Samsung Catalyst Fund is part of the new investment group at Samsung in Silicon Valley who is looking to invest in cutting edge startups and technologies in both hardware and software that can give Samsung and its ecosystem an edge. His areas of interest are IoT, cloud, security, mHealth, and next-generation user interfaces. Samsung is one of the top 3 important players in the mobile and technology ecosystem.

From wearables to automobiles to industrial automation, the use cases are endless and we are just trying to make sense of what such a connected world will mean to productivity, human behavior, safety, privacy, and the society at large.

As we stand today, here are some of the forecasts:

In 2011, Ericsson forecasted 50 Billion Connected Devices by 2020

In 2012, Cisco agreed with the forecast and said they too expect the same number of connected devices and in 2013 came out with a paper talking about a $14.4 Trillion economy powered by IoE

In 2013, GE came out with their research and paper on the Industrial Internet powered by sensors and calculated that we could see $10-15 trillion dollar impact on the GDP in the next 20 years.

So, these are massive numbers. It does feel like we are entering a new phase of technology growth due to connected sensors, what I call the “Golden Age of Mobile” and I was seen that in my work in both developing and developed nations that the use cases are everywhere. In many instances, developing countries are not waiting but leapfrogging some of the developed nations. So, very exciting times ahead.

The salient point of discussions were:

I really enjoyed the discussion and we covered quite a bit of ground. As usual, the audience were well informed and did their homework.

Given the importance of the topic, we are expanding our Mobile Breakfast Series on IoT and going back to London this summer and in partnership with Telefonica hosting a session on IoT on June 17th. Hope our friends and colleagues in western Europe can join us.

We will also more details on our annual summit Mobile Future Forward in September. Stay tuned for more details.

Thanks and see you around.

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations March 3, 2014

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

2014 Mobile World Congress Observations

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

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

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

The deal everyone was talking about

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

Connecting the unconnected

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

SDN/NFV

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

5G – 5GPPP and NGMN

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

Ecosystem value shifts

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

Wearables

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

Galaxy S5

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

IoT

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

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

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

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

Smart Cities

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

Connected Cars

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

Carrier-Aggregation and Hetnets

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

Network investments - $1.7 Trillion in the next five years

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

Move towards data-only plans

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

LTE broadcast

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

OTT regulations

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

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

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

Security and Privacy

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

Nokia’s love affair with Android

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

Best Booth – Ericsson

Best Party – Siris Capital

Your feedback is always welcome

Chetan Sharma

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

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

2014 CES Observations January 12, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, US Wireless Market, Wearables, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 4 comments

2014 CES Observations

International CES is not an event where game-changers are launched but it is a celebration of technology and gadgets. It is a good place to understand what is on its way to hope (many if not most of the products never make it to the market), hype (“innovation” was the most used word for defining pretty much anything, second year in a row), and commoditization (how many body tracker does the world need?). It is a place for like-minded people to congregate and pontificate, to do deals, to validate their roadmaps, spy on competitors, meet new partners and suppliers, and just get warmed-up for the year ahead. CES is a good place to get a sense of where the investments might flow this year.

Here is the summary of our observations from 2014 CES:

The big numbers – CEA expects the overall consumer electronics market to grow 2-3% in 2014 to $208 billion. The new growth areas are connected devices, tablets, wellness devices, connected auto, 3D printers, etc. Smart watch sales are expected to double in revenues in 2014. The wearables are expected to grow 25%. At CES, clearly, the connected universe was in full display in all its current glory. It was a mix of some new ideas, incremental improvements from last year, and innovators from all walks of life getting into the value chain.

Wearables – It was no surprise that wearables were one of the highlights of the show. The good news is that the barrier to entry is fairly low. The bad news is that the barrier to entry is fairly low. The space is going to get commoditized very quickly and it is likely going to get stratified into two major buckets – really cheap $10-20 wearables (if one can have < $50 smartphone, there is no real reason for a common wearable to be > $100 given that the components are fairly standard and algorithms are well understood. The other bucket will be high-end fashion driven wearables. Companies that can afford to get some classy designers involved and get good retail distribution are going to cater to the “jewelry” conscious market. The big winners are obviously the component folks who don’t really care who wins as long as there are many players in the pond. Wearables might congregate around natural islands of geography, distribution, and ecosystems. Intel’s keynote was focused almost entirely on wearables.

Connected Auto – There were announcements in the connected auto space. This year things matured a bit with more investments flowing in. AT&T and Google announced their respective platforms for connected auto. While there are significant opportunities in the space, it is still quite fragmented and as such less appeal for the wider developer population.

Robotics – While we are still ways away from the household robotic butler, tiny robots are becoming very sophisticated. Robotics has been around for ages but the connected environment gives them their soul. Toys, games, entertainment, emergency verticals, etc. are natural categories.  Unlike the wearables segment, robotics is less commoditized but has lesser overall mass appeal.

Sponsored data – Maybe sponsored data rubs some folks the wrong way but alternate data monetization models are needed in the market. AT&T announced their sponsored data platform. There are already numerous examples of sponsored data all around us across the world. In fact, in some regions, sponsored data will become a key ingredient of the overall mobile data strategy. There are several other alternate sponsored data models that will benefit users and markets should be encouraged to explore them. If it is indeed a bad idea, the market will take care of itself.

US mobile industry – While I work around the globe and there are some fascinating markets with new developments, US is by far the most interesting mobile market right now.  Not only does it have the most innovation going on, the competitive dynamics make it a great study for the students of the industry. T-Mobile, having decided on the value strategy is disrupting the market dramatically from the pricing structure point of view. Just like Free in France changed the market within 12 months, T-Mobile is doing the same in the US. They pre-announced their Q4 numbers at CES and they are stunning. 1.6M net-adds, 900K postpaid adds. For the year, they added 4.4M subs. To understand how dramatic of a reversal this is one has to only look at 2012 numbers – 2M postpaid losses compared to 2M postpaid gains in 2013. US industry has never seen such reversal in a short amount of time. Fasten your seat belts, 2014 is going to be a fascinating ride.

Healthcare connected devices – This super category of the wearables is something that is actually quite interesting and can be quite lucrative if you get it right. Sensors that can alert of impending heart attack or food poisoning or help manage diabetes and cancer by understanding the markets inside the body are revolutionary. If we get the price points to manageable levels, the impact on global health is going to be astounding and unprecedented. Of course, regulations and a moribund industry stands in the way.

Curved TV – The 3D TVs were a big flop. Consumers really didn’t warm up to the idea. The curved TV introduced by Samsung won lot of accolades and it was indeed a good experience if you find the right spot to view the screen in front of you. The 4Ks were out in full force as well with Vizio even touting one for under $1K. it is another matter that the UHD content doesn’t really exist in any meaningful way to while there was buzz, there might be little biz on the cards in the short term.

3D Printing – We all appreciate the potential for 3D printing - it is enormous. However, the impact could surprise us. With printers coming down in price to below $500, it is becoming more affordable and could really unleash the creativity of individuals of all shapes and sizes.

Smart Home – There is lot of activity and some real dollars flowing into the segment. AT&T has had some good success with their Digital Life rollout and it is generating new ARPU and increasing LTV of the customers. Additionally, startups are coming out with specific improvements around security, energy, entertainment, appliances, communication, and other related areas.

Disconnect between data and security – There is so much data emanating out of the wearables and the personal IoT devices that NSA or the hackers don’t really have to worry about the lack of data. Given the massive breach at Target, it is time for regulators to step in and work with the industry to formulate some basic guidelines on data protection. It should be unacceptable that these incidents are increasing in audacity and frequency.

Virtual Reality – Oculus VR was one the biggest hits at CES. The marriage of gaming and VR is a natural one and whoever tried the space-age headset at CES seemed immersed into an experience previously unexplored.

Best Booth – Samsung again took the honors

Best Booth Engagement – GoPro has some loyal fans

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

Mobile Predictions 2014 January 2, 2014

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, ARPU, Bhutan, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Fourth Wave, Indian Wireless Market, Mobile 2014, Mobile Predictions, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

Mobile Predictions 2014

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First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014. My thanks to all who participated in our 2014 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an insider’s view of the trends and predictions for the New Year.

2013 was a terrific year for the mobile industry. Mobile data continued to drive most of the mobile growth around the world. Whether it was LTE-minted markets like the US or the emerging economies like Indonesia, whether it was giants like China or the upcomers like Vietnam, mobile data growth was central to the economic activity in the ecosystem. Mobile is also transforming every major vertical industry around the globe. 2013 proved that connectivity has become the core of our fabric and we are entering the “connected intelligence era” that will enable the Golden Age of Mobile.

The competitive dynamics stayed quite vibrant in 2013. We saw epic battles in the field as well as in the courts. Many players struggled for relevance while some fresh blood was infused with startups around the world.

As we peer into 2014, we will see the total number of cellular subscriptions eclipsing humans on the planet for the first time. As the number of connected devices continue their march towards a multi-billion unit market, expectations of what’s possible are changing. Without a doubt, 2014 will be better than 2013 as new technologies, players, and business models shape the ever changing mobile landscape.

Our annual survey is a way for us to engage our community on the trends for the next year. We put some of the pressing questions to our colleagues and industry leaders. We are able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments, some tangible shifts, and get a sense of what’s to come. Executives, developers, and insiders (n=150) from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and from around the world participated to help see what 2014 might bring to keep us on our toes. What makes this survey unique is that it draws upon the collective wisdom of folks who are at the center of the mobile evolution around the world. The survey provides a view of how they collectively see the upcoming year for mobile.

1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2013?

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Smartphones and tablets established themselves as the most dominating computing platforms. If there was any doubts that the post-PC world is here, they were over as smartphones in most western countries are now over 90% of the devices sold every quarter. Once Nokia announced its shift to Windows, Microsoft’s acquisition was only a matter of time and with the acquisition (and a new CEO), Microsoft looks to a new beginning in 2014. Apple and Samsung continued to duel it out in the courts and the markets. The security breaches and the privacy revelations were a big deal in 2014. Facebook got its mobile mojo and many other consumer brands start to perform well on the mobile 4th wave.

2. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2014?

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Mobile continues to transform industries and nations. The continued growth of mobile data around the globe was voted the top story third year in a row closely followed by the expectations of new experiences that go beyond the smartphones. The connected devices segment will keep wanting for more and the big M&As are not going anywhere. Given that cross-domain acquisitions have become the norm, expect some blockbuster deals in 2014. Privacy has also surged in priority for folks in the industry.

3. Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile ecosystem?

In mobile, Google, Apple, Samsung and the mobile Operators continued to be the most influential players in the ecosystem. Amazon, Qualcomm, Facebook, Microsoft, and Ericsson also hold significant sway as to which direction we will go in the New Year. The top 10 operators play a major role in terms of technology and business models evolution in the marketplace.

4. What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2014?

It was no surprise that connected devices and wearable computing was voted as the breakthrough categories for 2014. We are in the early stages of understanding what’s possible and the entrepreneurs buoyed by the new business models are pushing the boundaries. Some of the early models lack the smarts but we will learn a lot this year about the new business models and technology boundaries to push with sensor-enabled societies.

5. What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2014?

There is still quite a bit of disparity as to which apps dominate in the developed world vs. the emerging countries. The differences are due to the varying smartphone penetration, cost of data, regional requirements and interests. However, the gaps are closing every year.

6. Which will be the most dominant tablet platform in 2 years?

The industry expects iOS to continue to dominate the revenue pie and Android the unit share. While Windows made a bold entry with Surface, the lack of coherent strategy and execution has left the platform way behind in numbers and while we might see some incremental performance, iOS and Android will continue to dominate the tablet landscape for the next couple of years.

7. Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2014?

Softbank made the biggest blockbuster deal in mobile last year with a $22B acquisition of Sprint/Clearwire. It is likely that Softbank will make a bid for T-Mobile in a deal of similar size in early 2014 and again lead the industry in M&As. A number of operators are also eyeing operators in Europe and so we might be in for a surprise. In a non-operator merger, our panel correctly predicted Microsoft to make the biggest acquisition (Nokia). This year, they pick Google ahead of Microsoft.

8. Who will dominate the mobile payment/commerce space?

Due to fragmentation, no challenger has emerged who can put up a fight against the might of the financial companies like Visa and Mastercard. As such, the industry expects them to stay in the driver’s seat for some time.

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

LTE has been the fastest cellular technology being deployed in the history of the industry. 4G continues to be the focus for the operators with other solutions chipping in to help manage the insatiable appetite of consumers for more data. There are hopes that some alternate business models to fund mobile data broadband will emerge in 2014.

10. Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2014?

Access has become the most dominant category for generating mobile data revenues worldwide. There are some regional differences for e.g. in North America, messaging’s contribution is tiny while in Asia and Africa, it is a dominant category. OTT services are also starting to make a dent in the overall revenue mix.

11. Which European operator is likely to emerge stronger from the weak economic climate?

Vodafone sold of its previous Verizon possession. Will it help in making the company stronger? Our panel thinks so. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica make up the top three.

12. When will mobile commerce be greater than ecommerce?

As the holiday commerce data showed, mobile was already 50% of the digital traffic in 2013. The panel expects that within 2-3 years, each region is likely to see the tipping point.

13. The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year - 2013 and 2014?

Apple continues to set the pace of the industry, however, Samsung has gone toe-to-toe with its rival and won many battles. Samsung understood the potential of bigger screens better than most and capitalized on it with blockbuster sales around the globe. If you go to Asia, you will see ease with which consumers interact with larger screen devices. Now, this phenomenon is taking over the western markets as well. As is always the case, folks expect Apple to surprise us with iPhone 6. There are expectations that Google (Motorola) and Amazon might spring in a surprise or two.

14. Which platform has a credible shot at becoming a viable and durable 3rd ecosystem in mobile?

In 2013, Windows established itself as the only viable third mobile ecosystem. The gap is likely to increase in 2014 though HTML5 and forked Android based OS might pose a challenge.

15. Mobile company of the year - 2013 and 2014?

Samsung’s performance in 2013 was outstanding. With a massive global footprint, its ambition knew no bounds. It performed exceptionally well generating multi-billion quarters and just dominating the Android landscape. In 2012, Samsung displaced the 14 year reigning champion Nokia from the top spot. In 2013, the company solidified its position and was voted the Mobile Company of the year. However, in 2014, the panel expects Apple and Google to duke it out for the top spot.

16. Which of the following are likely to happen in 2014?

Amazon smartphone is like water on Mars. It is much talked about but hasn’t been spotted yet. Will 2014 be any different? For the first time, expectations improved to 50%+. Microsoft might launch Surface smartphone instead of pushing Windows smartphones. 40% of the panel thought that Softbank will acquire T-Mobile and it will go through. Will Samsung fork Android? The question has been of much speculation in 2013 and will continue to see interest in the New Year as well.

17. Which operator is best positioned for the digital world?

As we outlined in our 4th wave series of papers, mobile operators are at a critical juncture of their evolution. The ones that embrace the digital world will live to see another decade of growth and prosperity while others will perish or be relegated to lesser roles. As we have worked with leading operators around the globe on this transition, I have become more convinced that the digital transformation will redefine the segment. AT&T, Verizon, Softbank, DoCoMo, Telefonica continue to lead. There are many sceptics as well. 2014 will be a year of change and progress.

18. What category will be impacted the most by mobile in the next 5 years?

As I have said before, we are entering the golden age of mobile and every vertical, every industry is going to be transformed by mobile. Which categories are ripe for disruption? Our panel voted for health and monitoring, home automation, wellness/fitness, entertainment, and auto as the top categories. We already saw great progress in 2013 and will see many more companies enter these spaces in 2014. Exciting times ahead.

19. Which segments are likely to get disintermediated the most by algorithms in the next 5 years?

The inefficiencies of a middlemen can be overcome by algorithms. The concept is not new but society expects more each year to narrow the gap between the thought and task execution. Advertising agencies, retail, real estate, transportation, and education seem to be on top of everyone’s mind as the areas that need some algorithmic infusion.

20. Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?

Samsung’s JK Shin was number two behind Tim Cook in last year’s vote. His ascendency to the number one spot for 2013 reflects the success Samsung has had this last year. He was closely followed by Masayoshi Son whose global ambitions put the mobile world on notice in 2013 and John Legere who brought back T-Mobile as a strong contender in the US market. Last year, the expectations were high for Jeff Bezos and they are high again for 2014. Will it be drones or space exploration or just a simple much awaited smartphone? There is a lot to look forward to in the New Year. There were several other leaders who are working on transforming the mobile industry like Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Mark Zuckerberg, Dick Costolo, Neelie Kroes, Lowell McAdam, Ralph de la Vega, Hans Vestberg, John Chambers, Dan Hesse, Tom Wheeler, Matthew Key, Glenn Lurie, Brian Krzanich, and many more.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. Warm wishes for a terrific 2014.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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