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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 , 2 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.

2013 – The year in mobile December 23, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, Applications, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Devices, Disruption, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Fourth Wave, IP Strategy, Intellectual Property, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mobile 2013, Mobile Applications, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 15 comments

Mobile Predictions 2014 Survey: We launched our annual mobile predictions survey for 2014 last week. For all of you have already contributed – many thanks! Rest – will appreciate you filling out the short survey and helping us in analyzing 2014. We even have prizes J. We will have the full analysis from the survey during first week of January.

2013 – The year in mobile

Just like there is no “year of electric cars” or “year of razor blades” or “year of the Greek yogurt,” there is no “year of mobile” or “year of this or that.” However, as we have seen over the 30+ years of mobile evolution, the next year is better than the previous one and so on and so forth. So, 2013 ends in the long tradition and continuum of human endeavor to make significant progress in multiple mobile dimensions and make an impact on individuals and societies alike. 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.

In no particular order, here were some highlights of mobile 2013:

Number of mobile subscriptions ~ humans: the total number of mobile subscriptions got tantalizing close to the number of humans on the planet. Next year, we will go past the milestone but it shows the pervasiveness and strength of the mobile technology that it has become the basic part of our Maslow’s hierarchy.

More data please: As smartphones approach the 2B mark, the data appetite of consumers showed no signs of abating. In Sweden, the mobile broadband subs are consuming over 7GB/mo. In the US, some Android devices are consuming over 4 GB/mo on average. Operators will need to continue to refine their pricing and margin models as the demand for more spectrum will continue.

The dominance of Samsung and Apple: The tussles in the device segment has all the intrigue and juxtaposition of a Shakespearean drama and the ups and downs of a Pavarotti’s masterpiece. Through sheer muscle tenacity and the execution speed of Usain Bolt, Samsung was able to firmly dominate 2013 despite Apple’s grip on the high-end smartphone market. These two account for almost 50% of the smartphone shipments and almost all of the profits in the space. Apple continued to set the tone for the market with the launches of new iPhones and iPads. Though iOS trails Android in raw deployment, it trounces it in consumer usage. It is also remarkable how quickly consumers upgrade to the latest iOS in stark contrast with the Android fragmentation. Apple finally got access to the big Chinese market.

The disappearance of the legacy device brands: Nokia, Motorola, and RIM were dominant players a few years ago but Apple ensured the smartphone script is rewritten. They all made serious strategic errors one after another and while Nokia and Motorola have found new families to host their aspirations, their story should be a reminder of the turbulent cycles of the device business and that the complacency virus spares no one. The rise of the local OEMs should keep everyone on their toes in 2014.

Android juggernaut: In 2013, Android continued to create distance with Apple in terms of downloads, easily going past the mind boggling 1 billion milestone. Android has changed the industry for the better. While there is trouble in the house, Android will continue to play a major role in the device and app ecosystem in 2014.

The growth of OTT Services: As we discussed in our 4th wave paper earlier this year, OTT Services will be the biggest growth segment for the next decade. In 2013, the segment grew 50% ahead of any other telecom segment. Young IP messaging stalwarts fundamentally altered the messaging landscape with Whatsapp performing exceptionally. SMS usage and revenue numbers were impacted worldwide.

The digital revenue streams are very distributed with diverse players such as Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, Expedia, Uber, Pandora, Amazon, AT&T, Telefonica, Verizon, DoCoMo, Netflix, China Mobile, Rovio, Square, Softbank, Ebay, Hertz, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In our work with players around the world this year, it is clear that there is significant energy and application in mining the opportunities on the 4th wave. With nascent efforts in Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia to moonshots in the US and Europe, mobile is rewriting the rules in virtually every industry. Fasten your seat belts for another fast paced year in 2014.

Post-PC beat PC+: Apple expertly wrote the post-PC narrative and while the PC+ crowd has a legit argument, perception is often reality and there in no doubt that from here on out, the industry will be talking about the post-PC world in one voice. Even Microsoft will grudgingly admit to the transition and likely shift its strategy accordingly. As we wrote long time ago, Tablets have fundamentally altered the computing paradigm. In our SMB research released earlier this year, it was clear that smartphones and tablets are the tools of choice for the enterprise and that is not only altering the device business but also the software landscape. Mobile broadband, the cloud, and the applications are altering the enterprises – big and small. Microsoft should take solace from a tough year of progress. Blackberry is practically done and Microsoft has established itself as the distant but a viable third mobile ecosystem. Had it not been for a series of strategic mistakes, Microsoft might have made better inroads in 2013.

LTE launches: LTE is the fastest growing generation of cellular technology in the history. With over 250 networks launched, the desire to launch IP networks quickly is on top of the agenda. US leads with all major operators having substantial LTE deployments but other nations are fast catching up. While there has been quite a bit of focus on LTE, WiFi has been emerging as the white knight and its importance only grew in 2013 with 60-70% of the mobile data traffic being carried by WiFi networks in most of the countries. It might lead to some interesting business models in the coming years. 5G entered the industry lexicon.

M&As: It is natural for fast growing and competitive industries to consolidate. 2013 wasn’t any different. There were some blockbuster and expected M&As: Microsoft acquired Nokia, Softbank surprised with Sprint/Clearwire acquisition, Verizon finally got hold of its destiny from Vodafone. As we have eluded to several times in our past research notes, we expect the global M&A to continue with several block buster deals slated for 2014. Stay tuned.

Patent wars: In maturing markets, patent wars are the unfortunate part of the ongoing battle for dominance. Mobile saw its share of patent wars. With roughly quarter of the USPTO grants becoming mobile related, it shouldn’t come as a surprise though.

Regulatory tussles: Regulators are generally always behind in understanding a fast growing industry. It was clear in 2013, that the convergence of the computing and communications world has left the regulatory world woefully short of expertise and imagination. Governments around the world will do better by hiring folks from the industry to get a grip of the fast-paced every-changing dynamics of the mobile world as the very competitiveness of a nation depends on it. From spectrum to privacy, from competition to commerce, regulators need to get up to speed on unexpected trajectories of the new world.

Security and Privacy: From Snowden revelations to industrial espionage, from credit card data loss to enterprise security, the security and privacy of mobile data, applications, networks, and devices became front and center of the security and privacy debate.

Operator disruption plays: In the telecom space, the #4 player generally doesn’t have a big impact on the overall mechanics of the industry. However, when it has nothing to lose, it can provide a potent dose of disruption to the market. Free in France and T-Mobile in the US were examples of that this year. In France, by offering cheap mobile data services at low margins, the newcomer altered the economics of the segment tumbling the incumbent revenues by 10%. In the US, through a series of financial and marketing maneuvers, T-Mobile was able to alter its net-add trajectory and had meaningful sub gains for the first time in three years. Also, for the first time, T-Mobile forced the top three to react to its moves and not the other way around. It also inspired other smaller players in other countries to rethink their strategies.

Connected devices: The promise of M2M and connected devices has been there for some time. Internet of Things has morphed into the gimmicky Internet of Everything. While the hockey stick curve hasn’t arrived yet, there was plenty to celebrate with the introductions of Google Glasses, wearables, smart watches, connected autos, glamorous thermostats, winking light bulbs, home security and energy management solutions and much more. GE is spending billions for its “industrial Internet” initiative. A nice platform has been set for continued feverish growth and product introductions in 2014.

Mobile’s impact on commerce: Mobile is changing every industry but its impact on commerce is particularly notable. In the 2013 holiday season (according to IBM), mobile made 17% of the online sales increasing over 55% from 2012. Tablet users spent $126/order.

Meteoric rise of mobile apps: In 2010, we evaluated the impact mobile apps will have on the industry. Much of the growth has been expected, however the players who lead in revenue and downloads have fluctuated across the various platforms. In 2013, Google started to match Apple in downloads though Apple easily wins in the revenues category and thus still remains more attractive to the developers though the gap is closing.

There was much more – Twitter IPO, Surface, Moto X, spectrum scandals, Facebook’s love for mobile, Google mobile advertising dominance, the rise of the Chinese OEMs, decline of HTC, and several other events captivated our attention.

I am positive that 2014 is going to be another terrific year for mobile. The progress and surprises will come from all quarters. New players will emerge, new business models will take hold, and we will make significant progress. I am also sure that you all will do your part in shaping the mobile cosmos.

Would love to hear from you. How was your 2013? And what are you looking to do in 2014 that will change the mobile world? Please be sure to fill out our annual predictions survey for 2014.

With best wishes for an outstanding 2014.

Yours truly

Chetan Sharma

New Paper: Mobile Apps Privacy Framework For Consumer Transparency and Control November 19, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, AORTA, Privacy, Security, US Wireless Market, Usability, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Mobile Apps Privacy Framework For Consumer Transparency and Control

A Mobile Future Forward Research Paper

The paper was originally published in the Mobile Future Forward 2013 Book - Mobile 4th Wave: Mining The Trillion Dollar Opportunity

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

Download PDF (1 MB)

mobileprivacy_s

Introduction

Mobile technology is an integral part of our daily life. Mobile devices help consumers in many ways. They help us connect with loved ones, provide directions, catch-up with news, send emails, text friends and family, monitor our heart rate, stream movies, interact on social media sites, and complete transactions in a matter of seconds. Most of the times, applications and services require end-user related data to understand the context and provide appropriate content. It is well understood that data is critical in providing a great user-experience. However, consumers don’t have a clear understanding of how their personal data is being collected, stored, and used.

The collection of consumers’ personal information is not new. The difference now is that there are tools available that help connect various dots to generate the precise information about the user and build a detailed user profile without consumer knowing about it. Because of the location based technologies and various apps on your phone, companies now have a log of all of your day activities. Over time, the data collected can generate significant details about your habits, likes and dislikes, and pretty much build your identity without you ever knowing about it.

There have been many concerns raised by consumers about privacy of their data collected through mobile devices. For example, a nationwide survey indicated that 57% of all the apps users have either uninstalled an app over concerns about having to share their personal information, or declined to install an app in the first place for similar reasons. A mobile app developer had to settle with the FTC because they were collecting kid’s information without their parent’s consent. Delta airlines had to settle with California State when they were cited for mobile apps privacy violation in a lawsuit. A popular social networking application Path was fined $800K by the FTC for improperly sending consumer’s contact information to their cloud. FTC has repeatedly warned leading mobile app developers and platform providers to be more transparent about consumer data and privacy and even issued a recommendation report in 2013.

Data that provides context to the application developer is definitely needed to provide a robust user experience. Google Maps won’t operate well without location information, Whatsapp will not work well without the address book, Facebook requires the interaction history to provide a better newsfeed, Amazon looks at past transactions to recommend new ones, and so on and so forth. However, there is a lack of a simple and consistent way to convey the intent and the value of the data being collected, stored, and used by various application providers.

These concerns clearly indicate that in order to build consumer trust, we must provide control to consumers over their personal information and be extremely transparent about what, when, and where companies are collecting personal information.  There must be a balance. While protecting consumer privacy, there shouldn’t be a negative impact on innovation.

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.

US Mobile Market Update Q3 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, Big Data, European Wireless Market, Fourth Wave, Mobile Applications, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

US Mobile Market Update Q3 2013

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32013.htm

Download PDF (2MB)

Summary

The US mobile data market grew 5% Q/Q and 15% Y/Y to reach $22.8 billion in mobile data revenues. Data is now 48% of the US mobile industry service revenues and as we had forecasted a few years back, the cross-over point of 50% might occur next quarter. For the year 2013, we are expecting $90 Billion in mobile data service revenues for the US market making it the number one market in mobile data revenues ahead of Japan and China. Q4 2013 is looking to be another record breaking holiday quarter for the industry at many levels, which is setting up 2014 quite nicely.

For the quarter, the market added 2.2M new connections, a strong reversal from the paltry 139K last quarter. T-Mobile continued to impress after its strong reversal in industry metrics last quarter on the back of a series of marketing and pricing initiatives that seem to be gaining traction and having an impact on its image and fortune.

Given that Apple didn’t launch the device until Sept and then had severe supply-chain constraints, Android had its best quarter against iOS with 54% share in the US market.  However, iOS is likely to catch-up in Q4.

Smartphones are now past the 64% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for almost 90% of the devices sold in Q3 2013. Apple led the smartphone sales amongst the top 4 operators with 42% share for the quarter. While the US penetration of smartphones is 64%, the 64% of the sub base is concentrated in only 40% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth in the marketplace. Overall, connected devices remains the highest growth segment with 6% Q/Q growth.

Smartphone and Connected Device Growth

Though China has overtaken (primarily because of the sheer size of its population) US in terms of the overall smartphone penetration, US remains the market where OEMs have to be really successful in order to be consider a serious player on the larger canvas. Though the likes of Xiaomi and the Micromax have had good success in their local markets (and still have a great amount of growth left), the prized market to make a sizable dent in their overall revenue and margins is the US market. This is primarily due to handset subsidy that allows consumers to easily own premium brands at bargain-basement prices in addition to the higher disposable incomes. This has helped the ASPs to go up in this market unlike some of the other markets where they have been going down.

US also boasts four leading-edge LTE networks that allows the ecosystem to innovate at the edge, literally. Having access to fast mobile broadband impacts human behavior, application and service development and everything in between. As such, US has become the laboratory for many experiments that benefit the larger ecosystem. This absolutely doesn’t mean that innovative things are not happening in other parts of the world. Far from it. But the “enabling layer” of networks, devices, and platforms is in its most advanced stage in the US. This layer allows folks to build applications and services that will power the global economy.

So, in order to be considered credible in the smartphone space, one must have a decent scorecard in the US today. The pendulum could of course swing and China could take the lead. In fact, US and China are the G2 nations of the mobile world.

While there have been murmurs in the market about smartphone saturation, the upgrade cycles will keep up the demand for more devices in 2014.

Like any ecosystem or a market, there are winners and there are companies who couldn’t perform to their potential. Enough ink has been spilt on Blackberry to reiterate what was quite predictable. The only interesting tidbit that emerged was that as we expected, Lenovo made a serious run for it and the Canadian government stopped it. It is ok for Canadians to use Lenovo laptops but not the smartphones? Of course, the reasons were complicated and different from what have been generally reported. Can Blackberry make a comeback under a savvy CEO? If they continue with the same OS, it is hard to see how?

Apple for the first time launched two models – 5s and a slightly lower priced 5c. It seems like the strategy might have been two fold a) get the supply-chain ready for more than one new model at a time and b) given an additional option to the consumers (in the US) who used to go for a level down version. Since the supply chain was under pressure, it is hard to get a clear picture of what might be happening but the iPhone 5s/c launch allowed Apple to raise the percentage of new devices sold. In fact, based on the weekly sales data from ITG Research, they might have managed to flip the ratio. For e.g. in Sep and Oct 2012, the old models sold 3:1. During Sept-Oct 2013, the new models outsold the old models by 1.7:1. 5s outsold 5c 1.6:1.

The big block-buster deal of Q3 was Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia. It was clearly one of the outcomes Nokia was on the path of the day it chose Windows Phone OS. Microsoft got an effective OEM distribution and design system for really cheap but how long will it take to turn things around? Its mobile fate might largely depend on who the new CEO is.

Tablets are making a tremendous impact in the post-pc era. In the US market, we are already approaching 100M unit sales/year run rate. While Android tablets have taken market share from iPad, Apple remains the undisputed king of the category primarily because of superior hardware and a more robust ecosystem. Android tablets can be cheap but also unreliable, the life expectancy of such tablets can be 50% or so compared to the iPad. The usage is even less. Microsoft launched a credible challenger in Surface but there have been so many missteps that it is not (yet) in the picture of the post-pc transition. 

There has also been quite a bit of excitement about smart watches, smart glasses, smart cars, smart homes, and on and on. However, we must remember that just because device is growing in the era of the smartphones, it doesn’t makes them smart. In fact, most of these devices are where smartphones were in the late nineties – basic, functional, and full of possibilities. The evolution, however, will be much quicker. Google is one company that is pushing the boundaries of across multiple dimensions. Regulators and policy makers better come up to speed on the emerging landscape quickly.

A good test of a platform’s importance is to find out what happens if the platform shuts down for 5 minutes – how much panic and revenue drop does that create in various parts of the world? Another measure of the platform is the value it creates by launching new companies and ideas. For mobile, the answer is fairly obvious.

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

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

We had a very successful Mobile Future Forward Summit last quarter. It was dedicated to exploring the 4th wave in more detail across multiple dimensions and verticals. The dialogue was incredible and validates the march towards the 4th wave that is redefining industries across the spectrum including the wireless industry itself, at its core. Some of these tectonic shifts aren’t very apparent and visible but as I have spent time working with some of the leaders in New York, Silicon Valley, London, Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Hanoi, Singapore, Dallas, New Delhi, and Seattle this year, it has become abundantly that mobile industry is at a key inflexion point that is changing industries and the power structures, creating new opportunities and new revenue streams. In my interview at Mobile Future Forward, Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility indicated that the ARPU from Digital Life customers is higher and the churn is lower. So, the fourth wave services have a direct impact on existing revenue streams as well. Conversely, absence of such services doesn’t yield a pretty picture.

FCC chairman and regulations

Amidst all the cacophony of device launches, acquisitions, and investments, FCC finally got its new chairman. Tom Wheeler is one of the savviest operative in the space with better grasp of the ecosystem, policy, law, and politics than most of his predecessors, so it will be interesting to see what the next FCC era brings over the next 3 years. Clearly, Incentive Auctions will be one of the most critical items on the agenda but some other issues like the potential T-Mobile acquisition and net-neutrality issues are likely to become important as well. Regardless, we are in for an interesting ride.

What to expect in the coming months?

2013 has been quite a year for the mobile industry and as we head into the holiday season, it’s a consumer’s market with plenty of choice and competition.

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 2013 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Shared Data Plans

4th Wave Progress

Handsets

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 research are our clients.

US Wireless Market Update Q2 2013 August 13, 2013

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

US Mobile Market Update Q2 2013

clip_image002

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq22013.htm

Download PDF (2MB)

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is the smartphone growth over?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The disappearing Tier-2s

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

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

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

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

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

OTT impact on legacy businesses and models

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Shared Data Plans

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

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

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

Applications and Services

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

OTT and the impact on legacy services

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

Handsets

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

4th Wave Solutions

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

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

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

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

· Steve Elfman, President, Sprint

· Erik Moreno, EVP, Fox Networks

· Danny Bowman, Chief Sales and Operating Officer, Samsung

· Terry Myerson, EVP – Operating Systems, Microsoft

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

· Jef Holove, CEO, Basis

· Geeta Nayyar, Chief Medical Officer, AT&T

· Rowland Shaw, VP – Strategy, Ericsson

· Andrew Stalbow, EVP, Rovio

· Raj Toleti, President, Patient Point

· Manish Jha, GM – Mobile, NFL

· Drew Patterson, CEO, Room77

· Dr. Avideh Zakhor, Professor, UC Berkeley

· Rick Osterloh, SVP – Products, Motorola – Google

· Jeff Warren, VP – Mobile, Expedia

· Mark Anderson, CEO, SNS

· Doug Suriano, VP – Communications, Oracle

.. More to come

· Stephen David, former CIO, P&G

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

· Glenn Lurie, President, AT&T Mobility

· Jude Buckley, President – Mobility, Best Buy

· David Small, Chief Platform Officer, Verizon Enterprise Solutions

· Tracy Isacke, Head of Americas, Telefonica Digital

· Marianne Marck, SVP – Consumer Facing Technology, Starbucks

· Henning Schulzrinne, CTO, FCC

· Fay Arjomandi, Global Lead, Vodafone Xone

· Biju Nair, EVP and CSO, Synchronoss

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

· Curtis Kopf, VP – Customer Innovation, Alaska Airlines

· Matt Carter, President – Emerging Solutions, Sprint

· Joost Schreve, VP – Mobile, Tripadvisor

· Rod Randall, Partner, Siris Capital

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

· Wim Sweldens, former President, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless

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

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

US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013 June 20, 2013

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

 US Wireless Market Update Q1 2013

http://chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq12013.htm 

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What really drives mobile device performance?

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

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

The Fourth Wave and the shift towards services

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

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

OTT impact on legacy businesses and models

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

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

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

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

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

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

The Patent Battles

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

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

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

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

SMB leading indicator of mobile adoption

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

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

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Shared Data Plans

Applications and Services

OTT and the impact on legacy services

Handsets

Mobile Data Growth

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

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

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Mobile Platforms and the future of HTML5 June 12, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, Chetan Sharma Consulting, HTML5, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

We hosted our 15th Mobile Breakfast Series event yesterday. The topic was – Is HTML5 Really Disruptive?

HTML5 has been talked about for a long time as the most disruptive force for mobile applications since the Apple Appstore was launched 5 years ago. But, can it really change the industry dynamics? How do you solve the reach problem for the developers? Many interesting initiatives in 2013 like Firefox OS but will they make a difference? How do developers view HTML5?

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The platform wars are not new, they have been around since computing evolved. The discussion and debate just morphs into the flavor of the day. In the recent past, smartphones and tablets have redefined computing as we know it. The vitality and strength of any ecosystem is determined by the number of app developers developing for a platform and actively monetizing. Right now there are only two sheriffs in town – for units it is Android and for revenue it is iOS. Others play on the fringes. HTML5 has been in the discussion for a while and whether it can stand on its own as a platform has been a matter of great debate amongst the participants of the trade. As usual, we had an outstanding line of speakers which over a 100 years in combined experience in the mobile space, which is just phenomenal. These guys have worked with all the major computing and device companies so the depth of understanding of real issues, challenges, and opportunity really showed. The panelists were:

Hank Skorny – VP/GM – Software Services, Intel. Hank is a veteran of the platform industry with successful stints at Apple, AOL Mobile, Microsoft, Adobe, Infospace Mobile, and now with Intel. He recently acquired Mashery and Aepona to beef up the Open API initiative for enterprises, operators, and developers.

Jeff Warren – VP – Mobile and Online Partner Marketing, Expedia. Jeff previously worked at Motorola and his team has been doing some great work in mobile at Expedia, a real example of how companies are adapting to the 4th wave that I have been talking about.

Asokan Ashok – Director – Content and Services, Samsung. Ashok has worked for Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, HP, and now with Samsung. You can say, he knows a thing or two about devices.

Sundeep Peechu – Partner, Felicis Ventures. Remember Rovio or rather Angry Birds. Well, he was one of the early believers and investors when it was not fashionable to invest in apps. Now it is a multi-billion dollar industry. Felicis itself is fairly impressive. Just in 6-7 years, they have made 100+ investment with 46 exits.

I kicked off the discussion with an animation of how the market shares have changed in the smartphone space since 2004 from Symbian, Windows and Blackberry to iOS and Android. We do seem to go in cycles. Are we on the tip of another cycle?

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Source: © Chetan Sharma Consulting, 2013

Not a complete change but Hank made the case for HTML5 and articulate a well reasoned thesis that HTML5 is not going to be disruptive because it is the web but rather due the economic reasons. Companies are just running out of people they can hire to build apps and HTML5 provides a solution with more trained staff and cheaper cost of development.

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Source: © Hank Skorny, Intel, 2013

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Source: © Hank Skorny, Intel, 2013

Below is the summary of the discussion:

HTML5 needs a champion

Is it the economics, stupid?

Enterprise to lead the way

HTML5 needs to solve

The world is not either/or

What do consumers think?

All in all, a great discussion. Had insightful questions and comments from the audience as well who are well-plugged into the debate.

Thanks for all those who came and participated. My thanks to the speakers for making the time to share their insights.

Next, our Mobile Future Forward Summit is coming up on Sept 10. The early bird expires this friday so make sure you grab your tickets.

We also released our Mobile Future Forward Research Series Paper -

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It goes into details about why some players are successful in the device space and others aren’t. You can download it here.

Thanks and have a great rest of the month.

New Research: What (Really) Drives Mobile Device Market Performance?

Posted by chetan in : Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Devices, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

What (Really) Drives Mobile Device Market Performance?

- A Mobile Future Forward Series Research Paper

http://chetansharma.com/What_Drives_Mobile_Device_Market_Performance.htm

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Introduction

The computing landscape has drastically changed over the last five years. Consumers are increasingly seeking connected devices with majority of them being mobile. In fact, due to the aggressive buying habits of the US consumer, the overall computing landscape in terms of quarterly sales has unquestionably tilted towards smartphones and tablets. While Apple wasn’t the first one to launch the smartphone, its iPhone completely changed the market dynamics. Google’s Android and Samsung have also ridden the tidal wave perfectly. The US market has been ground zero in the battle of the mobile ecosystems, the war of computing platforms, and quarter-over-quarter sales hand-to-hand combat.

During the 2008-2010 timeframe, it was obvious that the gap between the iPhone and rival offerings was tremendous. The user interface, ease of use, and just the quality of product design won consumers over. Microsoft to its own admission completely misread the shifting landscape and paid dearly. Its once dominant share of computing (95%) was cut into less than half in a matter of four years. The disruption from iOS and Android was so intense that Microsoft had to go back to the drawing board. Microsoft wasn’t alone in being complacent. Once proud leaders of the mobile smartphone era – Nokia and RIM were in denial for a long time of the changing market. They did end up launching pretty credible offerings in 2012-2013 but were clearly late by half-a-decade. LG who once used to go toe-to-toe with Samsung in all major markets just couldn’t keep up with the frantic pace of innovation and product cycles and its weak structural beams gave up under stress. HTC, once the Android darling of the industry, had several mis-steps and hasn’t been able to recover ever since despite launching some great devices.

Given the massive shifts in the computing landscape, it will be instructive to understand “What really drives device market performance?” What factors influence the purchase behavior of the consumer? And can OEMs change their strategy to impact sales? Why have Microsoft and Nokia not been able to make a dent in the trajectory despite having a compelling OS, range of devices, consumer-friendly price-points, better distribution, and increased level of advertising dollars? Will Blackberry be able to recover? Why hasn’t HTC One been able sell in similar numbers as the Galaxy S4 despite being better by most accounts? What will it take for LG to increase share? Can Motorola stay relevant? Can new entrants disrupt the waters? Can ZTE and Huawei come from the bottom and disrupt the top players? Will Apple and Samsung be able to protect their position on the top?

We have tried to address these questions using a framework that looks at the complicated equation of market performance. It is based on subjective assessment but it is informed by data on some of the key variables that impact device sales. The model is applicable to tablet sales as well. It gives us a reference model that can provide an understanding of the shortcomings of certain OEMs relative to others.

By honing in on the model, and with real-time inputs to the model, one can also get a fair assessment of the future device sales. However, sales is just one metric to consider. One has to also look at revenue and profits along with the competitive positioning in the marketplace to truly assess the “market performance” of the player. Having a strong unit share position in the market place is desirable but not a necessary condition to have a strong market performance in a given market. The size of the revenues and profits matter a great deal as well. Similarly, how a company manages and maintains its competitive advantage is very critical. From 2007-2011, Nokia had a dominant unit share but its competitive roadmap looked terrible and the market recognized that. Similarly, Blackberry (then RIM) was the dominant smartphone player of 2008-2009 but it was pretty clear that it is going to end up at a significant disadvantage if it didn’t change its ways in responding to the iPhone.

The mobile market is far from static, it has changed dramatically over the last ten years and it will change again in the next ten. However, the factors that drive market performance are likely to stay consistent.

The paper is primarily focused on the US market; however, model can be adapted for any region or country provided that enough reliable data is available to feed the model. Using the model and our understanding of the industry, we will try to answer the questions raised in this introduction and discuss the most important question of them all – What really drives device market performance?

Download from Mobile Future Forward website

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

New Research Paper: The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud May 6, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, 4th Wave, AORTA, Applications, Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, Enterprise Mobility, European Wireless Market, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Ecosystem, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

The ABCs of SMB Transformation: Apps, Broadband, and the Cloud

- A collaboration between Chetan Sharma Consulting and AT&T

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

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Download pdf (1.5 MB)

Introduction

In 2013, the US mobile data revenues will exceed $90 billion accounting for over 165% growth in the last 5 years. This makes US the biggest market for mobile data solutions and services. The smartphone penetration in the US went past 50% by mid-2012. The number of applications available to consumer has quadrupled in just the last two years. While the growth in the smartphone segment has been quite impressive, the tablet adoption rate has been the highest in the consumer electronics history. The advent of mobile broadband, powerful computing devices, reliable cloud services and applications have changed the computing landscape forever.

At the same time, the Consumerization of IT is changing the face of the enterprise architecture as well. This is felt more acutely in the small-and-medium business (SMB) segment. US is also the biggest enterprise market in the world and the SMB segment represents the more agile and technology-savvy of the ecosystem. In fact, we think it is a leading indicator of how technologies are going to be adopted in the enterprise ecosystem, what trends will prove to be disruptive, which vertical segments will embrace efficiency, and most importantly, how should we think about the ever-changing landscape as we look towards rest of the decade.

Small businesses are at the heart of the US economic engine. They represent roughly 45% of the non-farm GDP. Every administration, every president focuses on small business growth and job creation. Given the importance of small businesses to the economy, it is worthwhile to look at how their technology needs are changing. Additionally, it is important to understand how they are adopting technology and the impact it is having on their productivity, competitiveness, and efficiency. The technology adoption is also putting some of the traditional industry segments at risk while creating several new growth areas.

To understand the impact of mobile broadband, devices, and cloud applications, we conducted a survey of eighty SMB companies of different shapes and sizes across the US serving different verticals constituting over ten thousand employees. We also looked at the data from over twelve thousand companies in the SMB segment and over twenty thousand larger enterprises. Additionally, we conducted a series of interviews to better understand the motivations, requirements, and feedback of these companies. These companies have been in business for twenty years on average with over two years of experience with mobile data solutions. By understanding how they use and benefit from mobile data solutions, we can better identify the course of enterprise mobility in the US and around the world.

Some interesting findings:

· Small and medium businesses are leading indicators of technology adoption. As referenced in this paper, SMB smartphone and tablet penetration is more than 90 and 65 percent respectively; whereas national smartphone and tablet penetration is roughly 55 and 22 percent. 

· Mobile First to Mobile Only. Last year, we proposed that we will start moving from mobile first to mobile only economy. We said that we are approaching a pivot point wherein the mobile first doctrine is going to move to mobile only. We are starting to see strong evidence of that shift. In our survey, roughly 30% of the SMBs are transitioning from desktops/notebooks to smartphones/tablets. Business software and solutions are being transformed by the use of smartphones and tablets. With this shift, we’ve seen the emergence of a generation of app developers focusing primarily on the mobile app platform.

· Mobile broadband, cloud, and apps are providing real and tangible ROI. The SMBs in the survey saw an average savings of 40 minutes per worker per day, which translates into significant impact on profits over the course of the year.

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

Mobile Breakfast Series – Dallas – LTE & Beyond: The future of mobile networks April 3, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G, 4th Wave, LTE, Mobile Breakfast Series, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Print

We are pleased to announce Mobile Breakfast Series is coming to Dallas for the first time. Below are some details about the program:

Mobile Breakfast Series - Excellent Speakers. Invaluable Insights. Peerless Networking.

Mobile Breakfast Series is a quarterly event that brings together thought leaders and visionaries from the global mobile industry to interact and share ideas, insights, and best practices with the entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, and everyone who is passionate about mobile. We dive into the most important issues and opportunities in front of our industry with the executives who are making things happen.

Date: June 25th, 2013

Time: 7:30-11am. 7:30am – Registration, 8:30am – Discussion Begins, 10:00am - Networking

Venue: Tower Club, 1601 Elm Street, Thanksgiving Tower, 48th Floor, Dallas, TX 75201

Registration is open now.

Topic: LTE and Beyond – The future of mobile networks

US is leading the globe in LTE deployment. In fact, most of the cutting-edge engineering with mobile networks is happening here with all major operators deploying LTE. What’s next for mobile networks? How will they evolve over the course of the next decade? Will we be able to keep ahead of the insatiable consumer demand for more? We will have an in-depth discussion with our distinguished speakers.

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Fireside Chat:

Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President – Network Technologies, AT&T Labs

Vish Nandlall, Chief Technology Officer & Head of Strategy, Ericsson

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Kris Rinne, SVP – Network Technologies, AT&T Labs

Kris Rinne is responsible for network architecture, service platforms, radio access roadmap and initial implementation, wireless device requirements and certification, network platforms, network performance analysis, and industry standards development at AT&T. Previously, Rinne served as Cingular’s chief technology officer with similar responsibilities. She earlier served as vice president—Technology and Product Realization, responsible for new product development from a technology standpoint, handset certification, and infrastructure vendor coordination. Prior to joining Cingular, she was vice president—Technology Strategy for SBC Wireless, responsible for new product development and network operations support. She has worked for Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems as managing director—Operations. In 2011, Kris was named as “The Most Influential Woman in Wireless” by Fierce Wireless and was a member of the Global Telecom Business Power 100 list of the most powerful telecom executives.

Vish Nandlall, CTO and Head of Strategy, Ericsson

Vish Nandlall is Head of Strategy, Marketing and Chief Technology Officer for Ericsson’s North American region. He is responsible for identifying Ericsson’s long-term vision, defining the overall company strategy, and driving business value creation for Ericsson’s customers in North America. Nandlall joined Ericsson in 2010, most recently serving as Chief Technical Officer for the company’s AT&T Customer Unit. He previously served as CTO of Extreme Networks and CTO and distinguished member of technical staff for Nortel Carrier Networks. Nandlall has led architecture and standards direction for product portfolios ranging from GSM, CDMA, WiMAX, LTE, metro DWDM, carrier routing and switching, and carrier VoIP portfolios. His recent areas of research include M2M, augmented reality, and mobile virtualization.

New Research Paper: Mobile Patents Landscape: An In-depth Quantitative Analysis – 2013 edition March 26, 2013

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

 

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Introduction

The first recorded reference to patents seems to be in Aristotle’s Politics, composed in the fourth century B.C. However, the first regular administrative apparatus for granting patents – the first patent “system” arose in Venice in the late fifteenth century. As the trade opened up in Europe, the concept of patents spread and reached Great Britain and helped lay the foundations of the modern patent system.

Intellectual Property is the backbone of today’s 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. Intellectual property has been an integral part of the economic engine of the western world for many decades if not centuries. Over the past two decades, nations and corporations have competed on the creation, funding, execution, and protection of the new ideas.

Increasingly, the role of mobile devices, networks, and applications has become an important component of the growth story worldwide. Mobile is playing a central role in all of the trillion dollar industries whether it is healthcare or retail, energy or entertainment, transportation or hospitality, enterprise or consumer. Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in investment and innovation in mobile related technologies that can power the larger economies of nations. As the penetration of mobile devices increases in any given nation, so does the GDP. As more consumers adopt smartphones, the access to information spawns a thousand new entrepreneurs from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg, from Seattle to New Delhi, and from Beijing to Santiago.

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 surpassed the US for the first time in the total patents granted in 2011. China’s growth rate in patents was 22% that year compared to 3.8% for the world and 3.3 for the US.

According to the US Patent Office (USPTO), in 2012, the number of applications grew over 61% from a decade ago. Similarly, the number of patents granted grew over 50%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. In Europe, similar trends were observed where the EPO (European Patent Office) patent grants increased by 23%.

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 591% increase while the European market saw a 76% increase in mobile related patent grants.

Another interesting fact is that in 2013, we expect roughly quarter of all patents granted in the US will be 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 second in the series that does an in-depth quantitative analysis of the mobile patents landscape.

Paper can be downloaded here

Mobile Breakfast Series – June Events

Posted by chetan in : HTML5, LTE, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Future Forward, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Greetings,

It was awesome to see so many of you at the Mobile Breakfast Series Event last week. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here is the summary.

We also announced the date for our Mobile Future Forward program – Sept 10th in Seattle. Stay tuned for some really exciting announcements regarding speakers and the program.

Also pleased to announce the next two breakfast series events.

June 11th – Seattle – HTML5 – Is it really disruptive?

HTML5 has been talked about for a long time as the most disruptive force for mobile applications since the Apple Appstore was launched 5 years ago. But, can it really change the industry dynamics? How do you solve the reach problem for the developers? Many interesting initiatives in 2013 like Firefox OS but will they make a difference? How do developers view HTML5? We will take the pulse of the industry and ask the tough questions.

Hank Skorny, Vice President and GM – Consumer Software, Intel

June 25th – Dallas – LTE and Beyond – The Future of Mobile Networks

US is leading the globe in LTE deployment. In fact, most of the cutting-edge engineering with mobile networks is happening here with all major operators deploying LTE. What’s next for mobile networks? How will they evolve over the course of the next decade? Will we be able to keep ahead of the insatiable consumer demand for more?

Kris Rinne, Senior Vice President, Architecture and Network Planning, AT&T

Vish Nandlall, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Strategy, Ericsson

.. more speakers to be announced.

Registration is open now. First come, first served.

If you have any burning questions or any feedback, please feel free to send us a note.

Have a great spring and we will see you soon.

Thanks

Mobile Breakfast Series Recap – Cloud, SDN, and the art of mobile computing March 25, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4th Wave, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, Big Data, Mobile Applications, Mobile Breakfast Series, Mobile Cloud Computing, Privacy, Security, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

Mobile Breakfast Series entered its 5th year of operation this week with our first event of the year in Seattle. The topic of discussion was Cloud, SDN, and the art of mobile computing.

2012 has been an incredible year for mobile. Despite the global economic doldrums, mobile is a $1.5 trillion economy with new entrants, new disruptions, new devices, technologies, networks, etc. One of the major shifts is in how the revenue is generated for the industry. Mobile operators around the world capture over 85% of the industry’s profits. However, if you take a look at the top 5 global players by profits – it is China Mobile, Apple, Verizon, AT&T and DoCoMo. Still dominated by service providers but Apple wasn’t on the list 2 years back. So, how will the list look like 5 years from now?

There is a clear shift going on what I call “the fourth wave” i.e. industry’s new revenues are going to come from services and solutions. And mobile operators are not silent participants on this wave. Players like Verizon, AT&T, Telefonica, and DoCoMo are going toe-to-toe with the OTT or Internet players. If you remember the early 2000s, mobile data wasn’t even registering on the revenue scale; 10 years ago mobile data revenues were less than $1 billion per year in the US. Last year, we reported $79 billion, this year it will grow to $90 billion. In fact, we might see a shift where data revenues > voice revenues this year in the US. It has already happened in Japan, over 65% revenue coming from data. But what happens when data saturates, the revenue is going to come from fourth wave services and solutions. You will start to see operators break out revenues from digital services.

So, the question is what those services are – cloud is on top of the list, big data and analytics is on the top of that list? How are these going to be supported – by LTE network, buy SDN enabled network infrastructure? To discuss all of this we assembled a great panel.

Mitch Lewis, Vice President, Juniper Networks

Biju Nair,  EVP and Chief Corporate Strategy Officer of Synchronoss

Randy Wagner, Executive Director, B2B Sales and Marketing, Verizon Wireless

Louis Brun, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Product Strategy, Guavus

Chetan Sharma, President, Chetan Sharma Consulting (moderator)

Before we began, Mitch Lewis gave a talk on “Seven Leadership Principles From Everest” .. yes, you read it right, Everest. Mitch has not only climbed Everest but each of the 7 highest peaks on the 7 continents. If that were not enough, he has run 7 marathons on these continents as well. It was indeed a thrill and a privilege to host my friend Mitch and have him talk about his experiences and the lessons from a dream that he accomplished over the course of 8 years. Just a phenomenal achievement.

Below is his presentation and a video from his talk. Enjoy and get motivated.

 

 

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We could have just stopped there :)

But we had plenty to discuss on the state of mobile cloud computing and the emergence of SDN.

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Below is the summary of the discussion:

Cloud Computing

SDN

Privacy and Security

Big Data

As usual, it was a lively discussion and with the added presentation from Mitch, a memorable one indeed. Mobile cloud has become a layer of computing just like security or connectivity. This fundamental capability has led to a thousand new companies looking to move the art of computing a bit forward. Software Defined Networking is slated to disrupt the infrastructure in a big way, provide more flexibility to service providers and developers to create even more compelling services and user experiences.

We also announced the date of our 2013 Mobile Future Forward. On Sept 10th this year, leaders of the mobile industry will gather in Seattle to brainstorm the future of mobile. As usual, it is going to be a delight to host the best and brightest. So mark your calendars, make your plans, and we hope to see you there later this year. More news to come in the coming weeks.

Thanks to all those who attended and thanks to Synchronoss for being our series partner.

Chetan

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

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

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq42012.htm

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Race for the 3rd ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

Apple’s dominated 2012 – what’s next?

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

Samsung’s rise

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

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

The Fourth Wave has arrived – the shift towards services

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

The Patent Battles

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

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

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

The vanishing Tier-2s

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

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

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

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

Surface, mini, and the tablet market

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

2012 – US Highlights and Milestones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Smartphones penetration eclipsed the 50% mark.

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

· mCommerce started to eclipse eCommerce for some companies.

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

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

What to expect in the coming months?

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

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

Against this backdrop, the analysis of the Q4 2012 and full year 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

Mobile Data Growth

Intellectual Property/Patents

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

Mobile World Congress 2013 Recap March 6, 2013

Posted by chetan in : 4G, AORTA, Chetan Sharma Consulting, European Wireless Market, LTE, Mobile World Congress, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 6 comments

“Welcome to Spain, Thank you for your business,” remarked the immigration officer and thus started my yearly pilgrimage to the grand slam of mobile – The Mobile World Congress 2013. It is truly a global event with participants from virtually all countries looking to do business, learn a thing or two, and ponder over what the year will bring forth. The show moved to a new venue which made the logistics work much better for attendees and exhibitors but the venue lost its charm and character. We used this opportunity to feel the pulse of the industry and understand where things are headed. This note summarizes our observations from the show.

While there was no blockbuster announcements or products that will knock your socks off, several interesting trends emerged that will keep the industry exciting to watch in 2013.

The perennial search for the #3 ecosystem continues: Windows sales have disappointed thus far, Blackberry has launched new devices but hasn’t quite hit the mark. So, while consumers seem perfectly happy with iOS and Android, industry’s desire to have a third robust ecosystem is palpable. The biggest announcement in that regard was from Firefox OS and in a matter of 12 months, it has not only forged a strong alliance with operators, it is actually getting ready to ship phones. It is going to be targeting the low-end of the market which is a smart strategy but a lot depends on the range of price points of the devices and how quickly it can attract the developer ecosystem. Given that Android device price points are hovering around $50 and it is a mature ecosystem with great developer reach and support, it will be challenging to convince consumers to go the Firefox route. However, if the price points are attractive enough, with the distribution power of some key operators, we could see some early traction. Ubuntu, Jolla, and Tizen were also vying for attention.

LTE everywhere: LTE deployment is growing at a very fast pace. The US market is ahead of the curve with almost national footprint from Verizon followed by substantial coverage from the remaining three operators. Elsewhere, operators are gearing for deployment once some of the spectrum issues/auctions are sorted out.

The 4th Wave has arrived: Last year, we put forth a framework for future mobile industry revenues in our 4th wave paper. Since then, the framework has been embraced by many leading operators around the globe. It was good to hear operators talking more about services rather than data plans. Several areas were discussed by the leading tier 1 operators such as health, retail, education, cloud, M2M, automobile, enterprise, security, connected living, home security, commerce, identity and privacy, big data and analytics. Operators who are able to steer their giant organizations to focus on services will be able to survive the commoditization of access. We will have more say on the subject later this year.

Yo OTT, luego existo: which is Spanish for “I OTT, therefore I am” To be a player in the digital world, one has to be an OTT provider for communications and beyond. The interesting dichotomy of the communications OTT business is that very few will survive. The end state of a majority of them (if not all) is either an M&A with a telco or an Internet player or they run out of cash. The new breed of OTTs has forced the lumbering giants to think different about their customers and their markets.

Mobile Broadband, Cloud, and Apps: The troika of broadband network access, the cloud infrastructure and the applications are creating a sea change in the enterprise, especially the SMB segment. It is also changing how developers see the enterprise segment as the opportunity migrates from windows to iOS and Android. We conducted some in-depth research in the space and will have more to share later this year. Our Mobile Breakfast Series later this month will be dealing with the topic of Cloud and SDN in more detail.

Redefining Monopoly: The mobile and internet worlds have collided but the regulatory regimes haven’t changed. European operators seemed to indicate that it is time to reassess what a monopoly really means and the rules should apply to all layers of the ecosystem stack and that means devices and OSs as well.

Device Launches: All major OEMs are following the Apple playbook as far as the device announcements are concerned. To garner media attention, it is best to announce the “hero” devices away from major shows. Just like CES earlier this year, MWC lacked any big device announcements. Nokia announced mid-low tier devices to expand its portfolio that will help it in unit sales. ZTE, Huawei, LG, Asus, NEC, Sony, HTC, HP, Asus, Acer, Lenovo all had new devices to display but media’s eyes are set on Samsung’s Galaxy release later this month.

Local OEMs: Traditional OEMs are facing some healthy competition from new entrants in local markets. Players like Fly and Yotaphone in Russia are giving the veterans a run for their money. By both innovating with new features but also by customizing the devices for the local market (e.g. bigger battery that last 3 days), they are creating their own niche. After gaining good market share in Russia, Fly is expanding into other markets.

Connected Cars: When the biggest operator by revenue announces a deal with the biggest car manufacturer, people take notice. GM and AT&T announced LTE cars by 2015 which will pretty much force the entire auto industry to provide broadband connectivity in a hurry. However, the auto industry has misplaced expectations on apps and any incremental revenue they might be able to harness from them.

Samsung Knox, Blackberry – can you hear me now: Android is probably the most insecure mobile platform out there. Blackberry has long been the gold standard, iOS has improved, Windows has security features built in but security has always been a step-child of Android. Samsung’s Knox announcement elevates Samsung’s role in the mobile enterprise and to some extent takes over some of the development capability of Android that are squarely aimed at Blackberry. The container security feature set with MDM integration is well thought out and opens up the mobile enterprise market for Samsung especially in North America and Western Europe.

Spectrum and Regulations: While spectrum was a universal issue with the operators, more is better, European operators were particularly vocal about the state of the regulatory affairs on the continent. Regulators, they complained, are killing the industry by cutting of revenue opportunities, are fostering too much competition, too much taxation, and too involved in the operations of the operators. This is leading to declining revenues and turmoil at the operators. There might be some unintended consequences of weakening operators and regulators will have to grapple with some interesting questions that a free market economy will pose in the coming days.

TU Go – Take your phone number everywhere: In our opinion, Telefonica has done the best job of dealing with the digital world in putting forth an org structure that can crank out applications and services at Internet speed. TU Go is a new service (launched in UK) that allows users to take their phone number to any supported device and use it for calling and texting – number in the cloud at its best.

NFC is dead, Long Live NFC: Vodafone CEO’s frank admission that he doesn’t expect to make much money from NFC gave the audience a bit of a pause. Several NFC initiatives have floundered without clear goals or vision. Instead of working together, the industry has remained fragmented and thus the lack of scale has hampered progress. For too long, the industry has focused on payments but the opportunity lies in the engagement with the customer. For better or for worse, the financial industry has sequestered its commission for the foreseeable future. We saw some clever NFC implementations to drive consumer engagement and commerce in retail environments, primarily in Europe.

Consolidation looms: The question that is on everyone’s mind but was hardly discussed at the show was the coming onslaught of consolidation at virtually all layers of the ecosystem.

Developing Markets: Connecting the next billion was a recurring theme. The smartphone penetration in the developing world is in the single digits. More than that, introducing consumers to a computing platform for the first time is an exciting opportunity. Creating services that are tailored to the local environment remains an opportunity that can have a profound impact on society. Our own work with the UN/ITU has shown the transformative role of mobile in almost every walk of life. The device unit growth is coming from the developing markets and as they get connected, the world becomes flatter, and the competitive dynamics in a globalizing world will create for some interesting policy and political battles.

M2M and Internet of Things: As we wrote in our book “Wireless Data Services” back in 2004, the connectivity is becoming pervasive. The module costs are coming down fast and the desire to measure and track every number that is important in our lives is creating a massive opportunity. However, privacy, battery life, environment, security remain key issues that need to be tackled.

Identity as a business opportunity: In a digital world where access to information and resources depend on verification of your identity, the guards and keepers of the identity information have a big role to play. As such, “identity” management is emerging as an opportunity that can be monetized. In the online world, Facebook has become the dominant way to integrate apps and services. In the mobile world, operators can play a significant role in authentication and verification. Will the two worlds collide? Fasten your seat belts.

The Post PC world: As an experiment, for the MWC trip, I carried just the Nexus 7 tablet and an iPhone. I felt liberated. In the past, for day trips, I have relied just on iPad/iPhone for taking care of my computing needs. For this trip, I wanted something that I can carry in jacket pocket. Nexus was good enough for taking simple notes, email, browser and even some phone calls. I could easily switch back-and-forth between the tablet and the phone, and the combined battery life lasted the whole day.

The Miscellaneous:

· Google’s absence from the show puzzled many

· The enthusiasm for RCS/Joyn seems to have subsided as reality sets in

· Nokia is broadening the reach of its HERE platform to other operating systems

· AT&T/Ericsson showed WebRTC demo

· Facebook announced messaging partnerships with operators in developing countries

· Small cells remained a hot topic though seen more of a compliment for the macro network

· Signaling traffic continues to grow at a faster pace than the data traffic as more LTE devices come on the network

· Qualcomm launched RF360 solution to deal with frequency band fragmentation which is serious problem for LTE roaming

· Yotaphone with its dual screen (front and back) and NEC Medias with its stacked up screens had something fresh to offer in the devices space when 99% of the devices look the same

· Virtualization is the new black in mobile networks

Best booth: Ericsson’s networked world theme was well thought-out and provided a unique exploratory view of the opportunities and technology evolution. A close second – Connected City.

Best party: There won’t be an MWC without the bevy of parties every night. Qualcomm again stole the show with the jam-packed confluence of the mobile elite.

2013 Mobile Industry Predictions Survey January 2, 2013

Posted by chetan in : Chetan Sharma Consulting, Connected Devices, European Wireless Market, IP Strategy, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Predictions, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 2 comments

First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013. My thanks to all who participated in our 2013 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an insider’s view of the trends and predictions for the New Year.

2012 was a terrific year for the mobile industry. Mobile data continued to drive most of the mobile growth around the world. Mobile also started impacting every major vertical industry around the globe. In fact, mobile has become so ingrained in the fabric of business productivity and social interaction that it is not longer the new growth engine, it has become the engine.

The competitive dynamics stayed quite vibrant in 2012. We saw epic battles in the markets as well as in the courts. 2012 also saw the PC value chain struggling for relevance while the smartphones and tablets unit sales captured all the attention and headlines.

As we peer into 2013, we will see the total number of cellular subscriptions eclipsing humans on the planet. The connected device made steady progress. Anything that should be connected is being connected - creating a web of new opportunities and challenges.

LTE has become the fastest deployed cellular technology in the approximately 35 year history of the industry. Broadband combined with connected devices and applications are changing the way we live, we interact with others, do business, and consume information.

The European economic crisis impacted many players especially the large telcos, making the transition to digital ever more urgent. As voice and messaging revenue curves decline and access revenue approaches its high mark in the next few years, investment in the fourth curve becomes critical for all players.

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=200) from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and from around the world participated to help see what 2013 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. The survey provides a view of how they see the upcoming year for mobile.

30 names were randomly drawn for the limited edition of the Mobile Future Forward 2012 book. The winners are:

Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year.

Be well, do good work, stay in touch, and stay away from Triskaidekaphobiacs.

Thanks and with warm wishes,

Chetan

2013_2

What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2012?

2012 was a spectacular year for smartphones. Smartphones in most western nations are now over 80% of the devices sold every quarter. China will soon become the biggest market by unit volume and the rest of the world is catching up fast as we see sub-$50 Android devices flood the market. Apple vs. Samsung has become akin to Lakers vs. Celtics of the eighties or the India vs. Pakistan rivalry in cricket. The passion and intense competition between the two super powers was clearly the headline of the year. That pushed the Android vs. iOS tussles as the subheading for 2012. As we enter into 2013, the legacy computing aka PC players will need to reinvent themselves or expect substantial decline in their fortunes.

2013_3

  1. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2013?

2013_4

The role of mobile data in industry’s growth has been cemented by the insatiable appetite for higher speeds, more apps, and social interaction and is expected to continue at a feverish pace as LTE roles out around the world and the developing world catches up. We are likely to see the Apple and Google rivalry intensify. One is a master of hardware and the other of software. Both have their Achilles heel and much is at stake in the coming year. Many expect Microsoft’s Windows to make progress to lay claim to become a viable 3rd ecosystem. 2013 will try to answer that question.

Who will be the most open player in the mobile ecosystem in 2013?

2013_5

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

2013_6

Many in the industry talk about Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon as the most important platform players in the business today. However, when it comes to mobile, in addition to the defacto top-two, our survey picks Samsung as number three by a good margin. Samsung has become a strong player in the digital ecosystem that commands attention and respect. The top 10-15 global operators play a strong role in the mobile ecosystem and collectively edged out Amazon and others for the number four spot. Facebook and Microsoft while strong in the desktop world have a lot to prove to be considered a top tier player in mobile.

What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2013?

2013_7

Our industry seems fascinated with the potential of mobile payments and voted it to be the top mobile applications and services category for 2013. Given the importance of Cloud in all apps/services, it is no surprise that it is part of the top 2. Mobile Commerce, Big data, and connected devices rounded up the top 5.

What will be the most popular consumer mobile applications in 2013?

2013_8

There are regional variations when it comes to the popularity and revenue potential of mobile applications. Messaging, mobile commerce, and social dominate the developing world while location based services replaces messaging in the developed world as the key mobile application. Mobile health and gaming made a strong show in both regions.

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

2013_9

So far, iOS has dominated the tablet landscape. With iPad, Apple has effectively carved out the mid-high tier of the tablet space. Android players are losing or barely making any revenue from this device category. Windows tablets are priced so high that it is trying to compete with laptops rather than the tablets. Our panel expects Android to catch-up in unit sales and iOS to dominate the revenues by good margins. Windows is likely to stay a marginal player.

Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2013?

2013_10

Microsoft and Google both have big cash balanced to make some sizable acquisitions in 2013. Microsoft lacks traction and attention and will try to make a move but which player can give them an edge? Apple also needs to beef up its software operations significantly but doesn’t have the history of big acquisitions. Operators are also looking to become OTT players themselves and might make moves to shore up their strategic interests. Many participants think that Nokia and RIM have seen their final year as an independent entity.

How will the "Apps vs. Mobile Web" debate shape up in 2013?

2013_11 

In 2012, many expected the resurgence of “mobile web” but it hasn’t panned out that way. Google has doubled up on apps, Facebook realized HTML5 isn’t going to cut it, and the expectations pendulum swung back to the apps and might stay there for 2013.

Who will dominate the mobile payment/commerce space?

2013_12

Three years ago, mobile payments/commerce seemed to be the “blue ocean” opportunity but financial guys have firmly protected their turf, at least for now. Hopes were high for operator led initiatives but the enthusiasm has tapered off. Startups like Square are doing more to disrupt the payments space than some of the established players. The only exception is PayPal, which has so far been able to create good distance with the competitors. Microsoft has surprisingly been absent in a critical space.

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

2013_13

4G, mobile offload, and tiered pricing have been most effective in managing the costs of mobile data consumption though spectrum has garnered more of the noise share.

Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2013?

2013_14

Access dominates the developed world while messaging has the lion share in the developing world. We will see access becoming the dominant category in the emerging markets fairly soon.

Which European operator is likely to emerge stronger from the current economic climate?

2013_15

European operators have been battered by struggling economy and regulatory changes. Many are rethinking their strategy, shedding off assets, and just trying to keep their head above water. The leaner operations and refocused strategic direction might help them recover better when the economy improves. While our global panel picked Vodafone to have the strongest recovery, our European panel picked Telefonica to emerge stronger.

When will mobile commerce be greater than ecommerce?

2013_16

A majority of the panel thinks that mobile commerce will eclipse ecommerce in revenues generated by 2015 in North America and Asia and by 2020 for the rest of the world. There are already strong signs that commerce is shifting from online to mobile.

The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year - 2012 and 2013?

2013_17

Apple continues to produce the most desirable devices. iPhone and iPad dwarf everything else and easily was the company with the most successful gadget in 2012. However, the panel expects Samsung to best its rival in 2013. Google and Amazon might mount a credible challenge but their chances of producing something truly dominating remain low.

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

2013_18

Windows 8 phones finally launched in 2012. The design is solid, the OEM support is growing, the number of apps are rising and while it is still a long ways to becoming a credible 3rd ecosystem, it has the best shot at becoming one. The only rival seems the HTML5-based OS initiatives. The application developer community actually voted for HTML5 over Windows as the 3rd ecosystem that has some chance of competing with iOS and Android which completely dominate in revenues and unit sales respectively.

Mobile company of the year - 2012 and 2013?

2013_19

Samsung eclipsed Nokia and Apple to become the most dominating device player in unit volume in almost all major markets. The speed with which it is churning out devices has pretty much crushed the rest of the Android ecosystem and is going head-to-head with Apple. For this performance, the panel voted Samsung to be the mobile company of the year for both 2012 and 2013 with Apple and Google close behind.

Which of the following are likely to happen in 2013?

2013_20

The rumor chamber is ablaze with the possibilities of Apple TV, smartphones from Amazon and Microsoft, and data-only plans to make their appearance in 2013. Square and Twitter could be the hot acquisitions of the year though Twitter is likely to chose IPO glory. Will Samsung fork Android? Will Sprint and T-Mobile merge? Will European operators get acquired? These are some of the questions that are likely to keep the media on their toes this year.

Which operator is best positioned for the digital world?

2013_21

As we outlined in our research paper “Operator’s Dilemma: The Fourth Wave,” the business of being a mobile operator is at a critical juncture and operators are investing heavily into creating the digital business. AT&T, Verizon, NTT DoCoMo, Softbank, and Telefonica are already generating billions of dollars from these initiatives and lead the operator contingent in the digital world.

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

2013_22

In the past, Steve Jobs was consistently the person of the year in mobile. In 2012, Tim Cook effectively managed to produce record profits for the investors and navigated Apple to keep its “most valuable enterprise” title intact for the year. Apple is still the company on top of the hill. JK Shin of Samsung was voted number two for 2012. For 2013, the landscape changed. Our panel overwhelmingly voted Jeff Bezos to impress us the most in 2013. Amazon has done a good job disrupting the device model and with its strong commerce expertise, it is looking to take on both Google and Apple at the same time. Andy Rubin of Google with the 1 billion Android units milestone coming up this year will be a good contender for the title as well.

There were several other leaders who impressed in 2012 e.g. Paul Jacobs (eclipsing Intel in market cap), Jack Dorsey (disrupting the mobile payments market with Square), Masayoshi Son (for Sprint acquisition and global ambitions), Dan Hesse (for navigating Sprint through rough waters), Glenn Lurie and Matthew Key (for leading the digital transformation of the two giants – AT&T and Telefonica respectively), Rhen Zhengfei (for making Huawei into a dominating infrastructure provider), Lowell McAdam (for making Verizon the number 1 mobile data operator in the world) and Ralph de la Vega (for making AT&T the number 2 ahead of NTT DoCoMo).

All in all, a great collection of thoughts and comments. Thanks again to everyone who participated. Have a great 2013.

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2012 November 12, 2012

Posted by chetan in : 3G, 4G, AORTA, ARPU, Applications, Infrastructure, LTE, M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions, Messaging, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Applications, Mobile Cloud Computing, Mobile Commerce, Mobile Ecosystem, Mobile Future Forward, Mobile OEMs, Mobile Operators, Mobile Payments, Mobile Traffic, Privacy, Security, US Wireless Market, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

US Mobile Data Market Update Q3 2012

http://www.chetansharma.com/usmarketupdateq32012.htm

 

 

Summary

The US mobile data market grew 3% Q/Q and 17% Y/Y to reach $19.9B in Q3 2012. Data is now almost 43% of the US mobile industry service revenues. For the year 2012, the market is on track for mobile data revenues in the US market to reach our initial estimate of $80 billion.

Largely due to the strong postpaid performance by Verizon, the US operators added a net of 2.4M new subscribers. Sprint and T-Mobile saw further postpaid declines. For T-Mobile, Q3 marked the nine straight quarters of postpaid losses.

The quarter also saw a couple of block-buster operator M&As that took many in the industry by surprise. T-Mobile found a soul mate in MetroPCS while Softbank showed up at the altar for Sprint. Once the mergers are executed, Sprint is likely to emerge as the stronger of the two.

The two horse OS race got a new participant entry last month – Windows 8. Microsoft and its partners launched a worldwide campaign for a chance to compete. Microsoft also made a splash with the first computing device in its history – Surface. Both got a mixed reception from the market. We will find out how consumers will react in the Q4 numbers. Of all the OEMs, Q4 will be the most critical for Nokia who is running out of runway in its turnaround effort.

Despite setbacks in the IP battles, Samsung continued its march of being the undisputed unit leader in mobile device space. After displacing Nokia in Q1 2012, it continued to dominate in units shipped in Q3 2012. However, Apple dominates both the smartphone revenues and more importantly just crushes the competition on device profits. It has only 6% of the global unit shipment share but over 70% profit share. In tablets, Apple completely dominates the landscape in both shipments and revenue. In fact, 95% of the profits in the tablet segment go to Apple with the remaining ecosystem fighting for the crumbs. Apple has the complete stronghold on the supply chain and has sucked out the oxygen from the OEM world.

Amazon hasn’t been shy about its ambitions in the mobile space. While the world awaits an Amazon smartphone, the company launched a slew of tablets to compete primarily with Google though its eyes are on Apple. Apple also launched iPad mini a mid-tier tablet to ward of threats coming from the bottom tier of the market.

As we mentioned it in our last update, smartphones are now past the 50% mark in the US and continue to sell at a brisk pace accounting for over 75% of the devices sold in Q3 2012.

While the US penetration of smartphones is over 50% as we reported last quarter, the 50% of the sub base is concentrated in only 30% of the households thus leaving plenty of growth left in the marketplace.

In terms of Y/Y growth, Connected Devices segment grew 19%, Prepaid 10%, Wholesale 6%, and Postpaid was flat. The connected devices segment picked up some growth after two straight quarters of sub-5% performance growth (Q/Q).

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

Postpaid Doldrums and evolution of metrics – ARPU to ARPA to AMPA

The US market has added roughly 400K postpaid subs in the last two quarters. Verizon has added 2.4M, AT&T 400K, and Sprint and T-Mobile have lost a million each. Clearly, Verizon’s performance is far superior to its competitor and its relentless focus on postpaid has yielded significant benefits. Typically, the postpaid ARPU is roughly 2-3 times that of a prepaid subscriber. So, while other operators have been adding prepaid subs, the improvement to the bottom line has been tepid especially for Sprint and T-Mobile. Sprint’s losses have been primarily due to the bleeding of the Nextel customers. The iDEN network should turn off sometime next year and the continuous loss of overall postpaid subs might stop. T-Mobile faces a deeper challenge. Its net-revenue has declined in every quarter since Q4 2008, which is 15 straight quarters of revenue decline. In fact, its current revenue levels is at the Q2 2006 levels – that was six years ago. Though the company has done a terrific job upgrading the network to HSPA+ and doing blocking and tackling until it upgrades to LTE to come at par with its peers, the continuous bleeding of the postpaid subs needs a new strategy. Metro PCS helps gain new subs and spectrum but doesn’t help with postpaid. In fact, one can expect that the churn will rise as consumers migrate from Metro to T-Mobile. 2013 will be a critical transition year for the company as it tries to compete with its larger competitors. Just being a “value” provider is the race to the bottom.

We have been advocating shared data plans to create more consumer demand for over two years. When I talked to CNBC earlier this year (Jan), I said that in all likelihood the family data plans will be introduced in the US market in 2012. I discussed this more with Bloomberg and USA Today and suggested that most likely Verizon will launch them first. Verizon and AT&T launched the shared data plans this summer with AT&T getting the benefit of launching it second. New types of plans also evolved the decades-old operator metric of ARPU to ARPA (Average Revenue Per Account) given that we are seeing a strong influx of multiple devices per individual/household. Verizon was first to transition and we expect others might introduce new matrices to measure progress and performance. AMPA (Average Margin Per Account) will also become an important metric in the coming days, first internally, and then for the markets.

Messaging Decline

Most western markets have seen the net revenue in the messaging segment decline. The US market has resisted the decline thus far. In Q3 2012, for the first time, there was a decline in both the total number of messages as well as the total messaging revenue in the market. It might be early to say if the decline has begun or the market segment will sputter along before the decline takes place. As we had outlined in our fourth wave paper, once the market segment reaches the 70-90% penetration mark, the decline begins and we might be seeing the start of the decline in messaging revenue. The decline is primarily due to the rise in IP messaging and operators have been slow to evolve their strategies in the segment.

Operator’s Dilemma (And Opportunity): The Fourth Wave

In our paper “Operator’s Dilemma (and opportunity): The Fourth Wave” earlier this year, I proposed that we need a new framework to think about the next generation of revenue opportunities. The fourth curve opportunities are massive but require a different skillset and strategic approach that the past three curves. We are starting to see operators becoming more focused and aggressive. It is being widely adopted in the operator community around the world and some operators have started to break out the 4th wave revenues in their financials. We will have more discussion about how things are shaping up in future research papers.

AT&T has been better prepared in the US market and has embraced the ride on the fourth curve. It is investing in the areas of Digital Life, Mobile Premise Solutions, Mobile Payments, and Connected Vehicles. We discussed the subject at length in our recently concluded annual thought-leadership summit – Mobile Future Forward.

Operator M&A – The Rule of Three Strikes Back

Just when you thought the prospects of any major operator M&A slowed down due to the impending US election, T-Mobile announced its acquisition of Metro PCS giving it more spectrum, access to public markets, a good chunk of subscriber base to become a more competitive number 4. Sprint and Softbank followed the announcement with an absolutely brilliant maneuver. Sun Tzu would have been proud. It provides Sprint access to capital, economies of scale, and becomes a much stronger number 3, and a global telecom player with scale and ambition. There have been some interesting twists and turns but as we have stated before, the US market competitive equilibrium will be complete when Sprint and T-Mobile get together at some point down the road.As outlined in our research paper on the subject, market forces find their way to get to 3 dominant operators that compete for attention and revenues, rest becomes noise. While the regulators might scoff at the idea, the inevitable market forces will find their way around.

Connected Devices

In Q3 2012, we released some research around connected devices. If we just look at the active connected devices which can connect to the Internet directly either by wireless or wired means, either using cellular or WLAN, the total number of connected devices in the globe just crossed the 10 billion mark which means that the connected device to human ratio is now 1.3.

More details available here.

Device ecosystem

Windows 8 arrival – Sept was a big month in Microsoft’s attempt to regain its lost mobile decade. It went from a dominant position to virtually zilch coinciding with the remarkable ascend of iOS and Android. To make any device sell – one needs good and competitive device, distribution channel and marketing muscle, and brand loyalty. I think Windows 8 is genuinely good, is different, and for the first time can stand with its peers (obviously it needs to build a robust apps portfolio and a stronger developer ecosystem).

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

However, Nokia, once propped at every Windows Phone rally isn’t getting any special love from Microsoft anymore (in public) and it has become one of the many OEMs on the conveyer belt. Its ability to differentiate itself enough in Q4 will decide its 2013.

Last week, Qualcomm eclipsed Intel in market cap marking another milestone in the progression of the mobile ecosystem.

Surface, mini, and the tablet market

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

Apple is getting a lot of grief for its maps app. While the strategic decision to take control of a key application was spot on, it faltered on communications. The half-baked endeavor was nowhere close to being the “best mapping app.”

Infrastructure segment faces a tough road ahead

The infrastructure segment of the wireless industry is facing turbulent and interesting times. The business model for many vendors hasn’t evolved much in the last few years and some of the disruptive forces are bound to have a deep impact on the segment. ALU is facing serious headwinds and will need to figure out its strategic options going forward. Ericsson’s margins are under pressure but more interestingly its services and support revenue exceeded its hardware revenue for the first time. Huawei and ZTE reported decline in revenues but they are making gains in the infrastructure markets outside US and in handsets in the US market. Until Premier Xi Jinping and President Obama sort out their geopolitical differences, the Chinese vendors remain shutout of the US infrastructure market.

What to expect in the coming months?

All this has setup an absolutely fascinating 2013 in the communication/computing industry. Convergence is everywhere and is leading to a fundamental reset of the value chains and ecosystems. Players who firmly attach themselves to the 4th wave will reap benefits while the ones who miss it will see their fortunes dwindle.

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 2012 US wireless data market is:

Service Revenues

· The US Wireless data service revenues grew 3% Q/Q and 17% Y/Y to $19.9B in Q3 2012. For the year 2012, we are forecasting that mobile data revenues in the US market will reach $80 billion.

ARPU

Subscribers

Applications and Services

Handsets

Mobile Data Growth

Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma

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

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

Connected Consumer 2012 September 13, 2012

Posted by chetan in : AORTA, Connected Devices, Wireless Value Chain, Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

Connected Consumer 2012

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

 

We just concluded another successful Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit on Monday. The theme of the summit was Connected Universe. Monetizing Opportunities. During my opening, I discussed some results from the research we just completed on Connected Devices. This note summarizes the findings.

If we just look at the active connected devices which can connect to the Internet directly either by wireless or wired means, either using cellular or WLAN, the total number of connected devices in the globe just crossed the 10 billion mark which means that the connected device to human ratio is now 1.3.

· 70% of the connected devices use some form of wireless connection.

· In the US, roughly 80% of the devices use some form of wireless connection.

· For the US Household survey, we asked 1014 HHs about the number of connected devices in their households.

Download pdf (1 MB)

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