Mobile Breakfast Series – Mobile 2012: Trends and Opportunities

Mobile Breakfast Series – Mobile 2012: Trends and Opportunities

We held our 8th Mobile Breakfast Series event earlier today. As is the tradition, we delved into discussing the trends and opportunities for the coming year. As usual it was a sold out crowd with terrific panelists representing different parts of the value chain.

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2011 has been a fascinating year – with all the mergers, sky rocketing data growth especially in the US market. 2011 will also be remembered for the passing away of Steve Jobs, the man who helped change the global mobile industry over the course of the last four years. Locally, lots happening – Microsoft/Nokia alliance is launching new devices, Amazon has entered the mobile space with both feet, mobile gaming remains hot, and on a broader scale, we are going through the process of mobilification of everything.

Mark Anderson, CEO of Strategic News Service. I have known Mark for over 15 years now as one of the early subscribers to his wonderful newsletter. My good friend and coauthor Joe Herzog introduce me to Mark and since then I have been influenced by his writing. If you follow my blog, the name AORTA or Always On Real Time Access was coined by Mark in the late nineties and he generously allowed me to use it. Mark has also been writing about the carry-along-PC aka tablets for sometime and won the bet with bet with Michael Dell on the growth of this sector. He just finished off his annual predictions for 2012, so we had a lot to talk about.

Laura Marriott is CEO of Neomedia which is doing some pioneering work in the mobile barcode/mobile marketing space. But she is more famous for her work at the Mobile Marketing Association where she helped grow the industry and the association to make it a thriving enterprise.

Satya Mallya is Director at Orange. For those of you don’t know Orange is one of the top European Operators but he is based in the silicon valley working on some cool projects. He has been in the telecom space for almost 20 years working at Bell Labs, Octel and two startups

Brian Fling is CEO of pinchZoom a mobile agency that helps big brands like BBC, Paypal, Delta and others understand mobile design and development. He is passionate about mobile user experience, has spoken and written extensively about the subject.

Jay Emmet is GM OpenMarket, SVP, Amdocs and knows the messaging, commerce space on the back of his hand. Very successful stints at mblox, ATG and others. Knows the operator world really well and has been straddling both the on-deck/off-deck world for a long time.

We touched on a range of subjects from IP to platforms, from privacy/security to mobile commerce and payments, from Microsoft to Amazon .. and so on and so forth. Below is the summary of the discussion:

  • While the economy in various regions has been shambles, the tech industry has been largely protected, especially, the mobile industry. We are lucky to be working in space. Amen! 🙂
  • As far as the mobile platforms are concerned, there are only two that matter – iOS and Android with iOS still having a strong upper hand. Android is plagued with IP issues and OEMs are starting to have second thoughts about the cost and risks of supporting Android in the long-term. All this is of course very fluid and will depend on the outcome of a number of IP cases in courts.
  • Microsoft has made some progress with Nokia but as recent shuffling indicates, all is not good and there is going to be considerable work needed in the coming days to get alliance working in sync and work a thriving ecosystem long-term.
  • Siri has just changed the game at some many levels. Consumers now expect more from their devices and players are scrambling to deliver.
  • This year began with the debate of apps vs. mobile web. Mobile Apps have fundamentally changed the mobile UI and design paradigm. Consumers don’t want to just browse a page on their devices, they want great user experiences all of which can’t be delivered on mobile web. Apps stay quite a bit ahead of the game.
  • There is systematic IP theft and cyberattacks going on and western nations and companies are finally waking up to do something substantial. However, it is going to be a long journey to get it right.
  • Many small companies have built good, attractive IP portfolios in mobile and given the investment and invention, they should be allowed to maximize the value of their IP.
  • Amazon’s entry has changed the game. It has already become the number two in tablets and more to come. It will impact retail, advertising, and many other segments of the consumer economy.
  • Over the last 20 years, capacity has been an issue every year but this time around, the capacity constraints are significant. While the services and consumption have gotten much better in orders of magnitude, the prices have largely stayed the same. To build capital-intensive networks, operators will have to find ways to increase data revenues.
  • Operator channel is still a viable channel for the developers especially the ones who are looking for broader international reach.
  • Mobile Security on smartphones remains a worrying concern and is an opportunity area for entrepreneurs.
  • Mobile Privacy is a complicated issue. Many businesses are actually based on exploiting the privacy not protecting it so the business models are at odds with the privacy mantra and regulations. Something has to give. More regulations to come.
  • QR codes and NFC will live in harmony for sometime.
  • There are currently no clear winners in the mobile payments space. It is likely to stay very fragmented and is likely to become even more so over the coming days before any leaders emerge. Payments remains the most complicated ecosystem with many players involved and success stories will depend on the use-case scenarios.
  • Cloud offers a differentiating opportunity for the operators and compete effectively with some of the OTT players.
  • Many industry verticals are getting transformed by mobile. Big brands are aggressively pursuing mobile as a key strategic project. Health, Retail – opportunities abound.
  • While traditional messaging is getting impacted by IP messaging, the decline is not universal and operators are reacting with new business models and technology initiatives.
  • 2012 will be another great year for mobile. Fasten your seat belts.

It was a joy to moderate this terrific panel that kept audience glued to their seats till the very end. Thanks all for coming. We have some terrific events planned for 2012, Stay Tuned.

Until then, Wish you and yours a very happy and stress-free holiday season and enormously successful and prosperous 2012.

And don’t forget to fill out our Annual Mobile Predictions Survey for 2012. There are prizes for 10 lucky winners.

ps. As I mentioned in the opening, WA state dept has a wonderful program to help startup with their travel to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next year. Details here. Startups should check it out.