Mobile Predictions 2020


A very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020 to you and your family. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to take on the new year with vigor and purpose. My thanks to all who participated in our 13th annual Mobile Predictions Survey. It is a unique polling of the insiders to get a glimpse into what the ecosystem is thinking about the future.

2010s was a remarkably disruptive decade.

As I have mentioned before, we are entering the Connected Intelligence Era and the mobile industry is growing beyond its traditional borders to transform every vertical industry and by extension – the global GDP. Proof is in the numbers. Over the course of the decade, the number of cellular connections more than doubled, smartphones jumped 20x, and cellular data traffic grew over 330,000 times. In 2020, 44 Zettabytes of digital information will be created. Over 420 Exabytes of mobile data traffic (which btw will grow 15x+ in the next 5 years). More than 26 billion connected devices. At least 150 companies generating a billion or more from 4th wave. At least 8 companies are generating a billion or more from IoT.

It is the year that 5G will officially move from initial deployments to ramp up. 2019 was a great year for the industry and while the opportunities at the intersection of Connected Intelligence, Vertical Industries, and emerging technologies like 5G, AI, and Robotics are likely to unleash a decade long innovation cycle. However, there are dark clouds on the horizon – trade wars, slowing economies, regional conflicts can adversely impact the trajectory. There are a number of unanswered questions about the multi-dimensional tech industry. We will perhaps start to understand the complexity and the potential in 2020.

There were a number of big stories in 2019 – Early 5G tussles, privacy and data woes of the Internet players, Industry-defining M&As, security and data breaches, trillion dollar landmark, the rise of AI/ML as a dominant differentiator, trade wars, autonomous vehicles, the Amazon juggernaut, Microsoft’s resilience and resurgence, and much more. The fact that we are selling more non-phone devices than phone devices on cellular networks in the US should be a hint of things to come. Given the rise of AI in 2019, the role of data will continue to take centerstage in 2020 from all dimensions. The next five years are going to be full of action, surprises, and transformation. Stay with us and we will keep you posted.

Our 2020 Predictions survey questions tried to capture a wide range of topics that will influence the industry not only in 2020 but for the coming decade:

  1. What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2019?
  2. What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2020?
  3. Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile ecosystem?
  4. What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2020?
  5. Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2020?
  6. Who is doing the most interesting work in the 5G space?
  7. What’s the most convincing use case for 5G?
  8. Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2020?
  9. Which region will end up leading the world in 5G by 2025?
  10. What aspects of 5G are going to generate the most revenue?
  11. What 5G applications and services will get the most traction?
  12. Who will be the winners of the 5G technology transition?
  13. The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year – 2019 and 2020?
  14. Mobile company of the year – 2019 and 2020?
  15. Automation and Digitization of industries will lead to?
  16. Which of the following are likely to happen in 2020?
  17. What category will be impacted the most by mobile in the next 5 years?
  18. Which segments are likely to get disintermediated the most by algorithms in the next 5 years?
  19. Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?
  20. What were the most important stories of the last decade?
  21. Which company defined the last decade?
  22. Who was the Mobile Person of the decade?

For this year’s survey, we added three questions that capture the essence of the decade:

Person of the decade: Steve Jobs. Despite being only a small part of the decade, his vision and his product roadmap defined the decade and was the overwhelming favorite for the person of the decade (only executives who have been chosen person of the year in prediction surveys of the last decade qualified)

Company of the decade: Apple. Apple continued to set the standard on device and applications/services ecosystem that influenced the global economy. Amazon, Facebook, and Google played their respective roles, but no one rose to the level of Apple’s influence in the decade. T-Mobile was the only non-Internet player to be voted company of year in last decade’s surveys (only companies who have been selected company of the year in prediction surveys of the last decade qualified)

Story of the decade: Emergence of Social Networks. Rise of Facebook and Twitter shaped the global conversations. Rise of China as a tech power was clearly a big story and will continue to define the next decade. The disruption created by LTE/Cloud/Smartphones gave birth to scores of new billion-dollar revenue streams and we expect this to continue as the 5G cycle rolls in. AI emerged towards the second half of the decade and might very well be the big story of the 2020s. Policy and Regulatory skirmishes were many and will continue to define the next decade. iOS and Android powered the tech ecosystem and the reason behind US tech dominance of 2010s.

We do our annual survey to engage our knowledgeable community on trends and events to keep us informed. The composite view gives a glimpse into the future scenarios. Executives, developers, and insiders from leading mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and from around the globe participated to educate us on what to expect of 2020. The survey draws upon the unique collective wisdom of the folks who are making it happen. Thanks for being part of our annual ritual.

Welcome the 2020s.

Kind regards,

Chetan Sharma