2020 has been a year unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetimes. The ferocity of the virus shook the pillars of the global economy, social norms, alliances, and our understanding of cultural and professional norms. In the year of tumult and devastation, like in the crises of the past, we have seen significant leaps of change and acceleration. The unfathomable pace of vaccine development and breakthrough in mRNA technique bodes well for treating future ailments and viruses in a massive step forward for medicinal science.
As many readers know, 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 2021. The survey draws upon the unique collective wisdom of the folks who are making it happen. Thanks for being part of our annual ritual.
On the tech front, we saw significant acceleration in a number of domains, something we have documented in our recent paper, “New Future: Acceleration of Connected Intelligence in the Post-Pandemic World.”
With 2020 as a backdrop, what does 2021 look like? We tapped into the wisdom of our community to understand the trends and what the future holds in our annual survey which is the longest running survey of its kind in the industry, now in its 14th year.
As we have mentioned before, we have entered 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.
2020 was the year that 5G formally took off growing at 3x the LTE rate and 2021 will continue its aggressive push into the decade. 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 – pandemic’s impact on world economies, trade wars, and 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 2021.
The biggest stories of 2020 were the disruptions caused by Covid but also the resiliency of the tech industry to bounce back, the 5G launches, and BigTech domination and upcoming tussles with regulators. New growth areas that were previously on the fringes were brought to the forefront out of necessity like Telemedicine, Video conferencing, online commerce, etc.
For 2021, it seems like the US-China tech wars are likely to dominate the headlines along with the regulatory push to reign in the big-tech players. It will take some time to completely get out of the Covid chakravyuh.
The survey delved deeper this year to understand the impact of Covid and the progression of 5G and automation.
Mobile Company of the Year: T-Mobile was voted as company of the year for navigating the tough waters of regulatory approvals and Covid impact to come out ahead of its rivals in 2020. Apple, Qualcomm, and Rakuten rounded the top 4.
Mobile Person of the Year: Mike Sievert (T-Mobile) narrowly edged out Steve Mollenkopf (Qualcomm) for the top honors. Other honorable mentions: Tim Cook (Apple), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Mukesh Ambani (Jio), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon).
The questions for the survey were:
- What were the biggest mobile stories in 2020?
- What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2021?
- Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile ecosystem?
- What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in 2021?
- Which industries got shaped/disrupted the most due to Covid?
- What surprised you the most about how nations responded to the pandemic?
- Most successful company out of the pandemic that will shape the next 2-3 years?
- What trends are permanent or temporary?
- Which technology made the biggest leap during the pandemic?
- Biggest challenge for tech companies in 2021?
- Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2021?
- Regulators are likely to pursue breakup for which of these companies?
- Which category will generate the most mobile data revenue in 2021?
- The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget of the year – 2020 and 2021?
- Mobile company of the year – 2020 and 2021?
- What’s the most convincing use case for 5G?
- Who is doing the most interesting work in the 5G space?
- Which region will end up leading the world in 5G by 2025?
- What aspects of 5G are going to generate the most revenue?
- What 5G applications and services will get the most traction?
- Who will be the winners of the 5G technology transition?
- Automation and Digitization of industries will lead to?
- Which of the following are likely to happen in 2021?
- What category will be impacted the most by mobile in the next 5 years?
- Which segments are likely to get disintermediated the most by algorithms in the next 5 years?
- Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?