US Mobile Market Update 2015

Highlights of the US Mobile Market 2015

  • The overall mobile market expanded by 18% increase in revenues.
  • Mobile data revenues increased by 17% YoY and now contribute 72% of the overall service revenues. In terms of data contribution, US is catching up with Japan which has been a leader in data % since the iMode days.
  • For the first time in its history of the US market, the service revenues declined.
  • For 2015, the voice revenues declined by 24%, messaging revenues declined by 18%, tablets saw the dip by 18%, handsets saw an increase of 5%, access revenues by 23% and 4th wave services dominated with an increase of 60%.
  • The Capex contracted for a second year in a row.
  • Device revenues are now 21% of the overall.
  • EBITDA and Net Income saw double digit gains indicating operators are running a much tighter ship than before.
  • Churn is at historic lows. Despite all the commotion in the market, 7% fewer customers churned in 2015.
  • After falling sharply in 2014, the data prices remained pretty stable throughout the year.
  • Mobile data traffic grew again with per sub smartphone consumption at 3.9 GB/user/mo (see note below on data traffic)
  • In the first 10 weeks of Binge-on, T-Mobile users chomped away 34 PB of data for free or what was the entire year’s worth of data traffic on T-Mobile’s network in 2010. T-Mobile experienced a net traffic reduction of 10-15% but given that consumers are consuming 3x than before, overall traffic will rise again.
  • AT&T added 4 million cars to their network. While postpaid business has its challenges, the connected devices business showed significant strength in 2015.
  • Verizon’s IoT/Telematics accounted for $690M in 2015 and is likely to cross the $1B mark in 2016 making US the hotbed for Connected Intelligence activities, growth, and continued experimentation.
  • Apple again dominated the device market with over 45% revenue share, 81% profits share with only 16%-unit share.
  • Android ecosystem revenues grew by 5% but the profits declined by 2%
  • There were more tablets added to the network than phones in 2015. Cars outperformed M2M by a good margin.
  • T-Mobile edged past Verizon in postpaid netadds, AT&T was ahead in Prepaid, Verizon in Connected devices, Sprint in wholesale, and Verizon overall had the most netadds in 2015.
  • AT&T and Verizon on average made $16 per sub/mo, T-Mobile turned into positive territory with $1 profit/sub/mo while Sprint stayed in negative territory with a loss of $0.55 per sub/mo.
  • The valuation of Uber surpassed the combined market cap of T-Mobile and Sprint.

What to expect in 2016? Questions for 2016.

  • We expect the overall US mobile market to pass the half a trillion-dollar mark in 2016.
  • US will cross 400M in subscriptions in 2016.
  • After the pause of dropping data prices in 2015, we could see intense price wars in 2016.
  • The upcoming auction could be the big story of the year.
  • What new 5G test results will be announced and will industry converge on some 5G standards ahead of the 2019 deadline?
  • Will Comcast MVNO follow Google-Fi as a niche endeavor or does it have elements to fundamentally impact the market. 2016 will hopefully answer the question about the future of WiFi-first network strategy.
  • Will the upcoming eSim integration in devices go far enough to disrupt the market?
  • Will IoT gain sufficient steam to justify the forecasts?
  • Can Android OEMs turn around the decline in profits in 2016?
  • Can iPhone7 boost Apple’s growth numbers in 2016?
  • Will the service revenue decline in the US reverse itself or are we seeing the start of the decline in revenues in the industry?
  • Autonomous driving was a big story last year; what progress are we going to make in 2016? How will Uber shape the autonomous driving business models?
  • AT&T and Verizon have bet big on video. How will the respective strategies pan out in 2016?
  • The Apple-FBI is going to be one of the most watched cases in the world. Whichever way the final ruling lands has huge implications for the tech industry and consumers.

We will be doing an in-depth analysis of the future of the mobile industry at our 7th annual mobile executive summit Mobile Future Forward in Sept 2016. Hope you can join us.


Your feedback is always welcome.

Chetan Sharma