WSJ: Q&A with Chetan Sharma: Start-Ups Can Grab Bigger Share of $1.5T Mobile Market

WSJ: Q&A with Chetan Sharma: Start-Ups Can Grab Bigger Share of $1.5T Mobile Market


WSJ’s Lora Kolodny did an interview based on our paper – Operator’s Dilemma (And Opportunity): The Fourth Wave

The mobile-services industry has been generating revenue for 30 years, but the way mobile businesses make money will change dramatically over the next decade, new research suggests, and it won’t be in traditional services like voice, messaging and data plans.

The findings come from Chetan Sharma, chief executive of an eponymous tech consultancy, frequently called to testify as an expert about all matters of mobile business in cases before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Sharma predicts mobile operators won’t be able to hang on to the lion’s share of revenue in the $1.5 trillion mobile-services market world-wide if they focus on sales of traditional services.

In major markets, Sharma said, “revenue curves have peaked for voice and messaging and are [already] on the decline.” Voice revenue is decreasing in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe, he said. Data revenue should continue to rise for the next three to five years but will then start to decline, he predicts.

Sharma predicts a new wave of service providers stand to win in mobile, a so-called “fourth wave” of mobile businesses that won’t necessarily need mobile operators’ help to rise to the top, the way they did in the early years.

We interviewed Sharma about the impact of mobile market dynamics on start-ups and the funds backing them. Below is an edited excerpt of the conversation.

Q. Who’s going to make money in mobile in coming years?

A. Mobile operators will have to organize themselves and invest in the “fourth wave” in mobile, which creates opportunities for start-ups and the venture community.

Look at the acquisitions, and services some [operators[ are launching: SingTel acquired the mobile advertising company Amobee, Verizon Wireless acquired Hughes Telematics,Telefonica acquired Jajah and is launching TUMe [a chat app that competes with Skype], AT&T has an emerging enterprises organization…

Competitive dynamics will lead to new funding and go-to-market channels for mobile start-ups for several years.

Read rest of the interview here.