Friday, January 09, 2009

Mobile Trends - 2009 and beyond

2008 has been a very exciting year for mobile technology in general and I feel that despite the shaky economy, the developments in the mobile space will continue on its growth path, creating opportunities for new application scenarios for entrepreneurs in the ever-evolving global mobile ecosystem.

I have over here tried to present the evolving trends in the mobile space not for the immediate year per say but from a long term perspective ...

Trend 1: Ad funded revenue model
Over the last decade we have seen phenominal growth in mobile adoption and SMS volume growth and the key drivers are now in place for mobile services to reach the critical mass. 

This has in turn lead to a trend among consumers who are now looking for new and innovative offerings for which they do not have to pay a premium for mobile content they can access for free online through a more convenient PC/laptop experience. As a consequence, mobile paying audiences will represent a limited share of the overall mobile content audience. Mobile content will thus increasingly transition to use of ad-funded revenue models.

Trend 2: SMS becomes commodity
I also see that even though the volume of SMS is soaring to new levels but the declining prices will force the operators to rethink on their offerings to cover up for this loss in revenue. As reported by Forrestor, we will see operators moving to flat-rate adoption rates (for mobile Internet tariff). We will observer operators bundling data options in their pay monthly tariffs (such as Orange with its Origami offering or Vodafone). After voice (per minute), voice packages, SMS per units, SMS options, unlimited SMS bundled into voice, data options, unlimited data package. 

As SMS becomes a commodity no one would be willing to pay for other services and we will see the evolution of voice+unlimited data plans. 

We might also see operators offering data / Internet package with different services bundled such as social networking, IM or communication with presence / location to stay in touch with your community of friends / relatives.

So definitly the door is going to be wide open and competion with heat up not only among application providers but also between application providers and service providers.

Trend 3: Consolidation
Consolidation will continue to be the mantra in the mobile industry. Companies having adequate cash or which have raised capital before the financial crisis (think of Zed and its 92,5M€ raised in July) will be interested in making new acquisitions. Also companies who are not into the mobile space will be willing to enter this space will be looking out for easy preys and there will be many medium-sized players and lots of start-ups with innovative ideas and technologies that may go bankrupt this year because they rely on long-term advertising business models.
That’s true for large operators willing to buy regional ones in emerging countries. That’s true for handset manufacturers (Motorola handset division is officially for sale). 

Trend 4: New Devices filling the market
Blackberry launches Bold and Storm.
Apple will launch new devices. Still tricky to say whether this will be a nano or something else. 
Major handset manufacturers will launch Android-based handsets and we’ll now discuss millions of phones.
Nokia launching N97 and so on.

So there will be a list of new devices coming to the market. That being said, I still believe it won’t change the game in 09. Blackberry will continue to stay strong in its segment for business users and travellers and it will stay there for a while since the iPhone is still lacking good & fast keypad input. 

The industry will stop talking about a Google Phone and realize that launching an OS is a long-term play that depends on your manufacturer partners. Nokia has a problem with it’s OS. The company will need at least two years to move seamless to the new open-source OS after having acquired Symbian in 2008.

Trend 5: Merchandizing of Mobile Applications
The success of Apple AppStore has completely refined the way application provides sell their applications. 300 millionapplication downloads in less than 4 months and over 10000 applications on the store has changed it all. Still I actually agree with Thomas that these are early days of mobile merchandizing and we can expect lots of improvement in mobile application merchandizing and expect a bunch of operators to launch widgets and equivalent of Apple Application stores. Blackberry Store is expected to be launched by March 2009 and Google coming with Android MarketThis will pose a significant challenge for the mobile developers as well and we will see a surge of innovations in the application development space. Read my article on "Contraint based innovation

Though there is a lot more to talk about but let me not make it long. 

I do recommend the following articles from Rudy & Thomas which are quite interesting where they share their predictions for 2009.

Wish you all the best for 2009!

1 comment:

Rahul Aggarwal said...

An extension to Trend 4: We are entering into the year of Smartphone, 171 Million and Rising

2008 proved to be a Year of Two Halves. In the first half, mobile handset shipments happily chugged along at ~14% YoY. In the second half, 3Q handset shipments slowed to 8% before crashing into the red in 4Q with -10%. The underlying root cause? Sheer fear sapped the confidence of consumers, enterprises and corporate users across the board. As a result, 2008 signed out the year with 1.21 billion handsets shipped for an annual growth of 5.4%. Just a year ago we had +16%”.

Handset Vendor Market Share, World Markets, 2008

Nokia 38.6%
Samsung 16.2%
LG 8.3%
Sony Ericsson 8%
Motorola 8.3%
RIM 1.9%
Kyocera 1.4%
Apple 1.1%
HTC 1.1%
Sharp 1.0%
Other 14.1%

2008 was very much a Year of Winners and Losers:

• The largest gainer in market share was Samsung with an increase of +2.7% (2008: 16.2%). Samsung had a faultless four quarters.
• The next significant gainer was Nokia with +1.8%. Most of those gains, however, were secured in the first half of the year.
• LG secured a +1.5% increase, in particular gaining significant traction in the North American market.
• RIM (BlackBerry) and Apple (iPhone) boldly moved up in the market share stakes with growths of 0.9% and 0.8% respectively.
• HTC was late entering the consumer smartphone market with the Android-based G1, but the vendor has significant contracts in place.
• The vendor with the most significant loss in market share was Motorola with –5.1% in 2008.
• Sony-Ericsson also stumbled in the mid part of 2008 with a -0.7% contraction in market share.

What is certain is that handset vendors will be trying to convince everyone they should own a smartphone.

Welcome to the Year of Smartphone.

Source: ABI Research