the best research in mobile
First things first. From all of us at Chetan
Sharma Consulting, we wish you and yours a very happy, healthy,
and prosperous 2014. My thanks to all who participated in our
2014 Mobile Predictions Annual Survey. It gives our community an
insider’s view of the trends and predictions for the New Year.
2013 was a terrific year for the mobile industry.
Mobile data continued to drive most of the mobile growth around
the world. Whether it was LTE-minted markets like the US or the
emerging economies like Indonesia, whether it was giants like
China or the upcomers like Vietnam, mobile data growth was
central to the economic activity in the ecosystem. Mobile is
also transforming every major vertical industry around the
globe. 2013 proved that connectivity has become the core of our
fabric and we are entering the “connected intelligence era” that
will enable the
Golden Age of Mobile.
The competitive dynamics stayed quite vibrant in
2013. We saw epic battles in the field as well as in the courts.
Many players struggled for relevance while some fresh blood was
infused with startups around the world.
As we peer into 2014, we will see the total
number of cellular subscriptions eclipsing humans on the planet
for the first time. As the number of connected devices continue
their march towards a multi-billion unit market, expectations of
what’s possible are changing. Without a doubt, 2014 will be
better than 2013 as new technologies, players, and business
models shape the ever changing mobile landscape.
Our annual survey is a way for us to engage our
community on the trends for the next year. We put some of the
pressing questions to our colleagues and industry leaders. We
are able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and
comments, some tangible shifts, and get a sense of what’s to
come. Executives, developers, and insiders (n=150) from leading
mobile companies and startups from across the value chain and
from around the world participated to help see what 2014 might
bring to keep us on our toes. What makes this survey unique is
that it draws upon the collective wisdom of folks who are at the
center of the mobile evolution around the world. The survey
provides a view of how they collectively see the upcoming year
What was most newsworthy in Mobile 2013?
Smartphones and tablets established themselves as the most
dominating computing platforms. If there was any doubts that the
post-PC world is here, they were over as smartphones in most
western countries are now over 90% of the devices sold every
quarter. Once Nokia announced its shift to Windows, Microsoft’s
acquisition was only a matter of time and with the acquisition
(and a new CEO), Microsoft looks to a new beginning in 2014.
Apple and Samsung continued to duel it out in the courts and the
markets. The security breaches and the privacy revelations were
a big deal in 2014. Facebook got its mobile mojo and many other
consumer brands start to perform well on the
mobile 4th wave.
What will be the biggest mobile stories of 2014?
continues to transform industries and nations. The continued
growth of mobile data around the globe was voted the top story
third year in a row closely followed by the expectations of new
experiences that go beyond the smartphones. The connected
devices segment will keep wanting for more and the big M&As are
not going anywhere. Given that cross-domain acquisitions have
become the norm, expect some blockbuster deals in 2014. Privacy
has also surged in priority for folks in the industry.
Who are the top 4 important players in the mobile
mobile, Google, Apple, Samsung and the mobile Operators
continued to be the most influential players in the ecosystem.
Amazon, Qualcomm, Facebook, Microsoft, and Ericsson also hold
significant sway as to which direction we will go in the New
Year. The top 10 operators play a major role in terms of
technology and business models evolution in the marketplace.
What will be the breakthrough categories in mobile in
It was no
surprise that connected devices and wearable computing was voted
as the breakthrough categories for 2014. We are in the early
stages of understanding what’s possible and the entrepreneurs
buoyed by the new business models are pushing the boundaries.
Some of the early models lack the smarts but we will learn a lot
this year about the new business models and technology
boundaries to push with sensor-enabled societies.
What will be the most popular consumer mobile
applications in 2014?
still quite a bit of disparity as to which apps dominate in the
developed world vs. the emerging countries. The differences are
due to the varying smartphone penetration, cost of data,
regional requirements and interests. However, the gaps are
closing every year.
Which will be the most dominant tablet platform in 2
industry expects iOS to continue to dominate the revenue pie and
Android the unit share. While Windows made a bold entry with
Surface, the lack of coherent strategy and execution has left
the platform way behind in numbers and while we might see some
incremental performance, iOS and Android will continue to
dominate the tablet landscape for the next couple of years.
Who will make the biggest mobile acquisition in 2014?
made the biggest blockbuster deal in mobile last year with a
$22B acquisition of Sprint/Clearwire. It is likely that Softbank
will make a bid for T-Mobile in a deal of similar size in early
2014 and again lead the industry in M&As. A number of operators
are also eyeing operators in Europe and so we might be in for a
surprise. In a non-operator merger, our panel correctly
predicted Microsoft to make the biggest acquisition (Nokia).
This year, they pick Google ahead of Microsoft.
Who will dominate the mobile payment/commerce space?
fragmentation, no challenger has emerged who can put up a fight
against the might of the financial companies like Visa and
Mastercard. As such, the industry expects them to stay in the
driver’s seat for some time.
Which solutions will gain the most traction for
managing mobile data broadband consumption?
been the fastest cellular technology being deployed in the
history of the industry. 4G continues to be the focus for the
operators with other solutions chipping in to help manage the
insatiable appetite of consumers for more data. There are hopes
that some alternate business models to fund mobile data
broadband will emerge in 2014.
Which category will generate the most mobile data
revenue in 2014?
has become the most dominant category for generating mobile data
revenues worldwide. There are some regional differences for e.g.
in North America, messaging’s contribution is tiny while in Asia
and Africa, it is a dominant category. OTT services are also
starting to make a dent in the overall revenue mix.
Which European operator is likely to emerge stronger
from the weak economic climate?
sold of its previous Verizon possession. Will it help in making
the company stronger? Our panel thinks so. Deutsche Telekom and
Telefonica make up the top three.
When will mobile commerce be greater than ecommerce?
holiday commerce data showed, mobile was already 50% of the
digital traffic in 2013. The panel expects that within 2-3
years, each region is likely to see the tipping point.
The company bringing the most successful mobile gadget
of the year - 2013 and 2014?
continues to set the pace of the industry, however, Samsung has
gone toe-to-toe with its rival and won many battles. Samsung
understood the potential of bigger screens better than most and
capitalized on it with blockbuster sales around the globe. If
you go to Asia, you will see ease with which consumers interact
with larger screen devices. Now, this phenomenon is taking over
the western markets as well. As is always the case, folks expect
Apple to surprise us with iPhone 6. There are expectations that
Google (Motorola) and Amazon might spring in a surprise or two.
Which platform has a credible shot at becoming a
viable and durable 3rd ecosystem in mobile?
Windows established itself as the only viable third mobile
ecosystem. The gap is likely to increase in 2014 though HTML5
and forked Android based OS might pose a challenge.
Mobile company of the year - 2013 and 2014?
performance in 2013 was outstanding. With a massive global
footprint, its ambition knew no bounds. It performed
exceptionally well generating multi-billion quarters and just
dominating the Android landscape. In 2012, Samsung displaced the
14 year reigning champion Nokia from the top spot. In 2013, the
company solidified its position and was voted the Mobile Company
of the year. However, in 2014, the panel expects Apple and
Google to duke it out for the top spot.
Which of the following are likely to happen in 2014?
smartphone is like water on Mars. It is much talked about but
hasn’t been spotted yet. Will 2014 be any different? For the
first time, expectations improved to 50%+. Microsoft might
launch Surface smartphone instead of pushing Windows
smartphones. 40% of the panel thought that Softbank will acquire
T-Mobile and it will go through. Will Samsung fork Android? The
question has been of much speculation in 2013 and will continue
to see interest in the New Year as well.
Which operator is best positioned for the digital
outlined in our 4th wave series of papers, mobile
operators are at a critical juncture of their evolution. The
ones that embrace the digital world will live to see another
decade of growth and prosperity while others will perish or be
relegated to lesser roles. As we have worked with leading
operators around the globe on this transition, I have become
more convinced that the digital transformation will redefine the
segment. AT&T, Verizon, Softbank, DoCoMo, Telefonica continue to
lead. There are many sceptics as well. 2014 will be a year of
change and progress.
What category will be impacted the most by mobile in
the next 5 years?
As I have
said before, we are entering the golden age of mobile and every
vertical, every industry is going to be transformed by mobile.
Which categories are ripe for disruption? Our panel voted for
health and monitoring, home automation, wellness/fitness,
entertainment, and auto as the top categories. We already saw
great progress in 2013 and will see many more companies enter
these spaces in 2014. Exciting times ahead.
Which segments are likely to get disintermediated the
most by algorithms in the next 5 years?
inefficiencies of a middlemen can be overcome by algorithms. The
concept is not new but society expects more each year to narrow
the gap between the thought and task execution. Advertising
agencies, retail, real estate, transportation, and education
seem to be on top of everyone’s mind as the areas that need some
Who was and will be the mobile person of the year?
JK Shin was number two behind Tim Cook in last year’s vote. His
ascendency to the number one spot for 2013 reflects the success
Samsung has had this last year. He was closely followed by
Masayoshi Son whose global ambitions put the mobile world on
notice in 2013 and John Legere who brought back T-Mobile as a
strong contender in the US market. Last year, the expectations
were high for Jeff Bezos and they are high again for 2014. Will
it be drones or space exploration or just a simple much awaited
smartphone? There is a lot to look forward to in the New Year.
There were several other leaders who are working on transforming
the mobile industry like Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey, Tim Cook,
Jony Ive, Mark Zuckerberg, Dick Costolo, Neelie Kroes, Lowell
McAdam, Ralph de la Vega, Hans Vestberg, John Chambers, Dan
Hesse, Tom Wheeler, Matthew Key, Glenn Lurie, Brian Krzanich,
and many more.
again to everyone who contributed. Warm wishes for a terrific
Your feedback is always welcome.
We will be keeping a close eye on the trends in the wireless
data sector in our blog, twitter
and our annual thought-leadership summit –
Mobile Future Forward.
The next US Wireless Data Market update will be released in
March 2014. The next Global Wireless Data Market update will
be issued in February 2014.
Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this