Feature Article

January 14, 2013

2012 Wrap-up and 2013 Predictions for the Mobile Industry

Well, we’ve made it past the hype around the supposed end-of-the-Mayan calendar on December 21, so another banner mobile year is extremely likely. The one thing that I’ll say about this industry is that it never fails to surprise. 2013 will be no exception.

Overall, we’ll see much more emphasis on mobile operators trying to take back the subscriber – and that will be through superior network performance (read: significant LTE build-out), new services like RCS or further partnerships with OTT players. Secondly, I think we might see some mitigation in pricing for mobile broadband, as it will become more central to everything we do on mobile networks, including voice. The pricing schemes that are in play today are not sustainable for all-IP ecosystems. Finally, the evolution to a more mobile-friendly, cashless society will continue its slow slog toward ubiquitous mobile payments.

Without further introduction, here are my top 10 predictions for 2013 (in no particular order):

  1. The device wars (as some have called them) will continue to reshuffle. I still have some confidence that Windows Phone will overtake Bada and Symbian in 2013, becoming the fourth place mobile OS behind Android, iOS and Blackberry. Blackberry 10 will help solidify its third place ranking in 2013, bringing new life to Blackberry, as its innovative LTE models hit the streets.
  2. We will see significant LTE build out by mobile operators around the world, thereby almost doubling the number of LTE networks by the end of 2013. We predict approximately 160-165 networks at the end of this year. That means I am expecting greater than 200 commercial LTE networks by the end of 2013.
  3. Of those more than 200 LTE networks, at the end of 2013, we will see more than 50 networks supporting commercial LTE roaming with other networks. Roaming and global ubiquity is a key benefit for LTE; however, due to frequency fragmentation and new infrastructure needs, implementation of LTE roaming is not as easy as it was for 3G. Virtually all of these networks will utilize IPX and LTE Roaming hubs (e.g. Diameter hubs) to support roaming.
  4. Based on these LTE networks, RCS rollout will continue across the world, with no fewer than 35 operators supporting RCS, by the end of the year. Many of these will support in-country interoperability. These will include RCS messaging (IM-like), voice, video and presence-based address books, supported on many devices – both via downloadable apps and OEM-provided RCS clients.
  5. The wide-open SMS-enabled OTT/NUVO community will expand to markets outside the United States, including Western Europe and Asia-Pacific. This phenomenon will also provide new opportunities for SMS-enabled OTT providers to help stabilize SMS traffic, including working in harmony with mobile operators, where non-SMS-interoperability had previously made some inroads.
  6. SMS will remain the dominant medium, worldwide. Apple’s overall market share will stay around 15 to 17 percent, and with more non-iOS devices hitting the market, this means a greater chance that the other party will be a non-iOS device – hence, SMS will be used. Additionally, SMS remains the dominant communications channel in emerging markets.
  7. Mobile consumer engagement will become more mainstream in 2013. This means that within the top 10 shopping apps, more than half are direct-shopping engagement apps such as Groupon, ShopKick or Store-specific Apps will help push both retailers and brands. We’ll see additional mobile CRM solution apps to engage consumers that will offer even more coupons and rewards to help build brand loyalty than ever before on both national and local levels. Both brick-and-mortar and online brands will benefit from expanded mobile customer engagement.
  8. We’ll see more options for Point-of-Sale payments through channels such as iOS Passbook, PayPal and a few more without NFC, although more devices with NFC will enter the market. One more out on a limb prediction: the next iPhone (6?) will have NFC support, leading to or becoming a catalyst for more consolidation (finally) in the PoS payment market – a good thing for consumers.
  9. A new option to iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile will be introduced in 2013 that will steal headlines and pique interest from the top four. Will it be Jolla’s Sailfish? Or something else new, like a browser-based mobile OS? There is a great deal of innovation in this industry, and I think that some in the top four will not be the top four by the end of this decade. By the end of 2013, a new mobile OS/platform – possibly supporting emulation modes for various operating systems will enter the market and grow rapidly in market share, attracting a number of OEM device makers.
  10. Mobile Big Data will become prominent as mobile operators begin to understand the importance of the data contained within their Call Detail Records (CDRs). CDR data will be brought into the cloud where service providers can run behavioral analytics to provide aggregated demographics, protecting consumer identities, which can be used to better engage the consumers.

So there you have it – I think 2013 is poised to be another prosperous mobile year. There will be plenty headlines, some certain surprises, along with new names and functionality that will become commonplace by the end of year.

Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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