First things first. From all of us at Chetan Sharma Consulting, wish you and yours a very happy and prosperous 2009.
Before we get into what's to come, let's do a quick wrap-up of the year that was.
While 2007 was remembered as "the year of the iPhone," in 2008, though iPhone and Appstore again dominated the headlines as "Touch" became the new black, iPhone shared the spotlight with Android and the resurgent RIM. The deafening roar of "Openness" that started to bubble up during Q407 permeated the ecosystem in 2008. Responding to the iPhone, OEMs raced to introducedTouch phones - Instinct, Armani, Storm, N2, Glimmer, Vu, G1, Diamond, Dare, N97, 5800, and others.
Apple reached its 10M goal a full quarter early and Gphone's 1M number was impressive. The Clearwire deal was consummated though it meanders through the clouds of uncertainity. Blyk continued to defy expectations. We made significant headway in energizing the mobile advertising sub segment but the tough problems of privacy, education, control, fragmentation, and user experience remain. LBS picked up steam and mobility started to get into the alternate consumer device universe which with the help of Amazon kindle and PNDs have started a new chain of AORTA devices.
In terms of actual numbers, the mobile industry exceeded 1 Trillion USD in revenues for the first time with services revenue making up 80% the mix and 20% being contributed by infrastructure, handsets, and misc. Several operators are now exceeding $2B/quarter in data revenues.
Several subscription milestones throughout the year: 50% penetration, almost 4B worldwide, 600M China, 300M India. India and China both added more than 100M subs in 2008. As expected, 3G crossed the inflection point in the western markets (30%+ penetration) while in Korea and Japan, it was getting hard to find people without 3G (85%+ penetration). Mobile web penetration is above 25% and is becoming quite significant.
Thanks to the iPhone, we seemed to have settled on sub-$200 smartphones with race to $150 and $100 on the cards. Flat-rate data subscriptions went above 10% in the western markets. Over 20% of the global service revenues are not dependent on data while non-SMS revenues surged past 40%. With the advent of Femto and UMA, we might see a new front in the battle for the digital home, esp. as bundling and quad-play offers become common place and convergence starts to take different shapes, forms, and business models. Carriers are starting to worry about mobile data usage and looking for alternate strategies and business models. Chinese OEMs started to become more dominant and started to win some major accounts. Don't be surprised by a major acquisition by them in 09.
Among other events of significance: Mobile TV continued to suffer from highpricendititis, Helio shut down, China and India delayed 3G, WM got updated as MS got behind, Yahoo cemented some impressive operator deals as GYM got more active in mobile, Microsoft entangled Yahoo in a mating dance, Mobile Open got into the industry physce, 700 MHz auction drama ensued, Beijing Olympics rocked, SMS handed the presidency to Obama, Whitespaces and FCC tangled, LTE dominated, UMB died, Admob exponentiated, M&A slowed, IP scuffles continued, over 1.2B new devices shipped, Nokia sold more than 100M devices in each quarter, Samsung surged, Motorola pondered, AT&T iJoyed, Vodafone said Namaste India, US edged past Japan in mobile data revenues, DoCoMo continued to dominate the mobile data revenues rankings, India edged past US in total mobile subscribers, Mobile Facebook spread, Twitter tweeped, Symbian went open source, Sequoia panicked, INQ launched, Economy tanked, WalMart started selling iPhone, Palm got a lifeline, Change was in the air.
We covered these is much detail in our regular industry research notes , books, whitepapers, blog posts , speeches, panels, and more. Look forward to continuing the conversation this year.
2009 will also be a pretty eventful year from several perspectives: business models, user experience and expectations, ecosystem posturing, disruption, and friction. How are things going to shape up? What will be hot and what will fade into oblivion? How will competition shape up the new sub-segments?
We put some of the questions to our colleagues in the industry. We were able to glean some valuable insights from their choices and comments. This survey is different from some of the others in the sense that industry movers and shakers participate. Executives and insiders (n=200) from leading mobile companies across the value chain and around the world opined to help us see what 2009 might bring.
Six names were randomly drawn for one of our three books released in 2008 (Mobile Advertising, Enterprise Mobility and Wireless Broadband)
The winners are:
Akio Orii, CFO and VP, Toyota
Declan Carew, New Product Strategy Manager, Vodafone
Helen Keegan, Consultant, Beep Marketing
Rich Begert, CEO, Singlepoint, and
Russ McGuire, VP, Sprint Nextel
Jonathan Ebinger, General Partner, Blue Run Ventures
It is hard to cover the mobile industry in 20 questions. As pointed out by our panelists, there are a number of other issues and opportunities that will help shape our ecosystem - monentization of social networks, the fight for mobile advertising dollars, continued impact of globalization, security and privacy, NFC, IMS, VoIP, enterprise apps beyond email, battery improvements, new interaction modalities, health risks of RF radiation, OpenSocial, GF/FB Connect, Comes with Music, Mobile Widgets, Mobile 3.0, LTE, MIDs, Off-portal, Embedded Mobile, M2M, and others.
However, be rest assured, we will be tracking these and much more throughout the year and sharing them through various channels.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed. We will be calling on you again next year. We are clearly living in "interesting times" with never a dull moment in our dynamic industry. It has been a terrific year for us here at Chetan Sharma Consulting and we are looking forward to 2009 and seeing many of you along the way.
Your feedback is always welcome.
Disclaimer: Some of the companies mentioned in this note are our clients .