Angus Robinson, Native's executive creative director of concepts, attended the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona last week and has made four key observations about stats, predictions and 'one-liners' from some of the keynotes and presentations that make for interesting reading and may initiate much debate.
He does, however, caution that they are educated guesses which fluctuate wildly, depending on who has made the predictions.App Debate
After just 2.5 years since Apple launched the AppStore, no-one can deny the impact that Apps have had on the smartphone market's growth, the well-being of the developer environment and the overall improvement in the user experience for mobile subscribers.
Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP had some interesting figures and predictions about the future of the application market. These numbers were put together by the specialist digital agencies in the WPP Group.
- The average smartphone user has downloaded approximately 60 apps
- Over 450k apps have been published by end 2010
- 18bn app downloads are predicted for 2011
- A total of 185bn will have been downloaded by 2015
- Revenue from apps in 2010 was $5.2 and will grow to $15bn in 2011
- Free Downloads account for 81% in 2011. These rely on upsell to premium versions, in-app advertising revenue and more prevalently, the sale of in-app digital merchandise
- In 2014, 33% of App revenue will come from advertising
Robinson says in the shadow of this prediction overload, there has been much debate about fragmentation of the app environment, with developers being stretched to develop for multiple OS's that are constantly evolving. The Wholesale Applications Community has been established to attempt to reduce this fragmentation - and this week announced the commercial launch of WAC-powered storefronts.
"This is in an attempt for the network operators to have a realistic chance of benefiting from app revenue opportunities and not capitulating to app disintermediation by Apple's AppStore, Android, Microsoft's Marketplace, with BlackBerry as the fourth," he says.Numbers, numbers, numbers
There has been a bewildering array of stats and predictions about what the future holds. Most of these has centred around the growth in mobile data and the ecosystem to support this growth
The Chinese market
- one smartphone uses the data of 10 feature phones and one data dongle uses the data of 10 smartphones
- There are 5 billion mobile connections worldwide, this will grow to 6 by the end of 2011
- In developing markets, a 10% growth in mobile penetration can lead to a 1.2% real GDP growth
- The global installed base of smartphones grew by 44% year-on-year
- There are 18 LTE rollouts underway, with another 184 planned
- There is a 10 fold increase in connectivity speeds with every generation of mobile technology - ie 4G is 10x faster than 3G, and in 5-6 years, 5G will be 10x faster than 4G
- 90% of mobile data traffic will be generated by mobile video consumption
The scale of the Chinese market and its impact on the rest of the mobile world has also emerged as an interesting theme. Robinson notes there is much we can learn from the Chinese.
"Firstly, the scale of China Mobile and how they are dealing with mobile data growth challenges is impressive. As a network with 600m subscribers, 640k base stations and 98% of the population covered, they certainly do know about scale. They have an aggressive rollout of WiFi hotspots to reduce the mobile data overhead and congestion that the traditional mobile network would have to deal with. This rollout will result in one million hotspots in three years. This is a real learning that the SA operators should take from China - it can actually preserve their costly, difficult to manage data networks."
Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile says that operators must do everything possible to avoid becoming 'dumb-pipes', with the rest of the mobile industry participants reaping the reward from the massive investments that the operators need to make in infrastructure rollout.
"Secondly, the Chinese are going to become serious challengers in the handset and device markets. Just as South Korea has done with their automotive industry through Kia and Hyundai, it seems that China's ZTE and Huawei (pronounced Wah-wey) will do with mobile, connected consumer electronics.
"They began as network infrastructure companies and are rapidly rolling out lower-cost, high-volume handsets, tablets and dongles. Their smartphones will become the smartphones for the mass-market. If the year-on-year growth in the size of their exhibition stands is anything to go by, then it is clear that they will be serious contenders in the future."Connected everything
As consumer penetration rates slow, the new area of growth will come from the 'Connected Life', the 'Internet of Things' where machine-to-machine (M2M), machine-to-man communication provides unlimited opportunities.
Robinson says with predictions of 20-50 billion connected devices, sensors and machines coming online by 2020, this is where real innovation can occur. Everything from emission reduction, improving energy consumption, environmental monitoring, production and logistics improvement and even connected appliances will become mainstream.
"As another MWC comes to an end, it has reinforced the opportunity that lies ahead. I am convinced that we are just at the beginning of the next explosive growth phase in the mobile and connected world," concludes Robinson.
Robinson started Brandsh Media, a mobile and social media agency, in 2006 with clients including Standard Bank, Liberty Life, Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), MNet, LoveLife and SEACOM in its portfolio. Brandsh merged with Cambrient and Stonewall
in 2010, to create Native one of the largest integrated agencies in South Africa. He is the founding member of the South African Chapter of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the company is a member of Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (WASPA) and Robinson is active on the WASPA Code of Conduct Committee and a number of other WASPA subcommittees.