One of the key things that differentiates mobile phones from any other device is their ability to deliver a constant stream of real time data coupled with the processing capability to help consumers make a wealth of decisions based on this information. Tablets — we're going to leave home without them, and the majority of connections are over Wi-Fi. Wearable technology collects real-time information and may have applications/display, but we aren't yet seeing devices with the same flexibilty as the phone. The highly anticipated Pebble may yet be the device, but for today, it is the phone. (My colleague Sarah Rotman Epps writes a lot on these devices — see the rest of her research for more information).
With that fact established, my open question is, "Who is making my life better with this ability to process information near instantaneously to help me live a better, healthier life . . . or at least how I choose to define it?" I think the key to measuring mobile success must lie here — from the perspective of the consumer first before mobile will deliver huge returns in the form of revenue or lower operating costs.
Huawei hosted about 160 industry and financial analysts at its ninth annual analyst summit in Shenzhen, China in April 2012. The main takeaway for its consumer devices business was that consumer devices complete the end-to-end pitch for Huawei. Huawei showcased its growing capabilities across the wireless industry value chain. Most notably, Huawei made a foray into the smart devices domain with its own brand of smartphones and tablets. In 2011, Huawei shipped 20 million smartphones and 60 million mobile broadband devices like dongles. The smartphone market is already overcrowded with heavyweights such as Apple, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola; thus, it might seem that Huawei may not be able to make a very profitable business from selling these devices. However, we believe that this move will bring indirect benefits to Huawei’s core Carrier Network division in the following two ways:
It spurs the uptake of smart mobile devices. Among all companies, Huawei is best suited to leverage manufacturing capabilities in its homeland, China, to mass-produce smart devices. Moreover, as it can manufacture processors in-house through its HiSilicon subsidiary, it can control and reduce the overall price of these devices. As price is a major buying criterion for consumers in regions like China, India, and the Southeast Asian countries, Huawei will be able to expedite the uptake of devices in these countries. Subsequently, the demand for data will increase and telecom operators in these countries will need to upgrade or roll out new technologies and networks (HSPA+, TD-LTE, FDD-LTE, dual-mode networks, etc.). This is where Huawei will benefit, as it will be able to position itself as an end-to-end supplier for telecom operators including hardware, professional and managed services, security solutions, servers, and storage.
At the end of 2010, we published a blog post about the results of our annual US “Understanding The Need Of The Changing Consumer” report, in which we reported that for the first time ever the average time US consumer reports spending online is the same as what they report spending watching offline TV. As the data is self-reported it's different from the metrics collected by Nielsen or comScore, but it tells a very important story that is coming directly from the mouths of consumers: In their minds, time spent with offline and online media is split equally.
However, this discussion came at a time when the iPad had only been launched for about six months and worldwide there were less than 15 million iPads sold. At the end of 2011, we conducted a quantitative Technographics® study and ran a qualitative project in our Community Speaks community to better understand: the relationship among tablets, laptops, and TV; how consumers are currently using the Internet and TV; and how they’d like to do so in the future. Forrester's Technographics data shows that many consumers who own a laptop or tablet use that to go online while watching television: