Mobile World Congress 2010: a wrap up

I posted some thoughts when in Barcelona last week. So did my colleagues Mike Cansfiled, Charles Golvin and Ian Fogg. Now that I am back from the MWC pilgrimage and that I have digested briefings, meetings, press releases and demos, here are my key takeways on the Mobile Mecca gathering.  

 

The mobile industry is in full swing. Its center of gravity is shifting from hardware to software, from voice to data and services, and from traditional telecom stakeholders to new entrants.

Google’s “mobile first” approach and the shadow that Apple cast over the show are forcing mobile operators in particular to redefine their position in the value chain. The traditional focus on infrastructure (LTE..) and this year’s debate on operators’ congested networks need to be put in the context of nontelecom players’ willingness to monetize mobile. Mobile World Congress is a unique opportunity to witness how mobile is reinventing itself and to see how it will become even more disruptive in consumers' daily lives in the future.

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Mobile World Congress: some thoughts on day 1

It is difficult to say whether the number of delegates attending Mobile World Congress is lower than expected or than last year, but the Fira was this year again crowded with audiences from all over the world (circa 50,000 visitors from what I have read). Despite the rainy / chilly day, the mood is much better than last year where the economic recession casted its shadow on the show.Read more

2010 mobile trends

Having reviewed the 2009 trends, it’s now time to make some predictions for 2010!

I’m not going to say that 2010 will be “the year of mobile” or “the year of mobile marketing”. I think 2010 is more likley to be the "year that every firms needs a mobile strategy". Mobile is simply too disruptive to merely have a year. After all, who remembers the year of the TV or the year of the Internet? Instead, I think 2010 will be a key year in mobile's transition to center stage in the digital marketplace.

A new mobile decade is opening up, and now is the time to start your journey. In the past 10 years, mobile phones have changed the way we communicate and live. In the next 10 years, they will change the way we do business.

Rudy De Waelem a famous mobile blogger and event organizer, decided this year to ask many contributors to publish their thoughts for the coming mobile decade. I didn't contribute to it and it would be a bit late to join the bandwagon now that this slideshare presentation is the most read one, but I invite you to have a look at the below. Very inspiring! and congrats Rudy for your idea.

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2009 mobile trends reviewed

A year ago, I posted an entry about what I thought would be the key trends for 2009.

I'll stick to my comments and continue to believe that regulation had a stronger impact on the mobile sector than the economic crisis. The recent announcement that the French telecom regulation authority eventually (after years after back and forth discussions and lobbying) granted the 4th 3G license to Free/Iliad (one of the largest ISPs) is a good example of that. The new entrant will not launch before early 2012 but aims at captuting 10% market share by introducing cheaper tariffs (a competitive 3 hour package for less than 20€), bundling Internet access and offering interesting conditions to MVNOs. Evolution of termination rates or roaming tariffs as well as other regulations on spectrum have a much greater impact on operators' bottom line than reduced spending from consumers. 

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Mobile Travel in Europe

ACCOR, the global hotel chain, just launched an iPhone application.

Accor This  is just one of the many examples of travel brands leveraging the mobile momentum. Airline companies have always been at the vanguard of integrating mobile into their strategies, but it looks like many other travel brands from hotel chains, airports, rail companies, car rental companies, and travel-related brands (from Lonely Planet to luxury brands) are now tapping into existing mobile opportunities and building mobile products that meet burgeoning customer demand.

Travel is indeed inherently mobile. Now that the promise of location-enhanced services is beginning to be fulfilled on mobile phones, travelers are starting to use their devices as personal travel assistants. More than 10% of European Internet travelers use their mobile phones to look up flight or train schedules. Frequent business travelers are the ideal target group, as they are more likely to be regular users of the mobile Internet and are more likely to spend while traveling. More than 30% of them are interested in booking train tickets or checking in for a flight via their mobile phones.

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Orange's approach to the new mobile ecosystem

Earlier this year, I pointed out how Orange and operators were pursuing their innovation efforts in the context of new entrants (Apple, Google,...) shaking up the mobile value chain.

The recent announcements made at the 10th Orange collection are another proof of Orange's dynamism.If you have no clue what lifeisbetteron.com, wormee.com, radiomee.comcityvox.com, or webcity.fr have in common, I strongly advise you to take a look at this document.

Another interesting announcement was made this morning at the LeWeb conference in Paris, where Orange officially announced the launch of its Application Shop (available in beta in the UK and France for several months). This shop will first be available to 1 million customers in these two countries before being roll-out to millions more customers throughout 2010. For now it gives acess to 5,000 applications.

Replicating Apple's success will not be an easy task and operators should not follow this route. They should on the contrary leverage their key assets to offer:

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The mobile revolution is just getting started

I just presented the latest findings of a new research published "Mobile Technographics in Europe" to Forrester clients at our London Consumer Forum.

This report looks at the state of the European mobile market and at how consumers are using mobile services. We have created different profiles looking at how consumers are using their mobile phones in the different countries.

Over the past two years, the introduction of the iPhone has changed the way consumers and brands perceive mobile phones. It acted as a marketing catalyst, raising awareness of smarter devices and conveying the idea that there are as many mobile services as there are consumers. Consumers will continue to shift their attitudes toward mobile phones — perceiving them not only as communication tools but also increasingly as entertaining and productive devices that can help them in their daily lives. More than 40% of European consumers are beginning to demonstrate sophisticated usage of mobile services.

We expect this to grow over time led by the two most sophisticated group of users (SuperConnecteds and Entertainers). They will change the general perception of mobile phones:

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Is there life beyond the iPhone and beyond mobile applications?

Let's be a bit provocative after this week's announcement from Apple letting us know that they had sold 7,4M iPhones during the last quarter (+7% yoy). Apple's stock valuation was even higher than that of Google (as of October 20, 2009): $179 bn vs $173 bn. I am not a financial analyst so I won't comment the results from a profitability perspective, but would just like to throw out a couple of ideas to discuss whether this trend will last in 2010. Let's add a pinch of salt without taking into account the fact that Apple could (and certainly will) surprise us with new products.

Beyond the terrific iPhone user-experience, the power of Apple's marketing and the AppStore's ecosystem, part of the success is due to Apple's new business model introduced in July 08. When launching the 3GS, they also announced lots of international (and non-exclusive) deals with operators worldwide and finally accepted to let operators subsidize the device. No doubt there is a huge consumer demand for the iPhone but operators will have to solve a complex equation. It is a little dirty industry secret that many carriers are analyzing the profitability of the iPhone model:

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Why mobile could reinvent social computing

Many innovative start-ups have pioneered mobile social networking in the last few years: BuzzCity, Peperoni, Fring, Nimbuzz, eBuddy, Zyb, Plazes, Loopt, Foursquare and many others demonstrated the potential of the market.

 

In the last few months, a bunch of announcements clearly showed that the convergence between mobile and social computing is gaining traction and attracting the largest stakeholders:

 

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Mobile augmented reality

The pace of innovation is accelerating in the mobile space like never before and opening up new opportunities. Mobile has the potentiel to bridge the digital and the real worlds. Not a day without a new mobile augmented reality service or application out on the market. Of course, that's still niche but it clearly demonstrates the potential of the mobile platform.

If you disagree or if you don't get my point, just watch the video below

This video is not brand new and has already been seen close to 500,000 times. The service is provided by an innovative start-up that offers a reality browser available for Android. However, these types of applications are flourishing. See for example the Métro Paris application here or more recently the Meilleursagents.com app here.

 

I bet the best mobile service at the next MWC conference in Barcelona will be a mobile augmented reality app or service. If you haven't submitted your service, the contest is now open at www.globalmobileawards.com.

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