INSIDE MOBILE: Vision 2011: Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum

By J. Gerry Purdy  |  Posted 2010-12-02

INSIDE MOBILE: Vision 2011: Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum

I was fortunate to be asked by the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum to moderate an interesting evening with some mobile and wireless industry veterans on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at the Ravinia Club in Atlanta. The event was held to discuss their vision for what mobile and wireless will look like in 2011. We enjoyed presentations from individuals from Verizon Wireless, the Institute for Mobile Markets Research, McKinsey & Company, inCode Telecom Group, and Nielsen & Company. Here are the evening's highlights:

Presenter No. 1: Steven Leonard of Verizon Wireless

The first presenter was Steven Leonard, Regional Director for Wireless Data at Verizon Wireless. He shared a vision for their newest 4G wireless data offering called LTE (which stands for Long Term Evolution). Steven showed a slide that summarized the benefits of LTE for mobile users.

Benefits include higher throughput speeds up to 12M bps, low latency (which is important for voice over IP or VOIP), global standard (although not all at the same frequency), good in-building coverage because of the use of 700MHz instead of a higher frequency, and having licenses that will eventually cover the entire United States.

Expect LTE to be announced before the end of the year. However, it will generally only be available as USB modems for laptops before migrating to smartphones. Also, expect Verizon Wireless to announce usage-based pricing (both in quantity and speed).

Presenter No. 2: Dr. Phil Hendrix of the Institute for Mobile Markets Research

The second presenter was Dr. Phil Hendrix of the Institute for Mobile Markets Research. Phil focused his comments on the future of mobile commerce. He provided a slide that provided an excellent summary of the status of m-commerce, mentioning many of the major players.

Users are now about to do mobile shopping, transfer funds via the bank, obtain mobile rewards and coupons, book hotels and flights, and make payments-all using their mobile smartphone.

The new Isis announcement by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile intends to bring Near Field Communication (NFC) into future phones so your smartphone can truly become a smartwallet. You'll be able to select the debit or credit account you want to use and then just tap the NFC-enabled terminals that are now widely available in retail.

Presenter No. 3: Jeremy Schneider of McKinsey & Company

Presenter No. 3: Jeremy Schneider of McKinsey & Company

The third presenter was Jeremy Schneider, Partner in the Telecom Group at McKinsey & Company. He made three predictions: 1) wireless data will be bigger than previously estimated, 2) enterprise will outstrip consumer, and 3) new mobile applications architectures will drive the mobile landscape.

Wireless data estimates from 2009 through 2012 all seem to be low, according to McKinsey & Company. They believe that the usage will turn out 17 times that of 2009, but he pointed out that it could be over 20 times if tablets' popularity surges, the iPhone goes into all operators and mobile video takes off.

Presenter No. 4: Jorge Fuenzalida of inCode Telecom Group

The fourth presenter was Jorge Fuenzalida, Vice President and General Manager at inCode Telecom Group, a division of Ericsson. He gave three predictions for 2011: 1) TV will be everywhere, 2) tablets will outstrip netbooks, and 3) there will be a new "gold rush" in rural wireless broadband.

Jorge's first prediction is that TV is migrating from its traditional sources to being distributed over the Internet-over the wireless networks as well as traditional cable. New distributors such as Hulu and Netflix and new players such as Google will provide TV services in new ways and to new users-with mobile users benefiting from all of the development.

Jorge also believes that tablet sales will exceed netbook sales before the end of 2012. In a way, this is part of a morphing of the netbook as a number of manufacturers are just converting their netbook architectures to a tablet-centric architecture (where the logic is put behind the display instead of behind the keyboard). Also, many tablet manufacturers are producing easy-to-use keyboards that will make the new tablets work even better in keyboard mode (due to the better keyboards than you find in a netbook today).

The most important issue about netbooks versus tablets is that tablet manufacturers are incorporating mobile operating systems into these devices rather than desktop systems such as Windows. I'm sure there will be some Windows-based tablets in the market but, as of now, the tablets coming to market use the Apple iOS and Android.

Presenter No. 5: Rob Prudhomme of Nielsen & Company

Presenter No. 5: Rob Prudhomme of Nielsen & Company

The fifth and last presenter was Rob Prudhomme, Vice President of the Telecom Group at Nielsen & Company. Rob took a very different angle to the vision for 2011: He looked at how the ending of Apple's exclusive relationship with AT&T will affect iPhone sales growth and also affect subscriber totals at the four major networks. Overall, he naturally predicts that ending the exclusive will help Apple and the other carriers but will hurt AT&T.


Look for my annual vision for 2011 in mobile and wireless in my upcoming December 29, 2010 column. I think it's clear from these presentations that there are a lot of major new developments in 2011-from major new networks to new wireless smartphones, a flood of new tablet devices, and new software and services.

I'm fortunate to be working in such a vibrant industry where so much innovation is still happening. That makes it easy to say that the best days of mobile and wireless are still yet to happen.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an "edge of network" analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.

Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy's ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.

Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column.  If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.

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