Independent strategic management consulting firm Northstream announced its annual top five trends for the global mobile industry in 2011, naming LTE (Long-Term Evolution) deployment, mobile video calling adoption, the rise of Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems, increased mobile broadband availability and specific data price bundles as areas to closely monitor in the coming year.
The company noted there have been nine commercial LTE deployments this year, and a further 44 additional launches are anticipated for 2011. In total, 113 operators have publicly committed to the technology across 46 different countries with 43 LTE trials currently in operation. However, Northstream analysts said despite this strong growth, LTE faces an unpredictable future in 2011 with its sustained global deployment being impacted by a variety of factors, including additional spectrum requirements that could lead to widespread fragmentation.
"Widespread LTE enabled smartphones will be available beyond 2011, when there will be sufficient choice to interest mobile consumers and a proven LTE voice solution will have been found," the report noted.
Mobile video calling got a boost through the iPhone 4, which now boasts face-facing cameras, a large high-resolution display, and interactive applications that can switch between a standard voice call and a WiFi-enabled video call by the touch of a screen. Despite just 1 percent of existing 3G calls being video enabled, Skype claims that its share of video calls stands at 40 percent of total customer interactions. Furthermore, the report noted the number of video call enabled Apple devices alone is set to exceed 100 million over the next 12 months, with Cisco likely to launch a consumer version of its video conferencing system.
"The iOS and Android platforms have thus not only changed the name of the game for mobile VAS and content, they have also firmly separated the use case from its dependence on access. The disconnection from access offers developers total freedom in the choice between direct and indirect revenues," the report continued. "As a result, multiple services can now converge on one platform, not in a mobile operator's core or service network, but in the hands of the end user. Thus, convergence is larger than 'fixed-mobile' and involves the [digital] convergence of multiple industries, businesses and use cases."
Northstream analysts said they believe that increased mobile broadband availability will drive the global mobile market beyond 10 billion connections by 2015. The company noted market analysts such as iSuppli have rechecked their tablet sales estimates-they originally stated that single-function e-readers will enjoy 40 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) (2009-2014), but accept that devices like the iPad and its likes could experience 10 times that growth. Gartner has also increased its forecast from 10.5 million tablet sales up to 19.5 million for this year in accordance with extraordinary demand. In order to grow from the 5.2 billion mobile connections we have today to 10 billion by 2015, the global mobile industry would need to achieve a CAGR of 14 percent, the report noted.