Android, Smartphones Driving the Mobile Market, Says IDC

A new report from IDC highlights four trends that it says are shaping the mobile industry. Among these are the growth of smartphones and new mobile operating systems, such as Android, as well as the growth of mobile broadband networks.

Research firm IDC estimates that the mobile sector is currently an $850 billion global market, making up 57 percent of the global telecom market. In a new report, "Worldwide Mobile Trends," the firm predicts that this fastest-growing sector will see 1.3 billion new mobile subscribers by 2013 and outlines four trends that it additionally identifies as shaping the mobile industry.
The first, writes IDC, is price compression and the slowing revenues found in mobile voice. Together, the firm writes, these revenue losses highlight the importance of mobile data, mobile broadband and mobile applications for operators and device manufacturers.
Trend two is the growing use of smartphones - which now make up 15 percent of all devices shipped - in both developed and emerging markets. "Another key driver will be the emergence of connected devices, such as embedded laptops and a plethora of industrial/machine to machine (M2M) devices," states the report.
Following smartphone growth is a trend regarding the transformation of the mobile operating system landscape, as operating systems such as BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile face new competition from open-source options such as Android, as well as Apple's Mac OS X and Palm's webOS.
(While Microsoft, last fall, went to work rebranding the Windows Mobile image, Palm, which used to offer phones with the Microsoft OS, announced in September that it will instead solely focus on webOS devices. WebOS is currently run by the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, as well as the Plus versions of each.)
Finally, the fourth trend, wrote IDC, will be the growth of mobile broadband.
"Operators in mature markets will continue implementing HSPA," IDC states in the report. "WiMax will be a key driver in many emerging markets, while LTE will begin to take the limelight towards the end of the year and into 2011."
To point, on Jan. 5, T-Mobile announced that it had updated its 3G network to HSPA 7.2, and that it anticipated being the first U.S. carrier to launch the 3.5G technology HSPA+.
AT&T also completed a software upgrade to HSPA 7.2 in early January, and on Feb. 10, it announced that it had selected Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent as the supplier partners for its LTE network, scheduled for 2011.
While competitor Verizon plans to begin rolling out its LTE network later this year, Sprint has instead chosen the 4G technology WiMax. While an LTE network has yet to arrive in the U.S., as of Dec. 2009, WiMax provider Clearwire, which Sprint owns the majority share of, claimed 173,000 subscribers, according to a Dec. 3 report from ABI Research.
"The mobile sector is in transition from its prior focus on subscriber growth," said Courtney Munroe, IDC group vice president of worldwide Telecommunications, in a statement on the report.
"The expanding demographics of smartphones and new operating systems, the arrival of mobile broadband and the explosive growth of applications and content are combining to reshape the landscape of mobile telecommunications," Munroe continued.