Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, March 27, 2015

Global Pay-TV Market will Reach $313 Billion in 2020

Traditional forms of video entertainment are already saturated in most of the developed nations around the globe. Meanwhile, some of the more promising emerging markets are growing at a more gradual rate than was anticipated, due to current economic pressures.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the worldwide pay-TV market grew by just 4 percent in 2014 to reach 923.5 million subscribers.

"Despite the growth in subscriber base, weak currency exchange rates resulted in a slower increase of pay-TV market service revenue. Worldwide, the pay-TV market generated $257 billion in 2014 and is expected to surpass 1.1 billion subscribers in 2020 with a CAGR 2.7 percent," said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director at ABI Research.

Cable and terrestrial TV markets had weaker growth rates in 2014 compared to satellite and IPTV platforms. However, high definition (HD) penetration is increasing across all pay-TV platforms because of the increasing number of HD channels added by operators.

In 2014, 44 percent of the worldwide pay-TV subscriber base were HD subscribers, with the highest HD penetration in Western Europe and North America. HD penetration is expected to reach 60 percent of the total pay-TV market in 2020.

Pay-TV operators are now moving towards Ultra HD (also known as 4K) service. In November, U.S. satellite operator DirecTV launched its first 4K programming without any additional monthly charges to subscribers with its HD DVR, Genie and DirecTV 4K Ready television set, which is any of Samsung’s Smart 4K TV models.

Online video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon also started to offer 4K content in late 2014. When content availability and 4K TV set adoption increase, 4K services are likely to become a differentiator for pay-TV service providers.

In 4Q 2014, all U.S. cable operators combined lost roughly 100,000 subscribers, while Comcast gained 7,000 subscribers. The largest American satellite TV provider, DirecTV gained 149,000 subscribers in 4Q 2014, which is the highest net addition since 2012.

As competition in the pay-TV market increases, ABI believes that the quality of content, innovations, and service pricing will be among the most important factors for pay-TV operators to maintain their customer base.

Given the current overall worldwide outlook, ABI Research now forecasts that the global pay-TV market will generate $313 billion service revenues by 2020.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Smartphones Drive Internet Use in Emerging Markets

According to the latest global study by International Data Corporation (IDC), the combined total market of smartphones, media tablets and PCs is now forecast to grow from 1.8 billion units in 2014 to 2.5 billion units in 2019.

During the forecast period, smartphones will grow to represent the majority of total Smart Connected Device (IDC's term for the combined market) shipments -- dwarfing both tablets and PCs in terms of shipment volumes.

As recently as 2010, PCs still made up the lion's share of the total device market, with the combined desktop and notebook categories accounting for about 52.5 percent of shipments, versus 44.7 percent for smartphones and 2.8 percent for tablets.

However, by 2014, smartphones had grown to represent 73.4 percent of total shipment, while PCs had slipped to 16.8 percent and tablets had increased to 12.5 percent. By 2019, IDC expects the distribution to be 77.8 percent smartphones, 11.6 percent PCs, and 10.7 percent tablets.

"Smartphone growth continues at an astounding pace, while growth in the PC and tablet markets is proving to be more challenging," said Tom Mainelli, vice president at IDC. "There are clearly some bright spots in both markets."


IDC believes that detachable 2-in-1 devices will show strong growth potential in the tablets category, and convertible notebooks are beginning to gain traction in PCs. But ultimately, for more people in more places, the smartphone is the clear choice in terms of owning one connected device.

According to the IDC assessment, not all smartphone growth will be equal. Going forward, the future of smartphones lies in emerging markets, sub-$100 price points, and phablets.

In 2014, 73 percent of smartphones were shipped to emerging markets, 21 percent were priced below $100, and 12 percent had screen sizes between 5.5 and 7 inches.

By 2019, these categories will all increase  -- 80 percent of smartphones will be shipped to emerging markets, 35 percent will be priced below $100, and 32 percent will have a 5.5 to 7-inch screen size.

So far the overall market has very much focused on premium models and brands, but emerging market consumers are looking for greater value from a single lower-cost (typically open-source Android-based) device.

More likely than not, that single device will be an affordable smartphone or phablet -- they will drive mobile internet use in emerging markets. This emerging market trend will dominate upside growth in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Self-Adapting Teams Adopt Digital Technologies


By 2018, one third of the top twenty market-share leaders in most industries will be significantly impacted by new competitors -- and "reinvented" incumbents -- that proactively apply digital technologies to create new services and associated business models.

According to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), the adoption of Digital Transformation (DX) methodologies will eventually disrupt the status-quo of all traditional enterprise business models and established strategic partner ecosystems.

Business leaders are therefore challenged to move their enterprise to the next level of commercial competency -- by employing new digital technologies, coupled with organizational, operational, and business model innovation that will differentiate them in the marketplace.

Their ultimate goal is to create new ways of operating and growing their commercial venture within the rapidly evolving Global Networked Economy.

To help savvy executive leaders achieve this goal, IDC has developed the 'DX MaturityScape' to profile the challenges and opportunities that this transformation will introduce into their legacy environment.

They provide a framework for developing coherent, forward-looking strategies and plans that optimize the ability of executive IT leadership to positively transform the customer experience, information management, operating models and workforce management processes.


IDC also describes business-enhancing attributes of what they call the '3rd Platform,' which incorporates mobility, social business, cloud computing, big data and analytics software.

This study identified key areas in need of improvement:

  • Leadership DX - requires that leaders become more sophisticated in their knowledge of the enterprise ecosystem. This includes the digital accessibility of markets, customers, and service providers, in order to anticipate and develop product and operational innovations that extend market share and increase revenue by creating shared digital experiences.
  • Omni-Experience DX - the ability to continually attract and grow loyalty with customers, partners, and employees by creating interactive experiences.
  • WorkSource DX - the transformation of the way enterprises access, connect, and leverage talent through the use of digital technologies.
  • Operating Model DX - describes the ability to make business operations more responsive and effective by leveraging digitally connected products or services, assets, people and trading partners.
  • Information DX - the ability to leverage information for competitive advantage by enabling the business to respond to opportunities swiftly and with superior intelligence.

"Digital technology has and will continue to alter the landscapes of business, education, healthcare, and government. The past couple of years have seen breathtaking change at an accelerating pace," said Meredith Whalen, senior vice president at IDC.

IDC believes that digital business transformation will be used as an essential tool that helps forward-thinking executives to create self-adapting teams within their organizations, capable of  rapidly responding to change in the marketplace. These organizations will not only survive the inevitable market disruption in their industry, they can also thrive on it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chromebooks: the Mobile Cloud Computing Catalyst

While Microsoft and Intel were busy planning the introduction of a high-price Ultrabook PC concept -- that was focused on vendor needs for higher profit margins -- Google was working on developing a low-price Chromebook model that was targeted at an under-served market.

What's the primary benefits of a Chromebook? They're cloud-centric, budget-friendly, fast-booting, battery-efficient, secure computing devices that are more functional than media tablets and less expensive than the typical notebook PC.

Besides, the Chromebook is a forward-thinking device, enabled by a software platform that has already transformed server computing -- the operating system is based on open-source Linux.

Built for the Mobile Cloud Era

In 2014, Chromebooks gained more traction in the North America market, and are set to continue growing as online streaming devices become more popular among consumers and business buyers.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, Chromebooks experienced 235 percent growth between 2013 and 2014, with shipments reaching 4.87 million in 2014.

"The rollout of cloud services and the 2009 global economic collapse created the opportunity for developers to provide a budget-friendly solution for consumers," said Stephanie Van Vactor, research analyst at ABI Research.

Chromebooks were the result of an insightful Google innovation, according to the ABI assessment -- they were built for the 'anytime, anywhere' access to content that has defined the mobile cloud era.

Forward-Looking Market Development

Deployments in the education market have increased substantially for Chromebooks, mostly because of Google Apps for Education, a collaborative platform that allows students and teachers to learn wherever and whenever.

For 2014, business and education purchasing entities accounted for 62 percent of Chromebook shipments. So, what's the primary drivers for continued market upside? The growing consumption in North America combined with the frugal consumer has created a niche of success for Chromebooks.

According to the ABI assessment, it takes less than a day of typical household income to purchase a Chromebook. The average selling price for Chromebooks in America is $266.25, while the price for an equally capable tablet is $420.90.

The financial risk factor of investing in a Chromebook is significantly reduced, especially for the increased functionality. Moreover, Google has taken to heart the popularity of mobile platforms and developed a personal computing device that is a very functional cloud service consumption solution.

ABI believes that this style of cloud-centered computing works well for the on-the-go lifestyle, and will further impact the future of personal computing as the market continues to shift and change.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Future of Cryptocurrency in Online eCommerce

The emergence of Bitcoin and an array of alternative cryptocurrencies over the past 5 years has been one of the true phenomena of global eCommerce. Initially a purely person-to-person mechanism, cryptocurrencies are increasingly being offered by online retailers as purchasing options.

According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, the number of active Bitcoin users worldwide will reach 4.7 million by the end of 2019 -- that's up from just over 1.3 million in 2014.

However, the findings from the study also reveal that usage will continue to be dominated by exchange trading, with retail adoption largely restricted to relatively niche demographics.

While a number of high profile retailers are enabling Bitcoin payment, activity levels from both online and offline deployments are extremely low. Of course, growth in new user adoption could change, over time.

"While average daily transaction volumes have increased by around 50 percent since March 2014, the indications are that much of this growth results from higher transaction levels by established users rather from any substantial uplift in consumer adoption," said Dr Windsor Holden, head of consultancy at Juniper Research.

Juniper cited a number of factors which it claimed would continue to inhibit growth, most notably the difficulty in communicating the concept of cryptocurrency payments to end users.

It also argued that Bitcoin’s historical association with – and continued use by – criminals for illegal purchases and money laundering was likely to act as a further deterrent to mass adoption.

Meanwhile, Juniper observed that with many Bitcoins being hoarded by early speculators, currency supply could be further restricted with Bitcoin mining profitability threatened by a combination of the cryptocurrency’s volatility, lower Bitcoin yields and rising electricity costs.

Other findings from the market study include:
  • The introduction of licensed, regulated exchanges could lead to a stabilisation in currency values and with it an increase in retail transaction adoption.
  • The protocols behind cryptocurrency could be deployed in areas such as real-time transactional settlement.
  • The altcoin market continues to be plagued by “pump and dump” currencies created solely as short-term investment vehicles.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Savvy Personal Computer Vendors are Agile and Resilient

Personal computer (PC) vendors have a complex market development challenge in 2015 -- learn how to embrace ongoing demand volatility. Worldwide PC shipments are expected to fall by -4.9 percent in 2015, while growth projections for 2016 and 2017 were raised slightly, according to the latest study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

Fourth quarter 2014 (4Q14) results were 1.7 percent ahead of forecast, but economic and product changes will create more challenges in the short term. Total 2015 volume is projected at 293.1 million PCs, slipping a little further to 291.4 million in 2019.

In value terms, the PC market reached $201 billion in 2014 -- that's a decline of -0.8 percent, and is expected to fall another -6.9 percent in 2015 with potentially smaller declines in subsequent years bringing the total to $175 billion by 2019.

Furthermore, while recent processor updates have generated some positive momentum, more significant product refreshes -- such as Intel Skylake and Microsoft Windows 10 -- will be released later in the year, shifting PC buyer interest to later in 2015.

"Fortunately for PC makers, tablet growth has slowed," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst at IDC. "The PC ecosystem has also begun to see some fruits from efforts to narrow the divide between the PC and mobile devices in terms of both user experience and price points."


Emerging markets continue to struggle, finishing 2014 with a decline of 9.5 percent in PC shipments and with 2015 growth projections lowered to -4.7 percent, pushing volume down throughout the forecast.

Competition from other devices -- such as phones, tablets, and wearable tech -- also pose an ongoing challenge to PC spending. Although emerging regions are still expected to see positive growth by 2017, shipment projections remain below 160 million units through 2019, down from 163.7 million in 2014.

Mature regions continued to fare better, ending 2014 with positive growth of 8.4 percent for the year, the first growth year since 2010. This growth was supported by XP system replacements, slowing tablet purchases, and the availability of more lower-cost PC options.

Nevertheless, PC volumes in mature regions are expected to drop by -5.1 percent in 2015, with more incremental declines to follow. That being said, projections for PC volume in mature regions are up slightly to 134 million in 2019 from the prior forecast of 130 million.

IDC believes that the gains in mature regions for 2014 helped to somewhat stabilize the market, but any opportunity for long-term growth depends on reviving the upside in emerging regions, and that currently seems highly unlikely.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Forward-Thinking Utilities Adopt the Internet of Things

Most utility companies have a plan to utilize technologies that are key ingredients of the Internet of Things (IoT). As an example, the Smart Grid Sensor market will expand rapidly in the coming decade, with revenues growing nearly ten-fold, according to the latest worldwide market study by IHS.

IHS forecasts that while the smart grid sensor market only accounted for less than 20 percent of total sensor sales revenues in 2014, they will account for 75 percent of the total sensor market in 2021.

The smart grid sensor market is expected to reach the $100 million mark in 2017. To date, the market for smart grid sensors is centered mainly in North America, where there is a mixture of a few large installations and many smaller pilot projects.

There's a pressing need to monitor the electric grid in real-time, and utilities are expected to gain greater value by installing smart grid sensors, which can potentially improve utility operations and performance.

The United States market is estimated to reach $30 million in 2014 -- however, annual growth from 2015 to 2021 is expected to average 36 percent.


"The United States has been on the forefront of smart grid sensor market development," said Fizza Arshad, analyst at IHS. "Many factors have converged to make this happen, but one of the stronger influences was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009."

The ARRA provided the investment needed to install extensive grid distribution-layer communications networks. Having affordable, ubiquitous communications networks is essential to making the smart grid sensor solution come to fruition.

While the current growth is centered in the United States, Europe and Latin America are also forecast to become high-growth markets. In Latin America, utilities are spending time and resources to install pilot programs to aid fault location and theft prevention.

In Europe there is a particularly strong need for renewable energy management. In fact, the influx of energy from solar and wind is creating a large demand for improved electric grid monitoring.

Greater adoption of smart grid sensors across Europe is therefore anticipated, as utilities will need more granular measurements on the electricity grid, in order to efficiently integrate renewables.

Overall, going from pilot programs to large-scale installations will offer more examples of successful deployments that further reveal the benefits to utilities, and thereby enable smart grid sensor technology to scale.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Internet of Things will Improve Medical Lab Tests

​As the worldwide market for the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, specific use-cases are emerging at an accelerated rate. Case in point: hospital laboratories are the smallest share of laboratory locations yet its diagnostic test equipment run more tests than any other medical testing facility provider.

Connectivity to lab equipment -- and the services enabled by that connectivity -- will increase total global laboratory test throughput to over 3.02 billion more diagnostic tests over the next 5 years.

The medical testing laboratory market consists of hospitals, independent labs, physician offices, and other healthcare-related lab environments.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the benefits of increased lab efficiency cannot be understated -- the diagnostic tests from these labs influence 70 percent of medical decisions ranging from treatment choices to hospital discharge decisions to early detection and prevention of chronic disease.

"We have a small handful of high-volume hospital and independent labs performing the vast majority of these diagnostic tests, and it is crucial that these labs in particular utilize all available technology to maximize equipment up-time," said Ryan Harbison, research analyst at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, high- and medium-volume laboratories can now use Internet of Things services to automate testing processes and to remotely monitor equipment.

Another driving factor towards this increase in connected laboratory equipment -- particularly within developed markets around the globe -- is and will continue to be a shortage of laboratory technologists in the labor force.

As a result, laboratory technologists will handle greater and greater test workloads.Those laboratories that do not utilize IoT services will soon start adopting them so that technologists can focus on performing additional tests and not on equipment troubleshooting or maintenance.

"Any downtime in these machines creates a substantial backlog and logistical headache for laboratories both large and small," adds Harbison.

By utilizing the full breadth of these IoT services, forward-looking labs have the ability to use real-time equipment data to streamline their operations and increase overall efficiency, so they can continue focusing on producing the test results that enable informed medical diagnosis.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Enterprise Mobility Applications Drive Tablet Demand

The media tablet market has apparently matured. Following the first year-over-year decline in worldwide media tablet shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14), International Data Corporation (IDC) has scaled back its five year forecast for the product category.

That being said, the market outlook is still somewhat promising. Worldwide shipments are now expected to reach 234.5 million units in 2015 -- that's a modest year-over-year increase of 2.1 percent from 2014.

Although the outlook has been tempered, IDC expects positive growth for the market in the years to come as demand in the commercial sector increases -- particularly as more enterprise mobility applications gain adoption and improve user productivity in meaningful an substantive ways.

"Despite the growing popularity of phablets, there still remains a portion of the market that wants to use a larger device so they can tailor their experience to the appropriate screen size," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC.


Meanwhile, IDC belives that an increasing number of vendors behind small tablets are reducing prices and adopting features like voice calling to entice consumers to purchase their products over competing phablets, making the dynamics of phablets vs voice-capable tablets an interesting one to watch.

In terms of platforms, Google Android will remain the leader, with close to two-thirds of the market over the course of the forecast period. Once-upon-a-time-leader Apple iOS is likely the weakest link as IDC expects its volume share of the market to decline in 2015, reaching levels below that of the past three years.

Microsoft Windows, despite modest adoption to date, is expected to gain significant share over the course of the forecast period, growing from 5.1 percent in 2014 to 14.1 percent in 2019.

"Microsoft is doing a lot of good things right now and we believe the launch of Windows 10 later this year will not only have a significant impact on Microsoft's share of the market, but on the industry as a whole," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director at IDC.

There is an appetite for a platform that can provide a productivity experience that remains consistent across multiple form factors and device types, and IDC believes that Microsoft is well positioned to capture some of that demand. We'll have to wait and see -- time will tell if Microsoft can attract enough developers to its business tablet app ecosystem.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Mobile Apps are Transforming Air Transportation

Over 1.5 billion airline boarding passes will be delivered via smartphones by 2019, compared to approximately 745 million boarding passes estimated to be delivered this year, according to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.

This means boarding passes that are presented via a smartphone will represent 1 in 3 boarding passes issued by all airlines at the end of 2019.

However, adoption of this approach is not mainstream. Mobile boarding passes are increasingly used by frequent flyers, but less used by leisure passengers who are less familiar with the technology.

According to SITA, the airline IT specialist, 53 percent of airlines have already implemented mobile boarding passes via software apps -- which is expected to rise to 91 percent by 2017.


Furthermore, Juniper found that the majority of airlines have implemented boarding passes via apps, and the industry is witnessing rapid adoption in markets such as the U.S., Far East and Europe.

Some of the early adopting airlines are recording double-digit growth for boarding passes delivered via a mobile phone. New digital ticketing technology has the potential to further transform the industry.

However, the success of mobile barcode boarding pass adoption has meant that the transition to near-field communication (NFC) applications on smartphones could be delayed.

"The ultimate position that NFC can reach in the airline industry is the extinction of the boarding pass -- whereby boarding pass, baggage tickets and identity information can be stored on the phone and simply accessed using NFC readers," said Nitin Bhas, head of research at Juniper Research.

Other key findings from the market study include:

  • The metro/bus sector will dominate mobile ticketing transaction volumes, due to the relative frequency of consumer purchase.
  • Metro/bus NFC-ticketing is expected to gain traction in the medium term in critical markets such as Europe and Asia as gating infrastructure is upgraded.