Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Evolution of Vehicular Communication Systems

Emerging vehicle-to-vehicle technology based on Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) -- using the IEEE 802.11p automotive W-Fi standard -- will gradually be introduced in new vehicles, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

Vehicular communication systems are a new type of wireless network in which vehicles and roadside units are the communicating nodes -- providing each other with information, such as safety warnings and traffic information.

As a cooperative approach, these interactive automated systems can be used for emergency alerts -- to help avoid highway accidents and upcoming traffic congestion.

This proposed technology deployment will be driven by government policy mandates and/or automotive industry initiatives, resulting in a penetration rate of 61.8 percent by 2027.

"In the U.S. market there is a real possibility for a Department of Transportation mandate, depending on the outcome of the large scale V2X trial being held in Michigan," said Dominique Bonte, VP and practice director at ABI Research.

In Europe the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium -- which counts 12 car OEMS -- has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deploy cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems and Services (C-ITS) in Europe from 2015.

It's based upon common technical specifications in line with the 2010 EU Directive calling for an urgent implementation of cooperative ITS technology. Similar initiatives exist in Asia (Japan, South Korea and China).

Despite increasing momentum driven by both government regulators and the automotive industry, the deployment of V2V and even more so V2I will take time, as the real safety benefits of V2X only can be realized when a sufficiently large part of the installed vehicle base is connected.

However, complimentary technologies such as ADAS on the low end and cellular connectivity on the high end will allow emulating some of the ITS functionality defined for V2X.

In particular, the rapid emergence of 4G LTE Advanced -- featuring very low latency -- is a good candidate for offering vehicle-to-vehicle communications, awaiting the widespread availability of dedicated V2V technology.

ABI Research now offers quantitative forecast data on Intelligent Transportation Systems, including hardware shipments and revenues, installed base, and penetration rates by region from now to 2027.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Still No Sign of a Recovery in the Global PC Market

As anticipated, performance of the personal computer (PC) market in 2013 is in line with earlier forecasts -- following the significant trends of last year -- with a few exceptions.

According to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), their assessment reveals slower than expected growth in China during the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13).

Although the slowdown is partially due to the timing of Chinese New Year and other expected factors, new budget cuts from the government as well as anti-corruption measures are slowing purchases more than expected.

March should recover somewhat in China, but not enough to offset the weak February results.

With China now the top PC market worldwide -- accounting for over 21 percent of global shipments in 2012 -- the slow February results and likely impact on March are expected to lower first quarter global PC shipments by roughly 2 percent from recent forecasts.

Other monthly results indicate close-to-forecast market performance in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Latin America, and Asia-Pacfic excluding Japan (APeJ).

Meanwhile, supply chain data indicates room for a slightly larger downward adjustment, according to the latest IDC assessment. We'll now have to wait and see if signs of a recovery appear later in the year.

"Based on our latest quarterly figures, global PC shipments were expected to decline by 7.7 percent in the first quarter as vendors and the supply chain work through the Windows 8 transition," said Loren Loverde, program vice president at IDC.

However, IDC's February monthly data suggest that there could be a drop touching double-digits in the first quarter and a mid-single-digit decline in the second quarter of 2013 -- before we see any recovery in the second half of the year.

Even getting to positive growth in the second half of 2013 would take some attractive new PC designs and more competitive pricing relative to tablets and other products. To date, there's been no indication that's likely to happen in the near-term -- as vendors continue to assess the disappointing adoption of Ultrabooks.

IDC resreach fills the growing demand for timely and accurate information on the global PC market. It provides a monthly update on the trends in key markets around the world, providing data on rapidly changing trends.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another Huge Increase in Mobile Network Data Traffic

Last year was another record breaker for mobile internet usage. Total global mobile network data traffic had amounted to 13,412 petabytes by the end of 2012 -- that's an increase of 69 percent year-on-year.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, 3G mobile network data usage occupied 46 percent of the total with an increase of 130 percent year-on-year.

4G LTE mobile network traffic is accelerating, with a growth rate of 207 percent in 2013 compared to 99 percent for 3G traffic.

"In developed markets, 4G is rapidly gaining traction. Verizon Wireless, for example, has reported that 50 percent of its data usage is on 4G LTE," said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.

Underpinning mobile data usage are smartphone apps -- their downloads, and the traffic usage they generate, has become a significant contributor to mobile data traffic.

Smartphone app downloads were 36.2 billion for 2012, that's up by 88 percent compared to 2011.

Asia-Pacific has overtaken North America (25 percent), with 39 percent of total smartphone app downloads. IP/web browsing constitutes 51 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2012.

 However, by 2018, large mobile device screens and 4G data-speeds will stimulate mobile video streaming/downloads to account for 56 percent of total traffic.

Smartphone apps are a double-edged sword. While they promote the adoption of mobile data tariffs, Over-The-Top Instant Messaging and VoIP services are threatening the mobile network operators’ messaging and voice revenue models.

Regardless, mobile network operators are striving to benefit from the data usage and not just get burdened with data traffic. The emergent growth in enterprise apps does have potential.

ABI says that both ATT and Orange have invested in enterprise apps, setting up their own in-house service teams. Orange is offering Health Trusts mobile-centric ID authentication that allows them to offer confidential and secure mobile medical services that can enhance aftercare support and increase efficiency. There should be more examples of these value-added applications emerging during 2013.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Upside for Connected Vehicle Infotainment Systems

Shipments of connected vehicle infotainment systems will grow from 9 million in 2013 to more than 62 million in 2018, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

These systems include connected navigation, multimedia streaming, social media, and in-car Wi-Fi hotspots becoming key features that automobile manufacturers would install in vehicles.

"Open platforms continue their march forward," said Dominique Bonte, VP and practice director at ABI Research.

While the GENIVI consortium (open source common automotive infotainment reference platform) and the Car Connectivity Consortium (MirrorLink screen replication technology) somewhat struggle to find momentum, the car industry is now turning its attention to HTML5 and Google Android.

Both Renault (R-Link) and Volvo (Sensus Connected Touch platform based on Parrot’s Asteroid Smart) are embracing heavily modified versions of the Google Android operating system.

In a similar vein, automotive applications and app stores have become standard components of any connected automotive infotainment platform.

The automotive industry is finally realizing that the ability to download aftermarket services and apps is a powerful way to keep auto systems up-to-date and relevant during the vehicle lifecycle.

On the connectivity side, 4G seems to finally have been accepted as the connectivity technology of the future, following GM’s announcement to adopt AT&T’s 4G technology to power next generation infotainment platforms offering navigation, in-car hotpots, and multimedia services.

According to ABI's assessment, carriers across the globe are keen to play a key role in the connected car and more generally the Internet of Everything revolution.

The ABI Research Connected Car market data provides detailed forecasts of connected automotive infotainment solutions including hardware shipments and service revenue for the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, and Africa & the Middle East.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How the Big Mobile Broadband Crisis was Avoided

Infonetics Research released excerpts of the findings that resulted from its latest global market study, which analyzed wireless communications radio frequency spectrum allocation and needs in the world’s top economies.

“Seven years ago the International Telecommunication Union predicted the world would need twice as much radio frequency spectrum as is allocated now, and that was even before the advent of the data-hungry Apple iPhone," said Stéphane Téral, principal analyst at Infonetics Research.

But if the ITU forecast had held true, all mobile communications networks with significant broadband usage would have crashed by now.Clearly, that prediction never came to pass.

So, what happened? HSPA+ and LTE are two of the primary reasons why mobile network operators have been able to squeeze more and more capacity out of their limited spectrum allocation.

HSPA/HSPA+ and LTE improve spectral efficiency so significantly that the need for spectrum has been greatly reduced -- often by at least half, when compared with prior technologies.

LTE technology is not only resistant to interference between cells but also spreads transmission efficiently over the available spectrum.

The Infonetics mobile spectrum report explores additional techniques operators are using to optimize their cellular resources -- without adding more spectrum -- and provides an alternative view to the mainstream belief that there is not enough spectrum.


Highlights of the global mobile spectrum assessment:
  • Wi-Fi offload may also be helping ease the spectrum crunch: Some mobile operators report to Infonetics that up to 75 percent of mobile device data traffic is now on Wi-Fi.
  • Despite the ubiquity of HSPA and EV-DO, average mobile connection speeds remain low, below 4 Mbps on average in the 16 countries included in Infonetics’ analysis.
  • Russia has the highest average (4.1 Mbps) and peak (21 Mbps) mobile connection speeds, mainly because it has one of the world’s best mobile networks but relatively few 3G subscribers and low Internet usage.
  • The U.S. leads the global mobile broadband race when it comes to number of LTE subscribers, accounting for just over half of the world’s 64 million LTE subscribers.
  • Countries with heavy mobile broadband usage such as the U.S., South Korea, and Japan are on track to need 1,000 MHz of spectrum by 2017.
  • Indonesia, the 3rd largest population on earth, has the potential to be the new China in terms of mobile growth opportunities; however, the country has been slow to enable mobile broadband and open up 3G spectrum.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tablet Shipments will Reach 350+ Million by 2017

A surge of smaller and lower-priced media tablets has led International Data Corporation (IDC) to increase its 2013 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 190.9 million -- that's up from its previous forecast of 172.4 million units.

Increases in tablet shipments have been made throughout the forecast period with an average increase of 11 percent between 2013 and 2016. The latest IDC forecast estimates tablet shipments to be upwards of 350 million by the end of 2017.

"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond," said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst at IDC.

Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small tablets are often more ideal than larger devices for their daily media consumption needs.

Once again, Google android-based tablets expanded their share of the market in 2012, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013. Android's share of the market is forecast to reach a peak of 48.8 percent in 2013 compared to 41.5 percent in IDC's previous forecast.

Android's gains come at the expense of Apple's iOS, which is expected to slip from 51 percent of the market in 2012 to 46 percent in 2013. Longer term, both iOS and Android will eventually relinquish some market share to Windows-based tablets, with Windows 8 predicted to grow from 1 percent of the market in 2012 to 7.4 percent in 2017.

However, IDC expects Windows RT growth to remain below 3 percent during the forecast period.


"Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far," said Tom Mainelli, research director at IDC.

Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, according to IDC's assessment, and Microsoft and its partners would likely be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. IDC believes that more focus might drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road.

While IDC continues to revise its tablet forecast upward, they have done the opposite with the eReader forecast. The growth of low-cost tablets is clearly damaging the prospects of the single-use eReader, and IDC reduced its forecast for the category by an average of 14 percent between 2013 and 2016.

IDC believes eReader shipments peaked in 2011 at 26.4 million units. After declining to 18.2 million units in 2012, the category is expected to grow only modestly in 2013 and 2014, before it begins a gradual and permanent decline beginning in 2015.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Smartphone, Tablet Apps Revenue to Reach $92B

​Media tablet apps will generate $8.8 billion in revenue in 2013, compared to the $16.4 billion expected from smartphone apps, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

Of the combined $25 billion applications revenue, 65 percent will come from Apple’s iOS ecosystem, 27 percent from Google’s Android, and the remaining 8 percent from the other mobile device platforms.

As part of a main trend, media tablet apps will steadily increase their share of the market over the coming years.

Tablets will, in 2017, nearly match the smartphone application revenues and surpass them by 2018 -- when the combined revenue base for both device types will reach $92 billion.

"The dynamic is quite straightforward," says Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research. "The larger screen makes apps and content look and feel better, so there are more lucrative opportunities."

One might think that the bigger installed base of smartphones would compensate for the disparity, but that notion fails to take into account the arrival of low-cost tablets -- which has barely started to move into the mainstream of consumer adoption.

The smartphones paved the way for them, but in the end ABI believes that it's the tablets that will prove the more transformative device segment of the two.

Perhaps a major part in the allure of tablets is how they will help address the demographic groups that have so far been under-served by the market.

Markkanen concludes, "The really big deal about tablets is how they will help to finally bring the computing age to, for instance, children and the elderly."

The business and economic opportunity associated with increased tablet adoption is undeniable. Besides, this phenomenon can also bring about very significant social benefits.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mobile Banking Users will Exceed 1 Billion by 2017

According to the latest market study by Juniper Research, a growing user acceptance of push mobile banking and a sharp rise in media tablet adoption will drive users of transactional mobile banking services to almost 200 million in 2017.

The tablet user base will represent approximately 19 percent of total mobile banking customers in 2017, compared to 9 percent this year -- as consumers engage in increasingly mobile lifestyles.

The study found that adoption of bill presentment and payment (MBPP) transactional banking by tablet users will be higher than mobile phone users, especially in developed areas where there is a higher adoption of tablet devices.

Juniper also found that as consumer tablet adoption continues to rise, there will be significant migration of purchasing and transaction activity from laptop and desktop PCs to media tablets.


Indeed, the development of the couch-commerce trend in the payments industry will be increasingly replicated within the banking industry.

"With online payments accounting for a significant proportion of all bill payments, especially in developed markets, BPP (Bill Presentment and Payment) transactions will indeed migrate from the desktop towards tablet devices," said Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper Research.

People often prefer managing bill payment and transactions via tablet devices, when compared to using their smartphones.

However, with banks bundling MBPP services within their mobile banking platform and additional momentum from easy to use smartphone apps, mobile phone transactional banking usage will quickly increase.

Other key findings from the study include:
  • The report analyses the relative proportion of mobile banking users accessing information services (“push”) and transactional banking services (“pull”).
  • Mobile banking users will exceed 1 billion in 2017, representing 15 percent of global mobile handset users.
  • The developed markets of Far East and China, North America and Western Europe will have the highest penetration of banking users in 2017.
  • Transactional banking growth across all markets will be at the expense of paper-based bill presentment, cash and check payment.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Exploring Brazil's Evolving Digital Media Marketplace

Brazil is still one of the most promising high-growth digital media markets in Latin America. comScore released data from their latest market study of the nation. They examined how the prevailing trends in web usage, social media, online video, digital advertising, mobile and search are defining the current marketplace and how they are likely to shape the coming year.

“The Brazilian digital landscape saw significant change in 2012 led by the strong emergence of Social Networking, in addition to increasing media consumption in terms of online video and display advertising,” said Alex Banks, comScore managing director for Brazil and VP Latin America.

As these media vehicles continue to grow, they are providing new and exciting opportunities for publishers hoping to attract audiences and marketers seeking to reach consumers.


Key insights from the latest market study include:
  • Consumers in Brazil spent more than 27 hours per month online on their desktop computers, representing the highest average engagement of all 8 Latin American markets analyzed.
  • The Brazilian internet audience is very young on average, with 18 percent of users age 18-24 and 30 percent of all users age 25-34.
  • Mobile phones and tablets are becoming more important to the Brazilian internet landscape. Page views from Non-PC devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets) reached an all-time high at nearly 6 percent.
  • Online Retail continues to grow in Brazil with the total number of category page views up 9 percent during 2012. Mercado Livre remains the top Retail property, reaching more than 14 million visitors in December.
  • Online Advertising is on the rise, with more than 789 billion display ad impressions delivered in 2012. Portals and Social Networking are the two largest content categories for delivery of these ads, representing a combined 45 percent of the market. Dafiti.com.br was the largest display advertiser in Brazil with more than 25 billion ad impressions in 2012.
  • Social Media sites capture the largest percentage of consumers’ time in Brazil at 36 percent. Facebook has emerged as a strong leader in the category with nearly 44 million unique visitors in December 2012, up 22 percent vs. year ago.
  • Online video consumption in Brazil grew 18 percent in 2012. Google Sites (YouTube) remains the top video property, while VEVO ranks second. Facebook was one of the fastest-growing online video properties with a gain in its video-viewing audience of more than 400 percent.

Monday, March 18, 2013

129.4 Million Americans Now own a Smartphone

Once again, according to the findings from the latest market study, smartphone adoption continues to rise in America. comScore reported key trends in the U.S. smartphone industry during the three month average period ending January 2013.

Apple ranked as the top smartphone manufacturer with 37.8 percent OEM market share, while Google Android led as the number one smartphone platform with 52.3 percent platform market share.

129.4 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (55 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in January -- that's up by 7 percent since October 2012.


Apple ranked as the top OEM with 37.8 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers  -- that's up by 3.5 percentage points from October 2012.

Samsung ranked second with 21.4 percent market share (up by 1.9 percentage points), followed by HTC with 9.7 percent share, Motorola with 8.6 percent and LG with 7 percent (up by 0.3 percentage points).

Google Android ranked as the top smartphone platform with 52.3 percent market share, while Apple’s share increased 3.5 percentage points to 37.8 percent.

BlackBerry ranked third with 5.9 percent share, followed by Microsoft (3.1 percent) and Symbian (0.5 percent).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

SXSW 2013: Cloning Successful Entrepreneurs

How do you prosper in a highly competitive world where talent, creativity and imaginative ideas are the most important commercial currencies? Can spawning new digital technology start-ups act as a lasting stimulus in an otherwise ailing economy within a developed nation?

These are questions that are top-of-mind for me. It’s an intriguing topic for others as well.

It seems that supporting high-tech entrepreneurs is now viewed by many political leaders, from all parts of the globe, as a potent public policy remedy that may help them solve their local economic development challenges – particularly a lingering high unemployment rate.

As I walked through the exhibits on the South by Southwest (SXSW) trade show floor, I wondered what all these national and regional public sector agencies hoped to achieve with their presence at this year’s Interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

From my own trend-spotting perspective, what was the big attraction this year? Once again, the “SXSW Startup Village” brought together a multitude of entrepreneurs, angel and venture capital investors -- plus various recognized industry pundits -- into a vibrant dialogue about the evolving digital economy marketplace.

Indeed, the Interactive festival attendee demand for entrepreneurial practitioner insights remains very high. Many of the start-up related conference sessions I attended were quickly filled to capacity.

The SXSW 2013 Accelerator featured an eclectic mix of forty-eight new companies that pitched their business idea to a select group of experienced judges. Clearly, everyone who is tasked with driving economic growth would likely want a piece of this start-up action.


The Misguided Quest to Replicate Silicon Valley

I remember a time, in the not too distant past, when few people outside of the directly related industries showed any interest in learning more about the inner workings of the Silicon Valley technology and digital creative business clusters.

What’s it all about? People are building real things (products and services) that others want. Granted, the development effort sometimes includes a new mobile app that’s used for social media activity. But there’s so much more substantive work being done in the valley – some is hidden by the hyperbole.

Last year I visited the Digital Shoreditch Festival in the UK and shared my observations about the apparent challenges that will affect the growth of start-up clusters in London. I specifically mentioned why I don’t believe that comparing the London scene with Silicon Valley is wise or helpful to their cause.

That being said, I do believe that there’s much to be learned by following the British government’s initiative to try and help Tech City start-ups. After two years of intensive focus, lots of good intentions, and a change of leadership in government funded support organizations, the current performance report is not encouraging. Perhaps the real goal was somehow lost in all the media hype.

Building an Authentic Digital Start-up Ecosystem

The trend of shared collaborative workspace hubs for entrepreneurs provides a good example of how local constituents can work together to develop digital business ecosystem strategies that are customized for the local environment – acknowledging apparent strengths and weaknesses.

But how do you get the local entrepreneurs, higher-education academics and government agency representatives to rally around a nascent tech cluster? You need passionate community leaders who can see beyond their own vested interests. You want people to apply their intellect and energy, without strings attached.

I tend to agree with Brad Feld’s assessment – “give before you get” is the right attitude. I recommend reading his book entitled “Startup Communities: building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your city.”

The best way for a start-up cluster to evolve is when committed entrepreneurs decide for themselves to lead the initiative – preferably on a pro-bono basis in the beginning. The national or local government’s role is to follow that entrepreneur-led process of self-determination and offer relevant assistance when asked.

In contrast, large amounts of government funding for research, planning and community marketing activity seems to reward the wrong kind of behavior. Opportunistic vendors will welcome the request to bid on these boondoggle contracts. Enough said.

Next Steps: Prepare for the Talent Shortage

Once funded, start-ups all quickly hit the same roadblock – finding appropriately skilled new employees. Talent is the key to success in the Global Networked Economy, but few people will qualify for these new jobs. Politicians don’t grasp this fact – start-ups can’t help solve the long-term unemployed problem.

According to the latest Mercer Talent Barometer Survey, 60% of organizations worldwide report a willingness to increase their investment in talent. However, only 24% say they’re able to meet current human capital needs.

More than 57% of those surveyed are not confident that educational institutions will generate the talent needed by their businesses today. That sentiment does not improve even when they’re looking out as far as five years.

“This lack of qualified talent is a real concern for employers and one that requires a multi-stakeholder approach to solving. We have found companies that are most optimistic about the future are actively involved in shaping it,” said Pat Milligan, Region President at Mercer and member of The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Education and Skills.

So, given that backdrop, if there’s already insufficient talent supply to meet the current demand, then what’s the likelihood that emerging start-up communities can clone successful entrepreneurs and thereby create new jobs? Yes, it’s a rhetorical question; I know the answer.

View my SXSW 2013 photo stream on Flickr, to see some of the other countries represented.

Friday, March 15, 2013

How PC Manufacturers Misread the Market in 2012

The good news for people who needed to replace an old Windows-based PC was that if you search online you can still find refurbished new PCs that had Windows 7 installed. Otherwise, ongoing demand for PCs with the leading operating system was weak.

Despite the intense industry efforts to overcome market inertia, 2012 nonetheless ended badly -- with global PC shipment volume shrinking 3.7 percent, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

With dramatically lower than forecast adoption of Windows 8 during the 2012 holiday season, and continued pressure from low-cost media tablets, IDC now expects PC shipments to decline further by 1.3 percent in 2013.

Disappointing holiday sales to consumers, an underwhelming reception to the Windows 8 launch and reduced IT budgets characterized the market during the second half of 2012 -- leading to a year-on-year decline of 8.3 percent in fourth quarter shipments.

Furthermore, emerging market growth potential for PCs was also bleak. 2012 marked the first year that emerging market shipment volume declined. 2013 growth is projected at less than 1 percent, with continued modest single-digit growth through 2017.


For mature markets, 2013 will mark the third consecutive year of volume declines for PCs. IDC continues to expect limited growth in 2014 and 2015 with contracting shipment volume in later years.

What was the likely cause of this unfortunate scenario? The leading PC manufacturers apparently misread the market, ignored the early warning signs and proceeded with their ill conceived product or market development strategies. There's very little mystery here, based upon the results.

IDC says that the PC industry bet heavily on Windows 8 and less expensive Ultrabook offering that failed to revive demand -- clearly, in hindsight, those marketing efforts were misguided.

Moreover, a lack of touchscreen components has contributed to a limited supply of touch-enabled Windows 8 models -- which were relatively expensive, when compared to other options.

"The PC market is still looking for updated models to gain traction and demonstrate sufficient appeal to drive growth in a very competitive market," said Loren Loverde, vice president at IDC.

IDC says that growth in emerging regions has slowed considerably, and they continue to see constrained PC demand as buyers favor other devices -- such as low-cost media tablets -- for their mobility and convenience features.

In summary, the trend-setting U.S. PC market struggled in 2012, culminating with a 6.5 percent year-on-year decrease in the fourth quarter and -7.6 percent growth for the full year. Market saturation, a tough economic environment and weakness across the board, and lack of momentum for Windows 8, which led to 2012 contraction, are expected to persist at least during the first half of 2013.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Short-Range Wireless Enables Internet of Everything

The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon is all about connecting the many previously unconnected devices in our world. Moreover, the majority of those new IP connections will likely occur over wireless technology.

Some of those connections will be short-range. When combined together, all the wireless applications will create a significant demand for semiconductors with embedded radio transceivers.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, the total market for integrated circuits (ICs) that are based on open short-range wireless (SRW) technology -- such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, NFC and GPS -- is expected to reach almost 5 billion units in 2013 and grow to nearly 8 billion by 2018.

This includes standalone wireless connectivity ICs, wireless connectivity combo ICs, and also platforms with integrated wireless connectivity.

"In the year where cumulative Bluetooth enabled device shipments will reach 10 billion and cumulative Wi-Fi enabled device shipments will reach 7 billion, we will also see total wireless connectivity IC shipments break through 5 billion per annum,” said Peter Cooney, practice director at ABI Research.

ABI believes that 2013 is a momentous year for short-range wireless technology. However, this is just the beginning of a new growth cycle where the global impact is going to be truly unprecedented.

To date, consumer devices such as mobile phones, notebook PCs, media tablets and game consoles have been the major driver of SRW technology growth.

But as many of these devices start to peak, it is newer applications such as automotive, home automation, smart energy, retail, and many more that will be the major growth drivers over the next 10 years.

SRW technologies are enabling simple, low-cost connections to be made between a multitude of devices -- which makes 2013 the year that the Internet of Everything (IoE) reaches an inflection point and starts to become a reality.

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ZigBee are just a few of many technologies that will enable growth in this market, coupled with proprietary SRW, cellular, white space, and fixed communication technologies.

"Without interoperable short-range wireless standards the IoE will not flourish; it requires low-cost, low-power, ubiquitous technologies to create the myriad connections that will be needed," added Cooney. "Technologies such as Bluetooth Smart (v4.0), ZigBee, and the upcoming 802.11ah standard will be key enablers for IoE."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Opportunities for Mobile Content Revenue Growth

Revenues from mobile content -- monetized through direct billing by mobile network service providers -- is expected to rise from $2 billion last year to more than $13 billion by 2017, according to the latest market study by Juniper Research.

The Juniper study uncovered that network operator storefronts and portals accounted for just 6 percent of content downloads worldwide, with Google Play and the Apple App Store now comprising nearly 70 percent combined market share.

In fact, the increasing popularity of of these successful Over-the-Top (OTT) mobile device application distribution platforms had led to many operators closing their own storefronts.

However, Juniper also found that by offering carrier billing to third-party storefronts, mobile network operators could more than offset the continued decline in portal revenues.


Moreover, storefronts which have already integrated carrier billing solutions have seen a 5-6 times increase in conversion rates compared with credit card billing, together with an uplift in average transaction values.

The implementation of carrier billing allowed storefronts and independent software developers to monetize unbanked/underbanked regions and mobile device user demographics for the first time.

"While many operators have now abandoned their own-brand storefront approach, by leveraging their billing relationship with the end user they can retain a foothold in the content play," said Dr Windsor Holden, research director at Juniper Research.

Juniper believes that by offering consumers a billing choice, mobile network service provider monetization rates will rise dramatically.

However, they also cautioned that carrier billing for higher value content would be less effective amongst prepaid users -- given the relatively low top-up levels in most markets.

Other key findings from the market study include:
  • While Google has surpassed Apple in terms of app downloads on an ongoing basis, monetization levels of Android apps are markedly lower.
  • Although in-app billing and freemium has become the prevalent business model, there is still a role to play for PPD (Pay Per Download).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Exploring Smartphone and Tablet Apps Growth in 2013

This year will provide an incremental lift for the savvy independent software developers that create apps mobile device users will crave. For the most successful developers, the upside opportunities for revenue growth is significant.

The market continues to expand, with few signs of app saturation. The annual volume of smartphone app downloads will reach 56 billion in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

When comparing the performance of smartphone operating system (OS) platforms, ABI discovered that Google Android will account for 58 percent of the total, with Apple iOS commanding an annual share of 33 percent.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone will finish the year with a thin slice that reached less than than 4 percent, with BlackBerry trailing it with just 3 percent market share.

In the meantime, ABI forecasts that mobile users will download around 14 billion media tablet apps during this year.

In the tablet segment, ABS believes that the Apple iPad lead -- as a development platform -- remains formidable, as 75 percent of the market will be apps running on iOS.

For comparison, Android will represent an annual share of 17 percent -- that's excluding Kindle Fire. Downloads to Amazon’s tablets equate to a market share of 4 percent, while just 2 percent of the total will be for Windows tablets.

With its vast installed base and the generally improved conditions for app building, ABI Research expects a growing number of smartphone-focused developers to adopt an Android-first strategy within the year.

"Arguably the most pressing issue for Google is how much of this handset momentum will ultimately trickle down to tablets, where Apple is holding the fort remarkably well," said Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research.

ABI says they would argue that in this context, Google will actually benefit from the efforts by Amazon, since the presence of Kindle Fire adds a lot of critical code mass to the Android value proposition as a platform for tablet applications.

It is worth remembering that Android’s so-called fragmentation challenge isn’t only a problem, but that it has a certain upside benefit as well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Smart Grid Investment to Reach $80+ Billion in 2018

The various utility applications for communications networks and associated investment in infrastructure will grow rapidly in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

Moreover, spending by utilities transitioning their networks to Smart Grid capabilities reached $23.68 billion in 2012.

Highlighting the growing momentum behind the spending, the 2012 total alone represents 48 percent of Smart Grid spending to date.

During the year, spending on transmission and distribution capabilities surpassed smart meter investments as utilities increasingly looked to improve their core networks and maximize the benefits of their growing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) deployments.

"Utilities are investing in the roll-out of a broad assortment of new applications and spending is driving new services from a wide range of vendors and consultants,” says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research.

The complexity of the new hardware, applications, and the expansive array of suppliers vying to deliver services continues to ensure that systems integrators benefit with a significant share of the spending.

Smart grid spending in 2012 was up 47.1 percent from $16.10 billion in 2011 as remaining government stimulus funds were spent in the United States and utilities around the world increased their own investments.

Even so, these remain the early years of Smart Grid investments and spending will continue to grow over the next five years to reach $80.8 billion during 2018.

The latest ABI Research report, "Utilities and Smart Grids" forecasts a number of strategic investment areas -- including AMI, Demand Response, Grid Optimization, Distribution Automation, Software and Application provision, System Integration, and connectivity.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Why Smartphones and Tablets will Dominate in 2013

When we take a holistic view of smartphones, tablets, and PCs, one thing is obvious -- notebook and netbook PCs are no longer a driving force in personal or business mobility application growth.

According to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), vendors shipped 367.7 million desktop PCs, portable PCs, tablets, and smartphones -- collectively called "Smart Connected Devices" -- in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), that combined market was up by 28.3 percent from the prior year.

As desktop PCs and portable PCs declined -- by -4.1 percent and -3.4 percent respectively -- the overall smart connected device space continued to surge to just over 1.2 billion shipments cumulatively in 2012.

Tablet shipments experienced the largest year-over-year growth in 2012, that's up 78.4 percent over 2011, while smartphones grew 46.1 percent but accounted for 60.1 percent of all smart connected devices shipped throughout the year.

After finishing 2011 second to Apple in the smart connected device market, Samsung arose to the number one position in 2012 with just over 20 percent share across the four device categories. Samsung shipped 250.0 million PCs, tablets, and smartphones in the past year, that's up 119.3 percent from the previous year, driven largely in part by its surge in the smartphone space.


While Samsung managed to ship more smartphones and portable PCs than Apple in 2012, Apple led all in tablet shipments, was eighth in portable PC shipments, and fifth overall in desktop PC shipments.

"Smartphones and tablets are growing at a pace that PCs can't realistically keep up with because of device prices and to some extent disposability," explained Ryan Reith, program manager at IDC.

The average selling price (ASP) for a tablet declined 15.0 percent in 2012 to $461, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013. However, smartphone APSs are still lower at $408. IDC expects smartphones to continue to carry a shorter life cycle than PCs for the years to come based on price, use case, and overall device size.

Rounding out the top 5 smart connected device vendors in 2012 was Lenovo at number 3 with 6.5 percent share. Lenovo's strong point is still in portable PCs where it shipped just over 30 million units in 2012. However, smartphones are a growing space for the Chinese vendor as shipments grew from 3.7 million in 2011 to 23.7 million in 2012.

In the fourth position was HP with 4.8 percent share, however shipments of smart connected devices were down 8.5 percent year over year primarily for the lack of smartphone and tablet offerings. And in the fifth position was Dell with 3.2 percent share, that's down by 12.9 percent from 2011 as it also struggles with a lack of presence in the smartphone and tablet markets.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Global App Revenues to Reach $20.4 Billion in 2013

According to the latest market study by Portio Research, the mobile apps business has matured. The worldwide apps market generated an impressive $12 billion in 2012, and in total 46 billion apps were downloaded in the year.

That is certainly an indication of a market in rapid growth. Just consider that the all-time cumulative total number of downloads stood at 37 billion at the end of 2011, but reached 83 billion by the end of 2012 -- more than doubling in one year.

So in 2012, more apps were downloaded last year than in the previous 5 years all added together. That being said, the app doubling phenomenon is forecast to happen once again in 2013.

Portio's new forecast predicts that 2013 will see 82 billion apps downloaded worldwide, taking the cumulative total to 165 billion apps by the end of this year. Revenues are set for rapid growth too, after 2012 saw full-year app revenues of $12 billion, in 2013 Portio forecasts worldwide app revenues to reach $20.4 billion.

From this doubling of the apps business in 2013, Portio also forecasts that downloads will continue to grow to exceed 200 billion per year by the end of 2017, and revenues in will reach $63.5 billion in the same year.

By comparison, the global mobile subscriber base is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 4.8 percent over the period 2012 to 2017, and annual handset shipments are expected to increase at a CAGR of 6.6 percent over the same time frame, but apps downloads are forecast to grow at an amazing 35.9 percent CAGR.

Portio data shows that in mature markets, usage of apps per person is starting to level off -- in Europe and North America -- and the number of apps downloaded per person is reaching a stable level.

What's driving the growth in the app download business is the rapid growth in smartphone and tablet sales. Smartphone shipments worldwide are expected to reach 823 million this year, in 2013.

Smartphones accounted for around 41 percent of total handset shipments during 2012. This figure is expected to reach 46 percent during 2013, and more than half (56 percent) of total handset shipments will be smartphones by 2017. From 680 million smartphones shipped in 2012, Portio says that they expect to see 1.296 billion smartphones shipped in 2017.

Similarly, tablet sales are enjoying explosive growth now. Tablet shipments are forecast to average a CAGR of 24 percent over the period 2012-2017, rising from 2012 shipments of 136 million, to 2013 shipments of 208 million, going on to 2017 shipments of 398 million devices.

Due to this rapid growth in smartphone and tablet sales, Portio now forecasts that over the period 2012-2017, the number of apps users will grow at a CAGR of 29.8 percent, to reach 4.4 billion users by the end of 2017 -- which is four times as many apps users as there are today.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Why OTT Video will Continue to Disrupt the Market

Over-the-top (OTT) video entertainment had a banner year in 2012. It became a turning point for legacy pay-TV service providers. The savvy companies acknowledged the OTT phenomenon and have learned to adapt to the new market realities. The laggards are slowly coming to the conclusion that nothing will halt the market fragmentation caused by the adoption of OTT content.

Meanwhile, it looks like 2013 will be just as disruptive as last year. comScore released data from its latest market study which demonstrates that nearly 180 million U.S. Internet users watched 36.2 billion online content videos in January, while the number of video advertising views reached 9.1 billion.

Top 10 Video Content Properties by Unique Viewers

Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing at YouTube.com, ranked as the top online video content property in January with 150 million unique viewers, followed by Facebook.com with 57 million, VEVO with 50.1 million, NDN with 49.1 million and Yahoo! Sites with 43.7 million.

Nearly 36.2 billion video content views occurred during the month, with Google Sites generating the highest number at 12.3 billion and Facebook reaching an all-time high with more than 425 million. Google Sites had the highest average engagement among the top ten properties.

Top 10 Video Ad Properties by Video Ads Viewed

Americans viewed 9.1 billion video ads in January, with Google Sites ranking first with 1.8 billion ads. BrightRoll Video Network came in second with 1.5 billion, followed by Hulu with 1.4 billion, Adap.tv with 1.1 billion and LiveRail.com with 957 million.

Time spent watching video ads totaled 3.5 billion minutes, with BrightRoll Video Network delivering the highest duration of video ads at 849 million minutes. Video ads reached more than 50 percent of the total U.S. population an average of 58 times during the month.

Hulu delivered the highest frequency of video ads to its viewers with an average of 57, while CBS Interactive delivered an average of 21 ads per viewer, earning it a spot on the chart as it drew increased viewers for specialty programming such as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and several awards shows such as the People’s Choice Awards.

Top 10 YouTube Partner Channels by Unique Viewers

The January 2013 YouTube partner data revealed that video music channel VEVO maintained the top position in the ranking with 48.9 million viewers. Fullscreen held on to the #2 position with 35.4 million viewers, followed by Maker Studios Inc. with 34.8 million, Warner Music with 25.9 million and ZEFR (formerly MovieClips) with 25.6 million.

Among the top 10 YouTube partners, Machinima demonstrated the highest engagement (66 minutes per viewer), followed by Maker Studios Inc. (46 minutes per viewer). VEVO streamed the greatest number of videos (552 million), followed by Machinima (473 million).

Other findings from the January 2013 study include:
  • 83.5 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The duration of the average online content video was 5.7 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
  • Video ads accounted for 20.1 percent of all videos viewed and 1.7 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

4G LTE Subscriptions will Reach 72+ Million in 2013

​During the fourth quarter of 2012, the LTE subscription rate in Asia-Pacific increased by 60.92 percent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), reaching 34.6 million.

ABI Research forecasts that the LTE subscription market will continue to grow rapidly in 2013 -- to reach 72.1 million.

“The operators in South Korea have aggressively promoted LTE since launch," said Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research.

For example, SK Telecom, the largest operator in terms of subscriptions, had gained 7 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2012, and aims to secure 13 million by the end of 2013, a feat that will mean 50 percent of its subscribers will be on LTE.

The Asia-Pacific 4G cellular market still has considerable potential. In 4Q-2012, Asia-Pacific had notched up 3.45 billion subscriptions, up 8.7 percent year-on-year (YoY), resulting in a cellular penetration of 87.5 percent.

"The strong growth trend of mobile subscription is expected to keep up until 2015, where it will surpass 100 percent," stated Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of core forecasting.

In terms of significant movers and shakers, China Unicom, the second largest mobile subscription operator in Asia-Pacific, has grown its mobile subscribers 22 percent YoY compared to Q4-2011 to attain 239 million, making it the fastest growing operator in Asia.

The next fastest growing operator was China Telecom, which increased its subscriber base by 16.89 percent YoY, reaching 160 million subscriptions -- fueled by 3G tariffs and increased smartphone adoption.

Smartphone penetration stood at 19.4 percent at the end of 2012, and is expected to approach 26.5 percent by year-end 2013. Moreover, the third fastest growing (15.44 percent) operator was Indonesia’s Telkomsel with 125 million subscriptions.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Upside for the Wearable Computing Device Market

Demand for wearable computing devices are forecast to grow rapidly over the next year. With a wave of new gadgets set to reach the consumer electronics market, it's very possible that this technology could become commonplace within five years.

According to the latest market study by ABI Research, they now forecast that the wearable computing device market will grow to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018.

Currently, sports and activity trackers account for the vast majority of wearable technologies shipped.

Smart activity trackers are widely available, and this device's trendy and stylish appearance makes them very popular with a broad range of customers.

It's estimated that 61 percent of the wearable technologies market is attributed to sport or activity related trackers in 2013.

Smartphone compatible watches are beginning to emerge, and it has been reported that Apple may have plans to release a smart watch some time this year.

Furthermore, it has been reported that we will see the commercial arrival of the much anticipated smart glasses from Google and others, sometime in 2013.

"The furor about wearable technologies, particularly smart watches and smart glasses is unsurprising," said Josh Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Both technologies have great potential and some of the applications for these devices are rather inspiring. Apple's curved glass-based watch could prove to be a revelation in the wearable technologies market.

ABI believes that the key question is whether the digital time piece will act as a complimentary device to the Apple's iPhone or as a standalone product with other functionality -- such as health or activity tracking capabilities.

Additionally, smart watches offer extra usages for an item most people already own and commonly purchase. Granted, it may become universally expected for watches to include this type of functionality -- as feature in the future.

Furthermore, the capabilities of smart watches could lead to the device being used as a wearable remote for home automation systems. As an example, quick shake of your wrist to turn off/on room lights might be a very convenient use case for some consumers with physical disabilities.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Mobile Games Market to Reach $3+ Billion by 2016

The gaming industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. A new study of the mobile games market has highlighted the pivotal role of media tablets in the future growth prospects of this fast moving and evolving industry.

The rapid adoption of tablets, combined with the growing acceptance of in-game purchasing and virtual currencies, will result in an estimated $3.03 billion of sales by 2016 -- reaching over ten times the $301 million figure calculated for 2012.

According to the latest assessment by Juniper Research, which studied the impact of mobile games on the wider video games industry, found that there had been a clear migration of users from dedicated portable gaming devices across to tablets, and to some extent, smartphones.

The freemium model, which is being embraced by many tablet users, cannot be implemented as easily on portable gaming devices, because games must be purchased upfront and the devices themselves often do not allow for a 3G or 4G cellular network connection.

Increasingly, game developers are using virtual currencies to monetize their handset or tablet software app, rather than offering in-game items or pay-per-download titles. This can increase user engagement with the game, as once the virtual currency is purchased, it can only be spent within that game.


Developers are now beginning to focus more on the continued engagement of their game, as they realize that creating a high-quality game is typically not enough to guarantee a return on investment.

"When we consider that only a small amount of gamers actually make in-game purchases, and those that do typically only spend a few dollars, it becomes apparent that there are a small proportion of consumers spending thousands annually on these virtual currencies, who subsidize the game for everyone else," said Siân Rowlands, analyst at Juniper Research.

Furthermore, it's now believed that free-to-play casino style games were beginning to see increased profits from in-app purchases, even though users are not playing for real money stakes.

Games such as Slotomania, Poker by Zynga and Texas Poker were seeing a sharp increase in the number of users buying chips and other in-game items -- in some instances spending as much as $100 in one transaction, to allow for a lengthy, uninterrupted gameplay session.

Other key findings from the market study include:
  • The majority of in-game purchase revenue on tablets will be made in the Far East & China and North America, which will account for over 86 percent of user spend in 2016.
  • Smartphones will remain the primary device which users make in-app purchases on, with more than $6 billion spent on them in 2016 -- that's over double the amount spent on tablets.