June 23, 2009
Each CommunicAsia event brings with it the latest hype: In 2005 it was mobile TV; 2006 – WiMAX; 2007 – HSPA; 2008 – Green IT. This year was no different, with smartphones and app stores being the flavor of the month.
Considerable buzz centered around the Samsung and LGE booths, with each strategically placed kitty-corner from the other. Celebrity DJs, hip-hop music, B-boys, break dancing and scantily clad booth girls were the order of the day, providing a young, trendy and uniquely Asian counterpoint to the relatively routine business of product launches at events such as these.
From a product perspective, honorable mention must go to LGE for both its Crystal phone and S-Class interface, which brings three key things to the smartphone race:
- A fresh and innovative “3D” UI that helps manage and make visual sense of a disparate group of widgets
- Improved device navigation via “gesture commands”
- Style – with its transparent keypad (LGE describes it as iconic, though I’d take it down a notch and characterize it as just plain cool).
Kudos notwithstanding, two things need to be pointed out here.
First, over the medium and long term, smartphones and their requisite app stores – at least in their current form – do not provide operators with the ability to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The iPhone has remained somewhat of an exception, but that is due more to first-mover advantage and exclusivity than any long-term competitive advantage the platform bestows.
Second, app stores provide only limited growth opportunities for operators, since associated revenue comes only from incremental data charges. Even for those planning their own application marketplaces, one only needs the back of an envelope to estimate the real opportunity. If we were to very generously assume the iPhone App Store has had US$500m in sales since launch (and we’re talking globally here), how does this number compare to, say, SK Telecom’s 2008 data revenue? It is less than one-quarter. Impressive if we were talking about the South Korean market, but again, these are global numbers.
Hence, we remain conservatively flat in our mobile data forecasts for most markets, with regional growth being driven primarily by organic subscriber growth in the markets of China and India – unwelcome news indeed for those infected with high hopes from the hype.
— Charles Moon, Manager, AP
Asia-Pacific Mobile Data Forecasts
Forecasts published quarterly
Our Mobile Data Forecast products provide complete pictures of demand trends for 15 geographical markets in Asia-Pacific. The Excel output includes five years of historical data and five years of market projections for metrics such as penetration, mobile subscriptions (by type of package, by operator or MVNO and by network technology), users of specific data services (SMS, music, etc.), MOU, ARPS (by operator, by subscription type, by service, by application) and revenue (by messaging and non-messaging applications). The Forecasts are based on extensive field research and use a consistent methodology, aiming to capture the total spending on mobile data services in each market.
Mobile Broadband for the Masses: The Case for Bundled Netbooks
Research Report published May 2009
The netbook is a key catalyst of the changes reshaping the broadband access and mobile computing markets. This report analyzes the business cases behind bundling netbooks with broadband access for both operators and OEMs, discusses key performance indicators delivered by those operators that have embraced the use of netbooks, and assesses the value they have been able to extract from netbook sales. In Europe and the US, these operators include Orange, TMN, T-Mobile and Vodafone. We also look at early examples of netbook bundles targeting students and examine the potential for netbook bundle sales in the markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Asia-Pacific Mobile Handset Forecasts
Mobile Handset Forecasts published quarterly
Our Mobile Handset Forecast products provide a complete picture of handset sell-through in 12 Asia-Pacific markets. The Excel output includes five years of historical data and five years of market projections for metrics such as total handset sales, handset sales by network technology, new handset sales (by technology, by technology generation, by feature set), smartphone handset sales, vendor market share and handset ASP. We believe our Handset Forecasts are superior because they capture sell-through (units sold to end users) rather than unit shipments (sales from manufacturers to distributors) and rely heavily on our Mobile Demand Forecasts. Moreover, they are based on extensive field research, and a consistent methodology that is applied to all markets.