Informa Telecoms & Media recently revealed the top ten anticipated trends during 2011 -- for the telecoms and media sectors -- at its annual Industry Outlook event in London, England.
"We have identified the key trends across our research areas that we think will shape the converging global telecoms and media markets over the next 12 months. In addition, our annual industry survey gave us some insight into how the industry feels about the issues most likely to dominate the landscape in 2011," says Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer.
1. Operators choose a smartphone platform strategy
The popularity of smartphone devices has led mobile operators, developers and handset manufacturers alike to re-focus on this device. Operators are trying to decide whether to build their own platforms or accept that the Internet and OS players will dominate. The outcome of this decision will determine who are the winners and losers.
2. Democratization of mobile smartphones
In 2010, smartphone adoption in the lower price tiers grew data revenues from a broader user base -- this trend will accelerate in 2011. Some vendors will further reduce the cost of smartphones, to create devices for the mass-market -- a strategy that is welcomed by the mobile operators. Informa expects 342 million smartphones to be sold worldwide in 2011 -- equating to 27 percent of total handsets sold.
3. Strategic partnerships between operators and Internet players
The successful mobile operators will be those that have strategic partnerships with key Internet players, and not the ones who want to block these companies from accessing their customers. While operators look to develop these relationships, they too are being forced to partner with each other.
4. Operators to focus on vertical markets
Operators have considered the mobile enterprise opportunity for many years. In 2011, their focus is machine-to-machine (M2M) rather than voice and SMS. The healthcare sector is where they're still in the early stages of learning the best opportunities. They will need to do the same for each vertical sector, to decide where to develop applications.
5. Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for growth
Mobile operators must harness IM and social networking to increase the use of their traditional messaging services, and to generate additional revenues. Mobile operators will need to maintain a primary role in how their subscribers access IM and social apps. This means implementing network-based address book services -- which will be the starting point.
6. Operators must catch up in the superfast broadband race
So far, leaders of superfast broadband have been the cable operators -- telecoms operators must move in 2011. Those with fiber need to be assertive -- to convince consumers and service providers to adopt their new networks. Low prices and attractive bundles, rather than speeds, will be vital. Operators will likely also rekindle their interest in low-cost VDSL.
7. The battle for the connected home continues
Connected TVs will overtake games consoles as the dominant in-home device, at least in terms of units sold. It's unclear how many people will use the online video services. By the end of 2011, Informa believes that we'll know whether over-the top services are game-changers for the pay-TV industry.
8. Cable TV declines in Western Europe
Operators struggle to convert European cable homes from analog to digital, and they're competing to upsell their subscribers to service bundles -- triple-play or quad-play. Informa predicts that the number of Western European cable TV subscribers will fall from 51 million in 2006 to 48 million in 2015 -- or from 31 percent of households to 26 percent.
9. LTE spectrum fragmentation will undermine its global potential
LTE's adaptability may undermine its global potential. The failure to identify globally harmonized spectrum for next-generation 4G services means that LTE is being required to provide operators with multiple options -- in terms of channel size and spectrum band, as well as a choice between FDD and TDD modes.
10. Network rationalization continues
2010 was a year of network rationalization -- 2011 looks to be no different. When it's unsustainable for small carriers to deploy new networks, market consolidation will follow, and so too will network rationalization. Informa expects more network sharing -- as carriers come under increasing pressure to universalize their networks and reach the underserved.