I know it's become a bit of a cliche among analysts and commentators to do an annual set of predictions, and a post-mortem on the previous years. But for once, I'm going to go with the consensus, and go ahead anyway.
So without further ado, I'm going to revisit my 2008 predictions, originally posted here
1) There is a notable shift towards non-operator unlocked 'vanilla' handsets
Yes and no. There's certainly been a healthy market of people buying SIM-only mobile contracts in Europe, either with new handsets or unlocked legacy ones. On the other hand, operator exclusivity and better integration/optimisation on devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry Storm and T-Mobile G1, and 3/INQ 1 have ensured continued use of carrier channels for smartphones. The picture varies a lot by country and region, though.
2) The European Commission cracks down on data roaming prices.
Yes. You can't say you weren't warned.
3) Mobile broadand continues its rapid growth - but 3G-embedded laptops lose out even further to USB-based 3G modems
Yes. Enough said.
4) At least one mobile operator will face an investigation over reported numbers
No. Unless I missed anything, I don't think there has been any major incident of slapped wrists. I suspect investors are becoming a bit more savvy about interpreting reported numbers like ARPU, data revenues and "subscribers" for themselves.
5) Android... hmmm, it's just another platform
Yes. "We'll be back here in 12 months saying that Google's Android might be a big deal in 2009". Quite.
6) Technologies for exploiting end-user context and state become the hot topic of the year.
Up to a point. Lots of talk and conferences on APIs and presence and context-awareness, so yes it's certainly been a "hot topic". Plenty of discussion about possible business models whereby telecom operators can monetise their internal knowledge about their subscribers' context. But not that much real revenue or really impressive service launches yet.
7) Operators realise that knee-jerk attempts to block VoIP are counterproductive.
Yes, by and large. Many mobile operators have recognised that VoIP simply isn't a big threat, given complexity of use, and the fact that competitive and regulatory pressures are exerting much greater impact on circuit voice pricing. It varies by operator and region, but the DPI vendors' rhetoric is now much more about throttling video and P2P than blocking Skype.
8) Femtocells have a year of ups and downs. Some niche success, but practicalities will mean it's H2'09 or 2010 before massmarket deployment.
Yes. We're getting there on standards, and we're seeing the first soft-launches, but there are still too many optimists with steep hockey-stick curves. My forecast for 2009 shipments is still below one million units.
9) OK, this might be wishful thinking, but I'm hoping to see more pragmatism & innovation around the concept of mobile multiplicity.
Yes! There's a fast-growing acceptance that people will have multiple devices, and multiple operators. Even Verizon is talking about a 400%+ target for penetration. We're seeing dual-SIM phones, options for multiple numbers or personalities on a single device and so forth. Bundled phone+dongle contracts, too. We've still got a long way to go to get shared data plans across multiple gadgets, but even that is being discussed regularly.
10) No, No, No, No, No
- Mobile search. Still pointless. Yes. I know it's contentious, but I still see no evidence that people "want to find, not search" on their handsets. Tell that to Google with all their searches from the iPhone....
- Mobile advertising will definitely grow - but it's not going to get beyond a few % of ARPU in the foreseeable future. Yes. Definitely growing, but it won't solve world hunger.
- Mobile centrex. Yes. Still stuck on case studies of 11-person media agencies in Stockholm. No sign of massmarket uptake among either large businesses or SMEs.
- UMA dual-mode services. OK, maybe we'll get to 2-3 million users in 2008. Yes. No recent hard numbers from Orange or T-Mobile US - but I'm sure they'd be trumpeting loudly if they'd grown significantly. If anything, we may still be below 2 million in terms of actual active users.
- Unfortunately, we'll still have mobile industry dinosaurs referring to handsets as 'terminals'. Yes. As I said, it's a good filter for who "gets" mobile in 2009. Do you reckon Steve Jobs ever refers to the iPhone as a terminal?
- Unlicenced-spectrum wide area wireless. Yes. Nothing happening yet, although the white spaces discussion in the US is interesting, but still a way from real-world usage.
- GSMA's IPX. Actually, this is an interesting one. There's been much less emphasis on the IMS-based QoS-driven parallel pseudo-Internet this year. Instead, they're doing useful interoperability stuff around things like number translation and carrier ENUM.
I'll be working on my 2009 predictions over the next couple of weeks.