Apple's iPad Dominance To Fall 'Faster Than Many Expect'

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While the iPad remains the dominant tablet PC globally, look for Apple to lose market share – and a lot of it – next year.

That's just one (see No. 6 below) of Analysys Mason's bold telecom predictions for 2013, unveiled on Wednesday. Here's a breakdown of Analysys Mason's top 10:

1. LTE arrives, but with limited immediate impact. In 2013, LTE will become a commercial reality in many more countries, but will have limited economic impact in the next 12 months. Some European countries and emerging markets in Latin America are set to launch the network, as well as countries in Southeast Asia. Some developed markets such as South Korea will also start to deploy LTE-A and take advantage of features such as carrier aggregation to craft larger channels for higher-speed services; however, the immediate economic impact of LTE will be limited in countries where it has been priced as a premium product and the economy remains sluggish (e.g. Italy and Spain). The industry will also realize that consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for LTE mobile broadband, and that this service will not compete with next-generation fixed access on anything other than a complementary basis. The effect will be to push down the price of 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services.  

2. The "big switch-off" will accelerate. 2013 will see growing operator focus on "the big switch-off" – legacy mobile infrastructure for mobile network operators, copper networks and PSTN for fixed operators. Approaches to this will be varied. One operator in South Korea, for example, has already switched off its 2G network.

3. Social media giants will further shake up IP-based messaging. in 2012, operators responded to SMS cannibalization by launching RCS-e, which was followed by a number of "telco-OTT" services. In the next 12 months, competition will heat up further as social-media giants such as Facebook move in. Analysys Mason forecasts that European operator revenue from messaging will decline by 34 percent in the next four years, from EUR28 billion in 2011 to EUR18.6 billion in 2017.

4. VoLTE investment case will come into the spotlight. The first voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services came to market in 2012. Though widespread commercial deployments are still some way off, operators will need to make some tough decisions about the future of their voice services. Potential cost savings are currently driving the IMS investment case, but revenue implications are uncertain, and a clear vision for how voice services should evolve in an LTE world has yet to be articulated. HTML5/WebRTC will further stimulate the debate about whether "voice is just an application."

5. Smartphone penetration growth rate will slow markedly. The smartphone market will continue to grow but the rate at which it grows will be markedly slower than in previous years. The number of annual global smartphone shipments will grow from 691 million in 2012 to 869 million in 2013. However, the rate of growth in the rate of new smartphone connections will significantly decline: from 39 percent in 2011 to 29 percent in 2012. In 2013, this growth rate will decline further to 20 percent. Analysys Mason predicts continued, incremental development of the smartphone OS market share situation. Both Android and iOS are predicted to marginally grow their share of smartphone sales in the next 12 months globally (from 56.4 percent to 58.1 percent and 21.5 percent to 22 percent, respectively). Symbian’s market share for sales will fall from 5.9 percent to 2.7 percent, reaching zero in 2016.

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