Calling 2013 a "make or break year for mobility," the analysts at Yankee Group are out with a report on where you should place your bets in the mobility space next year.
The analysts say the only bright spot for wireless operators – as voice and messaging continue to decline – is the demand for mobile data services. Global data revenue is expected to rise from $319 billion in 2011 to $550 by 2016. Total mobile service revenue will go up from $1 trillion to $1.15 trillion over that time span, Yankee Group says. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and a handful of operators such as Telefónica O2, Orange and T-Mobile USA are poised for success; operators that are late to market or don't launch their own communications apps are poised to fall into the losers' bracket, joining IP communications providers who struggle to differentiate themselves.
Mobile payments will take a step back, say the analysts. Security is going to be a problem due to a "perfect storm" of ubiquitous smartphone use, always-on devices and naïve consumers. At least one major cloud-based mobile payment scheme is likely to fall prey to a successful hack. Consumers, merchants and the entire mobile-payment ecosystem are expected to take a hit.
There will be no slowing the iPhone, Yankee Group says. Almost 30 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed own one; another 42 percent of those planning to buy a smartphone plan to get an iPhone. Google's Android, the leader among mobile operating systems, will finally stagnate and even lose some market share for the first time in years, the analysts said, opening the door further for Apple as well as Microsoft and even Research In Motion. While Android and iOS remain at the top, the two juggernauts will finally see "real competition" next year.
Next year will be the first in which more than half of companies look to the cloud for their mobile app deployments, according to the research. Winners will be any company with a mobile strategy in place; cloud app providers such as Salesforce; mobile backend-as-a-service providers; and mobile cloud platform providers and developers. Not so fortunate will be enterprises and vendors without cloud strategies.
Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications is starting to show potential, with 22 percent growth expected in 2013, spurred by falling M2M device costs; ubiquitous and affordable wireless connectivity; increasing enterprise awareness and business case viability; and government mandates driving areas such as smart metering and e-Call services. MVNOs will feel the squeeze in this area, Yankee Group adds. The analysts name Aeris Communications, M2M DataSmart and Numerex among its list of companies slated for tough years due to increasing competition from the likes of carriers – think AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone and other big boys – who dabble even more in M2M offerings.
Those are just a handful of Yankee Group's wireless predictions for next year. The whole list can be accessed here.
Follow editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter @Craig_Galbraith .