Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

At the start of the New Year, what do you see as being the big trends for sales and products in the mobile marketplace in the UK over the coming 12 months?

   

Max Taylor, T-Mobile UK head of business marketing:

Trading conditions in 2009 have been tough, with no let-up in the high levels of competition. This has seen the rise in popularity of SIM-only deals and customers being offered greater value through more generous allowances.

I believe the tariffs that deliver greater value, simplicity and flexibility will increase in 2010 as operators respond to customers’ increasing expectations for a wider range of devices, more texts and minutes and better quality access to the mobile internet and multimedia applications.

In terms of product developments, the smartphone market will be increasingly transformed by Android. Until recently, the iPhone has been the poster boy for the mobile internet, and has influenced the market in a very positive light, leading to a much greater understanding of mobile internet amongst the public.

Max Taylor, T-Mobile UK head of business
 

However, its dominance is being challenged by the rapid uptake of Android-based devices, both by consumers and manufacturers. According to Google, there are currently 12 Android handsets with 32 carriers in 26 countries. Manufacturers such as Samsung and Motorola are joining HTC in developing Android handsets.

The price points for smartphones will reduce further in 2010 and the true potential of Android will be realised through planned software releases, providing the user with better features and functionality, a smoother touch screen interface and faster browsing capability.

Throughout 2010, the user experience for both handheld devices and mobile broadband will improve as operators begin to roll out HSDPA at 14.4 Mbps and through improved coverage as a result of ongoing network integration projects.

 

Keith Horsted, Nine Telecom mobile services manager

The short answer is anything that improves a person’s life, in the sense of ‘context’ services rather than simply content services. These are likely to be location-based services that utilise personal profiling information gathered from previous behaviours.

In a way, this prediction is already being fulfilled to some extent by a number of applications and the popularity of smartphones that have the inherent capability to offer location-based services.

However, what some applications do is offer information that is either inaccurate or irritating, such as inappropriate speeding information (travelling 100mph when on a train in a 30mph zone) that dilutes the value of the service. The key to differentiating the service will be its ease of use, as well as its perceived value to the end user and for that to happen people will need to try it for themselves. It will also need the capability of adapting to the individual’s behaviour or profile, so I can see free trials becoming more and more popular, as well as more adaptive intelligence within the service.

Keith Horsted, Nine Telecom mobile
 

Eitan Linker, Emoze CEO

The New Year will see more mobile operators trying to entice more users away from their current provider with low priced offerings and added extras. We should expect a concerted effort across the marketplace to get users to shift from pay as you go to monthly contracts, with an increase in the length of those contracts to keep users tied in. Previously, it was the norm to take out a 12 month contract, but as time has progressed, minimum terms have increased to 18 months and there are signs that this is heading towards 24, in a bid from mobile operators to sustain and grow the number of users.

Sales will be driven by the consumers’ desire to be able to keep up to date with every aspect of their lives. Internet connectivity is a high priority and providers who can offer this at a reasonable price will see sales increase. Also, because users are now using mobile phones for much more than making phone calls, there is a greater demand for applications which will allow users to perform the same actions from a mobile, as they would from a computer.

Eitan Linker, Emoze CEO
 
So, expect to see even more applications on offer from or being promoted by mobile phone operators to help retain and entice customers. Most of these applications will require use of a data package, like maps and directions, local services searches or online buying and banking, which will no doubt lead at some point to a security scare.
 

Gareth Limpenny, Frequency Telecom managing director

Driven by the continuing high level of interest in the iPhone, smartphones will continue to grow in popularity in 2010 as users understand how the features and applications can assist them in their personal and work lives.

Most new handsets will begin to adopt smartphone-type features and the number of applications downloaded will soar. Touchscreen technology will improve and become more popular, even winning over many of the QWERTY sceptics.

B2B mobile dealers will move more to offering converged solutions and business applications in an effort to build loyalty, reduce churn and improve profits.

Gareth Limpenny, Frequency Telecom
 

Sophie Navro, Wave Global Services UK marketing manager

I think the big trend will be operating systems (OS). The OS battle will still continue to dominate the market place, in my opinion, with Android steaming ahead to the lead. With an estimated 30 or more handsets due for release next year, Gartner predicts that Google Android handset sales will reach 76 million by 2012, which in turn will mean that Android will dominate the marketshare, leaving BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone to go stale in the mobile fruit bowl.

I predict that by the end of next year we will see more and more businesses moving towards the Android platform. I am certain resellers will also realise that they must be part of this open world revolution in order to remain competitive within the market as well as to provide a complete solution. Resellers who provide total solution packages to their customers will begin to add Android to the picnic of mobile products.

In conclusion the Android invasion has only just begun! In my opinion, 2010 will see Google Android become a household name and a respected business platform. Resellers, businesses and consumers will sign up to the open world and enjoy all the benefits as well as being spoilt for choice with a range of mobiles being offered by the majority of handset OEM’s.

Sophie Navro, Wave Global Services UK
 

Ronnie Nag, Quore managing director

Unified communications is now becoming more of a reality as we move into 2010, especially as dealers and partners tend to move in the same direction as their network partners. Vodafone is pushing this area, and we have already seen what O2 is doing.

2010 and beyond is all about the converged space, with one price and eat as much as you can scenarios. I feel that the mobile industry will be more about business solutions, rather than just mobile solutions, as we move towards 2012.

We are more than just mobile resellers, we provide solutions, and we are innovators that understand clients’ needs, and who are always looking to add value and save costs. My suggestion to all mobile partners is build stronger relationships with your network partners, but don’t forget you are running your own businesses. Innovation is key.

Ronnie Nag, Quore managing director
 

Andy Tow, Avenir Telecom managing director

I think the key trend in mobile will be a shift in the entire marketplace itself. Mobile telecoms has coexisted with fixed line, internet connectivity, and all other forms of business communications for years. But in 2010 they are all going to grow closer together than ever before.

We saw it happen in 2009 in the consumer marketplace. The high street phone shops did a great job, I think, of cross selling mobile to landline, and landline to mobile, and of throwing fixed line and mobile broadband into the mix, and all the associated hardware that comes with it.

With initiatives like O2’s Joined Up, 2010 means the B2B marketplace will be able to replicate what’s happened in the high street. And, by its nature, it will be these customers that adapt what’s on offer, push for more and more benefits, and drive the industry forwards.

Andy Tow, Avenir Telecom managing director
 
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