April 22, 2005
 



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Posted: 02.07.05
Mobile Forecast
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By year's end, there will be nearly 2 billion cellular subscriptions worldwide, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, an international professional services and advice organization that this January released a report detailing 10 predictions for the wireless and mobile industry. "We have a competition for all the people in Deloitte, and there are about 5,000 people within the firm who are focused on technology and telecom, and we invite all of them to give their predictions for the year," says Paul Lee, director of technology media and telecommunications at Deloitte Research, who compiled the report. "That's what helps us to make the predictions as inclusive and helpful as possible."  

By Michelle Maisto




The predictions include an emphasis on segmentation, particularly in light of the increased competition coming from mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs); customers can look forward to greater services, attention and custom pricing packages as operators work to retain them. One segment, says Lee, is the elderly.

"One thing we recommend is that [someone] develop services specifically for elderly users. So that means having different kinds of phones that are easy to use, such that you just have one-touch operations," as well as specific designs and specific services for senior citizens. Another segment, he adds, is children, which may mean offering a phone "parents can use to speak to the child, and vice-versa, but with no ability to call anywhere else."

Catering to these two groups is one way to reach 100 percent penetration, which Deloitte predicts several markets soon will. "The U.K. has recently got to 100 percent penetration," says Lee, "so for every person in the U.K.-which is about 60 million-there is now one mobile subscription. What I suspect this is a combination of the usual features you get with pre-paid telephony. But what we're seeing is a lot of people are getting double subscriptions, with one for voice and one for data, or one for work and one for private use. So that's going to be happening-quite a few countries will get to that over the course of the year. A lot are at 90-something now."

Deloitte is also predicting the emergence of 3G from the shadows, which will require more than just a big marketing push. On the topic of marketing, however, Lee points out: "There's need for both marketing and accurate marketing. I think that what's happened so far is the marketing of 3G has been a bit disingenuous, or misleading … and what that does is it sets the expectations of the consumer incorrectly, and when you actually experience the service it's quite poor. One of the operators has a commercial and what it's implying is that you can use your 3G service and have good-quality video calls when you're on a ski slope. Most operators have deployed capacity into the cities, but the ski slopes are the last place it would go to because of a lack of demand."

Other predictions discuss the success of simplicity (ring tones are now a $2 billion industry), the impending influence of RFID and why Wi-Fi will sizzle while hotspots remain cold. Did any predictions come as a surprise? Lee laughs. "If we were good predictors-and this is our fourth year predicting-then there shouldn't be any surprises!"







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