It’s the way of things to begin the New Year toasting success and predicting that the coming year will surpass the last. That is certainly the sentiment of industry predictions as we enter 2014. But there is a feeling that it is more than the triumph of hope over expectations. The optimism is real.
O2’s Ronan Dunne’s forecast of a mobile and digital led recovery is the boldest and freest expression of confidence that is starting to take root. If he is right, it will go a long way to restoring some of the kudos that mobile once enjoyed as a sector.
However, in a climate of opportunity, there are still individual winners and losers. And so it will prove this year. Nokia for example should find fruit ripe for the picking in the b2b sector, as it capitalizes on the Microsoft association in general and specific assets, such as Office 365. LG could have an interesting year thanks to its curved TV and flexible smartphone technology. While Vodafone has a strong 4G offer, a pile of cash and plenty of ways to spend it.
But opportunities will not fall evenly to all. There are often more casualties coming out of recession as growth begins to pull at the seams of fragile enterprise that are barely holding together. Some challenges for manufacturers are obvious. Can HTC escape the squeeze on margins that seems inevitable to hardware focused manufacturers? Can Motorola demonstrate a clear reason to continue to exist inside the Google fold? And can BlackBerry reinvent – or sell - itself and manage a recovery?
Will other operators take Three’s lead and go direct, shunning Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4u? Vodafone certainly implied as much during the presentation of its Project Spring plans in November. But retailers - artful dodgers that they are - have the edge in guile and agility, compared to their operator adversaries. Their craftiness has kept them one step ahead of trouble up until now, and may continue to do so in the year to come.
As for Mobile, we enter 2014 wishing a happy and prosperous New Year to all our readers. Hold onto your hats, is our advice. Because one thing’s for sure: it won’t be dull.