2013 predictions - 4G to drive consumer experience

2013 predictions - 4G to drive consumer experience
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THE OPERATORS

Lynda Burton, Wholesale director, Three

Greater focus on b2b MVNOs

2013 will see a lot of change in the wholesale market, with MVNOs increasingly focusing on data offers to differentiate their propositions in the market. MVNOs have historically focused on voice and SMS, and there has been a sense of fear about data. Data can be more complex to manage, so expect to see a much closer relationship between MVNOs and their operator partners, with MNOs providing more support on issues such as network traffic policies and controls and tariff guidance. Operators will have to focus heavily on the relationship with their partners and how they can help them. This will become even more important as data comes to the fore.In 2012 the market has seen a proliferation of low-cost international voice MVNOs, but I would expect to see a consolidation in 2013.

Olaf Swantee, CEO, EE

Explosion of 4G-related services

Next year we will see 4G reach mass market awareness. Customers already familiar with the benefits of accessing their digital lives on the move are craving the convenience of instant connectivity.4G speeds are significantly faster than 3G. This will have a transformative effect on what people can do on the move, and will cause an explosion in mobile services, inspiring developers to create superfast apps that will ultimately become central to our digital lives.

4G will mean that film, music or gaming can be enjoyed without buffering or waiting. This, coupled with smartphone sales dwarfing PC sales next year, will mean that entertainment companies place mobile at the centre of their digital strategy as they look to reach their customers on the move.

Graeme Oxby, Executive director of mobile and home phone, Virgin Media

Wi-Fi, small cells and next-generation data speeds

As people use mobile devices to do more things, 2013 will see networks find innovative new ways of carrying traffic. Plugging into our unique fibre optic network offers unrivalled capacity, from the next-generation Wi-Fi service on London Underground to rolling out small cells and next-generation mobile data speeds in city centres, and I expect to see more converged services coming to market in 2013.

With the advent of 4G networks, all operators will see a dramatic rise in demand for entertainment and video download over their networks. The new networks will accelerate the trend to increasingly portable and powerful devices taking a bigger share of our daily content and communication use. The combination of the highly connected cable home and 4G network is going to liberate consumers from their PCs and laptops.

Guy Laurence, CEO, Vodafone UK

Vodafone and Cable & Wireless Worldwide will come closer together

The year will be very different from the year just gone. We will see the launch of competitive 4G services and the emergence of the first fully integrated fixed and mobile company in the UK. We’re accelerating the integration of Cable & Wireless Worldwide in response to calls from customers who want us to meet more of their needs. As the year progresses, they will see the results of bringing Vodafone and CWW together, not least in the products and services we will be able to offer.

But it’s not just business customers who will benefit. The deal gives us a 20,500km fibre optic network, meaning we own and control more of our fibre backbone than any other mobile operator. That lets us control our own quality of service in a way that other mobile networks just can’t match. That ability will be crucial when it comes to launching our 4G service next year. We know it is important for customers to have 4G coverage, which is why we are targeting indoor 4G coverage to 98% of the UK population.

Ronan Dunne, CEO, O2

Mobile phone has become the remote control for people’s lives

Every business has felt the effects of the economic downturn, with commentators suggesting the ‘age of austerity’ will last for at least another six years. When times are hard, customer insight takes on even more importance. The companies that listen to their customers and deliver using customer insight will come out on top. For 2013, the possibilities presented by ‘Digital Confidence’ are a good example. If customers can see a real benefit in sharing their information with companies they trust, the ‘value-exchange’ could be very powerful in driving loyalty and advocacy.

The current economic conditions can fuel short-term thinking. Companies that adopt sustainable business practices will be the ones that have the best chance of thriving long term. For example, with one million young people unemployed in the UK, there is an untapped wealth of digital skills and knowledge. These skills will not only be vital to the future health of our industry but also for the broader economy.

THE ANALYST

Shaun Collins, MD, CCS Insight

Different operating systems to be available on the same phones

Although the look and feel of a mobile phone will still be a factor when people are buying a new device, its importance will dramatically reduce over the next three years. The experience and the apps on a phone will increasingly be the things consumers care about most.

Some of the most innovative mobile phone experiences will come from newly launched platforms such as BlackBerry OS 10 and newcomers such as Firefox OS and Tizen. They’ll offer fresh ways of doing things that will move the industry forward. Their innovations will underline why experiences, not hardware, are the future of the smartphone business.Looking further ahead, we see a world where customers can buy the same phone with different operating systems, whether it’s Android, Windows Phone or something else. By 2015 you’ll be able to select a design and leave the shop with the OS of your choice.

Internet giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google all see their future success tied to the mobile market. We expect them and others to ruffle a few feathers in 2013. Amazon’s Kindle Fire has already opened up the tablet market, and we expect Amazon to make a move into smartphones in 2013. We predict it will work with HTC on a range of phone products.The iPhone’s market share will peak in 2014. As Apple’s devices become more affordable and commonplace, they’ll appeal less to trend-setters.

By the end of 2014 Google will start to share some of its advertising revenue with companies that make smartphones running Google’s Android operating system. This will make Android phones cheaper, helping Google to realise its stated goal of putting ‘an Android phone in every pocket’.

THE MANUFACTURERS

Simon Stanford, Vice president, Telecommunications and Networks, Samsung UK & Ireland

Technology and content’s symbiotic relationships

It’s fair to say that 2012 has been the year of the multi-screen. As the number of ‘smart’ devices grows, so does the ability to live a ‘connected life’ in which all devices talk to each other. It’s also been a momentous year thanks to the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games, and we’ve each experienced those events through our connected devices, actively engaging with them across a multitude of screens. If you weren’t at home you could join in via any one of your mobile devices. But what’s next? Technology and content have always had a symbiotic relationship, so we expect 2013 will see the multi-screen ecosystem evolving as a result of the huge number of new devices available.

Just as we saw with the development of television 60 years ago, we are now witnessing a game of poker between ‘devices’ and ‘content’, where one player shows a hand of cutting-edge features and the other ‘sees it and raises it’ by delivering amazing content experiences. But which player is raising the stakes? It’s not the devices alone – just as with television there needs to be compelling content and a good user experience to drive adoption.

As the lines between devices and content blur, it will be important for manufacturers to become both hardware specialists and software and content providers.

Phil Roberson, Executive director, HTC UK & Ireland

Mobiles will be primary devices for streaming music, movies and games

We’ve adopted a non-stop connectivity mindset and learned to communicate and work on the go, so it’s no wonder that mobile continues to account for an ever-larger share of the overall internet traffic. While Wi-Fi remains an important way to connect to the internet from our smartphones, the introduction of 4G will help fulfil our desire for consuming content wherever we are. Smartphone technology will need to accommodate this, enabling us to take full advantage of connectivity advancements. As cloud computing continues to revolutionise mobile services – and as 4G gains traction – our smartphone will be our primary multimedia device for streaming music, movies and games.

With this, audio quality will become a new frontier for innovation, affecting the entire audio eco-system – from hardware such as headphones to audio software and hardware built into our smartphones.

Choice puts consumers in the driver’s seat and nurtures innovation. Windows Phone 8 will start to gain traction in 2013, not just for its familiarity and close integration with the Windows 8 OS, but for ground-breaking design and intuitive user experience.

Andy Coughlin, Head of mobile for the UK and Ireland, LG Electronics

Maximising a compelling user experience

As handsets offer increasingly enriching user experiences, we expect that 2013 will see a continuation of the shift of consumers from feature to smartphones. The mobile market is forecast to consist of 70% smartphone owners vs. 30% with a feature phone by the end of 2013. Reflected in LG’s most recent product launches, the Optimus 4X HD and the Nexus 4 by LG, 2013 will undoubtedly be the year of speed and maximising the compelling user experience that a 4G network and fast internal processor can offer.

LG is proud to be one of the major players in the development and commercialisation of 4G technology, owning 23% of all patents, and the arrival of this network will certainly have a significant impact on the UK market in 2013. It will be essential that hardware is capable of handling the web browsing, gaming and multi-tasking habits of our customers as they enjoy increased internet speeds and the next-generation mobile experience.

As the gateway to enjoying this content, the quality of displays and internal RAM of these devices also needs to be able to support this increased functionality, with the emergence of technologies such as IPS display – to provide a True HD experience – becoming more prominent.

Rob Orr, MD, UK & Ireland, Research In Motion

BlackBerry 10 is future-proofed

2013 looks set to be another fiercely competitive year in mobile, with the pace of technological development and change of recent years showing no sign of slowing down. For us at RIM, it is one of – if not the most – significant years in our history, with the launch of our brand new BlackBerry 10 platform on 30 January. BlackBerry 10 represents our biggest innovation since the company was founded and we believe that it will have as profound an effect on the next 10 years of mobile as our technology has had on the past 10 years.

The rollout of 4G will be a key development for the mobile industry in the UK. The next-generation network will deliver the requisite infrastructure to ensure that consumers can continue to experience and enjoy the ever-expanding opportunities and possibilities that the mobile ecosystem presents. Users will be more empowered by data and enhanced connectivity, which in turn will place a greater demand for more advanced personalisation and automation in the user experience. Both are central tenets to embedded technologies and 2013 will see many more concepts in this field become a reality. In order for mobile to stake its claim as the central component to these innovations, mobile computing platforms need to be more robust and scalable.

Andrew Morley, VP and GM UK, Mobile Devices, Motorola Mobility

Motorola to have a global leadership position in 4G

2013 is the Chinese year of the Snake – with characteristics including being smart, calculating and planning to achieve goals – I learned that from my time living in Singapore. In my mind, that quite nicely sums up what the UK mobile market has in store over the next 12 months.

Let me start with the idea of being smart. Gartner predicts that by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide with devices becoming increasingly smart, ingenious and improving our lives in new ways. For example, the Motorola RAZRi smartphone comes pre-loaded with the exclusive SMARTACTIONS app, which will help you automate everyday tasks to streamline your life.

Next, the calculating characteristic. After much hype and wrangling, the calculated risk of rolling out 4G is set to pay off and transform the UK mobile market. Bigger, faster networks will improve the consumer experience and open up a whole new world of content to view when and where consumers want. Motorola has a global leadership position in 4G.

And finally, a year to achieve goals. With the right network in place, we will now start to see a number of emerging technologies such as M2M, m-commerce and m-payments finally deliver on their promise, as the digital wallet arrives in earnest.

Pierre Perron, UK and Ireland MD, Sony Mobile

Smartphones at centre of a broader entertainment experience

Smartphones today are no longer a simple communication tool; they are an extension of our personalities and reflect our style just as much as the clothes we wear. This is why we are adamant on providing consumers with a Sony smartphone that is premium in design and features everything we know about entertainment.

Our dust- and water-resistant Xperia Z smartphone will truly break new ground as we have harnessed our rich heritage in technological innovation to provide consumers with a complete entertainment experience in their pocket.

The Xperia Z is beautifully designed and features the best of Sony in a smartphone. It includes the technologies that consumers have known and loved for years, including BRAVIA HD display, Cybershot camera, Walkman and PlayStation certified games. Our strategy is focused on delivering premium smartphones at the centre of a broader and richer entertainment experience that only Sony could provide.

The excitement of 4G delivering information at a speed that keeps up with the demands of work and personal life is fundamental. Sony Entertainment Network is proving hugely popular for entertainment on the go and 4G speeds will only enhance that further.

Sharing content between multiple devices and one-touch sharing using NFC has been part of our offering for a while.

Conor Pierce, VP, Nokia UK & Ireland

Connectivity, apps and features will see phones overtake PCs

2012 has seen a number of exciting hardware and platform developments within the smartphone market, as well as a number of innovative technologies that have been unveiled by Nokia this year, such as PureView imaging, the launch of the HERE brand (http://here.net/) and cross-platform mapping applications.

People increasingly expect smartphones to keep them connected, informed and entertained, as well as doubling up as a music player, camera and personal navigator. This expectation is leading to heightened competition that is having a positive impact on the industry, as it’s prompting manufacturers to develop smartphones that provide a complete package in terms of integrated apps and services. We expect to see buying considerations in 2013 driven by a sea of faceless black monoblocks, extend from the aesthetics of a device to the quality of user experience it can provide.We also anticipate that connectivity, apps and feature usage will see smartphones overtake PCs as the most commonly used web access device in the near future.

Facilitating this change will be the mass rollout of 4G in 2013.4G will allow people to use devices in a way that enhances their digital life at a time when data usage is increasing 250% year on year. The speed and reliability with which 4G will handle mobile internet and data along with the entry of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform will also provide opportunities for businesses.

William Paterson, UK and Ireland country director, Alcatel One Touch

End user experience will become simpler

In 2013 and beyond, consumers will become more connected A rise in the shipments of smartphones and tablets will see the average consumer household with more than six connected devices. Tablets in particular will see shipments almost double in the next two years and smartphone users will also increase in 2013.

With a current crowded and complex phone market, the user experience will become more important than technology and hardware, with consumers looking for value for money.

However, with the average mobile phone price increasing, brands will have to work harder in 2013 to offer standout in the marketplace. The end-user experience will become simpler, with smartphones now offering pre-loaded applications including games and essential small apps, the most popular social networks and content streaming. Games are the most popular item for smartphone users, ahead of web-browsing, email and music, so making the experience easier with embedded games and a catalogue of the top gaming apps to download, gives the end user exactly what they are after.

The MVNOS

Milind Kangle, Group CEO, Lycamobile

Attractive products with sleek sales and marketing

2012 saw the biggest advance in mobile technology in several years: the launch of 4G. Shrouded in controversy, with just the one MNO – the freshly rebranded EE – offering the superfast data connection a full year ahead of its competitors, soon the conversation turned to the benefits for MVNO customers.

The key factors for a successful MVNO business are the attractive products and sleek sales and marketing, supported by a strong distribution capability. In a year of fast-changing technology, MVNOs are in a strong and agile position to adapt their business model to provide the latest innovations to their customers quickly, effectively, and most importantly, at the most competitive price.

As network operators fulfil their promise of introducing 4G to MVNOs, by the end of 2013 we can expect to see 4G become less an expensive silo for high-end contracts and more a universal feature with a number of pricing models available and a broader client base able to use it to its full potential.

THE RETAILERS

Stuart Joce, Commercial director, A1 Comms

Sales mix across OS shows demand for choice

I am expecting a strong year for the industry in 2013 with 4G, operating systems and the online industry taking the headlines. There will be further new entrants to the market alongside Sainsbury’s, which launched its first two stores in 2012, and mass merchandisers will increase efforts to succeed in contract as prepay numbers decline.

4G will have the impact on video consumption that 3G had on social media. Richer media consumption will mean more value and further increase in growth of the online market. The online market will continue to see social and video media services becoming more important commercially, which will accelerate with 4G. Web traffic is already shifting to mobile and the mobile experience will rise to meet those demands. The sales mix across operating systems shows the consumer wants choice, with Android and IOS dominating but RIM remaining a more important player than people give it credit for. The arrival of BB10 and a more determined delivery of Windows devices by vendors will be good for business, and I expect vendors behind both operating systems to up their game in 2013.

Anthony Catterson, CEO, Expansys Group PLC

Consumers will become more value-conscious

Market: I expect austerity in major markets to tighten, and consumer demand to reduce as a result. Consumers will be even more value conscious. Upgrades and replacement will be driven by lifestyle and business functionality requirement.

Winners: I expect Samsung to capitalise upon the momentum of its Galaxy launches in 2012, and truly establish itself as the premium alternative to Apple, which may suffer customer leakage as users realise they are not locked in for content and design. I really think HTC will have a better 2013, as it has remembered what made it famous in 2010 and 2011 – great design, backing the right platforms and offering high quality for great value.

Watch out for: Google. The undisputed internet kings are already reshaping the device space, with phenomenal interest and demand for the latest Nexus tablet and smartphone products. I am sure they will leverage their enormous share in smartphone operating systems to reshape the industry.

Watch out for: Asia. People have been talking about the potential for years, it’s all happening – now. Unstoppable momentum will continue in development of eCommerce globally, and brands that do not have a complete eCommerce/online strategy will be marginalised.

Sam Tyrer, UK retail director, Carphone Warehouse

We are back to what we do best

2012 proved to be a year of extensive structural change for Carphone but one that has allowed us to refocus our efforts on delivering great service and value on smartphones and tablets for our customers.

Despite the industry slump in prepay sales, we have grown our share of the prepay market by working with manufacturers to offer customers more and more smartphone features across a range of entry-level and mid-tier price points. We plan to capitalise on our success in 2013.

Innovation in the high-end postpay smartphone segment will intensify in 2013. The rollout of 4G will act as a catalyst for further product innovation and deliver extensive benefits to the mobile industry and wider economy. We will look to support all the networks with their 4G offerings and look forward to promoting the new services on offer.

The past 12 months have seen the democratisation of the tablet market and we will continue to offer customers great value standalone products and bundles, which are currently being snapped up by new customers eager to own their first tablet device.

Now more than ever, there is a customer need for a knowledgeable consumer champion that provides independent and impartial advice across all the major networks.

Srini Gopalan, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK

This is going to be a very exciting year for the industry and for our customers. During 2012 the smartphone revolution has gathered pace – today more than half of all of our customers have one – and in the coming year a steady stream of new devices, coupled with the launch of competitive 4G services, will further boost take-up.

The key for us is to help customers get the most out of the mobile internet and give them the value and flexibility that they want, and need, to enjoy everything it has to offer. You’ve already seen the steps that Vodafone has taken to put the internet into the hands of our customers, from the recent launches of the Vodafone Red Plan and Vodafone Red Hot to the legion of Tech Team experts we have in-store, online and on the phone. There will be more to come.

In the pay as you go market, smartphones will play an increasingly important role as we have shown with the recent launch of Vodafone BlackBerry Freebee. In the current economic climate, customers will also continue to look for loyalty and reward programmes that give them something extra, whether it’s Freebee Rewardz for our pay as you go users or Vodafone VIP for all customers. Finally, you should expect to see further progress in m-commerce as the Weve joint venture gets up and running.

Marc Allera, Chief Sales Officer at EE

For us, 2012 was about breaking new ground. We cannot underestimate the achievement of our 15,000 employees across the country who have launched a new company, and new brand and the UK’s first 4G mobile network. 2013 is about seeing our new brand and network flourish. We’re very proud of the investment that is going into the network and the speed of the rollout which will see 4G become available to more towns and cities by the day.

As part of the launch of EE, we transformed over 700 high street stores overnight to ensure that our customers begin to receive the very best service. Our people will become specialists in operating systems offering customers the expertise needed to get the most out of their digital life.

This year we will continue to evolve our retail model and improve our multi channel experience for customers, with digital playing a key role. In 2013 we will also look to strengthen our relationships with our partners in distribution to bring EE and 4G to more people across the UK. 2013 looks set to be critical for the industry as a whole to show customers that it can demonstrate the true value of a better, faster mobile network experience that 4G brings to the UK.

Gerry McQuade, Chief Marketing Officer at EE

2013 will be the year that organisations start maximising the full potential of 4G. UK businesses have not adjusted as quickly as other economies. The introduction of 4G will change this.  We’ve seen a great response from businesses in 2012 so far – but this is just the beginning.

As we move into next year we will increasingly see firms using 4G in new and innovative ways, recognising the opportunities that mobility presents to their businesses. For example, in the US, there is a construction company that uses 4G to send vast quantities of critical data in the field back to base in real-time. In Germany, a city hospital is also trialling 4G-enabled ambulances, using the technology to speed up the diagnosis time of critically ill patients, resulting in alarm-to-therapy times reducing by 54%. In the UK, I’m confident we will start seeing more firms rolling out even bigger and bolder 4G projects.

We’re focused on ensuring every sector is using mobile data to the full, helping increase innovation, boost productivity and cut costs. There are benefits for end users too. Take AGA, for example, which is innovating by using the EE network to allow its customers to switch on their ovens remotely.

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