The mobile phone industry will buck the downward pressures on consumer spending, but operators will have to provide more high-speed networks to meet greater smartphone demand, senior industry figures have told Mobile.
Key executives from the operators, manufacturers, retailers and distributors outlined their expectations for the next 12 months. Many suggested the emergence of mid- to low-end price points for smartphones would continue to fuel growth in the sector. Samsung UK & Ireland telecommunications and networks MD Simon Stanford (pictured) said: ‘We’ll start to see the smartphone experience extend right down to prepay devices, and the successful manufacturers will be those that have a range of devices making smartphone ownership available to a wider audience.’
However, Phones 4u trading director Scott Hooton said there was a ‘disconnect’ between the frequency of smartphone releases and the length of contract from operators. He said: ‘Flexibility will become key in 2012 and services that offer people the chance to get their hands on the latest technology quicker will come to the fore.’
HTC’s executive director for the UK & Ireland Phil Roberson claimed network capacity and speed will be ‘incredibly important’ this year. He said: ‘Currently, the UK is lagging behind on the implementation of high-speed networks. This puts a lot of pressure on network operators, as consumers want to use their smartphones and tablets to their full potential.’
Three corporate affairs director Hugh Davies said data was ‘the biggest challenge for the mobile industry in 2011’ and it would continue to invest in network technology. He said: ‘What the industry really needs is a fresh injection of spectrum.’
Both Avenir Telecom and Daisy Distribution predicted further growth in convergence in 2012. Daisy Distribution MD Dave McGinn said he expected ‘significant and sustained’ growth opportunities within unified comms, cloud services and software as a service (SaaS).
Avenir MD Andy Tow predicted that ‘data is going to be a key focus’, as well as dealing with the demand for smartphones and tablets. He said: ‘We’ve all got to be able to offer additional products and services to ensure we have ‘stickability’ with our customers.’
Both Vodafone and Everything Everywhere viewed the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic Games as an opportunity for the industry. Everything Everywhere’s chief marketing officer for non-consumer mobile Gerry McQuade said mobile technology will help employees work from home. The Games will also fuel demand for social media.
He added: ‘In 2011, we have seen mobile take centre stage in the lives of both consumers and business people. We’re on the cusp of significant change with the convergence of retail, advertising, payment and location-based data.’