LTE and App Stores: Big in Barcelona
Well, it’s over for another year.
Four frenetic days of meetings, briefings, demonstrations, cocktails, sleep deprivation - mBlox are conducting a survey into the average hours of sleep per night an attendee gets while at the event - making excited noises at the products on display at the LG Stand and experiencing the sudden realization that your next meeting is in Hall 7 and that you have to tramp all the way across from the depths of Hall 2 to get there (in fact, even finding your way out of Hall 2 can be a challenge).
Four days of having your brain bombarded by far more information than it can possibly process at the time. And so, having returned to the UK armed with a suitcase full of USB sticks, press releases, brochures and CR-ROMs (not to mention an orange rubber fish for each of my four children and step-children), I can finally put my blistered feet up (all together now – aaah!) and begin to assimilate the plethora of announcements and to formulate my take on what it all means for the mobile industry.
So, in no particular order, here are my initial impressions:
1. Players are understandably worried about the economic downturn. You can tell this because the first thing that each and every one of them tells you is that they’re doing OK in the economic downturn, thank you. But the underlying mood at the show was one of caution and nervousness: parts of the mobile industry may be relatively less exposed than other areas – after all, the mobile phone has become an essential utility, up there with gas and electricity – but given that no one knows the true scale of this downturn, then “relatively” could still equal a number of players going to the wall. (This uncertainty is precisely what led my colleagues and I to produce a set of scenario-based forecasts for mobile commerce – available now – and mobile entertainment – available shortly. Under the worst case scenarios, service growth and resultant revenues are adversely affected to a quite significant degree, but the scale of the impact is still dependent upon the relative exposure of a given service to the downturn.)
2. LTE is coming. Every vendor worth their salt was outlining a trial LTE solution; Verizon expects to offer commercial LTE services in the US next year. Thus, we are told, data capacity will no longer be an issue. Making money out of it, now that’s another matter – I have been shown countless charts by worried executives which postulate end-user data usage rising exponentially while at the same time data revenues exhibit relatively modest growth.
3. Everyone wants an app store. Microsoft will be bringing us the Windows Marketplace later in the year. Nokia has announced that the Ovi Store will be open for business in May. O2 has just given us Litmus. Orange wants an app store. Symbian wants an app store. I want one.
4. Nokia and Qualcomm have joined forces. I thought I had dreamed this one, but no, it’s true – the two companies are jointly developing handsets based on Nokia’s S50 software.
5. Green is good. This isn’t just the headline-grabbing, one-size-fits-all charger announcement (aka Universal Charging Solution), but beneath this various providers are offering solutions to enable their customers to be kinder to the environment: for example, Nokia unveiled a solution allowing you to calculate the value of your carbon footprint and to make an equivalent donation to an environmental charity.
6. Jamie Cullum gave a very good performance at the GSMA Awards last Tuesday. And I would like the name of will.i.am’s tailor.