Amazon prepares to take it services global with a 190 country launch – riding on the success of its tablet- Kindle Fire. Elsewhere Apple has recorded its 50 millionth download and Android is racing Apple in terms of the number of apps on their stores. Tablet Phenomenon still on the rise, creating new opportunities for players across the value chain. ABI research reports that the tablet market will grow this year by 38% to 150 million units, worth an estimated $64 billion. The total number of tablets is estimated to grow by a projected 38% over 2012, and the total revenue will grow a projected 28%. Eeven the most conservative estimates foresee tablet sales surpassing 350 million units by 2016.
The Indian market for tablets is estimated to grow 100% (from 3mln to 6mln units in 2013). Given the largesse and state government doles in the pre-election year- this could translate into a number much larger than the 6mln estimated. As of today, the following are the key drivers of the tablet business-
1. Device Affordability
2. Affordability in 3G Mobility
3. Business and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
4. Platform maturity and Applications, Services for a
5. Vernacular matures as a platform
6. Government push on Tablets as a segment to connect the unconnected- Election Year!
However Operators, on a whole, are giving this wave a miss – happy to play the second fiddle by providing a modest data pipe. It amounts to selective deafness and blindness to the emergence of the digital native. Alongside, there is a persistent lack of clear strategies to deal with the Tablet phenomenon. Most Operators play it safe when it comes to Tablets, making few bold or innovative moves and treating it as yet another data terminal. However there is a clear need for a strategic roadmap in terms of services, enterprises, customers and segments. As of today, Operators are only strategizing basis improvement of bandwidth and milking the spectrum more effectively – all of that summarily categorized at LTE deployments.
However, if you consider the markets over the last 2 years – there is little that operators have done to capture the windfalls from the Tablet devices as a segment. Most of the profit pool is shifting across the value chain to digital content and service providers (Read Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook) alongwith the Component manufacturers (Qualcomm, Allwinner, MTK, Samsung and others). As the Operator cash cows (voice and SMS) continue on a steady decline loosing out turf to IP services and social networks, there is very little observed shift to content and advertisement revenues.
I am privy to some operators working on integrated consumer touch point and UI strategies which works on the semantic framework , we are yet to see any real implementation of this. Again, a couple of operators have invested in media companies for content services – but these efforts havent seen the light of the day. In the meantime, the eco-system is drifting away from operators. There are still several potential plays that can help the Indian Telecom players protect their value shares – but operators will have to think beyond their existing businesses to innovate on these new paradigms to ensure continuation of their profit pools. The key is to emerge out of that dumb pipe syndrome.
Gartner’s Q1, 2013 mobile phone and smartphone shipment numbers provide the same set of observations
1. The total mobile phone shipment numbers have been stagnant YoY (425.8 million Q1, 2013 versus 422 million Q1, 2012) …
2. …. Bogged by 22% decline in feature phone shipments (215.7 million Q1, 2013 versus 275 million Q1, 2012)…
3. …. And Buoyed by 43% increase in the smartphone shipments (210 million Q1, 2013 versus 147 million Q1, 2012)!
4. Smartphone sales accounted for 49.3 percent of sales of mobile phones worldwide in the first quarter, up 34.8 percent year-on-year.
5. Only the Asia/Pacific region contributed to mobile phone sales across the globe, with a 6.4 percent increase year-on-year. More than 226 million mobile phones were sold to end users in Asia/Pacific in the first quarter of 2013, which helped the region increase its share of global mobile phones to 53.1 percent year-on-year. China saw its mobile phone sales increase 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, and its sales represented 25.7 percent of global mobile phone sales, up nearly 2 percentage points year-on-year.
6. Samsung rules the smartphone roost growing by 51% YoY. In Fact, Samsung presence in Smartphone segment is so overwhelming that its sales and market shares are almost equivalent of its next 4 competitors put together (Apple, LG, Huawei, ZTE)
7. Apple, is estimated to have secured 18.2 percent of global marketshare, a drop of 4.3 percentage points. Apple’s redemption has been the Chinese market with the lower price of the iPhone 4 making China a key revenue generator for the tech giant. However, with no new products due from the Apple stable until the fall, the next quarter may drag Apple’s market shares significantly downward.
8. In terms of operating systems, Android continues to race ahead of rival systems, claiming 74.4 percent of global marketshare. 156.1 million smartphones running Google’s operating system were sold in the first quarter, whereas Apple’s iOS claimed an 18.2 percent slice of the market with iPhone sales. With new OSs coming to market such as Windows,Tizen, Firefox and Mozila, one can expect some market share to be eroded, but not enough to question Android’s volume leadership.
Reliance Q1, 2013 results possibly holds out light to the beleagured Indian Telecom Industry in terms of the business case. It signals the end of hypercompetitive era (and operator bleed), end of consumer sops (change of direction to quality of acquisition), increasing data revenue (that was inevitability catching up), Eco-system consolidation across Operators, ISPs, VAS providers and building alliances and emergence of EVDO +GSM devices.
1. RCOM has reported today 7.2 million 3G subscribers and 29.4 million data connections for the quarter ending March 31, 2012, and a 21% increase in data traffic quarter on quarter.
2. RCOM increased tariff’s by 20% on both GSM and CDMA. Reduced promotional offers by 65%, and are reducing discounted plans.
3. RCOM is trying to create a healthy ecosystem, forging relationships with leading global plans, and entering into exclusive partnerships with social media networks. RCOM has tied up with leading handset manufactuers for CDMA smartphones. RCOM entered into an exclusive arrangement with Lenovo. Phones will be attractively priced and work on CDMA and GSM, allowing switching calls between the two, based on the strength and quality of the signal.
4. There is also an exclusive partnership with Google, and RCOM announced partnerships with Whatsapp, Twitter in India. Twitter and RCOM has launched a Reliance Twitter access pack.
5. RCOM will move 9500 employees to partner roles.
2G is inking GSM Intracircle roaming arrangements. The first such agreement is with Aircel. These will increase RCOM’s national 2G footprint by 10,000 base stations. All other agreements will be completed by the second quarter of this financial year
6. The RCOM-Reliance Jio deal. Jio will utilize fibre across RCOM’s intercity fibre optics network. IT will have reciprocal access to Reliance Infocomm’s infrastructure in the future. This is the ‘first’ such agreement between the two companies (which means that more deals are being discussed).
7. Industry is facing virtual consolidation. Pricing power is coming back, and there are improvements in RPM. RCOM is rationalizing Prepaid tariffs, by removing free minutes and improving tariffs by 20%.
8. Revenue contribution of data- Wireless growth is 2.5%, but the growth of GSM and Data businesses are growth engines. 64% of wireless revenue for RCOM. One year ago, it was 59%, moving up 500 basis points as a contribution of GSM and Data.
Quoting Mr.Gurdeep Singh (President CEO, Wireless Business, Reliance Communication)
We changed course and aligned go to market strategy to as 3G metro, 3G lit markets and non-3G markets, relooking pricing, branding, distribution, and kept the go to market elements differently for all three markets. Quarter on quarter of GSM+Data is going up. We had consciously taken a call that CDMA network will be a high speed data network, by being a dominant player in the dongle market, and make an effort to bring branded handsets into the smartphone market. We will make efforts with HTC and Blackberry, and another few announcements are planned. What’s good about CDMA device ecosystem is that it is CDMA+GSM.
We don’t rule out rolling out EVDO+GSM phones.
The GSM + Data has grown 6% quarter on quarter in terms of revenues. We have been ahead of the industry growth in this segment in the last 3 quarters. We gained 100 basis points in revenue market share, and have an accelerated growth path. A large part of the revenue comes from 2G Internet (GPRS), and in light of some operators who have given up spectrum in some circles, which is increasing opportunity for RCOM in these circles. We’re seeing traction in that direction. GSM+data, the growth will be on data.
We’re not late with the ICR arrangements. Now that the hypercompetitive stage is behind, there is a good reason for us to consolidate our position. We’ll be smart enough to go for revenue corridor, data corridor. We want to get to the market quickly, make a good case to deploy our own assets.
2300 MHz needs far more sites than a 2G footprint, should Reliance Jio have an ambition to be a pan-India operators. Ours is a large portfolio of towers, and many of the towers in the main cities are fibre-ised.
We are in advanced stages of discussions to lease out towers to Reliance Jio.Our objective is to migrate customers to CDMA smartphones in the CDMA segment. We’ve raised prices of CDMA handsets. The attempt is to get a better quality customer. We’ll see the complete bleed stopping in CDMA in the next two quarters. The bleed is coming to a stagnation, and it will contribute as we populate more CDMA smartphone users.Growth in GSM+data will outperform the market.
Cloud is a enabling platform from the service and consumer stand point, but the key question that Cloud and PaaS (Platform as a Service) has to answer is the cost, control and security implication for businesses.
Research firm Gartner predicts that worldwide platform as a service (PaaS) is set to reach a high of $1.2 billion in 2012, as compared to $900 million in 2011.Market revenue is expected to increase as the years come with a total of $1.5 billion in 2013, and growing to $2.9 billion in 2016, according to the Gartner report.On average, Gartner predicts that the potential spending from 2011 through 2016 is at $360 million per year.According to Gartner, despite ongoing economic uncertainties, mature IT markets and economies, such as the United States, Western Europe and Japan, are on the forefront of PaaS adoption. While PaaS spending globally is still relatively small, almost all of it is generated by the United States with 42 percent of the market. In total, the top three economies represent nearly 90 percent of worldwide PaaS spending.
The big billions aside, making money and profits on a PaaS platform is a challenge- Customers (In this case Businesses and Enterprises) who are looking at cloud solutions are looking at it from a “Zero Capex”, “off Balance Sheet”, “Investment Light” -pay per use perspective only. However, the solutions that they need can get really complex and PAAS providers need to have the Platform under full and total control (Security threats and Data Privacy being the other key concern areas)
However, from the PAAS providers ( PAAS provider here is the business contemplating the PAAS) point of view – dedicated environments (hardware, hosting, programming, integration) needs to be a very inhouse activity with firm and total control on the processes systems and down times.
There in lies a dichotomy – Pay Per Use Return on Investments is mostly at odds with the project costs on data centre, people resources, provisions, security etc. Thus the PAAS providers need to look at a quick scalability of business to justify spends and investments on Cloud PAAS. Needless to say there are too many challenges doing this – you have to integrate Sales, Strategy, Clients, Investments and pay off horizons and many more aspects of the business to get the right direction. And yet, results couldnot be flowing in the first few months of the endeavour.
It is a bit of a Catch 22 in this business situation – but then any new technology and its implementation has its own set of challenges which can only be answered through scalability of the business model.
As per latest stats from Gartner, India’s mobile services market is expected to grow eight per cent to Rs 1.2 trillion in 2013 but will account for only two per cent of the worldwide mobile services revenue as operators are struggling to increase profit margins. The revenues from mobile services stood at Rs. 1.1 trillion in 2012. According to Gartner, mobile connections in India are expected to grow to 770 million in 2013, up 11 per cent from 712 million connections in 2012. In current circumstances, the Indian telecom market will account for 12 percent of worldwide mobile connections, but just 2 percent of worldwide mobile services revenue (in constant USD) in 2013
Some of the factors are which are hurting the Indian Telcos significantly
• The Mobile ARPU hasn’t shown any pace in growth over some time now even though the drop has been arrested by the operators. Thus operators are not adding incremental revenues. The ARPU of GSM mobile operators have declined by up to 24% during the period between 2008 and 2011
• Over the top service providers such as Facebook and WhatsApp are eating into the SMS cash cow.
• The legislative and regulatory uncertainties over taxes and other payments and agreements are bleeding the operators.
• With the Metros and Tier 1 cities hyper connected, the next wave of growth would be the rural hinterlands – However, further rural expansion of mobile services will come at a cost.
Indian Telcos are looking at mobile broadband services to be the next wave of revenue growth. Coupled with innovative solutions and services, associations which cut through different other eco-systems (media transmission) and local mobile apps which is key to break thru the multi-lingual geographies – Telcos are putting in place, strategies for addressing the data revolution. While India plays catch up with the rest of the world in terms of mobile broadband adoption, telecom operators need to think of growing the top line through innovative services. A report on Indian telecom authored by AT Kearney, states that non-voice revenues of mobile operators will increase to 27 per cent by 2015 from 14 per cent in 2011, of which about 15-20 per cent will come from mobile data, which is expected to grow at 126 per cent. The voice revenues will decrease to 73 per cent from 86 per cent during the same period. Proliferation of smart devices is accelerating this shift towards data. In 2008, only 3.8 per cent of handsets sold in India were smart phones. By 2011, this had increased to 8.1 per cent and is further expected to grow to 25 per cent by 2016
Relevant Applications for various segments are being put forth and with the launch of 4G and increasing reach of 3G services, the data revolution is about to roll in. Innovation in utility apps that help bring efficiencies in a consumer’s life will bring in sustained revenue and will be relatively more difficult to replicate by new entrants. While social and video apps are doing extremely well in India, it is time to look beyond these and deliver apps that can have a sustained business model. India has a phenomenal pent up demand for mobile broadband and local mobile apps that solve everyday problems for consumers.
This is the second part of a two part blog on Apple reliving the mistakes that Nokia made 4-5 years back. Read Part I here.
Both Nokia (2007) and Apple (2012-13) were trying to time and control consumer preferences in terms of the features and the screen. Conversely, that was akin to letting the competition in thrugh the back door. Instead of creating the future by out-innovating on the feature roadmap – Both the companies were possibly trying to amass the cost benefits from standardized feature formats.
Tim Cook’s comment on this issue, “Our competitors have made some significant tradeoffs in many of these areas to ship a larger display. We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these tradeoffs exist. Some customers value large screen size. Others value other factors such as resolution, color quality, white balance, reflectivity, power consumption, compatibility of apps, and portability.”
The strongest parallel is how both companies started fighting the consumer preference for larger displays at the peak of their profitability… and then dug in as margins began eroding rapidly. Sample this: Phablets as a segment are already likely to make up more than 15% of smartphone market in 2013 – And Apple chooses to give this market a miss. At the peak of its prowess, Nokia executives talked about the performance trade-offs of big-screen phones: power consumption troubles plaguing big-screen phones; surveys showing that most consumers prefer smaller models. On and on and on, an endless stream of justifications and carefully constructed defenses, lecturing consumers about what they should want to buy. Do you see the pattern?
Apple already has a well learnt lesson – the iPad Mini which was sacrilegious in terms of Steve Jobs’ definition of a tablet is the one that is holding the fort for Apple against the medium/low cost Androids.
Secondly, Apple’s smartphone market shares now seem to be on the wane with Androids from Samsung doing the pincer attack – both from the top end and the economy smartphones. As smartphone penetration moves from early adopters to mass-market and laggard consumer segments, the smartphone as a product will be less dependent on technical superiority, and more dependent on reliability and value – and it is Apple’s market to loose. (The gainers will mostly be the ZTE, Huawei and Alcatels of the world). As reported by Juniper, Samsung’s smartphone volumes are 2X that of Apple’s. AllianceBernstein predicts that Apple’s market share in smart phones will fall to about 12% this quarter, compared to 23% in the same quarter of 2012. Further, the firm predicts that Apple’s market share may fall into single digits next quarter. IDC’s Q1 market shares also show Apple slowing down on its growth trajectory (YoY).
Apple needs to look at the next evolution of iPhone – the mid level low cost iPhone. The iPhone 5S is already confirmed to be only an incremental over the iPhone5 – and is not going to incite mass hysteria as iPhones normally have done. A low cost iPhone could also be critical for Apple especially because ABI estimates the low cost smartphone market will more than triple, in devices sold, between now and 2018 whereas the mid-range will grow at only (roughly) 50%.
For the present, Apple and Tim Cook look to be in a denial state – which is further going to bleed Apple. The high margin strategy is a great things for share holders – but then market presence and numbers is quite another thing. For the love of Apple, I hope it doesn’t going the Nokia way.
Addendum: Just read that Apple may finally be looking at iPhone low cost model and saw a couple of photos as well. Will this turn the tide or is the initiative lost already
Addendum 2: A further validation of loss of Apple’s grip in the smartphones segment is Apple’s declining profit share of the global smartphone industry. Between Q1,2012 and Q1, 2013, Apple’s profit shares of the global smartphone industry declined from 74% to 57%.
This is the first of a two part blog on Apple reliving the mistakes that Nokia made 4-5 years back.
In 2007, Nokia was the biggest thing in the mobile phone market. It held 60% of the global smartphone market and more than 40% of the overall handset market. Its handset operating margins briefly topped 25%, something that was thought to be impossible in the phone business. In the summer of 2007, Nokia released the N95 – a 2.4” screen dual slider phone with a 5MP camera which in 2007 was a package that couldnot be bettered. N95 went on to create a roar in the markets – but imperceptibly Nokia’s slide was beginning. 3 months after Nokia launched N95, Apple launched iPhone and the rest is history.
The initial iPhone and even the early Samsung phones played on the large screen format – 3.2” – 3.5” and the likes. Nokia’s response to the first smartphones, was a bettered N95 – the N96 – crammed with more features which failed to tickle the market. Touch was catching on – and Nokia was lethargic in its reaction. In an age when customers were falling head over heals in love with the iPhone, Nokia was lamenting the iPhone on subjects such as 2MP Camera and lack of Bluetooth and loaded up the 2.6″ N96 to fightback (in vain). By the time, Nokia responded with the 5800 XpressMusic, it had fallen behind on its tracks. It repeated the mistake with N97 – a large screen which was woefully resistive – in an era when the iPhone3GS ruled and the Androids were beginning to fly. Nokia was edged out of the market – and had fallen behind. Nokia’s next releases N900, N8 failed to woo customers clamoring for the iPhone.
2013 – Apple’s incredible run through from 2007 onwards is slowly running out of steam and gross margins had peaked in early 2012. Apple played economies of scale on standard screen sizes to keep its BOM (Bill of Materials) cost low – driving operational efficiencies in production. However, they seem to have been reading the market wrong as the era of large screen devices was stepping up considerably against the 4” iPhone. Premium buyers were increasingly flocking to the 4.5” segment smartphones and the 5.5”+ phablet space and Apple’s roadmap to large screens is already a couple fo years behind.
The sense of déjà vu is not wasted – as Apple repeats the same mistakes in 2013 that Nokia made in 2007.
Continues to Part II