2010: There’s a prediction for that


This article originally appeared in Mobile News 455 (January 18, 2010).

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SpiriTel managing director Alastair Mills

The economy will be flat-ish and the mobile market is saturated so it’s going to be tough to grow market share cost-effectively. The obvious growth opportunity therefore is in entering new markets. 

O2 is targeting SMEs with an aggressive fixed line offer. Vodafone’s hosted VoIP solution is the right product at the right time. But these are signs of bigger moves to come.

If they are serious about a converged offering including fixed line, they have no choice but to buy their way in and we are going to see somebody write some big cheques in 2010.

We have developed through eight acquisitions and it has driven strong organic growth. The big boys see the same compelling industrial logic for convergence, and consolidation is the obvious route to critical mass and delivery of top-line growth.

Lycamobile chief executive Milind Kangle

Micro-P mobile general manager John Doughty

Yahoo vice president of global mobile products Irv Henderson

Anglia Telecom Centres managing director Dave McGinn

Motorola UK mobile devices marketing director Tom Satchwell

We’re seeing this monumental tidal wave of Google – this ground swell which is occurring because of the flexibility and openness of the Android platform.

We’re seeing trends in applications and a new ability to customise handsets; we’re moving towards more sophisticated devices that can adapt to the ways people communicate today.

All of this competition in the market is good for consumers, because ultimately we are competing to provide what they want and need. It is down to us to ensure we evolve this industry further to enhance people’s lives.

Telefónica O2 UK chief executiveRonan Dunne

Wish Communications managing director Mike Hallam

Last year saw major shifts in the market and makes for a very interesting 2010. Like 2009, the buzz words are ‘unified comms’, which will really develop as a concept.

It will take the communications industry by storm. Also, 2010 will see aggressive acquisition by O2 and Vodafone in the main – both in consumer and business sales. Those two will push connections, data convergence and ARPU.

The dealer market will continue to align with certain networks, and there will be further consolidation, rationalisation and, at worst, business failures.

The market will be more strategic, but also more straight forward as networks combine aggressive acquisition with proper partner alignment and channel loyalty.

Phones 4U chief executive Tim Whiting

20:20 Mobile UK managing director James Browning

Opal Telecom managing director Paul Lawton

2010 could see the balance of power swing back towards independent dealers and resellers.

As network operators struggle to grow through directly controlled channels and wake up to the fact that many smaller partners are very capable of selling landline and mobile technologies together, investment is likely to be aimed in their direction.

Voice revenues are in decline across both fixed line and mobile networks, and instead, revenue growth will come from increased use of data and internet connectivity.

Assured data rates, standards-based IP technologies and smartphones will drive B2B spends in telecoms. The number of telco companies that add any value in this area will reduce and by this time next year, half a dozen once-famous traditional providers will have run out of steam.

Lebara Mobile UK managing director Russell Atkinson

Focus 4U head of mobile operations Keane Beaken

LG Mobile UK sales and marketing director John Barton

Kondor managing director Rob Hayock

Fonehouse managing director Clive Bayley

2010 will be harder than 2009. The world is changing; some see that and others are stuck in old ways. Trusted relationships, openness and honesty will be essential to survive and to succeed. The old guard needs to change step.

Established companies will tend to play safe and new starters and smaller entities will take risks. We’ll increase our franchise dominance. Local community and service will be in the ascendancy.

There will be a backlash against corporate posturing. It’s already happening with bankers and politicians. Consumers want to support local business and local network groups.

Leaders and personalities will be important, as ever. But opportunity knocks – the choice is to bolt the door to keep the old ways in or open up to see who’s there.

Micro-P managing director Gerry O’Keeffe 

Carphone Warehouse commercial director Graham Stapleton

Google communications manager Anthony House

Telefónica O2 UK vice president of research and development Mike Short

Get Connected managing director Damian Cole

Timico head of indirect sales Iain Sinnott

Sprint managing director Paul Leonard

Samsung Mobile UK and Ireland vice presidentMark Mitchinson

RP Europe managing director Richard Crawley

XLN Telecom chief executive Christian Nellemann

Bluechipworld managing director Simon Hassell

Azzurri Communications sales director of business development Antony Meanwell

JAG managing director John George

Vodafone UK strategy and wholesale director Mark Bond

Smartphone popularity will increase as ranges expand.  Customers will choose an even more ‘mobile life’. Social networking and other data services will rise dramatically.

Customers will demand better coverage from their network – not just in breadth, but the quality of the connection.  They’ll expect it to be consistently available as well, and to work in their homes and offices.

Roaming will pick up again as customers venture abroad. The battle to offer ever better value will reach fever pitch in the summer of 2010.

Integrated services are top of the menu for enterprise customers who want unified comms solutions to reduce costs and improve working efficiencies. The indirect channel, with close links to local businesses, will be a major route for this.

Carphone Warehouse chief executive Andrew Harrison

There will be consolidation in the market. The networks will jostle for the number one position and try to gain market share while the Orange/T-Mobile joint venture comes to fruition.

The three networks not part of it will up their games – expanded iPhone availability will help them. As Apple launches new handsets with innovative designs, others will follow. From a manufacturer point of view, there is now increased importance in platforms. Android will gain considerable share.

As other retailers grasp the meaning of connectivity, their portfolios will expand to be true communication providers, rather than just mobile. DSGi Group and Tesco can be key players in the market next year if they are committed to it. They could shake up retail.

Digital Phone Company chairman Phil Rider

MoCo managing director Ian Robinson

Uplands managing director Paul Hooper

TMTI managing director Crispin Thomas

Intek managing director Manny Hussain

BT Business managing director Nigel Stagg

Fone Logistics managing director Ian Gillespie

RIM vice president of global alliances and developer relations Tyler Lessard

Agito vice president of European business and development Paul Donovan

Abzorb managing director Mike Walsh

Fused Group chief operating officer Mark Salvin

21C managing director Richard Hunt

Tom Alexander – Orange UK chief executive

The Orange/T-Mobile joint venture should get EC approval, meaning better coverage, better quality and better value. It’s pioneering and will help deliver Digital Britain. It signals the start of a new communications era.

HD voice will become a standard – just as the current digital calling system superseded analogue, so will HD supersede digital with superior sound quality. Ad-funded services will be more commonplace, with timely and relevant brand offers. Smartphone technology will be incorporated into devices to suit all budgets – e-readers and tablets will be more widespread.

In time, mobile payments will be everyday, video calling will benefit from the advent of projector-phone technology, 3D will enable greater multimedia offerings and SIM cards will drive more appliances in the home.

Shebang managing director Iain Humphrey

3 UK chief executive Kevin Russell

Outsourcery product strategy and development director Mark Seeman

Avenir Telecom UK managing director
Andy Tow

Timico chief technology officer Trefor Davies

Vodafone’s OneNet has created noise but it’s got to get better. O2 has responded. But the mobile business works differently to fixed line – BT must share its developments due to its wholesale agreement; mobile providers do not.

Still, Vodafone has a head start. It takes a long time for a network to develop such infrastructure. It leads because it uses GSM over IP instead of over lower-quality Wi-Fi or GPRS.

Businesses with lease line estates will see an increase as more use products that require higher bandwidths – ‘cloud’ apps, data storage, VoIP. Businesses will look to Google rather than Microsoft.

Hosted VoIP will see quicker growth – the consumer appetite has filtered into the business space. That trend will repeat for consumer services such as social networking.

Fone Doctors proprietor Faisal Sheikh

Alternative Networks chief executive James Murray

Sony Ericsson UK and Ireland managing director Nathan Vautier

Buymobilephones.net managing director Paul Sisson

Romex managing director Jason Laight

HSC business manager Bob Sweetlove

This will be the year the industry rekindles the potential of local dealers. The same community that started us off 25 years ago will find it is the focal point of the vigour in the network battle for share of the lucrative SOHO and SME community.

With increasing pressure on margins and costs, the networks will be forced to modify their channel strategy.

Ofcom’s GC 23 has provided the risk control; now let’s work on the reward. It’s all about local intelligence. Independent dealers are best to advise local communities.

Let’s not lock them to specific networks and make the mistake networks made with their own retail estates. There are not enough dealers to have four or five in every town. Let’s give them all the available tools to provide the best possible customer service, where it matters.

INQ marketing director Jeff Taylor

Certain handset brands took a battering in 2009 and newer players emerged as threats. This battle is characterised as much by brand and irrational ‘love’ for product as by any specific feature.

Niche players will focus on specific segments in the mid/high tiers; non-branded models will erode the bottom end. There will be stark lessons on brand loyalty.

Titans that assume solidity in their customer relationship will be dismayed at how readily users leave them for something new.

There will be a backlash against ‘feature dumping’. Some vendors will  see the error of throwing features at audiences that are already ‘featured-out’. Escalating megapixel wars and gimmicky features will be ‘outed’ by a public wanting fewer things implemented very well.

Those who recognise this early will carve out share.

Next Comms managing director Mark Finlayson

Virgin Media head of mobile Jonathan Kini

Unicom operations director Chris Earle

Frequency Telecom managing director Gareth Limpenny

Phones International chief executive George LcPherson

Whiteqube managing director Jason Rigby

HTC UK and Ireland vice president
Jon French

Skype mobile product manager Nicholas Babaian

Daisy director of mobile Russell Horton

The major change will be a rapid growth in clients moving to single suppliers for their communications. The majority of fixed and mobile services will remain technically separate, but sales, billing and service will converge.

Envisaging we will see launch of improved technology converged solutions this year, the integration at network level will see a simplified and improved user experience which, coupled with compelling commercials, will see mass market acceptance and uptake of FMC in 2011.

Mainline managing director Andrew Boden

T-Mobile UK managing director Richard Moat