2014 predictions: Hardware distributors

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Brightstar CEO Marcelo Claure, Exertis UK MD Gerry O’Keeffe, Tech Data Mobile UK MD Stephen Nolan, Elite Mobile MD Ketan Gokani and Frequency Telecom MD Gareth Limpenny give their thoughts on how the next 12 months might pan out

Marcelo-Claure-web

Marcelo Claure – CEO, Brightstar Corp

If 2013 was the year that 4G became mainstream, 2014 will be the year when wearable connected products move from early adopters to mass market. We expect most of the largest accessories and phone manufacturers to bring useful connected products that will cover different sectors, like health, sports and fashion, to market. It would be a nice surprise if a new entrant to the market brought an iconic product through innovation.

Companion products will drive up ASP’s, so we expect more requirements from the channels to support them with financial solutions to address the growing need for cash.

Early upgrade programmes, Buy-Back and Trade-in and Financial Solutions will continue to see expansion as subsidies become less common. The phone’s residual value will become an important variable, not widely considered as of today. We wouldn’t be surprised if consumers consider depreciation and residual values in the near future just as they do today when buying or leasing a car.

Gerry-O'Keeffe-web

Gerry O’Keeffe – UK MD, Exertis

For the first time in six years, we are gazing into the coming year with a positive economic backdrop.  That being said, the stagnant years didn’t exactly hinder growth in the mobile market, during which time smartphone growth has been sixfold.

4G will be a major catalyst of change in 2014 and will see the mobile internet accelerate on the 30 per cent of web browsing and 40 per cent social media use currently done on mobile devices.  This will also see a significant shift in the percentage of connected tablets in the market vs. WiFi-enabled tablets, where the rations are currently 90 per cent in favour of WiFi.  Ubiquitous connectivity and the proliferation of apps, with new, intuitive interfaces and wearable/connected home devices (the internet of things) will drive increased productivity in both our personal lives and the work place.

The vendor landscape is set for a fascinating year.  Samsung will use their breadth of technology to deliver more devices supporting the connected life.  Knox will also enable Samsung’s drive into the B2B market, and 2014 will be a pivotal year for Microsoft as the new CEO plots both their path and future.

Many of the trends in market share established in 2013 will continue in 2014, although 2014 will see a more concerted attack from Chinese vendors, Huawei, ZTE and potentially Lenovo.

Stephen-Nolan-tech-data-hq-web

Stephen Nolan – UK MD, Tech Data Mobile

Brand strength will continue to drive consumer pull in the mobile market, however, new value-added propositions that are innovative will start to get noticed and become more mainstream.

Life cycle management and customer loyalty will become more important business drivers for our partners. The level of fixed costs in our industry will be under further pressure and partners will drive plans to consider variable costs options in their business model.

The SIM-free market will continue to grow and consumers will focus more on bundles and family proposition for value. The driving force of 4G, will certainly increase usage of the mobile internet and spawn new business ideas and behaviours. 2014 will be a great year!

Ketan-Gokani-web

Ketan Gokani – MD, Elite Mobile

In 2014 our hunger for greater capacity, speed, more applications, convenience and innovation will continue to test our patience and elevate expectations to even dizzier heights. Social media continues to drive and divide opinion. Sharing episodes of our lives instantaneously whether good or bad is making our need for immediate multimedia communication non-negotiable.

In the forthcoming year our appetite for data will create greater competition between networks, potentially driving down prices and generating smaller margins, which may lead to further market consolidation.

We will see growth at an exponential rate with smartphones, tablets and phablets continuing to shift into the PAYG market. Lifestyle changes resulting in longer working hours, online shopping and international mobility have created an access 24/7 NOW society.

Gareth-Limpenny-web

Gareth Limpenny – MD, Frequency Telecom

Mobile comms has continued to grow with tablets and smartphones becoming the necessary communication devices of 2013. With all of those devices out there, the demands on data networks are growing significantly with mobile music and video streaming becoming a reality.

The additional stress on the networks will only increase and it will be interesting to watch how the growth of 4G networks helps improve access/further increase demand – especially as people upgrade their mobile devices and start using the technology. The area to really watch will be in the corporate sector as, surely, that is where the networks see the real potential.

The term convergence has never been more relevant. However, the advent of the “affordable tablet” has opened up a youth segment to observant retailers. Parents may not want to let their children on their primary tablet, but giving them their own is now financially viable. Accessory products that cater to this market will grow strongly.

 

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