Articles by Mark Lowenstein
It's mid-November, which means the beginning of "prediction season" for the analyst community. I'd like to kick things off with a bit of a twist.
How often does this happen to you: Your phone is displaying five bars of 4G or four bars of Wi-Fi, but the data speeds are very slow. This "disconnect" between what a user thinks they should be experiencing and what they are actually experiencing is occurring with increasing frequency. There is any number of explanations in a given situation, but is often due to capacity constraints on the network.
Wearables are the gadget world's equivalent of frozen yogurt shops: they're popping up all over. Signs of an accelerated hype cycle: analyst reports with hockey stick forecasts, conferences seemingly every other week, and a media frenzy over the next mass market digital gadgets… glasses and watches(!)
We are in a new, market segmentation mode for smartphones: devices for different price points, and screen size choices to meet form factor preferences.
Five years ago, the dividing lines were clear. There was your Wi-Fi world, drafting off a home or office broadband connection; and your mobile world, for most other scenarios. But W-iFi is becoming a much larger part of the overall connectivity framework, driven by the spread of portable devices, the thirst for nearly persistent broadband connectivity, the relative high cost (to provide and consume) mobile data, and the limited capacity of cellular networks.
Among the wave of M&A that has swept the wireless industry in recent years, I believe Dish-Sprint offers the most intriguing possibilities for innovative service and business models. The combination of assets could help re-define what broadband and video delivery services look like, over the next five years.
It is March 2013, and we are nowhere near where we thought we would be with mobile payments in North America. There's huge velocity in the area, be it investments by major players, committed VC dollars, conferences, analyst reports, and so on. But mobile payments have impacted relatively few consumers' lives to this point.
Susan Crawford paints a bleak picture of the state of U.S. broadband services in her book, "Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age." In it she argues that Internet access is slow and expensive. She is right, to a point. Up until now, the cost of deploying broadband, particularly given U.S. demographics, density, and reliance on private market forces, might have led to a natural monopoly or duopoly. On the landline side it is cable and FiOS winning the battle, and in wireless, Verizon and AT&T have some 75 percent of 4G subscribers.
The theme of my 2013 "predictions" piece was that this is going to be a year of "disruption" across many elements of the value chain. I'd like to delve a little deeper into a discussion of business models and pricing, where I think we will see both disruption to prevailing structures, and experimentation around new forms of monetization. I see this happening in many sectors of the mobile space: operator pricing, video over mobile, "content everywhere," and applications.
For 2013, I believe there will be some important changes in the mobile industry value chain and prevailing business model, and in some adjacent industries where mobile plays a strong role. Hence, the theme of my annual predictions piece: 2013: Year of Disruption.