You can bet that wearables will be in the spotlight at the upcoming 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. I expect to see everything from fitness trackers to mobile health devices and more--all featuring some type of short-range wireless connectivity.
The Internet of Things, or the concept of intelligently connecting devices using sensors and wireless modules, is a huge area of opportunity for nearly every telecom and IT company. In fact, at the Cisco Global Editors Conference held here this week, the company said that it estimates that the Internet of Everything--which Cisco defines as the networked connection of people, processes, data and things--will generate $19 trillion in value between 2013 and 2022.
The Wall Street financial analysts who watch the nation's carriers are in a bit of a tizzy this week because Verizon and AT&T, the two dominant players in the market, are warning of pressure on earnings and margins from promotions and higher subscriber growth in the fourth quarter. The analysts are worried because they think the competition from T-Mobile US and Sprint could get more intense. I think that'd be fine if that happens. If Verizon and AT&T lost profits and customers to Sprint and T-Mobile, I'd say that would be a grand development for the U.S. market and would be broadly beneficial for consumers.
The momentum around the connected car concept has grown dramatically in the past year. Today, every car maker in the world has a plan in place for adding wireless connectivity to their vehicles. In fact, many are already introducing LTE-equipped vehicles. Audi AG has in-car LTE service and General Motors has said it will equip more than 30 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models with LTE by year-end.
Now that operators are putting the final touches on their macro LTE networks, it is likely that we will start to see much more focus on small cell deployments. In fact, most analysts are predicting that we will start to see a surge in small cell deployments in 2015 as carriers look to densify their networks and move traffic off the macro network and onto small cells.
The FCC's AWS-3 auction, which is still going on, is now more successful than anyone ever dreamed. As of this morning, the auction has raised a total of more than $24 billion in provisionally winning bids after just six days of bidding. But beyond the big, round numbers, what other conclusions can we draw from the AWS-3 results so far?
We are now entering a new phase of competition in the global smartphone market and the likes of Lenovo and Xiaomi are poised to make life a lot more difficult for market leaders Samsung Electronics and Apple. How Samsung and Apple respond will go a long way to determining whether they can maintain their status as market leaders, though I think Samsung has a lot more to worry about right now than Apple does.
T-Mobile US' "un-carrier" moves over the past year have pushed all the U.S. Tier 1 operators into a world of no contracts and no device subsidies. And the result is that carrier brand loyalty has taken a hit--at least that's what research firm Market Strategies found in its latest "Brand Love" report that queries consumers on their loyalties to their wireless carriers, their smartphones and their mobile operating systems.
Wireless carriers have always battled with each other to encourage customers to switch to a new carrier. But that fight is now starting to heat up in select markets across the country because of a confluence of network shutdowns, technology transitions and smaller carriers exiting the business. Although these market-by-market battles don't get much national attention, they're still worth watching--after all, millions of subscribers scattered across dozens of markets are up for grabs.