Welcome back! I hope you had a great holiday. FierceDeveloper is kicking off the new year with our predictions for the top mobile trends of 2006!
Overall, 2006 will be a tough year for mobile companies. I think this is spot-on, according to Informa. Competition with VoIP services is forcing prices down, and high subscriber churn rates are going to make make huge handset subsidies untenable. ARPU is already falling in Western Europe, and it is not likely to improve until carriers can come up with some really compelling 3G apps (and I haven't seen any yet).
Mobile multimedia--music and videos--will continue to grow in popularity throughout 2006 but will not hit critical mass until there is a killer device. Apple's rumored iPhone may do the trick for mobile music, but mobile video will remain just another cool feature for early adopters. Mobile video is too expensive and hard to use for the mass market. The sole exception to the multimedia boom is ringtones, which will become less relevant in 2006. The novelty of a clever ringtone is wearing thin, and the high prices are becoming harder and harder to justify.
Emerging markets will be increasingly important to handset manufacturers and developers in 2006. Don't expect the cell phone explosion in China to slow down any time soon, and India and Russia are not far behind.
That's how the industry looks from 10,000 feet. Read on for a detailed look at what 2006 holds for wireless developers around the world. - Eli