2014 Look Ahead – Connected Devices

2013 proved to be an interesting and formative year for the global carriers.  There’s no question that the evolution in networks is tracking towards a more wireless tomorrow.  As evidence take a look at the commercial operator’s investment moves this year and you’ll see where the business is trending.  Moreover look at the homepage of any major Telecommunications provider and you’ll see mobile listed front and center.

How does this play out for businesses looking forward?  An educated guess would state that the mobile device/phone marketplace will continue to look for new and innovative products to utilize their impressive and growing wireless network investments.

In a recent Worldwatch Institute article, data indicates that, “More than 3.4 billion people, nearly half the world’s population, own at least one mobile phone in 2013. As of 2010, more than 90 percent of people worldwide were covered by a mobile phone signal.” And, “the number of mobile subscriptions is expected to surpass the world’s population in early 2014…”*

Impressive data for global carriers but tempered by sobering statics, “The annual rate of growth is beginning to slow….as markets become increasingly saturated. Annual additions to mobile subscriptions peaked in 2010 at 680 million. The subscription rate began to dip in 2011, and an estimated 424 million new subscriptions will be added in 2013—some 250 million fewer than in 2010.” see full article

How are the billions of dollars of investment in mobile networks going to be fully recouped if indeed consumer mobile marketplace growth is slowing?   The answer to that question will undoubtedly continue to play out in the years to come but one common prediction is that more focus will be placed on innovative M2M “connected devices”.

Analogies can be drawn form individual mobile use to the future trends in mobile carrier networks.  Personally speaking, my transactions on my Smartphone are a lot more, data-centric than they were even a couple of years ago.  With the emergence of better and faster mobile applications usage of my own handheld device has been moving more towards rich data, and less towards voice traffic.  Ask anyone without graying hair how frequently they use their iPhone to actually “phone”, and you’ll see a trend.

As data becomes king and networks can pass more of it, more efficiently, what’s next?  One prediction is that the, “M” in “Machine-to-Machine” will be a hot-button focal point for networks operators.  The idea that data usage will continue to increase is good news given the fact that, “saturation points” are being discussed.  This being said, the idea that a mobile network operator can remove the human from the data flow transaction becomes really interesting.  If new and innovative products, which don’t require a live person, can be identified and rolled out in scale- the limits for usage growth are somewhat exponential.

Data passed from one connected device to another without much (if any) human interaction may be somewhat “Arthur C. Clark”; however carrier focal points seem to be trending in this direction.  The carrier stakeholders that will continue to dominate this year and beyond, will not only operate “best” networks, but also be the first-movers integrating new and innovative “connected” products to maximize their e investments.

* The entire article can be found at: http://www.worldwatch.org/market-saturation-slows-mobile-phone-growth