Top 10 Wireless Predictions for 2010

December 15, 2009

As the mobile and wireless industry continues to evolve and expand in 2010, it will move toward the cloud, begin to go green and become more social – among other things, according to Juniper Research, which recently issued a list of its top-10 global industry predictions for 2010.

1. Mobile data traffic will put strain on 3G networks: Though 3G is less than 10 years old, 2010 could be the year when 3G networks begin to fall over under the burden of mobile data, due largely to some 33.8 million iPhones that have been sold since launch.

2. The mobile ecosystem will start to go green: A combination of continuing strong global subscriber growth and ever-increasing voice and data usage levels means that the mobile industry is under increasing pressure to develop strategies which both embrace environmental sustainability and substantially reduce average CO2 emissions both in the usage phase and across the life-cycle of a handset. Jupiter research envisions that 2010 will see a surge? high-profile “green” handsets, featuring recycled plastic casings, energy saving modes and preloaded “ecotainment” apps which promote sustainable lifestyles. Additionally, more handsets will come equipped with solar-powered chargers; there will be greater promotion of handset recycling schemes.

3. Mobile to head for the cloud: The surge in the popularity of mobile applications – in large part because of Apple’s App Sotre – has prompted a rethink on the optimal method by which apps can be delivered to end-users. The emergence of cloud-based platforms will be bolstered by the open standards BONDI OneAPI initiative and HTML5. Increasingly, mobile IT resources – such as storage, platforms and software – will be sold and packaged as services on an on-demand basis. The model also presents a substantial opportunity for developers, who will be able to develop apps which are portable across mobile devices.

4. New category of smartbooks to emerge: Juniper believes that smartbooks will create a new category of device, falling between smartphones and netbooks. Unlike a netbook however, the smartbook will be 3G+/HSDPA enabled, always on and have an impressive all-day battery life. If they are cheaper than netbooks, as expected, they will be even more popular. Larger screens and keyboards alone will give them an advantage over smartphones.

5. App stores all around: The sheer scale of downloads achieved by Apple’s App Store – 2 billion in less than 15 months-? prompted operators, handset vendors and OS providers alike to consider emulating the Apple approach. There are now approximately 30 apps stores, a number Jupiter thinks will more than double in the coming year, with the majority of tier-1 operators expected to follow in the wake of Vodafone and China Mobile. As for the apps themselves: The industry should expect a plethora of branded apps at the forefront of advertising/marketing campaigns, and a host of retail applications that enable consumers to view and purchase physical goods.

6. Mobile social networking to integrate with other applications including m-commerce: With mobile access to social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter commonplace, adding commerce capability is the next step and will commence in 2010. Viral marketing is something that marketers aspire to achieve and there is no better way of reaching that goal for those younger than 35 than through social networking on the move, featured already in many phones. For popular products such as MP3 downloads, beverages, food (especially fast food), brands and retailers will be looking to add apps and links to make commerce on the move a natural extension of social networking. This already is happening in the USA,? with social community sites for particular demographics.

7. NFC phones appear in the shops: Though some industry analysts believe that NFC phones will never materialize, Juniper believes that by the end of 2010 , NFC (near-field communications) phones will be available in a number of countries. NFC combines smart card and contactless technology to enable transactions with mobile devices by waving them close to a reader. Applications include lower value retail purchases, travel tickets and coupons.

8. At least 10 LTE networks will be launched into service: Super-fast mobile broadband – offering speeds up to 100Mb/s to devices – in the form of LTE (long-term-evolution) could become a reality in 2010. Some 40 mobile network operators have committed to LTE build-out and Juniper believes that at least 10 will enter commercial service in 2010 in Japan, North America and Europe. Smart phones, flat rate data tariffs and sophisticated (often video) apps will drive the bandwidth demand, which will in turn drive the need to build the LTE networks. However, with the cost of an LTE buildout coming in at $1 billion or more for a medium-sized country, some operators are? looking to use the more widespread HSPA for as long as possible.

9. Smartphones to get augmented reality makeover: Augmented Reality (AR) is still in its infancy on the mobile: Until Q209, just a single AR app – Wikitude – was available for a single handset (the G1). However, with a raft of new Android handsets fitted with the key AR-enablers – cameras, internet, GPS, accelerometers, digital compasses – and with the launch of the similarly-equipped iPhone 3GS and Nokia N97, new AR apps are emerging every week. In 2010, these launches will accelerate as other smartphone vendors begin to incorporate digital compasses and accelerometers in high-end handsets. Meanwhile, more handsets will feature preloaded AR browsers to encourage consumer adoption of the technology.

10. Holiday Kindle sales expected to herald the rise of the connected embedded consumer devices: If holiday sales of Amazon’s Kindle eReader are unlikely to grab quite as many headlines this year as the iPhone managed to in 2008 and 2009, Kindle reaching the Christmas best seller-list in the US could be good news for operators, particularly if it heralds a new revenue stream. A host of consumer devices with SIM cards embedded directly into the device itself could be on their way, from gaming consoles to cameras, but for the time being eReaders are all the rage. As always, the challenge for operators will be to cut themselves into some of the content revenues in an increasingly crowded market.

Jewelry that Makes Phone Calls?

In other, more lighthearted news related to wireless technology, the UK’s Dial-a-Phone recently issued a list of what it deems the “top 10 ridiculous ideas about future of mobile phones.” However, the company warns that the concepts of DNA-based tattoos (Datoos), subcutaneous mobile phone implants, jewelry that makes phone calls and windup cellphones may seem far-fetched now, but may actually hold promise for the future.

The 10 “ridiculous” ideas about the future of mobile phones:

  1. Datoos (DNA-based tattoos)
  2. Subcutaneous mobile phone implants.
  3. A mobile phone and headphones in one
  4. Mobile phones with nanotechnology
  5. Multi-sensory phones
  6. Jewelry that makes calls
  7. Smartphones with multi-core processing
  8. Wind-powered mobile phones
  9. Mobile phones powered by fuel cells
  10. The wind-up mobile phone

About the Juniper research: A report detailing the findings is available for free download here.

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