Mobile industry predictions for 2009 part 1

 In opinion

As the year draws to a close, and as I did last year I thought I would prepare some thoughts on what might happen in the mobile industry in 2009.

Looking back at some of my 2008 predictions – for some I was pretty spot on – and for others I was woefully incorrect.

In Part 1 I will have a look at where I was right and where I got it totally wrong for 2008 and in part 2, I’ll attempt some predictions for the mobile industry in 2009.

On the money – those 2008 predictions that came true

  • Two words – Mobile Internet– by the end of 2008, operators will be offering flat rate mobile internet The “trials” of £10/month for 3GB data etc will have proved extremely successful and everyone will be offering all you can eat data
  • Mobile payments solutions (micropayments) are becoming more mature especially in developed markets – expect to see some new announcements here
  • Music phones– we should see the big players unveil their latest a large number of mobile music handsets in 2008 as well as music platforms. Expect iTunes to have real competition from OVI and Vodafone Music station. Mobile music platforms and deals with the large record labels will surface in 2008. Only the operators can offer the data tariffs that will support unlimited music downloads.
  • The 3G iPhone will be talked about and the EU operators will all want to see it by mid-2008 – this device may be the mobile internet turbocharger they are looking for.  O2 will find that they have to offer real unlimited mobile data plans to drive iPhone usage and other O2 customers will force them to offer unlimited plans (not 200MB) to all customers.
  • Android platform phones and applications will also make an early appearance at Mobile  World Congress (old 3GSM) in Barcelona – early days but those keen to capitalise on the announcement will want to show off the platform
  • HSDPA data cards and dongles will feature prominently as operators are getting the data plans right and encouraging mass market take-up – which competes directly with WiFi hotspots
  • More GPS phones to be launched – no real surprises here but WiFi will be the preferred add-on for new 3G handsets and not GPS
  • Mobile search will be big – expect announcements from Jumptap, Admobee and Admob about partnering with major operators – and presenting more of a threat to Google and Yahoo!
  • Location enabled content will start to appear on the horizon now that organisations like Google are putting a toe in the water with their My Location service, proving you don’t need a GPS handset to offer location services around mobile advertising and local search

Comment: flat rate data plans are here – and operators agree they are working. Vodafone have started trials of mobile payments in Kenya.  Nokia Comes With Music and offers from the carriers are in the market. The 3G iPhone is here – and has become a phenomenon all of its own.  The 3G dongle and now integrated HSDPA laptops are becoming mainstream (this post is being authored via 3G in a Starbucks)

The 2008 predictions I got completely wrong

  • RFID enabled phones will start to become mainstream on the back of trials in the UK with O2 and Transport for London – expect more RFID contactless payment phones released
  • Now that the EU have endorsed the DVB-H we should expect to see more DVB-H platforms and phones in mid 2008
  • More and WiFi enabled phones will hit the market – and these will go head to head with the Femtocell hype (I wasn’t totally wrong here, but the Femtocell/WiFi battle seemed non existent in the late half of 2008)

Neither right or wrong

  • Mobile advertising and discovery services will become mainstream towards the end of 2008 as consumers use mobile data in larger volumes and find these services are actually useful

This prediction I would not say was completely wrong – as search and discovery is becoming more prevalent, and we are seeing more mobile advertising solutions but probably not as many as I would have hoped.  It is right to say though that consumers are using mobile data in larger volumes as they find services available via the mobile internet useful. Expect a similar prediction to now be time-shifted into 2009 in part 2.

Stay tuned for part 2, where I will look at my mobile industry predictions for 2009.

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Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.