M2M takes centre stage at Mobile World Congress in Spain this week
Ovum expects the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013, which started yesterday and ends on Thursday in Barcelona, Spain, to focus on solutions aimed at driving mobile operators' service revenues. It also expects machine-to-machine (M2M) and vertical applications to take centre stage.
The connected cars that dominated the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show will wend their way to Barcelona for MWC, mobile financial services will feature even more prominently than in 2012, and enterprise mobility will be more of a mainstream topic due to the continuing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) discussion.
The mobile ecosystem is preparing itself for the so-called "Internet of Things" (IoT). M2M is being repositioned for the IoT, as the focus shifts to connecting smart objects to Internet applications. For many in the mobile industry, this is good news. Whereas M2M emphasised business-to-business opportunities, which was conceptualised as vertical silos and niche markets, the IoT suggests a much larger opportunity with many more end points and spectacular growth rates.
However, the brave new world of IoT contains a threat as well as an opportunity. The Internet is an enabler of disruptive business models as much in the domain of smart objects as it is for communications and content.
Daryl Schoolar, Network Infrastructure analyst at Ovum, said that the wireless infrastructure discussion at MWC 2013 will be dominated by three topics including small cells, Big Data
and LTE Advanced (LTE-A).
Small cells, both licensed and Wi-Fi, have had a significant presence at MWC over the last couple of years. This year, the number of trials should increase, as should the number of real commercial products.
Big Data in the form of network analytics and all that it drives in terms of policy enforcement and network optimisation will get plenty of attention at this year's event.
"This year, we also expect LTE-A demonstrations to replace the HSPA+ and LTE demonstrations that are now in commercial deployment. In fact, LTE-A demonstrations have already started, with Ericsson and SK Telecom announcing one at the end of January 2013," said Schoolar.
MWC 2013 is set to be the fight for the third ecosystem. Nick Dillon, devices and platforms analyst at Ovum, said MWC is an opportunity for smaller players to take centre stage and promote their wares. These smaller players include Mozilla's Firefox OS, Ubuntu for phones, Jolla's Sailfish OS, and the recently launched BlackBerry 10.
All of these vendors will be keen to sell the benefits of their approaches and offer operators an alternative to the increasingly dominant duopoly of Android and iOS.
The "third ecosystem" is still up for grabs and 2013 looks set to be defined by the battle for this position, with these new entrants going head-to-head with Microsoft's Windows Phone.
Mobile payment is another interesting area. Eden Zoller, consumer analyst at Ovum, said that mobile payments will again be a major theme at MWC 2013. Mobile wallets stand at the intersection of payments, retail, and advertising, and the opportunities this presents is creating a lot of excitement. There is clearly a lot up for grabs and the last year has seen online players, network operators, financial institutions and retailers battle for position.
Understanding consumer behaviour is the key to re-igniting revenue growth in emerging markets. At MWC 2013, Ovum expects that there will be a number of announcements related to next-generation mobile broadband networks and services, mobile money, mobile health, and content and apps.
The increasing penetration of low-cost smart phones, more affordable mobile broadband services, and the growth of social networking is rapidly changing user behaviour in emerging markets. In many cases, operator announcements will be positioned to ensure that they catch up with and monetise these changes.
Consumerisation is maturing beyond BYOD to productivity improvement. Richard Absalom, consumer impact technology analyst at Ovum said that consumerisation is becoming an increasingly important issue for enterprises. In the mobility space, this involves CIOs attempting to address and embrace BYOD. The huge demand for mobility solutions that secure corporate data and improve productivity across multiple mobile platforms has led to considerable growth in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space. Among all the demonstrations and new product announcements, it expect that the focus will be on moving the conversation beyond mobile device management to improving productivity through mobile enterprise app deployment.