Informa's top 10 trends for 2013
3. What’s up with WhatsApp
The hype bubble around WhatsApp and other OTT messaging services will continue to expand in 2013, especially driven by frequent acquisition rumors, but the emergence of early anecdotal evidence that some consumer segments are starting to migrate their attention and usage to alternative services, both old and new, will start to dampen expectations and highlight the fickle and fragmented nature of consumer behavior.
4. Digital services: Show us the money
Investors will demand a clear path to revenue from investments into digital services before operators begin to feel any share-price benefit from initiatives. PR-friendly they may be, but demands and expectations from shareholders will grow that they are also friendly to the bottom line. It will become apparent to many operators that material revenue streams that can shift the dial of group-level revenues will be very hard to come by.
5. Content providers continue to spend on infrastructure
Google, Netflix et al will continue to invest heavily in extending their infrastructure closer to users in 2013. Informa recommends that operators consider these proposals carefully and recognize where they are likely to gain more from reduced costs and increased network efficiency than lose out in terms of uncertain revenues from so-called two-sided business models.
6. Subsidies under the microscope, but not necessarily for the right reason
Handset-financing models established themselves in Europe in 2012 and will continue to spread globally in 2013. But a reduction in subsidies and changes to traditional ways of retailing devices will come at a cost to operators.
Physical and online retailers, such as Amazon, as well as device-platform owners, such as Apple or Google, will accelerate their own initiatives to disrupt traditional device distribution models. Every slip in the share of devices sold through operator channels will serve to further erode the balance of power between operators and Internet and platform owners at the negotiating table.
7. Shared network, shared pain?
The logic of network-sharing will increasingly be questioned by the industry given the core strategic importance of a differentiated network platform. In Europe, especially, we expect more operators to forsake dividends and free cash-flow in order to ramp up investments into network infrastructure in the hope of establishing a competitive advantage built upon network quality of experience. However, despite this reversal of attitude by some, network-sharing and operator consolidation will sweep through emerging markets, especially in Africa.