The big trends for '08

23 Jan 2008

Last year was full of the usual change and disruption for the telecom industry - almost a typical year, except that players outside the traditional telecom sector created some of the most serious threats. Of course the iPhone dominated the headlines for much of the year as did Google's open-source Android alliance in Q4. The big vendor mergers, after being stitched together much slower than expected, produced little except downward earnings projections.

One significant shift is that many of the top operators globally did quite well in 2007, and analysts and industry insiders tell us that mobile and fixed-line players are starting to really understand that what works in the future will be very different than the past. So with an eye to the future, Telecom Asia's editors have sifted through the myriad of technology and business trends and over-optimistic vendor claims and come up with a list of the eight most likely trends to have a significant impact on the industry this year. Here's our top picks for 2008

Ad-funded service: The missing link

This is the year the mobile content value chain will do its best to fill in the missing link - ads.
Banner and classified advertising are the mighty pillars that hold up the world of free internet content. That's because the web has a billion or so active users. Despite the efforts of many, the mobile net is a fraction of that size.

That's changing, partly as a result of faster networks (although DoCoMo has shown over the years that speed isn't everything). Vodafone reported a 45% increase in group data - that is non-voice, non-messaging - revenue in its last result, driven by the increase in 3G and 3.5G users.
A bigger factor in driving change is on the device side. The 2.5G iPhone is generating significant more mobile data use. The 2G iPhone has spawned dozens of touchscreen-based imitators, as will - some time in '08 - the 3G version.

The other impetus for mobile ads will be the contest between Google and Yahoo. Whereas operators, which have built businesses out of charging for airtime or data, are not accustomed to selling ads, those two certainly are.

Both have set their sights on the mobile business this year.

Google is set to bid for wireless spectrum in an apparent bid to become an operator itself. Those plans aren't clear, but it has mapped out its move into the handset space by building an industry alliance to build open-source phones. Google is giving away the software in an effort to stimulate the use of mobile search and other applications that inevitably will be funded by ads.

Yahoo has just announced a new developer platform based on widgets aimed at ensuring interoperability across different handsets with the aim, like Google, of kick-starting the market.
The only surprise is what's taken them so long‾ A more targeted advertising platform than the mobile phone doesn't exist. If you don't like ads online, you're going to hate the mobile net. TA

Security: This year's threats

Human carelessness and crafty social engineering will, as ever, pose the biggest threats to network security in 2008.

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