03 Jan 2012
Prediction 3: Smartphones
Do or die year for Nokia, & Japanese vendors.
Nokia will be put to the test in the region this year as it has been fading into obscurity in the device markets, and needs a big game-changer in the smartphone space leveraging Windows Mobile to stay afloat in the region. Similarly, Japan's handset manufacturers will have to finally make a serious effort to expand outside of their domestic market as SoftBank, KDDI and even NTT DoCoMo are all expected to carry the iPhone 5. RIM has managed to stay afloat in the region as its brand is still very strong across Southeast Asia, but more regulatory problems are possible. LG will also need to come up with a new strategy as it has been pushed out of the smartphone space and is at risk of following Nokia down the mobile device value chain.
Prediction 4: Mobile broadband
LTE licensing will proceed more-smoothly than 3G licensing, but hurdles remain in many markets.
The fact that China and India have both started TD-LTE deployments is good news for the region as both markets were very slow to deploy 3G services. We expect that most markets who don't have LTE services such as Malaysia, New Zealand and Taiwan will sort out licensing and launch commercially in late 2012 or early 2013. The advent of LTE smartphones coupled with increased 3G use will put an end to unlimited data plans in many markets.
Prediction 5: Mobile payments
Mobile payment services will become more popular, but the business model has not been perfected.
2012 is being heralded as the year of NFC, and while vendor support is materializing and regulatory initiatives in Singapore and South Korea are encouraging adoption, the business model continues to elude mobile operators. SMS based payments, money transfers and remittances are continuing to gain traction in emerging markets and will still comprise the bulk of activity outside of Japan in 2012.
Prediction 6: Telecom vendors
Do or die year for Nokia-Siemens, Alcatel-Lucent.
Both vendors have announced significant layoffs in 2011 in the face of mounting losses, and the new strategies put in place will be put to the test in 2012. Both vendors have streamlined operations and are heavily betting on mobile broadband as their future. Competition with Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and perhaps Samsung will put them to the test and we believe it is very possible for future consolidation either via a merger of a Nortel-style spinoff is highly possible next year.