It's practically a cliche, but a reasonably accurate one: Apple's iPhone and App Store have turned the mobile industry on its head, changing the way people use handsets, how they access mobile content and how much of it they download.
The latter has sent data usage into the stratosphere well ahead of earlier projections, forcing cellcos to worry both about the capacity of the network to handle that growth, and the unlimited data plans they've been relying on to build up their mobile broadband subscriber base.
Here at the end of 2010, the mobile sector has a pretty good idea of where everything is going to go in terms of the technology evolution (LTE RAN, all-IP networks, etc). The question, as always, is how to get there, and how much of their business needs to change to do so.
Or, to put it simply, "What now?"
Telecom Asia put that question to some of the top analysts and experts in Asia (and a couple of editors as well). The answers are far from a complete manual for preparing mobile operators for the next decade of growth, but they should give cellcos an idea of where to start.
- Transition from voice to low-margin data
- Define an OS platform strategy
- Bank on smartphones to drive growth
- Finally, mobile video calls (over the top)
- Content partnerships: time to sleep with the enemy
- RAN sharing: now is the time
- Go into the white-box handset business
- Get smart on data pricing
- Plan carefully for femtocells