But that would have gotten old really quick. However, I am going to change things up this week. Since I ended up filing this column early, before jetting to South Florida for a nice mid-Winters break, I figured that this would be a great opportunity to talk about some trends that will no-doubt impact the world of Treo.
To me, Verizons leadership position isnt surprising since their EV-DO has been something touted by Palm and Treo users as a huge plus. It got a big plug when the Treo 700w was announced (Palm and Microsoft Join to Bring the Palm Experience to Windows Mobile: Verizon Wireless First to Market with New Treo Smartphone) in September 2005:
Customer spending on data services contributed a total of $4.1 billion in revenue for 3Q06.
Also, IDC says messaging contributed nearly half the data revenue, while business- and consumer-oriented services and content constituted about 40%, and content and simple application downloads came to about 12%.
Which brings me to the next trend that keeps making its way into the news: Will Smartphones Make Laptops Obsolete?
This story, published by The Red Herring, points to several industry analysts who are leaning in that direction.
One thing for sure is that there will be price pressure. Apple is planning on charging a premium for the iPhone ($499 and $599), and theyll have plenty of takers. And Microsoft (and partners) have been trying to convince the world that what they need is an Ultra-Mobile PC thats priced just below $1,000.
For most of us, sub-$300 is the way to go. As noted in this Seattle Times article:
"The glory days of the big premium on handsets is over," said Jane Zweig, chief executive of The Shosteck Group, a wireless consultancy. "It's a tough industry."
The article also notes:
"Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony Ericsson, Research In Motion and Palm all continue to battle for the allegiance of lucrative business customers or high-end consumers willing to splurge on a feature-laden mobile device."
No doubt, there are trade-offs to weigh.
Its the Carrier, Stupid!
The thing Ive never liked is carrier exclusivity on certain phones. Im sure AT&T (formerly known as Cingular) is "Snoopy-dancing" about their iPhone deal.
This week we learned that could have been Verizon , but they opted out. Yeah, and a lot of happy Verizon customers will be looking over the fence in June, pondering life on "the other side."
Shifting Gears Thoughts on 2007 Predictions
Guess Im not the only one looking at trends 4 weeks into the New Year. A story that appeared in eWeek listed predictions from wireless consulting company inCode (a division of VeriSign) for the 10 most important events in the wireless industry for the coming year.
Ive highlighted some of them below. For example, on the top of their list is Social networking, followed by Mobile TV, cheaper and more flexible devices, and GPS. The bottom half includes: mobile advertising, entertainment and security.
I have to say, those inCode folks are definitely on the right path. And so far, their predictions tie in with other stories that have been circulating.
Lets touch upon a few:
#1: Social Networking goes Mobile
inCode stated, "Sites such as MySpace and Facebook will add mobile users to their business model, and similar services will gain popularity with professionals and older users."
James Quintana Pearce of mocoNews.net mentioned social networking in his predictions :
"The number of mobile social networks will increase (and by that I mean social networks designed for mobiles from the beginning, not web sites that start offering mobile functions). Therell be a lot of launches but few will achieve any substantial level of success."
Heres an example of a recent social networking launch:
IceBreaker, Inc. Launches Dating Platform Designed First and Foremost for Cell Phone Users.
Called Crush or Flush(TM), IceBreakers interactive mobile dating platform provides an easy way to flirt, chat, and meet real people with similar interests in your area -- right from your cell phone.
The less I say about that one, the better. So moving right along, #2 on the predictions was Mobile TV.
#2: Mobile TV
Regarding Mobile TV, inCode said, "It's just now making its first entries into the mobile device market, but it will become a primary driver of revenues."
If the content is compelling, I tend to agree.
During the CES show, Samsung Electronics announced the development of a new mobile television standard that enables portable devices to receive digital signals from local TV broadcasters. According to The Wall Street Journal the technology operates via existing television infrastructures, including spectrum and transmitting towers, enabling broadcasters to sidestep investments in separate network build-outs or carrier partnerships.
This definitely opens up content possibilities.
And Sarah Jane Tribble of the Mercury News asks in the lead to her article
, "What if the entertainment industry spent big bucks to create television shows, movies and games for mobile phones -- and nobody watched?" Technical issues and costs are two huge barriers to acceptance.
Which reminds me, Samsung mentioned the possibility of advertiser supported content as a way to keep costs low. If it is compelling and relevantit could work.
The mention of advertising brings me to Trend #7
#7: Mobile Advertising
inCode stated, "Mobile advertising will boom. Be prepared for ads with your text messages and elsewhere on your 3G phone, targeted just for you."
But alas, it wont be limited to 3G phones. A recent NY Times story (registration required), mentions:
"Cellular phone carriers like Verizon, Sprint and Cingular, now the new AT&T, are beginning to test and roll out advertising on mobile phone screens, and by next year, cellphone advertising is likely to be more common. In exchange, the companies say, their subscribers will enjoy improved mobile Internet services and content provided free or at reduced prices."
So Samsung isnt the only one considering this model.
Into this mobile advertising category, Im adding (
"M-Coupons". Per a new JupiterResearch study, while adoption of mobile coupons remains limited, consumer interest is sufficient to add the service to the overall advertising mix:
"Twenty-four percent of cell phone owners are interested in receiving special offers and coupons on their cell phones, yet barely one percent of cell phone owners have used text messaging for the purposes of obtaining a coupon or discount," Jupiter research director Julie Ask said in a prepared statement. "Cell phones offer advertisers the opportunity to serve highly targeted, just-in-time coupons to their customers, but opt-in requirements require a mindset that more closely resembles e-mail marketing than traditional coupons."
Now this is a development that will be interesting to watch.
Theres one more Id like to cover today entertainment.
inCode said, "Home entertainment will become part of the wireless world. This will include music and video downloads over both high-speed data connections and Wi-Fi. You will be able to play music, watch television or meet other data communications needs with your wireless device."
You know thats Apples sweet spot. InformationWeek reported global spending on mobile music (from ring tones to full-track downloads) will top $32 billion by 2010. These numbers come from industry research firm, Gartner. They predict that spending on music for cell phones will increase by nearly two and a half times this year's predicted $13.7 billion (and this growth will occur despite competition from digital music players, and a host of challenges faced by telecommunications carriers in delivering these services).
Guess therell be a lot of "dancing in the streets."
So lets shift to an area that didnt make the trend cut -- Mobile Pay .
This surprised me because it seems like people have been talking about it forever the idea of your cell phone becoming your wallet, so that you can, for example, pay for gas by waving your phone by a reader on the pump.
One company, USA ePay, has already taken huge steps towards making "pay by cell" a reality. They recently announced the release Wireless ePay for Windows Mobile. The company creates software that helps expedite transaction processing from mobile phones. The Windows Mobile version was the third platform they are supporting. Theyve already written Blackberry and Java versions of the program.
Whats not clear from their press release is the transaction costs involved. No doubt, vendor acceptance of this type of payment is predicated on convenience and profit margins.
So thats a quick hop through trends to watch in 2007. And if you are so inclined, you can put yourself through the Groundhog Day experience and [start this column over again](JUMP TO TOP OF PAGE).
Thats a wrap!