Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012 came to a conclusion yesterday and we asked Ronan de Renesse, Principal Analyst of Analysys Mason’s Mobile Broadband and Mobile Content and Applications research programmes, for his views on the event.
What were the MWC highlights for you this year?
RR: Two stick in my mind. The first is Facebook’s launch of operator billing for its application store, which will allow developers to create apps on Facebook, and then monetise them via mobile billing. This means that users of Facebook will have the ability to pay for virtual items without having to enter their credit card details. This is particularly useful in developing countries where credit card penetration is low. In addition, this will create an opportunity for operators to get a share of the revenue generated by Facebook’s 425 million mobile app users.
My second highlight was device-based; I was impressed with the Nokia 808 PureView feature phone. Its 41-megapixel camera represents unparalleled imaging technology.
What about smartphones? Were there any big announcements or releases?
RR: This was not a year for game-changing releases in the smartphone market. This may have something to do with the fact that some of the key players are undergoing some institutional changes (Sony and Ericsson are parting ways, Motorola is being acquired by Google). We were informed at the event that both Sony Mobile Communications and Motorola are set to radically change their strategies in the next 12 months.
What about media? Any big media announcements?
RR: Actually, one of the highlights of the entire show for me was talking with the Financial Times and hearing about their extremely successful digital strategy. The number of digital subscribers to the Financial Times is almost as many as the number of physical papers it sells. This is a fantastic example of a way in which a traditional media company has managed to completely transform itself into a digital media company. It took a significant investment, but this will be paid back through ongoing subscriber loyalty, and its digital subscriber numbers are set to rise still further. This proves that media companies can embrace the digital era, and continue to thrive if the strategy is right.
In your last report, The Connected Consumer Survey 2012: mobile content and applications, you mentioned that the next wave of smartphone users will be completely different from the current user set. Was there anything at MWC that confirmed this opinion for you?
RR: The report you speak of mentioned that 60% of prepaid customers would consider buying a smartphone. The key thing for mobile operators is tapping into this market by focusing on affordability and functionality. One way in which operators can generate affordability is to use a content and app language that uses the ‘open Web’, and therefore does not require continuous costly updates or reconfigurations across multiple operating systems. HTML5 is one such language, and many operators, particularly in emerging markets, view this as an opportunity. For example, Telefónica has teamed up with Mozilla, a non-proft web browser developer, to launch a smartphone for Latin America.
For more information about Analysys Mason's research on the mobile market, please follow these links:
Mobile Broadband research programme
Mobile Content and Applications research programme
Ronan de Renesse's biography